What to do when you Receive a Cease & Desist Letter

If you receive a trademark cease and desist letter, the worst thing to do is ignore it and hope it goes away.

Any day a person or company receives a trademark cease and desist letter is never going to be a good day. The initial shock, panic, anger and other emotions can be overwhelming. When an entrepreneur or company receive a trademark cease and desist letter, it is important they do not ignore, do not respond by lashing out angrily at the other side, review the claims made carefully and then contact the other side to try to reach a solution.

 Example of cease and desist letter

Do not Ignore Trademark Cease and Desist Letters

The worst thing to do when receiving a trademark cease and desist letter is to ignore it. Often when a business owner receives a cease and desist letter, especially one based on claims that are not strong, they choose to ignore the letter in a hope it will go away. In some cases, maybe it will, but those instances are rare.

Although there is no need to respond within a few hours (most letters say they hope to hear a response in a week or two), ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

Do not Respond in Anger

On the other end of the spectrum from simply ignoring a cease and desist letter is to respond instantly when emotions are running highest. Firing off an email to the company that sent the letter, or calling up the law office that sent it and leaving a profanity laced message is not going to help anything. It is natural to be upset, angry and emotional when someone accuses you of something, especially if it is a false accusation.

If you receive a cease and desist letter, take a few days and think about it. Think about how to respond, what the claims are and how you want to approach the matter. In other words, do not respond when you first get the letter and likely have emotions running high.

Review the Claims and Consider Hiring a Trademark Attorney

Once a business owner who received a trademark cease and desist letter has had a few days to let their emotions calm down, they should review the letter again and analyze the validity of the claims made. For the lay businessman or businesswoman, it may be difficult to understand the strength of the claim. Maybe it is a weak claim, but you do not need to use the trademark anyways so you will agree to the demands in the cease and desist letter.

However, if the alleged trademark infringement goes to the heart of the company, such as it demands an entrepreneur changes their company name, it may be wise to hire a trademark attorney who can carefully review the validity of the claim. Sometimes cease and desist letters, especially sent from large corporations, are sent to intimidate and bully smaller companies from using any trademark similar to their trademarks. If you believe this is happening to you, it is likely worthwhile to at least consult with a trademark lawyer. A trademark lawyer will be better positioned than the average business person to analyze the claims and decide whether they are bogus, extremely serious or somewhere between.

Contact the Party that Sent the Letter

The last step to take after receiving a trademark cease and desist letter is to contact the party that sent the letter. Depending on the demands made, how important the alleged trademark infringement is, how strong their case is and more can determine how to best respond. For example, would a phone call help clear up the issue or should a letter be sent in response?

Apart from hiring a trademark lawyer to help analyze the claims made in a cease and desist letter, trademark attorneys can help develop a strategic plan in responding to the letter. In addition, trademark professionals can help settle the issue and will be more likely to get a positive result for their client who received the cease and desist letter.

Did you receive a trademark cease and desist letter and do not know how to respond? Contact us for a free trademark consultation and one of our attorneys will get back to you today!

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