Rihanna wins Topshop T-shirt battle

Rihanna has won her legal battle against Topshop over a T-shirt featuring an unauthorised image of the singer.

Rihanna: claims unauthorised snap was used on Topshop T-shirt
Rihanna: claims unauthorised snap was used on Topshop T-shirt

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision to ban Topshop from selling the T-shirt, ruling that the retailer’s use of Rihanna’s image equated to "passing off".

That relates to the use of a slogan, image or other ad element that has not been trademarked, but is associated with another business or person.

This particular image resonated with fans more than other images of Rihanna as it was taken from a controversial music video shoot

The dispute has been running since 2012, when Topshop began selling a £22 T-shirt emblazoned with an unauthorised snap of Rihanna taken during a video shoot for a single from her Talk That Talk album.

Rihanna won a High Court action in 2013 banning the sale of the T-shirts, with that decision now upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Still, the decision won't necessarily stop retailers ripping off celebrity images in future. Lawyers noted that celebrities can’t easily control the use of their name or image under English law.

Jeremy Blum, IP partner at Bristows, said: "Simply using someone else’s image on a product is not an infringement.

"What is required to prevent such us is that the product suggests it originates from the celebrity, namely that it is authorised."

Ben Mooneapillay, partner at JA Kemp, added: "This particular image resonated with fans more than other images of Rihanna as it was taken from a controversial music video shoot. 

"Rihanna’s previous association with Topshop also meant that consumers may have more reason to believe that  she was endorsing the product. It was these facts that made Topshop's sale of the product illegal."

Read next

KFC at 50: marketing chief on neuroscience, brand reappraisal and a tough year



Oculus Rift: the brand enthusiasts and refuseniks



Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).