T-Pain sues former business partners over auto-tune

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

The auto-tune effect has become ubiquitous in new releases in the pop and R&B genre. There are auto-tune iPhone apps and even auto-tune versions of viral YouTube videos. But no personality is more closely associated with the technology than Florida rapper T-Pain.

T-Pain’s chart-topping auto-tune songs made him the perfect candidate to endorse the technology for its creators Antares Technologies. T-Pain partnered with the company in what seems to have been a successful endorsement campaign. But last month T-Pain ended that relationship and has now filed a lawsuit seeking damages for unauthorized use of his name and likeness.

Last month T-Pain created his own company that is developing and marketing its own version of this audio technology which it will call “The T-Pain Effect.” The lawsuit asserts that Antares continued use of T-Pain’s name and image will confuse consumers causing them to think that T-Pain is still endorsing the product. They may decide to purchase the Antares product rather than his new line of audio effects based on the misconception the T-Pain is still associated with Antares.

The lawsuit asks the court to enter an injunction which would prohibit Antares from further use or licensing of pictures of rapper or the name T-Pain. In addition, the lawsuit is seeking at $1 million in damages which presumably arise from lost potential profits due to the alleged infringement.

Endorsements can obviously be very lucrative for popular artists. But along with the extra income comes an extra level of business complexity. It is important that artists work with individuals whom they can trust and who understand the industry to ensure that their business partners are not taking an unfair advantage.

Source: Pop Crush “T-Pain Sues Auto-Tune Makers for Copyright Infringement” Trent Fitzgerald, July 28, 2011