Steps to Take After Being Served a Copyright or Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

If you create unique, artistic content, or you have a slogan or logo that identifies your products to the public, you know the value of copyright and trademark protection. You also probably know that if you receive a cease-and-desist letter, another creator believes you are infringing on their legal protection and they are demanding that you stop, or more drastic actions will follow.

You might not be in the wrong. There are defenses against copyright and trademark infringement, and an intellectual property attorney can help you resolve the claims in the letter. So, what do you do next?

Interpreting the Letter and Properly Guiding You

A cease-and-desist letter is not a court order but is often used as evidence if the issue proceeds to a hearing. It is likely that a copyright or trademark holder’s attorney drafted it, and it could contain specific legal terms that you will want your attorney to explain.

The letter describes in detail the alleged wrongdoing and demands that you stop doing what you are alleged to be doing. You may be asked to delete online content, recall products with a similar logo, or pay damages or royalties if you are accused of recording someone else’s song or plagiarizing a literary work.

Your lawyer could help draft a response after careful consideration and discussion. You must reply or it is a sure bet that the correspondence will turn into a lawsuit against you.

What Happens After You Reply?

Let the sender know you have received the cease-and-desist letter, especially if they impose a deadline for you to respond. This assures you that you have until the deadline to consider the claims and address them with your lawyer before your lawyer drafts a complete response. Ask your lawyer questions if you do not understand what is being alleged. They will go over any evidence that needs to be gathered in support of your position. For example, if you are accused of pirating a trademark, it is wise to compile any correspondence with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including the particulars about your trademark registration.

Discuss Your Options with Your Attorney

There may be some confusion if the alleged infringement is against a trademark or copyright that is similar but not identical. An attorney should have the experience to tell where infringement might cross the line, and advise whether you should contest it in court or settle out of court.

If your trademark or copyright is properly registered and the claimant registered theirs, it is probable that they were unique enough individually to both warrant protection, and you should fight the allegations.

If it is likely you violated someone else’s intellectual property rights, you should talk to your lawyer about negotiating a settlement to avoid the expense of a court battle.

Call Us About What to Do When Served a Copyright or Trademark Cease-and-Desist Letter

You and the person who sent the cease-and-desist letter are likely competitors. If your products are too similar, customers will become confused, the value of your product could be diminished if the market is flooded with similar items, and your profits will suffer. It may be worth fighting in court if you believe you have ownership of the contested work because you properly registered it. Or it may be worth redesigning your logo or slogan or discarding that song that is similar to another’s. Talk to an experienced IP attorney now if you have been served a copyright or trademark cease and desist letter.