This is fallout from the recent changes in trademark law, which created a new, ridiculous standard for "dilution of trademark." Nominally, this protects a company like Pepsi from, say, a shoe company that wants to create "Pepsi sneakers." The reform is spurred by a perceived failure in the old trademark standard, which made trademarks domain-specific: a trademark on "Acme Springs" doesn't stop someone from creating "Acme Anvils."
But the dilution standard goes further. It allows companies that own extremely famous marks built on regular, English words, to stop others from using that mark in any other context. Think of The Doors' music publisher suing the Acme Door Company from trading on their good name.
That's exactly what Visa is doing. They claim that the fame of Visa, the credit card, has so outstripped the fame of "visa," the English word, that anyone who names a company or product "visa" (even, presumably, a book called "How to Get an American H1B Work-Visa") is ripping off their intellectual property.
This is a stunningly bad law, and the lawmakers who wrote it need to be thoroughly spanked, but what's worse are the thieves at Visa who've decided that the anti-dilution standard is ready-made for expropriating small businesses of their domain-names. Bastards. Link Discuss
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.