Netflix forced to look in the Mirror: Stressing the importance of good IP research

If you have found yourself wondering the marvel that is social media over the last two-three weeks, you may have stumbled upon mentions of streaming giants Netflix’s latest instalment of their hugely successful ‘Black Mirror’ series.

Following the dystopian themes Black Mirror has become known for exploring, the newest instalment features an interactive outlay that invites viewers to make decisions which effect the outcome of the characters and plots.

What viewers may not, however, be aware of is that this premise was not created by Netflix. The well recognised streaming giants have now been subject to legal action by children’s book publisher Chooseco LLC, owner of the trade mark ‘Choose Your Own Adventure.’

The claim itself mentions that Chooseco and Netflix had discussed the idea ‘for a number of years’ but had concluded at no time had it granted Netflix a license to use the mark. A specific scene cited by Chooseco points to one of the main characters telling his father that the game he is creating from a published book which allowed the reader to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’.

The publisher has claimed that Netflix has caused harm to their brand by its association with Black Mirror and are seeking $25,000.000 in damages or Netflix’s profits (whichever is greater) as well as injunctive relief.

Netflix have yet to comment on the claim.

Whatever the outcome of the claim, there are important lessons to take from this. It is important to check the branding of goods or services you have created are inherently distinct from any registered brands in the country of which you plan to trade. Publishing your work before undertaking such a task could have financial and reputational implications, as Netflix could yet suffer.

Carter Bond Solicitors have great success in registered trade marks on behalf of our clients. As well as having a specialist trade mark litigation consultant as part of the team, our support staff have also acquired sound knowledge of the workings of the Intellectual Property Office. Call us today to see how Carter Bond Solicitors can help you with your IP rights!

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