Whips and chains may turn Rihanna on, but sell t-shirts bearing her likeness without permission, and you’ll get sued–a lesson Topshop is learning right now.
According to the New York Post, Rihanna has filed a $5 million suit against the retail giant for shilling t-shirts with her image on it without asking her consent.
The lawsuit comes after Rihanna’s management repeatedly asked Topshop to stop selling the t-shirts.
Topshop is currently selling a tank top with Rihanna’s picture. The item, called the ‘Icon Tank,’ is described as a “photographic tank with photographic motif of a girl wearing a headscarf.” You know, just a random girl. Clever, Topshop.
While Topshop hasn’t officially responded with comment, a source from the retailer tells the Post that “this issue is related to a T-shirt provided to Topshop by a third-party supplier. We are aware it is the subject of litigation.”
It might seem like Rihanna has a pretty strong case. But because the suit is being filed in the UK, it will be really tricky for the singer to win. As Topshop purchased the image from the photographer who took it, the retailer is technically exempt, by law, from paying the artist licensing fees–in the UK at least. (Topshop is not selling the tanktop in the US where laws would protect Rihanna.)
Still, Rihanna is pressing ahead with the suit.
We’re sure the fact that Rihanna is designing a line for Topshop competitor River Island, who currently sells several items bearing the singer’s image, has added extra urgency to the case.
We’ve reached out to Rihanna’s UK law firm, Reed Smith, for comment and will update when we hear back.