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Blizzard is locked in a legal dispute with Valve over the latter's trademark request for the DOTA 2 title. The upcoming game is a spiritual successor to the popular WarCraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients. The lead designer on the project is IceFrog, a modder who worked on keeping the mod going from 2005 onward, until joining Valve's DOTA 2 team sometime before the game was announced in late 2010.
Blizzard hasn't been quiet in expressing its dissatisfaction over a competitor developing what is essentially a standalone sequel to a mod from one of its own games, but we're only now first hearing of an ongoing legal action to block Valve's trademarking of the DOTA name. NeoGAF users discovered (via Kotaku) a November filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office in which Blizzard formally opposes the Valve trademark request.
The WarCraft dev argues that because the title has "for more than seven years... been used exclusively by Blizzard and its fan community" that it has a claim to the name that Valve does not. "By virtue of that use, the DOTA mark has become firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard," the dev argues in the intro portion of the legal document. Neither company owns the trademark, but Blizzard contends that it has more of a right to the title than Valve does.
Valve's most recent public comments on the decision to go with the DOTA 2 title came from the big boss himself, Gabe Newell, in an interview with Eurogamer at Gamescom last year. ""The issue with that was, when we were talking with IceFrog originally, he wanted to build the sequel to DOTA," Newell said. "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."
Newell goes on to discuss how the use of the title would be received by the gaming community, but he stop short of commenting extensively on the possibility of a future trademark dispute. "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," he said.
We've reached out to Valve for comment, and will update this post accordingly when we hear back.