Nintendo Pulls Ahead in Lawsuit Against Mario Go-Kart Company

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Nintendo's ongoing legal battle against the Shinagawa-based company Mari Mobility Development (formerly MariCar) finally came to a close on Thursday. The IP owners of all things Mario prevailed in Tokyo court. The go-kart company will no longer be able to lend its customers Mario franchise-themed costumes to race around Japan's streets.

Nintendo argued in court that the term "MariKar" is well known as a reference to its racing game Mario Kart, that MariCar did not have permission to use Mario character costumes commercially, nor did it have permission to use footage and photos from Nintendo's games for publicity purposes.

"We will continue to take necessary steps against damage being done to our brand and intellectual properties, which we have spent years to build," Nintendo said.

Nintendo was awarded damages in court. According to The Wall Street Journal's technology reporter Takashi Mochizuki, Mari Mobility Development was ordered to pay Nintendo 10,000,000 yen (nearly US$89,000). Mari Mobility Development plans to review the decision before deciding its next step.

Nintendo first issued a press release regarding the dispute in February 2017. MariCar stated that it had an agreement with Nintendo that allowed its service to operate. However, Nintendo lodged an objection with Japan's Patent Office over MariCar trademarking its name in September 2016. The Office rejected the objection in January 2017 on the grounds that "MariCar"/"MariKar" is not a widely used abbreviation. Regardless, MariCar changed its name to Mari Mobility Development.

Oral proceedings for the lawsuit began in April 2017. At the time, Nintendo was seeking damages of 10,000,000 yen. Mari Mobility Development initially argued that it was not responsible for its customer's use of costumes and go-karts since they were provided by a third party that Mari Mobility Development maintains a relationship with and that Mari Mobility Development was only furnishing and maintaining the go-karts.

Mari Mobility Development let visitors go careening through the streets of Tokyo through famous districts like Akihabara, Shibuya, and Harajuku. It was an especially popular service with foreigners, who made up about 90% of its clientele and only needed an international driver's license to participate.

The service appears halted for now, barring further legal developments. Nintendo and MariCar both issued official statements summarizing the court's decision.

Source: Agence France-Presse,The Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki's Twitter account, Image via Kanzen ni Shiteki na Blog

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