Title:
Media storage devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Hard and soft cases for storing media are disclosed. A hard case includes hooking mechanisms, on one end, and receptacles, on the other end, for interconnecting a hard case with another case. The case has side extensions which can be superimposed to connect it to another similar case. Four cases are connected to form a two by two array. The cases have holes on the body of the cases and on the side extensions so that the array can be mounted to a conventional binder or to a novel binder disclosed where the distance between the rings is about 135±5 millimeters. A soft case made by bonding together plastic sheets includes two straps extending from one end and two straps extending from the other to connect one case with another. The soft case includes extensions that extend outwardly from the sides of the soft case and house flat magnetic and non magnetic strips. Four soft cases are connected to form an array that is mountable to a conventional binder or a binder with a larger distance between the rings. A page soft case made in accordance with the present invention for storing media is an integral flat piece constructed by bonding together plastic sheets includes four pockets on each side. The page case can be mounted to a conventional binder or to a binder with rings being spaced apart at a greater distance. In another embodiment, straps are added to the ends of the page soft case to connect the page soft case to another case.



Inventors:
Giatsiakis, Dimitrios C. (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/143196
Publication Date:
12/08/2005
Filing Date:
06/02/2005
Assignee:
Research In Motion Limited
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
G9B/33.015, 211/40
International Classes:
B65D85/57; G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
AGERS, JULIE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Anastassios, Triantaphyllis (P.O. Box 27629, Houston, TX, 77227, US)
Claims:
1. A case for holding media, comprising: a housing for housing the media; and means for removably connecting the housing to another case for holding media.

Description:

RELATED PRIORITY DATE APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of the U.S. provisional application No. 60/576,794 filed on Jun. 3, 2004.

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to media storage devices, and, more particularly, to devices for storing media such as compact disks, floppy disks, zip disks and the like including booklets accompanying such media. Still more particularly, the present invention discloses hard and soft media storage cases capable of being releasably interconnected with other similar cases. The media storage cases can be designed with higher storage capacity than conventional cases and are mountable in either conventional binders or binders with rings spaced apart at a higher distance than the rings in conventional binders.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Media storage devices for storing media such as compact disks, floppy disks, zip disks and the like are well known. Such media storage cases are available as hard cases or soft cases. They are usually mountable on conventional binders where the rings are spaced apart at a distance of about 108 millimeters. The requirement of placing mounting apertures at such distances limit the area where the media can be stored. Furthermore, in the hard cases, such a requirement causes the placement of the apertures in the thick portions of the case thereby making the flipping of the cases difficult.

The hard cases heretofore are available as individual cases. Further, the soft cases are either available as individual cases or as cases bonded to each other to form multiple pockets. As a result, one has to handle and carry a large number of individual units with resulting organizational problems.

The disadvantages of the prior art cases are overcome by providing cases, soft or hard that are releasably interconnected with each other to form units that are easy to organize and transport. The cases can be designed with higher storage capacity than conventional cases and are mountable to either conventional binders or binders with rings spaced apart at a higher distance than the rings in conventional binders.

These and other advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, hard and soft cases for storing media such as compact disks, floppy disks, zip disks or the like and booklets accompanying such media are disclosed. A hard case includes a housing with hooking mechanisms, on one end, and receptacles, on the other end, for interconnecting such a hard case with another similar case by receiving and removably engaging the hooking mechanisms in the receptacles. The hooking mechanisms disclosed are either an integral part of the case and the snapping engagement of the hooking mechanism is effected by the spring like properties of the resilient material used in the construction of the case or mechanically activated snapping mechanisms which are placed in an engaging or disengaging position by pulling or releasing the same and by springs responding to such pulling or releasing. The case has side extensions which can be superimposed to connect it to another similar case and to effect the simultaneous turning of the connected cases. Four cases are connected by engaging the snapping mechanism of one case with the receptacles of another case and the side extension of one case with the side extension of another case to form a two by two array. The cases have holes on the body of the cases and on the side extensions so that the array can be mounted to a conventional binder where the distance between the rings is about 108 millimeters or to a novel binder disclosed by the present invention where the distance between the rings is about 135±5 millimeters. The holes on the extension facilitate the mounting of the array on the rings of such binder.

The housing of the case may have one or two cargo areas, one on each side in the latter case. One standard design case cover is used to close the housings and can be mounted on either end of the housing. In one embodiment, the case cover is designed to house a medium.

Retaining mechanisms are attached to the body of the housing and the cover to hold the mediums. These retaining mechanisms are part of the body or are separate units that are connected to the body.

In one embodiment, a compact disk is retained by a retaining mechanism having release segments with flanges activated by activation members, guide ring segments and an elevation ring. When one presses down on the activation members, the release segments retract to allow the passing of the interior hole of the compact disk over the retracted flanges and allowing the compact disk to be intimately received over the segmented exterior cylindrical surface formed by the release segments and the guide ring segments. The compact disk rests on the elevation ring. When the pressure on the activation members is discontinued, the resilient release segments returning the retaining flanges to their resting position to retain the compact disk in the housing. The compact disk is released by pressing the resilient release segments to retract the retaining flanges and pass the compact disk over the retracted flanges.

In another embodiment, a compact disk retaining mechanism includes curved fingers with flanges and an elevation ring. In order to engage the compact disk with retaining mechanism the interior opening of the compact disk is aligned over the mechanism and the disk is pressed down on curved fingers. The pressure causes the curved fingers to move inwardly until the compact disk passes over the flanges and the disk comes to rest on the elevation ring. The fingers then expand to engage the compact disk.

In another embodiment, a soft case made by bonding together plastic sheets includes a pocket formed between a base sheet and a front sheet to house a compact disk. The pocket is closed by a flap. The soft case includes two straps extending from one end and two straps extending from the other to connect one case with another. The soft case includes extensions that extend outwardly from the sides of the soft case. Each extension has an elongate pouch for housing an elongate flat magnetic strip and an elongate non magnetic flat strip. When two cases are placed side by side, the extensions overlap and the magnets retain the extensions in such overlapping position. A soft case has one pocket or two pockets, the latter having a pocket on each side. Four soft cases are connected to form an array that is mountable to a conventional binder or a binder with a larger distance between the rings as previously referred to in the summary regarding the hard cases.

In another embodiment, a page soft case made in accordance with the present invention for storing media is an integral flat piece constructed by bonding together plastic sheets. Each page case includes on one side four pockets in a two by two array configuration each pocket being suitable for receiving a medium. The open ends of the pockets are covered by flaps. In an alternative embodiment, similar pockets can be placed on the rear end of the page soft case in an arrangement which mirrors the arrangement set forth above to form a two sided page soft case having eight pockets. The page case can be mounted to a conventional binder or to a binder with rings being spaced apart at a greater distance as explained above. In another embodiment, straps are added to the ends of the page soft case to connect the page soft case to another case.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1A is a top perspective view of the general environment of the present invention showing hard and soft cases being mounted on a conventional binder;

FIG. 1B is a top perspective view of the general environment of the present invention showing hard cases and a page soft case being mounted on a binder made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a top plan view of the housings of two hard cases connected side by side;

FIG. 2B is a cross sectional view taken along line 2B-2B of FIG. 2A;

FIG. 2C is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 2B;

FIG. 2D is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 2B;

FIG. 2E is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 2B;

FIG. 3A is a top plan view of the housings of two hard cases like those shown in FIG. 2A connected end to end;

FIG. 3B is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of a housing in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3C is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 3A;

FIG. 3D is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of a housing of FIG. 3A;

FIG. 4A is a top plan view of the housing of a hard case having an alternative hooking mechanism;

FIG. 4B is an enlarged perspective and partially exploded view of a portion of a housing of FIG. 4A showing the hooking mechanism in an engaging position;

FIG. 4C is the hooking mechanism of FIG. 4B in a disengaged position;

FIG. 4D is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of a housing of FIG. 4A showing the hooking mechanism;

FIG. 4E is an exploded view of the connection of the hitch to the body of the hooking mechanism of a housing of FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5A is a top plan view of the housing of a hard case having an alternative hooking mechanism;

FIG. 5B is an enlarged perspective and partially exploded view of a portion of a housing of FIG. 5A showing the hooking mechanism in an engaging position;

FIG. 5C is the hooking mechanism of FIG. 5B in a disengaged position;

FIG. 6A is a top plan and partially exploded view of the housing of a hard case having an alternative hooking mechanism;

FIG. 7A is a perspective, partially exploded view of the hooking mechanism of the housing of FIG. 6A in an engaging position;

FIG. 7B is the hooking mechanism of FIG. 7B in a disengaged position;

FIG. 7C is a perspective and partially exploded view of a portion of the hooking mechanism of FIG. 7A;

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of a housing of FIG. 2A with a compact disk not inserted in the housing;

FIG. 8B is a top plan view of the housing of FIG. 8A with the compact disk received in the housing;

FIG. 8C is a perspective view of another embodiment of housing of FIG. 8A having another design of a retaining mechanism with a compact disk not inserted in the housing;

FIG. 8D is a perspective view of a section of the housing of FIG. 8C showing an enlargement of the retaining mechanism;

FIG. 8E is a perspective view of a section of the housing of FIG. 8C showing an enlargement of the retaining mechanism with the compact disk attached to it;

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of a housing of FIG. 2A with a floppy disk not inserted in the housing;

FIG. 9B is a top plan view of the housing of FIG. 9A with the floppy disk received in the housing;

FIG. 9C is a perspective view of a housing of FIG. 2A with a zip disk not inserted in the housing;

FIG. 9D is a top plan view of the housing of FIG. 9C with the zip disk received in the housing;

FIG. 9E is a perspective view of a portion of FIG. 9A showing a space guide;

FIG. 9F is a perspective view of a portion of FIG. 9A showing a retaining mechanism;

FIG. 10A is a cross sectional view taken along line 10A-10A of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 10B is a cross section of a housing of a hard case made in accordance with the present invention having two recessed cavities, one on each side to house a medium in each cavity;

FIG. 10C is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 10A;

FIG. 10D is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 10B;

FIG. 11A is a fragmented top plan view of a housing of a hard case made in accordance with the present invention having two recessed cavities, one on each side, to house a medium in each cavity;

FIG. 11B is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 11A;

FIG. 11C is a perspective view of a portion of the housing shown in FIG. 11B;

FIG. 12A is a perspective of hard case having a housing of FIG. 2A with a case cover connected to it on the end that is mountable to a binder;

FIG. 12B is a perspective of a hard case having a housing of FIG. 2A with a case cover connected to it on the end that is opposite to the end that it is connected to in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12C is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the hard case of FIG. 12A showing the connection between the case cover and the housing;

