League of Legends developer Riot Games has "counter-filed" a trademark for "Defense of the Ancients," saying the name of the popular Warcraft III mod should belong to the community, not Valve Software, which recently filed a trademark application for the shortened version of the title, "DotA."
"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," said Riot Games' Steve "Pendragon" Mescon in a PC Gamer interview.
Before coming to Riot as director of community relations, Mescon and League of Legends game designer Steve "Guinsoo" Feak created and operated the popular community-centric DotA Allstars. Riot's League of Legends is a successful free-to-play PC game heavily inspired by DotA.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office website shows that Riot attorney Tal Grinblat filed for "Defense of the Ancients" on August 9, three days after Valve filed for "DotA." Grinblat's filing refers to online multiplayer PC and video games, among other game-related language.
"...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," said Mescon.
Valve's filing for "DotA" last week was the latest evidence that the Half-Life studio is working on some kind of Defense of the Ancients-related title. Last year, IceFrog, DotA Allstar's custodian for four years, said that Valve hired him to lead a team at the studio.
At the time, the pseudonymous designer said, "I am very excited about DotA's future!" A voice actor also recently Tweeted that he "Had a great time in Seattle last week recording for DotA. The guys at Valve Software are awesome."
Mescon said that he gives Valve the "benefit of the doubt" because of the studio's history of tapping mod community talent, but he is still concerned that ownership of the trademark could interfere with the creation and release of modders' current offerings and future work.
"I think the best-case scenario would be that nobody owns the trademark to the 'DotA' name," Mescon said. "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."