Site Critical Of Zeek Goes Missing After HubPages Receives Trademark ‘Infringement’ Complaint Attributed To Rex Venture Group LLC — But North Carolina-Based Rex Not Listed As Trademark Owner; Florida Firm That IS Listed As Owner Says It Has ‘No Knowledge’ Of Complaint

We are writing you today and requesting your assistance. It has come to our attention that your website Hubpages.com is broadcasting and delivering content that is both copyrighted and, [sic] Trademark Protected. In addition, the content constitutes a tortuous [sic] interference with us and our 1.2 million independent advertising reps around the world.”From communication dated July 22 and allegedly sent to HubPages. (Bolding added by PP Blog.)

UPDATED 10:23 A.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Using the pronouns “we,” “our” and “us” — while butchering a legal term and implying he had the authority to act on behalf of Rex Venture Group LLC — a purported Rex Venture “consultant” appears to have caused HubPages.com to disable a Hub written by “K. Chang” that is critical of the Rex-owned Zeek Rewards MLM “program.”

How long the “K. Chang” Hub will remain offline and whether it even will return are unclear. A Hub is an article on a specific topic. The “K. Chang” Hub questioned whether Zeek was a legal and viable business.

Zeek, which operates a penny-auction site known as Zeekler, plants the seed affiliates of the Zeek MLM “program” can earn a return in the hundreds of percent per year by sending it sums up to $10,000 and placing a daily ad for the company online. The firm has preemptively denied it is operating a “pyramid scheme.” And it claims it will ban members who describe Zeek as an investment program, despite the implication of a spectacular return and despite the fact Zeek’s business model closely resembles that of AdSurfDaily.

ASD, like Zeek, advised members not to describe the “program” as an investment program. Moreover, both ASD and Zeek had (or have) a purported “advertising” component. Zeek members place ads as part of the “program”; ASD members clicked on ads. The U.S. Secret Service seized more than $80 million from ASD-related bank accounts in 2008. ASD President Andy Bowdoin later was accused of operating a massive online Ponzi scheme that had ensnared tens of thousands of people globally.

Bowdoin faces sentencing on a Ponzi-related charge of wire fraud next month and has been banned from multilevel marketing, Internet programs and mass marketing. Zeek has listed some known ASD participants as “employees.”

In what is emerging as the latest bizarre drama involving Zeek, the “K. Chang” Hub about Zeek went missing earlier this week in the aftermath of a purported complaint for “Copyright, Trademark infringement” dated July 22 and submitted to HubPages.

The complaint, according to information “K. Chang” said he received from HubPages, was submitted by “Robert Craddock” and implied “Craddock” was acting on behalf of Rex Venture Group LLC, Zeek’s purported parent company.

Whether “Craddock” actually had the backing of Rex Venture/Zeek when submitting the complaint is unclear. “K. Chang” now says he’s trying to get the answer to that question.

The PP Blog was unable to reach Zeek for comment.

“Craddock,” according to the complaint, advised HubPages that the phrases “Zeekler; Zeek Rewards; Shopping Daisy” were protected by copyright and that “K. Chang” somehow was violating those purported copyrights. The complaint also alleged trademark infringement and libel.

Whether “Craddock” had the backing of Rex Venture/Zeek to make those claims also is unclear. Rex is not listed as the owner of any of the three trademarks allegedly cited by “Craddock” in the complaint to HubPages. “K. Chang,” meanwhile, says he’s willing to correct his Zeek Hub if there are errors of fact.

New Confusion Emerges

Screen shot: Source: Justia.com

Perhaps the biggest of the early issues surrounding the Hub flap is whether North Carolina-based Rex Venture or its Zeek arm even owns the trademarks “Craddock” allegedly brought to the attention of HubPages as part of a bid to bring down the “K. Chang” site.

Information on Justia.com, which tracks trademark applications, suggests the marks are owned by Ebon Research Systems LLC. A federal database maintained by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, meanwhile,  references Ebon Research as “Owner” and “(APPLICANT).”

Ebon Research is a company based in Florida. The firm lists Dr. Florence Alexander and Stanley Alexander Sr. as its managing members, which leads to questions not only about whether “Craddock” had the backing of Rex Venture/Zeek to bring the complaint, but also whether he had any standing to complain to HubPages about any Zeek-related matter.

Reached by the PP Blog for comment yesterday and told about the “K. Chang” circumstance and the copyright/trademark complaint at HubPages, a woman who identified herself as Dr. Florence Alexander of Ebon Research said she had “no knowledge” of any trademark or copyright complaint filed at HubPages against “K. Chang.”

“I don’t even know what HubPages is,” she said. Alexander added that she “certainly” knew of Zeek, but declined to answer questions about whether Ebon Research had a business relationship with Zeek or Rex Venture. She then ended the call, explaining that a family matter required her immediate attention.

Compare the trademark numbers listed in this screen shot of a section of the infringement complaint attributed to Rex Venture Group to the numbers in the screen shot above.

The PP Blog reached Ebon Research by dialing a phone number published for the company on the website of a U.S. government agency that identifies the firm as an “interested vendor” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A separate, nongovernment website styled “EbonResearchSystems.com” uses the same phone number for Ebon Research published on the government website and the same street address for Ebon Research published in Florida corporation records.

The nongovernment website that uses the Ebon Research name to form its URL publishes the logos of several government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, and the agencies are identified on the website as members of a “federal client list.” Ownership of the domain is unclear because it is registered through Domains By Proxy.

Whether Alexander will have additional comments later that could clarify the Zeek issues is unknown.

“K. Chang” noted yesterday that “Craddock” had identified himself in an email as a Rex Venture Group “consultant” interested in obtaining “K. Chang’s” phone number to discuss Zeek-related matters.

“I’m following up about the content you published on HubPages, regarding Zeek Rewards and companies connected with or believed to be connected with,” “Craddock” wrote, according to “K. Chang.” If you would respond with a number so I can discuss this matter with you.”

“K. Chang” added that “Craddock” used a Gmail address when contacting him, not an address linked to any of the Rex Venture domains.

That communication was signed “Robert Craddock” on one line, with the name of “Rex Venture Group LLC” appearing on the next line, according to “K. Chang,” who posts on the PP Blog in addition to maintaining the now-missing HubPages site.

After “K. Chang” received that communication, “K. Chang” received another one from “Craddock” that introduced the specter that a “corporate attorney” for Zeek “will also want to weigh in on this discussion if that is what it takes to keep your posting from being re-published on Hub Pages or anywhere else, as we believe and know this story contains false information and is disruptive to our affiliates.”

Like the actual complaint to HubPages by “Craddock,” the emailed communication to “K. Chang” also used pronouns such as “we” and “our.”

The actual complaint to HubPages, according to “K. Chang,” ended with these words (italics added):

“Rex Venture Group LLC has not given authorization, past or present, for any use, [sic] of its trademarks, [sic] copyrighted phrases. Nor does it allow, or has authorized any publication of material that is defaming and causes a business disruption for is [sic] affiliates around the world. Again I would like to thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely
Robert Craddock
Rex Venture Group LLC

See “Zeek, The ‘I’ Word And The Weight Of History . . .” (PP Blog/July 25) and Comments thread below the story.

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39 Responses to “Site Critical Of Zeek Goes Missing After HubPages Receives Trademark ‘Infringement’ Complaint Attributed To Rex Venture Group LLC — But North Carolina-Based Rex Not Listed As Trademark Owner; Florida Firm That IS Listed As Owner Says It Has ‘No Knowledge’ Of Complaint”

  1. declined to answer questions about whether Ebon Research had a business relationship with Zeek or Rex Venture.

    There is a link between Ebon Research Systems LLC and something called “ZeekRewardsPrint.com”. At ponzi promotion forum MoneyMakerGroup, “Global Moderator” mmgcjm announced on May 23 2011, 10:52 AM:

    ZeekRewardsPrint.com is now open… Create an account, get your Zeek business cards, apparel and more!!

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  2. Quick note: See Quatloos thread about purported infringement claim:

    http://www.quatloos.com/Q-Forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=8637&p=144434#p144434

    Patrick

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  3. Tony H: There is a link between Ebon Research Systems LLC and something called “ZeekRewardsPrint.com”. At ponzi promotion forum MoneyMakerGroup, “Global Moderator” mmgcjm announced on May 23 2011, 10:52 AM:

    Hello Tony,

    Thanks for this.

    Patrick

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  4. So it seems the Trademark was LICENSED but NOT OWNed by RVG.

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  5. So what are Hugpages now doing exactly?

    Or can anyone send in a complaint claiming to be anyone and get stuff taken down at whim?

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  6. And you’ve probably seen this, but sometime recently a Robert Craddock of Florida deleted their LinkedIn profile.

    Here’s the Google cache as of July 1st, 2012 – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:rX983QTYN4gJ:www.linkedin.com/pub/robert-craddock/37/969/958+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk (link working July 29th, 2012)

    Might want to take a screenshot of that, Craddok merely lists himself as a “rep” of Zeek Rewards (joined 2012).

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  7. Don’t worry, his profile screenshot is on my blog.

    His latest e-mail is even more menacing:

    “please be on notice that all legal avenues will be explored and, against all parties if the content is re-posted on the web.”

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  8. Here’s another Robert Craddock in Florida, listing himself as a consultant in “Computer and Network Security”.

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/robert-craddock/45/129/5b4

    Perhaps this has something to do with the alleged consultant relationship between Craddock and ZR?

