Trademark infringement is serious business for both large and small companies:
You know Scrabble. Created in 1933, the classic wordplay board game has been a favorite worldwide for decades. So when Calcutta-based developers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla created a Scrabble knock-off application called “Scrabulous” for the social networking site Facebook, people started signing up like crazy. As of today, Scrabulous has 600,000 daily users but that’s only a quarter of the number of people who have signed up to play it. Hasbro Inc., which owns the trademark and copyrignt rights to the crossword game in the United States and Canada, and Mattel Inc., which owns the rights elsewhere, believe the online game, developed in India, infringes on their copyrights and trademarks.
You’d think Hasbro & Mattel, who together own the world-wide trademark and copyright rights to the game, would see an opportunity here and find a way leverage these social media passionistas to further promote their product. Sadly, they don’t see it that way and have issued a cease and desist order trying to get Facebook to take the game down.
From a legal standpoint, Hasbro / Mattel are well within their rights and, in fact, as Shel Israel points out in a response to Matt Dickman’s excellent post on this topic last week, companies must consistently go after trademark infringement cases to make future charges stick. Moreover, if the Agarwallas had simply printed a copy of Scrabulous and sold it as a board game, there would be little controversy about whether it constitutes a trademark infringement or a copyright violation. Technorati Tags: trademark, copyright, hasbro, mattel
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