Making Computer Connections Easy: USB Inventor Ajay V. Bhatt Nominated for the 2013 European Inventor Award

May 02, 2013, 14:23 ET from European Patent Office (EPO)

MUNICH, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Ajay V. Bhatt & team nominated for European "Technology Oscar"
  • Honouring invention of Universal Serial Bus (USB)
  • USB plug and protocol have become industry standard
  • USB replaced competing plug designs, made plug-and-play a reality
  • 10 billion USB-equipped devices make it one of world's most important computer technologies
  • Intel Corporation was granted first patent in 1997
  • USB Implementers Forum today allows to use technology without royalties
  • "One of the most revolutionary advances in computing since the development of the silicon chip" says Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office

Ajay V. Bhatt, the Indian-born US researcher who led a team of computer experts at Intel that developed USB technology, has been nominated for the European Inventor Award 2013. The award is Europe's most important prize for innovation and is presented annually by the European Patent Office (EPO) to outstanding innovators in five categories for their contributions to technological, social and economic progress.

Ajay V. Bhatt has been nominated in the category "Non-European Countries", together with his team consisting of Shaun Knoll, Jeff Charles Morriss, Shelagh Callahan, and Sudershan Bala Cadambi.

The 2013 winners in all categories will be announced at a ceremony in Amsterdam on 28 May in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Bhatt's achievement: Making easy computer connections "universal"

"Working as team leader of a group that created and patented USB technology, Intel computer expert Ajaj V. Bhatt helped greatly simplify the way we interact with computers today. His work constitutes one of the most revolutionary advances in computing since the development of the silicon chip", said Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office, at the announcement of the nominations.  

Prior to the invention of USB, computers relied on a number of drivers to communicate with peripherals, and the commands sent by these drivers were frequently in conflict with each other.

Cumbersome installation of printer at home triggered invention

While installing a printer for his wife, Bhatt became frustrated with the process of reconfiguring and rebooting the computer, and of the maze of ports and plugs he had to negotiate on the back of the machine.

Taking his inspiration from the common electrical wall outlet, Bhatt decided to create a connection interface that would recognize and run new devices automatically when they were plugged into a computer. The idea of the Universal Serial Bus was born: The USB interface works by 'translating' the different signals from peripherals and delivering them into one centralized message stream to the computer's operating system.    

Societal and economic benefits

Now found in billions of computer products the world over, USB not only allows users to more easily connect devices, such as webcams, smartphones and even complex scientific instruments to their computers. It also streamlines work for hardware and software developers.

Attaching a price tag to this invention is nearly impossible because USB is not marketed and sold as a product but used as a standard in the computer industry. However, shipments of roughly 10 billion USB-equipped devices have helped it become one of the world's most important computer technologies.

USB, standards and patents

Intel Corporation was granted a patent on USB technology in 1997, but the protocol system was created in conjunction with six other companies. All holders of essential patents relating to the USB technology standard have combined their patents into one pool called USB Implementers. This organisation allows other companies to license USB patents without having to pay royalties. Implementers, who use the USB standard, are free to create products that support the standard without fear of lawsuit from the patent holders.  

For more details about the European Inventor Award 2013, including photographs and videos of the inventors, please visit

Press Contacts:
European Patent Office
Oswald Schröder
Tel.: +49-89-2399-1800

Rainer Osterwalder
Deputy spokesperson
Tel: +49-89-23-99-1820

Shepard Fox Communications
Maria Diviney
Tel.: +44-2033-184491

SOURCE European Patent Office (EPO)