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'Scrabulous' disappears from Facebook after Hasbro suit

One of the social network's most popular developer-created games is AWOL after the manufacturer of classic board game Scrabble points out the obvious: it's a rip-off.

Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada can no longer access Scrabulous, the faux-Scrabble game that quickly became one of the most popular applications on its developer platform.

This was done independently on behalf of the Scrabulous creators, a Facebook representative told CNET News in an e-mail Tuesday. "In response to a legal request from Hasbro, the copyright and trademark holder for Scrabble in the U.S. and Canada, the developers of Scrabulous have suspended their application in the U.S. and Canada until further notice," the e-mail explained.

The game's disappearance comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed last week by Hasbro, the game manufacturer that owns the rights to Scrabble in the United States and Canada. In the suit, Hasbro named as defendants the creators of Scrabulous--India-based brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, and their company, RJ Softwares. The suit asked Facebook to pull the game, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and asked the Agarwallas to close their site.

That hasn't happened completely, though. Outside the U.S. and Canada, the rights to Scrabble are owned by game company Mattel, so Hasbro doesn't have jurisdiction there. Both game companies have released separate official Scrabble games for the Facebook platform. Meanwhile, the site, which existed before the Facebook application, is still working just fine.

Hasbro representatives were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

When Hasbro initially filed its suit last week, Facebook responded in this way: "Over the past year, Facebook has tried to use its status as neutral platform provider to help the parties come to an amicable agreement," the statement sent to CNET read. "We're disappointed that Hasbro has sought to draw us into their dispute; nevertheless, we have forwarded their concerns to Scrabulous and requested their appropriate response."

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had said in speeches that he was a fan of Scrabulous. That was before Hasbro started making it clear earlier this year that it wanted the game taken down.

Accessing the Scrabulous application on Facebook now leads to a message that states, "Scrabulous is disabled for U.S. and Canadian users until further notice" and allows members to submit their e-mail addresses to the Scrabulous creators to receive updates.

This post was updated at 7:31 a.m. PDT with comment from Facebook.