Saturday, March 22, 2008

Scrabulous controversy (Nightline, Wired)

Last night, Friday March 21, 2008, ABC Nightline had a brief story about the online computer game Scrabulous, which appears to resembled Scrabble.

Nightline does not yet have a link for the story, which brings up some interesting questions. The story indicates that the game had a registered trademark with USPTO, but a check this morning shows that the application was withdrawn in Feb. 2008 (or go to the Trademark search at USPTO, navigate, and do a Search TM Database (TESS)).

The main legal issues seem to be with copyright – whether the offering of a game that resembles the famous board game Scrabble represents “Fair Use,” and infringes on the rights owned by toy company Hasbro.

The Facebook application is still active, here and there is a group called Save Scrabulous, story (Jan 17 2008) by Asomi Novak on Wired, here. There is also discussion of a buyout of the game on Wired (Jan 28), story by Terrence Russell, here.

ABC has an older story by Jake Coyle from Feb. 6, 2008, “The Best Applications on Facebook,” here.

The Wikipedia entry for Scrabulous is here.

It is possible that an inventor of a computer game or service could get a trademark for this and still have it wind up being copyright infringement.

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