Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate has sued Netflix for copyright infringement over its upcoming Enola Holmes film starring Millie Bobby Brown.
The movie features the 16-year-old Stranger Things actress as the exceptionally gifted younger sister of famed detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur.
It is based on the Enola Holmes series of books, written by US author Nancy Springer, who is also being sued alongside her publisher Penguin Random House and producers Legendary, among others.
In a lawsuit filed in New Mexico, the estate – which lost most of its rights to Sherlock Holmes in 2014 – is alleging copyright infringement over the film’s portrayal of the detective as possessing emotions.
The estate argues Holmes’ emotional side was a late addition to the character in books that are not yet in the public domain, unlike most of Sir Arthur’s stories featuring his most famous creation.
The 2014 lawsuit found all works made before 1923 should be considered public domain, and the legal papers allege his last 10 stories, published between 1923 and 1927, are still covered by copyright.
The estate said the author was profoundly affected by losing his brother and son in the First World War and when he returned to Holmes he created “significant new character traits” for both the detective and his assistant Dr Watson.
Most notably, according to the lawsuit, these include the “surprising artistic decision” to develop the previously stoic Holmes with emotion.
Including this portrayal of the detective in Enola Holmes would represent copyright infringement, the lawsuit argues.
It said: “Holmes became warmer. He became capable of friendship. He could express emotion. He began to respect women.
“His relationship to Watson changed from that of a master and assistant to one of genuine friendship. Watson became more than just a tool for Holmes to use.
“He became a partner. The friendship of Holmes and Watson became one of the most important and well known in modern literature.”
Lawyers acting on behalf of the estate are requesting a jury trial, unspecified damages and relief from further copyright infringements.
As well as British actress Brown, Enola Holmes also stars Henry Cavill as Sherlock and Helena Bonham Carter as his mother.
It will be available to stream on Netflix in September.