Judge Reams the Estate of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — In Ordering Legal Fees, He Cites ‘Unlawful Business Strategy’ and Says the Estate Is Engaging in ‘a Form of Extortion’

Aug 5, 2014  •  Post A Comment

The estate for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes, has been dealt a legal slam from 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner in a copyright case, The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports.

Posner ruled in June that most of the “Sherlock Holmes” stories are in the public domain, since all but 10 of the stories were published before 1923. The ruling was in favor of author Leslie Klinger, who had been told by the estate that he needed to pay up for “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes,” a short story collection by modern writers inspired by the Holmes stories.

Posner on Monday ordered that the Doyle estate pay Klinger more than $30,000 in legal fees, a ruling that the article calls “almost as extraordinary as his June decision.” The judge called the licensing demands from the Doyle estate “a form of extortion” and said Klinger had performed a “public service.”

“For exposing the estate’s unlawful business strategy, Klinger deserves a reward but asks only to break even,” Posner wrote.

The story adds: “Posner softly suggests that the Doyle estate might have violated antitrust laws by telling Amazon and other booksellers to enforce its copyright claims against Klinger. He also has a suggestion for the Doyle estate, which is now attempting to get the U.S. Supreme Court to tackle the case. He writes, ‘It’s time the estate, in its own self-interest, changed its business model.’”

leslie klinger

Leslie Klinger

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