Title:
Shelving system for multimedia disc cases
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelving system having a front support and a back support connected to two end frames contains a plurality of U-shaped bottom supports connected to both the front support and back support. A plurality of separators are connected lengthwise to the two end frames defining channels for receiving rectangular parallelepiped articles, such as DVD cases, to be stored on the shelving system. The channels are sufficiently wide and deep enough to permit the stored articles to be tipped frontwards and rearwards for inspection, but no so wide as to allow the articles to be easily dislodged while tipping. Slide stops are connected lengthwise to the front support and back support across the top of the channels to prevent sideways shifting of the stored articles. Components of the shelving system are constructed of metal wire to reduce dust accumulation and maintenance.



Inventors:
Weinstein, Marshall (Riverwoods, IL, US)
Finke, Malcolm K. (Northbrook, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/056437
Publication Date:
08/17/2006
Filing Date:
02/11/2005
Assignee:
Specialty Store Services, Inc., an Illinois Corporation
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/106, G9B/33.021, 211/90.03
International Classes:
A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William, Oberhardt P. (2100 Three First National Plaza, Chicago, IL, 60602, US)
Claims:
Having thus described at least one exemplary embodiment of the invention, that which is new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is claimed below:

1. A shelving system for receiving and storing multimedia disc cases, including DVD cases, comprising: (A) a first end frame, and a second end frame, said first and second end frames both being substantially parallelogram-shaped, and both said first and second end frames being substantially the same size and shape; (B) wherein said first and second end frames each have, a top front corner, a bottom front corner, a top back corner, a bottom back corner, and a top extending between said top front corner and said top back corner, and wherein the distance between the top front corner and the bottom front corner of said first end frame defines a depth of said shelving system, and the distance between the top front corner and top back corner of said first end frame defines a width of said shelving system; (C) a front support having a first a first end and a second end, and a back support having a first end and a second end, wherein said first end of said front support is connected to said top front corner of said first end frame and said second end of said front support is connected to said top front corner of said second end frame, and said wherein said first end of said back support is connected to said top back corner of said first end frame and said second end of said back support is connected to said top back corner of said second end frame, and wherein the distance between the top front corners of said first and second end frames defines a length of said shelving system and is substantially the same distance as the distance between the top back corners of said first and second end frames; (D) a plurality of substantially U-shaped bottom supports having a first tip and a second tip, wherein the depth of the U-shaped bottom supports is substantially the same dimension as the depth of the shelving system, and wherein the width of the U-shaped bottom supports is substantially the same dimension as the width of the shelving system, and wherein said first tip of each of said bottom supports is connected to said front support, and said second tip of each of said bottom supports is connected to said back support; and (E) a plurality of separators having a first and a second end, wherein said first end of each of said separators is connected to said top of said first end frame, and said second end of each of said separators is connected to said top of said second end frame.

2. The shelving system of claim 1 further comprising: one or more slide stops, with each of said slide stops having a first end and a second end, and wherein said first end of said slide stop is connected to said front support and said second end of said slide stops is connected to said back support.

3. The shelving system of claim 2 wherein each of said slide stops is substantially parallel to said top of said first end frame.

4. The shelving system of claim 2 wherein each of said slide stops is connected to each of said separators at junctions where said slide stop crosses said separators.

5. The shelving system of claim 1 wherein said first and second end frames, said front support, said back support, said bottom supports, and said separators are made from metal wire.

6. The shelving system of claim 2 wherein said first and second end frames, said front support, said back support, said bottom supports, said separators, and said slide stops are made from metal wire.

7. The shelving system of claim 4 wherein said first and second end frames, said front support, said back support, said bottom supports, said separators, and said slide stops are made from metal wire.

8. The shelving system of claim 7 wherein said metal wire is between 9 gauge to 6 gauge round metal wire.

9. The shelving system of claim 4 wherein said parallelogram-shaped first and second side frames are substantially rectangular in shape.

10. The shelving system of claim 2 wherein: (A) the distance between said first side frame and the closest bottom support to said first side frame is substantially the same as the distance between said second side frame and the closest bottom support to said second side frame; (B) if there are more than two bottom supports, the distance between each bottom support and next closest bottom support is substantially the same as the distance between said first side frame and the closest bottom support to said first side frame; (C) the distance between said back support and the closest separator to said back support is substantially the same as the distance between said front support and the closest separator to said front support; (D) if there are more than two separators, the distance between each separator and the next closest separator is substantially the same as the distance between said front support and the closest separator to said front support; (E) the distance between said first side frame and the closest slide stop to said first side frame is substantially the same as the distance between said second side frame and the closest slide stop to said second side frame; and (F) if there are more than two slide stops, the distance between each slide stop and the next closest slide stop is substantially the same as the distance between said first side frame and the closest slide stop to said first side frame.

