The judgment increased five-fold
Mari Mobility has gained a bit of fame in the past few years for its ridiculous business model: Dressing people in costumes of well-known Nintendo characters and sending them go-karting through the streets of Japan. It has been dubbed “real-life Mario Kart” more than once, and the designation is right on the nose. It’s Mari Mobility’s whole appeal.
Nintendo has tried to put a stop to this copyright infringement by suing Mari Mobility three years ago. Nintendo won, securing a ¥10 million ($92,000 USD) judgment. Mari Mobility must feel like it has been hit by a blue shell, unceremoniously dumped from first place to last place as Nintendo cruises by mean-mugging with the Luigi Death Stare.
Now, spinning its wheels, Nintendo has lapped Mari Mobility and hit it with another red shell. As reported by Japanese outlet Inside (and translated by Kotaku), Mari Mobility has appealed that verdict. It didn’t end well. The appellate court raised the judgment to ¥50 million ($458,000 USD). Whoopsy Daisy.
I’m not going to pretend I have any understanding of Japanese copyright law, the Japanese legal system, or the procedure that governs any of it. But it appears that Mari Mobility appealed with hopes of decreasing or entirely vacating the judgment based on the fact that the company had gone to lengths to separate itself from Nintendo. It changed its name to “Street Kart,” started offering customers superhero outfits to wear (and discontinued the Mario costumes), and wrote “Unrelated to Nintendo” on all the go-karts. It seems as though Mari Mobility wanted a slap on the wrist for having learned its lesson.
Instead, it’ll be paying five times the original amount. That is a tremendously tragic act of playing yourself. Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.