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Why Did Donald Trump Just Trademark “Trump Escorts” in China?

As the Associated Press reports, the Chinese government just preliminarily approved 38 new Trump trademarks in that country, opening the door for Donald Trump‘s interests to spread to insurance companies, hotels, spas, bodyguard services, massage parlors, and elsewhere. Among the trademarks is Trump Escorts, an apparent grab to maintain the Trump brand for Trump-branded companionship. Though the company has yet to materialize, it sets the stage for Trump to be the only one legally allowed to run a business called “Trump Escorts” in China.

Is it likely the president will set up a call-girl service in Shanghai? Despite the bitter irony of the news being announced on International Women’s Day, probably not. The move is more a preemptive one, designed to prevent any other entities from using the Trump brand for such businesses. In fact, these trademarks were applied for last year, around the same time an actual company called Trump Escorts made a splash around the web.

Shortly after the now-president announced his candidacy, a press release went out bearing the Trump name. It was from an escort service that listed a New York City Trump Place address as its headquarters, but offered escort services around the world. It was shown by the Washington Post to be a company capitalizing on Trump’s rise in the polls, and one not actually linked to any Trump business interests. These new trademarks–which critics say raise red flags around conflicts of interest–are all meant to keep would-be Trump imposters off the Trump gravy train. Chinese trademark law gives preference to whomever applies for the marks first; the Trump team is just trying to get out ahead of the pack.

Alan Garten, chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, told the Washington Post in a statement:

“The Trump Organization has been actively enforcing its intellectual property rights in China for more than a decade, and its core real estate related trademarks have been registered in China since 2011 — many years before President Trump even announced his candidacy for office… The latest registrations are a natural result of those longstanding, diligent efforts, and any suggestion to the contrary demonstrates a complete disregard of the facts as well as a lack of understanding of international trademark law.”

To be clear, it is fucked up that China might now be kowtowing to Trump, who would be violating the US Constitution were it shown he received preferential treatment from the Chinese government. The speed by which the approval for these marks came is unprecedented, according to copyright lawyers speaking to the AP. All but three of the marks were made in the president’s own name. If no one objects after 90 days, the 38 new trademarks will be registered.