HONG KONG – Ivanka Trump’s company won potentially valuable trademarks on April 6, the day she dined with Chinese president Xi Jinping, according to an AP report, raising ethics questions and blurring further the lines between the Trump administration, Trump family and Trump Organization.
The company received approval for three new trademarks in China, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka Trump branded jewelry, bags and spa services. It coincided with President Xi’s trip to Florida, where he met with President Trump for the first time, as well as Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who acts as a senior advisor to the president.
The first daughter stepped down from the management of the Trump Organization, as well as her clothing and accessories business, in January, but has kept her ownership stake in it.
A statement from Abigail Klem, president of Ivanka Trump said: “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. We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark.”
Ivanka Trump Marks LLC applied for at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S. after the election.
In late March, in an unprecedented move, it was announced that the president’s oldest daughter would get an official White House role as “special assistant to the president,” along with security clearances and a West Wing office. This was after she appeared at numerous high-level meetings. She was, for example, once seated next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on a separate occasion, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump and Kushner – neither of whom have had prior government or foreign policy experience – have volunteered to follow federal employee ethics regulations and will not draw a salary from their White House roles.
While President Trump has had harsh words for China, his daughter and her family have taken on a very different stance. During Xi’s visit, in a welcoming gesture, she had her daughter Arabella, who learns Mandarin, to recite classical Chinese poems for the Chinese president and his wife.
“A Chinese child may not know as many Chinese poems as she does,” Xi remarked after the performance.
Questions regarding conflicts of interest swirl around the U.S. president and his vast business empire, too. Last month, for instance, it was revealed that he received preliminary approval for trademarks in China covering a full range of apparel, from men’s suiting and wedding dresses to halter tops and ponchos, all bearing his name.
And in February, after Nordstrom dropped the Ivanka Trump line, President Trump posted a critical tweet against the department store that read: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
Shortly thereafter in a TV appearance, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway encouraged the public to buy the brand. The White House said that Conway had been “counseled” on the matter.