Japan Today

Nintendo wins ¥50 million lawsuit against operator of Tokyo 'real-life Mario Kart' company

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

It’s a testament to the success of the Nintendo franchise that it’s pretty much impossible to see a go-kart and not, within about a single second, think of Mario Kart. Honestly, with a dozen-plus games released over a span of 27 years, most people alive today have spent far, far more time driving an in-game Mario Kart than one of the real-life runabouts.

All the same, Tokyo-based Mari Mobility Development leaned a little too heavily into its marketing plan of billing itself as a real-life Mario Kart rental company. For starters, the company’s original name was “MariCar,” which when written in Japanese katakana script (マリカー), is exactly the same as the fan nickname for the Mario Kart series in Japan. Then there was the way Mari doubled down by renting, for an additional charge, costumes so drivers could dress up as Mario, Luigi, and other Nintendo characters as they zipped around the streets of Tokyo.

The rental service became a hit with foreign tourists, but when Nintendo found out about it, they decided to take Mari to court for what they felt was unlawful use of the Mario Kart name and imagery (the lookalike costumes were also heavily featured in Mari’s ads and promotional videos). The first trial began in 2017, and now, nearly three full years later, it looks like the lawsuit is coming to a close with a massive monetary victory for Nintendo.

On Jan 29, Japan’s Intellectual Property High Court ruled that Mari Mobility Development must pay Nintendo 50 million yen in damages, on the grounds that “Mari Mobility Development’s actions have infringed upon Nintendo’s operating profits.”

The Intellectual Property High Court ruling brings to an end the second courtroom clash between Nintendo and Mari. The 2017 lawsuit, which was filed in Tokyo’s First District Court, also ended in a victory with Nintendo. At that time, the judge had ordered Mari to pay Nintendo 10 million yen in damages, but both Mari and Nintendo were unsatisfied with the overall decision. Both parties filed appeals, and along the way Nintendo upped the amount it was seeking from 10 to 50 million yen.

Following the High Court ruling, Mari released a statement on its official website, which is now a desolate-looking collection of plain black text on a solid white background. “We deeply regret that portions of our position were not accepted, and we will be closely examining the contents of the ruling while deciding on our next course of action.” Nintendo’s statement, meanwhile, says “We will to continue to take necessary measures to protect our company’s brands and intellectual properties which were created through years of effort.”

While Nintendo itself isn’t in the kart rental business, the company has long valued its squeaky-clean image, which has often functioned as a shield protecting the company from criticisms lobbed at other organizations in the video game industry by parents and children’s advocacy groups. With multiple accidents involving go-karts having taken place in Tokyo, including a Mari rental kart jumping onto a sidewalk, it’s not surprising that Nintendo would look harshly upon any marketing piggybacking on the "Mario Kart" franchise, especially with a Mario Kart-style attraction rumored to be part of the upcoming Universal Studios Japan Super Nintendo World area.

Source: Bengoshi.com News via Hachima Kiko, Mari Mobility Development

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Trial begins in the case of Mario Kart v. Mari Car

-- Tokyo’s new “real-life Mario Karts” make it ridiculously clear they’re unrelated to Nintendo

-- Mario Kart’s Mercedes-Benz collaboration enters the real world with TV spot

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Good, there is nothing cringier and more embarrassing in this world than seeing a bunch of idiotic tourists wearing Pokemon costumes driving around at a beginner's level dangerously on the roads. Good riddance

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Good! IMO these karts shouldn't be on the roads, and need banning!

Roads are for commuting on. They are not a playground, and its beggers belief how they are allowed to use public roads in such a way.

And before anyone says that I'm a spoil sport. You'd feel the same way if one of these idiots rear ended your car.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Great! At least now, it won't be a nuisance for local traffic.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

¥50 million or ¥500 million?? please check..

Moderator: It was 50 million yen. Sorry for the typo.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hope they go out of business, it is sad that the Government didn't push hard enough in terms of traffic safety. While it is fine to have fun, i don't think the main roads are meant for such purpose.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I was amazed the government even allowed the activity in the first place.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

While MariCar can be viewed as being quite entrepreneurial, look at how successful it is, it freeloads on Nintendo's image rights and on very congested public roads which are there for the movement of people and goods, not for joyriding. Since the go-karts are street legal, I don't suppose much can be done to stop them, but they can be stopped from using Nintendo's stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My bad.

¥50 million is still only a slap on the wrist.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So, will MariCart fold and end up paying Nintendo nothing ? And in that case, would the Directors of the Company be liable to foot the bill ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Mamma mia!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My thinking is this won’t stop these businesses at all (Marika is just one of them), but require them to be much more careful in avoiding infringement of Nintendo’s trademarks.

Basically they are now just prohibited from using Mario or any other Nintendo stuff in their business. But they can still rent out go-karts, and anybody who wants to wear a costume while riding one is still free to do so. So the core idea behind the business is still viable.

If you want them off the streets, it’ll require changes to traffic laws rather than lawsuits from Nintendo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Roads are for commuting on. They are not a playground

Where is this stated? Who decided this? Am I also not allowed to go out in my car for a pleasant drive on Sunday? Do I have to dress a certain way too?

You'd feel the same way if one of these idiots rear ended your car.

Irrelevant. Should we ban anything that has the ability to rear end you? Would you feel less angry if a truck smashed into the back of you if he wasn't having fun at the time?

And before anyone says that I'm a spoil sport.

You're a spoil sport, and a joyless, patronizing one at that. Let's hope the karts stay around to annoy you some more.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Bim...guess what.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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