Title:
Self-leveling cup holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-leveling cup holder for a vehicle, said cup holder suspended from a rim rotatable within an inner ring, along an axis of the inner ring, said inner ring rotatable within an outer ring, attachable to a mounting which is attachable to the vehicle, permitting said rim to be rotatable, or tilt able, about two perpendicular axes of rotation, to self level.



Inventors:
Mackin, Jonathan L. (Huguenot, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/903728
Publication Date:
02/02/2006
Filing Date:
07/30/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K1/08
View Patent Images:
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20050121565Adjustable musical instrument standJune, 2005Johnson



Primary Examiner:
MARSH, STEVEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karl F. Milder, Jr., Esq. (White Plains, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A self-leveling cup holder for use in a moving vehicle, said cup holder comprising: a mounting, and a means for securing the mounting to a surface of the vehicle, an outer ring, comprising means for making an attachment to the mounting, and two openings there thru, along a diameter of the outer ring, an inner ring, within the outer ring, said inner ring comprising pins extending from the exterior of the inner ring, along a diameter of the inner ring, and through the openings in the outer ring, and said pins being easily rotatable within the openings of the outer ring, a cup receptacle comprising a ring-shaped rim and a generally tapered cylindrical body with bottom surface, depending there from, said rim contained within the inner ring, said rim comprising pins extending from the exterior of the rim, along a diameter of the rim which is perpendicular to the diameter of the openings of the outer ring, and through the openings in the inner ring, said pins being easily rotatable within the openings of the inner ring.

2. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the rim of said suspended cup receptacle is freely tilt able about two axes at right angles to one another, such that the weight of the cup receptacle operates to level the rim of the cup receptacle and any cup therein.

3. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the pins extending from said inner ring thru said outer ring are secured by caps attached to the ends of the pins, said caps being larger than the openings in the outer ring.

4. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the pins extending from said inner ring thru said outer ring are secured by caps attached to the ends of the pins, said caps being larger than the openings in the inner ring.

5. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the outer ring further comprises means for making and adjustable angle attachment to the mounting.

6. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the mounting further comprises means for making an adjustable angle attachment to the outer ring of the cup holder.

7. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the means for securing the mounting to a surface of the vehicle comprises a double sided adhesive pad.

8. The cup holder of claim 1, further comprising a piece of foam, disposed on the bottom surface of the cup receptacle.

9. The cup holder of claim 1, further comprising a foam flap on the inner surface of the receptacle.

10. A self-leveling cup holder for use in a moving vehicle, said cup holder comprising: a) an outer ring and means for securing the outer ring to a surface of the vehicle, such that the plane of the outer ring is generally parallel to the projected path of the vehicle, said outer ring having two openings there thru, along a diameter of the outer ring; b) an inner ring, suspended within the outer ring by two pins extending from the exterior of the inner ring, along a diameter of the inner ring, through the openings in the outer ring, said pins being freely rotatable within the openings of the outer ring, said inner ring further comprising two openings there thru along a diameter of the inner ring, perpendicular to the diameter of the openings of the outer ring; and c) a cup receptacle comprising a ring-shaped rim and a generally tapered cylindrical body with bottom surface, depending there from, said rim is suspended within the inner ring by two pins extending from the exterior of the rim, along a diameter of the rim which is perpendicular to the diameter of the openings of the outer ring, and through the openings in the inner ring, said pins being freely rotatable within the openings of the inner ring.

11. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the suspended cup receptacle is freely tilt-able about two axes at right angles to one another, permitting the weight of a cup placed in the receptacle to level the rim of the cup with the level of the ground, to prevent spilling of the contents of the cup.

12. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein each pins extending from the inner ring are secured by caps at the end of each pin, said cap being larger than the opening in the outer ring through which the pin extends, and the pins extending from the rim are secured by caps at the end of each pin, said caps being larger than the opening in the inner ring through which the pins extend.

13. The cup holder of claim 1, wherein the means for securing the cup holder to the surface of the vehicle comprises a mounting secured to the surface of the vehicle, and having a female fastening means, and said outer ring further comprising a matching male fastening means, for making an adjustable, releasable and re-attachable fastening of the outer ring to the mounting.

