March 8, 2017 / 8:06 PM / 5 months ago

China gives preliminary OK for 38 new Trump trademarks -AP

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, which could let President Donald Trump and his family develop branded businesses there, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, citing public documents.

Trump's lawyers in China applied for the marks in April 2016, and the approvals were published by China's Trademark Office on Feb. 27 and Monday, the AP reported.

Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has previously said he has handed over his business interests to a trust overseen by one of his sons and a Trump Organization executive. He can, however, revoke the trust at will and, as its sole beneficiary, benefits from it financially.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the Departments of State, Commerce and Justice to brief Congress on the approvals and on "the potential constitutional dangers that they present."

The trademarks, all but three in Trump's name, will be registered after 90 days, barring objections, the AP said.

China had already registered one trademark on Feb. 14, for Trump-branded construction services, following a 10-year legal battle that went Trump's way after he declared his candidacy for the White House, it said.

"This is an astonishing development ... It's clear to me that officials in Beijing have come to appreciate the potential return on investments for China in having a positive, personal business relationship with the President of the United States, who has not taken appropriate and transparent steps to completely sever his relationship from the corporation that bears his name," Cardin said in a statement.

Cardin has introduced a resolution demanding Trump cut his ties with the Trump Organization or risk violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign governments unless approved by Congress.

AP quoted Dan Plane, a director at Simone IP Services, a Hong Kong intellectual property consultancy, as saying he had never seen so many applications approved by China so quickly.

The trademarks cover such businesses as branded spas, massage parlors, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, retail shops, restaurants, bars and bodyguard and escort services, AP reported. Three are for Scion, a hotel brand Trump's sons want to expand in the United States, it said. (Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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