Title:
Case with clip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Protective case with a removable clip for selectively securing a handheld electronic device to a belt or strap. The protective case is a form-rigid shell onto which the clip is easily and quickly assembled or removed by snapping a clip retainer into place or removing the clip retainer. The case, with the clip removed, provides no surfaces that catch inadvertently on or scratch other objects.



Inventors:
Chee, Bill Tsang Chun (Kwai Fong, CN)
Application Number:
10/964914
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
10/14/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/930
International Classes:
A45F5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Eaton Peabody PA (c/o Jeffrey Joyce P.O. Box 15235, Portland, ME, 04112, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A case that is selectively attachable to or detachable from a belt or a strap, said case comprising: a shell, a clip with an upper clip end, and a clip attachment means, wherein said shell has a shell wall with an upper end and a slot for receiving said clip, said slot being formed close to said upper end, wherein said clip attachment means has a flange and a pawl with a connecting surface therebetween to form a groove, and wherein said clip attachment means is attachable on said upper end such that said pawl and said flange hold said clip on said shell.

Description:

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to the field of protective cases for handheld devices. More particularly, the invention relates to a protective case with a clip for attaching it to a belt or a strap.

2. Description of the Prior Art

The user of a handheld device often carries the handheld device in a protective case. Typically, the protective case is constructed of a sturdy, rigid material that protects the handheld device from damage. Ideally, the user carries the device in a manner that makes it readily available for immediate use. This often means carrying the device attached to or close to the user's body. Users often like to clip the protective case to a belt or strap of a bookbag, etc. to hold the handheld device close by for ready access. There are numerous known ways of attaching the protective case to a belt or strap. One such method is to provide a loop on the back of the case, through which the belt is then fed. This has the disadvantage in that it is inconvenient to remove the protective case without removing the belt. Another well-known method is to provide a belt clip on the back of the protective case. This allows the user to remove the protective case easily from the belt, but is disadvantageous in that the case is cumbersome when it is not on the belt, because of the appended belt clip.

Ideally, the protective case should be able to be used with or without a clip that attaches the case to a belt or a strap, thereby eliminating the need for a user to acquire a case with a clip and/or one without a clip. One way to provide this versatility is to construct the protective case with a means for selectively using a clip. A fastener system that provides this versatility is that of a post that slips into a groove. Belt-clip fastening means are known that include a head on a post that is attached to the case and a separate belt clip that is worn on a belt, wherein the post slides within a channel or groove on the belt clip and the head captured behind the groove. Fixedly attaching the post and head to the case has the disadvantage in that, when the case is detached from the belt or strap, the post and head remain on the case, providing a disruption in an otherwise smooth and comfortable surface of the case. The head and post that protrude from the case are not only uncomfortable to the hand, they provide a nuisance protrusion on the surface of the case with which to snag or scratch other objects.

What is needed, therefore, is a protective case with a clip that is removably attachable to the case. What is further needed is such a protective case that provides no nuisance surfaces when the clip is removed. What is yet further needed is such a protective case with a clip attachment means that is quickly and easily attachable or detachable from the case.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

For the reasons cited above, it is an object of the present invention to provide a protective case with a removably attachable clip. It is a further object to provide such a protective case that presents no nuisance protrusions when the clip is detached from the case. It is a yet further object to provide such a protective case wherein the clip is quickly and easily attached or detached from the case.

The objects of the invention are achieved by providing a protective case with a detachable clip. The protective case according to the invention has a slot for receiving the clip. One end of the clip is inserted through the slot and is captured within the slot so that it is removable only from the same direction in which it was inserted into the slot. The upper end of the clip does not pass through the slot, but extends upward toward the upper edge of the case. A clip attachment means, referred to hereinafter as a clip retainer, has a pawl and a flange connected to each other so as to form a groove between them. When the groove is fitted over the edge of the case and the upper end of the clip, the pawl snaps into the slot and the flange holds the clip securely in place against the protective case. The clip retainer is easily removed simply by pushing upward on it to force the pawl out of the slot. The clip can then be withdrawn from the slot and the clip and clip retainer stored. The protective case now has no disruptive edges, posts, heads, or other disruptive changes in surface geometry that lend themselves to snagging or catching on or scratching other objects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements. Additionally, the left-most digit(s) of a reference number identifies the drawing in which the reference number first appears.

FIG. 1A is a rear planar view of the protective case according to the invention, with the clip attached.

FIG. 1B is a side elevational view of the protective case, with clip attached.

FIG. 2 is a rear planar view of the protective case, with the clip removed.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the protective case, with the clip removed.

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the clip retainer, showing the snap pawl, flange, and groove.

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the clip retainer.

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the clip.

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the clip.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1 and 1B illustrate a protective case 100 according to the invention, for holding a small electronic device (not shown). The protective case 100 comprises a shell 110, a detachable clip means 150, hereinafter referred to as a “clip”, and a clip retainer means 140, hereinafter referred to as a retainer. The clip 150, when assembled on the shell 110, allows the user to attach the protective case 100 to a belt or strap. In the embodiment shown, the shell 110, is a form-rigid shell with a case opening 111 at the top. All other sides of the shell 110 are closed or substantially closed, so as to hold the electronic device therewithin. The side walls of the shell 100 may be rounded, providing an oval contour in a top planar view of the protective case 100, or merely radiused at the corners, providing a substantially rectangular contour of the protective case 100 in the top view.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate the shell 110, which has a first access opening 112 for the user to access buttons on the device and a second access opening 114 for pushing the device upward out of the shell 110. The upper edge of the rear panel has a slot area 130 with a slot 232, the slot area 130 being enclosed by a raised and rounded surface 134.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the retainer 140, which, in the embodiment shown, is a formed component with a snap pawl 442, a flange 444, and a groove 446, which fits over the top edge of the shell 110 and the clip 150, as will be discussed below.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the clip 150, which is essentially a spring with an upper clip edge 152 and a lower clip edge 154. The lower clip edge 154 is insertable through the slot 232. The upper clip edge 152 is wider than the dimensions of the slot 152, thereby allowing the clip 150 to be captured by the slot such that the clip 150 extends alongside the rear panel of the shell 110. Once the clip 150 is assembled in the slot 152, the retainer 140 is snapped into place over the upper edge of the shell 110 and the upper clip edge 152, thereby securing the clip 150 in place.

The retainer 140 is easily and quickly removed, simply by pushing upward against the snap pawl 442, forcing it out of the slot 232. The clip 150 may then easily be removed from the shell 110.

As shown in FIG. 3, when the clip 150 is removed, the rear panel of the shell 110 generally has a smooth, straight-surfaced outer contour, with the exception of the slot area 130, with its slightly raised and rounded surface 134.

It is understood that the embodiments described herein are merely illustrative of the present invention. Variations in the construction of the protective case may be contemplated by one skilled in the art without limiting the intended scope of the invention herein disclosed and as defined by the following claims.





 
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