Big surprise: Scrabble manufacturer targets 'Scrabulous' online game

Hasbro has reportedly served a legal notice to Facebook about a potentially infringing game on its developer platform. Unfortunately for you, it's that game you play all day at the office.

That noise you just heard was the sound of several hundred thousand procrastination-happy Facebook users gasping in panic.

Josh Quittner at Fortune reports that Hasbro, manufacturer of the timeless board game Scrabble, is trying to shut down Scrabulous, an unauthorized electronic version of Scrabble that has gained a rabid following on Facebook. The reasons are obvious: licensing. Scrabulous profits from advertising revenue. Hasbro, citing infringement, wants to see it scrapped.

There's no online version of Scrabble, but as Quittner notes, electronic rights to the game belong to video game manufacturer Electronic Arts. One of Scrabulous' creators confirmed to Quittner that Hasbro has contacted Facebook about removing the application.

Scrabulous was started in 2006 as a standalone site operated by a pair of 20-something Calcutta, India-based brothers, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, but the game exploded when they created a Facebook application that currently boasts 2.3 million active users and soon became the workplace productivity drain du jour. It's currently the ninth most popular application on the site. If Hasbro decides to take legal action against Scrabulous--which seems rather likely--it'll make a whole lot of cubicle monkeys very, very sad.

But Hasbro cares about its intellectual property, not about the desires of bored office workers. And, sadly, Scrabulous really does mirror Scrabble letter-for-letter: the "Rules of Scrabulous" section of Scrabulous' FAQ even redirects to the Wikipedia page for Scrabble. As Quittner wrote in his article, all good things must come to an end.

(Full disclosure: I have four active Scrabulous games in progress on Facebook.)

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