While Ivanka Trump was sitting down to enjoy a meal of pan-seared dove sole, Thumbelina carrots and the most beautiful chocolate cake along with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month at her father’s Mar-a-Lago resort, she was also being granted provisional approval for three new trademarks in China. Which is really quite the coinkydink.
According to the AP, on April 6th, the 35-year-old fashion mogul and official advisor to the president received a monopoly on selling Ivanka-branded jewelry, bags, and spa services in the world’s second largest economy, a development which raises yet more ethical concerns over whether the Trump family is using the office of the president for personal profit.
Ever since her father was elected last November, Ivanka’s name has become a hot commodity in China. Back in February, it was reported that at least 65 applications had been filed in the country to trademark the name “Ivanka” for a wide-variety of products including supplements, alcohol, tissues and wallpaper. Meanwhile, 40 companies also applied to use the Chinese characters for Ivanka’s name (伊万卡) in their company registrations. The companies were predominantly involved in selling things like cosmetics and underwear.
While many celebrities in the past have struggled to protect their own name and trademark in China, where copyrights are often “first come, first serve.” It appears that Ivanka is having just as good luck at the Chinese copyright office as her father. Donald Trump had been embroiled in trademark disputes with Chinese companies for more than a decade; however, winning the presidential election seems to have granted him an extra degree of protection in the murky area of Chinese trademark law, causing some experts to voice their concerns over how foreign governments could exert influence over the US president through how they deal with his beloved brand.
A Washington D.C.-based ethics group has even added “gratuitous Chinese trademarks” to its list of ways that Trump has allegedly violated the emoluments clauses of the US Constitution in a lawsuit that was originally filed soon after he took office.
Of course, this same sort of logic could also be applied to Ivanka who now has an office in the White House, though without an official title, and is said to exercise great influence over her father. Back in February, Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his outrage at how Nordstrom had pulled his daughter’s brand from their shelves.
Earlier this year, Ivanka resigned from all management and operational roles with her brand, but she still owns the label and stands to profit greatly from her own tremendous popularity in China. The New York Times published a story earlier this month talking to young Chinese professionals who worship Ivanka. One business school student said that when she wakes up in the morning, she often asks herself, “What would Ivanka do?”
While the timing is a bit odd, Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump Brand, said that there was nothing unusual about the China trademarks. “The brand has filed, updated, and rigorously protected its international trademarks over the past several years in the normal course of business, especially in regions where trademark infringement is rampant,” she said. “We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark.”
China’s copyright office works in mysterious ways
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