Tourists hoping to visit the Mushroom Kingdom may have to make other plans, after Nintendo filed a lawsuit against a Japanese company offering real-life Mario Kart inspired tours of Tokyo. According to the New York Times, Nintendo is claiming that the rental company, which operates under the name of MariCar in English, violates Nintendo’s intellectual property by profiting from Nintendo characters without Nintendo’s permission.
MariCar disputed Nintendo’s claims, and insisted that the company’s activities do not violate Nintendo’s copyright. The company rents karts and offers driving tours of Tokyo, and as their website claims, their services are “in no way a reflection of the game ‘Mario Kart.’” However, in addition to the kart rentals, the company offers customers costumes of characters from Nintendo’s popular Mario Kart gaming series, such as Yoshi, Luigi, and the titular Mario. They also make tongue-in-cheek references to other elements of Mario Kart gameplay, warning renters not to race or throw banana peels or red turtle shells at fellow drivers.
Nintendo’s lawsuit comes as the company plans to expand its brand through mobile gaming, such as with last year’s Pokémon Go, the recent release of the Nintendo Switch gaming console, and theme parks. As Bloomberg reports, a partnership with Universal Parks and Resorts will bring “Super Nintendo World” themed areas to Osaka, Japan by 2020. Similar areas are also expected at U.S. based parks in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, California. Individuals hoping for to immerse themselves in their favorite video game franchises may have to wait a few more years.
Tyler Bittner is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2019).