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5 Steps to Take If You Receive a Trademark Cease and Desist Letter


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If a business is not expecting a trademark cease and desist letter, its arrival can cause a lot of anxiety and angst for the business owner, director, or product marketing manager. It may be tempting to view such a letter as the opening of a black hole that will suck all the profits and capital out of your business or to think that it could spell the end of your marketing efforts, of your product line, or even of your business. In such a state of anxiety, it can become easy to take actions that could hurt your ability to defend yourself against the claims in the letter or could convert a potentially challenging but contained situation into a serious and more costly one.

Those early moments after receiving a trademark demand letter need not create anxiety. We have provided five first steps to take if you receive a trademark cease and desist letter, also known as a trademark demand letter. These five steps can reduce your anxiety and set you on a health path to defending whatever claims are presented in the letter.

Published in: Business, Lifestyle
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5 Steps to Take If You Receive a Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

  1. 1. STEP 1 DON’T PANIC
  2. 2. Most letters are resolved without legal action Only 2% - 5% of legal cases filed ever go to trial
  3. 3. What you say can be used against you in a legal proceeding The sender has likely thought about the case before sending the letter; you should too
  4. 4. STEP 2
  5. 5. Standard commercial general liability insurance may not cover many cases involving intellectual property rights, but it is worth reviewing Review specialty insurance policies
  6. 6. STEP 3 (The sender likely did.)
  7. 7. Is it primarily asking for more information? (A soft demand letter) Is it demanding you cease and desist “or else”? (A hard demand letter) Does it include detail and appear thought out or does it appear to be merely a form with little thought?
  8. 8. STEP 4 Some investigative techniques can harm your case or violate the rights of the sender, but if you must…
  9. 9. Avoid the sender’s website and social website pages; traffic could be monitored Limit your search to public and/or governmental databases  Databases of state corporations registries  Public filings databases Keep a record of the sites you visit and provide this information to your attorney
  10. 10. STEP 5
  11. 11. By demonstrating to the sender that you are taking his or her claims seriously By allowing counsel to intervene so as to avoid unnecessary distractions for your business By investigating the sender and his or her claims more thoroughly without damaging your defense or risking violation of any rights
  12. 12. You need not try to hire the most expensive firm in hopes of striking terror in the heart of the sender  It may not have the effect you intend  You may end up feeling forced to settle the case on terms less than desirable because you cannot afford the legal fees Focus on competency and experience  Ask questions  Request references or examples of prior cases  Speak with other business owners
  13. 13. P.O. Box 1886 Durham, NC 27702 (919) 794-7301 http://trademarks.thomasl By James A. Thomas