ChatGPT vs. ThreatGPT, DirtyGPT: Will OpenAI win the trademark turf war?

"OpenAI has plenty of reasons to expect that it will be able to secure the patent," says a legal expert.
Baba Tamim
Stock photo: Illustration — robot face-off.
Stock photo: Illustration — robot face-off.


Following the success of its sensational chatbot, ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence (AI) research group OpenAI applied for a trademark for "GPT" (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) in late December.

However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dismissed OpenAI's petition last week, claiming a failure to pay a related fee and presenting "appropriate documentary evidence supporting the justification of special action," TechCrunch reported on Tuesday. 

But "OpenAI has plenty of reasons to expect that it will be able to secure the patent," Jefferson Scher, a partner in Carr & Ferrell's intellectual property group, told TechCrunch. 

Since the "T" in GPT refers to "Transformer," a widely-used neural network architecture created by Google researchers in 2017, Scher believes that OpenAI may encounter difficulty obtaining the trademark. 

Despite this potential opposition, Scher cited IBM as an example of a brand with a descriptive beginning. 

"That's no guarantee [OpenAI] could end up owning [GPT]," but it's a start. "Can GPT be a brand even if it has a very descriptive origin?" Scher wonders.

Meanwhile, it could take another five months before OpenAI's petition is decided. The corporation can stop others from using the trademark widely if OpenAI successfully obtains it, even if it may be challenging to find the violators.

Nevertheless, the fact that OpenAI has been using "GPT" since the October 2018 release of its first Generative Pre-trained Transformer model, or GPT-1, may be advantageous in obtaining the trademark.

OpenAI protective of GPT tech 

According to Scher, OpenAI is in a "funny situation" since, up until last year, the firm was known mainly to AI researchers. 

However, after the release of the company's fascinating DALL-E and ChatGPT products, which made the company an instant success, the company was no longer known just to researchers. 

It's important to highlight that OpenAI, which Elon Musk and Sam Altman formed initially as a nonprofit artificial intelligence research organization, became legally a for-profit firm a few years ago. Musk eventually left OpenAI for these reasons.

Suppose OpenAI is successful in obtaining the trademark. In that case, the business will also be able to stop its widespread usage by others, even though it might be challenging to find the offenders, according to the TechCrunch report. 

Many companies recently submitted trademark applications to the USPTO, including ThreatGPT, MedicalGPT, DateGPT, and DirtyGPT, making it logical for OpenAI to feel protective about the brand reputation. 

All of these companies are allegedly capitalizing on the phenomenal success of ChatGPT, the chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. Meanwhile, the company has had a blast with its ChatGPT-4 success.

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