Netflix being sued by the Choose Your Own Adventure publisher over the interactive Bandersnatch

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#1 Edited by Fezrock (732 posts) -

Like the title says. The CYOA book publisher is suing Netflix over the interactive piece of fiction, Bandersnatch. There's two claims, one is about unfair competition (since apparently Netflix had previously been in talks with the publisher about making a branded CYOA product) and the other is about "false designation of origin." Netflix hasn't used the words "Choose Your Own Adventure" anywhere in its marketing, but the publisher seems to be claiming that, because of the interactivity, the product is so similar in concept to its books that it's caused serious brand confusion and “causing confusion, tarnishing, denigrating, and diluting the distinct quality" of its books.

I can't speak to the validity of the first claim, but the second claim seems like the kind of thing that, if successful, would threaten basically all interactive fiction; aka pretty much every video game. Hopefully the case just gets tossed.

ETA: Just noticed the somewhat hilarious typo in the title; fixed now.

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#2 Posted by Efesell (4532 posts) -

Yeah that second point is a fuckin reaaaaaaaaach.

I didn't know they still made CYOA books.

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#3 Edited by FarleysLundgren (163 posts) -

There's been loads of other publishers putting out choose your own adventure/solo gamebooks since the 80’s. I don’t get the second claim. They don’t own the medium, perhaps the naming but that's it.

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#4 Posted by chaser324 (8671 posts) -

The premise for this lawsuit seems extremely thin, and I have to imagine there's a decent chance of it being thrown out.

The article states that there were previous discussions between Netflix and ChooseCo, so the only possible issue I could see here is if ChooseCo presented an idea extremely similar to Bandersnatch and then Netflix went off and did it without them. It doesn't seem like that's what the lawsuit is alleging though.

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#5 Edited by BladeOfCreation (1367 posts) -

Yet another indication of how ridiculous trademark law is.

Sure, investigate Netflix for this if they were working with them and then did it themselves. That does come across as shady on the part of Netflix, like the whole Epic/Bluehole/Fortnite scandal did for Epic. But ChooseCo doesn't own this idea and no one decided to watch Bandersnatch because they thought it was a licensed CYOA property.

Edit: The claim in the lawsuit that ChooseCo and its predecessors have sold 265 million copies is pretty amusing. As it's worded, it is literally correct. But I feel like it leaves out context, like the fact that ChooseCo, founded by one of the guys behind the CYOA books (but not the guy who came up with the idea), grabbed the trademark only after the previous publisher let it lapse. Is that relevant to the court case? I'm sure it isn't, but it sure is an amusing detail.

I didn't even know that CYOA was its own brand/trademark. I just thought it was a general term for these books, and I'm pretty sure that's the way many people use the term.

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#6 Posted by SethMode (2039 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: As soon as I read this I not only thought of you, but your avatar.

Also, this feels in the same vein as the lawsuits regarding dances in Fortnite, or, Battle Royale in general. And I don't disparage people being litigious just...I don't know, have a case. The idea (in this case) that branching paths is something that should be locked into one company is utterly absurd.

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#7 Posted by FlashFlood_29 (4444 posts) -

Oh fuuuuckkk offffffff.

That's all I have to add to this.

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#8 Edited by dudeglove (13763 posts) -
@farleyslundgren said:

There's been loads of other publishers putting out choose your own adventure/solo gamebooks since the 80’s. I don’t get the second claim. They don’t own the medium, perhaps the naming but that's it.

You'd think that, but ChooseCo has trademarked the term "choose your own adventure" and you can bet ChooseCo is extremely, extremely litiguous to the point that the larger community of people involved in this stuff don't say CYOA,. but IF or "Interactive Fiction". If you want a recent example, check out Lottie Bevan's (Cultist SImulator) recent experience

ChooseCo are basically patent trolls in other words. It'd be amusing if this goes to court.

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#9 Posted by OurSin_360 (6182 posts) -

"He describes the novel as “a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book” once, though Netflix has neither described nor marketed the film as such."

That's pretty much the only reason they feel they can sue, not sure how that will ever hold up in court but i've seen crazier.

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#10 Posted by someoneproud (602 posts) -

Haha, no way anything comes of it. Seems like a shit tier publicity stunt by CYOA.

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#11 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1367 posts) -

I wonder if there are any cases of characters in newer movies using the term, "Just google it," without explicit permission from Google, and if Google has ever tried to sue for that.

I should google that.

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#12 Posted by mavs (389 posts) -

They have a claim if "choose-your-own-adventure" is not a generic term, and suing would be the way to prevent it from becoming generic. It's a lost cause, but I can't blame them for fighting it until they lose in court.

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#13 Posted by hermes (2617 posts) -

This seems like a trolling move with barely any grounds. It would be different if Netflix was using the phrase in marketing materials...

I wish Netflix wins and then countersues their asses for making them waste time...

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#14 Posted by Bowl-of-Lentils (1124 posts) -

I feel like if CYOA was going to sue Netflix then you'd think they'd also attack every visual novel on Steam for basically being gamified choose-your-own-adventure books as well. Games like the recently released 428: Shibuya Scramble are even closer to being a CYOA book than even Bandersnatch. Heck, Aksys literally called Banshee's Last Cry a "choose-your-own-adventure classic" on the game's official website and they didn't get in any trouble for that. Seems really disingenuous that they'd only now start calling their lawyers when the gaming industry has been making interactive fiction in one form or another since the 1970s.

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#15 Posted by NeoCalypso (759 posts) -

I'll bet if you did a nationwide study to see if people are actually confusing the Netflix thing and CYOA books, the result would be "Most people didn't know CYOA books were still a thing". This brand confusion claim is complete nonsense.

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#16 Posted by ShaggE (9279 posts) -

All CYOA has to do is keep their finger on the page where they make the decision that either wins or loses the case for them, and just flip back if they pick the wrong one.

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#17 Posted by totsboy (501 posts) -

Well, I was using the term to market my upcoming game, might as well use "interactive fiction" instead.

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#18 Posted by flameboy84 (896 posts) -

Patent trolling in my view there were so many choose your own adventure books out there that weren't this particular brand and they obviously didn't pursue them back then. More fool you for not riding with the times and either creating a licensing agreement for the branding to a video platform or making your own.

I'd be interested to know does their copyright include the phrase choose your adventure, the concept of books that do this or something more. As in reality all they did was mention the genre in passing and then build a "game" around that concept the likes of which we've seen many times before.

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#19 Edited by avantegardener (2373 posts) -

@shagge said:

All CYOA has to do is keep their finger on the page where they make the decision that either wins or loses the case for them, and just flip back if they pick the wrong one.

If giant bomb had a like button for comments, one would be awarded here.

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#21 Posted by Thursday1977 (127 posts) -

Bandersnatch isn't even the first one of these that had appeared on Netflix as a Netflix exclusive. The first one that I remember was a Puss in Boots interactive episode with decisions that could be made throughout, and one for another kids show called Buddy Thunderstruck. Seems like they are only taking notice of the more widely viewed Bandersnatch... which isn't terribly surprising, I suppose.