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Blizzard files objection to Valve's DOTA trademark

Blizzard files objection to Valve's DOTA trademark

Valve's attempt to trademark DOTA has come up against predictable opposition from Blizzard.

The bad feeling brewing between Valve and Blizzard over the upcoming Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) sequel has finally boiled over into overt legal action.

When Valve announced it would be working on a sequel to DOTA, originally a mod for Blizzard's real-time strategy game Warcraft III, Blizzard's ears pricked up but it did nothing. After all, while DOTA required Warcraft III to play it wasn't a direct Blizzard property, but the work of third-party independent developers and fans of the game.

When Valve submitted a trademark application for DOTA in 2010, however, Blizzard's lawyers started to get antsy. Despite Valve having no prior input in the series, it appears it wanted to protect its efforts in the sequel with some legal might.

While it's true that Valve hired one of the creators of the original DOTA to work on the sequel, that's about the extent of its claim to the mark. Initial indications were that Valve would only seek to trademark 'DOTA 2,' but it soon became clear that the company was looking for full trademark rights to 'DOTA' as well.

That, Blizzard claims, is something up with which it shall not put. According to papers filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office, Blizzard is looking to invalidate Valve's application.

The papers, quietly filed back in November 2011 before being dug up by a member of the Neogaf forums, claim that while Blizzard didn't file for a trademark on DOTA it has a better claim to the rights than Valve.

'By attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft III computer game,' the company alleges in its filing for opposition, 'and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft III.

'Valve has no right to the registration it seeks. If such registration is issued, it not only will damage Blizzard, but also the legions of Blizzard fans that have worked for years with Blizzard and its products, including by causing consumers to falsely believe that Valve's products are affiliated, sponsored or endorsed by Blizzard and are related or connected to Warcraft III.
'

Blizzard's central argument may be sound, but it's making some questionable claims. 'By this Opposition, Blizzard seeks to prevent registration by its competitor Valve Corporation of a trademark, DOTA, that for more than seven years has been used exclusively by Blizzard and its fan community, under license from Blizzard,' the filing reads. That's not a claim that will likely stand up in court: DOTA was an independent effort, extending Blizzard's Warcraft III title but not associated directly with the company in any way.

With that simple statement, Blizzard appears to be claiming that it came up with the word 'DOTA' and licensed it to the community for use in the mod, something which appears to be contrary to the fact. That's a loophole that Valve could exploit as it seeks to fight Blizzard's claim and earn itself DOTA as a true trademark ready for its own licensing endeavours.

Thus far, neither Blizzard nor Valve have publicly commented on the case.

Do you think Blizzard's objection is fair, or is Valve only seeking to protect its future projects? Should both just sack the lawyers and get on with the business of making great games? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

35 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
enciem 10th February 2012, 12:50 Quote
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Must've been a quiet day in Blizzards legal department, or they needed a new watercooler and filing the protest meant they could charge Blizzard a few grand.
RobJapan 10th February 2012, 12:54 Quote
If you are referring to Defense of the ancients well yes that is Blizzard's IP, I believe the original name was Aeon of Strife for starcraft 1.

However at any stage Blizzard could have pulled the plug but they didn't and continued to let independent people use their map to create a game.

It's quite clear that while Blizzard didn't exactly help much they didn't get in the way either, what's even clearer is that Valve has absolutely nothing to do with it and have jumped on it as a way of making money.
I predict Valve will just change the name from DOTA 2 to something else.
rollo 10th February 2012, 12:58 Quote
DOTA is a Fan made Map for Wacraft 3

blizzard had no say in its creation and there is 100s of clones that are titled something else but its still the same game.

Valve have little or no claim in this matter either.
runbmp 10th February 2012, 13:18 Quote
ActiBlizzard, who is slowly backing out of user made mods in its own games... this seems like a dick move on their part.

I think they should make a world of warcraft fps on consoles and call it a day. Turkey is done.
r3loaded 10th February 2012, 13:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbmp
I think they should make a world of warcraft fps on consoles and call it a day. Turkey is done.
Call of Warcraft? World of Modern Warfare? Modern Starfare? Call of Modern Starwarfarecraft? (I can see George Lucas getting pissy about the last one )
XXAOSICXX 10th February 2012, 13:52 Quote
So, Activision Blizzard don't like Valve Trademarking something they don't even own themselves....sounds a bit dubious. Almost as dubious as when, say, Vivendi (who own Activision Blizzard) were illegally distributing copies of Half-Life 2 to Internet Cafes across America in 2004 and got sued for Copyright Infringement.

World of Modernfailcraft methinks :p
TheKrumpet 10th February 2012, 14:19 Quote
Seems a bit silly to me. DOTA 2 is an exact clone of DOTA 1 except in a different engine. It's basically a direct sequel in that regard. They're removed all of the references to Blizzard's property (changing the names of characters/items that exist in warcraft lore) deliberately to avoid this. It's the same game, why should it not be called 'DOTA'? I don't really agree with them trying to trademark 'DOTA', but it's not going to affect Blizzard. Everyone knows that DOTA isn't actually made by them, it's just in their game.
Aracos 10th February 2012, 15:59 Quote
Just wait until write it into the EULA of games that any mod created for their games are owned and licensed by said company.
Bauul 10th February 2012, 16:16 Quote
I can see Blizzard's objection to Valve copyrighting a name that's been associated with their product for years, but they've shot themselves in the foot trying to claim they have had anything to do with it.

If they'd simply said "the name shouldn't be copyrighted by anyone" they'd have a much more convincing case. Sadly it seems their arrogance has got the better of them.
DwarfKiller 10th February 2012, 16:37 Quote
Publicity stunt to get their name associated with DOTA 2?
This probably won't go anywhere but it'd be a shame if Valve ended up backing down and changing the name.
NethLyn 10th February 2012, 16:39 Quote
Either the name will be changed or a deal will be done. Other than ActiBlizzard throwing around its MW franchise profits to sue people, it's not real news yet. For the moment the lawsuit hasn't extended to the game content itself and let's hope the name is all they will quibble over.
SMIFFYDUDE 10th February 2012, 16:44 Quote
This should be settled with a game of DOTA.
Zurechial 10th February 2012, 17:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aracos
Just wait until write it into the EULA of games that any mod created for their games are owned and licensed by said company.

That's already the case for many games that officially support modding and has been for years.

For instance, part of the EULA of the Skyrim Creatin Kit is that you give Bethesda permission to use your mods for anything they want, ever, including turning them into paid DLC or using them in promo material; in exchange for getting to use the CK to begin with; with no expectation of royalties, payment, credit, copyright or acknowledgement.

Modding is a murky area, IP-wise and always has been; since a huge number of mods rely on re-distributing modified content that was created/owned by the developer/publisher of the game.
WestHej 10th February 2012, 18:21 Quote
This will all be academic. I really don't see DotA 2 stealing back many players from the hugely popular League of Legends.

On the case itself, I dont' really see Blizzard's claim.
alialias 10th February 2012, 18:51 Quote
''That, Blizzard claims, is something up with which it shall not put.''
That, is an absolutely AWESOME sentence!
docodine 10th February 2012, 18:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WestHej
This will all be academic. I really don't see DotA 2 stealing back many players from the hugely popular League of Legends.

On the case itself, I dont' really see Blizzard's claim.

LoL is free to play and has far less of a learning curve, IMO DOTA 2 will only grab the player base of DOTA and possibly HoN.
Gareth Halfacree 10th February 2012, 19:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alialias
''That, Blizzard claims, is something up with which it shall not put.''
That, is an absolutely AWESOME sentence!
I'd like to take credit, but it's a paraphrase of something commonly attributed to Winston Churchill: 'Up with this I shall not put.' It's amazing the circles in which you can run when rigidly applying the rules of the language...
Solidus 10th February 2012, 20:11 Quote
it was the fans that came up with the word "DOTA" in the warcraft 3 map creator - blizzard had nothing to do with its creation so in essence no one really owns it from either.

It is a case likely to be whoever gets the name first will own it and between blizzard and valve; looks like valve are the only ones applying for it as there were literally hundreds of random maps created for people to use and DOTA wasnt the only one; it was just one of the more popular ones thats all.
Sloth 10th February 2012, 20:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aracos
Just wait until write it into the EULA of games that any mod created for their games are owned and licensed by said company.
That could get pretty fun. Look forward to v1.04 of Sloth's Hardcore Sex and Perverse Fetishes Mod! Officially owned and licensed!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
I can see Blizzard's objection to Valve copyrighting a name that's been associated with their product for years, but they've shot themselves in the foot trying to claim they have had anything to do with it.

If they'd simply said "the name shouldn't be copyrighted by anyone" they'd have a much more convincing case. Sadly it seems their arrogance has got the better of them.
+1 to this. They'll have a hard time arguing why Valve can't have rights to it if they constantly have to justify how they claim to have rights in the first place. Valve's lawyers will have a field day with this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by docodine
LoL is free to play and has far less of a learning curve, IMO DOTA 2 will only grab the player base of DOTA and possibly HoN.
In my experience with Dota 2 players this is very much the case. It's being developed to be as close to DotA 1 as possible to transition that playerbase into a newer game with various streamlined features of a new engine while maintaining the same gameplay. Valve have stated a desire to help new players learn but critically are not changing or watering down the gameplay to achieve this. This is a key selling point and causes somewhat of a rift in the greater MOBA playerbase, just like with HoN vs. LoL the two are largely separate: players either like one or the other so neither game really steals from the other.
modfx 10th February 2012, 20:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
This should be settled with a game of DOTA.

I concur. If they can bitch, moan and file lawsuits all day, they should atleast be able to play the game. Maybe actually have a valve vs actiblizzard tourney just as s PR stunt (i want to see blizzards arse handed to them).
dyzophoria 11th February 2012, 02:15 Quote
valve should really not trademark DOTA, its just isnt right. they use the name fine, but put an IP on it. that is just really a not good move. no one should own that name IMO. its like copyrighting the word FPS lol. it would be a bit awkward for ID for example to copyright FPS and put it up in every game :))
Waynio 11th February 2012, 02:52 Quote
Quote:
Do you think Blizzard's objection is fair, or is Valve only seeking to protect its future projects? Should both just sack the lawyers and get on with the business of making great games? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

Yes both companies should sack their lawyers & just get on with making awesome games. ;)

And if not, just change the flipping name. :D Would people honestly care if they tweaked the name if the game was everything & more than they anticipated?.
FelixTech 11th February 2012, 13:16 Quote
I think it's a bit late for anyone to start trademarking now. The name DotA is now quitely widely associated with the whole genre itself, including LoL, HoN and DOTA 2.

If anything I'd like to see the courts officially deny both of their claims so that any indie developers can call their title a DOTA game without fear of punishment.
PingCrosby 11th February 2012, 20:09 Quote
But....... I have an Italian aunt called Dot and I always greet her with, "heya, if it isn'ta my aunty Dota", she's gonna have to change her name.
sear 11th February 2012, 20:33 Quote
My guess is Blizzard/Activision know their claim is total bullshit, but are hoping they can get Valve caught up in a legal battle long enough to drain them of funding (legal fees) and/or stall the game's release.
Bakes 11th February 2012, 21:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sear
My guess is Blizzard/Activision know their claim is total bullshit, but are hoping they can get Valve caught up in a legal battle long enough to drain them of funding (legal fees) and/or stall the game's release.

To drain Valve of funding, you would need many, many years of courtroom battles.
Blademrk 12th February 2012, 11:29 Quote
I'll just leave this here.

Looks like Blizzard are really going to put the Zerg amongst the Terrans with this.
Hovis 13th February 2012, 02:10 Quote
Really sleazy move from Valve I think. I mean they get one guy from the original mod team to sell out, after it's built up this huge following, and then want to claim the IP. They know with that IP they can release pretty much whatever they like and coin it in, and so they intend to. It's not fair on the fans, who are getting a dodgy follow up, it's not fair on the modders who made the game in the first place, and it's not fair on Blizzard who built the game that DOTA was spawned from.

Arguably a new low for Valve. They should have better things to do than these cheap shenanigans.
cerbrus2 13th February 2012, 03:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis



Arguably a new low for Valve. They should have better things to do than these cheap shenanigans.

