World

China Approves Several Trump Trademarks

| by Ray Brown

President Donald Trump obtained several "Trump" trademarks in China, a feat that eluded him for several years before he became president.

Some onlookers believe his new status as commander-in-chief of the U.S. is the reason for his newfound success.

Trump's business attorneys applied for the trademarks in April 2016, in the midst of a heated presidential campaign where Trump often railed against China for stealing American jobs and cheating its currency to hold a trading advantage over the U.S., The Associated Press reports.

But Trump had been trying to get his name trademarked in China, a country known for vast and unchecked counterfeit operations, for 10 years with no success.

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On Feb. 14, less than one month after Trump was sworn into office, China approved a construction trademark for the Trump brand. And on Feb. 27, the Chinese government approved 38 more trademarks for the Trump brand, allowing Trump to use his trademarked name on a vast array of businesses, including branded spas, massage parlors, golf clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars and even escort services.

Those businesses have not yet been created, but under the trademark, nobody but Trump and his business conglomerate is able to use the Trump name.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Alan Garten, chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, said the company works hard to protect the Trump brand from people who wish to use it for nefarious purposes, such as one case in which an escort service unaffiliated with the president's company popped up in New York City using the Trump name.

"[W]e zealously protect Mr. Trump’s valuable name, brand and trademarks," Garten said. "Unfortunately, as the brand has grown in popularity around the world, there are more and more people who have tried to trade off his name."

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Global trademark attorney Janet Satterthwaite doesn't think the trademarks raises any immediate concerns.

"Especially in China, you absolutely need to register defensively so that people do not exploit your name for commercial gain..." Satterthwaite said. "It does not look like China did anything extraordinary here."

Others believe there's more to it than just protecting the Trump brand.

Richard Painter, a vocal critic of Trump who served as chief ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, said there is a strong possibility of an ethical conflict on behalf of Trump.

"A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them," Painter said.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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