Topshop the well known fashion retailer lost a High Court claim this week to Rihanna the famous pop star.
In March 2012 Topshop sold a t-shirt with an image of Rihanna on it. The image was a photograph taken by an independent photographer. Topshop had a licence from the photographer but no licence from Rihanna. Rihanna contended that the sale of this t-shirt without her permission infringed her rights. Topshop disagreed. A court case ensued.
The Judge made clear that there is no such law in the UK for “image rights” however the media wishes to sell this. The case concerned passing off.
Unsurprisingly Rihanna won. Damages to be assessed at a later stage.
To be successful in passing off three things must be proven:-
1. She must show that she has goodwill and reputation amongst relevant members of the public;
2. The conduct complained of must be shown to make a misrepresentation, i.e. to be likely to deceive those members of the public into buying the product because they think it is authorised by her; and
3. That misrepresentation must cause damage to her goodwill.
The Judge found that provided these three elements are established then Rihanna has a good claim against Topshop. She did and she won!