Business Litigation Alert: "Cease and Desist, Please"

Social Media Spreads Harsh Words Like Wildfire

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.

Jeff Elkin is a partner in the litigation section of Porter Hedges LLP.
He can be reached at 713.226.6617 or

This information is made available for educational purposes only and does not offer specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with the Firm. Do not use this information as a substitute for specific legal advice. Attorney advertising

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