FACING FACTS: If Rihanna wins her lawsuit against the Topshop supplier that created a T-shirt emblazoned with her face, it would be a groundbreaking decision on behalf of the British court.
The case will be heard at Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice this summer. The T in question was on sale at Topshop at the end of last year, and bore an image of Rihanna’s face from her “We Found Love” music video.
This story first appeared in the May 20, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the U.K., unlike the U.S., there is no right of personality. Anyone who legally purchases an image can use it, unless it is trademarked. And it’s rare that an image would be trademarked. A legal source said Rihanna’s lawyers would have to prove that the Topshop T-shirt portrayed Rihanna as “endorsing” the brand. The case is in a pretrial phase.
Spokespeople for Topshop and Reed Smith, Rihanna’s lawyers in the U.K., both declined to comment on Friday.
However, a source close to the proceedings said press reports that Rihanna is suing Topshop for a sum of 3 million pounds, or $4.6 million at current exchange, were not true.
Rihanna is currently collaborating with one of Topshop’s British competitors, River Island, on a 120-piece collection for spring featuring sexy crop tops, hooded jumpsuits and skirts with high slits. It is sold through the retailer and exclusively in the U.S. and Japan at Opening Ceremony. The second drop is due on Saturday.
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River Island declined to comment.
Rihanna and Topshop’s owner, Sir Philip Green, are not strangers, and famously dined together in Barbados in December 2010. The pop star ignited speculation about a possible collaboration with Topshop after she tweeted about the dinner with Green and Simon Cowell at the swanky Sandy Lane resort.