Title:
Container with built-in wheels
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a handy and easily movable container that lends itself to a myriad of uses, including the storing and/or shipping of products. The present invention is particularly useful in connection with the wholesale and/or retail sale of consumer products, such as self-rising swimming pools, which are packaged in large containers and are heavy to lift. In one embodiment, the container comprises a corrugated box and first and second wheel bracket units rotatably engaged with the lower portion of the box from a retracted or stored position to a deployed or operable position. The container further comprises a handle unit disposed at the upper portion of the box. In operation, a person may rotate the first and second wheel bracket units from the retracted or stored position to the deployed or operable position and then grasp and tilt the container using the handle unit. The person may then roll the container along the floor or ground to a desired location.



Inventors:
Hoiriis, Paul A. T. (Northboro, MA, US)
Berenson, Steven M. (Canton, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/147533
Publication Date:
12/08/2005
Filing Date:
06/08/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D5/42; B65D25/20; B65D71/00; (IPC1-7): B65D71/00
View Patent Images:
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20090243255Cycle wheel mounting systemOctober, 2009Ashman
20020079673Power straps for skatersJune, 2002Laverdiere
20080315564Airbag Assembly, Gear and Operating Method for Said AssemblyDecember, 2008Muller
20070252357Combination loading ramp/trailerNovember, 2007Hoskins
20100072725ACTUATOR FOR GENERATING A ROTATIONAL POSITIONING MOVEMENTMarch, 2010Woellhaf et al.
20080100040Airbag cover retention methodMay, 2008Depottey et al.
20100096822MOTORCYCLE FOOT STEERINGApril, 2010Swenson
20030122352Device for mounting accessory wheels on strollerJuly, 2003Moscovich
20080116681AUTOMATIC SAFETY BELT RELEASEMay, 2008Van Rooyen



Primary Examiner:
OLSZEWSKI, JOHN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEVEN N. FOX, ESQ. (Sharon, MA, US)
Claims:
1. A container for use with a consumer product by a person on a surface comprising: a body portion adapted to retain the product; and a transport unit engaged with said body portion and operable by the person from a retracted position to a deployed position to allow the person to move said body portion along the surface.

2. The container of claim 1, further comprising a handle unit engaged with said body portion and adapted to allow the person to tilt and move said body portion along the surface.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein said transport unit comprises first and second wheel bracket units disposed substantially within said body portion in said retracted position and disposed substantially outward of said body portion in said deployed position.

4. The container of claim 3, wherein each of said first and second wheel bracket units are rotatable by the person from said retracted position to said deployed position.

5. The container of claim 4, wherein said first wheel bracket unit is rotatable independent of said second wheel bracket unit.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein each of said first and second wheel bracket units comprise a bracket rotatably engaged with said body portion and a wheel member rotatably engaged with said bracket.

7. The container of claim 6, wherein said transport unit further comprises a lower support member engaged with said body portion and rotatably supporting said first and second wheel bracket units between said retracted position and said deployed position.

8. The container of claim 7, wherein said body portion further comprises a bottom portion, a rear portion, first and second sidewall portions, and a top portion; said support member being engaged with and extending from said first sidewall portion to said second sidewall portion.

9. The container of claim 8, wherein each of said brackets comprise a tubular opening portion rotatably engaged with said support member.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein each of said brackets comprise an arm portion extending outward from each of said tubular opening portions, respectively.

11. The container of claim 10, wherein each of said arm portions comprise a hook portion adapted to engage with said bottom portion of said body portion in said deployed position.

12. The container of claim 11, wherein each of said arm portions comprise a leg portion adapted to engage the surface and support said body portion in said deployed position.

13. The container of claim 12, wherein said transport unit further comprises a center support bracket having a bottom portion engaged with said body and a top portion rotatably engaged with said lower first support member.

14. The container of claim 13, wherein said bottom portion of center support bracket is engaged with said front and bottom portions of said body portion.

15. The container of claim 14, wherein said top portion of said center support bracket comprises a tubular opening portion adapted to allow said lower support member to rotate freely.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein said bottom portion of said center support bracket comprises first and second support portions engaged with said front and bottom portions of said body portion, respectively.

17. The container of claim 15, wherein said handle unit comprises an upper support member engaged with said body portion at a point closer to said top portion than said bottom portion of said body portion.

