Riot Games developers (League of Legends) counter files 'DotA' trademark.

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#1
Oh this is VERY interesting.

http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/08/17/riot-games-dev-counter-files-dota-trademark/

No developer has a bigger stake in what “DotA” (the highly popular Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients) means today than Riot Games, the budding developer of the free-to-play DotA-esque arena game League of Legends. League of Legends has quietly developed into an enormous community, and it’s a game all PC gamers should at least try. So when the suprising news came out last week that Valve had submitted an application to trademark “DotA”, we sat down with two of the top dogs at Riot Games who were major forces in the DotA community before they signed up at Riot–Steve “Guinsoo” Feak and Steve “Pendragon” Mescon. If anyone has a right to claim the name “DotA”, it seems like it would be these guys, so we asked them what they thought of the recent announcement and what they plan to do about it.

Before teaming up with Riot, Guinsoo and Pendragon made a name for themselves by creating and operating DotA Allstars, by far the most popular version of DotA. Guinsoo, now Game Designer for League of Legends, designed and created the DotA Allstars map, while Pendragon, now Director of Community Relations for LoL, created the website to foster and grow the community around the map.



PC Gamer: What was your initial reaction when you heard that Valve was registering a trademark for “DotA”?


Steve “Pendragon” Mescon: As someone who worked with DotA for years, seeing developers of Valve’s caliber take an interest in this genre is always exciting. Hundreds of people have worked on DotA in its many forms over the years, and millions have played the game, and certainly this type of attention demonstrates how far DotA has come.

However, the idea that one single company is taking control of the name of something that hundreds of people have contributed to is surprising. I believe DotA should always remain a community-owned product that modders, independent developers and game fans can continue to modify and play as often as they’d like. Guinsoo and I had hoped that the DotA name would live on in perpetuity as a community project that is both free to play and free to modify and expand.

PCG: Did you think that trademarking the name was even possible? Guinsoo, as the creator of DotA Allstars, you have as much of a right to claim the “DotA” name as anyone else in the world. Why hadn’t you or Riot tried to trademark it before?

Steve “Guinsoo” Feak: I was aware that trademarking the name was possible, but originally I had no intention of filing for any DotA-related trademarks because DotA is owned by the community. DotA is a mod that many of people have contributed to, not a single person or development team like most typical games. As soon as you step away and create a new game, like we at Riot Games did with League of Legends, it’s no longer DotA. After all, DotA wouldn’t be where it is today without the many contributions the community has made over the years. Neither Pendragon, Riot Games nor I have any desire to dictate the future of DotA.

PCG: Who has the rights to own properties like “DotA” that started out as a single map, but have evolved into so much more? Do you have insight into the legal side of things?

Pendragon: I don’t know the answer to that question, but certainly the original authors, such as Eul and Guinsoo, and the many contributing authors and companies such as Blizzard, have contributed significantly to the creation of DotA. The situation is not as simple as a single person having total ownership over the name. But now we are exploring options to protect the DotA name. We [Dota-Allstars, LL--the company run by Pendragon] have filed for the “Defense of the Ancients” trademark to protect the work that dozens of authors have invested to create the game and on behalf of the millions of DotA players all over the world. If we were to obtain the trademark, we would keep the game and the DotA name freely available to the mod community. That way the game can continue to be worked on and enjoyed by the independent community. We want to ensure that the DotA name remains in the hands of the community and that it is free for all to use.

We have filed for the “Defense of the Ancients” trademark to protect the work that dozens of authors have done to create the game and on behalf of the millions of DotA players all over the world.

PCG: Do you feel that Valve’s application to trademark DotA affects League of Legends in any way? It is an entirely separate game, but it’s legacy is obviously deeply rooted in DotA.

Pendragon: The trademark itself doesn’t affect League of Legends because it’s a standalone game. But as we still are part of the greater DotA community, we hope that the DotA name will remain under the control of the community for the community to continue to play and update.

PCG: Valve has a history of snatching up mod teams and having them create their mods as stand-alone Source games under Valve. A lot of modders see this as a beacon of hope—that if they work hard they can get full-time jobs. Do you not feel the same way?

Pendragon: We think Valve is a great company that has put out some amazing products–many based on mods. They have done a lot to grow and support the mod community and we are excited to see what they bring to the genre. As far as potentially offering positions for modders and DIY developers, we totally support that movement. After all, Guinsoo was originally a modder that helped create DotA Allstars and he’s now one of the lead developers for League of Legends.



