Title:
Storage system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage system is provided especially for planar items, and in particular for optical discs. The system includes a number of sleeves for receiving the items, eg CDs, VCDs, DVDs, and each sleeve is formed with a T-shaped projecting member that is used to allow the sleeves to be removably attached to a receiving member. The receiving member may be provided within a case, or box like container for the discs, or the receiving member may be provided without any such container.



Inventors:
Saw, Lip Boon (Stanley, HK)
Application Number:
10/357347
Publication Date:
08/14/2003
Filing Date:
02/04/2003
Assignee:
LEPI China Limited, Hong Kong SAR
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/312, G9B/33.014
International Classes:
G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FERNSTROM, KURT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BURNS, DOANE, SWECKER & MATHIS, L.L.P. (P.O. Box 1404, Alexandria, VA, 22313-1404, US)
Claims:
1. A storage system, comprising a plurality of holding means for holding items to be stored, each said holding means being provided with a T-shaped member projecting therefrom, and a receiving member for receiving said T-shaped members of said holding means.

2. A storage system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said system further comprises a container for housing said items, and wherein said receiving member is provided within said container.

3. A system as claimed in claim 2 wherein said container is formed of upper and lower halves, wherein the receiving member is located within the lower half of said container.

4. A storage system as claimed in any of claims 1 to 3 wherein said items to be stored are generally planar and said holding means comprise a plurality of sleeves.

5. A system as claimed in claim 4 wherein said sleeves are generally circular and said T-shaped member is attached to a respective sleeve at a circumferential portion of said sleeve.

6. A system as claimed in claim 5 wherein said T-shaped member comprises a neck portion extending radially from said sleeve, and a head portion that is parallel to a line tangent to the circumference of said sleeve.

7. A system as claimed in claim 6 wherein said T-shaped further comprises an arcuate portion having a radius of curvature approximately the same as the radius of the sleeve.

8. A system as claimed in any of claims 5 to 7 wherein said sleeve comprises two sheets of plastics material bonded together for approximately half their circumference, and unbonded together for the remainder of their circumference, and wherein said T-shaped member is fixed to said sleeve at a junction between said bonded and unbonded parts of said circumference.

9. A system as claimed in any preceding claim wherein said receiving member includes a vertical aperture for receiving said T-shaped member.

10. A system as claimed in claim 9 wherein said aperture has a width that is less than the width of a head portion of the T-shaped member.

11. A sleeve for holding an optical disc, wherein said sleeve comprises a T-shaped member projecting therefrom, and wherein said T-shaped member is adapted to be received within a receiving member for storage of said optical disc.

12. A sleeve as claimed in claim 11 wherein said sleeve is generally circular and said T-shaped member is attached to said respective sleeve at a circumferential portion of said sleeve.

13. A sleeve as claimed in claim 12 wherein said T-shaped member comprises a neck portion extending radially from said sleeve, and a head portion that is parallel to a line tangent to the circumference of said sleeve.

14. A sleeve as claimed in claim 13 wherein said T-shaped further comprises an arcuate portion having a radius of curvature approximately the same as the radius of the sleeve.

15. A sleeve as claimed in any of claims 12 to 14 wherein said sleeve comprises two sheets of plastics material bonded together for approximately half their circumference, and unbonded together for the remainder of their circumference, and wherein said T-shaped member is fixed to said sleeve at a junction between said bonded and unbonded parts of said circumference.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a storage system, and in particular though not exclusively to a system for the storage of generally planar items such as optical discs and the like, and in particular to a mechanism for retaining in place optical disc holding sleeves within an optical disc container. The invention further relates to an optical disc holding container provided with such a retaining mechanism

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Optical discs, such as audio compact discs (CDs), video compact discs (VCDs), digital versatile discs (DVDs) and CD-ROMs have achieved widespread popularity in both professional and business environments, and also for domestic uses. Audio CDs are now the preferred form of recording for music, while VCDs and DVDs are becoming increasingly popular for video recordings. Furthermore DVDs and CD-ROMs are now very frequently used for software and computer-readable data in view of their high data storage capacity and their high reliability.

[0003] Some problems remain, however, with the storage of optical discs. While optical discs are fairly robust, they can be damaged and need to be protected when not in use. Conventionally optical discs are sold with each optical disc being received within a single plastics case (often called a “jewel case”). Such cases are effective to protect the discs, but they are usually several times thicker than the disc itself and thus when a number of discs and associated jewel cases are involved, they start to take up a significant amount of space. This can be a problem, for example, when storing discs on a shelf, or indeed when it is desired to carry a number of discs when travelling.

[0004] In view of these difficulties a number of alternative storage arrangements have been proposed. Often such arrangements involve the use of plastic sleeves for receiving the discs, with the sleeves then being retained within some form of outer housing. For example, one well-known system is arranged in the manner of a book or album, with “pages” bearing plastic sleeves for receiving the discs all held within a relatively hard outer cover. In this way such a system is similar to a photograph album. This type of system is quite effective for holding a large number of discs, but if one is only concerned with holding a smaller number of discs, then such “albums” are too large and would involve too much wasted space. Furthermore such “albums” are not very flexible in terms of the number of discs that they can store, which is usually fixed by the number of pages and the number of discs per page.

[0005] Another known storage mechanism includes individual plastics sleeves for holding one or two discs and which can be removeably inserted into an outer casing or receptacle. One such known design includes square sleeves adapted to hold two discs separated by an inner sheet. One edge of the sleeve is formed with a relatively wide plastics edging in which is formed two L-shaped cut-out portions for engaging a receiving mechanism formed on the “spine” of the outer casing which is formed in the manner of the front and back covers of a book. The disc receiving sleeves are therefore similar to pages of a book that can be removed and replaced.

PRIOR ART

[0006] Other examples of known storage systems are to be found in EP0949628A, U.S. Pat. No. 6,012,575, U.S. Pat. No. 5,495,953, U.S. Pat. No. 4,327,831 and FR2744555.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,495,953, for example, discloses a system for storage of CDs and the like while they are still received within their jewel cases. In this example each jewel case is received within a holder element that in turn is attached via a pivot journal to a profiled section. Such a system does allow a number of CD jewel cases to be stored, and allows the jewel cases to be easily inspected so that a user can identify a desired disc. However, since the discs are retained within the jewel cases, and the holder elements are inevitably wider than the jewel cases, this system certainly does not help with the space problems encountered when storing large numbers of discs. Indeed a system of this type would aggravate the space problems. FR2744555A describes a similar system except that in this document the holder elements are formed with elongate projections of a circular cross-section and which may be received within corresponding circular grooves spaced at regular angular intervals around a column. Again while this system allows CD jewel cases to be stored and easily inspected, it certainly does not solve any space-related storage problems.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 4,327,831 is an older system designed in particular for storing gramophone discs where it is essential to ensure that the playing surface of the disc avoids contact with any surface of the storage means so as to prevent damage. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,327,831 a relatively container structure is described that can hold a gramophone record without the playing surface contacting the container. The container is formed with a protruding portion that extends for the full width of the container, and the protruding portion can be received by a male-female connector that allow a number of such containers to be assembled in a “book-like” manner.

[0009] None of the prior art proposals is entirely without drawbacks of one form or another, and thus it is an object of the present invention to provide another solution to the problem of providing space-efficient, simple and reliable storage of optical discs that mitigates the problems with the prior art, or which at least provides a useful alternative.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] According to the present invention there is provided a storage system, comprising a plurality of holding means for holding items to be stored, each said holding means being provided with a T-shaped member projecting therefrom, and a receiving member for receiving said T-shaped members of said holding means.

[0011] In one embodiment the system may further comprise a container for housing the items being stored and the receiving member may be provided within the container. Alternatively, however, the receiving member may be provided without any associated container, for example as part of a computer desk or other item of furniture.

[0012] Where a container is provided for housing the items, it may be formed of upper and lower halves, with the receiving member being provided in the lower half.

