Netflix is now facing a $25 million trademark infringement lawsuit following the success of their groundbreaking interactive film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The streaming service is being sued by Chooseco, LLC, the children’s book publisher that owns the trademark to “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Chooseco filed a complaint in federal court in Vermont on Friday, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Chooseco has been using the trademark since the 1980s in their popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series, which sold more than 265 million copies.
“[Netflix] 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 read.
The complaint also explained that Netflix did pursue a license for the mark beginning in 2016, but they never actually received it.
“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,” the filing continued.
Studio 20th Century Fox is reportedly currently working to develop their own interactive series based on the books.
Bandersnatch follows Stefan Butler, a young video game designer, who works to develop a video game that allows users to make their own plot decisions. Each decision affects how the game will end. Butler explains that the idea for the game is based closely on a book that he read as a child.
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Yes. This is a Black Mirror interactive movie where YOU make decisions for the lead character. And with only a few days of bad decision making left before all your 2019 resolutions start, you can help him make some pretty terrible choices. #bandersnatch
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The film is a spin-off of Netflix’s Black Mirror anthology series, which is known to be psychologically dark and sometimes violent.
In addition to the concept of the streaming service film matching that of the books, the characters do outwardly reference the phrase “choose your own adventure,” according to TechCrunch.
The complaint pointed out a particular scene where Butler explains to his father where the idea came from. The father comments that the book must be good because he sees his son flipping the pages back and forth.
“No, it’s a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book,” Butler replies.
Chooseco alleges that many fans have associated the Netflix film with their brand and questioned the dark turn that Bandersnatch takes from the original book series. As a result, Chooseco’s reputation has been damaged.
Chooseco is seeking $25 million or, if a greater amount, Netflix’s profits from the film for “trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark dilution.”
Netflix has not yet commented on the matter.
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