Title:
RETRACTABLE CUP HOLDER ASSEMBLY FOR CHILD SEAT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cup holder assembly for a child seat movable between a retracted position and an extracted position includes an inner cup holder bracket, a medial cup holder slide movably attached to the cup holder bracket, and an outer cup holder floor pivotally attached to the cup holder slide. The cup holder slide and the cup holder floor move along an arc relative to the cup holder bracket, and the cup holder floor rotates relative to the cup holder slide and the cup holder bracket. The cup holder bracket has a rail guide and the cup holder slide includes a corresponding rail operable for slidingly engaging the rail guide. The cup holder slide further includes a lip that engages a corresponding ledge on the cup holder floor to rotate the cup holder floor as the cup holder slide is moved from the retracted position to the extracted position.



Inventors:
Marsilio, Ronald M. (Lake Wylie, SC, US)
Hoffman, Marc Jeremy (Clayton, NC, US)
Attride, Roy (Raleigh, NC, US)
Butler, Margaret (Raleigh, NC, US)
Zelmer, Tom (Raleigh, NC, US)
Yahnker, Chris (Raleigh, NC, US)
Campbell, Sean (Raleigh, NC, US)
Application Number:
12/169379
Publication Date:
01/15/2009
Filing Date:
07/08/2008
Assignee:
BRITAX CHILD SAFETY, INC. (Charlotte, NC, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/74
International Classes:
A47D1/00; A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WHITE, RODNEY BARNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OLIFF PLC (P.O. BOX 320850, ALEXANDRIA, VA, 22320-4850, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed is:

1. A cup holder assembly movable between a retracted position and an extracted position comprising; an inner cup holder bracket; a medial cup holder slide movably attached to the cup holder bracket; and an outer cup holder floor pivotally attached to the cup holder slide.

2. A cup holder assembly according to claim 1, wherein the cup holder slide and the cup holder floor move along an arc relative to the cup holder bracket and the cup holder floor rotates relative to the cup holder slide and the cup holder bracket when the cup holder assembly is moved between the retracted position and the extracted position.

3. A cup holder assembly according to claim 1, wherein the cup holder bracket has at least one opening formed therethrough defining a rail guide and the cup holder slide comprises at least one corresponding rail for slidingly engaging the rail guide.

4. A cup holder assembly according to claim 3, wherein the cup holder slide further comprises a grip operable for applying a force to cause the rail of the cup holder slide to move along the rail guide of the cup holder bracket.

5. A cup holder assembly according to claim 2, wherein the cup holder slide further comprises a lip that engages a corresponding ledge on the cup holder floor, the lip being operable for rotating the cup holder floor when the cup holder assembly is moved from the retracted position to the extracted position.

6. A cup holder assembly according to claim 5, wherein the cup holder floor rotates about pins received within corresponding holes formed in the cup holder slide until a projection on the cup holder floor engages a relief formed in the cup holder slide.

7. A cup holder assembly according to claim 6, wherein the cup holder floor is operable for being lifted and rotated out of the relief, and wherein the cup holder slide and cup holder floor are operable for being moved relative to the cup holder bracket along the arc defined by the rail guide when the cup holder assembly is moved from the extracted position to the retracted position.

8. A child seat comprising a cup holder assembly that is movable between a retracted position and an extracted position relative to the child seat, wherein the cup holder assembly comprises an inner cup holder bracket, a medial cup holder slide, and an outer cup holder floor, the cup holder bracket comprising a body having at least one rail guide and a recess defining an outer profile, the cup holder slide comprising a body having a recess defining an inner profile and at least one rail for slidingly engaging the rail guide, the inner profile of the body of the cup holder slide being contoured to generally conform to the outer profile defined by the recess of the body of the cup holder bracket.

9. A child seat according to claim 8, wherein the cup holder floor comprises a body having at least one pin pivotally received within a corresponding hole formed in the body of the cup holder slide.

