Back in 2018, Black Mirror fans were taken along for the ride in the interactive dystopian film Bandersnatch. Although the series was met with praise, Netflix soon found itself in hot water over a trademark lawsuit.
In January 2019, Chooseco, the publisher of the children’s Choose Your Own Adventure book series, sued Netflix for alleged trademark infringement. Now, after nearly two years, the lawsuit has finally been settled.
For Bandersnatch, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker decided to put the fate of the main character in viewers’ hands. Fans interacted with the film’s storylines by choosing various options that ultimately determined the fate of the protagonist.
As one of the first interactive films of its kind, Bandersnatch wowed Netflix subscribers worldwide. As well, it opened a dialogue on what the future of entertainment could look like. However, book publisher Chooseco wasn’t too impressed.
Back in January 2019, the publisher of the children’s Choose Your Own Adventure book series, filed a lawsuit against Netflix. The suit claimed Bandersnatch violated its trademark.
In the film, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) explained to his dad that the video game Bandersnatch is based on a book series which he described as “choose your own adventure.” Chooseco claimed they negotiated with Netflix in 2016 about the phrase being used for the series. However, they said Netflix never got the license to use it.
“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 stated. “The film’s dark and, at times, disturbing content dilutes the goodwill for and positive associations with Chooseco’s mark and tarnishes its products.”
After the original suit, Chooseco filed an amended complaint. They added that they registered the use of the phrase in all forms of media, including movies. They also claimed the game company depicted in the film, Tuckersoft, uses similar packaging to the books.
Soon after the filing, Netflix tried to have the suit dismissed in March 2019. The streaming platform pushed back on Chooseco’s claims and said that the phrase in question is rather common.
Now, after almost two years, Netflix and Chooseco have finally settled the Black Mirror trademark suit. According to Deadline, the dispute has been solved. However, the agreed terms by both parties remain undisclosed by the court.
There’s one detail that has been made public though. The case’s presiding judge, William Sessions III, decided to forget that he ever questioned the possibility that Bandersnatch deliberately used the Choose Your Own Adventure concept and phrase in its film.
Although the details of the settlement remain undisclosed, it appears the two-year lawsuit has finally come to a close. Following the success of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix revealed it has plans to make even more interactive content in the future. It’s possible that Bandersnatch has truly paved the way for how films and shows may involve their audiences in the future.
What are your reactions to the Black Mirror: Bandersnatch lawsuit settlement? Let us know in the comments below.