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Netflix sued by 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book publisher over 'Bandersnatch'

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

The publisher of the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books is suing Netflix, claiming the streaming service infringed on its trademarked format for the new film “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”

Chooseco, which was formed in 2004 to re-release several classic titles of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books originally published in the 1980s and 1990s, announced the suit on Friday.

“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,” Shannon Gilligan, co-founder and publisher of Chooseco, said in a statement.

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment made by NBC News.

Released in late December, Netflix’s “Bandersnatch” follows game programmer Stefan Butler as he attempts to deliver a video game of the same name in time for Christmas 1984. As the viewer makes choices for Stefan, the character devolves into a deep depression and increasing paranoia.

The film includes themes of drug use, murder, violence, and, (spoiler alert) in one scenario, the death of a child.

A number of different endings are possible depending on the choices made by the viewer during the film.

A copy of the suit, first published by BuzzFeed News and filed in Vermont federal court, claims that in 2016, Netflix and Chooseco began licensing negotiations in relation to “Choose Your Own Adventure” television shows and movies, but that Netflix never received a licensing agreement from the publisher.

Chooseco also sent Netflix a cease and desist letter prior to the release of “Bandersnatch,” according to the suit.

Gilligan said in a statement that Netflix’s “misappropriation” of the company’s trademark has been a serious problem for the independent publisher.

“The use of Choose Your Own Adventure in association with such graphic content is likely to cause significant damage, impacting our book sales and affecting our ability to work with licensing partners in the future,” Gilligan said. “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.”

The suit accuses Netflix of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and false designation of origin. Chooseco is seeking $25 million in damages from the streaming service, according to the suit.

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