Title:
Corner shelf
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention involves shelving for installation into inside corners, outside corners, curved surfaces, and a variety of other surface configurations. Rather than employing a cantilever style shelf, the present invention uses corner geometry such that the moment around fastening points is more efficiently supported. Therefore, adhesives, which are not sufficiently strong to support cantilever style shelves, may be effectively utilized. Further, a novel “peel-in-place” installation system is disclosed. With this system, a shelf may be adhered to surfaces while it is already placed in the desired position. Thus, the peel-in-place system reduces the possibility of erroneous installation.



Inventors:
Fontana, Richard (Cape Elizabeth, ME, US)
Reinfield, David (Englewood, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/425025
Publication Date:
02/24/2005
Filing Date:
08/18/2003
Assignee:
FONTANA RICHARD
REINFIELD DAVID
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B96/02; (IPC1-7): A47F5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ward & Olivo (Summit, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for installation into an inside corner comprising: adhesive; and shelf structure; wherein said adhesive adheres said shelf structure to at least one surface of said inside corner.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising at least one living joint.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said living joint allows said adhesive to adhere to said surface on at least one side of said shelf structure.

4. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said living joint allows said shelf structure to adapt to various corner geometries.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said adhesive is carried on at least one adhesive pad.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising an angle bracket that allows said shelf structure to adapt to various corner geometries.

7. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said adhesive is removable.

6. An apparatus according to claim 7, wherein said adhesive can be removed by pulling a release tab.

9. An apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising at least one cover that covers said adhesive.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said adhesive comprises at least one strip located on at least one edge of said shelf structure such that said adhesive compensates for variations in surface geometry.

11. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said adhesive is covered by a removable member prior to installation of said apparatus.

12. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said adhesive comprises a peel-in-place system.

13. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said shelf structure is formed substantially in a shape selected from the group of square, rectangular, rounded, triangular, boomerang, and circular.

14. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus can be combined with at least one or more additional members to create a shelf for installation on outside corners.

15. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a plurality of said apparatuses are capable of supporting an elongate member.

16. An apparatus for installation on an outside corner comprising: adhesive; and shelf structure; wherein said adhesive adheres said shelf structure to at least one surface of said outside corner.

17. An apparatus according to claim 16 further comprising at least one living joint.

18. An apparatus according to claim 17, wherein said living joint allows said adhesive to adhere to said surface on at least one side of said shelf structure.

19. An apparatus according to claim 17, wherein said living joint allows said shelf structure to adapt to various corner geometries.

20. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said adhesive is carried on at least one adhesive pad.

21. An apparatus according to claim 16, further comprising an angle bracket that allows said shelf structure to adapt to various corner geometries.

22. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said adhesive is removable.

23. An apparatus according to claim 22, wherein said adhesive can be removed by pulling a release tab.

24. An apparatus according to claim 16 further comprising at least one cover that covers said adhesive.

25. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said adhesive comprises at least one strip located on at least one edge of said shelf structure such that said adhesive compensates for variations in surface geometry.

26. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said adhesive is covered by a removable member prior to installation of said apparatus.

27. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said adhesive comprises a peel-in-place system.

28. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said shelf structure is formed substantially in a shape selected from the group of square, rectangular, rounded, triangular, boomerang, and circular.

29. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein shelf structure comprises at least one inside corner shelf.

30. An apparatus according to claim 16, wherein a plurality of said apparatuses support an elongate member.

31. An apparatus for installation to at least one surface comprising: an adhesive; and shelf structure; wherein said adhesive adheres said shelf structure to said surface such that the moment around the location of adherence is substantially transferred by said shelf structure such that it is carried by another location of adherence.

32. An apparatus according to claim 31 further comprising at least one living joint.

33. An apparatus according to claim 32, wherein said living joint allows said adhesive to adhere to said surface on either side of said shelf structure.

34. An apparatus according to claim 32, wherein said living joint allows said shelf structure to adapt to various surface geometries.

35. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said adhesive is carried on at least one adhesive pad.

36. An apparatus according to claim 31 further comprising an angle bracket that allows said shelf structure to adapt to various surface geometries.

37. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said adhesive is removable.

38. An apparatus according to claim 37, wherein said adhesive can be removed by pulling a release tab.

39. An apparatus according to claim 31 further comprising at least one cover that covers said adhesive.

40. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said adhesive comprises at least one strip located on at least one edge of said shelf structure such that said adhesive compensates for variations in surface geometry.

41. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said adhesive is covered by a removable member prior to installation of said apparatus.

42. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said adhesive comprises a peel-in-place system.

43. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said shelf structure is formed substantially in a shape selected from the group of square, rectangular, rounded, triangular, boomerang, and circular.

44. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein a plurality of said apparatuses support an elongate member.

45. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said surface is a curved surface.

46. An apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said at least one surface comprises two disjoint surfaces.

47. An apparatus for installing adhesive comprising: adhesive; and flexible film; wherein before installation, said flexible film covers said adhesive; and further wherein said flexible film is configured such that said flexible film may be removed while said adhesive is already in a desired installation position.

48. An apparatus according to claim 47, wherein said flexible film comprises a pull tab.

49. An apparatus according to claim 47, wherein said flexible film is folded before installation.

50. An apparatus according to claim 47, wherein said flexible film is constructed from plastic.

51. An apparatus according to claim 47, wherein said adhesive is removed by pulling at least one release tab.

52. An apparatus according to claim 47, wherein said apparatus is used to install a corner shelf.

53. A method of installing a structure into a corner comprising the steps of: providing an adhesive; and placing said structure against said corner such that said structure adheres to said corner via said adhesive; wherein the moment around a location of adhesion is carried by said structure to a second location of adhesion such that said second location of adhesion carries said moment.

54. A method according to claim 53, wherein said adhesive is removable from at least one of said structure and said corner.

55. A method according to claim 54 further comprising the step of removing said adhesive by pulling at least one release tab.

56. A method of applying an adhesive to a surface comprising the steps of: placing said adhesive against said surface in a desired installation position such that a film is located between said adhesive and said surface; and removing said film while said adhesive remains in said desired position such that said adhesive is exposed to said surface, and thereby, adheres to said surface.

57. A method according to claim 56, wherein said adhesive is removable.

58. A method according to claim 57 further comprising the step of removing said adhesive by pulling at least one release tab.

59. A method according to claim 56, wherein said removing of said film is accomplished by pulling at least one pull tab.

60. A method according to claim 56, wherein said film is folded. prior to installation.

61. An inside corner shelf comprising: a first member, said first member having a substantially. flat surface; a second member, said second member being angularly coupled to said first member; wherein said second member can be adhered to a first surface of an inside corner such that a second surface of said inside corner at least partially supports said inside corner shelf.

62. An outside corner shelf comprising: a first member, said first member having a substantially flat surface; a second member, said second member being angularly coupled to said first member; wherein said second member can be adhered to a first surface of an outside corner such that a second surface of said outside corner at least partially supports said outside corner shelf.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to shelving, and more specifically, to an improved corner shelf that is easily mounted on and removed from both inside and outside corners. These corners are generally created, but are not limited to, circumstances where two walls meet, a wall and a roof meet, and a wall and a ceiling meet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Shelves have been mounted on walls for many years. These wall mounted shelves have been supported by a variety of mechanisms ranging from mechanical fasteners to suction cups to stacks of bricks. Usually, however, when the shelves are supported, they carry a moment relative to the wail surface. Supporting the moment with a cantilever configuration is generally impractical, so vertical supports such as L-brackets, vertical mounting bars, or hanging cables are used.

However, the present invention provides a novel method of supporting a moment. Specifically, installing a shelf in an inside or on an outside corner provides means to transfer a moment such that it is more efficiently supported. For instance, the moment around the fastening point on one wall can be carried by the shelf to the other wall. Because of the distance between the fastening point and the opposing wall, as well as the leverage that is created, substantially less force is necessary to carry the moment. Thus, the load capacity of the shelf can be greatly increased. Therefore, vertical supports may no longer be necessary to support the moment, thereby allowing for more low-profile mounting systems for corner shelves (i.e., less area above or below the shelf is utilized for support structure).

In addition to its ability to support the moment, a proper shelf should be installed level to prevent articles from sliding and falling. This can be more difficult than it sounds, especially to those unskilled in construction, carpentry, and related arts.

Conventionally, the first step of installing a shelf in a corner is placing a separate leveling device on a shelf to find a level position. Once correctly oriented, marks are sketched on the wall. With help from these marks, the installer installs shelf supports (e.g., standards). If the shelving is intended to support heavier loads, the standards must be screwed into studs. Thus, the studs within the walls must be found, which can require time and expensive equipment. Next, the shelves are installed onto the standards. Such a mounting process results in a level shelf when performed by a skilled artisan.

Some shelving systems utilize adhesives instead of hardware which penetrates a walls surface. Similar planning and effort is necessary to install a shelf in this manner. For instance, the adhesive backing must be removed and applied (on the first try) to the wall such that the shelf is level. Thus, only a single opportunity is provided to properly mount the shelf. As with hardware, the mounting procedure must be carefully planned, However, the present invention, which is an easily installable and shelving structure, provides systems that can efficiently support a moment without penetrating the surfaces to which it is secured. Even though the art is devoid of such a device, to fully understand the present invention in its proper context, reference is made to the following U.S. Patents:

Miller, U.S. Pat. No. 4,727,815, discloses a corner shelf assembly for mounting to a 90° corner. The assembly includes an L-shaped bracket with a lip on the two distal ends of the bracket. Thus, when the bracket is placed snugly into the corner, the lips protrude as flat vertically-oriented members. The shelf of the '815 patent is designed to fit into a corner and slide onto the bracket. Grooves are built into the shelf such that the shelf may be slid onto the bracket and be supported by the lips of the bracket. The present invention, however, provides a shelf structure that does not penetrate surfaces and is easily removable from a corner.

Moshofsky, U.S. Pat. No. 4,799,434, teaches a freestanding shelf assembly with adjustable shelves. A freestanding structure shaped as a rectangular parallelepiped is provided. The structure includes horizontal slots located adjacent to each of its corners. Shelves having tangs that cooperate with the slots are also provided. Thus, the tangs of a shelf can be slid into the slots such that the shelf secures itself around the corners of the freestanding structure. Because the slots are located over the entire freestanding structure, the shelves can be placed in a variety of locations. Therefore, unique configurations of shelves can be provided to adapt for specific needs. The present invention, on the other hand, utilizes corners for support, rather than a dedicated support structure, while providing easily mountable and removable corner shelving.

Slade, U.S. Pat. No. 5,513,575, discloses a support apparatus that forms a corner shelf. The support apparatus comprises two support members with spikes. Each of these members is driven into each of the walls that form the corner. A shelf member comprises slots that cooperate with the support members. Thus, the shelf member is slid onto support members to complete installation. The instant invention, however, does not utilize spikes or any other devices that penetrate the surface to which they attach.

Waluda, U.S. Pat. No. 5,983,805, teaches a corner shelf assembly comprising a left support member, a right support member, and a base plate. The left and right support members attach to one another and are affixed to a corner via conventional hardware which penetrates a walls surface. Subsequently, the base plate may be installed in between the left and right support members. Each of the support members comprises protruding tongues that are accepted by openings in the base member. The shelf system is collapsible such that it is easily stored. The instant invention, however, advances by providing a corner shelf with removable mounting means that do not penetrate a surface.

Dente, Jr., U.S. Pat. No. 5,992,654, is pointed to a removable corner shelf that attaches itself to a wall via two piercing members. The piercing members are controlled mechanically by a central member. By moving the central member, the piercing members penetrate the walls forming the corner. Thus, the shelf is securely installed into the corner. By returning the central member to its original position, the piercing members are removed. Consequently, the shelf too can be removed. The present invention, however, is designed not to penetrate surfaces, and further is capable of attaching to hard surfaces such as tile, which is not possible with the apparatus of the '654 patent. The '654 patent punctures surfaces and does not attach to hard surface because they cannot be easily punctured.

Wang, U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,128, teaches a triangularly shaped corner shelf device. The device secures itself into a corner via suction cups and piercing members. A mechanical means is used to force the piercing members into the wall, thereby securing the shelf. The present invention, in contrast, provides a shelf that can secure itself without puncturing and damaging any surfaces.

Thus, there is a clear need in the art for a corner shelf that proper transfers a moment for optimal support and does not penetrate the surfaces to which it is secured.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a corner shelf that is inexpensive and easily mounted to and removed from a surface without marring or otherwise damaging that surface.

The corner shelf of the present invention, in its preferred embodiment, comprises at least one shelf structure for supporting articles. The shelf structure is attached to the walls via removable adhesives such that the shelf can be easily installed and removed. Preferably, the adhesives will be relatively small in comparison with the shelf structure such that they do not protrude up or down. Further, the present invention can also be used to support a wall-length shelf by providing corner shelves in adjacent corners that can support an elongate member. Moreover, the corner shelf of the present invention can compensate for variations in corner geometry by using adhesives of varying thickness and various types of hinges and joints.

Preferably, the present invention utilizes 3M® Command® removable adhesive. This removable adhesive is described in Kreckel et al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,516,581, 5,672,402, and 5,989,708, all of which are assigned to the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company of St. Paul, Minn., and all of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference. Other types of adhesive means are possible, however, and have been contemplated. For example, the clamping means described in the inventor's co-pending application Ser. No. 10/142,738, filed May 9, 2002, and entitled “Corner Climber,” which is hereby incorporated herein by reference, can be made appropriate for use with the present invention.

The 3M® Command® adhesive is an easily removable, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape comprising a stretchable backing with little elastic memory. The tape firmly bonds to substrates and is easily removed. To remove the tape, it is simply stretched closely parallel (i.e., less than about 35°) to the substrate's surface.

Preferably, the backing of 3M® Command® adhesive has a modulus of elasticity between 34 MPa and 207 Mpa, a high tensile strength, a breaking point at a lengthwise elongation of at least 150%, and less than about 50% elastic recovery. Additionally, the fracture strength of the backing must be high enough to prevent the backing from rupturing prior to the tape's removal.

As stated previously, the 3M® Command® adhesive tape can be removed by stretching the tape in a direction up to 35° from the substrate's surface. The tape is preferably stretched about 10° from the surface. After removal, the adhesive tape leaves no residue and does not damage the substrate's surface.

Removable attachment means, such as 3M® Command® removable adhesive, are widely available and inexpensive, which allows the present invention to be a low-cost corner shelf system. However, as previously stated, the present invention is not limited to use with the 3M® Command® adhesive. Other such adhesives, which exist presently or will be available in the future, may be used in accordance with the present invention. Thus, the corner shelves of the present invention are not limited to a specific attachment means.

Additionally, the present invention provides an improved apparatus and method for installing a corner shelf with adhesives. Traditionally, a protective backing covers adhesives to prevent the premature exposure of the adhesive material. However, once the adhesive is exposed, the user has just one opportunity to properly place the adhesive to a surface. Thus, installation of a corner shelf requires perfect placement in terms of levelness and position on the initial attempt. Matters are further complicated if the adhesive is permanent, or “single-use.” The present invention remedies these problems by providing a “peel-in-place” application system. This system allows a corner shelf to be placed as desired first. After the shelf has been correctly placed, the material protecting the adhesive may be removed. Therefore, the adhesive is exposed and adhered to the wall after the shelf has already been correctly positioned.

Therefore, the present invention provides a shelf design that is able to support heavy weight without permanently marking surfaces. The present invention also provides for a shelf that is easily installed and removed. Importantly, the shelves disclosed herein may be adhered after they have been correctly positioned. Thus, those with virtually no skill in any relevant art can adeptly install shelves. Another advantage is that no vertical supports are necessary, allowing for low profile construction.

The foregoing “peel-in-place” application system is realized with a folded backing design from which a pull tab protrudes from the adhesive material. When the pull tab is pulled, the adhesive the backing is removed, and the adhesive is exposed to the wall. Consequently, the shelf is adhered to the wall while already in position. Moreover, the pull-in-place system of the present invention does not prevent the backing from being removed prior to positioning, but does give an installer the previously unavailable option of positioning first and exposing adhesive second.

Thus, generally disclosed herein are several low-profile corner shelf configurations. The invention can be installed in inside or on outside corners in addition to a variety of other surfaces. Such surfaces include, but are not limited to, ceiling-to-wall corners, wall-to-roof corners, curved surfaces (both concave and convex), disjoint surfaces, etc. Additionally, the present invention benefits from increased usable shelf space, low profile construction, cost efficiency, non-marring and easily removable attaching means, and simple installation.

Thus, it is an object of the present invention to provide a space efficient corner shelf.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a cost efficient corner shelf.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf utilizing removable adhesive.

