Title:
Case for a disc
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A case can hold a disc having a central hole. The case has a pair of wings, each having a surface and at least one sidewall. The wings are hinged together to swing (b) apart to articulate and cant the sidewalls, and (a) together to allow a meshing of the sidewalls. One of the wings includes a support for holding the disc.



Inventors:
Havens, Edwin (Flanders, NJ, US)
Application Number:
09/834203
Publication Date:
10/24/2002
Filing Date:
04/13/2001
Assignee:
HAVENS EDWIN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/308.1, G9B/33.011
International Classes:
G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE LAW OFFICES OF THOMAS L. ADAMS (120 EAGLE ROCK AVENUE Suite 130, EAST HANOVER, NJ, 07936, US)
Claims:
1. A case for a disc having a central hole, comprising: a pair of wings each having a surface and at least one sidewall, said wings being hinged together to swing (b) apart to articulate and cant the sidewalls, and (a) together to allow a meshing of the sidewalls, one of said wings including a support for holding said disc.

2. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of each of the wings is peripheral and transverse to the surface of its associated one of said wings.

3. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of each of the wings has a height that varies along its length.

4. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of each of the wings has a height that varies periodically along its length.

5. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of at least one of the wings has a notch.

6. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of one of the wings has at least one notch and the sidewall of the other one of the wings has at least one tooth complementary to said notch.

7. A case according to claim 6 wherein the at least one tooth is centrally located along its sidewall.

8. A case according to claim 6 wherein the at least one tooth has a peak and a pair of spaced edges on either side of said peak, at least one of said spaced edges being slanted to avoid interference when meshing with the at least one notch.

9. A case according to claim 8 wherein the slanted one of the spaced edges makes an angle of at least 10° with respect to the height of the tooth.

10. A case according to claim 8 wherein the slanted one of the spaced edges makes an angle of about 45° with respect to the height of the tooth.

11. A case according to claim 8 wherein the tooth has a trapezoidal shape.

12. A case according to claim 1 wherein the sidewall of each of the wings has at least one notch and at least one tooth, the notch and the tooth of the side wall of each wing being complementary to mesh with each other.

13. A case according to claim 1 wherein each of the wings has a rectangular outline with a hinged edge, an opposite edge opposite said hinged edge, and two adjacent edges.

14. A case according to claim 13 wherein the sidewall of each wing comprises two separate segments located along the two adjacent edges of its wing.

15. A case according to claim 1 wherein said wings are flexible.

16. A case according to claim 15 comprising a wrapper encompassing said wings to hold them closed.

17. A case according to claim 1 wherein said wings are hinged together with a live hinge.

18. A case according to claim 7 wherein said support comprises a hub sized to engage the central hole of said disc.

19. A case according to claim 18 wherein said at least one notch is located on that one of the wings having the support, said wings being joined along a hinge axis, said hub and said at least one notch having about the same radial spacing from the hinge axis.

20. A case according to claim 1 wherein said at least one notch having a depth less than the height of said hub.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to cases for holding discs, and in particular to cases that have security or tamper resistant features.

[0003] 2. Description of Related Art

[0004] A large market exists for discs that are digitally encoded with data, audio or video information. Data discs are distributed containing databases, text material, computer programs, or other forms of software. Audio discs containing music and the like are widely distributed as music CDs. New formats and technology now enable a higher density of information, so that discs can be distributed containing the video information of a full length movie. The latter discs are widely distributed as DVD discs.

[0005] Because of the relatively small size of such discs, pilferage has always been a concern. With the relatively higher purchase price of DVD discs this concern is heightened. Consequently, there is a great concern about a loss of revenue by the rights holders, disc manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

[0006] A known security method involves incorporating a separate removable security rod that is inserted into the front seam of a case holding the disc. This rod may be a passive device that can be detected if the case is removed from a store without being disabled by a clerk at the time of purchase.

[0007] This type of case is relatively expensive to manufacture, is incompatible with high-speed packaging equipment, and requires the store clerk to use a special tool in order to remove the security rod from the rest of the case. This type of security design is suitable for stores renting DVDs, but not for retail “sell through” product.

[0008] Regardless, the security rod approach can be defeated by persistent thieves. A thief can slit the shrink wrap plastic along either the top or bottom edge (edges adjacent the hinge) of the polypropylene case. Twisting of the case will cause the disc to pop off its center holding spindle. Then, the thief squeezes the front and rear of the case to widen the opening of the standard straight seam, so that the disc can be removed. The empty case is then returned to the shelf and the relatively small disc can be concealed in a pocket, etc.

[0009] In U.S. Pat. No. 5,101,971 a CD case has a lid with a projection 38 that fits into a recess on the base. While this is an interlocking arrangement, this design facilitates opening the case with one hand and is not intended for security purposes. No interlocking features exist on the other sides of the case that are most vulnerable to tampering. See also U.S. Pat. No. 4,363,403 for a videocassette storage container.

[0010] In U.S. Pat. No. 5,383,553 a jewel case for a CD has a modified hinge to prevent a thief from unfastening the hinge in order to remove the CD. The side walls of the case have cutouts but these are not security features.

[0011] In FIGS. 7A and 7B of U.S. Pat. No. 5,697,497 a user can flex case 186 to align the blocking members 180-184 and allow removal of a booklet; but this reference has no teachings on preventing unauthorized removal of a disc.

[0012] See also U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,168,991; 5,263,580, and 6,151,417.

[0013] Accordingly, there is indeed for an article of manufacture designed to prevent the unauthorized removal of discs from their case. Preferably, the article will eliminate the need for a security rod and instead will incorporate a theft deterrent feature into the case design.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] In accordance with the illustrative embodiments demonstrating features and advantages of the present invention, there is provided a case for a disc having a central hole. The case has a pair of wings, each having a surface and at least one sidewall. The wings are hinged together to swing (b) apart to articulate and cant the sidewalls, and (a) together to allow a meshing of the sidewalls. One of the wings includes a support for holding the disc.

[0015] In a preferred design a rectangular case has two wings connected together by a live hinge (although other types of hinges are contemplated). The edges of the wings adjacent the hinge have interlocking sidewalls. Preferably, the interlocking sidewalls have one or more notches that mesh with mating teeth on the opposing sidewall.

[0016] By employing a notched top and bottom seam, the interlocking pattern eliminates the straight line opening needed by a thief in order to remove a disc surreptitiously. If the case is squeezed to separate the seams adjacent the hinge, the resulting opening is serpentine. Since the disc cannot be deformed to follow this serpentine path, it cannot be removed through such an opening. Thus, the preferred case greatly reduces pilferage during distribution and retail sale. As long as the outer shrink wrap is not completely removed from the case, the disc cannot be removed either.

[0017] The interlocking notches and teeth that prevent disc removal can be incorporated into the design of the case. This theft deterrent feature does not require a security bar or other added piece. The case can be manufactured in the usual manner using the materials normally used in standard cases for discs. In the preferred embodiment, the security features are part of the mold design and can therefore be incorporated with essentially no additional cost (other than the initial mold fabrication costs). The resulting case can have the same dimensions and weight as a standard case and will therefore be compatible with existing high-speed packaging equipment

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] The above brief description as well as other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more fully appreciated by reference to the following detailed description of presently preferred but nonetheless illustrative embodiments in accordance with the present invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an open case in accordance with principles of the present invention and showing a DVD disc about to be mounted on a support at one of the two wings of the case;

[0020] FIG. 1A is a detailed, fragmentary, cross-sectional view taken a long line 1A-1A of FIG. 1

[0021] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the case of FIG. 1 closed;

[0022] FIG. 3 is an end view of one of the adjacent edges of the case of FIG. 2;

[0023] FIG. 4 is an end view of the case of FIG. 3 being squeezed to partially open the case;

[0024] FIG. 5 is a detailed view of a portion of the case of FIG. 3 opened slightly; and

[0025] FIG. 6 is a detailed view of a portion of a case that is a less desirable alternate to that of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0026] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, case 10 is designed to hold a disc 12 with a central hole 13. Disc 12 is in this instance a DVD disc, although other types of discs may be accommodated, including discs for storing data, software, audio (music CDs), etc. Case 10 has a pair of wings 14 and 16 shown with flat surfaces 14A and 16A, respectively, each having a rectangular outline bordered by sidewalls. Specifically, wing 14 has upright sidewall segments 18, 20, and 22; while wing 16 has upright sidewall segments 24, 26, and 28. Sidewall 20 is herein referred to as an opposite sidewall and forms 90° corners with adjacent sidewalls 18 and 22. Similarly, sidewall 26 is herein referred to as an opposite sidewall and forms 90° corners with adjacent sidewalls 28 and 24. (Herein, opposite and adjacent sidewalls are deemed located at opposite and adjacent edges, respectively, of the wings.) As shown in detail in FIG. 1A for sidewall 18, the sidewalls are reinforced by fill material 14B that is formed during the molding process.

