I wrote earlier this month about the Legal Battle Brewing Over DOTA, a popular free to play Warcraft 3 mod which Valve is now planning to revamp and release commercially. I said in that post that I think the fact that the DOTA IP is split across multiple developers means that we will see legal difficulties over both the copyright and trademark ownership of any commercial DOTA game.
It’s nice to be proven right every now and then. Gamesindustry.biz reports that Blizzard has publicly objected at Blizzcon 2010 to Valve’s attempt to register a trademark over DOTA. Rob Pardo, Executive Vice President of Game Design at Blizzard, told Eurogamer: “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“. It’s important to bear in mind that there is no indication that Blizzard is going formally to object to Valve’s application though – GI reported that “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. “
However, interestingly, at Blizzcon 2010 Blizzard has apparently also unveiled “Blizzard DOTA”, a free DOTA mod for Starcraft 2.
So, you have Blizzard making noises about Valve not being in a position to trademark DOTA (even if technically Blizzard has said nothing about formally objecting to that application – so far). At the same time, Blizzard wants to release its own (free) DOTA mod – which potentially could infringe Valve’s DOTA trademark if it is granted in the near future. Then there’s the issue of actual ownership of the game IP as I’ve discussed previously. Doesn’t look good. Let’s hope that Valve and Blizzard can come to an agreement as to how their respective games can live together side by side, because otherwise it could get really legal…
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