Blizzard Is Taking Valve To Court

Blizzard Is Taking Valve To Court

Blizzard once made a game called WarCraft III. Then someone made an awesome mod for it called DOTA. Then Valve decided to make a game called DOTA 2. Then Blizzard decided to make something called Blizzard DOTA.

And now Blizzard is taking Valve to court over the whole thing. What a mess.

Two of the most successful and popular PC developers of all time are squaring off in court over the use of the term DOTA, which stands for Defence of the Ancients.

Blizzard says that, because the term “DOTA” has been used by the company’s games and fans for seven years, “the DOTA mark has become firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard”.

Valve, on the other hand, well… here’s what Blizzard has to say about Valve’s upcoming DOTA 2:

In contrast to Blizzard, Applicant Valve Corporation (“Valve”) has never used the mark DOTA in connection with any product or service that currently is available to the public. 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 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.

Getting into the fine print, Blizzard says that, because the original DOTA required WarCraft III to play – and because it’s been using and licensing the term to other companies – that while it doesn’t have a trademark on the term, it’s got a better case for one than Valve, who in 2010 attempted to themselves pick up the rights to the word “DOTA”.


  • Correction: Blizzard are filing an objection to Valve’s attempt to copyright DotA and all related terms; Blizzard believe the term should not be copyrightable.

    Seems like Blizzard are the good guys here.

      • Guinso who is responsible for DOTA All Stars is responsible for Riot Games and LoL.

        Who Valve have hired are Eul who created the original DOTA map and IceFrog who has been in charge of DOTA AllStars since version 6.01

      • Actually Guinsoo (who made DOTA Allstars) currently is employed at Riot Games developing League of Legends.

        Icefrog didn’t create DOTA however he did take over it’s direction after Guinsoo had had enough of the project. Icefrog is the one who is employed at Valve developing DOTA 2.

          • I’m 99% sure you’re trolling, but if you’re implying that this item naming somehow entitles him to ownership of the game, perhaps you’d like to check out the name of the ‘sheepstick’ (unless it’s been changed since Guinsoo left, I wouldn’t know, I play LoL now)

    • Thank you for clarifying this immediately. As I was saying to The Steeng last night, the title is misleading (and the US url for the story especially misleading).

  • I get the whole Blizzard are the good guys because they don’t want anyone to have the copy right mentality. But they’re only doing this so that they can name their free SC2 remake DOTA BLizzard.

    But Valve have a fairly strong claim to the name as they have both Eul, the creator of the original Defense Of The Ancients map, and IceFrog, the man in charge of DOTA All Stars since 6.01, working for them. Is it unfair for the original creators to use and copyright the name of the game they created?

    Let’s imagine an alternate future. Valve never hired the guys that made Counter Strike, instead two of the main minds behind it were hired by EPIC. EPIC announces they are making CS2 and then Valve counter sues because they believe as a community game it shouldn’t belong to anyone and that if it should belong to anyone it’s Valve as the original mod has strong associations with the Valve brand. Coincidentally Valve are releasing they’re own free game called CS: Source in the near future to try and help bolster enthusiasm for the ailing modding community of their new engine.

    Who sounds like the dick in that scenario?

    P.S. This at least is my own understanding of the of what’s going on. Please correct me if I’ve greatly misunderstood the proceedings.

    • This +1. Also I dont think blizzard will win. Simply because its a term made up by fans. Thats like saying memes belong to certain companies because it has a strong association to the company.

      • They could very well “win” in the sense of preventing Valve from trademarking the term. They’d probably have trouble acquiring a trademark for exactly the same reason though.

        So the outcome might be that no one can own the trademark and everyone can use it.

    • I don’t think this is an issue of whether one company or the other should be allowed to use the name DotA, I think this is a matter of the copyrightability of the term. Valve is trying to copyright the term, but, as Zap said above, Blizzard believes the term should be uncopyrightable. Personally, I agree with Blizzard: the term is pretty universal, even if it was created by the original DotA creators it has come to mean so much more.

