A Vermont children’s book publisher has sued Netflix for trademark infringement over its use of the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure,” seeking damages of at least $25 million.
In a suit (read it here) filed in federal district court, Chooseco says it has sold in more than 265 million copies of its popular Choose Your Own Adventure books, where the reader’s decisions influence the narrative’s plot and outcome. The company uses childhood nostalgia to market its books to consumers who are now in their 20s and 30s.
Chooseco says Netflix has infringed on its trademark with its interactive movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, whose protagonist, a young programmer named Stefan, works to create a computer game inspired by by a “choose your own adventure”-style novel given to him as a child.
The publisher says it has registered the use of the phrase in connection with movies, books and other forms of media. 20th Century Fox currently holds an option to develop a film based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books.
The studio announced last spring that it had licensed Kino Industries’ CtrlMovie technology for its upcoming film, Choose Your Own Adventure. The technology will allow in-theater audiences to control the characters’ action throughout the film using the app developed and created by Kino.
Netflix also entered into negotiations with Chooseco in 2016 to license the phrase in connection with films and interactive cartoons, according to the suit filed today.
The streaming service doesn’t currently hold a license.
“Netflix intentionally and willfully used Chooseco’s famous mark in order to benefit from the positive associations with — and nostalgia for — the brand by adults who read the series as youngsters,” the suit alleges.
Chooseco says Bandersnatch’s use of the term is creating consumer confusion and harming its brand, prompting the company to bring the civil suit.