Trump's nationalist agenda ignores his global business empire

Trumps nationalist agenda ignores his global business empire

US President Donald Trump\'s organisation owns many trademarks across the world, including in India, that could add to concerns over conflicts of interest in his presidency, a media report has said.

New York: US President Donald Trump's organisation owns many trademarks across the world, including in India, that could add to concerns over conflicts of interest in his presidency, a media report has said.

The New York Times, in a report titled 'From Trump the Nationalist, a Trail of Global Trademarks', said during the presidential campaign, Trump's organisation continued to file dozens of new trademarks in China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Indonesia.

One of his companies even applied for trademark protection in the Philippines more than a month after the election, the report said citing a review of foreign records.

The report added that his trademarks in recent years have covered all manner of potential products, including soap and perfume in India, engineering services in Brunei and vodka in Israel. Just last week, the government in China, where his companies have filed for at least 126 trademarks since 2005, announced it was granting Trump rights to protect his name brand for construction projects, affirming a decision made in November, the report added.

It further described a number of his trademarks as "curiosities", including some in India, where he is known to be involved in a high-rise project.

"...he also has a trademark there (in India) in a category that covers laundry detergent, perfume and soaps. It is not clear if he envisions himself an Indian soap king or was simply laying down markers for branded products in his developments," the report said.

Listing other curious trademarks, the report said Trump took out a European Union trademark for 'Numquam Concedere', Latin for 'Never Give Up', which is part of the crest at one of his Scottish golf courses. His Israeli trademarks highlight that his failed Trump vodka was revived in Israel, where the brand was licensed by another company and made with potatoes and not grain, helping its popularity among observant Jews during Passover.

However, given the list and kind of trademarks Trump has, the contrast with his hard-line anti-globalism since taking office is stark. The report said that during his first weeks as president, Trump had denounced China and Mexico for unfair trade practices and derided the European Union as "basically a vehicle for Germany".

"Trump seems to be the archetypal businessman with mercantilist instincts," Dani Rodrik, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said in an email to NYT.

"'Open your market for me to do business in it, but you can have access to mine only on my terms.'"

The report added that the trademarks are the natural outgrowth of a global-spanning strategy. Like any businessman, Trump has long sought to protect his brand and products legally with trademarks, whether by registering a board game he once tried to sell, slogans like Make America Great Again or simply the name Trump.

"But the trail of trademarks offers further clues to his international business ties, which leave the president vulnerable to potential conflicts of interest, or at least perception challenges" the NYT report said adding that the Chinese government s trademark announcement last week came just days after Trump retreated from challenging China s policy on Taiwan in a call with China s president, Xi Jinping.

The Times review of nine databases identified nearly 400 foreign trademarks registered to Trump companies since 2000 in 28 countries, among them New Zealand, Egypt and Russia, as well as the European Union. There are most likely many more trademarks, because there is no central repository of all trademarks from every country. The Trump Organisation has been filing trademarks for decades, and has said that it has taken out trademarks in more than 80 countries.

"Over the last 20-plus years, the Trump Organisation has filed trademarks in numerous locations," the company said in a statement.

"Although the company will not be doing any new international deals, it will continue to take steps to protect its various brands.

From Yoshita Singh

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