If you have received a trademark cease-and-desist letter, then someone or some company out there often believes you are infringing on their trademarked property. This letter makes the demands that you cease the use of your trademarked property or stop using it. The letter may promise potential litigation in a court of law if you do not abide by their wishes.
If you have received such a piece of mail, you are probably wondering why. Getting a trademark officially registered took a long time and you went through enough steps that something like this should not be happening – right? But now the letter is here, and you must decide how best to respond.
Should You Just Ignore the Letter?
You may strongly disagree with the accusations of the letter. Even if the complaint is legitimate, that does not mean you necessarily did anything wrong. And it is worth noting that sometimes such a claim is actually very much illegitimate. Some cease-and-desist letters are sent by competitors looking to disrupt your business and brand in an attempt to gain a foothold in the marketplace.
Regardless of the legitimacy of the cease-and-desist letter, it cannot simply be ignored. Be mindful that the letter should have a response deadline. Even if you cannot make all changes that are being asked of you by that deadline, some correspondence with the letter’s sender can at least reassure them that you are not ignoring the matter. To that point, please remember that any correspondence you share with the opposing party could also find its way into court, so please be respectful.
However you may wish to handle this matter from here, do not ignore such a letter. If you do, you will likely receive more demanding and threatening letters from the other party asking that you cease and desist whatever it is they assert you are doing. And, if the issue does end up in court, it is better to show the judge that you respected the dispute from the beginning.
Does a Cease-and-Desist Letter Mean You Are Getting Sued?
Please, do not panic. A cease-and-desist letter, on its own, is not the start of a lawsuit. Most often, the cease-and-desist letter is an attempt to resolve matters without the need for a lawsuit and is an opportunity for both parties to negotiate.
However, if you do not come to some satisfactory arrangement with the other party, then a lawsuit may result from the matter. In such a case, it is best to seek the legal assistance of a trademark law professional.
What Other Options Do You Have?
Short of ignoring the letter entirely or surrendering to every demand, what other options do you have?
It may be possible to negotiate, maybe with the help of an impartial mediator, and come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties without infringing on anybody’s trademarked property.
You may also be able to sue those who sent you the cease-and-desist letter, arguing that your trademark is not an infringement on theirs and you should not be held to their demands.
Whatever way you decide to go, the legal advice of a trademark attorney is strongly recommended.