Hasbro, owners of the North American rights to Scrabble, have knocked the popular app – and Scrabble clone – Scrabulous right off of Facebook with a federal lawsuit alleging trademark and copyright infringement.
And while Facebook is not itself a defendant in the suit, the implications for the enormously popular social networking site are a concern. As ABC News reports:
The situation calls into question a host of potential legal landmines for Facebook, which allows programmers to develop and upload all sorts of applications to the social networking site.
"The big issue here is what this implies for Facebook," said Tom Hemnes, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in copyright and trademark law. "If I were betting on this, if the case came to litigation or settlement, [I would bet] that Facebook would lose. They are indirectly associated with the name Scrabble to attract viewers to their site, and that would be trademark infringement."
As Scrabulous disappeared, an official version of the game – developed by EA – launched on Facebook. Not all users were pleased. A "Save Scrabulous" FB group gathered tens of thousands of members and some complained about bugs in the EA version.
GP: However one feels about Scrabulous, a reading of Hasbro, Inc. vs. RJ Softwares does spell out a pretty clear-cut case of copyright infringement.