Trademark infringement suit filed against owners of Batavia Pontillo's
Submitted by Howard Owens on September 2, 2010 - 12:06am
Three Monroe County businessmen who bought the former Pontillo's location on East Main Street, Batavia, and reopened the legendary location as "Pontillo's" have drawn the ire of the Rochester wing of the Pontillo's family.
Pontillo's Family Pizza, Inc., led by David Pontillo, nephew and son of the Pontillo's founders, has filed a trademark infringement suit against Batavia Pizza, LLC, owned by Thomas Masaschi, Jeffrey Reddish and Jason Teller.
The trio bought the 500 E. Main Street building and land late in 2009 from a firm that had acquired it in foreclosure. Then they reopened it as Pontillo's Pizzeria in April, hiring one of Salvatore Pontillo's son's, Sam Pontillo, to manage it.
Pontillo's Family Pizza, which overseas the operations of more than a dozen Pontillo's locations in the Rochester area, is claiming that Batavia Pizza never asked for, nor received, permission to use the Pontillo's name.
David's father, Anthony Pontillo, brother of Salvatore, filed for and received a federally registered trademark for "Pontillo's" in 1984.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for damaged business reputation, as well as all revenue and any profits of the new Batavia Pontillo's, plus any damages that might be awarded at trial, plus attorney's fees.
The suit also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Batavia Pizza prohibiting the use of the Pontillo's name by the ownership group.
The Pontillo brothers founded one of the first post-war pizzerias in the United States in Batavia in 1947, and a few years later, Anthony headed out for Rochester to start a chain of pizzerias under the same name.
According to John and Paul Pontillo, there was an agreement between families not to infringe on each other's territory so long as Pontlllo's remained a family business.
In the lawsuit, Pontillo's Family Pizza contends that contrary to an early presentation by the Monroe County businessmen, Sam Pontillo, is not a partner in Batavia Pizza, and even if he were, Pontillo's Family Pizza would not have given him permission to use the Pontillo's trade name in a re-established Batavia enterprise.
"Because of his tax problems, Pontillo's Family Pizza, Inc., will not give Mr. Sam C. Pontillo the right to use PONTILLO'S to operate a pizzeria," reads a letter dated June 18 and written by attorney Stephan B. Salai to an attorney representing Masaschi and his partners.
It was one of two letters the ownership group received from the Rochester Pontillo's demanding that Masaschi and his partners stop using the Pontillo's name.
Sam and Paul Pontillo were operating the Batavia location when mounting debts and tax bills apparently forced them to close the store in November 2008. John Pontillo had also been involved in the operation at one time, and all three brother's dispute just how the family business fell into failure.
Sam has continued to operate the Le Roy Pontillo's, though John has made attempts to acquire it.
There is a pending lawsuit filed by the estate of Elizabeth Pontillo against Sam and Paul.
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- Motions denied in Pontillo's lawsuit
- And for the rest of our previous coverage, going back to November 2008, click here.