Ignoring a Cease and Desist Letter: Things That Could Happen

A cease-and-desist letter, also known as a demand letter, is a written communication that demands that the recipient cease and desist from actions that interfere with the sender’s legal rights or ownership.

Cease-and-desist letters are not typically legally binding, but often threaten litigation if the alleged violation does not stop infringing on the sender’s rights. What can actually happen if you ignore a cease-and-desist letter?

  • You’ll get more letters. The party who sent the cease-and-desist letter may just keep sending them to you until you give some type of response. Each subsequent letter might be more aggressive in tone, but you are under no legal obligation to comply, although you could face a lawsuit in the future.
  • You’ll end up in a lawsuit. If you ignore a cease-and-desist letter, the next thing waiting for you could be a summons and complaint, alerting you that you’ve been officially served with a lawsuit. Unlike a cease-and-desist letter, you are required to respond to a summons and complaint or you will be deemed to have admitted the allegations against you.
  • You’ll get served with a temporary restraining order. Along with a summons and complaint, you may also receive a temporary restraining order prohibiting you from doing the specific action highlighted in the summons and complaint. You have the opportunity to respond but should wait to comply with the order until after you get legal advice.

How to Respond

Upon receiving a cease-and-desist letter, you should not panic, give immediate compliance, write an angry response, or throw the letter away in hopes that the issue will also go away. Instead, carefully read the letter’s contents, take notice of who sent it, and determine how you should best proceed.

If you have received a cease-and-desist letter and need legal guidance, contact an experienced business lawyer at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss online, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll-free) today.

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