SHANGHAI — The Chinese government has granted preliminary approval for nine Donald Trump trademarks it had previously rejected, in whole or in part, The Associated Press found, a turn that is likely to fuel further allegations that Beijing may be giving the president’s family business special treatment.
Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his global branding empire has sparked criticism over perceived conflicts of interest and three lawsuits, including one filed Wednesday by nearly 200 Democrats in Congress, which allege violations of a constitutional prohibition against accepting gifts from foreign governments. Trademarks lie at the heart of these complaints because they are granted by foreign states and can be enormously valuable.
Publicly available records do not indicate why the nine applications were initially rejected, or why the trademarks were then granted provisional approval eight to 15 weeks later.
“The speed with which these appeals were decided is mind-blowing,” said Matthew Dresden, an intellectual property attorney at Harris Bricken in Seattle. “I have never seen any decisions made that quickly. That suggests special treatment. But that’s just procedural. Substantively, it’s impossible to say whether any of this is unusual.”
China’s Trademark Office did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The new provisional approvals further shore up the president’s brand in China, conferring potential rights to the use of Chinese versions of his name for beauty salon services, socks, human resources consulting and advertising, among other things, and the Trump brand, in English, for jewelry and watch repair.
China has also granted formal approval for dozens of Trump trademarks in the last few weeks, bringing the total number of official registrations China has given the Trump family business since President Trump took office to 39, according to records from China’s Trademark Office. Those marks include branded spa and massage services, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, restaurants, bars, and a trademark class that covers bodyguards, social escorts, and concierge services, according to Chinese records.
China has defended its handling of trademarks belonging to the president and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who has also been expanding her collection of Chinese trademarks , as fair and in line with Chinese law.
The Trump Organization now has at least 125 trademarks in China formally or provisionally approved, according to Chinese public records. Just four were invalidated, back in 2013.