NEWS11 January 2010

Gartner looks to kill off libel action with call for dismissal

Legal North America

US— Gartner will go to court next month in a bid to put an end to a libel action brought against it by a software company angry at being described as a “niche” vendor.

In a motion to dismiss filed on Friday, Gartner argued that ZL Technologies has again failed to adequately state a claim for libel, despite being granted leave by the court to file an amended complaint after its first complaint was dismissed.

ZL has sought damages for its placement in the niche quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports, arguing that the description is derogatory because it is “understood by technology purchasers as a warning, by Gartner, that ZL and the ZL products are not good choices for enterprise email archive applications”.

In dismissing the first complaint, the judge found no allegation that Gartner had actually stated that ZL’s software was not a good choice, and agreed with the IT analyst’s argument that its Magic Quadrant reports and the positioning of ZL Technologies constituted “non-actionable opinion”.

ZL said it sought to clarify its contentions about the content of Gartner’s reports in its amended complaint and alleged an “inherent conflict of interest” because of the business Gartner conducts with many of the firms it reviews.

In response, however, Gartner argues that the amended complaint “alleges not a single new ‘defamatory’ statement… nor is there a single new allegation that could reasonably be read to transform Gartner’s constitutionally protected statement of opinion into actionable, defamatory statements”.

The research firm has asked the court to dismiss ZL’s complaint with prejudice – meaning no further leave to appeal. A court date has been set for 12 February.