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Title:
ASSEMBLY FOR DISPENSING PLASTIC BAGS
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A bag dispensing assembly according to the present invention has a rack with side protectors, a pack of plastic bags suspended from the rack and a shield assembly pivotally connected to the rack.


Inventors:
Alvarado, Rafael A. (Houston, TX, US)
Alvarado, Alejandro J. (Houston, TX, US)
Monterrosa, Pedro A. (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/472349
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/26/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Triantaphyllis, Law Firm (THE CIVIL JUSTICE CENTER, 112 E. 4TH STREET, HOUSTON, TX, 77007, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An assembly for dispersing plastic bags, comprising: a rack having an open end; and a pivotally mounted shield for shielding the open end of the rack.

2. An assembly according to claim 1 further including a first side protector.

3. An assembly according to claim 2 further including a second side protector.

4. An assembly according to claim 2 wherein the first side protector includes a first flap.

5. An assembly according to claim 2 wherein the first side protector includes a side formed by interconnected wires.

6. An assembly according to claim 5 wherein the first side protector includes a first metal side formed by interconnected wires and a first flap covering a portion of the metal side.

7. An assembly according to claim 6 further including a first side protector having a second metal side formed by interconnected wires and a second flap covering a portion of the second metal side.

8. An assembly according to claim 7 further including a pack of bags suspended from the rack.

9. An assembly according to claim 1 further including a pack of bags suspended from the rack.

10. An assembly according to claim 9 further including a sleeve enveloping the pack of bags.

11. An assembly for dispersing plastic bags, comprising: a rack having an open end; a first side protector; a second side protector; a first side flap covering the first side protector; and a second side flap covering the second side protector.

12. An assembly for dispersing plastic bags, comprising: a rack having a back, a first side protector, a second side protector and an open side; and a shield pivotally mounted to the rack for shielding the open side of the rack in one position.

13. An assembly according to claim 12 wherein the shield includes: an arm pivotally connected to the back of the rack; a plate connected to the arm; and a sheet connected to the plate.

14. An assembly according to claim 12 further including: a first side flap covering the first side protector; and a second side flap covering the second side protector.

Description:

RELATED PRIORITY DATE APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of the U.S. provisional application No. 61/128,735 filed on May 23, 2008.

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a dispensing assembly for dispensing plastic bags and, more particularly, to a dispensing assembly having a rack, side protectors and a front shield to direct the user to the economic removal of one bag at a time. Still more particularly, the present invention discloses a shield which is pivotally attached to a rack that dispenses plastic bags to facilitate the removal of one bag at a time by directing the user to the appropriate grabbing section of the bag, such as a tag.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In supermarkets, department stores, fast food restaurants, and other retail outlets, there is frequently the need for consumers or store employees to place items in bags to facilitate handling and purchase. For example, produce bags are dispensed directly to customers to allow the customer to bag the produce as it is chosen for purchase. Also, in deli or meat departments, store employees place the selected meats or other deli products in bags (or other packaging) for the consumer. At fast food restaurants, especially when an order is made “to go,” the employee places the food in a plastic bag to facilitate handling and prevent spilling or leaking. In the prior art, there are a number of designs for dispensing bags for these purposes.

Roll mounted produce bags are commonly found in modem grocery stores and supermarkets. These bags are designed for customers to use when purchasing fresh produce. The bags currently available are difficult for customers to use for several reasons. First, the bags tend to cling together due to excessive static and are difficult to separate from the roll. Second, it is difficult to tell the open end of the bag from the closed end of the bag. Third, the individual bags are difficult to open, as the sides tend to cling together. Fourth, some roll bags are “tri-folded” and require two hands to unfold and open fully.

Also, the prior art teaches plastic bag dispenser packs of produce bags or the like, wherein the bag packs are hung on, for example, plastic tab members. The pack of plastic bags includes a disposable upper portion connected to the lower plastic bag. A perforation is made between the upper portion and the lower plastic bag. The upper portion is attached to the plastic tab member. When a customer wants to use a plastic bag, he pulls on the lower plastic bag and tears it away from the upper portion at the perforation. These plastic bags suffer from many of the same shortcomings as plastic bags on rolls. Additionally, with these bag dispensing systems it frequently requires two hands to pull the bag down and open it. Further, often more than one bag is removed, resulting in wasted bags.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,732,833, herein incorporated by reference, commonly owned by applicant, discloses a dispensing assembly for supporting packs of plastic bags. The packs of plastic bags include a disposable upper portion connected to the lower bag portion. A perforation is made between the disposable upper portion and the lower bag portion. When a customer wants to use a plastic bag, he pulls on the lower bag portion and tears it away from the disposable upper portion at the perforation. While these plastic bags are suitable and cost-effective for a number of situations, in other situations these plastic bags suffer from some shortcomings. For example, with these bag dispensing systems it frequently requires two hands to pull the bag down and open it. Also, often more than one bag is removed, resulting in wasted bags.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,264,059 commonly owned by applicant, discloses a “bag shield” for facilitating the removal of only one bag at a time from the stack and for maintaining a “billboard effect” of the bags in the stack This product has not been commercially successful for two reasons: (1) The bag shield must be removed to add additional packs of plastic bags to the rack and then the bag shield must be placed back on the rack over the additional packs of plastic bags. The present invention avoids the shortcomings. (2) In a grocery store or other retail store, the space a product occupies is an important consideration. The billboard effect of the '059 Patent requires a larger “footprint” (i.e., it is less desirable than the product(s) of the present invention because it takes up more space).

