Children's book publisher sues Netflix over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'

Lawrence Kim
January 12, 2019

20th Century Fox is now in talks with the publisher to develop an interactive series based on the property, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

And as a result, Chooseco argues, the Choose Your Own Adventure brand was sullied by being connected to the intensely bleak show.

It alleges that Netflix also pursued its own licence in 2016 but never received one. That basic idea has been translated into other mediums, like 1995's Mr. Payback, which let audiences vote on the outcome of the short film, and most recently with Bandersnatch, a film set in the Black Mirror universe and released by Netflix.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which came out late last month, tells the story of a video game developer who's losing his mind as he develops a "choose your own adventure" game.

Chooseco argues that not only did everyone in the press describe Black Mirror's interactive film as a "choose your own adventure" experience, but in one scene in Bandersnatch, one of the characters even references Choose Your Own Adventure books by name.

According to Chooseco's complaint, "Netflix has no license or authorization to use Chooseco's trademark and, upon information and belief, used the mark willfully and intentionally to capitalize on viewers' nostalgia for the original book series from the 1980s and 1990s".

According to a January 11th, 2019 Hollywood Reporter story, USA -based publisher Chooseco filed documents in Vermont arguing that the publisher has used the phrase since the 1980s and has sold more than 265 million copies of its Choose Your Own Adventure books. They continued to say that Netflix made it very obvious, claiming "Choose Your Own Adventure" was mentioned within the first few minutes of the film. Chooseco's complaint points to this fact as illustrative of its assertion that Bandersnatch has created confusion among viewers as to the extent of the affiliation between the episode and the iconic book series, thereby diluting its brand (which ceased publication in 1998). The company claims infringement, unfair competition, false designation and dilution arising under the Trademark Act.

According to Variety, Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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