Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Classic Games (Games) Government PC Games (Games) Social Networks The Courts The Internet Entertainment Games News

Hasbro Finally Drops Scrabulous Lawsuit 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the triple-word-score dept.
The Associated Press reports that Hasbro Inc. has now dropped the lawsuit it launched earlier this year against Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, the creators of Scrabulous, a Scrabble clone that found a sizable following on Facebook. We previously discussed Scrabulous' return to Facebook under a different name, as well as the "official" Scrabble client, which was not exactly well received. Hasbro's IP rights to the game are limited to North America, and the AP story adds: "Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble outside of North America, filed a lawsuit against the brothers in India claiming violations of intellectual property. It was not immediately clear what the status of that lawsuit is."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hasbro Finally Drops Scrabulous Lawsuit

Comments Filter:
  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @07:17AM (#26143541) Homepage Journal

    My wife absolutely crushes me every time we play. It was bad enough when she dominated me in physical sports but this is too much. I was really hoping they would get shut down.

    • by n3tcat (664243)
      Maybe you'd have better luck with WiiSports boxing...
      • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:22AM (#26144077) Homepage Journal

        She's brutal with that. She got beat once- and then played in practice mode until she could whip everybody in the family. Really all I've got left is Mario Kart double dash - but nobody wants to play that any more. I just race the console.
         
        It's cool though. She's just very competitive and I'm not. But my vocabulary isn't too bad - I thought scrabulous was a real opportunity to dominate. I was very mistaken.

        • by quarterbuck (1268694) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:23AM (#26144725)
          The only way out then is to get used to the idea of Comparative advantage [wikipedia.org] . She may be better than you at everything in absolute terms, but since both of you have only 24 hours in a day, it still is better for you to stick together and interact (play games). You just have to find the game you are the absolute best and she is the absolute worst and play for limited time (so that she does'nt change her comparative advantage).
          This is how my economist professor explained the reasoning for marrying an absolutely hot and smart woman.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jdgeorge (18767)

            This is how my economist professor explained the reasoning for marrying an absolutely hot and smart woman.

            And yet, to me, the reasoning is similar to what I'd do with a winning lottery ticket: I wouldn't say, "no, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with all that wealth; why don't you keep it?" Instead, I'd say, "yes, thank you, I'll take the 'cash now' option please."

            • I should have been clearer - he is married to another very smart woman and he said this had to be the reason she picked HIM.
        • by Xtravar (725372)

          Due to statistical findings, we can safely assume you make more money than her. So don't feel too bad.

          In the rare case you don't... well, I'm sorry you suck at life. :(

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LandDolphin (1202876)
            Yeah, what a loser. Stuck with a wife who is smart, good at what she most everything, and makes more money then him. Pfft, really would have to suck to be him.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          Ah, but is she better in bed than you?

          If she is, then maybe she being better in so man things isn't so bad ;).
          • by Creepy (93888)

            Ah, but is she better in bed than you?

            Probably, but how is he supposed to know that?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @07:36AM (#26143635)

    You are now constrained in terms of which board layouts you can create in Wordscraper which prevents you from creating a board with the same bonus pattern as the scrabble board.

    Some guy has figured out the rules:

    http://tinyurl.com/63fwjk

    I wouldn't have thought Hasbro had a legal leg to stand on with forcing wordscraper preventing users being able to create certain board layouts, but perhaps wordscraper just bowed to pressure to avoid legal hassle.

    • by Guiness17 (606444)
      I actually followed a 'tinyurl' link from Slashdot. I had to peek between my fingers as I clicked on it. But anyways, many tx for that
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @07:46AM (#26143681)

    The damage is done, they've crushed Scrabulous into non-existence, what else is there to do?

    • by samkass (174571)

      I'm sure they'll figure out some other way to hurt their own brands. Seriously, if they'd just embraced Scrabulous and asked for a percent of the profit, everyone would be way ahead right now. As it is, no one I know who played Scrabulous moved to the "official" client and few play the game Scrabulous turned into. Opportunity lost.

  • Hmmm, five category icons for one story. Is that a record?

  • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @08:40AM (#26143865)

    Many law suits have demonstrated that the idea of a game simply can't be copyrighted, only the name and IP. Arguably the only thing Scrabulous could've been caught on legally in this respect was the name, Scrabulous. A court case against someone for using a similar name wont find a sympathetic ear with a judge even then if the company hasn't at least given the defendant the option of changing the name out of court.

    Really, I think the best they could've done legally is taken them to court over the name had they been unwilling to change it after an initial request out of court.

    The lawsuit was probably there simply as a scare tactic to try and scare them into ceasing and desisting. This scare tactic worked to an extent, but now we're approaching the time they'd actually have to go to court and that they'd actually have to state their case they've backed off, because they know it was unwinnable based on similar past court cases.

    If you could copyright a first person shooter where you have to fight off an alien invasion for example, then that would kill off most the FPS market. If someone however created an FPS called Doomer and it had all the weapons and characters of the original then this would be a valid court case.

    The key is to ensure the only thing that's copied is the idea and concept and that the name and assets do not closely resemble the originals.

    • Many law suits have demonstrated that the idea of a game simply can't be copyrighted, only the name and IP.

