"Real-Life" Mario Kart Company Fails Appeal, Owes Huge Damages

In 2017 social media was peppered with images of tourists riding around Tokyo streets in go-karts and dressed up as various Mario characters, strongly resembling their favorite characters from Mario Kart. With the service being unlicensed (and in some cases dangerous), Nintendo quickly stepped in and sued Mari Mobility (formerly Maricar) for their Street Kart service, initially winning in 2018. But Mari Mobility tried to mount an appeal against the charge, which has not gone well for them.

After rebranding and swapping out all Nintendo references with various superhero ones, Mari Mobility hoped to reduce the damages owed to Nintendo, a sum of 10 million yen (around $92,000). The appeal has backfired, however, with Mari Mobility losing and ordered to pay five times the damages, now totaling 50 million yen ($458,000), according to the Japanese website Inside Games (via Kotaku).

Apart from getting rid of the Mario costumes and branding, Mari Mobility also covered up images on its website showing past inclusions, while also updating its official blurb to make it very clear that it is done using Nintendo’s brand. “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.),” the website now reads.

This was obviously not enough for the court, and Nintendo has been rigorous in defending its IP. 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.

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