OpenAI ne peut pas encore enregistrer « GPT » en tant que marque

OpenAI cannot yet register “GPT” as a trademark.

In a decision which highlights the complexity of the issues linked to intellectual property rights in the field of artificial intelligence, theUnited States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied OpenAI the opportunity to register the term GPT (pre-trained text generator) as a mark. This decision reveals the tensions existing between the desire to protect technological innovations and the need to maintain a common language to describe specific products or technologies.

The PTO justified its refusal by stating that GPT is an umbrella term in the artificial intelligence industry, referring to a broad range of software rather than OpenAI’s products exclusively. The decision, dated February 6, highlights a fundamental principle of trademark regulation: the importance of preserving descriptive terms for common use, even if the general public is not necessarily familiar with their precise meaning.

OpenAI had argued that GPT was not so descriptive that consumers would immediately identify its meaning. However, the PTO ruled that the general public’s level of knowledge of what GPT was irrelevant, assuming that professionals in the sector understand that it is a category of software.

The rise of generative artificial intelligence has multiplied the uses of the term GPT in the names of products and services. From start-ups to large companies, many people use this term to describe their AI models, as evidenced by the existence of services such as GPTZero. This generalization highlights how central the term has become in the industry.

OpenAI, notably known for its advances with ChatGPT and its GPT-3 and GPT-4 AI models, played a key role in the association of the term GPT to its products. By allowing external developers to access ChatGPT, the company has strengthened this association, although it has recently begun to diversify the names of its services, with innovations such as Sora, a model for generating text content- video.

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This is not the first time that OpenAI’s request to record GPT encounters refusal; a first failure had already been recorded in May 2023. The firm can still appeal to the Trademark First Instance and Appeal Commission to try to overturn this decision.

This case illustrates the challenges faced by companies seeking to protect their innovations while navigating the murky waters of intellectual property rights. It also raises the question of the balance to be struck between the right of companies to protect their brands and the need to ensure fair competition by allowing everyone to use essential descriptive terms.