September 2013: Update

We filed our response today to the ACD Estate’s reply to our Motion for Summary Judgment. The matter is now in the hands of Judge Castillo. We hope to receive a favorable opinion soon!

Exhibit in Support of Response to Defendant’s Statement of Additional Facts 
Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment
Response to Defendant’s Statement of Additional Facts

September 2013

On September 10, 2013, the ACD Estate filed opposition to our Motion for Summary Judgment, along with declarations from the Estate’s witnesses Jon Lellenberg, George Fletcher, Larry Woiwode, Valerie Sayers, and Loren Estleman. We have until September 30 to respond, and upon filing with the Court, we will post our response on this website. Thereafter, it will be up to the Court to determine the outcome.

Woiwode declaration
Sayers declaration
Lellenberg declaration
Fletcher declaration
Estleman declaration
ACD Response
ACD Statement of Add’l Material Facts

Update: August 2013

Mr. Klinger’s Motion for Summary Judgment was up for hearing today before the Court. The Estate again failed to appear, and has not moved to vacate the default order previously entered against it.  The Court provided the Estate with 21 days to file a Response to the Motion.  If a Response is filed, Mr. Klinger will have 14 days thereafter to file a Reply.  Ultimately, the Court will issue a written opinion on the motion, regardless of whether the Estate files a Response.

Update: July 2013

Following the entry of a default order against the Defendant, Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd., Leslie Klinger has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking that the Court enter a judgement against the Estate. Although the Estate accepted service in this matter, it never filed a responsive pleading. As a result, Klinger’s motion asserts, there are no material issues of fact in dispute and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The motion has been noticed for hearing before the Court on August 6, 2013.

Documents are available for download in PDF format by clicking on the links below:

File Stamped Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

File Stamped Motion for Summary Judgment

File Stamped Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment

File Stamped Rule 56 Statement 

Update: June 2013

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has failed to file a formal appearance or any other responsive pleading in the matter within the time granted to it. We are considering our next actions in the case and will keep you posted!

Free Sherlock!

Sherlock Holmes - The Man with the Twisted Lip
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.

Klinger says that the litigation came about because he and Laurie R. King, best-selling author of the “Mary Russell” series of mysteries that also feature Sherlock Holmes, were co-editing a new book called “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes.”  This collection of stories by major mystery/sci-fi/fantasy authors inspired by the Holmes tales, is to be published by Pegasus Books. “The Conan Doyle Estate contacted our publisher,” says Klinger, “and implied that if the Estate wasn’t paid a license fee, they’d convince the major distributors not to sell the book. Our publisher was, understandably, concerned, and told us that the book couldn’t come out unless this was resolved.

“It is true that some of Conan Doyle’s stories about Holmes are still protected by the U.S. copyright laws. However, the vast majority of the stories that Conan Doyle wrote are not. The characters of Holmes, Watson, and others are fully established in those fifty ‘public-domain’ stories. Under U.S. law, this should mean that anyone is free to create new stories about Holmes and Watson.

“This isn’t the first time the Estate has put pressure on creators,” Klinger adds. “It is the first time anyone has stood up to them. In the past, many simply couldn’t afford to fight or to wait for approval, and have given in and paid off the Estate for ‘permission.’ I’m asking the Court to put a permanent stop to this kind of bullying. Holmes and Watson belong to the world, not to some distant relatives of Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Klinger denies that he was trying to strip the Estate of its proper rights. “The Estate still owns copyrights in the U.S. on 10 of the stories about Holmes—some of the stories that appeared in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. As a lawyer myself, I respect those rights, and in fact I licensed them when I published my New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.”

All of the remaining 10 stories will be in the public domain after 2022, 95 years after the last was published.

Klinger is represented by Scott M. Gilbert of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLC in Chicago, who serves as litigation counsel, and Jonathan Kirsch in Los Angeles, an intellectual property attorney specializing in publishing issues.

“Les Klinger is the ideal plaintiff to undertake this praiseworthy effort to confirm the public-domain status of the iconic characters and settings of the Sherlock Holmes Canon and remove the cloud of fear, uncertainty and doubt that the Estate has used to scare off others,” says Kirsch.  “As a world-renowned expert and an acclaimed author, he is willing to champion a cause that others have been too timid to undertake.  Authors, movie-makers and other creative people owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Klinger and Laurie R. King previously edited A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Random House, 2011), a collection of new stories written by Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Maron, and other contemporary writers. Their second collection, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, will feature new stories by Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly, Lev Grossman, Larry Niven, Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Cornelia Funke, Jeffery Deaver, and other major writers. Some of the stories are new adventures of Holmes and Watson; others are about people inspired or influenced by the Holmes stories of Conan Doyle.

To download this information as a PDF, click here.