Netflix has been smacked with a lawsuit over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' that claims it 'tarnishes' the 'choose your own adventure' trademark

Netflix‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’
  • The children’s book publisher Chooseco filed a lawsuit against Netflix on Friday accusing it of trademark infringement over the “choose your own adventure” style of its interactive movie, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”
  • The lawsuit claimed that the “grim content” and “dark and violent themes” of the movie “tarnishes” the “choose your own adventure” trademark.
  • The suit alleged that Netflix pursued a licence in 2016 and had been in negotiations with Chooseco but never received one.

Netflix’s new interactive “Black Mirror” movie, “Bandersnatch,” has led to a lawsuit.

Chooseco, the children’s book publisher that owns the trademark for “choose your own adventure,” filed a lawsuit against the streaming giant in Vermont on Friday alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and dilution.

The company is seeking $US25 million in damages or Netflix’s profits from “Bandersnatch,” whichever is greater, as well as attorney fees and costs.

Netflix declined to comment to Business Insider about the lawsuit.

“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” follows a programmer in the 1980s named Stefan Butler who is tasked with making a video game based on a “choose your own adventure” book called “Bandersnatch.”

Read more: ‘Black Mirror’ creator tells fans to ‘f— off’ if they don’t like making choices during Netflix’s ‘Bandersnatch’

The lawsuit pointed to a scene in the movie that directly referred to “Bandersnatch” as a “choose your own adventure” book.

The suit said:

“Butler’s father remarks that Davies must not be a good writer because Butler is ‘always flicking backwards and forwards in that.’ This feature – flipping back and forth – is a hallmark of a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE book. Butler responds next that Bandersnatch is a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.”

The lawsuit also alleged the association of “choose your own adventure” with the “grim content” of the movie “tarnishes Chooseco’s famous trademark.”

The suit said:

“Overall, Bandersnatch is a dark film and the video game that Butler creates in it based on its fictional inspiration is equally dark. Nearly every narrative fork includes disturbing and violent imagery. The movie has a rating of TV-MA, which means the content is specifically designed to be viewed by adults. Depending on the choices the viewer makes, it can include references to and depictions of a demonic presence, violent fighting, drug use, murder, mutilation of a corpse, decapitation, and other upsetting imagery.

“These dark and violent themes are too mature for the target audience of Chooseco’s CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BOOKS.”

The lawsuit claimed that Netflix pursued a licence to “choose your own adventure” in 2016 for films and interactive cartoons and had been in negotiations with Chooseco but did not receive one.

Chooseco sent Netflix a cease-and-desist letter before the release of “Bandersnatch” on December 28 asking Netflix to stop using “choose your own adventure” in “connection with its marketing efforts for another television program,” the lawsuit said.

Netflix dabbled in interactive storytelling before “Bandersnatch” with animated children’s programs like “Puss in Book” in 2017 and “Minecraft: Story Mode,” a series based on the popular video game, in December.

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