The streaming titan has been slapped with a lawsuit from Chooseco LLC, the publishing company that acquired the "Choose Your Own Adventure" trademark from original owner, Bantam Books (now a part of Random House) once the books went out of print and the rights became available. Founded by a publisher and author of the famous "CYOA" publications from the 1970s and '80s, R. A. Montgomery (who passed away in 2014), Chooseco resurrected the brand in 2006.
Chooseco's complaint (field against Netflix in Vermont's federal court today) states that 20th Century Fox holds the development rights for an interactive series based on Chooseco books. While Netflix did ask for similar rights in 2016, it did not end up receiving permission.
"Chooseco and Netflix engaged in extensive negotiations that were ongoing for a number of years, but Netflix did not receive a license," reads the filing, which you can check out in full here. "On at least one occasion before the release of Bandersnatch, Chooseco sent a written cease and desist request to Netflix asking Netflix to stop using the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE mark in connection with its marketing efforts for another television program."
The complaint references a certain scene near the start of the movie, where the main character, Stefan Butler (played by Dunkirk's Fionn Whitehead) explicitly tells his father (Watership Down's Craig Parkinson) that he is reading "a Choose Your Own Adventure book." Based on this claim of alleged infringement, Chooseco is seeking $25 million in damages.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news, writes that Netflix "will likely defend itself by pointing to allowances for descriptive fair use."
This is not the first time that Chooseco has gone to court over the use of "Choose Your Own Adventure." In 2007, Chooseco filed a lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler and its marketing campaign for the Jeep Patriot. BBDO Detroit, Organic, and Marvel Entertainment were also lumped in with the car company as defendants. Per THR, the case was eventually settled.
Written by Black Mirror creator, Charlie Brooker, and directed by Season 4 alum, David Slade ("Metalhead"), Bandersnatch allows viewers to decide the fate of a young video game programmer in 1984. Attempting to adapt a Choose Your Own Adventure fantasy novel into a similar game, he begins to lose his mind as he discovers that he is not in control of his personal choices.
Netflix declined to comment for this story