U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2006/0102573, herein 15 incorporated by reference, commonly owned by applicant, discloses a four sided rack for holding four different sizes of packs of plastic bags.

U.S. Patent Applications Publication Nos. 2007/0 144988 and 2007/0144989 both herein incorporated by reference, both commonly owned by applicant, disclose wire racks with wire side protectors for holding packs of plastic bags. U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2007/003 1069 discloses a pack of plastic bags having a pouch.

Thus, there are a number of shortcomings with the known rolls of plastic bags and other bag dispensing systems. A common problem with dispensing produce bags is providing one bag to the consumer in a convenient, simple, and reliable fashion. Further considerations relate to ease of replenishing the supply, uniformity of dispensing, ease of opening, and ease of filling.

According to the present invention discloses an assembly for dispensing plastic bags wherein the bags are removable one at a time with ease thereby eliminating waste. Further, the supply of bags is easily replenished.

These and other advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A bag dispensing assembly according to the present invention has a rack with side protectors, a pack of plastic bags suspended from the rack and a shield assembly pivotally connected to the rack. The shield includes an elongate plate, a flat sheet suspended from the plate and elongate arms for pivotally connecting the plate to the rack. The bags have grab tabs and are covered partially by a sleeve. A tongue extends through an opening of the pack of plastic bags to push the grab tabs outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user. The shield is placed in front of the suspended packs of bags to direct the attention of the user to the tabs and to shield portions of the bags from the user. The shield can be pivotally moved to allow access to the interior of the rack to facilitate the quick replacement or replenishment of the packs of bags.

In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, a flexible vertical flap is connected to the upper portion of each of the side protectors of the rack and extends downwardly and beyond the bottom section of each of the side protector. Each of the vertical flops covers the openings in the respective side protector it is connected to and the open area below such side protector to prevent the consumer from accessing a bag through an opening in the side protector or through the area immediately below the side protector.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1 without the pack of bags;

FIG. 2A is a front perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 3 is a side top perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 2A without the sheet portion of the shield;

FIG. 4 is a top front perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 2A;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a section of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of the another embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a side perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 7 without the pack of bags; and

FIG. 9 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a bag dispensing assembly 10 utilizing the present invention having a rack 14 supported by a floor stand 16, a pack of plastic bags 18 being suspended from rack 14 and having grab tabs 19, a sleeve 22 covering at least a portion of both the front and the back end of pack 18, and a shield assembly 30 pivotally connected to an elongate pivot 70 of rack 14, in accordance with the present invention. Further, there is a shown a tongue 34 extending through an opening 17 of pack of plastic bags 18 to push grab tabs 19 outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Rack 14 is generally similar to the rack described in U.S. Patent Application Publication Number 2007/0144989 with some modifications and improvements to effect the pivotal mounting of shield assembly 30 on rack 14, to add tongue 34 and to improve the structural integrity of rack 14 and its ability to remain unaffected by any increased weight or pressure applied thereon. U.S. Patent Application Publication Number 2007/0144989 is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown the bag dispensing assembly of FIG. 1 without pack of plastic bags 18 and sleeve 22. Rack 14 has a lower back support 41, an upper back support 43 and side protectors 45A and 45B which are symmetrical with respect to each other. Lower back support consists of four horizontal wires 41A, 41B, 41C and 41D which are held in place by a back support wire 49. One end is of back support wire 49 is affixed by welding or similar means to wire 41A near side protector 45A. Back support wire 49 extends upwards to form back support wire portion 49A, then is bend horizontally to form a top back rail 53, then downwards to form a back support wire portion 49B which is symmetrical to back support wire portion 49A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 41A near side protector 45B. Back support wire portions 49A and 49B are also affixed by welding or similar means to wires 41B, 41C and 41D to keep them in place and to form a sturdy back support. The upper sections of back support wire portions 49A and 49B extending above the point of connection with wire 41D and leading to top back rail 53 are bend backwards to form an angle with the plane of lower back support 41. Horizontal rails 57 and 59 which are below top rail 53 extend from back support wire portion 49A to back support wire portion 49B to strengthen upper back support 43.

