Netflix Asks Court To Dismiss Chooseco's Lawsuit For All The Obvious Reasons
from the this-adventure-sucks dept
You will recall that Chooseco LLC, the company behind the Choose Your Own Adventure books that people my age remember with such fondness, decided quite stupidly to sue Netflix over Black Mirror’s audience-influenced production called Bandersnatch. The lawsuit is silly for any number of reasons, including that the whole thing rests on a character in Bandersnatch mentioning a CYOA book as the inspiration behind his fictional video game coupled with the fact that the film (a third medium) lets viewers choose how the story progresses. How Chooseco thinks any of that legal pixelation resolves into an actual trademark or copyright violation is anyone’s guess, because it most certainly does not. Storytelling mechanics are most definitely not protectable as intellectual property. On top of that, Chooseco subsequently announced its own licensed deal with Amazon for Alexa. The timing of it all sure seems to indicate that Chooseco might have wanted to send Netflix a thank you for revitalizing interest in its products, rather than filing a lawsuit.
But since the lawsuit was filed, it was only a matter of time before Netflix tried to have it tossed.
But lawyers for Netflix argue the phrase is common and simply “a reference to the book’s narrative device”.
It also dismissed claims by Chooseco of similarities between the border of a game by fictional video game developer Tuckersoft and its own book covers. Netflix said there was “nothing distinctive” about the publisher’s borders and the designs were in any case “markedly different”.
In a filing last week, the online broadcaster said: “No amount of further amendment will change Bandersnatch’s actual uses of the phrase ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’. Nor will amendment change the fictional ‘Tuckersoft’ company’s uses of the rounded color borders, let alone make them similar to Chooseco’s. Nor will amendment alter the First Amendment protection for such artistic uses, the protection for descriptive fair uses like the use of the challenged phrase, or the absence of any secondary meaning for the rounded color borders element of Chooseco’s trade dress.”
It’s pretty much as we predicted. Netflix would like the court to acknowledge that pretty much everything Chooseco is complaining about that is included in Bandersnatch is not protectable, and that pretty much all the rest is protected as expression and art by the First Amendment. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how the court could argue differently, although there’s always the chance the court might decided that these are issues best decided in the trial phase.
Which would be too bad, really. Lawsuits as plainly silly as this deserved to be tossed, not validated by full trials.