The first thing you should do if your business receives a cease and desist letter is take a deep breath and realize that a letter is not a lawsuit. A cease and desist letter is a warning that legal action may follow if your company continues to engage in what a plaintiff purports to be illegal activity. Some common examples of behavior that would trigger a cease and desist letter include:
- Patent infringement
- Trademark or copyright infringement
- Violation of a non-compete agreement
- Breach of contract
If you receive a cease and desist letter, you have several options:
- Agree to the demands in the letter and stop whatever behavior the letter asks you to stop.
- Respond with a request for more information.
- Respond with a refusal.
- Seek a declaratory judgment in court.
- Ignore it. (Not)
Upon receipt of a cease and desist letter, your first step should be to contact your attorney and provide him or her with a copy of the letter. Do not discuss the letter with anyone except your attorney. Start gathering any evidence that could be helpful in defending a legal action. In addition, you may want to give some thought to how complying with the letter’s request would harm your business. If any harm is easily recovered from, compliance may be easier than fighting things out in court.
Although a cease and desist letter has no real legal weight, your attorney should draft your response. If you draft it, you may say something that could get you into trouble down the road. Your letter would likely be admissible evidence, while an attorney can write the letter in the form of a settlement negotiation which is not admissible as evidence.
If your goal is to avoid litigation, your attorney can help you negotiate a settlement that may provide you with permission to go about your business as usual, make some minor changes, or to delay implementation of the cease and desist order so you have time to make the necessary changes while still continuing to do business. If you have not done anything wrong, your attorney will best know how to state your case.
Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., provides strong legal advocacy for companies involved in business lawsuits. We are known for using our skills, experience, and cutting-edge technology to get great results, whether after trial or through a favorable settlement. Call us today at (602) 256-9400 and schedule an appointment to meet with us about your case.