Title:
Wheeled suitcase
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a case that comprises a circular main body, the rim of which is encircled by a single wheel. The main body has a handle attached to it, for us in propelling the case along the ground. The wheel rotates relative to the main body as the case is rolled along by a user. The use of a single wheel allows for improved manoeuvrability of the case compared to other rolling luggage or cases.



Inventors:
Scott, Michael Robert (Wellington, NZ)
Application Number:
10/416392
Publication Date:
03/18/2004
Filing Date:
09/29/2003
Assignee:
SCOTT MICHAEL ROBERT
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
190/115
International Classes:
A45C5/14; A45C5/03; A45C13/26; (IPC1-7): A45C13/00; A45C13/30
View Patent Images:
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20040031654Luggage case having inclined and readily usable handleFebruary, 2004Chang
20050016810Bag or suitcase having bottom bracing deviceJanuary, 2005Feng
20090057082Push suitcaseMarch, 2009Mize
20080251340Device for carrying shoesOctober, 2008Huber
20070221461Combined securing and identifying luggage binder stripSeptember, 2007Carmona
20040238303Backpack having a detachable wheeled frameDecember, 2004Hafif
20060144663Carrying bag with computer-holding insertJuly, 2006Gullen et al.



Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DANN, DORFMAN, HERRELL & SKILLMAN (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A case for containing one or more objects, which is substantially wheel-shaped and capable of being rolled along a surface, the case comprising: a main body having opposing substantially circular faces fixedly spaced apart by a rim located at or proximal to the outer edge of each face; a cavity located within the main body for containing the one or more objects; an aperture in the main body for placing the one or more objects within the cavity; a single wheel located about the external surface of the rim; a handle attached to the main body; and a means for allowing the wheel to rotate relative to the main body, so that the main body remains substantially stationary relative to the wheel when in use.

2. A case as claimed in claim 1 wherein the means for allowing the wheel to rotate relative to the main body includes rollers located between the rim and the wheel.

3. A case as claimed in claim 2 wherein the rollers are positioned approximately equidistant about the circumference of the rim.

4. A case as claimed in claim 2 or claim 3 wherein each of the rollers is comprised of a pair of bearings, each bearing rotatable about an axle.

5. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the wheel, or at least its outer surface, is manufactured from a resilient rubber or rubber-like material.

6. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, further incorporating a closing means for closing the aperture.

7. A case as claimed in claim 6 wherein the closing means is a hinged door or flap, or a removable cover.

8. A case as claimed in claim 6 or claim 7 which includes a lock for securing the closing means in a closed position.

9. A case as claimed in claim 8 wherein the lock is a key lock or a combination lock.

10. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 9 which has one or more pockets located on the external surface of the main body.

11. A case as claimed in claim 10 wherein the one or more pockets are fitted with hook and loop strips, zippers, catches, or clasps for opening and closing the one or more pockets.

12. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 11 wherein the main body is constructed from a rigid or semi-rigid material.

13. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 12 wherein the main body is constructed from a moulded plastics material.

14. A case as claimed in claim 12 or claim 13 wherein the main body is formed in two halves.

15. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 14 wherein the main body further incorporates a securing means for securing the case to a solid structure.

16. A case as claimed in claim 15 wherein the securing means is an open-ended tube that penetrates through both faces of the main body, such that a locking device can be passed through the tube and used to lock the main body to the solid structure.

17. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 16 further incorporating a device for securing one or more items to the external surface of the main body.

18. A case as claimed in claim 17 wherein the device comprises webbing straps or elastic netting.

19. A case as claimed in claim 17 wherein the device is one or more elastic cords.

20. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 19 further incorporating a retaining mechanism for securing the one or more objects inside the cavity.

21. A case as claimed in claim 20 wherein the retaining mechanism is one or more hook and loop strips, spring-loaded clasps, or straps used in combination with one or more clips or buckles.

22. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 21 which has a stand attached to the main body capable of retaining the case substantially upright.

23. A case as claimed in claim 22 wherein the stand is a kickstand.

24. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 23 wherein the handle is a retractable handle or a folding handle.

25. A case as claimed in claim 24 wherein the retractable handle is telescopic.

26. A case as claimed in claim 24 or claim 25 wherein the position of the distal end of the handle can be adjusted by depressing and then releasing a push button.

27. A case as claimed in claim 26 wherein the push button is located on the handle.

28. A case as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 27 further incorporating an odometer.

29. A case as claimed in claim 28 wherein the odometer is a mechanical odometer.

30. A case substantially as herein described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 7 of the accompanying drawings.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to a case designed to be rolled along the ground. In particular, the invention relates to a case that comprises a circular main body, the rim of which is encircled by a single wheel. The main body has a handle attached to it, for use in propelling the case along the ground. The wheel rotates relative to the main body as the case is rolled along by a user.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Cases mounted with wheels so that they may be pulled or pushed along by the user are known. However, most such cases are fitted with very small wheels and therefore have severe limitations. For example, when negotiating an obstacle, such as a step or large crack, the small wheels do not pass readily over the obstacle. In addition, small wheels do not operate efficiently over soft terrain, such as sand or turf.

[0003] Circular suitcases have been provided in an effort to overcome some of these limitations. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,160,495 describes a circular suitcase mounted for self-supporting movement along the ground. This suitcase consists of a hollow circular main body, surrounded by two circular raceways. Within the raceways are located revolving rims, so that when the suitcase is pulled along the ground the rims revolve, while the main body does not itself rotate. The suitcase is propelled by a person, using a handle mounted between the raceways. Due to the requirement to retain the case in a substantially upright position when in use, the presence of more than one revolving rim makes the case less manoeuvrable than a case with only one rotating wheel. Furthermore, the less manoeuvrable rims tend to sink into soft terrain.

[0004] WO 80/01639 describes a suitcase in which the main body is in the form of a hollow roller. There is also provided a handle which allows the roller to be pushed or pulled along the ground by a user. The entire body of the roller rotates as the suitcase is rolled along the ground. The inner cavity of the body may incorporate a container, in which clothes or the like are placed. The container does not rotate during use, while the body does rotate. Alternatively, the body may be formed in two roller parts, so that the handle is disposed between the two parts. The difficulty with this suitcase is that the entire body rotates, necessitating the incorporation of an inner container in order to prevent the contents of the case from being tossed about during movement.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 3,301,358 describes wheel- and drum-shaped luggage of various forms. This document discloses wheel-shaped luggage with a rim, on which are mounted tracks that are in contact with the ground as the case is rolled along. The entire body rotates as the luggage is pulled along by the user. Alternatively, the luggage may be constructed with the tracks positioned on the rim and the rim and tracks separated from the main body by ball bearings, so that the rim and tracks rotate relative to the main body. Again, luggage of this type has disadvantages. In one embodiment of the invention, the entire body rotates, causing items inside to be tossed around. In addition, the presence of more than one track on the rim means that the luggage is less manoeuvrable than a case incorporating a single wheel member.

[0006] The present invention seeks to overcome some of the problems associated with known wheeled cases. In addition, this invention addresses difficulties with the carriage of heavy cases, backpacks, and shoulder or hand luggage.

[0007] The invention is targeted particularly at schoolchildren, for the carriage of schoolbooks and associated items over a variety of terrain.

[0008] It is an object of the invention to provide a circular case having a main body which remains more or less stationary when the case is rolled along the ground, or at least to provide a useful alternative.

STATEMENTS OF INVENTION

[0009] In one aspect, the invention provides a case for containing one or more objects, which is substantially wheel-shaped and capable of being rolled along a surface, the case comprising:

[0010] a main body having opposing substantially circular faces fixedly spaced apart by a rim located at or proximal to the outer edge of each face;

[0011] a cavity located within the main body for containing the one or more objects;

[0012] an aperture in the main body for placing the one or more objects within the cavity;

[0013] a single wheel located about the external surface of the rim;

[0014] a handle attached to the main body; and

[0015] a means for allowing the wheel to rotate relative to the main body, so that the main body remains substantially stationary relative to the wheel when in use.

[0016] Preferably the means for allowing the wheel to rotate relative to the main body includes rollers located between the rim and the wheel. Preferably the rollers are positioned approximately equidistant about the circumference of the rim. More preferably each of the rollers is comprised of a pair of bearings, each bearing rotatable about an axle.

[0017] Preferably the wheel, or at least its outer surface, is manufactured from a resilient rubber or rubber-like material.

[0018] The case may incorporate a closing means for closing the aperture. Preferably the closing means is selected from a hinged door or flap, or a removable cover.

[0019] The case may include a lock for securing the closing means in a closed position. Preferably the lock is a key lock or a combination lock.

[0020] The case may incorporate one or more pockets located on the external surface of the main body. Preferably the one or more pockets are fitted with hook and loop strips, zippers, catches, or clasps for opening and closing the one or more pockets.

[0021] The main body of the case may be constructed from a rigid or semi-rigid material. Preferably the main body is constructed from a moulded plastics material. More preferably the main body is formed in two halves.

[0022] The main body of the case may incorporate a securing means for securing the case to a solid structure. Preferably the securing means is an openended tube that penetrates through both faces of the main body, such that a locking device can be passed through the tube and used to lock the main body to the solid structure.

[0023] The case may incorporate a device for securing one or more items to the external surface of the main body. Preferably the device comprises webbing straps or elastic netting. Most preferably the device is one or more elastic cords.

[0024] The case may further incorporate a retaining mechanism for securing the one or more objects inside the cavity. Preferably the retaining mechanism is one or more hook and loop strips, spring-loaded clasps, or straps used in combination with one or more clips or buckles.

[0025] The case may have a stand attached to the main body capable of retaining the case substantially upright. Preferably the stand is a kickstand.

[0026] The handle may be a retractable handle or a folding handle. Preferably the retractable handle is telescopic.

[0027] Preferably the position of the distal end of the handle can be adjusted by depressing and then releasing a push button. Preferably the push button is located on the handle.

[0028] The case may further incorporate an odometer. Preferably the odometer is a mechanical odometer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] The invention is further described by way of example only, with reference to:

[0030] FIG. 1 which is a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention, showing one face of the case, with the handle in the retracted (‘not in use’) position.

[0031] FIG. 2 which is a perspective view showing the opposite face of the embodiment of FIG. 1, with the handle in the up (‘in use’) position, and the kickstand in the closed (‘in’) position.

[0032] FIG. 3 which is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0033] FIG. 4 which is a front-on view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, with the kickstand deployed, and the entire case balanced in an approximately upright fashion.

[0034] FIG. 5 which is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the wheel mounted on its bearing rollers.

[0035] FIG. 6 which is a side view showing a cross-section of part of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing of the wheel mounted on its bearing rollers.

[0036] FIG. 7 which is a side view showing the embodiment of FIG. 1 in use.

[0037] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the case 1 has a hollow main body 2 consisting of two circular faces 3 and 4, between which is a rim 5. The rim is encircled by a wheel 6. When the invention is in use, the wheel 6 rotates about the outside of the rim 5.

[0038] Within the main body 2 there is provided an inner cavity (not shown) suitable for storing objects to be transported in the case.

[0039] The main body 2 is composed of a rigid or semi-rigid material, for example a moulded plastics material, and the entire case 1 is weather- and waterproof. A hinged door 7 is incorporated into the face 3 of the main body 2. The hinged door 7 incorporates a lock 8.

[0040] Attached to the outside of the hinged door 7 are elastic cords 9 which can be used to securely store additional items on the exterior of the main body 2.

[0041] Proximal to the rim 5 is an open-ended tube 10 that penetrates through both faces 3 and 4 of the main body 2, so that a lock, such as a bicycle lock, can be passed through the tube 10, enabling the entire case to be secured to a solid structure such as a bicycle stand.

