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This non-provisional patent application claims priority based on U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/730,054 filed on Oct. 25, 2005.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to a holder or rack for storing containers of various sizes and shapes. More particularly, this invention relates to flexible and collapsible holders and racks that can be inserted into a variety of irregular shaped openings in various transportation vehicles such as boats, recreational vehicles, and trucks.
The prior art discloses a multitude of storage racks and holders for containers of various shapes and sizes. However, virtually all of these storage devices are rigid and therefore not flexible enough to fit into the variety of small and irregular shaped openings that are typically found in, for example, a boat, truck, recreational vehicle, or even a private airplane. For example, U.S. Pat. No. D200,488 depicts a rigid bottle rack.
The present invention resolves this problem by presenting a container storage rack that is made of an inflatable material and/or a foam rubber or similar material that can safely and firmly hold and secure containers while at the same time fitting into a variety of irregularly shaped areas.
2. Description of the Related Art
As noted above, the prior art discloses a variety of container holders. For example, Pat. No. D200,488 to Watson shows a bottle rack. However, there is no indication that the rack is anything but a rigid, non-collapsible rack.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,061,957 to Takashima shows a device that has an inner inflatable bag wherein plants can grow. However, the inflatable bag provides no structure for carrying relatively heavy weights as would be present in a bottle. The 957 invention is not designed to be serviceable in a transport environment.
In Patent Application No. 20030015448, Weder teaches an inflatable storage and transportation system. However, Weder's device only allows containers to be stored in a vertical position and does not provide the variety of storage options that the present invention provides.
As Americans become more mobile, they are spending more time in a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, motor homes, campers, boats, yachts, and even private airplanes. As Americans spend more time in their chosen mode of personal transportation, a need has arisen for safe, flexible, lightweight, and compressible container holding and storage devices. In particular, a need has arisen for safely and conveniently storing bottles, cans, and similar containers. The present invention addresses the need for such safe, flexible, lightweight and compressible container storage devices in the form of inflatable and/or foam rubber storage racks. These racks can be adapted to fit into just about any opening and can be adjusted such that they can hold bottles, cans, and jars of a wide range of dimensions.
The invention is designed so that it can either be an entirely inflatable device; a device made entirely of a foam rubber type material; or a combination of inflatable and foam rubber-type material. The invention can be either totally inflatable or semi-inflatable with some fairly rigid members.
The invention is further designed such that the foam rubber components can be either one integrated piece or they can be a series of interlocking pieces.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of collapsible container holder.
FIG. 2 shows an overhead view of the collapsible container holder.
A preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 1.
Referring to FIG. 1, the Invention 10 includes a collapsible and flexible structure that is arranged in a latticework such that bottles 30, jars, or other containers can be safely and snuggly stored in the structure. The structure can be made of a tough, durable plastic that is inflatable or semi-inflatable or it can be made of a rugged, yet shapeable material such as fairly firm foam rubber. The essence of the invention is to have a latticework structure that is composed of horizontal and vertical members 50 that can be adapted to fit into irregularly shaped open areas in a variety of transportation vehicles.
The latticework arrangement of the horizontal and vertical members 50 combines to form openings 40 that bottles 30, jars or other containers can fit snuggly into said openings 40.
The Invention 10 also includes an optional bottom panel 60 that can serve as an area to capture water, dust, etc.
Furthermore, the inflatable or semi-inflatable variations of the invention 10 include at least one but preferably two or more optional air nozzles 20. Air can be introduced into the inflatable and semi-inflatable variations of the invention through said air nozzles 20 in order to enhance the structural strength of the invention.
An alternate embodiment of the instant invention would be to comprise the structure of semi-hollow water tight components so that water instead of air can be introduced into the structure to provide some rigidity to the structure. In this alternate embodiment, water nozzles and or valves would be added to the structure.
Referring further to FIG. 1, the Invention 10 further demonstrates how a container such as a bottle 30 can be placed into openings 40 in the device in either an upright or horizontal position.
The relative juxtaposition of horizontally inserted containers and vertically inserted containers is further demonstrated in the top view shown in FIG. 2.