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3 Things to Understand about "Cease and Desist" Letters

Stop Light.jpgCreative works and inventions like logos and taglines or product labels and trade secrets are obviously important to business owners. 

Sometimes, when another person uses that proprietary information without authorization or consent, business owners must take action to stop the illegal use. Under these circumstances, the business owner may want to send a cease-and-desist letter to formally demand that a party stop using the product or design in question. However, before you send anything, stop and think about how to best achieve the desired result.

Is the message clearly stated?

A cease-and-desist letter should clearly define the proprietary work in question and directly request that the recipient stop their specific illegal activity. You might also include deadlines and/or settlement offers and terms.

Does the tone match your company's brand?

Tone can be a difficult thing to achieve in these letters. You want to be firm and direct, but you might also want the message to align with your company's brand. For instance, recently Netflix sent a cease-and-desist letter to a business owner who was operating a theme bar based on a popular Netflix show.

In its letter, Netflix requested that they stop operating the pop-up bar, but they also appealed to the creativity of the owners and even dropped in references to the show. The letter made headlines for its efficacy and unique approach. More importantly, the bar owner indicated an intent to cooperate.

Would you want others to see the letter?

While most cease-and-desist letters will not make national headlines, it is easier than ever for people to share these documents online. A recipient might tweet out portions of your request or post a picture of it on Instagram; in the blink of an eye, hundreds or thousands of people can develop an opinion about your company based on the contents of your letter.

The speed by which information travels through social media channels should cause business owners to appreciate the care and consideration that they must take when writing, reviewing, and ultimately sending these letters. 

Working with an attorney

A cease-and-desist letter is just one tool that can help business owners avoid costly disputes. An attorney experienced in commercial and business law matters can help business owners examine their options and utilize the appropriate tools to pursue the desired results.

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