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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s grandmother must be sad right now. Scrabulous, a Facebook application closely patterned after Hasbro-made word game Scrabble, has shut itself down in the U.S. and Canada as it faces a Hasbro lawsuit. The application has more than half a million daily active users — including Zuckerberg, who has said that he enjoys playing it with his grandmother.
The Calcutta-based brothers who created the application, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla (pictured), were first threatened with legal action by Hasbro back in January, when the game maker sent a legal take-down notice to Facebook. Then, Hasbro had a plan of its own for taking advantage of the game’s popularity. It had licensed the game to Electronic Arts back in October, which led to an application that today is experiencing technical difficulties [Update: Due to hackers, the LA Time reports], and has a trifling 15,000 daily active users.
Last week, the brothers Agarwalla were sued directly by Hasbro. Today, here’s what the brothers tell us:
Facebook has informed us that they have received a legal notice from Hasbro in reference to the Scrabulous application. In deference to Facebook’s concerns and without prejudice to our legal rights, we have had to restrict our fans in USA and Canada from accessing the Scrabulous application on Facebook until further notice. This is an unfortunate event and not something that we are very pleased about, especially as Mattel has been pursuing the matter in Indian courts for the past few months. We will sincerely hope to bring to our fans brighter news in the days to come.
So depending on what happens with the lawsuit and with the Mattel case in India, Scrabulous may not be dead yet. Mattel, for what it’s worth, also has its own version of Scrabble on Facebook, with less than 10,000 daily active users.
Dean Takahashi contributed reporting to this article.
[Photo via the BBC.]