Ariana Grande claims that Forever 21 is benefiting from her popularity and fame by using a “lookalike” model for its advertisements to promote its products. The singer alleges that the retailer hired a model who bore an “uncanny” resemblance to her after she declined to enter into partnership and endorse the brand when they approached her last November. Furthermore, the lawsuit states that Forever 21 used Ariana Grande’s lyrics in their campaign.
The lawsuit highlights important issues in relation to ‘Passing Off’ and intellectual property rights. Passing Off can occur when a company deliberately or unintentionally misleads its customers into believing that their products or services are those of another company or individual so as to deceive the customer and benefit from the reputation of the other company or individual. The law in relation to Passing Off in the UK is governed by case law. The case of Reckitt & Colman Products Limited v Borden Inc.  1 All E.R. 873 (also known as the Jif Lemon case) states that there are three elements that need to be satisfied in order to succeed in a claim:
- One party must have an established goodwill or reputation in its name, goods, services, mark or logo which distinguishes them to the public and they claim the other party is passing off as their own; and
- There is misrepresentation. The public has been misled; and
- Damage has been or is likely to be caused.
It is important to protect your business and to prevent others from benefiting from your reputation and image. If you require legal assistance in relation to Passing Off, or have reason to believe that someone is Passing Off your goods or services as their own, then please do not hesitate to contact our Business Services Department who will be happy to assist.