Donald Trump & his Chinese Intellectual Property Rights battle

Donald Trump & his Chinese Intellectual Property Rights battle

Krupali Rane (Lead Consultant)

Scinnovation Consultants Pvt. Ltd

According to Times of India post back in Nov 2016, “Don fought and lost trademark battle in China” explains/ states Donald trump had filed trademark application “Trump” in China under class 35 to carry on business in building construction, repair and installation service on 7 December 2006 and seemed to have lost the race because a businessman, Dong Wei, had already applied for the Trump trademark on November 24 same year in same class losing the priority,  the Supreme People’s Court Monitor had reported.

Trump challenged Dong’s mark carrying his last name but was rejected by the Trademark Bureau on November 30, 2009 on technical grounds and the fact that he had filed later than Dong. His application which included construction of hotel and real estate property did not fit into the requirement of class 37 of the trademark law. Besides, the word Trump is written in two different ways in Chinese. China follows first- come- first-to-file policy.

The stubborn Trump then moved the appellate authority on trademarks, and Beijing Intermediate People’s Court, which delivered a long judgment, now running into 52,000 page-views in the court’s website.

Trump finally challenged the judgment of the Beijing Intermediate court at the High People’s Court (similar to high courts in India), which upheld the verdict of the lower court. Thus Trump went to Trademark review & adjunction board, then to Beijing Intermediate people’s court and lastly Beijing High People’s court. Last decision was made on May 2015, the month before his candidacy.

Trump’s lawyers went to Trademark review and adjunction board again and this time it worked. On Sep 6 2016, the decision was cleared and the mark was published in China’s Trademark Gazette on November 13th 2016, less than 3 weeks after he won the presidential election.

There is a waiting period of three months for third party to object the grant but no one did and the mark was registered on 14th of February 2017. Each win creates value for Trump’s business empire, and ethics question about his administration. Question arises as to why after so many years of failure, Trump bags this trademark just after winning the presidency and is there any relation with trade.

If Trump is able to seize broad control of his brand in China, it could be bad news for Shenzhen Trump Industrial Co., which makes high-end Trump-branded toilets. Zhong Jianwei, one of the founders, said the company will defend its brand if challenged by the U.S. president.

The company applied for its Trump mark in 2002. The Chinese name brings together ideas of innovation and popularity and has nothing to do with President Trump, said Zhong Jiye, another founder. And in English, the “U” makes a nice toilet-seat shape for their logo.

Trump toilets for the home can do pregnancy tests, while models for public use have disposable seat covers for improved hygiene. The company says sales were up more than 50 percent last year and an international expansion is in the works — perhaps under a different brand, now that Trump is president.

People use Trump toilets some 100 million times a year, said Zhong Jiye.

Among them, he added, are customers at Zhongnanhai, the official residence of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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