In China, Trump the businessman wins a trove of new trademarks

US President Donald Trump has won preliminary approval to register 27 new trademarks in China.
US President Donald Trump has won preliminary approval to register 27 new trademarks in China.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump has won preliminary approval to register 27 new trademarks in China for industries including restaurants and advertising, business interests that could add to criticism over his potential conflicts.

As a businessman, Trump has amassed a vast portfolio of trademarks around the world, as he seeks to protect his brands and his products. Those trademarks, at times, clash with the vision of a populist president who has espoused a strategy of "America First."

China has been among the biggest targets for his business prospects. Including the latest batch, his companies have filed for at least 126 trademarks in China since 2005 for restaurants, bars, hotels, brokerage services, advertising and management consulting.

But as president, Trump has criticised China for its trade practices. On the campaign trail, he threatened to impose punitive tariffs against the country.

The timing of the new trademarks could create a perception problem for Trump because they came so soon after he took office.

In February, the Chinese government announced that it was granting Trump the right to protect his name brand for construction projects, after a decadelong legal battle. That trademark approval was announced just days after Trump pulled back from his challenge to China's policy on Taiwan in a call with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

A number of trademarks have followed, with China's Trademark Office giving preliminary approval for the 27 new ones on Feb 27 and on Monday, according to the agency's website.

The latest trademarks, which were under the name "Donald J. Trump," were initially approved for use in golf clubs, insurance services, child-care centres and nursing homes, among other categories.

They will be formally registered three months later, if the agency receives no objections. The Associated Press reported earlier about the trademarks.

Critics say Trump's trail of trademarks could leave the president vulnerable to potential conflicts of interest. In February, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sounded alarms about China's decision to award Trump his trademark in construction services, saying it could be a breach of the US Constitution and that foreign governments could use his trademarks to influence foreign policy decisions.

The Trump brand has been a ripe target for trademarks. Trump's name can be found on toilets, cosmetics and leather goods in China - trademarks that have been registered by other people.