In an unexpected twist, China has awarded Donald Trump a branding victory by granting him the Chinese rights to his own name with a 10-year trademark registration for construction services.
The sudden turn in Trump’s favor comes as somewhat of a surprise win for the U.S. president after a decade of failing to secure the rights to use his name from a man named Dong Wei who already owned it.
According to the New York Post:
This may well be the first foreign trademark to be handed to Trump during his presidency, but is unlikely to be the last. In China alone he has 49 pending trademark applications and 77 marks already registered in his own name, most of which will come up for renewal during his term.
Critics say Trump’s global intellectual property interests could be used by foreign states as leverage over the president and may violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign governments unless explicitly approved by Congress. These concerns are particularly sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.
Any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the Constitution, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said in an email to the post.
“A different conclusion might be reached if Trump had been treated like everyone else seeking a trademark, but the evidence does not point in that direction.”