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Hasbro Using DMCA on Facebook Game Apps

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the bit-of-overkill-dont-you-think dept.

The Courts 210

Boggle Addict writes "Rather than participating in the online gaming market, Hasbro is suppressing it with litigation. Scrabulous, a Scrabble imitation, is already fighting to prevent being shut down. Today, Hasbro sent out DMCA notices to other apps on Facebook, including Bogglific, a Boggle imitation. Copyright law has has always held very limited protections for games. This may be opening a can of worms for Hasbro.

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210 comments

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Sounds like... (4, Funny)

croddy (659025) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071674)

Sounds like Hasbro wants to have a Monopoly on word games.

Re:Sounds like... (4, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071732)

Just wait until the Tic-Tac-Toe folks find out about Hollywood Squares.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072536)

The makers of Tic Tacs [tictacusa.com] would like to have a word with you.

Re:Sounds like... (5, Funny)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071742)

Nope. That's Parker Brothers.

Re:Sounds like... (0)

mathletics (1033070) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071774)

whooooooosh!

Re:Sounds like... (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072076)

Or maybe Parker Brothers is a subsidiary of Hasbro?

Re:Sounds like... (5, Funny)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071866)

Sounds like Hasbro wants to have a Monopoly on word games.
Yeah. If they aren't careful they might find their feet caught in a Mousetrap, with a proverbial Twister of counterlitigation headed in their direction. Boy, then they'll be Sorry. Their Battleship is pretty much sunk, man. They just don't have a Clue...

Re:Sounds like... (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071976)

Ooh, ooh! L-Lemme try.

Yeah, the CEO might lose his Yahtzee!

D-Did I do it right?

Re:Sounds like... (4, Funny)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072112)

Well, instead of "the CEO," I would have said "their numero Uno"...

Re:Sounds like... (4, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072412)

Just had to get that off your chess, didn't you?

Re:Sounds like... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072048)

Good thing they have people on staff to act as Checkers, otherwise their string of hits might fall down like a bunch of Dominoes, or a house of Cards.

What? You mean none of those are trademarked? Crap!

Re:Sounds like... (3, Funny)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072144)

What? You mean none of those are trademarked? Crap!
Checkmate.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071908)

Nah, they just don't want to take a Risk.

Re:Sounds like... (0, Flamebait)

RaceCarDriver (856347) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072172)

More power to Hasbro. That game is a blatant ripoff of Scrabble. It looks like all they did was use a different game. Lame

Re:Sounds like... (1)

Bobzibub (20561) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072230)

They want a game of Snakes and Ladders?

Re:Sounds like... (4, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072528)

Nice pun, but other than greed, what motivates these companies to keep such a lock-in on their products? We're not talking about products that are brand spanking new and are threatened with extinction if people start using alternatives; these are products that have been around for ages and ages, since before I was born in '62, and will probably stay around for a long time yet to come. They've made their money from them and then some.

Instead of wasting it on lawyers and legal fees, why not spend the money on innovating new games and or new forms of already present games, since obviously someone else is providing what they either have not been able to provide or cannot?

Re:Sounds like... (2, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072640)

...these are products that have been around for ages and ages, since before I was born in '62, and will probably stay around for a long time yet to come. They've made their money from them and then some.

Wait, you're not ACTUALLY suggesting that copyright be allowed to work the way it was originally intended, are you? Don't you know that it's not about encouraging new stuff, it's all about milking your old stuff for years and years, down through the generations, thus allowing you to sit on your ass and rake in money in perpetuity while ensuring that no one else can ever riff off of your old ideas!

Fuck-tards... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071688)

Fuck-tards...

Which game would be most challenging naked? (0, Troll)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071694)

Naked Boggle, naked Scrabble, naked Taboo, or naked Minesweeper?

Or naked Monopoly with Uncle Pennybags swollen testi-sack?

I'll bet stuff like this already exists on the Internet.

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (0, Offtopic)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071772)

I like playing "strip go fish" with my friends [slashdot.org] (caution: the linked journal has prostitutes and drugs, you filthy minded pervert)

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (3, Funny)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071810)

Naked Twister has potential to be awkward...

