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Makers of Scrabble try to shut down online version

January 17, 2008|From the Associated Press

The companies that make Scrabble are trying to shut down Scrabulous, an online version of the game that is one of the most popular applications on the social-networking website Facebook.

Hasbro Inc., which owns the rights to the crossword game in the U.S. and Canada, and Mattel Inc., which owns the rights elsewhere, believe that the Facebook game infringes their copyrights and trademarks.

Scrabulous listed more than 600,000 daily active users on Facebook as of Wednesday. It is one of the 10 most used applications on the website. People can also play the game at www.scrabulous.com.

The companies jointly issued cease-and-desist notices to four parties involved in the development, hosting and marketing of Scrabulous, according to a letter Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro is sending consumers who have contacted them about Scrabulous.

In a separate statement released Wednesday, Hasbro was not specific about who the four parties were, but said it was reviewing a number of options with them and hoped to find an amicable solution.

"If we cannot come to one quickly, we will be forced to close down the site and its associated distribution points," Hasbro said.

Facebook and Scrabulous did not immediately return several requests for comment.

Although there are authorized Scrabble games online, Scrabulous has gained popularity because it's free, fun to play with friends and easy to access on Facebook.

The game was developed by brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla of Kolkata, India. The Agarwallas say on the website that they created it after being unable to find an online version of Scrabble they liked.

News of the toy companies' action prompted Scrabulous fans to start a "Save Scrabulous" group on Facebook and urge others to lodge protests with the companies by posting links to Hasbro's and Mattel's websites.

Hasbro is urging Scrabulous fans to switch to legal Scrabble websites.

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