Steve Jobs can't buy love from the Beatles

The Beatles founded Apple Corps Limited during the summer of love. By the 1980s - the decade of greed - it had become a multi-armed corporation. It was managed by hard-nosed executive, Neil Aspinall, whose entire job seemed to involve suing anyone who may or may not be besmirching the Beatles name. He also occasionally re-released Beatles stuff. Yoko and the surviving Beatles controlled Apple Corps. They and their lawyers were never happy with the name, ‘Apple Computer’. After John Lennon was shot dead outside his home, his legacy became a very sensitive issue. Within a year of John’s murder, Apple Computer was forced to pay Apple Corps US$80,000 for trademark infringement and promise to stay out of the music business. Apparently Yoko and Co. own the English word, “apple”. Ten years later, when the Mac began to play MIDI music, Apple Corps decided Apple Computer owes them a further US$26.5 million for breaking the aforementioned promise. The fab four have always been very serious about protecting the integrity of the Apple Corps trademark and making money - mainly making money. For example, today there is a Beatles video game, a Beatles stage show in Vegas, and Yoko has a line of John Lennon baby clothes and pacifiers. A John Lennon pen licensed to Mont Blanc can be purchased for around $1000 each.

What really hurts Steve about these lawsuits (which have spanned three decades) is that the man is a huge Beatles fanatic. A 60-Minutes reporter spoke to Steve after enjoying a Paul McCartney concert. With a broad smile, he said,

My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people.[1]

Steve's unconditional love for the Beatles is Apple Corps' only saving grace. He has a reserve of patience for them that no one else in the world enjoys. Despite the painfully drawn out legal tiff, Steve gave Yoko a Macintosh as a gift. Steve's reaction to Apple Corps' demands is always ‘let it be’. He told Steven Levy of Newsweek that, "It's not a big deal. It's unfortunate because we love the Beatles. I'd do anything for those guys."[2]

[1] 60 Minutes (2008, December 12) Steve Jobs Interview [Video file]. CBS. Retrieved from

[2] Levy, S. (2003, October 27) Apple’s music Man. Newsweek.

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