Court of Appeal upholds Rihanna v Topshop Passing Off Decision

06-02-2015 11:40

Regular readers of our updates will recall our newsletter article in Autumn 2013 which reported on the High Court decision finding Topshop was liable for passing off after selling t-shirts with a picture of Rihanna on the front.

The case was about passing off, not copyright infringement, as permission to use the photograph had been obtained from the photographer.  The first instance decision held that Topshop was liable in passing off for the reasons we set out in our newsletter article (read it here).  Topshop appealed the decision.

On 22 January 2015, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment and upheld the first instance decision that Topshop had committed acts of passing off.  The Court of Appeal agreed that whilst there is no such thing as “image rights” per se for celebrities to rely on in the UK, there can still be passing off if a party uses an image of a celebrity in such a way as to amount to a misrepresentation that the product had been approved or authorised by the celebrity. 

In each case it will still very much depend on the facts of the case.

If you would like more information about passing off or IP generally, please contact Emma Hayward.

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