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071940)

depends...what flavor Jello are they using?

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071974)

The idea of a bunch of naked Slashdot readers playing twister makes me want to gag.

For more reasons than one, if the scent of the "Warhammer" room in the back of the hobby shop on Saturday mornings is any indication.

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (1)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072448)

> Naked Twister has potential to be awesome...

Fixed that for you.

Re:Which game would be most challenging naked? (5, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071906)

most people on here only play strip solitaire.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071700)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
opening a can [goatse.ch]

Oblig. (5, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071712)

Don't tase us, Hasbro.

Okay, I get it, but... (4, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071718)

I mean, sure, Scrabulous is pretty obviously a Scrabble rip-off -- I think we all know that. But couldn't Hasbro at least have an official Scrabble game ready to replace it? If Scrabulous is forced offline, what the hell am I going to do all day when I'm at work?

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (4, Funny)

xannash (861526) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071762)

You could do what most do...look at porn.

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071892)

As long as nothing except gameplay itself is copied, I (and IANAL) think Hasbro's fucked and fucked royally. You can't copyright an idea, only its implimentation.

You could make a game called "Microsoft" (and I would be surprised if there isn't something like this on the internet already) that is a Monopoly clone, but as long as you use different words and pictures than Monopoly, Parker Brothers would have no legal standing.

Actually the Flying Furry Freak Brothers (IIRC) had a drug game called "Feds and Heads" that was very similar to Monopoly, that they published in Playboy Magazine some time in the 1970s. I may still have it, not sure. At any rate, I think Hasbro's going to waste a lot of money on their lawyers, and on any lawyers the people they sur hire.

Like Bugsey said, "what a maroon!" Wait, someone's at the door-

Shit. It's a subpeona from warner Brothers, they're suing me for copyright infringement for saying "Like Bugsey said, 'what a maroon!'" Wait, someone else's at the door-

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072074)

I think the issue is that they copied the game board's layout, possibly right down to the various colors (whatever they mean).

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (4, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072156)

Actually, they do threaten and sue people over the rules, board shape and so on as well.

Ten years around or so, my roommate created an implementation over the name "Szkrable". Once Hasbro found out, they demanded it to be removed, together with all dissemination of any related software, including the dictionary which later replaced the Polish ispell one (GNU had 300kb of data, MaF had 22MB at the moment). A simple rename didn't work.

After receiving legal advice and deciding there's no way for a poor student to fight Hasbro whether a copyright over the board shape is valid, my friend came up with totally changed rules and board, making a wordgame which resembled Scrabble in spirit and strategy, but nothing else.

You can find the thing here [kurnik.org] .

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (2, Funny)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071946)

Buy the Scrabble board game, duh! I mean obviously you just wanted to play scrabble without paying for it, I mean the fact that the sheer convenience of playing it on a computer must have nothing to do with it, and presumably abysmal board game sales will rebound once all the DMCA notices go out...right? At least that's what the overpaid lawyers told the old and senile execs.

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (1)

Enlightenment (1073994) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072088)

You hit the nail on the head, sir or madam. (It surely has nothing to do with the ranking and long-distance power of the Internet, or with Facebook's convenience.)

Re:Okay, I get it, but... (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072456)

According to The Age [theage.com.au] they have licenced the rights to online versions of Scrabble to EA.

"Knock knock, Neo" (0)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071728)

"Who is it?"

"Hasbro"

"Hasbro who?"

"Has bro come back wid da shit?"

Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (4, Informative)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071744)

From the PC World Article [pcworld.com] linked to from the article linked to in the summary:

"Mattel values its intellectual property and actively protects its brands and trademarks."

If they don't defend their trademark everytime they see it being used outside of a licensing deal, they can lose it. You may not like it, but that's the way it is. You want it changed, change the law. I'd also like to point out that trademark law, at its best, actually protects consumers from shoddy ripoffs of the product they thought they were buying.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071792)

So all Scrabulous needs to do is change their name to Worderific and they will no longer be violating any trademarks. There are several other Scrabble clones that do just this.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071808)

Or, they could offer to license it and not be asshat about things. Not everything works best by running to lawyers first. In fact, most things don't work best that way (if at all). Lawyers are best suited as asshats that go after other asshats. If you're first response is to find a lawyer, you're an asshat.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (2, Insightful)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072038)

They probably reached for the lawyers first because they'd already signed a licensing deal for online Scrabble to EA. From the Fortune blog [cnn.com] linked to in the summary:

a recent licensing deal ... assigned online Scrabble rights to EA (ERTS).

