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Rihanna wins lawsuit over Topshop t-shirt

"No one may, by the use of any word or name, or in any other way, represent his goods or services as being the goods or services of another person and so cause that other person injury to his goodwill and so damage him in his business," said lord Justice Kitchin.

By Veronica Linares
Rihanna wins lawsuit over Topshop t-shirt
Rihanna. File photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Barbadian singer Rihanna has won her lawsuit against British retailer Topshop over an unauthorized t-shirt featuring a photo of her.

In the first ruling of its kind, according to the BBC, the Court of Appeal in London ruled Thursday that Topshop was not allowed to market clothing featuring Rihanna without the singer's permission, thus setting precedent for similar cases in the future.

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The 26-year-old singer sued Topshop's parent company, Arcadia for $5 million in 2013 over a series of t-shirts that featured a photo of her taken by an independent photographer during a video shoot in 2011. She argued the item damaged her "goodwill" and her control over her reputation in the "fashion sphere."

Topshops's lawyers argued that law on celebrity merchandising allowed for them to market such products and that the t-shirts were merely "decorated" with Rihanna's photo much like their items featuring pictures of Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix. The company added that they in no way made it seem like Rihanna was "endorsing or promoting" the garments.

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Lord Justice Richards, Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice Underhill dismissed the appeal and upheld the previous court's decision, which prohibited the retailer from selling the t-shirt.

While there is no specific law in the U.K. that protects the distribution of products featuring someone's image, Justice Kitchin argued that "a celebrity seeking to control the use of his or her image must therefore rely upon some other cause of action such as breach of contract, breach of confidence, infringement of copyright or, as in this case, passing off."

"No one may, by the use of any word or name, or in any other way, represent his goods or services as being the goods or services of another person and so cause that other person injury to his goodwill and so damage him in his business," said Kitchin

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