      Law suits don't demonstrate this - it's the law at the US Copyright Office [copyright.gov]

      The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

      Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

      In other words, the artwork is copyrightable, but neither the rules of the game, nor the method of play, is. That's simply the law.

      • Aren't the rules of the game covered by copyright? If I were to write a book about a little orphan who lived in a broom closet at her stepfather's, who discovered that she was a genie, went to a school for genies, made two really close genie friends, found out she was good at playing the genie game Firbage, and got into all sorts of adventures while an evil genie who's very name strikes fear is trying to kill her - would I not get convicted of copyright violations? If I can't write a similar book, or crea
        • by jackbird (721605)
          Because one is a book (a fixed expression of a creative idea) and the other is a game (an abstract set of rules). And the third one is software, and software copyrights work somewhat the way you describe (google "abstraction, filtration, comparison test" - this is how, e.g. similar applications can exist that copy each others' features). Software patents are not enshrined in black-letter law, being instead the result of court decisions.
        • by Clovis42 (1229086)
          The basic concepts of the game are not covered by copyright. You can copyright a particular description of those rules though. Similarly, you cannot copyright a recipe. However, a specific description of the recipe can be. If the rules/recipe are so straightfoward that it is the only way to describe them, they generally wouldn't be covered by copyright.

          If a game has a storyline, then that storyline is covered by copyright. The name is usually trademarked. But you cannot control the basic ruleset.
        • by multisync (218450) *

          Aren't the rules of the game covered by copyright?

          Yup. And that's basically what Hasbro was alleging in the copyright portion of their complaint [nytimes.com], that there are no rules to Scrabulous, that "a user not already familiar with the rules of the SCRABBLE crossword game would not know how to play "Scrabulous," and "until earlier this year, defendants included on their website hyperlinks to official SCRABBLE webpages, resources such as the official SCRABBLE rules, and also other websites offering unauthorized and

          • by tomhudson (43916)

            Aren't the rules of the game covered by copyright?

            Yup. And that's basically what Hasbro was alleging in the copyright portion of their complaint, that there are no rules to Scrabulous, that "a user not already familiar with the rules of the SCRABBLE crossword game would not know how to play "Scrabulous," and "until earlier this year, defendants included on their website hyperlinks to official SCRABBLE webpages, resources such as the official SCRABBLE rules, and also other websites offering unauthoriz

            • by multisync (218450) *

              The rules of a game are NOT covered by copyright. What IS covered is the actual text

              Hasbro said the Scrabulous guys linked to their rules and player dictionary - the "actual text" - and that, by essentially including those copyrighted materials as part of their game, they violated Hasbro's copyright. That's why I quoted from the complaint "until earlier this year, defendants included on their website hyperlinks to official SCRABBLE webpages, resources such as the official SCRABBLE rules, and also other webs

              • by tomhudson (43916)

                Since it didn't go to court, we don't have a decision as to whether "linking to" is a copyright violation. The RIAA and certai media believe it is. The rest of the world doesn't.

                Since it was Hasbro's own servers that were generating the rules pages, it's dubious that there was an actual copyright violation. More likely, it would be misrepresentation or "trade dress", which could be avoided by clearly identifying the source as belonging to Hasbro.

                • by multisync (218450) *

                  That may very well be. I never suggested Hasbro was right, just that the basis for the copyright portion of their complaint was the text of the Scrabble rule book and game dictionary.

      • So why are levels inspired by other games in LittleBigPlanet being modded out?
        • by jdgeorge (18767)

          So why are levels inspired by other games in LittleBigPlanet being modded out?

          Possibly out of trademark concerns, and probably out of Sony's desire to keep its development partners and potential partners happy.

      • by neo (4625)

        But you CAN patent the game mechanics.

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          But you CAN patent the game mechanics.

          There are no "game mechanics" that are "innovative enough" to meat the standard of being an "invention", and patentable in most board games (Mousetrap is the only possible exception that readily comes to mind).

          • by neo (4625)

            Two points:

            1. The patent office gives out game mechanic patents pretty easily. I've seen copies of chess variants with only the switching of piece positions given as new mechanics.

            2. You don't think that scrabble meets the criteria of innovation? I see absolutely no prior art that comes close to it and the restricted use and valuation of tiles for letter use is entirely inventive.

            • by tomhudson (43916)

              You don't think that scrabble meets the criteria of innovation? I see absolutely no prior art that comes close to it and the restricted use and valuation of tiles for letter use is entirely inventive.

              So go and be the first to patent it - Hasbro didn't. (of course, there's a reason they didn't - it's not patentable :-).

              • by neo (4625)

                I can't patent it... there's prior art. (See: Hasbro Scrabble)

                'Capablanca Chess' is a chess variant that includes two new pieces (one that moves like a rook and a knight and one that moves like a bishop and a knight). The game was created as a way to avoid the current frequency of draws in chess.

                It was never patented.

                However 'Gothic Chess' was patented. ( US patent number 6,481,716 on November 19, 2002 ) The games are nearly identical except for the starting position of the pieces.

                You could make the argum

    • by cowscows (103644)

      Did you ever look at Scrabulous? If we go by your own criteria that you laid out in your last sentence, then it most certainly was a valid lawsuit.

  • Awesome!

    Makes me want to go on facebook (for the first time ever) and play Wordscraper.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

Working...