Chooseco, LLC has filed a lawsuit against Netflix over its latest sensation, the ‘Black Mirror’ event ‘Bandersnatch’ which includes an interactive feature allowing viewers to determine the actions of the main character, video game designer Stefan Butler played by Fionn Whitehead. Chooseco acquired the rights to the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ name in 2007, after previous publisher Bantam/Random House allowed the copyright to lapse. Under Bantam, over two hundred ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books were published and sold in the millions during the 1980s into the ’90s. According to Chooseco, Netflix attempted to license the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ name for ‘Bandersnatch’, but failed to do so.
According to the legal filing on Friday, Chooseco attests that they alone have sold over 265 million ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books since acquiring the rights. 20th Century Fox currently holds the rights to develop multimedia projects based on the concept, but Netflix attempted to license it for ‘Bandersnatch’.
According to the complaint:
“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.”
It is true that in one scene in ‘Bandersnatch’, Stefan tells his father that he is reading a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book, which then goes on to influence his creation of the titular video game.
Chooseco is asking for $25 million in damages or any profits that Netflix makes from ‘Bandersnatch’, whichever is greater. About a decade ago, Chooseco sued DaimlerChrysler for using the phrase ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ in an ad campaign for Jeeps. That matter was settled out of court.
For Netflix’s part, they have not actually used ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ in their marketing for ‘Bandersnatch’, but that term has frequently been used by outside sources, including this website.
Does Chooseco have a case here? Will Netflix cave?
Source: The Hollywood Reporter