MONTPELIER, Vt. – A children's book publisher filed a trademark suit Wednesday against DaimlerChrysler (DCX), saying a new ad campaign for Jeep Patriot infringes on the trademark of "Choose Your Own Adventure," a popular series of books.
Chooseco LLC, which recently began re-issuing the R.A. Montgomery books, filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to the car maker, it names as defendants BBDO Detroit Inc., Organic Inc. and Marvel Entertainment Inc.
The books, which have been translated into more than 35 languages, have sold millions of copies since first published by Bantam Books. They target children 9 to 12 years old, putting readers into stories and allow them to make choices that affect the plot.
Jeep's ad campaign not only sounds like the book titles, it is aimed at men in their 20s and 30s who grew up reading the books, according to the publisher. Jeep's Web site has an interactive movie "Jeep Patriot and the Way Beyond Trail" that Chooseco says imitates the books' themes.
"What we feel is that Jeep is trying to piggyback on the really positive associations of adventure and opportunity and choice that the former fans — the original fan base — had associated with `Choose Your Own Adventure,'" said Shannon Gilligan, president of Waitsfield-based Chooseco.
"They're trying to imbue the Jeep Patriot with that," she said.
Jason Vines, a spokesman for the Chrysler Group, maker of the Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler brands, said the company — which was served with a cease-and-desist request March 16 — had offered to link the publisher's Web site to the Jeep site.
"Obviously, they're looking for money," he said. "We'd offered to link our site, which gets nine katrillion times more traffic, to their site."
He said Chrysler had expected to reach a settlement in the dispute Thursday and was surprised when the suit was filed. Gilligan said there had been no negotiations between the parties.
She said it would be nearly impossible now to stop the ad campaign, which includes magazine ads, television commercials and other advertising venues.
"The ads are already in Rolling Stone and Newsweek. They've bought an abundance of media time in the NCAA finals. The cow's out of the barn, as they say around here," she said.