Blizzard has grumbled before about Valve Software using the name Dota 2 for its commercial sequel to the hugely popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients All-Stars--usually called simply 'DotA'--but now it's called in the lawyers. Newly-discovered paperwork, filed with the USPTO in November, show the Warcraft developer has formally opposed Valve's application to trademark "DOTA," claiming it "would cause damage and injury to Blizzard."
Blizzard Entertainment contends in the formal Notice of Opposition [pdf] that the "DOTA" brand is tied to Warcraft and Blizzard itself in players' minds. So the argument goes, it's because the original mod DotA requires WC3, lifts a lot of characters, skills and mechanics from WC3, and is played over Blizzard's Battle.net (though many use third-party networks nowadays).
Should people mistakenly believe Valve's Dota 2 is connected with Blizzard, it says, this would be "all to the harm of Blizzard's goodwill and reputation." Supposedly, Valve is trying to "appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed."
"Valve has no rights in or to the DOTA mark," Blizzard insists. "Valve has never released, distributed, or sold any products using the mark DOTA, or, for that matter, any of the DOTA Marks. Valve did not coin the DOTA mark and has never participated in the creation of the DotA Mods."
Though, let's remember that DotA's pseudonymous creator 'Eul' is working at Valve on Dota 2, as is the elusive 'IceFrog,' who's been the mod's lead developer since 2005.
In a response filed in December, Valve denied Blizzard's allegations, saying Blizzard "lacks standing to bring this dispute" and that its rights to the trademark are "senior." Valve called for the Notice of Opposition to be dismissed.
Blizzard's not doing this purely to defend its good name. The studio's also making its own DotA clone, brazenly named Blizzard DOTA. It had once planned to side-step the trademark issue with the name 'Blizzard All-Stars.' Some manner of free release is planned, possibly through a limited version included with the StarCraft II trial.
According to the USPTO's trial schedule, the dispute should be in the discovery phase, and a trial should wrap up by the end of December. This whole ugly mess, rebuttals and all, should be wrapped up at the very latest by February 2, 2013.