Over the years, Google has revolutionized the industry with technology that underpins its fiercest competitors, primarily OpenAI and its ChatGPT chatbot.
The “T” in ChatGPT stands for Transformer, a technology for large models developed by Google Research Labs. Google not only created the technology, but also managed it Patents thereon. This means that Google can protect its intellectual property by trying to fend off its competitors.
Despite this, Google’s philosophy has long been to make its research open source and available to anyone. As their website explains Dedicated to research. Essentially, outside researchers gain access to a piece of Google’s AI technology and continue to replicate it, benefiting Google’s own products.
Things have changed at Google in recent months. Leaders inform their employees about the organization It will further isolate itself, reserving new technology as it works to release commercial products. A researcher at the company’s DeepMind lab said recently Business Insider The message from the top is “it’s time to compete and keep knowledge at home”.
Several patent attorneys spoke Business Insider About Google’s AI patents, specifically why it hasn’t used them against its competitors and whether it still can. According to them, Google will not engage in legal battles over emerging AI technology because it would be difficult to prosecute, and the company will focus on figuring out how to successfully integrate the technology into its existing businesses.
Technical and legal issues aside, it would be somewhat hypocritical for Google to sue someone for infringing its AI patents.
“There are many more barriers to patent enforcement in this area than there were in the days of smartphones,” said Matthew D’Amore, a law professor at Cornell University. All the big tech companies are spending a lot of money in this area, and they all know they’re following the same patent strategy.”
Legal experts point to the idea of ”mutually assured destruction” to explain why tech companies file patents without enforcing them. Basically, companies like Google and Microsoft can build technology that overlaps with each other. Patents may be granted, but they are protected by judicial remedies.
D’Amore says that even if Microsoft sues Google for patent infringement, Google will strike back and fight completely for anything else.
“If they think they have something interesting and can apply for a patent, it’s logical to protect themselves in future lawsuits,” says D’Amore.
Tech giants continue to compete in areas like advertising and search, but D’Amore points out that they don’t constantly sue each other.
Additionally, technology companies can Reaching agreements to share patents. For example, during the smartphone boom, Google signed deals with several companies. Including Samsungfor Share patents on mobile phones And avoid lawsuits. Meanwhile, Apple sued Samsung in 2011 over iPhone design Completed in 2018 With a non-disclosure agreement. Apple struggled with companies like HTC Y Google For similar reasons.
Aidong Epong, a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm, said Google could enforce its patents through lawsuits.
However, maintaining patents can be expensive, D’Amore says. Taking legal action against potential patent infringement can result in high legal costs and invalidate the patent if the plaintiff’s infringement claims are too broad and vague.
For that reason, patents are often granted defensively rather than offensively. Some companies like IBM have developed Significant revenue from patent licensing.
One of the challenges with AI language models is that much of the technology is hidden from view. It’s hard to see if a chatbot competitor has infringed on any patents, unless you can inspect the code to see how it’s written. On the other hand, it’s hard to steal any code that Google doesn’t share publicly.
However, AI companies are now more concerned about other things, such as their strategies for monetization, D’Amore says.
“You can open up a smartphone and look inside,” D’Amore explains. “But you can’t crack a piece of software that easily.”
Google did not respond to a request for comment.