Japan IP High Court Ordered Unofficial Mario Kart To Pay Nintendo Over $450,000

On January 29, 2020, the Japan IP High Court ruled in favor of Nintendo over a case against go-kart operator Mari Mobility (the company formally named Maricar) and ordered damage compensation of 50 million JP.

Mari Mobility, the go-karting company formerly known as Maricar, has provided services for tourists riding around Tokyo streets in go-karts and offered Nintendo-themed costumes for customers to wear as various Mario characters, strongly resembling the likes of Mario Kart. The service has been a popular tourist attraction.

Nintendo quickly stepped in and sued Mari Mobility for their Street Kart service, initially winning in 2018. 

Subsequently, Mari Mobility has re-branded its service as Street Kart, providing superhero-themed outfits and swapping out all Nintendo references with various superhero ones. Besides, “Unrelated to Nintendo,” was written on Mari Mobility’s karts.

The official site reads:

We at Street Kart is providing our service as usual. Street Kart is fully complied [sic] through local governing laws in Japan. Street Kart is in no way a reflection of Nintendo, the game ‘Mario Kart’. (We do not provide rental of costumes of Mario Series.)

Mari Mobility hoped to reduce the damages owed to Nintendo, a sum of 10 million yen (around $92,000) awarded by the lower court. The strategy has backfired, however, with Mari Mobility losing and IP High Court judge ordering them to pay five times the damages, now totaling 50 million yen ($458,000)

In a statement following the ruling, Nintendo stressed that it will continue defending violations of its intellectual property that damages the brands it has built up over numerous years.

[Judicial case no. Heisei30(Ne)10081]
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