Netflix’s latest hit feature-length film / choose-your-own adventure hybrid has definitely made an impact and changed the way we might engage in our media in the near future. That said, the very thing that made Bandersnatch such a hit is also what’s landing it into hot water.
While “Choose Your Own Adventure” might be common nomenclature for those within the geek community, many do not know that the phrase itself is trademarked by Chooseco, the publishers of many Choose Your Own Adventure books over the decades. While the concept of an interactive movie like Bandersnatch doesn’t breach the trademark, it is the titular book within the movie (also called Bandersnatch) that is causing the issue here.
Chooseco is suing Netflix specifically with the protagonist, Stefan’s description of the book Bandersnatch being a Choose Your Own Adventure book. While it is a “choose-your-own-adventure” book, it is not part of the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. Chooseco is defiant with this distinction as Bandersnatch is a particularly dark film for adults and Chooseco’s series of books are for all ages, anyone associating the two tarnishes Chooseco’s trademark.
While Netflix has been trying to license the Choose Your Own Adventure series since 2016, they have not received the permission to do so at all from Chooseco. The publishers are suing Netflix for 25 million US dollars. We can only wait to see how this ends up and how other interactive movies will fare on Netflix’s platform.