Pop star Rihanna has won a significant legal case over retail giant Topshop over the selling of T-shirts displaying her picture. The victory reinforces the ability of high profile names to control their own public image.

RihannaRihanna has won a landmark case against Topshop

The three judges, Lords Justices Richard, Kitchin and Underhill ruled that Topshop's unauthorised use of the singer's photograph on a range of t-shirts amounted to "passing off". Though affirming that there was no English law allowing anyone to restrain reproduction of their name or image, but the judgement provided further legal grounds for the famous to limit the circumstances with which commercial advantage can be achieved. 

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This has been a long-running legal battle dating back to 2012 when Topshop began selling the T-shirts for £22. The image of Rihanna was taken of her during a video shoot for her Talk That Talk album by an independent photographer who then licensed the image to Topshop. 

Topshop's ultimately failed appeal highlighted precedents set by the likes of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who had tried to stop pictures of them being published.

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Lord Justice Kitchin said: "A celebrity seeking to control the use of his or her image must therefore rely upon some other cause of action such as breach of contract, breach of confidence, infringement of copyright or, as in this case, passing off."

He added that "passing off" does not "protect a person against the sale by others of the same goods or even copied goods. What it protects is goodwill and it prevents one person passing off his goods or services as those of another."

Rihanna, one of the world's most successful artists, is said to be worth over $120 million. 

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