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Situation and Controversy surrounding OpenAI’s attempt to trademark “GPT”

OpenAI has argued that "GPT" has acquired distinctiveness as a trademark through their substantial use and promotion of the term since 2018. However, the USPTO reviewer found this unpersuasive, determining that the primary significance of "GPT" to consumers is still as a description of a type of AI system.
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USPTO refused to grant OpenAI a trademark for “GPT” / aidigitalx

USPTO refused to grant OpenAI a trademark for “GPT”

OpenAI’s quest to trademark “GPT” has hit a snag with the USPTO’s denial, citing its generic nature. This denial doesn’t diminish OpenAI’s intellectual property rights over its language models like GPT-3, which are still protected by copyright. However, securing the trademark would offer broader safeguards against unauthorized use of the “GPT” name.


There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, “GPT” has become a generic term referring to a broad category of natural language processing models, so an exclusive trademark could potentially limit competition and innovation as you mentioned. However, OpenAI did pioneer and develop this technology, so some intellectual property protection may be warranted.

Ultimately the USPTO will need to balance different interests – rewarding innovation, promoting competition, and preventing consumer confusion. This is a complex issue with valid perspectives on both sides. Reasonable people can disagree on the right outcome. As the technology continues advancing rapidly, these kinds of IP issues around AI are likely to come up more frequently. Navigating them in a way that best serves the public interest will require nuanced discussions and compromise from various stakeholders.

The refusal states:

The applicant’s identification shows that it is using the mark in connection with software goods and services using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing and generation. Accordingly, consumer encountering the acronym “GPT” would immediately understand this to communicate a feature of the applicant’s software good and services which are “generative pre-trained transformers” or feature 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.


Initially rejected in May 2022 due to a procedural error, OpenAI resubmitted the application along with the necessary payment. Despite the setback, OpenAI has options to contest the decision. They can request reconsideration of the decision within three months or pay an additional fee to extend the decision period by three months.

OpenAI has a few options moving forward, including requesting reconsideration or an extension of the decision. The controversy surrounding this refusal highlights concerns about competition and innovation in the AI industry. If OpenAI succeeds in obtaining the trademark, it could potentially hinder the development of similar technologies by other companies.

It’s worth noting that OpenAI already holds a trademark for GPT-3, which suggests they may have a stronger case for “GPT.” Nonetheless, the outcome of this application will establish a precedent for trademarking similar terms in the future.

Even without the trademark, OpenAI maintains copyright and other intellectual property rights over their specific language models.

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Adam Small
Adam Small

Adam Small is an experienced writer around the AI industry. Aiming to bridge the AI knowledge gap.