The pros advantage con artists - Intellectual property theft notice - TheProsAdvantage .com

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I received an email from my LEC 4 clients Matt Barker / Brandon Hedges regarding an interesting inquiry they received at their LEC 4 website http://www.homesofminnesota.com - someone was accusing THEM of copying their design. Huh? Wait a sec - the LEC 4 is a design / architecture belonging to Real Estate Webmasters - they own the copyright and intellectual property rights to it - what is going on here? So they email me the complaint.

Naturally I go through the ROOF! - Turns out this hack company "The Pros Advantage" sold this poor Realtor OUR DESIGN! (Charged him $3500 to rip it off basically) but of course the victim one David Bigham (Minneapolis Minnesota) had no idea that not only had he been swindled - he is now liable for intellectual property theft to boot because his domain (a domain he controls) is voluntarily pointing to a stolen design and he paid the bill (albeit unknowingly) to have this done.

Here is a screenshot (our site www.homesofminnesota.com on the left - the rip off site on the right)

Shame on you The Pros Advantage you lowlife scumbag thieves! I called you btw - but your cheap 800 number doesn't work from Canada (imagine that) so I was forced to email info@theprosadvantage.com - (Anyone else who wants to email them and tell them what they think of these unscrupulous actions feel free)

PS - Aaron just pointed this one out - what a bunch of friggin morons! (See screenshot below) - not only was this already an open and shut case - you didn't even remove our copyright notification from the source code.

What's next for REW vs The Pros Advantage?

Well like my email said - if you don't take down every single image, line of code, derivative work that you have stolen (or has even been inspired by) a Real Estate Webmasters design - you will have your C & D, DMCA and shortly after court appearence papers.

But that's not it - I am REALLY pissed! You have ripped off one of my premier products AFTER seeing it go live on your ex client site www.tommypennington.com and AFTER calling me asking if I was interested in potentially hiring you / buying your company. Are you kidding me - no that's not it - I have been meaning to visit many friends in Minneapolis anyways - I will pay you a visit as well (by now you know it won't be a friendly one) - that way you can look me in the eye and explain to me how MY design (MY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY) ended up a cheap knockoff produced under your company name and sold to some poor schmuck for $3500 - trust me when I say your explanation better be PRETTY DAMNED GOOD!

Realtors Stay away from THEPROSADVANTAGE (The Pros Advantage or TPA) their site is theprosadvantage.com and they are nothing but a bunch of lying, cheating thieves! (PS - I would be happy to offer a 50% discount on ALL REW out of the box products to any customer of TheProsAdvantage.com that would like to switch away from these lowlifes - post a comment with your URL if you are interested in switching) - who's to say you won't be the next poor Realtor to get an irate phone call from a reputable design / programming company demanding immediate action or you will get sued. Get out now - (if you don't like what we have to offer, I would be happy to suggest alternatives as well) -

Anyways - now it's out here The Pros Advantage you bunch of scumbags - you better get with the program and get those files deleted quick - (and send me a notarized letter cofirming you have done so) or we will be having words (Our legal team and you - and ME and YOU) - you have messed with the WRONG webmaster.

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The Koitz Group

Unbelievable - I've been trying to write a comment for 5 minutes, I'm speechless...the guy's been in contact with you, is in a relatively small "circle"...what did he think was going to happen? Sorry, Coach...

Gulf Coast Associates

It’s utterly amazing how some people try (and sometimes succeed) to make a buck on the back of someone else’s efforts.

Morgan Carey

Turns out this David Bigham is not as "innocent" as I gave him credit for. I have been corresponding with him and he told me that he had care and control over his domain (and the ability to change the DNS AWAY from the pros advantage - which is the right thing to do seeing as there is undisputable PROOF (note our copyright language on the domain) that the source code was stolen - and do you know what this jackass replies to me with when I ask why he hasn't taken MY property of the URL yet?

"The fact is I hired a company to design me a Real Estate Web Site. I do not have time or the desire to go out and search the internet for a site to copy. I had been a client of The Pros Advantage for the past four years prior to the past four months when I went with another designer and company. I returned to The Pros Advantage at the start of October when the other company didn’t fix any of my sites problems over the four months I was with them. I have contacted a trademark and web attorney to advise me with this issue."

Contacted a trademark attorney instead of changing the DNS? Are you kidding me! - It says "copyright Real Estate Webmasters" on your website and I didn't built it you moron!

This whole thing smacks of a Realtor getting caught stealing (both web vendor AND Realtor knowingly participate) and then trying to use ignorance as an excuse or deffence which we all know is #1 flawed login and #2 not a defense in a court of law.

I gave this guy (David Bigham) a chance to do the right thing (by changing the DNS to point away from that server) - I ever offered him a free website / hosting on my servers (and already set it up) to help him not have any down time until he finds a new vendor - and this is what the guy replies with. OMG!!!! David (Bigham) I hope you realize how unprofessional / unethical your response is. Now the whole world is watching your next move - NOT SMART!

Morgan Carey

Oops "flawed logic" that is - now this guy is claiming he "doesn't have access to his own URL - which he owns" - hmmm that story sure changed quick. You still contacting that IP attorney? PLEASE DO - send them this post and ask em if you have a chance in frozen hell of defending yourself - you won't find an attorney alive that will even hint at a victory for you after reviewing the facts. David Bigham - common sense called and is BEGGING you to do the right thing here (for your own sake)

Morgan Carey

LMAO - and his latest -

"I am not giving excuses these are reasons as to why I cannot change things immediately. Also, again I have no idea who you or the legitimacy of your claims here. I question this especially because of your inflammatory and unprofessional demeanor. Send me a certified letter from your attorney about your claims that would involve me directly."

Keep digging David Bigham - I was trying to provide you an out so that you could just do the right thing and move on - but you seem to WANT to be involved - you are either stupid or guilty (and stalling) if you question the legitimacy of my claims - MY copyright is on YOUR URL - and we have screnshots to prove it (although it's still up on your live site as well smart guy)

MattBarker

The only thing they didn't steal is the IDX. I bet for another $1,500 they would have thrown it in.

MattBarker

Morgan, Thanks for defending Brandon and I as well! As you know, we have over 6 months of work designing the extras on www.homesofminnesota.com - something that took the Pros Advantage just moments to steal. I am hopeful that Bigham does the right thing and takes down the design.

OCTeam

And, the guy questions your unprofessional demeanor? Amazing how people react when caught redhanded and they know it. Heck, give me his free website. I'll use it.

Give Aaron a pay raise for that find. That is classic stupidity on their part...lol

Malok

Unprofessional? Is he serious? There is a REW copyright in the code (nice find, Aaron!) that clearly shows that his site was stolen - and instead of wanting to take a professional, ethical, and legal action to address the matter, he wants to play games and keeps changing his story whenever he gets in a corner. Now, that is unprofessional.

Aaron

It's absolutely amazing how much they stole the design and then tried to say rew stole their design.

Looks like they must have just put that site up cause Google still has their old site cached. I have to admit - it was Anthony that showed me that JS code. A great find indeed. Even got some comments from our Lead Programmer Mike in one of the JS files. He doesn't really have much of a chance fighting this one.

Scott.Hack

Maybe I'm naive, but if the guy contacted Matt about his site being a copy of his own, it sounds like this guy really COULD be that clueless. Or maybe this was all part of an elaborate scheme to make himself look blamless. Either way he hasn't done himself any favors with the way he has handled it.

Morgan Carey

Actually that was an assumption on my part (that it was that David Bigham guy that send in the inquiry) - but it actually wasn't (David Bigham told me he had no idea what I was talking about) - so I'm like - hmmm, maybe this guy is not as innocent as I thought.

So "thank you" to whoever blew the whistle and signed up on Matt and Brandons site - it was your tipoff that alerted me in the end (because my customer is awesome and shared it with me)

Marc Rasmussen

Amazing. It is a pretty design. I can see what someone tried to borrow (steal) it.

Indy Realtor

Unbelievable!!! I don't understand how this David Bigham or The Pros Advantage are not apologizing up and down after getting caught so red handed. I have never seen such an obvious case of theft. Go get 'em Morgan!

Dennis Pease

I see David Bingham is with RE/MAX. I hate to see this, so I went into RE/MAX Mainstreet and if I was you I would also contact his Owner/Broker since you are not getting through to him.

RE/MAX RESULTS
125 West Lake St W
Wayzata, MN 55391
Office Phone

Main: (952) 475-8000
Toll Free: (888) 475-8001
Fax: (952) 475-8010

OWNERS:
John Collopy
Marshall W. Saunders

Office Email: getinfo@minnesotahomes.com

In addition to any other actions you may take, I think the owners of the RE/MAX would take this seriously.