10. A child seat according to claim 8, wherein the cup holder slide comprises a lip extending radially inward from the body of the cup holder slide that engages a ledge extending radially outward from the body of the cup holder floor to rotate the cup holder floor relative to the cup holder slide.

11. A child seat according to claim 8, wherein the cup holder slide has a relief formed therein and the cup holder floor comprises a projection for engaging the relief to retain the cup holder floor in the extracted position.

12. A child seat according to claim 8, wherein the cup holder assembly defines an outer profile that generally conforms to an outer profile of the child seat when the cup holder assembly is in the retracted position.

13. A cup holder assembly for a child seat, the cup holder assembly being movable relative to the child seat between a retracted position and an extracted position, the cup holder assembly defining an outer profile that generally conforms to an outer profile of the child seat in the retracted position, the cup holder assembly comprising. an inner cup holder bracket having at least one rail guide, the cup holder bracket defining an outer profile; a medial cup holder slide having at least one rail slidingly engaging the rail guide of the cup holder bracket, the cup holder slide defining an inner profile that conforms generally to the outer profile of the cup holder bracket; and an outer cup holder floor pivotally attached to the cup holder slide.

14. A cup holder assembly according to claim 13, wherein the cup holder slide and the cup holder floor move along an arc relative to the cup holder bracket and the cup holder floor rotates relative to the cup holder slide and the cup holder bracket when the cup holder assembly is moved between the retracted position and the extracted position.

15. A cup holder assembly according to claim 13, wherein the cup holder slide further comprises a grip operable for applying a force to cause the rail of the cup holder slide to move along the rail guide of the cup holder bracket.

16. A cup holder assembly according to claim 13, wherein the cup holder slide further comprises a lip that engages a corresponding ledge on the cup holder floor, the lip being operable for rotating the cup holder floor when the cup holder assembly is moved from the retracted position to the extracted position.

17. A cup holder assembly according to claim 16, wherein the cup holder floor rotates about pins received within corresponding holes formed in the cup holder slide until a projection on the cup holder floor engages a relief formed in the cup holder slide.

18. A cup holder assembly according to claim 17, wherein the cup holder floor is operable for being lifted and rotated out of the relief, and wherein the cup holder slide and the cup holder floor are operable for being moved relative to the cup holder bracket along an arc defined by the rail guide when the cup holder assembly is moved from the extracted position to the retracted position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/948,531 filed on Jul. 9, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to child restraint systems, and more particularly, to a child seat including a retractable cup holder assembly.

A child restraint system, commonly referred to as a child car seat, child safety seat or simply child seat, is used for transporting and safely restraining a child within a vehicle so as to minimize the risk of injury to the child in the event of an abrupt movement or a collision involving the vehicle. Safety is of utmost concern in the design of a child seat. Comfort, however, is also of significant importance. As a result, many of the same comfort features provided on vehicle seats for use by an adult are also available on a child seat. For example, child seats are now available with one or more cup holders for retaining a beverage container, such as a plastic or metal bottle, can or cup. While providing the same function as a cup holder for an adult seat, a cup holder on a child seat should not extend beyond the periphery of the child seat so as to create an obstruction or hazard while transporting, installing, moving, or removing the child seat. In particular, the cup holder should conform generally to the outer profile of the child seat when not in use. At the same time, the cup holder should be readily accessible and relatively simple to operate so that a child having limited dexterity can easily use the cup holder. This is especially true if the cup holder is configured to be movable between a closed position, referred to herein as <“retracted,” and an opened position, referred to herein as “extracted.”

