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Blizzard contends Valve's DOTA trademark motion

Sat 23 Oct 2010 1:19am GMT / 9:19pm EDT / 6:19pm PDT
GamesDevelopment

Pardo:"It should continue to be available to Blizzard and to our community"

Blizzard game design boss Rob Pardo thinks that Valve's attempt to trademark DOTA "doesn't seem the right thing to do."

Pardo told sister site Eurogamer that Blizzard was confused by Valve's move and believes it has the right to use the term in the name of its free StarCraft II mod, Blizzard DOTA, announced at BlizzCon today.

DOTA refers to the hugely popular online gametype born of the famous Warcraft III mod, Defence of the Ancients. Valve is currently developing DOTA 2 for its Source engine after employing some of the DOTA mod development community. Superannuation discovered that Valve had filed a trademark registration for DOTA earlier this year.

"To us, that means that you're really taking it away from the Blizzard and Warcraft III community and that just doesn't seem the right thing to do," said Pardo, Blizzard's executive vice president of game design.

Pardo described his reaction to the move as "a little bit of confusion, to be honest. Certainly, DOTA came out of the Blizzard community... It just seems a really strange move to us that Valve would go off and try to exclusively trademark the term considering it's something that's been freely available to us and everyone in the Warcraft III community up to this point.

"Valve is usually so pro mod community. It's such a community company that it just seems like a really strange move to us... I really don't understand why [they would do it], to be honest."

Valve's DOTA development is led by the mod's long-time caretaker Abdul Ismail, known as IceFrog. "He's one of the guys that most recently had been working on the DOTA Allstars map," said Pardo. "So I'm assuming, since he wants to continue making that map, that [Valve] felt like they should be able to trademark it."

Blizzard is showing internally-developed free mods for StarCraft II at BlizzCon this weekend. The biggest project of these is Blizzard DOTA, a Defence of the Ancients variant starring Blizzard characters from across its franchises, including Warcraft and Diablo ("a bit like Super Smash Brothers," according to the panel that unveiled it).

When asked what would happen in the event Valve were to object to Blizzard's use of the term for Blizzard DOTA, Pardon claimed: "Our response is that they don't own the term DOTA at this point. It's something that they're filing for.

"Our contention is that it should continue to be available to Blizzard and to our community."

17 Comments

James Taylor
Studying Games and Interactive Entertainment

11 0 0.0
Wasn't it originally called something else in SC? Blizz probably annoyed they dint snap the IP up.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

James Taylor
Studying Games and Interactive Entertainment

11 0 0.0
I might add, they picked up the guy working on Dora all stars and from what it sounds like are faithfully remaking the game. Sounds like catering to the community to me.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Radu Ciu
Product Manager

21 0 0.0
Catering to the community i agree, but whose community?

Posted:3 years ago

#3

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 410 0.6
I'm not sure it should be available to either company - Valve or Blizzard. Neither one created it and so they should not be able to file for the mark. Since there's prior art and the previous versions are all still in use i cannot see how a mark can be awarded in a situation like this. It's like trying to trademark DHCP or something (though that probably is trademarked knowing my analogy track record!).

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Panagiotis Karanikolis
Developer Account Manager

6 0 0.0
Quite impossible to get copyrights for something that has been freely distributed for close to a decade. Not to mention that the current "caretaker" Icefrog isn't really the original creator (Eul created it and Guinsoo - currently working for Riot's LeagueOfLegends - ported it to WC3 and worked on it for years). They could ofcourse register DOTA (instead of DotA or Defense of the Ancients) but would good would that do? Just like Pardo said, it's confusing.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Jonatan Crafoord
Neuron

33 55 1.7
I was wondering when Blizzard would have some reaction to the attempted trademarking. While my knowledge of US law is limited at best it seems likely that they has a very good case if there should be a dispute over the trademark, given that it was conceived within the tools covered by their EULA and first associated with their own games.

To answer Rob's question my guess is that Valve is simply trying to cover their backs by trademarking the title before releasing the game, especially given the ambiguous legal status of the IP. I would be quite surprised if their intention is to actively prohibit others from making DotA games and mods, just like Blizzard Valve's focus is on community and such a move would generate quite a lot of badwill.

