Scrabble scramble reports that Hasbro and Mattel are trying to shut down Scrabulous, an online version of their Scrabble game, which is available through Facebook. There is currently no authorised electronic version of Scrabble, but Electronic Arts is developing one under licence.

The IPKat says that infringing other people’s IP rights is never a good idea, and the fact that you’re doing it online doesn’t magically make it OK. In the ideal world of pragamtic utopia, Hasbro would make both itself and its fans happy and take over the existing version, though that wouldn’t be possible on the assumption that Hasbro has granted Electronic Arts an exclusive licence.

Scrabble scramble Scrabble scramble Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Interesting post. Surely there must be a way through there though - by getting the scrabulous developers on board to work with EA, or just buying their code outright and giving it EA to play with?

    I also blogged about the situation here if you're interested:

  2. I used to play an official software version of scrabble and my grandmother still plays scrabble on a playstation. So there must have been an official release.

    What would happen if they just released the game without referring to "scrabble" (or in this case "scrab") - maybe call it something like "makeaword - not endorsed by or related to Scrabble". Presumably the game isn't patented (in Europe at least) and using that wording should therefore head off any TM/PO issues?

  3. I'm guessing there would be copyright in the board layout, so TMs aren't the only issue.

  4. I think the article must be been inaccurate. It must have meant online .

    To be fair, much as I would like Hasbro to bring the developers on board, the risk would be that it would encourage future 'entrepreneurs' to make unauthorised developments in the hope of being bought out for large amounts of money.

  5. This is going to be the first in a long line of such cases, as cloned versions of Risk, Monopoly and a lot of other classic board games are also up on Facebook.

  6. copyrights are also involved where rules of the game are concerned...

  7. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt that the copyright in the rules will be an issue.

    All of these games are so well known that people don't need to be told the rules in order to play. So no re-printing/production of the rules is necessary, so no potential infringement there.

    In the absence of rule reproduction, I didn't think playing a game according to copyrighted rules was an infringement of that copyright.


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