The Ivanka Trump brand is pushing to protect intellectual property in China, winning approvals for four more trademarks since April 20 despite repeated questions from lawmakers about whether she is using her position in the White House to help her company.
On Monday, Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee said the new trademark approvals illustrate how President Donald Trump's daughter — who also serves as a White House adviser — could use her official position for personal benefit.
"We remain concerned that Ivanka Trump may have used and may continue to use her official position within the White House to benefit her private interests," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Abigail Klem, president of Ivanka Trump's brand.
All told, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has at least 24 trademarks that were granted provisional or full approval in China, plus 43 pending marks and three invalid marks, according to Trademark Office database records.
At least seven of those provisional approvals were published after March 29, when Ivanka Trump announced she would become a federal employee, serving as an adviser to her father. Four preliminary approvals were published on April 20, May 13 and May 27. If there are no objections, those marks — covering wedding dresses and jewelry among other things — will be registered after 90 days.
Three additional trademarks for jewelry, bags and spa services were initially published in China's Trademark Gazette on April 6, the same day Ivanka Trump dined with President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, her father's resort in Florida, as reported previously by The Associated Press. The record of initial approval for one of them has subsequently disappeared from the database. It was not immediately clear why.
Ivanka Trump Marks LLC also applied for at least 14 new trademarks in China on March 28, the day before she announced her official White House role. A 15th application, with a small typo in the Chinese version of the name of the company, was filed on the same date. The applications, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, cover a wide range of goods and services, including real estate and financial services, construction, furniture, carpets, and alcohol. Detailed records of these filings were not available Monday on the Trademark Office's public online database.
In their letter Monday, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee demanded information about the timing of the company's applications in China.
"Did Ms. Trump's decision to join the staff of the White House play any role in the company's decision to file those applications or the timing of that decision? " the lawmakers wrote in response to information already provided to the committee by the company.
China has defended its handling of trademarks for both Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump as fair and in line with normal legal practice.
Ivanka Trump's brand has said the 2017 Chinese trademarks were filed defensively, to protect against squatters using her name.
"The brand has filed, updated, and rigorously protected its international trademarks over the past several years in the normal course of business, especially in regions where trademark infringement is rampant," Klem said in a statement.
To address ethical concerns, Ivanka Trump shifted the brand's assets to a family-run trust valued at more than $50 million and pledged to recuse herself from government issues that present conflicts. She has stepped back from day to day management, but retains her ownership interest in the company.
Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.