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Dota trademark: Blizzard, Valve respond

Blizzard DOTA may launch with a new name.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Blizzard has vowed not to let Valve's trademark of the name Dota hold up the launch of its own DOTA mod for StarCraft 2.

It is prepared to change the name of the mod rather than see the game delayed as a result of a trademark dispute, Blizzard Executive Vice President, Product Development and Co-Founder Frank Pearce told Eurogamer.

Last year Blizzard game design boss Rob Pardo told Eurogamer Valve's attempt to trademark DOTA "doesn't seem the right thing to do".

Pardo said Blizzard was confused by Valve's move and believed it had the right to use the term in the name of its free StarCraft II mod, Blizzard DOTA.

DOTA refers to the hugely popular online gametype born of the famous Warcraft 3 mod, Defense of the Ancients, and maintained by the elusive IceFrog.

Valve is currently developing Dota 2 for its Source engine, with IceFrog's help, after employing some of the DOTA mod development community.

At Gamescom, where Valve unveiled Dota 2 via an invitation-only tournament, Pearce reiterated Blizzard's stance on the issue.

"From my perspective, DOTA is a genre in this space, at this point, and almost a sub genre of the real-time strategy space," he said. "It doesn't seem like something someone would want to trademark, but the US legal system lets people do just about anything they want to try."

If Blizzard goes ahead with its planned launch of Blizzard DOTA near on at the release of StarCraft 2 expansion Heart of the Swarm, expected some time next year, will Valve object?

"That's a really good question," Pearce replied. "I don't know the answer to that. Hopefully not."

"I can't speak to it from a legal perspective. From the development team and the leadership at Blizzard, we want to make great games and we want to get those great games into the hands of our fans.

"At the end of the day, the name and the label we put on that mod for StarCraft 2 is not as critical as the gameplay experience we create and deliver to the fans. We will not hold back the experience from the fans because of a naming conflict. We'll find a way to get it into the hands of our fans either way.

"I don't think it's critical [to have the name DOTA] to delivering that experience to the fans, personally."

Now, for the first time, Valve has explained why it has trademarked the Dota name.

"The issue with that was, when we were talking with IceFrog originally, he wanted to build the sequel to DOTA," Valve boss Gabe Newell told Eurogamer. "So the reason to call it Dota 2 is it actually does a pretty good job of communicating to gamers what it is the game is going to be.

"If a gamer looks at this game and you ask them, is that Dota 2? They're going to say yeah, that makes sense. That's a good name for it. That's really what's driving that."

Newell, who has played Dota 2 for a whopping 800 hours already, denied Pardo's accusation that Valve's trademark takes Dota away from the community that built it.

"The community is usually pretty unambiguous in their opinions about stuff, so, now they've had a chance to see the game they're going to tell us pretty clearly whether they think it's an appropriate name for it," he said.

"I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it."

Does Newell anticipate any trademark dispute when both games launch next year?

"I don't know," he replied. "That's really not my domain. I'm sure there will be a bunch of nattering back and forth, but I'm more concerned about the game than anything else."

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