Title:
Hygenic Toilet Seat Lifter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lifting device for a toilet seat allowing the user to raise and lower the toilet seat without having to physically touch the seat. The device consists of a mounting plate, a shield, and a lifting member, with all surface being curved and without crevices. The shield extends horizontally and vertically beyond the edges of the lifting member.



Inventors:
Foster, Steven C. (Columbus, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/166593
Publication Date:
02/26/2009
Filing Date:
07/02/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUSON, GREGORY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Okuley Smith, LLC (7700 RIVERS EDGE DRIVE, COLUMBUS, OH, 43235, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for lifting a toilet seat of a toilet with a toilet seat lifter comprising a handle jutting outwardly from the toilet seat for lifting and lowering said toilet seat without touching the toilet seat thereby offering a means to hygienically lift the toilet seat, comprising the steps of: providing said toilet seat lifter; installing said toilet seat lifter onto an underside surface of said toilet seat such that a first horizontally oriented portion of the toilet seat lifter abuts said underside surface of said toilet seat and is removably attached via an attachment system and a vertically oriented shield extension depends downward outside said toilet with a lifting member projecting outwards away from said toilet; placing one or more of a finger and a hand onto a finger groove of said lifting member; and, raising or lowering said toilet seat lifter, and subsequently said toilet seat, as needed.

2. A toilet seat lifter, comprising: a mounting plate having a first horizontally oriented portion secured to the underside of a toilet seat of a toilet bowl; a vertically oriented shield extending downwardly from said first horizontally oriented portion of the mounting plate, said shield extending around an outside perimeter of said toilet bowl, said shield extending from said mounting plate to position below a rim of the toilet bowl; a lifting member having a second horizontally oriented portion, extending substantially horizontal, and projecting away from the toilet bowl relative to said vertically oriented shield, said lifting member having a finger groove disposed on an underside surface; and an attachment means located on an upper surface of said mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion, whereby when attached to the bottom of the toilet seat, the shield extends beyond the horizontal and vertical limits of the lifting member, and is displaced outside the perimeter of the toilet bowl, effectively shielding the finger groove from deposition of liquids or aerosols emanating from the toilet bowl.

3. The toilet seat lifter of claim 2 further comprising a toilet seat lifter formed of germicidal or bacteriostatic material.

4. The toilet seat lifter of claim 2 further comprising a display of advertising matter printed or formed upon said toilet seat lifter.

5. The toilet seat lifter of claim 2 wherein said attachment means further comprises an adhesive protected by a removeable sheet.

6. The toilet seat lifter of claim 2 wherein all the mounting plate, the shield and the shield join at curved surfaces, with no crevices.

7. A method of retrofitting a toilet seat with a toilet seat lifter, comprising providing a toilet seat lifter further comprising a) a mounting plate having a first horizontally oriented portion; b) a vertically oriented shield extending downwardly from said first horizontally oriented portion, said shield extending around an outside perimeter of said toilet bowl, said shield extending from said mounting plate to position below a rim of the toilet bowl; c) a lifting member having a second horizontally oriented portion, extending substantially horizontal, and projecting away from the toilet bowl relative to said vertically oriented shield, said lifting member having a finger groove disposed on an underside surface; and d) an attachment means provided as an adhesive layer protected by a removeable sheet located on an upper surface of said mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion, a toilet seat, with a horizontally oriented underside, cleaning the underside of said toilet seat, removing the removeable sheet from said adhesive, and applying said adhesive layer on mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion to the horizontally oriented underside of the toilet seat, whereby said toilet seat lifter is semi-permanently attached to the toilet seat, and when attached to the bottom of the toilet seat, the shield extends beyond the horizontal and vertical limits of the lifting member, and is displaced outside the perimeter of the toilet bowl, effectively shielding the finger groove from deposition of liquids or aerosols emanating from the toilet bowl.

8. The method of claim 7 whereby said toilet seat lifter is attached within 15 degrees of the lateral axis of a toilet seat user seated on the toilet seat.

