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August 2, 1992
Hasbro, Inc. National Scrabble Association P.O. Box 200 c/o Williams & Company Pawtucket, RI 02862 Front Street Greenport, NY 11944 George R. Ditommasi Presidentlations Dept. Joseph P. Edley Milton Bradley Company Vice President 443 Shaker Road National Scrabble Association East Longmeadow, MA 01028-5247 P.O. Box 700 Greenport, NY 11944August 12, 1992
I write to urge you to allow more free trade in items related to Scrabble Crossword Game ("Scrabble").
Availability of literature on Scrabble would encourage committed participants in the Scrabble tournaments and clubs, and bring in more. It would not endanger Scrabble's reputation as a friendly, family-oriented game, for those to whom this appeals most. Books about Scrabble would not appear on the shelves with game sets, and would be found only for those looking for them, or for game-related books.
Also, I believe that Milton Bradley does not have the right to prevent publication of a book about Scrabble which neither 1) purports to be from the makers of Scrabble, nor (2) competes with sales of the game itself (as, for example, by providing a playable set for working out examples).
If Milton Bradley would realize that, within the tournament and club community there is a large contingent of enthusiasts who would sport these associated items, such as bags bearing the name Scrabble, I believe Milton Bradley would realize it could only be beneficial to permit it. They are an obvious source of word-of-mouth publicity. The tournament/club community is not large enough to support Milton Bradley's own "production and marketing" of the sundries; therefore Milton Bradley suffers no purely commercial loss by licensing others -- and any risk to the soundness of Milton Bradley's trademark rights can be prevented by insisting on any provider operating under a license. This argument, however, shows that this may be at a token fee.
The counter-example of Protiles (substitute, professional quality tiles for Scrabble, which Milton Bradley either permits as a matter of practice or licenses) illustrates why Milton Bradley should allow others to produce sundries. The only market for these is with those demanding uniformity and resistance to detection by feel -- i.e., tournament and club players. So Milton Bradley, which clearly knows about them -- it uses them each year in the Nationals -- has shown it would not be worth its while to produce them. Because they meet players' needs, and supply a memento of the Nationals, they have been allowed.
Scrabble crossword game is not like any other game. It has a substantial core group of regular, enthusiastic players. It has enough inherent interest to support its own scholarship. Milton Bradley should allow this activity. It primes the pump of Scrabble enthusiasm, and its resonance is essentially free promotion of the game. I urge you to be more liberal, in both our interests as avid players, and your own.
Very truly yours,