18. The container of claim 16, wherein said upper support member is engaged with and expands between said first and second sidewall portions of said body portion.

19. The container of claim 18, wherein said body portion further comprises a first tab portion removable by the person to form a first open slot portion allowing the person access to grasp said handle support portion.

20. The container of claim 19, wherein said first tab portion is disposed at said rear and top portions, respectively, of said body portion, and adjacent said handle support portion.

21. The container of claim 20, wherein said body portion further comprises a second and third tab portions removable by the person to form second and third open slot portions to allow the person access to said first and second wheel bracket units, respectively.

22. The container of claim 21, wherein each of said first, second, and third tab portions comprise a plurality of tear-away perforated edges.

23. The container of claim 22, wherein said body portion comprises a box made from corrugated cardboard.

24. The container of claim 23, wherein each of said lower and upper support members comprise an elongated hollow rod made from a substantially rigid plastic material.

25. The container of claim 24, wherein said wheel members, said brackets, and said center support bracket are each made from a substantially rigid plastic material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/578,042 filed on Jun. 8, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety into this specification.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to containers, boxes or the like used as packaging for relatively large and heavy consumer products such as a self-rising swimming pool. Conventional containers are typically made from corrugated cardboard and have an advertisement of the product imprinted on the outside of the box. One drawback with conventional containers is that the person may require assistance such as a dolly to transport the container to the check-out counter and/or the car which is time consuming and burdensome.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a handy and easily movable container that lends itself to a myriad of uses, including the storing and/or shipping of products. The present invention is particularly useful in connection with the wholesale and/or retail sale of consumer products, such as self-rising swimming pools, which are packaged in large containers and are heavy to lift. In one embodiment, the container comprises a corrugated box and first and second wheel bracket units rotatably engaged with the lower portion of the box from a retracted or stored position to a deployed or operable position. The container further comprises a handle unit disposed at the upper portion of the box. In operation, a person may rotate the first and second wheel bracket units from the retracted or stored position to the deployed or operable position and then grasp and tilt the container using the handle unit. The person may then roll the container along the floor or ground to a desired location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The description of the present invention will be more fully understood with reference to the accompanying drawings which form a part of this specification, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container of the present invention shown with a product stored therein and without the removal of any tab portions as may, for example, be transported from the manufacturer to the retailer, displayed on a shelve or floor of the retailer for sale to the consumer, and transported to a destination such as the backyard of the consumer;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container showing the first and second wheel bracket units in a fully deployed or operable position and the person grasping the handle unit and tilting the container about the first and second wheel bracket units;

FIG. 3 is a cut-away perspective view of the container showing the third and fourth tab portions removed and the formation of third and fourth L-shaped open slot portions exposing and allowing the person access to freely flip or rotate the first and second wheel bracket units;

FIG. 4 is a cut-away perspective view of the container showing the first and second wheel bracket units partially flipped or rotated to an intermediate position between the retracted or stored position and the fully deployed or operable position;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the container showing the first and second wheel bracket units in the fully deployed position and the person grasping the handle unit (not shown) and tilting the container about the first and second wheel bracket units;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the transport unit assembled apart from the container and showing the first and second wheel bracket units rotatably mounted to the lower support member and end caps secured to each thereof;

FIG. 7 is a cut-away perspective view of the lower inside portion of the container showing the first and second wheel bracket units rotatably mounted to the lower support member which is engaged with and extends from opposing sidewalls of the container;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the first and second wheel bracket units each having a wheel rotatably engaged to a bracket about a pin;

FIG. 9 is a top view of the first and second wheel bracket units each having a wheel rotatably engaged to a bracket about a pin;

FIG. 10 is a cut-away perspective view of the container showing the center support bracket engaged with the bottom and rear portions of the container;

FIG. 11 is a perspective views of the center support bracket showing a bottom flange portion adapted to engage with an L-shaped flange or slot portion formed in the bottom of the container and a top portion in the form of a cylindrical shaped tubular opening portion extending inward of the box and adapted to support and allow the lower support member to slide or otherwise move freely therein;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the center support bracket showing the cylindrically shaped tubular opening portion;

FIG. 13 is a cut-away perspective view of the inside of the container showing a cover member enclosing the transport unit;

