Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
analysts, free speech, magic quadrant, opinion

gartner, zl

Tech Company Sues Gartner Because It Doesn't Like How Gartner Placed It In Its Magic Quadrant

from the hello-first-amendment dept

While I'm no fan of Gartner, and tend to think its analysis is pretty weak in many cases, a recent lawsuit filed by ZL Technologies, because ZL doesn't like how Gartner ranked it in Gartner's famous "magic quadrant" analysis, is pretty silly, and hopefully will get thrown out quickly. Gartner has every right to rank companies as it sees fit -- just as courts have noted that Google has every right to rank websites as it sees fit. Even if there are questions about the integrity of Gartner's rankings, I don't see how that's a legal issue at all. All it might do is call into question the value of relying on Gartner's ranking system. But that's a business issue, not a legal one. The court will hopefully toss this lawsuit out quickly on First Amendment grounds, and let Gartner go on pushing out magic quadrants, no matter how flawed they might be.

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  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 22 Oct 2009 @ 2:10pm

    gartner's pretty shady

    I don't like them. lots of shady/suspicious things going on, and yet lots of IT groups quote gartner like it's 100 % factual analysis, resulting in a lot of MS business and other shady companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Actually, it hits sort of the problems the FTC is getting worried about: Gartner's revenues are often from the very vendors they rank. As the article states, it may not be an individual employee who feels pressured, but perhaps on a more systematic level, to the company as a whole.

    An example might be that more review time / rankings are made for companies that also buy advertising. It might not be intentional, but rather a question of knowing who to call, access, contact, whatever.

    It is a questionable lawsuit perhaps, but the questions raised seem very topical this week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dohn Joe, 22 Oct 2009 @ 5:27pm

    This is NOTHING like page ranking

    This case has a lot of merit, unlike the Google page rank case. Google's page ranking does not purport to indicate a company's performance or potential.

    Gartner's flawed "magic squares" is equivalant to speaking poorly about a company's performance/potential and by doing so with a "scientific analysis" method behind it this presents the company's ranking in a seemingly "factual" manner, not just the OPINION of Gartner. That is the exact definition of slander, no matter how creatively presented.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2009 @ 6:55pm

    Is this the same Gartner that years ago said SCO had a good case and cheered them on? It is suprising that anyone takes Gartner seriously. I dont think I'll ever have to pay the $699

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Drew (profile), 22 Oct 2009 @ 7:40pm

    Wasn't sure if I was going to make a comment on this one..

    So I read over all four legal arguments, besides ZL Technologies filings sounding more like a persuasive sales pitch 'our product is so much better than the Symantec one', I kept trying to find where Gartner had presented actual facts, the basis for every complaint within the suit. Instead of facts I see a large number of subjective arguments attempting to state how much better ZL Technologies is to Symantec's, but how that translates into Gartner ranking ZL's product in a niche category and because of this ranking ZL cannot effectively compete against Symantec is somehow the liability of Gartner is beyond me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    senshikaze (profile), 23 Oct 2009 @ 4:43am

    I'd like to sure gartner for being stupid.

    One more "The datacenter is dead, long live the cloud!" BS "reports" and I might just do it. Gartner doesn't help and I don't know one local CIO who even gives two shits about what they say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rob, 8 Dec 2009 @ 9:09am

    ZL vs. Gartner Amended Complaint Announcement

    On December 4, 2009, ZL Technologies filed an amended complaint against Gartner, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Court granted ZL the opportunity to clarify and augment our earlier allegations of defamation and trade libel.

    In the first round of ZLís legal dispute with Gartner, Gartner argued to the Court that its rankings and other statements in the proprietary ďMagic Quadrant ReportsĒ are merely opinions that are not based upon fact, and that they are understood as such by the readers of those reports. However, Gartnerís past statements in marketing materials, white papers, blogs and even the Magic Quadrant Reports themselves, assert that their research and analystsí opinions are based on a body of facts compiled through what is asserted to be a rigorous process.

    The amended complaint clarifies ZLís contentions about the inaccuracy of Gartnerís reports, the inherent conflict of interest arising out of Gartnerís voluminous business with the vendors it reviews, and its subsequent bias towards large and established vendors. The amended complaint also adds new detail about Gartnerís repeated claims that its research is based on objective factóa position exactly opposite to the stance forwarded by Gartner in court.

    While this case is focused on ZLís dispute with Gartner over the erroneous statements in Gartnerís publications, the issues here also implicate Gartnerís larger business model. Gartner plainly admits that it attempts to leverage value from its largest clients, many of whom are also vendors covered in the companyís research. ZLís legal filings describe how that business model causes Gartner to favor those large companies at the expense of identifying the best technologies, thus misleading not just the vendors who are inaccurately reviewed by Gartner, but the consumers who base their IT purchasing decisions on Gartnerís biased research.

    ZL is seeking injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages from Gartner.

    The amended complaint can be found here:

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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