Anger or Fear; those are the two emotions usually stimulated when receiving a letter, addressed to you by a lawyer you’ve never heard of. A “Cease and Desist Letter” sounds terrifying, but if you ever find yourself in this situation, just remember this: don’t panic.
This is not to say you shouldn’t take it seriously; Cease and Desist Letters are usually the first step to opening a law suit, but with the expenses involved with litigation, most sane* people try to avoid it.
*On the note of sane people, let’s not forget that Kourtney Kardashian sent a Cease and Desist letter to her sister Kim over an iPhone game – and if they came out alive, so can you.
What is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A Cease and Desist letter – if the name doesn’t give it away already, is written communication that demands the recipient to ‘cease and desist’ from actions that infringe the sender’s legal rights or ownership.
It is not a legally binding document and does not mean that you are getting sued.
These demands are usually sent out by lawyers, and often threaten legal action if the violation does not stop. At times it can even seek compensation for violations that have already taken place.
It is important to note that and in today’s tech savvy world, these ‘letters’ can be sent electronically via email – so make sure not to send it to junk.
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What To Do Once You’ve Received One.
Don’t freak out- and most importantly, don’t launch an attack straight away (especially on social media). Yes, your natural reaction will be to defend yourself but remember – think before you act. Anything you say online may be used against you if a lawsuit does surface in the future.
Do your homework
Read over the claims and try to figure out what the letter is actually saying. What is it regarding? Copyright? Trademark? Or perhaps contractual obligations?
Collect information to support your case. Gather comprehensive and dated evidence, and succinctly state the important facts. Remember to save everything.
Speak to a lawyer
In most circumstances, it is best to seek some legal advice. Often Cease and Desist Letters are used to ‘bully’ or ‘scare’ the other party, so it helps to let them know you have a lawyer working on your side too. Lawyers can help to decipher the legal jargon and assist you in determining the correct response. Finding the best lawyer can be hard, but you can use LawPath to help connect you with the right person.
Prepare a Response
There are different responses you can take when responding to a Cease and Desist Letter.
Although this is not recommended, it’s important to emphasise that you are not legally obligated to do anything about it.
Comply with it
Obviously this depends on the severity of the claims. Sometimes the easiest way to deal with it will be to give in. Even if you do not agree with the claims, if the requested action doesn’t really disrupt you or your business, then compliance may be the way to go.
Mount a defence
With your lawyer, determine what your best options are. You could deny the accusations, or begin the negotiation process to settle the claims. If going to court is inevitable, you might want to file a lawsuit before they do, controlling the situation. For example, determining where it will be located.
It is important consult any business partners or business advisors. Remember that your interests and the interests of your business comes first.
Evaluate what you could have done differently, and the steps you can take to prevent this being a regular occurrence. Protect yourself by minimising the risks and ensuring that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.