Title:
Adjustable plastic retaining clip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a plastic retaining clip or retainer for securing a table skirt to an edge of a table top comprising a means for engaging at least two different table top thicknesses. More particularly, the retainer of this invention includes a primary member and a first arm and a second arm extending perpendicularly from opposite ends of the primary member, and a central member extending from the primary member, wherein predetermined spacings are defined between the central member and the first and second arms, respectively. In addition, the first and second arms have predetermined lengths selected to achieve the predetermined spacings.



Inventors:
Nishida, Yasutaka (Macon, GA, US)
Application Number:
09/725452
Publication Date:
05/30/2002
Filing Date:
11/30/2000
Assignee:
NISHIDA YASUTAKA
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/570
International Classes:
A47G11/00; (IPC1-7): A44B21/00
View Patent Images:
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20050097712Replaceable zipper pullMay, 2005Raynor
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20090269156TIE-DOWN HOOKOctober, 2009Siegenthaler
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Primary Examiner:
SAKRAN, VICTOR N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KRAMER & AMADO, P.C. (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A retainer for securing a table skirt to an edge of a table top capable of engaging at least two different table top thicknesses.

2. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the retainer comprises a substantially transparent plastic.

3. The retainer of claim 2, wherein the plastic comprises Nylon.

4. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the retainer comprises: a primary member; a first arm and a second arm extending perpendicularly from opposite ends of the primary member; and a central member extending from the primary member, wherein predetermined spacings are defined between the central member and the first and second arms, respectively.

5. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the central member comprises an elongated portion connected to a central portion of the primary member, and wherein a pair of arms are connected to the elongated portion and extend in opposite directions along a plane substantially parallel to the primary member, the pair of arms having predetermined lengths selected to achieve the predetermined spacings.

6. The retainer of claim 5, wherein each of the pair of arms includes substantially rounded ends.

7. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the central member comprises a connecting portion extending in a plane substantially perpendicular to the primary member and joined to a central portion of the primary member, an upper portion extending from the connecting portion toward the first arm and away from the primary member, and a lower portion extending from the connecting portion toward the second arm and away from the primary member, the upper portion and the lower portion having predetermined lengths selected to achieve the predetermined spacings.

8. The retainer of claim 7, wherein the upper portion and the lower portion terminate in ends which extend in planes substantially parallel to the first and second arms.

9. The retainer of claim 4, further comprising a plurality of hooks extending from a backside of the primary member capable of engaging loops attached to the table skirt.

10. The retainer of claim 9, wherein the plurality of hooks are integral with the primary member.

11. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the retainer comprises: a primary member; a first arm extending perpendicularly from the primary member; and a flexible member in communication with the primary member and separated from the first arm by a spaced distance, wherein the flexible member is adapted to flexibly move to change the spaced distance.

12. The retainer of claim 11, wherein the flexible member includes a spring member, wherein the spring member is capable of moving the flexible member and thereby changing the spaced distance between the first arm and the flexible member.

13. The retainer of claim 12, further comprising a second arm extending perpendicularly from the primary member and being spaced below the first arm, wherein the spring member comprises a cylindrical arm attached to the second arm.

14. The retainer of claim 13, further comprising a third arm extending perpendicularly from the primary member and being spaced below the second arm.

15. The retainer of claim 14, wherein the second arm defines an opening for receiving the cylindrical arm.

16. The retainer of claim 14, wherein the cylindrical arm comprises a lower portion having a slit interposed between a pair of legs which terminate at anchoring ends, and wherein the anchoring ends engage a lower surface of the second arm to prevent the flexible member from detaching from the second arm when the spaced distance is at a minimum.

17. The retainer of claim 16, wherein the spring member further comprises a loop portion joined to the cylindrical arm and wherein a base of the loop portion rests upon the third arm.

18. The retainer of claim 17, wherein the flexible member further comprises an upper arm extending in a plane substantially parallel to the first arm and positioned above the loop portion and is capable of engaging the lower surface of the table top.

19. The retainer of claim 11, further comprising a plurality of hooks extending from a backside of the primary member capable of engaging loops attached to the table skirt.

20. The retainer of claim 19, wherein the plurality of hooks are integral with the primary member.

21. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the retainer comprises: a first elongated member having a secondary arm extending perpendicularly from a primary arm, the primary arm having a first set of teeth spaced from the secondary arm; and a second elongated member for engaging a lower surface of the table top, the second elongated member having a second set of teeth adapted to engage the first set of teeth at varying positions such that the distance between the secondary arm and the second elongated member is adjustable.

22. The retainer of claim 21, wherein the second elongated member includes an arcuate extending portion.

23. The retainer of claim 22, further including a compression member, wherein the compression member biases the first elongated member against the second elongated member sufficiently to interlock the first set of teeth with the second set of teeth.

24. The retainer of claim 23, wherein the compression member includes a release lever, wherein the release lever is adapted to reduce the biasing force when depressed to permit the first and second sets of teeth to be moved relative to one another.

25. The retainer of claim 21, further comprising a plurality of hooks extending from a backside of the primary arm capable of engaging loops attached to the table skirt.

26. The retainer of claim 25, wherein the plurality of hooks are integral with the first member.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a retainer for detachably securing a table skirt to the edge of a table top. More particularly, the invention relates to a retainer capable of being attached to various thicknesses of table top edges, wherein the retainer is secured to a table skirt using hook and loop fasteners.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

[0002] Table skirts are commonly placed around the periphery of various types of tables, such as banquet tables and decorative tables, to improve the appearance of the tables. The table skirts must be attached to the tables in such a way that they will not fall or shift when exposed to various conditions, such as wind and frequent contact by people. Moreover, in order to clean the table skirts and remove their wrinkles, it often becomes necessary to remove the skirts and replace them later. As such, various fastening devices have been employed to hold the table skirts in place and to allow easy removal of the skirts from the tables.

[0003] Conventionally, a table skirt may be attached to a table top using snap buttons. The male components of the snap buttons are sewn to a strip of material that is secured to the table edge by, e.g., an adhesive. The female components of the snap buttons are sewn along the edge of the table skirt, and may be snapped into the male components to retain the table skirt around the table edge. The table skirt may be detached from the table edge by simply unsnapping the buttons. Unfortunately, attachment of the table skirt to the table top using such buttons may be time consuming since each button must be snapped in individually.

[0004] More recently, plastic retainers have been used to hold table skirts around the periphery of table tops. FIG. 1 depicts one type of plastic retainer 110, which includes a hook portion 112 of a hook and loop type fastener attached to the backside of a primary member 114 of plastic retainer 110. Hook and loop type fasteners are generally used to attach together two or more objects. A popular fastener of this type is sold under the trademark “VELCRO.”

[0005] The plastic retainer 110 also includes an upper member 116 extending perpendicularly from the primary member 114 and a lower member 118 extending at an upward slant away from the base of the primary member 114 to a spaced distance below the upper member 116, thereby defining a predetermined spacing between the distal ends of the upper and lower members. The plastic retainer 110 may be attached to the edge of a table top by engaging the upper surface of the table top with the upper member 116 and the lower surface of the table top with the lower member 118. When the plastic retainer 110 is secured to the table top in this manner, the hook portion 112 remains exposed so that a loop portion attached to a table skirt may be pressed against the hook portion 112. Pressing the hook portion 112 against the loop portion of the table skirt causes the hooks and loops of those structures to engage. The table skirt may be removed from the table top by gradually peeling apart the hooks and loops.

[0006] The prior art plastic retainer 110 can only be fastened to a table top having a specific thickness since the upper member 116 and the lower member 118 define a predetermined spacing. As such, different plastic retainers must be manufactured to fit various thicknesses of table tops, requiring the user to have various sizes of retainers. Further, plastic retainers sized to fit table tops having atypical thicknesses may have to be special ordered, resulting in increased time and cost to produce the retainers. Consequently, using plastic retainers of this type to attach table skirts to such table tops may not be an option.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a retainer for securing a table skirt to a table top that substantially obviates one or more of the problems due to the limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

[0008] To achieve the foregoing advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described, the invention is a retainer for securing a table skirt to an edge of a table top capable of engaging at least two different table top thicknesses. In one embodiment, the retainer of this invention includes a primary member and a first arm and a second arm extending perpendicularly from opposite ends of the primary member, and a central member extending from the primary member, wherein predetermined spacings are defined between the central member and the first and second arms, respectively. In addition, the first and second arms have predetermined lengths selected to achieve the predetermined spacings.

[0009] In another embodiment of this invention, the retainer comprises a primary member and a first arm extending perpendicularly from the primary member. This embodiment further includes a flexible member in communication with the primary member and separated from the first arm by a spaced distance, wherein the flexible member is adapted to flexibly move to change the spaced distance. The flexible member may include a spring member, wherein the spring member is capable of moving the flexible member and thereby changing the spaced distance between the first arm and the flexible member. The spring member may further comprise a loop portion joined to the cylindrical arm, wherein a base of the loop portion rests upon the third arm.

[0010] In yet another embodiment of this invention, the retainer comprises a first elongated member having a secondary arm extending perpendicularly from a primary arm, the primary arm having a first set of teeth spaced from the secondary arm, and a second elongated member for engaging a lower surface of the table top, the second elongated member having a second set of teeth adapted to engage the first set of teeth at varying positions such that the distance between the secondary arm and the second elongated member is adjustable.

[0011] In all the embodiments described above, the parts of the retainers are preferably made from a transparent plastic so that they can only be discerned upon close inspection. Such retainers thus do not draw attention away from the table skirt held in place around the edge of a table top. In addition, in each of the described embodiments it is preferred that the primary member include a plurality of hooks capable of engaging loops attached to the table skirt. The hooks may be integral with the primary member or may be separately attached to the primary member.

[0012] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate several embodiments of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings,

[0014] FIG. 1 is a side plan view of a prior art retainer for securing a table skirt to the edge of a table top;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a side plan view of a retainer of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a back plan view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 2;

[0017] FIG. 4 is a side plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 5 is a back plan view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 4;

[0019] FIG. 6a is a side plan view of another embodiment of a retainer of the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 6b is a detailed view of a portion of the retainer depicted in FIG. 6a;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a front side view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 6a;

[0022] FIG. 8 is a back plan view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 6a;

[0023] FIG. 9 is a side plan view of another embodiment of a retainer of the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 10 is a front plan view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 9; and

[0025] FIG. 11 is a back plan view of the retainer depicted in FIG. 9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0026] Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 2, a retainer for securing a table skirt to the edge of a table top is depicted as having a first planar arm 12 and a second planar arm 14 extending perpendicularly from opposite ends of a planar primary member 10. The retainer further includes a planar central member 16, which is substantially T-shaped. Predetermined spacings d1 and d2 are arranged between the central arm 16 and the first and second arms 12 and 14, respectively. The central member 16 includes an elongated portion 17 joined to a substantially central portion of the primary member 10 and extending along a plane that is substantially perpendicular to the primary member 10. The central member 16 also includes a pair of arms 19 and 21 connected to the elongated portion 17 and extending in opposite directions along a plane that is substantially parallel to the primary member 10. The lengths of each of the arms 19 and 21 define the sizes of the predetermined spacings d1 and d2 and are thus selected to make the spacings d1 and d2 different. However, even if the arms 19 and 21 are the same length, spacings d1 and d2 could be adjusted by placing the elongated portion 17 at different locations along the primary member 10.

[0028] Because d1 and d2 are different lengths, the retainer may be secured to two different thicknesses of table tops. Dashed line 8 represents the outline of a portion of a table top. As shown, the table top extends laterally past the sides of the table. When the retainer is configured as depicted in FIG. 2, with d1 in the upper position, the retainer may be attached to the edge of a table top having a thickness approximately equal to d1. The retainer is positioned about the table top edge such that the first arm 12 extends above the upper surface of the table top and the upper arm 19 of the central member 16 contacts the lower surface of the table top. The outer vertical surface of the table top which adjoins the upper and lower surfaces is positioned adjacent to the table-receiving surface of the primary member 10. The retainer may also be rotated such that the second arm 14 is at the upper end of the retainer. In this position, the retainer may be attached to the edge of a table top having a thickness approximately equal to d2 such that the table top edge is interposed between the second arm 14 and the lower arm 21 of central member 16.

