Nintendo vs MariCar: The Battle Rages On!

What a turbulent little period it has been for the proprietors of MariCar lately!

Amidst all the kerfuffle (that’s the first time I’ve ever used that word in a sentence) of being taken to court by Nintendo for supposedly ripping off Mario Kart, they had one of their machines fly up the sidewalk and plow in to a police post (somebody out there is already formulating a joke involving a discarded banana skin so luckily, I don’t have to).

Presumably sweating like Princess Peach with Bowser on her heels at the thought of it all, it looks like MariCar’s troubles are not yet done. In a bit of good news, however, although the lawsuit still exists over the likeness of costumes rented as part of the whole experience, the naming issue was cleared up back in January.

According to the Japan Times, the “Japan Patent Office in January dismissed an objection filed by Nintendo Co. over the MariCar trademark registered by a Tokyo-based go-kart service company,” on January 26. The court is reported to have ruled that the registered trademark “MariCar” was not “widely recognized” as relating to Nintendo’s hugely successful Mario Kart game series.

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I’m certainly not going to get in to personal opinions on the rulings of official governing bodies or Nintendo’s stance. But the games giant’s contention is this; MariCar use their moniker to intentionally and dishonestly draw business by using a similar name. But that has been sorted, right?

So, what about the costumes? The decision discussed above regarding the name was made prior to the February copyright lawsuit was filed. In this suit, Nintendo alleges that MariCar is using unauthorized costumes with likeness to the characters from Mario Kart to promote their business. According to various sources, Nintendo is seeking an end to the use and ¥10 million in damages.

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Image Source – MariCar Facebook

Again, it’s really not up to us to opine over who’s right or wrong here, but I can tell you one thing; a half-day out cruising the streets of Tokyo in a modified go-kart while dressed in an attention-grabbing costume that may or may not remind you of a video game character, is quite possibly the best fun you’ll have with your pants on (there’s at least one person reading this who completely one-eightied that and is now thinking “I wonder if I went on the MariCar tour with no pants …how much fun would that be?!”).

It’s a truly memorable experience. There can be no doubt about that. However, as a Japanese native said to me, “You never see Japanese people in a MariCar”. This is something I will give my personal thoughts on; I think it’s because of the potential for danger and perhaps Japanese people are a little more sensible than the rest of us – at home in their own country at least.

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Which brings us to the incident I mentioned at the beginning. According to a report by The Mainichi, a South Korean tourist lost control of the go-cart she was driving on March 5 in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

Apparently, she was unable to negotiate a turn at an intersection which resulted in her potential death machine jumping the kerb and crashing in to a police box. Of all the places for it to happen, right!! Fortunately, there were no injuries beyond those inflicted on pride. So, everybody lives happily ever after …this time.

If you ask me (I know you didn’t but hey, I’m writing the blog post), this all ties in with the oft-ignored concept of common sense. I know I said I wouldn’t pass judgment on the various factors involved and in terms of specifics, I’m not going to, but wouldn’t be nice if we all just found a way to get along? (“Ya damn Hippy!”)

Perhaps MariCar’s success owes a bit to the games franchise, Mario Kart. That we can probably concede universally. However, is the existence of MariCar such a bad thing for Nintendo? I mean, couldn’t they come to an agreement that offers one party a small slice of that action and the other a worry-free green light to go about providing a truly thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience?

As for the Korean lady who crashed in to the police box. Like I said, there’s not much about this situation that couldn’t be remedied with a bit of common sense. In the words of John Lennon;

“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not”.

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“You may say I’m a dreamer…”

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