July 17, 2019
Japan’s Intellectual Property High Court has issued an interim judgment against MariCar, a Mario-Kart themed go-karting rental company, holding that MariCar has infringed on Nintendo’s trademarks ‘Mario Kart’ and ‘Mario KART’.
Nintendo sued MariCar in February 2017, alleging infringement based on similarities between the company name “MariCar” and Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” game series. In addition to the similarities in name, Nintendo pointed to MariCar’s facilitation of costume rentals of classic Nintendo characters, including Mario, which are globally recognized symbols of the Nintendo brand and which, Nintendo alleged, MariCar was using unlawfully. The Court concluded that MariCar’s actions were an infringement of Nintendo’s trademarks but has yet to determine the amount of damages to be awarded for the infringement.
The decision comes less than a year after a lower court ordered MariCar to pay ¥11,000,000 (almost USD$100,000) in damages and to stop using the likeness of Nintendo characters. MariCar reportedly continued its behaviour despite the court order.
In a translated press release, Nintendo stated: “[w]e will continue to take necessary measures against infringements of our brand in order to protect our valuable IP that we have built up over the years.”
Authors: Amanda Bertucci and Aaron Barrett