Christie's bought art inventory firm Collectrium last year for $16m.

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The claim, filed in a district court in Dallas, involves accusations that Christie’s-owned Collectrium took data from Heritage for its own database.

Heritage alleges that three million listings were lifted from its auction catalogues and is seeking redress under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Collectrium was founded in 2009 and bought by Christie’s last year for $16m.

With offices in New York and London, it offers art collectors a system to manage their collections via an online art inventory.

It recently launched a new database, created from collecting data across the internet and compiling it in one single database. On its website it states it has more than 7m auction results and 27000 collectors.

In Heritage’s court documents it provides evidence of how text had been copied by Collectrium of descriptions and listings from Heritage’s own catalogue.

Collectrium could not comment on the matter but it is thought it has removed the data from Heritage Auctions on its site and hopes to resolve the matter with the Dallas firm.

The technique of aggregating, or collecting, data from websites across the internet to collate information in one place is commonly used by a variety of companies such as travel or hotel websites offering details of deals available from different companies.

A source close to Collectrium said it followed the rules relating to online automated aggregation.

A Christie's statement said: “We are reviewing the allegations against Collectrium, a wholly independent subsidiary of Christie’s.”