When a person or organization infringes on your rights, you have several avenues of recourse. You may simply give verbal notice that an unlawful act is being perpetrated. If verbal warnings are ignored or feel they likely will be ignored, you can resort to a Cease and Desist Letter.
With a Cease and Desist Letter, your goal is to establish two main circumstances. First, you're requesting an ongoing action to be stopped or a periodically repeating action to never happen again. Second, you declare your intention to pursue legal action if your request is ignored.
The Cease and Desist Letter doesn't carry any immediate legal consequences for the offending party. Instead, it's a warning about potential future legal action if their unlawful acts continue.
What Is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A Cease and Desist Letter is a legal document used to resolve disputes. It requests the cessation of activity found by the sender to be unlawful and threatens legal action if ignored.
In general, civil litigation is a costly and time-consuming process. A Cease and Desist Letter is a way to resolve conflicts without the intervention of a court. Even if you're committed to pursuing legal action, a Cease and Desist Letter provides evidence that the offending party was notified and prevents them from claiming ignorance of the offense.
Cease and Desist Letters usually constitute a civil notice between private citizens threatening legal action. However, cease and desist orders are often used by government organizations to warn of regulatory infractions.
Typical applications of the Cease and Desist Letter include:
Putting an end to false or defamatory statements made about you, including libel and slander.
Stopping harassment in any form, such as debt collectors calling your place of business.
Ending intellectual property infringement over a copyright, trademark, or patent.
Depending on your state or its application, a Cease and Desist Letter may also be known as:
Stop Harassment Letter
Breach of Contract Letter
Copyright Infringement Notice
Trademark Infringement Notice
Stop Defamation Letter
Anyone who finds their legal rights violated can use a Cease and Desist Letter to indicate their intent to pursue legal action against the offending party. A Cease and Desist Letter is useful when you want to keep a conflict out of court.
While any unlawful act may be addressed via a Cease and Desist Letter, some applications are more common. Typically, they're only used in situations where the issuing party wants to avoid judicial intervention.
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Cease and Desist Letters constitute a simple warning but could end up worsening tension and creating a hostile relationship if not drafted properly. With our proprietary form generator, you'll have a Cease and Desist Letter with clear demands and the correct tone to settle a conflict.
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To create your document, please provide:
Governing State: Which state's laws apply to the Cease and Desist Letter.
Method of Delivery: How the notice will be delivered to the offending party.
Date: The date when the Cease and Desist Letter is created.
Sender: Your full name, address, and contact details. If someone else is signing the letter on your behalf, indicate their details as well.
Offending Party: Name and address of the individual or organization that will receive the Cease and Desist Letter.
Offending Conduct: The offending actions and how they violate your legal rights. Be thorough. You're not only informing the offending party but also creating a trail of evidence of their awareness of the breach.
Deadline: If applicable, set a time limit for the offending party to comply with the cease and desist order. In some cases, it's unreasonable to expect immediate cessation of an ongoing activity.
Statutory Damages: A sum of money granted by a judge or jury in a case as established by a statute rather than the specifics of the case.
Pursuant: Conforming with the requirements of a document, provision, or law.
Common-Law Trademark Infringement: When someone uses a trademark that may cause consumer confusion.
Disgorgement: When someone is required to hand over the profits they gained due to illegal or wrongful actions.
Injunctive Relief: A request for a court to prohibit an action or condition.
You are the only one who needs to sign a Cease and Desist Letter. There is no need to witness it, nor does it need to be notarized. A Cease and Desist Letter is not a legally-binding document. It only outlines possible legal recourse as a result of its non-compliance.
Once signed, deliver the Cease and Desist Letter to the offending party via the method noted in the notice itself. If you need to provide additional copies of the notice via other ways, it's a good idea to create a new notice with the delivery method explicitly stated.
There is no need to file a Cease and Desist Letter with any registry office. However, you should retain a copy for your own records. It's also a good idea to send a copy to your attorney's office to involve them in the process.
The first thing you should do when you receive a Cease and Desist Letter or any other legal document is consult an attorney. It's the best way to avoid doing something that could compromise your ability to take action later.
No immediate legal action will follow if you don't act on a Cease and Desist Letter. This is true regardless of how sound the claims in the letter are. However, it's wise to consult an attorney even if you don't plan on taking immediate action based on the letter. Ostensibly, the long-term consequences of ignoring the Cease and Desist Letter are legal actions taken against you as outlined in the document.
Whenever possible, use certified or registered mail to send a Cease and Desist Letter. If you need the letter delivered quickly and want to make sure it's delivered to the right person, you can use a process server to serve it.
No. Any adult can draft and send a Cease and Desist Letter for a perceived breach of their rights. However, in complicated cases of intellectual property infringement, contact an attorney familiar with that area of the law. If you plan on following through with a civil claim, you will likely need a lawyer anyway, so it's a good idea to involve them in the process as early as possible.
Yes. You're within your rights to start legal action without alerting the offending party in advance. However, the offending party could claim they were unaware of an infringement of your rights. It might take longer to obtain an injunction, and you might receive less in damages if you win the case.
A Cease and Desist Letter can help you avoid civil proceedings entirely, saving time and money. For most small claims, this is the best course of action for settling a dispute.
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