Title:
Disposable tablecloth
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable tablecloth that can easily convert from a table covering to a bag for collecting and disposing of trash. The disposable tablecloth has a cover that can be made out of fluid impenetrable material, such as plastic, a fluid absorbent material, such as paper or cloth, or one or more layers of fluid impenetrable material and one or more layers of fluid absorbent material. The periphery edge of the cover has a drawstring cavity that can be formed by folding the periphery edge over on the cover. A drawstring is disposed inside the drawstring cavity such that it is suitable for securing the tablecloth to a table and for securely closing the bag. The disposable tablecloth is particularly useful for picnics and craft projects where the tablecloth can be used to gather and dispose of the trash.



Inventors:
Ciapessoni, Elisa (Kerman, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/445640
Publication Date:
12/02/2004
Filing Date:
05/27/2003
Assignee:
CIAPESSONI ELISA
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/4
International Classes:
A47G11/00; B65F1/00; (IPC1-7): B65D65/02; B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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20070158005Expandable bag cross-reference to related applicationsJuly, 2007Mangano
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20050028908DUAL HANDBAG SYSTEMFebruary, 2005Schaus et al.
20070261976Golf Bag Cover-Cooler CombinationNovember, 2007Anderson
20030164216Removable purse organizerSeptember, 2003Starr
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD A. RYAN (Fresno, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A disposable tablecloth, comprising: a cover having a periphery edge, said cover configured to be formed into a bag for storing trash; a drawstring cavity at said periphery edge of said cover; and a drawstring comprising an elongated member disposed primarily inside said drawstring cavity such that the ends of said elongated member are disposed outside of said drawstring cavity, said drawstring configured for securing said disposable tablecloth to a table and closing said bag.

2. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said cover is shaped and configured in a generally rectangular shape.

3. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said cover is made out of a fluid impenetrable material.

4. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 3, wherein said fluid impenetrable material is plastic.

5. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said cover is made out of an absorbent material.

6. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 5, wherein said absorbent material is cloth, paper or a combination thereof.

7. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said cover has one or more layers of fluid impenetrable material and one or more layers of absorbent material.

8. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said fluid impenetrable material is plastic and said absorbent material is cloth, paper or a combination thereof.

9. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 1, wherein said drawstring cavity is formed by said periphery edge of said cover.

10. A disposable tablecloth, comprising: a cover having a periphery edge, said cover configured to be formed into a bag for storing trash, said cover having one or more layers of fluid impenetrable material and one or more layers of absorbent material; a drawstring cavity at said periphery edge of said cover, said drawstring cavity is formed by said periphery edge of said cover; and a drawstring configured for securing said disposable tablecloth to a table and closing said bag.

11. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 10, wherein said fluid impenetrable material is plastic.

12. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 10, wherein said absorbent material is cloth, paper or a combination thereof.

13. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 10, wherein said fluid impenetrable material is plastic and said absorbent material is cloth, paper or a combination thereof.

14. The disposable tablecloth according to claim 10, wherein said drawstring comprises one or more elongated members disposed at least partially inside said drawstring cavity such that at least one end of each of said elongated members is disposed outside of said drawstring cavity.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] A. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to disposable covers or tablecloths for tables that provide a clean surface upon which to place food, dishes and eating utensils and which are adaptable for configuration as a trash bag. In particular, this invention relates to such disposable tablecloths that are configured to be securely placed on a table and which can is easily converted to a trash bag for disposing of the refuse associated with its use as a tablecloth.

[0003] B. Background

[0004] It is well known that many people place a covering, such as a tablecloth, over a table when eating or working on the table to protect the surface of the table from damage associated with the use of the table. For certain types of indoor dining, particularly that which is formal or at least relatively formal, the tablecloth is typically made of finer materials and often includes a pattern or design to improve the appearance of the tablecloth. These tablecloths tend to be relatively expensive and, therefore, are reused. For certain other uses, such as casual dining, it is not necessary or even desirable that the tablecloth be of the quality described above. Even some restaurants utilize very casual tablecloths as a way to protect the tops of tables and keep their costs, including initial purchase cost and cost of cleaning, at a more reasonable level.

