The day Donald Trump took on the Chinese government – and lost

Lawsuit by US president-elect failed last year after Beijing agency refused to grant him trademark to use his name in areas involving construction on mainland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 1:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 12:20am

No matter what course US president-elect Donald Trump takes with China, he starts out with at least one loss in his tangles with Beijing authorities.

Despite waging a long court battle, Trump failed to trademark his own name in the construction industry on the mainland.

A Liaoning construction firm unrelated to Trump’s businesses beat him to the punch in November 2006, trademarking the Trump name just two weeks before the US businessman filed his own application, according to a Beijing court ruling last year. The ruling was only recently published in an online court archive.

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The Trademark Office of China’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce said itturned down Trump’s application because it closely resembled the trademark of the Liaoning firm in “construction and factory building”, which could provide similar services.

Trump applied to the office for a review of the ruling but the agency upheld its initial finding.

He then took the office to court in 2014 for refusing to grant him the right to register “Trump” as a trademark in areas of “commercial, residential and hotel real ­estate construction” and “information services in commercial, residential and hotel real estate construction”.

The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court found in favour of the Trademark Office so Trump took his case to the city’s highest court last year.

Just two days after Trump announced his candidacy for the US presidential election in June, 2015, he struck out again. The Beijing Higher People’s Court ruled against him and ordered him to pay 200 yuan (HK$227) to cover the court’s costs.

But Trump has managed to trademark many variations of his name on the mainland, including “Trump Tower” for hotels and catering, “Trump Estates” for real estate management and “Trump Home” for furniture. But numerous mainland firms have also taken advantage of the president-elect’s name, including a Shenzhen firm making high-end “Trump Toilets”.

Yet it seems Trump’s surprise election win has begun to make a difference with the country’s trademark officials.

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His application for a similar trademark in the same categories as before – with the only difference being the capitalised name, “TRUMP”,was filed on March 20, 2014, and provisionally approved on Sunday, four days after his win, according to the government-run trademark search system.

The Trademark Office declined to comment on Monday.