Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Bangor farmer backing Rihanna as she sues Topshop

Rihanna filming in Bangor
Rihanna filming in Bangor

The farmer who confronted Rihanna for dancing inappropriately in his field has branded unauthorised pictures of her as "an invasion of her privacy".

Alderman Alan Graham was speaking as a court case involving the pop star got under way in London's High Court.

Rihanna, who was not in court yesterday, is suing Topshop for $5m (£3.3m) over a T-shirt with her photograph on it taken during filming in Co Down in 2011.

The Bajan singer and two Los Angeles-based associated companies claim she is entitled to damages for the unauthorised use of her image.

She claims the fashion chain duped fans and may have damaged her reputation. In September 2011, Rihanna caused a stir with her raunchy actions while shooting her new video al fresco near Ballyrobert, Co Down.

Mr Graham even asked the singing sensation to stop filming her video in the grain field he owns after he came across her taking her clothes off.

He said: "My encounter with Rihanna was pleasant enough and we got on okay. We shook hands and parted company and I avoided any condemnation of her – and that is still the case.

"People claim royalties for all sorts of things. The photographs in dispute were likely taken with a zoom lens."

He added: "When I was going to get my tractor at one stage the ladies who were with Rihanna asked us not to go into another field because she was changing her clothes, so even though she's an actress and dresses up in certain ways, she still is a lady who maintains her privacy."

But the DUP councillor added people shouldn't be carried along on "this mentality of litigation trying to claim money at every opportunity".

He said: "People who are famous and have talents maybe should be willing to share a wee bit of the spin-off of it rather than taking everybody to court.

"Part of the story about Rihanna was about that particular tree in the field and it became quite famous.

"Lots of people have taken photographs of that and never once did I ask anyone for a penny – maybe that's why I'm not wealthy!"

Bringing the action under her full name of Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the singer alleges an unknown quantity of T-shirts was acquired by Topshop in 2011 and early 2012 and offered for sale under the name 'Rihanna Tank'.

Court documents allege that after being challenged by the singer's lawyers, Topshop dropped her name on the T-shirt and referred to 'Headscarf Girl Tank', and then to 'Icon Tank'.

Rihanna's lawyers are asking Mr Justice Birss to grant an injunction to prevent Arcadia and Topshop selling clothes "using the mark Rihanna or any confusingly similar name", or passing off goods as approved by her.

They also want the delivery up or destruction of all clothes which would breach the injunction and damages.

The hearing continues.

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