BuzzFeed has the court documents, exclusively. She is suing the brand, but for a yet-to-be-confirmed amount.
As first reported last week, Rihanna is in the midst of a legal battle with British clothing brand Topshop, over the sale of a sleeveless t-shirt featuring her (allegedly unauthorized) image.
But, while the New York Post reported Rihanna sought $5 million from Topshop in damages, court documents reveal that’s not the case.
BuzzFeed Fashion has obtained all the court documents relating to the case, including Rihanna’s complaint and Topshop’s reply. Rihanna’s claim makes no mention of any set amount for damages. While Topshop’s and Rihanna’s legal teams were unavailable to comment for this story, British lawyers not working on the case explained that any damages granted would only be calculated after trial anyway — and only if Rihanna wins.
So get comfortable, there’s legalese coming up.
Here’s the offending tee, which Topshop began selling in early March 2012.
Topshop initially sold the product labeled as a “RIHANNA TANK.” After first receiving informal complaints from Rihanna’s team, the tee’s product title changed to “HEADSCARF GIRL TANK,” and later again to “ICON TANK.” Now, the tee is no longer for sale at Topshop under any name (though you might find it on eBay).
Rihanna was clearly quite unhappy about this. Along with two L.A.-based companies that retain her licensing rights and trademark, she filed an intellectual property claim against Topshop’s parent company Arcadia Group Brands Ltd. Filed by British legal firm Reed Smith, the case went before the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice in London on March 30th, 2012.
In the case, Ri-Ri’s lawyers begin by explaining her cultural significance. She’s one of the most well-known recording artists in the world, of course, but it’s entirely possible that an older British judge would have missed out on her hits…or, you know, changed the channel after catching a split-second of her “S&M” videobecause they assumed they’d accidentally turned on a pay-per-view porn channel. A fun fact in their explanation of her global superstar status:
The first claimant is known professionally by her middle name, RIHANNA, which is a unique spelling of the traditional Welsh name RHIANNON, also spelt RHIANNA and RIANNA, and is distinctive to the first claimant.
In their response to the claim, Topshop’s lawyers accept that Rihanna’s reputation “has generated a substantial amount of goodwill” in the field of music. (Though, interestingly, they dispute the name Rihanna itself is unique to her.)
Perhaps not actually having seen Battleship themselves, Rihanna’s lawyers also tout her acting cred, noting “excellent reviews being made of the first claimant’s services.” So actually, while the Hollywood Reporter said Rihanna seemed to be “having the most fun” in the film, Roger Ebert wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, “The film eventually comes down to lots of scenes in which things get ‘blowed up real good’… you get the feeling that Hasbro showed director Peter Berg some Michael Bay movies and told him to go and do likewise.” And the The New York Timesaccused Battleship of having “a plot as unambitious as a macaroni dinner, familiar and easy to eat and not particularly nutritious.”