SCOTS artist Jack Vettriano has won a legal battle to clamp down on a forgery gang trying to cash in on his work.
The celebrated painter called in lawyers after a website was set up using his name to sell fake copies of his artwork.
The web address, www.jack-vettriano.co.uk, was registered as a domain name in 2014 by a person based in China.
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The real address for the 67-year-old artist’s website, where he sells prints of his famous paintings including The Singing Butler, is www.jackvettriano.co.uk
The Far East-based counterfeit operation was promising unsuspecting customers prints of any Vettriano painting.
Now, the Nominet Dispute Resolution Service - which oversees .uk domains - has ruled that the bogus website should be handed over to Vettriano.
Fife-born Vettriano’s legal team argued people were likely to believe the website was connected with him and that it could create the impression it was authorised by him.
A spokesperson for the artist’s company Jack Vettriano Publishing said: “We take any infringement of our copyright very seriously and we are delighted to have closed this counterfeiting operation.
“It is extremely important to us that fans of Jack Vettriano’s work are not tricked into purchasing sub-standard copies which are being passed off as official merchandise.”
In a written decision, Nominet’s independent expert, who ruled on the case, said: “The complainant has, to my reasonable satisfaction, shown rights in respect of a name or mark which is identical or similar to the domain name.
“The complainant has shown that the domain name jack-vettriano.co.uk is an abusive registration.
“I am satisfied that no other factors apply which would make a summary decision unconscionable in all the circumstances.
“I grant the complainant’s application for a summary decision. The domain name will therefore be transferred to the complainant.”
Trading standards officers say that consumers are being tricked into buying fake goods on the internet by companies pretending to be based in the UK.
If consumers are unsure about the origins of a website, the advice is to use the “Who is” tool, on Nominet’s website.
As the guardian of UK domain names, Nominet is responsible for the stability and security of one of the largest internet industries in the world, with more than 10 million domain names presently registered.
The organisation has the power to act over any disputes over domain names through a mediation process.
However, in instances where these cannot be resolved, an independent expert is given the job of issuing their findings, which must be adhered to.
Vettriano was brought up in Methil, Fife, and rose from working in the coal-fields to become one of Britain’s best-known contemporary artists.
He took up painting as a hobby in the 1970s, when a girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours for his 21st birthday and recently sold his £1.7m North Castle Street townhouse and moved to london..
The Singing Butler, one of his most popular works, fetched almost £750,000 at auction in 2004 - a record at the time for a Scottish painting.