Title:
You have mail
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention is a universal mail arrival indicator designed for rural, suburban, or urban curbside mailboxes of either the traditional plastic or metal design, or the modern plastic extruded mailbox housing and post. The system consists of a base unit that mounts on the top of the mailbox. The base unit holds a flag alert piece that has attached to it a retainer cord and retainer ring. When the mailbox alert is indicating mail has arrived, the flag alert is in a raised position with the retainer cord and wheel hanging at its side. When the mail has been removed, the consumer pushes down the flag horizontal with the box causing the torsion spring at the base to flex and the retainer cord and wheel to swing into the box. The door is closed and the mail arrival indicator is stored inside out of sight until the door is opened by the mail carrier. When the door is opened, the torsion spring returns to its original position causing the flag to pop up and return to the raised position with the retainer cord and wheel hanging on its side. It can be determined easily by looking out of a window or door whether the mail has arrived. This simple system provides convenience, safety, and security by eliminating many trips to the mailbox to check for mail arrival. The universal design and function of the system provides for installation on either traditional or modern curbside boxes.



Inventors:
Griffeth, Clarence Eldon (Shelby, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/989585
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/17/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MILLER, WILLIAM L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REBECCA ANN DORKA (MANSFIELD, OH, US)
Claims:
1. I claim to have invented a mail arrival alert system that has “Universal Application”. This universal mail arrival alert system is designed for curbside mailboxes made of both traditional plastic and metal, as well as modem mailboxes with plastic extruded box and pole housing.

2. In addition to claim #1, I claim to have invented a mail arrival alert system with a “Unique Design”. This universal mail arrival alert system is composed of a base unit, flag, retainer wheel, and retainer cord. Functional Hardware includes a grommet, torsion spring, screw pin, two screws and two bolts and hex nuts. Choice of screws or bolts and hex nuts depends on the type of mailbox the system is installed.

3. In addition to claim #2, I claim to have invented a mail arrival alert system with a “Simplicity of Function”. The system is installed following directions as explained in the “Detailed Description” section of this patent application. The system does not require any action or manipulation from the mail carrier. To operate, the consumer opens the mailbox door, pulls down the flag which places the retainer cord in front of the open box with the retainer wheel dangling. The consumer simply closes the door catching the cord. The flag is now down in a closed position, the cord is caught inside as well as the retainer wheel. The system remains in this position until mail is delivered. When the door is opened by the mail carrier, the retainer cord and wheel are released and the torsion spring flips the flag to an upright position. The retainer cord and wheel now hang vertically at the side of the open flag. The bright color of the upright flag can be seen from a long distance and is a signal to the homeowner or business that the mail has arrived.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are many patented mail arrival indicators that have been published, but none to date address the problem of a universal system which will function on the modern type of mailbox that is encased in a plastic housing as well as on the traditional mailbox.

In the last decade, in addition to rural mailboxes which are a distance from the house, new suburban and urban businesses and homes have been given curbside mailboxes. These mailboxes stand a distance from the building. This requires the home or business owner to go to the mailbox many times to check and see if the daily mail has been delivered.

A mail arrival indicator system allows the recipient to look out the window or door and know with certainty if the mail has arrived.

An indicator system provides convenience, security, and safety, for the general public as well as specific subgroups such as those living alone, the elderly, and high paced businesses where efficiency and convenience is utmost in priority.

This common scenario presents two problems which the inventor has solved by inventing this system.

1. There is currently no mail arrival alert system available for the plastic extruded mailboxes housing systems.

2. The number of plastic extruded mailbox housing systems installed is increasing in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

The general public has not had a simple, efficient, sturdy, functional, and economical mail arrival notification system that can be easily installed on the plastic extruded mailbox housing systems.

A review of the literature provided by the USPO reflects and supports this statement. A list of the patents used for reference follows. None of them can be installed on the plastic extruded mailbox housing system. Therefore, any of their claims to be “universal” are not substantiated.

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Patent No.:Date:Inventor
U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,337 B2Dec. 9, 2003Woelfel
U.S. Pat. No. 6,575,357 BIJun. 10, 2003Rundell
U.S. Pat. No. 6,425,521 B1Jul. 30, 2002Cooper
U.S. Pat. No. 6,371,367 B1Apr. 16, 2002Otero
U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,404Apr. 25, 2000Jefferson et. al.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,865,368Feb. 2, 1999Taylor et. al.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,427,311Jun. 27, 1995Schreckengost
U.S. Pat. No. 5,273,207Dec. 28, 1993Johnson
U.S. Pat. No. 5,082,170Jan. 21, 1992Goss
U.S. Pat. No. 5,092,517Mar. 3, 1992Jeffries, Jr. et al.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,094,386Mar. 10, 1992Tabacco
U.S. Pat. No. 5,123,590Jun. 23, 1992Teele

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The system addresses several problems presented by consumers.

1. Manufactured mailboxes do not have mail arrival alert system.

2. No mail arrival alert system is currently available for plastic extruded mailbox housing systems.

3. No mail arrival alert system is universal so that it can be installed on various types of curb side mailbox that the consumer has purchased.

