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Anthony James & Son’s website and email account – hosted by a 1stdibs subsidiary – was taken offline without warning last month after proprietor James Millard (pictured below) was accused of “actively soliciting other dealers to join another platform”.

Millard sent emails to members of the dealer association CINOA informing them of a promotional offer between CINOA and selling website RubyLUX.

He told ATG: “My website is my only way of doing business. This has been a nightmare for me. I believe we should be able to be on as many portals as possible. This is a big business bullying a smaller one. It has been so time consuming and costly to start again.”

Millard began trading from the site six years ago as part of Online Galleries, which was bought by 1 stdibs four years ago. The website was shared by fellow dealer David Love, in Harrogate, who has also lost his online presence. Millard is in the process of setting up a new web presence.

A 1stdibs spokeswoman said: “While we allow for dealers to sell on other platforms, we believe that when a dealer actively solicits other dealers to join another platform, that it no longer makes sense for that dealer to [be] on 1stdibs and Online Galleries.”

She described this as “a rare instance in which action of this nature was taken given the circumstances”.

Rebecca Davies, chief executive at LAPADA, said dealers should “understand the risks of linking their site to a commercial portal and to take the necessary steps to ensure intellectual property is protected”.