FIG. 12D is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the hard case of FIG. 12B showing the connection between the case cover and the housing;

FIG. 12E is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the hard case of FIG. 12A showing the connection between the case cover and the housing;

FIG. 13A is a perspective view of a housing of FIG. 11A having two case covers connected thereto;

FIG. 13B is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the hard case of FIG. 13A showing the connection between the case covers and the housing;

FIG. 14A is a perspective view of a case cover which includes a media storage compartment;

FIG. 14B is a enlarged perspective view of a portion of the case cover of FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14C is a plan view of the inside of a case cover without a media storage compartment;

FIG. 14D is a plan view of the inside of a case cover without a media storage compartment configured to receive a compact disk;

FIG. 14 E is a plan view of the inside of a case cover without a media storage compartment configured to receive a floppy disk;

FIG. 14F is a plan view of the inside of a case cover without a media storage compartment configured to receive a zip disk;

FIG. 14G is an enlarged view of a portion of the case cover of FIG. 14A showing a locking mechanism that locks the case cover to the housing;

FIG. 15A is a top plan view of a retaining mechanism of a hard case;

FIG. 15B is a cross sectional view of the retaining mechanism of FIG. 15A taken along lines A and B of FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15C is a perspective view of the retaining mechanism of FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15D is a perspective view of a retaining pin of the retaining mechanism of FIG. 15A;

FIG. 16A is a top plan view of another retaining mechanism of a hard case;

FIG. 16B there is a cross sectional view of the retaining mechanism of FIG. 16A taken along line 16D-16D of FIG. 16A;

FIG. 16C is a perspective view of the retaining mechanism of FIG. 16A;

FIG. 16D is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 16B;

FIG. 16E is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 16C;

FIG. 17A is a top plan view of a soft case made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 17B is a top plan view of another soft case made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 18A is a cross sectional view taken along line 18A-18A of FIG. 17A;

FIG. 18B is a cross sectional view of a soft case having two pockets, one on each side;

FIG. 18C is an enlargement of section of FIG. 18A;

FIG. 18D is an enlargement of a section of FIG. 18B;

FIG. 19A is a top plan view showing two soft cases connected in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 19B is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of FIG. 19A showing a connection between the two soft cases;

FIG. 19C is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of FIG. 19A showing a folded strap that is not being used to connect the two soft cases;

FIG. 20A is a top plan view of four soft cases connected in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 20B is a fragmented cross sectional view of the connection between the sides of two double pocket soft cases;

FIG. 20C is a fragmented cross sectional view of an alternative connection between the sides of two double pocket soft cases;

FIG. 21A is a top plan view of a page soft case having four pockets on one side;

FIG. 21B is a top plan view of another embodiment of a page soft case having four pockets on one side;

FIG. 22A is a top plan view of the case of FIG. 21A with straps; and

FIG. 22B is a top plan view of the case of FIG. 21B with straps.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1A, there is shown a perspective view of a conventional binder 2 having rings 4a, 4b and 4c which are equally spaced apart for pivotally receiving media cases. The distance between ring 4a and 4b and ring 4b and 4c is the presently used standard distance of 108 millimeters. Four identical hard cases 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d made in accordance with the present invention are connected, as hereinafter described, to form a two by two array 6 which is pivotally connected to binder 2. Case 6a has holes 10a, 12a, 14a and 16a and case 6b has holes 10b, 12b, 14b and 16b. In the assembled position shown in FIG. 1A, hole 10b overlaps hole 16a and pivotally receive ring 4b. Holes 12a and 14b pivotally receive rings 4a and 4c, respectively.

Hard cases 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d can be made of hard plastic with some flexibility as in the conventional art of hard media cases. The media cases may be used to store computer disks, compact disks, back up disks or the like. A case such as case 6a may be constructed so as to store from one to four media.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, four identical soft cases 18a, 18b, 18c and 18d, made in accordance with the present invention, as hereinafter described, are connected, as hereinafter described, to form a two by two array 18 which is pivotally connected to binder 2. Case 18a has holes 20a, 22a, 24a and 26a and case 18b has holes 20b, 22b, 24b and 26b. In the assembled position shown in FIG. 1A, hole 20b overlaps hole 26b and pivotally receive ring 4b. Holes 22a and 24b pivotally receive rings 4a and 4c, respectively.

Soft cases 18a, 18b, 18c and 18d can be made of soft plastic with considerable flexibility as in the conventional art of soft media cases. A case such as case 18a may be constructed by bonding plastic sheets together to form one or two pockets (if double sided) for storing one medium in each pocket.

Referring now to FIG. 1B, there is shown a perspective view of a binder 32 made in accordance with the present invention having rings 34a, 34b and 34c which are equally spaced apart for pivotally receiving media cases. The distance between ring 34a and 34b and ring 34b and 34c is 135±5 millimeters which is larger than the presently used standard distance of 108 millimeters. Four identical hard cases 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d, such as the ones previously described, form a two by two array 6 which is pivotally connected to binder 32. In the assembled position shown in FIG. 1B, hole 10b overlaps hole 16b and holes 10b and 16b in said overlapped position pivotally receive ring 4b. Holes 10a and 16b pivotally receive rings 34a and 34c, respectively.

Still referring to FIG. 1B, a page soft case 36 made in accordance with the present invention for storing media has holes 38, 42 and 46 and is pivotally connected to binder 32 with holes 38, 42 and 46 pivotally receiving rings 34a, 34 b and 34 c, respectively. Page soft case 36 is an integral flat piece made of well known soft plastic material commonly used for the construction of soft madia cases by bonding plastic sheets together. Case 36 includes, on one side, four pockets 49, 51, 52 and 54 closed by flaps, in a two by two array configuration, each pocket being suitable for receiving a medium. Page soft case 36 is described in detail hereinafter in connection with FIG. 21B.

The use of binder 32 with the rings being spaced apart at a distance of 135±5 millimeters allows for the use of case 36 with pockets which are larger than the pockets in conventional page soft cases to facilitate the storage of larger media and accompanying written material. The other flat side of page soft case 36 which is not shown in FIG. 1B may include similar pockets and flaps to accommodate the storage of four additional media.

Referring now back to FIG. 1A or FIG. 1B, each of identical hard cases 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d generally includes a housing and one or two covers for one or two sided cases, respectively, which will be described in more detail hereinafter. Referring now to FIG. 2A there are shown identical housings 60a and 60b of cases 6a and 6b, respectively, aligned for connection to binder 2 which is not shown in FIG. 2A but is shown in FIG. 1A or binder 32 which is not shown in FIG. 2A but is shown in FIG. 1B. Housing 60a includes a recessed cavity 66a suitably configured and dimensioned for receiving the media (not shown). Cavity 66a includes a wall 70a, on one end, and a wall 72a, on the other end. An extension 62a extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 70a having a lower surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 70a. An extension 64a extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 72a having an upper surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 72a Housing 60a includes a holes 10a disposed on extension 62a, a hole 12a, a hole 14 a and a hole 16a disposed on extension 64a. Holes 10a, 12a, 14a and 16a are positioned on a straight line and the distance between hole 10a and hole 14a is substantially equal to the distance between holes 12a and 16a. That distance is about 108 millimeters. The distance between holes 10a and 16a is about 135±5 millimeters.

Housing 60a includes case cover mountings 63a and 65a, on one end, and case cover mountings 67a and 69a, on the other end, for mounting a case cover (not shown), as hereinafter described. Housing 60a includes projections 163a and 165a projecting inwardly in cavity 66a from a wall 171a and projections 167a and 169a projecting inwardly in cavity 66a from a wall 173a.

Housing 60b is identical to housing 60a and the parts of housing 60b corresponding to the parts of housing 60a are designated by the same number followed by the letter “b” substituting for letter “a.” Accordingly, housing 60b includes a cavity 66b with a wall 70b and a wall 72b, an extension 62b extending from wall 70b, an extension 64b extending from wall 72b, a hole 10b disposed on extension 62b, a hole 12b, a hole 14 b and a hole 16b disposed on extension 64b.

Still referring to FIG. 2A, identical housings 60a and 60b are aligned for connection to binder 32 (not shown in FIG. 2A but shown in FIG. 1B) by superimposing extension 62a over extension 64a and hole 10b over hole 16a. In that position, holes 10a, 12a, 14a, 16a, 10b, 12b, 14b and 16b are positioned in a straight line for connection to binder 2, as the one shown in FIG. 1A or binder 32, as the one shown in FIG. 1B, as previously described.

Referring now to FIG. 2B, there is shown a cross sectional view of housings 60a and 60b taken along line 2B-2B of FIG. 2A. Housing 60a has extension 62a, on one side, and extension 64a, on the other side. Similarly, housing 60b has extension 62b, on one side, and extension 64b, on the other side. Extension 62b is disposed over extension 64a.

FIG. 2C shows an enlargement of the portion of the apparatus of FIG. 2B that is encircled by circle 2C. There is shown housing 60a having recessed cavity 66a and extension 64a extending outwardly from wall 72a. Extension 64a has a reduced width portion 76a adjacent to wall 72a formed by channels 82a and 84a, on the upper and bottom surfaces of extension 64a, respectively. Channels 82a and 84b have curved troughs. Thus, extension 64a is more flexible at reduced width portion 76a to allow it to deviate from its original position when a biasing force is applied on the upper or lower surface thereof. There is also shown housing 60b having recessed cavity 66b and extension 62b extending outwardly from wall 70b. Extension 62b has a reduced width portion 74b adjacent to wall 70b formed by channels 78b and 80b, on the upper and bottom surfaces of extension 62b, respectively. Channels 78b and 80b have curved troughs. Thus extension 62b is more flexible at reduced width portion 74b to allow it to deviate from its original position when a biasing force is applied on the upper or lower surface thereof. Extension 62b is intimately superimposed over and abuts extension 64a The distant end of extension 62b abuts the exterior surface of wall 72a The distant end of extension 64a abuts the exterior surface of wall 70b. The upper surface of extension 62b is substantially on the same plane as the upper surfaces of walls 72a and 70b. The lower surface of extension 64a is substantially on the same plane as the lower surfaces of walls 72a and 70b.

Referring now to FIG. 2D, there is shown an enlargement of the portion of the apparatus of FIG. 2B that is encircled by circle 2D. Housing 60b with recessed cavity 66b and wall 72b has extension 64b with a reduced thickness portion 76b formed by channels 82b and 84b.

FIG. 2E shows an enlargement of the portion of the apparatus of FIG. 2B that is encircled by circle 2E. Housing 60a with recessed cavity 66a and wall 70a has extension 62a with a reduced thickness portion 74a formed by channels 78a and 80a.

Referring back to FIG. 2A, when housings 60a and 60b are connected as shown and inserted into binder 2 (shown in FIG. 1A) or binder 32 (shown in FIG. 1B), the turning of housing 60a from right to left (western style) causes extension 64a to lift extension 62b thereby turning housing 60b at the same time. If one wishes to simultaneously turn housings 60a and 60b from left to right, he may do so by turning housing 60b from left to right thereby turning housing 60a therewith. It should be understood that housings 60a and 60b may be modified by symmetrically changing the location of extensions 62a, 64a, 62b and 64b so that extension 64a is superimposed over extension 62b. Referring to FIG. 2F, there is shown that modification wherein extension 64a of housing 60a is superimposed over extension 62b of housing 60b. In that case, housings 66a and 66b could be turned simultaneously from left to right by turning housing 60a from left to right.

As it can be appreciated from the description above, extensions 62a, 64a, 62b and 64b are thinner than housings 60a and 60b. Accordingly, the use of extensions 62a, 64a, 62b and 64b with holes thereon to insert the rings of binders such as binder 32 of FIG. 1B makes the turning of the hard cases easier than it would be if the rings were inserted in holes in the thicker portions of housings 60a and 60b.

Referring now to FIG. 3A there are shown housings 60a and 60d of cases 6a and 6d, respectively, connected to form half of array 6 shown in FIG. 1A or FIG. 1B. Housing 60a includes, on one end, an inwardly facing hooking mechanism 90a and an inwardly facing hooking mechanism 92a which is a mirror image of hooking mechanism 90a. On the other end, housing 60a includes an outwardly facing receptacle 94a and an outwardly facing receptacle 96a which is a mirror image of receptacle 94a. Housing 60d is identical to housing 60a and the corresponding parts thereof are designated by the same numbers as the ones used for housing 60a followed by the letter “d” substituting for the letter “a.” Accordingly, housing 60b includes a hooking mechanism 90d, a hooking mechanism 92d, a receptacle 94d and a receptacle 96d. Housing 60d is connected to housing 60a by snappingly inserting hooking mechanisms 90d and 92d into receptacles 94a and 96a, respectively, as hereinafter described in more detail.

Still referring to FIG. 3A, hooking mechanism 90a is an integral part of housing 60a and includes a support portion 100a, an extension 102a depending from support portion 100a and a peg 104a extending inwardly from the upper portion of extension 102a. Hooking mechanism 90a is adjacent to the end portion of extension 62a but it is not connected therewith. A small gap 108a is between hooking mechanism 90a and extension 62a to allow for a limited movement of hooking mechanism 90a towards extension 62a when a biasing force is applied thereon. Housing 60a includes a semicircular notch 106a adjacent to support portion 100a for placing the fingers to open the case. Hooking mechanism 92a is an integral part of housing 60a and includes a support portion 110a, an extension 112a depending from support portion 110a and a peg 114a extending inwardly from the upper portion of extension 112a. Hooking mechanism 92a is adjacent to the end portion of extension 64a but it is not connected therewith. A small gap 118a is between support portion 110a and extension 64a to allow for a limited movement of hooking mechanism 92a towards extension 64a when a biasing force is applied thereon. Housing 62a includes a semicircular notch 116a adjacent to support portion 110a for placing the fingers to open the case.

Referring now to FIG. 3B, there is shown an enlarged perspective view of the portion of housing 60a which is in circle 3B in FIG. 3A. There is shown hooking mechanism 92a adjacent to notch 116a and extension 64a Hooking mechanism 92a has support portion 110a, extension 112a and peg 114a.

Referring now back to FIG. 3A, housing 60d includes hooking mechanism 90d which is identical with hooking mechanism 90a Hooking mechanism 90d is an integral part of housing 60d and includes a support portion 100d, an extension 102d depending from support portion 100d and a peg 104d extending inwardly from the upper portion of extension 102d. Hooking mechanism 92d is adjacent to the end portion of extension 62d. A small gap 108d is between support portion 100d and extension 62d to allow for a limited movement of hooking mechanism 90d towards extension 62d when a biasing force is applied thereon. Housing 62d includes a semicircular notch 106d adjacent to support portion 100d.

Hooking mechanism 92d is identical with hooking mechanism 92a. Hooking mechanism 92d is an integral part of housing 60d and includes a support portion 10d, an extension 112d depending from support portion 10d and a peg 1141d extending inwardly from the upper portion of extension 112d. Hooking mechanism 92d is adjacent to the end portion of extension 64d but it is not connected therewith. A small gap 118d is between support portion 110d and extension 64d to allow for a limited movement of hooking mechanism 92d towards extension 64d when a biasing force is applied thereon. Housing 62d includes a semicircular notch 116d adjacent to support portion 110d.

Receptacle 94a is an integral part of housing and includes an outwardly facing cavity formed by a bottom blind bore and two opposite facing, spaced apart walls 120a and 122a having arch shaped interior surfaces. The cavity of receptacle 94a is appropriately shaped and sized so as to intimately receive peg 104d by a snapping action and to retain peg 104d therein by the restoring spring action of walls 130a and 132a. As peg 104d is inserted therein, walls 120a and 122a are biased away from each other. When peg 104d settles in receptacle 94a, the restoring spring force of walls 120a and 122a causes them to snap around peg 104d and to retain it therein until another force is applied thereon to disengage.

Receptacle 96a is an integral part of housing and is symmetrical to receptacle 94a. Receptacle 96a includes an outwardly facing cavity formed by a bottom blind bore and two opposite facing, spaced apart walls 130a and 132a having arch shaped interior surfaces. The cavity of receptacle 94a is appropriately shaped and sized so as to intimately receive peg 114d by a snapping action and to retain peg 114d therein by the restoring spring action of walls 130a and 132a. As peg 114d is inserted therein, walls 130a and 132a are biased away from each other. When peg 114d settles in receptacle 94a, the restoring spring force of walls 130a and 132a causes them to snap around peg 114d and to retain it therein until another force is applied thereon to disengage. Housing 60d is connected to housing 60a by engaging hooking mechanism 90d with receptacle 94a by snappingly inserting peg 104d in the cavity of receptacle 94a, as previously described, and by engaging mechanism 92d with receptacle 96a by snappingly inserting peg 114d in the cavity of receptacle 96a. In that connected position, pegs 104d and 114d act as pivot for housing 60d with respect to housing 60a and vice versa.

Referring now to FIG. 3C, there is shown an enlargement of that section of FIG. 3A which is within circle 3C showing housing 60a connected to housing 60d via the engagement of hooking mechanism 92d with receptacle 96a. Hooking mechanism 92d includes a support portion 110d, extension 112d depending from support portion 110d and peg 114d extending inwardly from the upper portion of extension 112d. Hooking mechanism 92d is adjacent to the end portion of extension 64d but it is not connected therewith. Gap 118d is between support portion 10d and extension 64d to allow for a limited movement of hooking mechanism 92d towards extension 64d when a biasing force is applied thereon. Receptacle 96a includes two opposite facing, spaced apart walls 130a and 132a having arch shaped interior surfaces. The cavity of receptacle 94a is appropriately shaped and sized so as to intimately receive peg 114d by a snapping action and to retain peg 114d therein by the restoring spring action of walls 130a and 132a. As peg 114d is inserted therein, walls 130a and 132a are biased away from each other. When peg 114d settles in receptacle 94a, the restoring spring force of walls 130a and 132a causes them to snap around peg 114d and to retain it therein as shown in FIG. 3C.

Referring back to FIG. 3A, housing 60d has a receptacle 94d which is identical with receptacle 94a. Receptacle 94d is an integral part of housing and includes an outwardly facing cavity formed by a bottom blind bore and two opposite facing, spaced apart walls 120d and 122d having arch shaped interior surfaces. Housing 60d further includes a receptacle 96d which is identical with receptacle 96a Receptacle 96d is an integral part of housing and is symmetrical to receptacle 94d. Receptacle 96d includes an outwardly facing cavity formed by a bottom blind bore and two opposite facing, spaced apart walls 130d and 132d having arch shaped interior surfaces FIG. 3D is an enlarged perspective view of the section of FIG. 3A which is encircled by circle 3D. There is shown housing 60d having receptacle 96d with opposite facing walls 130d and 132d and an inner cavity to receive the hooking mechanism.

Referring to FIGS. 1A, 2B and 3A, when the housing of case 6c is connected to housing 60b of case 6b the way housing 60d of case 6d is connected to housing 60a of case 6a and when the housing of case 6c is connected to housing 60d of case 6d the way housing 60b of case 6b is connected to housing 60a of case 6a, array 6 is formed. In a western style configuration, the entire array of four cases may can be flipped from right to left by flipping case 6a or case 6b.

In housings 60a, 60b, 60c and 60d described above, the hooking mechanisms associated therewith are an integral part of the housing. For example, in housing 60d, hooking mechanisms 90d and 92d are an integral part of housing 60d and the disengagement or engagement of those mechanisms from or with receptacles 94a and 96a, respectively, is effected by the inherent spring and elastic properties of the material. In another embodiment of the present invention, hooking mechanisms 90d and 92d are replaced by sliding hooking mechanisms that engage the receptacles by sliding in and out to engage and disengage the receptacles.

Referring to FIG. 4A, there is shown a housing 200 which is similar to housing 60d, except that it is modified to replace the integral hooking mechanisms 90d and 92d with inwardly facing sliding hooking mechanisms 190 and 192, respectively. Hooking mechanism 190 has a peg 204 similar to but longer than peg 104d and hooking mechanism 192 has a peg 214 similar to but slightly longer than peg 114d. Housing 200 includes receptacles 194 and 196 which are identical to receptacles 94a and 96a (shown in FIGS. 3A and 3C), respectively. Receptacles 194 and 196 are configured so as to intimately receive pegs 204 and 214, respectively. Hooking mechanisms 190 and 192 are slidable to place pegs 204 and 214 in engaging or disengaging positions in or away from receptacles similar to receptacles 194 and 196 in another housing.

Hooking mechanisms 190 and 192 include internal springs that are designed to bias and hold hooking mechanisms 190 and 192 to the engaging position, that is the position that pegs 204 and 214 are engagingly inserted in the receptacles, unless a pulling force is applied on hooking mechanisms 190 or 192. In FIG. 4A, hooking mechanism 190 is shown in the engaging position. Hooking mechanism 190 is activated by grasping at a hitch 220 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of the spring to displace away from housing 200 and disengage the receptacle. Once hitch 220 is released, hooking mechanism 190 returns to the engaging position because of the spring force. In FIG. 4A, hooking mechanism 192 is shown in the disengaging position after it is activated by grasping at a hitch 222 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of th spring. Once hitch 222 is released, hooking mechanism 192 returns to the engaging position.

