Netflix sued US$25m for trademark infringement in latest 'Bandersnatch' film

Netflix is being sued by Chooseco, publisher of the children's interactive book series Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA), for US$25 million for trademark infringement. This is with regards to its recently released interactive film titled Bandersnatch.

In a suit filed in the US District Court for the District of Vermont, Chooseco charged Netflix with "infringing and disparaging" the CYOA trademark. Netflix's Bandersnatch constitutes the entire fifth season of the popular sci-fi franchise Black Mirror. The film's protagonist, a video game designer, asserts in the opening sequence that his own work is based on "Bandersnatch…a Choose Your Own Adventure book". 

Subsequent sequences of the film contain scenes of extreme physical violence, murder, drug use and a choice about the death of a child. In a press statement, Chooseco said that although Bandersnatch was identified as CYOA book, it is a fictional title that is not in the collection. Shannon Gilligan, Chooseco's co-founder and publisher, added that the film does not adhere to the CYOA rules about successful interactive storytelling. As such, the misappropriation of its trademark by Netflix "presents an extreme challenge" for Chooseco.

"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," Gilligan said.

Gilligan added that the use of CYOA in association with such graphic content is likely to cause "significant damage", impacting its book sales and its 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," Gilligan added. Marketing has reached out to Netflix for comment.

More than 250 million CYOA books were sold in 38 languages between 1978 and 1998. Chooseco was formed in 2004 to re-release several classic titles as well as license the brand into new interactive media and develop new CYOA book series.