CBS faces trademark lawsuit over Desilu name

FILE PHOTO: The CBS "eye" and logo are seen outside the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th St. in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The Desilu name coined by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for the production company behind “I Love Lucy” and other popular television shows is now the subject of a lawsuit against CBS Corp.

A southern California businessman sued CBS on Monday for the right to enforce a trademark he said he obtained in January for the Desilu name, and operate Desilu Studios, which he set up last year as a “technology-focused film and television studio.”

Charles Hensley said he had reached out to Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Ball and Arnaz, and received her family’s “blessing” for a Desilu relaunch, but that CBS instructed her not to have further conversations regarding the name.

A CBS spokesman on Tuesday said the New York-based company “was just learning” about the lawsuit and had no comment.

Desilu Productions was created by Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1950, and its shows also included “Star Trek,” “The Untouchables,” “Mission: Impossible” and “The Lucy Show,” among others.

Ball bought out Arnaz’s interest in the company in 1962, two years after their divorce. She sold Desilu to Gulf & Western in 1967, and it was rebranded Paramount Television. Paramount became part of CBS nearly four decades later.

According to the complaint, Paramount had applied for 16 “Desilu” trademarks but abandoned its applications, and CBS had not objected when Hensley applied for his trademark.

Desi Arnaz died in 1986, and Ball in 1989.

The case is Desilu Studios Inc v CBS Studios Inc, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-02961.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz