Mario Kart-themed tour company in Tokyo loses 3-year court battle against Nintendo

You might have seen them around Tokyo.

Lean Jinghui | January 05, 2021, 08:18 PM

Street Kart (previously known as MariCar) has officially lost its legal battle against gaming giant Nintendo.

Per Engadget, the three-year long dispute over the Mario Kart themed tour company's go-kart services ended when the Supreme Court of Japan ruled in favour of Nintendo.

Reinforced decision

If you've been to Tokyo, chances are you might have seen the go-karts.

Here they are:

According to Sora News, Nintendo first filed a lawsuit against MariCar in 2017 due to concerns over brand image after a series of road accidents.

Another Sora News article, carried by Japan Today, noted that the company perhaps played in a bit too much to their Mario Kart-inspired roots. With the original name in katakana being "exactly the same" as the fan nickname for Mario Kart in Japan. They also rented out costumes of characters like Mario at an extra charge.

According to a Nintendo press release in 2018, they were protecting their intellectual property.

The Tokyo District Court ruled in favour of Nintendo, and MariCar was ordered to stop renting out Nintendo-themed costumes and pay 10 million Yen in compensation.

"Unrelated to Nintendo" signs were promptly slapped on all MariCar's go-karts for extra emphasis.

That was perhaps not the wisest move.

In 2019, Nintendo took the case to the Intellectual Property High Court, and won once again.

Undaunted, Mari Mobility Development Inc would appeal against the decision.

But on December 25 2020, Japan's Supreme Court put an end to the three year legal proceedings by ruling in Nintendo's favour.

"No way a reflection of Nintendo"

At the moment, Street Kart still states on its website that it is "in no way a reflection of Nintendo, the game 'Mario Kart'", and has pivoted to a superhero theme.

According to Sora News, the company is surviving, but currently faces poor demand from both locals (due to brand damage), and tourists (due to the pandemic).

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