Cease and Desist Letters for China IP Violations: They Can Work

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Our international IP attorneys are often contacted by companies looking for help to stop Chinese companies from infringing on their IP — usually a trademark, sometimes a copyright or a patent or even a trade secret.

We have written a lot of these cease and desist letters to Chinese companies and we generally like them.

If you are faced with someone in China using your IP, you can pursue either administrative remedies of court remedies. Either way though, you will likely need to spend quite a bit of money on lawyers and it will take time for you to get any results. The cease and desist letter (usually called a “lawyer’s letter” in China) will almost certainly be faster and cheaper, assuming it works.

We find these letters usually (but certainly not always) work if the company to which you are sending the letter is a legitimate company, but they virtually never work if it is not. The legitimate company usually does not want to risk its reputation or money on a losing claim, but the fly-by-night company typically does not care. It is essential that these letters be written in Chinese and refer specifically to the legal and factual basis of your claims.

Not only does it not usually make sense to send out such a letter to a fly-by-night company that is almost certainly just going to ignore it, it also does not make sense to send out such a letter if it is important that you catch the offending company unawares with your law suit. It is oftentimes a good idea to secure an evidence preservation order from a court and you typically want that order to hit the offending company completely unawares so that its time to destroy evidence is minimized.

These letters can work well for all sorts of IP violations, including where someone is using your trade secrets.

What have you found with these?

6 responses to “Cease and Desist Letters for China IP Violations: They Can Work”

  1. I too have heard that they work, particularly, as you say, with companies that actually have something to lose by being sued.

  2. Great information! I was not aware that cease and desist letter existed in the first place. It is obviously a much cheaper way to deal with IP violations. All you need is, a sample cease and desist letter. Henceforth, you can use the letter numerous times for various purposes.

  3. Great article. I will definitely consider this the next time (and yes there will be a next time), our trademarks get used by a Chinese company.

  4. Indeed, cease and desist letters in China are an inexpensive way to respond to IP infringements (and, for that matter, debtors in general commercial disputes). The chance that they will have some kind of impact depends for a large part on whether the infringer feels threatened by the letter, which may well be the case if is a legitimate company that has something (reputation, damages) to lose from a lawsuit or administrative action. Filing a lawsuit will have an even greater impact , especially where the infringer’s assets are frozen, but the costs must be worth the benefits.
    We have found that cease and desist letters also can be a good starting point for negotiations on some sort of settlement: they bring the infringement to the fore, and to the attention of decision-makers. Considering the expense and the risks to filing a lawsuit, many IP owners will prefer to settle the dispute with a written commitment from the infringer that it will not infringe on the IP rights in the future.

  5. Great feedback.
    I recently found out that our Chinese Mfg is not only selling our product behind our backs but actually filed a patent on our idea.
    We are still Patent Pending in the US but did file in China as well so our filing dates supercedes their date.
    I hope a “Cease and Disist” letter is all we have to do to get them to stop as we have moved on to another factory. Our concerns now are that…. What is to stop them from sending their own “Cease and Desist” letter to our new factory and put a hault on our prodcution? Could happen…I will soon learn the process.

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