Riot Games, Valve clash over Defence Of The Ancients

League of Legends developer files rival trademark in attempt to maintain free usage

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.

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Latest comments (4)

Jonatan Crafoord Neuron, That Brain7 years ago
I wonder what Blizzard's stand is in this. DotA was created within the scope of their games, and if I'm not mistaken any work done with their modding tools is legally owned by Blizzard. However, I have no idea if this would also apply to intellectual property such as names. It would be interesting indeed if Blizzard suddenly filed for the same trademark, as something tells me they might actually have the law on their side for being the first company to "use" the name.

Either way I also doubt that Valve has the intention of bringing down other developers with this move. My guess is that they are just watching their own backs for the very reason mentioned above. It will be very interesting to see how this turns out and what Valve will do with the whole concept if they keep pursuing it.
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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College7 years ago
I don't think there's any game I've put more hours of my life in to than DotA... please don't break it Valve, I don't know what I'd do with so much free time :)

Whether Blizzard own it or not, I'm surprised they never introduced a DotA style raid or battleground to WoW; think they've missed a trick there.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
I'm not fully conversant with trademarks. Can a trademark be issued to a company if it's already in use within the same sector even if it's a non-profit use?

i.e. DoTA already exists and is linked to videogames and a particular type of videogame experience. Even if Valve were creating a DoTA-style game they would have no claim on the trademark unless it was out of use by other entities. At least that's how i thought it would work.... sort of similar to patents except you can't be re-awarded a patent after it's expired.

Seems a particularly murky move in any case....

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 19th August 2010 11:58pm

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Tomas Lidström Lighting Artist, Rebellion7 years ago
Im going to go out on a limb and say that i am sure there is no ill intent from Valves side to bring ruin to Dota or its developers. They have helped so many modders go on from the mod scene to become industry pros that they have earned that much in my oppinion. I am sure they have profited by doing it but that does not take away from the fact that they are activly supported the mod scene not only for their games from other companies as well.

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