After a decade of legal disputes over the use of the Trump trademark in China, US President Donald Trump has won the rights to his brand.
A mark was awarded to the Trump Organization in November, shortly after the US presidential election. Two months earlier, China’s trademark review board announced it had invalidated a rival claim for the Trump trademark.
Last week the trademark was officially registered after a three-month notice period for objections expired.
“The Trump Organization has been actively enforcing its trademark rights in China for more than a decade and its latest trademark registration is a natural result of those efforts — all of which took place years before President Trump even announced his candidacy,” Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, was cited as saying by CNN Money.
However, Trump’s opponents see the move by Beijing as political.
Norman Eisen, a White House ethics counsel under President Obama, said: “China is going to want concessions from Mr. Trump, and this is now the first in what will be a series of efforts to influence him.”
The new trademark covers construction related services which are not a core business for the Trump Organization. The company, however, places great value on anything with the Trump brand.
It is “key to the value of the Trump Organization’s assets,” said Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon.
According to the Associated Press, Trump has 49 pending trademark applications, and 77 have already been registered in his name.
Cases of similar names and trademarks appear in China regularly. In December, a Chinese court ruled for US basketball legend Michael Jordan. It said sportswear company Qiaodan had to stop using the Chinese characters that make up the name Jordan.
Experts say Beijing is becoming more responsive to Western companies that want to protect their trademarks.
“You could say there’s a nice ray of sunshine; that perhaps things are changing for foreign brands,” said Dan Plane, a China intellectual property expert in Hong Kong. “But [the Trump decision] really was a bit of a bolt out of the blue, particularly in relation to the case’s history and the decision’s timing.”
Despite the tough rhetoric on China during the election campaign, Trump so far has not followed through with his promises to label Beijing a currency manipulator on his first day in office or to impose heavy trade tariffs.
Trump has repeatedly criticized China’s trade practices, claiming many of them were unfair.