Nintendo’s Legal Team is on a Winning Streak After Real-Life Mario Kart Settlement
Nintendo is on a run of winning court cases and the recent settlement figure from a Mario Kart knock-off is five times the original amount.
Mario Kart is one of Nintendo’s most beloved titles. Not only is it fun for the single-player, but it’s also fantastic to play competitively, either online or with friends. For years it has been a platform seller, and with the relatively recent launch of Mario Kart Tour for mobile devices, there are even more places to get your kart fix. This kind of popularity is bound to draw a few eyes and Nintendo certainly do their best to monopolize that where they can. One or two missteps aside, Nintendo generally knows what they’re doing.
Some say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but for Nintendo’s legal team, imitation is the reason to get out of bed in the morning. In a landmark legal case, one of many similar lawsuits brought to international legal systems by Nintendo, the company has been awarded 50 million yen (roughly $500,000) in damages. The case, between Nintendo and MariCar Inc, is reported as being atypical for Japanese standards. Through the court of appeal, the figure was raised up to five times the original amount requested due to advertising, aimed at foreign tourists, which featured the likeness of Mario. This blatant attempt to lure foreign nationals into using the public road cart rental service was not going to escape the watchful eye of Bowser.
MariCar Inc was judged by Yoshiyuki Mori to have violated the Unfair Competition Prevention Law. He went on to say:
“You are engaged in unfair competition with the intention of unfairly using the high customer attraction of ‘Mario Kart,’ and the contribution to the sales of the rental company is considerably large.” (Translated)
This isn’t the first time that MariCar has made headlines. Back in June of 2017, the company raised public safety concerns after a number of accidents and was featured in The Japan Times. In April of the same year, the Tokyo-based company tried to throw out the court against them. Three years on, the case has reached its conclusion.
In recent months Nintendo has won several other court cases. It was ruled in the UK that internet service providers would have to block access to websites that allowed for Switch game piracy. This decision, hailed by UK games industry body UKIE, legally bound five major UK ISPs (Sky, BT, EE, Talktalk and Virgin Media) to bar access to circumvention devices and services.
Last month, Nintendo also won a court case in the European courts, reaffirming that they are not legally obliged to refund digital eShop preorders. Originally raised by the Norwegian Consumer Council back in 2018, they stated that the Nintendo policy conflicted with the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive. The case has since been appealed and is pending further action.