Thee third-party website Wordle Archive received a DMCA from the New York Times, which shows that the paper will be proactively protecting their IP from derivatives and clones. Wordle Archive offered a backward play feature that has been taken down by the New York Times since January, but it was taken down last week with a simple message saying that "Sadly, the New York Times has requested that the Wordle Archive be taken down." With this message, it's clear that Wordle Archive won't be the last to be shut down, only the first. This is further shown in this statement:
"The usage was unauthorized, and we were in touch with them," a New York Times representative told Ars Technica. "We don't plan to comment beyond that."
Given that Wordle itself isn't exactly a new idea, with various versions of the concept going back into the 19th century. New York Times has an upward hill to climb if they want to go down this road. Despite applying for a trademark for the name, there are a number of games that predate their Wordle with the same name. The trade dress, and appearance, on the other hand is harder to argue with, as it is for games that launched after Wardel's Wordle. If you use the name 'Wordle' directly in a clone (such as Free Wordle) or something remotely similar (like the geography focused Worldle), it looks like New York Times may be knocking on your door.
What's different about New York Times' version of Wordle?
If you like privacy, then you won't like the new version of Wordle. There's lots of tracking in the game now, which isn't great. Millions of people play Wordle, and those millions are now being digitally stalked by the New York Times, which isn't different from most websites nowadays but different from how it originally was. There's also a bunch of words that are no longer going to be used by the new owner, with words like slave, lynch, fibre, agora, no longer having the possibility of being used.
"We are updating the word list over time to remove obscure words to keep the puzzle accessible to more people, as well as insensitive or offensive words," the Times said in a statement provided to ABC News' Michael Slezak. "Solvers on the old word list can likely update to the new list by refreshing their browsers."
If you want to still use Wordle Archive up until its shutdown date, it's still available here as the internet archive has preserved it. If you want a current one, there's probably a bunch still floating around that you can find... for now.