Watch this video before you send a Cease and Desist Letter:
A Cease & Desist Letter is often the first step to asking an individual, or a business, to stop illegal activity. The purpose of the letter is to threaten further legal action if the behavior does not stop.
Cease and desist letters are sent when someone wants another party to cease their illegal activity without having to escalate the situation by bringing legal action in court.
A Cease & Desist Letter may need to be sent in a number of circumstances including:
The following is a Cease and Desist Letter template for those who are looking for a sample form to use as an example. This Cease and Desist Letter is solely for use with copyright infringement (it could be modified for other purposes) and is from the perspective of a Minneapolis attorney writing on behalf of a client whose copyrighted works were being infringed.
Warning: You should not use this Cease and Desist Letter without consulting first with an attorney to ensure that it complies with the law in your jurisdiction. Also, Cease and Desist Letters are best sent by attorneys because they carry more weight when a lawyer writes a letter threatening legal action if someone doesn’t cease and desist illegal conduct.
Note: A cease and desist letter is the first of many consequences that may arise from infringing on someone else’s copyright.
Here is the copyright infringement Cease and Desist Letter sample template form:
CEASE AND DESIST DEMAND
Pursuant to Title 17 of the United States Code
February 20, 2011
2812 Anthony Lane South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55418
Dear Mr. Doe:
This law firm represents [CLIENT NAME]. If you are represented by legal counsel, please direct this letter to your attorney immediately and have your attorney notify us of such representation.
We are writing to notify you that your unlawful copying of [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK] infringes upon our client’s exclusive copyrights. Accordingly, you are hereby directed to
CEASE AND DESIST ALL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.[CLIENT NAME] is the owner of a copyright in various aspects of [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK]. Under United States copyright law, [CLIENT NAME]’s copyrights have been in effect since the date that [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK] was created. All copyrightable aspects of [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK] are copyrighted under United States copyright law.
It has come to our attention that you have been copying [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK]. We have copies of your unlawful copies to preserve as evidence. Your actions constitute copyright infringement in violation of United States copyright laws. Under 17 U.S.C. 504, the consequences of copyright infringement include statutory damages of between $750 and $30,000 per work, at the discretion of the court, and damages of up to $150,000 per work for willful infringement. If you continue to engage in copyright infringement after receiving this letter, your actions will be evidence of “willful infringement.”
We demand that you immediately (A) cease and desist your unlawful copying of [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK] and (B) provide us with prompt written assurance within ten (10) days that you will cease and desist from further infringement of [CLIENT]’s copyrighted works.
If you do not comply with this cease and desist demand within this time period, [CLIENT] is entitled to use your failure to comply as evidence of “willful infringement” and seek monetary damages and equitable relief for your copyright infringement. In the event you fail to meet this demand, please be advised that [CLIENT] has asked us to communicate to you that it will contemplate pursuing all available legal remedies, including seeking monetary damages, injunctive relief, and an order that you pay court costs and attorney’s fees. Your liability and exposure under such legal action could be considerable.
Before taking these steps, however, my client wished to give you one opportunity to discontinue your illegal conduct by complying with this demand within ten (10) days. Accordingly, please sign and return the attached Agreement within ten (10) days to
[FIRM NAME] [FIRM ADDRESS] [FIRM CITY, STATE, ZIP] Fax: [FIRM FAX NUMBER]
If you or your attorney have any questions, please contact me directly.
Copyright Infringement Settlement Agreement
I, ___________________, agree to immediately cease and desist copying [CLIENT’S COPYRIGHTED WORK] in exchange for [CLIENT] releasing any and all claims against me for copyright infringement. In the event this agreement is breached by me, [CLIENT] will be entitled to costs and attorney’s fees in any action brought to enforce this agreement and shall be free to pursue all rights that [CLIENT] had as of the date of this letter as if this letter had never been signed.
I’m Aaron Hall, an attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today we’re talking about cease and desist letters. What are they? Who can send one? When can I send one? What do I need to know about them? What do they do? What are some common mistakes? Well, a cease and desist letter is quite simply a letter asking someone to stop doing something. And in general, the letter should ask someone to stop doing something illegal because they’re entitled to do something if it’s legal.
So you might see it for copyright infringement, “Please stop using my image or my music in a way that infringes my copyright.” You might see it in trademark infringement, similar reasons. You might see it in the area of defamation, like slander or libel. “Please stop talking bad about me in a way that’s false because it has a tendency to harm my reputation. Cease your defamatory comments,” for example. A cease and desist letter could be used for a contract. “Please cease and desist or stop breaching the contract.”
So as you can see, there are all sorts of illegal conduct where you could be asking somebody a cease and desist. Now, why would you do this? Well, it’s less expensive and aggressive than a lawsuit. So typically if a party is interested in suing another party, they would first say, “Hey, please stop the illegal activity so I don’t have to go to court and have a judge order you to stop.” Even if you’re not contemplating a lawsuit, a cease and desist letter is a nice way to put them on notice that they need to stop out of the honor of the agreement or in honor of the law that they’re violating.
