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What to Do if Your Washington DC Business Receives a Cease and Desist Letter?


If your business has received a cease and desist letter, you are likely very concerned and wondering what to do. Take a deep breath and don’t panic yet. A cease and desist letter is a warning, but it’s not a lawsuit. There may be a variety of reasons your business could receive one, which is why you should reach out to a Washington DC commercial litigation attorney who can assist.

What Exactly is a Cease and Desist Letter?

A cease and desist letter is a warning about alleged illegal activity. It says that if you continue, there could be penalties and financial consequences. It doesn’t necessarily have any legal weight, but serves the purpose of putting you on notice of an alleged violation. This is to ensure you cannot claim you were unaware of the alleged violation.

You may hear a cease and desist letter referred to by several other names, including:

  • Cease and desist form
  • Stop harassment letter
  • Demand letter
  • Cease and desist notice

Types of Cease and Desist Letters

There are a number of different reasons that could trigger a cease and desist letter. Some of these include:

  • Trademark, Patent, or Copyright Infringement: Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are three ways that businesses can protect their intellectual property. If a person or company’s intellectual property is violated, they will send a cease and desist letter to the violator before proceeding with further legal action.
  • Violating a Non-Compete Agreement: Someone who doesn’t abide by the terms of a non-compete agreement could be facing legal action for the violation.
  • Breach of Contract: If someone signs a contract or agreement, they are typically bound by its terms, unless a court determines the contract invalid. Failure to live up to the terms would be cause for breach of contract.
  • Defamation: Defamation is one of the reasons someone might send a cease and desist letter. Libel is written defamation while slander is spoken.
  • Harassment: Harassment can include a business who calls someone all the time, shows up in person repeatedly, etc.

Be Cautious About Sending a Cease and Desist Letter 

If you are considering sending a cease and desist letter, be cautious about potential ramifications. Sending one in the wrong situation can result in legal troubles for the sender. If you issue any threats, it may be considered blackmail or extortion. If the violation proves to be false, it can also result in someone suing you in their own defamation complaint.

Contact a Washington DC Commercial Litigation Attorney

If you have questions about a cease and desist letter you received, or you need assistance in drafting one, it’s crucial to speak with a skilled attorney first. Your attorney can help you draft a demand letter so that it won’t result in your being sued. If you need to respond to a letter, your attorney can help you determine an appropriate course of action. Let the attorneys at Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. assist with all your commercial litigation needs. Contact our office at 202-362-5900 today to schedule a consultation.


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