A quirk of US copyright law kept 10 stories out of the public domain, on the basis that these stories where continuously developed. In his ruling Judge Castillo opined that only the "story elements" in the short stories published after 1923 were protected and that everything else in the Holmes canon was "free for public use" — including the characters of Holmes and Watson.
Holmes scholar Leslie Klinger, who challenged the estate, celebrated the ruling.
"Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world," Mr Klinger said in a statement posted on his Free Sherlock website.
IANAL, but the ruling of Judge Castillo that "adopting Conan Doyle's position would be to extend impermissibly the copyright of certain character elements of Holmes and Watson beyond their statutory period," is surely going to have implications across US copyright law. Mark Twain must be twisting and writhing in his grave."