While US President Donald Trump may be having a fairly rough time this week, at least he’ll be happy to know that in the Chinese court system he is still winning.
Earlier this week, Trump was awarded the rights to that which he loves the most — his own name — winning a 10-year “Trump” trademark for building construction services.
While this is certainly a yuge win for the Trump brand, the battle has really only just begun with another 49 Chinese trademark applications still pending — all of which were made during his presidential campaign — not to mention 77 marks already registered in his own name, most of which will come up for renewal within four years, the Associated Press reports.
Previously, Trump has had a difficult time defending his own name in China, where loose copyright laws mean that trademarks are essentially “first come, first serve.” In the past five years, Trump has lost at least two cases against Chinese companies using his trademark.
However, his luck suddenly began to change after being elected president of the United States of America. Back in November, he gained preliminary approval for using his name in real-estate agent services in commercial and residential properties following a decade-long fight against a Chinese businessman who was using Trump’s trademark. It seemed as though Trump had lost the case, but then he managed to win the presidency, seemingly granting him a greater degree of protection under murky Chinese trademark law.
Like most issues dealing with Trump’s commercial interests, this one is more than a little problematic. Some experts have voiced their concerns over how foreign governments could exert influence over the US president through how they deal with his beloved brand.
“There can be no question that it is a terrible idea for Donald Trump to be accepting the registration of these valuable property rights from China while he’s a sitting president of the United States,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama. “It’s fair to conclude that this is an effort to influence Mr. Trump that is relatively inexpensive for the Chinese, potentially very valuable to him, but it could be very costly for the United States.”
Meanwhile, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was even more straightforward, saying that since foreign governments know how deeply Trump cares about his family business, “they will give him what he wants and they will expect stuff in return.”
Both before and after the election, a number of Chinese companies capitalized on Trump’s popularity by manufacturing goods for his supporters, including masks, toilet paper, condoms, pacemakers, MAGA hats and giant inflatable roosters.
But perhaps the most notable copyright case is that of “Trump Toilets.” The Shenzhen-based company which specializes in making high-tech toilet seats used even by top cadres in Zhongnanhai has maintained in the past that it will stand strong even if the US president tries to take them to court.
In November, Zhong Jiye, the CEO of Shenzhen Trump Industrial Company Limited, told NBC News that he chose the name “Trump” back in 2002 because it sounded similar to the company’s Chinese name “Chuang Pu” (创普), which means to “innovate universally.” Zhong added that another important part of the “Trump” brand name is the “U” which is shaped like a toilet lid.
But now, with international relations at stake, that reasoning may no longer be enough to save Trump Toilets from getting unceremoniously flushed.
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