A major battle between two of gaming’s biggest names has been quietly brewing behind the scenes over the past few weeks. After the surprise 2010 announcement that Half Life publishers Valve would be releasing a commercial sequel to the popular Warcraft 3 mod DOTA. Developed independently by a conglomerate of volunteer developers, DOTA was molded into an international hit by designer IceFrog. The style of action packed RTS gameplay has inspired hit titles like League of Legends and has remained a staple amongst competitive gamers all over the world.
Although DOTA was designed independent of Blizzard, Activision’s lawyers claim that the EULA (End User License Agreement) confers Blizzard ownership of any material created using the game’s engine. That’s where things get tricky.
DOTA 2 is being built using an entirely new engine and will be entirely independent of Warcraft 3. However, Blizzard is challenging Valve’s right to trademark the DOTA name for use in products. While there is little doubt that Blizzard technically owns the maps, character designs, and code used to create the original add-on, Valve contends that Blizzard has no right to the name outside of existing game.
It seems increasingly likely that these two PC gaming behemoths will have a somewhat lengthy legal argument to determine who owns the trademark to this upcoming title. Let’s hope that the two of them are able to talk their differences out civilly.