The Court of Appeal in London upheld a ban on the store selling the sleeveless T-shirts, making it one of the first successful celebrity cases of it’s kind.
Three appeal judges unanimously agreed that selling the shirt without her approval was damaging to Rihanna’s brand.
Rihanna sued Topshop‘s parent company Arcadia for $5 million back in 2013 over the T-shirts, which featured a photo taken during a video shoot in 2011.
The same photograph ended up being included in the CD sleeve of her album Talk That Talk. Rihanna’s lawyers claimed that such use of her image on unauthorised T-shirts was deceptive.
In his ruling in July 2013, Justice Birss found some buyers would have been deceived into buying the top because of a false belief it had been approved by the singer.
At the time, Topshop released a statement regarding the decision, saying, “There was no intention by Topshop to create the appearance of an endorsement or promotion. The company added that it believed the T-shirt didn’t convey any false message to its customers, nor was there any evidence of consumer confusion to support the judge’s conclusion.
Topshop lawyers wanted the three appeals judges to overturn the decision given by Justice Birss, claiming that the judge had misunderstood the law regarding celebrity merchandising.
Rihanna’s victory does not necessarily pave the way for other celebrities to sue companies who use their image without permission, copyright lawyer Paul Joseph.
In Britain, celebrities do not own the rights to their image, but companies using an image without permission can face legal action.
“In this case, both the Court of Appeal and High Court were at pains to spell out that it is not an infringement just to use someone else’s image, but that on the facts of the case they both agreed that the circumstances surrounding the image’s use on the T-shirt meant there was a false misrepresentation leading to passing-off.” said intellectual property lawyer Jeremy Blum from law firm Bristows in a statement.
Rihanna has won her lawsuit against British retailer Topshop for using an image of her on a T-shirt without her permission. The Court of Appeal in ...2.5