A cease and desist letter is a letter that is sent to someone as a warning to end their unethical actions/activities. This Buzzle write-up elaborates on the meaning of the cease and desist letter with templates.
When you receive a cease and desist letter;
- Review the accusations.
- Confirm the opponent’s registration.
- If you are right, draw up a strong defense, or else cease the activity.
A jurisdiction draws up rules and regulations to maintain law and order in the state. Practically every single activity that we perform on a daily basis has a legal reason behind it. Honest citizens file for income tax returns, do not drink and drive, obtain the license required for one’s profession, etc., so that they are not caught by the law and penalized. That said, there are some people who undertake certain activities, some of which are not permitted by the law, and others that are unethical. When this happens, a cease and desist letter comes to your rescue. This letter is a kind of warning that can be issued to the concerned party to stop performing these activities that hurt you (or your organization). The paragraphs below elaborate on this concept.
The Underlying Concept
- As already mentioned, a cease and desist letter demands the recipient to cease any existing activity that potentially harms you. It is also known as a ‘demand letter’ or an ‘infringement letter’.
- The letter is sent to the offender in the circumstance that he violates the law or any code of ethics (the circumstances are myriad).
- It may also be used as a threatening tool to intimidate recipients, even if the offense is not too severe.
- The letter may also be considered as the first step to initiate a lawsuit.
- Remember though, that there is a big difference between this letter and a cease and desist order.
- The order is legally binding and is the result of a court case, i.e., the order is given by a judge or a high authority government official. The offense is definitely illegal and the order is backed by the law.
- The letter is more like a warning, and generally takes place beyond the legal premises (though the law is involved, depending on the situation), like an out-of-court settlement.
- One of the main reasons for this is to avoid the long, extended court cases, lawyer’s fees, and other messy legal procedures.
- You may enlist the help of an attorney for helping you draft the letter. However, the procedure may or may not have the support of authorized court officials as it takes place outside the court.
- Even the offense in this case may or may not be illegal.
- Though a cease and desist letter is also called a ‘demand letter’, technically, there is a slight difference between these two terms as well. The former demands that its recipient terminate a particular activity, while the latter is more of a reminder for pending claims.
A cease and desist template is provided below for your reference along with an agreement copy. However, this is just a template. You have to modify the contents according to the complaint. For instance, in case of copyright/patent/trademark infringement or even defamation, it would be better to have your attorney draft the letter. You have to mention details about your company, trademark, market confusion, client problems, etc.
When to Send the Letter?
A cease and desist letter can be sent if:
- Your work has been infringed upon.
- You are being harassed or stalked.
- You want to issue an official warning.
- You have property issues.
- You own a business venture and are being threatened by potential enemies.
Contents of the Letter
- A cease and desist letter mainly contains an order to terminate any illegal/unethical activity.
- A warning (more like a threat) may be issued to the recipient informing him that legal action would be taken against him lest he refuses to abstain from ceasing the activity.
- Depending upon the type of letter, it should contain all your legal rights and claims (in case of trademark), a formal request/order to terminate the action, deadline for the same, and the legal action that the offender may be subject to in case he disobeys the letter.
- Do not give out extra information regarding copyright issues.
- Make sure you have copies of the letter, and keep your lawyer updated about the same.
Types of Cease and Desist Letters
- Harassment has a number of categories – there is personal harassment, workplace harassment, disability harassment, etc.
- It is absolutely not necessary for you to quietly tolerate the behavior. Buck up and draft a cease and desist letter.
- You may be stalked, threatened, someone might be calling you repeatedly, or you may be mentally or sexually harassed as well. Ideally, sexual harassment calls for a more serious action than a cease and desist letter, but it is a beginning, nevertheless.
- You need to state all the details about how you have been harassed and how much you have suffered.
Slander and Defamation
- You can draft this letter if you have been subject to defamation or any loss of reputation on the basis of rumors or something that does not exist at all.
- You may be subject to slander or libel as well (this occurs when someone publicly makes a false statement about you or a false allegation against you). These issues generally occur with well-known personalities.
Copyright and Trademark Infringement
- This is one of the most common issues that demands a cease and desist letter.
