New York -- Hasbro Inc., the world’s second-biggest board game maker, on Monday said that it has dropped its months-old trademark and copyright-infringement lawsuit against two Indian brothers accused of making a knockoff version of the Scrabble board-game for Facebook.
According to documents the toymaker filed in U.S. District Court in New York, dismissed the lawsuit Friday, without giving a reason. “Scrabulous” developers Rajat Agarwalla and Jayant Agarwalla, accused of replicating Scrabble’s rules and aesthetic, dropped the game in North America after the lawsuit was filed.
The North American rights to the original board game are co-owned by Hasbro and Mattel, sued Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, brothers from Calcutta, India, this summer. The brothers were charged with developing the unauthorized version, called Scrabulous, after they could not find an online version they liked.
Scrabulous was exceedingly popular on Facebook and became one of the online networking site’s most celebrated activities until it was removed this summer.
Hasbro had sent a letter to Facebook in January, asking it to block the program in the U.S. and Canada, asserting that Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, the creators of Scrabulous, infringed on their property, something the site initially resisted despite risks of losing immunity protection from copyright lawsuits.
Facebook pulled off the app in August, when Mattel sent a similar request.
Finally, the game was taken down, stirred up people to form groups with names like “Save Scrabulous,” which had more than 49,000 members still in it on Monday.
Scrabulous, a crossword game circulated by the Agarwallas’ company, RJ Softwares, was once enjoyed by more than 500,000 people a day on Facebook, the biggest social-networking Web site. Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, was not named in the suit.
The court documents did not mentioned any reason for the withdrawal of the case.
The Hasbro statement said it is “pleased that RJ Softwares has made the necessary modifications to [Wordscraper] and [Lexulous], which Hasbro asserted were infringements upon the SCRABBLE intellectual property rights.
“Based on these modifications, we have agreed to withdraw our lawsuit.”
“The agreement provides people in the U.S. and Canada with a choice of different games and also avoids potentially lengthy and costly litigations,” the statement said.
In a brief statement, RJ Softwares said the settlement “resolves disputes concerning Scrabulous, previously offered by RJ Softwares, as well as Lexulous, and Wordscraper that are currently offered by RJ Softwares.”
Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, introduced an authorized version of 77-year-old Scrabble for Facebook in July as part of a deal with game maker Electronic Arts Inc. The toymaker also developed versions for Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
Scrabble was originally created 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.
Both Hasbro and Mattel have since released authorized online versions of SCRABBLE.
Hasbro and the Agarwalla brothers did not immediately return messages left seeking comment on Monday. A lawyer for Hasbro declined to comment and referred questions to the Pawtucket, R.I.-based company.
The case is Hasbro Inc. v. RJ Softwares, 1:08-cv-06567, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).