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Blizzard appeals Valve’s right to DOTA 2 trademark

Friday, 10th February 2012 06:37 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Blizzard has brought a case to the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trial and Appeal Board challenging Valve’s right to trademark the word DOTA.

“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 Warcraft III developer said in its opposition (PDF).

“By virtue of that use, the DOTA mark has become firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard, including to signify a highly popular scenario or variant of one of Blizzard’s best-selling computer games, Warcraft III. Over the past seven years, the mark DOTA has been used exclusively in connection with Blizzard and its products, namely Warcraft III.”

Blizzard argued that Valve “has never used the mark DOTA in connection with any product or service that currently is available to the public” and that “by attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed”, taking 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,” Blizzard’s legal team stated.

“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.”

DOTA stands for Defence of the Ancients, a Warcraft III map created by modders which developed into its own genre of eSport, spawning League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and other competitors – including Valve’s upcoming DOTA 2.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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36 Comments

  1. HauntaVirus

    Blizzard does have a strong argument, It’ll be intresting to see which way it goes.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. nimrod123

    but blizzard didn’t create it, i’m fairly sure that was icefrog, and icefrog works for valve. i suspects the rights were part of his contract

    it would be like blizzard claiming the rights to the use of the noun “Hero” in any game or map title because many custom maps for Warcraft 3 use it.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight

    @2

    Thats not how it works. You create a mod using the level editor with WC3 or any of Blizzard games it specifically says that they own the rights to every aspect of the mod. THis would be direct conflict with that and Blizzard has every right to pursue this case against Valve.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. blackdreamhunk

    the creater of dota works for vale and blizzard did not create it. They their chance.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Christopher Jack

    They didn’t create it nor did they patent it, next case!

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight

    Again if you read the TOS of Blizzard level editors and it specifically says that you do not own the rights to the game nor can you sell it without Blizzard’s agreement. If Icefrog wanted to call it something else that is fine but Valve trying to take claim to the name is in direct conflict with the TOS that the creators had willingly signed off when they pushed “I agree” with the original game.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Christopher Jack

    @6, Doesn’t state that Blizzard will automatically be granted exclusive rights to use the names of all of its modded content. It isn’t the same game, they aren’t selling a modified version of Warcraft 3, everything Valve is doing here is completely legal. If Blizzard wanted to secure the rights of the name of a popular mod based on their game, they should have copyrighted it. Valve owns the trademark now so they have every right to publish a game based on a mod with the same name. Blizzard owns the mod, not the name nor the genre.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. unacomn

    “Valve has no right to the registration it seeks,”
    Baby, copyright law is never having to say you’re sorry for registering someone else’s work and profiting on it until the end of time.
    *lights up a cigar and leans back in his chair

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Erthazus

    Blizzard since being in Activision and creating Starcraft II is full of shit.

    I hate Activision so much right now and i’m not very happy with Blizzard.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Froseidon

    Just to add in another interesting thing. Some of the developers of LoL (and possibly HoN – I can’t remember) should have some rights to the name DotA as well, seeing as it is them who helped create the first DotA. DotA Allstars was a version that was updated and modified by some of the people currently at Riot Games (Creators of LoL – for those who don’t know). It’s a tricky situation when you try and trademark something that has so many ties to others.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. wiozan

    Blizzard is right on this one, Valve have no right to the name Dota, IceFrog wasnt the first one to work on Dota, he cant claim it as his own. I think dota should belong to the community, thats why blizzard never attempted to copyright it, so everybody can use it as they want to. Valve being the jews their are try to copyright something they have no right to, and blizzard have to intervien.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. delarian

    @10 Riot already did a counter trademark somewhere in 2010 just to keep name DotA free

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Travia220

    Blizzard isn’t fighting the trademark for the community. They are planning their own F2P Dota game.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Hell-Raiser-85

    The history of DOTA by Machinima

    P1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnQfdSEqGDA&list=SL&feature=sh_e_se

    P2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNMWQdalmog&list=SL&feature=sh_e_se

    P3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecBWMzXPJFc&list=SL&feature=sh_e_se

    #14 3 years ago
  15. LOLshock94

    Hate valve so yeey to blizzard

    #15 3 years ago
  16. DEADEYES

    Lol, after years of ignored and unsupported for DOTA, now Blizz fights for something! Give up Blizz, focus your energy on your games!

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Talkar

    I’m with Blizz on this one, plus Icefrog didn’t create DOTA, he was like the 3rd or fourth guy to come along, after the previous ones didn’t want to work on it anymore.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Christopher Jack

    @11, That kind of blatant racism lead to the holocaust. Also, its not how business works, if you can trademark the name of a fruit, you can trademark anything.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Freek

    FYI, Blizzard is not going to register DOTA for itself, it’s arguing that Valve has no right to claim the trademarkt exclusvily for itself.
    If Blizzard wins that case it means the “word” can be used by everybody to decribe a game genre, but not as a commercial game name.
    They are not claiming DOTA for themselfs. But in order to make thier case they are stating the origins of DOTA in WC3, to illustrate that it isn’t Valve who came up with the term.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. wiozan

    @14 its a good series but there are a ton of factual errors in the videos that i know are false, so its hard to accept the rest as truth…

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Old MacDonald

    I think we can all agree that neither Blizzard nor Valve should be allowed to own the rights to the name. DotA wasn’t created by Blizzard, it wasn’t created by Icefrog and it wasn’t created by Valve.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Christopher Jack

    @21, Doesn’t matter who created it when it was a modified game, especially when it was a combined effort by a series of individuals.

    @15, Why on earth would you hate Valve? It’d be fair enough to dislike their games but they rejuvenated an entire section of the video game industry.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. LOLshock94

    @22 i love there games just hate valve in general and specially Gabe since hes a money grabbing whore that talks shit.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. TheWulf

    Yep. This is showing the nasty underbelly of Blizzard in all sorts of ways. This is why a number of modders I know now refuse to mod for the likes of Starcraft II, because Blizzard are restricting them and trying to claim ownership on everything they do more than ever before.

    The thing is is that Valve would never pull this shit, and I bet you that Epic wouldn’t, either. As much as Epic get on my nerves sometimes (which is mostly because Cliffy B is frequently obnoxious with his wannabe film star attitude), I don’t think even they’d pull this shit. But I bet you EA would, and that’s why Blizzard are doing this – they’re tied to Activision.

    A number of Blizzard’s best people left when they were bought out by Vivendi (and went on to form two great studios), a lot more left when they were bought out by Activision. It’s essentially a husk of the Blizzard that they used to be. The atmosphere has just become too increasingly corporate and the people leaving have frequently cited that they didn’t like what Blizzard was doing or becoming as the reason.

    I suspect that the same thing is happening with Bioware in some regards now that TOR is a thing. It seems to be the way of things. But thankfully the people who leave tend to form studios which go on to create even better things.

    I don’t agree with Blizzard’s right, though.

    Even legally I don’t think they have a leg to stand on. You don’t add your signature to actually give them copyrighted work by using their modding tools, and without a signed contract they don’t really have a leg to stand on. Therefore, the people whom actually created the mod (the people that Valve hired) thus retain the rights to the mod.

    Now, if Valve does this, it does great things for modders everywhere. If the foolish would stop and THINK for a moment, they’d realise that whilst Blizzard is definitely NOT fighting for the rights of a modding community – Valve IS. That’s right – whether it’s a byproduct or not it doesn’t matter, but Valve are fighting for the rights of a modder to retain the rights to the mod they made.

    Don’t think that Valve would do that?

    The Ball started off as a Source mod. Ended up as a game built upon UDK, Valve have a healthy relationship with that modder, their game was in the potato pack bundle. Clearly Valve care about their modders – even if those modders aren’t using Source any more.

    Want another example? Dear Esther was a mod, now it’s a full game being built upon the Source SDK. Valve aren’t trying to claim any rights upon it at all. They aren’t trying to say that Dear Esther belongs to them just because it was made with Source tools.

    Also notice how Valve haven’t sued the people behind QUBE despite it being aesthetically almost a straight Portal rip-off, and actually getting sales based upon Portal similarity? Yeah. Despite that Valve has been giving QUBE a lot of front page space on Steam.

    Valve always were and continue to be the champions of modders everywhere.

    The thing that will come of this is that it will set a precedent. Think about it. Valve are saying that the modders own the right to their own mods, and thus modders can retain trademarks on their own mods and do whatever they like with those trademarks. If Valve win this then they set a precedent. They set a standard for future cases.

    Why is this a good thing? If someone (probably Blizzard) decides to be dickish about owning mods in the future, there will be an existing case that someone even without the best lawyers in the world would be able to argue a case based upon. That there was an existing precedent that said that Blizzard doesn’t automatically own the work of modders.

    This is a good thing for modders everywhere.

    If you have any sense in your head, for the sake of modders everywhere, hope that Valve wins this.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. TheWulf

    @23 – You dislike Valve because they tend to prove that anyone who talks about how PC piracy is a problem is a complete imbecile. Annnnd… that would be you.

    Essentially: You mad, bro?

    #25 3 years ago
  26. TheWulf

    @19 – Incorrect. It came out a while back that Blizzard have their own DOTA game in the works. Blizzard are many things but innocent is never one of them.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. gotee

    @23, You’re the biggest troll on this website. I wish I could file an e-restraining order against you on behalf of the internet.

    Anyways, Blizzard has ulterior motives here. We know for a fact they have a Starcraft 2 Dota project underway and through investigation, people have found files indicating Diablo 3 would also have a Dota gamemode. Now there are even talks that they have a standalone Dota game in the works.

    Now if they want to fight to bring the term into free-use for everyone, hey, whatever — still don’t think that’ll happen, though. Blizzard had their chance (what, almost 7 or 8 years now?) to either work something out with the (multiple) developers of DotA or ask them if they want to be part of the team. They’re regretting never doing anything about it now and are trying to legally bully it back into their hands only.

    And I think it’s kind of a moot point with IceFrog not being able to carry DotA on since he wasn’t the only developer. He started in 2005 and has stuck with it ever since; he’s got as much say as Guinsoo and Eul (especially over Guinsoo, who drove DotA into the dirt balance wise — DotA wouldn’t be half as popular as it is if IceFrog hadn’t picked it up). Guinsoo and a few other Riot employees expressed interest in keeping the DotA name to the community, but IceFrog has more time sank into fueling DotA than any other single name I can think of therefore it should be up to him and it’s pretty clear what he’s chosen by shacking up with Valve.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. DrDamn

    @24
    “Even legally I don’t think they have a leg to stand on. You don’t add your signature to actually give them copyrighted work by using their modding tools, and without a signed contract they don’t really have a leg to stand on. Therefore, the people whom actually created the mod (the people that Valve hired) thus retain the rights to the mod.”

    Nah, you can have an online contract simply by clicking on “I agree” you don’t a signed contract.

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/electronic-signatures-online-contracts-29495.html

    #28 3 years ago
  29. DSB

    I don’t like it when mommy and daddy fight :(((

    @3 That’s not what’s being argued at all if what it says in the post is accurate.

    That sort of license would be valid if DOTA 2 contained something from Warcraft 3. It doesn’t.

    Basically they’re argueing that because DOTA started out in Warcraft 3, it’s percieved as part of their business, to the point that it should be recognized legally as belonging to their business. They don’t seem to be claiming that it’s their trademark.

    That’s interesting, since they’re apparently trying to argue that (supposedly) wide perception should be converted into legal reality.

    Basically that everybody thinking it, should make it so.

    I hope they have good lawyers, it doesn’t sound like an easy thing to prove. Do people associate DOTA with Blizzard, or do they associate it with Icefrog? You can make a case for both, in either case you’re trying to argue what’s in the heads of thousands of fans, and what that is supposed to mean to the court.

    In my opinion – If you liked it, then you should’ve put a ring on it. Too late is too late.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. Freek

    Blizzard may have thier DOTA style game in the works but they are not claiming the word DOTA as a trademark for themselfs. If they had any desire to do that, they would have done so years ago. The genre has been popular for ages and Blizzard did nothing against that, they have no reason to.
    Untill Valve tried to claim DOTA for itself, they are contesting that claim, not claiming the exclusive trademark rights.

    #30 3 years ago
  31. LOLshock94

    @25 no im not bothered what gabe says about piracy but i do care when he talks shit about other companys, such as in 2006 he said sonys ps3 was the worst console and it was going to die, 4 years later he comes on sonys E3 and announces that portal 2 was made for ps3 and starts licking sonys ass.

    #31 3 years ago
  32. LOLshock94

    @27 best compliment you’ve ever said to me <3

    #32 3 years ago
  33. hurrdurr

    If Blizzard is that obsessed with that DotA trademark, I would love to see them patch up the filesize limit of WC3 maps, since the DotA map itself is reaching its limit. This is one of the reasons why DotA should be brought outside WC3.

    But sadly, I highly doubt Blizzard would do that.

    #33 3 years ago
  34. Ralinger

    think this way, Counter Strike was a mod not created by Valve. but valve owns the rights for this name.
    so what? If i was blizzard CEO i will not let Valve to trademark DotA name. it’s very clear. i have SC, Warcraft and diablo that each of have the potential to have their own DotA. so why should i let someone else trademark this name that my community created it?
    Blizzard it absolutely right in this.

    #34 3 years ago
  35. Christopher Jack

    @34, Using your logic, if I created a popular mod for any game, the name of that mod is automatically exclusive to the publisher of the game I modded. If someone had trademarked Counter Strike before Valve, they would have had full use of the name regardless of the source of inspiration, its just how business works. In a different dimension where logic & common sense matters more than the law, you could be right.

    #35 3 years ago
  36. tatsujin

    Valve is going to lose this one, legally. People, yes all of you readers who don’t agree, -READ BLIZZARD’S TOS- Terms of Service. It’s right in there. You can go to any lawyer and ask them how would this unfold.

    Valve is being arrogant at the moment. They need to just bow down, change the name and move forward.

    #36 3 years ago

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