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e-Scrabble gets Cease and Desist Order from Hasbro

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the one-of-my-favorite-sites dept.

The Courts 774

Matthew Dull writes "Home-brewed e-Scrabble.com recently received a cease-and-desist order from Hasbro Inc., owners of the famous board game Scrabble. E-scrabble, home to over 100,000 active players, has been hosting up online versions of the game to happily addicted players for over a year now (maybe more), and only now does Hasbro come forth with a lawsuit. The creator of the site, known only as Jared, has posted the letter he received from Hasbro's lawyers. However common it may be, it always seems a tragedy when a big corporation stomps its heavy foot on a fledgling but very successful piece of web software that is close to many people's heart." (It's also the best online Scrabble game I've seen; Hasbro should pay Jared, not sue him.)

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y'know (5, Funny)

heptapod (243146) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007153)

There's a great way to enforce a cease-and-desist order. Slashdot the site.

Re:y'know (4, Funny)

l810c (551591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007214)

Yea, I clicked the link and all I got what a blank page with the word "Quijibo" on it.

Re:y'know (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007245)

fuck you liberal scum. jesus christ is my saviour. He is my gordon freeman.

Slashdot should... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007158)

Slashdot should pay Jared, not Slashdot him.

Re:Slashdot should... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007411)

Jared helped me lose over 45 pounds on the subway diet.

Uhhh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007159)

Okay, so... they took the trademarked name and one would assume copyrighted game design that hasbro sells in stores and... gave away without permission a video game that replicated it perfectly. ...

You know there's a lot of reasons I'm not crazy about Hasbro but I really just can't see anything unreasonable about this. If there's anything copyright laws were meant to prevent it's exactly this.

That said Hasbro is really foolish to not just buy these people outright, illegal or no. Literati just isn't as good as real scrabble and I don't like hanging around yahoo.com. I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Re:Uhhh (1)

bmac83 (869058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007247)

In a public relations sense, this seems like the RIAA lawsuits all over again. When will companies realize that asserting legal rights doesn't necessarily require antagonizing current and potential user bases?

Re:Uhhh (5, Insightful)

urbaer (778997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007302)

You know there's a lot of reasons I'm not crazy about Hasbro but I really just can't see anything unreasonable about this.

Hmmm.... I think maybe the following:
Because the e-Scrabble URL is of no use to you, it should be transferred to Hasbro. We also demand that you provide us with information concerning the extent of your uses of any elements of the SCRABBLE game, as well as information regarding the distribution of your electronic Scrabble game to enable us to assess more precisely the extent of the damage done.

Isn't this just Hasbro saying "we'll take the game and the site from you and run it ourselves... then possibly take any money you made from it in the last year"? Hasbro clearly isn't interested in a purchase...

Re:Uhhh (3, Informative)

cgreuter (82182) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007385)

kay, so... they took the trademarked name and one would assume copyrighted game design [...]

Games are not copyrightable. The artwork is, yes, as is the text of the rules and the design of the pieces, and the name is trademark but the game itself has no IP protection.

You know there's a lot of reasons I'm not crazy about Hasbro but I really just can't see anything unreasonable about this.

I can see Hasbro requesting that he stop using their trademark and stop distributing copies of their artwork (as the letter alleges they were doing) but they're demanding he dismantle the site. That may just be lawyering, but my paranoid little brain interprets this as an attempt to shut down a potential competitor.

That, or generic corporate bullying.

Re:Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007428)

The design of the game board itself can be copyrighted, however... stars, colors, etc.

Re:Uhhh (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007410)

It's a trademark issue, not copyright. There are tons of other online scrabble clones. I know, because my mother plays them obsessively.

You *have* to take action to enforce trademarks, or lose them. The "Scrabble" name is worth something to Hasbro. The game could have been nothing like real Scrabble, and they'd still probably have to send out a notice, just in case.

This is like the much-publicized case where Disney sent a C&D to some Florida pre-school for painting Mickey, Donald et al, on their walls. It was a big PR stinkfest, and Hanna Barbera stepped in and gave them permission to use their characters. It made Disney look like a bunch of heartless bastards, and HB look like saviors.

