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Publisher to Netflix: Choose your own trademark

Publisher to Netflix: Choose your own trademark
[Photo: courtesy of Netflix]

Black Mirror creators may have wanted viewers to choose their own adventure on Bandersnatch, but they ended up somewhere unexpected—in a lawsuit with the owners of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark.

Chooseco, LLC, the publisher behind the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series and owner of the trademark, has filed a lawsuit against Netflix over the immersive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, The Hollywood Reporter reports. According to the suit, it’s not that Netflix didn’t realize the phrase “choose your own adventure” was a trademark; it’s that it wasn’t able to secure a license from the company and used the phrase anyway.

“Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license,” states the complaint, per THR. “On at least one occasion before the release of Bandersnatch, Chooseco sent a written cease and desist request to Netflix asking Netflix to stop using the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE mark in connection with its marketing efforts for another television program.”

Chooseco argues that not only did everyone in the press describe Black Mirror’s interactive film as a “choose your own adventure” experience, but in one scene in Bandersnatch, one of the characters even references Choose Your Own Adventure books by name. According to the complaint, those similarities could be enough to confuse viewers–one of the markers for a trademark infringement case.

And as a result, Chooseco argues, the Choose Your Own Adventure brand was sullied by being connected to the intensely bleak show. After all, what if some poor child thought they were watching a Choose Your Own Adventure movie and ended up in that game designer’s dark and twisty world? Chooseco wants at least $25 million in damages or profits, whichever is greater, as well as injunctive relief. Netflix is probably hoping it could choose its own ending to this suit.

A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

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