How to Respond to a Cease and Desist Letter
- March 7, 2018
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on How to Respond to a Cease and Desist Letter
If you have received a cease and desist letter (C&D), stay calm. A cease and desist letter is a common tool used to enforce intellectual property rights and other matters. An intellectual property violation can involve plagiarism, use of an invention (without rights), or engagement in suspicious activities that involve another party’s work product.
Receiving a legal letter can be a frightening and frustrating experience. Before doing anything, take a deep breath. Contact an experienced cease and desist lawyer now and allow him to advise you about the best next steps.
Never respond to a legal communication when you’re upset or angry. Never attempt to respond to a cease and desist letter on your own. You’re likely to regret such actions later on.
What is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A C&D letter has two primary purposes:
- It instructs the recipient to stop doing something and to repair the harm caused in doing it. The demand to cease is based on the author’s claim (or the attorney’s client) to a legal right to perform or own something. The letter serves to acknowledge the recipient that he or she is interfering with this right.
- The cease and desist letter is intended to prompt the recipient to cease something in order to avoid a costly trial.
A cease and desist letter is not a legally-binding document. It represents an attorney’s opinion. His or her client feels in some way harmed by your actions. (Note: Attorneys must tell the truth. However, an attorney isn’t banned from expressing a bad or wrong opinion. The attorney’s opinion as referenced in the C&D may be wrong.)
Consequently, a cease and desist letter isn’t the writer’s guarantee that a law suit will follow.
Take the C&D letter seriously. You don’t want to go to court. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process. Crafting a thoughtful response to the cease and desist letter can help you avoid a trial and protect your legal rights.
Recognize that the writer of a cease and desist letter wants to demonstrate that the law is on his or her client’s side. Realize that the C&D letter is written for your lawyer. References to previous lawsuits and statutes are there to support the undersigned lawyer’s opinions.
Your lawyer will review the facts. With your best interests in mind, he may form an opinion that differs from that of the C&D letter author.
Possible Reasons for a Cease and Desist Letter
There are many reasons another party may send a cease and desist letter, including:
- Alleged copyright infringement
- Alleged trademark infringement
- Alleged patent design or utility infringement
- Alleged violation of a non-compete agreement
- Alleged character assassination, defamation, libel, or slander
- Alleged harassment, such as by a debt collection firm (citing violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act)
- Alleged breach of contract
- Alleged (passive) contributory or secondary liability
Trademark, copyright, and patent protections
A cease and desist letter response relating to a trademark, copyright, or patent protection is not a do-it-yourself project. Consult an experienced cease and desist letter attorney.
Contracts and agreements
If you properly executed an agreement or contract, you’re legally bound by it. Agreeing to the contract’s terms and conditions may require your specific behaviors. If you don’t comply, you may be in breach of contract.
The law says you may not say—aloud or in written format—anything that’s untrue or harmful to the reputations of others. You may speak your opinions, but falsely accusing another person may result in a civil lawsuit.
Harassment involves the receipt of threats and/or contacts from unwanted others. Examples of harassment include 1) voluminous, unwanted phone calls from an unwanted caller, 2) visits to your home or workplace from an unwanted individual, or 3) repeated comments another party makes about you, after you ask him or her to stop.
Although many people assume harassment means interpersonal or sexual harassment, it can take other forms. Any harassing behaviors are against the law.
For example, it’s illegal to harass others on the basis of their age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, race, gender, veteran status, and more.
How to Respond to a Cease and Desist Letter
Step 1: Speak with an experienced cease and desist lawyer.
You should carefully review the letter and attempt to understand the author’s reasons for sending it before you consult an experienced C&D lawyer in Texas.
Step 2: Gather information.
If the cease and desist letter concerns vendor payments, intellectual property rights, or anything else, collect information about the matter. Make copies to bring to the C&D lawyer’s office.
A knowledgeable cease and desist lawyer will recommend a meeting to discuss the letter and all of the events, if known, that prompted it. He will explain what information you need to support the case.
Step 3: Decisions about responding to a cease and desist letter.
You have several options to a C&D letter:
- Your lawyer can respond with a request for additional information or with a refusal.
- His response to the cease and desist letter is inadmissible as evidence if the matter goes to trial. It may be viewed as part of a settlement negotiation.
- If you draft a response yourself, your letter may be used as evidence if the matter goes to trial.
- Your lawyer can file for a summary judgement.
- If you acknowledge the C&D’s contents, you may agree to the author’s demand.
Cease and Desist Letter Response Considerations
Never ignore a cease and desist letter.
Discuss the cease and desist letter with your attorney and no one else. Never post anything about the writer or the letter online. This content is admissible in court.
Realize that a cease and desist claim may be quite complex. An experienced lawyer increases your chances of a positive outcome.
An experienced cease and desist lawyer’s response will help you to avoid going to court, reach an agreeable settlement, and protect your legal rights as much as possible. If you aren’t infringing on the other party’s rights—and you haven’t done anything wrong—your lawyer will clearly explain this to the cease and desist letter’s author as well.
He will do what’s necessary to put the matter to rest and help you to continue business as usual.
Contact a Cease and Desist Letter Attorney in Houston TX
A strong offense often requires a sound defense. With the help of a strategic cease and desist lawyer, it’s possible to identify your best options at the start. For instance, it may be appropriate to deny the accuser’s claims or simply negotiate the next steps to settle them.
Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 to request an initial case consultation.