Since Donald Trump was elected, rumors have been circulating about his questionable relations with the Russians.
According to the New York Times, Russia abruptly approved various Trump patents the day he was elected president.
Around the time of the election, Russia approved six Trump trademarks that were set to expire. The trademarks were originally obtained between 1996 and 2007 for hotels and branding deals that were never realized.
Despite all of these delays, Rospatent, the Russian government agency that deals with intellectual property, approved the requests and extended the trademarks for another 10 years.
While it is unclear if Trump was shown favoritism, the fact that the unused trademarks were approved so close to the election is reason enough for some level of scrutiny.
It is also important to remember that Trump himself said in the past that he had no ties to the Russians, in any form.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump has yet to develop any branded hotels in Russia, but among the trademark renewals was the “Trump International Hotel and Tower” brand.
“Trademarks have inherent value, per se, as they allow you to stop others from using the mark either by stopping competing registrations or stopping infringing uses,” said Annsley Merelle Ward, an expert in intellectual property law at Bristows law firm in London.
Rospatent refused to answer the Times questions and the Trump administration has yet to taken an official stance.
Alan Garten, the chief legal counsel for the Trump Organization, said that the company has no plans to expand in Russia as of yet.
“The company will not be seeking any new business opportunities in Russia,” Mr. Garten said.
“We take the protection and enforcement of my client’s brand extremely seriously,” Mr. Garten said. “We invest a lot of money in its efforts. It is his brand.”