What Is a Cease and Desist Order [& How to Write One]

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Ever wondered the meaning of cease and desist? The first word “cease” means to stop an action, while “desist” means to refuse to do something further. When you put those two words together, cease and desist orders (or letters) are formal notices sent to stop an activity that you consider harmful or illegal.

What is considered a cease and desist order? How does someone file and use them? Don’t worry! In this article, we will explain all of that, plus more.

What Is a Cease and Desist Order?

A cease and desist injunction is a directive order issued by a government agency or court towards an institution or an individual. This order demands the other party to stop any harmful action or violation.

This means that the order is a lawful judgment that sets an injunction on the offender’s actions; if the other party does not obey it, there may be prosecution or financial charges. When a cease and desist order is written, any breach of that order is illegal

There are two types of cease and desist orders.

  • Summary cease and desist letters are issued prior to a hearing, sometimes with no judicial proceedings.
  • A final cease and desist is granted if the offender didn’t request a hearing within a certain period of time. Regardless if it’s temporary or permanent, this type of command is legally binding

What Is a Cease and Desist Letter?

By definition, a cease and desist letter is an official document that is formally drafted. This letter contacts an organization or individual in order to request an end to a specific infringing action, as well as future restraint of the same.

There are certain personalizations when it comes to cease and desist letters, such as the offending action and what data the order should come into effect. 

As opposed to a cease and desist command, this type of letter is not legally binding and typically just expresses a person or attorney’s viewpoint. It serves as a warning to potential lawbreakers that the one behind the draft holds legal power against them, and they may suffer lawful consequences if the behavior continues. This letter usually gives the offenders a specific time (10 to 15 days) to answer.

In reality, you don’t need an advocate to compose a cease and desist letter. Having an attorney, however, can guide you through the process, provide counsel when rights are infringed, and tell you if you even have the right to send cease and desist letters.

DID YOU KNOW? Contract violations are a regular occurrence in the business world; they’re defined as a breach of the terms that were previously agreed by all parties. Ideally, both parties are happy with a contract and no disputes arise, but sometimes things like financial problems can spiral out of control.

What Is a Cease and Desist Letter Used for?

Here are four vital examples when cease and desist letters are most frequent, along with their specific types of features:

Intellectual Property

If your work is under the trademark (or you own the copyright) and someone tries to copy it, you could respond with a cease and desist note. By doing so, you are declaring the validity of your property and the instant stop of its use. 

Sometimes when a person receives this letter, they don’t know that someone already owns the material they’re passing off, leading them to claim nonresponsibility for infringement or plagiarism.

Since this can easily happen, you should have enough information included in your cease and desist copyright letter to clearly explain the problem. You should also make sure not to provide everything about your work; You don’t want to give them information that they can use to change and adjust the material to avoid responsibility. It’s advisable to send it as certified mail, so you can document the dates of sending and receiving, as the evidence can benefit you in court

Harassment

What is a cease and desist letter and how does it relate to harassment? 

We think we’ve done a good job explaining a cease and desist letter so far, and like intellectual property, this one occurs more than it should. If you are being harassed or threatened physically or verbally by a person or group, this letter can help you massively. 

Cease and desist letters can be used against debt collectors because according to the law, they cannot harass or abuse anyone who owes them money. You can write cease and desist notes with no hesitation if you constantly receive calls from a debtor.

In more serious cases when there is stalking and menacing behavior involved, a cease and desist order may be issued. 

Character Defamation and Libel

It’s illegal to verbally state or write false comments about someone, especially if the person and their reputation may be damaged as a result. Anyone who gets involved in this type of character defamation can quickly receive a cease and desist letter in the mail. This type of libel prevention notice has a purpose: to serve as a warning to the offender, meaning if they continue with defamation, you’ll take legal action. Again, note that this letter is not legally enforceable

The best-case scenario is that the letter will scare the offender enough to stop the behavior legal professionals are brought in, saving you money, time, and stress. 

