Writing a stop and desist notice is one of the most common things I get asked to do as an attorney. For many people, they think that by sending out a stop and desist notice to each and every person or business that threatens your business will automatically solve all of your problems. Used properly, a stop and desist letter can be considered a great tool to help protect your intellectual property from would be thieves. But used incorrectly and it just makes you and your business appear to be an idiot.
And we don’t want that, do we? So that’s why I’ve put together this set of 5 common errors I see people make when writing a stop and desist letter. The complete point of the stop and desist notice are to ask someone to stop doing something. Regarding your business, the end goal is to ask someone to stop doing something that is unlawful or that otherwise hurts your business (i.e. stop), and to never do that thing again (i.e. desist).
This could be anything from stealing your intellectual property (i.e. your proprietary images, your trademarks and/or logos, or ripping off your course), to making disparaging remarks about you online (i.e. “trolls”). However, to appear legitimate, a cease and desist notice should come from a person who actually has the power to turn off the offending party, and generally that can be an attorney. A stop and desist notice in one business to another aren’t worthy of the paper its written on.
Everyone knows that with a quick Google search, you can find a variety of template Cease and Desist letter’s online. And just about anyone can fill in those blanks and make something look threatening. However, if your cease and desist notice is coming from you and not your lawyer, then you appear to be a beginner.
If your business isn’t important enough for you to employ an attorney to draft a legitimate cease and desist notice on law firm letterhead, then how will you possibly expect the offending part to consider you significantly either? If you’re serious about protecting your intellectual property, you need to start taking affirmative steps to join up your intellectual property with the government.
- Merge of SU and AL into SUAL on (2012-01-01)
- “…Are you serious?…”
- Limit employee access to data and information, limit expert to set up software
- Stage: Release or Configure
This means ponying up some cash and filing trademark, copyright, and (in certain situations), patent applications. Contrary to popular belief, I get a great deal of people who ask me to send these words out to just about anybody that could conceivably be violating my client’s intellectual property. And generally in most situations, the same folks who are asking me to send out lots and lots of stop and desist words are the same individuals who have yet to file their brand applications. We live in an increasingly smaller world.
In my opinion, the best strategy is to lay low until you have obtained registrations for your intellectual property and then send out letters to folks who are obviously violating your intellectual property rights. You can only just drink from the well so often before it operates dry. The same is true with a stop and desist notice.