‘What’s in a name?’ asks Juliet in Shakespeare’s star-crossed tragedy. Quite a lot, as anyone who has ever published a reference to products of Portakabin(R) rapidly learns.

The York-based family-owned manufacturer is understandably keen to ensure that its modular buildings are not lumped together with any old shed knocked up by some cowboy with a few sheets of plywood and a box of rusty nails. It therefore defends its trade marks with a ferocity to gladden the hearts of IP practitioners and ageing newspaper sub-editors alike.

The latest recipient of the famed ‘Portakabin letter’ is HM Courts & Tribunal Service, which was reprimanded within hours of blogging about measures to ensure social distancing in courts. These include creating space for juries to deliberate in ‘portakabins’. No such word: even with an initial capital letter, warned Portakabin’s trade mark team sternly. Within hours the blog had been amended to refer to ‘Portakabin buildings’ and ‘Portakabin units’.

We know about this because the Gazette received its own admonition, after quoting HMCTS directly.

We trust that the court service’s correction implies that premises are to be extended with pukka Portakabin buildings, and not with any old plywood shed. And certainly not equipped with ‘portaloos’.

Pictured above: Definitely not a Portakabin building