A Tokyo District Court has ruled against MariCar, which offers Mario Kart-themed tours, ordering the company, now known as MariMobility, to stop lending out Nintendo-themed costumes and pay nearly $89,000 in damages.
Nintendo had filed a lawsuit against MariCar last year for intellectual property violation. The company has been advertising “custom made go kart specifically tailored to realize the real-life superhero go-karting experience.” The tours through the city, which have been highly-rated on sites like TripAdvisor, allow participants to dress up as their favorite Super Mario Kart character.
The company was in clear violation of copyright violation since it was using Nintendo-themed costumes, such as Peach, Luigi, and Yoshi without a license. There have been other issues as well, such as tourists crashing their MariCar go-karts.
Mario Kart is a series of go-kart-style racing video games developed and published by Nintendo as spin-offs from its trademark Super Mario series. The first in the series, Super Mario Kart debuted in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. There have been six Mario Kart games released for home consoles, three portable games, and four Namco co-developed arcade games. The latest game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was released on Nintendo Switch in April 2017. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Guinness World Records ranked the original Super Mario Kart number one on the list of top 50 console games of all time based on its impact and legacy.
Despite the judgment, the MariCar homepage is still up and continues to use the Nintendo characters in its advertising. In an official statement, Nintendo said it would continue to take action to protect its brand and intellectual property.
The go-kart tours cost up roughly $130. In February. A Taiwanese man allegedly had a hit-and-run with a cyclist while driving a go-kart dressed as a Nintendo character, according to the South China Morning Post. Fortunately, the cyclist only suffered minor injuries.
A second incident occurred in April when a tourist jumped onto a sidewalk with their go-kart and crashed into a British fish and chips shop in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, according to Japan Today. The driver was taken to the hospital for minor injuries, and no one else was hurt in the accident.
Foreign drivers in Japan are required to have a valid international driving license to operate go-karts, though some critics say that doesn’t prepare them to drive on Tokyo’s crowded streets. Police reported twelve go-kart accidents in the first half of 2017. Ten involved foreign drivers, and in one instance, a tourist allegedly drove into the wall of a police station.