[0029] In a preferred embodiment, spacings d1 and d2 have lengths of approximately 7 mm and 13 mm, respectively. A hooking portion 18 of a hook and loop fastener is located at the backside of the primary member 10, as depicted in FIG. 2. FIG. 3 depicts the backside of the primary member 10 and shows hooking portion 18 in more detail. The hooking portion 18 includes a plurality of hooks 20 extending away from the retainer. It is preferred that the retainer be fabricated using an extrudable plastic material such as polyolefin, polycarbonate, nylon, etc. Moreover, the hooks 20 are preferably extruded from the same material as the primary member 10 and are integral with the primary member 10 to avoid the time and cost of attaching a separate strip of material containing hooks to the backside of the primary member 10, although separate strips of hook-containing material may be used with this invention.

[0030] To hang a table skirt from a table top, retainers are first placed at intervals around the edge of the table top such that the hooks 20 face outward. A loop portion (not shown) of a hook and loop type fastener is attached to the periphery of the table skirt (not shown) and includes a plurality of loops. The loop portion is aligned to and pressed against the hooking portion 18 to allow the hooks 20 and loops to engage and form mechanical bonds that may be broken by peeling the loop portion from the hooking portion 18.

[0031] In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4, the central member 16 is substantially Y-shaped. The predetermined spacings d1 and d2, chosen for different table top thicknesses, are disposed between the central member 16 and the first and second arms 12 and 14, respectively. The central member 16 has a connecting portion 29 extending in a plane that is substantially perpendicular to the primary member 10 and joined to a central portion of the primary member 10.

[0032] The central member 16 further includes an upper portion 31 that rigidly extends from the connecting portion 29 toward the first arm 12 at an angle. The upper portion 31 terminates at an upper end which extends in a plane parallel to the first arm 12 and which is spaced farther away from the primary member 10 than the base of the upper portion 31. A lower portion 33 of the central member 16 extends from the connecting portion 29 toward the second arm 14 at an angle and terminates in a lower end that is parallel to the second arm 14. The lower end of the lower portion 33 is spaced from the primary member 10 by a greater distance than the top of the lower portion 33. Because the ends of the upper and lower portions 33 extend in a horizontal plane, they may be positioned beneath the lower surface of a table top.

[0033] The retainer may be secured to the edge of a table top having a thickness approximately equal to d1 by positioning the retainer such that the table top edge is inserted between the first arm 12 and the upper portion 31 of the central member 16. A table top edge having a thickness approximately equal to d2 may be similarly positioned between the second arm 14 and the lower portion 33 of the central member 16 after rotating the retainer. Preferably, d1 and d2 are equivalent to common thicknesses of table tops, but they may be equivalent to any particular table top thicknesses. As noted above, common thicknesses of table tops are approximately 7 mm and approximately 13 mm.

[0034] A hooking portion 18 of a hook and loop fastener may be arranged adjacent to the backside of the primary member 10, and as depicted in FIG. 5, may include hooks 20 which have been extruded from the same material as the primary member 22 and are integral with the primary member 22. The retainer is preferably made from a substantially transparent plastic such as polyolefin, polycarbonate, or nylon. A table skirt may be secured to the edge of a table top using the retainer depicted in FIGS. 4 and 5 in the same manner as the retainer shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, described above.

[0035] In yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIG. 6a, the retainer has three planar arms 12, 14, and 39, which extend perpendicularly from the primary member 10. The first arm 12 and the second arm 14 are arranged at opposite ends of the primary member 10. The third arm 39 is positioned between and spaced from the first arm 12 and the second arm 14. In addition, the retainer has a flexible member 38. The flexible member 38 comprises a cylindrical arm 40 that is movably attached to the third arm 39. The flexible member 38 may be flexibly moved to change the spaced distance d between the first arm 12 and the flexible member 38.

