China defends its Trump trademark approvals as in line with law


U.S. President Donald Trump was granted initial approval on dozens of new trademarks in China because they met legal standards, a senior Chinese commercial official said on Friday.

China's trademark office in recent weeks green-lighted 38 trademark applications linked to Trump, giving the U.S. president and his family protection were they to develop the "Trump" brand in the market.

The ties between politics and business have, however, prompted concern from politicians and rights groups who say the president could face potential conflicts of interest related to the extensive business affairs of his family.

Some U.S. law makers have raised questions about whether Trump's position as president could prompt preferential treatment of his businesses.

China examines millions of trademark applications every year and they are processed according to schedule, Zhang Mao, the head of China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told reporters after a briefing on the sidelines of the country's annual parliament session.

"Our trademark examination process is open and transparent," said Zhang, whose SAIC runs the trademarks office.

Asked by reporters whether their approval was at all linked to Trump's status as president, Zhang said: "(They) were processed completely according to trademark law. You can go check."

Trump, a wealthy real estate developer, has previously said he has handed over his business interests to a trust overseen by one of his sons and a Trump Organization executive. He can, however, revoke the trust at will and, as its sole beneficiary, remains linked to it financially.

The trademarks - mostly variations in English and Chinese on the name "Donald Trump" - were given preliminary approval in two lists published by the trademark office on Feb. 27 and Monday.

They cover business areas including branded spas, massage parlours, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, retail shops, restaurants, bars, and bodyguards.

Trump's lawyers applied for the trademarks in April last year, mostly registered to "Donald J. Trump" and listing to the address of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.

The preliminary approvals are open to be challenged for around a 90-day period. Barring objections they will be formally registered in late May and early June respectively.

Trump and his family, like many business owners, hold trademarks around the world, from business sectors such as apparel in the Philippines to golf clubs in Australia and property in Japan and South Korea.

(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)