[Update 5/9/2017: the head of communications at Purple posted a lengthy comment on Reddit about the powder and the lawsuit. In short, she says that "This powder is safe and there are lots of studies that support this," and that "we believe Ryan Monahan, owner of Honest Mattress Reviews, is not 'independent' as he claims, but is working with a competitor to disparage our brand." A vigorous thread of replies follows her comment.]
Ryan Monahan, who reviews mattresses (and used to work for a mattress company called GhostBed), is being sued by a company called Purple Mattress. Here's a video Monahan made about the lawsuit. Monahan says he's being sued because he publicly asked why Purple mattresses have white powder, what the powder is, and whether or not it is safe to inhale.
TechDirt has more:
Unlike other defamation suits we've covered here -- especially those attempting to dodge anti-SLAPP motions by presenting themselves as trademark suits -- Purple's complaint is long and detailed. Purple feels multiple posts at Honest Mattress Reviews have falsely disparaged the company and its products. All of the posts center on the white "powder" Purple uses to coat its mattresses during packaging to prevent it from sticking to itself.
Purple's Lanham Act claims rest on Monahan's alleged conflicted interests, even as it admits in its filing that Monahan is no longer associated with GhostBed. It points to several statements posted at Honest Mattress Reviews which infer the powder used by Purple might be dangerous or unhealthy. HMR offers no proof of these assertions, but very few of them are actual assertions. In most cases, they're merely implications, surrounded by phrasing and pull quotes that help make the patent-pending substance appear more dangerous than Purple claims it is. Purple hasn't offered too many specifics in defense of its white powder, citing its pending patent as the reason it can't be more specific about the powder's composition.
The Streisand Effect is kicking in:
@LifeOnPurple Hi, I want to buy a Purple mattress, but don't want to be sued if I post a review online. Any tips?
— FruitbatNT (@fruitbatNT) May 8, 2017
— Matthew Pall (@mleep823) May 8, 2017
@Forbes Purple Mattress is dead as a company. Suing journalists is amateur on a level rarely seen from any reputable company.
— Greg Brailsford (@realgb) May 8, 2017