Choose Your Own Adventure's Lawsuit Against Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Is Moving Forward

A legal showdown over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has become more likely.
A legal showdown over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has become more likely.
Photo: Stuart Hendry (Netflix)

The companies behind Choose Your Own Adventure and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch may yet face off in a legal battle. A year after Chooseco LLC, the company that owns the famous book brand, sued Netflix, which released the popular interactive movie, a Vermont judge has just ruled that the lawsuit is, indeed, valid and the case can proceed.

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In early 2019, Chooseco sued Netflix for up to $25 million in damages over trademark infringement. The company claimed that Netflix had sought the rights to the Choose Your Own Adventure series, failed to acquire them, made a movie in that style anyway, and then even used the brand name in the film. Chooseco believed those circumstances confused people over the brand’s involvement with the film, which were non-existent.

Netflix tried to get out of the case based on a First Amendment claim but the judge just ruled against that, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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“Chooseco has sufficiently alleged that consumers associate its mark with interactive books and that the mark covers other forms of interactive media, including films,” reads the judge’s decision. “The protagonist in Bandersnatch explicitly stated that the fictitious book at the center of the film’s plot was ‘a Choose Your Own Adventure’ book. In addition, the book, the videogame, and the film itself all employ the same type of interactivity as Chooseco’s products. The similarity between Chooseco’s products, Netflix’s film, and the fictitious book Netflix described as a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book increases the likelihood of consumer confusion.”

And so Netflix’s attempt to get out of the lawsuit has failed and now it’ll likely have to settle or go to court. Which will it choose?

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Chooseco was suing over copyright when in fact they are suing for trademark infringement. We regret the error.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

alliterator85
alliterator

Okay, what’s interesting in this is the fact that Bandersnatch does literally namedrop Choose Your Own Adventure, making the titular book in a CYOA book. They don’t even say “A Choose Your Own Adventure-like book,” but rather “A Choose Your Own Adventure book.”

So Chooseco definitely have a case there. But regarding the general case of “it’s in the same style as Choose Your Own Adventure,” well, uh, nope. There are plenty CYOA-style books out there that have done what CYOA has done, just gone by different names. Hell, Ryan North did two recently, adapting Shakespeare plays: To Be or Not to Be: That is the Adventure and Romeo and/or Juliet. The difference, however, is that he called those “chooseable path adventures,” rather than going right out and saying that they are “Choose Your Own Adventures,” since that’s a copyrighted name.

So yeah. Chooseco has a case that they used their name without permission, but not that they can’t make a chooseable path adventure without paying them. That part’s silly.