Tactical response to infringers – copy them?

Scrabulous is an online (Facebook) but unauthorised version of Hasbro and Mattel’s Scrabble board game – Hasbro and Mattel have threatened legal action and negotiations have been continuing for the past few months.  Though when I last checked, Scrabulous was stil onlne.

In the latest development, RealNetworks with Mattel and Hasbro have launched their own, competing version of online Scrabble. 

This is an unusual response.  Usually the IP owner has no need to ‘copy’ the infringing product, as they have their own, original version already in the market.

Except when the alleged infringement is online (and the original isn’t).  Interestingly, it appears as though the ‘official version’ isn’t as good as the ‘copy’.

More interesting still, is the extent to which the ‘official’ online version breaches copyright in the ‘unauthorised version’.

2 Comments on “Tactical response to infringers – copy them?

  1. I think this is a fascinating story.  Apparently sales of the ‘official’ board game have increased on the back of Scrabulous taking the game to a new audience.  Surely a deal is a best way solution not launching an inferior product. Maybe a case of being blinded by ‘not invented here’?

  2. Thanks Michelle – I think you’re right.  Companies that encourage others to innovate and add to their IP (eg. under licence) can do incredibly well.  This model is very common and successful in the online environment – developers are usually handed tools to use to develop their own improvements.Not so common outside the online world, and the trouble for Mattel has arisen in trying to apply the old model where it perhaps doesn’t fit so well.

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