Calgary Agent

Hang'em high, hang'em long. If you need any contributions towards taking all of these thieves down just let me know.

Morgan Carey

Well I just sent this to them - let's see if they comply (I removed the lawyers name and legal firm due to us not yet having a signed engagement letter) -

"Very cute guys (David btw - now we KNOW you are involved)

Do you actually think you can just start with my design (your first act of intellectual property theft) and start hacking away it until is different enough (in your opinion) to be called unique and that will be the end of this?

One of my members put this very eloquently -

"That's like stealing a car, filing off the serial numbers, painting it and expecting you can no longer go to jail."

Guess what guys - when you start with someone elses IP (intellectual property) (And we all know you have ripped of mine here) and you start changing it - everything you change inherits the same right (grants them to the copyright holder) - It's called "derivative work" - it's the law - look it up.

Now not only are you guilty of intellectual property theft (on several counts) you are ALSO guilty of intentionally (after the fact) making unauthorized modifications to my copy-written work with the most extreme example being "removal of my copyright mark"

I am going to forward this to LAWYER who is the principal of IP LAW FIRM X - whom I believe will be our local legal resource in handling the C & D, DMCA and most importantly law suit should you fail to comply.

LAWYER I will speak with you on Monday.

Last chance guys - DELETE EVERYTHING YOU STOLE (which is basically the whole site) - and start from scratch - or I will do everything in my considerable resources to ensure you are held accountable for this infringement. I will not tolerate, nor let you get away with using my code (not a single line of it) in the creation your website. It just WILL NOT happen.

Remove my code from your servers - or suffer legal (and reputation damage) consequences."

Morgan Carey

David Bigham replies with "what are you talking about?" - Seriously?

REW Andy

I can't tell whether David is trying to piss you off on purpose or if he genuinely believes he's not doing anything wrong. How stupid can he be?

bnicolas

Crazy how David Bingham [paraphrase] "does not have time or the desire to go out and search the internet for a site to copy" but he does have time to go out and find the rightful owner of websites he copys and accuse the rightful owner of stealing his stolen sites. Thats like me hiring some unscrupulous freelance writers, they go out and cut and paste the www.LAtimes.com onto my site and then I go contact the LA Times and tell them they better take their site down because they have the same content as me ??? and then hen they get pissed and tell me to take my site down or they are going to sue telling them that its not my fault? I didn't do it, my writers did and they are better than my old writers so I stand behind them. David Bingham, all I can say is that you need to realize that this post is going to be the first thing that shows up when any potential client ever Googles your name for the rest of your career. Do you think maintaining your doomed lawsuit waiting to happen website really worth defending? Ever heard of the concept of "Online Reputation Management"? If I were you I'd take down the site, take Morgans offer (I have no idea why you'd offer this idiot a free site but whatever) and get on the phone with REW now begging them to permanently delete this post. I wouldn't want this display of ineptitude to be the first thing associated with my name for eternity....

Just my 2 cents...

OCTeam

Apparently because he was a pro ball player, he thinks that he can get away with anything he wants to do. Maybe the ball hit him one too many times in the head?

I wouldn't waste time any longer communicating with him. Time for the attorney to send a letter to give him a reality lesson. I would think that that $3,500 will be insignificant change if he wants to defend his actions.

rmasse10

Wow...amazed that someone and/or some company would do something like this and think that it would not come around to get bit in the ass...

warning shot across the bow...and then thats it

bnicolas

surprise, surprise I'm no SEO expert but when I google "david bingham minnesota real estate" the first result I get is a .pdf of a lawsuit but again... I am no SEO expert...

rmasse10

well now...that didnt take long!

Morgan Carey

Ben - I offered him a free site when I thought he was an innocent victim - and I didn't want this to impact uptime for his email etc - I didn't realize later that clearly he's involved - (why else would he even be fighting me on this?)

Gary Ashton

Just found out about the design scam and all that this entails.

Morgan, sounds like you have given David ample opportunity to do the right thing and dis associate himself from the offending "web design" company but it looks like he is leaving you know choice but to pursue a legal rememdy to uphold the itellectual property rights infringements of your design as well as Matt and Brandons upgrades.