Additionally, it is an object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that does not mar the surface to which it is installed.

Furthermore, it is an object of the present invention to provide an easily removable corner shelf.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an easily mountable corner shelf.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that utilizes a peel-in-place system.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf for use on outside corners.

Also, it is an object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf for use in inside corners.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide shelving that utilizes at least two corner shelves that support at least one elongate member therebetween.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that compensates for irregularities in corner geometry.

Furthermore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that compensates for movements of surfaces.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that utilizes widely available adhesives.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that is easily mass produced.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a corner shelf that is either symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Moreover, it is an object of the present invention to provide an inside corner shelf that can be converted to an outside corner shelf.

These and other objects will become readily apparent to one skilled in the art upon review of the following description, figures, and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the present invention can be obtained by reference to a preferred embodiment set forth in the illustrations of the accompanying drawings. Although the illustrated embodiment is merely exemplary of systems for carrying out the present invention, both the organization and method of operation of the invention, in general, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, may be more easily understood by reference to the drawings and the following description. The drawings are not intended to limit the scope of this invention, which is set forth with particularity in the claims as appended or as subsequently amended, but merely to clarify and exemplify the invention.

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 (FIG. 1) depicts a perspective view of the simplest embodiment of the corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 (FIG. 2) depicts the preferred embodiment of the present invention wherein an angle bracket is used to compensate for variations in corner geometry;

FIG. 3 (FIG. 3) depicts a plan view of a corner shelf in accordance with the present invention utilizing an angle bracket to compensate for variations in corner geometry;

FIG. 4 (FIG. 4) is a perspective view of a corner shelf in accordance with the present invention utilizing living hinges;

FIG. 5A (FIG. 5A) is a plan view of a corner shelf in accordance with the present invention utilizing living hinges;

FIG. 5B (FIG. 5B) is a perspective view of a corner shelf in accordance with the present invention utilizing living hinges to accommodate wall angle variations;

FIGS. 6A-6G (FIGS. 6A-6G) are plan views of several contemplated shapes of an inside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 7A-7E (FIGS. 7A-7E) are plan views of several contemplated shapes of an asymmetrical inside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 8 (FIG. 8) is a plan view of an outside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 (FIG. 9) is a plan view of an outside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention for supporting a vase or similar objects with substantially circular cross-sections;

FIGS. 10A-10D (FIGS. 10A-10D) are plan views of several contemplated shapes of an outside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 11A-11D (FIGS. 11A-11D) are plan views of several contemplated shapes of an asymmetrical outside corner shelf in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 12A (FIG. 12A) depicts the peel-in-place system (before installation) suitable for use with any embodiment of the present invention using an adhesive; and

FIG. 12B (FIG. 12B) depicts the peel-in-place system (during installation) suitable for use with any embodiment of the present invention using an adhesive.

FIG. 13A (FIG. 13A) depicts an outside corner shelf utilizing a load line.

FIG. 13B (FIG. 13B) depicts an inside corner shelf utilizing a load line.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As required, a detailed illustrative embodiment of the present invention is disclosed herein. However, techniques, systems, and operating structures in accordance with the present invention may be embodied in a wide variety of forms and modes, some of which may be quite different from those in the disclosed embodiment. Consequently, the specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are merely representative, yet in that regard, they are deemed to afford the best embodiment for purposes of disclosure and to provide a basis for the claims herein which define the scope of the present invention. The following presents a detailed description of a preferred embodiment (as well as some alternative embodiments) of the present invention and features thereof.

Corner shelves can be mounted on inside or outside corners in addition to a variety of other configurations. In any case, corners may not form exact 90° angles. Also, shelves must accommodate typical variations in wall alignment. In addition, the walls may move or flex, either slowly (e.g., seasonally) or quickly (e.g., when a door slams). Therefore, the embodiments of the present invention have been designed to account for such issues while providing an easily installable and removable shelf system. Although the following discussion recites the use of adhesives, other fastening means may be used without departing from the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 1 shows shelf 100 of the present invention. Shelf 100 is installed in the inside corner of walls 101. The shelf comprises shelf structure 104 and adhesive pads 102 and 103.

