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Ivanka fights to protect her first name

Kim Bhasin and Lindsey Rupp, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK -- Ivanka Trump is one of the most famous women on the planet. She's certainly the most famous Ivanka. Standing by her father's side as he ascended to the White House, her prominence even sparked a swell in the number of babies named Ivanka.

As the president's eldest daughter, she has carefully sculpted her image since first entering public view as a judge on his reality television show. Now with a position in his administration, the 35-year-old's skyrocketing fame has quickly made her first name a mononym-like Oprah or Cher.

But in this case, all publicity isn't necessarily good. Ivanka, who like her father is a brand as much as a person, has launched an international legal effort to protect her name. Even her first name. In China, where she's held up as a model of success in some quarters, local entrepreneurs are rushing to grab trademarks for Ivanka Trump. They hope to make a killing on everything from sanitary napkins to chewing gum bearing the Ivanka label.

As part of her intellectual property strategy, Trump's company filed a series of applications to trademark just the word Ivanka in China. Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said that "a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties" prompted the company to move quickly to assert its rights "in regions where trademark infringement is rampant."

In the U.S., Ivanka Trump is also moving to block anyone who would seek to profit from her name. In December, her intellectual property holding company, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, moved to register a trademark for "Ivanka" in the U.S. on fashion items ranging from dresses and skirts to scarves and ponchos. Over the past five years, the company has sought similar first-name trademarks in categories such as jackets, handbags, eyewear, and a variety of home goods from pillow shams to cookie jars.

For now, a spokesperson said the brand has no immediate plans to drop the Trump surname from her existing products in favor of only Ivanka. But obtaining the trademark on just her first name will give her that option.

The "Ivanka" trademark was filed as an intent to use, which places it off-limits to others. After it's approved, the holder must eventually submit proof that it's being used within a certain time frame.

As her fame increases, Ivanka's ability to defend her trademarks will strengthen. Even if her brand doesn't drop the Trump name, it will become increasingly difficult for, say, a budding fashion designer also named Ivanka to sell under that moniker.

"We really have never had a first family so interested in exploiting their names as a consequence of the inherent exposure that they get from the presidency," said Michelle Mancino Marsh, an intellectual property lawyer who specializes in fashion law at Arent Fox. "Ivanka is now probably considered a famous brand."

When Ivanka Trump started her fine jewelry line in 2007, she and her partners debated whether to use her first or her full name, she recalled in her 2009 book. "Looking back, I think my first name would have worked quite nicely, being that it is very distinctive," she wrote. "But we all realized that if we were looking to expand into an international market, it would be a huge missed opportunity to leave the Trump name on the cutting room floor."

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