11. The shelving system of claim 4 wherein: (A) the distance between said first side frame and the closest bottom support to said first side frame is substantially the same as the distance between said second side frame and the closest bottom support to said second side frame; (B) if there are more than two bottom supports, the distance between each bottom support and next closest bottom support is substantially the same as the distance between said first side frame and the closest bottom support to said first side frame; (C) the distance between said back support and the closest separator to said back support is substantially the same as the distance between said front support and the closest separator to said front support; (D) if there are more than two separators, the distance between each separator and the next closest separator is substantially the same as the distance between said front support and the closest separator to said front support; (E) the distance between said first side frame and the closest slide stop to said first side frame is substantially the same as the distance between said second side frame and the closest slide stop to said second side frame; and (F) if there are more than two slide stops, the distance between each slide stop and the next closest slide stop is substantially the same as the distance between said first side frame and the closest slide stop to said first side frame.

12. The shelving system of claim 11 wherein said each of said individual separators further comprises a pair of parallel metal spacer wires, wherein the space between each of said spacer wires for each individual separator is sufficiently narrow so as to prevent a DVD case from being inserted between the pair of spacer wires for each of said separators.

13. The shelving system of claim 12 wherein said first and second end frames, said front support, said back support, said bottom supports, said metal spacer wires, and said slide stops are made from round metal wire.

14. The shelving system of claim 13 wherein said metal wire is between 9 gauge to 6 gauge round metal wire.

15. The shelving system of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of hooks attached to said shelving system for removable suspension of said shelving system from a vertical object.

16. The shelving system of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of hooks attached to said shelving system for removable suspension of said shelving system from a vertical object.

17. The shelving system of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of flanges attached to said shelving system for removable suspension of said shelving system from slatwall.

18. The shelving system of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of flanges attached to said shelving system for removable suspension of said shelving system from slatwall.

19. The shelving system of claim 2 further comprising a back flange having a predetermined width for offsetting and shelving system said predetermined from a vertical support to which said shelving system is attached.

20. The shelving system of claim 2 further comprising a back flange having a predetermined width for offsetting said shelving system a predetermined width from either slatwall or gridwall to which said shelving system is removably attached.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to shelving systems especially adaptable for storing and displaying rectangular parallelepiped shaped articles having thin spines and broad front faces, such as, for example, display and/or storage cases for multimedia discs for DVDs, CDs, or video game discs (hereinafter collectively referred to as “DVD cases”). The invention in particular relates to a shelving system that stores and displays multiple units of DVD cases on a single shelf in such a manner that a viewer can easily manipulate the DVD cases in order to browse conveniently through multiple units of DVD cases without the DVD cases easily becoming dislodged from the shelf so that they fall off of the shelf or move out of the intended order on the shelf. The invention also permits DVD cases to be stacked behind another DVD case in the front of the shelving system and to be flipped forward during browsing so that the graphics on the faces of the DVD cases behind the front unit or units on the shelf can be viewed easily. The shelving systems can be fixed or removably placed on a horizontal surface or shelf, or the shelving system may be designed to act as a shelf by itself by being provided with a hook or flange to hang from existing retail display systems, such as those commonly known in the art as gridwall or slatwall.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

Retail stores, including especially video rental stores (hereinafter collectively referred to as “video stores”), experience problems effectively, attractively, and economically displaying the wide variety of multimedia systems, such as DVDs, CDs, and video game discs, currently offered to the public. The cases for such multimedia systems, which, as earlier noted, are collectively referred to herein as “DVD cases,” typically are shaped like a rectangular parallelepiped having two opposite relatively thin sides (in particular, they have a relatively thin hinged spine) while having a relatively broad front face and back face. Typically, it is the broad front face of the DVD case that carries graphics that are used by the video store to attempt to entice a consumer to buy or rent the product contained in the DVD case. The back face also ordinarily contains some graphics useful in enticing a consumer to buy or rent the product. Thus, ideally, the video store wants its DVD cases to be shelved in a way that permits the consumer to see the broad front faces (and/or the back faces) of the DVD cases in order to promote sales or rental of the products contained in the cases.

