China's Trademarks for Trump Create Conflict, Democrats Say

"If they were filed in April past year and just now approved, it's fairly normal", said Wu Yongheng (吳永恒), Shanghai-based counsel for MWE China who focuses on intellectual property, adding that the general time frame for preliminary approvals is six to nine months.

AP quoted Dan Plane, a director at Simone IP Services, a Hong Kong intellectual property consultancy, as saying he had never seen so many applications approved by China so quickly.

In the case of the escort service, at least, Trump likely obtained the trademark to protect his brand from "trademark squatters" rather than to launch his own escort service in the country, according to analysis by the Washington Post. Former top ethics lawyers from the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush say any special treatment from Beijing in awarding Trump intellectual property protection would violate the Constitution.

"For all these marks to sail through so quickly and cleanly, with no similar marks, no identical marks, no issues with specifications - boy, it's weird", he said.

Trump could argue that any or all of the Trump trademarks are just a matter of protecting Trump's brand internationally from counterfeiters. Barring objections, they will be formally registered in late May and early June. A number of the trademarks granted, including those for "social escort" and "body guard" services, appeared to relate specifically to hotels.

His political opponents alleged that the sudden change of heart at the Chinese trademark office was evidence that Mr Trump is reaping commercial benefits from the presidency, potentially breaching the constitution.

The move marked a victory for Mr Trump, who for a decade had battled unsuccessfully to stop his name being attached to an array of Chinese products - including a Trump toilet, a Trump condom, and a Trump pacemaker - without his permission. Years of ambition in China, however, have yet to yield a single marquee development.

"The latest registrations are a natural result of those longstanding, diligent efforts and any suggestion to the contrary demonstrates a complete disregard of the facts as well as a lack of understanding of global trademark law", he said in an email.

But a growing number of Democrats disagree.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for formal briefings about the Chinese trademark approvals and on "the potential constitutional dangers that they present". At the time, he also complained about the trade practices in China.

"I think the reason why people are paying so much attention to Donald Trump trademarks now is because he became the president of the most powerful country in the world", Wu said. "The effect is that he has done nothing to counter Chinese currency manipulation, trade rules violations, military buildup, and other aggressive Chinese actions".

  • Jon Douglas