*Rihanna’s lawyers have asked a judge at London’s High Court to issue an injunction against Topshop retail stores to prevent further sales of tank tops bearing her likeness.
The singer filed suit against executives at Topshop parent company Arcadia Group Brands, Limited in May after taking issue with a line of their clothes, which featured a photo of Rihanna, taken by a freelance pap “without her permission” while on the set of her 2011 music video “We Found Love.”
The case was heard in court on Friday (July 19), when her lawyer, Martin Howe, argued the image used on the T-shirts was “very similar” to pictures included on CD sleeves for her album “Talk That Talk,” on which the single is featured, and therefore could have duped fans into thinking the products were licensed by the artist.
He claimed Topshop chiefs’ decision to sell the top amounted to “passing off” the goods as the singer’s own, which is likely to have damaged her reputation with devotees once they discovered it was not a “genuine” piece of merchandise with an “emotional connection to their heroine.”
However, attorneys for the defense insist they did nothing wrong, because they purchased the license to the picture from the photographer and are therefore not liable to pay the artist image rights.
Topshop’s lawyer, Geoffrey Hobbs, stated, “We resist the claim on two main bases; first, this is, in substance and reality, an impermissible attempt by Rihanna to establish an image reproduction right in the UK. There is no such right. On the contrary, Topshop are entitled honestly to sell the garment, having obtained the necessary copyright license. Secondly there is no representation here, given that the garment is fashion wear and not promotional merchandise.”
A judge has yet to rule on the case. Rihanna is seeking $5 million in damages and a ban on any similar products bearing her likeness being sold by Topshop. She is also demanding all existing items be destroyed.
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