Ivanka Trump’s brand intensified its work in China as her father closed in on the Republican nomination for US president, with her company applying for nearly twice as many trademarks in a five-month span as it had in the preceding eight years. Ivanka Trump Marks LLC applied for 36 trademarks in China between March and July of last year. From 2008 through 2015, it applied for a total of just 19 trademarks, China’s trademark database showed.
Three of the 2016 applications were granted preliminary approval on April 6, the same day Ivanka Trump dined with China’s President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, the Associated Press revealed this week in an article that documented how Ivanka Trump’s brand has continued to expand even as she builds a new political career in her father’s administration. Ivanka Trump still owns her brand, but has stepped back from management and put its assets in a family-run trust. China’s foreign ministry has said that the government treated Ivanka’s trademarks just like everyone else’s.
Ethics experts have questioned whether that’s possible, particularly in a country where the ruling Communist Party influences the courts and bureaucracy. Politically sensitive decisions on, for example, the intellectual property of the family of the US president, may well have been subject to high-level political review. “She needs to be very careful to make sure she’s on the right side of the law,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under Barack Obama.
“Personally, I find it unlikely that there is no element of Chinese favoritism in the handling of her requests.” Eisen is part of a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, against President Trump for alleged violations of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, involving, among other things, his China trademarks.
Eisen argues that if President Trump or his daughter received special treatment from China in winning intellectual property protection, it would be a violation of the Constitution, which bars federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments unless approved by Congress. An attorney for Ivanka Trump said she has no role in her company’s trademark filings.
“She left her company in January and she does not know what is filed, where it is filed, or whether it is approved or rejected,” attorney Jamie Gorelick said. “She has not sought, and would not want, any special treatment for the company.” “The brand has filed, updated, and rigorously protected its international trademarks over the past several years, which included those filed in China” since 2016, Abigail Klem, the president of Ivanka Trump’s brand, said in a statement yesterday.
She said a surge in trademark filings by “unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name” emphasizes the need to protect the trademark.
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