There's been much discussion about the possible court case between T-Pain and Antares; alleging possible misuse of his name and brand. Even if that is the case, which is yet to be proven, there is an even greater issue which should give both software manufacturers and artists equal concern.
This case is really about who owns Auto-Tune and in particular the abuse of the algorithm to create the stepped vocal effect. First popularised by Cher and then used constantly some years later by T-Pain et al. to give what he calls the 'T-Pain effect'. If anyone wants to downplay the influence of Cher's song 'Believe' may I suggest you read here - Believe sold 10 million, in comparison T-Pain's 'Buy U A Drank' (sic) about half that number. I think if anyone wants to make a claim on the use of the effect, then Cher has a very strong case to claim 'first' and 'biggest'.
Some time ago T-Pain tried to claim payment from other artists using the effect on their vocals.
Here is the concern and why he should not be allowed to own the abused stepped effect.
Who owns the Phil Collins gated drum sound? Collins? The Townhouse? Mick Glossop? SSL? In fact that claim has a greater chance of being won, as it is a sound created by the use of a unique combination of products and techniques. Whereas the stepped vocal effect is simply achieved by turning one knob to full!
Who owns the Hendrix distortion? Peter Frampton's use of the talk box? Who first found out that by overdriving an input stage on an analogue pre-amp you could add harmonic distortion to vocals? The list is, in fact, endless.
Many producers and artists have 'trademark' sounds, be they drums, bass, guitars, keyboards or vocals. Does that mean they own the rights to them?
Even if T-Pain is your hero and you want to sound like him, do you really want to live in a world where he can own even a portion of your creativity, because you dared to turn the sensitivity knob on your Auto-Tune all the way up?
The possibility that T-Pain can trademark this sound sets a dangerous legal precedent, it's bad for artists and musical instrument manufacturers, be they either software or hardware.
It's bad for music and creativity and any award in his favour would be a bad day for music as a whole.