When evaluating how to address what you believe constitutes infringement, false advertising, or unfair competition, the decision to send a cease and desist letter or to file a lawsuit becomes an important one. Is there a right approach in each instance? No. There are pros and cons to each and, in a typical lawyer answer, the best approach “depends.”
On the one hand, sending a cease and desist letter has the potential of resolving the issue outside of court, with fewer legal fees and on a quicker timeline. It also has the effect of placing the other party on notice of your claim and allowing you to make an argument for willfulness down the road (if the party continues the conduct despite the allegations).
On the other hand, filing a lawsuit shows the seriousness of the allegations and preserves your choice of venue—i.e. which court you want to be in. Sending a cease and desist letter first would let the other party know that there is a potential of a lawsuit, which would allow that party to file a declaratory judgment action in its own choice of venue before you have the chance to do so. As a reminder, under the Declaratory Judgment Act, a party who has been accused of illegal conduct like infringement, false advertising, or unfair competition can affirmatively file suit and ask that a court declare its conduct lawful.
Deciding which approach to take will depend on the situation and any prior history with the alleged infringer or advertiser. Make sure to weigh all of your options and discuss with your legal counsel if necessary.