A cease and desist letter is a formal way of telling someone to stop whatever it is that they are doing. A cease and desist letter is similar to a formal letter of demand in that it puts the receiving party on notice that you are taking the particular matter seriously and that you will take further steps if required.

Why Should I Use a Cease and Desist Letter?

Essentially, you can use a cease and desist letter any time you want to formally tell someone to stop what they are doing. A cease and desist letter will also generally threaten further legal action if the offending behaviour does not stop. In many cases, a well worded cease and desist letter will be sufficient to convince the offending party to stop what they are doing. A positive result early on will prevent very costly and ongoing court proceedings which are beneficial to everyone.

Cease and desist letters are commonly used for a number of different circumstances. Here are my top reasons for sending a cease and desist (C&D) letter.

Intellectual Property Infringement

A cease and desist letter can be used in circumstances where someone has infringed your copyright or trademark rights. Infringement of intellectual property rights is very serious and should be acted on quickly. Your letter should include specific details on how your intellectual property rights have been infringed and what you require the offending party to do to rectify the situation.

A cease and desist letter is an important first step in protecting your intellectual property rights. If the offending party fails to comply and formal court proceedings are commenced, your C&D letter can be used as evidence in any court proceedings and will be beneficial to you on any question of costs.

Breach of Confidential Information

Breaches of confidential information commonly arise in situations where a person leaves an employer and then commences employment elsewhere. An ex-employee who acquires confidential information during the course of their employment is not at liberty to divulge that information to a third party: Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers (No 2) [1990] 1 AC 109. This common law position is quite often reflected in employment contracts.

If an ex-employer becomes aware that its confidential information is being disclosed, a cease and desist letter can be sent to the ex-employee requesting that they immediately stop using and/or disclosing that confidential information. Your cease and desist letter should include specific information about the information you consider to be confidential and how it is inappropriately used or disclosed.

Restraint of Trade

Many employment contracts contain clauses restraining an employee from competing against their employers business once their employment has ceased. The purpose of a restraint of trade clause is to protect an employer’s legitimate business interest.

If you believe that an ex-employee is breaching or is about to breach a restraint clause, sending a C&D letter will put them on notice that you will enforce the restraint provisions of the contract should they fail to rectify their breach. The cease and desist letter should provide a reference to the relevant restraint clause contained in the contract and details on how they have breached that clause.

Key Takeaways

A cease and desist letter which is threatening further legal action, carries more weight if it is sent by a lawyer, and will give you a greater chance of a successful outcome. LegalVision’s expert lawyers will be happy to draft a cease and desist letter for you on a fixed fee basis. Why not give us a call to discuss your options.

Vanessa Swain

Next Steps

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