PDA

View Full Version : Leslie Klinger, Laurie King and "Free Sherlock" lawsuit



Medievalist
02-16-2013, 10:48 AM
There have been a number of bizarre suits, some settled, some that went to court, regarding trademarks and copyrights associated with the estate of Conan Doyle, various IP sub-licenses, and Sherlock Holmes.

Some of it has been eye-rollingly obvious greed on the part of licensees, and, naturally, attorneys.

So this particular announcement caught my eye:


A civil action was filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate by Sherlock Holmes scholar Leslie S. Klinger. Klinger seeks to have the Court determine that the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson are no longer protected by federal copyright laws and that writers, filmmakers, and others are free to create new stories about Holmes, Watson, and others of their circle without paying license fees to the current owners of the remaining copyrights.

There's more here about Leslie S. Klinger's efforts to "free Sherlock (http://free-sherlock.com/)."

Samsonet
02-16-2013, 11:21 AM
Wait, I thought Sherlock hadn't been under copyright for centuries. Can someone point me in the direction of some article on UK copyright laws, please? *goes to Google*

Polenth
02-16-2013, 01:49 PM
Wait, I thought Sherlock hadn't been under copyright for centuries. Can someone point me in the direction of some article on UK copyright laws, please? *goes to Google*

It's not under copyright in the UK. Some of the stories are in the US, though I hadn't realised the copyright holder was trying to get license fees for any use of the characters.

Buffysquirrel
02-16-2013, 03:53 PM
Wait, I thought Sherlock hadn't been under copyright for centuries. Can someone point me in the direction of some article on UK copyright laws, please? *goes to Google*

Knock yourself out: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/copy.htm

Ken
02-16-2013, 06:28 PM
... what this seems to amount to is that ten Sherlock Holmes stories are not in the public domain as they were published more recently than the others. So what the estate claims is that because of that the characters (Holmes and Watson) remain copyrighted or trademarked. So even though the other stories published earlier are in the public domain they essentially can't be used in any way shape or form because that would be an infringement on the copyrighted characters. If that is really true then the law has to be written to clearly reflect that. And that would be a major change or clarification.

shadowwalker
02-16-2013, 06:46 PM
Wouldn't the characters be protected by trademark rather than copyright? And if so, the trademark lasts as long as the holder keeps renewing it, correct? Or did they not actually get trademark protection for them?

Buffysquirrel
02-16-2013, 06:47 PM
"Holmes and Watson belong to the world, not to some distant relatives of Arthur Conan Doyle."

O rly? So this forthcoming antho will be given away free to the world, will it? As they/we already own it....

Polenth
02-16-2013, 08:23 PM
"Holmes and Watson belong to the world, not to some distant relatives of Arthur Conan Doyle."

O rly? So this forthcoming antho will be given away free to the world, will it? As they/we already own it....

To be fair, that's not the same thing. The case is about the characters, not the story rights. The rights of the stories still under copyright isn't part of the case, because both sides agree they have those and should be paid for them. So by the same token, the rights of new stories rest with their rights holders too.

Medievalist
02-16-2013, 08:29 PM
The trademark things gets complicated with Sherlock; some of the trademarked items are from non-Doyle based works, and some of those are being contested on various fronts. It's been a while since I was involved in this, and I forget the various players and their contentions and contributions. I believe that there's a specific Deerstalker hat, a specific pipe, and a non-Doyle reoccurring character at issue wrt registered trademarks.

And just to make it extra speshul, yes, there are film and TV production and holding companies involved.

Buffysquirrel
02-16-2013, 08:34 PM
*was spanked*

Mmmkay, fair enough, I wasn't reasonable. Still think it's not so altruistic as it's made to appear.

Jamesaritchie
02-16-2013, 11:42 PM
To be fair, that's not the same thing. The case is about the characters, not the story rights. The rights of the stories still under copyright isn't part of the case, because both sides agree they have those and should be paid for them. So by the same token, the rights of new stories rest with their rights holders too.

How can you separate characters from story rights?

Jamesaritchie
02-16-2013, 11:44 PM
The trademark things gets complicated with Sherlock; some of the trademarked items are from non-Doyle based works, and some of those are being contested on various fronts. It's been a while since I was involved in this, and I forget the various players and their contentions and contributions. I believe that there's a specific Deerstalker hat, a specific pipe, and a non-Doyle reoccurring character at issue wrt registered trademarks.

And just to make it extra speshul, yes, there are film and TV production and holding companies involved.

The Deerstalker hat, the pipe, and a few other things, aren't from any of Doyle's stories. The movie companies invented them, added them to the Holmes character, and so they should be trademarked by these movie companies.

Samsonet
02-17-2013, 05:37 AM
Knock yourself out: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/copy.htm

Thank you!