Lawyers for the Tribune, publication of which is suspended while a receiver tries to find a buyer for the title, are also seeking compensation from the Mail for damages to the Tribune brand and the paper’s goodwill.
They are also seeking assurances that the Mail will not repeat the stunt and are threatening to apply for a High Court injunction against the Mail if it declines to give such an undertaking by this afternoon.
Solicitor Kieran Kelly of the Fanning Kelly law firm was instructed to take the action under trademark infringement and breach of copyright legislation by receiver Jim Luby. Mr Luby was given four weeks to find a buyer for the Tribune after its main funder withdrew backing a week ago.
Tribune editor Noirín Hegarty said the paper would also be seeking an apology from the Mail and an acknowledgement that its actions breached professional standards.
“They have to be given a chance to remedy the situation but if they aren’t forthcoming, we will bring the matter to the Press Ombudsman. We also believe there’s also a question for the National Newspapers of Ireland to consider the Mail’s membership of the organisation.”
The National Consumer Agency is also investigating the stunt which saw the Mail print 25,000 extra copies of its paper wrapped in a cover designed to look like the Sunday Tribune. In a statement it said: “The National Consumer Agency is now considering a prosecution for a breach of the Consumer Protection Act.”
The Consumer Protection Act provides for prosecutions for use of “unfair or misleading commercial practices”. Maximum penalties on conviction are a fine of €3,000 and/or a six- month prison sentence.
Irish Mail on Sunday editor Sebastian Hamilton would not discuss the threats of legal proceedings yesterday but stood by his previous statement in which he described the paper’s actions as a “marketing exercise”.
Ms Hegarty said she was concerned the Mail’s tactics would endanger attempts to save the Tribune and the 43 jobs at the title but she was heartened by the response of readers. “The support has been fabulous. We’ve had a huge number of emails over the weekend and offers from readers to go to court with us if we need their backing.”