[0036] As shown in FIG. 6b, a lower portion 41 of the cylindrical arm 40 is attached to the third arm 39 by passing the lower portion 41 into an opening 46 defined to receive the lower portion 41. The lower portion 41 comprises a slit 48 interposed between a pair of legs 50 which terminate at anchoring ends 52. The slit 48 allows the legs 50 to be pressed closer together to permit the anchoring ends 52 to pass through the opening 46. Because the lower portion 41 is wider than the opening 46 at the anchoring ends 52, the anchoring ends 52 cannot pass back through the opening 46. As such, the anchoring ends 52 prevent the flexible member 38 from sliding out of the second arm 39. The anchoring ends 52 thus engage the lower surface of the second arm 14 when distance d is at a minimum. The length of the cylindrical arm 40 above the anchoring ends 52 may pass downward through the opening to increase d, and thereby allow the retainer to be attached to a thicker table top.

[0037] FIG. 7 depicts a frontal view of the retainer shown in FIG. 6a. The flexible member 38 also includes a loop portion 54 that extends from one side of the top of the cylindrical arm 40 down to the second arm 14 and back up to the other side of the top of the cylindrical arm 40. The base of the loop portion 54 resides upon the second arm 14 and the opposite sides of the loop portion 54 have flexible elbows 55 to make the loop portion 54 bendable. The flexible portion may be constructed of polyolefin, polycarbonate, or nylon, or other flexible materials. The flexible member 38 also includes an upper arm 42 positioned above the loop portion 54 for engaging a lower surface of a table top. The upper arm 42 extends in a plane substantially parallel to the first arm 12. The flexible member 38 may be compressed and contracted to adjust the distance d to a particular thickness of a table top. The retainer may be secured to the edge of a table top by positioning the retainer such that the first arm 12 is above the table top, the upper arm 38 is beneath the table top, and the table-receiving side of the primary member 10 faces the vertical outer side of the table top.

[0038] The backside of the retainer is shown in FIG. 8 and includes a hooking portion 18 of a hook and loop type fastener which comprises a plurality of hooks 20 for engaging the loops (not shown) connected to a table skirt (not shown). The hooks 20 may be extruded from the same material as the primary member 10 and integral with the primary member 10, which preferably is a clear plastic, such as polyolefin, polycarbonate, or nylon. A table skirt may be secured to the edge of a table top using the retainer depicted in FIGS. 6a-8 in the same manner as the retainer shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, described above.

[0039] Another embodiment of a retainer of this invention is illustrated in FIG. 9. The retainer includes a first elongated member 60 having a planar secondary arm 62 extending from a planar primary arm 64. The primary arm 64 comprises a first set of teeth 66 arranged on the table-receiving side. A frontal view of the primary member 60 in FIG. 10 shows the first set of teeth 66 in further detail. The retainer further includes a second elongated member 68 having a second set of teeth 70 shaped to mate with the first set of teeth 66 and positioned on the side of the second member 68 that faces the first member 60. The upper portion of the second member 68 curves away from the primary arm 64 so that it may engage a lower surface of a table top. The first member 60 and the second member 68 preferably comprise a substantially transparent plastic, e.g., polyolefin, polycarbonate, or nylon.

[0040] A compression member 74 surrounds the first member 60 and the second member 68 near the first and second sets of teeth 66 and 68. The compression member 74 biases the first member 60 against the second member 68 at a force sufficient to interlock the first set of teeth 66 with the second set of teeth 68. The first set of teeth 66 may be moved to a new position along the second set of teeth 68 by depressing a release lever 72 attached to the compression member 74. The release lever 72 reduces the bias applied by the compression member 74 to the first member 60 and the second member 68. As shown in FIG. 11, a hooking portion 18 of a hook and loop type fastener comprises the hooks 20 that extend from the backside of the first member 60 for engaging the loops attached to a table skirt. Such hooks 20 may comprise a transparent plastic extruded from and integral with the same resin as the first member 60. A table skirt may be secured to the edge of a table top using the retainer depicted in FIGS. 9-11 in the same manner as the retainer shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, described above.

[0041] It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the method of the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention provided that they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.





 
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