This Christmas, Netflix surprised viewers when it released the psychological thriller interactive film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”. The film has been hailed as an innovative step forward for interactive content by critics but is all what it seems? James Williams looks at the lawsuit that has been brought by Chooseco LLC against Netflix for trademark infringement.
In what could be the most unusual update for readers of our intellectual property updates, Netflix are currently facing a claim for trademark infringement by Chooseco LLC over the interactive film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”.
According to the complaint filed at Vermont Federal Court, Chooseco own the trademark to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series which is a collection of books that allow readers to choose their own plotline based on a variety of options. Chooseco have claimed that Netflix actively pursued a licence since 2016 to use the trademark, but Chooseco refused. Amazingly, Chooseco have even suggested that it sent a cease and desist letter to Netflix which was ignored, despite them knowing about the ownership of the trademark.
The publishers, who primarily produce books for children, have complained that Netflix’s unauthorised use of the trademark has resulted in a misappropriation and due to the adult themes in the film, it has the potential effect of confusing viewers over the association between the film and the books.
Chooseco, which has owned the trademark since the 1980s, is claiming infringement, dilution and unfair competition and has demanded at least $US25million in damages or alternatively Netflix’s profits – whichever is greater.
It remains to be seen whether Chooseco’s claim will succeed. However, this scenario should serve as a reminder that infringing a registered trademark is an expensive move and should be avoided where possible.