Companies in the US are grappling with how to handle Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand, which has become heavily politicized and faces ongoing boycotts over the policies of Trump’s father, US president Donald Trump. But among Chinese firms, a race is on to cash in on the US first daughter’s rising profile.
The South China Morning Post reports that dozens of companies have collectively submitted at least 65 applications to the country’s trademark office to claim the “Ivanka” trademark for products such as makeup, booze, wallpaper, nutritional supplements, and other items. A week after the US election, for instance, Fujian Yingjie Commodity Company filed “to use Ivanka for its brand of sanitary napkins,” it says.
Right now the “Ivanka” name is an irresistible target for Chinese companies. Trump is, after all, a stylish figure on the global stage, and her popularity in China has only grown since the election. She and her daughter, Arabella, recently drew notice for their surprise visit to Beijing’s embassy in Washington to celebrate China’s lunar new year, and her video of Arabella singing in Mandarin and playing with a traditional Chinese puppet circulated widely on the internet in China. A previous video of Arabella reciting a Chinese poem in November had already been a hit.
Chinese law, meanwhile, offers enough leeway regarding use of foreign brands’ and celebrities’ names that companies routinely try to cash in—whether those whose names are used like it or not.
For four years, US basketball legend Michael Jordan fought in Chinese court to stop Qiaodan Sports from using his name—Qiaodan, pronounced “chee-ow dahn,” is the Chinese transliteration of Jordan—and jersey number, 23, to sell clothes and shoes. Jordan finally won his case in December, annulling the company’s trademark on the Chinese version of the name, 乔丹, though the ruling allowed it to keep using the pinyin version, “Qiaodan.”
Most of the applications to use Ivanka Trump’s first name are still under review, according to the South China Morning Post, and its unclear whether they’ll be granted. Trump might also fare better than her predecessors if she decides to challenge any of the trademarks.
Her father, for instance, recently found the Chinese courts suddenly more favorable to his appeals. For years he had fought unsuccessfully for the trademark on use of the Trump name in the construction industry, but as his political prospects grew, his luck changed. Shortly after he was elected US president in November, China’s court awarded the Trump Organization the trademark.