A cease and desist (C&D) is a letter sent to an individual or company to halt allegedly illegal activity ("cease") and not take it up again later ("desist"). Cease-and-desist statements are commonly used in disputes involving copyright infringement, trademark violations, and lawsuits intended to enforce a contract. Fundamentally, the letter is an important tool used to protect your legal rights, but to ensure it has the greatest impact, there are some steps you should take before sending out a C&D.

If you live in Chicago and are looking to understand and take full advantage of the local laws governing C&D orders, then you should consider working with experienced counsel. UpCounsel prides itself on connecting businesses from small to Fortune 1000, with pre-vetted, experienced business lawyers. Their network of attorneys have an average of 14 years of experience, offer access to high-quality services on-demand, and allow you to review their profiles for client ratings and reviews of similar work.

Before you reach out to a lawyer, however, it is essential to understand when and how a Cease-and-Desist may be used. This article will introduce you to the underlying elements of C&D laws and provide a basic framework for the criteria of proper C&D ordering.

Basics of a Cease-and-Desist Notice

When reviewing the language of a cease-and-desist letter, be sure to check to see that they have met all the essential elements of a notice in local jurisdiction. Generally, a C&D should include the following:

The name of the party sending the letter, i.e., that’s you or the attorney acting on your behalf Specific details of the allegedly wrongful activity (we will discuss this in more detail below)

The consequences of continued violations

The date the letter was sent

Your contact details

In addition to the elements of the notice, a C&D should also include language making it clear that the letter is a “cease-and-desist” or similar language indicating that the recipient must stop their allegedly wrongful activity and refrain from starting it again in the future.

When determining whether to issue a C&D letter, it is essential to understand the criteria of a proper C&D order. As mentioned before, the language must include details into the allegedly wrongful activity that is being challenged. This could involve claims of copyright infringement, unauthorized use of a trademark, or a breach of contract. Additionally, these claims might cite a violation of state or federal statutes as the basis for the suit. Before sending out a C&D letter, one should have a good understanding of the legal issues they’re claiming with credible, supported evidence.

It is also important to keep in mind that cease-and-desist letters are statutorily limited by geography and the the time allotted, which differ from state to state. That being said, the statutes in Chicago are specific in that they require a C&D letter to be sent by registered mail and a plain envelope.

Penalties for Violating Cease-and-Desist Letters

Despite their best intentions, C&D orders may still be violated, and include a variety of potential legal consequences. If violated, the recipient may be taken to court for damages and/or be banned from repeating the wrongful behavior. Depending on the situation and the state of issuance, violators may face a variety of possible legal penalties, including injunction orders, criminal penalties, or both. The strength of the penalties vary by jurisdiction, so if you are looking to file a suit, it is important to consult with a licensed attorney in Chicago to understand your rights.

In the event of a successful court case, it is possible that the wrongdoer may have to pay financial damages to the plaintiff, usually in the form of a court-ordered monetary settlement. Additionally, the court may also require that the wrongdoer agree to an injunction order that bars them from committing the same offense in the future. In exceptional cases, court orders may also include criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines.

Final thoughts

Cease-and-desist letters are oftentimes the first and only contact you will have with the opposing party. As such, it is important to understand the nuances of the law and how to draft the proper letter. Always bear in mind that it is wise to consult with a lawyer before taking any legal action. The experienced team of attorneys at UpCounsel have the knowledge and skills to provide guidance and ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to protect your rights.


Cease and Desist,


C&D Notice