Judge rejects lawsuit challenging Magic Quadrant

In a ruling that should surprise no one, California Ninth Circuit Court Judge Jeremy Fogel recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by ZL Technologies that accused Gartner of committing a host of illegalities via its placement of ZL's e-mail archiving software in the "niche" box of its Magic Quadrant.

In essence, this case boiled down to a question of whether the Magic Quadrant is an objective presentation of quantifiable facts, or -- as Gartner argued and should be obvious to all -- simply Gartner's opinion based on its research.

Whatever one may think of Gartner or its fabled Magic Quadrant, this lawsuit -- more accurately described as a legal fit of pique -- was as frivolous as they come. From the judge's ruling: "The Court agrees with Gartner that the general tenor of the MQ Report negates the impression that Gartner is asserting an objective fact by assigning ZL a 'Niche' status. The cover page of the e-mail archiving review states specifically that, 'The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.'

"… Finally, ZL argues that Gartner's representation that it provides 'highly discerning research that is objective, defensible, and credible to help [customers] do their job better' implies that its Reports contain objective assertions of fact. Gartner notes that this language appears not in the MQ Report but on its website and that the language describes Gartner's research services generally rather than the MQ Report in particular. … More to the point, the terms 'objective, defensible, and credible' do not imply the assertion of factual information. Gartner argues convincingly that even if its self-description did refer to the statements within the MQ Report, its 'sophisticated readers' -- corporate and government executives and professionals -- would not infer that Gartner's rankings were anything other than opinion."

While dismissing each of ZL's five allegations -- "defamation, trade libel, false advertising, unfair competition, and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage" -- the judge did reluctantly allow ZL another bite at the apple by giving the company 30 days to come up with something more credible. And, unfortunately, it appears as though ZL is committed to trying.

Here's part of statement e-mailed to me by ZL's public relations firm: "While we are disappointed that the court has dismissed our lawsuit as filed, we are pleased that it has given us leave to amend our complaint, over Gartner opposition. … ZL intends to amend its complaint and refile within 30 days."

And hopefully Judge Fogel will send them a bill for wasting the court's time.

Lamp lets phone company pay for electricity, but …

So is this a bright idea, a violation of carrier terms of service, against FCC regulations, or all three? I'm not sure at the moment.

We've all seen lamps with phone jacks in hotel rooms. Well, last week I found a reading lamp being offered online that plugs into any unused phone jack in your home and operates by filching the trickle of electricity found there. It's sold by an outfit called UxSight, which lists addresses in Hong Kong and San Mateo, Calif.

Online comments have suggested that such a device would run amiss of FCC rules, which reportedly prohibit all but telephony equipment from being plugged into phone jacks. As of this writing, both Verizon and the FCC are trying to get me a definitive answer.

In the meantime, caveat emptor.

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