Title:
Anti-theft disc storage case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage case (10) or receptacle used to secure discs (e.g., CDs or DVDs) used in rental or purchase applications includes a housing (H) and a releasable locking assembly (40) that securely retains a disc (16) within the housing. The housing includes two housing portions (12, 14) that are sized and shaped to cover at least an entire surface of the disc and are arranged to substantially enclose the disc when in a closed position. The locking assembly preferably comprises a pin and clutch arrangement in which the pin or rod (34) passes through a pre-existing aperture in the disc, but may alternatively be of any type in which one member is inserted into another member to securely retain the disc within the housing. In another embodiment, one of the housing portions (12) includes a recess (201) and/or a collar (205) to further inhibit unauthorized access to the pin.



Inventors:
Spagna, Richard J. (Pompano Beach, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/125878
Publication Date:
09/22/2005
Filing Date:
05/10/2005
Assignee:
SENTECH EAS CORPORATION
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
70/57.1, 206/1.5, 206/310, G9B/33.011, 24/704.1
International Classes:
G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050061707Themed lunch bagsMarch, 2005Naelitz-thomas
20080277308Gusseted T-Shirt Bag and Bagging RackNovember, 2008Simhaee
20070034545Customizable gift wrapFebruary, 2007Sabalaskey et al.
20090050515Sterilized disposal cap for dinner setFebruary, 2009Yang et al.
20070272588CONTAINER FOR BABY ITEMSNovember, 2007Longacre
20060027481Multi-functional compact with storage receptaclesFebruary, 2006Gelardi et al.
20070138044ARTICLE FOR STORING AND ORGANIZING MATERIALSJune, 2007Trotter et al.
20070193894Container for constituting a formulation in liquid formAugust, 2007Macken et al.
20090166246Hot pour cosmetic color mixing system and kitJuly, 2009Haloulos et al.
20040040879Packaging for a stack of paper, a method of packaging a stack of paper, and a method of loading a stack of paper into a machineMarch, 2004Eclair-heath
20070193918Protective housing for remote controlAugust, 2007Coyne et al.



Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GrayRobinson, P. A. (FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, US)
Claims:
1. A storage case for a disc, the disc defining an aperture, the storage case comprising: a housing including a first housing portion and a second housing portion, the housing being arranged to substantially enclose the disc when the first housing portion is placed in a closed position with respect to the second housing portion; and an assembly for retaining the disc securely within the housing, the assembly including: a receiving member connected to the first housing portion such that at least part of the receiving member is substantially in registry with the aperture of the disc when the disc is placed within the housing; and an insertion member adapted to be placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member to securely retain the disc within the housing, the assembly being configured and arranged to require application of an external, non-destructive, non-human force to separate the insertion member from the receiving member after the insertion member and the receiving member have been placed into locking engagement.

2. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the disc is a CD or DVD.

3. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the receiving member includes a clutch lock comprised of a clutch body, a clutch cup disposed in at least partial surrounding relationship about the clutch body, a means for biasing the clutch body toward the clutch cup, and at least one clutch element movable between a first position and a second position, the insertion member including a generally slender rod adapted to be positioned through the clutch cup and into an interior channel defined by the clutch body, the rod defining a notch in registry with the at least one clutch element, the clutch body being movable between a raised position in which the means for biasing forces the at least one clutch element into engagement with the clutch cup, and a lowered position brought about by the external force moving the clutch body away from the clutch cup such that the at least one clutch element is caused to disengage the notch in the rod, thereby permitting the rod to be removed from the clutch body.

4. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the insertion member is adapted to be placed through an aperture in the housing.

5. The storage case of claim 4, wherein the aperture in the housing is substantially aligned with the aperture of the disc.

6. The storage case of claim 1, wherein at least one of the receiving member and the insertion member passes through the aperture of the disc.

7. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the housing further includes a circular shoulder connected to the first housing portion, the shoulder being adapted to receive in concentric relationship the disc and the receiving member being centrally positioned in an area substantially surrounded by the shoulder.

8. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the insertion member is independent of and separated from the housing and the receiving member prior to engagement with the receiving member.

9. The storage case of claim 1, further comprising an EAS tag connected to the housing.

10. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the assembly is configured and arranged to require application of an external, magnetic force to separate the insertion member from the receiving member after the insertion member and the receiving member have been placed into locking engagement.

11. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the insertion member comprises a head attached to a slender rod, wherein the second housing portion defines an inside surface, an outside surface, a recess in at least the outside surface to receive the head, and an aperture located within the recess and configured to receive the slender rod, the recess inhibiting access to the rod when the insertion member is placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member.

12. The storage case of claim 11, wherein the second housing portion further includes a collar attached to and extending outwardly from the inside surface, the collar surrounding the aperture to further inhibit access to the rod when the insertion member is placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member.

13. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the insertion member comprises a head attached to a slender rod, and wherein the second housing portion defines an inside surface, an outside surface, and an aperture configured to receive the slender rod, the second housing portion including a collar attached to and extending outwardly from the inside surface, the collar surrounding the aperture to substantially inhibit access to the rod when the insertion member is placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member.

14. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the insertion member comprises a head attached to a slender rod, and wherein the second housing portion defines an inside surface, an outside surface, and an aperture configured to receive the slender rod, the second housing portion including a raised collar attached to the outside surface, the collar surrounding the aperture to substantially inhibit access to the rod when the insertion member is placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member.

15. The storage case of claim 1, wherein the first housing portion is hingedly connected to the second housing portion.

16. The storage case of claim 1, wherein each of the first housing portion and the second housing portion is sized and shaped to cover at least a portion of a surface of the disc.

17. A method for using a storage case to securely store discs at consumer distribution facilities, the storage case including a housing and an assembly for retaining at least one disc securely within the housing, the housing including a first housing portion and a second housing portion, the housing being arranged to substantially enclose the disc when the first housing portion is placed in a closed position with respect to the second housing portion, the assembly including a receiving member connected to the first housing portion such that at least part of the receiving member is substantially in registry with an aperture of the disc when the disc is placed within the housing, the assembly further including an insertion member adapted to be placed into releasable locking engagement with the receiving member to securely retain the disc within the housing, the method comprising the steps of: placing the disc within the housing; inserting the insertion member into the receiving member to thereby secure the disc within the housing; and when a consumer desires to acquire the disc stored within the housing, applying a non-human, non-destructive, external force to the assembly to separate the insertion member from the receiving member.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of: placing possession of the housing containing the disc in the possession of the consumer after separating the insertion member from the receiving member and receiving consideration from the consumer.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of: retaining, by a consumer distribution facility, possession of at least the insertion member during a transaction in which the disc is placed in the possession of the consumer.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the step of inserting the insertion member into the receiving member further retains the first housing portion in the closed position with respect to the second housing portion.

21. The method of claim 17, wherein the step of inserting the insertion member into the receiving member comprises inserting a pin into a clutch body, and wherein the step of applying the external force comprises applying a magnetic force to separate the pin from the clutch body.

22. A method for locking a case used to store at least one disc, the disc defining an aperture and the case including a housing, a receiving member and an insertion member, the method comprising: placing the at least one disc within the housing such that the aperture of the disc is substantially in registry with at least one of the insertion member and the receiving member; and causing the insertion member to releaseably engage the receiving member so as to securely retain the disc within the case.

23. The method of claim 22, further comprising: applying a non-human, non-destructive, external force to at least one of the insertion member and the receiving member to disengage the insertion member from the receiving member, thereby allowing the disc to be removed from the case.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/219,171 filed Aug. 14, 2002, which application is incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference, and claims the benefit of such application under 35 U.S.C. § 120.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to storage receptacles, and more particularly relates to storage receptacles adapted to house articles such as compact discs (“CDs”) and digital video discs (“DVDs”) having an anti-theft lock associated therewith.

2. Background Art

In the leasing of CDs and DVDs to the public, it has become the commonly accepted practice to store and display the CD or DVD in a relatively inexpensive transparent or translucent plastic storage case which may or may not also support or house and electronic article surveillance (“EAS”) tag or label. The CDs and DVDs, by being placed on shelves in the retail-leasing establishment, are exposed to and susceptible of pilferage. All one need do is open the storage case which contains the valuable CD or DVD and remove the CD or DVD and walk out of the establishment undetected.

There is, therefore, a need for a locking CD or DVD storage container.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,031,756 to Buzzard et al. discloses a “keeper” for a package containing an article. The “article” is disclosed as being a CD jewel case. The keeper prevents the package from being opened, thereby preventing the article (i.e. jewel case) from being removed from the package. However, the Buzzard invention requires the provision of a complicated package and hinge assembly thereof.

Therefore, there is a need for a CD and DVD storage and display case which will prevent the unauthorized removal of the CD or DVD but which is easily disabled by authorized personnel using a simple detachment device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The instant invention is drawn to a storage case or receptacle used to secure discs (e.g., CDs and DVDs) used in rental applications. The case is comprised of a housing having a lid and a base between which is removably positionable a disc (e.g., a CD, DVD, or other optical disc) or the like. A releasable locking mechanism retains the CD or DVD within the housing. The locking mechanism may be of any type, such as some of the various security tags commonly used in the electronic article surveillance (“EAS”) industry, but preferably comprises a pin and clutch arrangement.

In order to use the invention, a CD or DVD, which is on display in a rental facility such as a rental store, is housed in the case of the instant invention. The locking mechanism is preferably secured about the lid and base of the case. A prospective renter, upon choosing his or her CD or DVD selection to rent, picks up the case with the CD or DVD encased therein and brings it to a checkout counter. The store employee, as part of the transaction, accepts consideration for the rental of the CD or DVD and disables the locking mechanism and any EAS tag associated with the case. This allows the renter to leave the premises without setting off any EAS alarms and open the case to obtain access to the CD or DVD.

It is, therefore, a primary object of this invention to provide a CD or DVD storage case having an incorporated security feature.

It is also an object of this invention to provide an article storage case, the interior of which can only be accessed by disablement of an integrated locking mechanism.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a CD or DVD storage case which is compatible with industry storage, display and vending standards yet which provides an anti-theft feature.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide a CD and DVD storage case incorporating a theft deterrent feature which can be easily disabled by an authorized person (e.g. store employee) using readily available technology.

These and other objects and features of the invention will be more readily understood from a consideration of the following detailed description, taken with the accompanying drawings, in which corresponding parts are indicated by corresponding numerals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective exploded view of a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded elevational view of the invention of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an assembled cross-sectional elevational view of the invention of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an enlargement of the area of detail shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an enlargement of the area of detail shown in FIG. 3 with the locking pin removed.

FIG. 6 is a left, top, front, partially exploded, perspective view of an open disc storage case in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a front, top view of the open disc storage case of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is an assembled cross-sectional elevational view of the disc storage case of FIG. 6 showing detail of the housing cover of the case in accordance with the alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-5 depict one mode of practicing the invention. It is to be understood, however, that departures may be made in the specific structural assembly of the invention without departing form the spirit and scope of the invention.

In general, the invention is a secure CD and DVD storage case 10 comprised of a housing H which includes a top or lid 12 and a bottom or lower housing half 14. Top 12 and bottom 14 may or may not be hingedly associated with one another. When top 12 and bottom 14 are in the closed position relative to each other, i.e. attached about their respective edges 13 and 15, a hollow inner cavity 16 is formed within which a CD or DVD 25 may be stored.

Bottom 14 may (but not necessarily) define a raised circular shoulder 18 adapted to receive in concentric relationship the CD or DVD. In addition, a raised annular ledge, concentrically with shoulder 18 but having a smaller diameter, may be provided in associated with bottom 14 having a circular cutout therein for purposes to be set forth more fully below.

A locking mechanism 40 is preferably utilized to retain housing top 12 in the closed position with respect to bottom 14. The locking mechanism may be of any configuration which will occur to one of ordinary skill in the art. All that is required is that it permit the releasable locking of top 12 about bottom 14 while at the same time retaining the CD or DVD in association with the housing H in a secure manner.

In the preferred embodiment, but not by way of limitation, the locking mechanism 40 is a pin and clutch lock arrangement which employs a pin 32 having a flared or enlarged head member 33 attached to a slender rod 34 connected thereto. Rod 34 preferably defines an annular groove 36 therein.

Pin 32 is adapted to be inserted into and releaseably received by one or more locking elements 48 which are loosely positioned within a clutch body 50. Clutch body 50 is preferably constructed of a material or materials which is/are susceptible of attraction by magnet. Clutch body 50 is in turn generally surrounded by a clutch cup 46, which in turn is positioned within a hub 42 attached to shoulder 21 and positioned through aperture 20. A compression spring 52 is positioned in registry with clutch body 50 in such a way that it is sandwiched between clutch body 50 and a spring retaining cup 54.

As best seen in FIG. 4, in order to lock the CD or DVD within housing H, the CD or DVD 25 is placed upon shoulder 18 and lid 12 closed about bottom 14. Rod 34 is then preferably passed through aperture 38 defined by top 12, which is in registry with corresponding openings in CD or DVD 25, hub 42, cup 46 and clutch body 50. The tapering interior sidewalls of cup 46 cause locking elements 48, which in the instant application are spheres made of any suitable material such as metal or plastic, to be forced into engagement with groove 36 due to the fact that compression spring 52 forces clutch body 50 upwardly against the force of rod 34 being pressed there into. Spring receiving cup 54 may be ultrasonically welded to bottom 14 and/or to hub 42, or is otherwise integrally connected to bottom 14 so as to stay substantially fixed relative thereto. The diameter of the upper portion of hub 42 corresponds generally to but is slightly less than the diameter of the standard aperture in CD or DVD 25. The diameter of the lower portion of hub 42 corresponds generally to the dimension of annular shoulder 21. Lower portion 42′ of hub 42 may be of any shape, that is, circular, rectangular, triangular, or any other suitable shape and still fall within the scope of the invention.

Once rod 34 is connected to clutch body 50, positioning a magnet M below bottom 14 of housing H as shown in FIG. 5 will cause clutch body 50 to be attracted by the magnet and overcome the spring force of spring 50 and hence translate toward spring retaining cup 54, and away from clutch cup 48, permitting locking element(s) 48 to move radially outwardly in corresponding journals 51 defined by clutch body 50 relative to pin 34. In this way, element(s) 48 is/are released from engagement with groove 36, permitting pin 32 to be freely removed from clutch body 50. This in turn permits top 12 to be removed and the CD or DVD 25 to be removed from or placed within cavity 16.

Optionally, an EAS element 60 may be provided for added security against unauthorized removal of case 10 from a secure location such as a retail store. EAS element 60 may be any of the known devices utilized in the EAS industry such as a radio frequency (“RF”) tag or the like.

