The creators of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Netflix claiming that the streaming giant's film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch infringes on its trademarks.
Chooseco LLC, the Vermont-based publisher of the book series, filed the lawsuit in Vermont federal court on Friday, just a month after Bandersnatch, which allows viewers to choose the main character's actions, debuted on Netflix. They are asking for at least $25 million in damages.
A copy of the suit, first published by BuzzFeed News, claims that in 2016, Netflix sought a license to use the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark, though the "extensive negotiations" never resulted in a deal. Chooseco also reportedly sent Netflix a cease and desist letter prior to the release of Bandersnatch.
The suit also alleges the film's violent and graphic content, which includes a number of references to murder and drug use, is inappropriate for the young adult readers of the book series and is a "misappropriation" of the company's trademark.
"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," Shannon Gilligan, co-founder and publisher of Chooseco, said in a statement.
"The misappropriation of our mark by Netflix presents an extreme challenge for a small independent publisher like Chooseco," she continued. "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 all, the suit accuses Netflix of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and false designation of origin.
Chooseco was formed in 2004 in order to re-release a number of Choose Your Own Adventure books originally published in the 1980s and 1990s. R.A. Montgomery, the original publisher and author of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, died in 2014. Gilligan, his widow, now leads the company.0comments
Netflix, which has faced a number of lawsuits in the past, has not yet responded to Chooseco's suit.
Released in December, Bandersnatch follows young programmer Stefan, who begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge.