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Rihanna has won her battle against Topshop for its unauthorised use of her image.
Yesterday the Court of Appeal agreed with the original 2013 court judgment and dismissed Topshop's appeal.
For fashion companies who use images of celebrities on their clothing, the message is clear. Unless you have the celebrity’s agreement to do so, such use is at your own risk. This is because the law will prevent parties from using the reputation of others, without authorisation, to make a profit.
Topshop had put a picture of Rihanna on its T-shirts. While the photographer had authorised Topshop to use the photo, Rihanna had not. Rihanna argued that shoppers were likely to think (wrongly) that she had either collaborated with Topshop or endorsed the t-shirts, and the High Court had decided that this was passing off.
Rihanna won this battle because she was able to prove her goodwill and reputation as a style icon and that Topshop used this to their advantage to sell t-shirts.
The original judgment was based predominantly on two facts:
The court was persuaded that the combination of Rihanna and Topshop’s history, and the particular circumstances surrounding the sale would mislead shoppers into thinking that the singer was involved. In the absence of either of these facts, the result may have been very different.