Pierre Portelli takes Fattigi’s trademark feud to court over Facebook ban

Producer Pierre Portelli says former writer Sandro Vella has registered Net show Fattigi trademark to kill Facebook promotion

Writer Sandro Vella’s ownership of the Fattigi trademarks has allowed him to get Facebook to prevent Pierre Portelli (pictured) from promoting his soap opera on Facebook
Writer Sandro Vella’s ownership of the Fattigi trademarks has allowed him to get Facebook to prevent Pierre Portelli (pictured) from promoting his soap opera on Facebook

The original writer of TV soap opera Fattigi registered a series of trademarks, which the show’s producer Pierre Portelli is insisting was carried out abusively.

Portelli, a broadcaster who until his recent resignation was PN leader Adrian Delia’s head of media, accused writer and actor Sandro Vella of registering trademarks for episodes of his Watermelon Media soap opera Fattigi.

In a judicial protest, Portelli has asked a court to instruct Vella to renounce to his six registered trademarks on episodes of Fattigi, which he claims were taken out in bad faith, and pay damages incurred by the production company and Net TV’s Media.Link Communications.

Portelli also wants the court to instruct Facebook to take down Vella’s Facebook page for Fattigi, which he claimed in his favour after registering the trademarks.

Since his judical protest, Vella has sent notification to the Comptroller of Industrial Property Registrations that he will transfer his trademarks to Media.Link Communications at his own expense.

Vella had been enrolled by Portelli in April 2017 to script episodes for Fattigi, after holding a series of meetings in which characters and plot were discussed, as well as discussions with actors and crew on the show. But Vella resigned the production after scripting just two episodes of the proposed 26.

However, Portelli added that over a year after leaving the production, in September 2018, Vella managed to register six trademarks on the name ‘Fattigi’.

Portelli said he had previously attempted to call on Vella not to persist with the trademark registration, and claims Vella acquiesced to the request, with the first season of Fattigi finally being broadcast by Media.Link Communications.

Soap opera, Fattigi
Soap opera, Fattigi

But Vella did not relinquish the registration, and indeed by September 2018 he became the owner of the Fattigi trademark.

Portelli said that this has cost his production company essential exposure on social media.

“We were advertising the second season of Fattigi on Facebook, but it turns out that Vella wrote to Facebook and informed them that since he is the registered trademark owner of Fattigi, then Facebook has to stop the programme’s promotion.”

This led to Facebook removing Watermelon Media’s official Fattigi page, putting the programme out of reach of some 20,000 Facebook followers. Portelli also said Vella had told Facebook to warn his company, Media.Link and Net TV from promoting Fattigi on pain of losing their social media pages.

“This malicious use of trademarks took place in bad faith, and has led to Watermelon and Media.Link to suffer losses of thousands of euros in advertising without its Facebook exposure. Media.Link alone spent €20,000 on a digital platform to stream these programmes online and now cannot share the link to Netondemand.mt on Facebook, Messenger, or Instagram,” Portelli said.

The Fattigi feud between Portelli and Vella degenerated into a veritable soap opera when the former wife of PN leader Adrian Delia, Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, took Vella’s side and gave him legal advice on his troubles with her husband’s political ally.

Portelli accused Vella de Fremeaux of having been “weaponised” against the Nationalist Party after she took sides in the intellectual property claim.

Vella had filed a court application claiming his intellectual property was stolen. When Vella de Fremeaux took to Facebook in an emotional appeal to both parties while claiming that Vella had been robbed, Portelli accused her of having been “weaponised” against him and Media.Link and “against decent case and crew, and ultimately against the party your husband leads.”

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