A legal fight may be brewing between the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes, which airs on PBS as part of Masterpiece Mystery, and an upcoming CBS version of the detective stories. According to the UK newspaper The Independent, the Beeb producers feel that CBS’s Elementary, which also places the character in a modern setting using laptops and cellphones, may be too much like their version.
Sue Vertue, Sherlock e.p., said that CBS “approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.”
The Independent quoted Margaret Tofalides, a copyright specialist, that while the concept of a modern-day Sherlock is unprotectable, “if the unusual elements of the BBC series — the modern settings, characters, clothes, plots and distinctive visual style — were closely reproduced in the CBS version, that could form the basis of a potential copyright claim.”