OpenAI’s quest to trademark “GPT” hits a wall at the US Patent and Trademark Office



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Summary

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has denied OpenAI’s trademark application for the acronym “GPT”.

The Patent Office stated that GPT is “merely descriptive” and expresses a characteristic of the company’s product. “GPT” stands for General Pretrained Transformer, the name of the technology underlying the large language models.

The Transformer technology used in models like GPT was originally presented by Google Brain researchers in 2017 in a paper titled “Attention is All You Need.” OpenAI has continued to develop and improve this technology for its GPT models.

Since the launch of its ChatGPT chatbot in November 2022, OpenAI has been trying to prevent other companies from using GPT. The company argued that the average consumer wouldn’t understand the actual meaning of the acronym, and would instead see it as a product name.

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GPT is a common acronym

The USPTO disagrees, stating that many consumers associate “GPT” with specific product categories and technologies. In addition, by denying the application, the USPTO seeks to prevent OpenAI from legally attacking GPT products already on the market.

Companies and competitors must be allowed to use descriptive language when presenting their goods or services to the public in advertising and marketing materials, the USPTO said.

The case file contains numerous screenshots of product and information websites that use “GPT” in a context other than OpenAI.

The Internet attached evidence establishes that “GPT” is a widely used acronym which means “generative pre-trained transformers,” which are neural network models that “give applications the ability to create human-like text and content (images, music, and more), and answer questions in a conversational manner.”

USPTO

This is the second time the USPTO has denied OpenAI’s GPT trademark application. The company may still seek a rehearing or appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. OpenAI uses “GPT” as a trademark for ChatGPT, its proprietary GPT language models and APIs, and the “GPT” chatbots in the OpenAI Store.

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