      • I don’t know it’s kind of like id being told they couldn’t copy right Doom or Wolfenstein in the early 90’s because no one had coined the term fps yet and called them all “Doom-likes”.

        Just because the industry hasn’t developed a proper term for the DOTA-like genre doesn’t mean the original creators aren’t entitled to the rights of the name they made.

        • Riot Games tried to get the term MOBA (Multiplayer Online BAttle Arena) as the term for DotA style games. Not hard to see why it didn’t catch on much.

  • Under the usual legalese, in usually in the ToS are included the rights to appropriate any fan-made mod and utilise it as a part of their product. If that is the case for Blizzards ToS, then there is a very, very strong case here that Blizzard has the right to the term “Defense of the Ancients” through its control of the original as a result of its status as a mod for Warcraft 3, and thus its abbreviation

      • I’ve never heard that before. Typically, an employee of a company agrees that any product they produce while employed belongs to the company. This isn’t appropriation. It’s a before the fact agreement. So, with making a mod, you’ve signed stuff along the way. I don’t know what that says but it probably says you don’t own the underlying IP.

        • IANAL, but jeez, you guys don’t know the law at all. This isn’t Copyright law, as you can’t copyright a title; it’s Trademark law. Blizzard has the right to use the DOTA mod under copyright law, but a Trademark (as in, the name DOTA) is a different story (unless explicitly mentioned in the EULA, I’d say it’s a grey area).

          Either way, stop saying “copyright”, say “trademark”. 😛

  • Perhaps Blizzard should have hired the original modders then? Much like Bethesda did with Obscuro and in turn making Skyrim one of the best FPS/RPG’s ever.

    Sour grapes? Sure. Legal? Well, that’s what the courts are for.

  • Wow I didn’t know blizzard were making a free Dota. Why didny value do what heros of newrth did and call it something completely different??

    Didn’t know the two key people behind Dora were working on dota2.

    I hope blizzard wins and value have to come up with a better name.

    And plz not dota source

  • Wow! I brought this to light to Kotaku last night, so glad they followed it up 🙂

    IMO I believe this case is a push from the Actavision side of Blizzard, there has been no issues with Valve copyrighting the “DOTA” name until now. I just think Act/Blizz have seen the hype around dota 2 and have start seeing $$$ in their eyes.

    Blizzard owned WC3, not the “Dota” name, yes the mod was made form their game, however the mod is called “Defense of the Ancients” and DOTA is short for it.
    Blizzard didn’t create it.
    I guess EPIC own all games that are made under the “Unreal” engine if Blizzard try to use the “but it was made form our game” angle.

    Lets hope no one makes a game called “War 3” or “World Championship 3 (WC3)” as Blizz will start filing court cases claiming its just the same as “War3” or “WC3” which is short for “Warcraft 3”

  • Sounds like we’ve got a situation reminiscent of Night of the Living dead here. Romero forgot to copyright it as well properly. Thats why it remains in the public domain and ANYONE can make a version of it, and anyone HAS.

    Suck it up Blizzard, just accept it. Now, go copyright DEFENCE OF THE ANCIENTS instead of DOTA. Sounds better anyhow. Then get Valva when they try to use an acronym 😉

  • Of course Blizzard are pushing the ‘uncopyrightable’ angle. It’s not copyrighted, but it’s synonymous with WC3. Though I think it’s less clear cut these days, since people associate ‘dota’ with Lol and HoN. Blizzard are trying to cling to the free association. I think Valve has every right to attempt a copyright, as Blizzard has the right to object it. I’m undecided. Dota doesn’t belong to either of them.

    • I dunno, I’d argue that the company that has the original creator of Dota and the current developer of Dota on staff might have a valid copyright attempt.

