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What is a cease and desist notice and when is it needed?

A cease and desist notice, frequently in the form of a letter, warns the addressee of illegal behavior that must be stopped to avoid further penalties. A cease and desist letter does not carry much legal bearing. Instead, it establishes offender notification should further legal action be necessary.

A most unusual example

Recently, a craft brewery in Minneapolis received a very unusual cease and desist letter from one of the largest national brewing companies. The craft brewery released a new beer that unmistakably took its name from a very well known beer commercial. Keeping with the humorous theme of their commercial, the national brewing company sent a costumed actor to read aloud the formal cease and desist letter, which was written on parchment paper no less.

The terms were quite favorable, allowing craft brewery to sell the product until it was gone and even included two tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl. While this situation was quite extraordinary, most cease and desist notifications do not need as much pomp and circumstance for effectiveness.

What is included in a cease and desist letter?

Circumstances for cease and desist letters vary, but necessary information describing your rights to the materials being used, the violation committed, and a timeframe for resolution should be included. For copyright, trademark or patent infringement, provide proof of ownership. Try to have specific details for the dates and circumstances of the volition. Outline consequences of future violations and establish a timeframe for when you expect the issue to be resolved. Make sure to include your contact information as well.

You can write a cease and desist letter on your own, but involving an attorney can help the process along. An attorney can determine the validity of your claim and advise a legal course of action. Your attorney can even draft the cease and desist letter. A letter from an attorney will be taken more seriously and can avoid the need for a lawsuit for noncompliance.

A cease and desist letter is much faster than formal legal proceedings and often stops the illegal act without the need for further legal action. Understand your intellectual property rights and protect your creations from misuse.

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