A cease and desist order can be issued to stop a person or entity from continuing some type of illegal and harmful activity. It’s issued either by a court or some type of government agency.
Typically, an order is used only after a cease and desist letter has failed to stop the action. While a letter doesn’t carry any legal authority, it’s common to go that route first to put the violator on notice that they need to stop their activity. When a letter works, it can help a business avoid legal action.
When the letter doesn’t work, however, it may be necessary to seek a cease and desist order. The letter, and the recipient’s failure to stop their activity, are crucial evidence when seeking an order. If the court or government agency agrees that the action is illegal, it will issue an injunction, which is a lawful order to stop the activity in question or face legal consequences.
What issues do cease and desist orders most often address?
Typically, cease and desist orders issued on behalf of or against businesses deal with one of the following types of violations:
- Misuse or theft of intellectual property: This could involve using a company’s name, logo, product look without consent.
- Contract violation: An example would be if an employee signed a non-compete agreement when they were hired or left a company but then was soliciting clients from their former employer for their new business.
- Harassment: These may be issued against debt collectors who use illegal tactics. Restraining orders (typically obtained by one individual against another) are also examples.
- Libel: An example would be if a person or competitor was spreading negative and untrue rumors about a company’s products or practices on social media
As noted, a cease and desist letter typically is the first step. A carefully crafted and strongly worded letter can often help a business avoid the need to take legal action. Learning more about how cease and desist actions work can help you determine the best course.