On January 11, 2019, the publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series (Chooseco LLC) filed a suit in a Vermont District Court, against Netflix, alleging that the film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” infringes on its trademark.
Like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, the film, which was released on December 28, 2018, allows viewers to direct the lead character’s action, leading to a variety of possible endings.
“As in the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series, Bandersnatch viewers make choices to determine the plot and ending of the film. Rather than flop from one page to another, viewers click a button at the bottom of their screen using a mouse or other controller to select their choice,” the Complaint states.
Chooseco LLC alleges that Netflix deliberately exploited the brand awareness of its book series to launch the show.
“…In the first few minutes of the movie, the protagonist refers to a fictional book in the diegesis as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Netflix has no license or authorization to use Chooseco’s trademark and, upon information and believe, used the mark willfully and intentionally to capitalize on viewers’ nostalgia for the original book series from the 1980s and 1990s. The film’s dark and, at times, disturbing content dilutes the goodwill for and positive associations with Chooseco’s mark and tarnishes its products,” the Complaint states.
According to the Complaint, the series was widely read in the 1980s and 1990s, and book sales have remained strong, in excess of 265 million copies of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.
Chooseco alleges that beginning in 2016, Netflix actively pursued a license to use “Choose Your Own Adventure” in connection with films and interactive cartoons. Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license from them.
The suit alleges that the film is dark and that the violent themes are too mature for the target audience of Chooseco’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. When the books were original published Chooseco states that they were read by children between seven to fourteen years old but that today it is estimated to be mostly read by persons in their twenties, thirties and forties.
They are seeking $25 million in damages.
Chooseco LLC v. Netflix, Inc.
|Judge:||William K Sessions|
|Court:||Vermont District Court|
|Nature of Suit||Trademark|
|Cause||Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition, |
Dilution, False Designation of Origin
|Case Filed:||January 11, 2019|