Rihanna successfully sues Top Shop for use of her image on T-shirts

9th August 2013

US pop star Rihanna has succeeded in making a claim against the fashion chain Top Shop on the basis of ‘passing off’.

Dispute resolution solicitor Martin deRidder, a partner with Ansons LLP, explains that “Passing off is an offence under intellectual property law which protects businesses who have established goodwill in a product.”

“Top Shop has previously entered a number of commercial relationships regarding endorsements with stars such as Kate Moss. In this case Top Shop had used an image of Rhianna on one of their t-shirts, but no permission had been obtained from the singer nor any royalty fee agreed.”

The High Court determined that Top Shop had committed the tort of passing off. The court determined that Rhianna has established goodwill in her image, which has been used on numerous t-shirts and posters which were sold to the public. The court accepted Rihanna’s argument that the image used meant there was “a real likelihood that a substantial number of customers will be deceived into thinking it is an authorised image and will buy the product as a result in that mistaken belief. “

As there was a likelihood that confusion would arise amongst fashion shoppers, the court concluded that damage to Rihanna’s goodwill had occurred. The level of damages is yet to be determined.

The law of passing off is not just there to protect pop stars. If your business believes that a competitor is misleading customers and trading off your goodwill, then you may be able to take legal action to stop this.

Ansons Solicitors specialises in intellectual property law and can assist your business in bringing and defending litigation concern the protection of your brand, trademarks and copyrights.

For further, please contact Martin de Ridder, on 01543 466 660 or email Offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.