[0005] Often the purpose of the tablecloth is not so much as to protect the table surface as to provide a clean surface upon which to prepare and eat food. This is particularly true for outdoor tables such as picnic tables, patio tables and the like. It is well known that tables located outside, and as such exposed to the elements, tend to collect dirt and other debris that is not conducive to an enjoyable or perhaps even healthy eating experience. In addition, picnic tables located at parks, campgrounds and other public places are subject to use by many people over a relatively long period of time. Generally, these outdoor tables are not cleaned or sterilized on any type of periodic or routine basis, if ever, resulting in an accumulation of food and other debris on the surface of the table. For health and enjoyment purposes, most people utilizing these tables place a tablecloth or other covering over the table so as to separate the table's surface from the surface being used for dining or other activities. Generally, the tablecloths used for outdoor tables are of the less casual type of tablecloth, often being an inexpensive plastic or paper covering.

[0006] One common problem with the use of tablecloths on picnic and other outdoor tables is the need to secure the tablecloth to the table so as to prevent the tablecloth from being blown off the table by the wind. To secure a tablecloth to a table, many people use clamps or weighted objects, including the food and food materials, rocks and tree limbs. Another problem with the use of standard tablecloths in outdoor settings is the need to clear off the tablecloth so that it may be folded and stored for future use. Although persons on outdoor picnics and the like often utilize disposable plates, utensils and other eating objects, the typical tablecloth is not disposable. As a result, the tablecloth must be cleared off and any food crumbs or the like wiped or shook off the tablecloth before it is stored away. It would be more convenient for the typical picnic participant to not have to separately remove the disposable materials and trash and/or clean or shake off the tablecloth. This same convenience would be useful for those circumstances when a tablecloth is used as a table covering for craft projects, particularly those types of craft projects involving a somewhat significant amount of materials which must be disposed, such as paper mache and like crafts.

[0007] Disposable tablecloths and table coverings are known in the prior art. For instance, it is known that some people layout paper, such as comes in large rolls, over the top of a table to protect the table and/or provide a clean eating or working surface. One benefit of this type of covering is the ability to gather the trash in the paper and dispose of it with the trash. A disposable table covering is also disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,542,050 to Gallant. This table covering comprises a generally planar sheet having an integrally formed bag-like structure, constituting a garbage bag, at one end of the sheet for receiving the trash remaining from a picnic or other activity. An adjustable table top cover for protecting the top of tables during a move or other activity is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 1,219,790 to Taylor. This table cover comprises a three-ply material having a marginal portion of the outer ply formed into a hem for housing a drawstring configured to securely enclose the covering around the top of the table while it is being moved.

[0008] The known existing art, both individually and in all appropriate combinations, indicate that the broad concept of utilizing a table cover to protect a table top and to gather trash and other materials in is known. On the other hand, none of the known references teach an easy to use, relatively inexpensive to make tablecloth that is configured to both be securely placed on a table during dining or other use and which then can be easily converted to a bag for storing and disposing of trash associated with that use. What is needed is a relatively inexpensive, easy to use tablecloth that protects the table and provides a clean surface upon which to eat or engage in other activities that is easily and quickly converted to use as a trash bag for receiving and disposing of the trash from the dining or other activity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The disposable tablecloth of the present invention provides the benefits and solves the problems identified above. That is to say, the present invention discloses a relatively inexpensive tablecloth that is configured for being easily and effectively secured to a table top and for conversion to a trash bag to receive and dispose of trash. As such, the present invention discloses a disposable tablecloth that provides a clean surface for dining or other activities that will not be easily blown away by the wind and which, once the dining or activity is done, can be removed from the table top and used to collect and dispose of trash from the dining or other activity.

[0010] In its broadest form, one embodiment of the present invention comprises a cover having a periphery edge that is configured to be formed into a bag for storing trash by pulling the periphery edge outward (i.e., either upward or downward) relative to the center of the cover such that the periphery edge is brought together, a drawstring cavity located at the periphery edge of the cover and a drawstring disposed primarily inside the drawstring cavity such that the ends of the elongated member are disposed outside of the drawstring cavity. In the preferred embodiment, the drawstring comprises an elongated member that is configured for securing the disposable tablecloth to a table and closing/sealing the bag (when the cover is formed in the bag configuration). In one embodiment, the cover is shaped and configured in a generally rectangular shape to snugly fit over a rectangular shaped table, such as typical picnic table. The cover can be made out of a fluid impenetrable material, such as plastic, an absorbent material, such as paper or cloth or a combination of a fluid impenetrable material and an absorbent material. In another embodiment, the cover has one or more layers of fluid impenetrable material and one or more layers of absorbent material. The drawstring cavity can be formed by the periphery edge of the cover and the drawstring can comprise one or more elongated members disposed at least partially inside the drawstring cavity such that at least one end of each elongated member is disposed outside of the drawstring cavity.

[0011] Accordingly, the primary objective of the present invention is to provide a disposable tablecloth suitable for use on a variety of different sized or configured tables that overcomes the disadvantages associated with presently available disposable tablecloths or coverings.

[0012] It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide a disposable tablecloth that is configured to be securely placed on the top of a table in a manner that is not easily blown off by the wind.

[0013] It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide a disposable tablecloth that is relatively inexpensive to make and which easily converts from a table top cover to a bag for collecting and disposing of trash.

[0014] It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide a disposable tablecloth that provides a clean surface upon which to eat or engage in other activities for use on tables, particularly outdoor picnic-type of tables.

[0015] It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide a disposable tablecloth that utilizes a drawstring device to secure the tablecloth to the top of a table and to securely close the bag when it is used to collect and dispose of trash.

[0016] The above and other objectives of the present invention will be explained in greater detail by reference to the figures and the description of the preferred embodiment which follows. As set forth herein, the present invention resides in the novel features of form, construction, mode of operation and combination of parts presently described and understood by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] In the drawings which illustrate the best modes presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention:

[0018] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the disposable tablecloth of the present invention when utilized as a table covering on a rectangular table top;

[0019] FIG. 2 is a fragmentary top sectional view of a of the disposable tablecloth of the present invention shown in FIG. 1 through section 2-2 showing the drawstring and drawstring cavity;

[0020] FIG. 3 is a side view of the disposable tablecloth of the present invention in use as a trash bag; and

[0021] FIG. 4 is a fragmentary top cross-sectional top view of the disposable tablecloth of FIG. 1 showing the use of paper/cloth and plastic layers.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0022] With reference to the figures where like elements have been given like numerical designations to facilitate the reader's understanding of the present invention, and particularly with reference to the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is set forth below. The enclosed figures and drawings are merely illustrative of the preferred embodiments and represent several different ways of configuring the present invention. Although specific components, materials, configurations and uses are illustrated, it should be understood that a number of variations to the components and to the configuration of those components described herein and in the accompanying figures can be made without changing the scope and function of the invention set forth herein.

[0023] The disposable tablecloth of the present invention is shown generally as 10 in FIGS. 1 and 3. The principal component of the present invention is the shaped cover 12 having a drawstring cavity 14 at the periphery edge thereof with a drawstring 16 disposed in drawstring cavity 14. In one embodiment of the present invention, disposable tablecloth 10 can have shaped cover 12 that is sized, shaped and configured to fit relatively snugly over a specifically size of rectangular table top (not separately shown), as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, such that it provides a relatively flat, smooth upper surface 18. Alternatively, cover 12 can be sized, shaped and configured to fit snugly over other specific sizes and shapes of table tops, such as round, oval, square and other commonly utilized table top shapes. In yet another alternative embodiment, which may be preferred from a marketing standpoint due to its flexibility, cover 12 can be of a relatively generic size and shape such that a single configuration is suitable for fitting over various sized and shaped tables.

[0024] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, disposable tablecloth 10 can be configured to have a generally rectangular shape suitable for use with commonly utilized rectangular picnic tables and the like. In this configuration, upper surface 18 would be sized to fit across the top of the table and opposing sides 20 and 22 along the long sides of the table and opposing sides 24 and 26 along the short sides of the table. With this type of configuration, tablecloth 10 would provide a smooth fit on the table top. A disadvantage of this type of configuration for tablecloth 10 is that it may not be as versatile as a more generically shaped and sized tablecloth.

