The Court of Appeal in London upheld a ban on the international chain selling a T-shirt with the singer’s face on it. The ruling declared that marketing the item without Rihanna’s express permission or approval amounts to “passing off,” which is a phrase employed to enforce unregistered trademark rights in regards to the unauthorized used of a personal image. In the U.K., celebrities do not own the rights to images of themselves but companies cannot use an image without consent. The 26-year-old’s lawyers claimed that the photo was taken illegally in 2011 in Northern Ireland on the set of her We Found Love music video.
In 2013, the pop star sued Arcadia, Topshop’s parent company, for $5 million and the initial ruling claimed that consumers might have been deceived into buying the sleeveless tank because of an implicit “false belief” it had been permitted by Rihanna. The ruling judge also said that the unlicensed image use also damaged her “goodwill” and reputation in the “fashion sphere.”
Intellectual property lawyer Jeremy Blum from the law firm Bristows summed the lawsuit up in a statement: “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.”