Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2015] All ER (D) 157 (Jan)
Neutral Citation: [2015] EWCA Civ 3
Court: Court of Appeal, Civil Division

Richards, Kitchin and Underhill LJJ

Representation Martin Howe QC and Andrew Norris (instructed by Reed Smith) for the claimants.
  Geoffrey Hobbs QC and Hugo Cuddigan (instructed by Mishcon de Reya) for the defendants.
Judgment Dates: 22 January 2015


Passing off - Clothes - Infringement of intellectual property rights - First claimant being famous pop star - Second and third claimants being companies conducting trade on behalf of first claimant - Defendants being retail store and subsidiary - Claimant bringing claim against defendants for passing off in respect of sale of t-shirts bearing first claimant's image without permission - Judge finding passing off occurring - Whether judge erring in proceeding on basis no difference between merchandising and endorsement - Whether judge erring in failing to proceed on basis law treated use on garments of recognisable images of personalities as origin neutral - Whether judge erring in failing to assess by reference to perceptions of persons for whom presence of image being origin neutral.

The Case

Passing off Clothes. The defendant retailer, Topshop, had sold a t-shirt with an image of the pop star Rihanna. The t-shirt was not officially endorsed by her and while the photograph had been licensed to Topshop by the photographer, it had been taken during a video shoot for the star's new album. Rihanna successfully issued proceedings for passing off. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissed Topshop's appeal as the judge had not made any error in his identification of the relevant law or his application of it to the present case.

Practice Areas

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