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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What is MariCAR Inc., and why is Nintendo suing them?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Just from the headline alone and without reading the article, do you already have a guess on why Nintendo would sue?

Yesterday, I published an article about Nintendo's 78th annual shareholder meeting, and I teased Question 13 from an investor about MariCAR Inc.. Now, as promised, here's a whole article dedicated about it. First, I'll quote the exchange, with the first block being the investor, and the second being former Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima's answer:
 “For several years, there has been a company operating public road go-karts in Tokyo, which has damaged the image of Mario as they raced around the streets. We heard that Nintendo sued the company and lost the first trial. Is this true?”
“The lawsuit that we brought against MariCAR Inc. is still ongoing, and a court decision has not yet been made. Although we submitted a complaint to the Japan Patent Office regarding the MariCAR trademark held by MariCAR Inc., the decision was made that they could keep the MariCAR trademark. We are aware of some articles online that have mistaken this decision for Nintendo having lost the case. We cannot provide details of matters subject to court proceedings, but we will continue to fight to protect our intellectual property through the courts. There were reports of accidents involving public road go-karts, so we are making every effort to deal with this issue from that perspective as well.”

Two things stand-out from Kimishima's response:

  1. Nintendo is being plagued by a rash of FAKE NEWS Internet articles regarding Nintendo's lawsuit against MariCAR Inc. These are actually affecting investors’ perception of the company, as I warned would happen when people spread false rumours about publicly-traded companies.
  2. Nintendo wants to deal with the issue of public road go-karts accidents with “every effort” possible. Will Nintendo join KoopaTV's repeated efforts to spread awareness about the danger of cars? (They have already taken at least one bicycle off the road.)
MariCAR Inc. Street Kart not Mario Kart copyright trademark infringement Japan
The “shop by” line changes depending on which MariCAR website you're on.
In some versions, such as the Kyoto site (where Nintendo's HQ is), they're known as STREET KART instead of MariCAR.
(Mari Mobility Dev Inc. appears (?) to be a different company that makes the vehicles, hence where the MariCAR name comes from.
That said, redirects to Mari Mobility Dev., so...)

MariCAR makes their money by renting out go-karts to people with driver's licenses, encouraging them to dress up in costumes while doing so. They rent out camera gear, apparel (think: costumes of Mario characters), and even fake moustaches. But they insist that they aren't related to the Mario Kart series, putting this CAUTION box on their websites:
MariCAR is healthy recreation service that provides our customers the opportunity to ride our custom go-cart on the street. MariCAR is in no way a reflection of the game 'Mario Kart'. Therefore, when riding the go-carts none of the following will be allowed. 1. No racing each other on the streets. 2. Do not throw banana peals or any other garbage on to the streets. 3. Do not throw red turtle shells or any other objects to each other. MariCAR is a very exciting once in a life time experience tour you can enjoy in the streets of Japan. Safety is our top priority. We wish our customers to respect the safety of yourself and other while having fun. Thank you.”
That message actually appears as an in-window pop-up on their Japanese website. Along with this breaking news box at the top:
Thank you for your continuing support. We at MariCAR is providing our service as usual. MariCAR is fully complied through local governing laws in Japan.”
Suspiciously specific denial, much? Providing your service as usual, by definition, isn't NEWS.

In any case, many of their pictures on their website have the alt tag, “Not Mario Kart” or “Not Mario Cart”, which will actually result in them placing higher in searches for Mario Kart on Google than if they didn't put anything. In fact, they appear on the first page of Google results for “Mario Kart real life”. I don't want to propagate their cheap intellectual property-stealing ways on this site, so I'm not going to replicate that here.

I will say that they don't allow you to take the karts on the highways or anything over 50cc, and they make you drive in traffic. (They warn that if you drive in a group, you might get separated at traffic lights.) Also, like all of the Mario Kart games that are not the greatest Mario Kart ever, Mario Kart: Double-Dash!!, the karts may only have one passenger at a time.

I think Nintendo should have a pretty strong case against these guys, and they should see through it. It's common sense that they're trying to profit off Nintendo's intellectual property without having the right to do so, and they very much can and probably are tarnishing Nintendo's good will.

KoopaTV may or may not bother to stay on top of this on-going story for you. There is a better chance that KoopaTV will bother if KoopaTV ever gets someone to take the position of Japanese Marketing Manager, since going into further depth or details about MariCAR or the Japanese legal system probably requires someone who knows Japanese! As for what is known right now, do you think MariCAR should lose to Nintendo in court? Do you think you'd take advantage of their service if you went to Japan and had an international driver's license?

Update: Nintendo won.
The Supreme Court of Japan says Nintendo won, too.


  1. I just searched "Mario Kart in real life" on Google and this video was at the very top.

    It's almost as if you had this all planned out.

    1. Google is... clearly favouring recent (date-wise) video content!


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