Scrabble Wars

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What happens when a brand is hi-jacked, or takes on a different meaning? We’ve been listening a lot to Charlene Li of Forrester Research, who says working in the social media space involves, “letting customers control the brand if you’re a marketer.”

We agree, but it’s definitely not always that easy for companies to swallow.

An interesting example is Scrabble vs. Scrabulous. Scrabulous is an online version of the offline game that has gotten popular on Facebook, attracting about 600,000 users. Hasbro and Mattel, who own the rights to Srabble, originally threatened to sue the two developers who made Srabulous. Meanwhile, RealNetworks has deals with both companies for the digital rights. Jordon McCollum at Marketing Pilgrim takes a deeper dive into the rights issue here.

Here’s the lone PR quote in the NY Times story from yesterday:

RealNetworks would not make an executive available for an interview for this article, but the public relations manager, Ryan Luckin, said in an e-mail message that the company had been “working with Mattel for a few months now on a version of Scrabble for Facebook.” Scrabble by Mattel is “in beta,” the message said, meaning it is still being tested.

Our take: We’re no legal experts, but with the time and money spent on a lawsuit, why not just divert that into buying Scrabulous? The game has proven its popularity and by suing the makers or creating a rival game, aren’t you inevitably going to be labeled the “bad guy?”

As always, we welcome your thoughts. (Comments are coming soon, we promise.)