As a gay man who got bashed pretty regularly at the 80% male engineering school I went to...
as a former activist and current contributor to equality and anti-bullying campaigns...
and as a guy who used to vote Democrat but switched to Green for the last election because I find Obama too conservative in too many ways...
This is reprehensible.
The only comfort I can take from it is that it's so prima facie unconstitutional that all the administration will end up with is a bunch of case law against them. But in the meantime, for the kids who'll inevitably lose their tuitions and a shot at a degree because they use the wrong colloquialism in the wrong time and place, this is a life-altering tragedy.
In the mid '90s, I remember being in a Target or something and running across a line of Ren and Stimpy collectible dolls from Nickelodeon. One of them... was a yak. No, let me correct that.... a Yak(R). They trademarked the word Yak. Not a character named Yak, just a non-descript longhaired goat-like thing. There was no Yak character in the show; Kricfalusi just thought it was a funny name for an animal, so worked them in periodically (e.g. Yaksmas, Royal Canadian Mounted Yaksmen, etc). I don't know if their legal department was overreaching or just had never heard of the animal called a yak. I imagine Jeff Minter must have been pretty pissed off if he ever found out they trademarked his other name.
This story about Dia de los Muertos made me look up the word Yak on TESS, and it seems Nickelodeon was neither the first nor last to do this. Some of them are still live, covering everything from shoes to children's software to dating sites. (Nickelodeon's appears to be dead, with only the much later "Yakkity Yak" trademark from an unrelated cartoon still alive.)
What does a yak have in common with the day of the dead? Well, neither one of them is common to America. Does that give companies a free pass to trademark them?
FTP actually appeared about two decades before Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first HTML page. I was using it myself about 6 years before the Web was invented. I even downloaded music with it, in huge but tinny-sounding .au files (a Sun workstation format) starting around 1990. Believe it or not, people were leaking advance copies of albums that way; one concrete example I remember was "Roll the Bones" by Rush. Took all night to download from some Italian server at 9600 baud. Hey, it sold a record for them when it finally came out.
FTP was also not patented, of course. I think it influenced the design of HTTP by providing TBL with an example of what not to do.