Blizzard files opposition to Valve's Dota trademark

Blizzard has filed an official dispute with the USPTO over Valve trademarking "DOTA" for Dota 2, claiming people will think it's connected with Blizzard, and that Valve's trying to steal goodwill it built up. Valve, naturally, denies this.

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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.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 10, 2012 5:45 PM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Blizzard files opposition to Valve's Dota trademark.

    Blizzard has filed an official dispute with the USPTO over Valve trademarking "DOTA" for Dota 2, claiming people will think it's connected with Blizzard, and that Valve's trying to steal goodwill it built up. Valve, naturally, denies this.

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 6:13 PM

      I hope blizzard loses this one.

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      February 10, 2012 6:20 PM

      Replaced "Blizzard" with "Activision" and I think everything starts to make sense.

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        February 10, 2012 6:28 PM

        I have ever since the merge.

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        February 10, 2012 10:14 PM

        Blizzard
        Activision
        Vivendi

        As I mentioned in my thread about this earlier Vivendi has a controlling share of Activision Blizzard. For those unaware of the history between Vivendi and the previous TWO lawsuits between the companies (Sierra Entertainment/Vivendi and Activision prior to this one even), this is a quick run down on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valve_Corporation#Lawsuits

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      February 10, 2012 6:24 PM

      yawn, blizzard sucks. valve 4 life!!!

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 6:25 PM

      I am the Robin Hood of goodwill.

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 6:41 PM

      I assume it's just blizzard beating their chest so it can't be argued that all mods on their systems are fair game. Everything must be fought or the courts use it against you down the track.

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      February 10, 2012 6:44 PM

      Ive long held blizzard in high regard, but since the actiblizz merge, I have started losing faith; the only other bastion of PC gaming being Valve. It is sad to see them arguing.

      I think this is a decision of the legal suits and not the devs at Blizzard; they had ages to trademark DOTA. Why now? how pathetic.

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        February 11, 2012 2:23 AM

        Why now: "In 2010, DotA-Allstars, LLC was purchased by Riot Games, Inc. In 2011, Riot transferred DotA-Allstars, LLC to Blizzard. Accordingly, Blizzard now possesses all rights that DotA-Allstars LLC may have had in connection with the DotA Mods and the DotA-Allstars website, including any trademarks or other goodwill DotA-Allstars LLC may have had in the DOTA Marks."

        Anyway, we'll see what the courts think.

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 6:49 PM

      If Blizzard wants the rights to the name "DOTA" they better kick some money down to the creator of "DOTA" (and get a contract). I love blizzard games, but I call bullshit. If I make a mod for a game you made, and call it whatever the hell I want, and it then gets really popular, unless you have some kind of contract with me that states to the contrary, those name rights belong to no one.

      F Blizzard on this one.

      I understand that people associate DOTA with Blizzard, but if I make a wicked truck bed liner that people start to associate

      • reply
        February 10, 2012 6:57 PM

        Then again, trying to trademark such a name when you aren't the original developer is a bit odd too.

        And no, the 'original' developer is not at Valve.

        • reply
          February 10, 2012 11:04 PM

          Didnt valve hire both the original developer and Icefrog?

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        February 10, 2012 6:59 PM

        that's great and all except they don't want rights to the name dota. they are opposing valve's trademark to it. i have read this article on like 3 different sites and nobody seems to say this.

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          February 10, 2012 7:02 PM

          This is a good point. They just want to keep it "owned by the community"; ...whatever that means...

          However, you do have to question their motive; I think they are afraid its a lost opportunity that someone else took advantage of, and they are trying to thwart their efforts - after all business is business and competition is competition.

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            February 10, 2012 7:15 PM

            realistically i think they realize nobody will be able to get it unconteste, so they'd rather nobody have it, especially given how 4 or so different games claim to have the original developers on board and are the successors to wc3 dota.

            really at this point its been so long since the first use and it has fallen into such common use among gaming that it shouldn't be trademark-able by anyone, but i'm no trademark lawyer.

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            February 10, 2012 7:32 PM

            They know the term "Dota" will attract a large number of players.

          • reply
            February 10, 2012 9:09 PM

            They probably see Valve as diluting thier brand. DOTA is a big appeal, and if it's suddenly taken away it lessens their appeal. Failure to act, in this case, is giving it away.

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              February 10, 2012 9:17 PM

              Valve is trying to trademark DOTA. This gives them exclusive ownership over the term as a brand.

              Blizzard filed an opposition to Valve's trademark application.

              There's no diluting here. If Valve is granted the trademark, then Blizzard cannot use DOTA.

              • reply
                February 10, 2012 9:28 PM

                They would be diluting any Blizzard game that might have a DOTA map/mod. It's not just DOTA, but any game that might use it.

                • reply
                  February 10, 2012 9:32 PM

                  Except this doesn't impact the actual DOTA 2 game's development or release. Only Valve's bid to gain exclusive control over the DOTA name.

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        February 11, 2012 8:08 PM

        Problem is that A LOT of people have worked on dota over the years and have moved on. IceFrog just happens to be the last one (and prolly the best one) to work on dota.

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 7:16 PM

      Except I hadn't heard of Dota until Valve announced Dota 2. And I'm sure there are many others who haven't either (people who play Warcraft and all those "Blizzardy" games are a secluded group).

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        February 10, 2012 9:10 PM

        If DOTA didn't mean shit, Valve would have never bothered with the name.

      • reply
        February 11, 2012 4:20 AM

        Haha under what rock have you been living? Secluded group my arse.

    • DM7
      reply
      February 10, 2012 7:17 PM

      Blizzard and Valve are my two favorite game companies. I hate it when I see mommy and daddy fight. :(

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 7:27 PM

      If Valve walked off a cliff, I wonder how many blind gamers would follow. If this situation were reversed, people would be screaming bloody fucking murder. Of course, Blizzard should have acted sooner, but Valve probably should have gone with a different name unless they are damn sure the few mods they have got the rights.

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        February 10, 2012 7:32 PM

        I'm curious, what is Valve doing wrong here exactly?

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          February 10, 2012 8:33 PM

          What did Blizzard do wrong? I think neither of these games should be called DotA. These are two big companies fighting for what a bunch of individuals made (unless I misunderstand things). They are both fine to go make similar games, but I think a lawsuit makes sense if there is no clear ownership and the product is traditionslly associated with a brand.

          What I don't like is the blind Valve love and Blizzard hate. It's silly. I think Valve gets too much credit sometimes and that people love to bag on Blizzard now because of the Activision association. I think if people removed their predispositions about these companies that they would see this is a murky situation that needs to be settled legally brought the courts or negotiations.

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          February 10, 2012 9:03 PM

          By trademarking DOTA?

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          February 11, 2012 12:48 AM

          as I understand it every mod you create in sc2 automatically belongs to blizz. If this was true for wc3 as well it's pretty obvious. if not, well it's activision.

          • reply
            February 11, 2012 1:21 AM

            Yes the mod or map belongs to them. But not every map or mod name is automatically trademarked to Blizzard.

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        February 10, 2012 9:35 PM

        Nope not really. What has Blizzard done for modders and the community exactly? Oh yeah - nothing.

        What has Valve done? TF/2, CS, DOTA, Steam every fucking awesome thing they've embraced have been because of their connection to the community that has made PC gaming better and even appealed to the hardcore.

        Plus, they put all the effort into making Dota 2, they deserve the name. Blizzard never gave a shit until it seemed like it was going to catch on and MOBA's were the rage.

        The judge can decide what he wants, but I hope for dota fans Valve wins.

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          February 10, 2012 9:39 PM

          Yeah, it's not like DOTA started as a mod to a Blizzard game or anything...

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            February 10, 2012 10:01 PM

            what did blizzard do to foster it? Oh I know, nothing. They're just mad they didn't do any of this first. I'm all for what's good for DOTA and fans at heart, and this bullshit lawsuit aint it

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              February 10, 2012 10:22 PM

              It's not even a lawsuit.

            • reply
              February 10, 2012 10:51 PM

              they're furious. there's probably a bunch of dudes steamed up at blizzard right now.

            • reply
              February 10, 2012 10:55 PM

              It isn't a lawsuit, and they hosted DOTA tournaments at Blizzcon.

