A company connected to the Trump Organization has been granted approval in the Asian gambling hub of Macau for four new trademarks, including one for casinos.
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According to public records, DTTM Operations – a company that lists its address as Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York – received the trademark approvals in June. They cover gambling and casino services, as well as real estate, construction and restaurant and hotel services. The applications were first reported by the South China Morning Post.
The new applications are identical to four marks applied for in 2006, and granted, but lapsed earlier this year. It was not clear from public records why, though under Macau law trademarks can be forfeited for non-use. There are currently no Trump-branded businesses in Macau.
Even though Trump has pledged to conduct no new foreign deals while in office and handed control of his business to his sons, his trademarks have been a source of concern to ethics lawyers and Democratic officials, who fear they can give foreign governments the opportunity to try to influence the White House. China has approved dozens of Trump trademarks since the president took office. Three U.S. lawsuits against the president contend that the Chinese marks constitute gifts from a foreign state and stand in violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trump and his lawyers reject that argument and contend that trademarks are a crucial defense against squatters seeking to exploit his name.
Beijing says it has been fair and impartial in its handling of trademarks for the president and his daughter Ivanka Trump.
Macau's six casino operators, including Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts, face renewals for their licenses starting in 2020. The government of the former Portuguese colony, now ruled by China, has released few details on the renewal process, which will be the first since it ended a decades-long casino monopoly and opened bidding to foreign companies in 2001.
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Macau is the world's largest gambling market, with earnings dwarfing the Las Vegas Strip's. It's the only place in greater China where casinos are legal.
Donald Trump began applying for a sweep of trademarks in Macau in 2006. The government's unwillingness to uphold all of them was a source of intense irritation to Trump, who became enmeshed in a lawsuit over rights to the use of his name. He wrote to then-U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in 2011 that the courts of China and Macau were "faithless, corrupt and tainted."
"Who could expect anything different from a deceitful culture?" he added. "Their behavior should be a clear warning to the rest of the world to refrain from any trade practice or business relationship with them!"
Trump finally prevailed in that case last year after his opponent, a local company that had filed for a "Trump" mark for food and beverage services, let his trademark expire.
Trump has veered away from the casino business. Hard Rock International bought up the last vestiges of his failed Atlantic City gambling empire this year, paying just $50 million for the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino, which cost more than $1 billion to build.
Back in 2001, Donald Trump was part of a consortium of billionaire investors — including two men subsequently convicted of bribery and money laundering in unrelated cases — that bid unsuccessfully for a casino license in Macau, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.