You may recall that we have previously written here about a rather strange copyright dispute involving Nintendo. Nintendo has issued a claim forbreach of copyright against Mari Car; a Tokyo based go-kart and costume rental business.
Nintendo had claimed 10 million yen from Mari Car, whose business involves providing tours of the streets of Tokyo on go-kart whilst dressed in costumes resembling popular characters from the Nintendo universe, specifically Mario Kart, such as Luigi, Yoshi and Mario etc. Mario Kart is famous throughout Japan and indeed the world. Mari Car has proved very popular with tourists and locals alike in Tokyo, something which is likely due in no small part to the popularity of the Mario characters.
Opening arguments have now been held in Tokyo District Court with Mari Car denied copying anything owned by Nintendo. This denial is based on the fact that Mari Car's role is only to provide and maintain the go-karts. They maintain that the costumes and the livery for the go karts are provided by a different company and so Mari Car are not the ones selling products that may infringe the copyright of Nintendo.
No identity has been given for the company that Mari Car claims supplies the costumes and livery, and it is unclear at this stage whether they are connected to Mari Car in any way. There are fears that Mari Car may be attempting to avoid liability through 'copyright laundering' where it works in tandem with a separate business to circumvent intellectual property rights.
It is thought that if Mari Car are successful with this defence it would be the first instance of copyright laundering in Japanese legal history.in: Copyright, News