FIG. 2 illustrates a simple means of accommodating variations in corner geometry in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention. Here, the left edge 201 of shelf structure 202 is mounted to wall 212 with adhesive pad 211. Right edge 203 of shelf structure 202 engages angle bracket 204, which is mounted to wall 213 with adhesive pad 205. Preferably, 3M® Command® adhesive is used for adhesive pad 211 and 205, although other adhesives may be used. Right edge 203 of the shelf can slide in angle bracket in the left and right directions (indicated by arrow 206) such that variations in the wall angles can be accommodated. By utilizing compressible adhesive pads or two adhesive strips per side (not shown), unevenness of wall 212 and 213 can also be accommodated. Specifically, the thickness and flexibility of the adhesive strips allow them to conform to variations in the surfaces of walls 212 and 213. Release tabs 207 and 208 of the adhesive pads 211 and 205 assist in the removal of adhesive pads 211 and 205 (when removable 3M® Command® adhesives are used) respectively. As discussed supra, 3M® Command® adhesives may be removed by stretching via release tabs 207 and 208 at no more than 35°, preferably about 10°, relative to the wall. Further, release tabs 207 and 208 may be covered with covers 209 and 210, respectively. Covers 209 and 210 may prevent dirt and other contaminants from accumulating on the adhesive and/or improve aesthetics.

FIG. 3 shows a top view of corner shelf 300 of the present invention utilizing the accommodation means of FIG. 2. As in FIG. 2, shelf structure 202, left edge 201, right edge 203, and angle bracket 204 are shown.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of corner shelf 400 of the present invention. Included are shelf structure 401 and living hinges 402 and 403 (which are described more completely infra in reference to FIGS. 5A-B).

FIGS. 5A-B show top and perspective views, respectively, of an alternative embodiment of corner shelf 500 of the present invention. In this embodiment, shelf structure 501 is molded flat (except for any stiffening ribs or other features such as railings and bottle holders which are not shown, but can be included). Adhesive member 506 is attached to shelf structure 501 via flexible material 503. Flexible material 503 allows adhesive member 506 to be bent either up or down along hinge lines 502 with respect to shelf structure 501. Therefore, flexible material forms a living hinge along hinge lines 502. FIG. 5B shows adhesive member 506 bent downward. Allowing adhesive member 506 to be bent either up or down adds versatility to shelf 500. For instance, it may be desirable to have clearance along the wall under the shelf as opposed above, or vice-versa. Thus, shelf 500 can be easily adapted for either situation. Furthermore, variations in wall angle are accommodated by the flex of material 503 between hinge lines 502. FIG. 5B indicates how material 503 may accommodate a wall that is not parallel to left edge 504. The use of such flexible material to provide living hinges may be used on both left and right edges 504 and 505. In the event that front edge 508 is straight (not shown here), front edge 508 may incorporate these bending features for decoration and/or stabilization (i.e., the edge may be bent perpendicular to the surface of shelf 500 to prevent bending under a load). Optionally, tabs 510 may be included to provide flexibility for accommodating irregular surfaces. Also, tabs 510 may allow shelf 500 to be installed without interfering with a structure such as a fixture. Moreover, tables 510 may assist determining the proper location for adhesive strips.

FIGS. 6A-6G show several possible shelf shapes for inside corner shelves. A square configuration (FIG. 6A), comprising edges 601, 603, 604, and 609, is simple, but protrudes relatively far from the corner. This may not be suitable for tight confines such as showers. Also, the square configuration may not be desirable for areas that are accident prone such as children's rooms. However, a square shaped shelf provides more shelf area than some other embodiments. Alternatively, boomerang shaped shelves may be constructed. A boomerang shape (FIG. 6B) comprises edges 603 and 604. The boomerang shape may be completed by curved edge 607 which may vary in shape depending on the desired shelf area. Additionally, two straight edges 605 and 606 (FIG. 6C) may be used to complete the boomerang shape. Moreover, a single straight edge 610 (FIG. 6D) may be used to provide a wedge shape. A curved wedge shape may also be completed by curved edge 611 (FIG. 6E) which may vary in curvature. Although depicted as symmetric, the corner shelf of the present invention may be configured in an asymmetrical fashion. The boomerang/wedge shapes, which can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes, are better suited for tight spaces because they lack a protruding corner. Further, a rounded design may also be desirable. This provides additional area without the potentially dangerous corners of a square shape. Such a design may comprise edges 603, 604, and 613 (FIG. 6F) Also, any of these shapes may comprise rounded inner corner 614 (FIG. 6G). The shelves of the present invention are not limited to the shapes disclosed for exemplary purposes in FIG. 6A-6G. A variety of other shapes can be used without departing from the spirit of the invention.

FIGS. 7A-7E show some of the possible asymmetrical shapes of corner shelves of the present invention. Each of these shapes comprises edges 701 and 702. The shapes may be completed to form an approximately rectangular shape with either of edges 704 (FIG. 7A) or 705 (FIG. 7B). An asymmetrical wedge shape may be provided by using edge 703 (FIG. 7C). A more rounded configuration is provided by completing the shape with edge 707 (FIG. 7D). Furthermore, any of these shapes may comprise rounded inner corner 708 (FIG. 7E). The asymmetric shelves of the present invention are not limited to the shapes disclosed for exemplary purposes in FIG. 7. A variety of other shapes can be used without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Previously described shelves of the present invention have been designed for use with inside corners. However, the shelves of the present invention may also be installed on outside corners. One such embodiment of an outside corner shelf is depicted in FIG. 8. Here outside corner shelf 800 is secured against the outside corner formed by walls 801. All of the features (disclosed supra) used to adhere corner shelves to walls may be used for outside corner embodiments of the present invention. Moreover, features used to compensate for variations in wall geometry may also be used for the outside corner embodiments of the present invention.

Additionally, an inside corner shelf can made adaptable for outside corners. One possibility is to add to the inside corner shelf such that it can fit around an outside corner. For example, still referring to FIG. 8, assume that section 802 is an inside corner shelf. By attaching an additional piece or pieces, represented by the combination of sections 803 and 804, outside corner shelf 800 is created. Alternatively, the section 803 may be an inside corner shelf, and sections 802 and 804 are added to it to create outside corner shelf 800. Likewise, section 804 may be an inside corner shelf, and an additional piece or pieces, represented by the combination of sections 802 and 803, create outside corner shelf 800. Furthermore, sections 802, 803, and 804 may be three inside corner shelves designed to combine into outside corner shelve 800. The various sections may be combined with snap-in techniques, screws, removable or permanent adhesives, grooves, bolts, clamps, or any other techniques known in the art.

Shelves constructed for outside corners can be specified for various applications. FIG. 9 shows outside corner shelf 900 intended for holding substantially round objects such as lighting fixtures, candles, vases, flower pots, etc. Outside corner shelf 900 comprises outside corner bracket 901 and shelf structure 902. Outside corner bracket 901 may be adhered to walls 903 by any technique disclosed herein. Outside corner shelf 900 protrudes far from the outside corner formed by walls 903. In case an outside corner shelf is desired in a location where many objects pass, a less protrusive design may be implemented.

FIGS. 10A-10D depict various less protrusive outside corner shelf shapes that the present invention may take. All the shapes comprise edges 1001 and 1002. More rectangular shapes are created by adding edges 1003 and 1004 in conjunction with either of edges 1005 (FIG. 10A) or 1006 (FIG. 10B). A more rounded shape is created with curved edges 1008 and 1009 (FIG. 10C). A skewed shape can be created with edges 1010 and 1011 (FIG. 10D).

An outside corner shelf may also be constructed asymmetrically. FIGS. 11A-11D show possible shapes of an asymmetric outside corner shelf. Each of these shapes comprises edges 1101, 1102 and 1109. Rectangular shapes are completed with either edges 1103 and 1104 (FIG. 11A) or edges 1105, 1106, and 1113 (FIG. 11B). A skewed shape may be completed with edges 1108 and 1110 (FIG. 11C). A more rounded shape is completed, with curved edges 1111 (FIG. 11D).

As previously discussed, mounting a corner shelf with adhesives may prove difficult. Furthermore, the use of semi-permanent and permanent adhesives can lead to irreversible errors. Therefore, a “peel-in-place” system has been invented to assist with the installation of corner shelves. FIGS. 12A-B show the preferred embodiment of the peel-in-place system of the present invention. In FIG. 12A, member 1202, which may be an edge of a corner shelf, will be adhered to wall 1201. Adhesive material 1203 is located between wall 1201 and member 1202. Thin strip 1204, preferably made out of plastic, covers the adhesive surface of adhesive material 1203. Also, thin strip 1204 is folded over such that it exposes pull tab 1205. By pulling on pull tab 1205, thin strip 1204 is removed from adhesive material 1203. Thus, member 1202 can be positioned against wall 1201 before pulling on pull tab 1205 to expose adhesive material 1203. Once the desired position is obtained, pull tab 1205 may be pulled to begin exposing the adhesive surface of adhesive material 1203. Consequently, the adhesive is exposed while member 1202 is “in place” to ease and provide better control over installation.

