But he said the Redskins could see the ruling as a chance to move forward on a difficult change they might ultimately make regardless.

"That's a business decision," he said. "I don't think it's a legal one."

Manish Tripathi, an Emory University marketing professor, estimates the controversial name costs the Redskins at least $1.6 million a year, based on studies he's conducted with research partner Mike Lewis. The name has also generated escalating negativity toward the franchise on social media, he said.

Tripathi concedes the losses are small potatoes for a franchise that generates almost $400 million a year in revenue.

"But this is just another data point that supports the growing negative feeling about the name," he said of the trademark ruling. "No one thing is going to break the camel's back. But if things keep bubbling up, we could see a tipping point."

The recent groundswell includes Obama's remarks to the Associated Press last year in which the president said, "I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things."

Last month, 50 U.S. senators, including Reid, signed a letter asking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to support a name change for the Redskins. Last week, a California-based Native American group aired a 60-second advertisement denouncing the nickname in a number of major television markets during Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Tripathi grew up in Silver Spring and remains a Redskins fan. "But I'd like them to change it," he said. "I recognize that the name is wrong."

Several NFL fans in the Baltimore area said they expect the name to change some day, even if they don't feel strongly about it.

Mike McLeod, 40, applauded the trademark decision over an afternoon beer in Federal Hill. "It kind of forces Daniel Snyder," he said. "I think it'll have an effect because it'll affect the bottom line. That's all he's interested in."

"At the end of the day, if this is really offending people, they should change it," said 27-year-old Jess Aga, a physical therapist who lives near Annapolis. "But they're not trying to offend anybody. I think there are bigger issues."

Others in the sports marketing world see the Redskins suffering less from the controversy.

"The Redskins have a very old and loyal fan base and many of them would be outraged if the name changed," said John Maroon, president of Columbia-based Maroon PR and a former spokesman for the Redskins. "From a business perspective, if they did change the name, they would certainly lose a lot of their existing, long-standing fans and face their wrath but would gain a handful of new fans."

Maroon said the greatest impetus for change would be a more sustained outcry from Native Americans.

"It seems to me, at this point, we are yet to hear from the group that is supposed to be outraged, the Native American community, in a strong and concerted way," he said.

Even if the Redskins suffered a drop in marketability, the impact would be mitigated because the NFL's 32 teams share merchandising revenues and, more importantly, the league's multi-billion-dollar television deal equally.

The Redskins still perennially rank among the NFL's top five in home attendance and are worth $1.7 billion, third in the league according to Forbes.

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Baltimore Sun reporter Trevor Hass contributed to this article.