Title:
Mailbox device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mailbox configured to allow visual inspection of the contents thereof prior to opening the mailbox device. The mailbox device can include one or more see-through portions and/or components thereof.



Inventors:
Walter Jr., Null Klima F. (Travelers Rest, SC, US)
Klima, William L. (Fredericksburg, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/138504
Publication Date:
11/06/2003
Filing Date:
05/06/2002
Assignee:
F. KLIMA WALTER
KLIMA WILLIAM L.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/122; (IPC1-7): B65D91/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MILLER, WILLIAM L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILLIAM L. KLIMA (STAFFORD, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A mail box device, comprising: a mail box container including at least a portion configured to be see through to allow a user to view inside said mail box prior to opening thereof.

2. A device according to claim 1, wherein said mail box includes a container portion and a door portion configured to allow access into said container portion.

3. A device according to claim 2, wherein at least a portion of said door portion is configured to be see through.

4. A device according to claim 3, wherein said door portion is provided with a see through window.

5. A device according to claim 4, wherein said window is defined by a through opening in said door portion.

6. A device according to claim 4, wherein said window is defined by a see through material provided in a through opening in said door portion.

7. A device according to claim 3, wherein said entire door is made of a see through material.

8. A device according to claim 7, wherein said entire door is made of a see through plastic material.

9. A device according to claim 2, wherein at least a portion of said container portion is configured to be see through.

10. A device according to claim 3, wherein said container portion is provided with a see through window.

11. A device according to claim 10, wherein said window is defined by a through opening in said container portion.

12. A device according to claim 10, wherein said window is defined by a see through material provided in a through opening in said container portion.

13. A device according to claim 9, wherein said entire container portion is made of a see through material.

14. A device according to claim 13, wherein said entire container portion is made of a see through plastic material.

15. A device according to claim 2, wherein at least a portion of said container portion and a portion of said door portion are configured to be see through.

16. A device according to claim 15, wherein said container portion and said door portion are both provided with a see through window.

17. A device according to claim 16, wherein said window is defined by through openings in said container portion and said door portion.

18. A device according to claim 17, wherein said window is defined by a see through material provided in through openings in said container portion and said door portion.

19. A device according to claim 15, wherein said entire container portion and said door portion are made of a see through material.

20. A device according to claim 19, wherein said entire container portion and said door portion are made of a see through plastic material.

21. A device according to claim 6, wherein said window is provide with grill works.

22. A device according to claim 1, including a support connectable to said mail box container, said support configured to be anchored in the ground for supporting said mail box container.

23. A device according to claim 22, wherein said support is a post.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention is directed to a mailbox device. Specifically, the present invention is directed to a mailbox device configured to allow a user to inspect the interior or contents of the mailbox prior to opening thereof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] There exists a wide variety of mail boxes that are currently manufactured and sold. Most of these mailboxes are configured to mount or be supported on top of a post anchored in the ground. The current mailboxes are typically made of metal or plastic material.

[0003] The current mailboxes have a front door that flips downwardly to insert or retrieve mail. Currently, these mailboxes are made of materials that are opaque, and do not allow a user to look inside the mailbox or inspect the contents thereof prior to opening the door. Further, whether the mail has been delivered or the mailbox has been tampered with cannot be discerned until the current mailboxes are opened and a user looks inside.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] An object of the present invention is to provide an improved mailbox.

[0005] A second object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox configured to allow a user to visually inspect the contents or interior of the mailbox prior to opening.

[0006] A third object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox device provided with a window in at least one of a door portion or container portion of the mailbox device.

[0007] A fourth object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox device according to the present invention having a see-through portion or window.

[0008] A fifth object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox having at least one portion or component made of a see-through material.

[0009] A sixth object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox device having a door portion made of a see-through material connected to a container portion.

[0010] A seventh object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox device having a container portion and door portion both made of see-through material.

[0011] The present invention is directed to a mailbox device configured to allow a user to inspect the inside of the mailbox prior to opening thereof. For example, a person can see whether or not mail has been delivered by visual inspection, even from a distance, and/or can visually inspect the contents of the mailbox prior to opening the mailbox. This feature is important with respect to safety and security of a person opening a tampered mailbox containing a prank, dangerous material (e.g. explosive, cutting device, gun) or otherwise booby-trapped by someone else.

[0012] A preferred embodiment of the present invention is to provide a see-through door portion of the mailbox. For example, the door portion can be provided with a window cut through or molded in the door portion. The window can be opened or covered with a see-through material, such as a plastic sheet or a molded window. In another preferred embodiment, a portion of the door portion or the entire door portion is made of a see-through plastic material (e.g. made by injection molding). In another preferred embodiment, one or more portions of the container portion of the mailbox is made of see-through material to provide a see-through window or the entire container portion is made of see-through material to allow visual inspection from all sides. In a further preferred embodiment, the front door and the rear panel of the container portion are both made of see-through plastic material so that you can see through both the front and the back of the mailbox so that there exists adequate natural light to view the inside thereof. Optionally, the mailbox can be provided with one or more interior light sources to illuminate or partially illuminate the interior of the mailbox to enhance visual inspection thereof prior to opening. For example, a solar powered device mounted on the mailbox or post of the mailbox in combination with a battery pack powers one or more lights mounted within the mailbox device.

[0013] The present invention is directed to new construction of mailboxes, and/or alterations to existing mailboxes. For example, a conventional opaque door can be replaced with a see-through plastic door installed by removing the existing rivets or fasteners and swapping out the opaque door with the see-through door. In other versions, an existing mailbox can be drilled with a hole saw and plastic insert windows can be glued or snap fit into the openings to allow visual inspection of the interior thereof.