9. The method of claim 7 whereby the attachment means further comprises providing self-tapping screws with associated hardware for reinforcing the attachment of the toilet seat lifter to the toilet seat.

10. The toilet seat lifter of claim 2, wherein the lifting member further comprises a lifting member with an aperture.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/437,322, filed May 19, 2006, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/682,567 filed on May 19, 2005. The present invention was described in Disclosure Document No. 554,063 filed on May 27, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a lifting device for a toilet seat, and more particularly, to allowing the user to hygienically raise and lower the toilet seat without having to physically touch the seat.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When a toilet in a restroom is used, often times the toilet seat is in a position which is adverse to the needs of the user. As such, the user must manipulate the seat to accommodate their needs. However, in raising and lowering the toilet seat, one exposes themselves to a myriad of germs and bacteria that jeopardize their health and well-being; especially if the toilet seat is in a public restroom facility intended for repeated use. As a result, many people try to use their feet or wrap toilet paper around their hands while raising and lowering the seat and lid in order to avoid contact, especially in public restrooms. This may frustrate users and inevitably leads to the disuse and negligent upkeep of the facilities.

Several attempts have been made in the past to assist users in a hygienic manner for lifting or lowering toilet seats without placing one's hands upon a potentially unclean toilet seat. Such attempts have been made for many decades. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 1,999,555 to Adams, issued Apr. 30, 1935 discloses a handle for a bowl of a water closet that is attached to the underside of the toilet seat. However the handle, or lifting portion of the handle is not protected from deposition of matter emanating from the bowl, thus only providing a downward facing lifting surface, but no protection for that surface. Likewise, U.S. Pat. No. 3,717,884, in the name of Mantooth, refers to a lifting handle for a toilet seat consisting of a plate-like flange that is fastened to the underside of a toilet seat with screws and a laterally-projecting hand grip consisting of a closed loop. The Mantooth device relies on hardware to fasten the device to the toilet bowl and therefore is not easily installed, removed, or replaced if needed, nor does it protect the lifting surface effectively.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,721,964, issued in the name of Marshall, provides for a lifting aid for raising and lowering a toilet seat with a rigid lifting tab member and an outer half having an arcuate finger recess with a plurality of raised ribs and is adhesively attached to the bottom of a toilet seat. The Marshall device is a rigid rectangular tab, which is inherently lacking in the ergonomic benefits of the curved and finger groove features of the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,418,566, issued in the name of Plonta, describes a toilet seat lift kit with mounting blocks, lift blocks, and a seat mounting assembly. This device requires the removal of a seat with multiple lift blocks and associated hardware and is a more complicated and permanent fixture and therefore does not fall under the scope of the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,198,160, issued in the name of Pettus, discloses a toilet seat lifting device including a lever assembly coupled to the seat which selectively moves the seat. The lever assembly is mounted on a platform that is movable via a pedal. The Pettus device is more a complicated mechanism compared to the simplicity of the present invention and requires the use of one's foot to activate the lever assembly to raise the toilet seat, which does not fall under the scope of the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,198,160, issued in the name of Pettus, discloses a toilet seat lifting device including a lever assembly coupled to the seat which selectively moves the seat. The lever assembly is mounted on a platform that is movable via a pedal. The Pettus device is more a complicated mechanism compared to the simplicity of the present invention and requires the use of one's foot to activate the lever assembly to raise the toilet seat, which does not fall under the scope of the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,805,246, issued in the name of De Vargas et al., describes a handle attachable to the underside of a toilet seat consisting of an elong˜te member attachable to the toilet seat and a handle portion cantilevered outward so a user can grasp the device. A deodorant cake is mountable to the attachable portion for depending downward into the interior of the toilet bowl. The De Vargas et al. invention does not provide for ergonomic finger grooves to assist the user in lifting the toilet seat as does the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,983,992, issued in the name of Bonner, is a decorative handle attachment for a toilet seat with an attachment portion securable via adhesive to the underside of a toilet seat. As with the aforementioned prior art, the Bonner device does not provide for ergonomic lifting means in the form of finger grooves located on an extended lifting flange member as does the present invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,935,601, issued in the name of Hermann, is a handle attachment for a toilet seat. The handle of Hermann is ineffective for shielding the lifting surfaces of the toilet seat from splash or aerosolized droplets emanating from the toilet bowl when the bowl is in use or is being flushed.