Housing 200 includes a recessed cavity 266 which is suitable dimensioned and configured to receive the media. Cavity 266 includes a wall 270, on one end, and a wall 272, on the other end. An extension 262 extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 270 having a lower surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 270. An extension 264 extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 272 having an upper surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 272. Housing 200 includes a hole 210, a hole 212, a hole 214 and a hole 216. Holes 210, 212, 214 and 216 are positioned on a straight line and the distance between hole 210 and hole 214 is substantially equal to the distance between holes 212 and 216. That distance is about 108 millimeters. The distance between holes 210 and 216 is about 135±5 millimeters.

Referring now to FIG. 4B, there is shown an enlarged view of a perspective, partially exploded view of the section of housing 200 and hooking mechanism 190 within circle B of FIG. 4A. Hooking mechanism 190 with peg 204 has a guide opening 228 and is mounted on housing 200 by inserting a stationary cylinder 226 extending from housing 200 in guide opening 228. The interior surface of guide opening 228 rests on cylinder 226 and hooking mechanism 190 is slidable on cylinder 226 using guide opening 228 as guide. A spring 230 is disposed in housing 200 having one end 232 connected to housing 200 and another end 234 connected to hooking mechanism 190. Spring 230 in the rested position retains hooking mechanism 190 in the engaged position previously described. A cover 236 mounted on hooking mechanism by pins or similar means is used to cover and close hooking mechanism 190. Hooking mechanism 190 is activated to put it in the disengaging position by grasping hitch 220 and pulling against the biasing force of spring 230 to pull peg 204 away from the engaging position. Hooking mechanism 190 rides over stationary cylinder 226 over a predetermined path and for a predetermined distance dictated by guide opening 228 until hooking mechanism 190 reaches its complete disengaged position.

Referring to FIG. 4C, hooking mechanism 190 is shown in the disengaged position after hooking mechanism 190 has traveled over cylinder 226 guided by guide opening 228. Spring 230 applies a biasing force on hooking mechanism 190 pulling it to the engaged position. Once hitch 220 is released, spring 230 retracts hooking mechanism 190 to the resting position which is the position in which hooking mechanism 190 is in the engaging position.

FIG. 4D is an enlarged perspective view of the section of hooking mechanism 192 and housing 200 defined by circle D in FIG. 4A. There is shown hooking mechanism 192 having peg 214 and being mounted on housing 200. A hitch 222 is connected to hooking mechanism 192 to use for grasping and pulling hooking mechanism 192.

Referring to FIG. 4E, there is shown an exploded view of the connection of hitch 220 to the body of hooking mechanism 190. The body has a pivot element 238 with a bore 242 there through. Hitch 220 includes a double clevis 244 having holes 246 and 248 there through. Pivot 238 is received between double clevis 244 and a pin 250 is inserted through aligned hole 246, bore 242 and hole 248 to connect hitch 220 to pivot 238.

Referring to FIG. 5A, there is shown a housing 300 which is similar to housings 200, except that it is modified to replace the sliding integral hooking mechanisms 190 and 192 with inwardly facing rotating hooking mechanisms 290 and 292, respectively. Hooking mechanism 290 has an arch shaped hook 304 and hooking mechanism 292 has a an arch shaped hook 314 which is in its retracted position (not shown in FIG. 5A). Housing 300 includes receptacles 294 and 296 which are identical to receptacles 294 and 296 (shown in FIG. 4A), respectively. Receptacles 294 and 296 are configured so as to intimately receive the ends portions of hooks 304 and 314, respectively. Hooking mechanisms 290 and 292 are rotatable to place hooks 304 and 314 in engaging or disengaging positions in or away from receptacles similar to receptacles 294 and 296 in another housing.

Housing 300 includes a recessed cavity 366 which is suitable dimensioned and configured to receive the media. Cavity 366 includes a wall 370, on one end, and a wall 372, on the other end. Tandem extensions 362 and 363 extend outwardly from and vertically to wall 370 and have a lower surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 370. Tandem extensions 364 and 365 extend outwardly from and vertically to wall 372 and have an upper surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 372. Housing 300 includes a hole 310 on extension 363, a hole 312, a hole 314 and a hole 316 on extension 365. Holes 310, 312, 314 and 316 are positioned on a straight line and the distance between hole 310 and hole 314 is substantially equal to the distance between holes 312 and 316. That distance is about 108 millimeters. The distance between holes 310 and 316 is about 135±5 millimeters.

Hooking mechanisms 290 and 292 include internal springs (not shown in FIG. 5A) that are designed to bias and hold hooking mechanisms 290 and 292 to the engaging position, that is the position that hooks 304 and 314 are engagingly inserted in the receptacles. In FIG. 5A, hooking mechanism 290 is shown in the engaging position. Hooking mechanism 290 is activated by grasping at a hitch 320 which is disposed between extensions 362 and 363 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of the spring to displace away from housing 300 and disengage the receptacle. Once hitch 320 is released, hooking mechanism 290 returns to the engaging position because of the spring force. In FIG. 5A, hooking mechanism 292 is shown in the disengaging position after it is activated by grasping at a hitch 322 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of the spring. Once hitch 322 is released, hooking mechanism 392 returns to the engaging position.

Referring now to FIG. 5B, there is shown an enlarged perspective, partially exploded view of the section of housing 300 and hooking mechanism 290 within circle B of FIG. 5A. Hooking mechanism 290 includes hitch 320, a driver 324 being connected to hitch 320 and having a surface with teeth 326, a first gear 328 engaging teeth 326, a second gear 332 engaging first gear 328, a third gear 336 engaging second gear and a coiled spring 340 being connected to third gear 336, on end, and to housing 300 on the other end. Hitch 320 is connected to driver 324 the same way hitch 220 is connected to the body of hooking mechanism 190 in FIG. 4E. Driver 324 has a guide opening 348 and is slidably mounted on a stationary cylinder 350 which is inserted in guide opening 348. The interior surface of guide opening 348 rests on cylinder 350 and driver 324 is slidable on cylinder 350 using guide opening 348 as guide. First gear 328, second gear 332 and third gear 336 are rotatably mounted on pins 330, 334 and 338, respectively. Hooking mechanism 290 further includes hook 304 which is integrally connected to an inner hub 342 and an arm 346. Inner hub 342 is rotatably mounted on pin 344 and its rotation around pin 344 causes the rotational movement of hook 304. Stationary cylinder 350 and pins 330, 334, 338 and 344 are integral extensions of housing 300. Arm 346 is connected to third gear 336 so that when gear 336 rotates, arm 346 is moved to cause the rotational movement of hook 304. A cover 353 mounted on hooking mechanism 290 by pins or similar means is used to cover and close hooking mechanism 290.

In its rested position, spring 340 retains third gear 336 in a position wherein hook 304 that is connected thereto via arm 346 is in the engaged position that was previously described. Hooking mechanism 290 is activated to put it in the disengaging position by pulling hitch 320 which causes driver 324 to ride over stationary cylinder 350 over a predetermined path and for a predetermined distance dictated by guide opening 348. As driver 324 slides in the pulling direction, it causes first gear 328 to move in a clockwise, second gear 332 in a counterclockwise direction and third gear 336 in a clockwise direction. As third gear 336 moves in a clockwise direction, it moves arm 346 and causes hook 304 to rotate counterclockwise and to its disengaging position. The rotation of third gear 336 cause tension on spring 340 so that the restoring force of spring 340 applies a force that biases hook 304 towards the engaged position.

Referring to FIG. 5C, hooking mechanism 290 is shown in the disengaged position after hooking mechanism 290 has been activated by pulling hitch 320. Hook 304 is in a fully retracted position. Spring 340 applies a biasing force on hook 304 via third gear 336 to return hook 304 to the engaged position. Once hitch 320 is released, spring 340 returns hook 304 to the resting position which is the position in which hooking mechanism 290 is in the engaging position.

In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 5A-5C, hooking mechanisms 290 and 292 are housed in housing 300 and are supported therein by parts of housing 300 that are integral parts of the body of housing 300. Referring now to FIG. 6A, there is shown a housing 400 which is similar to housing 300, except that, in housing 400, the rotating hooking mechanisms and the outermost holes that receive the binder rings are housed in and supported by an assembly which is removably attached to body 401 of housing 400. An assembly 380, shown in a position wherein it is not connected to body 401, includes an inwardly facing rotating hooking mechanism 390 comprising an arch shaped hook 404 and a hitch 420, an extension 463 having a hole 410, a housing element 403 for housing and supporting hooking mechanism 390 and a plurality of screws 467 for affixing assembly 380 to body 401. An assembly 382, shown in a position wherein it is connected to body 401, includes an inwardly facing rotating hooking mechanism 392 comprising an arch shaped hook 414 (not shown in FIG. 6A) and a hitch 422, an extension 465 having a hole 416, a housing element 405 for housing and supporting hooking mechanism 392, and a plurality of screws 469 for securely connecting assembly 382 to body 401. Extensions 463 and 465 are similar to previously described extensions 363 and 365, respectively.

Housing 400 includes receptacles 394 and 396 which are identical to receptacles 294 and 296 (shown in FIG. 5A), respectively. Receptacles 394 and 396 are configured so as to intimately receive the ends portions of hooks 404 and 414, respectively. Hooking mechanisms 390 and 392 are rotatable to place hooks 404 and 414 in engaging or disengaging positions in or away from receptacles similar to receptacles 394 and 396 in another housing, as further described herein.

Housing 400 includes a recessed cavity 466 which is suitable dimensioned and configured to receive the media Cavity 466 includes a wall 470, on one end, and a wall 472, on the other end. Extension 462 extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 470 and has a lower surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 470. Extension 464 extends outwardly from and vertically to wall 472 and has an upper surface on substantially the same level as the middle point of wall 472. Housing 400 includes a hole 412 and a hole 414. In the assembled position wherein assemblies 380 and 382 are connected to body 401, holes 410, 412, 414 and 416 are positioned on a straight line and the distance between hole 410 and hole 414 is substantially equal to the distance between holes 412 and 416. That distance is about 108 millimeters. The distance between holes 410 and 416 is about 135±5 millimeters.

Hooking mechanisms 390 and 392 include internal springs (not shown in FIG. 6A) that are designed to bias and hold hooking mechanisms 390 and 392 to the engaging position, that is the position that hooks 404 and 414 are engagingly inserted in the receptacles. In FIG. 6A, hooking mechanism 390 is shown in the engaging position. Hooking mechanism 390 is activated by grasping hitch 420 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of the spring to displace away from housing 400 and disengage the receptacle. Once hitch 420 is released, hooking mechanism 390 returns to the engaging position because of the spring force. In FIG. 6A, hooking mechanism 392 is shown in the disengaging position after it is activated by grasping at hitch 422 and pulling opposite to the biasing force of the spring. Once hitch 422 is released, hooking mechanism 392 returns to the engaging position.

Referring now to FIG. 7A, there is shown a perspective, partially exploded view of assembly 380 of FIG. 6A. Hooking mechanism 390 includes hitch 420, a driver 424 being connected to hitch 420 and having a surface with teeth 426, a first gear 428 engaging teeth 426, a second gear 432 engaging first gear 428, a third gear 436 engaging second gear and a coiled spring 440 being connected to third gear 436, on end, and to housing 403 on the other end. Driver 424 has a guide opening 448 and is slidably mounted on a stationary cylinder 450 which is inserted in guide opening 448. The interior surface of guide opening 448 rests on cylinder 450 and driver 424 is slidable on cylinder 450 using guide opening 448 as guide. First gear 428, second gear 432 and third gear 436 are rotatably mounted on pins 430, 434 and 438, respectively. Hooking mechanism 390 further includes hook 404 which is integrally connected to an inner hub 442 and an arm 446. Inner hub 442 is rotatably mounted on pin 444 and its rotation around pin 444 causes the rotational movement of hook 404. Stationary cylinder 450 and pins 430, 434, 438 and 444 are integral extensions of housing 403. Arm 446 is connected to third gear 436 so that when gear 436 rotates, arm 446 is moved to cause the rotational movement of hook 404. A cover 453 mounted on housing 403 by pins or screws 467 is used to cover and enclose housing 403.

In its rested position, spring 440 retains third gear 436 in a position wherein hook 404 that is connected thereto via arm 446 is in the engaged position that was previously described. Hooking mechanism 390 is activated to put it in the disengaging position by pulling hitch 420 which causes driver 424 to ride over stationary cylinder 450 over a predetermined path and for a predetermined distance dictated by guide opening 448. As driver 424 slides in the pulling direction, it causes first gear 428 to move in a clockwise, second gear 432 in a counterclockwise direction and third gear 436 in a clockwise direction. As third gear 436 moves in a clockwise direction, it moves arm 446 and causes hook 404 to rotate counterclockwise and to its disengaging position. The rotation of third gear 436 cause tension on spring 440 so that the restoring force of spring 440 applies a force that biases hook 404 towards the engaged position.

Referring to FIG. 7B, hooking mechanism 390 of FIG. 7A is shown in the disengaged position after hooking mechanism 390 has been activated by pulling hitch 420. Hook 404 is in a fully retracted position. Spring 440 applies a biasing force on hook 404 via third gear 436 to return hook 404 to the engaged position. Once hitch 420 is released, spring 440 returns hook 404 to the resting position which is the position in which hooking mechanism 390 is in the engaging position.

Referring now to FIG. 7C, there is shown the connection between extension 463 having hole 410 and housing 403. Housing 403 includes a double pivot 411 a and 411 b having tandem bore 413a and 413b, respectively. Extension 463 has a double clevis 415a and 415b having tandem openings 417a and 417b. A pin 419 is inserted through openings 417a, bore 413a, opening 417 b and bore 413b to form a “hinge like” connection wherein extension 463 is allowed to swing.

The hard cases described may be used to store several types of media such as compact disks, floppy disks, zip disks and other media or booklets. In order to a accommodate a specific medium the recessed cavity of the housing of the hard is appropriately configured to intimately receive and retained therein the medium for storage, transportation or the like. FIG. 8A shows housing 60a which was previously described with a recessed cavity 66a configured to receive a compact disk 550. A retaining mechanism 552a is placed in the middle of the bottom of recessed cavity 66a to engage and retain compact disk 550. Retaining mechanism 552a is attached to the bottom of recessed cavity by inserting a connecting portion thereof in apertures 554a and 556a. Retaining mechanism 552a may be also an integral part of housing 60a. FIG. 8B shows compact disk 550 intimately received in recessed cavity 66a of housing 60a and retained therein by retaining mechanism 552a.

Referring now to FIG. 8C, there is shown housing 60a having an alternative design of a retaining mechanism 558a which is an integral part of housing 60a for receiving compact disk 550. Retaining mechanism 558a has an interior grasping section 565a formed by a ring and two perpendicular crossing walls inside the ring forming cavities for receiving the fingers of a person, a segmented ring 559a being disposed outside grasping section 565a and comprised of six ring segments and six elevation spokes 561a being outside segmented ring 559a. Grasping section 56a, segmented ring 559a and elevation spokes 561a are attached to the bottom of the recessed cavity of housing 60a. Retaining mechanism 558a is made of flexible plastic material commonly used in the construction of media retaining mechanisms employed in compact disk storage cases.

Referring now to FIG. 8D, there is shown an enlargement of retaining mechanism 558a having interior grasping section 565a, segmented ring 559a being disposed outside grasping section 565a and comprised of six ring segments and six elevation spokes 561a being outside segmented ring 559a. Each of the ring segments of segmented ring 559a has an outwardly projecting upper retaining flange 563a. Segmented ring 559a has a segmented outer cylindrical surface suitably sized to be intimately inserted in the central circular opening of a standard compact disk. Retaining flanges 563a are also arranged in a segmented circular configuration and, in their rested position, they extend beyond that segmented cylindrical surface. The upper surfaces of the segments of segmented ring 559a are tapered with the higher end being on the inside and the lower end being on the outside.

In order to engage the compact disk with retaining mechanism 558a, the interior opening of the compact disk is aligned with the segmented outer cylindrical surface of segmented ring 559a and is pressed down on tapered upper surface of segmented ring 559a. The pressure causes the segments of segmented ring 559a to move inwardly until the compact disk passes over flanges 563a and comes to rest on elevation spokes 561a The restoring force causes the segments of segmented ring 559a to move outwards and flanges 563a to retainingly engage the compact disk. FIG. 8E shows compact disk 550 retained by retaining mechanism 558a.

FIG. 9A shows housing 60a with a recessed cavity 66a suitably configured to receive a floppy disk 560. Space guides 562a (not shown), 562b, 562c and 562d extend from the bottom of recessed cavity 66b and are spaced apart to provide stabilizing walls for floppy disk 560. Retaining mechanisms 564a (not shown), 564b, 564c and 564d also extending vertically from the bottom of recessed cavity 66a are spaced apart to provide stabilizing walls and retaining hooks for floppy disk 560. FIG. 9B shows floppy disk 560 intimately received in recessed cavity 66a of housing 60a and are positioned and retained therein by space guides 562a, 562b, 562c and 562d and retaining mechanism 564a, 564b, 564c and 564d.

FIG. 9C shows housing 60a with a recessed cavity 66a suitably configured to receive a zip disk 570. Space guides 562c and 562d extend from the bottom of recessed cavity 66b and are spaced apart to provide stabilizing walls for zip disk 560. Retaining mechanisms 564a (not shown), 564b, 564c and 564d also extending vertically from the bottom of recessed cavity 66a are spaced apart to provide space guides, stabilizing walls and retaining hooks for zip disk 570.

FIG. 9D shows zip disk 570 intimately received in recessed cavity 66a of housing 60a and are positioned and retained therein by space guides 562c and 562d and retaining mechanism 564a, 564b, 564c and 564d.

FIG. 9E shows space guide 562a extending from the bottom of recessed cavity 66a of housing 60b providing a space guide for floppy disk 560. Space guide 562a includes a lower vertical wall section 567a and an upper ramp section 568a to facilitate the easier insertion of floppy disk 560 between the space guides.

FIG. 9F shows details of retaining mechanism 564a having a wall 569a extending vertically from the bottom of recessed cavity 66a of housing 60a and a hook portion 571a. Wall 569a provides a space guide and support for hook portion 571a that hooks on floppy disk 560. Retaining mechanism 564a is suitably constructed with sufficient flexibility to allow for the insertion of floppy disk 560 and sufficient spring strength to return to the resting position and snappingly engage floppy disk 560.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the housing disclosed herein is designed to have a recessed cavity on one side only to store the media In another embodiment, the housing is designed with two recessed cavities, one on each side. Referring to FIG. 10A there is shown a cross sectional view of housing 60a taken along line 10A_10A of FIG. 3A. There is shown recessed cavity 66a having walls 70a and 72a and extensions 62a and 64a, as previously described. FIG. 10C is an enlarged view of one end portion of housing 60a designated by circle 10C in FIG. 10A. Housing 60a has recessed cavity 66a, wall 72a and extension 64a extending outwardly from wall 72a.

FIG. 10B is a cross section of a housing 600 made in accordance with the present invention having a recessed cavity 660, on one side, and a recessed cavity 670, on the other side. Cavities 660 and 670 have a wall 700 on a one end and a wall 720, on the opposite end. An extension 620 similar to extension 62a extends outwardly and perpendicularly from wall 700. The lower surface of extension 620 extends from the middle point of wall 620. An extension 640 extends outwardly and perpendicularly from wall 720. The upper surface of extension 640 extends from the middle point of wall 620. FIG. 10D is an enlarged view of one end portion of housing 600 designated by circle 10D in FIG. 10B. Housing 600 has recessed cavities 660 and 670, wall 720 and extension 640 extending outwardly from wall 720.

As described above, the housings disclosed have either one or two recessed cavities and have case cover mountings for attaching a case cover either on the end that has the holes for receiving the binder or on the opposite end where the receptacles are. According to the present invention, a modular, single design case cover is disclosed that can be used as cover in both single or double recessed cavity housings and can be mounted in both mounting ends of the housings without requiring modification. Referring now to FIG. 11A, a double recessed cavity housing is designed to accommodate the use of such a modular case cover.

Figure is a fragmented top view of housing 600 having hooking mechanisms 90a an 92a and receptacles 94a and 96a, as the ones shown in FIG. 3A, extensions 620 and 640 that are similar to extensions 62a and 64a (shown in FIG. 2A), a recessed cavity 660 and a recessed cavity 670 (not shown in FIG. 11A but shown in FIG. 10B). In order to better describe the invention, a straight line 601 is shown which passes through the middle point of recessed cavity 660 and is parallel to extensions 620 and 640. Line 601 and a similar line that passes through the middle point of cavity 670 are on the same plane which is generally perpendicular to housing 600. That plane is designated herein as Plane A. A line 603 is also shown which is perpendicular to line 601 and passes though the middle point of recessed cavity 660. Line 603 and a similar line that passes through the middle point of recessed cavity 670 define a plane which is perpendicular to Plane A and generally perpendicular to housing 600. That plane is referred to herein as Plane B.

Housing 600 includes case cover mountings 605, 607, 609 and 611 which are on the end that has the holes that receive the binder rings and case cover mountings 613, 615, 617 and 619 on the opposite end. Case cover mountings 619, 617, 615, and 613 are mirror images of case cover mountings 605, 607, 609, and 611, respectively with respect to Plane B. Case cover mountings 609, 611, 613, and 615 are mirror images of case cover mountings 607, 605, 619, and 617, respectively with respect to Plane A. Therefore, a description of case cover mountings 605 and 607 is sufficient to describe the remaining case mountings.

An enlargement of case cover mountings 605 and 607 is shown in FIG. 11B. Case cover mounting 605 includes an open end slot 621 in housing 600, a closed end slot 623 and a bearing 625 having an axis perpendicular to slots 621 and 623. Bearing 625 is formed by spaced apart tandem walls 627 and 629 having arched surfaces on their facing ends. FIG. 11C shows slot 623 and walls 627 and 629 of FIG. 1B. Walls 627 and 629 have ends with arched surfaces 631 and 633, respectively that form a segmented cylinder that acts as a bearing for intimately receiving a journal from a case cover (not shown). Wall 627 has tapered ends 635 and 637 on either side of curved surface 631. Further, wall 629 has tapered ends 639 and 641 on either side of curved surface 633.

Referring back to FIG. 11B, case cover mounting 607 includes an open end slot 643 in housing 600, a closed end slot 645 and a bearing 647 having an axis perpendicular to slots 643 and 645. Bearing 647 is similar to bearing 625 and is formed by spaced apart tandem walls 649 and 651 having arched surfaces 653 and 655 on their respective facing ends. Arched surfaces 653 and 655 form a segmented cylinder that acts as a bearing for intimately receiving a journal from a case cover (not shown).

Referring to FIG. 12A, case 6a has a housing 60a, as the one previously described in FIGS. 2A and 3A, and a case cover 61a being rotatably connected to housing 60a via case cover mountings 63a and 65a which are proximate to the holes receiving the rings of the ring binder. Case cover 61a includes a generally flat section 161a which is sufficiently sized to cover housing 60a. FIG. 12C is an enlargement of the connection between case cover 61a and housing 60a via case cover mounting 63a. Case cover mounting 63a is similar to case cover mounting 605 previously described. Accordingly, it includes an open end slot 71 in housing 60a, a closed end slot 73 and a bearing 75 having an axis perpendicular to slots 71 and 73. Bearing 75 is formed by spaced apart tandem walls 77 and 79 having arched surfaces on their facing ends. Case cover 61a has an arm 81a extending perpendicularly therefrom and a journal 83a extending perpendicularly therefrom arm 81a. Arm 81a is received in slot 71 and journal 83a is received and supported in bearing 75 where it is allowed to rotate.

FIG. 12E is another view of the connection between case cover 61a and housing 60a. Arm 81a of case cover 61a is received in slot 71 and journal 83a is received and supported in bearing 75 where it is allowed to rotate. Bearing 75 is formed by spaced apart tandem walls 77 and 79 having arched surfaces 731 and 733 on their facing ends, respectively. Wall 77 has tapered ends 735 and 737 on either side of curved surface 731. Further, wall 79 has tapered ends 739 and 741 on either side of curved surface 733. Journal 83a is inserted in bearing 75 by pushing journal 83a to advance it on tapered surfaces 737 and 741 causing walls 77 and 79 to move further apart until journal 83a snaps into place in bearing 75. Walls 77 and 79 return to their rested position and retain journal 83a in bearing 75.

Referring back to FIG. 12A, case cover 61a includes a second arm 810a identical with arm 81a and a journal 830a identical with journal 83a which engage case cover mounting 65a like arm 81a and journal 83a engage case cover mounting 63a.

Referring to FIG. 12B, case cover 61a is connected to housing 60a via case cover mountings 67a and 69a on the end that is proximate to receptacles 94a and 96a. FIG. 12D is an enlargement of the connection between case cover 61a and housing 60a via case cover mounting 67a. Case cover mounting 67a is similar to case cover mounting 613 previously described. Accordingly, it includes an open end slot 85 in housing 60a, a closed end slot 87 and a bearing 89 having an axis perpendicular to slots 85 and 87. Bearing 89 is formed by spaced apart tandem walls 91 and 93 having arched surfaces on their facing ends. Arm 81a is received in slot 85 and journal 83a is received and supported in bearing 89 where it is allowed to rotate. Flat section 161a includes a crease area 189a where cover 61a is more flexible and readily bendable.

Referring back to FIG. 12B, second arm 810a which is identical with arm 81a and journal 830a which is identical with journal 83a engage case cover mounting 69a like arm 81a and journal 83a engage case cover mounting 67a.

FIG. 13A shows housing 600, previously described in FIGS. 10b and 11A, having case cover mountings 605, 607, 609 and 611, on the end that is connected to the binder, and case cover mountings 613, 615, 617 and 619, on the opposite end. Case covers 61a and 61 b which are identical are mounted on housing 600 to cover recessed cavities 660 and 670 (not shown in FIG. 13A), respectively. Case cover 61a is rotatably connected to housing 600 via case cover mountings 605 and 609. Case cover 61b is rotatably connected to housing 600 via case cover mountings 607 and 611. It should be understood, that case cover 61b is identical with case cover 61a. Hence, case cover 61b has arms 81b and 810b extending perpendicularly from section 161b and journals 83b and 830b extending perpendicularly from arm 81b and 810b, respectively.

FIG. 13B is an enlargement of the connection between case cover 61a and housing 600 via case cover mounting 605 and case cover 61b via case cover mounting 607 which is the area designated by circle 13B in FIG. 13A. There is shown journal 83a supported by arm 81a of case cover 61a being rotatably disposed in bearing 625 of case cover mounting 605. Journal 830b which is connected to case cover 61b is rotatably disposed in bearing 647.

Referring back to FIG. 13A, journal 830a supported by arm 810a of case cover 61a is rotatably disposed in the bearing of case cover mounting 609 and journal 83b of case cover 61b is rotatably disposed in the bearing of case cover mounting 611. Covers 61a and 61b are securely and rotatably connected to housing 600 and can be opened and closed without interfering with each other.

It should be understood that case covers 61a and 61b can be similarly mounted on the other end of the housing by mounting case cover 61a on case cover mountings 613 and 617 and case cover 61b on case cover mountings 615 and 619.

The case covers made in accordance with the present invention may or may not include a media storage compartment to store a booklet, a compact disks, a floppy disk, a zip disk or the like. Referring to FIG. 14A, there is shown a case cover 861a which includes a media storage compartment 866a for storing a booklet. Case cover 866a includes arms 81a and 810a extending perpendicularly from the body of case cover 886a Journal 83a extends perpendicularly from arm 81a and journal 830a extends perpendicularly from arm 810a. Journals 83a and 830a point to the same direction and their axis is on the same line. Arms 81a and 810a and journals 83a and 830a are the same in all covers and are positioned in the same location in all covers so that the same cover design (with or without a media compartment) may be used in single or double storage housings and for all case cover mounting applications previously described. Referring now to FIG. 14B there is shown an enlarged view of arm 81a extending from the body of case cover 861a and journal 83a extending perpendicularly from arm 81a.

Referring now to FIG. 14C, there is shown the relative position of journals 83a and 830a with respect to each other on a case 61a, a case without media storage compartment. It should be understood, however, that the relative position is the same in all case covers regardless on whether they include media storage compartments. To further clarify the invention, a line 790 passes through the center of case cover 861a. A line 791 is parallel to line 790 and passes adjacent to the arm supporting journal 830a. A line 792 is parallel to line 790 and passes adjacent to the arm supporting journal 83a. The distance between lines 790 and 791 is equal to the distance between lines 790 and 792. Journal 830a points towards 790 and away from line 791. Journal 83a points away from lines 792 and 790. It should be understood that the various case cover mountings previously described in connection with single or double storage housings are positioned so as to accommodate the usage of the universal case cover design with the universal arm/journal design and positioning described herein.

Referring now back to FIGS. 14A and 14B, case cover 861a includes an outer wall 867a which is suitably designed to conform with and be positioned in tandem with the wall on the housing when case cover 861a is closed. Further, case cover 861a includes a raised wall 868a which is interiorly of and abutting wall 867a. Wall 868a is so configured so as to be intimately inserted inside the wall of the housing when case cover 861a is closed to seal the recessed cavity of the housing and to protect the stored media. In the case of case covers that do not have a media storage compartment, wall 867a is not present. Still referring to FIG. 14A, case cover 861a includes extensions 870a, 871a, 872a and 873a to engage and retain the booklet in the booklet storage compartment. Case cover 861a includes locking mechanisms 874a and 875a that engage corresponding mechanisms in the housing to lockingly engage the housing with case cover 861a.

Referring now to FIG. 14G, there is shown and enlargement of locking mechanism 874a. There is shown case cover 866a with walls 867a and 868a. A groove 893a in wall 868a is configured to intimately receive and engage a projection in the housing such as projection 169a or 165a (shown in FIG. 2A).

FIG. 14D shows a case cover 862a configured to receive a compact disk 550. A retaining mechanism 552a as the one described in FIG. 8A retains compact disk 550 therein.

FIG. 14E shows a case cover 863a with a storage compartment suitably configured to receive a floppy disk 560. Floppy disk 560 is intimately received in case cover 863a and is positioned and retained therein by space guides 562a, 562b, 562c and 562d and retaining mechanisms 564a, 564b, 564c and 564d similar to the ones described in FIG. 9B.

FIG. 14F shows a case cover 864a with a storage compartment suitably configured to receive a zip disk 570. Zip disk 570 is intimately received in case cover 864a and is positioned and retained therein by space guides 562c and 562d and retaining mechanisms 564a, 564b, 564c and 564d similar to the ones previously described in FIG. 9D.

FIGS. 15A and 15C show retaining mechanism 552a having an elevation ring 802, two symmetrical release segments 808, two symmetrical release segments 818, two symmetrical guide ring segments 826, two symmetrical guide ring segments 828 and two symmetrical connecting members 830. Retaining mechanism 552a is an integral piece made of flexible plastic material commonly used in the construction of media retaining mechanisms employed in compact disk storage cases. Elevation ring 802 has an exterior conical surface with a lower exterior diameter 804 being larger than an upper exterior diameter 806. Release segment 808 has a wall 810 connected to elevation ring 802, an outwardly projecting retaining flange 814 and a generally flat activation member 812. Release segment 818 has a wall 820 connected to elevation ring 802, an outwardly projecting retaining flange 824 and a generally flat activation member 822. Guide ring segment 826 is connected to elevation ring 802 between release segments 808 and 818. Guide ring segment 828 is connected to elevation ring 802. Connecting member 830 extends from interiorly from guide ring segment 828. Walls 810 and 820 and guide ring segments 826 and 828 have exterior curved surfaces that are arranged and connected to elevation ring 802 in a circular configuration so as to form a segmented outer cylindrical surface having a diameter substantially equal to upper diameter 806 of elevation ring 802 and suitably sized to be intimately inserted in the central circular opening of a standard compact disk (shown in FIG. 8B). Retaining flanges 814 and 824 are also arranged in a segmented circular configuration and, in their rested position, they extend beyond the exterior surfaces of walls 810 and 820 and guide ring segments 826 and 828.

Referring now to FIG. 15B there is shown a cross sectional view of retaining mechanism 552a taken along lines A and B of FIG. 15A. There is shown retaining mechanism 552a having elevation ring 802 with lower exterior diameter 804 and smaller upper exterior diameter 806. Activation member 822 of release segment 818 is connected to elevation ring 802 via wall 820 over a relief cavity 838. Retaining flange 824 extends beyond the exterior surface of wall 820. Activation member 812 of release segment 808 also extends over relief cavity 838. Guide ring segment 828 is connected to elevation ring 802 and connecting member 830 extends from guide ring segment 828 inwardly. A retaining pin 832 extends downwards from connecting member 830 and is one of the two pins (the other being an identical pin extending from th other connecting member 830) that are used to securely connect retaining mechanism 552a to apertures 554a and 556a (shown in FIG. 8A).

FIG. 15D shows retaining pin 832 extending from connecting member 830. Retaining pin 832 is a segmented pin with an enlarged head having four identical resilient segments 834 with relief slots 836 there between. Segments 834 are biased towards each other to reduce the enlarged head so that it can be inserted in aperture 554a or 556a Once it is inserted in the aperture, the biasing force is discontinued and the enlarged head returns to its resting position to securely retain retaining pin 832 and securely connect retaining mechanism 552a to housing 60a (shown in FIG. 8B). A retaining mechanism is connected likewise to a cover when a cover is used to store a compact disk.

Referring now to FIGS. 15A through 15C, a compact disk is attached by simultaneously pressing release segments 808 and 818 to retract retaining flanges 814 and 814, passing the interior hole of the compact disk over the retracted flanges 812 and 814 and allowing the compact disk to be intimately received over the segmented exterior cylindrical surface formed by walls 810 and 820 and guide ring segments 826 and 828. The compact disk comes to rest on the upper portion of elevation ring 802 whereby it does not touch the bottom of the housing to avoid scratching or other damage that can be caused by such contact. When the pressing on release segments 808 and 818 is discontinued, the resilient release segments 808 and 818 return to the resting position thereby returning the retaining flanges 814 and 814 to their resting position to retain the compact disk in the housing. The compact disk is released by similarly pressing the resilient release segments 808 and 818 to retract the retaining flanges 814 and 824 and pass the compact disk over the retracted flanges.

Another compact disk retaining mechanism 850 is shown in FIGS. 16A and 16C. Retaining mechanism 850 includes an elevation ring 851, a main body 852 comprising branches 854, 856 and 858 and connecting members 853 and 855, and curved fingers 868, 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878. The end portions of branches 854, 856 and 858 are attached to elevation ring 851 and have outer arc ends 860, 862 and 864, respectively, that form a segmented outer cylindrical surface suitably sized to intimately receive a compact disk over it. Elevation ring 851 has an exterior conical surface with a lower exterior diameter 881 being larger than an upper exterior diameter 883. Upper exterior diameter 883 is substantially equal to the diameter of outer arc ends 860, 862 and 864.

Curved fingers 868 and 870 extend circumferentially in opposite directions from the end portion of branch 854 with the exterior surfaces of curved fingers 868 and 870 transitioning smoothly from outer arc end 860 at the points of connection and gradually advancing beyond the imaginary circumference of the segmented cylinder formed by arc ends 860, 862 and 864. A retaining flange 869 extends from curved finger 868 with the extension span of retaining flange 869 gradually and smoothly increasing from nil to its maximum as one advances from the point of connection of curved finger 868 and outer arc end 860 to the free end of curved finger 868. Similar retaining flanges 871, 873, 875, 877 and 879 with similarly increasing spans extend from curved fingers 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878, respectively. The upper surfaces of fingers 868, 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878 are tapered with the higher end being on the inside and the lower end being on the outside.

Each one of connecting members 853 and 855 includes retaining pin 832 like the one previously described in connection with retaining mechanism 552a in FIG. 15D. Retaining pins 832 securely connects retaining mechanism 850 to housing 60a (shown in FIG. 8B). A retaining mechanism is connected likewise to a cover when a cover is used to store a compact disk.

Referring now to FIG. 16D, there is shown a cross sectional view of retaining mechanism 850 taken along line 16D-16D of FIG. 16A. There is shown elevation ring 851 with lower diameter 881 and upper diameter 883, branch 858 of body 852 having an outer arc end 864, connecting members 853 and 855 with retaining pins 832, and finger 870 having retaining flange 871.

Referring now to FIG. 16D, there is shown an enlargement of the section of FIG. 16B encircled by circle 16D. There is shown finger 870 having an exterior surface extending beyond the surface defined by upper diameter 883 of elevation ring 851 and a retaining flange 871 extending from finger 870. Upper outer facing surface 885 of flange 871 is curved. Referring now to FIG. 16E, there is shown an enlargement of section of FIG. 16C enclosed by circle 16E showing finger 874 having retaining flange 875.

In order to engage the compact disk with retaining mechanism 850, the interior opening of the compact disk is aligned with the segmented outer cylindrical surface formed by outer arc ends 860, 862 and 864 and is pressed down on curved fingers 868, 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878. The pressure causes curved fingers 868, 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878 with the upper tapered ends to move inwardly until the compact disk passes over flanges 869, 871, 873, 875, 877 and 879 and comes to rest on elevation ring 851. The restoring force causes resilient curved fingers 868, 870, 872, 874, 876 and 878 to move outwards and flanges 869, 871, 873, 875, 877 and 879 to retainingly engage the compact disk.

Referring to FIG. 17A, there is shown soft case 18a which is also shown in FIG. 1A as part of array 18. Soft case 18a is made by bonding together plastic sheets of well known material suitable material for the construction of soft cases. Soft case 18a includes a pocket 900a formed between base sheet 901a and front sheet 902a to receive and house compact disk 550. A generally triangularly shaped flap 906a (shown is a partially opened position) with its fixed end attached adjacent to end 907a is configured so as to allow the insertion of the compact disk, in the open position, and to close the open end of pocket 900a, in the closed position, to protect the enclosed compact disk from dust, scratching and the like as well as from sliding out of the pockets. A small pocket 908a adjacent to end 907a formed by base sheet 901a and a narrow front strip receives a small portion 909a of compact disk 550 and serves as a stop and stabilizing element for compact disk 550.

An extension 910a extends outwardly on one side of soft case 18a and an extension 920a which is a mirror image of extension 910a extends outwardly on the other side of soft case 18a. Extension 910a includes an elongate pouch 911a for housing an elongate flat strip 912a having two flat sides, one magnetic or one non magnetic. Strip 912a is inserted in or removed from pouch 911a through aperture 913a. Strip 912a can be one piece having one magnetic and one non magnetic section connected together or two separate flat strips, one magnetic and one non magnetic. Pouch 911a has an elongate opening 915a over a portion of strip 912a to allow the direct contact of the strip with another strip. Extension 910a further includes hole 26a. Extension 920a, being a mirror image of extension 910a includes an elongate pouch 921a for housing an elongate flat strip 922a having two flat sides, one magnetic and on non magnetic. Strip 922a can be inserted in or removed from pouch 921a through aperture 923a. Pouch 921a has an elongate opening 925a over a portion of strip 922a to allow the direct contact of the strip with another strip. Extension 920a further includes hole 20a.

Soft case 18a includes bonded sections 914a and 924a Hole 24a is disposed in bonded section 914a and hole 22a is disposed in bonded section 924a Holes 20a, 22a, 24a and 26a are positioned on a straight line and the distance between hole 20a and hole 24a is substantially equal to the distance between holes 22a and 26a. That distance is about 108 millimeters. The distance between holes 20a and 26a is about 135±5 millimeters.

Soft case 18a further includes straps 930a, 932a, 934a and 936a which are used to connect soft cases like soft case 18a together. Strap 930a is a generally flat member having a semicircular exterior end portion 938a, a semicircular cut 940a forming a semicircular interior portion 942a and a rectangular aperture 944a between cut 940a and hole 26a.

Strap 936a is a mirror image of strap 930a and strap 934a is a mirror image of strap 932a with respect to a plane which is perpendicular to extension 910a. Strap 932a is a mirror image of strap 930a and strap 934a is a mirror image of strap 936a with respect to a plane which is perpendicular to the plane of case 18a and parallel with extensions 910a and 920a. Accordingly, strap 932a includes a semicircular exterior end portion 917a, a semicircular cut 919a forming a semicircular interior portion 927a and a rectangular aperture 945a. Strap 934a includes a semicircular exterior end portion 933a, a semicircular cut 935a forming a semicircular interior portion 937a and a rectangular aperture 929a. Strap 936a includes a semicircular exterior end portion 948a, a semicircular cut 950a forming a semicircular interior portion 952a and a rectangular aperture 954a. The sheets used to form soft case 18a are bonded in bonded sections 914a and 924a, straps 930a, 932a, 934a and 936a, end 907 a and on extensions 910a and 920a, interiorly and exteriorly of pouches 911a and 921a.

Referring now to FIG. 17B, there is shown a soft case 19a which is similar to soft case 18a except for the fact that its pocket is increased by removing bonded sections 914a and 924a and holes 22a and 24a. Booklets or the like can be stored in the increased size pocket. Soft case 19a is used only in connection with binders that have rings that are spaced at a distance of 135±5 millimeters.

Soft case 18a may be constructed with one pocket or with two pockets, one on the front and one on the back. Referring now to FIG. 18A, there is shown a cross sectional view of soft case 18a having one pocket taken along line 18-18 of FIG. 17A. Soft case 18a has pocket 900a formed between front sheet 901a and base sheet 902a to receive and house compact disk 550. Extension 910a extends outwardly on one side of soft case 18a and extension 920a which is a mirror image of extension 910a extends outwardly on the other side of soft case 18a. Extension 910a includes pouch 911a for housing strip 912a which includes a magnetic and a non magnetic portion. Extension 920a includes pouch 921a for housing flat strip 922a which includes a magnetic and a non magnetic portion. The sheets forming soft case 18a are bonded on extensions 910a and 920a, interiorly and exteriorly of pouches 911a and 921a, at 953a, 955a, 965a and 963a.

FIG. 18C is an enlargement of the section of soft case 18a encircled in FIG. 18A by circle 18C. There is shown soft case 18a with pocket 900a formed between base sheet 901a and front sheet 902a housing compact disk 550. Extension 920a includes pouch 921a housing flat strip 922a and having opening 925a over it. Strip 922a includes an upper portion 959a and a lower portion 961a. Depending on whether the configuration is western or eastern, one of portions 959a and 961a is magnetic and the other non magnetic. The sheets forming soft case 18a are bonded at 965a and 963a.

Referring now to FIG. 18B, there is shown a cross sectional view of a soft case 218a having two pockets. Soft case 218a is similar to soft case 18a except that soft case 218a has two pockets. Soft case 218a has pocket 900a formed between front sheet 901a and base sheet 902a and a pocket 990a formed between base sheet 902a and back sheet 931a housing compact disks 550. Extension 930a extends outwardly from the middle section of one side of soft case 218a and extension 940a which is a mirror image of extension 930a extends outwardly on the other side of soft case 218a. Extension 930a includes pouch 911a for housing magnetic or non magnetic strip 912a and a pouch 941a for housing a magnetic or non magnetic strip 942a. Extension 940a includes pouch 921a for housing flat magnetic or non magnetic strip 922a and a pouch 951a for housing a magnetic or non magnetic strip 952a. The sheets forming soft case 218a are bonded on extensions 930a and 940a at 973a, 975a, 985a and 983a.

FIG. 18D is an enlargement of the section of soft case 218a encircled in FIG. 18B by circle 18D. There is shown soft case 218a with pockets 900a and 990a formed between base sheet 902a and front sheet 901a and base sheet 902a and back sheet 931a housing compact disks 550. Extension 940a includes pouch 921a for housing flat magnetic or non magnetic strip 922a and having opening 925a over it, and a pouch 951a for housing a magnetic or non magnetic strip 952a and having an opening 955a over it. The sheets forming soft case 218a are bonded at 985a and 983a.

Referring now to FIG. 19A there are shown soft cases 18a and 18d connected to form half of array 18 shown in FIG. 1A. As previously described, soft case 18a has straps 930a, 932a, 934a and 936a which are used to connect soft cases like soft case 18a together. Soft case 18d is identical to soft case 18a and the corresponding parts thereof are designated by the same numbers as the ones used for soft case 18a followed by the letter “d” substituting for the letter “a.” Accordingly, soft case 18d has straps 930d, 932d, 934d and 936d which are used to connect it to another soft case. Soft case 18d is connected to soft case 18a by engaging strap 936a with strap 930d and strap 934a with strap 932d.

Referring now to FIG. 19B, there is shown an enlarged view of the engagement between straps 934a and 932d in the area contained within circle 19B. Strap 934a extending from soft case 18a engages strap 932d extending from case 18d by inserting semicircular exterior portion 933a and semicircular interior portion 937a of strap 934a through a rectangular aperture 945d and expanding portions 933a and 937a to securely engage soft case 18d. Similarly, strap 932d engages strap 934a by inserting semicircular exterior portion 917d and semicircular interior portion 927d of strap 932d through a rectangular aperture 929a and expanding portions 917d and 927a to securely engage soft case 18a.

Referring back to FIG. 19A, unused straps 930a, 932a, 934d and 936d are folded inwards to a secure position. Referring to FIG. 19C, there is shown an enlarged view of the folding of strap 930a of soft case 18a. Strap 930a is folded downwardly and rearwardly at 941a, exterior semicircular portion 938a and interior semicircular portion 942a are inserted in rectangular aperture 944a and are allowed to expand to securely remain in the folded position.

Referring now to FIG. 20A, there are shown four identical soft cases 18a, 18b, 18c and 18d being connected to form array 18 of FIG. 1A for mounting to a binder. The corresponding parts of each of those identical soft cases are designated by the same numbers followed by the letter corresponding to the specific case. For example, in soft case 18b, the extension which is identical with extension 910a of soft case 18a is 910b. Accordingly, like soft case 18a that has extensions 910a and 920a, previously described, soft cases 18b, 18c and 18d have extensions 910b and 920bs extensions 910c and 920c, and extensions 910d and 920d.

Soft cases 18a and 18d are connected to each other, as previously described in connection with FIGS. 19A, 19B and 19C. Further, soft cases 18b and 18c are connected to each other in a similar fashion by using corresponding straps. Still referring to FIG. 20A, identical housings 18a and 18b are aligned for connection to binder 32 (not shown in FIG. 20A but shown in FIG. 1B) by superimposing extension 910a over extension 920b and hole 26a over hole 20b. Strip 912a in extensions 910a has a lower magnetic section and an upper non magnetic section. Strip 922b in extension 920b has an upper magnetic section and a lower non magnetic section. The magnetic sections of strips 912a and 922b cause extensions 910a and 920b to stick together. Similarly, identical housings 18d and 18c are aligned for connection by superimposing extension 910d over extension 920c with strips having magnetic and non magnetic sections being disposed therein to strengthen the engagement there between. In that position, holes 26b, 24b, 22b, 20b, 26a, 24a, 22a and 20a are positioned in a straight line for connection to binder 2, as the one shown in FIG. 1A or binder 32, as the one shown in FIG. 1B.

Still referring to FIG. 20A, when soft cases 18a, 18b, 18c and 18d are connected as shown and inserted into binder 2 (shown in FIG. 1A), the turning of soft case 18b from right to left (western style) causes extension 920b to lift extension 910a thereby turning soft case 18a at the same time. Similarly the turning of soft case 18c causes soft case 18d to turn also.

If the arrangement of the extensions shown in FIG. 20A is changed by superimposing extension 920b over extension 910a and extension 920c over extension 910d, the turning of the soft cases previously described will be changed from left to right.

Referring now to FIG. 20B, there is shown the connection between double pocket soft cases 218a and 218b, if the single pocket soft cases of FIG. 20A are replaced with double pocket soft cases. Soft case 218a was described in FIG. 18B and soft case 218b is identical with soft case 218a. There is shown extension 930a of soft case 218a being superimposed over extension 940b of soft case 218b. Extension 930a has a nonmagnetic strip 912a on top and a magnetic strip 942a at the bottom. Extension 940b has a magnetic strip 922b on top and a non magnetic strip 952b, at the bottom. That arrangement facilitates the western style turning from right to left. To effect a reverse turning style, i.e. eastern style turning from left to right the superimposition of extensions 930a and 940b is reversed by superimposing extension 940b over extension 930a, as shown in FIG. 20C. Extension 940b has nonmagnetic strip 922b on top and magnetic strip 952b at the bottom. Extension 930a has magnetic strip 912a on top and nonmagnetic strip 942a, at the bottom.

Referring now to FIG. 21A, a page soft case 36u made in accordance with the present invention for storing media is an integral flat piece constructed by bonding together plastic sheets. The sheets are made of well known soft plastic material commonly used for the construction of soft madia cases. Page soft case 36u has holes 38, 40, 42, 44 and 46, in sequence, advancing from one side to the other. The distance between holes 38 and 42 is equal to the distance between holes 42 and 46 and it is about 135±5 millimeters. The distance between holes 40 and 42 is equal to the distance between holes 42 and 44 and it is about 108 millimeters. Page soft case 36u can be pivotally connected to a binder like binder 2 by receiving the rings in holes 40, 42 and 44 or to a binder like binder 32 by receiving the rings in holes 38, 42 and 46.

Case 36u includes, on one side, four pockets 48, 50, 52 and 54, in a two by two array configuration, each pocket being suitable for receiving a medium. Each pocket is formed between base sheet 37 and front sheet 39 to receive and house compact disk 550 inserted therein through open ends. The closed end of pocket 48 includes a bonded section 21 wherein hole 40 is disposed and a bonded section 23. The closed end of pocket 50 includes a bonded section 27 and a bonded section 29 wherein hole 44 is disposed. The open ends of pockets 48 and 50 are on the portion of the pocket which is distant to the side that is mountable to the binder. The open ends of pockets 54 and 52 face towards the top end of page soft case 36u.

The open ends of pockets 48, 50, 52 and 54 are covered by generally triangularly shaped flaps 56a, 56b, 56c and 56d (shown in a partially opened position), respectively, whose fixed ends are connected to the end of the respective pocket and are configured so as to allow the insertion of the media, in the open position, and to cover the open ends of those pockets, in the closed position, to protect the enclosed media from dust, scratching and the like as well as from sliding out of the pockets. Although flaps 56a, 56, 56c and 56d are connected to the ends of their respective pockets, they are not creased at those ends, but at a point which is a short distance interiorly of those ends to form small pockets 58a, 58b, 58c and 58d, respectively, that serve as a stop and stabilizing element for compact disk 550. Pockets 52 and 54 are square and have a larger capacity than pockets 48 and 50 whose capacity is reduced by the bonded sections 21 and 23, and 27 and 29. Accordingly, one may store in pockets 52 and 54 booklets which sometimes accompany compact disks. Page soft case 36u further includes a title strip 59a, at the top end of pocket 48, a title strip 59b, at the top end of pocket 54, a title strip 59c, at the bottom end of pocket 52, a title strip 59d, at the bottom of pocket 50, and a title strip 59e between pockets 48 and 50. Each title strip is a narrow elongate pouch formed by the top and bottom sheets and has small openings for inserting the written title material.

In an alternative embodiment, similar pockets can be placed on the rear end of page soft case 36u in an arrangement which mirrors the arrangement set forth above to form a two sided page soft case having eight pockets.

In an alternative construction of page soft case 36u, bonded sections 21, 23, 27 and 29 and holes 40 and 44 of page soft case 36u are eliminated to increase the capacity of pockets 48 and 50. That alternative construction is shown as page soft case 36 in FIG. 21B wherein pockets 48 and 50 of page soft case 36u are replaced by pockets 49 and 51, respectively. The three remaining holes 38, 42 and 46 are used to receive rings 34a, 34b and 34c of binder 32, as shown in FIG. 1B.

Referring now to FIG. 22A, there is shown page soft case 360 which is page soft case 36u of FIG. 21A with straps 367, 369, 371, 373 and 375 attached thereto. Those straps are similar to straps 930a, 932a, 934a and 936a which were described in FIG. 17A and are used to connect page soft case 360 with page soft cases having similar straps in a manner similar to the one described before. FIG. 22B shows a page soft case 650 which is case 36 of FIG. 21B with straps 367, 369, 371, 373 and 375 attached thereto to connect case 650 with other cases having similar straps.

While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, modifications thereof can be made by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention.