Blizzard, Valve or Others, Who will get DOTA Trademark in China?

—Analysis of DOTA (the Defense of the Ancient) Trademark Dispute 

Highlight: Recently Blizzard voiced its concern over Valve’s attempt to trademark DOTA, a popular map of Warcraft III. Could Valve register the trademark, and what measures could Blizzard take to against Valve’s attempt? Bridge IP Commentary will give you our analysis. 

DOTA is the only officially recognized Warcraft RPG map by Blizzard Entertainment, who is furious about Valve’s attempt to trademark DOTA. “To us, that means that you’re really taking it away from the Blizzard and Warcraft III community and that just doesn’t seem the right thing to do” as commented by Rob Pardo from Blizzard.

After the retrieval in the trademark office of China, we found that Valve has applied the registration of DOTA in class 41 of the online game in China, which now is under the review. Furthermore, the DOTA has already been registered by a China company, therefore, Valve’s application will be rejected by the administration, and Valve could only acquire the trademark through dispute procedure. And there’s no application in Class 9 of computer software.

Apparently, DOTA meets the legal requirements of China Trademark Law, and has no generic meaning. But unlike other trademarks, DOTA has been used for a long period before the registration application, which has accumulated it a high reputation. And also for such long term use, it’s debatable to registered DOTA as the trademark of one’s exclusive ownership for it contains so much. For this argument, Bridge IP Commentary makes the following analysis: 

I. The origin of DOTA 

DOTA is the abbreviation of Defense of the Ancient, which has been translated into Chinese as “守护古树”, “守护遗迹”or“远古遗迹守卫”, and it’s the name of the custom map for real time multiplayer battle of Warcraft III (hereinafter referred to as “Wc3”). In other words, DOTA is a player-created map basing on the Map Editor of Blizzard rather than an independent game, and it’s popular among the fans for its unique gaming style.

II. The generic meaning has been granted to DOTA

For this reason, DOTA is more than a game map for it has been the synonym of a gaming style. In China, there’re also many customer maps following the setting of DOTA, though their names may be different. Therefore, gaming on this map also be called gaing DOTA in China. 

III. The analysis on the trademark registration of DOTA

As provided in China Trademark Law, where a product or service only has a generic name, no registration could be made on it. While as to DOTA, for the above analysis, it has no generic meaning on itself, which comes from the popularity among the players. However, it remains questionable for it is the generic meaning in the China Trademark Law.

But it’s not unprecedented abroad. Take “Aspirin” as the example, it has been the name of a drug, and could not be registered as the trademark. And it’s also the same for Yoyo.

In a word, we estimate that even Valve could get DOTA through dispute procedure, it’s still legally entitled for Blizzard or any other third parties, for the administrative support,  to initiate trademark opposition or cancellation basing on the claim that DOTA has the generic meaning.

Copyright reserved by Mr. You Yunting
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Bridge IP Commentary
Partner & Attorney-at-law of Shanghai DeBund Law Offices
Email:, Tel: 8621-5213-4900,
You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Bridge IP Commentary is a website focus on the introduction of commercial laws in China, especially the intellectual property laws. All the posts here are our original works. And all news or cases referred here are from public reports, and our comments or analysis are of due diligence, neutrality and impartiality, representing our own opinions only and are our original works. You may contact us shall you have any opinions or suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *