Title:
Bag holder and storage organizer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An organizer for plastic bags, which stores, dispenses and provides a stand to hold plastic bags for disposing trash. In one aspect, the organizer includes a support structure that holds plastic bags in an open manner to allow disposal of trash. In one embodiment, a lid is provided to cover the opening of the plastic bag. The support structure may extend from a base structure, which may comprise a bag storage container or a support for sundry items. In another aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes the combination of a bag holder and a container that stores and dispenses plastic bags. The storage container supports the bag holder, and may include a structure that supports other items, such as sundry items like cleaners. In a further aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes the combination of a bag storage and a dispensing container, without the bag holder.



Inventors:
Yang, Frank (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, US)
Wei, Tzu-hao (Hacienda Heights, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/435548
Publication Date:
11/16/2006
Filing Date:
05/16/2006
Assignee:
Simplehuman LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/45
International Classes:
A47K10/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MCDUFFIE, MICHAEL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LIU & LIU (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An organizer for a plastic bag, comprising: a bag holder section that comprises: a support frame comprising a bag support bracket defining a space sized to receive a plastic bag; and two spaced apart handles extending below and spaced apart from the bag support bracket, each extending from a rear and terminating at a front, each handle comprising an anchor by which a handle of the plastic bag can be held to keep the plastic bag open for accepting trash.

2. The organizer as in claim 1, further comprising a cover hingedly supported by the bag support bracket, and adapted to substantially cover the opening of the bag support bracket, thus covering opening of the plastic bag when it is supported by the bag support bracket.

3. The organizer as in claim 1, wherein the bag support bracket comprises a closed loop frame.

4. The organizer as in claim 1, wherein the anchor comprises a tab extending to define a U-shaped channel along which the handle of the plastic bag can be held.

5. The organizer as in claim 1, wherein the support frame further comprises at least one cross frame section spaced apart and below the bag support bracket, which cross frame section terminates at each end with the handles.

6. The organizer as in claim 5, wherein the cross frame section are coupled to the bag support bracket by at least one vertical frame section.

7. The organizer as in claim 1, further comprising a bag storage section supporting the bag holder section.

8. The organizer as in claim 7, wherein the bag storage section comprises a storage container.

9. The organizer as in claim 8, wherein the storage container comprises at least one funnel-shaped inlet.

10. The organizer as in claim 8, wherein the storage container comprises a funnel-shaped inlet at each end of the storage container.

11. The organizer as in claim 8, wherein the storage container comprised an elongated body, which comprises an elongated opening extending along the elongated body.

12. The organizer as in claim 8, wherein the storage container is provided with a trough shaped surface at one side of the elongated body which faces the bag supporting bracket.

13. An organizer for plastic bags, comprising: a bag storage section structured to store plastic bags; a bag holder section supported on the bag storage section, structured to hold a plastic bag above the bag storage section and in an open position for depositing trash.

14. The organizer as in claim 13, wherein the bag holder section comprises: a support frame comprising a bag support bracket defining a space sized to receive a plastic bag; and two spaced apart handles extending below and spaced apart from the bag support bracket, each extending from a rear and terminating at a front, each handle comprising an anchor by which a handle of the plastic bag can be held to keep the plastic bag open for depositing trash.

15. The organizer as in claim 14, further comprising a cover hingedly supported by the bag support bracket, and adapted to substantially cover the opening of the bag support bracket, thus covering opening of the plastic bag when it is supported by the bag support bracket.

16. The organizer as in claim 13, wherein the bag holder section comprises a bag storage container having an inlet opening and an outlet opening.

17. The organizer as in claim 16, wherein the bag storage container comprises: an elongated body having two ends; and a funnel-shaped inlet opening defined in at least one of the ends.

18. The organizer as in claim 17, wherein the bag storage container further comprises an elongated opening extending along the elongated body.

19. The organizer as in claim 16, further comprising a trough shaped surface on one side of the elongated body facing the bag holder section.

20. An organizer for plastic bags, comprising: a bag storage container, which comprises an elongated body having two ends; a funnel-shaped inlet defined in at least one of the ends; and an elongated opening extending along the elongated body.

21. The organizer as in claim 20, further comprising a trough shaped surface on one side of the elongated body.

22. The organizer as in claim 21, further comprising a bag holder section supported by the bag storage container.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE

This application claims priority and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/623,998, filed on Jul. 21, 2003, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/084,207, filed on Mar. 18, 2005, and U.S. Design Patent Application No. 29/253,359, filed on Feb. 3, 2006. These applications are fully incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an organizer for bags, and more particularly to plastic bags.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Plastic bags are commonly used to package various types of consumer goods, such as food and related products, for ease in transporting the goods. Consumers then often save their plastic bags for reuse as trash bags, for example. However, storage of used plastic bags is often cumbersome. Also, it is difficult to maintain plastic bags in a compact form due to its resilient nature. As such, used plastic bags require more storage space than paper bags.

Storage containers have been developed to facilitate storage of used plastic bags. Copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/623,998, commonly assigned to the assignee of the present invention, discloses a container that is of a compact space-saving profile that is aesthetically appealing. The container is configured to facilitate storage of the plastic bags in an organized fashion and to minimize entanglement of the plastic bags with each other. In one embodiment, the container includes a funnel-shaped aperture. The wider end of the aperture confronts the outer side of the container, and the narrower end is disposed within the container. The funnel-shaped aperture facilitates collapsing the plastic bags into a compact form for insertion of the plastic bags into the container. The container is designed to be mounted to a vertical surface, such as underneath or inside a cabinet. The low profile of the container minimizes the space occupied by the container when mounted underneath or inside the cabinet. Copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/084,207, commonly assigned to the assignee of the present invention, discloses a free-standing version of the bag storage container. The storage container stores and dispenses plastic bags for future reuse. The plastic bags may be retrieved from the storage container to be reused for various purposes, including lining trashcans. However, this would require separate trashcans, taking up additional space in kitchens, for example.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,666,416 to McAllister discloses a bag storage and holding apparatus for recyclable or disposable bags. According to McAllister, the apparatus has a receptacle for storing handle bags for future use. The receptacle has a wide open top, and a bottom opening. On each end of the storage receptacle is a rotatably mounted side arm, which can swing up or down. When the arms are in a horizontal position, the apparatus is positioned for receiving a handle bag and maintaining it in an open position. Each side arm has handle-engaging means for retaining the bag in an open position for receipt of refuse. This apparatus eliminates the need for a separate trashcan. However, due to the open configuration, the apparatus is not suitable to hold waste such as food scraps in the kitchen. There is no means to prevent odor from emanating into the environment, or pests from visiting the waste held in the bag, which therefore places hygiene in question. Further, the McAllister apparatus is not configured to facilitate storage of plastic bags in an organized fashion and to minimize entanglement of the plastic bags with each other. Further, it does not provide a structure for additional organizer functions. For example, there is no provision for supporting sundry items.

It is therefore desirable to have a bag storage and holder that is of a compact space-saving, hygienic design, which provides for organized bag storage and other items.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an organizer for plastic bags.

In one aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes a support structure that holds plastic bags in an open manner to allow disposal of trash. In one embodiment, a lid is provided to cover the opening of the plastic bag. The support structure may extend from a base structure, which may comprise a bag storage container or a support for sundry items.

In another aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes a bag holder and a container that stores and dispenses plastic bags. The storage container supports the bag holder, and may include a structure that supports other items, such as sundry items like cleaners.

In a further aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes a bag storage and a dispensing container, without the bag holder.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the invention, as well as the preferred mode of use, reference should be made to the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. In the following drawings, like reference numerals designate like or similar parts throughout the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an organizer in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is another perspective view thereof;

FIG. 3 is a front view thereof;

FIG. 4 is a rear view thereof;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view thereof;

FIG. 6 is a side view thereof, the opposite side being a mirror image thereof;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view thereof, showing the lid thereof in an opened position from a closed position; and

FIG. 8 is another perspective view thereof showing support of a plastic bag by the organizer.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an organizer in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

This invention is described below in reference to various embodiments with reference to the figures. While this invention is described in terms of the best mode for achieving this invention's objectives, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that variations may be accomplished in view of these teachings without deviating from the spirit or scope of the invention.

The present invention is directed to an organizer for various types of bags. The organizer is particularly suited for organizing the use, storage and/or dispensing of plastic bags, including, but not limited to, new or used bags made from polyethylene, such as those used in the grocery industry for packaging products for ease in carrying. For purposes of illustrating the principles of the present invention and not by limitation, the present invention is described by reference to embodiments directed to an organizer for storing and dispensing used grocery type plastic bags. Other types of bags may be used to take advantage of the inventive organizer, as is apparent from the disclosure below.

