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Firm blocked from making Beatles wheelchairs

Some things-with-a-twist we noticed this week. Get the top business stories on weekdays on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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When I'm 64 Apple Corps - no, not that one, the one owned by Paul and Ringo and the heirs of John and George - has stopped a wheelchair maker from selling Beatles wheelchairs. A Dutch manufacturer, You-Q BV, wanted to trademark it, but the EU agency responsible said no. Then, according to Bloomberg News, a court backed the decision by rejecting You-Q's suit, saying that the Beatles name is synonymous with youth and the Sixties counter-culture and its "positive image of freedom, youth and mobility." Too bad, actually. I suspect Paul may want one soon.

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What's a financial crisis compared with the plague? Here's what Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank said this week as it posted its financial results: "In 2011, the Montepaschi Group operated in an extraordinarily difficult market environment characterized by a progressive slowdown in economic growth and an exacerbation of the sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone."

Here's the thing, though. Formed in 1472, it's said to be the world's oldest bank, and has surely been through worse. Like the war that very year between Volterra and Florence that led to what's known as the Eucharistic Miracle of Volterra. Or the Italian Plague of 1629. Or the 1703 Appenine earthquakes. That's where I stopped. I got tired of Googling, but you get the idea.

Pastygate Have Britain's leaders lost touch with the common folk? You'd think so, given the controversy that the press has dubbed Pastygate, for the meat-and-pastry snack known as a pasty that is loved by Britons far and wide, and is said to be a staple among workers and students. Think Kraft Dinner. Prime Minister David Cameron's government sparked the outrage with plans to close a loophole under which some goods such as the pasty - it rhymes with nasty, not tasty - weren't subject to a sales tax of 20 per cent. Mr. Cameron's response to Pastygate? "I am a pasty eater myself."

What would Bob and Doug think? I understand the Leafs can't make the playoffs, but what's happened to our national pride? A Statistics Canada study this week shows wine gaining on beer as a drink of choice. Beer's share of the alcohol market has slipped to 45 per cent from 52 per cent in 2000, while wine now accounts for 30 per cent, up from 23 per cent over the same period.

Marketing prize of the week About two hours after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced plans to kill off the penny, this came in from Bank of Montreal: "BMO's coin counters, rolled out last year, are available for free to all Canadians, and are an ideal solution for Canadians looking to get rid of their loose change."

Tweet of the week From @BorowitzReport: "BREAKING: Greece Buys Mega Millions Ticket."

Runner up tweet of the week From @KellyNicoleMac: "Ewwwww just got ma'amed. #couglife"

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Honourable mention tweet of the week From @BergenCapital: "Fun fact: The wealthiest 1% of the population owns 99% of the world's red trousers."

Breaking the ice The Financial Times takes an in-depth look this week at how Iceland has rebounded from the crisis. It begins with a look at Reykjavik's Harpa concert hall, how it's a symbol of pride in the tiny nation. Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bjork and Yoko Ono have all graced its stage. It's a rich piece, and well worth the read. But, seriously, Bjork and Yoko Ono as top talent?

A welcome for Paradis "We were very pleased to welcome Minister Paradis." No, it wasn't a moose hunting trip. The comment was made by the chief of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

A darker shade of orange When I first saw this headline on a news release this week - "NPD Names Mike Leahy President of its Canadian Market Research Businesses" - I misread it and wondered whether there was a sudden shift in NDP policy.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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