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Cease and Desist: What's Included, Considerations

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What is a Cease and Desist?

A cease and desist is a request or formal order made by one party requesting another party to stop and discontinue a certain behavior or action that may be illegal, harmful, or infringing on that party’s rights.

There are two main types of cease and desist:

  • Cease and desist letter: This is a formal letter, typically written by a lawyer, requesting a party stop and discontinue a certain action or behavior.
  • Cease and desist order: This is a formal order, typically issued by a court or regulatory body, requiring a party to stop a certain action or behavior.

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What is a Cease-and-Desist Letter?

A cease-and-desist letter is a formally written document that communicates to an individual or organization the request to stop a specific action and to also refrain from taking that action in the future. The letter also includes specific demands, such as the action that you want the individual to take and by what date. If the recipient fails to comply with the request in the letter by the specified date, it usually carries a threat of legal repercussions.

Reasons Why You May Want to Send a Cease-and-Desist Letter

There are a number of common scenarios in which someone might want to send a cease-and-desist letter. These include:

  • Harassment: You could send a letter demanding that someone stop harassing behaviors. The letter should include specific dates that the harassment occurred, a detailed description of the harassing behavior, and the date at which you will take further legal action if the behavior doesn't stop.
  • Trademark Infringement : A copyright automatically applies to any work that is written. However, a trademark must be registered in order for it to be legally enforceable. When sending a cease-and-desist letter over trademark infringement, you should include a description of the design that's been infringed upon, the date that you saw the image was used, and the actions that the recipient should take to comply with the letter.
  • Copyright Infringement : If you believe someone is using your copyrighted work without permission, sending a cease-and-desist letter is the first step you should take to protect yourself. Your letter should include details about the work that was copyrighted, proof that you own the content, and an explanation of how the copyright was infringed upon.
  • Debt Collections: If you're receiving harassing phone calls from debt collectors, you may want to send a cease-and-desist letter to stop the harassment. Your letter should contain the amount of debt that collectors are pursuing, the account number associated with the debt, and any other documentation to stop the harassment.
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What to Include in a Cease-and-Desist Letter

Here is a look at the type of information you should include in a cease-and-desist letter based upon the kind of letter you're sending:

Harassment

If you're sending a cease-and-desist letter to a debt collection agency that won't stop you, it should include language from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits the collection agency from contacting you by phone. If you're sending a cease-and-desist letter to an individual who's stalking or harassing you, then your letter should tell them that their behavior is uncomfortable, offensive, and threatening. Both types of letters should include the following:

  • Unlawful Behavior: A description of the type of behavior that the individual or company is engaging in that's unlawful
  • Dates: Specific dates when the harassing behavior took place
  • Location: Where the harassment occurred, or if it took place over the phone

Trademark Infringement

It's important to always register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or your cease-and-desist letter may be powerless to stop the other business or party from using it. If your trademark is registered, then your rights are documented. Your letter should include:

  • Dates Used: Specify the date when the other party first used your trademark.
  • Registration Number: When you registered your trademark with the USPTO, your trademark was given a registration number that you should include with the letter.
  • Registration Date: Include the date you registered your trademark.
  • Geographic Areas: If applicable, include the geographic location where the trademark was used.

Copyright Infringement

If someone is using your work without permission, you can send a cease-and-desist letter demanding they take the content down or stop using it without proper attribution. Unlike trademarks, copyright applies as soon as your idea is written down. Your letter should include:

  • The name or description of the work and/or a description of its similarities to what the other party is using
  • The date at which the content was first published
  • The registration number if you have registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • The length of time they have to stop using the content and meet other specified demands

Defamation

If someone is making false statements, whether they are spoken or published in writing, that have harmed your reputation, character, or business, you can send them a cease-and-desist letter demanding that they stop making those claims. There are two different types of defamation that the law recognizes:

  • Libel: False statements that are written
  • Slander: False statements that are spoken

If you're sending a cease-and-desist letter for defamation, your letter should include:

  • The statement that was made by the other party;
  • Whether the statement was spoken or published;
  • A description of how the statement was misleading;
  • A description of the harm you suffered as a result of the defamatory statement;
  • Your demands, including the number of days that the other party has to take action and the specific action you want them to take, such as publishing a retraction of their statement or removing all of the content from a website.

Cease-and-Desist Letter Templates

Here are some templates you can use to create your own cease-and-desist letter:

  • Harassment
  • Debt Collection
  • Trademark Infringement
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Defamation

Ways to Respond to Receive Cease and Desist Notices

Obtaining a cease and desist letter can often be a confusing experience. These letters are generally dispatched by people or companies who believe that someone is engaging in harmful or unlawful activity infringing upon their rights. While it's necessary to handle these letters earnestly, knowing your options and rights is equally essential when obtaining one. Upon obtaining a cease and desist letter, the recipient generally has numerous options for answering:

  • Evaluating the Validity of the Claims: The primary step when obtaining a cease and desist letter is to thoughtfully review its content and evaluate the validity of the claims filed by the sender. Consider hiring a lawyer experienced in the applicable area of law to help you understand the lawful merits of the charges and your potential liability.
  • Negotiating a Resolution: In numerous circumstances, settling the conflict without heading to court is possible. Moreover, engaging in negotiations with the sender or their legal agent may lead to a contract that benefits both parties. Mediating a resolution can save resources and time and involve different solutions, such as cease and desist compliance.
  • Taking Remedial Actions: If the cease and desist letter comprises reasonable lawsuits, and you believe it is in your best interest to comply, taking immediate remedial action can help control legal escalation. It may concern ceasing the disputed activities, removing infringing content, or addressing any problems presented in the letter.
  • Drafting a Response: If you deny the allegations specified in the cease and desist letter, it is necessary to prepare a well-reasoned and professional answer with the help of your lawyer. Your answer should address the distinct issues submitted by the sender and offer any supporting proof or legal opinions to contradict their claims. A well-prepared answer can help safeguard your rights and interests.
  • Preparing for Litigation: Litigation may become imperative if mediation fails and parties cannot reach a resolution. You must take legal recourse to protect your rights or reason your claims in such circumstances.

Different Types of Cease and Desist Letters

Below are different types of cease and desist letters:

  • Intellectual Property Cease and Desist Letters: Among the most frequent iterations, intellectual property (IP) cease and desist letters serve as a shield for copyrights, trademarks, and patents. When unauthorized utilization of one's intellectual property occurs, such as employing copyrighted content, trademarked logos, or patented inventions without consent, the sender may dispatch an IP cease and desist letter. These letters commonly demand the immediate cessation of the unauthorized use of protected assets and may also request compensation for any damages.
  • Defamation Cease and Desist Letters: Defamation cease and desist letters become necessary when a party has disseminated untrue statements concerning an individual, business, or reputation. These false assertions can inflict harm on both personal and professional fronts, making these letters instrumental in ending the propagation of erroneous information. Generally, they demand the accused retract their statements, issue apologies and desist from further disseminating defamatory remarks. In certain instances, recipients might also be called upon to provide reparations for the harm inflicted.
  • Harassment or Stalking Cease and Desist Letters: Harassment and stalking cease and desist letters come into play when unwarranted, persistent, and distressing contact or behavior is inflicted upon an individual, often inducing fear. These letters are indispensable in instances of cyberbullying, online harassment, or stalking. The primary objective of these letters is to insist that the perpetrator immediately halt all forms of harassment or stalking, whether through digital correspondence, phone calls, or physical presence. Typically, these letters serve as a prelude to legal actions or the pursuit of restraining orders.
  • Debt Collection Cease and Desist Letters: In scenarios where consumers aim to discontinue contact with debt collectors, debt collection cease and desist letters are employed. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the United States empowers consumers to request that debt collectors cease communication efforts. Once the collector receives such a missive, they may only contact the consumer to confirm receipt or convey specific actions, such as impending legal proceedings.
  • Nuisance and Trespass Cease and Desist Letters: Nuisance and trespass cease and desist letters come into play when a neighbor or another party engages in activities that disrupt tranquility or encroach upon property rights. These letters demand the cessation of disruptive activities, which may encompass disturbances like excessive noise, encroachments onto one's property, or other behaviors that infringe upon the peaceful enjoyment of one's property.

Benefits of Having a Lawyer Send a Cease and Desist

While you can send a cease-and-desist letter on your own using one of the templates above, civil claims can be complex. Even if the verdict is in your favor, the other party could appeal the decision, drawing out the legal process even further. However, if you work with a lawyer and have them send the cease-and-desist letter on your behalf, they can:

  • Explain whether your rights have, indeed, been violated, and what options you have for taking legal action;
  • Tell you whether a cease-and-desist letter is the most effective and appropriate course of action;
  • Write and send the letter on your behalf, making sure everything is properly documented.

In many cases, simply having a lawyer send the letter can cause the other party to take you more seriously. This, alone, could result in a more swift response and an end to the unlawful behavior.

Final Thoughts on Cease and Desists

Cease and desist letters are vital in settling conflicts and protecting people or companies' rights. Also, when used appropriately, they can effectively stop unlawful conduct and facilitate peaceful resolution. Nevertheless, these letters should always be prepared with care, backed by strong legal grounds, and in adherence to applicable regulations and laws. Hence if you are either on the sending or receiving end of a cease and desist letter, seeking legal guidance is advisable to ensure your rights and interests are safeguarded throughout the process.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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Media

Cease and Desist

Illinois

Asked on Mar 11, 2022

I need a cease and desist letter

A content creator on YouTube 8s slandering me, much like, Cardi B & Tasha K

Mathew K.

Answered Apr 19, 2022

I think you meant to post this as a proposal and not a question. Please use the following link so I can bid on your request: https://www.contractscounsel.com/client/create-project/step-h1?cta=4.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Dispute

Cease and Desist

Illinois

Asked on Aug 27, 2021

Should I get a cease and desist letter?

I have an ex partner who has become out of nowhere disgruntled and left an angry comment on my business page that was something offensive to my client and that I disagreed with. It's been a few weeks of silence and Wednesday they texted me a very angry message about how removing their comment was an unethical business practice and a lot of other accusations about my being cruel to animals, have them in unsafe conditions or that I am the cause of my fosters kittens death, as well as leaving a review on my business page stating the same things. All of these statements are untrue. It's not uncommon to loose kittens when you foster sick neonatal kittens. As far as the conditions my cats are in, I can prove with photos and videos that were sent to this person in private messages were not bad but actually full of enriching toys, supplies, clean and I have people whom regularly are in my home that witness this. I'm unsure whether or not they're going to escalate since Facebook took the review down but this person has a long history of mental illness and I'm afraid of how a bad review like they gave me being posted and not getting removed would do for my business.

Don G.

Answered Oct 3, 2021

If these comments are made on the Facebook platform, I would advise you to use their dispute resolution procedures. I also suggest you respond to any future negative comments from your ex-partner by contradicting the negative statements. If the comments continue to excess and you are unable to resolve through Facebook procedures, then a cease and desist may be warranted. That also may not stop the comments so you may need to seek other legal remedies.

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Business

Cease and Desist

New York

Asked on Jun 9, 2022

How much for a cease and dismiss letter

Husband ex wife called my job trying to get me fired

Matthew S.

Answered Jun 17, 2022

I have 38 years experience as an attorney. I have written effective cease-and-desist letters for just as long. I promise prompt and efficient service.

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Litigation

Cease and Desist

Alabama

Asked on Oct 23, 2021

How much do you charge to write a cease and desist letter in my behalf

My name is being slandered at work and its making it a hostile work place for me

John H.

Answered Nov 23, 2021

$500

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Business

Cease and Desist

Georgia

Asked on Mar 14, 2022

When to send a Cease and Desist Letter?

I am a small business owner (retailer), and had a long time staff member (Michael) develop a drinking problem. He felt comfortable enough to come to work intoxicated on a few occasions putting the rest of the staff and my business at risk. He was a supporting manager and had keys to the store. One day he had to be driven home from work because he was too inebriated. Another staff member who drove him to his home gave him a couple of days to come clean to me before she would tell me what happened. He never told me even though i gave him every opportunity to do so. So I had a meeting with him and explained that I was disappointed and wanted to help him, but my business and family had to be protected as well so I took his keys and title away while keeping him employed and at the same pay rate. I did this in hopes that he would get some help and didn't have to worry about being unemployed. Then Covid hit. Had to shut down for a little while. I kept in communication with my team (including Michael) throughout. Everyone responded except Michael. When it was time to re-open I asked everyone to respond letting me know if they were coming back to work. Everyone responded except Michael. Never heard from him again. So, I terminated him under "job abandonment". He then went to work at another local shop, and so I was happy for him and went on with my life and business. A couple of weeks ago I started to get some messages from mutual friends asking me what Michael was posting about on Facebook and other platforms and it turns out he has been posting derogatory comments (all lies) about how we treated him horribly and these could affect my business. None of our staff members can see these posts directly because he has blocked us all. We have, however, been receiving screenshots from mutual friends. Again, this went down over two years ago! I kept him employed I paid him through the pandemic including doing his unemployment paperwork weekly. I didn't fire him. He chose not to come back to work I demoted him and kept him at the same pay rate I tried every way that I could to help him find help I simply want this to stop as I did nothing wrong and did much more than any other employer would have. His parents are enablers and are probably behind this.

Meghan T.

Answered Mar 29, 2022

Hello, In Georgia, defamation consist of producing a false and defamatory statement about another. Libel consists of writing (via text, social media, or even through a review) a false and malicious defamation of another, expressed in print, writing, pictures, or signs, tending to injure the reputation of the person. Finally, slander of (oral defamation) occurs by making charges against another in reference to his trade, office, or profession, calculated to injure him therein; or uttering any disparaging words productive of special damage which flows naturally therefrom. You can write a letter to your former employee outlining the law and describing how they defamed you and your business. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and set up a consultation. Thanks, Meghan K Thomas, Esq

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