Let’s say you’re a famous person, beloved by your fans, with a face that they all know. Maybe you’re Rihanna, and you’re out shopping one day and oh hang on a minute — that’s your face, emblazoned on a piece of clothing. Only Rihanna didn’t give permission for her image to show up on a tank top sold by Topshop and was peeved to see herself looking back from the shirt.
The singer had her photo snapped by a freelance photographer during a music video shoot in Northern Ireland last year, and while the photographer licensed the image to Top Shop, Rihanna was none too pleased to see shirts for sale at the store with her mug on them last March. She took her beef to the court system in the United Kingdom — where Topshop is based — and a judge just ruled in her favor, reports Reuters.
Rihanna has an endorsement relationship with another fashion chain, River Island, and apparently didn’t want shoppers to think she was endorsing the Topshop shirt.
The judge agreed that it would look that way to a ”substantial number” of shoppers who would perhaps be deceived into buying the shirt under the false belief that Rihanna was on board with the item.
“I find that Topshop’s sale of this Rihanna T-shirt without her approval was an act of passing off. I find for the claimants,” he said.
Topshop says it’s surprised and disappointed, and will look to appeal.
“We robustly dispute the Judge’s conclusion,” it said, adding: “There was no evidence of consumer confusion to support the Judge’s conclusion.”
Rihanna wins Topshop T-shirt legal case [Reuters]