[0014] In a particularly preferred embodiment, the entire mailbox is made of a see-through plastic material such as plastic. For example, the plastic material can be clear or not clear but translucent to allow visualization of the shape and sizes of the contents of the mailbox. For example, a clear plastic mailbox can be lightly frosted (e.g. by shot penning or sandblasting) to allow some visual access to the interior of the mailbox prior to opening while adding some texture and/or color to visually enhance the look of the mailbox. Alternatively, paint or some other finish product can be sputtered onto a clear mailbox again to add texture and/or color to visually enhance the mailbox. Even further, the clear mailbox can be slightly tinted to allow visual inspection of the contents thereof while also adding aesthetic beauty. In a preferred embodiment, the mailbox is tinted so that you cannot see into the mailbox until a light switch is turned to on illuminate the interior of the mailbox then allowing a user to visually inspect the mailbox prior to opening thereof. In another embodiment, a liquid crystal type coating or layer is incorporated or applied to the plastic material that can be electrically activated to act as a light shutter to selectively view or make opaque the plastic material to allow visual inspection in one mode and preventing visual inspection in another mode.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mailbox according to the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 3 is an end elevational view of a further embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a partial longitudinal cross-sectional of a sixth embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a perspective of a seventh embodiment of the mailbox according to the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of a replaceable door portion for a plastic type mailbox.

[0023] FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a replacement type door portion for a metal type mailbox.

[0024] FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of a replacement door portion shown in FIG. 9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] An embodiment of the mailbox device 10 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 1.

[0026] The mailbox 10 includes a container portion 12 and a door portion 14. The door portion 14 is pivotally connected to the container portion 12 by a set of fasteners or rivets 16. The door portion 14 is provided with a latch portion 18a cooperating with a latch portion 18b connected to the container portion 12.

[0027] The container portion 12 is made of sheet metal or plastic sheet material or plastic injection molded material. The container portion 12 can be configured or made to be see-through, partially see-through or opaque. For example, the container portion 12 is made of tinted plastic see-through material (e.g. acrylic) or can be partially see-through (e.g. made of partially or fully clarified polyethylene or polypropylene). The door portion 14 is preferably made of a clear and colorless plastic material (e.g. formed from a sheet or injection molded), so as to allow good visual inspection of the interior of the mailbox device 10. The mailbox device 10 is shown mounted on top of a post 20 set in the ground G.

[0028] Another embodiment of the mailbox device 100 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 2.

[0029] In this embodiment both the front door portion 114 and rear portion 115 of the container portion 112 are configured to be see-through. For example, the front door portion 114 and rear portion 115 are made of clear see-through plastic material formed from a sheet or injection molded.

[0030] A third embodiment of the mailbox device 200 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 3.

[0031] In this embodiment, the door portion 214 is provided with a through opening 222 to define a window, and a window pane 224 is fitted within the window 222. The window pane 224 can be provided with grill works 226 to provide visual enhancement and potentially reinforcement to the window pane 224. The window pane 224 can be made of glass or plastic clear see-through material.

[0032] A fourth embodiment of the mailbox device 300 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 4.

[0033] The mailbox 300 is provided with a plurality of separate round windows 324. Specifically one window 324 is provided in the door portion 314 and two sets of windows 324 are provided on each side of the container portion 312 (two windows are not shown). The round windows 324 configured to be adhered and/or snap fit into round through holes made through the door portion 314 and container portion 312. The windows 324 can be applied to existing mailboxes by cutting round through holes with a hole saw, and then installing the windows 324 in the through holes.

[0034] A fifth embodiment of the mailbox device 400 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 5.

[0035] The mailbox device 400 is provided with a door portion 414 having a round top window 424 as shown, and the container portion 412 is provided with a pair of side bow windows 426 and a pair of skylights 428 to allow light to enter the mailbox device 400 from above. This configuration provides a “greenhouse” type lighting effect so that a user can visually inspect the contents of the mailbox 400 from all sides with good visibility and light.

[0036] A sixth embodiment of the mailbox device 500 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 6.

[0037] The mailbox device 500 includes a see-through door portion 514 and a see-through rear panel 515 of the container portion 512. A solar panel 530 is mounted on the post 520 by a mounting bracket 532. An on/off switch 534 is provided on the post 520. Alternatively, the on/off switch 534 can be mounted on the container portion 512 or door portion 514 of the mailbox device 500.

[0038] A set of three (3) separate incandescent or fluorescent lamps 536 are mounted on the roof or ceiling of the container portion 512. The solar panel 530 is electrically connected to the switch 534, which in turn is connected by wires 538 to the lamps 536. A battery backup unit 540 is wired to the solar panel 530 to allow charging thereof during the daylight hours.

[0039] A seventh embodiment of the mailbox device 600 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 7.

[0040] The mailbox device 600 includes a container portion 612 having side windows 642 (one on both sides) and an upper window or skylight 644. The door portion 614 is provided with a window 646. The windows 642, 644 and 646 make up almost the entire outer surfaces of the mailbox device 600 to provide excellent visual inspection of the contents of the mailbox 600 from all sides and angles. The mailbox device 600 can be provided with bottom windows, again to further increase the visual inspection of the contents thereof.

[0041] A replacement door portion 714 for a plastic mailbox is shown in FIG. 8. The plastic door portion 714 is provided with a plastic window 724 and a pair of lugs 725 for pivotal connection with the existing container portion.

[0042] A replacement door portion 814 for a metal type mailbox is shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. The door portion 184 is provided with a window 824 and a flange 827 for inserting into the opening of the metal mailbox once the metal door has been removed.





 
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