Now, we all know Disney does some evil shit, but in this case, they really didn't have a choice in the matter. Disney can't afford to lose the trademarks they have on Mickey and company.

Re:Uhhh (2, Funny)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007482)

With that logic, everyone and their brother will be creating knock-offs of offline games and expect to be bought out by the owners.

Instead of Monopoly, I think I'll create Oligopoly [reference.com] , or add some political overtones and call it Plutocracy [reference.com] .

How long do you think you'd hold out in court with a product called "Video Basic" or "Visually Basic"?

Well, a better name would have helped (5, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007166)

e-scrabble is sort of RETARDED. It would be like starting up a new websoftware company called eMicrosoft. OO i wonder who would sue me then!

It may be a good piece of software and i doubt they could sue for the game idea. Rename it possibly?

Re:Well, a better name would have helped (1)

tricops (635353) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007180)

Renaming it may or may not be enough. I would guess not though. They would probably have to actually change the rules some as well, as Yahoo has done with their Literati game.

Re:Well, a better name would have helped (3, Interesting)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007318)

Actually, while a specific instance (ie, a manual) of the rules is copyrightable, the "idea" of the rules of the game is neither copywritable nor patentable.

This guy was just asking for trouble by naming the game eScrabble, though.

Re:Well, a better name would have helped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007466)

I reccomend "e-Scribble", personally.

Pay him? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007167)

What kind of bullshitery is that?

Re:Pay him? (4, Funny)

j0e_average (611151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007277)

What kind of bullshitery is that?
I don't know, but bullshitery would be worth 19 points, assuming 1) no premium word/letter spaces, and 2) that it was a real word!

Happened to me too (5, Funny)

Dimwit (36756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007172)

When I started up www.e-slashdot.org, over 100,00 people came and read my geek news. Then some lawyers from some Open Source Lab place got all pissy and sent me a letter. Once more a large corporation slams the little guy!

I was posting good news from independent sources. Heck, they should have paid me!

don't laugh (2)

iamnotacrook (816556) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007271)

that has happened to at least two actual slashdot-based sites.

Well... (1, Funny)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007173)

It's also the best online scrabble game I've seen; Hasbro should pay Jared, not sue him.

If you can't innovate, litigate.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007186)

Or, if you can't innovate and can't afford to litigate, copy old Hasbro games and put them on the internet.

Re:Well... (1)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007262)

There is at least one other quality online Scrabble site that has been up since 1999 and seems to be a bit more under-the-radar. Probably since the operator didn't choose an intentionally provocative name like e-scrabble.

A quick googling of "play scrabble online" should bring up a number of [thepixiepit.co.uk] other sources. [www.isc.ro]

Re:Well... (1)

Toddarooski (12363) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007273)

Yes, well, we all know that it's hard to deny the power of a legal argument that rhymes. But is Hasbro really the party with the lack of innovation here?

Re:Well... (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007401)

+1 Ironic Because the guy who copied their game and put it online is the "innovator" This wouldn't be an issue if he actually did innovate and make his own game.

Re:Well... (1)

davedx (861162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007430)

If you can't innovate, steal someone else's idea and make a website with it..

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007455)

Uh, it's Hasbro's property that e-Scrabble has copied. Tell me again who's the party that's failing to innovate here?

Hasbro is totally in the right here. It's their game, their trademarks, their ballgame, yet you and others here are painting Hasbro out to be the bad guys? Why? For protecting what's its own property?

Let's play a game of word substitution for a minute. Let's pretend that "Hasbro" = "F/OSS developer", "Scrabble" = "GPLed code" and that "e-Scrabble" = "commercial/CSS developer". Now, imagine a commercial/CSS developer took someone else's GPLed code and ignored all relevant copyrights, trademarks and legal protections. Now whose side are you on?

The guys at e-Scrabble broke the law. They know they did and you know they did. So don't make Hasbro out to be the bad guy because they've asked e-Scrabble to stop.

