What Exactly Makes A Pop-Up Mall A Pop-Up Mall? On Second Thought, Who Cares?

from the ownership-culture-gone-mad dept

One of the pernicious effects of once-obscure legal issues surrounding copyright and patents seeping into everyday life is the belief that even the vaguest ideas can be owned, and that such ownership is a thing worth fighting over. Here, for example, is a sorry tale from Christchurch in New Zealand, which suffered a massive earthquake in which 181 people died back in February of this year:
The City Mall Restart project is being threatened with legal action after being accused of copying a "pop-up mall" in London.

Director of the London Boxpark development Roger Wade emailed City Mall Restart organisers accusing them of a "blatant breach of the Boxpark intellectual property rights".

"Boxpark has now instructed legal action against the owners of City Mall – Pop Up Mall for intellectual property rights infringement," he said.

But City Mall organisers have hit back, claiming Boxpark was being "precious" and there were no similarities between the projects.

The threat could not have come at worse time for Christchurch organisers, with City Mall scheduled to reopen on Saturday, marking the first return of retail to central Christchurch since the February 22 earthquake.
And if, like me, you're wondering what exactly a "pop-up mall" might be – does it leap out of the earth as you approach, perhaps? - here's the basic idea:
The temporary shopping centre has been described as a "pop-up mall" made out of 60 shipping containers converted into 27 shops, including two cafes
> But the people behind the New Zealand pop-up mall claim there are key differences between this and the London pop-up mall:
However, he denied similarities between the projects, with the City Mall development divided into two horseshoe precincts while Boxpark was essentially a giant box with a cafe on the top.

"It will be very hard to say it's a copy because it doesn't look anything like Boxpark. The only thing that aligns these things together is they both use containers."
So the deep philosophical questions come down to these. Wherein lies the Platonic essence of a pop-up mall? Is the use of containers enough to generate the mall's pop-upness, or is their arrangement important too? And finally, and perhaps most importantly, is a world in which a city devastated by an earthquake has to worry about such things still sane in any meaningful sense?

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    WDS (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Who owns it??

    I think the basic concept is actually "owned" by the first hobo to ever use a refrigerator box as a home.

     

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  2.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    I'll make this easy. No and no (not going to attempt to answer about the Platonic essence).
    Anyone who says otherwise is a fool who wants to hurt job growth, and the economy, because if this prevents the Christchurch market from forming...that's exactly what you've done. You've protected one man's imaginary rights to a very simple idea against the greater good of a vast group of people on the opposite side of the planet.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Director of the London Boxpark development, Roger Wade, should be ashamed of himself. as if the inhabitants of Christchurch haven't lost enough and had to endure enough hardship. i suppose the next thing is this bloke will want to try to stop ships from stacking containers on board because they look like 'his mall'. pathetic!

     

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  4.  
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    Cloksin (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    I've got it

    I'm going to patent, copyright, trademark, or whatever the hell else I need to do, the concept of building a mall out of building materials. Then I can charge license fees to every mall owner in the country.

    *sits back watching the coin just roll in*

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Eric Crampton, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Failure of attribution

    The main problem is that the NZ guys, after visiting the English site, didn't just copy some of the concept (a big who cares, especially after the BoxPark guys showed them around so that Christchurch could use some of the ideas) but rather that the idiots promoting it here in Christchurch kept going on about its being the "first in the world", which was complete nonsense. Folks kept quietly pointing out other similar implementations in Asia, but the promoters didn't much notice.

    Not nice that BoxPark is suing over it, but given the absurd claims made by the Christchurch promoters, I can hardly blame them. I'd also not be surprised if they couldn't be appeased simply by having the Christchurch touts put up a few notices acknowledging BoxPark's contribution rather than maintaining the untenable "First in the World" claims.

     

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  6.  
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    hothmonster, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Hmmm, well my patent just went through for: A four sided structure with its base in the earth, and possibly a room extending into the underground, covered with some type of roofing material.

    So screw pop-up malls your all fucked now.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Difster, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    I think the organizers of the Christchurch center should send a big box of rotting kiwi's to Roger Wade in response to the legal threat.

     

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  8.  
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    Michael Becker (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:12pm

    prior art

    I'm pretty sure William Gibson wrote about structures like these in some of his books dating back to the 80's, so isn't that prior art? :)

     

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  9.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    Re:

    don't know what you expect a box full of their elderly to accomplish.

    ty, tyvm

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re:

    they will pop up at the mall

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Boxpark, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    Christchurch City Mall Lawsuit

    BOXPARK wishes to release the following clarification with regards to recent reports in the New Zealand media:

    - BOXPARK fully supports the people of Christchurch as they rebuild their city

    - No lawsuit has been issued by Boxpark

    - No financial contribution has ever been requested by BOXPARK

    - The development of the BOXPARK designs & concept has taken 10 years – and we simply wish to protect our Intellectual Property Rights

    - Boxpark has made an offer to Re:Start to resolve this matter without the need for any further action

    - Boxpark are still waiting for Re:Start board to reply and hope to have this matter resolved soon.

    Please see a copy of our full Press Statement issued on the 27th October 2011 below

    In December 2010 BOXPARK™ launched the World 1st Pop Up mall.

    In February 2011 Christchurch was hit by a major earthquake causing widespread damage to the retail district. On the 19th April, 2011 Roger Wade, CEO of BOXPARK™ received a letter from James Glasson, CBRE UK, on behalf of Tim Glasson his father, and Board member of the Re:Start initiative.

    City Mall proposed to rebuild Christchurch retail district in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

    James describes "The BOXPARK™ project is something that lends itself to and inspires the plan that has been proposed"

    Roger Wade personally felt that this was a great cause, and agreed to meet Tim and James Glasson in London in April 2011.

    Roger had a productive meeting and agreed to invite Tim and James to the BOXPARK™ launch and discuss a potential future BOXPARK™ project in Christchurch.

    BOXPARK™ received subsequent emails from Tim and James Glasson on the 5th and 6th May thanking BOXPARK™ for our cooperation, and the ideas we shared.

    Roger then learnt this week that apparently the World's 1st Pop Up Mall - City Mall is now opening in Christchurch in October, a Re:Start initiative!

    We have worked for ten years developing this project, and the BOXPARK™ designs and concept are protected by Intellectual Property Rights.

    Roger wrote to the board of Re:Start outlining our case, and has personally written to John Suckling, Chairman of RE:Start to try and resolve this matter without involving legal action.

    To date no communication has been received from any member of the Re:Start board, and no lawsuit has been issued by BOXPARK™ or financial compensation requested.

    The last thing BOXPARK™ wants is to stop the rebuild of Christchurch.

    Roger Wade says: ‘I just want Re:Start to publicly recognise that the RE: Start Pop Up Mall concept was inspired by Boxpark, and Boxpark is the World's 1st Pop Up Mall, and give us certain other Intellectual Property assurances.’

    ‘We are totally sympathetic to the needs to rebuild the City of Christchurch but I'm sure that the government funding and ultimately public support that have been received does not include copying other people's business ideas and masquerading them as their own.’

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    You Forgot To Explain ...

    ... what exactly are these “Intellectual Property Rights” you are trying to claim over an idea? Is it a patent, a copyright, a trademark, or what? Because “Intellectual Property” on its own is not something “protected” under law.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Boxpark, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    Christchurch City Mall Lawsuit

    BOXPARK wishes to release the following clarification with regards to recent reports in the New Zealand media:

    - BOXPARK fully supports the people of Christchurch as they rebuild their city

    - No lawsuit has been issued by Boxpark

    - No financial contribution has ever been requested by BOXPARK

    - The development of the BOXPARK designs & concept has taken 10 years – and we simply wish to protect our Intellectual Property Rights

    - Boxpark has made an offer to Re:Start to resolve this matter without the need for any further action

    - Boxpark are still waiting for Re:Start board to reply and hope to have this matter resolved soon.

    Please see a copy of our full Press Statement issued on the 27th October 2011 below

    In December 2010 BOXPARK™ launched the World 1st Pop Up mall.

    In February 2011 Christchurch was hit by a major earthquake causing widespread damage to the retail district. On the 19th April, 2011 Roger Wade, CEO of BOXPARK™ received a letter from James Glasson, CBRE UK, on behalf of Tim Glasson his father, and Board member of the Re:Start initiative.

    City Mall proposed to rebuild Christchurch retail district in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

    James describes "The BOXPARK™ project is something that lends itself to and inspires the plan that has been proposed"

    Roger Wade personally felt that this was a great cause, and agreed to meet Tim and James Glasson in London in April 2011.

    Roger had a productive meeting and agreed to invite Tim and James to the BOXPARK™ launch and discuss a potential future BOXPARK™ project in Christchurch.

    BOXPARK™ received subsequent emails from Tim and James Glasson on the 5th and 6th May thanking BOXPARK™ for our cooperation, and the ideas we shared.

    Roger then learnt this week that apparently the World's 1st Pop Up Mall - City Mall is now opening in Christchurch in October, a Re:Start initiative!

