Cease and desist letters
Sun 10 December 2023
What is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A cease and desist letter is a formal legal letter which acts as a warning to the recipient to stop engaging in specific activities that are infringing your legal rights. The most common uses are for unlawful infringement of IP rights such as copyright infringement, counterfeit goods, cybersquatting, defamation, online harassment or breach of restrictive covenants by an ex-employee.
When to Use a Cease and Desist Letter?
Cease and desist letters are typically used in situations where there is a clear and immediate threat of harm, where you have clear and compelling evidence and you are prepared to take action if the demands in the cease and deist letter are not complied with.
It is common, when drafting a cease and desist letter to make clear what the consequences will be if the recipient does not comply. This may include applying for an injunction. A deadline is also almost always an important part of the letter.
What to include in a Cease and Desist Letter
A well-crafted cease and desist letter should clearly and accurately state:
- The facts giving rise to the claim of unlawful activity.
- Specific Actions the recipient must take – in addition to an undertaking to cease the unlawful action it is common to demand that materials be handed over or destroyed, such as counterfeit goods which are being passed off as the right holders brand or return of data unlawfully obtained and used.
- Consequences of non-compliance - Informing the recipient of the potential consequences of non-compliance, including the initiation of legal proceedings or application for an injunction.
- A deadline to respond by - set a reasonable time frame for the recipient to respond to the letter and to comply with your demands.
Common mistakes with cease and desist letters
These can include :-
- Sending out a letter before you are clear about the facts or your legal position - It’s important to remember the letter will almost certainly be an important document if your claim ever gets before a court.
- Threatening an injunction unless you are able and prepared to go ahead and apply if the recipient does not comply - If you do not do as you say you will probably lose credibility with the other party and potentially with the court if you still issue a legal claim.
- Not thinking carefully about the commercial/cost benefit and other factors – it’s always important to think about who your opponent is, will legal threats or action bother them, can you enforce against them, do they have any money and if the infringer is a limited company with no history or assets are there ways of getting legal comfort or taking action against individuals who are behind the unlawful activity?
Solicitors for a cease and desist letter
With such an important and potentially legally significant letter, it is highly advisable to get a cease and desist letter professionally drafted. Our lawyers can draft up a suitable letter for you at reasonable cost and can also advise on follow up legal action, where needed, including in preparing for and applying for an injunction. We also advise clients who have received a case and desist letter, and who need to decide whether to comply, in full or part, or respond with a legal letter of their own or pursue any other available and advisable response option