Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scrabble/Scrabulous Scrap Specifics

GamePolitics has a scan of the court docs up.

For those curious about the details, here's a summary:

Case is over trademark and copyright infrigement (not patent infringement as some have stated)

Trademark in that the Scrabulous name rides the coattails of the Scrabble name brand (trademarked several times since 1954, and in 2002 wrt video game versions).

Copyright in that, the rules were copyrighted in 1948, the board design was copyrighted in 1948, the OSPDictionary was copyrighted in 1978, and included things like. These copyrights include things like:

- The board is similar in size, color, multipliers (indeed, the doubles and triples in Scrabulous are color coded and the player assumes what they are worth)
- The tilecount (total and per-letter) is identical
- letter point values are similar.

There's an interesting element to this in that the docs seem to outline a strategy to take what I guess were tactics RJ Software used to obfuscate the copyright infringement, and then uses them as the lynch rope. For example, the fact that there are no rules published for Scrabulous, that the multipliers on the board don't reference the x2 or x3 values, etc. How do people know how to play? Well, it must be assumed they know how to play Scrabble.


Anonymous said...

That last paragraph really is interesting.

Especially considering that most gamers (at least amoung the hardcore/journos) will actively avoid any kind of tutorial, be it in-game, in-person or internet. Presumably they do this to test the games intuitiveness / their cleverness, but it could also be part of the old-school experience of exploring the gamespace.

Though in this, more casual context, I suppose the lawyers argument does have a bit of weight.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention the most obvious reason to avoid tuts: they're boring!