Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc., speaks at the Atreggio Congress in Rome, Italy, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The annual event, organized by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, began in 1998 as a congress for right-wing youth and evolved into a political carnival involving ministers and members of the opposition.

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg | Getty Images

OpenAI disputed a foundational claim Tesla CEO Elon Musk did in the lawsuit he filed against the startup earlier this month.

As it seeks to commercialize its ChatGPT chatbot and underlying AI models, OpenAI has faced numerous legal battles, including one from Musk and copyright infringement cases from the New York Times and authors. OpenAI responded to Musk’s complaint last week by ridiculing him in a memo to employees and releasing emails involving him dating back to the earliest days.

Musk, who claimed a breach of contract at the startup he backed, cited in his complaint earlier this month a 2015 “founding agreement” with him and two other OpenAI co-founders, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. The three agreed that a new artificial intelligence lab would be non-profit for the benefit of humanity and that it would not keep information private for commercial gain, Musk said.

He also said that by releasing the large GPT-4 language model last year without making scientific details available to the public, OpenAI violated that agreement.

“There is no founding agreement or any agreement with Musk, as is clear from the complaint itself,” OpenAI said in a filing filed in California Superior Court for San Francisco County. “The founding agreement is instead a contrivance that Musk has concocted to stake undeserved claims on the fruits of an enterprise he first supported, then abandoned, then watched succeed without him.”

Musk cited OpenAI’s 2015 certificate of incorporation with the Delaware Secretary of State, claiming he “remembers” the founding agreement. But OpenAI responded by saying Musk’s complaint lacked an actual agreement.

The Microsoft-backed startup called Musk’s claims frivolous. But on Monday blog post she said she is asking the court to designate the case as complex and obtain special case management for him because it involves artificial intelligence and his claims date back almost 10 years.

In his complaint, Musk mentioned that regarding OpenAI’s 2017 plan to create a for-profit organization, he told Brockman, Altman and OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutzkever to “[e]either go do something yourself or continue with OpenAI as a non-profit organization.”

OpenAI said in its March 6 filing that if the case were to come to light, the evidence would show that Musk agreed with the startup acquiring a for-profit structure.

Musk has his own AI lab called X.AI, which released a chatbot called Grok that is accessible through X, formerly known as Twitter, which Musk acquired in 2022. The startup will release Grok’s code under an open source license this week , Musk said in an X post on Monday.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT has 100 million weekly users as of November.

“Seeing the remarkable technological progress that OpenAI has made, Musk now wants that success for himself,” OpenAI’s filing says. “So he brings this suit, accusing the defendants of breaching a contract that never existed and duties that Musk never owed, seeking relief calculated to favor a competitor of OpenAI.”

WATCHING: Sam Altman rejoins OpenAI’s board of directors