The Use of Shame in a Trademark Dispute

One thing that legal counsel should consider when drafting a cease-and-desist letter: be careful with what you write; it could make you famous.

An interesting recent Wall Street Journal article discusses a tactic that accused trademark infringers are turning to when they don’t have the resources or desire to hire legal counsel: attempting to publically shame the accuser. The approach often involves the use of social networking sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, to publicize legal threats from trademark holders. Other accused infringers post copies of cease-and-desist letters on websites such as

Sometimes, simply posting such information is potentially embarrassing enough that the trademark holder will be forced to back off–especially if the initial threat appears to be excessive or an overreach. In many cases, the publicity brings out sympathetic supporters, who donate to the accused infringer to defray legal costs.

Either of these potential results is bad for the trademark holder. This is why whenever you are writing a cease-and-desist letter, you should consider how it would reflect back on your client if it were plastered on thousands of Facebook and Twitter feeds.