By Ashley Moniz
Chooseco LLC, the owner of the mark and creators of the Choose Your Own Adventure children’s book series, has brought an action against Netflix for their use of their registered word mark, “Choose Your Own Adventure”. Netflix used this mark, as well as its concept, as the premise for their interactive film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Like the plaintiff’s book series, the film requires viewers to make decisions for the characters based on two given options. Unlike the series, and in classic Black Mirror style, all of the viewers’ choices result in either the ultimate demise or failure of the main character.
In its defence, Netflix argues that the mark should be cancelled because numerous American storytellers are using a "Choose Your Own Adventure" model. Netflix claims that this concept has become a category of product, and that its use of the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure” is unlikely to cause confusion with Chooseco LLC’s brand because the mark’s use has become “generic”.
Earlier last month, Vermont federal state Judge William Sessions dismissed Netflix’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Netflix brought the motion on the basis of their First Amendment right to freedom of expression; however, Judge Sessions cited, from the movie, at least one specific reference to the structure of the books that mirrored both the protagonist’s video game in development and the film itself. We will continue to monitor this case for further developments.
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