Intellectual Property High Court Also Rules in Nintendo's Favor Against MariCar Go-Kart Company
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Nintendo posted a press release on its Japanese website on May 30, giving an update on the legal battle against the Shinagawa-based company Mari Mobility Development (formerly MariCar). Last year, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Nintendo's claim of intellectual property infringement. Nintendo announced in its press release that the Intellectual Property High Court has also passed an interim judgment in Nintendo's favor.
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.
Legal proceedings are expected to continue concerning the sum amount that Mari Mobility Development will pay in damages, among other issues.
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 (nearly US$89,000). 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.
As of January 2019, the service was still running. Mari Mobility Development filed the trademark "Unrelated to Nintendo" ("Nintendō wa Mukankei") via the Intellectual Property Defense Corporation on November 29, 2018 for use on its go-karts.