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

US President-elect Donald Trump has dealt with the Chinese government before – when he tried and failed to trademark his name on the mainland.

A Chinese construction company unrelated to Trump’s businesses had already beaten him to the trademark – just two weeks before his application, according to a Beijing court ruling dated last year, which was recently published in the Chinese online archive of court documents.

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According to the verdict, Trump had sued the trademark office of China’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce for refusing to grant him the Trump trademark to use his name in “construction” and “construction information services”.

However, the Beijing municipal high court ruled against him.

Trump was also made to pay 200 yuan (HK$ 227) to cover the court’s administrative costs after losing the case, according to the document.

This ruling was made only two days after Trump’s announcement of his candidacy in the US presidential election at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in June last year.

The court dismissed Trump’s appeal against China’s Trademark Office, the government agency that grants trademarks, which had refused the American businessman 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”.

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A construction company unrelated to Trump in Liaoning – one of China’s three northeast rust-belt provinces – had pre-empted him by registering the trademark “Trump” back in November 2006 – two weeks before the real Trump filed his own application to register the trademark, according to the verdict.

The Trademark Office said it had turned down Trump’s application to use the trademark in the areas he had requested because it closely resembled the trademark registered by the Liaoning construction company in the category of “construction and factory building”, which could provide similar services to Trump’s company.

Trump challenged the Trademark Office’s decision in an intermediary court, Beijing’s No 1 People’s Court, but lost, so he appealed to the Beijing High People’s Court, only to lose again.

The billionaire-businessman-turned-politician has registered many trademarks of his name, both in English and Chinese, in China, but many mainland firms have taken advantage of the Trump name to register trademarks in other services.

Trademarks that bear the US president-elect’s English name and its different Chinese translations have been registered in China by a wide range of companies, including a Shenzhen-based company which produces “Trump Toilets” – high-end “smart” toilets that can change seat protectors automatically.

However, it seems Trump’s unexpected victory in the US presidential election has started to make a difference with China’s trademark officials.

Trump’s application for a similar trademark to cover the same categories as before – with the only difference being the capitalised name, “TRUMP”, rather than “Trump” – was filed on March 20, 2014, and initially approved on November 13, four days after he won the election, according to the Chinese government-run trademark searching system.

Article source: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2045724/day-donald-trump-took-chinese-government-and-lost