I don't know the specifics about that deal, but I'll bet exclusivity was part of it. And why shouldn't they have signed an exclusive deal with whoever was going to make them the most money? It is, after all, their trademark, and they get to decide how and who uses their trademark according to whatever logic they use. You may argue that they could have made more money with the "Free Advertising" model of "license it to everybody and more people will buy the hardcopy of the game", but they probably thought this was the better deal.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072204)

Or, they could offer to license it and not be asshat about things.

If you're Peyton Manning, Jimmy Buffett or Krusty the Clown, and you don't care what sort of crap your name winds up on as long as you get paid a few bucks, that's fine. On the other hand, if you value your brand I can understand why you don't just write to every infringer to offer them a license.

Besides, if they had done that, we'd just be reading a story about how the "asshats" at Hasbro are trying to extort license fees out of honest infringers.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071854)

I agree. But the articles say that Matel is accusing the makers of copyright infringement, which as your title states it clearly is not.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (4, Insightful)

crymeph0 (682581) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071934)

Yeah. You'd think that a community that cares as much about IP abuses as the tech crowd in these parts would at least know their enemy.

Hey kids, take some friendly advice: Nobody will care about your arguments, no matter how sound they are on some basic level, if you don't even get the terminology right. At best, you'll just confuse your target audience, and you won't convince them of anything. At worst, they'll think anybody that complains about IP abuse is just another idiot.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071874)

If they don't defend their trademark everytime they see it being used outside of a licensing deal, they can lose it. You may not like it, but that's the way it is. You want it changed, change the law. I'd also like to point out that trademark law, at its best, actually protects consumers from shoddy ripoffs of the product they thought they were buying.

You're right and I agree with your reasoning. However, do you mean to suggest that you're likely to confuse "Scrabble" with "Scrabulous"?

-b

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (0, Flamebait)

stubear (130454) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072240)

One could reasonably assume that Scrabulous is associated with Scrabble, perhaps an internet version of the game. Should they find Scrabulous lacking in anyway they could associate this poor quality with Scrabble as well, thus harming the trademark. The test isn't to set two boxes side by side and try to pick which one is the original, there are nuances that need to be considered and apparently you are either too stupid to do so or purposefully ignoring them which just makes you an ass.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072440)

apparently you are either too stupid to do so or purposefully ignoring them which just makes you an ass.

Top of the morning to you too! I wish you a pleasant day.

-ben the ass

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072242)

I wouldn't, but don't you think it's a bit risky (no pun intended) to make a game that looks almost exactly like Scrabble and call it a name that is clearly derived from Hasbro's trademarked name? Would they have run into the same problems if they had called it, say, "WordBlox"?

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

DCTooTall (870500) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072282)

As we used to say in the Trenches of Tech Support...

"Never underestimate the power of stupid people."

There are OTHER ways to defend, though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071944)

You could always authorize it with a "Permit and Proceed" letter like I believe Second Life did.

Yes, you have to defend a trademark to keep it, but that doesn't mean you have to run around filing legal threats all the time.

Re:Not Copyright, Not DMCA, Trademarks (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072384)

Thanks for pointing that out - it's disappointing that even the BBC can't tell the difference between copyright and trademarks [bbc.co.uk] , first claiming "Lawyers for toy makers Hasbro and Mattel say Scrabulous infringes their copyright on the board-based word game" then saying "The request to remove the add-on came from both Hasbro and Mattel because ownership of the Scrabble trademark is split between the two."

If the BBC have got it wrong, and the lawyers said nothing about copyright, isn't that a potentially libellous statement, I wonder?

EFF contests this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071754)

An older slashdot article yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/24/174240 [tinyurl.com] details how the EFF plans to represent facebook and contest Hasbro's complaints.

