You’ve probably heard of a cease and desist letter, but do you really understand what one is? A cease and desist letter is basically a formal way of saying “stop what you are doing or face the consequences in court.” Here is everything that you need to know about cease and desist letters—when they are appropriate, how to write them, how to send them, and how to enforce them.
What is a cease and desist letter?
A cease and desist letter is a document that gets sent to an individual or a business in order to stop some activity. The letter will serve as a warning that if the recipient does not discontinue the specified action according to the terms described, the recipient may be sued.
When should you consider writing a cease and desist letter?
There are many situations in which writing a cease and desist letter is an appropriate course of action. A few of the more common uses for the cease and desist letter include stopping trademark or copyright infringement, stopping the harassment or any other invasion of privacy, stopping libel or public slander, preventing a property boundary violation, or preventing debt collectors.
Is a cease and desist letter enforceable?
Unfortunately, a cease and desist letter is not necessarily enforceable, but it does serve as a useful weapon if the issue does go to court. The letter is not a legally binding document. It does not mean that the recipient is being sued (yet). The recipient of a cease and desist letter is not legally obligated to do anything. In many cases, these letters function as formal requests to stop engaging in offensive behavior or as warnings of future legal response. The legal issues themselves ultimately can only be settled in court.
What information is required to write a cease and desist letter?
A cease and desist letter needs to include a few basic details: the reason for the letter, specific information regarding that reason, your legal rights, and the steps you would like the recipient to take in order to fix the situation.
This is how you write a cease and desist letter:
Step 1: Identify the reasons
Whatever your reason for sending a cease and desist letter, this needs to be be made clear at the beginning of the letter. To put it simply, just specify the action that you want the recipient to cease (and desist).
Step 2: Include specifics
Make sure that you include all relevant details about the event that has occurred that made you feel the need to write and send a cease and desist letter. Include dates and whatever evidence you have to support your claim.
Step 3: Identify and include your legal rights
Your letter should identify your legal right to request that the recipient of the letter stops the behavior. In order to do this, you need to be able to fully understand your legal rights—talk to a lawyer if you’re unsure.
Step 4: Identify the steps you need the recipient to take in order to fix the situation
Finally, your cease and desist letter needs to be specific about the actions the recipient must take in order to make the situation right again. Include a reasonable timeframe. Then briefly warn the recipient that you will consider taking legal action if they do not act as you ask.
6 Samples of cease and desist letters (with Templates)
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Stop Trademark or Copyright Infringement
If someone is infringing on a trademark or copyright that belongs to you, you can use a cease and desist letter in order to formally demand that they stop infringing. The letter indicates that you are prepared to pursue legal action if they continue their infringement.
You are currently using __________ (piece of copyrighted/trademarked work) without our authorization which is copyrighted in accordance with Title 17 of the U.S. Code, United States Copyright Law.
We have found this unauthorized use of our work currently being used at __________(where/how work is being used).
If we have not received a response from you by _____ (date) agreeing that you have ceased using our work and will desist from further use in the future, I shall consider taking legal action to rectify this situation.
___________ (name, signature).
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Stop Harassment or Other Invasions of Privacy
Incidents of harassment and stalking can be addressed with a cease and desist letter. Sending a cease and desist letter shows that you take the unwelcome attention seriously and are prepared to deal with it seriously. Often, people will figure that it’s not worth the potential legal fees and just cease the behavior.
This letter has been served as notice of your recent acts of unwarranted harassment. You are required to cease and desist all acts of harassment including but not limited to:
The listed actions are unwanted and unwarranted. This cease and desist letter shall serve as a pre-suit letter requesting that you provide written assurance within _____ (days) that you will discontinue further actions.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Stop Libel or Slander
A cease and desist letter is the perfect tool for stopping someone from making false or damaging statements about you to the public. In the letter, you can explain what damage they caused you and request that they stop.
(name) is a respected professional in this community. We have been informed that you have been spreading inaccurate and malicious information to damage their personal and professional reputation.
Under the laws of ________ (State), it is unlawful for an individual to make deliberate, unfounded statements with the intent of harming an individual’s reputation.
These defamatory statements include, but are not limited to: __________________________________________________(statements).
This serves as a pre-suit letter requesting that you provide us written assurance within ______ (days) that you will cease and desist from issuing further inaccurate statements.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Prevent Property Boundary Violation
If a neighbor keeps encroaching onto your property, you can use a cease and desist letter to request them to stop at once or suffer the legal consequences. However, in most cases, you should probably try to talk to your neighbor first and politely ask them to stay on their own side of the property line.
This letter is in response to your recent encroachments of property boundary on ______(dates).
Under the laws of ________ (State), it is unlawful for an individual to encroach on the property boundary belonging to another individual without express permission.
These acts of property boundary violation include, but are not limited to:
This serves as pre-suit letter requiring that you provide written assurance within _____ (days) that you will cease and desist from further acts of trespassing or a lawsuit may be commenced.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Prevent Debt Collectors
Maybe you’re having some trouble with debt collectors. In any situation, dealing with debt collectors can be tough. A cease and desist letter can force aggressive debt collectors to stop harassing you with constant communication or surprise visits. If you write and send a cease and desist letter, the debt collectors have no choice but to only contact you once more time and then cease communication.
Re: Stop ALL Debt Collection _______ (Calls/Visits)
This letter is in response to the _________(form of contact) I have received from you at the following ____________(telephone number or address).
This letter has been sent with certified U.S. mail with return receipt and will be presented at court if said contact is do continue.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter to Stop Breach of Contract
Cease and desist letters can be used to prevent someone from interfering with your own contractual rights. For example, if you have an employment agreement with someone but a competing business hires that someone in order to hurt your business, you might want to send a cease and desist letter.
This letter is served upon your breach of the __________(agreement) that was signed on _________(date).
You signed into a valid contract which was breached or violated by __________________________________(breach of contract).
You will not receive another warning. If you do not confirm in writing by ______ (date) that you will cease and desist violation of our Agreement, a lawsuit may be commenced.
Cease and Desist Letter Examples
Do you need a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter?
No, you do not need a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter. Anyone can send a cease and desist letter. All you need to do to send a cease and desist letter is to write it and mail it to a recipient. However, there are reasons that you might want to consult with a lawyer prior to sending a cease and desist letter. For example, civil claims can be incredibly complicated, expensive, and painful. An attorney can help you avoid an especially painstaking lawsuit by advising you about your rights and advising you if a cease and desist letter is really your best course of option. They can even write the letter for you, which is a real advantage because letters sent from attorneys always are taken more seriously than letters sent form individuals.
You should always send a cease and desist letter via the US Postal Service Priority Mail or FedEx and utilize delivery confirmation or certified mail with a return receipt requested in order to make sure that you have evidence that the letter was sent.
Cease and desist letters are incredibly useful. Whether you feel confident that you can write and send that letter on your own or if you feel like you need professional advice, don’t be afraid to use a cease and desist letter to defend your legal rights.
Tips for writing a cease & desist letter
- When you want to write a cease and desist letter you should consider some good tips. You should not include a phone number in the letter if the letter was sending a warning to somebody to stop collecting phone numbers.
- You should also make sure the guidelines are legit. Do not fake information. Legit information should contain an official stamp and signature or an original document from the authorizing organization.
- During the sending day, you should go to the post office to send the document. However, if you decide to use email, you should ensure it is certified, and you should send it to the return receipt. The system will mail back the recipient to you to confirm it has gone to the right person.
- You should retain a copy of the sent letter. A retained copy provides evidence of the previous communication on a certain misguide. Some individuals may pretend to have failed to get the communication. However, when you have a copy it is easy and a piece of evidence if the person is taken to a law firm for prosecution.
Writing of cease and desist letter is critical because it prevents extreme violations of the law. It also shows the authority of the administration and the significance of obedience to the law. This type of letter can also be used to rectify any misguiding behavior in society. It is good to make sure that people in society live in harmony.