CBS Alleges Man Used Lucille Ball's Old Studio to Trick Investors

I Love lucy Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Photofest

Earlier this year, CBS was hit with a lawsuit claiming that it held no trademark rights on "Desilu," the name of Lucille Ball's old studio that produced such television shows as I Love Lucy, Star Trek and Mission Impossible. That complaint was quietly withdrawn in California federal court a few weeks ago, but the man responsible for bringing the lawsuit is not getting off that easily.

On Tuesday, CBS filed its own lawsuit against Charles Hensley, alleging that he used "Desilu" to "induce unwitting investors to give him money in exchange for valueless stock in his newly-formed shell company."

Hensley, according to the prior lawsuit, formed Desilu Studios as a new, technology-focused film and television vehicle in 2013. In court papers, he presented Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, as being excited about Desilu's resurrection.

Not so, responds CBS.

"Hensley informed Ms. Arnaz that he was re-launching 'Desilu Studios' and asked for her blessing so that he could inform third parties that she was associated with DSI," states the new complaint. "Ms. Arnaz then spoke to CBS and declined Hensley’s offer."

According to CBS, Hensley has a history of attempting to secure trademark registrations for famous brand names he believed were not formally registered. Besides "Desilu," which CBS asserts having common law rights, he attempted to register "Trans World Airlines" in 2016.

"Hensley is not a television or film producer," continues the complaint. "Instead, he claims to have a background in the pharmaceutical business. He was convicted by this Court in April of 2012 for marketing and selling unapproved bird flu medication."

CBS details more of his background before getting to the gist of its complaint. Hensley is said to have issued a false valuation letter for his business representing that Desilu Studios was worth $11.2 billion. He allegedly used the appearance of acquiring "Desilu" to get investors to put up money.

"CBS is informed and believes that Hensley filed the April 2018 lawsuit against CBS as a delay tactic to enable him to inform potential 'investors' that he had a legitimate company, and was engaged in a good-faith dispute over the ownership of the DESILU Mark," states the complaint. CBS is informed and believes that, during the time the lawsuit was pending, Hensley induced numerous individuals to enter into contracts with him, and to pay him tens of thousands of dollars for worthless DSI stock."

Here's the rest of the complaint, which alleges that the trademark registration that was procured was done so through fraud. The lawsuit also accuses Hensley of being engaged in cyberpiracy by trafficking in domain names in bad faith.

Attempts to reach Hensley have been unsuccessful. Many of the domain names appear to have been taken offline.