Scrabulous is back on Facebook, but now it has a new name, new rules and circular tiles that could help its makers skirt legal claims from the owners of Scrabble.
The return came less than two days after the creators of Scrabulous blocked their popular version of the word game from U.S. and Canadian users of Facebook, the online hangout. The Indian brothers behind Scrabulous had gotten sued in federal court by Hasbro, the owner of Scrabble's North American rights.
Now, the game has reappeared with the name Wordscraper. The change could help it avoid any brand confusion with Scrabble, a key point in trademark disputes.
The game itself has also changed. Instead of Scrabble-like square tiles, for instance, Wordscraper has circles. The tiles earning double and triple points have been rearranged, and tiles for quadruple points have been added.
Whether those design changes will protect the creators from claims of copyright infringement remains to be seen.
Ideas cannot be copyrighted, but expressions of ideas can. The case could turn on whether Wordscraper feels like Scrabble or just a board game based on words.
Last week, Hasbro sued Scrabulous creators Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla of Calcutta, India, in U.S. District Court, claiming copyright and trademark infringement.
The lawsuit followed Electronic Arts' release of an official version of Scrabble for U.S. and Canadian Facebook users.