Rihanna triumphs over Topshop in High Court image rights row
Rihanna has successfully sued Topshop parent company Arcadia over the sale of t-shirts featuring her image.
Lawyers working for the singer told the High Court in London that the high street store had duped fans by selling t-shirts featuring pictures that were “very similar” to those used on CD sleeves for one of her albums, and may have, in turn, damaged her reputation.
Judge, Mr Justice Birss, ruled that a “substantial number” of buyers were likely to have been deceived into buying the item, believing it had been endorsed by Rihanna herself. Adding it was damaging to her “goodwill” and represented a loss of control over her reputation within the “fashion sphere”.
Topshop lawyers in the $5m case argued that Rihanna was making an unjustifiable bid to establish a “free standing image right” over the use of her image in the UK.
Mr Justice Birss’ ruling agreed that there was “no such thing as a general right by a famous person to control the reproduction of their image” and that “the taking of the photograph is not suggested to have breached Rihanna's privacy”.
He added: “The mere sale by a trader of a t-shirt bearing an image of a famous person is not an act of passing off. However, I find that Topshop's sale of this T-shirt was an act of passing off.”
No assessments of any liable damages were made in the ruling.