Nintendo seals court victory against knock-off 'Mario Kart' tour company

The company formerly known as MariCar lost its Supreme Court appeal.

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Steve Dent
December 28, 2020 8:30 AM
TOKYO, JAPAN - MAY 03:  Tourists wearing costumes of Nintendo game characters drive MariCar go-carts on a street in the Shibuya area on May 3, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Japan has kicked off Golden Week holiday, a series of national holidays starting in the last week of April.  (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images

A judge has confirmed Nintendo’s court victory over a go-kart company that did Mario Kart-themed tours on the streets of Tokyo, Engadget Japan reports. Early this, year, MariCar (now branded as Street Kart) was ordered to pay Nintendo $50 million yen ($483,000) for violating its IP rights. The company appealed, but Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed it, upholding Nintendo’s earlier win.

Nintendo first sued Mari Mobility, aka MariCar, back in 2017. Other companies offered similar tours, but MariCar’s IP breach was particularly noticeable because it let drivers dress up as Mario Kart characters. Nintendo also felt its name could be sullied by safety issues, which proved to be a valid concern after several accidents.

MariCar lost the initial judgement and was ordered to pay 10 million yen ($97,000) and subsequently made the perhaps ill-advised move of slapping “unrelated to Nintendo” signs on the cars. Following an appeal, the judgement was boosted to 50 million yen.

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In the meantime, Street Kart has been losing customers in droves due to the COVID-19 crisis. A subsequent crowdfunding campaign failed dismally, possibly because the karts are as despised by locals as they are liked by tourists, as SoraNews24 reported. Nintendo, on the other hand, is giving fans a chance to experience the game for real on its upcoming Mario Kart AR rollercoaster as part of Super Nintendo World, opening in the spring of 2021.

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