Who can send one? Well, anybody can send one. You could send one. Your neighbor could send one. Typically though, they’re sent from a law firm because when they’re coming from law firm letterhead, the person receiving it knows you’re serious, knows that you mean business. But again, anybody can send it because it’s a letter.
Now, there’s nothing magic about it. There typically isn’t any legal effect to it except it puts the other party on notice that you know what they’re doing and if they continue, it’s with full knowledge that they’re doing it illegally. So sometimes notice is an element in a legal issue, and so to that extent, a cease and desist letter can fulfill the notice requirement. For example, if you put somebody on notice and they continue to infringe your trademark or your copyright, they no longer can say, “Hey, I didn’t know that I was infringing.” They have converted from perhaps good faith to bad faith because now they’re on notice and they’re continuing to infringe.
What are some common mistakes? Well, one common mistake is kind of a one size fits all template. Really, a cease and desist letter should state the type of illegal activity that’s occurring, the reason it’s illegal, so the contract or the law that establishes it’s illegal, and then where do we go from here? Are you just asking them to stop? Are you asking them to acknowledge that they will stop by sending a letter confirming that? Are you asking for some sort of public apology or private apology? Or maybe you’re saying, “You need to pay me some money to avoid getting sued.” In other words, “I’m proposing a settlement here in addition to this letter that says cease and desist.”
I’ve done these of all sorts, all these different types are examples where I’ve worked with clients and they they’ve asked for anything from, “Please stop,” to, “Stop and pay $100,000 for the damages that you’ve already caused through your unlawful actions.”
What are some other common mistakes people make? Well, it’s a mistake to not have it sent by an attorney because it just doesn’t look professional, and if the whole idea is to demonstrate that you’re serious about something, sending it on your own letterhead probably doesn’t accomplish that. That said, there may be no harm. Perhaps you want to send a letter first on your own and then get an attorney involved if you need to.
Other common mistakes are not stating with specificity what is the illegal conduct that’s occurring and that it needs to stop, or beating around the bush saying, “You’ve done this, you’ve done this,” but not really saying, “You must cease and desist.” Those are some examples. And then of course there’s obvious stuff like the letter not looking professional, grammar, spelling or format problems, issues or inaccuracies.
If you have questions about sending a cease and desist letter and your issue relates to one of some sort of illegal activity, you can contact an attorney in your state. Attorneys generally are licensed state by state, so you’ll want to contact an attorney in your state to write a letter on your behalf to address the illegal conduct that is harming you or your business. I’m Aaron Hall, an attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For additional information, feel free to see in the description below.
Learn more about cease and desist letters with this video by attorney Aaron Hall:
What is a cease and desist letter? When should you use it? When shouldn’t you use it? Who should send it? When should you send it? What are some common mistakes people make? I’ll address these issues coming up. I’m Aaron Hall, a business attorney in Minneapolis.
A cease and desist letter is, quite simply, correspondence telling somebody stop their illegal activity. What kind of illegal activity are we talking about? Maybe it’s trademark infringement, copyright infringement, harassing phone calls or letters. Maybe it’s some other violation of the law. Maybe violation of trade secret law, improperly using confidential business information. Maybe they’re slandering or defaming you. These are typical examples where you want to send a cease and desist letter.
What does the letter do? Well, couple things. First, a cease and desist letter puts people on notice that you know they are engaging in illegal activity. They no longer can say, “Oh, I didn’t realize it.” Or, “I was never told to stop.” They’re now on notice of their illegal activity.
Second, it may show bad faith as opposed to good faith. In other words, if you’ve told them they need to stop, they can’t say, “Oh, I didn’t know.” In fact, because they persist, it at least is one factor a court could look at in determining whether they had bad faith in continuing their illegal activity after they had notice.
Finally, it makes somebody aware that they may be sued and may face legal consequences. It’s one step closer to litigation without actually filing in court and spending all the money and going to all the effort of commencing a lawsuit. That’s the value of it.
Now, who should send a cease and desist letter? It really should come from an attorney. It doesn’t have the same weight if it comes from an individual. When it comes on law firm letterhead from an attorney articulating that the conduct is illegal, that sends a much stronger message than an individual.
What should be in the cease and desist letter? Well, for one, it should articulate specifically what has been done wrong. What is the illegal conduct that should be stopped? What type of defamation is there? What type of slander? What kind of trademark infringement occurred? Not just stating the legal doctrine, but also giving some examples of what’s occurred.
The cease and desist letter might also say, in addition to stopping, here’s a settlement offer. For example, “Turn over the confidential information you’ve been improperly using and pay a settlement amount, a dollar amount of some sort, and then we won’t sue you.” And perhaps it will say, “You have 10 days to respond.” The number of days… It really depends on the situation.
When should this be sent? Really as soon as possible, and typically parties will do that when the situation has gotten so severe that they’re willing to take some legal action to get this to stop.