    We have worked for ten years developing this project, and the BOXPARK™ designs and concept are protected by Intellectual Property Rights.

    Roger wrote to the board of Re:Start outlining our case, and has personally written to John Suckling, Chairman of RE:Start to try and resolve this matter without involving legal action.

    To date no communication has been received from any member of the Re:Start board, and no lawsuit has been issued by BOXPARK™ or financial compensation requested.

    The last thing BOXPARK™ wants is to stop the rebuild of Christchurch.

    Roger Wade says: ‘I just want Re:Start to publicly recognise that the RE: Start Pop Up Mall concept was inspired by Boxpark, and Boxpark is the World's 1st Pop Up Mall, and give us certain other Intellectual Property assurances.’

    ‘We are totally sympathetic to the needs to rebuild the City of Christchurch but I'm sure that the government funding and ultimately public support that have been received does not include copying other people's business ideas and masquerading them as their own.’

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Ranks right up there with other philosophical questions

    This ranks right up there with other philosophical questions like which came first, the chicken or the egg. Glad that one got settled or we wouldn't be having eggs for breakfast.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Jake, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Surely the concept of a market or fair would count as prior art if they tried to patent the concept?

     

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  16.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Failure of attribution

    So...if I build a giant statue that resembles the Statue of Liberty, would I have to point that out and/or pay the descendants of the Liberty's builders? If I built a generic house, do I have to find someone on the other side of the world who says he owns the concept of houses, and pay him?

     

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  17.  
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    Killercool (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Christchurch City Mall Lawsuit

    An actual shill... You're going up in the world, Glyn!

    @Boxpark (in order of your points)

    1. Unless they do something you don't like.

    2. It was never said you did. Just that you threatened it.

    3. That's what you get from a lawsuit. Money.

    4. I can't believe it took you ten years to stack some shipping containers. And less than a single year for someone to stack them differently, and you to sue. Moot anyways. How long you took to enact your idea has no bearing on whether you deserve "protection." This drawing I made on a notepad? That's just as "protected," except I don't have a lotta lawyers.

    5. To the order of, "Play by my rules, or we'll take your ball, and go home."

    6. No reply after 1 day & a weekend, no big deal. Just saying.

    Lesson: Think with your brain, not with your lawyer...

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Christchurch City Mall Lawsuit

    You're copying the business idea of selling things and masquerade it as your own.

     

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  19.  
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    Killercool (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Christchurch City Mall Lawsuit

    Correct for #4:
    "someone to stack them differently, and you to threaten to sue."

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Failure of attribution

    Copyright, patent, and trademark laws are not intended to be, and shouldn't be, a mechanism to give a comeuppance to people who are behaving like jerks.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Failure of attribution

    wonder if those in Asia were first? if so, perhaps Roger Wade should be sued?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:26pm

    From my submission on the subject (slightly amended):

    ... exact details of any legal action aren't yet known, other than Boxpark claiming a "blatant breach of the Boxpark intellectual property rights". It might be possible that there is a particular detail (a mechanical connection, perhaps?) but BoxPark haven't supplied specifics, which I would have thought they would were it something of this nature.

    There are only a limited number of ways that you can stack a number of standardised steel boxes with doors on both ends.

    A review of BoxPark's website shows it contains more legal disclaimers than actual content; and judging by their inability to show any actual (rather than rendered) images of their design – which is already months late, now due to open in December – I suspect that they have been unable to get enough interest in their project and are now getting very desperate.

    The content on their website is the usual marketing feelgood fuzzy jargon that might be included in an architect's manifesto (yes – some architects still have these, and I bet the designers of Boxpark do, too). In short, it is almost all, total bullshit. I suspect that the more savvy retailers are going to require more objective data before commiting to a project like this, and Boxpark don't seem to be able to indicate if they have any, or enough partners, to proceed.

    If you look around the large pdf describing the project you can't help but feel depressed since it is very monochrome, and Shoreditch doesn't seem to be the most scintillating of environments. My god, it is depressing.

    But you can't miss the legal disclaimers and also the ACID logo liberally plastered around the site and the brochure.

    ACID (Anti Copying In Design) seems to be a worthwhile organisation http://acid.eu.com/ but I wonder what their reaction to this situation would be.

    I know that container malls of themselves are unlikely to be anything new or innovative – some years ago I had some clothing made by Mercy, a woman whose family lived and worked and sold their work just outside of Accra (Ghana). From a small complex of containers. Maybe Mercy is missing out on an opportunity here.

