Title:
Easy-access bag
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An easy-access bag includes three compartments that are hinged together so as to be foldable between a closed position, in which all three compartments form a compact, integral bag for carrying or towing, and an open position, in which all three compartments lie in side-by-side relation to each other and are all simultaneously accessible for packing or unpacking or for security inspections.



Inventors:
Scicluna, Paul V. (Penndel, PA, US)
James III, Matthews J. (Bridgewater, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/314677
Publication Date:
06/10/2004
Filing Date:
12/09/2002
Assignee:
SCICLUNA PAUL V.
MATTHEWS JAMES J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
150/107, 190/107, 190/115
International Classes:
A45C5/06; A45C7/00; A45C5/14; A45C13/02; (IPC1-7): A45C7/00; A45C3/00; A45C13/00; A45C13/26; A45C13/30
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20050034947Collapsible duffle bagFebruary, 2005Nykoluk
20060113203Computer bagJune, 2006Daley
20080185250Case with compression bagsAugust, 2008Martins et al.
20020092725Portable desktop companionJuly, 2002Brown
20040000457Luggage bag with handle-activated wheel deployment systemJanuary, 2004Sanford-schwentke
20040124054Handle control structure for luggageJuly, 2004Lu
20060272913Folding frame for a caseDecember, 2006Chen
20040226791Convertible laptop PC bag to workstation with legsNovember, 2004Levy
20030188944Handle assembly and buckle assemblyOctober, 2003Lee
20050258010Durable caseNovember, 2005Hu



Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mandelbaum Salsburg (Roseland, NJ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A bag, comprising: a first compartment comprising an outer wall and four sidewalls extending inwardly therefrom and surrounding a first storage area therein, the inner edges of said sidewalls lying substantially in the same plane; a second compartment comprising four sidewalls surrounding a second storage area therein substantially coextensive with said first storage area and having first and second sidewall edges lying substantially in first and second planes respectively, the first edge of one sidewall of the second compartment being hinged to the inner edge of a corresponding sidewall of the first compartment so that the second compartment is foldable between (1) a first position in which it overlies the first compartment with said first sidewall edges in juxtaposition to the inner sidewall edges of the first compartment and (2) a second position in which the second compartment lies beside the first compartment with said one sidewall of the second compartment and said corresponding sidewall of the first compartment in side-by-side juxtaposition; a third compartment defining a third storage area therein, said third compartment comprising an inner wall substantially coextensive with said second storage area, said inner wall being hinged to the second sidewall edge of the second compartment located diagonally opposite of the first sidewall edge of the second compartment that is hinged to the first compartment, so that the third compartment is foldable between (1) a first position in which said inner wall overlies the second compartment in juxtaposition to the second sidewall edges thereof and (2) a second position in which the third compartment lies beside the second compartment with said inner wall in substantially the plane of the second sidewall edges of the second compartment; and the third compartment being openable from the outside to permit access to said third storage area, whereby access to said first, second and the third storage areas is simultaneously available when said second and third compartments are folded to the respective second positions thereof.

2. The bag of claim 1, wherein the corresponding non-hinged edges of the first and second compartments and the corresponding non-hinged edges of the second compartment and the inner wall of the third compartment and releasably attachable by peripheral closure members.

3. The bag of claim 2, wherein said peripheral closure members comprise zippers.

4. The bag of claim 1, wherein the second compartment comprises an openable wall covering the second storage area at least on the side thereof adjacent said first sidewall edges.

5. The bag of claim 1, wherein the openable wall of said second compartment comprises an open mesh material.

6. The bag of claim 5, wherein the openable wall of said second compartment is removably attachable to the second compartment along three sides thereof by a zipper.

7. The bag of claim 1, wherein the second compartment comprises an openable wall covering the second storage area on each side thereof adjacent each of said first and second sidewall edges.

8. The bag of claim 7, wherein each openable wall of said second compartment comprises an open mesh material.

9. The bag of claim 8, wherein each openable wall of said second compartment is removably attached to the second compartment along three sides thereof by a zipper.

10. The bag of claim 1, wherein the third compartment includes a fold-out panel having means for holding at least one suit thereon.

11. The bag of claim 10, wherein said fold-out panel is at least in part removably attached to the third compartment.

12. The bag of claim 1, wherein said first, second and third compartments comprise the bottom, middle and top compartments, respectively, of the bag.

13. The bag of claim 1, wherein the first, second and third compartments comprise the back, middle and front compartments, respectively, of the bag.

14. The bag of claim 1, wherein at least the first and second compartments are generally rectangular in plan, with the hinged sidewalls thereof comprising longer ones of the sidewalls of the compartments.

15. The bag of claim 14, wherein the sidewalls of the first and second compartments are of substantially the same height, whereby the first sidewall edges of the second compartment lie substantially in the plane of the inner sidewall edges of the first compartment when the second compartment is in said second position.

16. The bag of claim 14, further comprising: at least one wheel mounted on one shorter side of the first compartment; and a towing handle mounted on the first compartment so as to be accessible from the other shorter side thereof.

17. The bag of claim 16, wherein said towing handle comprises a telescopic handle selectively movable between a retracted storage position and an extended use position.

18. The bag of claim 16, further comprising a pair of support feet mounted on the shorter side of the second compartment which is adjacent to said one short side of the first compartment, whereby the bag may stand upright on said at least one wheel and said support feet.

19. The bag of claim 1, wherein the sidewalls of at least the first compartment comprise stiff frame members.

20. The bag of claim 18, wherein the sidewalls of at least the second compartment also comprise stiff frame members.

21. The bag of claim 1, further comprising one or more carry handles mounted on at least one of the first, second and third compartments.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to luggage or bags in general and, more particularly, to a bag which provides greater convenience in packing and access to packed items while concurrently facilitating ease of inspection of the contents of the bag.

[0003] 2. The Related Art

[0004] The traveler is increasingly confronted today with limitations on the number and type of bags permitted on commercial transportation, such as airlines, and with the frequency and extensiveness of baggage inspections.

[0005] There is a need, therefore, for bags which afford the traveler greater versatility in packing for travel of different durations and purposes, e.g., work, recreation, etc. Such a bag should, ideally, afford the traveler ready access to the packed items without requiring the rearrangement, or even unpacking, of the entire bag.

[0006] There is likewise an increasing need for bags whose design facilitates security inspections of the contents. Again, ideally, the bag should permit a thorough inspection without requiring the traveler to unpack the bag at the inspection site, which, at best, is time consuming and, at worst, vexatious and embarrassing to the traveler.

[0007] The present invention fulfils these and other requirements of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In accordance with the invention, a bag is provided having three separate, but interconnected, compartments that are independently packable or unpackable and that are capable of being folded between open and closed positions. At the open positions, all three compartments are simultaneously accessible to the traveler or for inspection. When folded to the closed positions, the three compartments overlie one another and form a single integrated bag which is easily carried or towed by the traveler. The bag may take any convenient size or style, e.g., duffel, suitcase, carry-on, tote, garment bag, etc., and may be wheeled or unwheeled.

[0009] The bag preferably comprises a first compartment having an outer wall and four sidewalls extending inwardly therefrom and surrounding a first storage area therein, with the inner edges of the sidewalls lying substantially in the same plane. A second compartment also has four sidewalls surrounding a second storage area therein which is substantially coextensive with the first storage area. The second compartment has first and second sidewall edges which lie substantially in respective planes. The first edge of one sidewall of the second compartment is hinged to the inner edge of a corresponding sidewall of the first compartment, so that the second compartment is foldable between (1) a position in which it overlies the first compartment with the first sidewall edges in juxtaposition to the inner sidewall edges of the first compartment and (2) a second position in which the second compartment lies beside the first compartment with the hinged sidewalls thereof in side-by-side juxtaposition. A third compartment defines a third storage area therein. It comprises an inner wall substantially coextensive with the second storage area, which inner wall is hinged to the second sidewall edge of the second compartment that is located diagonally opposite the first sidewall edge of the second compartment that is hinged to the first compartment. The third compartment is thereby foldable between (1) a first position in which the inner wall thereof overlies the second compartment in juxtaposition to the second sidewall edges thereof and (2) a second position in which the third compartment lies beside the second compartment with the inner wall in substantially the plane of the second sidewall edges of the second compartment. The third compartment is openable from the outside, e.g., by one or more closure mechanisms, such as a zipper, in the outer wall and/or sidewalls thereof, to permit access to the third storage area.

[0010] By virtue of the foregoing tri-fold construction, access to the first, second and third storage areas is easily and simultaneously available when the first and second compartments are folded to their respective second, or open, positions. The corresponding (mating) non-hinged edges of the first and second compartments, on the one hand, and the corresponding (mating) non-hinged edges of the second compartment and the inner wall of the third compartment, on the other hand, are equipped with releasable closure mechanisms, such as zippers. When in the closed positions, therefore, the first and second compartments and the second and third compartments may be fastened to each other along the mating edges thereof to form an integral compact bag for carrying or towing.

[0011] In a preferred embodiment, the first compartment is the bottom, or rear, compartment, the second compartment is the middle compartment, and the third compartment is the top, or front, compartment. Thus, merely by lifting the top compartment to one side, all three compartments may be unfolded accordion style to display all three for access or inspection. Access to the individual compartments is also independently available by opening the respective closure mechanisms.

[0012] The second (middle) compartment preferably has an openable wall member covering the second storage area on at least the side thereof juxtaposed to the first compartment, and preferably on both sides thereof, to secure packed articles within the compartment when the second compartment is folded to the opened position. For convenience in viewing articles packed in the second compartment, the openable walls are preferably made of an open mesh material.

[0013] According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first and second compartments are generally rectangular in plan and are hinged together along their longer sides. For a particularly advantageous design, the sidewalls of the first and second compartments are preferably of the same height, whereby the first sidewall edges of the second compartment will be substantially in the plane of the inner edges of the first compartment when the second compartment is in the open position.

[0014] If desired, wheels may be provided at one end of the first compartment and a towing handle, which may be telescopic, at the other end. Also, the first, second and/or third compartments may include stiffened sidewalls for greater rigidity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description of exemplary embodiments thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0016] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a three-compartment bag in accordance with the invention;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the top (or front) compartment opened and a suiter-type panel folded out;

[0018] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the top (or front) compartment folded away to reveal the middle compartment;

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, as rotated through 180° relative to the position shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and showing the top (or front) and middle compartments folded away from the bottom (or rear) compartment; and

[0020] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the three compartments unfolded to the open positions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0021] In the illustrative embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1, a bag 10 of the duffel style includes a first compartment 12, a second compartment 14, and a third compartment 16. The 10 is depicted in FIG. 1 as standing upright, with the first compartment 12 to the rear and the third compartment 16 to the front. A pair of wheel assemblies 18 are provided at the lower end of the first (rear) compartment 12, a pair of support feet 20 at the lower end of the middle compartment 14, and a telescopic towing handle 22 at the upper end of the first (rear) compartment 12. The wheel assemblies 18, support feet 20 and the telescopic handle 22 may be of conventional construction. Also, the bag 10 may have one or more carry handles 24 at the upper and lower ends thereof. In the duffel style bag shown, the front compartment 16 also preferably includes a pair of strap handles 26 to allow the bag 10 to be carried with the first, middle and third compartments stacked vertically (see FIG. 2). The wheel assemblies 18 and the support feet 20 support the bag 10 in the free-standing upright position of FIG. 1. The bag 10 is preferably of a soft-sided construction and is covered by a high denier fabric, such as ballistic nylon. For greater rigidity, the first and second compartments 12 and 14 preferably have internal frames (not shown) extending around the periphery thereof. The third compartment 16 may also have an internal frame if desired.

[0022] As best seen in FIG. 5, in which the compartments 12, 14 and 16 are unfolded to the open positions, the first, or rear, compartment 12 is preferably generally rectangular in plan, having two longer sidewalls 30a and 30b, two shorter sidewalls 32a and 32b and an outer wall 34, which define within the first compartment a first storage area. The second, or middle, compartment 14 is likewise preferably generally rectangular in plan, and includes two longer sidewalls 34a and 34b and two shorter sidewalls 36a and 36b corresponding in position and length to the sidewalls 30a, 30b and 32a, 32b, respectively, of the first compartment 12. Because the second compartment 14 is rotated through 180° between its closed position overlaying the first compartment 12 (see FIG. 2) and its open position, the sidewall 34b of the second compartment is shown in FIG. 5 as lying in side-by-side juxtaposed relation to the sidewall 30b of the first compartment 12.

