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