A back support rail 65 extends upwards from wire 41D to form a back support rail portion 65A, then is bend horizontally to form pivot 70, then downwards to form a back support rail portion 65B which is symmetrical to back support rail portion 65A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 41D. Back support rail 65 is at an angle with the plane of lower back support 41. Pivot 70 is supported by upper sections of back support wire portions 49A and 49B which are securely affixed to pivot 70 by welding or similar means.

Side protectors 45A and 45B are formed by bending, at right angles, wires 41A, 41B, 41C and 41D on both ends thereof. A front rail 61A is affixed to one end of wire 41A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 41B, 41C and 41D and to continue upwards where, at a certain elevation, it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion that ends close to top back rail 53 where it is securely connected by welding or similar means to back support rail 65. A front rail 61B which is symmetrical to front rail 61A is affixed to the second end of wire 41A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 41B, 41C and 41D and to continue upwards where it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion that ends close to top back rail 53 where it is securely connected to back support rail 65.

Side protectors 45A and 44B further include side rails 63A and 63B which are symmetrical with respect to each other and which extend vertically from wire 41A to the horizontal upper section of front rails 61A and 61B. Side rails 63A and 63B are welded to wires 41B, 41C and 41D to strengthen side protectors 45A and 45B and to deter a user from attempting to grasp a bag from either side.

Still referring to FIG. 2, hooks 72A and 72B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 70 and upper sections of back support wire portions 49A and 49B and are further supported by elongate support elements 74A and 74B. Hooks 72A and 72B are constructed from a wire bend to form a loop as shown in FIG. 2. Hooks 72A and 72B can also be constructed in any other manner described in applicant's other related patents and patent applications which are incorporated herein. For example, the hooks may have a spherical head.

Tongue 34 is connected to upper back support 43 and extends inwardly at a sufficient length to penetrate opening 17 (not shown) of pack of plastic bags 18 (not shown) to push grab tabs 19 (not shown) outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Still referring to FIG. 2, shield assembly 30 includes arms 80A and 80B, a flat rectangular elongate plate 82, preferably metallic, and a flat sheet 84. One end of each of arms 80A and 80B has an opening suitable for intimately receiving pivot 70 through the opening for enabling arms 80A and 80B to connect with pivot 70 so that they can rotate around pivot 70. The ends of arms 80A and 80B that are not connected to pivot 70 are securely attached to the interior face of plate 82 so that plate 82 can pivot around pivot 70. Plate 82 is sufficiently long to cover substantially the entire distance between side protectors 45A and 45B. Plate 82 has fasteners (not shown in FIG. 2) for attaching the upper end of flat sheet 84 to plate 82 and for suspending it therefrom.

Flat sheet 84 is slightly tapered with the upper end being slightly wider than the bottom end. Its upper end is sufficiently wide to extend over substantially the entire length of plate 82. Flat sheet 84 has a funnel shape opening 86 that extends from an open bottom end 88 to the upper portion of flat sheet 84. The upper end of opening 86 is defined by a middle, low depth contoured surface 90 which is followed on each side by deeper contoured surfaces 92A and 92B, respectively. Contoured surface 90 is suitable for receiving tongue 34 therethrough while shielding the area above tongue 34 and interiorly of sheet 84. Sheet 84 is preferably constructed of clear vinyl material having a thickness of about ⅛ of an inch.

Arms 80A and 80B, plate 82 and sheet 84 are appropriately sized and shaped so that sheet 84 can shield those areas of the suspended bags that should not be touched or disturbed by the user and expose those area where the user should be directed to economically remove one bag at a time. The size of sheet 84 may vary depending on the size and shape of the bag packs being disposed. The pivoting arrangement of shield assembly 30 allows for the quick replacement or replenishment of packs of plastic bags.

Referring now to FIG. 2A, there is shown a front view of bag dispensing assembly of FIG. 2 having rack 14 with lower back support 41, upper back support 43 and side protectors 45A and 45B. Back support wire 49 extends upwards to form back support wire portion 49A, top back rail 53 and then, downwards, to form back support wire portion 49B. The upper sections of back support wire portions 49A and 49B are bend backwards to form an angle with the plane of lower back support 41.

Back support rail 65 extends upwards from wire 41D to form a back support rail portion 65A, then is bend horizontally to form pivot 70, then downwards to form a back support rail portion 65B which is symmetrical to back support rail portion 65A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 41D. Back support rail 65 is at an angle with the plane of lower back support 41. Pivot 70 is supported by back support wire 49 which is securely affixed to pivot 70 by welding or similar means. Front rail 61A and 61B extend upwards and are securely connected by welding or similar means to back support rail 65. Hooks 72A and 72B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 70 and back support wire 49 and are further supported by elongate support elements 74A and 74B.

Still referring to FIG. 2A, shield assembly 30 includes arms 80A and 80B, flat rectangular elongate plate 82, and flat sheet 84. Arms 80A and 80B have openings for intimately receiving pivot 70 therethrough for enabling arms 80A and 80B to connect with pivot 70 so that they can rotate around pivot 70. The other ends of arms 80A and 80B are securely attached to the interior face of plate 82 so that plate 82 can pivot around pivot 70. Plate 82 is sufficiently long to cover substantially the entire distance between side protectors 45A and 45B. Upper end of flat sheet 84 is attached to plate 82 and is suspended therefrom.

Flat sheet 84 has funnel shape opening 86 that extends from open bottom end 88 to its upper end which is defined by contoured surfaces 90, 92A and 92B. Contoured surface 90 is suitable for receiving tongue 34 therethrough.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown the bag dispensing assembly of FIGS. 2 and 2A without flat sheet 84 showing plate 82 attached to arms 80A and 80B which, in turn are attached to pivot 70. Plate 82 is shown in a different position than the one shown in FIGS. 1-2A to demonstrate the rotational movement thereof about pivot 70.

Rack 14 is attached to floor stand 16 and supported thereon by intimately receiving several portions of rack 14 the tubular section of floor stand 16. Tongue 34 is attached to upper back support 43. Hooks 72A and 72B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 70 and back support wire 49 and are further supported by elongate support elements 74A and 74B.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a bag dispensing assembly similar to the one previously described in FIG. 3 except that it includes flat sheet 84. There is shown flat sheet 84 attached to plate 82 by fasteners 92, 93 and 94. Plate 82 is shown in a different position than the one shown in FIGS. 1-2A to demonstrate the rotational movement thereof about pivot 70 to put the shield in a position where it does not shield rack 14 to facilitate the replacement or replenishment of the bags.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown a detailed view of fasteners 93 and 94 for connecting plate 82 to flat sheet 84. There is also shown arm 80B welded to plate 82.

Referring now to FIG. 6, there is shown another bag dispensing assembly utilizing the previously described shield. More particularly there is shown a rack 114 with a lower back support 141, an upper back support 143 and side protectors 145A and 145B which are symmetrical with respect to each other. Lower back support 141 consists of four horizontal wires 141A, 141B, 141C and 141 D which are held in place by back support wires 149A and 149B which are affixed by welding or similar means to wire 141A. Back support wires 149A and 149B extend upwards and are affixed by welding or similar means to wires 141B, 141C and 141D to keep them in place and to form a sturdy back support. Back support wires 149A and 149B have further extension to form rack holders 137A and 137B. The size (length and thickness) and the shape of rack holders may vary depending on the application and the place of usage.

A back support rail 165 extends upwards from wire 141D to form a back support rail portion 165A, then is bend horizontally to form pivot 170, then downwards to form a back support rail portion 165B which is symmetrical to back support rail portion 165A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 141D. Pivot 170 is supported by back support wires 149A and 149B which are securely affixed to pivot 170 by welding or similar means.

Side protectors 145A and 145B are formed by bending, at right angles, wires 141A, 1141B, 141C and 141D on both ends thereof. A front rail 161A is affixed to one end of wire 141A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 141B, 141C and 141D and to continue upwards where, at a certain elevation, it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion whose end is connected by welding or similar means to back support rail 165. A front rail 161B which is symmetrical to front rail 161A is affixed to the second end of wire 141A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 141B, 141C and 141D and to continue upwards where it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion whose end is securely connected to back support rail 65.

Side protectors 145A and 145B further include side rails 163A and 163B which are symmetrical to each other and which extend vertically from wire 141A to the horizontal upper section of front rails 161A and 161B. Side rails 163A and 163B are welded to wires 141B, 141C and 141D to strengthen side protectors 145A and 145B and to deter a user from attempting to grasp a bag from either side.

Still referring to FIG. 6, hooks 172A and 172B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 170 and back support wires 149A and 149B. Hooks 172A and 172B are constructed from a wire bend to form a loop as shown in FIG. 6. Hooks 172A and 172B can also be constructed in any other manner described in applicant's other related patents and patent applications which are incorporated herein. For example, the hooks may have a spherical head.

Tongue 134 is connected to back support wires 149A and 149B and extends inwardly at a sufficient length to penetrate openings of a pack of plastic bags (not shown) to push grab tabs outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Still referring to FIG. 6, a shield assembly 130 includes arms 180A and 180B, a flat rectangular elongate plate 182, preferably metallic, and a flat sheet (not shown). One end of each of arms 180A and 180B has an opening suitable for intimately receiving pivot 170 through the opening for enabling arms 180A and 180B to connect with pivot 170 so that they can rotate around pivot 170. The ends of arms 180A and 180B that are not connected to pivot 170 are securely attached to the interior face of plate 182 so that plate 182 can pivot around pivot 170. Plate 182 is sufficiently long to cover substantially the entire distance between side protectors 145A and 145B. Plate 182 has fasteners 192, 193 and 194 for attaching the upper end of the flat sheet (not shown) to plate 182 and for suspending it therefrom. The flat sheet is similar to flat sheet 84 previously described.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, lower back support 141 and upper back support 143 are substantial on the same vertical plane. Rack 114, however, may be modified to ro make upper back support 143 lean backwards to be at an angle with lower back support 141.

Referring now to FIG. 7 there is shown a bag dispensing assembly 210 utilizing the present invention having a rack 214 supported by a floor stand 216, a pack of plastic bags 218 being suspended from rack 214 and having grab tabs 219, a shield assembly 230 pivotally connected to an elongate pivot 270 of rack 214, and flexible, downwardly extending, side flaps 250A and 250B attached to side protectors 245A and 245B, respectively, in accordance with the present invention. Side flaps 250A and 250B are flat elongated flexible sheets of plastic material. Side flap 250A is connected in its upper end by fasteners to wire 241D of side protector 245A and is suspended vertically therefrom. Side flap 250A runs downwards along side protector 245A and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 245A. Side flap 250A covers the openings in and the open area below side protector 245A to prevent a consumer from accessing a bag through such opening in and open area below side protector 245A. Similarly, the top portion of side flap 250B is connected by fasteners to wire 241D of side protector 245B and side flap 250B runs downwards along side protector 245B and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 250B. Side flap 250B covers the openings in and the open area below side protector 245B to prevent a consumer from accessing a bag through such opening in and open area below side protector 245B. A crossbar 351 is connected to the lower end of side flap 250A, on one end, and to the lower end of side flap 250B, on the other end, to maintain them in a relative parallel position with respect to each other.

Side flaps 250A and 250B prevent the consumer from grabbing bags 218 from the side of the rack thereby reducing he chance of removing more than one bag from assembly 210 and causing waste and sloppy appearance in the surrounding area of the store.

Still referring to FIG. 7, there is shown a tongue 234 extending through an opening of pack of plastic bags 218 to push grab tabs 219 outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user. Rack 214 is similar to rack 14 previously described except for the minor changes to accommodate the attachment of side flaps 250A and 250B.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is shown bag dispensing assembly 210 of FIG. 7 without pack of plastic bags 218. Rack 214 has a lower back support 241, an upper back support 243 and side protectors 245A and 245B which are symmetrical with respect to each other. Lower back support consists of four horizontal wires 241A, 241B, 241C and 241D which are held in place by a back support wire 249. One end is of back support wire 249 is affixed by welding or similar means to wire 241A near side protector 245A. Back support wire 249 extends upwards to form back support wire portion 249A, then is bend horizontally to form a top back rail 253, then downwards to form a back support wire portion 249B which is symmetrical to back support wire portion 249A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 241A near side protector 245B. Back support wire portions 249A and 249B are also affixed by welding or similar means to wires 241B, 241C and 241D to keep them in place and to form a sturdy back support. The upper sections of back support wire portions 249A and 249B extending above the point of connection with wire 241D and leading to top back rail 253 are bend backwards to form an angle with the plane of lower back support 241. Horizontal rails 257 and 259 which are below top rail 253 extend from back support wire portion 249 A to back support wire portion 249B to strengthen upper back support 243.

A back support rail 265 extends upwards from wire 241D to form a back support rail portion 265A, then is bend horizontally to form pivot 270, then downwards to form a back support rail portion 265B which is symmetrical to back support rail portion 265A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 241D. Back support rail 265 is at an angle with the plane of lower back support 241. Pivot 270 is supported by upper sections of back support wire portions 249A and 249B which are securely affixed to pivot 270 by welding or similar means.

Side protectors 245A and 245B are formed by bending, at right angles, wires 241A, 241B, 241C and 241D on both ends thereof. A front rail 261A is affixed to one end of wire 241A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 241B, 241C and 241D and to continue upwards where, at a certain elevation, it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion that ends close to top back rail 253 where it is securely connected by welding or similar means to back support rail 265. A front rail 261B which is symmetrical to front rail 261A is affixed to the second end of wire 241A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 241B, 241C and 241D and to continue upwards where it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion that ends close to top back rail 253 where it is securely connected to back support rail 265.

Side protectors 245A and 244B further include side rails 263A and 263B which are symmetrical with respect to each other and which extend vertically from wire 24A to the horizontal upper section of front rails 261A and 261B. Side rails 263A and 263B are welded to wires 241B, 241C and 241D to strengthen side protectors 245A and 245B and to deter a user from attempting to grasp a bag from either side.

Still referring to FIG. 8, hooks 272A and 272B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 270 and upper sections of back support wire portions 249A and 249B and are further supported by elongate support elements 274A and 274B. Hooks 272A and 272B are constructed from a wire bend to form a loop as shown in FIG. 8. Hooks 272A and 272B can also be constructed in any other manner described in applicant's other related patents and patent applications which are incorporated herein. For example, the hooks may have a spherical head.

Tongue 234 is connected to upper back support 243 and extends inwardly at a sufficient length to penetrate opening 217 (not shown) of pack of plastic bags 218 (not shown) to push grab tabs 219 (not shown) outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Still referring to FIG. 8, shield assembly 230 includes arms 280A and 280B, a flat rectangular elongate plate 282, preferably metallic, and a flat sheet 284. One end of each of arms 280A and 280B has an opening suitable for intimately receiving pivot 270 through the opening for enabling arms 280A and 280B to connect with pivot 270 so that they can rotate around pivot 270. The ends of arms 280A and 280B that are not connected to pivot 270 are securely attached to the interior face of plate 282 so that plate 282 can pivot around pivot 270. Plate 282 is sufficiently long to cover substantially the entire distance between side protectors 245A and 245B. Plate 282 has fasteners 292, 293 and 294 for attaching the upper end of flat sheet 284 to plate 282 and for suspending it therefrom. In FIG. 8, plate 282 is pivoted in a position where it does not shield rack 214 to facilitate the replacement or replenishment of bags.

Flat sheet 284 is slightly tapered with the upper end being slightly wider than the bottom end. Its upper end is sufficiently wide to extend over substantially the entire length of plate 282. Flat sheet 230 has a funnel shape opening that extends from an open bottom end to the upper portion of flat sheet 230. The upper end of the funnel shape opening is defined by a middle, low depth contoured surface which is followed on each side by deeper contoured surfaces. The middle contoured surface is suitable for receiving tongue 234 therethrough while shielding the area above tongue 234 and interiorly of sheet 284. Sheet 284 is preferably constructed of clear vinyl material having a thickness of about ⅛ of an inch.

Arms 280A and 280B, plate 282 and sheet 284 are appropriately sized and shaped so that sheet 284 can shield those areas of the suspended bags that should not be touched or disturbed by the user and expose those area where the user should be directed to economically remove one bag at a time. The size of sheet 284 may vary depending on the size and shape of the bag packs being disposed. The pivoting arrangement of shield assembly 230 allows for the quick replacement or replenishment of packs of plastic bags.

Side flaps 250A and 250B are attached to side protectors 245A and 245B, respectively, in accordance with the present invention. The top portion of side flap 250A is connected by fasteners 355A and 357A to wire 241D of side protector 245A. Side slap 250A runs downwards along side protector 245A and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 245A. Similarly, the top portion of side flap 250B is connected by fasteners 355B and 357B to wire 241D of side protector 245B. Side flap 250B runs downwards along side protector 245B and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 245B. Crossbar 351 is connected to the lower end of side flap 250A by fastener 353A, on one end, and to the lower end of side flap 250B by fastener 353B, on the other end, to maintain them in a relative parallel position with respect to each other.

Referring now to FIG. 9, there is shown another bag dispensing assembly having a rack 414 utilizing the previously described shield and side flaps. Rack 414 is similar to rack 114 described in FIG. 6 except for modifications to provide for the attachment of the side flaps. More particularly there is shown a rack 414 with a lower back support 441, an upper back support 443 and side protectors 445A and 445B which are symmetrical with respect to each other. Lower back support 441 consists of four horizontal wires 441A, 441B, 441C and 441D which are held in place by back support wires 449A and 449B which are affixed by welding or similar means to wire 441A. Back support wires 449A and 449B extend upwards and are affixed by welding or similar means to wires 441B, 441C and 441D to keep them in place and to form a sturdy back support. Back support wires 449A and 449B have further extensions to form rack holders (not shown) to attach rack 441 to a wall 500. The size (length and thickness) and the shape of rack holders may vary depending on the application and the place of usage. The rack holders are better shown in FIG. 6.

A back support rail 465 extends upwards from wire 441D to form a back support rail portion 465A, then is bend horizontally to form pivot 470, then downwards to form a back support rail portion 465B which is symmetrical to back support rail portion 465A and ends at a point where it is affixed to wire 441D. Pivot 470 is supported by back support wires 449A and 449B which are securely affixed to pivot 470 by welding or similar means.

Side protectors 445A and 445B are formed by bending, at right angles, wires 441A, 441B, 441C and 441D on both ends thereof. A front rail 461A is affixed to one end of wire 441A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 441B, 441C and 441D and to continue upwards where, at a certain elevation, it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion whose end is connected by welding or similar means to back support rail 465. A front rail 461B which is symmetrical to front rail 461A is affixed to the second end of wire 141A and extends upwards to be affixed to the ends of wires 441B, 441C and 441D and to continue upwards where it is bend backwards to form a horizontal portion whose end is securely connected to back support rail 465.

Side protectors 445A and 445B further include side rails 463A and 463B which are symmetrical to each other and which extend vertically from wire 441A to the horizontal upper section of front rails 461A and 461B. Side rails 463A and 463B are welded to wires 441B, 441C and 441D to strengthen side protectors 445A and 445B and to deter a user from attempting to grasp a bag from either side.

Still referring to FIG. 9, hooks 472A and 472B are connected by welding or similar means to pivot 470 and back support wires 449A and 449B. Hooks 472A and 472B are constructed from a wire bend to form a loop as shown in FIG. 9. Hooks 472A and 472B can also be constructed in any other manner described in applicant's other related patents and patent applications which are incorporated herein. For example, the hooks may have a spherical head.

Tongue 434 is connected to back support wires 449A and 449B and extends inwardly at a sufficient length to penetrate openings of a pack of plastic bags (not shown) to push grab tabs outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Still referring to FIG. 9, a shield assembly 430 includes arms like arms 180A and 180B that are shown in FIG. 6, a flat rectangular elongate plate 482, preferably metallic, and a flat sheet (not shown). One end of each of the arms has an opening suitable for intimately receiving pivot 470 through the opening for enabling the arms to connect with pivot 470 so that they can rotate around pivot 470. The ends of the arms that are not connected to pivot 470 are securely attached to the interior face of plate 482 so that plate 482 can pivot around pivot 470. Plate 482 is sufficiently long to cover substantially the entire distance between side protectors 445A and 445B. Plate 482 has fasteners (not shown) for attaching the upper end of the flat sheet (not shown) to plate 482 and for suspending it therefrom. The flat sheet is similar to flat sheet 84 previously described.

Side flaps 550A and 550B are attached to side protectors 445A and 445B, respectively, in accordance with the present invention. The top portion of side flap 550A is connected by fasteners 555A and 557A to wire 441D of side protector 445A. Side slap 550A runs downwards along side protector 445A and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 445A. Similarly, the top portion of side flap 550B is connected by fasteners 555B and 557B to wire 441D of side protector 445B. Side flap 550B runs downwards along side protector 445B and extends beyond the lower end of side protector 445B. Crossbar 551 is connected to the lower end of side flap 550A by fastener 553A, on one end, and to the lower end of side flap 550B by fastener 453B, on the other end, to maintain them in a relative parallel position with respect to each other.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 9, lower back support 441 and upper back support 443 are substantial on the same vertical plane. Rack 414, however, maybe modified to make upper back support 443 lean backwards to be at an angle with lower back support 441.

The present invention is used to dispense plastic bags suspended therein in packs. A pack of bags is formed by joining a number of individual bag units. The individual bag units have a disposable upper portion and a lower bag portion with a serration between the disposable upper portion and the lower bag portion. In forming the pack, the individual bag units are stacked on top of each other, and a header is placed about the disposable upper portion. The header and the disposable upper portions are joined together in any suitable way; preferably, the header is joined to the disposable upper portions by inserting heated blunt rods through the header and the disposable upper portions to melt the header and the disposable upper portions together about the points of insertion. The insertion of the heated blunt rods serve to melt the plastic immediately adjacent to the header and the disposable upper portions at the points of insertion to join together the header and the disposable upper portions of the individual bag units. The header is formed by cutting a flat, generally rectangular plastic piece and folding the rectangular plastic piece longitudinally in half to substantially cover the disposable upper portions. In one example of a header tabs are cut from the header (prior to folding the header in hail) and side holes and a center whole are placed in the tabs. In another example a header has two side holes and a center hole. The holes may be cut out of the header and the disposable upper portions or the holes may be formed with the use of heated to blunt rods as discussed above and as is known in the art. The holes are used to insert support hooks therethrough. The side holes are utilized when two support hooks are used and the center holes are utilized when one support hook is used.

Alternatively, a pack of plastic bags may be formed without a header. In this embodiment, the individual bag units are stacked on top of each other and the disposable upper portions are joined together such as by inserting heated blunt rods through the disposable upper portions to melt the disposable upper portions together about the points of insertion. The holes for hanging on a rack may be cut out of the disposable upper portions or formed with the use of heated blunt rods.

