Rihanna just won a lawsuit in London that sets a surprising precedent for celebrities.
A court of appeals just decided in Rihanna’s favor and banned Topshop from selling a shirt featuring a picture of the singer — unless she gives them permission to sell it.
The BBC reports this is the first successful celebrity lawsuit of its kind. The three-judge panel agreed that for Topshop to market an item featuring Rihanna’s face without Rihanna’s permission would damage her brand.
The “Diamonds” singer sued Topshop back in 2013 over the shirts, asking for about $5 million in damages. The initial ruling came down in July of 2013 in Rihanna’s favor. The judge for the case said the shirts were damaging because they could instill the “false belief” that fans were buying something the singer approved, thus causing Rihanna to lose control of her image and reputation in the “fashion sphere.”
Topshop’s lawyers appealed to the three-judge panel after the 2013 ruling, saying that the judge had misinterpreted English laws about celebrity merchandising.
But the three judges unanimously agreed to dismiss the store’s appeal.
The ruling leaves legal experts wondering what the rules are now for clothing that is considered “decorated” — featuring the images of celebs like Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix, who, obviously, aren’t able to give their permission for photos to be used on clothes. Topshop’s lawyers argued that there was “no intention to create an appearance of an endorsement or promotion” and that Rihanna was using the law incorrectly to claim “only a celebrity may ever market his or her own character,” the BBC reports.