In an alternative embodiment of the storage case 100, as depicted in FIGS. 6-8, the cover 120 may include a recess 201 or other depression in the outside surface 202 of the cover 120. The recess 201 is preferably molded into the cover 120 such that the recess 201 is positioned directly above the hub 42 when the cover 120 is closed. The recess 201 is preferably shaped to generally correspond to and accommodate the shape of the pin head 33, such that the pin head 33 rests within the recess 201 when the pin 32 is engaged with the locking elements 48. Depending on the size, shape and thickness of the recess 201, the recess 201 may not only retard the outside surface 202 of the cover 120, but may also retard or deflect the inside surface 203 of the cover 120. The recess 201 serves to substantially prevent and/or inhibit access to and removal of the rod 34 by unauthorized persons when the preferred locking mechanism 40 is engaged. For example, when the case 100 is configured such that a pin 32 is inserted through an aperture 38 in the cover 12 and into a receiving device, such as a clutch arrangement 30, the head 33 of the pin 32 rests within the recess 201 when the pin 32 is engaged with the clutch 30. In such a configuration, the rod 34 of the pin 32 is much more difficult to access from outside of the case 100. Thus, with the pin head 33 resting in the recess 201, a prospective thief would have a much more difficult time accessing the rod 34 in any attempt to cut the rod 34 and steal the disc, as compared to when the pin head 33 rests flat on a horizontal exterior surface of the cover 120.

In addition to the recess 201, a raised collar 207 may be employed on the outside surface 202 of the cover 120 to surround the recess 201 and further inhibit unauthorized access to the rod 34. The inclusion of such a collar 207 may be particularly desired when the comparative thicknesses of the pin head 33 and the cover 120 are such that a recess 201 alone may not adequately inhibit unauthorized access to the rod 34 when the pin 32 is engaged with the clutch 30. Alternatively, the raised collar 207 may used independent of the recess 201 or other depression to provide a barrier to the rod 34 when the pin 32 is engaged with the clutch 30.

As also depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8, the cover 120 of the alternative embodiment may further or alternatively include a collar 205 attached to the inside surface 203 of the cover 120. The collar 205 is preferably molded into or otherwise attached to the inside surface 203 of the cover 120 and preferably encircles or otherwise surrounds the aperture 38 through which the pin rod 34 passes prior to insertion into and receipt by the clutch 30. The collar 205 preferably extends perpendicularly outward from the inside surface 203 of the cover 120 to inhibit access to the pin rod 34 from inside the housing H when the locking mechanism 40 is engaged. The collar 205 preferably extends about ⅛ to ¼ inches (about 3.2 to 6.4 millimeters) from the inside surface 203 of the cover; however, the distance of extension may vary depending upon configuration of the case 100 and selection of the locking mechanism 40. The height of the collar 205 should be sufficient to substantially inhibit and/or prevent access to the pin rod 34 when the locking mechanism 40 is engaged and the two housing portions 120, 14 are pried open in any manner. The collar 205 is preferably circular with a diameter slightly greater than a diameter of the hub 42, such that the collar 205 surrounds a portion of the hub 42 when the preferred locking mechanism 40 is engaged, further restricting unauthorized access to the pin rod 34.

It can therefore be appreciated that, in order to significantly add to the theft deterrence properties of a case for storing rental CDs and DVDs, the instant invention is employed. The store employee simply exposes the underside of bottom 14 to a magnet of sufficient strength to cause clutch body 50 to overcome the spring force of spring 52 and move downwardly with respect to clutch cup 46. Upon the occurrence of the foregoing, pin 32 may be removed from clutch body 50. The employee can then simply place pin 32 in a drawer or other storage receptacle, where it will take up very little storage space. The renter can then leave the store (after any EAS tag 60 or label has been deactivated) and is able to open housing H and gain access to the CD or DVD stored therein for the purpose of playing it. Upon return of the case 10 with the CD or DVD placed there within, a store employee need only replace pin 32 within clutch body 50, thereby locking housing H in the closed position with the CD or DVD stored inside. The device 10 can then be placed back on the shelf for display and subsequent rental to another customer.

It is to be understood that the instant invention can be utilized in circumstances other than rental transactions. For example, the case of the instant invention may be used to store and display CDs or DVDs which are for sale, and the apparatus and methods disclosed herein apply equally as well.

Various modifications and alterations of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of this invention, and it is understood that this invention is not limited to the illustrative embodiments set forth hereinbefore.