Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

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Actor Johnny Depp leaves the High Court in London, Britain, July 7, 2020. (Reuters)
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Actor Amber Heard leaves the High Court in London, Britain, July 7, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 July 2020

Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

  • The high-profile case has laid bare Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017
  • The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film ‘The Rum Diary’ and married in 2015

LONDON: Hollywood actor Johnny Depp strenuously denied being violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard, as he launched a libel claim in a London court on Tuesday against a British tabloid newspaper that called him a “wife-beater.”
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, 57, is suing the publishers of The Sun and the author of the article for the claims, which were made in April 2018.
Depp, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and facemask, was met by a throng of cameras as he arrived at court while Heard, a 34-year-old actress, used a separate entrance.
The high-profile case has laid bare the couple’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017, just two years after they married.
But Depp said in a witness statement submitted to the court: “For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed any other woman, in my life.”
He said it was a “strong and central part” of his moral code that he would never hit a woman, having witnessed domestic violence growing up and vowed never to do so.
“I find it simply inconceivable and it would never happen,” he added.
“She (Heard) is a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest,” he went on.
“I am now convinced that she came into my life to take from me anything worth taking, and then destroy what remained of it.
The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in 2015.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) is contesting the case, and is relying for its defense on 14 separate claims of domestic violence said to have occurred between early 2013 and May 2016.
It argues Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive toward Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” — and has evidence to prove it.
But Depp said it was the other way round, accusing Heard of violence against him during their “unhappy” time together.
In one alleged incident, he said she repeatedly punched him in the face, and in another severed his finger with a flying vodka bottle and stubbed out a cigarette on his cheek.
Heard has claimed she was physically assaulted over three days in Australia in early 2015 but Depp called the allegations “sick... and completely untrue.”
He rejected claims of being overbearing and instead said Heard had an “obsessive need” to control him, encouraging him to drink and take drugs, despite his well-known addiction issues.
Depp’s lawyers, in a written outline of his case to the court, also argued that although the couple’s relationship was at times “physical,” it was at Heard’s instigation.
Lawyer David Sherborne said his client on occasions had to defend himself from Heard’s violence, calling her allegations “complete lies.”
“He is not a wife-beater and never has been,” he said.
Heard was a “complex individual,” whose behavior was “extremely unpredictable,” with violent rages and prone to extreme mood swings, he added.
She sought attention, was provocative, had affairs, and was on a “wide range” of prescribed medication and other drugs.
Depp loved her but found her behavior “often bewildering” and “very difficult” to understand or deal with, he added.
Depp was the first witness called in the case and under cross-examination admitted using drugs and alcohol from a young age to “numb the pain” of a difficult childhood.
But he rejected suggestions from NGN lawyer Sasha Wass he had a “nasty side,” that saw him turn into a “monster” who would lose control, smash up hotel rooms and assault photographers.
“It wasn’t Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde,” he insisted.
The Sun story — “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beast film?” — came after he had already publicly denied domestic violence.
Depp said he had suffered “significant reputational damage” as a result, both in terms of his career and personally.
The High Court trial is due to last three weeks.


Banksy loses EU trademark fight with greeting card company

Updated 17 September 2020

Banksy loses EU trademark fight with greeting card company

  • Full Colour Black claimed the trademark for “Flower Thrower” should be canceled because Banksy had not made use of it
  • The greeting card company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of his books that “copyright is for losers"

BRUSSELS: Street artist Banksy has lost a legal battle with a a greeting card company along with a European Union trademark for one of his most iconic artworks.
The cancellation division of the EU's intellectual property office said in a ruling this week that Banksy's trademark for “Flower Thrower” was filed in bad faith and declared it “invalid in its entirety.”
Also known as “Love is in The Air," the graffiti artist created the work in Jerusalem in 2005. It depicts a young protester wearing a cap and with his face half-covered throwing a bouquet of flowers.
The decision, which can be appealed, followed a dispute between UK greeting card company Full Colour Black Ltd. and the company that authenticates and handles requests dealing with Banksy's work, Pest Control Office Ltd. The British street artist's real name and identity are unknown.
Full Colour Black, which sells products printed with images of his pieces, claimed the 2014 trademark for “Flower Thrower” should be canceled because Banksy had not made use of it. The company argued he only applied for it to prevent “the ongoing use of the work which he had already permitted to be reproduced."
The greeting card company also noted that Banksy wrote in one of his books that “copyright is for losers."
After Full Colour Black started legal proceedings, Banksy opened an online store called Gross Domestic Product to sell his own range of merchandise. But the move left the EU examiners unconvinced.
“It was only during the course of the present proceedings that Banksy started to sell goods but specifically stated that they were only being sold to overcome non-use for trademark proceedings and not to commercialize the goods," they wrote in their decision.
Citing Banksy's stated contempt for intellectual property rights, the examiners also made clear that the artist's choice to keep his identity secret hurt him in the “Flower Thrower” case.
“It must be pointed out that another factor worthy of consideration is that he cannot be identified as the unquestionable owner of such works as his identity is hidden," they wrote. “It further cannot be established without question that the artist holds any copyrights to a graffiti. The contested (trademark) was filed in order for Banksy to have legal rights over the sign as he could not rely on copyright rights, but that is not a function of a trademark."
Banksy began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words, “Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”

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