Netflix faces lawsuit over Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch

Netflix is being sued over its use of the phrase ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’

Fionn Whitehead as Stefan (Netflix)

Bandersnatch was a huge hit with Black Mirror fans after it was dropped as a surprise release over the Christmas period last year, but it seems not everyone was thrilled at the dystopic anthology’s so-called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ episode.

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American publishing company Chooseco is now looking to sue the streaming service for using its trademark phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure” in Charlie Brooker’s series without their consent.

Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch follows the story of computer-programmer Stefan Butler, played by Fionn Whitehead, as he tries to adapt a book into a video game. Viewers are invited to make snap decisions for the character in order to carve out Stefan’s narrative, which results in a variety of different endings.

Credit: Netflix / Black Mirror
Credit: Netflix / Black Mirror

Chooseco’s lawsuit, seen by Deadline, is based in part around a scene where Stefan tells his father that the book he has is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel, which Chooseco claims is a violation of their trademark.

Chooseco then go on to explain that, due to Black Mirror’s “dark and violent themes”, it could cause “irreparable harm and injury to [Chooseco’s] goodwill and reputation”, as Black Mirror is “too mature” for Chooseco’s mostly teenage audience. The company claims Netflix came looking for a license to use their trademark in 2016, but negotiations fell apart.

Chooseco became hugely popular in the 80s and 90s for its series of books which allowed readers to determine the plot by making decisions that send them to different pages.

The nature of Bandersnatch’s storytelling means a variety of outcomes for the viewer, with Netflix recently revealing that there are more endings and plot twists than first thought.

But while initially against an interactive episode of Black Mirror, Brooker has now discussed the possible future of more, similar episodes.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com, among other journalists, the 47-year-old explained, “I could see completely different forms you could do, where you could do like a documentary. And you could have like endless digressions if you want.

“I could see that you could do a thing where Brian Cox came out and went, ‘Welcome to Interactive Secrets of the Universe! Would you like to know about MARS? Or would you like to know about BLACK HOLES?’

“Do you want to know more about that, or are you f***ing bored? You know, I could see all of that working.”

He added, “I could also see a true crime documentary where you’re sort of investigating leads… and you’re eventually killing someone. No, not really.

“There’s loads of scenarios you could think of. You could do an action thing – there’s all sorts of different genres you could see where it would apply itself.”

Netflix is yet to respond to the suit.

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available on Netflix


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