[0013] In preferred embodiments of the invention, the items to be stored are generally planar items such as optical discs, documents, photographs or the like, and the holding means may then comprise a sleeve.

[0014] Preferably such sleeves are generally circular and the T-shaped member is attached to a respective sleeve at a circumferential portion of the sleeve.

[0015] Preferably the T-shaped member comprises a neck portion extending radially from the sleeve, and a head portion that is parallel to a line tangent to the circumference of the sleeve. More preferably still the T-shaped member further comprises an arcuate portion having a radius of curvature approximately the same as the radius of the sleeve. The sleeve may be formed of two sheets of plastics material bonded together for approximately half their circumference, and unbonded together for the remainder of their circumference, and the T-shaped member may be fixed to the sleeve at a junction between the bonded and unbonded parts of the circumference.

[0016] In a preferred arrangement the receiving member includes a vertical aperture for receiving said T-shaped member, and the aperture has a width that is less than the width of a head portion of the T-shaped member.

[0017] Preferably the disc container is generally circular in plan, though other shapes are also possible.

[0018] The invention also extends to a sleeve for holding an optical disc, wherein said sleeve comprises a T-shaped member projecting therefrom, and wherein said T-shaped member is adapted to be received within a receiving member for storage of the optical disc.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] Some embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:-

[0020] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a sleeve for holding an optical disc but with the T-shaped attachment member removed for the sake of clarity,

[0021] FIG. 2 is a plan view similar to FIG. 1 but including the attachment member,

[0022] FIG. 3 is a plan view of the T-shaped attachment member,

[0023] FIGS. 4(a) and (b) are front and side views of a sleeve receiving member, and

[0024] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] Referring firstly to FIG. 1, there is shown a plastics sleeve 1 for holding at least one optical disc. The sleeve 1 is formed of two circular sheets of plastics material each slightly larger than an optical disc. The sheets are bonded together around their circumference for approximately 180° but are left unbonded for the remaining 180° so that a disc can be inserted into and removed from the sleeve. It will be understood that the circumferential extent that is not bonded needs to be large enough that a disc can be inserted into the sleeve and removed therefrom, but not so large that a disc would be likely to unintentionally fall out of the sleeve.

[0026] In FIGS. 1 and 2 the left side 2 of the sleeve as viewed in the Figures is bonded together, while the right side 3 is left unbonded. While in this embodiment the sleeve is circular, that is not essential and the sleeve could for example be square or any other convenient shape.

[0027] Preferably the sleeve is adapted to hold two discs. This can be achieved by bonding between the two outer plastics sheet a dividing sheet made of a suitably soft but strong material. The two outer plastics sheets are preferably both transparent so that the discs within can be seen. If the sleeve is designed to hold only one disc, then of course only one of the plastics sheets needs to be transparent. An aperture 4 may be provided in each plastics sheet I such that a user can contact a disc located therein to assist in removal of the disc from the sleeve.

[0028] As shown in FIG. 1, at the 12 o'clock position where the bonded and unbonded sides of the sleeve meet, the sleeve 1 is formed with a small projection 5 the function of which will be seen from the following description of FIGS. 2 and 3. In FIG. 3 there is shown a T-shaped attachment member 6 which is in the form of a generally planar piece of plastics material. Compared to the sleeves, however, this attachment member 6 is formed of a somewhat stiffer and slightly more rigid plastics material. In particular attachment member 6 is formed with an arcuate portion 7, and a T-shaped portion formed of neck portion 8 and head portion 9. As shown in FIG. 2, the attachment member 6 is bonded to one side of the sleeve 1 at the 12 o'clock position. The arcuate portion 7 is generally of the same radius of curvature as the radius of the sleeve so that the attachment member 6 fits smoothly to the curve of the sleeve. The projecting portion 5 of the sleeve is positioned underneath at least a part of the neck portion 8 to provide a degree of reinforcement thereof, though this is not essential. Thus, as shown in FIG. 2, the T formed by the neck and head portions 8, 9 extends at right angles from a tangent formed at the 12 o'clock position where the bonded and unbonded halves of the sleeve circumference meet. It will also be understood that T-shaped portion lies in the same plane as the sleeve.

[0029] The function of the attachment member 6 is to allow the sleeve 1 to be releasably attached to a receiving member 10 which in turn may be fitted within a larger CD container. An example of a receiving member 10 is shown in front and side views in FIGS. 4(a) and (b). The receiving member 10 is molded from a strong plastics material and is formed as an inverted T-shaped member with a vertical portion 11 projecting upwardly from a horizontal base portion 12. Vertical portion 11 is further formed with a vertical aperture 13, and as shown in particular in FIG. 4(b) the top of the vertical portion 11 is bent towards the horizontal.

[0030] The horizontal base portion 12 of the receiving member 10 is designed to allow the receiving member 10 to be fixed to the interior of a case, box or other like receptacle for receiving a number of sleeves each housing one or more discs. To this end the base portion 12 may be formed with two fixing holes 14 by means of which the receiving member 10 may be secured in place by any suitable manner.

[0031] The vertical aperture 13 formed in the vertical portion 11 of the receiving member 10 has a width that is less than that of the head portion 9 of the T-shaped attachment member 6. It will thus be understood that the receiving member 10 is able to receive and releasably hold a number of sleeves 1. A sleeve 1 may simply be attached to the receiving member 10 by turning the sleeve on its side so that the head 9 of the attachment member 6 may pass though the vertical aperture 13. The sleeve 1 is then turned back to a horizontal position so that the head 9 of the T-shaped attachment member is securely held in place with the neck portion 8 extending through the vertical aperture 13, and with the head portion 9 held on the other side of the vertical portion 11 from the sleeve 1. The sleeve can, of course, easily be removed by simply reversing this sequence. Furthermore, because the vertical portion 11 bends over towards the horizontal at its free upper end, sleeves 1 cannot become accidentally detached from the receiving member 10.

[0032] As mentioned above, the receiving member 10 is adapted to be fixed to the interior of a case, box or the like that is to house the discs. Although the invention is by no means limited to this possibility, one preferred possibility, shown in FIG. 5, is that the case or the like could be a generally circular box formed of two rigid halves 15, 16 hinged together by a hinge 17 and each half having a diameter just slightly greater than the sleeves 1. The receiving member 10 could then be secured to an interior side wall of the lower of the two box halves forming the case and adjacent the hinge connection of the two halves.

[0033] Another possibility, however, is that the receiving member could be formed independently of any case, box or the like. For example the receiving member could simply be provided in its own right as part of a storage system. For example, the receiving member could be formed as an integral part of a desk for storing computer discs, or could be formed as part of a furniture unit, hi-fi unit, television unit or the like for storing audio CDs, VCDs or DVDs. In such a situation, the receiving member may be comparatively longer than in the example described above in which the receiving member must be located within a case. Indeed it is a particular advantage of the present invention that the same storage system can be used for storing optical discs in a semi-permanent or fixed manner in a home or office in situations where a case or box for housing the discs is not necessary, and at the same time can be used to store discs in a protective case or box, for example when travelling. By means of the common T-shaped projection and receiving member storage system, a sleeve holding one or more discs can easily be interchanged from a semi-permanent home or office storage system which may not require a case or box, to a storage system incorporated within such a case or box for travelling purposes.

[0034] The sleeve(s), T-shaped portion, and receiving member may of course be made of any suitable materials, and in many cases this would be a plastics material. However, where the receiving member is to be formed as part of, for example, an item of furniture as discussed above and thus where the receiving member may be more visible, it may be made of a higher quality and more aesthetically pleasing material such as wood or metal.

[0035] It will also be understood that while the invention is particularly suitable for the storage of optical discs and the like, it could also be used for the storage of other items, such as documents, photographs, and credit cards. In general terms the system could in particular be used to store any form of generally planar item. However, it is also possible that the invention could be used to store non-planar items provided that they could be received within a sleeve, of that the sleeve were replaced by a different form of holding means adapted to hold that particular type of item but still provided with the T-shaped member.





 
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