This story was first reported in January, but came to a head earlier this month when a lawsuit was filed. The issue was that a Facebook application called “Scrabulous” (written by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla) was infringing the rights of Hasbro’s traditional “Scrabble” board game. As the debate gained momentum there were online petitions, protests and with some 700k worldwide users it was even argued that the look-alike application actually helped increase sales of traditional scrabble games! However, clearly the name was a deliberate reference to the original game format. Perhaps the not insignificant advertising revenues the creators of the online application were netting led Hasbro to file the lawsuit. There has been a lot of debate due to the popularity of the application and hence wider PR issues that were involved. The businessweek.com online debate I have linked to outlined the pros and cons. It’s an interesting case, particularly if one reads the continued comments that explore options that could have been explored to resolve this issue whilst responding to the opportunities offered by the new online environment.
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