[0025] Cover 12 can be made out of a variety of different materials that are suitable for use as a disposable table covering. In the preferred embodiment, cover 12 is made out of a relatively inexpensive paper or plastic, or combination of both materials, that results in an inexpensive disposable tablecloth so that it may be disposed with the trash after a single use. Although it is preferred that the tablecloth 10 of the present invention be made out of inexpensive materials, the materials must be selected so as to be suitable for use of tablecloth 10 as a table covering for dining, crafts and other uses and as a trash bag. As such, it needs to be able to withstand a certain amount of wear and tear and spilling of liquids thereon and then still be able to function as a trash bag, as shown in FIG. 3. In the preferred embodiment, tablecloth 10 is made out of a relatively thin plastic similar to that used for paint covers so that when it is stretched out on and attached to the top of the table it provides a clean, smooth surface for eating, making crafts or other activities. In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 4, tablecloth 10 is made out of thin film of plastic or other fluid impenetrable material (shown as 28) affixed to one or more layers of an absorbing material (shown as 30), such as paper, which configuration is similar to other types of painting covers, so that it can have one or more sides that absorb fluids and either one side or the middle component being plastic to resist movement of fluids completely through cover 12 from or to the table top. As an alternative, or in addition, to the paper layer(s) 30, tablecloth 10 can have one or more layers of a cloth or cloth-type material that is also capable of absorbing spilled fluids or fluids on the table top (i.e., from a wet table top). An example configuration, shown in FIG. 4, utilizes a top layer of absorbing material 30, a middle layer of fluid impenetrable material and a bottom layer of absorbing material 30. Other configurations, such as a single layer of absorbing material and a single layer of fluid impenetrable material, are also suitable.

[0026] At the periphery edge 32 of cover 12 is drawstring cavity 14 enclosing drawstring 16. Drawstring cavity 14 can be configured from a folded over portion of cover 12 that is stitched, glued or otherwise joined with cover 12 to form an enclosed cavity 14 suitable for drawstring 16. As one example, a similar configuration is used on plastic trash bags and the like. If desired, a thin tubular member (not shown) can be positioned inside drawstring cavity 14 such that drawstring 16 is located inside the tubular member so as to provide improved tear resistance when drawstring 16 is pulled tight to secure it to the table, as shown in FIG. 1, or close it in its bag configuration, as shown in FIG. 3. Although not preferred due to the expense of manufacturing tablecloth 10, drawstring cavity 14 can be a separate element that is affixed to periphery edge 32 of cover 12.

[0027] Drawstring 16 should comprise an elongated member suitable for enclosing in drawstring cavity 14 with one or more ends protruding from drawstring cavity 14 and for pulling at its end(s) so as to draw tablecloth 10 taut around the table top, as shown in FIG. 1, or to close tablecloth 10 in a bag, as shown in FIG. 3. Drawstring 16 can be an elongated string, rope, plastic strip, wire or various other elongated members known in the art of trash bags, laundry bags and the like. In one configuration, shown in the figures, drawstring 16 is a single continuous elongated member that is engaged in the entire length of drawstring cavity 14 with its opposite ends meeting at a single location, such as the corner shown in FIG. 1. In another configuration, drawstring 16 comprises two or more separate elongated members that are affixed at one end inside drawstring cavity 14 with the opposite end extending outside of said drawstring cavity 14 so the outer ends of drawstring 16 can be joined together or with each of the ends extending out of drawstring cavity 14 such that the ends of one elongated member can join together with the ends of another elongated member.

[0028] In use, tablecloth 10 of the present invention is opened and placed over the top of a table such that it covers the table, as shown in FIG. 1, with the outer periphery edge 32 and drawstring cavity 14 over the top of the table. The ends of drawstring 16 extending outside of drawstring cavity 14 are pulled to stretch cover 12 over the top of the table. If cover 12 is configured with fluid impenetrable layer 28 on one side and absorbing layer 30 on the opposite side, the user will generally, although not necessarily, place the impenetrable (i.e., plastic) layer 28 down against the top of the table and the fluid absorbing (i.e., paper or plastic) layer 30 facing up. If used for picnicking or other dining, the food, dishes and utensils are placed on the clean, smooth upper side 18. When the dining, craft or other activity is completed, the materials that are to be kept, such as good dishes, containers and the like, are removed from tablecloth 10 and the materials that are to be disposed (i.e., trash) is left on the tablecloth 10. These trash materials are gathered up with tablecloth 10 by pulling periphery edge 32 around it to form the bag shape, as shown in FIG. 3, and drawstring 16 is pulled to close the bag and seal the trash therein. In this manner, the entire trash material and tablecloth (bag) can be disposed at once, thereby eliminating several steps of clearing, cleaning and disposing.

[0029] While there is shown and described herein certain specific alternative forms of the invention, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention is not so limited, but is susceptible to various modifications and rearrangements in design and materials without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, it should be noted that the present invention is subject to modification with regard to the dimensional relationships set forth herein and modifications in assembly, materials, size, shape, and use.