Indie developer Riot Games has filed a counter-trademark for the name Defence of the Ancients, arguing that the name and concept should remain in the public domain.
Riot Games' first game League of Legends is heavily influenced by Defence of the Ancients (DotA), whose somewhat obscured history began in the modding community for real-time strategy games StarCraft and Warcraft III.
The most popular variation has emerged as the download DotA Allstars, on which many of the staff at Riot Games previously worked.
Interviewed by PC Gamer, the team discussed the news that Half-Life creator Valve has filed a trademark for the name Defence of the Ancients.
No official announcement regarding the game has ever been made by Valve, although the company has also recently hired key Defence of the Ancients designer "IceFrog" and voice actor Jon St John recently implied that he had recorded dialogue for the game.
"As someone who worked with DotA for years, seeing developers of Valve's calibre take an interest in this genre is always exciting," said Steve "Pendragon" Mescon. "However, the idea that one single company is taking control of the name of something that hundreds of people have contributed to is surprising."
"I believe DotA should always remain a community-owned product that modders, independent developers and game fans can continue to modify and play as often as they'd like," he added.
"The situation is not as simple as a single person having total ownership over the name," admitted Mescon. "But now we are exploring options to protect the DotA name. We [Dota-Allstars, LL - the company run by Pendragon] have filed for the 'Defense of the Ancients' trademark to protect the work that dozens of authors have invested to create the game and on behalf of the millions of DotA players all over the world."
Mescon indicated that if Dota-Allstars is successful in obtaining the trademark they would ensure that the game and the name are kept freely available to the mod community.
As pointed out in the interview Valve has a long history of working with the modding community and hiring related development teams, including those involved in Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament mod Alien Swarm.
"We give Valve the benefit of the doubt because of their history, but our concern is that by a single organisation taking ownership of the name, the community at large would no longer be able to contribute to DotA like they have for years," said Mescon.