Yeah like episode 3 or even a half life 3.
Daedelus 13th February 2012, 12:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by alialias
''That, Blizzard claims, is something up with which it shall not put.''
That, is an absolutely AWESOME sentence!
I'd like to take credit, but it's a paraphrase of something commonly attributed to Winston Churchill: 'Up with this I shall not put.' It's amazing the circles in which you can run when rigidly applying the rules of the language...

More specifically, it was Winston Churchill's way of demonstrating that the "rule" of grammar that states that you should not end a sentence with a preposition is complete nonsense. You would normally say "This is not something I will put up with". All those grammar 'rules' were made up by the Victorians who arbitrarily decided that English should copy Latin grammar. Complete nonsense, of course. Language is in constant flux, there is no rulebook.
wuyanxu 13th February 2012, 13:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
It's not fair on the fans, who are getting a dodgy follow up, it's not fair on the modders who made the game in the first place, and it's not fair on Blizzard who built the game that DOTA was spawned from..

-being Valve, it will not be a dodgy follow up.
-all other modders have had the chance to be employed by Valve.
-totally fair on Blizzard because they've not done a thing with regard to DOTA trademark.

i hope Valve wins, Blizzard has no right to this trademark, it's like saying Epic has rights to UnWheel (a racing mod for UT2004) when it was entirely a community effort. end of the day, mod's trademark belongs to the modder, not the game publisher.

as for the genre, i think tug-of-war is more applicable than DOTA, Defense of the Ancients is a specific to the theme of this W3 mod.
Blademrk 13th February 2012, 16:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu

-totally fair on Blizzard because they've not done a thing with regard to DOTA trademark.
The link I posted to earlier was for a Star Craft 2 powered version of DOTA (or Blizzard DOTA as they've called it).
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu

mod's trademark belongs to the modder, not the game publisher.

+1 tbh, it was a Mod for WC3, so the name should belong to the modders who originally created it (not valve and not Blizzard).
Chris P 13th February 2012, 19:12 Quote
According to Valve's DOTA2 page:
Quote:
Dota 2 is the result of Valve hiring the community developers who built the mod and giving them the chance to finally build a full product out of their idea with the help of a professional team of developers and artists at Valve.


If this is indeed the case, and they have given consent to their new employers to trademark the name, then what is the problem?

It must surly give Valve a less tentative link to the name than Blizzard!
Sloth 13th February 2012, 20:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyzophoria
valve should really not trademark DOTA, its just isnt right. they use the name fine, but put an IP on it. that is just really a not good move. no one should own that name IMO. its like copyrighting the word FPS lol. it would be a bit awkward for ID for example to copyright FPS and put it up in every game :))
Quote:
Originally Posted by FelixTech
I think it's a bit late for anyone to start trademarking now. The name DotA is now quitely widely associated with the whole genre itself, including LoL, HoN and DOTA 2.

If anything I'd like to see the courts officially deny both of their claims so that any indie developers can call their title a DOTA game without fear of punishment.
Quote:
as for the genre, i think tug-of-war is more applicable than DOTA, Defense of the Ancients is a specific to the theme of this W3 mod.
In a response to all three quotes, I'm not sure where the term originates (Riot maybe?) but "MOBA" has been created to replace the word "DOTA" as a genre name. It stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, I believe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
-being Valve, it will not be a dodgy follow up.
Having been playing the beta quite extensively it's certainly not "dodgy". There are still flaws and not all of the heroes have been added, but the foundation is incredibly smooth and solid. It's certainly typical Valve, high quality with attention to detail.
Casmicus 13th February 2012, 20:48 Quote
From what I read before, Valve was pursuing the naming rights to DOTA not DotA. They're treating the acronym as an actual word.

The way I see it, Valve lawyers might get away with it if they're saying hey, we're naming our game Dota 2; any similarities, likeness, associations, and down right plagerism to past games and experiences are purely coincidental. I think they can get away with it.

They might run into a few problems when they say, hey oh btw we want full rights to the actual DotA -- that's when things might get hairy. I think they should have been happy with that and went "GG, win by technicality!" But nooooo, they had to dive the tower and try to get full rights to everything. Noob business people...

But who are we to questions corporate business overlords right?
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