Finance | October 21, 2017 5:00 am

The Story Behind Why Casper Sued a Mattress Blogger

It's part of a multimillion-dollar battle happening online to get you into a new bed.

The last time you bought a mattress, did you go online and look up reviews? According to a new story in Fast Companymattress bloggers are not only a thing, but the bloggers make enough money for it to be their full-time job. But it has a downside: you could get sued.

The Fast Company article discusses the multi-million dollar lawsuit between Casper and Sleepopolis, a mattress blogger run by Derek Hales.

Hales started reviewing mattresses and he and his wife tried a couple of different ones before landing on a Casper. He monetized his site and YouTube channel using referral links and affiliate links. In Feb. 2015, Hales quit his day job to focus fully on Sleepopolis, which he built into the most-trafficked web destination for anyone seeking information on mattresses. But, in late 2016, his relationship with Casper turned sour, and they sued him. Since the lawsuit is still pending, Hales cannot discuss anything.

But Fast Company writes that Casper had a mutually beneficial relationship with many sites, including Sleepopolis, and it was one of the first mattress companies to offer affiliate commissions. Casper was known to court affiliate marketers and offer bigger commercial relationships. But years down the road, Casper declined to renew affiliate relationships with all mattress bloggers, writes Fast Company. 

This brings us back to Hales. On Sleepopolis, he wrote that after 18 months of reviewing mattresses, he could no longer recommend Casper. He put a yellow box near the top of that page that said, “Thinking about buying a Casper? Do your homework! Check out these four mattress companies that Sleepopolis loves,” according to Fast Company. 

In April 2016, Casper filed lawsuits against the owners of Mattress Nerd, Sleep Sherpa and Sleepopolis, reports Fast Company, alleging false advertising and deceptive practices. Mattress Nerd and Sleep Sherpa quickly settled these cases. Negative Casper reviews were taken off their sites, but Hales’ review remained. Casper estimated that Hales’ review and “Sleepopolis’s conduct cause it millions of dollars of lost sales to date.”

Hales meanwhile, said that Casper was trying to censor him, according to Fast Company. 

By July 2017, Fast Company says, Sleepopolis’s site looked the same, but Hales’ photograph had been removed and replaced with a photo of someone new: Dan Scalco. Text next to the photo welcomed people to the new version of Sleepopolis, and said Derek Hales and Samantha Hales were no longer associated with Sleepopolis. A subsidiary of JAKK Media LLC had acquired the site, with financial support provided by Casper.

The new owners told Fast Company that Casper wouldn’t touch the site, and a Casper spokesperson said they had no access to the data. But that yellow box, directing readers to other mattresses, disappeared, and was replaced with a coupon linking directly to