LONDON — Britain’s Court of Appeal on Thursday confirmed an earlier decision that high-street retailer Topshop infringed the rights of Rihanna by selling a T-shirt with her image on it without her authorization, according to a statement from the law firm Bristows LLP.
Topshop was not immediately available for comment.
Last November, Topshop had appealed a decision by a judge at Her Majesty’s High Court in London prohibiting the retailer from selling T-shirts featuring a particular image of Rihanna.
In 2013 the court issued an injunction requiring Topshop to refrain from selling T-shirts featuring an image of Rihanna without clearly informing customers that the garment is not endorsed, authorized or approved by the singer.
The image on the T-shirt was one of Rihanna’s face from her “We Found Love” music video. It was emblazoned on a T-shirt that Topshop sold in 2012 and no longer stocked — even before the case went to court.
The judge had ruled that the item was damaging to Rihanna’s “goodwill,” and represented a loss of control over her reputation in the “fashion sphere.”
Jeremy Blum, partner in the intellectual property team at Bristows LLP, said Thursday: “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.’
“The law of ‘passing off’ has not been widened in this decision,” he continued. “What is required is a misrepresentation as to origin, and it is still likely that many uses of celebrity images on merchandise will not suggest that the product has been authorized. However, there will be some cases, like this one, where a mere image can be prevented from being used.”