from the biting-the-hand dept
When we discussed Chooseco, the company behind the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books from decades past, and its lawsuit against Netflix for having content that allowed watchers to choose paths within the narrative, we focused mostly on how silly the lawsuit was purely from a merit standpoint. The trademark suit rested mostly on a throwaway reference or homage made by a character in the Netflix work, and the claim that Chooseco has licensed its name in the past but lost the opportunity to do so for this work. None of that makes the public at all likely to be confused into thinking that Bandersnatch was somehow a Chooseco product, nor does such a reference somehow cause the work to be trademark infringement.
But there’s another angle in all of this. The homage made in Bandersnatch was truly an homage, meaning that it called to mind for many of a certain age the fondness we had for these Choose Your Own Adventure books. Despite the films dark themes, the reference itself is a positive one. And, frankly, it probably caused many to think about the series of books for the first time in a long time, making it something of an advertisement for Chooseco’s products.
And that buzz surrounding Bandersnatch certainly coincidentally occurred alongside the more recent announcement that Chooseco has agreed to partner with Amazon to produce Choose Your Own Adventures for the Alexa.
You may remember ChooseCo from its lawsuit with Netflix over the Black Mirror episode. The company claims that Netflix never acquired the proper license to use the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark.
But clearly, ChooseCo still aims to benefit from the attention, and from Netflix’s ability to make this storytelling gimmick popular with a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers.
In collaboration with Amazon’s Audible division, the two companies are together releasing an Alexa skill (properly licensed) that will bring ChooseCo’s Choose Your Own Adventure stories to life on Alexa-powered devices, like Echo smart speakers, which are controlled through voice commands.
Should Chooseco actually have thanked Netflix for its nod in Bandersnatch rather than suing over it? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t seem unlikely that the huge amount of buzz surrounding the film contributed to, if not created, the Amazon opportunity for Chooseco.
And that’s often the point when we talk about intellectual property lawsuits. There are often other ways to look at what is being sued over, with the relinquishing of a bit of control actually resulting in free promotion, free advertising, and the kind of word of mouth buzz that simply can’t be bought as part of a media campaign. It would be immensely interesting to be on the inside at Chooseco, in order to get a sense of the sequence of events in which all of this occurred.
Regardless, it seems Chooseco at least had the option of choosing to be less litigious.