Book Publisher Presses Claims Against Netflix Over 'Bandersnatch'

The publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series is pressing to proceed with trademark infringement claims against Netflix over the interactive video “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”

Netflix's interactive show featured a character who referred to a fictional book, “Bandersnatch,” which he described as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Books in that children's series -- popular in the 1980s and 1990s -- allow readers to decide the outcome of the story.

Chooseco, which publishes the books, alleged in a lawsuit brought earlier this year that its trademark was infringed by Netflix. Chooseco claims that Netflix used phrase “choose your own adventure” in order to benefit from nostalgia for the series. Chooseco also says the phrase creates the impression that the streaming video show is affiliated with the books.

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Netflix countered in papers filed in March that the video is protected by free speech principles. Netflix, which argues the lawsuit should be dismissed at an early stage, says it's allowed to use the phrase “choose your own adventure” to describe the show's interactive format.

Chooseco says in its latest court papers that Netflix didn't need to use the phrase “choose your own adventure” for artistic reasons, but was instead intentionally trying to “free ride on the good will associated with Chooseco’s brand.”

“The protagonist could have used a nondescript phrase like 'interactive book' or 'game book' in the beginning of the film... Alternatively, a descriptive phrase like 'pick your own story,' could have described the fictional book,” Chooseco writes in papers filed Friday with U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III in Burlington, Vermont. “Given these many alternatives, Chooseco’s trademark adds nothing other than 'marketing power.'”

Chooseco also argues Netflix dupes viewers into believing that “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is affiliated with the book series.

“It is explicitly misleading to call the fictional book at the center of the Bandersnatch plot 'a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book' because this use explicitly and implicitly associates the film withChooseco’s mark and thus falsely creates the impression that it was used with Chooseco’s permission,” the company writes.

Netflix is expected to respond to Chooseco's latest argument next month.

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