Receiving a “cease and desist” letter from a lawyer can be a stressful and perplexing experience. But, after the initial shock, what should you do next?
What is a cease and desist letter?
A “cease and desist” letter or “letter before action” is a formal letter, usually from a lawyer, that makes allegations of unlawful conduct against you and demands that you immediately stop or “cease and desist” the unlawful behaviour. These allegations are usually based on passing off, copyright infringement, design right infringement, patent infringement or trade mark infringement. However, they might also involve breach of contract, or a combination of the above. Additional requests or “remedies” are also common within such a letter and the sender is entitled to these where an allegation of infringement is established.
Why send a letter?
There are a number of reasons why a business may decide to send a cease and desist letter to an alleged infringer. It’s certainly a cheaper way of seeking redress than a potential legal action through the courts, often the last roll of the dice. The main objective is to stop the alleged infringement from continuing to damage the business. Whether it be reputational damage from negative reviews as a result of fake, often inferior products, or the financial damage from lost revenue, both seriously affect the success and survival of the complaining business. Sending a letter gives the receiver an opportunity to stop any infringing activity. A third reason might be that the recipient is already in an existing business relationship with the sender, who is perhaps the licensor of intellectual property rights. In such circumstances, you would obviously not wish to immediately proceed to court.
What should I do if I receive a cease and desist letter?
If you are unfortunate enough to receive a cease and desist letter, you shouldn’t panic. Whilst doing nothing is often not the best option, there are a number of options open to you, including the possibility of negotiating a mutually acceptable outcome for both parties. There is usually a deadline to respond by so you should therefore not delay in seeking expert legal advice before you reply.
These are unprecedented times. However, at Tidman Legal, we are here for your business legal needs. Call us now on 0131 557 6450, email [email protected], or complete our online contact form if you have received a cease and desist letter or have an intellectual property query.