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‘Real-life Mario Kart’ company loses appeal and must pay Nintendo more

Damages quintupled in latest verdict

tourists in colorful costumes sit in go-karts at an intersection in Tokyo, flashing thumbs up Photo: Street Kart Akhibara/Facebook
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The company that offered real-life go-kart tours of Tokyo, with drivers dressed up like Mario Kart characters, has lost in court to Nintendo again, and this time must pay five times the original judgment against it.

Mari Mobility Development Co. — formerly doing business as “Maricar” — lost its appeal of a 2018 trial that found it had infringed Nintendo’s intellectual property. Kotaku this morning noted that the company has since rebranded itself as Street Kart Akihabara, and provides its customers superhero-themed costumes.

“Street Kart is in no way a reflection of Nintendo, the game ‘Mario Kart’. (We do not provide rental of costumes of Mario Series.)” the company’s official website now says. Promotional images show its riders wearing a variety of silly and superhero-themed costumes, although some features on the karts — evidently past branding alluding to Mario Kart — are blurred out.

That apparently wasn’t good enough for the company’s appeal. The original 10 million yen judgment (about $90,000) increased to 50 million yen. In a statement today (translated from Japanese), Nintendo said it would continue its legal efforts to protect its brand and intellectual property.

Nintendo sued the company in February 2017, around the time that news and social media accounts pointed out tourists were driving around Tokyo in a kind of real-life version of Mario Kart.

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