Shelving of DVD cases in their packages in a manner so as to make the cases accessible to the public and easily maintained on the shelves by proprietors of video stores is a constant problem. One problem faced by video store proprietors is that, in order to increase revenues and to decrease unproductive backstock, proprietors often desire to increase the number of DVD cases that can be stacked on shelves in the video store establishment so that they can be viewed and purchased (or rented) by consumers. (Sales and rentals will hereafter be collectively referred to as “sales”). The video stores, however, have only a limited number of linear feet of shelf space in the establishment. Video stores would, on the one hand, prefer to stack as many units of DVD cases (either in empty condition, which video stores sometimes do to prevent theft of the multimedia discs, or with multimedia discs contained therein) as can be fit on the limited shelf space in order to increase the amount of product available to consumers, to decrease the unproductive backstock, and to thereby increase revenue and profit.

On the other hand, many shelving systems that are used for increasing the number of units of DVD cases that can be stored and displayed on a shelf diminish the ability of customers to review the graphic information that is typically displayed on the broad front face of a DVD case. This results in diminished sales rather than increased sales.

One way that video stores have typically used to increase the number of units of DVD cases stored per linear foot of shelving is to shelve the units with the thin spine side of the packaging facing outward, in the manner of a library book. This, unfortunately, limits the amount of information that can be viewed by the consumer, because, as noted before, typically the majority of the graphic and advertising information designed to entice the consumer to buy or rent the multimedia disc is located on the broad front face (or back face) of the DVD case, not on the narrow spine (which, like a library book, typically contains little more information than the name of the movie, album, or game contained in the DVD case). Moreover, what little information may be contained on the spine must typically be read sideways, which is not consumer-friendly. Consequently, this method, while increasing the number of DVD cases that can be stored per linear unit of shelf space, is generally undesirable, because it greatly decreases the marketing appeal of the product to the consumer, and this detrimentally affects revenues.

Another way that video stores sometimes attempt to increase the number of units of DVD cases per linear foot of shelving is to shelve the units with a single broad face of a single DVD case facing outward toward the consumer, with many additional DVD cases being stacked several units deep behind the most outward facing unit. While this technique has the advantage of having at least the most outward facing DVD case displayed in a consumer-friendly manner (utilizing the graphics typically located on the most outward facing DVD case's broad face to attract consumers), the units behind the most outward facing unit are hidden, and considerable consumer manipulation may be required to see the hidden units. Often, consumer manipulation of DVD cases stored on ordinary flat shelving results in units being knocked off of the shelf (and sometimes being damaged), or being shifted sideways on the shelf out of the intended shelving order, resulting in increased shelf maintenance by video store employees and thus increased cost to the video store proprietor. Moreover, the units of multimedia storage packaging often become stacked or restacked (either by video store employees, or by customers after manipulation) so tightly that the units “nest” against one another and/or become so tightly packed that consumers cannot tip the most outward facing units sufficiently in order to view the units behind the most outward facing units without great difficulty. Under such conditions, many consumers will not bother attempting to view the rear units, especially when they are tightly packed, and, as a result, sales or rentals are lost or diminished for those rear units.

Some shelving systems, such as those shown is U.S. Design Pat. D454,749 S and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,027,955 and 5,346,078, have been developed for permitting the units of multimedia storage packaging to be stacked so that the broad front face of the packaging faces outward toward the consumer, and allowing additional units to be stacked behind the most outward facing unit in a manner that permits browsing through the units. Unfortunately, such shelving systems have demonstrated disadvantages. First, because the bottom trays are solid in such shelves, such shelving systems collect considerable amounts of dust, dirt, and assorted refuse. Moreover, the bottom trays of the shelves are grooved and uneven, and the grooved shaped trays are difficult to clean and dust. Video stores often have thousands of linear feet of shelf space for exhibition DVD cases. When one considers the sales-diminishing unattractiveness of shelves that collect considerable amounts of dust and dirt that cannot easily be cleaned out of the grooves (and cannot be cleaned at all without first ridding the shelves of the very item—DVD cases—that the video store proprietor is using to generate revenues), the disadvantages of the systems reflected in U.S. Design Pat. D454,749 S and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,027,955 and 5,346,078 are apparent. The unattractiveness and resulting increased cost of shelf maintenance by the video store proprietor for such shelving systems has been demonstrated to be a distinct disadvantage.

