Gartner Tries to Protect Its Magic Quadrants

4 minute read
Noreen Seebacher avatar

Gartner really doesn't want to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding its Magic Quadrant (MQ) reports.

The research firm is challenging many of NetScout's requests for information about its business practices, processes and internal review procedures involving the MQ reports. Calling the information confidential, proprietary and tantamount to trade secrets, Gartner filed the objections in connection with a lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court.

Update: The case is scheduled to go to trial in February 2016.

What's Happening

Westford, Mass.-based NetScout sued Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner in August over allegations of "corporate defamation" arising out of Gartner's business research practices. NetScout doesn't like being called a "challenger" rather than "leader" in one of Gartner's Magic Quadrant (MQ) industry reports, especially because it thinks its ranking is based, in part, by its unwillingness to "pay to play."

Gartner describes its Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as "methodologies that have become standards for marketanalysis in 155 technology segments."

Last month, Gartner filed a 62-page request to revise the complaint, claiming NetScout is relying on "unnecessary, repetitious, scandalous, impertinent [and] immaterial" allegations to build a case against it and "poison the mind of the jury and the court."

Attorneys in Connecticut courts typically file a request to revise to try to separate claims, obtain a more complete or particular statement of allegations, or to delete what they consider impertinent allegations so they can more effectively prepare for trial and challenge the legal sufficiency of the adverse party’s claims.

Now Gartner is raising more objections, this time to NetScout's requests for information.

When a party to a civil case needs to get information from the other side, attorneys can serve the other side with written discovery requests. These requests might include interrogatories, which are written questions about things that are relevant or important to the case, as well as requests for production of documents, or written requests that demand the other side provide particular documents or items.

Typically, attorneys object to one or more of the discovery requests — and the numbers of objections can climb in relation to the depth of the pockets of the company or individual involved.

Often times, these objections are the basis of negotiation between the attorneys for both parties to the lawsuit. One side may agree to produce some of the contested information in exchange for the other side withdrawing requests for other information.

Learning Opportunities

When those negotiations fail or reach a stalemate, then the court will issue a ruling.

So what is the gist of Gartner's latest objections?

Too Much Information?

In an answer to a request for the production of documents from NetScout attorneys Michael Blanchard and Jason Frank, Gartner attorneys Frederick Gold, Andrew Zeitlin and Diane Polletta contend the information is not material to the case and/or "not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."

The Gartner team further contends NetScout's requests are duplicative, overbroad, unduly burdensome, "fail to identify any document or category of documents with reasonable particularity" and may fail within the scope of attorney-client privilege.

Suffice to say, Gartner doesn't want to hand over "all copies, versions or drafts" of the MQ for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics as well as information about "every proceeding in which Gartner has been involved, and in which a customer, vendor, client or any other person or company" has alleged or asserted that its MQ reports, business model, polices or practices are "unfair, misleading, malicious, unethical, deceptive, unscrupulous, biased or favor customers who pay Gartner for its services."

Nor is it eager to reveal most of the communications about NetScout's inclusion, placement or rank in that MQ, specifically communications from Gartner analysts Vivek Bhalla, Jonah Kowall and Colin Fletcher, who authored the report.

Contacted about the objections today, NetScout attorneys declined comment.

Update Nov. 15: Attorneys for both Gartner and NetScout met with Connecticut Superior Court Judge Charles T. Lee for a status conference yesterday. A judge generally uses a status conference to help manage a case, including establishing time frames for concluding pre-trial activities, and to set a tentative trial date. At the conference yesterday, Lee ordered that jury selection and trial will begin Feb. 9, 2016.