BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention is directed to a case for storing and handling thin flat products, such as CDs (compact discs), DVDs (digital versatile disc), video game discs, etc., particularly for front-loading applications, i.e., computers.
One of the most common storage cases for CDs is a “jewel case” which is formed by two pivotally connected plastic members, each of a generally square or polygonal outline. One of the plastic members is a case cover and the other is a case body or housing having a central stylus or projection for receiving and locating a compact disc relative to the case body. The case cover is pivoted to the case housing by a hinge in a conventional manner for opening and closing the case to access the CD therein. Opposite side edges of the case body are relieved to allow a user to manually grip edges of the CD to grip the CD for manipulation, such as inserting the CD into a front-loading computer or inserting the CD back into the “jewel case.” The latter manipulation requires the use of two hands, one hand for holding the “jewel case” and the other for gripping and manipulating the CD. Using two hands is disadvantageous for many reasons, particularly when associated with loading and unloading CDs relative to use during the driving of a motor vehicle. However, irrespective of the use environment, the very fact that the CD must be manually grasped and manipulated is undesired because of the potential finger/hand contact with the recorded portion of the CD.
Recognizing the undesirability of handling CDs and utilizing two hands for CD manipulation, efforts have been made to construct compact disc cases or holders with ejection mechanisms, such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,590,768 in the name of Hilton et al. Other compact disc cases or storage devices which include loading and unloading mechanisms include U.S. Pat. No. 6,341,119 B1 in the name of Ezawa et al.; U.S. Pat. No, 5,334,904 in the name of Kramer; U.S. Pat. No. 4,520,470 in the name of Alayer de Costomore de Arc; U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,283,281 and 6,450,331, each in the name of Pandolph et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 6,467,616 in the name of Hegarty et al. The latter patents and the following listed patents were found during a search of the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:
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| ||4,694,957 ||Ackeret |
| ||4,705,166 ||Ackeret |
| ||4,771,883 ||Herr et al. |
| ||5,000,316 ||Lerner |
| ||5,265,721 ||Castritis |
| ||5,495,939 ||Castritis |
| ||5,574,716 ||Uchida |
| ||5,590,769 ||Lin |
| ||5,593,031 ||Uchjida |
| ||5,662,216 ||Nesbitt et al. |
| ||5,676,246 ||Gloger |
| ||5,695,053 ||Koh et al. |
| ||5,706,939 ||Yu |
| ||5,799,783 ||Cheris et al. |
| ||5,819,930 ||Yu |
| ||5,881,872 ||Frick |
| ||5,936,935 ||Hanakawa et al. |
| ||5,944,180 ||Koh et al. |
| ||5,954,197 ||Bitzig et al. |
| ||5,984,093 ||Frick |
| ||5,984,094 ||Frick |
| ||6,024,214 ||Cowan |
| ||6,032,794 ||Yu |
| ||6,036,008 ||Hutton |
| ||6,070,722 ||Ng |
| ||6,182,825 B1 ||Butcher |
| ||6,600,541 ||Yu |
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- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Though the latter identified related prior art is reflective of compact disc cases, none individually or collectively disclose an extremely low cost case for storing compact discs which can be readily manipulated such that a compact disc can be inserted in and removed from a chamber of the case and/or a utilization device (computer) by an individual using but a single hand absent tactile contact with the compact disc.
In keeping with the present invention, a novel compact disc/CD case is provided in the form of a relatively flat and narrow housing have an exit/entry opening along one edge thereof. A CD chamber is defined by two substantially intimately adjacent walls of a first or major case housing or body of the CD case, each having a substantially U-shaped slot, opening, cutout or notch opening through and/or in part defining the narrow exit/entry opening of the chamber. Another second or minor case housing or body of the CD case in the form of a handle is defined by two walls which are pivotally connected to each other and between which is grasped an edge of a compact disc. The configuration of two edges of the two walls of the handle complement the U-shaped opening of the CD case first case body which allows the handle to be slid into and out of the U-shaped slot which likewise effects insertion and removal of a CD gripped by the handle when inserted into or removed from the exit/entry opening of the first case body. While the CD is still gripped by the handle which is in turn gripped by the user, the user can transport the CD to an appropriate utilization device, such as a computer, CD player, etc. Upon inserting the CD into the utilization device, the handle pressure is released, the handle is withdrawn, and the CD is drawn into the utilization device absent any tactile contact. After ejection from the utilization device, the handle is again utilized to grip a peripheral edge portion of the CD to withdraw the same from the utilization device and again, absent tactile contact, reintroduced into the first case body with the handle seated complementary within the U-shaped slot thereof. When thus assembled with the handle and the CD retained in the first case body, the CD case can be appropriately stored in any conventional CD storage rack. In this manner the handle forms a portion of the case in the storage mode of operation of the case and CD, yet through single hand manipulation the handle and CD can be appropriately manipulated without tactile contact of the CD during relative transport of the CD to and from and/or between the CD case and/or first case body and the utilization device.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
With the above and other objects in view that will hereinafter appear, the nature of the invention will be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description, the appended claims and the several views illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a case for storing and handling articles, such as compact discs, absent tactile contact, and illustrates first major and second minor case housings, bodies or members which collectively define a narrow chamber for a compact disc with one of the case members defining a handle for gripping a peripheral edge of the compact disc.
FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the case of FIG. 1, and illustrates the handle gripping a peripheral edge portion of an associated compact disc prior to insertion into or after withdrawal of the compact disc from a narrow chamber of the first or major housing.
FIG. 3 is an exploded top perspective view of the case, including the major and minor case members thereof, and illustrates the manner in which the major housing member is formed of two pieces snap-secured together and the minor housing member is formed of two pieces pivotally connected together and normally biased by a spring to an open position.
FIG. 4 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view taken generally along line 4-4 of FIG. 1, but illustrates the handle and compact disc only partially inserted into the chamber of the major case body.
FIG. 5, which appears on the sheet of drawing containing FIG. 3, is an enlarged fragmentary exploded cross-sectional view taken generally along line 5-5 of FIG. 3, and illustrated tongues and slots of the major housing bodies for interconnecting the same to form the unitized first compact disc case or housing.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6, which appears on the sheet of drawing containing FIG. 1, is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally along line 6-6 of FIG. 1, and illustrates protuberances of pivotally connected handle members of the handle frictionally engaging inner surfaces of opposite walls of the major case housing to frictionally retain the major and minor case housings in assembled relationship.
A housing or case 10 for storing and handling a substantially thin, flat, circular article A, such as compact disc, CD-rom, DVD, for utilization with front-load computers, video games, CD car players, etc., absent tactile contact or hand contact with the user thereof, is best illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 of the drawings. The compact disc A includes means M upon at least one surface thereof for generating audio and/or video when associated with a utilization device, such as a computer.
The case 10 includes first means 11 in the form of a major or first housing, member or body for defining a relatively narrow chamber or major chamber C having a narrow exit/entry opening O through which can pass the article A, such as a compact disc of a generally annular configuration defined by an outer circumferential edge Ce and an inner circular opening O1.
The case or housing 10 is further defined by second means 12 in the form of a minor or second housing member, body or handle which performs the dual function of gripping the article A adjacent the circumferential edge Ce thereof absent tactile contact (FIGS. 2 and 4) and closing the case 10 (FIG. 1).
The first or major housing, member or body 11 of the case 10 is defined by two substantially identically contoured injection molded plastic material walls 21, 22.
The wall 21 of the first case member 11 includes a centrally located slot or recess 23 (FIG. 3) of a generally U-shaped configuration which terminates at a front edge 24 having opposite ends ending at a downwardly directed peripheral wall 25 having a semi-cylindrical wall portion 26. The wall 22 likewise includes a generally U-shaped slot or recess 33 (FIG. 3) opening through an edge 34 having ends merging with an upwardly directed peripheral wall 35 having a semi-cylindrical peripheral wall portion 36. A narrow upwardly projecting locating rib 37 of the peripheral wall 35 extends from the corner (unnumbered) defined by the edge 34 and the peripheral wall 35 (FIG. 3) to a mid point (unnumbered) of the semi-cylindrical wall portion 36. An upwardly opening locating channel 38 extends from a right corner (unnumbered) of the edge 34 and the peripheral wall 35 (FIG. 3) to and along the peripheral wall 36 to a mid point of the semi-cylindrical wall portion 36. The upwardly projecting locating rib 37 of the wall 22 (FIG. 3) opposes a downwardly opening locating channel 28 of the wall 21 and the upwardly opening locating channel 38 of the wall 22 similarly opposes a downwardly projecting locating rib 27 (FIG. 3) of the wall 28. When the walls 21, 22 are properly aligned incident to assembly thereof, the locating ribs 27, 37 are seated within the locating channels 28, 38, respectively, as is best illustrated in FIG. 1 of the drawings.
Six identical means 40 (FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 5) are collectively defined by the walls 21, 22 for snap-securing and retaining the walls 21, 22 in the assembled relationship thereof (FIGS. 1, 2 and 4). The securing means 40 are defined by three identical tongues 41, each having a latching nose 42 (FIG. 5) which project into a tongue-receiving opening 43 beyond which is a latching surface 44 against which each latching tongue latches when the walls 21, 22 are fully assembled. During such assembly, the latching tongues 41 are biased inward as each latching nose 42 progressively passes through the tongue-receiving opening 43 until a point is reached at which each nose 42 rebounds into engagement with each associated latching surface 44, as can be readily visualized in FIG. 5. As is most evident from FIG. 3, three latching tongues 41 and three tongue-receiving openings 43 are associated with each wall 21, 22.
Interior surfaces (unnumbered) of the walls 21, 22 may preferably include a plurality of shallow, generally parallel, ribs 59 along which the article or compact disc A can slide during the insertion and removal thereof relative to the chamber C to preclude surface damage to the compact disc A, particularly with respect to the surface thereof having information M electronically stored thereupon. The ribs 59 are placed on the inner surfaces of both walls 21, 22 to prevent or reduce such damage to the compact disc A no matter which side thereof is adjacent either of the walls 21, 22.