FIG. 14 is a cut-away perspective view of the upper inside portion of the container showing the handle unit having an upper support member in the form of an elongated hollow rod engaged with and extending between the first and second sidewalls of the container;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the handle unit having an upper support member in the form of an elongated hollow rod and end caps secured to each end thereof;

FIG. 16 is a cut-away perspective view of the container showing the first and second tab or flap portions having perforate edges which may be pushed inward by the person;

FIG. 17 is a cut-away perspective view of the container showing the first and second tab or flap portions pushed inward and allowing the person access to the upper support member of the handle unit to allow the person to comfortably grasp and tilt the container; and

FIG. 18 are illustrations showing one method of using the container, namely, the steps of tearing away the perforated cardboard tab portions; pulling or rotating the first and second wheel bracket units to a partial or intermediate position; tilting or raising the container off the ground and flipping or rotating the first and second wheel bracket units to the fully deployed position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1-5, the present invention is a container 10 adapted for displaying, storing and/or transporting a consumer product 12, such as a self-rising swimming pool, and for allowing a person 14 to easily transport the container 10 along a surface 16 such as a floor of a retail store or the ground of a backyard. The container 10 generally comprises a body portion 18 adapted to store the product 12, a transport unit 56 engaged with the body portion 18, and a handle unit 112. In use, a person 14 may rotate the transport unit 56 from a retracted or stored position (FIGS. 1 and 2), to an intermediate position (FIG. 4), and to a completely deployed or operable position (FIGS. 2 and 5), whereby the person 14 may tilt the body portion 18 about the transport unit 56 by gasping the handle unit 112 and move the container 10 along the surface 16 by pushing and/or pulling the handle unit 112.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1-5, the body portion 18 generally comprises a bottom wall portion 20, a rear wall portion 22, first and second sidewall portions 24 and 26, a top wall portion 28, and an internal cavity portion 30. The body portion 18 further comprises first and second horizontally shaped tab portions 32 and 38 defined by tear-away perforated edges 34 and 40, respectively. As best shown by FIGS. 16-17, the tab portions 32 and 38 may be pushed inward by the person to form first and second open slot portions 36 and 42, respectively, which as shown with continued reference to FIG. 2, allows the person to access and grip an upper support member 114 of the handle unit 112 about inwardly extended tab portions 32 and 38. The first and second inwardly extended tab portions 32 and 38 also function as a cushion between the person's hand and the upper support member 114 (to be described) of the handle unit 112. First and second slot portions 36 and 42 are preferably disposed at an upper rear edge 29 of the rear wall and top wall portions 22 and 28, respectively, and in close proximity to the upper support member 114 (to be described) of the handle unit 112 so that the person 14 may comfortably grasp the upper support member 114 about the inwardly extended tab portions 32 and 38.

Referring back to FIGS. 1-5, the body portion 18 further comprises third and fourth vertical L-shaped tab portions 44 and 50 defined by perforated edges 46 and 52, respectively, and removable by the person 14 to form vertical L-shaped open slot portions 48 and 54 (FIGS. 3 and 4), respectively, which allows the person 14 access to the first and/or second wheel bracket units 58 and 72, respectively. As best shown by FIG. 3, the body portion 18 further comprises an L-shaped open slot portion 140 defined by inner tear-away perimeter edges 142 disposed along a bottom rear edge 23 of the bottom and rear portions 20 and 22. As will be described more fully herein, the open slot portion 140 allows the partial insertion of a center support bracket 100 (to be described) which is supported by the inner perimeter edge portion 142 of the open slot portion 140. As best shown by FIGS. 3 and 7, the body portion 18 further comprises fifth and sixth tab portions 148 and 154 defined by tear-away perforated edges 150 and 156 respectively, which when removed form open catch or slot portions 152 and 158. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the body portion 18 is in the shape of a four sided box made from corrugated cardboard. The body portion 18 may take a variety of shapes and configurations depending upon the product to be stored and/or transported in the container 10. By way of example only, the container 10 may take the form of an open or closed cylinder or an open or closed square which may be suited for a wide variety of other consumer products. The body portion 18 is preferably made of perforated cardboard although other materials could be used such as plastic. The tab portion 32 and 38 may have connecting continuous perforated edges (not shown), essentially operating as a single tab portion, such that the person may selectively choose to completely remove tab portions 32 and 38 from the body portion 18 thereby allowing the person to grasp the upper support member 114 (to be described) of the handle unit 112 directly.

