Nintendo has won an intellectual property infringement court case against Mari Mobility, a company which has been offering unofficial Mario Kart-inspired go kart services in Tokyo, Japan.
You may have heard of this unofficial service before; originally going by the name of Maricar, the company was found guilty of infringing upon Nintendo's Mario Kart property thanks to the closeness of its name and the Mario character outfits given out to customers back in 2018. Like a stubborn child not wanting to go to bed, Maricar decided to ignore this ruling and continued to operate as usual just a month later.
In more recent times, the service has rebranded itself under the name 'Street Kart', giving up on the practice of renting out Mario costumes and going out of its way to distance itself from Nintendo on its official website.
Despite this, a new ruling has found the company guilty of property infringement once more. In 2018, Nintendo was awarded 10 million yen (approx. $92,000); according to Inside (via Kotaku), Mari Mobility unsuccessfully appealed against this decision, with this latest court case now ordering it to pay an increased sum of 50 million yen (approx. $458,000).
Just like it did in its recent court case win relating to the Wii Remote, Nintendo has said that it will continue to take necessary legal measures to protect its products and property.
So, we should probably expect the Mario outfits to be back in a few weeks' time, then?
[source inside-games.jp, via kotaku.com]
Now you've no choice but to go to Super Nintendo World for your real world Mario Kart fun.
It's a shame, but I don't what know they were thinking. Did they think they could get away with it?
James May in Japan on Prime showed them, but he was dressed as Ultraman
Nintendo is on fire, isn't it?
Can we consider, for a moment, that we're grave-dancing about a bootleg service as if it was a major threat to the Big N, when yesterday we found out that the price for a complete Pokémon experience skyrocketed to a whopping $105?
I mean, Nintendo has every right to preserve their... well, their rights, but it's not like anyone in the company is going to ask for quarters on the street anytime soon.
@Bunkerneath If only we had someone with an image... OH WAIT!
The real story here is how this happened when they supposedly distanced themselves from Mario, sounds like Nintendo in a Disney like fashion wanted to legally spite them into oblivion regardless of them being actually guilty or not because like Disney the courts are likely rigged in their favor.
This seems pretty ruthless but not at all surprising. That's a lot of money for a small company to have to...shell out.
K, company name similar to Mario, using go karts and dressing up like Nintendo characters. As far as I can see, it's a company designed to be like a Super Mario Kart service. So, ya, they should get sued. What a disgusting company that is trying to make money off of something thing popular that they didn't create.
I dunno, Nintendo should probably provide this actual service if they’re going to kill a company with big signs saying ‘unrelated to Nintendo’.
Or even buy 'em out. I mean, the groundwork has already been made.
@AlexSora89 they lost in 2018 and appeal the ruling but they lost even more with the appeal they did it themself they should had payed the 92000$. And they didn't removed the mario characters immediatly after losing the first time.
@ZelthkingYoutube They added that after the initial lawsuit. Will they make a new sticker that says "Destroyed by Nintendo", I do wonder...
@AlexSora89 what are they buying? A bunch of old carts and dirty outfits?
Does seem odd that the company can’t carry on with all of the non-Nintendo branding. But if I read it correctly, the initial damages were for what they were doing in 2018 before the changes and the 450k is as a result of the appeal. I guess they just don’t have the money for that.
@nathatruc they probably couldn’t cover the initial 90, either.
From an outside perspective without knowing any of the specifics, it seems bizarre that they'd even try to appeal in the first place. Like, how could that possibly have ended well for them?
@BenAV a lot of companies don’t just have 92k sitting around. They might not have had a choice.
lol If you find that "disgusting" then definitely don't look into the activities of your government or the other, bigger, corporations in this world.
This is harmless.
@kyleforrester87 Even so, digging their hole even deeper doesn't seem like the best course of action.
@BenAV if it’s your only course of action of course it is. Cases are appealed and then lost all the time. If it’s going to finish them either way it makes sense to stay running for as long as you can, even if you’re effectively winding the company down in the process. And you never know, they could have won it and saved a massive 90k. I have no idea if the debt is still payable in Japan if the company folds.
@BenAV Sure, if they knew in advance that they'd lose then they shouldn't have appealed. Presumably though they thought there was a chance the appeal would succeed.
@BenAV The larger amount ordered to pay for the appeal process probably has more to do that they continued to operate the same way after losing. Had they completely distanced themselves from the Nintendo brand during the appeals process they might have been able to pay less than the initial ruling.
I get that, but it just... I dunno, it sounds so harmless for being lawsuit material.
Unless, of course, there are risks of Nintendo being blamed for injuries or reckless driving and its consequences. In that case, I'm totes rooting for good ol' Big N.
But otherwise... how does this damage Nintendo, if at all, Super Nintendo World notwithstanding?
@AlexSora89 one of the older stories about it mentioned people crashing the carts and causing problems for tourists. This isn’t on a go-cart track so it sounds like a liability nightmare for Nintendo to be tangentially associated with. Let alone buy them out
@AlexSora89 you can’t really pick and choose what you go after, you just go after everything - then everyone gets the message.
So basically, the ones ending up as beggars are the MariCar guys.
It's... nothing to celebrate, really. It's just straight-up sad.
@kyleforrester87 (latter comment)
Holy cow, that's pretty much supervillain talk right there!
Real-life WWII supervillainy, in fact. "Punish one, educate one hundred", as my country's dictator once said.
@AlexSora89 sure, but it’s as simple as they were ripping off Nintendo’s brand to make a profit. They rightly got taken to task for it, and charged £92k. They then stopped using the brand, and appealed the £92k and lost. So everything bad that’s happened to them was as a result of when they were abusing the brand, it sucks that they can’t continue to operate moving forward but that’s the way she goes I guess.
I’m sure it’ll be back in some capacity, or someone else will fill the gap.
Hello from Japan folks, I can confirm that these guys were still brazzenly doing this as recently as just a few months ago.
I get the idea, but you just can't steal someone else's IP for your business. You let one company do it, because you like the idea, then you open the flood gates and have people ripping each other off all the time. Lots of creative, hard working people get screwed over.
@AlexSora89 ahh we’re on to nazis already are we 😂 it’s just business, Nintendo don’t have the time or inclination to write individual rules for everyone while worrying about precedents being set that will undermine future arguments. It’s not their problem.
You have a (base)point right there, then.
I saw them several times when I was in Japan last year. It just looked really unappealing.
@kyleforrester87 (first comment)
Well sure, at some point anyone should know when to quit.
As stated before however, as long as the service doesn't tarnish Nintendo's reputation and - hell - it STATES they're unrelated to Ninty, there's not that much harm done.
@kyleforrester87 (second comment)
Godwin's Law got the best of me. Sadly enough.
But I do mean it - "punish a man to make an example out of him" is... not exactly something unaffiliated to dictatorships.
If I were Nintendo, I would take this kind of action, but then I would also donate the recovery to a good cause.
@AlexSora89 sorry I’m on lunch hence the fast responses . The point is the fine is as a result of when they were not stating they were not related to Nintendo. The subsequent increased fine is as a result of the appeal of the original decision. It has nothing to do with everything they did after they stopped using the brand.
That's... one of the few Japanese words I know. I'm ignorant, but having to learn three different alphabets kind of scares me. I'd love to learn the language though.
@kyleforrester87 (latest comment)
They should go with ripping off a shovelware kart racer. That should do the trick.
@AlexSora89 I guess it’s a similar concept as not negotiating with terrorists. It sucks for the hostages but if you don’t take a hard line you’re gunna have a lot more hostages!
Nintendo is collecting those gold mario coins hahah.
@VN1X It is shameful and disgusting making money off of someone else's creation. Sorry, it just is.
@AlexSora89 i think that's why: https://japantoday.com/category/national/maricar-go-kart-driver-mounts-pavement-causes-serious-damage-in-accident
They didn't want to be sued because someone was using their ip without their autorisation.
I remember when I visited my uncle when he was stationed in japan we went here. Ah good times.
Rip, well it's their fault
Everyone wants to copy Nintendo and take the easy way out in life, shameful theives.
The Mari Kart experience was the most enjoyable entertainment I ever paid for. My wife and I looked far and wide for anything Nintendo we could do in Japan, and there was nothing – absolutely zero – other than this and a Mario themed bar, which we went to right after the kart tour.
Nintendo is right to want some compensation for improper use of their IP. However, to block what is in my view amazing Mario Kart advertising, without offering a licensing deal or a similar service, is a disservice to fans of the brand.
I will miss Mari Kart.