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  9. He deleted the account and recreated it with a different email address. So LinkedIn gave him a new URL.

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  10. That would explain why ZeekRewards logo looks completely different from Zeekler logo.

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  11. It appears Mr. Craddock is a guy who specialized in computers and MLM, and goes way back:

    http://archive09.linux.com/feature/39363

    Craddock was supplying Webmail for his MLM and NM clients as part of discount Web hosting-cum-NM deals like Big Time Money, and the people behind this sort of thing wanted to block email from competitors to members of their downlines. Note that their interest was not in stopping their members from spamming, but in stopping “come join our new scheme” spam sent to their members.

    BigTimeMoney.com is registered to Mr. Craddock.

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  12. Will the real Robert Craddock please stand up?

    http://i.imgur.com/NLRCS.png

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  13. Sorry for the multiple comments Pat, I’m researching this on the fly (about to go to bed though).

    More on Robert Craddock (might also be known as “Robert Lee Craddock”) –

    Press release with photo (http://www.free-press-release.com/news-gulf-coast-claims-head-ken-feinberg-explains-new-process-using-an-actor-as-if-he-is-being-interviewed-1283801106.html) – links Craddock to gopvalues.com (domain now defunct).

    Direct link to photo – http://www.free-press-release.com/uploads/go/es/gopValues_icon.jpg

    Using above photo, hard to tell if this is the same guy but here’s a much bigger mugshot circa 2003 – http://www.bustedmugshots.com/florida/daytona-beach/robert-lee-craddock/50501471

    The cheek coloring appears to be similar enough but again, apart from being named Robert Craddock and based in Florida it might not be the same guy.

    Business directory listing for GOPValues has more info on Craddock – http://www.florida-annual-report.com/GOPVALUES-COM-CORP.html

    Another one – http://www.manta.com/g/mrsl8x2/robert-l-craddock

    WHOIS for gopvalues.com – http://whois.domaintools.com/gopvalues.com (florida Ph number provided)

    First report names a “Sylvia J Craddock” at the same address as Robert Craddock.

    Corporations Wiki links Sylvia and Robert Craddock, along with a bunch of companies – http://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Port-Orange/robert-l-craddock-P3236822.aspx

    Facebook page for Robert Craddock (linked to GOPVoices) – http://www.facebook.com/robert.craddock?sk=info

    History of Florida based Robert Craddock supplying websites to MLM marketers – http://archive09.linux.com/feature/39363

    Craddock originally got interested in stopping spam back in the mid-1990s when his primary business was designing Web sites for Multi-Level Marketers (MLMs) and, as they increasingly call themselves, Network Marketers (NMs).

    Hopefully this is of some use in establishing with clarity whether or not Craddock had any authority in issuing his claim.

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  14. I just left a long comment with a bunch of research into Craddock, I believe it’s now in moderation (linkspam). Hopefully that helps you out a bit. Anyway I’m off to bed!

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  15. I could not link to the first two links provided by oz above. Anyone else have this problem?

    What is going to be interesting is to see how Zeek deals with Craddock. If he is not an official staff member of Zeek, he has no authority to demand anything be taken down about Zeek. To add to his problems, now he has indicated “legal” action will be taken if the content is reposted on the web. Can we say practicing law without a license?

    I think it is high time Mr. Craddock heard from a real attorney. Can you imagine him getting a letter from someone like wserra? He would be apologizing so fast it would make everyone’s heads spin. That is after he went and changed his pants.

    I also think it is time that Zeek was notified of his actions, and demand they do something about it. Let’s see how good Zeek’s crack lawyer really is.

    Where are all these nutjobs coming from?

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  16. Robert Craddock isn’t that uncommon a name so I’m just adding a little triangulation to Oz’s post.

    We know his old Linkedin profile connected him to both ZR and FHTM. Here’s a twitter account in the name of Robert Craddock identifying himself as a FHTM rep:

    https://twitter.com/fhtmdish

    The picture looks like OZ’s mugshot link is our Robert. It also gives a link to a Dish network affiliate sales site, the whois for that gives a phone number which connects it to the GOP Values site (and a few others).

    I’ll have some more time later to play find the linky but it looks like this isn’t Mr. Craddock’s first trip to the rodeo.

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  17. I’ve forwarded the demand to Troy Dooly, who said he passed it on to RVG’s new COO.

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  18. Hubpages claims they’ll put my hub back online if I send them a sworn statement that the hub is true and accurate with my full name. AND remove the logo.

    So I did so, replacing Zeek logo with pixellated pix, and added a huge words in red CENSORED on it.

    I tried to republish it, and was informed that two links I had in the hub are deemed “affiliate” links and not allowed.

