Office of the Ombudsman

Our Assurance of Impartiality

Gartner External Use Policy: We Mean It

May 6th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Gartner published research is copyrighted material. The Gartner Copyright and Quote Policy exists to protect this material when referenced in the public domain. We don’t allow indiscriminate, unauthorized distribution of research, and we also do our best to prevent anyone from misrepresenting or misusing Gartner opinions by taking them out of context. For example, we don’t allow vendors to say, “Gartner says we’re number one!” And we don’t let them disparage their competition by saying, “Gartner says they’re going out of business!” Most vendors respect our copyright and external use policies, as they wouldn’t appreciate companies abusing their intellectual property.
Riverbed Technologies has ignored multiple requests to respect our policy and our intellectual property by allowing their sales associates to distribute a Gartner published report in its entirety on more than one occasion, and by quoting excerpts from the same report to disparage their competition. Despite our repeated requests to stop, Riverbed continues to violate our external-use policies.
So what? We’re naming names to let everyone know that we do actively monitor use of our research, and will not ignore the unauthorized use of our name and redistribution of documents.

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carter Lusher // May 7, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Besides this post, what other steps is Gartner taking to punish this vendor? Legal? Not permiting the vendor to brief Gartner analysts? Canceling the Gartner contract so the company can no longer talk with analysts via inquiry?

  • 2 Vendors need to respect analyst firm copyrights « SageCircle Blog // May 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    […] on May 7, 2009 by sagecircle On May 6, 2009 the Gartner Ombudsman blog had the following post Gartner External Use Policy: We Mean It where they called out a vendor by name for copyright violation. The violation was clear: […]

  • 3 Nancy Erskine // May 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Carter. As I’m sure you can appreciate, the specific steps taken to remedy specific misuses are at the very least sensitive and may be confidential. But I can share the types of actions we take in these instances:

    When a client sends a PDF of a published Gartner document externally (that is, to people outside his or her organization), that’s something we charge for — it goes with the territory. And if they do that without our permission we charge them afterwards.

    We also consider imposing a “ban” on any external use of the Gartner name and research, including the purchase of Gartner media products. A “quote ban” might not seem like a big deal, but with an average of 835 quote requests a month, obviously some clients would feel the pain if Gartner refused all of their requests.

    We would consider the termination of, or refusal to renew, the violator’s contract with Gartner.

    It wouldn’t be right for us to restrict vendors from briefing our analysts as it would compromise the integrity of our research — so this is a step we would not take as a result of one or several violations.

    We realize most, if not all, of these actions result in less revenue and/or exposure for Gartner, but that is the price we are willing to pay to protect our objectivity and independence.

  • 4 Duncan Chapple // May 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Hi Nancy,

    I appreciate that copyright laws differ between countries, but it seems quite mistaken to present “Gartner says we’re number one!” as an issue over which Gartner has a copyright defence. It is a clear breach of Gartner’s copyright to distribute reports without a license from the firm. But is it not a breach of your copyright to attribute an opinion to Gartner without the firm’s prior opinion.

    Lighthouse (and other AR consultancies, I assume) recommend that vendors respect Gartner’s policies on quotation and external use. That’s polite and makes the relationship with Gartner simple. However, it would be quite lawful for companies to make fair use of Gartner’s name and research.


  • 5 Carter Lusher // May 8, 2009 at 9:35 am

    HI Nancy, Thanks for the follow up information. Very useful.

    BTW, the comments on the SageCircle blog post on this topic have been uniformly supportive from vendor staff and Gartner competitors alike.

  • 6 Gerry Van Zandt // May 8, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Duncan, it’s an interesting point, but there are other instances of organizations which limit or do not allow this type of reference.

    Consumers Union (publishers of the respected Consumer Reports magazine) is one. You will NEVER see any company directly (and generally, indirectly) quote Consumer Reports product rankings in their advertising or promotional materials as CU does not allow this type of reference and strictly monitors it. Admittedly, CU is a non-profit organization while Gartner Inc is a publicly traded for-profit corporation.

    You can see CU’s research usage policy about this here:

    And they do this for much the same reason as Gartner’s policy — so as to maintain a sense of total objectivity.

  • 7 Jonathan Eunice // May 12, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    The problem with vendors quoting analysts is that, in most cases, they’re not just making Fair Use citations of widely published materials. (1) They’re distributing copyrighted, licensed materials. Open source developers aside, I don’t imagine most companies would be terribly happy for their proprietary software to be handed out willy nilly, contrary to copyright and license. Even more important, (2) they are not just quoting, they are implying an endorsement. Sometimes those endorsements are based on a correct, in-context understanding of the materials, and sometimes they’re carefully selected, edited sound bites designed to misrepresent the research. Occasionally, they’re made up out of whole cloth.

    Therefore Illuminata requires prior permission to quote our materials. It’s a pain for all parties involved, and I wish we didn’t have to do it. But if/when we don’t, we’ve ended up being quoted “saying” things we never said, “endorsing” things we never would endorse.

    If the misuse were more than a one-time, passing slip, we’d look upon it as evidence that the people and the company involved participate in improper business practices–that they cut corners, that they are not ethical, nor trustworthy. Commerce runs on trust. If you lose the trust and respect of one group you deal with–analysts, customers, partners, whoever–losing the trust and respect of the other groups is the next whistle stop. That’s bad mojo and bad business long before the lawyers get involved.

  • 8 vinnie mirchandani // May 15, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Nancy, Gartner focus here has mostly on misuse of MQs. Far worse is the older intelligence particularly around economics that your own analysts, consultants etc bandy or vendors, particularly larger ones use to their own benefit. Never in my IT career have I seen so many sectors being disrupted all at once – in sw, SaaS, third party maintenance, open source; in infrastructure, next gen DCs, clouds, Cisco’s server play,, telcos with changing wireless, VoIp mix,The recession is also pushing economics. But I see in too many clients and in vendor presentations Gartner name around benchmarks that make you look out of touch – and frankly supportive of status quo that established vendors would love to see continue.

  • 9 Robert Young // Sep 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I have been following the Press Release on RDBMS for a decade, at least. I like to poke fun at IBM. No PR this year? A visit to Oracle shows some quotes from a June 12 (about the usual date) report.

    Why have you stopped PR-ing that particular report? What’s the point?