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Rihanna wins appeal in passing off case

James Nurton, London

The Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling of the England & Wales High Court that Topshop committed passing off by using Rihanna’s image on t-shirts

Rihanna logoBut the judgment, published on January 22, also made it clear that there is no protection for image rights as such in UK law.

Lord Justice Kitchin said that the claimant in such cases must make his case on the evidence: “He must show that he has a relevant goodwill, that the activities of the defendant amount to a misrepresentation that he has endorsed or approved the goods or services of which he complains, and that these activities have caused or are likely to cause him damage to his goodwill and business.”

The other two judges agreed, though Lord Justice Underhill noted that he regarded this case as “close to the borderline”.

The Court rejected all four grounds on which Topshop challenged the High Court’s 2013 ruling.

Rihanna (whose so-called R slash logo is pictured) was represented by Martin Howe QC, Andrew Norris and Reed Smith. Topshop was represented by Geoffrey Hobbs QC, Hugo Cuddigan and Mishcon de Reya.

More analysis available online from Bird & Bird, Herbert Smith Freehills and King & Wood Mallesons.


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