Title:
Table with folding seats
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A picnic table may include a center table section and one or more seating members that are attached to the table section by a frame. The seat members may include a seat portion and a back portion. Advantageously, the back portion may be moved between a generally upright position in which the back portion may provide a backrest to a person sitting in the seating member and a collapsed position in which the back portion is disposed proximate to the seat portion. When in the backrest is in the collapsed position, the back portion may create a booster seat for child.



Inventors:
Ashby, Kent (Logan, UT, US)
Application Number:
10/957386
Publication Date:
06/02/2005
Filing Date:
10/02/2004
Assignee:
ASHBY KENT
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B3/00; A47B83/02; (IPC1-7): A47B3/00
View Patent Images:
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20050046246Bicycle seat assemblyMarch, 2005Shiau
20100052391Fold Flat Seat Assembly with Rearward Folding MotionMarch, 2010Hurst III et al.
20090295207CHILD RESTRAINT INCLUDING ADJUSTABLE BASEDecember, 2009Zink et al.
20070158982Fighting chair for boating big gamefish that is energy efficient and ergometricJuly, 2007Pellinen
20090072608Seat belt system and seatMarch, 2009Marriott et al.
20080197679Human Form Child Car SeatAugust, 2008Cymbalski et al.
20070252419Seating Mechanism and ChairNovember, 2007Takahashi



Primary Examiner:
CRANMER, LAURIE K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Maschoff Brennan (1389 Center Drive, Suite 300, Park City, UT, 84098, US)
Claims:
1. A picnic table comprising: a table top constructed from blow molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process; a frame connected to the table top, the frame being sized and configured to support the table top above a surface; a first seating member connected to the frame, the first seating member being constructed from blow molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process, the first seating member comprising: a lower portion; and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position; and a second seating member connected to frame, the second seating member being constructed from blow molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process, the second seating member comprising: a lower portion; and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position.

2. The picnic table as in claim 1, further comprising a contoured first surface on the back portion of the first seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a backrest when the back portion is in the generally vertical position and a contoured second surface on the back portion of the first seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a children's booster seating member when the back portion is in the generally horizontal position; and further comprising a contoured first surface on the back portion of the second seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a backrest when the back portion is in the generally vertical position and a contoured second surface on the back portion of the second seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a children's booster seat when the back portion is in the generally horizontal position.

3. The picnic table as in claim 1, further comprising: a third seating member connected to the frame, the third seating member being constructed from blow molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process, the third seating member comprising: a lower portion; and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position; and a fourth seating member connected to frame, the fourth seating member being constructed from blow molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process, the fourth seating member comprising: a lower portion; and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position.

4. The picnic table as in claim 1, wherein the first seating member allows two persons to sit at the picnic table.

5. The picnic table as in claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the back portion of the first seating member extends beyond a front edge of the lower portion of the first seating member when the back portion is in the second position; and wherein at least a portion of the back portion of the second seating member extends beyond a front edge of the lower portion of the second seating member when the back portion is in the second position.

6. The picnic table as in claim 1, wherein the back portion of the first seating member creates a higher seating position that is closer to the table top in the second position than in the first position.

7. The picnic table as in claim 1, wherein the frame includes a first generally L-shaped member that is connected to the table top and a first generally C-shaped member that is connected to the first seating member; and wherein the frame includes a second generally L-shaped member that is connected to the table top and a second generally C-shaped member that is connected to the second seating member.

8. The picnic table as in claim 7, wherein the first generally L-shaped member is connected to the first generally C-shaped member beneath the first seating member; and wherein the second generally L-shaped member is connected to the second generally C-shaped member beneath the second seating member.

9. The picnic table as in claim 1, wherein the frame includes a first generally L-shaped member that is generally disposed between a first sitting position and a second sitting position on the first seating member; and wherein the frame includes a second generally L-shaped member that is generally disposed between a first sitting position and a second sitting position on the second seating member.

10. A picnic table comprising: a table top; a frame connected to the table top; and a seating member connected to the frame, the seating member including a bottom portion and a back portion that is movable relative to the bottom portion between a first position and a second position, the back portion including a first surface that is sized and configured to form a backrest when the back portion is in the first position and a second surface that is sized and configured to create a booster seat when the back portion is in the second position.

11. The picnic table as in claim 10, wherein the first surface of the back portion includes a generally concave backrest depression and the second surface of the back portion includes a generally concave seating portion.

12. The picnic table as in claim 10, wherein the first surface of the back portion includes a plurality of generally concave backrest depressions and the second surface of the back portion includes a plurality of generally concave seating portions.

13. The picnic table as in claim 9, wherein the table top is constructed from blow molded plastic having a unitary, one-piece construction and a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process; and wherein the seating member is constructed from blow molded plastic having a unitary, one-piece construction and a hollow interior portion formed during the blow molding process.

14. A picnic table comprising: a table top; a first seating member that is sized and configured to allow at least two people to sit at the picnic table, the first seating member including a lower portion and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position; a second seating member that is sized and configured to allow at least two people to sit at the picnic table, the second seating member including a lower portion and a back portion that is movable relative to the lower portion between a first position in which the back portion is in a generally vertical position and a second position in which the back portion is in a generally horizontal position; and a frame comprising: a first generally L-shaped support member including a first end and a second end, the first end being connected to the table top; a first generally C-shaped support member connected to the first seating member and being disposed at least substantially beneath the first seating member, the first generally L-shaped support member being connected proximate a center portion of the first generally C-shaped support member; a second generally L-shaped support member including a first end and a second end, the first end being connected to the table top; and a second generally C-shaped support member connected to the second seating member and being disposed at least substantially beneath the second seating member, the second generally L-shaped support member being connected proximate a center portion of the second generally C-shaped support member.

15. The picnic table as in claim 14, further comprising a contoured first surface on the back portion of the first seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a backrest when the back portion is in the generally vertical position and a contoured second surface on the back portion of the first seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a children's booster seating member when the back portion is in the generally horizontal position; and further comprising a contoured first surface on the back portion of the second seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a backrest when the back portion is in the generally vertical position and a contoured second surface on the back portion of the second seating member that is sized and configured to be used as a children's booster seat when the back portion is in the generally horizontal position.

16. The picnic table as in claim 14, wherein the first seating member is sized and configured to allow two persons to sit at the picnic table and the second seating member is sized and configured to allow two persons to sit at the picnic table.

17. The picnic table as in claim 14, wherein at least a portion of the back portion of the first seating member extends beyond a front edge of the lower portion of the first seating member when the back portion is in the second position; and wherein at least a portion of the back portion of the second seating member extends beyond a front edge of the lower portion of the second seating member when the back portion is in the second position.

18. The picnic table as in claim 14, wherein the back portion of the first seating member creates a higher seating position that is closer to the table top in the second position than in the first position; and wherein the back portion of the second seating member creates a higher seating position that is closer to the table top in the second position than in the first position.

19. The picnic table as in claim 14, wherein the first generally L-shaped member is connected to the first generally C-shaped member beneath the first seating member; and wherein the second generally L-shaped member is connected to the second generally C-shaped member beneath the second seating member.

20. The picnic table as in claim 14, wherein the first generally L-shaped member that is generally disposed between a first sitting position and a second sitting position on the first seating member; and wherein the second generally L-shaped member that is generally disposed between a first sitting position and a second sitting position on the second seating member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/509,843, filed Oct. 8, 2003, entitled TABLE WITH FOLDING BENCH SEATS, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to furniture and, in particular, to tables.

2. Description of Related Art

Picnic tables have been used for many years and conventional picnic tables typically include a center table section with benches disposed on both sides of the center table section. The center table section typically has a rectangular configuration and the benches are normally placed along the elongated sides of the center table section. Conventional picnic tables are often sized and configured to allow four, six or eight persons to sit at the table at one time. Conventional picnic tables are also often used in outdoor locations such as backyards and parks, and picnic tables are frequently used as part of a social gathering that includes food and drinks.

It is known to use various types of materials to construct a picnic table. For example, the table top, bench tops and support legs may be constructed from materials such as wood. Wooden picnic tables, however, often quickly deteriorate because picnic tables are often exposed to elements such as sun, rain and snow. Accordingly, wooden picnic tables must be frequently painted or stained in order to protect the wood from damage. Wooden picnic tables may also need to be repaired and/or replaced if the wood begins to rot or decay. In particular, the wooden legs may begin to rot over a relatively small period of time because the legs are frequently in contact with the ground. It is also known to use metal legs to support a picnic table constructed with a wooden table top and wooden bench tops. The metal legs must be relatively large and strong to support the heavy wooden table top and bench tops. In addition, the metal legs typically require large screws and/or bolts to attach the legs to the wooden table top and wooden bench tops. Because these screws and/or bolts usually extend completely through the wooden table top and bench tops, the screws and/or bolts may form stress concentrations or other weaknesses that may allow a portion of the table top and/or bench tops to crack, split or fail.

Disadvantageously, conventional picnic tables constructed from wood are often very heavy and require a large, bulky, heavy-duty frame to support the table top and benches. These heavy, wooden picnic tables are often very difficult to transport and move. In addition, known picnic tables with metal legs often require a large and complex frame to support the table top and benches. In particular, many known picnic tables require the metal legs to be constructed from large diameter tubing and/or large wall thickness tubing to provide the necessary strength for the legs. Legs constructed from large diameter tubing and/or large wall thickness tubing, however, may undesirably increase the weight of the picnic table. The metal legs also often require one or more brackets or support struts to properly support the table top and bench tops. These brackets and support struts are often placed underneath the table top, which may decrease the amount of space and legroom under the table top. Additionally, the brackets and support struts may undesirably increase the weight and complexity of the picnic table.

Conventional picnic tables may also have a frame that allows the picnic table to be folded into a collapsed position, which may allow the picnic table to be more easily shipped and stored because it requires less space in the collapsed position. In order to allow the picnic table to be collapsed, the frame is typically pivotally attached to the table top and the benches. The frame may include a number of movable parts and supports to allow the picnic table to be moved between a use portion and the collapsed position. Disadvantageously, the collapsible frame may increase the weight and complexity of the picnic table. The collapsible frame may also include a number of brackets and support struts that take up valuable legroom under the table top and/or benches. In addition, the frame of many collapsible picnic tables may require additional time to manufacture and assemble because of the numerous parts that have to be interconnected, and the complex frame may prevent or discourage consumers from assembling the picnic table. Thus, these types of picnic tables are generally shipped in an assembled configuration and that may undesirably increase shipping and transportation costs.

As discussed above, many known picnic tables include a number of support struts or braces to securely connect the frame to the table top and the benches. These support struts and braces, however, often interfere with a desired sitting position for an individual seated at the picnic table, and the struts and braces may decrease the leg room under the table. Additionally, the supports and braces may contact an individual's knees or legs, and that decreases the comfort and usefulness of the picnic table. The struts and braces may also limit the number of people that can sit at the picnic table. In particular, because many struts and braces are positioned at various angles relative to the table top and benches, the legroom under the table top is decreased and the risk that a person will strike their knees on the struts or braces is increased. The struts and braces may also prevent some people from sitting at the picnic table or limit the positions in which people can sit at the table.

Conventional picnic tables typically include benches that are secured in a fixed position and the benches cannot be moved. That is, the benches remain in a predetermined position relative to the center table section of the picnic table. Disadvantageously, this may prevent some people from using the picnic table. For example, because the benches are typically positioned to accommodate adults, the benches may be positioned too far away from the center table section to allow children to sit at the picnic table. In addition, the benches may be too low for children to see and/or reach items on the table. While it is known to create picnic tables that are sized and configured for children, these picnic tables are then unable to be used by most adults.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A need exists for a table that eliminates the above-described and/or other disadvantages and problems.

One aspect is a picnic table that may include a frame that supports both the center table section of the picnic table and the accompanying benches. Advantageously, the frame may only contact the ground in several desired locations. Significantly, this may provide increased leg room and other space under the center portion of the picnic table and/or the benches. Additionally, the frame may be connected to the center section of the picnic table and benches without the use of braces or support struts. This may maximize the space and legroom under the table top and/or benches. It will be appreciated, however, that the frame may contact the ground in any number of desired locations. It will also be appreciated that one or more braces, brackets, support struts and the like may also be used to connect the frame to the center table portion and/or benches.

Another aspect is a picnic table that may include a frame that is relatively sturdy and strong. For example, the frame may be sized and configured to allow the picnic table to support two, four, six, eight or even more persons. The frame is preferably constructed from thin-walled metal tubing. The thin-walled metal tubing may allow a strong and lightweight picnic table to be constructed. In addition, the thin-walled metal tubing desirably has a relatively small diameter which may, for example, reduce the weight of the picnic table. Significantly, the relatively small diameter, thin-walled metal tubing may occupy a very small amount of space under the table top and/or benches, which may maximize the legroom under the table top and/or benches. It will be appreciated that the frame could be constructed from other materials with suitable shapes, sizes and characteristics. It will also be appreciated that the frame could have other appropriate sizes and configurations depending, for example, upon the size and intended use of the picnic table.

A further aspect is a picnic table that may include a table top and/or benches that are constructed from plastic. In particular, the table top and benches are preferably constructed from blow-molded plastic. Advantageously, the blow-molded plastic table top and benches, along with a frame constructed from relatively small diameter, thin-walled metal tubing, may allow a lightweight picnic table to be created. Significantly, the lightweight picnic table may reduce shipping costs. In particular, the lightweight picnic table may be shipped to a retailer or consumer at less cost than a conventional picnic table because of its lightweight. Additionally, the picnic table may be more easily assembled and disassembled because of the lightweight table top and/or benches. Further, the lightweight picnic table may be easier to transport and move because of its reduced weight, which may allow a consumer to easily move the picnic table from one location to another location.

In addition, if the table top and benches are constructed from blow-molded plastic, then the table top and benches may be strong, sturdy and high-strength. The blow-molded plastic table top and benches may also be weather resistant, generally temperature insensitive and quickly formed in the desired shape and configuration. Desirably, the blow-molded plastic table top and benches include two opposing surfaces that are separated by a generally constant distance. The upper surfaces may be generally planar and the lower surfaces may include a plurality of depressions that are sized and configured to increase the strength of the table top and seat. The table top and/or benches may also include other features, which may be integrally formed in the table top and/or benches as part of a unitary structure, that facilitate attachment of the table top and/or benches to the frame.

A further aspect is a picnic table that may include one or more benches or seats. Advantageously, the benches or seats may include a seat back or backrest. Thus, the seats may have a bottom portion and a backrest, and the backrest is preferably pivotally connected to the bottom portion of the seat. Desirably, the backrest is movable between a seating position in which the backrest has a generally upright configuration and a folded position in which the backrest is positioned generally parallel to the bottom portion. Significantly, the foldable backrest may allow the picnic table to be more easily stored, transported and/or shipped. The foldable backrest may also be used to create a booster seat for a child. This may significantly increase the number of uses of the picnic table because both adults and children may be able to use the picnic table. In addition, the backrests may be independently connected to the benches or seats so that adults and children may simultaneously use the picnic table. Of course, two or more backrests may be interconnected to allow multiple backrests to be moved between the seating position and the folded position.

Still another aspect is a picnic table that may include a relatively straightforward design, which may allow the picnic table to be quickly and easily assembled by the manufacturer and/or the consumer. Desirably, the picnic table can be assembled and disassembled using commonly available tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches, which may allow the manufacturer and/or consumer to easily assemble the picnic table. In addition, the picnic table may be quickly and easily disassembly, which may allow the picnic table to be more easily shipped, stored or transported.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the present invention. It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limits its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a picnic table, illustrating some of the backrests in an upright position and some of the backrests in a collapsed position;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the picnic table shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is yet another perspective view of a picnic table shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is still another perspective view of a portion of the picnic table shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is generally directed towards picnic tables that include benches or seats with backrests. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to picnic tables with benches or seats with backrests. It will be understood that, in light of the present disclosure, the picnic table with benches or seats with backrests disclosed herein can be successfully used in connection with other types of furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

Additionally, to assist in the description of the picnic table, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left may be used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the picnic table can be located in a variety of desired positions. A detailed description of the picnic table now follows with reference to the accompanying figures, which are not necessarily drawn to scale.

As shown in FIG. 1, the picnic table 10 preferably includes a center table section 12 and one or more seats 14. For example, as shown in the accompanying figures, the picnic table 10 includes four seats 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d, but the picnic table could include any suitable number of seats depending, for example, upon the intended use of the picnic table.

Each of the seats 14 preferably includes a bottom portion 16 and a back portion 18. In particular, as shown in the figures, each seat 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d preferably includes a bottom portion 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and a back portion 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d, respectively. It will be appreciated that not all of the seats 14 require the bottom and back portions 16, 18. Thus, for example, some of the seat 14 could include a back portion 18 while some of the seats do not include a back portion.

The back portions 18 may be sized and configured to create a backrest for a person sitting in the seat 14. In particular, the back portions 18 preferably include a curved or contoured inner surface 20 to increase the comfort of the person sitting in the seat 14. The back portions 18 may also be movable relative to the bottom portions 16 between a first portion in which the back portions can be used as a backrest for a person sitting in the seat 14 and a second portion in which the back portion is positioned adjacent or proximate to the bottom portion. In particular, the back portions 18 are preferably pivotally or otherwise movably connected to the bottom portions 16 of the seats 14 to allow the back portions to be moved between the first and second positions. The back portions 18, for example, may be pivotally connected to the bottom portions 16 of the seats 14 by one or more hinges, pivot pins, connecting rods, or other suitable structures.

