Legal Experts Weigh in on the Elon Musk vs Sam Altman While OpenAI Responds

IBL News | New York

Legal experts are weighing in on Elon Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman, and President Greg Brockman.

All are circling the idea that OpenAI put profits and commercial interests in developing AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) ahead of this stated duty to protect the public good, as Venture Beat reported.

James Denaro, attorney and chief technologist at the Washington DC-based CipherLaw, pointed to Musk’s efforts in the suit to “effectively force OpenAI to open-source all of its research and technologies.”

But, he continued, it would be difficult to enforce these generalized understandings as if they were well-defined contracts.

“Did they all agree that OpenAI could never have a proprietary, for-profit product, or could OpenAI have both some open source technology and other closed source technology?” he said.

“It may be difficult for a court to find that the agreements they had with each other, being ambiguous in scope and in time, can be strictly enforced when they weren’t originally negotiated as if they were contracts.” 

Denaro says the breach of contract claim is uncertain at best.

“This lawsuit is probably a stretch, as the agreements do not clearly exclude OpenAI from having closed-source technologies or ever profiting from that.

Anat Alon-Beck, associate professor at Case Western University School of Law, said that while Elon Musk has the right to file it, the fact that Musk, as the founder of, is now also a competitor, shows has clear “incentives to sabotage” OpenAI.

She added that the lawsuit should be governed under Delaware law, under Delaware’s business-friendly jurisdiction, not California.

OpenAI Responds

On the other hand, OpenAI’s top executives rejected several claims Elon Musk made in the lawsuit, Axios reported.

OpenAI’s top executives rejected several claims Elon Musk has made in a lawsuit — insisting in a Friday memo to staff, seen by Axios, that the company remains independent, committed to benefiting humanity and has yet to achieve artificial general intelligence in its products.

“Musk’s allegations — including claims that GPT-4 is an AGI, that open-sourcing our technology is the key to the mission and that we are a de facto subsidiary of Microsoft — do not reflect the reality of our work or mission,” chief strategy officer Jason Kwon said in a memo to employees seen by Axios.

“An AGI will be a highly autonomous system capable enough to devise novel solutions to longstanding challenges — GPT-4 can’t do that,” he added.

Regarding the idea of acting as a subsidiary of Microsoft, “We decide what to research and build, how to run the company, who our products serve, and how to live out our mission,” he said. “We also directly compete with Microsoft to deliver the best value and products to businesses, developers, and everyday people. As we know, OpenAI is the creator of ChatGPT and ChatGPT for Enterprise, while Microsoft offers Copilot and Copilot for Microsoft 365.”

CEO Sam Altman sent a follow-up message agreeing with these statements and saying, “The attacks will keep coming.”