Netflix Reaches Settlement In Black Mirror Lawsuit
Netflix has reached a settlement in the lawsuit over its hit interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which was filed by Chooseco LLC., the publisher behind the hit children's' book series Choose Your Own Adventure. The exact terms of the settlement are have not yet been made public - although it is a major de-escalation from the aggressive legal attack Netflix was just recently threatening. The suit claimed trademark infringement, largely based on a scene early on in Bandersnatch where the main character actually reads a book and mentions Choose Your Own Adventure by name. - though he arguably mentions it as a book genre, rather than a specific series. Chooseco LLC. is now said to be aggressively renewing all trademarks regarding its books for possible similar suits.
THR reports that while details of the settlement haven't been reported, one odd detail has: Netflix and Chooseco LLC. requested to vacate the judge's earlier opinion denying a dismissal request from Netflix. In that opinion, the judge, William Sessions III, apparently questioned whether Bandersnatch was explicitly misleading with its vague connections to Choose Your Own Adventure.
Bandersnatch tells the story of a young video game designer who wants to design the ultimate new game for the 1980s - a game based on (you guessed it) the Choose Your Own Adventure model. The correlation between Bandersnatch's interactive story experience and Choose Your Own Adventure was pretty clear to anyone who watched the film: in fact, it seemed like the scene using the book series was intentionally there to help viewers correlate using the Bandersnatch interactive system with the familiar prior example of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Major trades and publications (this one included) referred to Bandersnatch (and an upcoming new Netflix interactive film) as being "Choose Your Own Adventure Movies." It's not hard to see how Chooseco LLC. was able to mount its case - and why Netflix was unable to dismiss it in court.
Best guesswork says that Netflix reached some kind of agreeable number for using the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark in the promotion of Bandersnatch. The real question is whether that deal includes any future use of the reference in other interactive films, or freedom to use the name "Choose Your Own Adventure" in describing the genre of interactive films Netflix is producing. If possible that would be a shrewd legal move on Netflix's part, as Bandersnatch signaled that modern audiences are open to the novelty of interactive viewing - if done right.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is now streaming on Netflix.