From the company name to its conspicuous advertisements, Tokyo-based go-kart rental service MariCar basically screams “It’s-a me, Mario!” and, according to a lawsuit filed last Friday, Nintendo is not happy with it.
The lawsuit alleges copyright violations against MariCar for renting Nintendo character costumes to its customers and using Mario-related pictures and videos to promote its business, which includes a recent appearance on NBC Sports’ Off the Grid. Nintendo filed the lawsuit on February 24th in Tokyo District Court seeking damages of ¥10 million.
Until the lawsuit, it was all fun and games for the popular rental service. Customers could go-kart on public roads throughout Tokyo in Mario or Yoshi costumes, and, at ¥1,500 for 30 minutes, the fees were agreeable too. Costumed drivers were a common sight around central Tokyo, especially at weekends. The service was very popular with non-Japanese tourists and MariCar’s website is available in multiple languages.
MariCar has now released a statement in Japanese defending their business against the copyright infringement claims, saying it is not breaching laws against competition or copyright infringement. In fact, MariCar says, the go-kart service met with Nintendo and was able to persuade them of this. However, as MariCar has not officially received the lawsuit yet, they are unable to comment further at this time.
The massive press coverage generated by Nintendo’s surprise statement last week also meant that MariCar’s website crashed and its phone line went down, and its business was heavily damaged.
If the David-and-Goliath lawsuit is successful, anyone looking to cruise around Tokyo in a go-kart may soon have to use another rental service, such as Akiba Kart — and you’ll certainly have to supply your own costume.