China gives green light to dozens of Trump trademarks

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 trademarks linked to US President Donald Trump.
China has granted preliminary approval for 38 trademarks linked to US President Donald Trump.PHOTO: EPA

SHANGHAI • China has granted preliminary approval for 38 trademarks linked to US President Donald Trump, documents on China's state trademark office show, giving him and his family protection were they to develop the "Trump" brand in the market.

The trademarks - which in theory cover a wide sweep of businesses from hotels to mobile libraries and escorts - underline the complexities and potential concerns over conflicts of interest facing Mr Trump, who has a sprawling business empire using the Trump name around the world.

Mr Trump has previously said that he has handed over his business interests to a trust overseen by one of his sons and a Trump Organisation executive. He can, however, revoke the trust at will and, as its sole beneficiary, remains linked to it financially.

The trademarks - mostly variations in English and Chinese on the name "Donald Trump" - were given preliminary approval in two lists published on the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Feb 27 and Monday.

Mr Trump's lawyers applied for the trademarks in April last year, mostly registered to "Donald J. Trump" and listing the address of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Some Unites States lawmakers have raised questions about whether Mr Trump's position as President could prompt preferential treatment of his businesses.

Trademark lawyers, however, said that the approval process did not seem that unusual.

"If they were filed in April last year and just now approved, it is fairly normal," said Mr Yong Heng Wu, Shanghai-based counsel for MWE China, adding that the general timeframe for preliminary approvals was six to nine months.

Asked about the approvals, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had always "equally" protected trademarks for Chinese and foreign companies, adding that the process had been carried out in line with the law.

The preliminary approvals are open to be challenged for around a 90-day period.

Barring objections they will be formally registered in late May and early June.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'China gives green light to dozens of Trump trademarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe