NEWS5 November 2009

Round one goes to Gartner in libel battle

Legal North America

US— Gartner has succeeded in dismissing a libel complaint brought by a software company angry at being described as a ‘niche’ player – though the vendor has been granted leave to file an amended complaint.

District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel agreed with the IT analyst’s argument that its Magic Quadrant reports and the positioning of ZL Technologies in the ‘niche’ quadrant constituted “non-actionable opinion”.

ZL had argued that its placement in the reports was derogatory “because they are understood by technology purchasers as a warning, by Gartner, that ZL and the ZL products are not good choices for enterprise email archive applications”.

The company claimed to have suffered damages of at least $132m “as a direct and proximate result of Gartner’s defamatory statements”.

However, Judge Fogel noted, “There is no allegation that Gartner actually said that ZL is not a good choice.”

In granting the research firm’s motion to dismiss, the judge left the door open for ZL to submit an amended complaint within 30 days – though leave to amend has been denied for claims made by ZL under California laws on unfair competition and false advertising.