Belfast Telegraph

Video: Rihanna wins fight over 'Northern Ireland' T-shirt

Rihanna has won a £3.5 million High Court battle with Topshop over T-shirts bearing a picture of her taken in Belfast.

The superstar singer had instructed top law firm Reed Smith to launch legal action against the high-street fashion chain because she said the image of her printed on a T-shirt being sold by the store was being used without her permission.

The photograph was taken while RiRi was in Northern Ireland in 2011 filming scenes for her hit We Found Love video while on tour here.

She had accused the fashion chain of passing off, or attempting to pass off, the garments as being approved by her.

Topshop disputed her claim.

Judge Mr Justice Birss on Wednesday ruled in her favour after a hearing in London.

Wearing the same denim bra top, mini skirt and bandana depicted in the Topshop T-shirt, Rihanna was mobbed by scores of fans as she filmed in the New Lodge area of north Belfast.

Her trip to Northern Ireland also led to her infamous meeting with Bangor farmer Alan Graham -- who put a stop to raunchy Rihanna filming in his barley field after she went topless.

The graphic We Found Love video, which featured scenes of drug-taking and violence, went on to win a Grammy and an MTV VMA award.

Two years on, Rihanna was said to be furious that a photographer sold the Belfast photo to retail giant Topshop without her permission.

She spent a massive £3.5 million on the lawsuit, saying that she wanted to make a point on principle.

Topshop reportedly offered the multi-millionaire Barbadian £3,500, which she turned down.

Mr Justice Birss said Topshop's sale of a Rihanna T-shirt at the centre of the dispute was an act of " passing off".

But he said the "mere sale" of a T-shirt bearing the image of a famous person was not necessarily an act of "passing off".

He said a "substantial number" of buyers were likely to have been deceived into buying the Rihanna T-shirt because of a "false belief" that it had been authorised by the singer.

The judge said that was damaging to her "goodwill" and represented a loss of control over her reputation in the "fashion sphere".

He said it was for the singer not Topshop to choose what garments the public thought were endorsed by her.

Rihanna had claimed that she was entitled to damages for the unauthorised use of her picture.

But the judge did not make any assessment of damages in a written judgment published on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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