Heck, Hasbro hasn't even taken legal action, it's politely (as politely as can be done in such cases where the law is concerned) asked e-Scrabble to just quit what it's been doing. If they really were evil then they would be litigating right now, and demanding the shirts of these guys backs to compensate for lost sales (however fictional those lost sales may be).

Hasbro has done everything right here. So far, it's done things by the book and it's done things in as politely and as amicably as it can, given the circumstances. If you want to see an example of "if you can't innovate, litigate" then I suggest you check out RIAA and its friends.

PAY HIM!!! (1)

-*Sex E. Beast*- (837853) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007176)

If they were to pay him then everyone would have to use those rediculous buisness practices.

Transfer URL to me (2, Funny)

attobyte (20206) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007187)

Well transfer the name to me and I will host it until Hasbro sues me. Then I will grant them thier wish but only after I transfer it to one of the other 100,000 players. I think we should be able to do this for at least a couple of years. :)

Re:Transfer URL to me (1)

humina (603463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007259)

That will work until you find out that you actually have to pay Hasbro money along with removing your website.

Re:Transfer URL to me (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007295)

Since the URL is clearly trademark infringement, the courts would almost certainly compel the registrar to transfer the domain to Hasbro, regardless of who the current owner is.

Pay him? (5, Insightful)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007188)

Timothy wrote:
It's also the best online scrabble game I've seen; Hasbro should pay Jared, not sue him.
Why would Hasbro pay Jared? What are they getting out of it exactly?

Re:Pay him? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007212)

Why would Hasbro pay Jared?

So they can lose weight on the Subway diet?

Re:Pay him? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007217)

Why would Hasbro pay Jared? What are they getting out of it exactly?

Well, his amazing diet experience has helped market their sandwiches like crazy!

Re:Pay him? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007404)

Selling boards to people who discovered that they liked Scrabble because of e-scrabble.

Class A people understand something by themselves.
Class B people understand something when they're told.
Class C people don't understand something even after they're told.

You're a class C. Congratulations.

ROM defense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007189)

What if they all have copies of the game at home? Fair use? Probably not.

Copyrightable? (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007191)

I am not a lawyer, but I have followed the similar Tetris [wikipedia.org] issue.

Change the name from e-scrabble to something else, and the trademark claim is pretty much out the window. True, the rule sheet packaged with the game is copyrighted, but given Copyright Office publication FL108 [copyright.gov] , I'm not so positive that copyright applies to the elements of a game itself.

That's not the point (WAS:Copyrightable?) (2, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007332)

That's not the point. The point is that it can get expensive defending against such lawsuits. It's not uncommon for large companies filing meritless lawsuits knowing full well their targets are likely to settle since they can't afford the legal fees involved.

Re:Copyrightable? (2, Insightful)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007336)

Yahoo games has Literati, which is like Scrabble but with a different name. I haven't seen this e-scrabble site, but I'm sure changing the name would also work for them.

Re:Copyrightable? (1)

DragonMagic (170846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007353)

No, but the design and mechanics of a game are patentable. The main problem would be the look-and-feel and name trademarks.

Re:Copyrightable? (2, Interesting)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007386)

What about the board? It seems scrabble could have a copyright on the layout of the board, for instance the locations of the triple word squares.

Other than that, I'm not sure what non-trivial stuff they could copyright. Maybe the number of tiles of a particular letter, but that's pretty borderline. Of course they can trademark and possible copyright the color schemes and stuff like that, but that's all trivially changed without changing the game itself.

Oh yeah, and the most definitely copyrightable part is the official dictionary. But it wouldn't be too horrible to use a game with an alternate dictionary.

Re:Copyrightable? (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007477)

If he really wanted to stick it to them, he could just change the name of his game to "Hasbro the Scrabble Bully". Now with triple-lawsuit score.

Well, actually I would think Hasbro is right (5, Insightful)

episodic (791532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007192)

I mean you can't argue that scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro. You can't argue that it is abandonware (last time I checked scrabble is still sold in stores).

It is clear that Hasbro has every right to ask him to cease and desist - and should not have to pay him a thing, it is THEIR product unequivocally.

Re:Well, actually I would think Hasbro is right (2, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007388)

Legally, even if it WAS abandonware, it would still be infringement.

Abandonware is just a term us Infringers use to make our piracy seem less nasty. ^_^

Re:Well, actually I would think Hasbro is right (1)

CliffH (64518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007395)

Well, maybe Hasbro should officially sanction him to do a fully Hasbro approved version for their website, or, sponsor him (through Hasbro branding on the website) and keep the site up as an official Scrabble site. This is what I think was eluded to by the "pay him" comment in the article.

Going on a little rant, maybe Apple could lighten up on people making "aquaesque" themes for their WM's and shells and possibly sponsor some of these people to make, I don't know, time limited demos or full shell replacements to get people used to the look and feel of OS X. Hey, you never know, you may get more converts. This would be similar to IBM giving away the Workplace Shell replacement on Windows way back when before the launch of Warp (or was it after). I actually did get some people converted to OS/2 by using the shell instead of the tinker toy that was Program Manager in Win 3.1.

Ok, I'll quit ranting, get modded down, and go about my business. :)
CliffH

Wow (3, Insightful)

Canadian_Daemon (642176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007199)

Wow! After reading that letter, it seems like they want to take over from him. They demand the site and the code to it.
Oh, and obligatory
1. Let fan make game
2 Sue fan and steal game
3. ??? ( can be omitted)
4. Profit

Re:Wow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007301)

they have NOT demanded the code for the site. just the domain and information about the distribution, so they can estimate damages. He will NOT have to surrender code.

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

Maradine (194191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007347)

1. Let fan make game

Um, I hate to side with the machine here, but Hasbro made the game.

If a third-party made a web-based Warhammer clone called e-Warhammer, Games Workshop would sue.

If a third-party made a web-based Axis and Allies clone called e-Axis and Allies, Avalon Hill would sue.

Frankly, so would I.

M

Re:Wow (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007421)

Oh, and obligatory
1. Let fan make game
2 Sue fan and steal game


The fan stole the game.

eSrabble beats Hasbro (1)

bryan986 (833912) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007201)

H-A-S-B-R-O: 11 points E-S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E: 15 points Good Game.

It's the name not the game. (1)

DigitalTechnic (822530) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007203)

It's proabally because of the name they used not because of the game because look at places like www.isc.ro

I don't get it ... (1)

ect5150 (700619) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007205)

Who didn't see this coming? I can't see the site (Slashdotted already?), but if I make a site called e-BurgerKing.com to sell hamburgers online, I think I'd get sued too. I don't see the difference.

Showing Milton Bradley how Monopoly is played (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007213)

I for one think an IT version of Monopoly should be created. Forget about Real Estate. Patent and Trademark portfolios are where it's at. "Boardwalk" should be replaced with "one-click shopping". "Park Place" should be replaced with the "Stacker" compression program.

Re:Showing Milton Bradley how Monopoly is played (5, Funny)

UWC (664779) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007309)

When I told a friend a while back that Hasbro owns both Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, he asked, perfectly sincerely, "Isn't that some sort of monopoly?" And then instantly recognized the accidental pun.

uh huh. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007215)

" However common it may be, it always seems a tragedy when a big corporation stomps its heavy foot on a fledgling but very successful piece of web software that is close to many people's heart."

Tragedy? Um, no. He really should have known he was going to get a C&D over that. If Scabble were some obscure game that nobody heard of, I could call this tragic.

no no no... (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007216)

It's also the best online scrabble game I've seen; Hasbro should pay Jared, not sue him.

You've got it backwards. They'll sue him. Then they'll get the List of Names (TM). And then they'll either put up a site of their own and (3. Profit!) or they will give them a deal to license Scrabble Online for only 6.99 (and thus, 3. Profit!)

Another great site / client (4, Informative)

haluness (219661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007220)

http://www.isc.ro/ [www.isc.ro] is an alternative site. You can't play on the website itself but it has Java clients which you can download and then connect to the isc.ro server.

It's definitely reduced my sleeping hours!

Easy fix... (2, Funny)

Nimrangul (599578) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007222)

Change the name to Elb-Barcs and rearrange the board, maybe make it a little bigger, just some minor touches to it to make sure it doesn't look "scrabbly".

Then you're free to go, just remember to yell Elb Barcs when you win and not Scrabble.

Re:Easy fix... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007462)

right, I think I will get an account with the name Lugnar Min and see how you like it!

Re:Easy fix... (1)

davedx (861162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007476)

The reason the site is so popular in the first place is because it's SCRABBLE though. People won't want to play "not-quite-scrabble-so-I-don't-get-sued"...

Hasn't this been litigated before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007225)

Unfortunately, to have a snowball's chance in hell of being near the top, I don't have time to do research. But, I seem to remember that Scrabble has gone to court, and (aside from the trademarked name), IP laws don't really help it much.

A little late? (1)

evenSong (795250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007232)

Can Hasbro spell p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n? Wait... how many points was that?

Name change? (2)

Tony.Tang (164961) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007242)

Just curious -- would a name change do the trick?

It's ridiculous that Hasbro is trying to take down this little guy running this little site. After all, have they not heard of "Yahoo" and "Yahoo Games"? Literati [yahoo.com] is a game that you can play on Yahoo! Games, and everyone knows and thinks of it as Scrabble. What a bunch of hooey.

Re:Name change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007326)

It should be enough to change the name. They have a point - people might confuse e-scrabble with scrabble itself.

On the other hand, you cannot copyright an idea, only the expression of an idea. I don't think you can have a copyright on the rules of a game - other than the specific text Hasbro uses to express those rules. Imagine if the NBA could tell kids on a playground not to play basketball using "their" rules. It's absurd.

He should transfer (to hasbro) the name and tell hasbro to shove the copyright threats up their tailpipes.

Re:Name change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007453)

They have a point - people might confuse e-scrabble with scrabble itself.

What a tragedy.

Re:Name change? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007341)

Yes it would.

As we all know (don't we?), a corporation has to defend it's trademark or else it will lose it.

Scrabble is not patented nor copyrighted, well maybe the text of the instruction manual is copyright, but that's not the issue.

Hasbro has no choice in this matter.

Yahoo! did fine with a different name. These guys pretty much piggybacked on the more familiar Scrabble name to get hits from google, and thus advertising revenue.

Re:Name change? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007460)

It's ridiculous that Hasbro is trying to take down this little guy running this little site.

The story summary says it has 100,000 users. That's not a little site. And even if it did, sometimes, just sometimes the little guy's in the wrong.

Guess what (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007250)

Scrabble is a trademark. Everyone knows that.

They could have called it anything else, and still had the same game with the same rules, and not had a problem.

By calling the site Scrabble.com they were asking for it.

They could have called it WordFun.com, or something else. But then, without the scrabble name, they'd have a hard time getting hits and membership, (and ad revenue) without piggybacking on Hasbro's success, wouldn't they?

My heart is not bleeding.

Re:Guess what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007447)

. But then, without the scrabble name, they'd have a hard time getting hits and membership, (and ad revenue) without piggybacking on Hasbro's success, wouldn't they?

Uh, what ads? Its donation based afaik

Go To Romania To Play Scrabble (2, Interesting)

VisualVoice (592060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007251)

http://isc.ro is the best on-line scrabble site anyway.

Re:Go To Romania To Play Scrabble (3, Funny)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007433)

That site may have the best Scrabble game in the world on it. My problem is that the last time I downloaded a "client program" from Romania, I ended up paying a lot of money in long distance phone bills that I couldn't explain.

Someone else willing to vouch for this guy? :-P

Jared should pay Hasbro (3, Insightful)

YukiKotetsu (765119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007257)

I haven't been there, nor have I played e-scrabble, but is this guy Jared paying for the server, bandwidth, whatever else without making a dime in return? Is there some sort of advertising that is on there to recoup his costs?

How long until this guy has a bunch of people addicted, asks for a few dollars, then starts making money off of Hasbro's game? Why can't I start e-monopoly, e-settler's of catan, or e-crack addicted whore quest and then the company should "pay me" because I did such a job without getting their approval?

