Alan Garten, executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, said the application “was filed months before the election as part of an action to cancel an infringing mark, and the registration has since been assigned to DTTM Operations,” a holding company.
China’s Trademark Office granted Mr. Trump preliminary approval for the trademark — which can be used in clothing like trousers, underwear and suits — on May 6. The trademark will be formally registered three months later, if the agency receives no objections.
Mr. Trump now has 77 registered trademarks in China and 39 trademarks with preliminary approval. His daughter Ivanka Trump has recently secured a spate of new trademarks in China through her trademarking business, Ivanka Trump Marks L.L.C.
It is unclear how Mr. Trump plans to use his trademarks. Unlike in the United States, people who file for trademarks in China do not have to give a reason for their application.
That lack of a disclosure requirement has given rise to a crush of people registering the names of well-known brands, a practice known as “trademark squatting.” Trademark lawyers in the country often advise celebrities and overseas companies to file for trademarks across many sectors in a strategy known as “defensive filing” because litigation is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Opportunists have flocked to the Trump brand. His name is emblazoned on toilets, cosmetics and leather goods in China — trademarks registered by people other than the president.
Mr. Trump waged a decade-long legal battle for the right to protect his name brand for construction projects, finally winning in February. That trademark approval was disclosed days after Mr. Trump spoke with the Chinese president and dropped his challenge to China’s policy on Taiwan.
Whether the Trump Organization will profit from the trademarks remains to be seen. The licensing of Mr. Trump’s name, together with real estate development, are principal sources of the company’s income.
“As a legal matter, the trademark itself is a thing of value, as proven by how hard the president has fought for some of these trademarks over the years, in China and elsewhere,” said Norman Eisen, who was an ethics lawyer for former President Barack Obama. Mr. Eisen is part of a group that sued Mr. Trump, alleging that his business interests violate the emoluments clause in the Constitution that bars presidents from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments.
“The Constitution simply does not allow him to collect foreign tributes of this kind while he sits in the Oval Office,” he added.
The Trump Organization has said it will not do any further international deals. The business is now being run by the president’s two adult sons.
Senators have expressed concern about Mr. Trump’s trademarks in China, saying Beijing could use them to sway policy decisions. In March, Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “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.”
China has said it has acted in accordance with the law regarding Mr. Trump’s trademarks.