              Obviously they didn't go so far as to hire Icefrog like Valve or Guinsoo like Riot, but it has more to do with their very rigid development structure rather than not supporting the mod.

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              February 10, 2012 11:29 PM

              They did create the editor that allowed the mod to be built and made it available for free. But yeah, except for seed the very existence of the genre, yeah they did nothing..

        • reply
          February 10, 2012 9:41 PM

          You got a little on your chin. Might want to wipe that off.

        • reply
          February 11, 2012 5:02 AM

          You do know that Valve makes money off of Steam and it's not some philanthropic endeavor, right? They haven't even had the balls to take on traditional retail and have been more than happy to overcharge for games. They even ignore and make fun of their most loyal fans- Half Life fans.

          Vale is no saint.

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            February 11, 2012 5:54 AM

            damn dude what did Valve do to you? Kick your dog?

            It's almost universally agreed that Steam > Retail and the fact that games are still as expensive or more on Steam than in retail has more to do with publishers than Valve.

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              February 11, 2012 7:48 AM

              I actually really like Valve and Steam. I agree publishers are probably part of the problem, but if that's true completely, then why do Valve games cost full price on Steam too?

              I really just think people's blind loyalty to Valve is a bit discomforting. To me, they can help lead the industry to a great new digital model, or make digital just another means of screwing gamers our of more cash. Digital games should be at least $5 cheaper than retail.

              I also think Valve basically thumbing their nose at HL fans is distasteful. Gabe seems more interested in rolling in his Steam dough than he is serving his fans.

              Beyond that, I thought all the blind love for Valve and Blizzard hate at the start of this thread was bonkers. Really, if we just heard this story and didn't have predispositions for either dev, we would see that this case needs to be worked out legally.

              • reply
                February 11, 2012 9:54 AM

                lol

              • reply
                February 11, 2012 10:47 AM

                publishers set the prices.

                there goes your rant.

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                  February 11, 2012 10:50 AM

                  Since Valve games on Steam are developed and published by Valve, I don't see how this applies.

                  • reply
                    February 11, 2012 2:47 PM

                    They have frequently used pricing models far different from traditional retail schemes, and were the first ones to show that drastically cutting their prices during a short sale or making games free would dramatically increase the sales and profitability of the game before they started talking other publishers into doing the same on Steam

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                      February 11, 2012 6:09 PM

                      No they weren't. That's why all stores have sales. They increase profits. Also, a sale isn't a model of business. It is, in fact, a disruption to a model. In this case, the same model every other digital retailer is using.

          • reply
            February 11, 2012 7:51 AM

            lol....

          • reply
            February 11, 2012 9:52 AM

            uhhhhmmmm

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            February 11, 2012 3:53 PM

            In what way are their most loyal fans Half Life fans? Loyalty isn't measured in length of time you've supported that company. I'm not really a fan of the HL games but I'm a massive fan of their other games and I have 322 games on Steam. If you say "Half Life is great but Valve's largest endeavour: Steam, which has revolutionised the PC market is terrible, they overcharge me and make fun of me", you're not a fan, you're just some butthurt HL fanboy.

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              February 12, 2012 4:32 AM

              Actually, I like Steam a lot. I just wish Valve would lead a bit more than they do, rather than just rake in the dough of those who follow them so... Blindly.

              • reply
                February 12, 2012 5:53 AM

                Also, I would say that staying loyal despite any real or perceived slights trumps just being a big fan. Half Life fans have been respectfully asking for more from Valve for years. Blind fans follow without question. I wouldn't call that more loyal.

      • reply
        February 10, 2012 11:09 PM

        So should id have opposed Valve making Team Fortress?

        Hah, I guess if it happened now they probably would judging by the Scrolls crap.

        • reply
          February 11, 2012 12:43 AM

          It's not that bad a comparison to be honest. TF did start as a Quake 1 mod and id had a team/class based FPS competing directly against TF2 on the PC when it was released (Enemy Territory QW). Granted id wasn't trying to make another TF. I don't think id's really involved with the whole Bethesda vs. Mojang lawsuit and I'd find it hard to believe that any company of Carmack's would actively sue over something as petty as that.