Referring to FIGS. 6-12, the transport unit 56 generally comprises first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 disposed substantially within the internal cavity portion 30 of the body portion 18 when the transport unit 56 is in the retracted position. In the fully deployed position, the first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 are disposed substantially outward of the body portion 18. The person 14 may flip or rotate the first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 from the retracted position to the fully deployed position. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the first wheel bracket unit 58 is rotatable by the person 14 independent of the second wheel bracket unit 72. The first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 generally comprise bracket portions 60 and 74, respectively, that are rotatably engaged with the body portion 18 about a lower support member 86 (to be described). As best shown by FIGS. 8 and 9, the first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 further comprise wheel members 70 and 84 rotatably engaged with the bracket portions 60 and 74, respectively, about pins 71 and 85, respectively. Referring back to FIGS. 6 and 7, the transport unit 56 further comprises a lower support member 86 engaged with the body portion 18 which rotatably supports the first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 between the retracted position and the fully deployed position. The lower support member 86 is engaged with and extends from the first sidewall portion 24 to the second sidewall portion 26. The lower support member 86 comprises an elongated main body portion 88 having end portions 90 and 92 adapted to receive end caps 94 and 96, respectively. End caps 94 and 96 secure the sidewall portions 24 and 26 to the end portions 90 and 92, respectively, of the main body portion 88. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the lower support member 86 is an elongated hollow body in the shape of a rod and made from a substantially rigid plastic material. As best shown by FIG. 8, the bracket portions 60 and 74 comprise tubular shaped opening portions 62 and 76, respectively, rotatably engaged with the lower support member 86. Bracket portions 60 and 74 further comprise elongated substantial planar arm portions 64 and 78 extending outward from the tubular opening portions 62 and 76, respectively. Each of the arm portions 64 and 78 comprise an upwardly extending flange portion 65 and 67, respectively, and a plurality of finger or hook portions 66 and 80, respectively, disposed at the end thereof. The hook portions 66 and 80 are adapted to “grab” the inner perimeter edge of the open catch portions or slots 152 and 158 (FIG. 7) disposed in the bottom portion 20 to hold the bracket portions 60 and 74 in place under the body portion 18. Each arm portions 64 and 78 may further comprise downwardly extending leg portions 68 and 82 adapted to support the body portion 18 above the surface 16 in the fully deployed position. As shown by FIG. 8, the leg portions 68 and 82 are disposed substantially below the flange portions 65 and 67.

As best shown by FIGS. 10-12, the transport unit 56 may further comprise a center support bracket 100 to provide additional support for the lower support member 86. In the embodiment shown, the center support bracket 100 generally comprises a L-shaped substantially planar bottom portion 102 engaged with the body portion 18 along the bottom rear edge 23 and a top portion 108 adapted to support the lower support member 86 at approximately the median or center of the lower support member 86. The bottom portion 102 of the center support bracket 100 comprises a substantially planar first support portion 104 engaged with the bottom portion 20 and a substantially planar second support portion 106 engaged with the rear portion 22 of the body portion 18. The top portion 108 of the center support bracket 100 comprises a hollow ring or tubular shaped opening portion 110 adapted to receive and allow the lower support member 86 to slide or otherwise move freely there thru. The center support bracket 100 is positioned at the bottom rear edge 23 of the container 10, with the tubular opening portion 110 projecting into the cavity portion 30 of the container 10. The L-shaped bottom portion 102 of the center support bracket 100 is slightly larger than the L-shaped slot portion 140 in order to keep the center support bracket 100 in position so that it does not move into the cavity portion 30 of the container 10.

Except for pins 71 and 85, all of the components of the transport unit 56 (bracket portions 60 and 74, wheel members 70 and 84, lower support member 86, and the center support bracket 100) may be made from well known durable and strong plastic materials and fabricated by well known molding processes. The transport unit 56 take a variety of other configurations. By way of example only, one, two, or more wheels may be employed, and the particular structure of the wheel bracket, the arm extending therefrom, and its attached leg, all may vary from that shown here. The slots may be cut open, rather than being formed from perforated tabs, with the wheels being releasably retained within the container by means other than rotation. There may be one or more wheels and/or wheel bracket unit mounted within the bottom portion 20 of the body portion 18 and deployed therefrom.

