Title:
Interlocking frame assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An interconnecting frame assembly including a picture frame body supported by a hanging rail. A protrusion on the frame body slideably engages a recessed area on the hanging rail so that the rail supports the frame body. Each frame body contains a male protrusion and a female recessed area to permit a second frame body to slideably engage the first picture frame body This configuration allows multiple picture frame bodies to be attached together while being supported by the rail.



Inventors:
Gilchrist, Trevor M. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Laidler, Richard (Irving, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/205378
Publication Date:
01/29/2004
Filing Date:
07/24/2002
Assignee:
GILCHRIST TREVOR M.
LAIDLER RICHARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/06; (IPC1-7): A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SILBERMANN, JOANNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard Laidler (Irving, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An interlocking frame assembly for displaying a picture, the frame assembly comprising: a frame body having a front wall, a top wall, a bottom wall and a pair of sidewalls projecting rearward from said front wall wherein said front wall supports the picture and said top wall contains a male protrusion extending therefrom and said bottom wall contains a female recess; a rail for attaching to a vertical surface said rail having a female recess wherein said female recess is sized to receive said male protrusion of said frame body; wherein said male protrusion of said frame body slideably engages said rail female recess such that said rail supports said frame body.

2. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 1 further including a second frame body, wherein said male protrusion of said second frame body slideably engages said female recess of said frame body.

3. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 1 wherein said male protrusion runs the entire length of said side.

4. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 1 wherein a faceplate is positionable over said frame body and securable thereto to hold and secure the picture over said frame body.

5. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 4 wherein said faceplate contains a top wall and two side walls projecting rearward from opposing ends of said top wall, wherein said side walls each contain a ridge to engage a groove on said frame body side walls so as to prevent separation of said cover and said frame body.

6. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 4 wherein said cover is a rigid, transparent acrylic material.

7. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 1 wherein said frame body is a rigid acrylic material.

8. The rail of claim 1 wherein the female recess is covered by a lip that runs along the entire length of said rail to conceal said recess.

9. The rail of claim 1 wherein said rail has a length equivalent to two times the length of a frame body of claim 1.

10. The rail of claim 1 wherein a light is attached to said rail.

11. The rail of claim 1 wherein a nameplate is attached to said rail.

12. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 1 wherein said frame body and said rail are metal.

13. An interlocking frame assembly for displaying a picture on a vertical structure comprising: a first frame body having a front wall, a bottom wall and a top wall wherein said front wall supports the picture, said bottom wall contains a recessed area and said top wall contains a protrusion; a second frame body having a front wall, a bottom wall and a top wall wherein said front wall supports the picture, said bottom wall contains a recessed area and said top wall contains a protrusion; and wherein said second frame body protrusion slideably engages said first frame body recessed area such that said first frame body supports said second frame body and said first frame body conceals said second frame body protrusion.

14. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 15 further comprising a rail wherein said rail contains a base portion and a lip attached to said base portion wherein said lip contains a recessed area such that said first frame body protrusion slideably engages said lip recessed area to support said first frame body.

15. The interlocking frame assembly of claim 15 further comprising a rail wherein said rail contains a base portion and a lip attached to said base portion wherein said lip contains a protrusion such that said first frame body recessed area slideably engages said lip recessed area to support said first frame body and to conceal said first frame body protrusion.

16. An interlocking frame assembly for displaying multiple pictures on a vertical structure comprising: a first frame body having a front wall, a bottom wall, a top wall and a first and second sidewall wherein said front wall supports the picture, said bottom wall contains a recessed area, said top wall contains a protrusion and said first and second sidewalls contain a groove; a second frame body having a front wall, a bottom wall, a top wall and a first and second sidewall, wherein said top wall supports the picture, said bottom wall contains a recessed area, said top wall contains a protrusion and said first and second sidewalls contain a groove; wherein said second frame body protrusion slideably engages said first frame body recessed area such that said first frame body supports said second frame body and conceals said second frame body protrusion to form a smooth connection surface; and a faceplate for each frame body so as to cover each of said frame bodies wherein each face plate has a top wall, a first sidewall and a spaced apart and parallel second sidewall wherein said first and second sidewalls contain a ridge to engage said groove so as to attach said faceplate to said frame body thereby preventing separation.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] This invention relates to a picture frame assembly in which multiple picture frames can be interlocked in various configurations and suspended from a hanging rail for display on a wall.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Many picture frames are made to display photographs on walls. However, it is often time consuming and difficult to individually mount a collection of pictures in a desired array. As used herein, a picture frame assembly is defined as a collection of two or more framed pictures joined together in a composite group either for mounting purposes or for aesthetic appearance.

[0003] U.S. Pat. No. 4,912,863 to Harvey, U.S. Pat. No. 4,706,397 to Hesener, U.S. Pat. No. 3,648,393 to Parrilia, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,115,938 to Belmuth each show modular frames that may be connected to other frames. A separate connection piece is required to bridge the gap between the individual modular frames. Harvey and Hesener both teach using a tongue that snaps into a corresponding groove to connect the frames. Parrilla teaches using an interconnecting strip to attach to a groove that extends along the edge of each modular frame. Belmuth uses a clip that attaches to the lip on the back of each frame. If this connection piece becomes lost or misplaced, adding another picture frame to the assemblage becomes impossible. Additionally, these additional components add to the overall cost of the frame and assembly becomes more complex.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 5,588,240 to Zilliox teaches a frame assembly resembling jigsaw puzzle pieces. These frames can be connected without using a third piece; however, smooth sides on the frame edge cannot be achieved. The lack of smooth edges can detract from the overall appearance of the frame assembly making the frame assembly less desirable.

[0005] Frame assemblies that snap together are also known in the art. Harvey teaches a modular frame unit wherein the top portion snaps on to the bottom portion with a transparent piece sandwiched between the two. However, the Harvey frame assembly requires three pieces making assembly more cumbersome. Furthermore, manufacturing costs are significantly higher.

[0006] The present invention is designed to overcome these disadvantages by providing an interlocking frame assembly with minimal parts to allow the user to display pictures in various configurations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention relates to a picture frame assembly where one or more picture frames can be interlocked and suspended from a hanging rail. Each picture frame contains a frame body that includes a front wall, a bottom wall, a top wall, and a pair of sidewalls. The bottom wall contains a recessed area extending along its length and the top wall contains a protrusion extending along its length. When connecting multiple frame bodies together, the first frame top wall protrusion slideably engages the bottom wall recessed area on the second frame so as to interlock the frames together. When interlocked together, the recessed area conceals the protrusion of the second frame so as to display smooth and straight faceplate edges on the picture frame assembly.

[0008] Each frame body contains a removable and clear faceplate to protect the pictures while the faceplate is installed on the frame body. The faceplate contains a top surface and two spaced apart and parallel sidewalls to overlay and cover the frame body. Each sidewall on the cover contains a ridge to engage a sidewall slot located on each frame body sidewall. Thus, when the cover is placed over the frame body the cover remains stationary to hold the picture on the frame body.

[0009] A hanging rail is attached to a vertical surface such as a wall and is used to support one or more of the picture frames. The hanging rail includes a base portion having openings so that a screw or nail can be used to attach the rail to the wall. The rail further includes a lip having a recessed area to receive the rear wall protrusion of the frame body so as to support the frames on the wall.

[0010] The present configuration allows the user to connect multiple picture frames with ease while allowing the user to change both the position and the number of pictures in the assemblage. This assemblage can display any manner of pictures, such as photographs, paintings, prints and the like. When the frames are attached and suspended from the support member, each frame has a clean straight edge to add to the aesthetic appearance. Each frame is connected in such a way that the connection points are not visible from the front or the rear of the assemblage.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] For a more complete understanding of the present invention and for further advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following Description of the Preferred Embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings in which:

[0012] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a picture frame in sliding engagement with the support rail.

[0013] FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the picture frame illustrating the faceplate, frame body, mat and picture.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a section view of the picture frame taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 2 illustrating the connection of the faceplate to the frame body.

[0015] FIG. 4 is a side view of the frame body.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a side view of the hanging rail of FIG. 1.

[0017] FIG. 6 illustrates multiple picture frames supported by the hanging rail.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0018] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a picture frame 10 and a hanging rail 12 can be seen. Picture frame 10 comprises a frame body 14 and a faceplate 16 that interlock together in order to secure a mat 17 and a picture 19, such as a photograph, painting, print or the like.

[0019] Frame body 14 comprises a front wall 18 and a top wall 20, bottom wall 22, and sidewalls 24 and 26 projecting rearward from the periphery of front wall 18. Top wall 20 contains a protrusion 28 extending lengthwise along top wall 20 and bottom wall 22 contains a recess 30 extending lengthwise along bottom wall 22. Recess 30 is sized to receive protrusion 28 from a second and similarly configured frame body (not shown). Protrusion 28 and recess 30 are configured such that the two are slideably engageable along one axis and supported on a second axis normal to the slideably engageable axis. Once protrusion 28 is fitted inside recess 30, protrusion 28 is concealed and out of view. Furthermore, when protrusion 28 is connected and mounted inside recess 30, a smooth and straight connection surface 31 results (FIG. 6). Protrusion 28 may alternatively include a series of shorter segments positioned along top wall 20 (not shown). Sidewalls 22 and 24 contain a groove 32 to secure faceplate 16 to frame body 14 (discussed in further detail below). Frame body 14 is constructed using a rigid material such as a metal or a moldable thermoplastic material.

[0020] Faceplate 16 contains a top wall 34 and two sidewalls 36 and 38 projecting rearward on opposite ends of top wall 34. As seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, sidewall 36 and 38 contain a ridge 40 to engage grooves 32 on frame body 14 (FIG. 3). This configuration interlocks frame body 14 and faceplate 16 together to prevent the plate and frame body from separating. Sidewalls 36 and 38 terminate at sidewall ends 36′ and 38′ such that when faceplate 16 interlocks with frame body 14, recess 30 remains open ended to allow the protrusion of an additional frame body (not shown) to be connected if desired. Sidewalls 36 and 38 further contain semi-circular apertures 42 for easy removal of faceplate 16. Other mechanisms to assist in removal of faceplate 16 may include ribs or handles (not shown) for example. Faceplate 16 is preferably fabricated from a rigid and transparent polymeric material, such as a clear acrylic.

[0021] Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, hanging rail 12 contains a female recess 44 sized to accept protrusion 28 in sliding engagement. Protrusion 28 and recess 44 provide unidirectional support required to hang the frames from rail 12 when the rail is mounted to a vertical surface (not shown). Lip 46 extends lengthwise along rail 12 to enclose recess 44 such that as protrusion 28 is placed into rail 12 the protrusion is concealed so that the picture frame has an aesthetically appealing connection area.

[0022] To attach rail 12 to the vertical surface, rail 12 contains a plate 48 extending downward along the backside of recess 44. Plate 48 contains openings 50 (FIG. 1) such that rail 12 can be attached to the vertical surface with nails or screws. Other methods of attachment to the wall may include using tape, pressure sensitive adhesive, VELCRO® fastener strips or the like. Rail 12 is made of a substantially rigid material such as metal or a moldable thermoplastic.

[0023] FIG. 6 illustrates picture frames 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d and 10e interconnected and hanging from rail 12. When properly mounted, rail 12 is affixed to the vertical surface and frames 10a and 10b are attached to and suspended from the rail. As seen in FIG. 6, additional frames 10c and 10d are attached to frames 10a and 10b by slidably engaging protrusions 28 on frames 10c and 10d with recesses 30 on frames 10a and 10b. Frame 10e is also attached in an identical fashion. While FIG. 6 illustrates five frames hanging from rail 12, a fewer or greater number of frames can be mounted to rail 12 or to the other frames.

[0024] In the embodiment illustrated, the length of the rail 12 is twice the length of each individual frame body 10a-10e. When the frames are interlocked together, smooth and straight connection areas 31 can be seen with protrusion 28 on each frame body concealed.

[0025] In alternate embodiments not herein shown, rail 12 may contain a protrusion extending lengthwise to replace recess 44. Frame body 14 interlocks with rail 12 when the protrusion slidably engages recess 30 on frame body 14. This embodiment requires an additional mounting piece having a corresponding female recess to cover the exposed male protrusion of frame body 14. This ensures a clean and smooth bottom on the assemblage. Hanging rail 12 can optionally contain a light fixture attached thereto in order to direct light onto the frame(s). Alternatively, a nameplate can also be attached to hanging rail 12.

[0026] Other alterations and modifications of the structure and elements disclosed herein will likewise fall within the scope of the appended claims.





 
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