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'Choose Your Own Adventure' publisher sues Netflix over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'

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  • 'Choose Your Own Adventure' publisher sues Netflix over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'

    t's a true David vs. Goliath tale.

    A small Vermont publisher is suing Netflix, accusing the $15 billion entertainment behemoth of infringing on its trademark with the interactive science fiction film, "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch."

    "We're obviously small and independent, and they're obviously large, that's the construct we're working with here," said Melissa Bounty, Chooseco associate publisher.

    Chooseco LLC publishes a series of interactive books for young adults in which the reader makes choices that affect the plot and outcome of the book. The company has a federally registered trademark for the words, "Choose Your Own Adventure," used in connection with its books.

    The movie "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" opens with a scene in which the main character refers to a book as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, according to the lawsuit. Chooseco accuses Netflix of using its trademarked phrase without a license or authorization.

    Chooseco further claims that the dark nature of the Black Mirror film, featuring depictions of "demonic presence, violent fighting, drug use, murder, mutilation of a corpse, decapitation and other upsetting imagery," has tarnished Chooseco's "famous trademark" by confusing viewers who think Chooseco is associated somehow with the film.

    "Chooseco has already suffered reputational harm due to viewers' negative associations with Bandersnatch," the lawsuit states.

    Netflix declined to comment for this story. Suing for $25 million or Netflix's profits

    Chooseco asks for an accounting of Netflix's profits, and damages of at least $25 million or Netflix's profits, whichever is greater, as well as attorneys' fees and costs.

    Chooseco Co-founder and Publisher Shannon Gilligan said in a statement the "misappropriation" of the company's trademark by Netflix present an "extreme challenge" for Chooseco where "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" is concerned.

    "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 ("Choose Your Own Adventure") brand they knew and loved with content that surprised and offended them," Gilligan said.

    Gilligan said she would have preferred not to resort to litigation, but given the damage Chooseco will suffer as a result of Netflix's actions, "we've been left with no other option."

    R.A. Montgomery first launched the book series in the 1970s, selling the idea to New York publisher Bantam Books. "Choose Your Own Adventure" became one of the most successful children's book series of all time, selling 250 million books in 38 languages between 1978 and 1998, when the series ceased publication.

    In 2003, Gilligan and Montgomery, her husband, formed Chooseco to re-release several classic titles from the original series, as well as develop new books and license the brand into new interactive media. In its second iteration, the company has sold 15 million books worldwide, according to Associate Publisher Melissa Bounty, including 620,000 books last year.

    Bounty said Chooseco also has a film option with 21st Century Fox that has "been in the works for a while." She said the deal includes the development of supporting technology that will allow for theatrical audience interaction.

    Chooseco has seven full-time employees in Waitsfield and also employs freelance writers for its book series.
    "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.

  • #2
    Part of me has to wonder if this is partly a stunt aimed at trumpeting up some press for the upcoming Choose Your Own Adventure film.

    Pete (sees this settling spectacularly)


    • #3
      Sounds like a BS case to me. ChooseCo should be paying Netflix for that kind of publicity.

      skooly (totally forgot about those books)
      "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.


      • #4
        They just launched a pretty successful board game.

        Pete (only knows about it because he's into that sort of thing)


        • #5
          I think they've got a legitimate case for brand image harm, but the phrase "Chose your own adventure" is common in other industries. The video game Mass Effect was criticized as being 'just another chose your own adventure' in video game format.
          "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." –Mark Twain


          • #6
            Choose Your Own Adventure, while descriptive, is a pretty established trademark at this point. I don't think they'll have trouble establishing that they won the mark and phrase for books.

            Whether they can parley that into other media is the key question.

            Pete (suspects this will settle and CYOA will be happy with the settlement)


            • #7
              ChooseCo should write one about a guy addicted to Netflix.
              "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.


              • #8
                I watched Bandersnatch and enjoyed it a lot. Some critics were less than impressed, but I found it thematically rich, well cast, and I spent time playing through as many paths as possible.
                "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.



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