    One of those links they classified as “affiliate” link is the Holiday Inn Express website (hiexpress.com) The other is to lifetips.com explaining what triggers and IRS audit.

    I sent them a question but have not heard back from them.

    This is getting ridiculous.

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  19. I have been informed by an insider (NOT at Zeek) that Mr. Craddock is (or was) FHTM member, and is owner and founder of Mail-Block. So I think we are talking about the SAME person.

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  20. I’ve forwarded the demand to Troy Dooly, who said he passed it on to RVG’s new COO.

    I am curious how much due diligence the new CEO did on Zeek.

    If the COO had not done enough diligent, after reading Kasey’s hub, that will be an eye opener.

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  21. Mr. Chang, I had problems with WordPress about affiliate links, so I got my own domain. That might be easier and less troublesome.

    I Am Not Don

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  22. K. Chang: I have been informed by an insider (NOT at Zeek) that Mr. Craddock is (or was) FHTM member, and is owner and founder of Mail-Block. So I think we are talking about the SAME person.

    Yes, it is the same person but Robert may have been the founder of mail-block dot com but he’s been demoted to a Vice President position leaving his brother in charge.

    I don’t pretend to know why that happened but there were some lawsuits involved and you can get a jump start on your research by running Robert L Craddock’s name through this following link:

    http://www.clerk.org/cm/publicrecords/publicrecords.jsp

    If Mr. Craddock is out there, the longer you try to piss on our man Chang the longer we’ll find you interesting. There is an ever growing list of people who wish that we (collectively) never took an interest in them. Have a nice day.

      (Quote)

  23. Dunno what’s now wrong with the “free-press-release.com” site now but it was working when I published the comment.

    Just to clarify though, the profile photo of Craddock on the pages I linked is the same as the one that appears on the Twitter account ‘fhtmdish’ GlimDropper published.

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  24. K. Chang let me know if I can help you nuke this asshole. We can heat it up on the MLM Watchdog and shove it to top of searchengines

    Rod Cook

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  25. It is difficult to rank any hubpages site even with significant SEO and backlinking, including: articles, web 2.0, social sites, bookmarks, directories, and profiles. BehindMLM, PPBlog, and realscam.com are rising, but I’ve noticed that many attempts at increasing search rankings for hubpages sites is too difficult even with all the right on-page SEO elements (keywords in title, H1 tags, good density, LSI considerations, site age, etc).

    From my own SEO experience, and having dealt with a few other hubpages sites, it seems that since Panda, and even more so after Penguin, hubpages has a huge Google slap. Many URL’s are stuck around page 5-6 that would otherwise be on page 1. With so many consistently hanging around pages 5-6, my belief Hubpages has a -50 penalty that hasn’t been lifted.

    My recommendation would be to post it on RealScam.com as a new thread. Allow discussion like any forum topic, but maintain updates to the initial post. RealScam.com may need to modify the vBulletin user permissions to allow a new use group where the thread author can edit past the expiration time.

    Then if Kasey can get the Hub back, post a very short summary and link to the RealScam.com article using the anchor text of “Zeek Rewards”. This will pass the link juice and the anchor text without carrying the Hubpages penalty. Then we’ll see how quickly that RealScam.com page rises.

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  26. K.Chang – Just a quick note of support. I’m mostly a lurker but appreciate what Patrick is doing here and what the more active members like you are doing to contribute.

    Keep up the great work, we appreciate what everyone is doing to rid the internet of the ponzi scourge, and, hopefully, educate a few people along the way who might be mathematically illiterate or naive about the risks and legality of participation in same.

    ARWR

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  27. Mitch McDeere: My recommendation would be to post it on RealScam.com as a new thread.

    I’ve asked Kaseys’ permission to do just that.

    RealScam.com won’t proceed without his expressed permission to become involved.

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  28. @Rod Cook — don’t need him nuked. Feeling the heat should be sufficient. I’m not a vindictive person. I’m merely… annoyed.

    @Mitch — I’ve posted various updates inside the ZeekRewards topic over at RealScam. Glim and LRM have posted comments as well. I’ll go start a new topic.

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  29. @Mitch — hubpages is considered an article farm, even though it is a nicely vetted one. They survived the Panda update by going to subdomains, but this latest update hit them hard.

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  30. Looking at the Ebon web site, under “Prime Contracts Performed”, they list an IT job for the Secret Service. “Asset Forfeiture Support Services”.

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  31. And I’ve worked Protective Service detail with the Secret Service. Honest Injun.

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  32. Laggos “parted company” with Zeek (apparently in not so amicable terms), now pushing Lyoness, one where you can “pre-pay” for a pre-paid card (huh?) Predicts Zeek has 6 months left before it gets hit by FTC, also revealed he was a Zeek affiliate with 40K downlines.

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  33. I think my hub’s back online.

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