How to Create a Cease and Desist Letter

Feb 9, 2016
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Anthony Guerrieri

You have a logo and it perfectly embodies your brand and business image. One day, you walk past a shop two blocks over, look into their window and find that they have used your logo. You want to resolve it without expensive legal action, and without attracting public attention. What do you do next? Write a cease and desist letter.

A Cease and Desist Letter is a document that is created to ask an individual or business to halt any unlawful behaviour. Essentially, it is a letter formally telling a business or individual to ‘stop’. There is a lot to consider when drafting a cease and desist letter. Perhaps the most important is that you must balance being firm and keeping in good faith.

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Do I need a cease and desist letter?

You can use a Cease and Desist Letter for instances where you feel someone is  behaving unlawfully, and you want to tell them that you’re fed up.  A cease and desist letter can be used to generally demand that an activity stops, common examples are debt collector harassment, copyright or trademark infringement, defamation. A cease and desist is appropriate for you if you want to avoid a lengthy legal response, or are looking for a low cost resolution.

How do I create an effective letter?

Step 1: identify the reason to send your cease and desist letter.

Whether it be copyright or trademark infringement, harassment or collection agency intimidation, the first thing your letter should do is identify the specific act  that you want the recipient to cease.

Step 2: include the specifics.

The next thing your letter should do is include any specific information about what has occurred. Some example of this specific information includes any dates, i.e. when the harassment started, any specific details about where and how the infringed material was used, or describing an instance where the interaction occurred. You want to show as much detail or ‘evidence’ in order informally make a case for yourself. This can also subtly suggest that there is enough weight for your case if any further legal action is taken, while still keeping your letter in good faith.

Step 3: identify and include your legal right.

Your letter should then identify your legal right to request that they halt their behaviour. This may be done through identifying some legal authority. For example, if debt collection harassment is the issue in question, identify that their behaviour “may be in violation of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010”. In order to do this you must first understand your legal rights. Understanding the law may be the challenging part for you, i.e. the difference between copyright infringement and trademark infringement. An idea or creative concept is copyrighted as soon as it is written, however you must apply for a trademark. If you struggle to understand your legal rights,  Law Path can find you a lawyer who can draft a Cease and Desist Letter specific to your needs.

Step 4: identify what steps you would like them to take to rectify situation.

Lastly, your letter should identify how you would like the receiver to respond to your letter. It is important to be specific because if they don’t know what you want them to do, then they can’t do it.  You should also include a timeframe. However, if you would like the recipient to respond to the letter, then your timeframe must be reasonable. For example requesting that they remove your trademark from their entire business within 5 days may not be reasonable, and may encourage them to ignore the letter completely.

You should end your letter by warning the recipient that you may consider taking legal action. However you should keep this brief, as the recipient is likely to be more responsive if they are not being threatened.

Follow this formula, and you’ll find that you have a persuasive and accurate Cease and Desist Letter.

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