Jared should pay Hasbro.

Re:Jared should pay Hasbro (1)

owlclownish (553387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007322)

I haven't been there, nor have I played e-scrabble, but is this guy Jared paying for the server, bandwidth, whatever else without making a dime in return? Is there some sort of advertising that is on there to recoup his costs?

Actually, yes. As far as I know there are not now nor have there ever been any advertisements on e-Scrabble. Jared has purchased two machines and payed hosting for e-Scrabble because it's a hobby. He enjoys writing the code.

Good move Hasbro (1)

stevobi (600234) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007270)

I am sure that the 100,000+ e-Scrabble players will now rush out to replace their aging Scrabble boards.

Re:Good move Hasbro (1)

dauthur (828910) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007290)

Or, they'll just move onto other and better games, like Blokus. [blokus.com]

That is... until THEY get shut down for copying Tetris.

Re:Good move Hasbro (1)

Storlek (860226) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007469)

IIRC, you can make Tetris clones all you want as long as you don't use the word "Tetris".

Obvious they didn't really look at the site (2, Informative)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007274)

From the article:
... association with your commercial activities.

We also demand that you provide us with information concerning the extent of your uses of any elements of the SCRABBLE game, as well as information regarding the distribution of your electronic Scrabble game to enable us to assess more precisely the extent of the damage done.

Ummm. He doesn't charge people anything and the "distribution" is limited to people coming to his website. Heck, the site even has a disclaimer at the bottom. Really, is this any different than hosting a big 24/7 get together in some public park where people can come play Scrabble all they want?

Re:Obvious they didn't really look at the site (2, Insightful)

MooseGuy529 (578473) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007464)

Really, is this any different than hosting a big 24/7 get together in some public park where people can come play Scrabble all they want?

Yes, because with the park, you pay Hasbro for the Scrabble sets you use. The creator of this site doesn't.

e-scrabble must be as boring as the real game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007285)

it's played thru email no less... omg come on corporate america stop shooting yourself in the foot, embrace things like this!! imitation is the best form of flattery after all.

Its a shame (1)

darw!n (867623) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007288)

They have shuffled a little guy up and spread him on a board for a sweet score Got nothing

They should pay him... (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007293)

Hasbro should pay this guy and host his site on thier servers, It would then be "offically" endorsed and they could serve up thier ads on it. I don't know why they'd want to shut this down, it only spreads scrabble and people playing online would have bought the game anyway; This would encourage people to get out the real life game more and play with friends.

Is ISC next? (2, Interesting)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007298)

What about Internet Scrabble Club [www.isc.ro] ? Are they safe because they're outside the US, licensed, or are they next?

Re:Is ISC next? (1)

haluness (219661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007435)

Thats an intersting point - it seems the author of the client is pretty reserved.

And I haven't see any details as to the 'legality' of the whole thing. But at least the name does'nt contain *scrabble* !

Maybe since its called WordBiz that would save it. I sure would hate to see it go

why pay if... (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007303)

Why pay if you can send an army of lawyers and get it for "free" (except attorney fees and a PR nightmare)?

Trademarks (3, Interesting)

Supertroll (210165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007320)

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't trademark holders required to defend their trademarks or risk losing them? (like what happened with "Aspirin")

Why Jared? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007321)

I didn't know Jared the Subway guy was a Scrabble fanatic. Guess you learn new things everyday.

Salvage (2, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007325)

Frankly, Hasbro is basically right with regards to the name -- it might be possible to show that the name is generic, but it'd be difficult and seems somewhat unlikely.

They're also probably right with regards to the game board and the description of the rules.

However, game rules -- i.e. the system by which a game is played -- are not copyrightable. They're patentable, but any patent on scrabble probably expired long ago. Only a particular written expression of game rules are. And even the expressions aren't particularly strong, given the merger doctrine.

It might be a good idea to come up with a completely new board graphic that still functionally was the same, and to rewrite the rules from scratch, making sure that they didn't match the language in the official rules, and to come up with a completely unrelated name. Just as scrabble is a made up word, just make up a totally new word.

Of course, past infringements may still be litigable, but there's nothing to be done about them other than to a) wait out the statute of limitations, or b) get Hasbro to agree not to sue.

Re:Salvage (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007448)

It might be a good idea to come up with a completely new board graphic that still functionally was the same, and to rewrite the rules from scratch, making sure that they didn't match the language in the official rules, and to come up with a completely unrelated name. Just as scrabble is a made up word, just make up a totally new word.

If they did that, nobody would hit their site and generate ad revenue, when they pop onto Google and type in "Scrabble".

Why pay? (2, Insightful)

bitflip (49188) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007349)

Hasbro has a pretty open-and-shut case. Why pay for e-scrabble, when they can acquire it as part of a settlement?

Just move to another country already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007371)

The answer to your relief is to simply move the domain to another country other than the US or Canada. Are you reading your letter or not?

As Johnnie Cochran would say (1)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007373)

Copy the game. Copy the name. Get the blame. Seems like a solid case for Hasbro, that is unless Jared employs the Chewbacca defence.

hist ukcss. (0, Offtopic)

blackomegax (807080) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007393)

i otnd ownk bouat uoy, tbu htis skcus orf htat ocpmnay.

Hasbro's C&D letter somewhat inaccurate (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12007397)

Yes, Hasbro holds a copyright in the design and layout of the Scrabble board, but they DO NOT hold copyright in the rules, no matter what they say.

Copyright only protects expression. And functional elements of expression are not protected by copyright. This is why things like ingredients are not copyrightable, because they only serve to tell you how to do something.

The Copyright Office (See http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html) makes it clear that "Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game." Accordingly, game rules generally are not copyrightable.

Granted, Hasbro may own copyright in the rules as written. But this copyright is thin, essentially only precluding exact reproduction. Even then, the descriptions of the steps to play the game are functional, and not protected. There is nothing they can do to prevent another from redescribing the steps in their own words and publishing that.

Too bad this guy is out of luck on the trademark stuff....

the real kick in the nuts (2, Insightful)

madHomer (2207) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007406)

It's one thing to shut down a man's website, but you don't need to go and steal his domain name:
...Because the e-Scrabble URL is of no use to you, it should be transferred to Hasbro...

Oh please... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007431)

...usually I'm against it when it comes to big corp crushing the little guy - but e-scrabble? Seriously, "Company who has spent years building up a brand name and mindhare of a game sending C&D to cheap ripoff" sounds more like it.

Hell, if you even try using that similar a *name*, they get you. Look at Lindows. From what I can gather they made a clone which was deliberately using their trademark. How much more clear cut can it get? Sorry, find your own name and image. This one is fully justified.

Kjella

Could Be Worse (5, Funny)

TimCrider (215456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007441)

He could have called it iScrabble and had Apple on their ass too.

So where's the problem? (2, Interesting)

p0rnking (255997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007443)

Now i do agree this probably isn't the best way to deal with it, by sending a cease and desist letter, Hasbro does have the right. I'm pretty sure that it's clearly marked on the box, and in the instruction manual that scarbble, it's name and idea are owned by hasboro.

It's not like they just patented the game, and now are on a manhunt to raise revenue by suing people who have created anything similar to their game.

If another game company created a game that is pretty much the same thing, and used "scrabble" in the name, would they not be fair game also? If so, then why is the internet and software any different?

And to top it all off, I'm sure with 100,000+ users, he has to be making a few dollars off of it, which gives hasboro even more reason to go after him.

But like it says in the summary, Hasboro should have offered him some sort of a deal, I'm sure there's more to gain from it.

Give me a break, editor. (1)

prezninja (552043) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007451)

Hasbro should pay Jared

Usually that's not how it works when Jared is using Hasbro's registered mark.

Uh... (2, Interesting)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12007467)

From TFA:

Today I received the letter below via e-mail. It is not clear if I will have to take the site down or not. I am consulting with a lawyer. Please stay tuned.

IANAL, but, you're screwed pal. AFAICT, you used their board layout and their layout. You shouldn't be worried about if you will have to take the site down. You should be worried about whether your setttlement with them is going to bankrupt you.
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