The absence of the Barbadian singer, who has been in the UK this week, was remarked on at London’s High Court as she and two Los Angeles-based associated companies claimed she was entitled to damages for the unauthorised use of her image on a T-shirt.
The claim is allegedly for $5m (€3.8m) and is against Arcadia Group Brands Ltd, who operate Topshop.
Bringing the action under her full name of Robyn Rihanna Fenty, she alleges an unknown quantity of T-shirts was acquired by Topshop in 2011 and early 2012 and offered for sale under the name “Rihanna Tank”.
Court documents allege that, after being challenged by the singer’s lawyers, Topshop dropped her name on the T-shirt and referred to “Headscarf Girl Tank”, and then to “Icon Tank”.
The image under attack was taken by a freelance photographer “without her permission” while Rihanna was filming a video in Northern Ireland.
The singer accuses Topshop of passing off, or attempting to pass off, the T-shirt as being approved or authorised by her and her associated companies and wrongly using her name.
Rihanna’s lawyers are asking Mr Justice Birss to grant an injunction to prevent Arcadia and Topshop continuing to sell clothes “using the mark Rihanna or any confusingly similar name”.
Arcadia lawyers argue that, in substance, the singer is seeking legal recognition for an assumption that “only a celebrity or her successors may ever market, or license the marketing, of her own character”.
The hearing is continuing and judgment is expected to be reserved next week.