Vermont publisher sues Netflix over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A Vermont children's book publisher is suing Netflix.

Chooseco makes the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series, interactive books that were popular in the 1980s and '90s and directed readers at key points to make decisions for how the story would proceed.

Now, the Waitsfield-based company is taking on Netflix for allegedly stealing what it calls its trademark idea. The popular "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" episode debuted Dec. 28 and allows viewers to select how they want the story to go and get different endings.

"It launched at a time that a lot of people were home to watch movies, and we're a family brand,” said Melissa Bounty, an associate publisher at Chooseco. “We knew it was serious right away.”

The publisher says Netflix doesn't have the right to that trademark. In a lawsuit filed in Vermont court, Chooseco says Netflix tried to buy the idea but that never went through. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix before the show's release.

It also says the dark tone of the show tarnishes the children's book series' image.

"It has a lot of violent themes in it. [It is] very different than the themes that we promote,” said Bounty.

Chooseco is seeking $25 million or more in damages.
“We're feeling confident about what we have done and what we're promoting and what we're protecting,” said Bounty.

Channel 3 reached out to Netflix via Twitter Friday night. We are still waiting for a response.