Title:
Shelf backer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelf backer for filling a void between a shelf and a backing member. The shelf backer comprises a plug, which is reversibly receivable by the void, and a lip. The lip prohibits the shelf backer from passing through the void.



Inventors:
Mings, Edward L. (Hendersonville, NC, US)
Application Number:
10/099719
Publication Date:
09/18/2003
Filing Date:
03/13/2002
Assignee:
MINGS EDWARD L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/134
International Classes:
A47B96/02; A47F5/00; (IPC1-7): A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060254994Dish receiving member of dishwasherNovember, 2006Lim
20060243689Decorative shelfNovember, 2006Groff et al.
20080057456COMBINATION CANDLE AND FLOWER HOLDERMarch, 2008Carroll
20090016864Article Storage FacilityJanuary, 2009Yoshida et al.
20050224429Support jig of quartz glass for receiving wafer-like substrates of semiconductor materialOctober, 2005Maul et al.
20050258117Folding shelfNovember, 2005Drake
20060243681Basket for dishwashersNovember, 2006Bastuji et al.
20090294393SLIDE ASSEMBLY FOR A RACKDecember, 2009Chen et al.
20090230069MULTI-TIERED ROTATING SHELF SYSTEMSeptember, 2009Naden et al.
20080061014Shelf with concealment meansMarch, 2008Lior
20070138112WHEEL ROTATION DEVICEJune, 2007Meyer et al.



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Joseph T. Guy, Ph.D. (Greenville, SC, US)
Claims:

Claimed is:



1. A shelf backer for filling a void between a shelf and a backing member comprising: a plug which is reversibly receivable by said void; and a lip attached to said plug wherein said lip prohibits said shelf backer from passing through said void.

2. The shelf backer of claim 1 wherein said shelf backer is substantially in the shape of an elongated “L” wherein said plug and said lip are perpendicular.

3. The shelf backer of claim 1 wherein said shelf backer further comprises a second lip and said lip and said second lip are substantially parallel and said plug is substantially perpendicular to said lip.

4. The shelf backer of claim 1 wherein said plug is an elongated rod.

5. The shelf backer of claim 4 wherein said lip is a pin.

6. The shelf backer of claim 5 wherein said pin is substantially shaped like a “J”.

7. The shelf backer of claim 5 wherein said pin is substantially shaped like a “L”.

8. The shelf backer of claim 5 wherein said shelf comprises an accessory void and said pin is received by said accessory void.

9. The shelf backer of claim 4 further comprising a spacer attached to said elongated rod wherein said spacer is between said elongated rod and said shelf.

10. A shelving system comprising a pair of uprights; at least one shelf bracket attached to each upright of said pair of uprights; a shelf attached to said shelf bracket; a void wherein said void is between said uprights and behind said shelf; and a shelf backer comprising: a plug which is reversibly received by said void; and a lip attache to said plug which prohibits said shelf backer from passing through said void.

11. The shelving system of claim 10 wherein said shelf backer is substantially in the shape of an elongated “L”.

12. The shelving system of claim 10 wherein said shelf backer further comprises a second lip and said shelf backer is substantially in the shape of an elongated “T”.

13. The shelving system of claim 10 wherein said plug is an elongated rod.

14. The shelving system of claim 13 wherein said lip is a pin.

15. The shelving system of claim 14 wherein said pin is substantially shaped like a “J”.

16. The shelving system of claim 14 wherein said pin is substantially shaped like a “L”.

17. The shelving system of claim 14 wherein said shelf comprises an accessory void and said pin is received by said accessory void.

18. The shelving system of claim 13 further comprising a spacer attached to said plug wherein said spacer is between said plug and said shelf.

19. A shelf backer for filling a void between a shelf and a backing member comprising: an elongated rod which is reversibly receivable by said void; a pin attached to said elongated rod wherein said pin is received by an accessory void in said shelf; a spacer attached to said elongated rod and positioned between said elongated rod and said shelf.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention is related a shelf backer. More specifically, the present invention is related to a shelf backer which forms a barrier behind a shelf to eliminate items from passing through a void at the rear of the shelf.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Shelves are widely known and useful for many applications. One detriment to the use of shelves is the void which is typically present between the shelf and the support wall or adjoining shelf. The width of the void is typically the same size as the thickness of the upright support upon which the shelf brackets are attached.

[0003] A common problem in the retail industry is loss due to spoilage and breakage. With small items this loss is exasperated by the high volume of items which fall through the void at the rear of the shelf and either break upon striking the floor or are lost due to a lack of visibility. Once the breakage, or loss, is realized the effort to clean or remove the item is high. It is not uncommon for shelves to require disassembly to allow the personnel assess to the broken and lost items which have fallen behind the shelves. This is a loss of productivity which results in a loss of revenue. It is also not uncommon for food from broken containers to build up behind a shelf which creates various problems including odor, attraction of rodents, and food stuff seeping from behind a shelf all of which are highly undesirable.

[0004] There has been a long felt desire to eliminate this problem of items falling through the void behind a shelf. This problem has not been adequately solved.

[0005] One solution is to alter the shape of the shelf to include an extension which fills the void. This solution has not been widely accepted due to the increased cost associated with the altered shelf shape. This would require the shelving to be custom sized for each installation. Alternatively, the number of sizes can configurations can be limited. Neither system is desirable since custom shelf sizing is an important attribute. Furthermore, the ability to cut shelving to size at the site of installation would be severely hindered since special cuts would be required on site. The edges of metal shelves, which are the predominant type in retail locations, are typically in the form of a “C” to increase the strength thereby allowing a thinner metal to be used. If the corners are cut out to allow the upright support to be inset the strength would be compromised or a heavier gauge metal would be required.

[0006] Various structures have been offered such as an upright plate attached to, or integral to, the back of the shelf. These are cost prohibitive. Wire assemblies, such as those illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,138,583 offer some advantages yet small items can still fit under the wire assembly and enter the void.

[0007] The methods for solving the problem of items falling through the void behind a shelf are lacking in the art and no suitable solution exist which is economical, effective and aesthetically pleasing.

SUMMARY

[0008] It is an object of the present invention to provide a shelf backer which is easily installed, economical and which prohibits items from falling through the void behind a shelf.

[0009] It is another object of the present invention to provide a shelf backer which is versatile and can be used with a variety of shelves and to provide embodiments which can be custom fit or prepared in standard sizes as necessary.

[0010] These and other advantages, as will be realized from the description herein, are provided in a shelf backer for filling a void between a shelf and a backing member. The shelf backer comprises a plug, which is reversibly receivable by the void, and a lip. The lip prohibits the shelf backer from passing through the void.

[0011] Yet another embodiment is provided in a shelving system comprising a pair of uprights. At least one shelf bracket is attached to each upright of the pair of uprights. A shelf is attached to the shelf bracket. A void is between the uprights and behind the shelf. The shelf backer comprises a plug, which is reversibly received by the void, and a lip which prohibits the shelf backer from passing through the void.

[0012] A particularly preferred embodiment is provided in A shelf backer for filling void between a shelf and a backing member comprising an elongated rod which is reversibly receivable by said void; a pin attached to said elongated rod wherein said pin is received by an accessory void in said shelf, a spacer attached to said elongated rod and positioned between said elongated rod and said shelf.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is a partially exploded view of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 with the shelf backer inserted in the void.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a top view of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0020] The present invention provides a shelf backer which conveniently fills the void created behind a shelf and thereby eliminates the spoilage and loss due to items falling through the void.

[0021] The invention will be described by reference to the drawings wherein similar elements are numbered accordingly. The drawings represent preferred embodiments and are intended to facilitate the description of the invention and are not intended to limit the invention in any way. Similar elements are numbered accordingly.

[0022] An embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in partially exploded view in FIG. 1. In FIG. 1, a shelf assembly is illustrated comprising a pair of uprights, 1, upon which shelf brackets, 2, are secured. The manner in which shelf brackets are secured to the uprights is not limiting herein with any method of attaching a shelf bracket to an upright suitable for demonstration of the present invention. It is most common for the shelf bracket to have tabs which are received by slots, 3. The slots are arranged along the upright. In a common configuration the tabs are received by the slots and then the bracket pressed downward to slidably engage the shelf bracket to the upright in the preferred location.

[0023] The shelf bracket comprises an element for securing a shelf, 4, thereon. In the embodiment illustrated the shelf bracket comprises a ledge, 5, upon which the shelf, 4, rest. In other embodiments the shelf bracket is below the shelf and the shelf rest thereon. Behind the shelf is a void, 6, which is located between the shelf and a back member, 7. In the embodiment illustrated the back member is a second shelf with secondary brackets, 8. The back member may also be a wall upon which the uprights are attached as known in the art. A shelf backer, 9, fits into the void, 6, thereby prohibiting items stored on the shelf, 4, form entering the void, 6.

[0024] The shelf backer, 9, is, in one embodiment, an elongated member comprising a plug, 10, and lip, 11. The plug, 10, fits into the void and substantially blocks items from passing there through. The lip, 11, sits on the shelf and prohibits the shelf backer from passing through the void. The lip, 11, also provides a spacer which prohibits items from sliding onto the top of the shelf backer. The shelf backer illustrated in FIG. 1 is substantially in the form of an elongated “L”.

[0025] A cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 is provided in FIG. 2. In FIG. 2, the shelf backer, 9, is inserted in the void. The lip, 11, rest on the shelf, 4, and the plug, 10, fills the void. The shelf backer of FIG. 2 represents a particularly preferred embodiment due to the versatility. If the back member, 7, is a shelf as shown the shelf backer prohibits items from entering the void from either shelf. As would be realized, if the back member is a wall the shelf backer rest conveniently against the wall.

