Nintendo set for trademark battle over WaraWara Plaza

Restaurant chain operator Monteroza has filed a trademark claim against Nintendo, Japanese media reported yesterday.

Monteroza says that the name of Wii U’s WaraWara Hiroba, known as WaraWara Plaza in the west, is too similar to that of its Wara-wara chain of izakaya (Japanese-style pubs). It has filed a request with the Patent Office to have Nintendo’s trademark registration revoked.

Kyodo News and other outlets report that Monteroza filed its claim on 22 March. The company operates some 300 restaurants in Japan and around Asia, and is reportedly undertaking similar claims against Nintendo in several other countries, including around Europe and America.

Nintendo insists that it registered the trademark without issue from the Patent Office and that it was unaware of the izakaya chain. The two write the word “warawara” – a common phrase that means “laugh laugh” – in different ways. Nintendo uses hiragana, the most basic Japanese phonetic alphabet, while Monteroza spells it with two of the kanji (Chinese characters) for the word “laugh”.

Monteroza trademarked its name in romanised English as WARAWARA in 2009. Nintendo itself romanises the word as “WaraWara” and trademarked it as such last year.

Monteroza has reportedly also accused Nintendo of decreasing the brand value of its chain, hijacking its shared demographic of customers and piggybacking on its positive image.