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Patent authority rules against Nintendo, lets go-kart firm keep MariCar trademark

by

Staff Writer

The Japan Patent Office in January dismissed an objection filed by Nintendo Co. over the MariCar trademark registered by a Tokyo-based go-kart service company, it was learned Thursday.

In a decision dated Jan. 26, the patent office said the trademark, registered in June 2016 by the go-kart service operator MariCar, was not widely recognized as an abbreviation of Nintendo’s blockbuster video game title “Mario Kart.”

MariCar rents out go-karts that have been modified to run on public roads. The service is exceedingly popular with foreign tourists, with many of the participants donning costumes that look similar to Nintendo game characters such as Super Mario.

According to the decision made public on the office’s website, Nintendo filed the objection with the office in September, saying the MariCar trademark was “intended to be mistaken for or confused with” the popular game and constituted an act of dishonesty. Nintendo asked the office to revoke the trademark.

Nintendo also claimed that MariCar was widely interpreted by the public as short for “Mario Kart,” citing other examples of popular video games that go by abbreviated nicknames in Japanese, such as “Pokemon” for “Pocket Monsters,” “Pazudora” for “Puzzle & Dragons” and “Sumabura” for “Super Smash Bros.”

The patent office, however, judged that MariCar was not widely used by game users as an abbreviation of “Mario Kart,” adding that it was “an unassociated trademark.”

The decision was made before Nintendo sued the go-kart company over copyright infringement in late February.

In that lawsuit, filed with the Tokyo District Court, the Kyoto-based game maker alleged MariCar is renting unauthorized costumes of Nintendo game characters such as Super Mario to its customers and using pictures of them to promote its business. It is seeking ¥10 million in damages and an end to the alleged copyright infringement.