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How Do I Write a Cease and Desist Letter?

The purpose of a cease and desist letter is to state what action it is that the writer wants stopped and the legal actions they intend to take if this does not happen.
Any laws that are being broken should be cited in a cease and desist letter.
Sending a cease and desist letter by certified mail will confirm that the recipient received it since a signature will be required.
Cease and desist form letters can be found online, printed and signed by the sender.
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  • Written By: Bethney Foster
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
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A cease and desist letter is easy to write and may be written by anyone — it's not necessary to hire an attorney. The letter should state what action it is that you want stopped, and it will typically outline what legal steps you'll take if the action continues.

This letter is usually written to stop some type of action, such as harassment by a creditor, slander, or the unlawful use of copyrighted material, on the part of another person or organization. It is usually sent when you believe that a judge would order the other party to stop the action if the matter went to court, but you want to avoid legal action. The letter should identify the person or group that is taking the action the writer wants stopped. You should also specifically describe the action, including dates, times, and details, if possible.

Any laws that may be being violated by the other person's actions should be cited. This should be followed by a direct demand that the action stop, and a deadline should be given. This may be immediately in the case of harassing phone calls or within a couple weeks in the case of copyright infringement. What further actions may be taken if the actions continue should also be named. This is usually the threat of a lawsuit or criminal charges.

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The cease and desist letter should not use abusive or profane language or make threats beyond those of following up within the legal system. Remember that, if further legal action is required, the letter will likely become part of documentation for lawsuits. This would make the letter a document that would be reviewed by the courts and would make it a part of public record.

The letter should be in the format of a business letter. Your name and address, the recipient’s name and address, and the date of the letter should precede the body. The letter should include your original signature at the end, and you should keep at least one copy of the original letter.

It's a good idea to send the letter by certified mail, as it will force the person to whom the letter is sent to acknowledge receipt. This means that the person cannot claim the letter was not received should further legal action ever be necessary.

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jcraig
Post 4

@cardsfan27 - I would say the punishment depends on the crime. If you are using someone's patent or trademark and making money off of it, you could be forced to pay back any and all profits. That is what happens a lot of times when someone infringes the copyright of a song. In the collection agency example, the company may be responsible for harassment charges.

There are some companies that are more understanding of people using their logos. I remember a while back there was a group who made a bunch of shirts for their event that looked like the front of a Jack Daniels bottle. The Jack Daniels company saw the shirts and sent a cease and desist letter.

At the same time, though, they said they appreciated the gesture and would allow the group to sell whatever shirts they had left or something along those lines. They were very understanding of the situation and didn't go overboard in threatening legal action.

cardsfan27
Post 3

Out of curiosity, what happens if you do get a cease and desist letter and don't stop? Maybe more importantly, what actions can someone take against you?

I always like hearing stories about companies sending cease and desist letters for trivial things. It seems like certain companies or brands are extremely jealous of anyone using their ideas.

I know that the International Olympic Committee is very strict about the usage of the word "olympics." I remember right before the London Olympics that there were a group of knitters that were having the Knitting Olympics or something like that, and they got a letter saying they couldn't use that word.

To me it seems pretty silly. No one is going to confuse their little event with the real Olympics. At the same time, the Committee should realize that Olympics has become a term for anything where the best people of some event come together.

Izzy78
Post 2

@jmc88 - That sounds like an annoying situation to be in. I would guess that if you just search for cease and desist letter examples online that you will come up with plenty of ideas. If they are still calling, I would suggest getting the names of the people you are talking to each day for future reference.

If they won't give you the address, I would just get the name of the company and send it to their main headquarters. Just a quick online search should come up with that, as well. Like the article mentions, make sure you send the letter through certified mail so they can't claim they never saw it. Good luck.

jmc88
Post 1

I didn't know that just anyone could write a cease and desist letter. I thought it was something that an attorney had to be involved with. My wife and I are needing to use a cease and desist order, because we have been getting harassing phone calls from a collection agency. We just got a new cell phone number, and it apparently belonged to someone who has been skipping out on her bills. We have told them each time that the phone number does not belong to that individual and have asked them to stop calling, but it hasn't worked.

Does a cease and desist order always have to be in the form of a letter, or will us telling them to stop calling be justifiable in court, as well? If it comes down to us having the write a letter, what should be included in it? Does anyone know of a good cease and desist letter template? Also, how do we get the address to send it to if the person over the phone won't tell us?

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