Vermont publisher sues Netflix over 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'

Tabitha Dunn
January 12, 2019

Netflix is heading down a litigious path over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

In the film, the protagonist is trying to adapt a fictional choose-your-own-adventure book called Bandersnatch into a video game.

The complaint references a certain scene near the start of the movie, where the main character, Stefan Butler (played by Dunkirk's Fionn Whitehead) explicitly tells his father (Watership Down's Craig Parkinson) that he is reading "a Choose Your Own Adventure book".

While the concept of freedom of choice can't be trademarked, Vermont-based Chooseco LLC, which has published the book series since the '70s, claims Netflix infringed in a number of specific ways. The movie was billed as a "choose your own adventure" tale, even though the company largely refrained from actually using that phrase in the marketing.

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"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", the lawsuit states.

The Choose Your Own Adventure series has sold more than 265 million copies worldwide. The film gets bloody and violent, which is part of the reason Chooseco has chosen to sue, claiming the disturbing nature is inappropriate for young readers and that the adult imagery "tarnishes" the Choose Your Own Adventure brand. In addition, the claim points out that 20th Century Fox actually holds an option contract with Chooseco "to develop an interactive film series based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books".

According to Variety, Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.

"The use of Choose Your Own Adventure in association with such graphic content is likely to cause significant damage, impacting our book sales and affecting our ability to work with licensing partners in the future".

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