None of the prior art particularly describes a hygienic lifting device for attaching to existing toilet bowl seats. Accordingly, there is a need for a means by which the raising and lowering of a toilet seat can be accomplished in a manner such that the user is not exposed to any unsanitary conditions present on the toilet seat.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the prior art, it has been observed that there is a need for a hygienically effective toilet seat lifting and lowering device. It has further been observed that there is a need for a device that is easily attachable to existing toilet seats.

The object of the present invention is to provide a toilet seat lifter comprising a handle jutting outwardly from the toilet seat for lifting or lowering said toilet seat without touching the toilet seat, thereby offering a hygienic toilet seat.

To achieve the above and other objectives, the present invention provides for an apparatus for the raising and lowering of a toilet seat. The invention takes the form of a handle that attaches to the underside of the toilet seat near the front or the side. The invention provides a sturdy grip with molded finger grips that will not easily bend or break. All surface areas are curved with no tight corners, making it easy to clean. Additionally, the plastic can be impregnated with a germicide, thus reducing the chances of spreading germs to those who touch it. It is envisioned that the invention would be made in multiple colors, thus allowing it to blend with any décor or match existing toilet seat colors. The invention would be attached to existing seats with rut proof screws, or could even be molded as an integral part of a new toilet seat. Finally, the top of the toilet seat lifter provides a space for business names, custom logos, advertising, or the like.

A further embodiment is a method for lifting a toilet seat of a toilet with a toilet seat lifter comprising a handle jutting outwardly from the toilet seat for lifting and lowering said toilet seat without touching the toilet seat thereby offering a means to hygienically lift the toilet seat, comprising the steps of providing a toilet seat lifter, installing said toilet seat lifter onto an underside surface of said toilet seat such that a first horizontally oriented portion of the toilet seat lifter abuts said underside surface of said toilet seat and a vertically oriented shield extension depends downward outside said toilet with a lifting member projecting outwards away from said toilet, with the user placing one or more fingers onto a finger groove of the lifting member; and raising or lowering said toilet seat lifter, and subsequently said toilet seat, as needed.

Yet a further embodiment is toilet seat lifter, comprising a mounting plate having a first horizontally oriented portion secured to the underside of a toilet seat of a toilet bowl;

    • a vertically oriented shield extending downwardly from said first horizontally oriented portion of the mounting plate, said shield extending around an outside perimeter of said toilet bowl, said shield extending from said mounting plate to position below a rim of the toilet bowl;
    • a lifting member having a second horizontally oriented portion, extending substantially horizontal, and projecting away from the toilet bowl relative to said vertically oriented shield, said lifting member having a finger groove disposed on an underside surface; and
    • an attachment means located on an upper surface of said mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion, said attachment means may further comprise an adhesive protected by a removeable sheet.
    • whereby when attached to the bottom of the toilet seat, the shield extends beyond the horizontal and vertical limits of the lifting member, and is displaced outside the perimeter of the toilet bowl, effectively shielding the finger groove from deposition of liquids or aerosols emanating from the toilet bowl.

As stated, the he toilet seat lifter may be formed of bacteriostatic or germicidal material. The toilet seat lifter may display of advertising matter printed or formed upon said toilet seat lifter.

The disclosure is further embodied in a method of retrofitting a toilet seat with a toilet seat lifter, comprising providing a toilet seat lifter further comprising

    • a) a mounting plate having a first horizontally oriented portion;
    • b) a vertically oriented shield extending downwardly from said first horizontally oriented portion, said shield extending around an outside perimeter of said toilet bowl, said shield extending from said mounting plate to position below a rim of the toilet bowl;
    • c) a lifting member having a second horizontally oriented portion, extending substantially horizontal, and projecting away from the toilet bowl relative to said vertically oriented shield, said lifting member having a finger groove disposed on an underside surface; and
    • d) an attachment means provided as an adhesive layer protected by a removeable sheet located on an upper surface of said mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion, with the attachment means being further provided as self-tapping screws with associated hardware for reinforcing the attachment of the toilet seat lifter to the toilet seat.

a toilet seat, with a horizontally oriented underside,

cleaning the underside of said toilet seat,

removing the removeable sheet from said adhesive, and

applying said adhesive layer on mounting plate first horizontally oriented portion to the horizontally oriented underside of the toilet seat,

whereby said toilet seat lifter is semi-permanently attached to the toilet seat, and when attached to the bottom of the toilet seat, the shield extends beyond the horizontal and vertical limits of the lifting member, and is displaced outside the perimeter of the toilet bowl, effectively shielding the finger groove from deposition of liquids or aerosols emanating from the toilet bowl.

Preferably, when using the method above the toilet seat lifter is attached within 15 degrees of the lateral axis of a toilet seat user seated on the toilet seat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The advantages and features of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following more detailed description and claims taken in better conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like elements are identified with like symbols, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the toilet seat lifting device 10 installed on the bottom of a toilet bowl seat 110; and,

FIG. 3 is a front view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 4 is a rear view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 5 is a top view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 7 is a side view of a toilet seat lifting device 10, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a toilet seat lifting device 15, according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTIVE KEY

10 toilet seat lifting device

15 alternate embodiment

20 horizontal plate

30 side wall

40 shield vertical flange

42 shield lateral portion

50 lifting member

52 lifting member upper surface

55 indicia

65 curved surface

70 groove

80 aperture

90 adhesive strip

92 removeable protective sheet

95 mounting bolt holes

100 toilet

110 toilet seat

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The best mode for carrying out the invention is presented in terms of its preferred embodiment, herein depicted within FIGS. 1 through 8. However, the invention is not limited to the described embodiment, and a person skilled in the art will appreciate that many other embodiments of the invention are possible without deviating from the basic concept of the invention, and that any such work around will also fall under scope of this invention. It is envisioned that other styles and configurations of the present invention can be easily incorporated into the teachings of the present invention, and only one particular configuration shall be shown and described for purposes of clarity and disclosure and not by way of limitation of scope.

The term “a” and “an” herein do not denote a limitation of quantity, but rather denote the presence of at least one of the referenced items.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 7, various views of the toilet seat lifting device 10 (herein described as the system), are herein disclosed in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention. The system generally comprises a horizontal plate 20 of suitable width to accommodate the front of a toilet seat 100 (illustrated in FIG. 2). The width of the mounting plate 20 is generally of the same width throughout its length to where it meets the downwardly flanged shield portion 40 of the device 10. The plate 20 is preferably provided an adhesive property, such as tape or the like 90, affixed thereupon, and protected by removeable protective sheet 92. When an adhesive tape at 90 is used it is double-sided and is generally located in the center of the plate 90. Other adhesive may be employed that semi-permanently securely attach the mounting plate to a flat surface.

The side wall 30 of the plate 20 is generally of a thickness, in addition to the thickness of the adhesive tape 90, to accommodate installation of the device 10 within the space between the toilet seat 110 and toilet 100. As shown in FIG. 2, the lifter does not contact the rim 115 of the toilet bowl 100, and when properly installed projects beyond the outer perimeter 120 of the bowl. The downwardly flanged shield portion 40 of the device 10 depends to a sufficient in order for the user to manipulate the device 10. Extending outward from the downwardly flanged portion 40 is a lifting member 50 with a length and width slightly less than that of the downwardly flanged portion 40 and a thickness that tapers down in a generally curved shape to a size similar to that of the side wall portion 30 of the device 10. Shield lateral portion 42 of the shield extends horizontally and vertically beyond the edges of the lifting member. Thus, when the toilet is used with the seat down, no splashes of toilet water or other material emanating form the toilet seat can land upon the lower surface of the lifting member. Moreover, when the toilet is flushed, or aerosols otherwise are released, these aerosols are prevented from settling on the lifting surface of the lifting member. Thus, the shield member protects the lifting member from contamination. The generally curved surfaces as at 65 furthermore provide for ease of cleaning the seat lifter, as no crevices are created where dirt, debris and or microbes could collect.

A groove 70 is located on the underside of the lifting member 50, transversely covers the entire width of the lifting member 50 for the placement of one's finger or fingers to assist in manipulating the device 10.

An alternate embodiment is depicted in FIG. 8 and generally comprises the same shape, size, and material of construction illustrated in FIG. 1, but including an aperture 80 centrally located through the lifting member 50 and is sized to enable a user to place their finger or fingers therethrough. Also, an alternate means of affixing said device 10 involves the use of a series of mounting bolt holes 90 centrally-located, with respect to length, on the top portion of the plate 20 and spaced equidistant from each other, equipped with the appropriate sized screws.

The entire device 10, including the horizontal plate member 30 with side wall 30, the downwardly flanged portion 40, and the outwardly flanged lifting member 50 is preferably fabricated as a unitary molded piece of plastic material with all corners and walls slightly curved so as to significantly reduce the chance of injury to the user or damage to clothing. An additional advantage of the generally curved surfaces as at 65 is to provide for ease of cleaning the seat lifter, as no crevices are created where dirt, debris and or microbes could collect.

The material of construction is also of a non-corrosive and inert composition. Depending on the type and style of application, the device 10 may be fabricated with any color, style, or material without altering the basic features of the present invention. A variety of plastic or other materials may be employed that incorporate germicidial, anti-microbial, and or bacteriostatic materials, thereby further maintaining the hygienic properties of the toilet seat lifter.

An area in the front of the device 10 is suitable for printing or application of other insignia, as at 55. In addition, the upper surface 52 provides for the placement of advertising or informational displays.

It is anticipated that the features of the preferred embodiment of the present invention 10 and the alternate embodiment 15 may be interchanged with respect to mounting arrangements and profiles without deviating from the teachings herein. In one such embodiment, as shown n FIG. 8, the mounting flange 20 is provided with adhesive, 90 and in addition is provided with mounting bolt holes, 95, which when utilized with self-tapping screws may be used to reinforce the attachment of the device to the toilet seat.

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is designed to be used by the common consumer with little or no special skills or prior experience or training being necessary. After procurement of the toilet seat lifting device 10, the user secures the device 10 to the underside of the toilet seat 110 by peeling off the backing of the adhesive tape 90 or by mounting with screws, according to an alternate embodiment (see FIG. 8). The user must ensure that the lifting device 10 conforms to the general shape of the toilet 100 and seat 110 and the outwardly flanged lifting member 50 is more or less perpendicular to the toilet 100 proper. The user then raises or lowers the toilet seat 110 by placing their finger or fingers either on the grooved portion 70 on the underside of the lifting member 50 or through the aperture 80 as described in an alternate embodiment (see FIG. 8). Either action provides a comfortable and ergonomic means to maneuver the toilet seat 110 to the desired position.

The device 10 is designed for those who would like a more sanitary method for raising a toilet seat 110, or the elderly, injured, or handicapped person who may find this implement useful. The device 10 may be fabricated with the toilet 100 and seat 110 proper or purchased as an aftermarket item. A kit may be provided to allow retrofitting of existing toilet seats with the toilet seat lifter described herein. In particular, public environments, such as bars and or restaurants may wish to install the disclosed device to provide enhanced hygiene, and to simultaneously provide for advertising, whether commercial or public service.

Alternately, a second embodiment of the present invention 15 provides for a gripping aperture 80 within the lifting member 50 so that a user can place their fingers therein to provide a more stable means of gripping the lifting device 15.

The foregoing description of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention and method of use to the precise forms disclosed. Obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and its various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. it is understood that various omissions or substitutions of equivalents are contemplated as circumstance may suggest or render expedient, but is intended to cover the application or implementation without departing from the spirit or cope of the claims of the present invention.