In one aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes a bag holder having a support structure that hold plastic bags in an open manner to allow disposal of trash. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an organizer 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 is another perspective view thereof; FIG. 3 is a front view thereof; FIG. 4 is a rear view thereof; FIG. 5 is a top plan view thereof; and FIG. 6 is a side view thereof (the opposite side being a mirror image thereof). In this illustrated embodiment, the organizer 10 includes a bag holder section 12 and a bag storage section 14. As will be noted below, the bag holder section 12 and the bag storage section 14 are separate aspects of the organizer in accordance with present invention. They may be integrated in an organizer, or implemented separately. However, for ease of disclosure, the bag holder section 12 and the bag storage section 14 are illustrated together in the figures.

In one aspect of the invention, the bag storage section 14 is omitted, as it is not essential to the function of the bag holder function. The bag storage section 14 will be described separately below. The bag holder section 12 includes a support frame 11, including a pair of vertical frame sections 16 and 17 and a pair of cross frame sections 18 and 19, which may be welded or otherwise rigidly attached to form the support frame 11. While the pair of vertical frame sections 16 and 17 and the pair of cross frame sections 18 and 19 are respectively shown as parallel structures, it is understood that the number of vertical and/or cross frame sections may be different, to form a rigid support frame 11 of the bag holder section 12. The support frame 11 also includes a bag support bracket 15, which is in the shape of a closed loop, oriented horizontally at the top end of the support frame 11. The orientation of the bag support bracket 15 may be at an angle to the horizon, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. The bag support bracket 15 is sized and shaped to receive a plastic bag (e.g., a standard grocery bag) through the central space or opening 13 defined by the bag support bracket 15. Referring also to FIGS. 3 and 8, the outline of the plastic bag 22 is shown in dotted lines, showing the placement of the plastic bag 22 in the bag holder section 12, with the plastic bag 22 received through the opening 13, and the top section near the opening of the plastic bag 22 supported by the bag support bracket 15. It is understood that the bag support bracket 15 does not need to take the shape of a close loop. It can be an open loop, or simply a pair of bracket members extending from the back of the bag holder section 12 (not shown).

The ends of the top cross frame section 18 are bent (e.g., at 90 degrees, or a smaller angle), to extend to a handle 20 at each end. Referring also to FIG. 3, each handle 20 includes an “ear” or tab, which acts as an anchor 21 around which a part (e.g., a closed loop shaped handle) of a plastic bag may be strapped to securely hold the plastic bag in the bag holder section 12. The anchor 21 may have a generally a half-round shaped flap extending downwardly, creating an inverted U-shaped section having a channel 23 when view from the front of the bag holder section 12, as illustrated in FIG. 3. Referring also to FIGS. 3 and 8, the handles 24 of the plastic bag 22 are secured around the anchors 21 on both sides of the bag holder section 12. The anchors 21 act as hooks, to which the looped handles 24 of the plastic bag 22 are securely anchored along the channel 23 formed by the U-shaped section of the handle.

The vertical distance between the cross frame section 18 and the bag support bracket 15 may be chosen in relation to the dimension of the plastic bag 22, such that when the handles 24 of the plastic bag 22 are anchored by the anchors 21, the plastic bag 22 is supported in a hanging fashion by the bag support bracket 15, with its handles 24 pulled over the bag support bracket 15. When content is added to the plastic bag 22, under the weight of such content, the plastic bag 22 would hang over the bag support bracket 15, with the handles 24 maintained taut by the anchors 21 as the plastic bag sags under the weight of its content (and/or if sufficient clearance is provided at the bottom end of the bag holder section 12). Alternatively, the vertical distance may be chosen such that under the weight of the content, the handles 24 of the plastic bag 22 are not maintained taut by the anchors 21, and the plastic bag 22 rests on a support surface if such is provided and is high enough at the bottom end of the bag holder section 12. If a support surface is provided, a bag without handles (e.g., a paper bag) may be used with the bag support section 12, by resting the bag on such support surface, within the confines of the opening of the bag support bracket 15. The opening of such bag may be folded over the bag support bracket 15, to allow closure of the lid disclosed below.

Holes 26 are provided in the cross frame sections 18 and 19, to facilitate attaching the organizer to a vertical surface, such as a wall, furniture, or the outside or inside of a cabinet, using screws or bolts. Other types of attachment may be deployed, such as gluing or bonding the back of the cross frame sections to the attachment surface, such as using double-sided tape.

