Blizzard and Valve are going to court over DOTA.
DOTA – Defense of the Ancients – originally began life as a mod for Warcraft 3 all the way back in 2005, and has since grown into a serious gaming phenomenon, showing up at tournaments around the world including Blizzard’s official, sort-of annual BlizzCon. A sequel, Dota 2, is in the works, but in an odd twist it’s being developed by Valve, which has also made a move to trademark the name. That doesn’t sit too well with Blizzard, which has officially registered its opposition to Valve’s application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
“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 3. Over the past seven years, the mark DOTA has been used exclusively in connection with Blizzard and its products, namely Warcraft 3,” Blizzard says in its complaint.
“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,” it continues. “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 3 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 3. 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 3. “
The complaint was originally filed in November 2011 but barring some sort of settlement, the dispute will drag on for a long while yet. The initial disclosure period ends on February 24, while expert disclosures aren’t due until June 23. The discovery period wraps up near the end of July; pretrial disclosures begin in September and the trial itself could run into 2013.
Blizzard makes several points in support of its opposition, not least of which being that DOTA as it stands “cannot be opened, accessed, played, or used in any matter” without Warcraft 3. Whether or not that’s enough for a court to deny Valve’s application remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this get ugly in a hurry – and I bet Blizzard is really wishing it had done this first.