- Many a time, writers, designers, producers, software developers, etc., have their work infringed upon.
- Generally, most of their work is subject to copyright and is patented as well, but problems occur nevertheless.
- In such a scenario, you will need to send a letter to the opponent, demanding him to put an end to the activity he has been pursuing, and warn him of legal action.
- Go through a law firm, preferably. In the letter, mention that the trademark solely belongs to this company and that you have faced severe damages owing to the opponent’s illegal copying activities.
- Mention details of the trademark – registration date, domain name, etc.
- Many collection agencies are known to trouble borrowers constantly.
- The constant harassment might lead you to situations where you are terrified of venturing out of your residence or even glancing at your cell phone.
- While drafting a letter for this purpose, mention the debt amount and the date from when you were being harassed.
- Make sure though, that you have sufficient evidence to prove that you do not deserve this treatment, i.e., you will need to prove that you are paying the installments on time, or a copy of your bank statement, etc.
Breach of Contract
- This is actually a very serious issue and may warrant for more than a mere written warning.
- However, you can send the letter even if you have a doubt that the other party has breached the contract.
- A copy of the contract and related documents will be necessary if the case is taken to court.
- In the letter, you will need to mention which condition has been breached upon and how you found out the same (perhaps, through the media). Don’t forget to add the date.
How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter
- To begin with, write your name and address on the top-left corner of the page.
- Leave a line and write the recipient’s name and address.
- Next, write the current date. Leave a line and mention the subject. You would be drafting this letter for one of the reasons mentioned above.
- Begin the body of the letter. Your language and letter tone needs to be diplomatic and business-like. Remember, you are not writing a personal letter to your friends so avoid long stories.
- Come directly to the point. State that the letter is being issued because the recipient has been performing actions that have put you in trouble, and that he is ordered to terminate them as soon as possible.
- In the next paragraph, elaborate on the content. This will again depend on the kind of letter you are writing. For example, harassment issues can be summed up pretty quickly, but copyright issues will take time as you are required to mention every detail of the copyrighted material.
- Finally, in the last paragraph, state the penalties and legal actions that the recipient may undergo in case of failure to terminate the action.
- Sign on the left side of the page.
- You may attach a legal agreement that the recipient is supposed to sign, declaring that he will immediately terminate the activity that has hurt the other party.
- Leave space on the left side of the agreement copy for the current date, the offender’s name, and his signature.
A cease and desist letter sample for harassment is provided below. You will need to modify the content as per the activities.
Apt. 401, Lakeview Residency, Frankfurt, KC
Subject: Cease and Desist from harassment
Dear Mr. Marc Jonathan,
This Cease and Desist letter is to inform you that your repeated attempts to harass me shall not be tolerated anymore. You are ordered to immediately terminate these activities that are essentially a violation of the law.
Your activities include the following:
As per the law, I am a free citizen and have the right to remain so. Your activities have destroyed my peace of mind and are causing me mental health issues. If this continues, I will be forced to undertake legal action.
I hereby demand that you terminate these activities immediately. In the event that you fail to comply with my demand, I shall have to remind you that your actions will be subject to severe legal consequences. As of now, I have courteously decided to give you a final chance to redeem your faults. To assure myself of the same, I need you to sign the written agreement that has been attached herewith, and which states that you will cease the harassment immediately.
You are given a time frame of 15 days from the date this letter was written, to sign the agreement and send it back to me. In the event that you fail to do the same, I will exercise my rights and undertake the necessary legal action.
|CEASE AND DESIST AGREEMENT
I, Marc Jonathan, hereby declare that I will stop all the harassment activities, like calling Ms. Dylan Smith in the middle of the night or waiting outside her house.
I am aware that Ms. Dylan Smith has all the rights to undertake legal action against me in the event that I refuse to comply with this demand. I also agree never to engage in similar activities in the future.
A cease and desist letter is a very commonly used tactic to avoid legal hassles and snake out of the trouble. It is mostly used by companies to handle trademark and patent problems and to issue warnings to websites that publish mock reviews. However, the companies need to make sure that the accusation and warning is in compliance with the U.S. Constitution.