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
    Eric Crampton, 31 Oct 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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