Ivanka Trump is on a trademarking frenzy in China.
The first daughter’s brand has been granted 13 new trademarks in China over the last three months, for items ranging from books and cosmetics to housewares and cushions. Another eight trademarks received the provisional okay from Beijing; they’ll be finalized in three months if no objections arise during the comment period.
At first glance, these trademarks may appear somewhat unremarkable. However, some ethics experts have suggested that Trump’s trademark applications may represent a conflict of interest, as her father remains engaged in trade negotiations with China and she herself serves as a senior advisor to the White House.
Conflict of interest?
Norm Eisen, the ethics chief under President Obama, told CNN that the trademarks come at a time when the Trump administration is “making enormously consequential decisions with and about China.”
“The conflict comes because we do not know if the Trump administration is making these official decisions [on China] to benefit the U.S., or to get more trademarks and other benefits for the Trump family,” he added.
“Ivanka Trump’s refusal to divest from her business is especially troubling as the Ivanka brand continues to expand its business in foreign countries,” explained Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics to the AP.
“It raises significant questions about corruption, as it invites the possibility that she could be benefiting financially from her position and her father’s presidency or that she could be influenced in her policy work by countries’ treatment of her business.”
Online records from China’s trademark office reviewed by the Associated Press show that the Ivanka Trump company applied for 17 trademarks on March 28, 2017—just a day before the first daughter and businesswoman formally took on a role in the White House. Recent documents show the brand owning 36 active trademarks in China. Eight have provisional approval, while 25 are still awaiting review, according to the AP.
‘Protective in nature’
Abigail Klem, president of the brand, said in a statement that the application for such trademarks were protective in nature. They were reportedly filed “in the normal course of business,” particularly in areas “where trademark infringement is rampant,” such as China. The move, therefore, is intended to protect the Ivanka Trump brand and name.
Since President Donald Trump’s election, Ivanka Trump has ceased managing her brand. She nevertheless maintains an ownership stake, which is subject to federal regulations that bar her from engaging in activities in which she has a financial interest.