[0026] A cross-sectional view of another embodiment is provided in FIG. 3. In FIG. 3, the shelf backer, 9, comprises two lips, 11, with one lip resting on the shelf, 4, and one lip resting on the back shelf which is a back member, 7. This embodiment is particularly preferred when shelves are arranged back-to-back as is common in retail shelf assemblies. The shelf backer, illustrated in FIG. 3, is substantially in the form of an elongated “T” as would be realized from the drawings and description herein.

[0027] It is preferable that the lip extend the entire length of the shelf backer due to the simplicity this design offers during manufacturing. An alternate is segments of lip with a continuous plug. In another embodiment the lips may be continuous with segments of plug. In any embodiment it is most preferred that the entire void be obstructed such that items on the shelf do not pass there through.

[0028] The material of construction for the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 are chosen based on cost and ease of manufacture. Styrofoam, or other materials incorporating voids within the structure, are particularly preferred materials due to the low cost and the ease with which these types of foam materials can be formed, or cut, to the desired shape. Other materials which are easily cut, extruded, pultruded or molded to the desired shape are within the scope of the present invention. Cellulose based products, plastic based products, blow molded products, extrusion products and composite materials such as those provided by extrusion or pultrusion processes are within the teachings of the present invention. It is preferred that a single shelf backer be employed per shelf but segments of shelf backer which are abutted are also suitable for demonstration of the present invention.

[0029] Another embodiment is provided in FIG. 4. In FIG. 4, the shelf, 4, comprises accessory voids, 12. Accessory voids are commonly employed in shelves to provide a convenient manner for attaching various accessories such as dividers, drawers, file holders and the like. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, the shelf backer, 9, comprises two lips with each lip in the form of a pin, 13, which is received by an accessory void, 12. The shelf backer illustrated in FIG. 4 further comprises at least one plug, 10, which is an elongate member configured to reside in the void. A spacer, 14, maintains the shelf backer in a fixed position relative to the shelf. The shelf backer illustrated in FIG. 4 is a particularly preferred embodiment since the top of the shelf backer is substantially parallel to the surface of the shelf which effectively extends the storage area to include the void while still prohibiting items from passing into and through the void.

[0030] A cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4 is provided in FIG. 5. In FIG. 5, the pin, 13, is substantially “L” or “J” shaped to allow the pin to engage with the accessory void, 12, of the shelf, 4, and the plug, 10. The pin may rest on the shelf thereby forming a secure connection. The weight of the shelf backer persuades the shelf backer downward while the spacer prohibits the shelf backer from rotating. The weight and the spacer therefore work counter to each other to bind the shelf spacer in preferred relationship to the shelf.

[0031] Another embodiment of a shelf backer is illustrated in isolated perspective view in FIG. 6. The shelf backer, 9, comprises at least one plug, 10, which fits into the void behind the shelf. A spacer, 14, stabilizes the shelf backer and insures that the shelf backer is in the proper position, preferably centered within the void as measured from shelf to backing member. The pin, 13, is preferably a “J” shaped member wherein the size and shape of the pin is sufficient to engage with an accessory void and allow the plug to be in proper position wherein the upper surface of the plug is preferably coplanar with the Lupper surface of the shelf. In a particularly preferred embodiment the shelf backer, 9, is formed from an elongated metal rod which is bent to form the pin and spacer. The shelf backer may also be manufactured from individual elements which are attached such as by welding.

[0032] An alternate embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 7. In FIG. 7, the shelf backer, 9, comprises a plug, 10, as described with reference to FIG. 6. Attached to the plug, 10, is a spacer, 14, which is preferably a rectangular element. The operation and function of the plug would be apparent from the description herein. The spacer can be attached to the plug by welding or the like or the shelf backer may be cast, or formed as an integral unit with the spacer integrated therein during manufacture.

[0033] The sizes of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 are chosen based on the length and thickness of the shelf. In a particularly preferred embodiment an elongated rod is shaped to form the shelf backer. The elongated rod is preferably 0.125-0.5″ in diameter based on the standard shelves currently available commercially. Larger or smaller rods may be incorporated to accommodate different sized shelves. The length of the shelf backer is dependent on the length of the shelves and the spacing of the accessory voids. In one embodiment a shelf backer of 47-48 inches is suitable for a variety of commonly employed shelves. A pin which is approximately 1.5 inches with an approximately 0.25 by 0.25 area within the “J” has been shown to be suitable for a wide variety of shelves. The spacer preferably is of a sufficient size to approximately center the plug within the void. A spacer which is approximately 0.75 inches has been shown to be particularly suitable for demonstration of the present invention. Nestled elongated rods wherein one rod is received in another may be employed to allow the shelf backer length to be adjusted by sliding one rod relative to the other.

[0034] The invention has been described with particular reference to preferred embodiments. It would be apparent from the description herein that other embodiments could be employed without departing from the scope of the invention which is set forth in the claims which are appended hereto.