Popular game maker Nintendo has filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court against a Tokyo go-kart rental company and is seeking damages of 10 million yen over copyright infringement of its popular racing game “Mario Kart.”
The software developing giant is suing both the Shinagawa-based company MariCar and its CEO, Yusuke Yamazaki. Nintendo claims that MariCar promoted its business (whose slogan promises renters “Real Life Mario Kart”) without obtaining permission to use the iconic video game characters and costumes for their go-kart tours around the metropolis.
The go-karts have become especially popular with foreigners visiting and living in Japan
But looking at the case through a legal lens, what laws did MariCar violate and what is the real aim behind Nintendo’s litigation?
First off, there is no contractual relationship tying the capital gains obtained by MariCar (whose name is supposedly an abbreviation of “Mario Kart”) with Nintendo. Nevertheless, riders utilizing the go-karts on public roads rented costumes depicting the “poster children” of Nintendo (Super Mario and Luigi, to name a few) and then these images were used for publicity and sales promotion without Nintendo's permission, the Kyoto-based company claims.
Nintendo reportedly warned MariCar prior to the lawsuit filed last Friday, claiming that their playoff of “Super Hero” racing with “Super Hero” costumes was both a copyright infringement and unfair competition. This lawsuit could mean “game over” for the equally popular go-kart rental company.
MariCar's website was not accessible on Monday morning.© Japan Today