Never mind the fuss over Scrolls/The Elder Scrolls - if you want trademark confusion, look to DOTA.
To recap. There's the original DOTA, aka Defense of the Ancients, a Warcraft III map. There's Valve's Dota 2 , which doesn't actually stand for anything, acting as a direct commercial sequel. Next year, we can expect Blizzard's official take , with a Starcraft map combining heroes from all of its units. And then there's League of Legends , the same game at heart, whose creators want everyone to use the term MOBA - Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Sound fair? Perhaps, except that even if you ignore that about 99% of online action games could qualify as that, the likes of Funcom's Bloodline Champions apparently don't, at least not in the eyes of the players... because they're not DOTA.
That pain in your head is a migraine no amount of Neurofen will shift.
What's interesting about this fight is that it's set to be primarily one for the hearts and minds of players rather than a duel of lawyers. There's still time for them to get involved, but so far all sides are holding back. Speaking with Eurogamer at Gamescom, Blizzard provided comments like "I don't think it's critical [to have the name DOTA] to delivering that experience to the fans, personally", with Valve's Gabe Newell responding "I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it." Maybe both sides are hoping to score that all-important last hit bonus?
Hopefully this continues when the games actually launch, with the companies all furiously building the same basic game accepting that at the very least, they can afford to be gentleman if the community ultimately opts for the version with Diablo in it instead of free Team Fortress hats, or vice-versa. If not, Valve currently has by far the strongest hand, having registered the Dota trademark and hired one of the original map's maintainers, while Blizzard merely made the game other people used to create it.
Both games are expected next year. Valve's Dota 2 arriving first as a standalone product, Blizzard's DOTA around the same time as Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. To get your DOTA/MOBA on now, look to League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth , or the new kid on the block, Rise of Immortals .