PCG: Is the DotA situation different from the CS or the Alien Swarm situations?

Guinsoo: I don’t know the details of those situations, but DotA was created by several different community teams over a long period of time. There were hundreds of people involved in creating and maintaining the product, shaping it into the game you see today.

PCG: Is it more devious than people might think on the surface?

Pendragon: We give Valve the benefit of the doubt because of their history, but our concern is that by a single organization taking ownership of the name, the community at large would no longer be able to contribute to DotA like they have for years.

PCG: Do you think Valve has relied too much on absorbing other people’s ideas and refining them in recent years, rather than internally developing games from scratch?

Pendragon: I am excited that Valve has taken an interest in the genre and would like to see the innovations they bring to the table. We see this genre of gaming growing and expanding as more gamers discover it. Larger developers like Valve adding their talents, ideas and growing the audience is going to accelerate the popularity of this genre, which is going to be great recognition for all the efforts that the DotA community put into creating this type of game.

PCG: What’s the best outcome for the average gamer at this point?

Pendragon: I think the best-case scenario would be that nobody owns the trademark to the DotA name. But if Valve were to ultimately gain the rights, I hope that they would abandon the trademark and release it to the community to allow them to continue to modify, play and experience DotA for free. That’s what DotA is all about.
This might turn into a sticky legal situation, especially since Icefrog and Pendragon/Guinsoo are now essentially rivals.
 
#2
I have to agree with Pendragon here.

Valve should name their game something else.

Trying to take a name from a community for better brand awareness just feels wrong.
 

Max

I am not Max
#5
I agree Valve needs to make their own name, like LoL and HoN

There shouldn't be a game called DotA, only the W3 map
 

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#6
Nirolak said:
I have to agree with Pendragon here.

Valve should name their game something else.

Trying to take a name from a community for better brand awareness just feels wrong.
Yeah this is one situation where I can see Valve coming out looking like the villain. It's cool that Icefrog works for them, but he obviously didn't do everything DotA related by himself. The entire situation is going to be a mess and will probably cause VDotA to be delayed.
 
#7
I thought something like this would happen, Iceforg or Valve didn't have anything on DoTA, it wasn't theirs to begin with, trademarking it didn't seem right.
 
#8
Archie said:
Yeah this is one situation where I can see Valve coming out looking like the villain. It's cool that Icefrog works for them, but he obviously didn't do everything DotA related by himself. The entire situation is going to be a mess and will probably cause VDotA to be delayed.
Guinsoo is really the one who did the defining work on DotA as well. If he wants it to be a community project, they should really respect his wishes.
 
#11
Ya I thought it was really odd they were claiming Dota name, was totally unexpected and was surprised there were no legal issues. Well here's the legal issues!
 
#12
Sinatar said:
Yea there really is no precedent for this.
Yeah, but they actually hired the full staff there.

In this case, the people who did the majority of the work on DotA left the name to the community and went to create a new game in the same genre. Now Valve is hiring the person in charge of upkeeping the game and taking the name.

This would be like Epic hiring someone who updated Alien Swarm and trademarking the name while the main staff went to work at Valve.
 
#16
Nirolak said:
Yeah, but they actually hired the full staff there.

In this case, the people who did the majority of the work on DotA left the name to the community and went to create a new game in the same genre. Now Valve is hiring the person in charge of upkeeping the game and taking the name.

This would be like Epic hiring someone who updated Alien Swarm and trademarking the name while the main staff went to work at Valve.
I thought IceFrog created the map DotA Allstars which was what people came to know as DotA?
 
#18
rezuth said:
I thought IceFrog created the map DotA Allstars which was what people came to know as DotA?
Nah, that was Guinsoo. Wikipedia does the best job describing it.

Wikipedia said:
Development

Warcraft III is the third title in the Warcraft series of real-time strategy games developed by Blizzard Entertainment. As with Warcraft II, Blizzard included a free "world editor" in the game that allows players to create custom scenarios or "maps" for the game, which can be played online with other players through Battle.net.[13] These custom scenarios can be simple terrain changes, which play like normal Warcraft games, or they can be entirely new game scenarios with custom objectives, units, items, and events, like Defense of the Ancients.[13]

The first version of Defense of the Ancients was released in 2003 by a mapmaker under the alias Eul,[14] who based the map on a previous StarCraft scenario known as "Aeon of Strife",[12] After the release of Warcraft's expansion The Frozen Throne, which added new features to the World Editor, Eul did not update the scenario.[15] Other mapmakers produced spinoffs that added new heroes, items, and features.[14]

Among the DotA variants created in the wake of Eul's map included DotA Allstars, developed by modder Steve Feak (under the alias Guinsoo); this version would become today's dominant version of the map, simply known as Defense of the Ancients.[16] Feak said when he began developing DotA Allstars, he had no idea how popular the game would eventually become; the emerging success of the gametype inspired him to design a new title around what he considered an emerging game genre.[17] Feak added a recipe system for items so that player's equipment would scale as they grew more powerful, as well as a powerful boss character called Roshan (named after his bowling ball) who required an entire team to defeat.[14]

Feak used a battle.net chat channel as a place for DotA players to congregate,[14] but DotA Allstars had no official site for discussions and hosting. The leaders of the DotA Allstars clan, TDA, proposed that a dedicated web site be created to replace the various online alternatives that were infrequently updated or improperly maintained. TDA member Steve "Pendragon" Mescon created the former official community site, dota-allstars.com, on October 14, 2004.[18]

Towards the end of his association with the map, Feak primarily worked on optimizing the map before handing over control to another developer after version 6.01. The new author, IceFrog, added new features, heroes, and fixes. Each release is accompanied with a changelog.[19] IceFrog was at one time highly reclusive, refusing to give interviews; the only evidence of his authorship was the map maker's email account on the official website and the name branded on the game's loading screen.[4] Icefrog now interacts with players through a personal blog where he answers common questions players have about him and about the game.[20] He has also posted information about upcoming map releases, including previews of new heroes and items.[21] In October 2009, Icefrog was hired by Valve Corporation, leading a team in a project that he has described as "great news for DotA fans".[22] Valve officially filed the trademark for "DotA" in August 2010,[23] leading to Guinsoo's company filing a counter application of trademark for the phrase "Defense of the Ancients".[24]
 
#20
It seems very likely to me that Valve has a good case, but so hard to say. Hopefully this can all get resolved in a nice, friendly way. Valve is one of the few companies I can actually imagine trying to talk this sort of issue out rather than just bully their way into what they want.

I'm pretty amused at the interviewer asking all those leading questions trying to get Pendragon and Guinsoo to talk shit about Valve and them staying classy and keeping things very neutral. :lol
 
#23
I dont see a problem with Valve taking over the DotA name, I mean its not like anyone is really doing much with it. Considering the game they make will probably be the definitive version of DotA type games, it doesn't really bother me.
 

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#24
Instro said:
I dont see a problem with Valve taking over the DotA name, I mean its not like anyone is really doing much with it. Considering the game they make will probably be the definitive version of DotA type games, it doesn't really bother me.
er, DotA has a pretty huge esport following, and Icefrog just released an update a few weeks ago.
 
#25
Archie said:
er, DotA has a pretty huge esport following, and Icefrog just released an update a few weeks ago.
Right, but havent a lot of people moved on to LoL or HoN now though? I just dont see how there would be any ill effects to the current DotA community.
 
#26
Instro said:
Right, but havent a lot of people moved on to LoL or HoN now though? I just dont see how there would be any ill effects to the current DotA community.
I'm pretty sure DotA is still the most played out of all these sorts of games. A large amount of people in Asia still play it.
 
#28
I apologize if I sound like a douche, but I think some people are being a tad over-dramatic about this.

At the end of the day, the name "Defense of the Ancients" is not what made DotA great, yeah the loss of the name would make hardcore fans depressed, but in the grand scheme of things....it's just a name folks. Call it "Guardians of the Ancients" or "Protection of the Ancients" or some shit if the name alone matters that much; break out a thesaurus and go to town.

I actually completely agree with the sentiment that priority #1 would be to respect the creator's wishes (keep the DotA name, literally, in the hands of the community). However, I should say that, if your community-built game was to land in the hands of a big-name AAA developer, who better than Valve? Of course Blizzard have more of a pedigree for games like DotA (given that DotA was a mod made from Warcraft III) but of the many things Valve is known for, the good relationship with their community(s) is one of them. My point is, things could seriously be a lot worse.
 