By partially peeling the thin strip 1204 as shown in FIG. 12B, member 1202 may be held in place without full exposure of the adhesive. At this time, the position may be checked, and if necessary, the member 1202 may be repositioned before completely exposing the adhesive surface of adhesive material 1203. Therefore, once the member 1202 is correctly positioned (while being stabilized by partial exposure of adhesive) , member 1202 is securely mounted by further pulling the pull tab 1205 to completely expose the surface of adhesive material 1203.

In the case that permanent, or semi permanent, adhesion is desired, adhesive material 1203 may be constructed with permanent, or semi permanent, adhesive. In this situation, the peel-in-place system described is especially useful because the user cannot remove and reposition the shelf. The shelf must be installed correctly the first time, which is a task that is significantly simplified by the peel-in-place system.

If preferred, thin strip 1204 may still be entirely removed before installation. Thus, the peel-in-place mounting procedure is available without sacrificing the option of fully removing thin strip 1204 before installation.

In case that 3M® Command® adhesive is used as adhesive material 1203, release tab 1206 may be provided to assist with removal of adhesive material 1203 and thus, removal of member 1202 from wall 1201. Stretching release tab 1206 downward substantially parallel to wall 1201, i.e., less than about 35° to wall 1201, preferably 10°, causes adhesive material 1203 to release. This process is described in more detail in Kreckel et al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,516,581, 5,672,402, and 5,989,708.

In addition to inside and outside corners, the concepts disclosed in this application can be applied to curved surfaces such as columns, as well as disjoint surfaces. Similarly, the concepts can be used for wall-to-ceiling, wall-to-floor, wall-to-roof, interfaces in addition to anywhere else surfaces are available. Furthermore, adhesive need not be used for the present invention. Corner clamps as disclosed in Applicants' “Corner Climber” application, may also be used to secure the present invention into corners. Moreover, the corners shelves of the present invention need not be used for resting objects. For instance, mounting inside corner shelves in the wall-to-ceiling interface provides a point of attachment (e.g., a bracket) for hanging shelves or light fixtures. These alternate embodiments allow for many applications without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In an alternative embodiment, corner shelves of the present invention can use a load line for support. Outside corner shelf 1301 utilizing load line 1302 is depicted in FIG. 13A. Here, load line 1302 is attached to surface 1303 while no attachment to surface 1304 is provided. When a load is placed on outside corner shelf 1301, it will tend to rotate downward in the clockwise direction. Because of the tilted design of load line 1302, outside corner shelf 1301 would tend to rotate against surface 1304. However, that tendency toward rotation is countered by surface 1304, which prevents rotation and assists in supporting the load. Significantly, mostly shear force (and little tensile force) is placed on the attachment between load line 1302 and surface 1303. Thus, this configuration is especially useful when using adhering materials that provide high shear strength relative to their tensile strength.

Alternatively, FIG. 13B depicts inside corner shelf 1305 utilizing load line 1306. Angled load line 1306 is adhered along surface 1307. When a load is applied to inside corner shelf 1306, it tends to rotate downward in the clockwise direction. Once again, the tilted design of load line 1306 causes inside corner shelf 1306 to rotate into surface 1308. Consequently, surface 1308 prevents rotation and facilitates support of the load. Like outside corner shelf 1301, inside corner shelf 1305 is advantageously implemented with adhering materials having relatively high shear strength.

While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more preferred embodiments, which embodiments have been set forth in considerable detail for the purposes of making a complete disclosure of the invention, such embodiments are merely exemplary and are not intended to be limiting or represent an exhaustive enumeration of all aspects of the invention. The scope of the invention, therefore, shall be defined solely by the following claims. Further, it will be apparent to those of skill in the art that numerous changes may be made in such details without departing from the spirit and the principles of the invention.