Oh No, Mario: Nintendo Sues to Get Mario Karts Off Tokyo StreetsBy
Nintendo claims go-kart operator unfairly uses Mario’s image
Defendant MariCar says its services are within legal bounds
Nintendo Co. is taking the fight to protect its intellectual property to the streets.
The Kyoto-based games giant on Friday filed a lawsuit against MariCar Inc., a Tokyo-based company which lets customers dress-up as Nintendo characters like Super Mario and Luigi, sticks them in go-carts and leads them on driven tours through the street of Japan’s capital. MariCar is among a handful of companies offering the services popular mostly with tourists, and their impromptu cavalcades have in years past become a common sight in Tokyo’s neighborhoods like Shibuya and Harajuku.
Now, Nintendo is trying to put a stop to that, accusing MariCar of trampling its intellectual property rights by using the beloved Italian plumber’s image without permission. MariCar’s branding also unfairly relies on the popular racing game Mario Kart, Nintendo said. The lawsuit seeks damages of 10 million yen ($89,000), according to Kyodo.
“To protect the valuable intellectual property we have nurtured over many years of hard work, we will continue to take tough measures,” Nintendo said in a statement.
MariCar disputes the claims, saying its go-cart services do not breach competitive or copyright laws, based on advice it received from legal experts. Nintendo representatives also signaled understanding of its services when the two sides met a few months ago, MariCar said. The surprise lawsuit and sudden flood of attention crashed MariCar’s website and damaged its business, it said.
“We will work with all our might to protect the smiles of our customers,” MariCar said in a statement.
In recent years, Nintendo has laid out a strategy for increasing profits from its library of well-known characters, which also includes Bowser and Wario. It has plans to open the “Super Nintendo World” theme park in Osaka by 2020, and is building similar attractions in Orlando and Hollywood.