    And I'm Shoreditch residents are unlikely to consider a mall in Christchurch a viable alternative to one on their front doorstep – if their mall ever gets built.

    Also, full credit to the organisers of the Christchurch mall, who got the project up and running and completed in an amazingly short time. Some of the best architectural results happen when significant constraints are placed on the project, and I'm sure that is why the Christchurch project - constrained by time and costs - will be successful while the Shoreditch project drifts on.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Tim, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Boxpark sucks

    I'm a Christchurch resident and am appalled by Boxpark's behaviour. The last time I was in the City Mall was on the day of the Earthquake. I watched dead broken bodies being pulled from the rubble of collapsed buildings as we were trying escape from the city centre which was just mayhem on that day.

    To find out that Roger Wade would be so precious as to complain about the rebuild of Christchurch is just abhorrent to me.

    His 'idea' is nothing new or special. I suspect he just wants recognition from Christchurch so he can roll out other 'Boxparks' in other locations and prevent others from doing similar things, i.e. I smell patent troll. The recognition from Christchurch will just give his spurious patent claim some semblance of credibility.

    Luckily for the UK, his patent examiner has already noted that his patent has a "lack of novelty or inventive step" see page 19 of the following:
    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-find-publication-getPDF.pdf?PatentNo=GB2472501&DocType=A& ;JournalNumber=6351

    So hopefully his dodgy patent will get chucked out - if not I'm sure the Seventh Kilometre Market in Odessa will contest his 'World's First Claim'.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/19/world/europe/19ukraine.html

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Boxpark sucks

    i was typing the exact same reply when i looked up a little and saw yours.

    i saw a show on tv a few years back about apartments/condos made of shipping containers and if you do a quick search, you will find pages with pictures/descriptions dated back a few years.

    in 2009 (and prior), google was building data centers inside shipping containers

    it was only logical that someone would begin using shipping containers as building materials.

     

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  25.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 4:42pm

    prior art

    I believe AAFES has plenty of prior art in this arena.

    a more updated version with a food court

    http://www.salutetoyourservice.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/img-4926.jpg

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Ilfar, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 6:00pm

    Ummm...

    Can it be noted that Christchurch STILL has no public access to the red zone. The red zone being the CBD...

    That's right, the ENTIRE central business district has been closed off from the public since February.

     

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  27.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re: Failure of attribution

    possibly, if you falsely claimed to have done it 'first' or be the 'only' one. and even then one would think it would be a lot closer to a trademark issue, where the 'victim' is the general public and thus any fine would go to the government.

    but simply building those things as you mention certainly shouldn't cause issues in a sane world. (whether it Does or not in This word is a different story)

     

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  28.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 3:35am

    Re:

    why the hell would we send them bird corpses?

    (yeah, for future reference: a Kiwi is a bird, after which was named an Australian brand of shoe/boot polish, which if memory serves was the same colour, though they make others now (the owner of the business that made it married a New Zealander, if memory serves, which it may well not) after which were named the New Zealand soldiers of world war... two, i think (we were 'diggers' along with the australians in ww1, i believe. for whatever reason.) after which are named the population of the country, after which are named Kiwifruit (that's one word, people!) which are those brown fuzzy fruit that are either green or yellow on the inside, which Used to be called 'chinese gooseberries' before that became un-PC for whatever reason and/or NZ started being one of, if not the, main source of them. this rant brought to you by a major pet peeve.)

     

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  29.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 3:40am

    Re: Ranks right up there with other philosophical questions

    i've encountered a number of answers to this question, but for a 'serious' answer, one must first decide whether one is making a basic assumption of 'creation' or a basic assumption of 'evolution' for the fundamental origin of the creature in question.

    (resolve That debate, which is basically never going to happen in this age of the world, and the answer becomes quite simple.)

     

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  30.  
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    Butcherer79 (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 4:28am

    Re: Ranks right up there with other philosophical questions

    The egg came first, it stands to reason, reptiles were here before birds and reptiles lay eggs; of course if you're asking what came first, the chicken or the chicken egg, then it has to be the chicken - for an egg to be a 'chicken egg' it needs to have been laid by a chicken...
    Am I thinking too much about this... or not enough?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    martyburns (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re:

    after which are named Kiwifruit (that's one word, people!)

    I agree! They are not 'Kiwis', as in I am eating a Kiwi. They are Kiwifruit FFS!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Sue Boxpark, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    Sue Boxpark

    It is clear they are the ones that have ripped off intellectual property and called it their own. Who would invest in this company now? Not moi.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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