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Not your parent’s cease-and-desist letter

Cease-and-desist letters have been around forever. For those of you not in the know, a cease-and-desist letter is a document sent to an individual or a business telling them to stop (cease) and do not restart (desist) said activity. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean a lawsuit is in the works, the letter is meant to be a warning that if said activity continues, legal action could be forthcoming.

Recently, a cease-and-desist letter has been in the news. When a Stranger Things themed pop-up bar, well, popped up in Chicago, Netflix sent them a uniquely creative cease-and-desist letter. In case you’ve been hiding out in the Amazon jungles for the last several years, Stranger Things is the wildly successful 1980s nostalgia-filled science fiction horror series from Netflix.

The letter

Rather than begin with a typical formal greeting, the letter began with, “Danny and Doug, My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead.” Right from the start, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be your standard cease-and-desist letter. Netflix has been commended for both the positive tone and warmth they took with the letter, but even more so for its inclusion of references to the show. "Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up," the letter reads. After politely asking that the pair cease and desist their pop-up bar, the letter ends with the tongue-in-cheek warning, “So please don’t make us call your mom.”

The reaction

The letter created a lot of buzz and good will for the network with their funny and compassionate handling of the situation. Some of the media’s reactions:

  • Fortune: Netflix Cease-and-Desist to 'Stranger Things' Bar Is an Internet Hit.
  • Adweek: Netflix Sent the Best Cease-and-Desist Letter to This Unauthorized Stranger Things Bar.
  • Entertainment Weekly: Stranger Things sends bar the best cease and desist letter.
  • Business Insider: Netflix asked a 'Stranger Things' pop-up bar to shut down with this humorous cease-and-desist letter.

What should you do if you receive a cease-and-desist letter?

When a cease-and-desist letter arrives, take it seriously. But know that the letter may be someone’s tactic to gain an advantage over you. If the letter asks you to provide information on usage and sales, this may be your tip-off that all isn’t as it seems. Cease-and-desist letters should be addressed and responded to in a careful, strategic manner with the assistance of an experienced intellectual property litigation attorney. The attorney will investigate and determine if the claim is valid.

Cease-and-desist letters typically are not a laughing matter when you’re the one receiving it. But consulting with a professional may save you time and money by avoiding litigation. After all, stranger things have happened.

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