Hasbro began its efforts to bring Scrabulous to heel in January, when it sent a notice to Facebook requesting the game’s removal from the service. At the time, Scrabulous co-creator Jayant Agarwalla expressed hope that a compromise could be reached, and despite Hasbro’s request, the game has remained available to Facebook users.
Hasbro appears somewhat disinclined to look for a happy middle ground, however, announcing that it has sued Jayant and his brother, Rajat Agarwalla, and their company, RJ Softwares, and served a copyright infringement notice to Facebook. “Hasbro has an obligation to act appropriately against infringement of our intellectual properties,” said Barry Nagler, Hasbro general counsel. “We view the Scrabulous application as clear and blatant infringement of our Scrabble intellectual property, and we are pursuing this legal action in accordance with the interests of our shareholders, and the integrity of the Scrabble brand.”
One possible explanation for the company’s new aggressiveness is its 2007 deal with Electronic Arts, which will see the development of digital versions of some of Hasbro’s most popular properties, including Monopoly, Yahtzee and Scrabble. As part of that deal, Hasbro announced on July 7 that an official version of Scrabble was coming to Facebook later in the month, and while the “real” version of the game has been given the support of the National Scrabble Association, Scrabulous is a well-established and popular Facebook application, reporting 2.3 million active users in January 2008.