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Trump's golf course orders presidential seal tee markers. Is that legal?

LOUISVILLE — A Donald Trump golf course reportedly ordered replicas of the presidential seal from a Louisville-area company to be used as tee markers, which could be against federal law unless the president ordered them.          

Eagle Sign & Design, located in New Albany, Ind., posted a picture on Facebook — and then removed it — of the mock design for the tee markers at the "Trump International Golf Course," according to its caption. It was first reported by ProPublica and WYNC-TV.          

Joseph Bates, the owner of Eagle Sign & Design, told the Courier Journal he would not name his client but confirmed the tee markers were for a Trump International golf course.          

"Apparently when you do something that is related to Trump it means you'll get a lot of questions," Bates said. "We just did what our customer wanted."         

Bates said he does not think it is illegal. 

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There are four Trump International golf courses, in Scotland, Ireland, Dubai and West Palm Beach, Fla. Bates did not specify which one the tee markers were for.          

ProPublica reported that the company received an order for 12-inch round replicas of the presidential seal that would be placed next to the tee boxes to show golfers where to tee off.          

The sign and metalworking company, formerly located in Louisville, has made products for Trump golf courses before, according to a company employee.          

Federal law spells out that manufacturing or using the presidential seal for commercial use — unless authorized under regulations ordered by the president and published in the Federal Register — can be punishable with up to six months in prison, a fine or both.          

The “law is an expression of the idea that the government and government authority should not be used for private purpose,” Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University, told ProPublica. “It would be a misuse of government authority.”         

Bates said that there is nothing that specifically notes Donald Trump on the markers themselves. 

According to the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 713:

"Whoever, except as authorized under regulations promulgated by the President and published in the Federal Register, knowingly manufactures, reproduces, sells, or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seals of the President or Vice President, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both."            

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