When Donald Trump became president, he handed his business interests over to his sons. This maneuver did not stop the 157 patent applications that are pending in numerous countries, which would be highly lucrative if approved. The countries involved have banking, trade and military policies that depend on decisions made by Trump.
Washington trademark attorney Peter J. Riebling said that China’s approval of 38 Trump patents right after he took office was a “gift” because it gave the Trump name an advantage over all other brands. Trump’s daughter Ivanka also has several trademarks awaiting approval in southeast Asia for beauty products, leather goods and jewelry.
There is concern that Trump’s patents violate the “emoluments clause” in the U.S. Constitution. The clause prohibits any government official from receiving monetary benefit from foreign countries, which would seem to include patents and trademarks. Four months ago, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit in New York that seeks a judgment against Trump for violating the clause.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began defending Trump. The DOJ has already prepared a brief that states the clause only applies to service compensation and gifts and is not applicable to policy. In addition, the court cannot intervene because only Congress can waive the clause. If the brief stands after filing, it would leave the plaintiffs with no legal ground for the lawsuit.
The situation has some experts concerned that the DOJ is placing the personal financial concerns of the president above the needs and interests of citizens. Critics claim that Trump is stealing from America by using the DOJ, especially since his tax status is unclear, and he should use his own lawyer in this case.