• Cease and Desist, Please
  • January 5, 2012 | Author: Jeffrey R. Elkin
  • Law Firm: Porter Hedges LLP - Houston Office
  • With Twitter, 24/7 news coverage, and constant Facebook status updates, today’s social-media dominated environment can easily send “news” viral, and potentially damage a company’s otherwise stellar business reputation.

    Chick-Fil-A recently learned this lesson the hard way.

    Chick-Fil-A believed that the phrase, “Eat More Kale,” by a Vermont-based small business owner who uses the phrase on t-shirts, was too close to its “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, and sent a form “cease and desist” letter to stop the alleged infringing use.

    That letter quickly went viral through social media outlets, leading to negative news coverage for Chick-Fil-A and wide-spread grassroots support for the small business owner. Because of the way the letter was written, Chick-Fil-A was easily portrayed as a big business bullying the “little guy.”

    Chick-Fil-A’s experience highlights the careful consideration that must go into crafting all business communications, particularly communications intended to impose corporate policies, rules, or legal rights. Consider the following points:

    • Whenever possible, avoid sending a form letter.
    • Choose your wording carefully, and try to omit wording that could be considered “heavy-handed”.
    • Ask, “Could any sections of this letter be taken out of context?” If so, re-write.

    Today, there is no guarantee that a business communication will be “private.”

    It only takes one tweet or post to spark a social media wildfire that can lead to a public relations disaster.