On 28 December 2018, Netflix released its latest instalment of Charlie Brooker’s popular but darkly satirical series Black Mirror. The episode, titled Bandersnatch, featured an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure-style plot, a fact which has led Vermont-based publisher, Chooseco LLC, to sue Netflix, claiming the streaming service has unfairly used its brand.
Chooseco is a publishing company which produces Choose Your Own Adventure books for young audiences. In a complaint, recently published on The Guardian, the company claims: “Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license. 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 programme.”
The suit, which claims infringement, dilution and unfair competition and seeks at least $25m in damages or profits, also alleges that a confusing reference to Chooseco’s products within the episode has harmed the company’s reputation. As an episode with particularly dark content, “association with this grim content tarnishes Chooseco’s famous trademark,” says the complaint.
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