Microsoft has warned competitors against using its licensed search engine data to create AI chatbots of their own, and has threatened to restrict access to its informational assets should businesses not comply.
The tech giant, which has a long-term partnership with ChatGPT creators OpenAI, and has incorporated the technology into Bing, has confidentially notified two companies that use Bing search engine data that they’ve violated the terms of their agreement with Microsoft.
The news illustrates that the race to create a true ChatGPT alternative is becoming so competitive that companies are willing to risk legal trouble with one of the world's largest tech companies just so they can build their own.
Microsoft Enforces Search Data Deal Terms
For years, Microsoft has licensed the data that fuels its search index engine to other companies that provide similar search tools, including privacy-focused DuckDuckGo and Yahoo. You.com and Neeva also use Bing’s data to serve relevant searches to users.
However, against a backdrop of new AI use cases for businesses and individuals popping up all the time, a number of these entities have incorporated AI tools and features into their search engines.
Creating useful artificial intelligence is no small feat, which goes some way to explain why companies are feeding Bing’s data to their chatbots, rather than going through the arduous process of collecting their own.
“We’ve been in touch with partners who are out of compliance as we continue to consistently enforce our terms across the board,” Microsoft revealed in a recent statement.
“We’ll continue to work with them directly and provide any information needed to find a path forward,” the company adds.
As the dispute is confidential, the specific partners involved in the above discussions have not been publicly named. Microsoft has previously signaled support for businesses that want to create their own AI tools and chatbots, but this is very different from competing search engines.
The Race to Catch up to ChatGPT
The explosion of AI projects – most notably chatbots – since ChatGPT was released at the tail-end of last year, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
You can sign up to trial Google’s Bard AI platform today, which functions in roughly the same way that ChatGPT does, despite being trained on different linguistic data.
Chinese search engine Baidu, on the other hand, recently launched Ernie bot, although it looks like it’ll be some time before it becomes a true ChatGPT competitor, not least due to China's hardline censorship laws.
As well as these large-scale projects, there’s a whole world of ChatGPT alternatives now available, produced by all sorts of companies, including small startups. Resources like OpenAI Playground — which is a great option if you’d like to use ChatGPT and you find it's at capacity — are also available to the public. With the competition well and truly hotting up, we'd suggest keeping your ear to the ground.