Japan’s supreme court puts final nail in coffin for Tokyo’s Mario Kart attraction

Tokyo is one of the most interesting cities to visit, with culture, food, and attractions that pique the interest of tourists from all over the world. But an attraction that has gained quite a bit of traction over the years is one that allows visitors to dress up as a Mario Kart character (in a cute onesie), and zoom about the streets of Tokyo on a “Mario Kart”—rather, a themed go-kart.

Sadly for some, the company that organises the service/attraction has run into legal issues with Nintendo over intellectual property (IP) issues. Initially operating under the name MariCar, the company rebranded as Street Kart was ordered to pay JPY 50 million (~RM1.95 million) in damages after violating the IP rights of Nintendo, the creators of Mario Kart.

This started back in 2017, with the main issue of contention being the fact that MariCar’s service dressed up participants in Mario Kart outfits. Nintendo was also reportedly unhappy that the dangers associated with the IRL version of Mario Kart would be bad for the company’s image—such as this hit-and-run accident back in 2018.

MariCar didn’t accept the initial decision, and appealed to the courts in Japan, while attaching a giant, obnoxious-looking “Unrelated to Nintendo” bumper sticker on the back of the go-karts. After losing the appeal, the company’s original fine of JPY 10 million (~RM390k) was increased to current figure of JPY 50 million.

Now, the company’s final avenue of appeal has been exhausted, with Japan’s Supreme Court upholding the decision. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected tourism in Japan (and around the world, obviously), which has inevitably affected mainly tourist-dependent businesses like MariCar/StreetKart.

In response, the beleaguered company set up a crowdfunding campaign called “Save the Street Kart” on Campfire—but funds raised didn’t even come close to the JPY 2 million (~RM78k) that was targeted. Perhaps this was indicative of the local opinion on the Mario Kart-themed go-karts, and the dangers/annoyance they may pose on the streets of Tokyo.

In any case, it looks like this latest decision is the final nail in the coffin for IRL Mario Karts in Tokyo. That, or Nintendo takes advantage of a new gap in the market and sets up its own version of real-life Mario Kart. Nintendo also says that an injunction has been ordered against MariCar, which means that the attraction will no longer be legally allowed to run in Japan.

To read Nintendo’s full statement, click here. You can also head over to the official website of MariCar, now called Street Kart, here.

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