Nintendo has announced that it’s bringing a copyright infringement suit against a company that organizes tours of Tokyo’s Shibuya ward — geek central for the city’s video game fans — with a Super Mario Kart theme. The company, named MariCar, has go karts much like those found in the game and has its customers dress up as characters from the Mario universe.
The specific allegation in the suit states that the name of the company sounds too much like that of Nintendo’s hit racing game and that MariCar’s promotion of their tours by having people dressed up as game characters could cause confusion. Nintendo has also brought a charge against MariCar under Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act for much the same reason.
As reported by Kotaku, seeing people touring around go karts through Shibuya dressed like Nintendo characters is nothing new: the first reported sighting was around 2011. The karts themselves are perfectly legal for on-road use in Japan and apparently MariCart has been doing thriving business for a while now; the company has over 4,000 reviews on their Facebook page for their tours, which cost anywhere between $53 and $71.
This may now come to an end as Nintendo seems fairly determined to have MariCart relinquish its name, saying it “will continue to take steps to protect the intellectual property it has built over of many years of hard work.” Though it may seem at first as Goliath going after David, Nintendo may actually have a good point here, as it doesn’t seem like MariCar is paying the game maker any royalties or other licensing fees. Whether the Japanese courts agree will be seen in due course.