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 50 million JP yen to compensate damages.
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 swapped 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 IP High Court judge has backfired, however, with Mari Mobility losing and ordered 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]