Patent? (1)

crow (16139) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071764)

Isn't the set of rules of a game essentially an invention? As such, shouldn't it be possible to patent the rules of a game?

Of course, patents don't last nearly as long as copyrights, so most of the games in question wouldn't be covered (and it's too late to file for existing games, in any case).

Re:Patent? (1)

santiago (42242) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072550)

Yes, if the game is sufficiently original. Magic: the Gathering (US Patent #5,662,332) and Icehouse (US Patent #4,936,585) have such protections, for the novel concepts of trading card games and tapping, and real-time turnless, boardless play, respectively. Most games do not contain patentable mechanics, and games can't be copyrighted, only their specific expression (i.e. the rules as written). You can legally rip off a game completely as long as you rename it, rewrite the rules from scratch, and redo the graphic design. The only defensible part of most games is the trademark of the name and distinctive components and trade dress surrounding the overall appearance of the game.

In the Scrabulous case, it certainly seems like a reasonable argument that the name could confuse people into thinking it is an official Scrabble product. If they change the name, however, they're likely safe from a legal standpoint, at least going forward, though there might still be past damages. However, Hasbro is bigger and has more lawyers than they do, which matters a lot in actual practice.

Re:Patent? (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072614)

Sure, you could patent a board game. It has to be the criteria for a patent, but otherwise, sure. And, many games are patented.

However, most games are also copyrighted and trademarked (as I'm sure scrabble is). Copyright will reach a particular expression of the scrabble game idea: instructions, board, board design, pieces, etc.

Trademark will reach the name and any names confusingly similar.

I'm sure that Hasbro is concerned about both copyright and trademark. Copyright is probably a weaker argument here, but it's very likely that scrabulous' board, colors, layout, etc. are nearly identical. Though, I've never played it, so I'm only guessing.

Trademark, however, seems much stronger. The two names are too close. And, worse yet, the developers were obviously trying to capitalize on the name Scrabble in order to get people to play their game. Cheap advertising--exactly the sort of thing TM was created to prevent. It's probably a lot more difficult to get players if they named their game "Square board word game" or some made up name. In fact, I'm sure that everyone reading "Scrabulous sued by Hasbro" immediately thought of Scrabble. It wouldn't be too difficult to show likelihood of confusion.

Storing Hasbro(tm) games (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071768)

Well, step aside my friend
I've been doing it for years
I say, sit on down, open your eyes
And open up your ears

Say
Put a tree in your butt
Put a bumblebee in your butt
Put a clock in your butt
Put a big rock in your butt
Put some fleas in your butt
Start to sneeze in your butt
Put a tin can in your butt
Put a little tiny man in your butt
Put a light in your butt
Make it bright in your butt
Put a TV in your butt
Put me in your butt
Everybody say

I, hey, that's, man, I ain't putting no trees in nobody's butt,
no bees in nobody's butt, putting nothing--
You must be out your mind, man,
y'all get paid for doing this?
Cause y'all gotta get some kind of money
Cause this don't sound like the kind of--
I'd rather golf, to be perfectly honest,
than put somethin in somebody's butt
to be truthful

Well step aside my friend and let me
show you how you do it
When big bad E just rock rock to it

Put a metal case in your butt
Put her face in your butt
Put a frown in your butt
Put a clown in your butt
Sit on down in your butt
Put a boat in your butt
Put a moat in your butt
Put a mink coat in your butt
Put everything in your butt
Just start to sing about your butt
Feels real good

How are these apps infringing? (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071776)

How are these applications infringing when Hasbro has nothing comparable? I'm sorry, but until there's the online alternative, I just can't buy into this notion of infringement.

Re:How are these apps infringing? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071880)

Trademark infringment.
Copyright of the rules.If thye use a verbatim copy.

Re:How are these apps infringing? (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071882)

There are many licensed Scrabble implementations online. Did you even look?

Re:How are these apps infringing? (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072004)

There are many licensed Scrabble implementations online. Did you even look?
Not really.

Re:How are these apps infringing? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072052)

Exactly. Even if there weren't, that's the whole point of Hasbro's complaint. Hasbro reserves the right to make money from it's copyrights and trademarks.

