Scrabble Maker Hasbro Mad over Scrabulous

Scrabble is one of the most popular board games, with more than 100 million sets sold worldwide. An online version of the game, called Scrabulous, is getting a lot of attention. But Hasbro, the maker of Scrabble, isn't happy. That's because it isn't the maker of Scrabulous.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On to intellectual property and a scrap over the board game Scrabble. An online version called Scrabulous has gained a following on the social networking site Facebook. But it's not run by Scrabble's owner, Hasbro. Now Hasbro is M-A-D.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Scrabulous was created by two 20-something brothers in India. They launched their own game site in 2006. Last year, they put Scrabulous on Facebook as a free download. Today, it's played by more than 2 million people, like Los Angeles resident Kate Henningson(ph).

Ms. KATE HENNINGSON (Scrabulous Player): I can play with a friend in Boston. I play with a friend in Montreal. I think it's unfortunate that Hasbro would try to shut it down because it is - I personally think it's building a much bigger fan base for the game.

KAUFMAN: She means the game of Scrabble. Perhaps it's true, but Hasbro says Scrabulous infringes on its intellectual property.

Law professor Peter Menell of the University of California, Berkeley says Hasbro might convince a court that its trademark had been infringed upon and that Scrabulous had to amend its site.

Professor PETER MENELL (University of California, Berkeley): They might have to avoid some of the advertising that seems to suggest that they are related to Scrabble.

KAUFMAN: But shutting the game down completely won't be easy. Menell suggests that the law isn't entirely on Hasbro's side. Hasbro has already contacted Facebook, and the lawyers are said to be looking into it. The maker of Scrabble says it would like to resolve the matter amicably. But Hasbro says if it can't do so quickly, it will try to close down the online game.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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