Both Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump have been on a China trademark registration spree since President Trump's inauguration. This might seem controversial but it's a highly strategic business move.
Earlier this month Chinese President Xi Jinping was attending a historical dinner with President Trump, and while the presidents were dining and presumably discussing ways to avoid a trade war between the US and China, trademarks were being registered in China that could benefit the Trump family. According to official documents, on that day Ivanka Trump was granted preliminary approval of three trademarks associated with her namesake brand covering her bags, spa service, and jewelry.
Although Ivanka no longer actively manages her jewelry, clothing, and accessories brand, she still owns the business and can often be seen wearing items from her clothing lines. Her company has been placed in a trust, run by close family members. The company, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, has been granted four additional trademarks in the past two months since her father became president, with 32 more trademarks pending, according to this report by AP News.
It’s clear that Ivanka is a sensible businesswoman, or her business advisors are worth their hourly rate, and it could be seen as a controversial move considering her newly appointed role at the White House, but the timing couldn’t be better. Her association with President Xi Jinping is guaranteed to win her brand favor in the marketplace in China, making her products more chic and desirable. By starting the China trademark registration process, her company is getting ahead of potential problems that could likely arise from enterprising locals registering her potential trademarks first. Which has happened with many high-profile companies, like Jordan and Apple for two, whose brands were growing and caught the attention of the Chinese before they had even entered the market in some cases.
Why Follow Ivanka’s Lead And Register Your Trademarks In China?
Registering a trademark as soon as possible is essential for any international brand, even if they’re not planning to business in China. A handful of the powerful brands has found themselves battling for and losing the rights to brand names they assumed were rightfully theirs.
With a few exceptions, China's trademark system gives priority to the company or person that filed the trademark first; this is in contrast to the U.S. where the system favors the individual who uses the mark in their business first. There is little leeway for most brands and companies, though, unless they’re already a famous and familiar brand globally. With a few exceptions, China's trademark system gives priority to the company or person that filed the trademark first; this is in contrast to the U.S. where the system favors the individual who uses the mark in their business first.
There is little leeway for most brands and companies, though, unless they’re already a famous and familiar brand globally. Recently, foreign brands have been able to win court cases (Jordan) based on the fact that they had already been well-known and 'famous' globally. But, knowing the Chinese legal system, I wouldn't want to leave the destiny of my trademark with a judge to make the decision if my brand were well-known enough in his/her opinion.
Brands neglecting to file first have resulted in some massive headaches for some of those who’d assumed they would have the rights to their trademarks in China because they already held them abroad. A prime example of this was Apple when they lost their iPad Trademark case in China. Registering a trademark in China can be as little as $1,000 USD to file an application, and what Ivanka Trump probably knows is that she is preventing trademark issues down the line and unnecessary court battles, which is a strategic and smart business move.
Irrespective of where you go to register your Trademark in China, it’s important to start the process as soon as possible. China works on a ‘first to file’ basis, and once the process is underway you will be protected, essentially if you’re first to apply, you’re the first in line. Like Ivanka Trump, you now also know the right people to talk to about your trademark registration.
Do you have any Trademark experience in China that you can share? Any questions that you need the answers to?
Please use the comment section below to get a discussion going, or any questions answered by the experts at Hongda.