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Topshop brings Rihanna to Court of Appeal

Topshop is challenging Rihanna in the Court of Appeal in London, after it was ordered to pay the pop star £200,000 for using an image of her on a T-shirt allegedly without permission.

At the original hearing in September 2013, the judge granted an injunction meaning Topshop must refrain from selling any T-shirts featuring a particular image of Rihanna without clearly informing customers that the garment is not endorsed, authorised or approved by the singer.

However, Topshop is claiming it had the rights to the image and had been given clearance to use it. The appeal case started today and is expected to run for two days. A ruling will be given in the coming months.

Simon Bennett, partner at law firm Fox Williams, said the case was interesting as Topshop had copyright clearance for use of the photograph. “To be found to have passed off Rihanna’s image by using [the photograph] would have been a particularly difficult pill for Topshop to swallow. 

“The net result is that copyright clearance for the use of photos on T-shirts will not always be enough, which will result in uncertainty for the business. Also, the £200,000 damages awarded to Rihanna makes it worthwhile to appeal the ruling.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • It will be interesting to see how the outcome of this hearing affects future retailers and designs.

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