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Steve O'Donnell, Ph.D. Registered Patent Attorney

The best way to respond to a cease and desist letter


Unless you're a lawyer there's a good chance you'll dig yourself in deeper by responding to a letter sent by an angry party.

It's not that only other lawyers are competent to handle such things, the bigger issue is that you're too attached and probably more than a little emotional, and those factors make people do dumb things.

Although not really a "C/D letter" this illustrates the problem: a while ago I was contacted by someone that was being sued for downloading a movie via bit torrent (actually a lot of movies) to try to settle his case outside of court. I've done hundreds of such settlements and usually I just contact the other side's lawyer and ask what it will cost to settle. Then, we go through a couple rounds of counteroffers before one of our clients accepts. In this case though, my client thought he could explain his way out of the lawsuit so he called the other side before calling me, and explained how he never shared the files with anyone and erased them from his hard drive, and how he was so very sorry and would never do such a thing again. The other side didn't care about how sorry he was, but they were very interested in how he just admitted to them that he downloaded the movies. The confession might not have been admissible, but they knew they had the right guy and suddenly felt very confident about taking this through court and winning. I was still able to settle the case for my client, but for more than I expect we could have reached if he hadn't called them first.

There are things you know you can do, things you can learn to do, and things that are best left to someone else. It can be hard to know when to have someone else handle something, especially if you're a control-freak like myself, but knowing your own limitations will save you money, time, and frustration. Email me if you need help with something.