An odd “pod hotel” concept may be forced back to the drawing board with their Mint Plaza plans, because another hotel firm reportedly claims they’ve trademarked the idea and no one else can use it.

What is currently a SF Fire Credit Union branch at 12 Mint Plaza has been closed since mid-January but still plans to reopen.* As for its future, the SF Business Times reported in November that some of “pod hotel” concept was coming into the building.  

What is a pod hotel, you may ask? Well, imagine something from our old Apartment Sadness series, but instead for the hotel industry. The pods above are what is proposed by a company called Prime Design, and mind you, those are double-deckers, each “guest” only gets one of those sleeping pods. But who knows, the idea is apparently popular in Japan, so maybe it could catch on.

According to documents submitted to the Planning Department, there would be “6 floors of pod-style rooms and shared bathroom facilities,” along with “8th floor dining and amenity space, rooftop terrace,” along with “a basement spa.”

But the plan has trouble, and not from NIMBYs either. According to SocketSite, “We’ve been notified that a different entity, BD Hotels, has not only trademarked ‘THE POD HOTEL’ but is seeking to enforce an exclusive right to the use of the word ‘POD’ in connection with hotels, which is likely to result in a redesign of the proposed Mint Plaza project’s facade, at the very least.”

I’m no pod hotel attorney, so I would just think you could choose a word other than “pod” and be on with it. But maybe the concept of pod beds in hotels is itself part of the trademark. Either way, the race to the dystopian bottom might be more legally complicated than perhaps anticipated by the latest gang of “disruptors” in the hospitality industry.  

Related: Apartment Sadness: Shower Where You Sleep [SFist]

Image: Prime Design

*This article has been corrected to show that the SF Fire Credit Union branch at Mint Plaza has not closed permanently.