Facebook shuts off Scrabulous after Hasbro sues

Inc., the owner of the biggest U.S. social-networking site, shut down the online word game Scrabulous in the U.S. and Canada after a lawsuit was filed by Inc., the maker of Scrabble.

Facebook members who try to access the application receive a message that says the game, which has 509,505 users a day, is disabled until further notice. Users have started more than a dozen groups urging Palo Alto, California-based Facebook to keep Scrabulous. The largest had more than 45,000 members as of today.

Hasbro, the world’s second-biggest toymaker, said last week that it had sent a notice of copyright infringement to closely held Facebook, ordering it to take down U.S. and Canadian versions of Scrabulous. Hasbro also sued the game’s developers, Rajat Agarwalla and Jayant Agarwalla, for copyright and trademark violations in federal court in New York.

This month, the toymaker rolled out an “authentic” version of Scrabble for Facebook as part of a deal with game maker Electronic Arts Inc. Hasbro has also developed versions for Apple Inc.’s iPod and iPhone.

Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker and Hasbro’s Shelly Eckenroth didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment. Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, holds rights to Scrabble outside the U.S. and Canada.

Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, rose 43 cents to $38.58 at 9:53 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock had gained 49 percent this year before today.

Scrabble was developed in 1931 by unemployed architect Alfred Butts. Players use randomly selected letter tiles to spell words on a 15-by-15 grid, scoring points based on the letters used, the length of the word and where the letters are placed.