April 6 was quite the night for Ivanka Trump. Not only did she enjoy a wonderful dinner with Chinese President Xi Jingping featuring the scrumptious chocolate cake her father, President Donald Trump, couldn’t stop talking about, but she also acquired approval of three trademarks from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The trademarks are for Ivanka Trump’s line of handbags, jewelry and spa services. There is, however, controversy involving Trump’s uncharacteristically quick turnaround from application to trademark status.
Peter Riebling, a trademark lawyer, said trademark applications typically take 18 months to two years to be completed and issued. Riebling said Ivanka Trump’s company filed for about a dozen trademark applications in China in May and June last year. It hasn’t even been a year.
“What’s interesting about these applications is they sailed through incredibly quickly compared to what is normal in China,” Riebling told NPR.
Ivanka Trump officially stepped down from managing her fashion line in January but still owns and profits from the company. Riebling said he counted 182 pending or registered trademarks across 23 countries. He said while it is a smart business move to push for trademarks, the speedy turnaround is “very suspect.”
The AP reported:
Using the prestige of government service to build a brand is not illegal. But criminal conflict-of-interest law prohibits federal officials, like Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouses. Some argue that the more her business broadens its scope, the more it threatens to encroach on the ability of two trusted advisers to deliver credible counsel to the president on core issues like trade, intellectual property and the value of Chinese currency.
Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, is blossoming into something of an icon in China. An online fan club created by Chinese Trump lovers, “Goddess Ivanka” already has a 12,700-person following. She’s gained quick adoration from Chinese fans because of her elegance, respect for Chinese culture and commitment to raising her children to speak Mandarin.
During the same visit Ivanka, Trump’s five-year-old daughter Arabella performed a traditional Chinese song for Xi and his wife. Arabella has been learning Mandarin since she was 18 months old and has gained superstar status in China after her mother posted videos of her reciting a Chinese poem and singing a song to ring in the Chinese New Year.
Trump, a businesswoman by trade, seems to place a high value on Chinese-American relations. The AP reported that her eponymous company officially has 16 registered trademarks in China and more than 30 applications still pending for approval, according to China’s Trademark Office database. Five trademarks have been granted preliminary approval since her father’s inauguration.
Former chief White House ethics lawyer under the Obama administration Norman Eisen told the AP that Trump and her husband, Kushner, have so many ties with China that it would be best for them to consider “stepping away from China matters.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China ensured the press at a briefing last week that China handles all trademark issues according to the laws and regulations. He dismissed any accusations of foul play with the three timely trademark approvals to be nothing more than “gossip.”
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP