Choose Your Own Adventure's Owners Are Going After Indie Games

Chooseco, the company that owns the rights to the trademarked title Choose Your Own Adventure, has begun issuing takedown notices to indie games hosted on itch.io that have been using the term.

While it’s understandable that folks could be thinking that Choose Your Own Adventure is more of a genre than a title, and/or that it’s a brand that has become synonymous with what it is (like Kleenex, or Band-Aid), Chooseco both owns the name and is still publishing books in the series that was probably at its peak in the 80s and 90s.

Because of that, the company has started issuing takedown notices to several itch.io games, some of which simply use “Choose your own adventure” in their description. Chooseco’s explanation, as provided to Gamasutra, is at least up-front about it:

We well know that lots of developers are inspired by the book series we publish, Choose Your Own Adventure. A quick web search for ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Atari’ will show you just how old our love of video games is! But we manage a trademark, and all the legal obligation that comes with that, even if a use is innocent.

That obligation, as is the case with so many fan projects and tributes on the internet, is that a trademark needs to be actively protected. Which is why Chooseco isn’t just going after indie games, but Netflix’s Black Mirror as well.


Comments

    I have seen enough of copyright/trademark law youtube videos that if the game devs fought this in court they will win as “Choose your own adventure” is a generic term that a normal person will use in a sentence that so since it is takedown notice you can sue them and win for possible loss because of the takedown.

    The only time the trademark will stand is if it was a book and it had “Choose your own adventure” or at least physical game box and had “Choose your own adventure” on the cover, using it as a description is fine.

    A trademark does needs to be actively protected, but despite this getting tossed around at every opportunity by active users of cease and desist notices, it's well established that this doesn't require owners to go after each and every trivial use of that trademark. All that's required is that the owners do enough to establish that they've not defacto abandoned their rights.

    Even if a trademark owner does nothing whatsoever to legally defend their trademark it's still not a slam dunk loss in court, the assumption of rights remains with the trademark owner. It's up to anyone lodging a claim against the original owner to win on several hurdle issues before they have any chance of voiding a trademark.

    Further, there are arsehole and non-arsehole ways of doing it. So, for example, they could offer indie users single use rights for a peppercorn payment.

    Basically, Chooseco are just being wankers and making more work for lawyers.

    Of course if I now search for "Choose Your Own Adventure Atari’", I only find news stories about Chooseco issuing takedown requests to Itch.io...

    Eh what about the goosebumps choose your own adventure book. Pretty sure they never got sued

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