14. The cup holder of claim 13, wherein the fastening means is operable to make a fastening at a number of angles.

15. The cup holder of claim 13, wherein the male fastening means comprises a shaft with at least one tooth extending along a length of the shaft, said shaft attached to an extended shelf of the outer ring, and the female fastening means comprises a mating toothed inner surface of a cylinder, attached to the mounting, operable for securing the outer ring to the mounting at a number of different angles.

16. A self-leveling cup holder for use in a moving vehicle, said cup holder comprising: a mounting, and a means for securing the mounting to a surface of the vehicle; an outer ring, having a generally cylindrical outer surface and a generally cylindrical inner surface, said outer ring further comprising two openings there thru, along a diameter of the outer ring, and means for making an attachment to the mounting; an inner ring, having a generally inner cylindrical surface, and a generally cylindrical outer surface within the inner surface of the outer ring, said inner ring further comprising pins extending from the exterior of the inner ring, along a diameter of the inner ring, and through the openings in the outer ring, and said pins being easily rotatable within the openings of the outer ring; and a cup receptacle comprising a ring-shaped rim having an outer surface and an inner surface, and a generally tapered cylindrical body with bottom surface, depending there from, the outer surface of said rim spaced from and within the inner surface of the inner ring, said rim comprising pins extending from the exterior of the rim, along a diameter of the rim which is perpendicular to the diameter of the openings of the outer ring, and through the openings in the inner ring, said pins being easily rotatable within the openings of the inner ring.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present intention relates to cup holders for use in moving vehicles, and specifically to cup holders which prevent the spilling of the cup contents as the vehicle turns, accelerates, and brakes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There have been numerous attempts to provide cup holders for use in vehicles to prevent the spilling of liquid from the cup as the vehicle moves. Some cup holders are designed to prevent the cup from sliding and falling. U.S. Pat. No. 4,760,987 discloses a cup holder with suction cups at the under surface thereof, activated by placement of a cup in the holder.

Other cup holders are designed to prevent the cup from tipping over. U.S. Pat. No. 3,393,892 discloses a non-tipping drinking glass coaster; a construction which prevents the glass from tipping by providing a larger base, but does little to prevent the tipping of the coaster in a moving vehicle. The U.S. Design Pat. No. 311,477 discloses a similar cup holder, which resists tipping, but cannot maintain the cup in an upright position when the underlying surface tilts rapidly, as in a moving vehicle.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,556,453 discloses a cup holder for nautical use, comprising a ring-shaped carrier for a tapered cup. The carrier has a hanger means connected thereto, which may be hung from a support hook which is attached to the boat. It is, however, difficult to get the cup through the hanger to get it into and out of the carrier. U.S. Pat. No. 4,941,635 discloses a cup holder stabilizer comprising an extensible and contractible cylinder unit, which though it traps the cup in the holder, and prevents the cup from moving with respect to the cup holder, does not otherwise prevent spills.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089 discloses a cup holder comprising a vertical backbone member that supports a pair of highly flexible symmetrically configured curving arms which hold the cup. A Velcro surface along the vertical backbone member attaches to a corresponding Velcro surface on the vehicle. By disengaging the Velcro, the cup holder may swing toward and away from the surface, but only one plane of motion is tolerated, hence spills will occur.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a cup holder which may be used in a moving vehicle and reduce or eliminate spillage from a cup therein when the vehicle accelerates rapidly or brakes suddenly. It is a further object of the present invention to provide a cup holder which prevents or eliminates spills when the vehicle turns, or goes over bumps. It is also an object of the present invention to provide a cup holder that may be attached to any surface of the vehicle, and be adjusted to set the plane of the cup holder parallel to the surface of the ground, or at any other desired angle.

