Some gaming fans in California may have noticed that a few indie games on the gaming storefront Itch.io have been removed if they use the phrase “Choose your own adventure.” Chooseco, the Choose Your Own Adventure books publisher, claimed that four games were infringing on its trademark. On Twitter, the founder of Itch.io warned developers to avoid using the phrase since Chooseco was issuing takedown notices.
Some of the games used the phrase in their names; in other cases, “Choose your own adventure” was simply used to describe the game. The two that used the phrase in the title were called “A Series of Choose Your Own Adventure Stories Where No Matter What You Choose You Are Immediately Killed by a Werewolf” and “Choose Your Own Adventure BG.”
Chooseco has alleged that other companies have infringed on their trademark by using the phrase as well. In the “Bandersnatch” episode of the series “Black Mirror” on Netflix, which allows viewers to interactively choose where the story goes, Chooseco accused Netflix of trademark infringement because a character refers to the books. In 2007, the company filed a lawsuit against Chrysler for advertising that invited customers to “Choose your own adventure.”
Intellectual property law is complex, and people or companies accused of violating trademark or who believe others have violated their trademark may want to consult an attorney. In some cases, it may be possible to settle these cases out of court. An individual or company may agree to stop using the trademark, and this might be sufficient. However, it may be necessary to pursue trademark infringement litigation if there is a dispute about whether trademark infringement has occurred, the company or individual refuses to stop using the trademark or the party whose trademark has been infringed upon is also seeking damages.