The publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books announced today that they have filed suit against Netflix in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont for trademark infringement against Netflix. In the suit, Chooseco charges Netflix with infringing and disparaging the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark in Netflix‘s recently-released interactive film “Bandersnatch.”
It probably doesn’t help Netflix’s case that outlets around the world called the new Netflix event a choose your own adventure version of Black Mirror, which it seems is part of Chooseco’s trademark. Netflix released “Bandersnatch,” on December 28, 2018.
In Chooseco’s announcement, the company stated, “The single film constitutes the entire 5th season of their popular sci-fi franchise Black Mirror. The film’s protagonist, a video game designer, asserts in the opening sequence that his own work is based on ‘Bandersnatch…a Choose Your Own Adventure book.'”
The company continued, “Subsequent sequences of the film contain scenes of extreme physical violence, murder, drug use and a choice about the death of a child. Although identified as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, Bandersnatch is a fictional title that is not in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” collection.”
“Fictional ‘Bandersnatch’ is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book nor does the movie adhere to the Choose Your Own Adventure rules about successful interactive storytelling,” said Shannon Gilligan, Chooseco’s Co-founder and Publisher.
“The misappropriation of our mark by Netflix presents an extreme challenge for a small independent publisher like Chooseco,” Gilligan adds. “We have received an unprecedented amount of outreach from people who believed we were associated with the creation of this film, including parents who were concerned that we had aligned the CYOA brand they knew and loved with content that surprised and offended them.”
“The use of Choose Your Own Adventure in association with such graphic content is likely to cause significant damage, impacting our book sales and affecting our ability to work with licensing partners in the future. We would prefer not to resort to litigation, but given the damage that we will suffer as a result of the use of our mark we’ve been left with no other option,” said Gilligan.
The company also stated that Choose Your Own Adventure is one of the most successful book series of all time. Over 250 million books were sold in 38 languages between 1978 and 1998.