Topshop and Rihanna return to the courts over T-shirt row

Catherine Neilan
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Rihanna vs Topshop: Case returns to court (Source: Getty).

Topshop may count Kate Moss and Beyonce among its friends, but as one legal battle returns to court it's unlikely to find love with Rihanna.

Sir Philip Green's high street giant is challenging Rihanna in London's Court of Appeal, following a ruling last year in which Topshop was ordered to pay damages for using an image of the 26-year-old singer on a T-shirt without permission.

The T-shirt in question featured a colour close-up image of Rihanna, which was taken without authorisation, and its sale was found to have been a matter of “passing off”.

Mr Justice Birss saod that although celebrities have no general right to control the reproduction of their image, the manner in which it was being used could damage goodwill and was a loss of control within the “fashion sphere”. Rihanna has a number of contracts with fashion houses and high street names including River Island.

At the time, Topshop was told to stop selling any items without her authorisation or approval.

But now Topshop is claiming it has the rights to use the image, saying it was a “decorated T-shirt”, similar to those of stars such as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.

Topshop's lawyer Geoffrey Hobbs QC argued that it was wrong to claim that “only a celebrity may ever market his or her own character”, according to reports.

The case is currently being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice.

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