In China, Trump Wins a Trove of New Trademarks
BEIJING — President 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, Mr. 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 an “America First” strategy.
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.
The timing of the new trademarks could create a perception problem for Mr. Trump because they came so soon after he took office.
In February, the Chinese government announced that it was granting Mr. Trump the right to protect his name brand for construction projects, after a decade-long legal battle.
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 centers 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.
Matthew Dresden, a lawyer with Harris Bricken in Seattle who specializes in Chinese intellectual property law, said it was atypical that all the trademarks were “approved at once.”
马修·德累斯顿(Matthew Dresden)是西雅图哈里斯-布里肯律师事务所(Harris Bricken)专攻中国知识产权法的律师，他说，“一次批准”所有这些商标不符合常规做法。
“I think that’s really odd. That makes you look and think: ‘Somebody got some instructions at the trademark office that these should be approved,’” Mr. Dresden said. “It’s unusual for that many trademarks to go through the examination process without any problems.”
Scott Palmer, an intellectual property lawyer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, which represents American corporations in China, played down the significance of the timing, emphasizing that the country’s law specifies that the trademark office should complete its examination of a filing within nine months. Mr. Trump had registered the trademarks last April.
代表在华美国企业的盛智律师事务所(Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton)知识产权律师斯科特·帕尔默(Scott Palmer)却并不认为这个时间节点有什么重要涵义，强调中国的法律明确规定，商标局应在九个月内完成对商标申请的审查。特朗普是去年4月注册相关商标的。
“There’s nothing inherent in that timing that is questionable or strange or should be viewed as out of the ordinary,” Mr. Palmer said. “The Trademark Office has been working on getting this timing right for a few years now, and the fact that they are hitting the target doesn’t mean they are likely to have played favorites.”
Critics say Mr. Trump’s trail of trademarks could leave the president vulnerable to potential conflicts of interest. In February, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California sounded alarms about China’s decision to award Mr. Trump his trademark in construction services, saying it could be a breach of the United States Constitution and that foreign governments could use his trademarks to influence foreign policy decisions.
It is unclear whether the Trump Organization will profit from the new trademarks. While the company has pursued a large number of hotel development deals in China, one of its executives recently suggested that the organization would drop those projects.
The Trump Organization has said it would not be doing any new international deals. Mr. Trump has said he is turning over control of his business to his two adult sons.
Alan Garten, executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, said in a statement: “The Trump Organization has been actively enforcing its intellectual property rights in China for more than a decade and its core real-estate related trademarks have been registered in China since 2011.”
He added: “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 international trademark law.”
In recent years, China has enhanced its trademark laws to bring them more in line with the international legal system. In January, China’s top court said that celebrity names cannot be registered as trademarks in ways that could mislead consumers. The interpretation came a month after the court ruled largely in favor of Michael Jordan, the former basketball star, in a landmark decision that sets the ground rules for protecting personal names in trademark cases.
The Trump brand has been a ripe target for trademarks. Mr. Trump’s name can be found on toilets, cosmetics and leather goods in China — trademarks that have been registered by other people.
In a recent interview, Spring Chang, founder of Chang Tsi & Partners, a law firm in Beijing that represents the Trump Organization, said she did not want to comment on Mr. Trump’s specific trademarks. But she said she encouraged a “defensive strategy” for her clients to prevent a celebrity’s name from becoming treated as a generic term.
Asked whether Mr. Trump plans to sue people who have registered his name as trademarks in China, Ms. Chang, who also represents Lady Gaga and Linkin Park in the country, said: “We haven’t discussed our strategy with him. As you know, he’s very, very busy.”
被问及特朗普是否打算起诉那些在中国把他的名字注册成商标的人时，同时担任Lady Gaga和林肯公园(Linkin Park)在中国代理人的苍雨春说：“我们还没和他讨论我们的策略。你知道的，他实在是太忙了。”