The second or minor housing, member or body 12 of the case 10 is defined in part by walls or handle members 61, 62 (FIGS. 1-4) having respective peripheral edges 63, 64 imparting a generally outer frusto-conical configuration to each of the handle members 61, 62. The handle members 61, 62 define therebetween a relatively narrow minor chamber CM within which is housed a peripheral edge portion of the article A (FIGS. 2 and 4). A generally U-shaped wall 65, 66 of the respective handle members 61, 62 corresponds in configuration to the U-shaped slots or recesses 23, 33 of the walls 21, 22 of the first case member 11. Outboard of each U-shaped wall 65, 66 are four projections 70 (FIG. 3) located at each corner (unnumbered) of each handle member 61, 62 and inboard of each U-shaped wall 65, 66 are a plurality of relatively closely adjacent groups of gripping ribs 71, 72. The projections 70 of each of the handle members 61, 62 align with and are received in shallow recesses 50 (FIGS. 1, 3 and 6) of the walls 21, 22 of the first case member 11 for retaining the case members 11, 12 in the assembled or unified relationship or position which is best illustrated in FIG. 1 of the drawings. Means 75 in the form of a shallow curved relatively soft non-marring friction material or friction means (FIG. 3) are located along an innermost surface (unnumbered) adjacent an innermost edge 79 of each of the handle members 61, 62 for increase the frictional purchase of the case member 12 when utilized as a handle or clamp during manipulation of the compact disc A, as will be described more fully hereinafter.
A generally U-shaped metal spring 76 having legs 77, 78 each provided with an opening 89 is located between the handle members 61, 62 with a locating projection 81, 82 (FIG. 4) of the respective handle members 61, 62 being received in each openings 89 of the legs 77, 78. A plurality of hubs 84 each having a cylindrical bore 85 project respectively upwardly and downwardly (FIG. 3) from the handle members 62, 61 and a hinge pin 86 passes through all of the cylindrical bores 85 and between the legs 77, 78 of the U-shaped spring 76 (FIG. 4) to bias the edges 79 of the handle member 61, 62 carrying the friction material 75 toward each other into abutting relationship in the absence of the compact disc A and into gripping engagement with the compact disc A when located therebetween (FIGS. 2 and 4). If the compact disc A is clamped between the handle members 61, 62 of the minor case member 12 when the latter is fully inserted into the U-shaped slots 23, 33 (FIGS. 1 and 6) with the U-shaped walls 65, 66 seated thereagainst, the projections or protuberances 70 are engaged in the shallow recesses 50 (FIGS. 1 and 6) to retain the two case members 11, 12 of the case 10 fully closed. In this condition the case 10 and the associated compact disc A can be appropriately stored.
In order to remove the compact disc A from the compartment C, the user need but grip the handle or clamping member 12, preferably at the gripping ribs 71 of both handle members 61, 62, apply pressure thereto which disengages the projections 70 from the shallow recesses 50 and permits the handle 12 and the now-gripped compact disc A to be removed from the chamber C, as is illustrated in FIG. 2. While still gripping the handle or clamp 12, the user can insert the exposed portion of the compact disc A (FIG. 2) into an appropriate utilization device, such as a computer, laptop, video game, CD car player, absent tactile/finger contact with the compact disc A. Upon such insertion, the user presses the ribs 72, 72 of the handle members 61, 62 toward each other raising the opposite ends or edges 79, 79 of the handle members 61, 62 adjacent the friction material 75, 75 to free the compact disc A for utilization. Upon utilization and ejection of the compact disc A, the handle 12 is again gripped and the ribs 72, 72 are depressed or squeezed to open the opposite end of the handle 12 at the edges 79, 79 to facilitate the introduction of the compact disc A between the handle members 61, 62 after which the gripping ribs 72, 72 are released and the gripping ribs 71, 71 are pressed toward each other to assure the compact disc A is gripped between the anti-friction material 75, 75. Thereafter, the compact disc and the handle 12 are reinserted into the first case member 11 in the assembled condition of the case 10 illustrated in FIG. 1. In this manner an extremely inexpensive device is provided for storing and handling virtually any substantially thin and flat article, absent tactile contact therewith.
In further accordance with the present invention, the projections 70 and the recesses 50 can be eliminated and lieu thereof the opposing surfaces of the walls 21, 61 and 22, 62 can be produced in a “soft grip” synthetic plastic/copolymeric material similar to that found on grip ends of ballpoint pen housings. Such material is scratch-resistant or abrasion-resistant and since somewhat resilient and possessing a high co-efficient of friction, the anti-friction material 75, 75 can also be eliminated. The frictional grip between the walls 61, 62 and 21, 22, respectively, achieved by the construction and characteristics of the materials of these wall themselves and the tension offered by the U-shaped spring 76 is sufficient to retain the second handle or case member 12 housed within the first case member 11 with or without the compact disc A housed between the walls 61, 62.
Although a preferred embodiment of the invention has been specifically illustrated and described herein, it is to be understood that minor variations may be made in the apparatus without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined by the appended claims.