If Netflix could have chosen another adventure, they probably would have. The streaming service is currently in the midst of a $25 million lawsuit that was filed against them over the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The lawsuit was filed by a company called Chooseco, LLC. which apparently owns the rights to the choose your own adventure series of books and games.
The problem, though, does not inherently lie in who owns the rights to the games and books. 20th Century Fox is the only company that currently holds the rights to create interactive content based on the games and books. Netflix pursued a license to use the rights starting back in 2016, but the current lawsuit makes it clear that the company never got what they wanted. The company reportedly went back and forth with Netflix for months leading up to the release of the film. They even sent a cease and desist to get the streaming platform to stop using the term “choose your own adventure” to describe the film.
The document, which you can read here, also talks about how Chooseco feels that its brand has suffered in the wake of the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. “Netflix is infringing on Choseco’s valuable trademark. It is causing confusion, tarnishing, denigrating, and diluting the distinct quality of the choose your own adventure mar. Chooseco seeks damages and injunctive relief in this action,” the second page of the 15-page document reads.
The first bit of confusion regarding the brands association with the film comes in the first couple of minutes of screen time in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. There’s a beginning scene in which Stefan Butler can be seen flipping back and forth within a massive paperback book. When his father asks him why he keeps going between the end and the middle of the book, Butler responds that it’s a “choose your own adventure” story, thus inspiring the basis of his video game within the film.
The mention of the name is where Chooseco says that they have a legitimate cause for concern that Netflix infringed upon their trademarked rights. While the film doesn’t allude to being associated with Chooseco in any way, it does use its name within the script.
Chooseco alludes within the lawsuit that the book used in the movie resembles their own a little too closely. The confusion that arose from fans of both the film and the book series leads Chooseco to believe that the company has lost out on a large amount of profit in being associated with the film. Ultimately, Netflix pursued the rights to use a trademarked name but was not given approval. Do you think that Netflix should be able to continue to advertise Black Mirror: Bandersnatch as a choose your own adventure game?
Julia Sachs is a staff writer at Grit Daily. She covers tech, entrepreneurship and entertainment news and is based in Park City, Utah.