The Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Choose Your Own Adventure Lawsuit Is Finally Over

Fionn Whitehead in a scene from 2018's Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Fionn Whitehead in a scene from 2018's Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Image: Netflix

“If you’d like to end the lawsuit, turn to page 93.” Netflix has reached a settlement with children’s book publisher Chooseco LLC over trademark issues with its 2018 interactive special, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, bringing the saga to a logical if unsurprising conclusion. I mean, come on, there wasn’t even a surprise snake pit.

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According to the Hollywood Reporter, both Netflix and Chooseco LLC revealed during a status conference with U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III that they had reached a settlement over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. No further details about the nature or amount of the settlement have been revealed.

The Emmy Award-winning feature, about a video game developer who becomes obsessed with his creation, blurred the line between a cinematic and video game experience by letting players choose where they wanted the story to go. However, Chooseco LLC was quick to file a trademark lawsuit, pointing out the movie’s similarity to the long-running Choose Your Own Adventure book series. There’s even a reference to the books in a scene between the main character and his father.

Netflix tried to get a federal judge to dismiss the case on First Amendment grounds earlier this year and also sought to get Chooseco LLC’s Choose Your Own Adventure trademark cancelled, saying that the phrase had become too generic and widespread. Both of those efforts failed and Chooseco LLC still owns the trademark. However, Netflix continues to release interactive specials in a similar vein to Bandersnatch—including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal, and Telltale Games’ Minecraft: Story Mode.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available to watch and play on Netflix.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

DISCUSSION

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America: The Snyder Cut

Telling a story that lets people choose different paths is fine. Telling a story that lets people choose different paths and also directly references Choose Your Own Adventure books is where you get into copyright issues. And don’t call Chooseco LLC greedy. Suing for copyright infringement is exactly how a company prevents its trademark from entering “common usage” and having its trademark cancelled, which is exactly what Netflix tried to do.