www.nzraw.co.nz

A UK developer says a temporary mall in New Zealand infringes on his intellectual property rights

Locals in Christchurch, New Zealand, happily crowded into the city’s central business district last week, a place they’d been forced to avoid as the city rebuilt and recovered from the damage of a large and destructive earthquake in February. The crowds gathered for the re-opening of a popular shopping mall, though it has since reopened in a slightly different format. Stacked shipping crates have been installed as temporary storefronts, and what's been dubbed the City Mall Re:START project is now housing 27 retailers while the former mall continues its own recovery. Missing their favorite stores and the public experience of shopping, residents have been ecstatic about the temporary mall project. Less thrilled are the developers in England who say the whole thing was their idea.

Boxpark Shoreditch is being touted as “the world’s first pop-up mall,” and is scheduled to open in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London later this year. It’s set to be a collection of converted shipping containers that will house small retailers and local businesses. And when its developers noticed that New Zealanders opened their own version in Christchurch last week, they were not particularly happy.

A recent article from The Press quotes UK developer Roger Wade, who's threatening legal action against the owners of the City Mall Restart project for what he calls a "blatant breach of the Boxpark intellectual property rights."

The Press reports that one of City Mall Restart’s board members traveled to London to meet with Wade earlier in the year to hear about plans for Boxpark Shoreditch that might “inspire” ideas for a temporary replacement at Christchurch’s City Mall. The city’s central business district had been drained of nearly all retail activity since February, and locals were clamoring for something to come back. The shipping container shopping mall idea was simple and cheap to do, so they did it. City Mall Restart representatives say they had plans to use shipping containers even before they met with Wade. Furthermore, they argue, their version is totally different from Boxpark Shoreditch, being oriented in two horseshoe shapes rather than a single straight line.

But Wade and his development groups are not likely to back down from what they see as an outright theft. As members of an intellectual property rights protection organization called ACID – Anti-Copying in Design – it’s expected that they’ll push as hard as they have to in order to get either some sort of licensing deal or even shutdown the project. 

Though Wade has a patent pending for the idea, this controversy raises questions about just how far intellectual property rights can go. Boxpark Shoreditch is by no means the first project to reuse shipping containers for retail purposes. Will this potential litigation make it the last?

Image courtesy www.nzraw.co.nz

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  2. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California's Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over unoccupied homes in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  3. photo: a high-speed train in Switzerland
    Transportation

    The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High-Speed Rail

    At the Cascadia Rail Summit outside Seattle, a fledgling scheme to bring high-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver found an enthusiastic reception.

  4. A syringe sits on top of a car. Houses are behind it.
    Life

    The Changing Geography of the Opioid Crisis

    A new study shows that the country faces different opioid challenges in urban and rural areas.

  5. Environment

    The City Known for ‘Sewer Socialists’ Actually Has Great Sewers

    Milwaukee now averages a mere 2.4 combined sewer overflows a year, thanks to a massive underground tunnel, green infrastructure, and flood-control measures.

×