A second disadvantage of those systems is attributable to the material used for such shelving systems, typically a solid sheet of metal or plastic. If the trays of that system were made from solid metal, such as aluminum, the shelving systems were expensive compared to other shelving options. While expense could be reduced somewhat by using molded plastic instead of metal, the shelving systems were still expensive when compared to other shelving options. Moreover, molded plastic shelving suffered from strength, durability, and impact issues. For example, the accidental impact of a shopping cart against the shelf of such a system could easily break the shelving, causing the contents of the shelf, particularly DVD cases, to be dropped, and possibly resulting in the cases or their contents being damaged.

A third disadvantage of the above-described systems were the grooves in the shelves which extended uninterrupted the length (sideways) of the shelf system. The grooves did not prevent, and in fact somewhat promoted, the sideways shifting of the DVD cases during the process of consumer browsing or manipulation, resulting in the units being shifted out of intended shelving order. This resulted in additional video store worker time being spent re-ordering the items on the shelves.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the invention described herein to provide a shelving system for storing and displaying rectangular parallelepiped articles, such as multimedia storage packaging, and most especially DVD cases, in a manner that increases the number of units exhibited per linear foot of shelving, and which simultaneously permits relatively easy consumer access to the articles that are shelved behind the most outwardfacing article, and which overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art, including the above-mentioned disadvantages.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a relatively low-maintenance shelving system that greatly reduces dust and dirt accumulation for storing and displaying DVD cases.

It is another object of the invention to provide a shelving system for storing and displaying DVD cases so that the DVD cases do not easily become accidentally dislodged from the shelving system and fall, or shift sideways, out of the intended display order when a consumer browses through the units.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a shelving system for storing and displaying DVD cases that is relatively economical compared to other shelving systems.

It is a still further object of the invention to provide a shelving system for storing and displaying DVD cases that is attractive, strong, durable, lightweight, and impact resistant so as to better meet the needs of retailers, in particular, video stores.

The present invention achieves the aforementioned objects and others because it includes features not found in prior art shelving systems for DVD cases. In the present invention, a shelving system is constructed that is lightweight, attractive, durable, impact resistant, economical, and, importantly, resistant to accumulation of dust and dirt in use. The shelving system permits DVD cases to be displayed with the graphics-containing front face toward the consumer, while permitting stacking of additional DVD cases behind the outwardmost DVD in a manner that permits tipping for easy consumer browsing (without dislodging the DVD case from the shelving system), and which decreases sideways shifting of DVD cases out of intended shelving order.

The invention is preferably constructed, in the main, from round metal wire. Junctions and connections between adjacent parts are preferably joined by spot welding.

Two preferably rectangular end frames of similar construction and dimensions are connected at their upper corners to a front support and a back support, with the front and back supports having approximately equal length. A plurality of bottom supports are connected at spaced intervals to both the front support and to the back support. The bottom supports extend downwardly from the front support, and then extend horizontally toward the back support, and then extend upwardly to connect to the back support, forming a broad bottomed U-shape. A plurality of separators, preferably arranged in adjacent pairs, are attached at intervals to extend from the top of one end frame to the top of the opposite end frame. The length of the separators is approximately the length of the front support and back support. Each separator is preferably made from a pair of closely aligned spacer wires. The spacer wires of each individual separator are preferably aligned parallel to each other and are so close together that a DVD case cannot be inserted between the spacer wires.

Channels between the separators (or between a separator and either the front support or the back support) for receiving DVD cases are defined by the aforementioned construction. The channels preferably are sufficiently wide to permit a DVD case to be tipped forward and backward to allow a consumer to browse through several DVD cases stacked behind each other in the shelving system. The channels are preferably sufficiently narrow to permit no more than one DVD case widthwise in a channel. The channels are also sufficiently narrow and deep so as not to permit a DVD case to fall out of the channel when tipped forward or backward during browsing.

The channels may, in the preferred embodiment, be interrupted at intervals by slide stops which extend from the front support to the back support across the top of the channels. The slide stops serve to prevent the DVD cases from sliding sideways out of intended shelving order when consumers browse through the DVD cases.

The shelving system of the invention may be provided with bottom pads for placement on a horizontal surface, such as an existing shelf or a table. The bottom pads may be fixed to the horizontal surface with adhesive or fasteners (such as by securing the bottom pads to the horizontal supporting surface with screws) as are known in the art for a more secure arrangement, or may be removably placed on the surface.

The shelving system of the invention may also be equipped with hooks, flanges, or other known attachment devices that are compatible with display systems that are utilized in video stores, such as those display systems known as slatwall or gridwall, so that the shelving system can be hung as a shelf with such display systems.

Because the shelving system is, in the main, preferably constructed from round metal wire having a very limited dust collecting surface, significant dust and dirt collection, as would ordinarily occur on shelving systems using solid horizontal surfaces, is greatly reduced. The rounded surface of the wire, moreover, allows the weight of the dust or dirt itself to cause dust and dirt to fall off of the shelf and not significantly accumulate. What little dust or dirt might collect can be dispersed easily by simply causing the shelf to wiggle or vibrate, such as by gently bumping it. Maintenance is thus greatly reduced.

Furthermore, because the wire construction is preferably made of metal, it is more durable and impact-resistant compared to molded plastic systems. Because a relatively small amount of metal is used in the preferred metal wire construction as compared to solid metal shelving trays, the shelving system of the invention is economical as compared to solid metal trays, or even solid plastic trays. The preferred wire construction, which as noted above uses less material, is also lightweight compared to solid shelving trays of the same material.

Although the shelving system is particularly useful for storing DVD cases, compact disc cases, computer game disc cases, computer disc cases, and the like, as previously noted, the system is useful for storing and displaying other rectangular parallelepiped shaped articles, especially those that are stored in considerable quantities.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the shelving system, according to a first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the first embodiment of the shelving system illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a fragmented perspective view of an embodiment of the invention adapted to be used in conjunction with gridwall display systems.

FIG. 4 is a fragmented perspective view of an embodiment of the invention adapted to be used in conjunction with slatwall display systems.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention adapted to be used in conjunction with gridwall display systems, wherein the shelving system is offset from the gridwall display system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the shelving system 2 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the shelving system 2 includes two oppositely disposed end frames 4. The end frames 4 may be various shapes, but preferably in this embodiment of the invention are substantially in the shapes of parallelograms, and most preferably are substantially rectangular in shape, and are substantially the same size and shape. The end frames 4 may be, but need not necessarily be, advantageously constructed in two pieces that are later connected together, such as by first constructing a broad, flat-bottomed substantially U-shaped piece of round metal wire, and then connecting a piece of straight wire so as to extend across the mouth of the U-shape at the tips of the U-shape. The two ends of the straight wire may preferably be spot welded at its ends at the upper tips of the U-shape, effectively forming a solid rectangular shape for the side frame 4. Alternatively, the end frames 4 may be formed, for example, in one piece as a solid rectangular construction. End frames 4 preferably define the width and depth for shelving system 2.

As further shown in FIG. 1, front support 14 is connected to and extends between the front top corner edges of the two end frames 4. In a similar manner, back support 12 is connected to and extends between the back top corner edges of the two end frames 4. Front support 14 and back support 12 are approximately equal in length, and preferably define the length of the shelving system 2, as shown in FIG. 1. Front support 14 and back support 12 are preferably made of metal wire, each of the same length, and are preferably connected by spot welding to the two end frames 4.

Referring again to FIG. 1, a plurality of bottom supports 8 are each connected at their two ends to front support 14 and back support 12, and extend between front support 12 and back support 12. Bottom supports 8 may be various shapes, but preferably in this embodiment have a broad, flat-bottomed substantially U-shape. The tips of the U-shape of each of the bottom supports 8 extend downwardly from the front support 14 and the back support 12 approximately the same depth as the depth of end frames 4. The bottom of the U-shape of each bottom support 8 in this embodiment of the shelving system 2 is preferably flat, and has approximately the same width dimension as the width of end frames 4. The bottom supports 8 are preferably made of metal wire, and are spot welded at their connections to front support 14 and back support 12.

Although not required, the bottom supports 8 are preferably connected to front support 14 and back support 12 at approximately regular intervals. While the number and spacing of bottom supports 8 can be varied, it is preferable that the number and spacing of bottom supports 8 is such that at least two bottom supports lie underneath the item that is intended to be supported by the shelving system 2—in FIG. 1, the DVD cases 102—so that the item does not tip or fall through the shelving system 2. For example, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, two bottom supports 8 lie beneath the bottom side 110 of the DVD case 102 so as to support the DVD case 102, to prevent it from tipping from side to side (but not from tipping front to back, see FIG. 2), and to prevent it from falling through the shelving system 2.

Referring once again to FIGS. 1 and 2, a plurality of separators 16, with each separator 16 including preferably a pair of parallel spacer wires 28, are connected at spaced intervals to end frames 4 preferably to the top of end frames 4, so as to extend between the end frames 4. The spacer wires 28 of each separator 16 in this preferred embodiment are made from round metal wire, and are connected to the end frames 4 by spot welding. The spacer wires 28 of separators 16 are preferably of the same length as front support 14 and back support 12. The spacer wires 28 of separators 16 are preferably arranged in pairs so as to create empty space between the pairs of spacer wires 28 and to achieve one of the goals of separators 16 of maintaining sufficient separation between the articles being stored on the shelving system 2, such as DVD cases 102, so that the DVD cases 102 are not stacked too tightly and do not nest too tightly against each other, impeding tipping and browsing, when stacked behind each other. A pair of spacer wires 28 forming a single separator 16 are preferably arranged parallel to each other a small enough distance apart so that a DVD case 102 cannot fit between the pair of spacer wires 28 forming an individual separator 16. While in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 the separators 16 further comprise pairs of spacer wires 28 to achieve sufficient separation, skilled artisans will recognize that separators 16 can achieve sufficient separation in a variety of ways other than a being constructed and arranged as pairs of spacer wires 28 without departing from the invention. For example, using a single thicker wire for separator 16 will achieve the goal of separation consistent with the invention. Two adjacent separators 16 (or the separators 16 combined with either an adjacent front support 14 or an adjacent back support 12), combined with the bottom supports 8, effectively form channels 20 for receiving the articles to be stored, here DVD cases 102. The separators 16 are preferably spaced from adjacent separators 16, and from either the front support 14 or the back support 12, so that at least one, but no more than one, article to be stored, here a DVD case 102, can fit between the adjacent separators 16, or between separator 16 and either the front support 14 or the back support 12. By allowing space in the width of the channels 20 for no more than one DVD case 102, this helps the shelving system 2 achieve its goal of preventing the DVD cases 102 (or other articles) from being too tightly packed to prevent sufficient and easy tipping of DVD cases 102 during consumer browsing.

As illustrated particularly in FIG. 2, the adjacent separators 16 (or a separator 16 and either the front support 14 or the back support 12) are separated from each other narrowly enough that when the articles to be stored (here, DVD cases 102) are tipped, for example, during consumer browsing, the DVD cases 102 do not become dislodged from between the adjacent separators 16 (or a separator 16 and either front or back supports 14 or 12). On the other hand, the aforesaid spacing preferably is sufficiently wide so as to allow sufficient tipping of the DVD cases 102 so that a consumer who is browsing through the DVD cases 102 may view easily the graphics (not illustrated) ordinarily located on the front faces 104 (and possibly the back faces 106) of DVD cases 102. Importantly, as illustrated in more detail in FIG. 2, because the lower portion of the DVD cases 102 are permitted to pivot underneath the separators 16, the separators 16 serve to help prevent the DVD cases 102 from becoming dislodged and/or falling out of shelving system 2 during the browsing process when they are tipped frontward and backward. The lower portion of the DVD case 102 effectively is held in place by separator 16 when it pivots underneath the separator 16.

Similarly, the depth of the side frames 4 and bottom supports 8 must be sufficiently deep so as to allow DVD cases 102 to be supported during browsing by adjacent separators 16 (or a separator 16 and either front or back supports 14 or 12) without becoming dislodged because of insufficient depth. On the other hand, the depth must not be so deep that tipping of the DVD cases 102 is inhibited so that consumers cannot adequately view the graphics (not illustrated) on the front faces 104 of DVD cases 102.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated shown in FIG. 1, slide stops 6 are placed at intervals across the tops of channels 20 so as to prevent the articles being stored, here DVD cases 102, from being shifted sideways in the channels out of the intended shelving order. The slide stops 6 preferably extend the width of the shelving system 2, are made of metal wire, are spot welded to the front support 14 and back support 12, and most preferably are also spot welded to the separators 16 at the junctions where the slide stops 6 cross the separators 16. As such, the slide stops 6 provide the additional feature of strengthening the shelving system 2 by helping to prevent separators 16, front support 14, and back support 12 from distorting due to undue bending.

Shelving system 2 may be provided with bottom pads 10 attached to bottom supports 8, especially if shelving system 2 is intended to be placed on a horizontal surface such as a table or existing shelf. Bottom pads 10 may be made of metal and spot welded to bottom supports 8 for a more secure attachment, or may be made of elastomer adhered to bottom supports 8. Elastomeric bottom pads 10 serve to reduce scratching when shelving system 2 is placed on a horizontal surface such as an existing shelf or table. Bottom pads 10 may also be constructed of metal spot welded to bottom supports 8 with a soft surface, such as elastomer, felt, or fabric, adhered to the bottom.

As noted above, the components of shelving system 2 (with the exception of bottom pads 10) are preferably made from round metal wire to reduce dust and dirt accumulation, to reduce weight, to reduce resultant maintenance, and to reduce cost when compared to shelving systems having more extensive solid surfaces. Metal wire also has advantages compared to solid plastic surfaces in terms of strength, durability, and impact resistance. It has been found that steel wire (preferably 1008 steel) having an approximate diameter between 0.148 inches (9 gauge wire) and 0.192 inches (6 gauge wire) is sufficiently strong and durable enough to achieve the above-described purposes of this invention. Such wire is also sufficiently small enough in size so as to reduce accumulations of dust and dirt in the embodiments of the invention described above. To prevent rust or corrosion, and to increase aesthetics, a coating of paint, preferably using standard epoxy powder coating paint techniques as are known in the art, may be applied to the components of the shelving system 2. The inventors have found that the invention described herein, in one of the preferred embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 and using the preferred materials described above, costs approximately half as much, or less, than prior art systems having extensive solid bottoms using metal or molded plastic discussed above.

In the event that the shelving system 2 is not intended for placement on an existing horizontal surface, alternative connections for display systems that are known in the art may be adapted for use with shelving system 2 in order to achieve removable attachment to a particular display system. For example, illustrated in FIG. 3 is an existing display system used in retail establishments, including video stores, known as gridwall 202. Gridwall 202 ordinarily utilizes a series of horizontal supports 204 and vertical supports 206 made of metal for hanging displays. In order to adapt shelving system 2 for removable connection with gridwall 202, a plurality of hooks 18 may be attached to shelving system 2, preferably to the back support 12, although hooks 18 may also be connected to bottom supports 8. Hooks 18 may be U-shaped, with the bottom portion of the U-shapes being attached to the shelving system 2 as previously described. The tips of the U-shape for hooks 18 may be further formed into downward facing J-shapes, with the open elbow of the J-shape being designed to fit around the top and sides of horizontal support 204 of gridwall 202. Preferably, the open elbow of the J-shape has a bend having an approximately 0.75 inch diameter. While skilled artisans will understand that hooks 18 may be made of a number of different materials, hooks 18 are preferably made from metal, and most preferably from the same metal wire as the other components of the shelving system 2, and are preferably connected to shelving system 2 by spot welding.

Shelving system 2 may also be adapted for use with slatwall display systems, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Slatwall 302 contains a plurality of hollow T-slots 304 formed therein. While various adaptations may be used to removably connect shelving system 2 to slatwall 302, preferably a cantilevered side arm support 22 is attached to both end frames 4 as illustrated in FIG. 4. The cantilevered side arm support 22 may preferably be made from metal, such as steel, and may be spot welded to end frame 4. Formed at the rear of each cantilevered side arm support 22, and preferably integral therewith, is flange 24. Flange 24 is formed transverse to the arm 26 of cantilevered side arm support 22. Flange 24 bends first upwardly, then backwardly (inward toward the back of the slatwall 302) and then again upwardly to fit within the upward portion of T-slot 304, effectively “hooking” into the slatwall 302 and providing support to the cantilevered side arm support 22, thus securely suspending shelving system 2 from the slatwall 302.

Illustrated in FIG. 5 is another embodiment useful for adaptation of the invention to gridwall display systems, such as the gridwall 202 illustrated in FIG. 3. Offset side arm supports 30 are attached to end frames 4 illustrated in FIG. 5. Both side arm supports 30 are preferably made from metal, such as steel, and side arms 40 of offset side arm supports 30 may be spot welded to end frame 4. Formed at the back of both offset side arm supports 30, and preferably formed integral therewith, are offset hooks 32. Offset hooks 32 are attached to offset side arm supports 30 by side flanges 34, back flanges 36, and hook flanges 38. The backs of offset arm supports 30 terminate in side flanges 34, which preferably are formed integrally therewith. Side flanges 34 extend from the offset side arm supports 30 toward the middle of shelving system 2 a short distance, preferably approximately 2.0 inches. Side flanges 34 terminate in back flange 36, which are preferably formed integrally therewith. Back flanges 36 extend backwardly away from shelving system 2 and side flanges 34 a short distance, preferably approximately 1.0 inches. The back flanges 36 serve to offset the shelving system 2 from the gridwall 202 to prevent the DVD cases 102 (see FIG. 1) that may be stored in the back of shelving system 2 from being impeded from flipping backwards during browsing due to the close proximity of the gridwall 202 (see FIG. 3). In other words, referring to FIGS. 1, 3, and 5, the back flanges 36 effectively orient the shelving system 2 so as to allow the DVD cases 102 in the back of shelving system 2 to tip without the gridwall 202 interfering with the tipping. Back flanges 36 terminate in hook flanges 38, which are preferably formed integrally therewith. Hook flanges 38 extend a short distance, preferably 0.75 inches toward the center of shelving system 2. Offset hooks 32 are preferably formed integrally with hook flanges 38. Offset hooks 32 may be formed as inverted J-shapes at the top of hook flanges 38. The opening and elbow of the J-shape of offset hooks 32 are preferably approximately a 0.75 inch diameter so that they can be hooked onto horizontal supports 204 of gridwall 202, so as to suspend shelving system 2 therefrom. Skilled practitioners will recognize that a construction using side flanges 34 and back flanges 36 can be adapted for use with slatwall 302 (see FIG. 4) or other vertical display systems without departing from the invention disclosed herein.

Skilled artisans will further recognize that, while adaptation to slatwall and gridwall display systems are illustrated as examples of adaptability of the shelving system 2 of the invention to display systems, these examples as illustrative of, and not intended as a limitation upon, the adaptability of the invention to display systems. The shelving system 2 of the present invention can be combined with standard hooks and connectors for other display systems (for example, pegboard) in order to be removably connected with those systems.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, while various dimensions for placement of the components of shelving system 2 are contemplated by the inventors without departing from the invention described herein, the inventors have found the following dimensions to be particularly useful in connection with a shelving system 2 that displays standard sized DVD cases 102. While the dimensions of such DVD cases 102 vary, they typically have an approximate dimension of 5.375 inches across the width of the front and back faces 104 and 106, and are approximately 7.0 to 8.0 inches tall (also the dimension of the length of the spine 112). DVD cases 102 ordinarily have a thickness of approximately 0.50 to 0.55 inches (also the dimension of the width of the spine 112).

Ideally, the length of shelving system is slightly larger than approximately a whole number multiplied times the width of the front face 104 of DVD case 102. Moreover, if used with existing display systems, the length should ideally be compatible with those systems as well. For illustrative purposes below, an embodiment where the length is approximately 24.0 inches will be used for shelving system 2, with the understanding that other multiples of 6.0 inches can be used equally advantageously for shelving systems 2 used for storing DVD cases 102, and that other non-multiples of 6.0 inches can be utilized in various applications of this invention without departing from the invention. As noted above, components of the shelving system 2 preferably are constructed of steel wire having a diameter of approximately between 0.148 inches (9 gauge wire) and 0.192 inches (6 gauge wire). In such an embodiment, slide stops 6 are placed 6.0 inches on center from end frames 4, and additional slide stops 6 (in a 24.0 inch wide shelving system 2, only one additional slide stop 6) is or are also placed at intervals 6.0 inches on center from the nearest adjacent slide stop 6. The 6.0 inch spacing of slide stops 6 permits DVD cases 102 to be inserted in the uninterrupted portion of the channels 20, but limits sideways shifting of the DVD cases within the channels due to the lateral interruption by slide stops 6 of the channels 20 within which the DVD cases 102 are located.

A preferred width for shelving system 2, measured between the outer edges of front support 14 and back support 12, is approximately 6.453 inches. Preferably five separators 16 (further comprising a pair of spacer wires 28) are placed at even intervals between front support 14 and back support 12. Six channels 20 are thereby defined. The distance between the outer dimensions of each pair of spacer wires 28 forming a single separator 16 preferably is about 0.364 inches. A pair of spacer wires 28 forming a single separator 16 are preferably arranged parallel to each other a small enough distance apart so that a DVD case 102 cannot fit between the pair of spacer wires 28 forming an individual separator 16. The resulting channels 20 between separators 16 (or between a separator 16 and either front support or back support 12) are preferably approximately 0.736 inches wide. The depth of the shelving system 2 measured from the top edge of front support 14 or bottom support 12 to the top edge of the horizontal bottom of the U-shape of bottom supports 8 is preferably about 0.625 inches. Bottom supports 8 are preferably located 2.0 inches on center from end frames 4 and at repeating 2.0 inch (on center) intervals from each other thereafter. The foregoing dimensions accomplish the goals of the shelving system 2 described herein.

While the inventors have found the above dimensions useful and preferable in certain applications utilizing the invention in connection with the display of DVD cases 102, skilled practitioners will recognize that other combinations of dimensions can be utilized without departing from the invention.

Moreover, although some embodiments of the invention have been described above by way of example only, it will be understood by skilled practitioners that modifications may be made to the disclosed embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined by the claims.