Contract Violation

Sending a cease and desist letter is often done when someone or a group has committed a  contract violation, and it informs the party as such. These notes point to areas of breached contract and request the recipient to stop their transgressions.

Legal documents should be included to prove how the intended individual has broken the contract. Make sure to note what day the violations occurred, and what date (if necessary) they must stop.

Key Takeaways

What is a cease and desist order? It’s a legal judgment that sets an injunction on an offender’s actions.
There are two types of orders: summary and final.
A cease and desist letter is a formal document that tries to contact an organization or individual to request a termination of illegal actions. 
Cease and desist letters are used for Intellectual property infringement, harassment, character defamation, libel, and contract violations. 

How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter

After checking what options you have, and you conclude that a cease and desist note will be effective to stop the unfavorable activity, you have to compose a letter. When this decision is made, it is highly suggested to have those things in mind when you write it. 

The letter must have the following, no exceptions:

  • Your name and address 
  • Receiver’s name and address
  • A formal typed request to end illegal behavior
  • Be sent by certified mail and/or with signature required

Those are just the basics! Your letter should contain more details such as:

A Straightforward Style of Writing

This won’t just send a notice to offenders to cease and desist, but it can also provoke the fear of lawful consequences. Attorneys know how to use specific language that puts pressure on the receiver, and it shows that you’re ready to take them to court if they don’t put an end to their actions.

Facts That Support Your Claims

This indicates to the offender that you take the matter seriously and that your claims are coming from a legitimate place. You should anticipate a variety of responses, especially if you are accusing someone of harassment. In these situations, make sure to stick to the facts.

A Kind Voice

If you send a letter and the behavior continues, there are other options available to put a stop to it; while you may be upset, you have to remember to be respectful, because by definition, a cease and desist note can be harassment in itself! You could especially get in trouble if your letter is not practical or threatens unrealistically or overwhelmingly. There is a thin line when it comes to writing this kind of letter: it must be strong enough to get the breacher’s attention, while not sounding too aggressive and over the top. 

DID YOU KNOW? The number of defamation claims in 2019 was the highest over the last decade. In 2019, there was a 22% increase in issued defamation claims. This follows a whopping 70% surge in defamation claims in 2018 and a 39% rise in 2017. You can protect yourself with online legal services, which are easily available and cheaper than brick-and-mortar ones. 

Sending a Cease and Desist Letter

There are many ways you can send a cease and desist; popular methods are in person, through the mail, by email, or through an attorney. Regardless of how you choose to send your letter, you should keep a record of delivery.

If you are sending the letter yourself without legal representation, you should include signature verification and send it through certified mail. When the violation is related to intellectual property such as plagiarism or a trademark violation, sending an email to the company or the individual can be adequate, but is less formal.

Conclusion

It’s important to understand the difference between a cease and desist letter and order, especially regarding legal validity. The first one is not enforceable and mirrors the point of view of an individual; the letter is a great tool to warn an offender of the legal consequences that can take place if they don’t stop. A cease and desist order, on the other hand, holds legal power and is issued by the court

FAQ

Does a cease and desist letter have to come from an attorney?

No. A cease and desist letter can be written by anyone, so an attorney is not required to send one. An attorney can give you good advice, though. Many are written by lawyers, but it’s not mandatory.

How can we choose to serve a cease and desist letter?

A letter can be served via email, mail, in person, or through an attorney. Whatever way you choose to send it, it’s best to track and note the delivery so the offender can’t miss it. Make sure to also use certified mail to send it.

How to get a cease and desist order? 

After the letter is sent, if there is no change in behavior, a judge can issue an order. You must ask the court to do this and have evidence that the claimed offender has made an illegal action. Cease and desist directives should not be taken lightly, so it is best to find out what is a cease and desist order to make sure you meet the legal requirements.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I learned a lot about finance after working for a digital marketing company specializing in investing and trading stocks, forex, etc. After that, I got exposed to other verticals such as wealth management and personal finance, which further improved my understanding of the financial world.

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