The response towards the Black Mirror interactive film Bandersnatch has been largely positive, with viewers enjoying the novelty of shaping how the story unfolds.
However, Bandersnatch has landed Netflix in some trouble, with children’s book publisher Chooseco filing a lawsuit against the streaming giant.
Netflix had reportedly been negotiating with Chooseco regarding obtaining a license since 2016. However, Chooseco has alleged the streaming site never actually gained their permission.
Chooseco is demanding at least $25 million in damages or profits made by Netflix, as well as injunctive relief.
The complaint was filed in Vermont federal court on Friday, January 11, and states how 20th Century Fox currently has an options contract to create an interactive series based upon the ‘popular and beloved’ Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Chooseco has alleged Netflix is benefitting from being association with the recognisable brand, with Bandersnatch having been spoken about in the media as connected with the phrase ‘Choose Your Own Adventure‘.
Furthermore, the publishing company has alleged the connection with Black Mirror has led to their brand experiencing ‘reputational harm’; claiming viewers have been left confused by the association between the books and the sci-fi horror series.
According to the 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.
The film’s dark and, at times, disturbing content dilutes the goodwill for and positive associations with Chooseco’s mark and tarnishes its products.
Chooseco are now seeking relief and damage in regards to ‘trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and dilution’, as reported by Digital Spy.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint states:
Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license.
On at least one occasion before the release of Bandersnatch, Chooseco sent a written cease and desist request to Netflix asking Netflix to stop using the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE mark in connection with its marketing efforts for another television program.
— Dumbass (@beyoncefolowsme) January 5, 2019
— Connor (@kinkyjaredklnmn) January 5, 2019
Chooseco has also pointed towards a scene where the young programmer protagonist, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), is preparing to put forward a video game pitch, and is discussing the premise with his father.
The video game Stefan hopes to develop is based on a book, and his dad observes how the writing must be good on account of Stefan constantly ‘flicking backwards and forwards’ between the pages.
At this point Stefan corrects his father on his assumption, explaining ‘No, it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book’.
— Cara (@crucialcara) January 6, 2019
*Watching ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’*
Me: “Okay! I like things that involve multiple endings/realities. Gonna aim to getting everything right the first try”
*Makes 1st major choice*
Response- “Sorry mate. Wrong path”
Me: “Pardon?” #Bandersnatch
— sahib sandhu (@SANDHU_0007) January 9, 2019
The Choose Your Own Adventure books are aimed at children between the ages of seven and fourteen years old.
Readers are given the freedom to steer the adventurous narrative in a direction of their choosing, with titles including The Abominable Snowman, Journey Under The Sea and By Balloon To The Sahara.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is currently available to stream on Netflix.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.