          Here's the bottom line; if Blizzard wasn't so devoid of original ideas, they wouldn't have to sue Valve in the first place. They're a successful company, but they're completely derivative in their products. Having competitors do the same thing that they've essentially done for the past ~10 years or so is presenting a legitimate threat to their M.O., and if they lose this lawsuit, it could set a very bad precedence for Blizzard going forward.

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            February 11, 2012 2:17 AM

            Being devoid of original ideas is kind of beside the point. Valve has exactly one original property, Half Life. Every other game they've done has come from the community. Counter Strike, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, the core mechanics of Portal and Portal 2, and now DOTA 2.

            Some people may misconstrue this as a negative, but I don't think it is a negative at all.

            I've said over and over that originality is completely overrated, and that execution is what really matters. The difference between Valve and Blizzard is that Blizzard seems to be even more rigorous in terms of iterating on gameplay, and they focus on very few games in comparison.

            Valve is entirely willing to start new projects based on what the community is doing, while Blizzard is much much more methodical and set in their ways, that's the main difference I see between the two.

            Originality though? Eh, beside the point.

            • reply
              February 11, 2012 2:21 AM

              Also, id doesn't have an EULA like the one Blizzard does. I actually agree to an extent with Blizzard in that the items and heroes in DOTA are straight from Warcraft 3, and everything is made in the world editor.

              The thing is that they aren't even contesting the use of Warcraft characters or items in DOTA 2, even though many have the same names and designs, they're just trying to block the trademark. I'm surprised they didn't go even farther than that, but I guess they don't want to push things even farther than they already have.

          • reply
            February 11, 2012 7:41 AM

            They're not suing Valve.

            Why is that so hard to understand?

      • reply
        February 11, 2012 2:24 AM

        You snooze you lose.

        • reply
          February 11, 2012 4:43 AM

          Kinda thinking the same thing. Why didn't Blizzard start this back in late 2010 when DOTA2 was announced?

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            February 11, 2012 5:05 AM

            because they acted in good faith for all we know and didn't get annoyed until Valve tried to secure the name DOTA

          • reply
            February 11, 2012 5:48 AM

            Because the deadline for Blizzard to respond was late last year and they filed on the deadline and the news outlets only just picked up on the story

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 8:17 PM

      The death of what we know of blizzard.. sigh.

    • reply
      February 10, 2012 9:32 PM

      I honestly wonder what the ratio is for the number of people who actually know what this case is about, as compared to the rabid fanboys on each side cheering their company on blindly...

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 12:16 AM

      Page 2 & 3 in the notice of opposition is just Blizzard saying how awesome they are

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 6:36 AM

      What's the more generic acronym for these kind of games?

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 9:32 AM

      One thing in Valve's favor is historical precedent. Team Fortress was originally a Quake mod. Valve hired Robin Walker and one other guy who were primary developers of the mod. The case with DOTA is quite similar.

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 4:07 PM

      Blizzards turned into such a little kid. If something doesn't go there way now, they just throw a fit and throw their financial might at it cause they can. They don't even make anything new or interesting anymore, it's just the same crap spit out with a slightly different skin.

      They had all this time to dispute DotA or, heck, I don't know, even use the name or concept themselves and they didn't. They just seem to think they're entitled to it now that someone is actually moving forward with this. Blizzards fucking stupid.

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 4:12 PM

      As much as I like Valve (and haven't played any Blizzard games), I read their whole pdf and I agree that it's unfair to them for Valve to hold the copyright, when they themselves are trying to release Blizzard DotA.

      They aren't trying to stop Valve making the game, or even calling it DOTA, just from copyrighting DOTA. If they copyrighted that, Blizzard themselves wouldn't be allowed to use it, which is daft.

      I know Valve have a couple of the main modders on board, but surely it should stay public domain.

    • reply
      February 11, 2012 4:21 PM

      It's interesting how Blizz has lost so much of the goodwill they once had. They are no longer the company that spearheaded the "buddy install" and did what they could to make it easier for fans to play their games.

      I know that I've found I just don't have the loyalty to them I once did.

      Blizzard, gone the way of Squaresoft.

      With Bioware following close behind?

    • reply
      February 13, 2012 4:32 AM

      READ THE ARTICLE people! This is not Blizzard asserting ownership over the trademark, it's them objecting to Valve asserting ownership over the trademark.