Business leaders are likely savvy enough to know that a cease and desist letter on its own does not hold much legal weight. But what happens if you choose to ignore it? Although it does not lead straight to court, ignoring the letter completely can still come with some serious consequences. The following provides an outline of some of the most common consequences, from least to most serious.
In some cases, there may be no consequence. Sometimes, if you ignore the letter the complaints will stop. But this is not always the case and completely ignoring the letter can be a risky response. Instead of just ignoring it, it is generally better to review the letter, get acquainted with the issue and give it some time to see if there is a response.
Which leads to another common consequence — more letters. A whole lot more letters. The business or inventor that wants your business to stop doing something will likely send at least one follow-up letter after the initial cease and desist.
The following are the more serious, most legal responses: a restraining order or lawsuit. These two may come as one, as the writer behind the cease and desist letter could file a request with the court for a temporary restraining order as part of a lawsuit. Depending on the wording, the order could mean that the court now requires you stop whatever is requested within the order or else face legal consequences.
So what should I do if I get a cease and desist letter?
Take the time to figure out the issue. Is there a potential violation? If so, your business could face more than just a slew of letters and it is probably wise to start building a defense to allegations of any patent, trademark or other intellectual property violation.