The British courts have ruled in favor of Rihanna, who sued Topshop’s parent company Arcadia over the unauthorized use of her image on a t-shirt that was being sold at the well-known retailer. The image was taken from a 2011 video. And the courts found, back in 2013, that it was reasonable to think that consumers, upon seeing the shirt, would think Rihanna approved it.
Arcadia argued that the t-shirt was similar to others that feature celebrities like Elvis Presley on them. But the courts found that there were differences between that scenario and this.
“These included photographs being spread on social media showing the singer wearing Topshop clothes, suggesting there was an official collaboration,” reports Yahoo News. She has previously worked with the retailer. So people might assume the t-shirt was given her thumbs up when it had not.
BBC News says the original lawsuit sought $5 million.
“In other words, the unauthorised image was damaging to Rihanna’s brand,” adds the BBC.
Rihanna has been photographed in all sorts of outfits (even sheer ones). Her social media shows her drinking and smoking. And her magazine appearances have been risque in some cases. So this idea that her brand would be impacted by a seemingly harmless t-shirt is an interesting one.
The fact that she brought the case indicates the importance she places on maintaining control of her brand. The association with Topshop, a popular brand that consumers love around the world, wasn’t the point here. Keeping a firm hand on what has her name and face attached is.
So don’t sleep on Rih Rih. It looks like she’s engaged in shenanigans 24-7, but she clearly knows what she’s doing.