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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

MariCAR Inc: Double-Fail!! Legal Battle Mode

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - They probably won't have a business anymore.

Once upon a time, the Japanese street-karting company now known as Street Kart was known as MariCAR Inc.. Nintendo sued them out of concern for the Mario Kart brand being associated with a public safety menace. Nintendo won, and MariCAR was ordered to pay 10 million yen in compensation. That's where KoopaTV's involvement in commenting on the story ended. But... that was only in 2018.

Stuff has happened since. Court appeals occurred. Basically, MariCAR lost those, but wanted to keep fighting, and their fine was quintupled to 50 million yen. Apparently, the appeals have gone all the way to Japan's Supreme Court, which has rejected and dismissed MariCAR. That should leave them no further legal avenues to delay Nintendo, and the videogame company is all too happy to celebrate.

Struggling to survive because much of their money is put into vs. Nintendo litigation, along with their business not getting much revenue due to their business model of catering towards foreigners that haven't been coming to Japan due to Chinese Communist Party Virus travel restrictions, Street Kart has had little choice but to appeal to crowdfunding to “SAVE THE STREET KART.” They achieved 0% of their goal, perhaps because their business caters to those foreigners, but their crowdfunding page was only in Japanese.

The company probably won't stay around. To this day, they still don't understand how search engines work, so they're too dumb to live:

Street Kart MariCAR Inc. not Mario Kart alt tags website Japan racing trademark infringement
If you mark almost all of the images on your website with alt tags like “Not Mario Kart”, that's communicating to search engines that your site has a LOT to do with Mario Kart.

Alternatively, they do understand search engine optimisation, and still want to soak in Mario Kart traffic. ...Traffic of the web-browsing kind. ...To increase their physical variety.

Reminder that Nintendo is going to have their own Mario Kart-themed game at their Super Nintendo World theme park, which won't be a nuisance to the streets of Japan, but will be a nuisance within Lord Bowser Koopa's castle. I consider that much worse.

I also think this should be an example for some people who don't understand why high-profile companies or individuals settle lawsuits, rather than take them to court. When you settle a lawsuit, not only do you often get to avoid admitting to wrongdoing, but you also get to avoid years of paying lawyers at ridiculous hourly rates. Nintendo has been in lawsuits with MariCAR for several years now. Nintendo is big enough to afford it, and they clearly put a lot of emphasis on the sanctity of their trademarks. You can see examples of that in the gaming news at pretty much any given time.

Let's say that MariCAR/Street Kart was completely in the right, and they weren't infringing on Nintendo's trademarks in any possible way. (Even though we all know they were, and to this day, their website features a glowing review/endorsement with the sentence, “With us dressed up in Mario on the go kart on the streets with other vehicles, at a speed of 60km/hr, it was definitely a exhilarating experience for me.”) They still should have settled with Nintendo, because being in the right at the end doesn't mean anything if you don't have the funds to survive the legal journey. (Even if you're in a jurisdiction where the loser pays the winner's legal fees... surviving to be the winner can be hard.) It would've been cheaper for MariCAR to settle early, but they were stubborn, and got their fine quintupled with nothing to show for it besides looking like an international embarrassment.

That's why many companies settle, and as a layperson, you shouldn't look at a settlement as necessarily an admission of guilt, or think, “If they're innocent, why settle?” It's just cheaper to make the problem go away. Street Kart is going to learn that lesson the hard way. Learn from their example.

Did Ludwig do a decent job disguising that it's just a slow news day? Let Ludwig know in the comments section. Did MariCAR/Street Kart deserve their fate? Are you afraid of Nintendo's legal team? ...Should KoopaTV be more afraid of it? Technically, MariCAR failed more than twice; Ludwig just wanted to make a reference in the article headline. Ludwig also thinks court battles are at least fun, so if everyone settled, no one would get to see those.

How about some legal documents disrupting in-game play of a racing game?


  1. They should try their luck making the real life version of Garfield Kart. Maybe Paws, Inc. won't mind as much.

    1. Ain't that pretty much what it is right now? ...Generic?

  2. "They achieved 0% of their goal, perhaps because their business caters to those foreigners, but their crowdfunding page was only in Japanese."

    Okay, that's funny. The company should have ripped off F-Zero, Nintendo wouldn't have batted an eye then.

    1. Yeah, but that also assumes anyone would want to dress up like Captain Falcon.

      Well, that might be a lot of people.


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