These objects, as well as other objects which will become apparent from the discussion that follows, are achieved, in accordance with the present invention, which comprises a self-leveling cup holder comprising an outer ring, with inner ring, and cup receptacle, suspended therefrom; and means for securing the outer ring to a surface of the vehicle. The outer ring has two openings there through, along a diameter of the outer ring, and an inner ring is suspended within the outer ring by two pins extending from the exterior of the inner ring, along a diameter of the inner ring, through the openings in the outer ring. The pins, and inner ring, are freely rotatable within the openings of the outer ring. The inner ring also has two openings there thru, along a diameter of the inner ring, which diameter is perpendicular to the diameter of the outer ring. A cup receptacle is suspended within the inner ring by two pins extending from the exterior of the rim, along a diameter of the rim which is perpendicular to the diameter of the outer ring. The pins extending from the rim pass through the openings in the inner ring, and are freely rotatable within the openings of the inner ring. The cup receptacle comprises a generally tapered cylindrical body, with bottom surface, ring-shaped rim. The construction of the cup holder permits the cup receptacle free rotation about perpendicular axes, and the weight of the receptacle, and anything placed therein, operate through gravity to level the rim of the receptacle, thereby preventing spillage from the cup.

For a full understanding of the present invention, reference should now be made to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of the self-leveling cup holder of the present invention.

FIG. 1A is a top perspective view of the cup holder of FIG. 1, with the male and female fastenings means released.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the outer ring of the cup holder of FIG. 1, removed from the mounting.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the outer ring of the cup holder of FIG. 1, in partial cross-section, along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 1, illustrating the adjustable, and tilt able attachment of the outer ring to the mounting.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the male end of the adjustable fastening taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the mounting, with the outer ring (and therefore the inner ring & cup receptacle) removed.

FIG. 6 is a cross-section of the female end of the adjustable fastening taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-6 of the drawings. Identical elements in the various Figures are designated with the same reference numerals.

The top view of the self-leveling, or level headed, cup holder of the present invention is shown generally at 1, in FIG. 1. A perspective view of the same cup holder is seen in FIG. 1A. In this preferred embodiment the cup holder comprises an outer ring, 3, an inner ring, 5, and a cup receptacle, 8, having an upper rim, 7. The cup holder comprises means for securing the outer ring to a surface, e.g., a surface of the moving vehicle. As shown in FIG. 1, this means comprises a mounting, 9, which may be secured to the surface of the vehicle by double sided adhesive, 11, and/or through screws placed through the mounting holes, 13. Fastening means 19, shown generally at 19, may be used to fasten the outer ring to the mounting. In its most preferred form, the means for securing the outer ring of cup holder to the vehicle comprises the secure fastening of the mounting to the vehicle, and the adjustable, firm fastening of the outer ring to the mounting. The adjustable, firm fastening comprises a male end, 27, attached to extended shelf portion 23 of the outer ring, and a female end, 31, attached to the mounting. This fastening, 27/31 is releasable and adjustable with respect to the mounting or vehicle.

FIG. 1A illustrates the preferred male end of the male/female fastening. The male end of the fastening comprises teeth, 29, which extend the length of the rod, 31; giving the appearance of a gear rod. The male end of the fastening may be easily attached to the outer ring by means of center pin, 25. In this embodiment, the center pin, 25, is disposed through opening, 21, of the shelf portion, 23, if the outer ring. The shelf portion may be integral with the remainder of the outer ring, or maybe separately formed and securely attached thereto. As may be readily understood, the mounting hales may be provided in an extended shelf of the outer ring, to directly secure the outer ring and cup holder to the vehicle, and car could be taken to secure the ring at the angle intended, however, the releasable, adjustable fastening would be sacrificed.

As shown in FIG. 2, the outer ring, 3, has openings, 1, aligned along a diameter of the outer ring. Pins, 39, extend from the outer surface of inner ring, 5, along a diameter of the inner ring. The pins 39 are of sufficient length to extend through the openings, 41, of the outer ring. Preferably, the pins are provided with a locking cap, 43, of larger diameter than the holes, 41, in the outer ring. In constructing the cup holder of the present invention, the pins (with caps attached or formed integrally therewith) may be placed through the openings, 41, and secured to the outer surface of the inner ring, as with an adhesive or by locking into place. What is required in the construction is that the pins move freely, and rotate, within the holes 41. The inner ring, 5, is thus tilt ably suspended within the outer ring by pins, 39. “Within the outer ring”, means that the outer perimeter of the inner ring is smaller than the inner perimeter, or inner surface, of the outer ring. The degree of rotation of the inner ring is limited only by physical interference of outer ring; which can be adjusted by adjusting the height of the outer ring, but will always be limited to less than 90 degrees.

