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Case Title:

Hasbro’s Response to Scrabulous: Legally Right, but Risking Popularity?

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: Gopal B, Bhattacharya M, Prasad S

Industry: Entertainment

Region:US

Case Code: COM0250IRC

Teaching Note:  Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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Abstract:
"The board game, Scrabble, a Hasbro product, was acknowledged as the second most popular home entertainment game after another Hasbro product, Monopoly. The on-line version of the board game, Scrabulous, created by two Scrabble players, received immense popularity (IP) after its launch on a social networking site, Facebook. Scrabulous, which was considered the fruit of convergence between the social network and the gaming network, faced intellectual property related issues, raised by Hasbro, who also introduced an on-line version of Scrabble and was able to withdraw the application of Scrabulous in North America using the patent rights. Hasbro's on-line version faced several technological hiccups and was not well received by the on-line community. Meanwhile, Scrabulous creators launched Wordscrapper, which was a new version of Scrabulous with a few changes to avoid IP related issues. Surprisingly, the Wordscrapper received positive response from on-line gamers. The case study will discuss Hasbro's reaction to Scrabulous. It is not clear whether Scrabulous was sued for copyright, or patent or trademark violation. Though Hasbro's claims, to some extent, were found legitimate, would it invite negative publicity for its brand since many users of its on-line version did not consider it a good product? Would Hasbro's infamous on-line version affect the off-line sales of Scrabble? Further, would it be a wise or sensible move to fight with Scrabulous instead of buying the application?

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To the convergence of social networking and gaming network.
  • To the reasons that led to Scrabulous' popularity.
  • To the impact of Scrabulous on Hasbro's Scrabble
  • To the counter-moves of Hasbro and Mattel

Keywords : Scrabble; Facebook; Internet and social networking; Internet and copyright; Wordscrapper; Hasbro, Mattel; Scrabulous; Electronic arts; Copyright; Public domain games; Chess pro; Alfred Mosher Butts; Crosswords; Selchow & Righter; Coleco

Contents : 
Scrabble vs. Scrabulous
Daily Average Active Users of Scrabulous
Scrabble-Copyright Owners

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