What saddens me however is that developers of this calibre are not having an open dialogue about moves like these but instead feel the need to go on the legal defense. Both Blizzard and Valve certainly have enough talent to not have to engage in destructive competition with each other and my view is that they would likely be much better off by trading knowledge than withholding it.

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Jas Purewal
Solicitor

35 0 0.0
I wrote earlier this month about the real risk of a legal fight which I think is brewing over DOTA, and not just the trademark either (more here: http://www.gamerlaw.co.uk/2010/10/opinio... The game IP itself is fragmented across a number of developers - now made even more complicated by Blizzard planning a free DOTA mod for Starcraft 2 - and that gives rise to considerable scope for legal disputes if and when Valve releases its commercial DOTA game.

In the meantime, *IF* Blizzard seeks formally to contest Valve's application for a DOTA trademark then that could pit these two games giants in a legal battle for the first time as far as I am aware...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jas Purewal on 25th October 2010 3:55pm

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

46 6 0.1
Two very much loved companies fighting seems uglier than it should - but if it comes to a legal battle, blizzard shouldnt expect valve to be moraly curtious on behalf of thier communities. Business is business, and as much love even I have for them both, I hope neither of them get the name.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Philipp Karstaedt
Technical Release Manager

7 0 0.0
Only because Valve is trying to register the trademark, it does not mean that there will be a fight. I can see Valve quietly (or openly) accepting the use of the term by Blizzard but not by, e.g., somebody else.

They could certainly be more open about their intentions, if not with the public at least with Blizzard. A legal battle is not a certain consequence of this. It may be one, though. I love Valve as much as the next guy, but that would bring them a lot of badwill, as said before.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Panagiotis Karanikolis
Developer Account Manager

6 0 0.0
What's even more confusing than Valve's attempt to copyright a freely distributed IP is Blizzard's 10 year old ignorance. DotA's popularity was only second to WoW's yet they failed to see the opportunity, provided no support for it, allowed DotA-clones to make god knows how much money and are now facing the risk of losing the IP entirely. I appreciate Blizzard's devotion to their established series but I can't help but wonder what were they thinking, ignoring a game with a player base that is estimated around 10 mil players (and that's without counting LoL, HoN and Demigod). Thinking about it again, maybe they don't deserve to win this.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Matt Lowe
Associate Producer

6 0 0.0
I have to agree Panagiotis.

As soon as Demigod was announced I was expecting Blizzard to step up and take on DotA as a product but nothing happened, even after LoL and HoN. It does seem very strange given that they knew better than anybody the amount of traffic and interest it was generating on Battle.net and their obvious love for the more competitive eSports style games.

I guess it could be down to the fact that despite all the interest, and the large number of PC players playing the mod, this could still be quite a risky game to release. It's hardcore even by multiplayer PC game standards and educating players on how to play it will be a real challenge.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
Dota is a community project, has had many developers such as Guinsoo and Euls now part of the League of Legends team.

The original claim for the DOTA name was protested by Guinsoo and Euls for the exact reason Blizzard is developing it..

I dont see why Valve cant use the title... but i dont think any one should be able to claim the title..

DOTA is a genre of games now.... Dota allstars is the famous one..... there are millions of others now.

Posted:3 years ago

#12
Personnaly I don't think Blizzard own the name "Dota" but what shocked me was the fact that Valve seems to keep the character design of all the heroes. And even if it's fantasy style, every elf looks like an elf, still it was the art works of Blizzard. For example one of the heroes is "King Leoric" who comes from the Diablo games so Valve just change a little the design call him the "Skeleton King" or whatever and it's ok ? I don't know much about copyrights but it doesn't seems right to me.

Posted:3 years ago

#13
If this is like the latest X-Com or Fallout Game someone is going to get hurt...

I'm sick of companies buying the name of IP's because of the popularity attached and then completely changing the game.

