The Washington Redskins suffered a significant legal defeat today that could increase the possibility of them eventually changing their controversial nickname.
The U.S. Patent Office ruled that the Redskins' name is "disparaging of Native Americans," cancelling the Redskins' federal trademark for the name.
That doesn't mean the Redskins have to change their name necessarily.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled this way in 1999, but it was overturned in 2003 on a technicality.
The Redskins can appeal the ruling and are consideredly likely to do so.
This is a landmark decision against the Redskins.
The NFL could strongly encourage the Redskins to change their name based on how many protests are going on and the lack of trademark protection under federal law.
The Redskins and the league would no longer have the right to exclusively make money on merchandising deals.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun