Indie publisher sues Netflix in Bandersnatch trademark row

Indie publisher sues Netflix in Bandersnatch trademark row

Vermont-based indie publisher Chooseco is suing Netflix for allegedly infringing on its Choose Your Own Adventure trademark with the release of interactive feature "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch". 

Chooseco LLC filed suit against Netflix in US District Court for the District of Vermont on 11th January seeking at least $25m in damages and legal fees, according to Publishers Weekly

Released on Netflix on 18th December 2018, "Bandersnatch" sees the film's protagonist, a video game designer, assert in the opening sequence that his own work is based on "Bandersnatch…a Choose Your Own Adventure book." 

Chooseco’s co-founder and publisher Shannon Gilligan said: "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.

"The misappropriation of our mark by Netflix presents an extreme challenge for a small independent publisher like Chooseco. 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.” 

In its filing, Chooseco alleges Netflix “actively pursued a license to use ‘Choose Your Own Adventure' in connection with films and interactive cartoons” and claims after Netflix failed to secure the license, Chooseco sent a written cease and desist letter to Netflix ahead of the release of "Bandersnatch". 

According to Chooseco, Choose Your Own Adventure is one of the most successful book series of all time with more than 250 million books sold in 38 languages between 1978 and 1998.  

Netflix did not respond to Publishers Weekly's request for comment. The Bookseller has contacted Netflix for comment.