Referring to FIG. 13, the container 10 further may comprise a internal cover portion 128 disposed over the transport unit 56. In the embodiment shown, the cover 128 is made from corrugated cardboard.

Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15, the handle unit 112 comprises an upper support member 114 engaged with the body portion 18 at a point closer to the top portion 28 than the bottom portion 20 of the body portion 18. In the embodiment shown, the upper support member 114 is engaged with and extends or spans between the first and second sidewall portions 24 and 26 of the body portion 18. The upper support member 114 comprises a body portion 116 having end portions 118 and 120 adapted to pass through the sidewall portion 24 and 26, and end caps 124 and 126. End caps 124 and 126 secure the sidewall portions 24 and 26, respectively, to the upper support member 114. In the embodiment shown, the upper support member 114 is an elongated hollow body in the shape of a rod and made from a substantially rigid plastic material and fabricated by conventional extrusion and/or molding processes. As also shown by FIG. 14, the first and second tab portions 32 and 38 when pushed inward fold over the median portion 117 of the elongated body portion 116 and as such acts as a cushion to provide a comfortable grip. Alternatively, the first and second tab portions may be a single tab portion completely removable by the person to expose the median portion 117 of the elongated body portion 116, whereby the person would gasp the upper support member 114 directly to tilt and push the container 10.

The container 10 may be assembled as follows: First, the center support bracket 100 is inserted from the outside into the L-shaped open slot 140 disposed substantially at the bottom rear edge 23 intersecting the bottom and rear portions 20 and 22 such that the axis of the tubular ring or tubular open portion 10 is substantially parallel to the rear edge 23 of the container 12. The remainder of the transport unit 56 may then be assembled as follows: the lower support member or rod 86 is slid through a hole (not shown) in the side wall 24 of the body portion 18. The first wheel bracket unit 58 is then mounted to the lower support member 86 and then the lower support member 86 is slid through the tubular opening portion 110 of the center bracket support 100. Thereafter, the second wheel bracket unit 72 is mounted to the lower support member 86 and the lower support member 86 is slid through a hole (not shown) in the side wall 24 of the container 10. Thereafter, the end cap 94 and 96 are inserted in the end portions 90 and 92, respectively, to secure the lower support member 86 to the body portion 18.

In a typical use, a person may remove the lower vertical tabs 32 and 38 thereby visibly exposing and allowing the person access to the first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 which are orientated in a fully retracted or stored position (FIG. 3). The first and second wheel bracket units 58 and 72 may be rotated to a partial deployed position (FIG. 4). The bottom rear edge 23 of the container 10 may be lifted and the first and second wheel brackets 58 and 72 may be flipped or rotated under the container 10 so that the upper surface of the arm portions 64 and 78 substantially engage the bottom wall 20 of the container 10, and each of the finger or hooks portions 66 and 80 may be engaged with open catch or slot portions 152 and 158, respectively. Thereafter, the person may gasp the handle unit 112 and tilt the container 10 about wheels 70 and 84 for subsequent rolling movement. The leg portions 68 and 82 help support the container 12 when it is returned to its upright, non-tilted position.

In the embodiment shown, the body portion 18 is a corrugated box having dimensions of approximately 21.00 inches by 25.00 inches by 38.00 inches in size. The two support members $6 and 114 are each about 1.00 inches in diameter and are made from hard plastic. The wheel members 70 and 84 are each about 2.00 inches in diameter. The arm portion 64 and 78 extending from wheel members 70 and 84 are about 5.00 inches long. The horizontal open slot portions 36 and 42 at the top rear edge 29 of the container 10 are about 2.00 inches by 5.00 inches. The vertical open slot portions 48 and 54 covering the wheels 70 and 84 are about 2.50 inches by 6.50 inches. The two open catch or slots portions 152 and 158 on the bottom wall 20 of the container 12 are 0.50 inches by 2.25 inches. The L-shaped open slot 140 at the center of the bottom rear edge 23 is 2.50 inches wide, extends upwardly about 1.25 inches and rearwardly about 1.25 inches.

The preferred embodiment of the invention has been described herein. However, it will be recognized that variations of the preferred embodiment here described may be made without departing from the invention.