If someone has violated your intellectual property (IP) rights, a good first step is often to send them a cease and desist letter. What exactly does – and doesn’t — this kind of notice do?
First, let’s look at what a cease and desist letter is. It’s basically a request for an individual or entity to immediately stop doing something that’s illegal and/or harmful.
What a cease and desist letter does
The letter carries no legal weight on its own. However, it puts the recipient on notice that if they don’t “cease and desist” what they’re doing that you will take legal action. This action typically involves seeking a cease and desist order from a court or a government entity. The recipient is expected to reply to the letter within a specified period – usually within a few weeks.
Violations of IP are one of the most common reasons that businesses send cease and desist letters. If someone is using copyrighted material without obtaining the appropriate rights or duplicating a trademarked product or image without permission, a cease and desist letter may be enough to make them stop.
Why a cease and desist letter may be enough to keep you out of court
Sometimes a person or company doesn’t realize that they’re using someone’s IP. In some cases, they’ll do it for as long as they can get away with it, but a cease and desist letter puts them on notice that you’re aware of it and prepared to take legal action.
If you have a valid allegation of a violation of your IP rights, another business likely isn’t going to risk the cost and embarrassment of being taken to court. If you do have to go to court, your original letter is crucial evidence that the alleged offender was notified of their wrongdoing, so it’s hard for them to claim ignorance.
While legally, anyone can write a cease and desist letter, it’s not something you want to do on your own. It’s crucial to have legal representation and guidance to ensure that it’s done properly. This can give you the best chance of settling the matter without litigation and help you be better prepared if you do have to go that route.