Netflix sued over Bandersnatch's similarities to Choose Your Own Adventure

Angelo Anderson
January 11, 2019

It's doubtful that Netflix saw this one coming.

This is not the first time that Chooseco has gone to court over the use of "Choose Your Own Adventure". 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.

Netflix's hit thriller Black Mirror: Bandersnatch now has another twist: a lawsuit.

Bandersnatch, a standalone movie based in the Black Mirror series universe, is structured like a video game, where you, as the viewer, make choices for the characters onscreen.

Chooseco added that 20th Century Fox now holds an "options contract to develop an interactive series" and that Netflix has been actively pursuing the licence since 2016.

"Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license", reads the complaint. When Dad asserts that the book must not be very good, as Stefan is always "flicking backwards and forwards" through it, Stefan explains, "No, it's a choose your own adventure book".

The lawsuit claims that Netflix "deliberately exploited" the brand awareness of the book series in order to launch the show.

"The misappropriation of our mark by Netflix presents an extreme challenge for a small independent publisher like Chooseco", said Shannon Gilligan, widow of Choose Your Own Adventure creator R.A. Montgomery, in a statement. 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).

Chooseco LLC is asking for at least $25 million in damages or profits (whichever is greater) from Netflix Inc., owing to alleged trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution.

A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

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