If you have received a cease and desist letter or email, you may be worried about how to respond, especially if you had not expected to receive such a communication.
In this article, we outline the steps you can take if you are currently concerned about a cease and desist notice and have not sure what steps to take next.
Is a cease and desist letter enforceable legally?
A cease and desist letter simply alerts you that a person or company believes you have taken a certain action or illegal activity and wants you to ‘cease and desist’. It allows you to stop doing the act or remove the material before further legal action is taken.
What happens if you ignore a cease and desist letter?
The cease and desist letter demands that the recipient stops doing the allegedly illegal activity; however, you don't have the legal obligation to respond. You can ignore a cease and desist letter but risk further legal action and could end up receiving a court order.
Below are the steps you should take before formulating a response.
What should I do before responding to a cease and desist letter?
Step one – take some time to gather your thoughts. Receiving a cease and desist letter can be quite a shock, and if you disagree with its allegations, you may become angry and send an inappropriate reply. Unfortunately, with the help of social media, that reply could quickly end up on a public forum and cause damage to your reputation
Step two – is to conduct an internal investigation to see if and how the alleged wrongdoing occurred. You may need to talk to external suppliers to ascertain what has happened. If the investigation is likely to take a few days or longer, you may wish to acknowledge receipt of the cease and desist letter and say you are looking into the situation
- Step three – once you have the information to set out your position, it is best practice to talk to a law firm and a civil litigation solicitor even if it is clear that the allegations in the letter are true. Your solicitor will ensure that you respond in a way that protects your best interests
Most common reasons for a cease and desist letter
These are some of the most common reasons for using a cease and desist letter:
- Debt collection: to force debt collectors to stop their harassing phone calls and surprise visits to your home
Trademark and copyright infringement: if someone infringes your trademark or copyright, use a cease and desist letter to request them to stop the infringing activities formally and stop using the copyrighted work
Breach of contract: to prevent someone from interfering with your contractual rights
- Libel or slander: to demand that someone stop making false and damaging written or oral statements about your company
Steps to respond to a cease and desist letter
Your response to the initial letter should be clear and present your resolution to the alleged infringement. Including all necessary information will help your case if the claim moves to court.
Step one – Read the letter thoroughly: Ensure you understand the claims
Step two – Meet with a lawyer: A lawyer specialed in the area the letter mentions you are infringing can help you decide what to do next. If you want to fight the claim, the lawyer can determine how strong the sender’s case is over your case. They can also help you to draft a response
Step three – Choose your response: Your response to a cease and desist letter will depend on how you accept or deny the initial letter. Accepting the claims will typically not involve as much work, and denying the claims may involve evidence of your own as you present your case
Step four – Preparing your response: You can use a template to respond to your cease and desist letter. A template will help ensure that you have all of the required information
- Step five – Negotiating: Either way, if you accept the claims or not, you may have to negotiate the final agreement. When denying the claims, you must negotiate to find the right solution that works for both parties
Draft the response to your cease and desist letter carefully and include the necessary information. This letter can be used in court if legal proceedings go that far.
Get legal assistance from LawBite
Our friendly solicitors can provide legal advice and represent you if you have received a cease and desist letter. The most important thing to do is remain calm and gather all the facts before responding to the sender.
LawBite has years of experience helping startups, charities and businesses achieve their commercial ambitions and resolve disputes quickly and cost-effectively.