Three judges at London’s Appeal Court upheld a ban on selling the garment after ruling that the clothing retailer had been “passing off” — using a personal image for marketing purposes without authorisation.
Rihanna had reportedly sued for $5 million (4.3 million euros), although that figure was not mentioned in the written judgement.
The 26-year-old Barbadian singer, who has sold over 150 million albums worldwide, had sued Topshop’s parent company Arcadia for the sleeveless T-shirt featuring a picture taken during the filming of a 2011 video.
In 2013, High Court judge Colin Birss found in Rihanna’s favour, concluding that some people would buy the item on the “false belief” that she had approved it.
Topshop appealed, with lawyer Geoffrey Hobbs arguing that the item was a “decorated T-shirt” similar to those featuring images of stars such as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.
He also argued that it was wrong to assume “only a celebrity may ever market his or her own character”.
All three Appeal Court judges dismissed the appeal, but experts explained that the ruling would not necessarily open the floodgates to similar claims.
“The court was very keen to stress that there were specific facts that made Rihanna’s case stronger than usual,” copyright lawyer Paul Joseph told the BBC.
These included photographs being spread on social media showing the singer wearing Topshop clothes, suggesting there was an official collaboration. -AFP