And valve is almost forced to change it because they are to far behind the competition of LoL and HoN.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ryan Duclos on 26th October 2010 3:55pm

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Kirill Yarovoy
Game designer / Narrative designer / Writer

41 5 0.1
I believe Valve have no legit rights to this trademark for next reasons:

1.
Despite the fact that Valve have Ice Frog as their employee, IceFrog himself have no exclusive right to DoTA and share equal rights with many of DoTA co-developers, including Feak who was creator of DoTA mod (lol mod of mod, what a mess) called All stars, which was later maintained by IceFrog and others. So legaly Feak have more rights than IceFrog, since Frog modded what was created by Freak
and its not even 100% correct for next reasons

2 .
1st of all Authorship of original mod, as well as authorship to the name of mod belongs to Eul, who is original and only author of DoTA.
He didn't signed any agreements and didnt gave his authorship and ownership rights to other modmakers, so basically whole community started to make modifications of his modification without his permission and restriction, so legally all rights to mod should belong to Eul and only Eul. But

3 .
Since Eul did not created his own game, but created a MOD, which utilized Resources and Tools as well as game engine produced by Blizzard, it seems that MOD could be legal property of Blizzard.
But

4.
Whole mod itself could be considered as property of blizzard in case if it remains free-to-use mod. The name of the mod as well as its idea, separated from this mod (ie ported to another engine with different tools) is not property of game developer, and could be considered as property of original author – EUL.

So despite its a bit complicated, in any Case IceFrog is one of many Co-developers of mod and have no exclusive rights to it, and he isnt even author of mod, so the only man who have legal 1st priority rights to own DotA trademark is EUL.

But we better should read carefully EULA of WC3 and WC3 Level Editor, there could be something like “everything created with this tools considered as property of blizzard, and by pressing accept button you brings all rights to your creation to us” so in this case, Activison-Blizzard and Bobby Kotick owns all WC3 mods and maps. (please note if they will update eula now, this will not be valid case, only valid EULA is EULA of 2003 year which was accepted by EUL when he originally created 1st DoTA).

But if its up for justice and some common laws – everything developed by community cannot have impersonated owner, so name DoTA should not be registered as trademark.
Registering DoTA as trademark is comparable is someone will try to register holly bible as trademark – no one cant own something thatz belongs to everyone.

Shame on you Valve, i love you guys, but what you just tried to do is TRUE CRIME and clear attempt of raider'd seizure!

Actually this makes me think that some other mods, could be a seizure by Valve (including CS, TF, Alien Swarm & L4D), could be not absolutely legitimate.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kirill Yarovoy on 27th October 2010 12:17pm

Posted:3 years ago

#15
Like Jas said, IceFrog has worked with 3 separate companies so far to create DotA clones. There are a lot of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas now, but DotA Allstars spawned League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and DOTA 2. All four of these games will feature a very similar set of heroes and game play. LoL is the most different, but HoN and DotA Allstars are almost identical, and presumably DOTA 2 will be the same as well.

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Kirill Yarovoy
Game designer / Narrative designer / Writer

41 5 0.1
IceFrog is nothing more than a leech. He did nothing, just tweaked balance of currently existing mod and stole ideas from various versions of mod and put them all together in one.
He is not game designer. he aint designed a crap, he is "balance tweaker", he have no imagination and never done anything himself. he just took others works and tried to sell it.

I wonder, how Valve could hire such a non creative person, who have zero own ideas & accept that adventure to develop DOTA 2 under direction of this dummy.

Truth is, that from 2008 "Icefrog had been secretly working for S2Games after conducting a series of meetings where he was attempting to sell a full DotA game concept to a number of companies (including Riot)." But how could Valve get into this???

Any old-timer WC3 player could tell you:

1. DotA Allstars was not the first DotA
2. DotA Allstars stole content from other DotA maps
3. DotA Allstars was not created by Icefrog

Also, i found this (not my text, but proves are pretty solid and match most of information i knew before, so i believe its not fake):
[link url=http://icefrogtruth.blogspot.com/2010/10/truth.html
]http://icefrogtruth.blogspot.com/2010/10...[/link]

The Truth
I am an employee at Valve. I do work on an unrelated project from IceFrog, but I have many friends who work with him on a daily basis. This blog is the culmination of what I have learned about IceFrog, also known as Abdul Ismail, directly from people who are currently working with him. Their names will stay anonymous for their sake and mine. You might want to ask why I am posting this. Why do I risk me and my friends's jobs? The answer is that ever since Abdul has joined Valve, he has been poisonous to the company. He is incredibly hard to work with, absolutely impossible to talk to in person due to a complete lack of social skills, and easily holds the most unpleasantly domineering work personality of anyone I have ever met. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of almost everyone I know who has come in contact with him. Abdul's project is not only becoming one of the most controversial inside the office, but one of the most controversial outside. He is taking the company in a direction I thought we would never head in because he demanded unparalleled control and for some reason was granted it.


