Directed by David Slade and written by Charlie Booker, the interactive film, which lets the viewer decide whether game designer Stefan should take his medication, what cereal he should eat, and whether he should kill his dad, was released in December 2018.
Chooseco LLC, which owns the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book series, is now suing Netflix over the film’s inclusion of the book titled Bandersnatch, which the protagonist wants to adapt into a game.
The company launched a trademark infringement legal challenge against the streaming giant back in January 2019. It claimed that Netflix was misleading people into thinking that Bandersnatch is linked to its books, which have sold more than 265 million copies since the 1980s.
Highlighting a particular scene in its challenge, Chooseco LLC focuses on where Stefan tells his dad that he’s working on a game based on a choose-your-own-adventure book to illustrate the artistic similarities between the two.
“Here, the protagonist of Bandersnatch attempts to convert the fictional book ‘Bandersnatch’ into a video game, placing the book at the centre of the film’s plot”, said the ruling (via The Hollywood Reporter).
“Moreover, Netflix intended this narrative structure to comment on the mounting influence technology has in modern-day life.
“In addition, the mental imagery associated with Chooseco’s mark adds to Bandersnatch’s 1980s aesthetic. Thus, Netflix’s use of Chooseco’s mark clears the purposely-low threshold of Rogers’ artistic-relevance prong.”
Referring to the Rogers v Grimaldi trademark and intellectual freedom case, it is used to look at how much likeness creative properties share and whether the public has been deliberately misled.
Despite Netflix requesting that the case be dismissed under the First Amendment (freedom of expression), U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions has said that the case will be allowed to proceed.
“Chooseco has sufficiently alleged that consumers associate its mark with interactive books,” states the ruling. “The protagonist in Bandersnatch explicitly stated that the fictitious book at the centre of the film’s plot was a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.
“In addition, the book, the videogame, and the film itself all employ the same type of interactivity as Chooseco’s products, [which] increases the likelihood of consumer confusion.”
Seeking for $25 million in damages, the publisher has also taken issue with the aesthetics of the book used in the film.
“The physical characteristics and context of the use demonstrate that it is at least plausible Netflix used the term to attract public attention by associating the film with Chooseco’s book series,” said Judge Sessions.
Read the full ruling here.
Speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, Brooker told Press Assocation, “I think it’s often easy for people to overlook the dark humour that is in Black Mirror.”
The creator, who has a background in comedy, added that the ideas that end up getting made into shows are the ones that made him laugh.