[0042] Located on face 4 of the main body 2 is a retractable telescopic handle 11. FIG. 1 shows the handle 11 in the retracted (‘not in use’) position.

[0043] FIG. 2 shows the handle 11 in the ‘up’ position, ready for use. The vertical position of the handle 11 is adjustable by means of a push button 12. FIG. 3 is a top view.

[0044] Attached to face 4 of the main body 2 are external pockets 13 and 14. The pockets 13 and 14 are recessed into the cavity of the main body 2. The pockets 13 and 14 are fitted with hook and loop strips, such as Velcro™, for opening and closing.

[0045] Located on face 4 of the main body is an odometer 15. The odometer 15 may be a mechanical odometer.

[0046] Also attached to face 4 of the main body is a kickstand 16. FIG. 2 shows the kickstand 16 ‘in’, while FIG. 4 shows the kickstand 16 ‘out’ or deployed.

[0047] FIG. 5 shows the wheel 6, which is constructed of a plastics material, overlaid with a softer rubber or rubber-like material. The exterior circumference of the wheel 6 has (when viewed in cross-section as shown in FIG. 6) a convex appearance. The wheel 6 is mounted on bearing rollers 17. FIG. 6 shows how the wheel 6 is mounted on the rollers 17. The wheel 6 and rollers 17 encircle the rim 5. The wheel 6 is supported by the bearing rollers 17 in such a way that the wheel 6 rotates on the bearing rollers 17. The main body 2 therefore remains stationary relative to the wheel 6 when the case 1 is in use.

[0048] Alternatively, the bearings may be replaced by bearing sliders, consisting of rails or blocks attached to the case, over which the wheel 6 slides.

[0049] In a further alternative arrangement, the case may have a central pivot, connecting the centre of face 3 with the wheel 6, in such a way as to allow the wheel 6 to rotate while the main body 2 remains stationary.

[0050] The inner cavity (not shown) of the case may have a retaining device, such as a spring-loaded clip, for securing items within the cavity, if necessary.

[0051] Within the inner cavity may be an insulation device (not shown), suitable for keeping food or drink items either hot or cold, as required.

[0052] FIG. 7 shows the case when in use. The case is designed to be rolled beside and slightly ahead of the user. The case can be used in either a left-handed or a right handed fashion.

[0053] The case is sufficiently narrow in width that it can also be lifted and carried, in a similar fashion to a briefcase.

[0054] The case of the invention overcomes some of the difficulties associated with other suitcases. The fact that the case is wheeled along the ground eliminates the requirement for carrying heavy loads on the back or shoulder.

[0055] As the case is rolled, it is the outer wheel, rather than the main body, which rotates, so that any items packed inside the main body are not displaced.

[0056] The single wheel allows the case to roll freely across a variety of terrain, thereby avoiding problems with negotiating large cracks or steps, or soft surfaces such as sand or turf. The use of a single wheel (rather than the two or more raceways, or the two or more tracks, of previously known cases) means that the case of this invention is more easily manoeuvred than other cases.

[0057] The main body is constructed of a rigid or semi-rigid material, and the case may be weather- and/or waterproof, thereby protecting the objects transported within the cavity of the case.

[0058] The case may also incorporate pockets and/or a supplementary attachment system on the external surface of the main body, so that additional items may be transported in the pockets or secured to the outside of the case. This allows for easy access to the items, and extra carrying capacity.

[0059] A kickstand may also be attached to the main body, so that the rolling motion of the case may be temporarily paused, the kickstand deployed, and the case will then be held in a substantially upright position. Thus, there is no requirement for the case to be laid flat on the ground when not in use. In addition, the kickstand is readily re-positioned. The user can simply push the kickstand into the ‘in’ position, and re-commence the rolling motion of the case.

[0060] Although the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiment thereof, it is to be appreciated that variations and/or modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. In the foregoing description, where known equivalents exist to components or integers, those equivalents are incorporated within the invention as if specifically referred to.