NetScout Sues 'Pay-to-Play' Gartner
Service assurance vendor NetScout is taking on Gartner, suing the consulting and research giant for unfair trade practices and claiming Gartner's well-known "Magic Quadrant" ratings are heavily skewed in favor of the clients that pay it big consulting bucks.
"Gartner, an information technology ('IT') research giant, markets itself as an 'independent and objective' company offering actionable technology research from an 'unbiased source.' In fact, Gartner is not independent, objective or unbiased, and its business model is extortionate by its very nature," the NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT) lawsuit states.
The full text of the lawsuit can be found here.
Gartner Inc. , as you'd expect, denies NetScout's claims. "We are aware of a complaint filed by NetScout Systems, Inc in a Connecticut court that stems from its unhappiness with NetScout's placement in a Gartner Magic Quadrant," states Andrew Spender, GVP of Corporate Communications at Gartner, in an email sent to Light Reading. "While it's not our practice to discuss pending litigation, we do consider this complaint to be without merit and intend to defend ourselves and the integrity of our research processes vigorously. We remain committed to providing our clients with independent research and advice about the products and services that we cover and upon which they have relied for decades."
NetScout is seeking monetary damages, but also a permanent injunction against Gartner's "unfair and deceptive trade practices, including... any republication of false and defamatory statements about NetScout."
Specifically, the NetScout complaint says Gartner's March 2014 report on the Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics market contained a series of derogatory and untrue comments about NetScout, which the vendor tried unsuccessfully to correct after seeing a draft version. When Gartner refused to make the changes, NetScout attempted to withdraw from the process but was told that was impossible as it would damage the report's credibility, the lawsuit says.
Instead, the complaint alleges, "Gartner ranked three other companies as 'Leaders' who spent a significant amount on Gartner's services and who do not deserve to be ranked ahead of NetScout, by any measure."
Those three companies -- Riverbed, JDSU-Network Instruments and Fluke Networks -- all spent "a substantial amount of money" on Gartner consulting services, NetScout alleges.
According to the complaint, a Gartner analyst -- who is not identified by name -- told NetScout's president and CEO, Anil Singhal, "NetScout is not going anywhere because it does not spend enough on marketing." The conclusion that Singhal drew from this was that NetScout needed to spend more with Gartner.
NetScout is asking that the same kind of action that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought against financial analysts who were running pay-to-play schemes be brought against Gartner, for damaging NetScout's business, even though it acknowledges the SEC doesn't regulate Gartner. The lawsuit is instead brought under the State of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Gartner has been sued before for Magic Quadrant ratings, but that lawsuit, by a software firm, was dismissed by a California Circuit Court judge.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading