Hasbro Sues Over Online Scrabble Knockoff

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Hasbro sued RJ Softwares in Federal Court, claiming it is hawking an online game called “Scrabulous,” which is a knockoff of the “venerable and famous Scrabble.” Also sued are Rajat Agarwalla and Jayant Agarwalla, who run RJ Software from Kolkata, India.

     Scrabble was invented in 1931 in Poughkeepsie by Alfred Mosher Butts, an architect who lost his job in the Depression. He called the original version Lexico and handmade more than 200 games. One of his customers, James Brunot, cut a manufacturing deal with Butts in 1948, changed the name to Scrabble, and filed for copyright and trademark registration that year. More than 100 million Scrabble games have been sold in 29 languages in more than 100 countries, and dozens of countries, including the United States, have formed Scrabble Associations and hold annual tournaments, the complaint states.
     The Agarwallas launched their knockoff in July 2006. “A user not already familiar with the rules of the Scrabble crossword game would not know how to play ‘Scrabulous,'” Hasbro says. In fact, until sometime this year, “defendants embedded ‘meta tags’ in their Web site software to attract individuals searching the Internet for keywords such as ‘Scrabble online,’ ‘play Scrabble online,’ and ‘free online Scrabble.'” And they linked their Web site to official Scrabble Web pages, which contain the rules, Hasbro says.
     Hasbro wants the offending site disabled, enjoined, and damages. It is represented by Kim Landsman with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

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