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The X Factor is a television music competition franchise created by British producer Simon Cowell and his company SYCOtv. It originated in the United Kingdom, where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol (2001–2003), and has been adapted in various countries. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The prize is usually a recording contract, in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants.
The similarities between The X Factor and Idols prompted Idol creator Simon Fuller, along with 19 Entertainment, to file a lawsuit against Cowell, SYCOtv, and FremantleMedia in 2004. An out-of-court settlement was reached in 2005 allowing Fuller to gain a 10 per cent share in The X Factor format, and preventing an American version until 2010. Fuller later filed another lawsuit in 2011, claiming that he had also been promised that he would be credited as an executive producer of The X Factor USA, but that Syco, FremantleMedia, and Fox Broadcasting Company had failed to fulfill that promise; that lawsuit is pending.
Unlike Idol, where the judges only critique the contestants' performances, on The X Factor each judge "mentors" the finalists in a particular category, aiding them with song selection and styling, while also participating together in judging the contestants in the other categories. Not only Idol, but also new singing shows The Voice and Rising Star have become rival shows to The X Factor.