Netflix has settled the lawsuit with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate that claimed Enola Holmes' Sherlock character was a copyright infringement.
Netflix settled the lawsuit against Enola Holmes' portrayal of Sherlock. Based on Nancy Springer's young adult book series, The Enola Holmes Mysteries, Millie Bobby Brown stars as the titular Enola, Sherlock Holmes' younger sister. She sets off to solve the mystery of her mother Eudoria's (Helena Bonham Carter) disappearance. Before its debut on Netflix in September, it was already facing an interesting controversy.
In June, Netflix, Legendary Pictures, Springer, and her publisher Random House were sued for copyright infringement by the estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over Enola Holmes' portrayal of Sherlock. While the Doyle Estate lost the rights to most of its works to the public domain in 2014, the Estate still partially maintains authority over Doyle's final ten original stories in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes published between 1921 and 1927. The stories feature a kinder and more empathetic Sherlock than the earlier Sherlock Holmes stories, which depicted him as cold, misogynistic, and incapable of friendship. Because Enola Holmes' version of Sherlock, played by Henry Cavill, displays a level of kindness and warmness toward his sister, the lawsuit claimed that the film was infringing upon the Estate's copyright. However, the legal battle over the famous detective has come to an end.
THR reports that Netflix, Legendary Pictures, and others involved with Enola Holmes have come to a settlement with the Doyle Estate. While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the New Mexico Federal Court dismissed the lawsuit on Friday. Now that the lawsuit has been settled, it's still unclear whether the film did infringe on copyrighted material.
This is not the first time the Doyle Estate has laid claims over the emotional Sherlock character. In 2015, they sued Miramax over their portrayal of Sherlock in the film Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellen, but the lawsuit was also settled out of court. As of January 1, 2023, the last of the ten stories will enter the public domain, meaning the Doyle Estate will no longer have a claim over the kind and friendly version of Sherlock.
Now that the suit has been settled, Netflix can go forward with an Enola Holmes sequel. The first film saw positive reception and was the most popular film on the streamer upon its release. Director Harry Bradbeer previously discussed the possibility of follow-up films in the future. Considering the movie is based on a series of books, there is a lot of material for a film franchise to adapt. Now that the legal battle is over, it will be interesting to see what Netflix does with these stories and characters.