I'm really at a loss as to how someone can still defend themselves when clearly the product is based on the same design as the www.HomesofMinnesota.com site and the REW code is still embedded in the site. It's the equivilant of stealing money from a bank, having the dollar notes all dyed purple to indicate they are stolen, and then go to another bank the next day to try and deposit the money...and then claim that you didn't realise it was stolen!!

This is the kind of case that has to be pursued to stop others doing the same thing with no consequence. Unfortunately this could be come a drain on time and resources for all innocent parties involved so I hope some remedy, in the form of damages for loss of earnings on REW's part, is built into this legal action.

Sorry that you are having to go through this Morgan and REW but its seems you have been given no choice!

Ryan Ward

Umm....he isn't even allowed to use the domain. It has realtors in it.

Malok

@ Ryan - Try BighamHomes (dot) com.

Ryan Ward

@ Malok - Try bighamrealtors (dot) com.

Dwell Atlanta

I think his broker should get a few phone calls from REW clients voicing their opinion. As a broker, the last thing I want is an agent throwing me in the water by breaking the law.

tampa4u

Hi Morgan, this is one of the inconveniences of being at the top. I'm sure there are hundreds copying your site(s). In my area alone, in 2007, we found 27 sites copying ours, not to mention the hundreds who copy and pasted our meta tags. Our legal team had a field day calling and sending C&D letters... but you can't chase everyone and sooner or later it becomes a full time job and we're really here in business to help home buyers and sellers. Here is an example of one that slipped.

Look at 5th paragraph: tampa4u (dot )com/selling.html and compare to 11th paragraph of this site: findmyfloridahome (dot) net/SellyourhomeinTampaBay

Notice the similarities? Look at titles also and metatag. The photo on the left used to be a stolen photo from our site but was replaced last year.

tampa4u

Owner of site quickly changed content but those following this thread can see the screenshot here: http://www.tampa-mls (dot)com/masse-screenshot.jpg

Also web archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20080630083102/http://www.findmyfloridahome.net/SellyourhomeinTampaBay

rmasse10

Yes, I did change it because you were correct...some 5 years ago when I first started to create the site, I looked around to see how everyone else was doing...I did model me site after yours and I thought over the years I had changed everything...I apollogize for that as it slipped thru the cracks and that was my mistake...I hope the change has addressed the issue...

again, sorry about that

tampa4u

FYI: Our legal team actually caught this one just last week but I've known for years. That's fine, apologies accepted, we forgive you:)

Morgan Carey

Ryan his last name is Bigham so that is actually an acceptable use of the membership mark "Realtors" as I understand it.

Ryan Ward

Ahh, you are correct if it is his name - for advertising. I still thought in a domain it could not be used. I could be incorrect about that though....

Morgan Carey

"The term REALTOR®, whether used as part of a domain name or in some other fashion must refer to a member or a member's firm."

http://www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/internetuse :)

Morgan Carey

Looks like they decided to be smart about it and put the old website back up (at least I assume that's the old website and not one stolen from someone else)

Anyways at first glance it appears that the offending material has been removed - time will tell.

Knox Richards

I've been watching this without commenting or reposting to see what happens. The last sentence in your post, Morgan should have resonated with them sooner. I'm glad to see they are starting to make the right decisions.

Byron

It's is a shame how some companies have no creativity and just steal others creative works. I know how it feels and I am dealing with a similiar issue. I hope you can sue the ____ out of them.

Spoken Gently

Gees, this is so stupid it's funny. Kinda like the stupid crook videos where the masked crook leaves his wallet at the business he just robbed.

Belinda Egan

Well, I just feel like I have to make a comment, I was completely "Duped" by this guy. I took a job with him in November of 2008 as Business Development Sales Associate only to learn that I was working for a crook who had no business ethics or moral values. He not only was screwing his clients but he wasn't paying his employees either. I along with at least 4 other staff recieved rubber checks from him or didn't get paid at all. Needless to say I think he works alone these days. How people continue to trust him is beyond me; he charges peoples credit cards monthly and doesn't provide the service or product promised to them. BTW theprosadvantage is located in Prior Lake MN

R. David Keillor

thePROSadvantage is several months in arrears on money owed to my company for broker recoprocity / IDX services. In fact, we've not received a dime. A word to the wise, get payment upfront.

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