Who owns the term “DOTA?” In gaming, the acronym is often used to refer to the Warcraft III mod titled Defense of the Ancients from a Starcraft map titled Aeon of Strife. Yet that map and mod were actually made by a non-Blizzard employee, a fan of the game using the name Eul.
Now, however, Valve has filed for a trademark on the name Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Riot Games then counter-filed, trying to capture the W3C mod name for the “gaming community” at large and to protect the title from ownership by gaming corporations.
The rights were in dispute, but quietkly, for a while as Valve produced DOTA2 (and has since filed for TM on DOTA3). In the mean time, the rights that Riot Games acquired (via their made-for-the-event company DotA All-Stars LLC) were transferred to Blizzard, despite what Riot said they were doing when they gained gamer support for their move to secure the name for the community.
With those rights in hand, Blizzard is now pushing to force Valve to rename or re-brand their DOTA products in light of this infringement.
Blizzard honestly has some good arguments, but their waiting until this late in the game to get involved is a little quirky. Riot Games’ involvement also seems a bit shady.
In the end, of course, it will be a legal battle and the courts will decide.