Accordingly, it is recognized that a specific need exists for a child seat including a cup holder assembly for retaining a beverage container that addresses the aforementioned concerns. More particularly, there is a specific need for a child seat including a cup holder assembly that conforms generally to the outer profile of the child seat when not in use, and thereby does not create an obstruction or hazard when transporting, installing, moving or removing the child seat. A further need exists for a child seat including a cup holder assembly that is readily accessible and relatively simple to operate so that a child having limited dexterity can easily use the cup holder. A specific need exists for such a cup holder that is movable between a retracted (i.e. closed) position and an extracted (i.e. opened) position.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present invention provides a child seat including a cup holder assembly that is movable between a retracted position and an extracted position. The cup holder assembly includes an inner cup holder bracket, a medial cup holder slide movably attached to the cup holder bracket, and an outer cup holder floor pivotally attached to the cup holder slide. The cup holder slide and the cup holder floor move along an arc relative to the cup holder bracket, and the cup holder floor rotates relative to the cup holder slide and the cup holder bracket. In a particular embodiment, the cup holder bracket has at least one opening formed therethrough defining a rail guide and the cup holder slide includes at least one corresponding rail for slidingly engaging the rail guide. The cup holder slide further includes a handle or grip operable for applying an outward force to cause the rail of the cup holder slide to move along the rail guide of the cup holder bracket. The cup holder slide further includes a lip that engages a corresponding ledge on the cup holder floor, the lip being operable to rotate the cup holder floor as the cup holder slide is moved from the retracted position to the extracted position. The cup holder floor rotates about pins received within holes formed in the cup holder slide until a projection on the cup holder floor engages a relief formed in the cup holder slide. To move the cup holder assembly back from the extracted position to the retracted position, the cup holder floor is first lifted and rotated out of the relief and then the cup holder slide and cup holder floor are caused to move relative to the cup holder bracket along the arc defined by the rail guide.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a child seat including a cup holder assembly that is movable between a retracted position and an extracted position. The cup holder assembly includes an inner cup holder bracket, a medial cup holder slide, and an outer cup holder floor. The cup holder bracket includes a body having at least one rail guide and a recess defining an outer profile. The cup holder slide includes a body having a recess defining an inner profile and at least one rail for slidingly engaging the rail guide. The inner profile of the body of the cup holder slide is contoured to generally conform to the outer profile defined by the recess of the body of the cup holder bracket. The cup holder floor includes a body having at least one pin pivotally received within a corresponding hole formed in the body of the cup holder slide. The cup holder slide has a lip extending radially inward from the body that engages a ledge extending radially outward from the body of the cup holder floor to rotate the cup holder floor. The cup holder slide has a relief formed therein and the cup holder floor has a projection for engaging the relief to retain the cup holder floor in the extracted position. In the retracted position, the outer profile of the cup holder assembly is contoured to generally conform to the outer profile of the child seat.

In yet another aspect, the present invention provides a cup holder assembly for a child seat. The cup holder assembly is movable relative to the child seat between a retracted position and an extracted position, and the cup holder assembly defines an outer profile that generally conforms to an outer profile of the child seat in the retracted position. In a particular embodiment, the cup holder assembly includes an inner cup holder bracket having at least one rail guide. The cup holder bracket defines an outer profile. The cup holder assembly further includes a medial cup holder slide having at least one rail slidingly engaging the rail guide of the cup holder bracket. The cup holder slide defines an inner profile that conforms generally to the outer profile of the cup holder bracket. The cup holder assembly further includes an outer cup holder floor that is pivotally attached to the cup holder slide.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A child seat including a retractable cup holder assembly according to the present invention is best understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing figures in which:

FIG. 1 is an environmental perspective view showing a child seat including a cup holder assembly according to the present invention with the cup holder assembly shown in the retracted position;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 1 shown in the retracted position and removed from the child seat for clarity;

FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 1 shown in the extracted position and removed from the child seat for clarity;

FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the cup holder assembly of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic illustrating the manner in which a cup holder assembly according to the present invention is moved between the retracted position and the extracted position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings wherein identical reference numerals denote the same elements throughout the various views, a child restraint system, indicated generally at 20, and commonly referred to as a car seat, child safety seat, or child seat, is shown in FIG. 1. By way of example only, the child seat 20 shown and described herein is a forward-facing child safety seat of the type typically used to transport and safely restrain children over the age of 1 year, less than about 49 inches (124 cm) in height, and weighing less than about 65 pounds (29 kg). The child seat 20 may be a single-piece construction that is secured onto a seat within a vehicle by a vehicle seat belt. Alternatively, the child seat 20 may be a two-piece construction comprising a base and a seat portion mounted on the base. The base is secured onto a seat within a vehicle by a vehicle seat belt and the seat portion is pivotally mounted on the base so that the seat portion is movable between different recline positions. In addition, the child seat 20 may be a two-piece forward-facing child seat, commonly referred to as a child booster seat, of the type that includes a base and a seat portion adapted to be mounted on the base. A child booster seat is typically used to transport and safely restrain children up to 8 years of age and between about 65 pounds (29 kg) and about 100 pounds (39 kg). The child booster seat is placed onto a seat within a vehicle with the child restrained and the booster seat secured by a vehicle seat belt. Furthermore, the present invention is equally applicable to a two-piece rear-facing child seat, commonly referred to as an infant car seat, including a removable carrier portion adapted to be mounted on a base that is secured onto a seat within a vehicle by a vehicle seat belt. A rear-facing child seat is recommended for use with infants until at least 1 year of age and weighing less than 20 pounds (9 kg). Preferably, the child seat 20 is made from a relatively hard, rigid plastic or composite material, and is secured onto a seat within a vehicle by a conventional vehicle seat belt, such as a lap belt or combination lap belt and shoulder harness.

In the exemplary embodiment shown, the child seat 20 defines a seat area 21 for seating a child and comprises a child seat harness 22 for restraining the child within the seat area. The harness 22 comprises a pair of adjustable shoulder and chest straps 23 that are secured to a fixed length harness buckle 24 by conventional tongues or clasps (not shown) provided on the shoulder and chest straps. The harness 22 may also comprise a pair of shoulder pads 25 and a chest clip 26 for providing additional comfort and security. Other pads, such as head and thigh pads, may be provided for additional comfort, and a removable fabric cover 27 may be placed over the child seat 20 to alleviate temperature extremes and to shield the finish of the child seat from spills and stains. The child seat 20 further comprises an adjustment strap 28 for adjusting the length, and thereby the tension, of the shoulder and chest straps 23 to properly fit the size of a child seated within the seat area 21. In particular, the adjustment strap 28 may be extended (i.e. pulled) to shorten (i.e. tighten) the harness 22 around the child. If desired, the child seat 20 may be fitted with armrests 29 configured to rotate upwardly for easier access to and from the seat area 21.

The child seat 20 further comprises at least one cup holder assembly (also referred to herein simply as “cup holder”) 40 disposed on a lateral side of the child seat adjacent the seat area 21. Preferably, a cup holder assembly 40 is disposed on each lateral side of the child seat 20 so as to provide convenient access to a cup holder regardless of the location of the child seat within a vehicle. For example, a right-side cup holder is readily accessible when the child seat 20 is secured onto a seat and located on the left-hand side of a vehicle. Conversely, a left-side cup holder is readily accessible when the child seat 20 is secured onto a seat and located on the right-hand side of a vehicle. Advantageously, either one or both of the cup holders are readily accessible when the child seat 20 is secured onto a seat and located medially within a vehicle. Regardless, each cup holder is configured to be retractable into the child seat 20 so that the cup holder does not interfere with another portion of the vehicle, for example a door handle, a door or a convenience console. As used herein, “retractable” is intended to mean that the cup holder assembly 40 has a retracted (i.e. closed) position, as well as an extracted (i.e. opened) position. In the exemplary embodiments shown and described herein, the cup holder assembly 40 is moveable between a retracted position and an extracted position, as will be described further with reference to FIG. 10.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a cup holder assembly 40 according to the present invention. FIGS. 3-6 show the cup holder 40 in the retracted position. FIGS. 7-9 show the cup holder 40 in the extracted position. FIG. 10 illustrates the manner in which the cup holder 40 is moved between the retracted position and the extracted position. The following detailed description is applicable to the exemplary embodiments shown in each of the drawing figures. As such, the description refers generally to the drawing figures unless specific reference is made to a particular drawing figure. Furthermore, like reference numerals refer to like elements in the various drawing figures unless noted otherwise.

As best shown in FIG. 2, the cup holder assembly 40 comprises an inner cup holder bracket 50, a medial cup holder slide 60, and an outer cup holder floor 70. The cup holder bracket 50 comprises a body 52, as well as a lower flange 54 and an upper flange 56 depending from the body. The lower flange 54 and the upper flange 56 are available for attaching the cup holder bracket 50 to the child seat 20. As shown, the lower flange 54 is generally planar and rectangular, while the upper flange 56 is generally planar and arcuate. However, the lower flange 54 and the upper flange 56 may have any configuration and shape necessary to conform the inner profile of the cup holder bracket 50 to the outer profile of the child seat 20. Regardless, the lower flange 54 and the upper flange 56 provide surface areas for securely attaching the cup holder bracket 50 to the child seat 20, for example by gluing or with suitable fasteners. The body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50 extends between the lower flange 54 and the upper flange 56. The body 52 has at least one, and preferably a plurality of openings, referred to herein as “rail guides” 55, formed therethrough for a purpose to be described. The body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50 further has a generally hollow recess 58 that defines an outer profile for receiving the cup holder slide 60 in the retracted position.

The cup holder slide 60 comprises a body 62 shaped and configured to be movably received within the recess 58 of the cup holder bracket 50. As shown, the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 has at least one, and preferably a plurality, of “rails” 65 that operably engage the rail guides 55 formed on the body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50. Each rail 65 cooperates with a rail guide 55 and slides therein to cause the cup holder slide 60 and the cup holder floor 70 to move along a non-linear arc path relative to the cup holder bracket 50. In particular, the inner profile of the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 is contoured to compliment the outer profile of the body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50 within recess 58 so that the cup holder slide moves smoothly relative to the cup holder bracket between the retracted position and the extracted position when the rails 65 slide along the rail guides 55. A handle or grip 63 is provided on the opposite side of the body 62 from the rail guides 65 for permitting a user to readily apply an outward force to move the cup holder slide 60 and the cup holder floor 70 between the retracted position and the extracted position. The body 62 further has a generally cylindrical cavity 64 formed therethrough of a predetermined diameter sized to receive a beverage container, such as a bottle, can, or cup. As will be described, the cavity 64 is in registration with a corresponding cavity 74 formed in the cup holder floor 70 when the cup holder 40 is in the extracted position. At least one, and preferably a pair, of holes 66 are formed on the inner surface of the body 62. As will be described, the holes 66 receive protrusions, such as pins, 76 provided on the cup holder floor 70 to pivotally attach the cup holder floor to the cup holder slide 60. The body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 further has a generally hollow recess 68 that defines an outer profile for receiving the cup holder floor 70 in the retracted position.

The cup holder floor 70 comprises a body 72 shaped and configured to be movably received within the recess 68 of the cup holder slide 60. As best shown in FIG. 9, the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 has a generally cylindrical cavity 74 formed therein of a predetermined diameter sized to receive a beverage container, such as a bottle, can, or cup. As previously stated, the cavity 74 of the cup holder floor 70 is in registration with the cavity 64 of the cup holder slide 60 when the cup holder 40 is in the extracted position so that a beverage container can be positioned within the cavities 64, 74 and retained by the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 in conjunction with the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 in a known manner. The cup holder floor 70 further comprises at least one, and preferably a pair, of ear-like projections 75 that each engage a corresponding relief 61 (FIG. 2 and FIG. 10) formed in the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60. Each relief 61 has a profile that is contoured to receive a projection 75 therein as the cup holder slide 60 moves to the extracted position, and to retain the cup holder floor 70 in the extracted position, as will be described. As previously stated, the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 is provided with at least one, and preferably a pair, of protrusions, such as pins 76, that are disposed within holes 66 on body 62 of cup holder slide 60 to pivotally attach the cup holder floor to the cup holder slide. In the exemplary embodiment shown and described herein, the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 is further provided with a circumferential lip 67 that extends radially inward into the cavity 64. The lip 67 is sized and positioned to engage a corresponding circumferential ledge 77 that extends radially outward from the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70. As a result, the cup holder floor 70 rotates about the pins 76 disposed in holes 66 when lip 67 engages ledge 77 as the cup holder slide 60 is moved from the retracted position to the extracted position.

FIG. 10 illustrates the manner in which the cup holder assembly 40 is moved between the retracted position and the extracted position. From the retracted position, a user grasps the grip 63 of the cup holder slide 60 and pulls outwardly to cause the cup holder slide and the cup holder floor 70 to move relative to the cup holder bracket 50. In particular, the rails 65 slide along the rail guides 55 in the non-linear arc path defined by the body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50. As the cup holder slide 60 and the cup holder floor 70 move relative to the cup holder bracket 50, the radially inward extending lip 67 on the body 62 of the cup holder slide engages the radially outward extending ledge 77 on the body 72 of the cup holder floor. In particular, the lip 67 “catches” on the ledge 77 and causes the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 to rotate about the pins 76 disposed within the holes 66 formed in body 62 of cup holder slide 60. As the cup holder slide 60 moves within the outer profile defined by the recess 58 of the cup holder bracket 50, the cup holder floor 70 rides along the outer profile defined by the recess 68 of the cup holder slide. The body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 rotates about the pins 76 and rides within the recess 68 until projection 75 engages relief 61 formed in the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60. The body 72, and in particular projection 75, of the cup holder floor 70 falls into relief 61 and the cup holder floor continues to rotate under the influence of gravity to the fully extracted position.

In this position, the cavity 74 formed in the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 is in registration with the cavity 64 formed in the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60 so that a user can readily position a beverage container, such as a bottle, can or cup, in the cup holder 40. The beverage container is securely retained by the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 and the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60, and the cup holder 40 cannot be moved from the extracted position to the retracted position until the beverage container is removed. Even then, the cup holder 40 cannot be moved to the retracted position by merely pushing on the grip 63. Instead, the cup holder 40 remains in a fully opened and locked configuration until the body 72 of the cup holder floor 70 is lifted upwards and rotated to move projection 75 out of relief 61. The body 72 is easily rotated out of the recess 61 by the user applying a slight upward force to the ledge 77 at the outer side of the cup holder 40 before lifting grip 63 on the body 62 of the cup holder slide 60. Once the projection 75 has cleared the relief 61, the cup holder floor 70 moves freely into the recess 68 of body 62 of cup holder slide 60, while the cup holder slide moves freely into the recess 58 of body 52 of the cup holder bracket 50. Accordingly, the cup holder 40 is moved from the extracted position to the retracted position by releasing the cup holder floor 70 from the cup holder slide 60 and moving the cup holder slide relative to the cup holder bracket 50 until the cup holder floor and the cup holder slide form a relatively continuous outer profile with the lower flange 54 and the upper flange 56 of the cup holder bracket that is substantially flush with the outer profile of the child seat 20.

The foregoing has described exemplary embodiments of a child restraint system, and more particularly, a child seat including a cup holder assembly. While particular embodiments of the present invention have been described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications thereto can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description of the preferred embodiments of the invention and the best mode for practicing the invention are provided for the purpose of illustration only and not for the purpose of limitation.