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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  1. identicon
    Boxpark, 31 Oct 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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