Film about Sherlock Holmes’ sister being sued by the Conan Doyle estate


Netflix’s next film Enola Holmes, based on the Nancy Springer book series, is being sued by the Conan Doyle Estate for copyright and trademark infringement The film, which stars Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, the adventurous sister of Sherlock Holmes Enola, is not part of the official canon of Sherlock Holmes although it presents the character of Sherlock Holmes, here played by The Witcher and Henry Cavill of DCEU. The lawsuit targets Netflix, Legendary Pictures, Penguin Random House and others, including author Nancy Springer, according to THR. In 2014, it was decided that all of Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes’ stories written before 1923 were in the field public, so the Conan Doyle estate is only entitled to the last 10 original stories written between 1923 and 1927.Here’s where it gets interesting. The trial “alleges that the difference between stories in the public domain and those protected by copyright lies in the emotions.” Which means the stories the estate has are the latest stories where Sherlock Holmes really shows emotion. After losing his son and brother, Sherlock Holmes became “warmer” in the final stories.

Spotlight on Netflix: July 2020

Does this mean that any project that presents a more emotional and warm Sherlock Holmes would violate a copyright? Can a domain claim the emotions of a character? It would mean that any Sherlock Holmes who is not cold and emotionless would be in violation. The complaint indicates that Sherlock by Henry Cavill, in the film, is based on character traits that belong to the estate.

In 2015, the estate sued Miramax against Mr. Holmes and the case was finally settled, although this trial involved the film about the retirement of Sherlock Holmes, which is only part of his latest stories.

Enola Holmes, due out on Netflix in September, also stars Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes and Helena Bonham Carter in the matriarch Eudoria Holmes.
Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at


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