This article was last updated: May 1st, 2023
Writing a cease-and-desist letter can be helpful when someone is engaging in illegal activity that is harming you or your business. A cease-and-desist letter will put someone on notice that they are engaging in illegal activity.
The letter will generally say that if the person does not stop an unlawful activity, you will pursue legal action against them. Cease and desist letters serve as a warning and do not have any immediate legal consequences as a court order would have, but they can be an affordable way to resolve conflict quickly while avoiding legal proceedings.
Cease and desist letters also provide a party with evidence that they have given notice to the other party regarding their illegal behavior.
When are Cease and Desist Letters Necessary?
A cease and desist letter is a valuable tool that should be kept in a business’s back pocket. When a business realizes that someone is engaging in illegal behavior, an attorney can help prepare a cease and desist letter to put them on notice that they may face civil or criminal penalties.
Some of the most common reasons that a business may need to write and send a cease and desist letter include the following:
- Infringement of intellectual property: A business’s ownership of its intellectual property gives them certain rights. When someone else infringes on these rights by using their intellectual property, that person is in breach, also known as trademark infringement. If you have a copyright, trademark, or patent, and someone is violating your rights, you can send them a cease and desist letter outlining the action that caused you to write the letter in the first place and demanding that they stop.
- Libel and Slander: A business’s reputation is crucial. If a person or company is spreading slanderous comments about you on social media, it could harm your customer base and bottom line. Whether someone is slandering or libeling you, a cease and desist letter tells the person spreading the misinformation to stop or face potential legal consequences.
- Other types of harassment: If someone is harassing your business by repeated phone calls, emails, alleged misconduct, or by abusing your property, a cease and desist letter could help.
How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter
It is possible to use a generic template for your cease-and-desist letter. However, the more you tailor your cease-and-desist letter to your unique situation, the more effective it can be. Every cease and desist letter requires the same basic contents, such as:
- Your name and address
- The recipient’s name and address
- A demand that the recipient stop the unlawful behavior
- Sending the letter via certified mail, return receipt requested
The substance of your cease and desist letter needs to contain more detailed information. It should include actionable indirect language that puts the offender on legal notice. The letter should also incite a certain amount of fear of legal repercussions. You may want to include relevant case law or state statutes to show the offender what specific laws they are violating by engaging in their behavior.
Doing so will show the harasser that you’re serious about the matter at hand and that you have the law on your side and the legal power of the desist letter. However, you do not want to make the written notice too aggressive or offensive. All of the claims of legal actions should be feasible.
They should not be so threatening that they frighten the other party’s sense of security and safety. Striking the right tone is crucial when it comes to cease and desist letters.
What to Include in Your Cease and Desist Letter
The cease and desist letter should include a clear and concise description of the harassing or offending behavior. The letter should also include the amount of time you are giving the recipient to remedy the issue and possible consequences.
Remedying the issue typically means stopping the unlawful action. Specify what you want the recipient to stop doing. If the problematic issue continues to escalate and prompts legal action, you may need an attorney to help you serve and create the cease and desist order, which is a legal action issued by a court.
What to Avoid When Writing a Cease and Desist Letter
Writing a cease and desist letter is somewhat straightforward, but there are some pitfalls you should avoid. As mentioned above, you should watch the tone of the letter. Threatening to sue the perpetrator might be an important detail you need to include, but do not include it right at the letter’s beginning.
It is usually best to take a softer approach in the beginning before making legal threats, but we recommend discussing your case with an attorney as legal threats may be necessary.
It is also important to avoid making empty threats that you can enforce. Including language that you will take someone to court within a specific period when you are not prepared to do so should not be included. It is also crucial that you do not include vague statements in your letter.
It helps to be thorough and ensure that you are serious and take the offender’s actions seriously. In many cases, it is better to talk to someone in person, call, or email them before sending a cease and desist letter. However, if the person is volatile or unsafe or the recipient ignores the communication, working with a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter can be the best course of action.
InPrime Legal Can Help you Write a Cease and Desist Letter
Do you need to draft a cease and desist letter, but do not know how to start? InPrime Legal is here to help. We represent small to medium-sized businesses by offering our affordable prepaid attorney services. We provide clients with excellent legal representation for a monthly fee, focusing on preventative representation.
One of our experienced in-network attorneys can help you draft your legal documents, including cease and desist orders. Contact InPrime Legal today to schedule your free consultation to learn more about our services.