31 July 2013
Rihanna wins High Court case
Popular music singer Rihanna has won a legal battle with the Arcadia retail group over the sale of a t-shirt that featured a photo of the Barbadian.
The star sued the Topshop owner to the tune of £3.3 million and argued that a substantial number of buyers were duped into buying the garments because they thought the chart-topper had approved the use of the image.
In fact, Rihanna had not given permission for the controversial retail organisation, which also owns Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, British Home Stores and Topman, to use the portrait, which was taken while the Barbadian was filming a music video in Northern Ireland in 2011.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Birss said the sale of shirts featuring the singer's face were an act of "passing off", which is illegal under UK law.
While it is likely some amount of compensation will be paid by Arcadia, which has not yet commented on the verdict, Justice Birss did not make any remarks on the appropriateness of the £3.3 million claim launched by Rihanna's lawyers.
Court files show that when the singer challenged Topshop to explain themselves in regard to the unlawful use of her likeness, which she said harmed her reputation, executives at the company simply changed the garment's name.
While the tank top previously referenced Rihanna by name, it was quickly changed to "Headscarf Tank Girl" and then "Icon Tank".
Justice Birss concluded by stating it is up to the singer to decide what she endorses and not individual fashion houses.
Although more of a case could be made if Rihanna's appearance on the t-shirt would perhaps have been more acceptable if she was not the focal point of its design, the fact her face made up the vast majority of its frontage left the High Court with no choice but to approve the Barbadian's complaint.
By Chris Stevenson