Over the last couple of years, Nintendo has been very careful in the way that it has allowed its intellectual property manifest in physical or virtual settings. Just over a year ago, the company gave the green light to Nintendo-styled attractions at Universal theme parks, including a Mario Kart ride, while the franchise also made a separate appearance as part of an entertainment exhibit at VR Zone Shinjuku.
While for some imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it seems that the Japanese company didn't take too kindly to a Tokyo-based street go-kart tour business. Billed as "Real Life SuperHero Go-Karting", MariCAR offered people the chance to dress up in a character costume of their choice, hop in a go-kart, and crank up some tunes while checking out the sights. Unfortunately for the tour operator, it has lost a court battle with the video game company brought before the Tokyo District Court, with the latter having sought an injunction for "infringement of intellectual property rights" as well as related damages.
The result comes despite MariCAR's claims to the contrary in the cautionary notes published on its website for interested drivers, which states:
"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.
- No racing each other on the streets.
- Do not throw banana peals or any other garbage on to the streets.
- 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."
As part of the ruling, the tour operator has been ordered to stop renting out costumes and to pay Nintendo damages amounting to ¥10 million ($88,186). While this may dash the hopes of those hoping to experience it for themselves, it remains to be seen if bringing your own Nintendo-themed outfit would be prohibited.