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Cease-and-desist letters can deescalate tense legal situations

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2020 | intellectual property & trade secrets

Business owners work hard for what their company has achieved. Everything from the purpose of the business to the carefully cultivated clients is a valued and protected asset for entrepreneurs. Even the logo or branding represents a hard-fought victory full of symbolism, dedication, pride – and perhaps most importantly crucial brand identity and value. Consequently, when another company or individual misappropriates these important assets, either intentionally or not, it can seem like a direct attack on the livelihood of the business.

Upon learning of such a misappropriation, the business owner should retain an attorney to write an impactful cease-and-desist letter to the offending party identifying the unlawful conduct and demanding that they immediately stop.


There is an art to writing a cease-and-desist letter. Too strong, and it may incite resistance which may result in having to file a lawsuit to enforce your rights. Too weak and it will likely be ignored. Firmly encouraging compliance and cooperation rather than seeking punitive remediation if often preferred.

For example, in 2012, the popular whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s sent a cease-and-desist letter to an author who used a likeness of their whiskey label as a cover for his book. Instead of immediately threatening legal action, the liquor mogul politely asked him to change the cover for the next printing. They even offered to help pay for a redesign. The author immediately acquiesced, declining the extra funds and making the changes.


The Jack Daniel’s approach may not work for every company. Those looking for a more professional voice can hire a local lawyer familiar with intellectual property law. An attorney can draft a professional letter that lays out legal claims clearly and concisely.