  • DOTA was a Warcraft 3 mod, popularised with the Blizzard WC3 community. The name was used in that context for 7 years, and now valve want to appropriate it (and associated goodwill).

    It’s kinda like hiring Tony Hawk and trying to trademark the “Skateboard”.

    “DOTA” should be a public domain name.

    • Actually, I’d argue its more like a skateboard company saying Tony Hawk doesn’t own the rights to his own name because he performed their tricks on their board.

      One the one hand, DotA has become a semi-generic term, on the other hand, surely Eul has the right to his IP, even if he produced the game using Blizzards tools.

  • Well, Valve shouldn’t copyright it but if it receives the ‘blessings’ from the Ice_Frog or whoever then it will be the more popular one. Although, in the same respect, DotA is not, and I repeat, NOT “…firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard”.

    Blizzard got lucky with DotA, but it wasn’t their creation. I would hope that all these companies could accept “DotA” being a, as Wesley pointed out, a public domain name. Had Blizzard themselves created DotA this would be a different story, but noone I know who plays DotA, and I do know many, many people who do, associate it with Blizzard.

    Both companies are in the wrong for trying to copyright the name for themselves, allow the fans and the gamers to decide what would happen to it. 7 Years I’ve known about DotA, and for all these years I hadn’t believed there was a group that properly owned DotA. Valve shouldn’t copyright it, nor should any other company.

    • I would argue that DotA is partially Blizzard’s creation. It uses W3’s engine, sounds, models, skins and was created using Blizzard tools.

      I do agree, however, that the name is pretty much untrademarkable.

      • Not really directly related to the article, but this is something I’ve been wondering for a while. While some hero names have been changed (Nerubian Assassin > Nyx Assassin), a lot of the items in DotA 2 are still basically the same items (same name, same effect, similar icon) found in vanilla WC3 that DotA the WC3 map used (Circlet of Nobility, for example, or Blade of Alacrity). Exactly how legal is this?

  • I’ve been wondering for a long time why it’s cool for Valve to just up and make a DOTA2 when DOTA was a WC3 mod. Now I know – it’s not cool at all.

  • Pretty much the whole Dota community supports Dota 2. Why? Because Eul, who created Dota, and Icefrog, who made the most significant contributions to what Dota is today, work for Valve and made Dota 2. It’s as absurd as if id software tried to Valve for copyrighting Team Fortress just because the original was made on the Quake1 engine using Quake models, art, and tools. I really can’t see how anybody can defend ActiBlizzard, other than being the blindest fanboys on the planet. Get real. Blizzard doesnt want Dota to be public domain, they want it for theirselves, greed at its worst, destroying the video game industry. Valve actually rewarded the modders who made the game as great and renowned as it is today, Blizzard had a chance for 9 years and didn’t. Anyone who supports Blizzards side is obviously not even part of the Dota community.

  • Eul created DotA, he should be allowed to trademark it. If he’s working for Valve, they should be allowed to trademark it with his permission.

    Blizzard might’ve created the WC3 tools used to create DotA, but saying Blizzard have any claims to DotA is like saying Microsoft have claims to my home movies because I made them in Windows Movie Maker.

  • Isn’t this a ‘Edge’ type deal ?
    If Valve don’t copyright the name then someone else could come along and copyright it, then sue Valve?

    If Blizzard wanted to make a dota game they could have hired them all a long time ago. I love blizzard games, but it’s to late to start being a bitch imho.

    Also, why are Blizzard the ‘good guy’ for trying to stop valve from using the name exactly? What evil thing a Valve trying to do with?

  • Icefrog deserves the DotA name. Out of any of the developers, he has worked the longest, and also made the most significant contributions to the map. Icefrog is solely responsible for DotA’s international fame today.
    DotA2 is the evolution of the original DotA without the restrictions of a severely outdated WC3 engine and client. Therefore, I feel that it is for the interests of the community that Valve be allowed to keep the DotA name.
    On a legal level, this is a whole different matter.

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