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‘Mr. Holmes’ Lawsuit Reaches Settlement, Says Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Attorney

Mr Holmes Movie
Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

The attorney for the estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle said they have reached an agreement in principle with the makers of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie “Mr. Holmes,” which the estate claimed infringed on stories that still remain under copyright.

In May, the Conan Doyle estate sued Miramax, Roadside Attractions and director Bill Condon over the movie, which starred Ian McKellen in the title role and opened in July. The lawsuit also named writer Mitch Cullin and Penguin Random House, publisher of Cullin’s “A Slight Trick of the Mind” — a new Holmes tale on which the movie “Mr. Holmes” is based.

“We’ve reached an agreement in principle with the film company,” Benjamin Allison, attorney for the estate, said on Thursday. “The estate is very pleased.” 

He said that the agreement in principle was reached with Miramax before the US release of the picture, and has been in the process of being finalized since then.

He declined to offer further details.

A spokeswoman for Miramax said, “We have no comment on ongoing litigation.”
On Wednesday, Allison and Laura Schauer Ives, attorney for Penguin Random House and Cullin, filed a notice of dismissal for their portion of the case, without costs to any party. Allison said that the e-book version of “A Slight Trick of the Mind” now acknowledges “use of copyrighted material by kind permission of the Conan Doyle estate.”

The movie depicted an aged, retired Holmes looking back on his life and getting involved in an unsolved case.

The estate noted in its lawsuit that although many of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, 10 works published between 1923 and 1927 remain under copyright. Those works develop details of Holmes’ retirement and later life.

The defendants in the case had yet to file a response to the lawsuit.