In late 2016 Russia’s trademark agency, headed by an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, approved the extension of six trademarks held by now-U.S. President Donald Trump’s organization.
Four of the trademarks, all of which were related to hotel and branding efforts in Russia, were officially finalized on Nov. 8—the day of the U.S. presidential election.
The approvals, uncovered by the New York Times, show no sign of having been attained through influence or collusion between Trump and Russian officials. But they do highlight the conflicts in Trump’s repeated claims that he has no business interests in Russia.
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The trademarks were originally filed between 1996 and 2007, when Trump was working to build hotels in Russia. Some of that work was conducted in collaboration with Bayrock Associates, a U.S. company with extensive, if not controversial, Russian connections.
Those deals fell through. Still, Trump continued to express interest in building a Trump property in Moscow.
As concerns build about Russian interference in U.S. elections, President Trump and his representatives have repeatedly asserted that he has no connections with Russia. In March, White House spokesperson Hope Hicks told the Associated Press: “The President has nothing to do with Russia and never has.” Trump himself has made similar claims, both in interviews and on Twitter. “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA,” he tweeted in January. “NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
But experts tell the Times that Trump’s Russian trademarks “have inherent value” and are important to any future ventures he might pursue there.
Trump Organization chief counsel Alan Garten told the Times that the trademark approvals had faced no challenges and were maintained specifically to prevent the abuse of intellectual property by third parties. He added that there were no plans to use them for future projects.