The Cease and Desist Letter

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Often times in the startup world there is what many refer to as the roller coaster of emotions that vary not only day to day but sometimes even hour to hour. One of the most unpleasant events, because it is potentially a waste of time, money, and energy if fought, is the cease and desist letter. The cease and desist has a few tell tale signs including arriving in a FedEx overnight envelope from a unrecognized law firm with a good bit of legalese. We’ve received several of these over the years for reasons like the following:

  • Product names that were too close to a competitor’s name (2x)
  • Price comparison page that ranked first in Google for the competitor’s name followed by “pricing”, which rankled the competitor
  • Passing on information to prospects that was given to use by an employee of a competitor that was looking for a job with us, and volunteered it in her intro email

On a simple level it’s good to push the limits as it is almost always easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. When it comes to cease and desiste letters, nine times out of 10 it is better to make the adjustment and move on.

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