Apparently the only issue is what, if any, of the pictures and words they're ripping off, and whether "Scrabulous" is too close to the presumably trademarked "Scrabble". Trademarks are exactly for that purpose: a trade mark. Your mark used to identify your brand or product.

IIRC, you can't clone someone else's packaging too closely for a similar reason. You can see the limits of this in any drug store to see how closely the house brand of the Excedrin knockoff resembles the actual Excedrin bottle right next to it.

Wait.. huh? (3, Insightful)

webrunner (108849) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071794)

I'm confused here.. DMCA is for copyright, that's what the C stands for.. but no part of what was taken was? It's possible it was patented (I believe game mechanics are patented) but there is no DMPA is there? TFA says that they have a "solid case" but I'm not seeing that this "solid case" is what is trying to be used here.. There is no copyright on scrabble. There's a copyright on the scrabble box design, and the scrabble instructions, and perhaps even on the actual design of the board, but not the overall layout of it. There's a trademark on "Scrabble" probably as well, on which "Scrabulous" might infringe.

I can see a pretty solid case on Trademark or Patent grounds, but copyright is the one thing that WASN'T infringed.

Re:Wait.. huh? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071926)

Any patents granted to Alfred Mosher Butts (the original creator of what is now called Scrabble(R)), have long since expired, since the game's invention was in 1938.

Re:Wait.. huh? (1)

truedfx (802492) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072298)

I don't see the DMCA mentioned in the links, nor in the news that they reference. It's indeed irrelevant here; this is just another someone's idea of fabricating details of a story in order to spark more interest.

Re:Wait.. huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072304)

Game mechanics cannot be patented or copyrighted.

Not the first time (1)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071844)


I remember back in the late 90s when a fun email version of Scrabble along with all the Boggle sites were shut down by Hasbro. Just a new generation of programmers learning about trademark laws from Hasbro.

Bummer, since the free games are great advertising for the few people who don't already own hardcopies of the games. But I guess that's the problem - everyone already owns the game, so the the only way to increase revenues is charge for the online versions.

-Chris

Good! (4, Funny)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071846)

I hate Scrabulous! Everyone stop requesting games, I can't spell you insensitive clods!

Re:Good! (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072022)

I hate Scrabulous! Everyone stop requesting games, I can't spell you insensitive clods!
Okay, so like, which Slashdot editor are you now?

Re:Good! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072084)

In any case, no matter what you call the knockoff, Slashdot readers aren't too good at Sexulous.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072140)

Well, you did a nice job this time. Buck up, camper.

Copyright vs Trademark (5, Insightful)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071848)

I don't want to get into whether they have a copyright on those types of games, but I do want to talk about the trademark issue.

Calling a Scrabble knockoff Scrabulous or a Boggle knockoff Bogglific is pretty clear gounds for trademark infringement. I mean, this site is Slashdot. If I created a Slashdot.us - and always referred to it as Slashdot.us - it's still too close to being Slashdot. Same with Slashdotic or something like that. People who are casual observers would get confused as to the owner. And in order to keep that trademark, they have to litigate. So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.

Now, I'm sure Hasbro doesn't just want them to change the name, but they have a really great case there. While Hasbro is being craptacular here, the Scrabulous people aren't completely innocent - they wanted to play off the Scrabble name to make money.

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072070)

While Hasbro is being craptacular here,
No, they aren't. Only Comcast can do that -- They're Craptastic(tm)! Craptacular sounds too much like their trademark.

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072160)

Indeed, Yahoo! Games has its own Scrabble clone (with minor rules differences, I believe), but they had the savvy to call it "Literati" to prevent the "reasonable likelihood of confusion" trademark infringement argument.

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072232)

Calling a Scrabble knockoff Scrabulous or a Boggle knockoff Bogglific is pretty clear gounds for trademark infringement.

I like the way you stated that -- as if that's the way it should be, end of story.

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072326)

So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.

How do you explain this then? [barrapunto.com]

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072564)

So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.
How do you explain this then?
Uh.... that would be because it's not called "Slashdot" or anything remotely resembling it. *rolls eyes*

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072458)

The problem is that as far as I know, trademarks aren't really all that significant in terms of coverage by the DMCA. I would find it hard to see how Hasbro could argue trademark dilution for that reason.

