Chat GPT is the latest buzzword on the internet. Chat GPT is an Artificial Intelligence based chatbot that can write personalised answers to human queries in natural language. The main goal of Chat GPT is to generate human-like responses in a conversation, which can be used to power chatbots and other conversational interfaces. In fact, chat GPT is a variant of its predecessor called GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) language model.
Chat GPT is built by a company called OpenAI, which built this software as an open source model that is free to use. Patents, on the other hand, are quite the opposite of ‘free to use’. A patent gives its owner an exclusive right to prevent others from using the patented invention for a limited period of time (20 years).
Therefore, because Chat GPT is an open source software and is free to use, Chat GPT model itself cannot be patented. Patenting it would contradict its ‘free to use’ existence because patenting would mean monopolising Chat GPT.
However, for the sake of understanding, let’s assume that Chat GPT were not an open source model.
Could Chat GPT be patented then?
Well, there is no definitive answer.
However, there is a likelihood that Indian Patent Office could interpret it as software per se (i.e., software without any hardware implementation) under section 3(k) of Indian Patent Act.
Section 3(k) of Indian Patent Act mentions that Indian Patent law does not treat the following as an invention – “mathematical or business method or a computer programe per se or algorithms“.
Now, Chat GPT is a software-based AI algorithm that is trained based on large datasets of patterns and relationships of human language. First, it can be implemented on literally any known computing device – phones, laptops, desktops etc. This means that the hardware itself does not contribute much to the uniqueness of the algorithm. This can potentially provide basis for the Patent Office to allege that the Chat GPT model itself falls under section 3(k) and is a computer program per se or an algorithm, which are not patentable.
Even if the subject matter of this AI model survives the above section 3(k) test, the remaining patentability criteria still need to be proven – novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. While it is immediately clear from the usage that Chat GPT is industrially applicable, the tests of proving novelty and inventive step depend on the available prior art. The inventive step in this case may be a bit challenging to establish because Chat GPT’s predecessor – the GPT algorithm is already public information and is used to generate human-like written articulation using AI.
While Chat GPT definitely takes this a step forward by integrating GPT into a chatbot system to generate responses that literally resemble another human’s response, establishing inventive step may still be a challenge given all the public information around GPT and chatbot systems. To patent Chat GPT, the uniqueness of the Chat GPT model would need to be significant enough to prove an existence of an inventive step.
Having said that, any specific applications of Chat GPT that may be prepared by any individual or organisation may very well be a subject of a patent application and need not necessarily be open source. This depends on how that individual or organisation intends to pursue the Intellectual Property of that application. If the application survives the above-described tests, it can be eligible for patent protection irrespective of the fact that Chat GPT model is open source.
In the near future, let’s wait and see what the world comes up with in terms of the applications based on GPT. While GPT and Chat GPT models have not been patented yet, we can expect interesting updates around the specific implementations of these models as Chat GPT evolves into a more mature system.
Do comment below if you are aware about any such applications that have been developed based on Chat GPT platform or any patent applications that have been filed.