[0023] In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the third, or front compartment 16 is also shown as having two longer sidewalls 38a and 38b and two shorter sidewalls 40a and 40b, as well as an outer, or front, wall 42. The third compartment 16 also includes an inner wall 44 (see FIG. 2), which is coextensive in size and shape with the second compartment 14 in plan. If desired, the third compartment 16 may be formed as a large pocket, with the edges of the front wall 42 being fastened directly to the inner wall 44. The second and third compartments 14 and 16 define second and third storage areas, respectively, therewithin.

[0024] In the unfolded position depicted in FIG. 5, the compartments 12, 14 and 16 are located side-by-side, with the sidewalls 30b and 34b of the first and second compartments, respectively, in juxtaposition to one another and the sidewalls 34a and 38a of the second compartment 14 and the third compartment 16, respectively, in juxtaposition to one another. To permit such folding between the closed and open positions, the inner edge 46b of the sidewall 30b of the first compartment 12 is hinged at 48 to the corresponding edge 50b of the sidewall 34b of the second compartment 14. The hinge 48 may be made of any suitable flexible material, such a ballistic nylon or other high denier fabric, and is preferably of a width sufficient to allow the second compartment 14 to lie flat adjacent the first compartment 12. In the advantageous embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the sidewalls of the second compartment 14 are the same height as the sidewalls of the first compartment 12. In such case, the upper edges of the second compartment sidewalls lie in substantially the same plane as the inner edges of the first compartment sidewalls. This provides an attractive and convenient compact flat arrangement of the compartments 12, 14, 16 when unfolded.

[0025] The inner edges 46a, 52a and 52b of the other sidewalls 30a, 32a and 32b, respectively, of the first compartment 12 are releasably fastened to the corresponding edges 50a, 54a and 54b of the sidewalls 34a, 36a and 36b, respectively, of the second compartment 14 by the mating halves 56a and 56b of a closure mechanism 56, such as a pull zipper. When the first and second compartments 12, 14 are in the closed position shown in FIGS. 1-3, they can be secured to each other by doing up the zipper 56.

[0026] Similarly, the third compartment 16 is hinged at 58 (FIG. 3) to the second compartment 14 along the respective adjoining edges of sidewalls 34a and 38a. In this instance, the edge of the sidewall of the second compartment 14 that is located diagonally opposite the sidewall edge 50b hinged to the first compartment 12, i.e., the edge 60a of the sidewall 34a, is hinged to the third compartment 16. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, the second compartment sidewall edge 60a is hinged to the corresponding edge 62a of the inner wall 44 of the third compartment 16. The other sidewall edges 64b, 64c and 64d of the second compartment 14 are releasably fastened to the third compartment 16 by the mating halves 66a, 66b of a pull zipper 66 or other suitable closure mechanism.

[0027] By virtue of the hinging of the second compartment 14 to the first compartment 12 along the edge 50b of the sidewall 34b and to the third compartment 16 along the diagonally opposite edge 60a, during the unfolding of the second and third compartments from the closed position of FIGS. 1 and 2 to the open (unfolded) positions of FIG. 5, the second compartment 14 rotates clockwise relative to the first compartment 12, while the third compartment 16 rotates counterclockwise relative to the second compartment 14. This allows the bag 10 to be fully unfolded in a single step, and with only one hand, from the closed position of FIG. 2 to the open position of FIG. 5 by grasping the strap handles 26 (which are omitted from FIG. 5 for clarity of illustration) and lifting the second and third compartments up and to the right (as seen in FIGS. 2 and 5) and then laying them down side by side. The zippers 56 and 66 are, of course, first unzipped. Access to the three compartments for packing or unpacking and/or for security inspection is therefore simultaneously available.

