Netscout sues Gartner over Magic Quadrant rating

NPM company accuses Gartner of pay-to-play.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Connecticut Superior Court accuses tech analyst firm Gartner Research of demanding kickbacks in exchange for favorable placement in the company’s famous Magic Quadrant report.

NetScout, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of network performance management products, says in court documents that companies that pay for Gartner’s consulting services are ranked above those that do not, and that this is the reason for NetScout’s inclusion in the “challengers” category of the most recent NPM Magic Quadrant, instead of among the “leaders.”

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“Gartner's placement of NetScout in the challengers quadrant was part of a deceptive, oppressive, unethical and unscrupulous trade practice that violates public policy and caused NetScout substantial injury and damages,” the lawsuit read in part.

The suit dwells heavily on the “cautions,” listed by Gartner in its explanation for the Magic Quadrant ratings, which include assertions that NetScout lags behind its competitors technologically, and doesn’t have the ability to expand its product lines effectively. A large part of the 60-page complaint is taken up with an array of counter-arguments to those cautions, aimed at proving that Gartner’s relegation of NetScout to the “challengers” category is not only inaccurate, but knowingly malicious and demonstrably false.

“This pay-to-play business model is facilitated by Gartner's immense influence within the IT industry. A favorable ranking in Gartner's Magic Quadrant report can ‘make or break’ an IT company,” the suit says.

In a statement obtained via a spokesperson, Gartner vice president of corporate communications Andrew Spender said that NetScout’s complaints were “without merit.”

“[We] intend to defend ourselves and the integrity of our research process 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,” he said.

It’s not the first time that Gartner has been sued by a company aggrieved by its poor showing in a Magic Quadrant report. ZL Technologies, an email archiving software company, filed suit in 2009, over similar accusations of “pay-to-play” and general unfairness. That case, filed in California, was dismissed by the judge.

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