Belfast Telegraph

Rihanna T-shirt row: Spat over photo taken in Belfast's New Lodge goes to Appeal Court

By John Aston

A row over a T-shirt featuring a image of glamorous pop star Rihanna in Northern Ireland has gone all the way to the Court of Appeal.

Court 68 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London has been given a shopping mall makeover with racks of the T-shirts on display for three appeal judges to view.

The T-shirt was sold by Topshop, but a High Court judge concluded last year that RiRi's fans might have been deceived into thinking she had endorsed it.

Mr Justice Birss ordered the high street chain to stop selling the T-shirts using the image of the star taken in Belfast's New Lodge.

The judge ruled that it was "right and fair" that "style icon" Rihanna should be granted an injunction to prevent any future similar wrong use of the "unflattering" image.

The Umbrella singer has lucrative endorsement deals with retailers including Topshop's fashion rival River Island.

Rihanna's lawyers had said the image on the T-shirt was from an unauthorised photograph taken while the star was making her We Found Love music video here in 2011.

But at yesterday's appeal, Topshop lawyers asked appeal judges to rule that Judge Birss had made a mistake in his approach to the law on celebrity merchandising.

Geoffrey Hobbs QC, appearing for Topshop, said Rihanna was using the law wrongly to claim that "only a celebrity may ever market his or her own character".

Rihanna also caused controversy during her visit here when she was spotted topless by a farmer in his Co Down field. DUP councillor Alan Graham then halted filming.

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