In greater detail, as shown in FIG. 1, the back portions 18 may be movable between the first position in which the back portions have a generally upright position (such as the back portions 18a, 18b shown in FIG. 1) and the second position in which the back portions are in a generally horizontal position (such as the back portions 18c, 18d shown in FIG. 1). When the back portions 18 are in the first, generally upright position, the back portions may provide a backrest for a person sitting at the picnic table 10. Desirably, the bottom portions 16 and the back portions 18 are sized and configured to allow an adult to comfortably sit at the table when the back portion is in the first, backrest position.

When the back portions 18 are in the second, generally horizontal position, the back portion is preferably sized and configured to support a smaller person such as a child. In particular, when the back portions 18 are in the second, generally horizontal position, the upper surface 22 of the back portion preferably includes a curved or contoured surface to allow the child to comfortably sit at the table. In addition, because the back portion 18 preferably lifts or raises the child relative to the table 12, that may allow the child to see and reach objects on the table. Further, the back portion 18 is preferably connected to the bottom portion 16 so that as the back portion is moved from the first position to the second position, the back portion is disposed closer to the table 12. In particular, the front edge of the back portion 18 is preferably disposed closer to the table 12 than the front edge of the bottom portion 16 when the back portion is in the second, generally horizontal position. This may allow the child to be properly positioned relative to the table 12 because the child sits closer to the table. Thus, the back portion 18 may be sized and configured to position the child at the proper height and distance from the table 12. In addition, the back portion 18 may be sized and configured to be used in connection with booster seats, child safety seats, and the like, to facilitate children sitting at the picnic table. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the seats 14, bottom portions 16 and/or back portions 18 may have other suitable shapes, sizes and configurations. For example, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the back portions 18 do not have to be pivotally connected to the bottom portions 16 and the bottom and back portions could be part of a unitary, one-piece structure.

The picnic table 10 may include a frame 24 that is connected to the table 12 and seats 14. The frame 24 is preferably relatively strong and sturdy to create a well-built and solid picnic table 10. The frame 24, as shown in the accompanying figures, may be sized and configured to support the table 12 and four sets of seats 14. In particular, the frame 24 may support four sets of seats 14 in which each set of seats includes two seats that are positioned adjacent to each other. The seats 14 may include bottom and back portions 16, 18, as desired, and the sets of seats may be spaced apart from the adjacent sets of seats. Therefore, as seen in FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of the picnic table 10 includes four sets of seats and each set of seats includes two seats. Two seats of seats 14 are disposed along each elongated side of the table 12 and the sets of seats are preferably separated by a distance to allow, for example, easier access to the inner seats. It will be appreciated, however, that the picnic table 10 could include any number of seats 14 and the seats could be arranged in any suitable arrangement or configuration. For example, any desired number of seats 14 may be grouped together and/or the seats may be independent from the other seats. Further, while the frame 24 preferably attaches the seats 14 to the table 12, the seats could be selectively or independently movable relative to the table. Finally, the picnic table 10 could include any suitable number of seats 14 to allow any desired number of people to sit at the picnic table.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, the frame preferably includes may include one or more generally L-shaped support members 26 and one or more generally C-shaped support members 28. In particular, the generally L-shaped support members 26 are preferably sized and configured to support the table 12 and the generally C-shaped support members are preferably sized and configured to support the seats 14. For example, as shown in the accompanying figures, the picnic table 10 may include four generally L-shaped support members 26a, 26b, 26c, 26 that are connected to the table 12 and four generally C-shaped support members 28a, 28b, 28c, 28d. The generally L-shaped table support members 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d and the generally C-shaped bench support members 28a, 28b, 28c, 28d are preferably constructed from thin-walled metal tubing, which may allow a strong and lightweight picnic table 10 to be constructed. The thin-walled metal tubing desirably has a small diameter to reduce the weight of the picnic table. It will be appreciated that the frame could be constructed from any materials with suitable characteristics and the frame could have any appropriate size, shape, and configuration depending, for example, upon the size and intended use of the picnic table.