As shown in FIGS. 1 & 1A, cup receptacle, 8, is similarly suspended from its ring-shaped rim, 7, within the inner ring, 5. Inner ring, 5, has two openings there through, 41a (not shown), along a diameter of the inner ring, perpendicular to the diameter of the inner ring along which its pins are aligned. Pins, 39a, extend from the rim of the cup receptacle along a diameter of the rim. These pins, 39a, pass-through the openings, 41a, and may be capped by caps, 43a, larger in diameter than the holes, 41a. Thus the rim, 7, is tilt ably suspended within the inner ring, rotating about an axis perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the inner ring. Being freely rotatable about perpendicular axes, the rim of the cup receptacle is self-leveling. The weight of a cup placed in the cup receptacle, or perhaps even the weight of the receptacle alone, together with gravity, will cause the rim to come to a position parallel to the ground. As the rim and cup move, the surface of any liquid within the cup will also be brought parallel to the ground, to prevent spillage over the edge of the rim. Thus, as the vehicle brakes, or swerves, or turns, the movement of the inner ring and rim will prevent spilling.

Cup receptacle, 8, comprises a generally cylindrical body, preferably a tapered cylindrical body, and more preferably a bottom surface, for holding a cup disposed therein. It is not necessary that the walls of the receptacle be continuous about the receptacle. In an alternative construction the receptacle may have, e.g. four side panels, each extending from the rim to the bottom of the receptacle. A piece of foam may be applied to the bottom surface of the receptacle to accommodate vertical motion. In use, a cup is disposed within the cup holder from above, placing the bottom of the cup into the opening, 15. A flap of foam, 17, may be attached to the rim and/or to the inner surface of the cup receptacle, to accommodate a cup of smaller diameter than the rim of the cup receptacle and cross-section or the receptacle, so that the cup does not move with respect to the rim. The foam flap may extend over all, or part, of the rim or inner surface of the receptacle.

The adjustable fastening of the outer ring to the mounting or the vehicle provides an additional measure of safety against spillage. A shown in FIG. 3, outer ring, 3, can be secured to the mounting, 9, such that it extends it right angles to the mounting. However, the fascinating 27/31 is releasable and repositionable, to tilt the plane of the outer ring up or down as shown by the arrows, adjusting and readjusting the angle of the fastening. The adjust ability of this fastening allows the user to “level” the plane of the outer ring if the mounting is at an angle to the vertical, or permits the user to “pre-adjust” the plane of the outer ring to the “level” parallel to the anticipated direction of motion of the vehicle.

FIG. 4 illustrates the cross-section of the male end of the adjustable, releasable and repositionable fastening, taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 2. As shown, the teeth, 27, extend from the shaft, 31, borne on the center pin, 25. Center pin, 25, may be secured within an opening 21 in the shelf 23 of the outer ring. FIG. 5 illustrates the mounting, 9, which contains the female end of the adjustable fastening. FIG. 6 illustrates the cross-section of the female end of the fastening, taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5. The female end of the fastening has a toothed inner surface comprising a cylindrical opening, 37, larger in diameter than the shaft 31, and spaces, 35, radiating from the cylindrical opening, which match in cross-section the teeth, 29. To make the fastening, the male end, 27, is slid into the female end, 31. The fastening 27/31 is firm until the male end, 27, is slid out of the female end, 31. It is understood that the male and female ends may be reversed with the male end attached to the mounting, and the female end attached to the outer ring.

The cup holder of the present invention may be used for other vessels, such as bottles of water or wine. When adapted for such usage, the preferred dimensions may vary, but a foam flap attached to the rim will make any cup holder adaptable for different sized vessels. Though the cup holder may be made of any dimension, provided the size is not prohibitive for the vehicle, a total width of 4 to 4½ inches and a depth of 3½ to 4 inches will accommodate most cups and most vehicles. The cup holder may be easily manufactured from injection molded plastic, with metal screws and/or double sided adhesive pads.

There has thus been shown and described a novel self-leveling cup holder which fulfills all the objects and advantages sought therefore. Many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the subject invention will, however, become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering this specification and the accompanying drawings which disclose the preferred embodiments thereof. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention, which is to be limited only by the claims which follow.





 
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