Cease and Desist Letter

What is a Cease and Desist Letter?

cease and desist letter

A cease and desist letter is sent to an individual and/or a company putting them on notice of some infringing conduct, demanding that they stop that conduct and don’t resume that conduct again in the future.

It may warn the recipient that if they don’t comply with the letter, that you may begin legal action against them. If the recipient complies with the demands in the letter, both parties may be able to avoid timely and costly legal proceedings.

We recommend obtaining legal advice before writing and sending a cease and desist letter.

Why Send a Cease and Desist Letter?

To start, it alerts the recipient of their conduct and the reasons for which you are demanding they stop their actions. The recipient may not even be aware of any breach or infringement before you draw their attention to it.

Secondly, the letter formalises communication between you and the recipient that you require them to indefinitely stop some form of conduct.

Finally, the letter puts the recipient on notice that if they do not stop the specified conduct in the letter, you may begin legal proceedings against them, which may include a claim for damages.

Contact us today if you require any assistance with sending a cease and desist letter, or if you’ve received one.

How to Send/Respond to a Cease and Desist Letter

How to send a cease and desist letter

First of all, you should consider engaging a lawyer to write a cease and desist letter for you. Don’t rely on free online templates as they may not cover properly what you’re asking for, and it may cause issues if the matter later goes to court.

The letter can be sent either by email, by post, or both. We recommend the parties to be clearly identified on the letter, as well as the background of the dispute and your demands.

 

How to respond to a cease and desist letter?

You should take any receipt of a cease and desist letter seriously and you must act quickly. Failing to abide by the demands of the letter may result in legal proceedings being commenced against you which can be both timely and costly.

It is important to note that just because you receive this type of letter, it doesn’t mean that your conduct is actually in breach of or infringing anything.

We recommend obtaining legal advice as soon as possible if you receive a cease and desist letter.

Cease and Desist Letter Examples

In what circumstances may I send a cease and desist letter?

1. Trade mark infringement

You may wish to use a cease and desist letter if you see someone using a mark, such as a word, phrase or symbol, that is similar or identical to a mark that you own. In this case, you can draw the recipient’s attention to your existing mark and demand that the recipient stops using their mark. If you have documented ownership of your rights to a trade mark, this will make it more easily enforceable.

Find out more about our trade mark legal services here.

Trade mark example

If you find somebody else in the same industry (including competitors) using your brand name or trade marks on their website or social media pages without permission, you can ask them to cease and desist.

Customers or suppliers may tell you that they have come across a similar brand which is confusing or may even have believed it was your business. You should investigate this as deception or confusion in the marketplace is usually a great reason for sending a cease and desist to protect your brand.

2. Copyright infringement

As opposed to what many believe, there is no 10% rule to prevent copyright infringement. The legal test is whether the offender is replicating a substantial part of the original work. If you have taken time to create original content and discover that someone is copying or imitating your work, you may wish to issue a cease and desist letter to stop the recipient from continuing their conduct.

Copyright infringement example

If you have taken a photograph or written text and uploaded it onto your website, and find that somebody else is now using your photo or has copied a slab of your text for their own website, you have a right to stop them from infringing your copyright.

If for example, you have created a work of art, song or movie, and you become aware that another person has altered or done something with your work that damages your reputation, treats your work in a derogatory way or is offensive to you, you should enquire about your rights to send a cease and desist.

3. Stop debt collectors

Dealing with debt collectors can be daunting and challenging. A cease and desist letter can be an effective tool that you can use to stop a debt collector from calling you and/or visiting your home. Your letter may make it clear to the debt collector that they may be liable for legal action against them if they continue to contact you.

Once you’ve sent your letter, the recipient debt collector may only contact you one final time to inform you that they are complying with your letter.

Debt collection example

If your business is struggling to pay its debts and one of your suppliers is sending constant letters of demand pursuing you for the payment of debts, you have a legal right to ask that these letters are stopped.

If you are in a dispute with a service provider and believe that you should not be paying them, but are being chased by a debt collector, we suggest to send a cease and desist outlining your dispute and asking the debt collector to stop communicating other than to advise you if they are taking the matter to court.

4. Harassment

You may wish to send a cease and desist letter if someone is harassing you in some way. Even if you have told the offender in person that you would like them to stop, a formal cease and desist letter is a written record of this, which may be important evidence in future legal proceedings.

Your letter should include specific details of the ‘what, when, where and how’ of the offender’s behaviour and how it is threatening, offensive or annoying.

Harassment example

If somebody is writing emails or messaging you on social media using offensive language or making you feel threatened or anxious, you should consider sending them a cease and desist letter prior to taking further action.

If somebody is persistently intimidating or threatening you in person but this conduct is not something the police can handle because it falls short of being assault or duress, we suggest to consider sending a cease and desist letter so that you can start compiling evidence about the offense.

5. Stalking or invasion of privacy

Dealing with stalking and invasion of privacy can be difficult. If the offender is unstable or volatile, sending them a cease and desist letter may provoke them to pester you further. However, most of the time the letter can be an effective tool to demonstrate to the offender that you are serious about them leaving you alone.

Most people will stop their conduct for fear of legal action against them. If not, your letter can be used as evidence against the offender in court.

Stalking/privacy example

If you are feeling threatened by somebody and feel as though you are being stalked either in person or online.

If you think somebody is using your private or personal information without your consent or authority.

6. Cease and desist letter relating to defamation

You may decide to employ a cease and desist letter if an individual or company is making false statements that are damaging you and/or your business. This may include written or spoken false statements. Your letter may be important evidence in future legal proceedings. Therefore, your letter should stipulate specific details of what was said and how this has hurt you and/or your business, including reputation, character or professionalism.

To comply with your letter, the offender must not only stop their false statements, but must also remove them from any written forums such as their website or social media page.

Defamation example

If you find your reputation being tarnished either through online posts or blogs, and believe that other members of the public would understand these communications to be about you, we suggest you write a cease and desist to stop the offending conduct before you decide to take any further legal action.

Even where one other member of the public is told something about you which is untrue and puts your reputation in doubt, you may have grounds to pursue defamation proceedings if you are likely to suffer loss from this behaviour, and we suggest to commence with a cease and desist putting the offender on notice.

Contact us today if you require any assistance with a dispute resolution matter.

Watch Now: Cease and Desist Video

What to do if you receive a letter, explained in 2 minutes by Ian

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