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Local Writer’s Legal Scrabble Scrum

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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.

While Merriam-Webster publishes both the OSPD and OWL, Hasbro claims the copyright on them.MF150223 - Scrabble Bikini

“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?”

Hasbro disagrees.

“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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