[0028] In accordance with the invention, the third, or front, compartment 16 preferably comprises a suiter-type compartment for carrying one or more suits. To that end, the compartment 16 includes a fold-out panel 70 (see FIG. 2) having a first section 72 releasably fastened to the inner wall 44 of the compartment 16 by a zipper 73 or other closure mechanism and a second section 74 hinged at 76 to the first section to fold thereover. The first section 72 includes one or more pants hangers 78 releasably attached thereto at one end by a snap buckle 80 or the like. The section 74 may include a pair of foldable tie-down panels 82 which overlap at 84 to hold a suit or pants in place. The overlapping regions 84 of the tie-down panels 82 may carry the mating halves of a conventional hook-and-loop fastener material, or other fastening mechanism, to hold them securely together. A clothes hanger bracket 86 is provided on the inner wall 44 of the compartment 16 adjacent to the sidewall 40a. The bracket is preferably of the construction disclosed in copending, commonly owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/115,386 filed Apr. 3, 2002 for “Luggage With Low-Profile Hanger Bracket”, the subject matter of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0029] To permit access to the interior of the compartment 16, the front wall 42 thereof includes a peripherally extending zipper 88, the mating halves 88a and 88b of which are carried by the front wall 42 and a panel 90 attached to the inner wall 44 along the edge of the sidewall 38b. (See FIG. 5) The sidewall 38b may be separately formed or incorporated into the panel 90. The opening in the front wall 42 of the compartment 16 will, of course, be large enough to allow the suiter panel 70 to be folded into and out of the compartment. If desired, one or more pockets 92 with zippered closure mechanisms 94 may be provided on the front panel 90.

[0030] It will be understood that the third compartment 16 need not be a suiter-type compartment, but may take any appropriate configuration. Also, access to the interior of the compartment 16 may be provided in ways other than the peripherally extending zipper 88. For example, one or more zippers or other closure mechanisms may be provided in the outer wall 42 and/or the sidewalls 38a, 38b, 40a, 40b of the compartment 16 to permit access to the third storage area therein. If desired, the third storage area could be subdivided into separate storage areas that are individually accessible. As a further embodiment, the inner wall 44 could be provided with one or more zippers or other closure mechanisms to permit access to the third storage area through the inner wall 44 when the third compartment 16 is folded away from the second compartment 14 as shown in FIG. 3. This embodiment might be appropriate, for instance, when the third compartment 16 is not of the suiter-type illustrated in FIG. 2.

[0031] Access to the storage area of the second compartment 14 is permitted through at least the side thereof which faces upward in the open position of FIG. 5, i.e., the side adjacent to the edges 50a, 50b, 54a, 54b of the sidewalls 34a, 34b, 36a, 36b. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, that side of the compartment 14 is covered by an openable wall 96 having a peripheral zipper 98 or other releasable closure mechanism along three sides. For convenience in viewing articles packed in the second compartment 14, that portion of the wall 96 within the zipper 98 is preferably made of an open mesh material, which, for example, may advantageously comprise a stretchable elastic fabric. The material outside of the zipper 98 may be a lining.

[0032] The other side of the compartment 14, shown in FIG. 3, also preferably comprises an openable wall 100 having a peripheral zipper 102 or other closure mechanism along three sides. The portion of the wall 100 within the zipper 102 is also preferably made of an open mesh material to facilitate viewing the contents of the compartment 14, with the material outside of the zipper 102 being a lining. As is apparent from FIG. 3, access may be gained to the second compartment 14 by rotating the third compartment 16 upward and to the left about the hinge 58, and then simply unzipping the zipper 102 in the wall 100 of the second compartment 14.

[0033] The interior of the first compartment 12 is illustratively shown in FIG. 4. In order to do so, the bag 10 has been turned end-for-end relative to the orientation shown in FIGS. 1-3 and 5 and the second and third compartments 14 and 16 together have been pivoted upward and to the left about the hinge 48 between the first and second compartments 12 and 14 to reveal the interior of the first compartment 12.

[0034] As shown in FIG. 4, the first compartment 12 includes a removable tidy bag or pouch 104 or the like for storing toiletries, sundries or other items that the traveler might want to have readily at hand, i.e., separate from the bag 10, when not travelling. Conveniently, the removable pouch 104 includes an open-mesh wall 106 that is stitched to the body 108 of the pouch along one side and is releasably fastened thereto along its other walls by a zipper or other closure mechanism, the mating halves of which are shown at 110a and 110b. The body 108 of the pouch 104 may be made of any suitable lining material.

[0035] The remainder 112 of the storage area of the first compartment 12 is available for receipt of other items of clothing or accessories. This is illustrative only, and various other arrangements of the interior of the compartment 12 are possible.

[0036] Although the invention has been described and illustrated herein by reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that such embodiments are susceptible of variation and modification without departure from the inventive concepts disclosed. All such variations and modifications, therefore, are intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the amended claims.