Classic Hasbro games have become popular on Facebook, and now that could move in the other direction thanks to an exclusive partnership with Zynga.
This has been the year of Scrabulous. In January of this year, Facebook received a letter from the Hasbro and Mattel lawyers asking them to shut down the Scrabulous application. Since then, there has been numerous updates including Scrabulous being forced to ultimately change their application name from “Scrabulous” to Wordscraper. Today, Reuters is reporting that Hasbro has officially withdrawn their lawsuit against RJ Softwares, the company behind Wordscraper and the original Scrabulous.
Today Rajat Agarwalla of Scrabulous notified us of a new court ruling that the company is hailing as a favorable outcome. Below is a copy of a statement from the Agarwalla brothers.
You may recall that Mattel Inc. had filed a suit against us before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in February 2008, seeking to restrain us from using the mark Scrabble or Scrabulous, and to remove the game from our servers. We duly defended ourselves and multiple hearings took place in due course. After hearing the arguments of both parties, the Hon’ble Court reserved its
judgment on 29th May.
On 14th August, without waiting for the Court’s order, an impatient Mattel sent a legal notice to Facebook to remove the Scrabulous application. Much to the dismay of our fans and despite our request for maintaining ‘status quo’ until the Court pronounced its verdict, Facebook removed the
application from its website on 22nd August.
Today, it’s a different story.
We are extremely pleased to inform you that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court has now passed its judgment in the matter. The Hon’ble Court has held that Mattel did not have ANY copyrights in the game and hence did not pass any restraining order against us. However, the Hon’ble Court has held that we cannot use the name Scrabulous. We will take a call on whether we will appeal against the decision on the Trademark after consulting our legal advisors.
At this juncture we would like to thank our legal advisors, Khaitan & Co., Advocates, Bangalore who have provided us with excellent guidance, our Senior Counsel, Mr. Sanjay Jain, and Mr. Sushant M. Singh, Advocate who very ably argued on our behalf before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court.
We thank all our fans for their love, blessings and kind words of support. It is a momentous occasion for our global fan base and us. Here’s a message for our fans: “Folks! Take a deep breath, relax and smile We are still here to share and spread happiness with you through our little online games. With your support and good wishes, we will continue to develop amazing games for you to enjoy. Thank you!”
In the meantime, our fans have been enjoying our extremely innovative game – Wordscraper. We are excited to announce that over 1 million games have already been played on it in the past month.
Rajat & Jayant Agarwalla
While the court found that the company cannot use the Scrabulous name, it appears that Mattel had no copyrights protecting them pertaining to actual game play. My interpretation of this is that Scrabulous could have kept the Scrabble game board without using the name Scrabulous. Fortunately for them, their new application: Wordscraper, has been extremely successful.
To date, the company has attracted over 235,000 monthly visitors. While it is still less than the more than half a million daily users Scrabulous used to attract, this still ranks them among the top applications. It’s interesting to see that the Scrabulous battle continues to unfold in the courts even after the Agarwalla brothers switched their application name and functionality.
Over the weekend, international users of the popular Scrabulous game were shocked to find that their favorite applications was no longer accessible. By Monday word has spread around the world via traditionl media outlets which were all reporting the source of the shut down was surprisingly not the Agarwalla brothers (who developed the applications), but instead Facebook who was responding to pressure from Mattel.
The one place where Scrabulous is still available is India but that may not be for long. In response to a law suit filed against Scrabulous, the brothers who developed the application decided to shut it down and relaunch a modified version of the game called Wordscraper. So far, the application has attracted over 262,000 monthly users so far. That’s a far cry from the more than 500,000 active daily users that Scrabulous used to have.
Electronic Arts and Hasbro also released an official version of Scrabble which has now attracts over 382,000 monthly active users. It appears that the Agarwalla brothers will have to suffice with only a few hundred thousand active users rather than the millions they previously had. This should still be sufficient for the brothers to make a living but the battles with Mattel have most definitely stunted the company’s growth.
Facebook’s decision was guided by the risk of facing “liability for copyright and trademark infringement” according to AP News. Tough luck for the Agarwalla brothers and it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t take advantage of the remaining hours to direct Scrabulous uses to their updated Wordscraper game. I have a feeling that this story isn’t over until Scrabulous is shut down everywhere, including India.