What is most interesting about Abdul is that he is a compulsive liar. When he was hired, none of us knew about his past. In fact, we were all on the assumption that he had made it thus far on his own. Several of us silently questioned how he could've devoted so much time after graduation to a hobby despite there being a giant hole on his resume, but we knew that he was an eccentric character, and assumed that he was being supported by his family. It was not until Riot Games's Steve Mescon, also known as Pendragon, made his infamous blog post on http://www.dota-allstars.com that the truth began to come out. Everyone here assumed it was a very dirty marketing scheme by the Riot Games guys, or even that S2 Games and Riot Games were making up stories to discredit us. In fact, our legal team had previously sent infringement notifications to S2 Games over their usage of what we believed to be IceFrog's content. I was told that S2 Games was asked to remove all DOTA content altogether, and that because of this, we would have the rights to DOTA content.

A lot of us had sensed that there was something fishy going on from the beginning. We scoured the internet for any evidence that would implicate Abdul. Eventually, we found it on a HON blog. The process is incredibly easy, and you can replicate it yourself.

Search for "Abdul Ismail" on Google.
The 8th result is for MyLife.com. Click it.
Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
Click on Abdul Ismail Bellevue, 27.
Voila. Or in the words of Kudo Tsunoda, BAM, there it is. We found that that Abdul lived in:
New Bedford, MA: very close to his alma mater
Rohnert Park, CA: where S2 Games is located
Bellevue, WA: where we are
As if that were not evidence enough of foul play, a professional DOTA player who claims to be in the know revealed this also replicatable piece of information.
Go to http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neigh... a site that tracks campaign donors.
Under employees, search for Marc DeForest, who is the owner of S2 Games.
You will find Abdul Ismail employed as a programmer under Marc DeForest.
In a process unrelated to mine, Abdul was eventually confronted about his hidden past by the Valve higher-ups. We found out that not only did he lie about DOTA, but he lied about his involvement with both Riot Games and S2 Games. As I said at the start of this blog, you can go to http://www.dota-allstars.com to brush up on that history. This is the equivalent of the CEO of McDonald's (DOTA) looking for a job at Burger King (Riot Games), then working for Fatburger (S2 Games), then quitting and going to work for Wendy's (Valve) but outright lying to Wendy's of his involvement with ANY previous employer, despite the fact that he had contributed to a significant chunk of development with each company. In the corporate world, this would be the equivalent of stealing trade secrets. But instead, this is the game development business, and the rules are not so established. What upsets me most, and the ultimate reason I am writing this, is that any ethical company would have dropped Abdul right here and reconsidered their options. We are not doing that, and instead are pushing ahead with full force. Sorry guys, but the truth has to come out sooner or later.

EDIT: Now that the Game Informer article has been released, you can see the extent to which Valve is willing to protect Abdul. Let me ask you this, Gabe. If Abdul were the renaissance man as you claim he is, why is Erik leading the project? Even Erik betrays himself when he says that "our first reaction is to assume that [design elements are] there for a reason". No, your first realization was that Abdul was a poor designer, but because of his bullying personality and his scheming, he managed to convince you to build the game as-is per his instructions. That's what happens when you go from being a shoe salesman http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/peo... to directing a game you didn't play, isn't it?
----

I really hope, Valve will understand their mistake, cancel project or turn it into something else and fire Icefrog. Also i hope Blizzard will step into court and will put legal veto to actions of IceFrog, untill he tried to sell DOTA to another company, like EA & Activsion which would be pretty ironical (since its proven Vavle is 3rd one, and since Activision is under Wing of Vivendi with Blizzard).

Posted:3 years ago

#17

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