Dear Mr. Little:

Thank you for bringing to my attention my use of the FourGen name. I had no idea that your company existed, or else I would have used some other name for the files. Basically, I was a lazy bastard when I named the files and didn't feel like typing out "generations" all the time. I'm sure whoever named your company was driven by the same impulse.

I have changed the file names in question ("fourgen.html" and "fourgen4.gif"), as well as several other versions of the graphic file with similar names. People searching for FourGen Software are no longer likely to find these files instead. The new names replace "fourgen" with "four_gn". Someone searching for "four*n" would find both my files and FourGen Software, as well as any page with "fourgon" (a wagon for carrying luggage, according to my dictionary) or "fourteen" in its title. However, people searching for FourGen Software will probably use a much more exact search than "four*n", so there should be no problem.

If you'd like to check the files in question, the URL for my home page is "". They're off the photo album link on that page.

A bigger concern for you, Harry, is that FourGen's Web site doesn't work. I've tried for two days now to access it with no success. I keep getting an "Information server is either is not accessible or is refusing to serve the document to you" error. No wonder people came to look at my page--they couldn't get to yours. You should send some email to the FourGen Webmaster and get her on the ball. A faulty Web site will not make a good first impression on a perspective customer.

In order to prevent this situation from happening again (and to satisfy my curiousity) perhaps you could point me to an on-line beginner's guide to trademark and copyright law, as well as a list of registered trademarks? If such a list exists, it would be a very simple matter to write a program to search the Web for possible trademark infringements. Just a few infringements could make someone rich. But that's probably been done. For every 1000 blockheads on the net these days, there's 1 genius with a nose for money and/or trouble.

While I realize the gravity of the situation from your perspective (I understand that a company must fight each and every infringement of its trademark), you should also realize the humor of the situation from my perspective. I came back from a trip to find a very official looking letter from a software company waiting for me. "Whooeee--a job offer!" I thought, "and it's only been two weeks since graduation." But now that you've contacted me, I have to ask: Do you have any jobs for someone with a master's degree in computer engineering, with a background that includes CPU design, wearable computer design, C/C++ programming, and a working knowledge of the Mach operating system? Grad school's a great place to be, but it doesn't always pay the bills. Besides, my fiancee would like for us to go to the West Coast. I hear Seattle's beautiful this time of year.

If there aren't any openings, it would be nice to have a FourGen T-shirt or baseball cap to remember this by. You could even autograph it, and then I'd have an even better story to tell people over beers. If you'd like, I can get the four generations of Martins to autograph a copy of the picture for you. Grampa's 81 now, but he's still full of piss and vinegar, and Kenneth can write now, so he'll be able to sign it too. Maybe you're a cigar smoker? I could send you a cigar rolled from the tobacco in the background. You might want to let it age awhile though--it's a little harsh at first.

Since FourGen "can appreciate the spirit of the Internet", I'm sure you will realize that I am impelled by my net background to give you a hard time about this, even though, like I said, I understand that you had to inform me about my use of the "FourGen" term. Hopefully you'll take the ribbing in the spirit that it's given and laugh with your coworkers about it over lunch (if anyone ever laughs with a lawyer). I know I will.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any other concerns in this matter. Thanks again for getting in touch with me.


Tom Martin

Last updated June 7, 1995.