The generally L-shaped table support members 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d are preferably connected to the generally C-shaped bench support members 28a, 28b, 28c, 28d to create a frame 24 that preferably provides ample legroom for people sitting at the picnic table 10. In particular, the generally L-shaped support members 26 and the generally C-shaped support members 28 are preferably arranged to create a significant amount of legroom and minimize interference with a person moving their legs underneath the table 12 and/or sets 14. Additionally, because the table support members and the bench support members may be constructed from small diameter, thin-walled metal tubing, the frame 24 may require a relatively small amount of space and that may further increase the legroom under the picnic table 10.

In greater detail, as seen in FIGS. 1-4, the generally L-shaped table support members 26 may include a generally upright, upper portion and a generally horizontal lower portion, which may be positioned to provide additional leg room. For example, the upper portions of the generally L-shaped table support members 26 may be connected proximate a center axis of the table top 12 and the table support members may be generally disposed between the seats 14 to minimize interference with a person's legs. In addition, the lower portions of the generally L-shaped table support members 26 may be connected to the generally C-shaped bench support members 28. Preferably, the lower portions of the generally L-shaped table support members 26 are connected proximate the centers of the generally C-shaped bench support members 28 and the generally L-shaped table support members are generally disposed between the seats, which may also provide more leg room. More specifically, the generally C-shaped bench support members 28 are preferably generally vertically aligned and the C-shaped bench support members may be located beneath the seats 14. The generally L-shaped table support members 26 are preferably connected to the generally C-shaped bench support members 28 beneath the seats 14 so that the support members are not in the way of the user's legs or feet. Advantageously, because the generally L-shaped table support members 26 are generally disposed between the seats 14 and the generally C-shaped bench support members 28 are disposed beneath the seats 14, that may create a picnic table 10 with significant legroom and a frame 24 that is unlikely to be bumped or contacted by a user's legs or feet. It will be appreciated, however, that the frame 24, table support members 26 and/or bench support members 28 may have other suitable shapes, sizes and arrangements.

The table top 12 and seats 14, including the bottom portions 16 and back portions 18, are preferably constructed from a lightweight, durable and weather resistant material such as plastic. In particular, the table top 12 and seats 14 are preferably constructed from high density polyethylene, but other suitable types of plastics and other materials may be used if desired. The table top 12 and seats 14 are preferably manufactured using blow molded plastic, but other suitable processes could be used such as rotary molding, injection molding, compression molding, and the like. It will be understood that any suitable materials and processes could be used to construct the picnic table 10.

Advantageously, if the table top 12 and the seats 14 are constructed from blow-molded plastic, the table top and seats may have a generally hollow interior, which may allow a lightweight picnic table 10 to be constructed. This may allow, for example, shipping costs to be reduced because a lightweight picnic table may be shipped to a retailer or consumer at less cost than a conventional picnic table. In addition, the picnic table 10 may be more easily assembled and disassembled because of its lightweight. Further, the lightweight picnic table 10 is easy to transport and move because of its reduced weight. This may allow the consumer to easily move the picnic table 10 from one location to another location.

The blow-molded plastic table top 12 and seats 14 preferably include two opposing surfaces that are separated by a generally constant distance. For example, the table top 12 preferably includes a generally planar upper surface spaced apart from a lower surface by a generally constant distance. Similarly, the seats 14 may include two opposing surfaces that are separated by a generally constant distance, but that distance may be varied, for example, if a portion of the seat is curved or contoured.

The table top 12 and seats 14 may also include one or more depressions that are preferably sized and configured to increase the strength of the components. The depressions are preferably formed on a surface of the component and extend toward an opposing surface of the component. The depressions may contact or engage the opposing surface, but could be spaced apart from the opposing surface. For example, the table top 12 may include a plurality of depressions that are formed in the lower portion of the table top and extend or contact the upper portion of the table top. Similarly, the seats 14 may include one or more depressions that are sized and configured to increase the strength of the seats. These depressions may cover all or only a portion of the table top 12 and/or seats 14, as desired. Additional details regarding the size, shape, and configuration of depressions that may be suitable for use in connection with the picnic table 10 are disclosed in Assignee's co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/409,000, entitled HIGH-STRENGTH, LIGHTWEIGHT BLOW-MOLDED PLASTIC STRUCTURES, filed on Apr. 8, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Of course, the depressions may have other suitable sizes, shapes and/or configurations, and the picnic table 10 does not require any depressions.

One skilled in the art will also appreciate that although the exemplary embodiments discussed above have been described with respect to picnic tables, these aspects and features may also be used in connection with other types of furniture such as chairs, stools, footstools, other types of tables, or any other suitable type of devices or fixtures.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.





 
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