It is being reported that Nintendo has won a lawsuit against a Tokyo go-kart rental service called Mari Mobility, previously MariCar. The Tokyo District Court ruled that MariCar infringed on Nintendo’s Mario Kart by renting costumes of Nintendo characters. The court ordered the go-kart company to stop renting costumes and pay Nintendo 10 million Yen ($89,000) in damages. Currently, there is very little information on the reason why the court ruled in favor of Nintendo. After the victory, Nintendo issued a statement stating it would “continue to take necessary measures against infringement of intellectual property, including our brand.” (Translation Source Polygon).
MariCar is a Tokyo based go-kart rental service that has been particularly popular with foreign tourist. Part of the attraction is the company also allows the customers to rent costumes of popular Nintendo characters. Customers would race around the streets of Tokyo dressed as Mario or Bowser. Recently, MariCar was facing some scrutiny due to an increase of go-kart related accidents. Nintendo’s win does not stop MariCar from renting go-karts to customers, but the win does take away a key attraction, dressing up as Mario.
Nintendo and MariCar have been engaged in a legal battle with each other since 2016. In June 2016, the go-kart company registered “MariCar” for a trademark with the Japan Patent Office. Nintendo felt that MariCar was trading on the brand recognition of the popular Mario Kart series and filed an opposition, asking the Japan Patent Office to revoke the trademark. The Kyoto-based video game company argued MariCar was chosen with “inten[tion] to be mistaken for or confuse with” the Mario Kart series, plus MariCar was a recognized abbreviated nickname for the video game. The Japan Patent Office did not agree with Nintendo’s arguments because it did not think MariCar was a widely used abbreviation and “it was an unassociated trademark.” As a result, the Japan Patent Office dismissed Nintendo’s opposition. Nintendo would eventually prevail with the Tokyo District Court’s decision that MariCar infringed on Nintendo’s copyrights.
We will continue to follow the story and provide updates when available.