No ‘GPT’ trademark for OpenAI

No ‘GPT’ trademark for OpenAI

OpenAI’s application to trademark “GPT” has been rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which determined that the word is “merely descriptive” and cannot be registered. Although OpenAI’s reputation is hurt, do not anticipate its rivals to start producing their own versions of the common chatbot.

As the most widely used conversational model available and the one that most obviously transformed huge language models from scientific curiosity to a worldwide craze, ChatGPT is perhaps the most well-known brand in artificial intelligence at the moment.

However, the USPTO claims that the name does not fulfil the requirements to be registered as a trademark or qualify for the protections that a “TM” after the name provides. (Incidentally, they rejected the application once before in October; this is a “FINAL” rejection in all capitals.)

According to the rejection document:

Because the applied-for mark only defines a feature, function, or characteristic of the applicant's products and services, registration is denied.

The machine learning model’s nature is described by the acronym GPT, which stands for “generative pre-trained transformer,” as claimed by OpenAI. It is pre-trained because it is a huge model that has been trained centrally on a private database; transformer is the name of a specific technique for creating AIs that was found by Google researchers in 2017 and enables the training of much larger models. It is generative because it generates fresh (ish) stuff.

However, the patent office noted that GPT was already being used by other businesses in analogous circumstances and in many additional contexts. An example of what a GPT is and how it is used may be found on Amazon.

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The patent side argues that GPT explains a feature of the product. Similar to trying to trademark the term “crunchy” for a cereal named Crunchy O’s. With ChatGPT, you can converse with a GPT-style AI model, which is not a notion that OpenAI invented but is one that other companies also provide. Although it could be identifiable, it does not fit the criteria to be registered as a trademark.

It is possible that OpenAI’s dominance over GPT-related language may wane as a result of its lack of a trademark. Expect products like a “TalkGPT,” which is unrelated, to appear in app stores (they already exist, in large quantities, in fact), and OpenAI is unable to bring legal action against them for misusing their trademark.

However, when someone says “GPT,” OpenAI has the most mindshare by far, so even with their limited legal protections, they still have the upper hand as first-branders. Trademarks be damned, they could even intensify the GPT branding to ensure that everyone knows OpenAI developed it first, or at least somewhat similar to it.

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