I thought this was an old case and it sounds like it. From what I have seen they have distanced themselves from Nintendo and it's IP's a long time ago. Nintendo doesn't have ownership of go kart use in general, they did not invent them nor do they have any stake in the go kart industry. Just because they happened to make a video game featuring them doesn't mean they should have the right to enforce who can and can't have a go kart business.
I can understand the cease-and-desist of the previous operation but this is ridiculous.
Yeah because Nintendo owns the rights of go-karts and there weren't go-karts around before Nintendo made Mario Kart
@JayJ This was the end of the appeals process for the original case. After the initial judgement, the company continued to use Nintendo’s character costumes. They eventually did stop, but it was after ignoring the judgement.
The company was free to continue to operate their go kart tours and stop associating with Mario Kart. Had they done that then the initial award probably would have come down during the appeals process. Instead they got caught ignoring the ruling, lost their appeals, and now owe additional punitive damages that will most likely put them out business.
@AlexSora89 nintendo said the reason of the lawsuit in their annual meeting:
Well deserved win. MariCar was intentionally trying to invoke the Mario name brand and image when they got started. They knew what they were doing, even worse people have gotten hurt due to this service, Nintendo didn't need that type of unwelcome association. I never understand why people assume that just because a company has money that something/someone that has less money can do whatever they want with that company's work and image. It isn't harmless, it doesn't matter if they are fans or whatever. They were wrong and they paid for it.
@Basepoint Alright, well now it all makes sense.
@AlexSora89 Japanese, like all languages, is just a matter of time and practice. But learning a language is a multi year long commitment. Not something you can pick up in a few weeks.
And my Japanese and linguistics professor in university explained to me that it's not like riding a bike. If you don't use a language, even your native language, you will lose it over time. If I had moved to Japan and abandoned English, eventually I would forget it.
As opposed to riding a bike, which you can learn as a kid, not do for years and years, and be able to still do with little difficulty again.
@AlexSora89 See Heavyarms55's comment, apparently MariCar was still using Ninty's IP even as recent as a few months ago. It's one thing to break copyright infringement out of ignorance, MariCar is a knowing, blatant infringement plus a disregard for the law when told to cease and desist via the court ruling.
Slapping a sticker on that says 'unaffiliating to Nintendo' does not suddenly make it less copyright infringey (assuming they still used ninty costumes at the time).
Even if people know it's not directly affiliated, and even if there's no safety concerns, use of the characters and IP are still prohibited, especially if it relates to making money off of it. I.e. this Mario Cart idea could mean a potential loss of profit for Nintendo in the future, should they decide to do it on their own.
Per the punish one to educate many, there's examples of that in ~daily life, like a teacher punishing a student. The smart/aware ones learn by watching and so they don't have to learn via experience. A couple teacher friends say as much, you have to have rules AND show you will enforce them, if you don't, the kids will more likely misbehave throughout the year. Be firm and consistent with it, and you can have an orderly classroom more suited for learning.
It would have been fine in china, the mistake was location like it is with most businesses that fail.
I'm assuming then they have Mario Kart in the theme park or will be adding it?
A shame. I remember being flabbergasted watching just under a dozen karts being driven by people in various Nintendo franchise costumes rocketing past me and a friend the first time I visited Osaka a couple of years ago. Not sure if this is the same group or not but it was one of the most humorous things I'd ever seen. Gotta protect your IPs I guess.
@AlexSora89 I thought they were also in legal trouble for using go-karts on the street though? If it ain't even safe, there's no way Ninty would buy it.
"In more recent times, the service has rebranded itself under the name 'Street Kart' [...] Despite this, a new ruling has found the company guilty of property infringement once more."
Why? What was the second infringement for? This article doesn't actually explain.
Going against Nintendo's IP... You might as well set a pile of money on fire
A bit petty to me
TBH I don’t see what the problem is here. It’s not like Nintendo is offering a similar service, and anything that keeps their IP in the public conscience is good isn’t it? Looks like free advertising to me.
Nintendo could have simply hired out the license to this company. Then they could make sure things were done in a way which suited the company. Just make it official. Everyone wins.
Also, I’m sorry, but:
“Like a stubborn child refusing to go to bed...”
is such a weird analogy to use here.
If they're not using names and costumes that might lead people to think it's official, then what's the big deal? What is in any way infringing about driving around in go-karts?
Sounds like a case of "big company gets its way because big company." Good job, capitalism.
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