Connecticut fans of the popular Netflix thriller “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” may not have given much thought to references made to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series. However, the publisher of those books has certainly taken notice of the reference, which is why they have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the online streaming and DVD distribution company. In the film, the thriller’s protagonist is attempting to adapt a fictional “Choose Your Own Adventure” book into a video game.
Trademarks are at the center of this case, specifically the one the book’s publisher has for the title “Choose Your Own Adventure.” The publisher believes that the film’s “dark and, at times, disturbing content” reflects poorly on the image associated with the book series. The publisher further contends that the use of the book series’ name may hurt book sales and affect their ability to secure licensing deals in the future.
The publisher has also noted receiving feedback from concerned parents who mistakenly believe the books are associated with the Netflix film in some way. The streaming film debuted in December 2018 and quickly became popular with subscribers. The film presents five main endings that viewers can choose to end the story. In 2018 alone, the publisher of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books printed more than 600,000 copies of the series for distribution throughout the United States. The publisher has requested a jury trial and $25,000 in damages. Netflix has not yet commented on the pending litigation.
Working with an attorney may make it easier for a trademark holder to put together a case for trademark violation or infringement. The way such a case is pursued typically depends on how the trademarked work was used without permission and what kind of damage was done to the trademark holder’s image because of that unauthorized use. A lawyer might also handle the oftentimes complex process of registering trademarks to minimize the risk of references being made to unique brand creations that are unflattering and potentially damaging.