Donald Trump Scores Legal Win in China Trademark Dispute
Acaciapat.com – Donald Trump Scores Legal Win in China Trademark Dispute. Just days after Donald Trump secured the White House, the real-estate mogul scored a legal victory in a decadelong trademark dispute over the right to use his name in China for certain services.
The businessman-turned-politician’s application to register his Trump trademark to provide real-estate-agent services in commercial and residential properties in China, was provisionally approved Sunday after a yearslong legal fight.
It wasn’t clear why Mr. Trump prevailed, and more battles may come. Of the 53 registered trademarks under the Trump name in China—in categories ranging from clothing and beauty salons to pet care and golf courses—only 21 are owned by Mr. Trump.
The Trump trademarks that the U.S. president-elect doesn’t own, some of which were registered recently, include aquarium products, ammunition, explosives, poker cards, condoms and tennis rackets.
Zhou Dandan, a Beijing-based lawyer at Unitalen Law Office, which represented Mr. Trump in this trademark issue and in other such cases since 2008, said Mr. Trump has become a household name, even in China, which could change the outcome in any potential trademark disputes in the future.
A spokesman for the Trump Organization declined to comment.
In 2006, Mr. Trump applied to register his Trump trademark in a slate of categories in China, including to provide real-estate-agent services in commercial and residential properties.
In 2009, the trademark office of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, or SAIC, rejected that part of his application, saying the trademark was already spoken for: Two weeks before Mr. Trump’s application, a person named Dong Wei had applied for it.
It isn’t uncommon for people to squat on overseas brands’ trademarks or patents in China on the expectation the companies will settle rather than get tangled in lengthy litigation. In 2012, for example, Apple Inc. paid $60 million to buy the iPad trademark in China from a Chinese company.
According to a document from the Beijing High People’s Court, Mr. Trump was allowed to own trademarks to do business in a category that includes a variety of services in commercial and residential properties, including installment and repair of air conditioners, heating systems and escalators as well indoor furnishing and repair. However, Dong Wei, according to the court ruling, owned the right to use the Trump trademark to provide “construction-information” services, what lawyers described as essentially services by real-estate agents.
Mr. Trump requested a re-examination, and in February 2014 a review board of the SAIC ruled that Mr. Trump’s application was too similar to Dong Wei’s, which could lead to confusion for consumers.
The board rejected Mr. Trump’s appeal that Dong Wei “infringed on his right of name.” Dong Wei couldn’t be reached for comment.
Then Mr. Trump filed a lawsuit against SAIC at Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court, which upheld the ruling.
Several rounds later, during which Mr. Trump argued that the person named Dong Wei was maliciously registering an existing and influential trademark, the Beijing People’s High Court dismissed Mr. Trump’s appeal in a final judgment on May 18, 2015, a month before Mr. Trump announced his presidential run.
Ms. Zhou, who also has represented Mr. Trump in other trademark disputes that didn’t end up in court, said the ruling was no surprise as there was already an application for the trademark registered—one she described as malicious squatting.
“This ruling is fair,” said Si Weijiang, a Shanghai-based lawyer with no connection to the case. Back in 2006, Mr. Si said, “Mr. Trump was so obscure in China that probably nobody knew his name.”
But Mr. Trump didn’t give up there. According to an SAIC database, after his legal setback, Mr. Trump refiled a new application for the trademark and Dong Wei’s claim was invalidated.
That is the application that won provisional approval on Sunday. If no one objects during a 90-day public-notice period, the decision will be permanent.
It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization intends to use any of the trademarks to which it has secured rights.
The SAIC didn’t respond to a request for comment.