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RealTime IT News

Scrabulous: The Bitter End?

Scrabble technology
Source: Reuters

Scrabulous, the hugely popular word game already banished from Facebook in North America, has now been yanked from most of the social network's other sites throughout the world.

Facebook pulled the application after receiving a formal complaint from Mattel, the game maker that owns the rights to Scrabble outside the United States.

Scrabulous' developers, the India-based brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, pulled the game from Facebook in the United States and Canada last month following a legal threat from Hasbro, which owns the North American rights to Scrabble. The developers did not return a request for comment by press time.

The game makers' legal squabble over the Scrabble copyright and trademark has sparked vocal protests from devoted Scrabulous fans. A Save Scrabulous Facebook group formed to petition Hasbro and Mattel to drop the lawsuit has more than 10,000 members.

In a post on the independent Inside Facebook blog, Jayant Agarwalla wrote, "Sometime on 22nd August, Facebook took the unfortunate decision to restrict most users from accessing Scrabulous. This was in response to Mattel sending them a take-down notice on 14th August."

Agarwalla wrote that he was surprised at Mattel's preemptive action given that an Indian court is still reviewing the case, but his harshest words were reserved for Facebook.

"It is even more astonishing that Facebook, which claims to be a fair and neutral party, took this step even though they were fully aware of the circumstances under which the Mattel letter was sent to them," he wrote.

Facebook and Mattel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For its part, Hasbro is promoting an official Scrabble game on Facebook in the United States and Canada. Developed by Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS), the app has more than 371,000 active monthly users, but the feedback from reviews give the game a rating of 1.2 out of 5.

The Agarwallas, who run the software development shop RJ Softwares in Calcutta, India, have developed a alternate game for Facebook called Wordscraper that appears designed to be just different enough to avoid the intellectual property disputes. Wordscraper has 249,000 monthly users, and a feedback rating of 4.4.

As of this writing, the Scrabulous game was still available online at Scrabulous.com.