Communicate directly about potential intellectual property theft

You can send a letter to an infringing third party asking them to stop what they are doing. The letter advises the infringer that a court action may be taken against them if the infringing activity does not stop.

What is in a cease and desist letter?

A cease and desist letter usually includes the following items:

  • the name of the sender and addressee, and the name of the owner of the intellectual property (IP) if it is not the same as the sender
  • the date
  • details of the activity that supports the alleged infringement, with enough specificity for the addressee to understand the actions that they must cease and desist, and why
  • the deadline by which the addressee must cease and desist before legal action will be taken

Helpful hints if you are considering a cease and desist letter

  • Seek legal advice before sending any cease and desist letters, as the latter may present risks. You could be liable if a letter is considered abusive or defamatory, or if it doesn't conform to legal requirements.
  • Make the demand clear, and provide a clear path to resolution (i.e. stop doing X by Y date). Remember, partnership through a licensing agreement may be also be a resolution offered.
  • Consider the tone (threatening, amiable, etc.). Avoid making bald threats and threats to third parties (as they may be considered actionable). Your letter can be direct, curt, conciliatory or amiable.
  • Send the cease and desist via a mechanism where you know that it will be brought to the attention of the recipient and you can prove it was. Registered or certified mail, courier, fax and email are acceptable options, although email receipt is not as easy to provide as a registered mail receipt.
  • Do not c.c. third parties.
  • Do not make false statements; unproven conclusions of law may be considered to be false.
  • Keep a copy of the letter with the date it was sent.

Get professional help

Solving conflicts involving IP rights is often complex. Consult an IP professional, such as an IP agent or lawyer, to discuss the next steps if you believe your IP rights are being infringed upon.

If IP infringement is happening in another country, a Canadian IP professional may be able to coordinate with an IP professional in the other country to enforce your IP rights.

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