Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix's experiment in interactive television, is inspired by "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. The thing is, "Choose Your Own Adventure" is a format and phrase owned by Chooseco LLC, the publisher of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. And now Chooseco has filed a lawsuit against Netflix in Vermont federal court alleging copyright infringement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which came out late last month, tells the story of a video game developer who's losing his mind as he develops a "choose your own adventure" game. The game is an adaptation of a "choose your own adventure book," a phrase that the main character Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) says on the show.
According to THR, "Chooseco alleges that that Netflix is benefitting from an association with its iconic brand and that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which allows audiences to select the direction of the plot, has been widely discussed in the press as being connected to the phrase, 'Choose Your Own Adventure.'" Chooseco claims that it and Netflix "engaged in extensive negotiations for a number of years," but Netflix never received a license from Chooseco to use the format. Rival studio 20th Century Fox currently holds the option to develop a Choose Your Own Adventure interactive series with Chooseco.
Chooseco is seeking at least $25 million in damages or a share of the profits, whichever is greater, claiming "infringement, dilution, and unfair competition," according to THR. Netflix will likely defend itself by claiming descriptive fair use and that it never used the phrase "Choose Your Own Adventure" in the marketing for Bandersnatch. Whether the suit will move forward remains to be seen.
Netflix declined TV Guide's request for comment.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available to stream on Netflix.