11 August 2023 • 3 min read
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OpenAI's ChatGPT has been one of the most significant technology disruptions in recent times. Artificial intelligence allows ChatGPT to create original content from text instructions or prompts.
And now its parent, AI research company OpenAI is trying to trademark the GPT in ChatGPT.
Before we delve into the details of OpenAI's trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), let's look at what GPT is all about.
Let's start with the GPT name. GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer.”
This "generative pre-trained transformer" was a turning point in artificial intelligence (AI). GPT is one of the first large language models. It allows applications to create human-like text and content from images to music and answer questions as ChatGPT does.
The rise of GPT has now spurred more models for AI chatbots, content generation, and image creation. This is called “generative AI.”
These platforms are trained on vast amounts of data for natural language processing. They can mimic human behavior and thinking patterns. For instance, GPT3, the AI model ChatGPT runs, has 175 billion parameters and was trained on 570 gigabytes of text.
Each new version adds more layers of AI. According to OpenAI:
"GPT-4 is more creative and collaborative than ever before."
On the heels of OpenAI's success with ChatGPT came a slew of dodgy apps. Apps like MedicalGPT to DateGPT were trying to ride on the widespread recognition of GPT.
“The exceptional popularity of the CHATGPT program and mark has also resulted in an alarming number of developers quickly creating and releasing counterfeit apps.”
And this allegedly directly impacts the company and its ChatGPT brand. In the trademark application, OpenAI claims such programs:
“present significant risk to the public and users who unsuspectingly download or access the counterfeit app believing it to be associated with OpenAI.”
Trademarks ensure legal protection from such counterfeits. They'll give GPT legal protection and also provide brand protection for ChatGPT.
The move to trademark GPT raised many eyebrows. OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by Silicon Valley veterans, including Sam Altman, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel. This started as a non-profit research organization. It aimed to develop artificial/digital intelligence and machine learning technology for positive human impact and transparency.
Then came a corporate tussle between Musk and investors like Microsoft, leading to Musk's exit from OpenAI. Following the news of the trademark filing, Musk tweeted:
"OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it "Open" AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all."
On 25 May 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) responded to the OpenAI application with an office action. It argues that the mark:
“merely describes a feature, function, or characteristic of applicant's goods and services.”
But, this is not a binding decision yet as the USPTO response also says:
“Although applicant's mark has been refused registration, applicant may respond to the refusal(s) by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration.”
This means that OpenAI can submit responses to secure a trademark for GPT.
Open AI's artificial intelligence chatbot took the world by storm. In the wake of the disruption it unleashed, AI tech has stirred up a heated debate around trademark law, copyright, and ethics that apply to it.
OpenAI's application to trademark GPT may provide some clarity going ahead. If successful, other market participants can use it as a precedent to secure trademarks. It has hit a stumbling block with the USPTO's office action. But the possibility of OpenAI winning a trademark for its game-changer technology is still open.
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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.
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