Rihanna got Loud over an unauthorized use of her likeness, and it paid off. From 2011-2012, U.K. Topshop locations sold a tank top with the Barbadian singer’s face on it, prompting her to slap the retailer with a lawsuit. Court proceedings dragged on for over a year, but today a judge in London’s High Court ruled in the pop star’s favor, stating that Topshop did not have the right to use the image. Damages have not yet been awarded; Rihanna is rumored to have requested $5 million, which has not been confirmed by any of the involved parties.
Topshop at first disputed the lawsuit, as the company said they had purchased the rights to the photo in question directly from the photographer. The photo was taken during a 2011 music video shoot for “We Found Love” in Northern Ireland. Similar photos ended up being used in the CD artwork for the singer’s album Talk That Talk.
Judge Birss ruled that a “substantial number” of consumers were falsely led to believe that Rihanna had sanctioned the shirts, according to the BBC. Although you can’t copyright your own image, one could argue that Topshop was “passing off” its Rihanna tanks as official merchandise, as Rihanna’s legal team did. They also contended that the shirts with her unauthorized likeness were damaging to her reputation, and the court agreed.
In a statement, Topshop said, “There was no intention by Topshop to create the appearance of an endorsement or a promotion,” and may appeal the decision.
The 25-year-old pop star currently has her own (fully endorsed) collection with the fashion chain River Island. Perhaps she doesn’t take kindly to any of her fans being lured to Topshop—unintentionally or otherwise.
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