So in a pure sense, if a game-board design that looks somewhat like the Scrabble board doesn't qualify for copyright protection, and game rules are ideas that can't be copyrighted, then how can a facebook scrabble run-alike be infringing? That would be like arguing that a chess program infringes because it's online board somehow resembles the design of a particular company's printed chess board, wouldn't it?

So I think whoever created Scabulous etc. and a good ambulance chaser type of attorney would be more than happy to have Hasbro come down on them. So that they can go hog-wild countersuing Hasbro for whatever version of corporate harassment that they can claim damages under. Thoughts?

Re:Copyright vs Trademark (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072498)

Although that's all fine and true, I would find it immensely difficult to believe that anybody could confuse Scrabulous for the original Scrabble, given that it's reached the status of being an American cultural icon. Virtually everyone in the US knows what Scrabble is, and should be able to deduce that Scrabulous is not Scrabble.

I don't think you could very easily prove either, that Scrabulous is adversely affecting sales of the original game.

As long as the rules for Scrabulous aren't a carbon-copy clone of the original, I'm not 100% certain that the concept of their game is novel enough to nab the Scrabulous guys on patent/copyright infringement.

Kleenex and Clorox have had similar problems, as their brand names have passed into common english usage, and no longer have enforceable trademarks.

killing the golden goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22071850)

Hasbro is killing lucrative opportunities here. Every game is a gaming system. Hasbro should encourage such things so as create a community that will freely publicize its products. By sending out cease and deceast instead of working with the community it shoot itself in the foot.

Re:killing the golden goose (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072056)

When was the last time companies thought about the customer? Just look at DRM, Sony Rootkits, WGA, Etc.

Not new (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071962)

Hasbro has been shutting down online/unlicensed scrabble clones for as long as I can remember, and long before the DMCA was around.

They've won every time in the past.

Well... (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071968)

This could be one way you could get rid of all those ridiculous applications on Facebook.

Copyright term on games? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071980)

Are games like Scrabble even modern enough to be covered by copyright laws and so forth?

Is it not like music and such where there's a limited copyright term, and hence is this term not over yet for many of these games? I'm sure some of them are pretty old?

pyscrabble (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#22071990)

Good luck getting rid of pyscrabble. When the code is free for all to share, and anyone can run a server, and the developer isn't maintaining it anymore, who do you sue?

Re:pyscrabble (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072158)

When the code is free for all to share, and anyone can run a server, and the developer isn't maintaining it anymore, who do you sue?

Simple....anyone who runs a server...

Re:pyscrabble (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072496)

Guido van Rossum?

HASBRO should be called HASBEEN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072030)

Man, just when you thought it was safe to play those online wordgames, here comes the mother of all process killers, SHUTDOWN by a Game manufacturer. Damn, there goes all of those good old favorites that I used to play online. Now what am I going to do at work, WORK!! Geez, another way for the man to keep me down. What next somebody going to say it's illegal to wank my crank?

Frivolous, but necessary. Contradict much? (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072060)

I'm waiting for The World of Darkness guys to sue because they invented werewolves and vampires. If they can sue over the movie, they should sue over the Facebook game too...

RIAA All Over Again (1, Insightful)

Gallenod (84385) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072066)

Once again we have a commercial entity who, instead of using digital media as a gateway to selling their product, prefer to shut down anything they don't control directly.

How many younger people who play games almost exclusively online have ever played Scrabble or Boggle? Why would a company like Hasbro want to shut down a site that might actually inspire some online gamers to go buy a physical copy of the game?

Other than chronic business myopia, that is.

Re:RIAA All Over Again (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072592)

Instead of sending the letter they did they should have sent a letter like this: "We saw that you have an awesome port of our game to the Internet. Normally we would respond to this by claiming trademark infringement and if you didn't comply we would sue you. Instead we would like to officially license our games to you for a small fee so that everybody can be happy."

Note that Carcasonne now has a huge following because the makers of that game licensed it to Sierra to port to the XBox 360.

