MUDCAT FALLS — Local writer Screed Mullins is being sued for copyright infringement by Hasbro, the makers of the popular word game Scrabble.
A lawsuit filed in Calabash County Court claims the self-published novelist blatantly disregarded the exclusive rights of the company through the unapproved copying of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and the Official Tournament and Club Word List.
“This is ridiculous. Corporations do not own words,” declared Steve Dallas, attorney for Mullins. “What’s next? Will Texas Instruments copyright math, because they invented the pocket calculator?”
“We have a curated word list that is created for the purpose of playing the game and directly relates to playing the game,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Hubert Hassenfeld. “And that’s copyrightable.”
In his brief filed with the court, Hassenfeld cited the following passage from Screed’s work as evidence of his plagiarism:
“The quixotry of a squiffy vrow playing beziques for oxazepams beneath the caziques perched on the squinch haunted him.”
Moist at Midnight, Mullins’s thinly veiled autobiographical novel of a Proctor & Gamble Wet Wipe salesman battling nearly insurmountable odds to pioneer modern sanitary practices in the territory of the Amazon River basin in northern Brazil, is #14,648,041 on the Amazon.com Best Sellers Rank List.
After two decades, Hasbro has begun cracking down on the dissemination and use of Scrabble word lists, and is seeking to license their use.
Scrabble is sold in 121 countries and is available in 29 languages; approximately 150 million sets have been sold worldwide and roughly one-third of American homes have a Scrabble set.
Hasbro Inc. is an American multinational toy and board game company, which also manufactures Monopoly and Candy Land.
The company had no comment on whether it is also considering legal action to protect its intellectual property rights in the real estate and confectionary industries.
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“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”
February 16, 1804
Penelope Xing had slowed, then stopped completely, allowing the river of bodies heading towards the Pentagon parking lot to flow around her like a rock in the middle of a stream. After all the hours driving and thinking, after all of the platitudes and outrage expressed at the Lincoln Memorial in word and song, she found herself faced, not with speeches, music or the black and white typeset of a history text, but with men in uniform, armed with rifles. In the face of raw government power, she suddenly felt every bit as small and insignificant as the government wanted her to feel. Frightened and despairing at her vanity of being part of history — of making history — Penelope Xing was suddenly acutely homesick, wishing she were back in her fifth floor room at Fu Loin’s looking forward to Saturday night and Y.T., Jr. coming by later to hold her and, in the morning, to take her away to somewhere, anywhere to be free for a few precious hours on a Sunday afternoon.
“You look lost.”
The voice from right beside her literally made Penelope Xing jump and step back.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” the young, clean-cut man oozed in a southern-country-hillbilly accent that Penelope Xing could not place geographically. “I feel a bit out of place, myself. I just came over to see what was going on. Pretty crazy, huh?”
Penelope Xing suddenly felt put at ease at the natural charm of the stranger.
“My name is Bill,” the stranger held out his hand.
“Penelope.” She extended her hand and felt Bill’s grip slowly, erotically embrace her hand, squeezing like a blood pressure cuff, in what was certainly the most sensual handshake she had ever felt.
“I’m a Senior over at Georgetown. Majoring in Foreign Service,” Bill said, lingering in their handshake, well beyond the norm for strangers or family. “I just came down to see this Moratorium thing first hand and I noticed you looking a bit confused or overwhelmed and thought maybe I could help out.”
“Uh, er, thanks?” Penelope Xing mumbled.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry. I mean, I work for Senator Fulbright — or I mean I did over the summer.”
Bill smiled and gazed dreamily down into Penelope Xing’s eyes. Slowly, very slowly he released her hand from his embrace.
Penelope Xing melted and smiled back.
Y.T., Sr. stood on the Pentagon roof scanning the crowd that had spilled over the Fourteenth Street Bridge and onto the Pentagon grounds through a pair of binoculars. Frik and Frak had joined him to silently watch the events, images of which surely would be filling the network news broadcasts that evening and newspapers the next morning.
He smiled as he saw the protesters confront the MPs with flowers, planting them in the muzzles of their rifles. He was amused by the group splintered off from the main crowd meditating and chanting to exorcise the evils out of the Pentagon. Little did they know, he mused. His binoculars were drawn to a lone female who seemed to have been left behind by the mob of protesters who had marched intently on towards the steps of the Pentagon guarded by soldiers and U.S. Marshals six stories below. He recognized the pretty, young woman from his son’s hospital room after the motorcycle accident. She had spent days there knitting and reading aloud, left at night then returned in the morning. He knew who she was. Fu Loin had briefed Y.T, Sr. thoroughly on Penelope Xing.
His eye was suddenly drawn to a clean cut young man making a bee-line across the grounds towards the banks of portable johns, who, like a predator, spying the easy pickings of a vulnerable prey separated from the herd, quickly turned his focus and suddenly veered away from his path to the johns towards Penelope Xing. He watched the young man slow and stalk his way to her side, then press himself on the young woman. He watched Penelope Xing let down her guard and succumb to the charms that were evident even to Y.T., Sr. six stories above. He watched until his attention was drawn to a growing ripple of activity near the Pentagon steps. Soldiers and Marshals seemed to be slowly stirring and preparing for some kind of activity.
Y.T., Sr. turned to the ex-Navy Commander, pointed towards Penelope Xing, and made his intentions clear. Moments later, Frik and Frak headed downstairs and outside towards Penelope Xing and Bill.
Scanning the crowd and the increasing activity on the Pentagon steps, Y.T., Sr. missed Marty Keegan and Mark quickly making their way through the crowd to the portable johns with a duffel bag filled with explosives. They dropped the duffel bag on the floor of an empty john in the middle of the rows and began running away from the Pentagon and the johns as fast as they could to meet Bill and Diana in the cream-colored Cadillac De Ville convertible for their getaway.
Their sudden movement caught Y.T., Sr.’s eye. He followed them for a hundred yards, then caught sight of Frik and Frak parting the sea of protesters with their mere bearing and demeanor, as they headed directly for Penelope Xing and Bill. A burst of activity back on the Pentagon steps drew his attention again, as a line of soldiers, waded into the crowd of protesters, using their rifles as clubs to break up the protest. In their wake, U.S. Marshals began arresting protesters who stood their ground, whether intentionally or inadvertently after being dazed by a rifle butt to the head.
As soldiers engaged citizens, a bomb blast from the middle of the rows of portable johns rocked the grounds and shifted the battle between the protesters and soldiers into high gear. Panicked protesters stampeded away from the Pentagon steps. Soldiers gave chase and seemed to hurry their efforts to get as many licks in on the protesters while they had the chance, before they had retreated completely.
Penelope Xing and Bill, only a few hundred yards away from the portable johns were thrown to the ground before Frik and Frak got to them. Panicked, Bill quickly got to his feet and fled the scene leaving Penelope Xing on the ground, shaking her head to clear her thoughts and comprehend what had just happened. In truth, she had, indeed, become, not just part of history, but had changed the history of the country by saving the life of a future president of the United States, who would have been in the blast zone, had he continued to follow nature’s urges until spying Penelope Xing.
“That depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”
~William Jefferson Clinton
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