Cease and Desist Letter Templates – with Sample

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Updated April 19, 2022

A cease and desist letter is sent to immediately stop an individual or entity from continuing a specified action. This is commonly the last resort before a lawsuit where an injunction is filed. The letter should reveal the grounds of the claim and the infringing party’s right to cure the issue. A response from the recipient is required, within a set time frame, to acknowledge or refute the claims. Afterward, if the infringing party continues the unauthorized use or continues the actions stated in the cease and desist letter, a lawsuit may be filed in the court of proper jurisdiction.

Certified Mail with Return Receipt – Highly recommended to verify that the letter was delivered. This receipt may be used later if a lawsuit is filed to show the defendant has issued the notice.


Breach of Contract Cease and Desist – Send to a party that is in non-compliance with a valid agreement.

Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist – Legally inform an individual or entity of their unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Debt Collector (Creditor) Cease and Desist – Inform a creditor to halt all forms of communication, primarily over the phone, in regards to a debt that is owed.

Defamation (Slander) Cease and Desist – Also referred to as ‘libel’ or ‘slander’, it the purposeful attempt at harming an individual or entity by making false statements.

Harassment Cease and Desist – Take action against inappropriate behavior (e.g. sexual comments, personal attacks, emotional abuse, etc.) by sending this as a last warning before a lawsuit or legal action takes place.

Intellectual Property Cease and Desist – Use for any type of proprietary information that is being used or was taken without the authorization of its owner.

Non-Disclosure (NDA) Violation Cease and Desist – For a breach of an NDA that immediately halts any further violation or else a suit may be filed against them.

Response to Cease and Desist – If a party has received a cease and desist using this letter in an effort to answer any valid or invalid claims made against them.

Trademark Infringement Cease and Desist – Give official notice to a 3rd party that is infringing on a federally registered trademark that is not under their ownership.

Table of Contents

What Does Cease and Desist Mean?

The word ‘cease‘ means to stop doing something and ‘desist‘ is to abstain from doing it further. Therefore, the term ‘cease and desist’ is a formal declaration to immediately halt whatever that party is doing now and in the future.

What is a Cease and Desist Order?

A cease and desist order, or ‘injunction’, is issued by a court or government department to an individual or entity to stop whatever it is they are violating. The order is a legal judgment that places an injunction on the violator’s activities, and if not abided, may result in criminal prosecution or severe monetary damages. After a cease and desist order has been placed, any violation of said order would be an implication in illegal activity.

Letter VS Order

A cease and desist letter:

  • can be written by anyone;
  • asks the recipient to immediately stop what they are doing;
  • recipient responds to the letter’s issuer; and
  • recipient may legally continue their actions after issuance (although this may be deemed illegal at a later time).

A cease and desist order:

  • can only be written by a court or government agency;
  • requires the recipient to immediately stop whatever they are doing;
  • recipient responds to the court or government agency; and
  • recipient may not legally continue their actions after issuance.

How it Works

When writing a cease and desist, it is best to make the letter as scary as possible. The goal is to have the recipient feel the need to make it absolutely necessary to stop whatever it is they are doing. This can be done by writing the letter yourself, preparing a letter for your attorney to sign, or by having your attorney create the document on your behalf.

Step 1 – Choose Your Template

Choose one (1) of the templates that give an outline for how it should be written. Most forms declare that if the violating party does not stop whatever it is that they are doing that there will be a lawsuit will soon follow.

Therefore, it is best to have legal representation ready in case the violator does not accept the terms of the cease and desist.

Step 2 – Include Evidence

The most important part of the letter is to write the claims that the letter’s author has against the recipient. This differs for the type of cease and desist that is being sent.

Examples include

  • Harassment – Show disparaging text messages, audio recordings, or any video that the individual has shown of inappropriate behavior.
  • Intellectual Property – Show where the property is being used without authorization such as a business location or website.
  • Trademark – List where it is being used without consent as well as the trademark registration number to show proof of ownership.

Step 3 – Enter the Consequences

Most recipients of cease and desist do not know that it is actually a pre-suit letter. This means that this is their last chance at negotiating before the author of the letter files a lawsuit seeking monetary damages.

This statement should be written in bold and underlined immediately AFTER listing the recipient’s violations.

Step 4 – Send the Letter via Certified Mail (return receipt)

It is important to send the letter to the official mailing address of the recipient. For business entities, this would be the Registered Agent’s Office which can be found in the respective State’s division of corporations (often referred to as the Secretary of State’s office).

It is preferred to use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to send the letter with a return receipt (see Sample USPS Certified Letter). The cost is $3.45 (just for the return receipt service) and will give proof that the letter was delivered by returning a copy of the recipient’s signature upon acceptance. The receipt of the recipient’s acceptance may be used later to prove to the court that the recipient received the cease and desist.

  • Sending Online – For $7.99 you can send the letter online with OnlineCertifiedMail.com. Simply upload your cease and desist letter and enter where it is being sent. Afterward, you will be able to track the package all the way to the recipient.
  • Do Not Use FedEx or UPS – According to a 2008 ruling, Leatherbury v. Greenspun, 939 A.2d 1284, the court had ruled that there is no substitute for Certified Mail with return receipt sent via USPS (such as FedEx and UPS) are not accepted.

Step 5 – Wait for the Recipient’s Response

If the cease and desist called for a response from the recipient then it is best to wait until the time-period is complete (usually 5-10 business days). During this time, it is best to prepare with legal counsel for what will happen if a response is not returned.

Step 6 – Reach a Settlement

If the violating party responds to the letter it is best to reach a settlement out of court. Due to the variance in judgments one can never predict the outcome of a costly lawsuit. Therefore, if the violator is able to simply stop whatever it is they were doing that is usually enough to stop further legal proceedings.

Step 7 – File for a Cease and Desist Order / Injunction

If the other party is being unreasonable then the only route them stop their activities would be a cease and desist order or injunction issued from the court. Due to the essence of time and that the defendant has already been served notice an ‘Emergency Motion‘ should be filed. This will speed up the process, and depending on the court, the judge will be required to make an immediate decision based solely on the evidence presented to them.

After the judgment has been made the court will typically set a time for the hearing where all parties may be able to submit their claims.







Date _______________

Re: Notice to Cease and Desist for Specific Activity

Dear ____________________,

This letter is served upon due to ____________________________________________ (“Activity”).

If you do not cease the aforementioned Activity a lawsuit will be commenced against you.

If the Activity continues we will immediately seek a temporary restraining order in the District Court against you and any accomplices in this matter. We will also seek monetary damages to be proved at trial. Hopefully this recourse is not necessary, we have our own interests to protect and will vigorously do so.

You will not receive another warning letter. If you do not confirm in writing to us by the ___ day of ____________________, 20___ that you will cease violating our Agreement a lawsuit will be commenced immediately.