Every online venture should know... (3, Insightful)

drmofe (523606) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072078)

...to set some money aside for legal fees. Why? Because as Brad Blumenthal told me about 15 years ago "Some bastard is going to sue you". It doesn't matter if they are right, or if you are right, it's just going to happen. Waving the white flag that says "I can't afford to fight" just makes the bastard stronger.

And let's face it, if you are pulling in $25K monthly on virtually no expense base, you can't turn around and bleat about not having the money to fight it.

D2 M3 C3 A1 (3, Funny)

IronMagnus (777535) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072126)

DMCA doesn't apply to Scrabble... you can't use abbreviations in scrabble http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabble#Acceptable_words [wikipedia.org] Unless DMCA falls under the 'regularized' provision... then they should have put a Z on the end to get the triple word score and have 57 points instead of 9

About time (1)

Bored MPA (1202335) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072162)

Scrabulous props up Hasbro's brand and continues its popularity--when it hasn't innovated in years. As such, it limits the facebook market and illegally keeps out small, legitimate board and video game companies that could acquire the facebook market. It's a stolen corporate brand name that guarantees people will click on it over legit indie games.

I have no pity for Hasbro and the companies that dominate and ruin a potentially diverse and strong US board game market (as compared to europe). But I also have no pity for folks that can't innovate, are just out to make a quick buck, and have the gall to issue a press release on the BBC. please. they got their cash, they should either innovate or start working for someone that can. and they should pray they don't get sued out of their profits.

Remember Portable Monopoly... (1)

safiel (1016237) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072186)

Remember those cool lighting kits you could get for your gameboy advances, I believe the original name of the product was called Portable Monopoly until the makers of Monopoly had something to say about it. That whole thing wasn't even about a game (or even a game clone!), just some hardware to make your gameboy cooler.

Some questions for Hasbro (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072188)

  • What is the nature of the "intellectual property" you are asserting protective ownership of? Is it copyright? Trademark? Patent? Some other unspecified fantasy form of IP (like SCO's undefinable "Linux stole it!" IP)?
  • If it's not copyright, aren't you violating DMCA by invoking Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown?
  • If it's patent, which one and when was it filed?
  • Ditto for trademark. Are you claiming, for instance, the board design is trademarked?
  • If it's copyright, what elements? Are you claiming copyright over the phrase "Double letter score" or something? Are you claiming that Scrabulous has written instructions for the game which infringe your copyrighted written instructions for Scrabble?
  • Or, most likely, aren't you just making this crap up and trying to bully on-line competition into giving up?
Really, isn't it fact that you have nothing going other than empty bravado, vague and unverifiable assertions of mysterious IP ownership, and a burgeoning legal budget? And we saw how well that worked for SCO. Even if you're picking on the little guy instead of tilting at large and ill-tempered windmills [ibm.com] , you can't win. Step back and relax a little. If you want into the online gaming arena, get in honestly and compete on merit.

This is semi-legitimate (5, Informative)

b96miata (620163) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072202)

Scrabulous isn't an imitation so much as the exact same game save the name, and having the writing on the colored squares explaining which is which. (I always end up GIS'ing up a real scrabble board for reference) Same scoring, same play, same word lists used in scrabble tournaments.

That said, how fucking old is scrabble? In a rational world any IP protection it had save for the trademark would have gone by the wayside long ago.

Re:This is semi-legitimate (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072360)

Probably the most insightful comment on here about this yet. No mod points I'm afraid, I had to use them or lose them earlier...

Hey Hasbro (4, Interesting)

syphax (189065) | more than 5 years ago | (#22072312)


We actually bought a Boggle game recently because of an online boggle-like game (which I won't link to, though if you search for 'web boggle' I suspect you mind find it rather easily...).

Let me say that again: We started playing a Boggle-like game online. We loved it. But we recognized that it would also be fun to play the real game sometimes (b/c sitting around a table is more social than staring at a screen, etc.). So we bought your damn game.

Hasbro, I've got four kids under six. I am your wet dream demographic: I have both money and kids, and I love toys. Don't piss me off.

Try a different strategy. [thepiratesdilemma.com]

Dear Hasbro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22072320)



Would you Slashdot hackers please post some info about your new "UI".

Thanks and remember NOT to vote for Mick Huckabee

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