The offending Topshop tank
Looking to buy a shirt bearing Rihanna’s likeness? You’ll have to shop her fan site from now on. Just over two months after filing a $5 million suit in the U.K. against high street giant Topshop for selling a tank top with her unauthorized photo on it, the popstar has come out the victor.
According to The Telegraph, the appropriately named Judge Justice Birss ruled today that a “substantial number” of customers who purchased the tee, which was vaguely described on Topshop’s site as a “photographic tank with photographic motif of a girl wearing a headscarf,” held a “false belief” that it had been authorized by Rihanna herself.
“[Rihanna fans] will recognize or think they recognize the particular image of Rihanna, not simply as a picture of the artist, but as a particular picture of her associated with a particular context, the recent ‘Talk That Talk’ album,” said Judge Birss. “For those persons, the idea that it is authorized will be part of what motivates them to buy the product… Many will buy a product because they think she has approved of it.”
The judge also added that Topshop’s shirt revoked Rihanna’s ability to control her own reputation in the “fashion sphere.” Which, given Rih’s ongoing collaboration with UK Topshop competitor River Island, seems like a pretty fair ruling. As per WWD, no assessment of damages was formally made–though court documents value Rihanna’s claim to be over £15,000 ($22,954).
Predictably, Topshop is “surprised and disappointed by the judgement handed down today.” Added the spokesperson,
“We feel that the fact that Rihanna has shopped, worn and had a relationship with Topshop for several years appears to have been detrimental to our case. We robustly dispute the Judge’s conclusion. We beleive that our customers clearly understand when we are undertaking a collaboration such as the one we created with Kate Moss over several seasons.”
It all sounds a bit personal, doesn’t it? Considering Rihanna was reportedly seen having lunch (and possible business talks) with Topshop billionaire Sir Philip Green back in 2010, maybe it is more than we know…