The individual bag units generally include a back sheet and a front sheet which are sealed around the sides and bottom to form the lower bag portions. The back sheet includes serration and the disposable upper portions, while the front sheet terminates just below the serration to form a bag opening. The individual bag units formed with the opening allows a product to be placed in a bag while the bag remains attached to the pack of plastic bags such that the user may then use two hands to remove the bag from the pack of plastic bags and seal the bag. (The back sheet of the bag is attached to the upper disposable section with the serrated line while the front sheet of the bag is not attached to the upper disposable section and remains open, although, in use, it is not readily visibly apparent that the front of the bag is open.)

There are several types of packs of plastic bags which do not have the disposable upper portion. For example, “T-shirt” plastic bags have handles extending upwards. The handles are fused together (e.g. with hot pins, “pressure bullets,” etc.) to hold the bags together in a pack When a T-shirt plastic bag is removed from its pack, there is no disposable upper portion. The present invention(s) can be used to dispense packs of plastic bags with disposable upper portions and to packs of plastic bags without disposable upper portions.

Referring now back to FIG. 1, bag dispensing assembly 10 dispenses bags from pack of plastic bags 18 having grab tabs 19, sleeve 22 covering at least a portion of both the front and the back end of pack 18. Tongue 34 extends through opening 17 of pack of plastic bags 18 to push grab tabs 19 outwards to facilitate the grabbing thereof by the user.

Grab tabs 19 are formed by cutting each front sheet and back sheet. Tongue 34 is provided and designed to push substantially all of the grab tabs in the packs of plastic bags supported on a rack forward, generally extending the grab tab forward of each bag, which is designed such that a user can easily grab the grab tab, pull, and one bag (and only one bag) is removed from the pack of plastic bags. A tongue such as tongue 34 may be located or affixed in a number of places, e.g., it may be attached to the rack, in contact with the rack, or in proximity to the rackAlso, each pack of plastic bags may have its own tongue attached to its header (not shown). Further, each pack of plastic bags may have a back sheet (not a bag), and the tongue may be attached to the back sheet (not shown).

The embodiments shown have the affixed tongues permanently attached to the racks by welding or similar means. It should be understood, however, that, the tongues may be removably connected to the racks or other elements in proximity by clamps or similar means so that the tongue can be removed in some applications and used in other applications with the particular rack, at the user's discretion.

Grab tabs 19 are located near the top of each plastic bag, generally extending forward of each bag, which is designed such that a user can easily grab the grab tab, pull, and one bag (and only one bag) is removed from the pack of plastic bags. The grab tab serves two purposes: (1) to reduce waste by the removal of just one bag; and (2) to make it easier for a user to remove a plastic bag from the pack of plastic bags.

Grab tabs can be used without corresponding tongues. In that case, they may be an additional piece of plastic attached to the front sheet of each plastic bag or may be a configuration of the front sheet designed as a grab tab.

Even though the present invention is described herein with embodiments that have bags with grab tabs, it should be understood that the present invention is not limited to bags having grab tags but it includes bags that do not have grab tags or and bags that do not have openings therethrough for receiving a tongue. Further, the invention is not limited to racks having tongues but it includes racks without tongues.

Plastic sleeve 22 covers at least a portion of the two sides of the pack of plastic bags. The center portion of both the front and the back of the pack of plastic bags is open. The plastic sleeve prevents persons from grabbing several bags from the side of the pack of plastic bags when only one bag is needed without the plastic sleeve, several plastic bags could have been torn from the pack of plastic bags, resulting in the waste of several bags. In most cases, several packs of plastic bags are stacked together on a rack. As noted, the center portion of both the front and the back of the pack of plastic bags is open. This provides that once all the plastic bags have been removed from the front pack of plastic bags, the person can reach through and remove plastic bags from the second pack of plastic bags and so forth, without any need for removing the empty packs of plastic bags. The plastic sleeve both reduces waste and reduces the store manpower required to reload the rack to provide plastic bags to customers.

The racks, tongues and shield assemblies referred to herein may be constructed of any suitable material including heavy gauge wire, plastic, plastic covered wire, stainless steel, acrylic, wood, etc. Additionally, different parts of the racks may be constructed of different materials.

The material used to create the plastic bags and/or sleeves may be any suitable plastic resin, including low density polyethylene; linear low density polyethylene; high density polyethylene; high molecular weight, high density polyethylene; and polypropylene. Also, the material used to create the bags and/or sleeves may be a single extruded layer or a plastic film comprising multiple, co extruded layers.

All patents and publications referred to herein are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties. The drawings are not drawn to scale.

While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, modifications thereof can be made by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. It is intended that all such modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention be included within the scope of the appended claims.