When a company registers a trademark for a symbol, graphic, wording, logo, name, or other expression, it does so to better ensure it can distinguish itself, its goods, or its services in the marketplace. When trademark infringement has taken place, the company in possession of the registered mark may understandably become concerned. Will the alleged infringement confuse clients or consumers? Has the integrity of the company’s brand been compromised? Will this alleged trademark infringement hurt the company’s bottom line?
The most common response a company can take in the wake of suspected trademark infringement involves sending a letter to the party committing the questionable act. This letter is commonly referred to as a cease and desist letter. It may also be referred to as a trademark violation letter or an intellectual property infringement notice. Because these letters are consequential, it’s generally a good idea to speak with an intellectual property attorney before sending one and upon receipt of one.
The Elements of a Trademark Cease and Desist Letter
A cease and desist letter begins by identifying the specific actions that the mark holder considers to be infringement. To be effective, the mark holder should outline which registered trademark is being infringed upon, how long the mark has been active, and exactly what the infringement action entails. The letter will then instruct the offending party to stop infringing on the trademark holder’s intellectual property. The offense is using the trademark in the marketplace without prior authorization.
The letter will then generally outline the consequences that will be imposed if the offending party doesn’t honor the letter’s instructions. Without clear demands, a trademark violation letter only serves as a plea to “knock it off.” Without the “or else,” the alleged infringer isn’t given much incentive to actually cease and desist their behavior. Similarly, the letter should detail the timeline of when the mark holder requires a response. Otherwise, the infringer may be unaware that a reply is expected.
Receiving a Trademark Violation Cease and Desist Letter
If you received a trademark violation letter, it’s because another company believes you are using their trademark in commerce without authorization. The company taking offense to your actions may threaten you with fees, various legal actions, or even a lawsuit.
When a company receives a cease and desist letter, its executives usually have no idea that an alleged infringement of another’s intellectual property rights has supposedly taken place. They may have never heard of the company that sent the letter. They may even lack knowledge of the supposedly offensive infringement action that has been alleged. If you’ve received a cease and desist trademark violation letter and were taken completely by surprise, don’t panic. There may be a misunderstanding underlying the situation or an easy fix to be made. Consulting an experienced intellectual property lawyer about your next steps is generally a good place to begin.
Sending a Trademark Violation Cease and Desist Letter
When you registered your company’s trademarks, you did so to protect your intellectual property. The unique names, logos, domain names, graphics, slogans, and other advertising expressions used to distinguish yourself in the marketplace. If another company is infringing upon your protected intellectual property, use a cease and desist letter to discourage that conduct. Once a trademark violation letter has been sent and received, you’ll be more empowered to take legal action if the other party continues to infringe upon your registered trademark(s).
As long as your registered trademark is active and enforceable, you have the exclusive right to utilize it in commerce. If you fail to enforce your intellectual property rights, it could hurt your brand, client or customer base, and possibly your bottom line. Sending a cease and desist trademark violation letter usually provides enough incentive for the offending party to stop its infringement-related behavior. However, it’s possible that you’ll need to take additional action to properly protect your rights. An experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you clarify and navigate your options.
Intellectual Property Guidance Is Available
Whether you need to send a trademark violation letter or have received one, a LawTrades intellectual property attorney can help. It’s important to make an informed decision in response to infringement or accusations of infringement. Making a misstep now could cost your company dearly later. Scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney allows you to ask questions and explore your options. If your company requires additional support beyond the cease and desist letter issue, we’ll be happy to assist. We are dedicated to helping companies secure, protect, and otherwise manage intellectual property rights. We look forward to hearing how we can best serve your company’s needs.