If you are the recipient of a cease and desist letter, you may be panicking. These letters feel final, legal and demanding. In reality, there isn’t really much legal power behind the letter. Often, they are used as an intimidation tactic and a way for people to avoid taking expensive legal action.

When you receive a cease and desist, you should take a close look at the actual content of the letter. Here are some tips to understanding it:

  1. Stay calm

Remember that you’re not legally required to do anything about a cease and desist letter right away. Though it’s smart to address it, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take a breath. The letter isn’t legally binding. It’s merely someone telling you their opinion of how the law applies to you. It’s just a request.

  1. Find the important things

While the letter is not legally binding, you should take some time to sort through it and figure out what they are actually saying. Skip over the parts that are meant for intimidation and are unspecific. Find what they are actually asking of you and note where they mention real legal codes. If you can, figure out what they want you to stop doing and why.

  1. Bring it to an attorney

Completely ignoring a cease and desist can eventually lead to a lawsuit. Once you generally understand what the letter is saying, don’t respond right away. First, find a lawyer who knows about the area of law it is concerning (ex. trademark attorney if they say you are violating a trademark). They will help you understand the validity of the letter and know how to respond.

Don’t let yourself get bullied by intimidation tactics. Protect yourself by talking to a professional who knows how to deal with cease and desist letters.