The system provides a mail arrival alert system that can be installed easily on a traditional metal or plastic curbside mailbox, or on a plastic extruded mailbox housing system.

The system provides the consumer an economical solution to the problem of safety and security by eliminating traveling to the mailbox many times to check for mail.

The design and appearance of the system is simple, functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DESIGN DRAWINGS

Four drawings are presented to support the explanation of the manufacturing and function of the mail arrival alert system.

The drawings are referenced by FIGS. 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4.

FIG. 1/4 illustrates the uninstalled system from the front. The drawing shows:

1. Grommet hole on flag

2. Flag

3. Screw Pin

4. Retainer Cord

5. Retainer Wheel

6. Base Unit

7. Base Unit Installation Holes

8. Torsion Spring

FIG. 2/4 illustrates the uninstalled system from the back. The drawing shows:

1. Grommet hole on flag

2. Flag

3. Screw Pin

6. Base Unit

7. Base Unit Installation Holes

FIG. 3/4 illustrates the system as it looks installed on a plastic extruded mailbox system. The drawing shows the flag in its open alert position.

1. Grommet hole on flag

2. Flag

3. Screw Pin

4. Retainer Cord

5. Retainer Wheel

6. Base Unit

7. Base Unit Installation Holes

8. Torsion Spring

9. Installation Option: two screws for modem plastic extruded mailbox housing

10. Installation Option: two machine bolts, two hex nuts for traditional metal or plastic mailboxes.

FIG. 4/4 illustrated as the system as it looks installed on a plastic extruded mailbox system. The drawing shows the flag in its closed, non-alert position.

1. Grommet hole on flag

2. Flag

3. Screw Pin

4. Retainer Cord

6. Base Unit

SPECIFICATIONS—DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF THE INVENTION

A curbside mailbox that is approved by the Post Master General consists of a metal, plastic, or plastic housed box. There is a factory installed flag on the side which is raised by the consumer as a signal when the mailman is to stop to pick up mail.

There is, however, no system to tell the consumer when the mail has been delivered and is ready to pick up.

The postal codes require that any attachment to a mailbox must not require the postal worker to touch or move the attachment in anyway. Therefore, the factory installed flag is not used by the postal worker to alert the arrival of mail.

The inventor of this universal mail arrival alert system has designed and manufactured a unit which requires no handling or manipulation by a postal worker, and can be installed on a plastic, metal, or extruded plastic mailbox system.

The unit is composed of (Drawing 1/1)

1. Grommet hole on flag, 2. Flag, 3. Screw Pin, 4. Retainer Cord, 5. Retainer Wheel, 6. Base Unit, 7. Base Unit Installation Hole, 8. Torsion Spring

The manufacturing of this unit requires a sturdy base unit (6) with holes (7). The base unit provides the stability the system requires when the flag is in operation. The flag, made from a durable, brightly colored material, (2) attaches to the base unit and stands at 90 degrees when open. A torsion spring (8) held in place by a screw pin (3) provides the controlled movement needed to move the flag to a closed position (FIG. 4 #4). A hole with an attached grommet (1) provides a space where the retainer cord (4) is tied. The retaining cord is made of a durable twined material and stretches from the hole (1), to the retainer ring (5). The retaining cord is crafted from a durable material and is attached to the retainer wheel through the hole. The cord hangs freely from the grommet hole (1).

The grommet prevents the hole from destructing the cord from wear and tear when the cord is in motion.

FIG. 2/4 shows a back view of the unit when the unit is open.

FIG. 3/4 shows the positioning of the open unit on a mailbox. The base unit (6) is placed so that when the flag is placed in its closed position (FIG. 4/4) the edge of the flag (6) is flush with the edge of the mailbox. The installation holes are marked (7) and then the unit is removed. Holes are drilled into the mailbox and the base unit is replaced. There are two options of installation hardware to be used at this point.

#1. The two screws, pointing down, (9) are inserted from the top of the mailbox into the holes in the plastic housing of a modem plastic extruded mailbox. The screws do not enter the mailbox, but are imbedded in the plastic of the housing.

#2 The two bolts are inserted from the inside of a traditional metal or plastic mailbox. They point up and are inserted through the mailbox wall and through the installation holes (7). The hex nuts are then tightened down on the bolts (11) until secure.

FIG. 4/4 shows the positioning of the closed unit on a mailbox. The base unit (6) stays stationary, the torsion spring moves on the screw pin (3) as the flag is lowered (2). The grommet hole (1) secures the cord as it is placed into the mailbox opening (4). The retainer wheel remains inside the box until the mail carrier opens the box. The tension spring automatically returns the flag to its original 90 degree position. FIG. 3/4. The retainer wheel (5) hangs on the retainer cord (4) from the retainer hole (1).

FIG. 3/4 shows that the flag (2) is now up and visible so the consumer can see from a window or door of a home or business that the mail has arrived. The flag is a bright color and is a clearly visible signal.