[0027] Wings 14 and 16 are hinged together at spine 30, which is a substantially flat narrow strip. In the preferred embodiment, strip 30 and wings 14 and 16 (including their sidewalls) are molded as a single piece with the interface between spine 30 and the wings formed as live hinges 30A and 30B. Live hinges 30A and 30B each provide separate hinge axes but are comprehensively referred to herein as a hinged edge offering a single hinge axis for the wings 14 and 16.

[0028] In some embodiments the wings 14 and 16 may be separate pieces that snap together using integral stubs and cavities (not shown) that work as a hinge. Alternatively, one or more separate pins can be used to hinge the wings together. In some embodiments a transparent cover (not shown) may be secured to the outside of case 10 by heat sealing along the opposite edges of wings 14 and 16. If this cover is not sealed along the adjacent edges, then descriptive or promotional material can be easily inserted between the transparent cover and the wings 14 and 16.

[0029] Wing 16 has an annular embossment 34 that serves as a circular platform to subjacently support disc 12. Embossment 34 is truncated alongside sidewall 26 to provide clearance. Embossment 34 also has a pair of diametrically opposed recesses 34 providing finger clearance to facilitate lifting of disc 12 off embossment 34.

[0030] Centered within embossment 34 is a support, shown as hub 36. In this embodiment hub 36 is a trio of radially aligned, L-shaped clips 36A designed to latch into central hole 13 of disc 12. In this embodiment, central button 36B is connected by live hinges to clips 36A. Depression of button 36B deflects clips 36A to release disc 12, which is then pushed away from the clips by a trio of radially aligned, cantilevered spring arms 36C. It will be appreciated that a number of well-known supports exist that can hold disc 12 at its central hole 13. Accordingly, the design specifics of support 36 can be freely varied without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0031] In the illustrated embodiment, support 36 as well as embossment 34 are integrally molded together as part of wing 16. Nevertheless, in some embodiments support 36 and embossment 34 may be one or more separate components. For example, embossment 34 and support 36 may be integrally molded as an insert panel that is sized to fit within the confines of sidewalls 24, 26, and 28, without interfering with the action of live hinge 30B. This insert panel may provide a false floor to wing 16 and may be held in place by a snap action, force fit, gluing, etc. As an example of this type of insert arrangement, see U.S. Pat. No. 5,383,553.

[0032] Opposite sidewalls 20 and 26 have an even height in this embodiment. The other sidewalls 18, 22, 24, and 28 have a height that varies over the length of each sidewall segment. For the illustrated embodiment the height of each sidewall varies periodically, and 1½ cycles or periods are illustrated; although a different number of cycles (or fraction of a cycle) may be used in different embodiments.

[0033] In this embodiment sidewalls 18, 22, 24, and 28 have a number of notches and teeth to enable these sidewalls to interlock or mesh. Specifically, sidewall 18 has a central tooth 42 bordered on either side by notches 38 and 40; sidewalls 22 has a central tooth 48 bordered on either side by notches 44 and 46; sidewall 24 has a central notch 50 bordered on either side by teeth 52 and 54; and sidewall 28 has a central notch 56 bordered on either side by teeth 58 and 60. Tooth 42 (FIG. 3) is typical of the other teeth in that it has a flat peak 42A flanked on either side by spaced edges 42B and 42C. Tooth 42 is also typical in that its spaced edges 42B and 42C are at an angle of 45° with respect to the height of the tooth 42 (in this case, with respect to a line perpendicular to flat peak 42A). Consequently, tooth 42, if considered a component existing along a specific height interval, may be deemed to have a trapezoidal shape. As described further hereinafter, the spaced edges of the teeth can be steeper in some alternate embodiments.

[0034] Notch 50 is typical of the other notches in that it has a flat floor 50A flanked on either side by spaced edges 50B and 50C. Notch 50 is also typical in that its spaced edges 50B and 50C are at an angle of 45° with respect to the depth of the notch 50 (in this embodiment, with respect to a line perpendicular to flat floor 50A). In particular, notch 50 and tooth 42 have complementary, trapezoidal shapes enabling them to freely and smoothly interlock or mesh.

[0035] It will be appreciated that tooth 52 has the same profile as tooth 42 (assuming a line of demarcation is taken at the midpoint of edge 42C). Similarly, tooth 38 has the same profile as tooth 50, again assuming a line of demarcation established at the midpoint of edge 50C.

[0036] In other embodiments the shape of the notches and teeth can differ and may have an asymmetrical shape with curved edges. Also, a mating pair of notch and tooth may have a profile that is different than other nearby mating pairs. Also, while the foregoing teeth and notches abut edge to edge, in other embodiments they may overlap or interdigitate. In still other embodiments, the mating sidewalls may have a single slanted edge and therefore lack a shape that might be considered either a tooth or notch. Also the interlocking shapes just disclosed for the adjacent sidewalls may also be incorporated in the opposite sidewalls 20 and 26, in some embodiments.

[0037] To facilitate an understanding of the principles associated with the foregoing apparatus, its operation will be briefly described. Disc 12 may be snapped on to support 36 (FIG. 1) in the usual fashion. Thereafter, wings 14 can be folded along hinges 30A and 30B to close as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. As shown in FIG. 2, teeth 48, 58, and 60 mesh with notches 56, 44, and 46. As shown in FIG. 3 teeth 42, 52, and 54 mesh with notches 50, 38, and 40.

[0038] As shown in FIG. 5, tooth 54 and notch 40 have spaced edges disposed at 45° and can therefore mesh and disengage smoothly without interference. In contrast, the hypothetical design of FIG. 6 shows a tooth 54′ and notch 40′ with rectangular profiles. With this design the edge 40A′ will interfere with and jam inside notch 40′ when making the transition from a fully closed position to a fully opened position. Accordingly, it is highly desirable to angle the edges at position 40A′ to make an angle of at least 10° with respect to the height of the tooth (or depth of the notch). To facilitate automatic packaging machines, an angle greater than 10° is desirable and the previously described angle of 45° is highly suitable. By designing the notches and teeth with angled sides the present case can be closed more consistently when used with such high-speed packaging equipment. There is less chance for the notches to catch or hang up on the mating teeth because the angle of intersection is lower. In any event, these automatic packaging machines can place a wrapper 62 (FIG. 3) such as shrink wrap around all sides of the case 10.

[0039] Providing notches along the sidewalls eliminates stress points that exist with sidewalls having an even height. In particular, should a thief squeeze a case to flex and spread apart the sidewalls, the notches allow the adjacent teeth to move together. If the sidewalls had an even height, these walls would tend to buckle or crack.

[0040] Specifically, a thief may attempt to open case 10 by slitting wrapper 62 at the seam between sidewalls 18 and 24 (alternatively the opposite edge maybe slit). Next, the thief may squeeze the edges of the case 10 together along the directions indicated by arrows 64 (FIG. 4). The wings 14 and 16 are flexible, since they are typically made of plastic (for example polypropylene). Consequently, this squeezing pressure applied along directions 64 tends to bow wings 14 and 16 to open the seam as shown in FIG. 4.

[0041] In this instance, the bowing (or twisting) of wing 16 has popped disc 12 off support 36. In this extreme flexed condition, however, the tip of tooth 42 has not risen sufficiently from notch 50 to clear the tips of adjacent teeth 52 and 54. Therefore, there is no line along which disc 12 can be placed in order to remove the disc from case 10. Preferably, the strength of case 10 is such that the seam between wings 14 and 16 cannot be opened sufficiently to remove disc 12. Alternatively, some embodiments will dimension case 10 such that any attempt to squeeze the case open will eventually cause disc 12 to jam inside case 10 and thereby limit the ability to squeeze open the seam of case 10.

[0042] Additional security is provided in this embodiment in that hub 36 is at a height exceeding the depth of notch 50. Specifically, button portion 36B extends within the ambit of tooth 42 to prevent any passage of disc 12.

[0043] It is appreciated that various modifications may be implemented with respect to the above described, preferred embodiment. For example, the illustrated case can be made of a variety of materials composed of one or more components. Additionally, the dimensions of the case can be altered depending upon the size of the disc and the desire to make the case either portable or obtrusive. Furthermore, the outline of the case can be polygonal, circular, oval or have other shapes. In still other embodiments the case can have multiple wings for storing more than one disc. Moreover, some cases may have wings with non-continuous or non-flat surfaces pierced by one or more apertures for various purposes.

[0044] Obviously, many other modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.