#29
Loxley said:
I actually completely agree with the sentiment that priority #1 would be to respect the creator's wishes (keep the DotA name, literally, in the hands of the community). However, I should say that, if your community-built game was to land in the hands of a big-name AAA developer, who better than Valve? Of course Blizzard have more of a pedigree for games like DotA (given that DotA was a mod made from Warcraft III) but of the many things Valve is known for, the good relationship with their community(s) is one of them. My point is, things could seriously be a lot worse.
Yeah, Activision Blizzard could try and lock it down. Hopefully this all gets resolved with a minimum of legal fees.
 
#34
Shanadeus said:
Isn't it Blizzard that has the ultimate say in all of this?
I mean, the maps was made by a map engine part of their game.
No. Developers don't own mod IPs just because it was a mod of their game.
 
#35
Twig said:
No. Developers don't own mod IPs just because it was a mod of their game.
Really?
You'd think that they'd have some sort of clause saying that any original content developed on their engines is their property.
I dunno if they could do that though.
 

Zerokku

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
#36
Shanadeus said:
Really?
You'd think that they'd have some sort of clause saying that any original content developed on their engines is their property.
I dunno if they could do that though.
Pretty sure they actually did do that for SC2.
 

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#37
Yeah iirc there is a clause in the SC2 EULA which states that all mods become the property of Blizzard. No clue if it is in War3, though.
 
#38
Archie said:
Yeah iirc there is a clause in the SC2 EULA which states that all mods become the property of Blizzard. No clue if it is in War3, though.
Holy shit they did? Wow, blizz really really doesn't want people making maps. That plus the horrible horrible custom games interface, I don't see the community flourishing like it did previously.
 
#41
Ferrio said:
Holy shit they did? Wow, blizz really really doesn't want people making maps. That plus the horrible horrible custom games interface, I don't see the community flourishing like it did previously.
They broken WASD and map size limits haven't been very helpful either...
 

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#42
Starcraft 2 EULA said:
User Content.

"User Content" means any communications, images, sounds, and all the material and information that you upload or transmit through a Game client or the Service, or that other users upload or transmit, including without limitation any chat text. You hereby grant Blizzard a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, paid-up, non-exclusive, license, including the right to sublicense to third parties, and right to reproduce, fix, adapt, modify, translate, reformat, create derivative works from, manufacture, introduce into circulation, publish, distribute, sell, license, sublicense, transfer, rent, lease, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, or provide access to electronically, broadcast, communicate to the public by telecommunication, display, perform, enter into computer memory, and use and practice such User Content as well as all modified and derivative works thereof. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, you hereby waive any moral rights you may have in any User Content.
.
 
#44
Archie said:
Actually, the first appearance of that seems to occur in the EULA of World of Warcraft. Then later Blizzard added it as a part of the Battle.net EULA. There's at least one site, which I can't link to due to it's shady nature that has the full EULA and that EULA was updated on February 18, 2009.

Edit: Rewrote the above.
 
#45
charlequin said:
It seems very likely to me that Valve has a good case, but so hard to say. Hopefully this can all get resolved in a nice, friendly way. Valve is one of the few companies I can actually imagine trying to talk this sort of issue out rather than just bully their way into what they want.

I'm pretty amused at the interviewer asking all those leading questions trying to get Pendragon and Guinsoo to talk shit about Valve and them staying classy and keeping things very neutral. :lol
The thing is, I can actually understand the reasoning behind it. Real smart of them to hesitate burning any potential bridges. Knowing how Valve handles stuff like this, they'll probably make a compromise soon enough.
 

Archie

Second-rate Anihawk
#46
crimsonheadGCN said:
That's part of the general EULA for Battle.net. It was added back in February 18, 2009 at the latest. It's probably been there a lot longer.
Woops. I thought that was added in SC2. Sorry.
 
#47
I can see how this would rub some people wrong. They don't want the community mislead and Valve probably meant no harm by it. DotA is a name people recognize and a genre that more people could get into. I never knew about DotA til last year. On the other hand, I give Valve benefit of the doubt that they'll be faithful to the original mod while adding their unique twist to it.

Activision should trademark the brand and monetize it like League of Legends.
I kid.
 
#50
I was under the assumption that given the guy running DotA now is working for Valve that Valve's DotA was going to literally be his version of DotA ported to Source. If that is the case calling it DotA is not really out of line, and neither is trademarking the name.