Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Sues Netflix, Legendary & Others Over ‘Enola Holmes’ Film


The estate of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is suing Netflix, Legendary and the author, writer and director behind the upcoming film Enola Homes over copyright and trademark issues.

The movie stars Millie Bobby Brown as the much-younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, who proves to be a highly capable detective in her own right. The pic is based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries book series by Nancy Springer, who also is a defendant. Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Claflin, Fiona Shaw and Adeel Akhtar also star in the film that is set to stream on Netflix.

In a 19-page complaint filed Wednesday in New Mexico federal court (read it here), the estate claims the “copyright infringement arises from defendants unauthorized copying of original creative expression by [Conan Doyle] in copyrighted Sherlock Holmes stories.”

The suit claims that, despite most of the original pre-1923 Sherlock Holmes tales have been judged to be in the public domain, the author’s last 10 stories about the character — published between 1923 and 1927 — are not. And the Doyle estate is claiming that the Enola Holmes books and movie incorporate something those only later stories included: the famously stoic detective’s emotions.

The suit states that after Conan Doyle lost his eldest son in World War I, the author returned to writing Holmes stories but “it was no longer enough that the Holmes character was the most brilliant rational and analytical mind. Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy.”

Also among the numerous defendants are Enola Holmes Mysteries publisher Penguin Random House, PCMA Management and Productions, EH Productions UK and Enola Holmes director Harry Bradbeer and screenwriter Jack Thorne.

Attorneys Benjamin Allison, Justin Miller and Breanna Contreras of Bardacke Allison LLP in Santa Fe, NM, are representing the Doyle estate in the suit. It seeks a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages and relief from further infringement on copyrights.

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