To provide a closure to the opening of the plastic bag 22 as supported by the bag support bracket 15, a lid 30 is provided to cover the opening 13 of the plastic bag 22. Referring to FIGS. 4, 7 and 8, the lid 30 may be supported by a hinge 32. The hinge 32 may include a bar 33, which is part of the bag support bracket 24, about which the lid 30 rotates. Alternatively, the hinge 32 may include a bar 33 attached to the lid 30 at its edge as shown, and the bar is support by the bag support bracket 24 to pivot. FIG. 7 shows the lid 30 in its opened position, from its closed position indicated by the dotted outline in FIG. 7, or as shown in FIG. 1. The lid 30 may be sized and shaped with a lip 33, which covers over the portion of the plastic bag 22 support at the bag support bracket 15, to provide a decent closure to prevent or reduce odor from escaping from the content of the plastic bag, or pests from getting to the contents.

The basic organizer described above, could be adapted for use with only the bag holder section 12 without the bag storage section 14 shown in the figures. For example, the bag holder section 12, without the bag storage section 14, could be attached to the side of an office desk to provide a space-saving, aesthetic, convenient trash collection stand, as compared to a more bulky, or blocky, conventional trashcan. Ordinary, everyday, plastic grocery bags may be reused for collecting trash.

In another aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes integrated bag holder and bag storage container. As shown by the illustrated embodiment, the bag storage section 14 supports the bag holder section 12. In the illustrated embodiment, the bag holder section extends upward from the rear side of the bag storage section 14. The bag storage section 14 includes a bag storage container 40 that is structured to facilitate storage of the plastic bags in an organized fashion and to minimize entanglement of the plastic bags with each other. Referring to FIG. 4, the bottom ends 48 of the vertical frame sections 16 and 17 of the bag holder section 12 are attached to the rear of the container 40, by a suitable detachable joint (e.g., interference fit joint, dovetail joint, etc.) or a permanent fastening means, such as gluing, welding, bonding, bolts, screws, etc.

The structure of such a plastic bag storage container is based on certain inventive aspects of the bag storage container concepts earlier disclosed in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/623,998 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/084,207, which have been fully incorporated by reference herein. However, the bag storage container of the present invention improves on the earlier disclosed structures in several aspects, as will be noted below.

Unlike the embodiments earlier disclosed in the copending patent applications, the bag storage container 40 includes a generally elongated or cylindrical, horizontally oriented body, which has two funnel-shaped apertures 42 that facilitate insertion of plastic bags, each having a wider end 43 and a narrower end 44 (also shown by dotted lines in FIG. 3). The container 40 further includes an elongated slot shaped opening 46 in the front of the organizer, which forms a wide opening that facilitates dispensing plastic bags stored in the container 40. By providing mirrored apertures 42 on both ends of the container 42, the organizer 10 may be installed in more orientations. For example, if the organizer 10 is to be installed in an undersink cabinet, it may be attached to the left or right interior wall, with one of the apertures 42 facing towards the front of the cabinet. Similarly, if the organizer 10 is to be installed on the outside of a kitchen cabinet, it may be attached to a “left” or “right” wall.

The purposes of the funnel-shaped apertures 42 and the elongated opening 46 are similar to the corresponding structures in the previous embodiment. As in the embodiments earlier disclosed in the copending patent applications, the wider end 43 of the aperture 42 confronts the outer side of the container 40, and the narrower end 44 is disposed within the container 40. The funnel-shaped aperture 42 facilitates collapsing the plastic bags into a compact form (e.g., into a ball or clump) as they are being inserted into the container 40. Specifically, in operation, the user inserts bags into the container 40 via either one of the funnel-shaped apertures 42. As the bags pass from the wider end 43 of the aperture 42 through the narrower end 44, the funnel shape of the aperture 42 manipulates and collapses the bags into a compact form (e.g., a ball or clump) that allows the bags to fit compactly within the container 40. The user is not required to first manipulate the bags into a compact form (e.g., roll the bag into a ball or clump) before insertion into the container 40. As more bags are inserted into the container 40 through the funnel-shaped aperture 42, the walls of the container 40 facilitate stacking the bags in their collapsed form in an organized manner so that there is reduced entanglement of the bags with each other upon dispensing. As such, entanglement of the bags is minimized. The wide dispensing opening 46 allows for easy access to the bags. The user can dispense bags individually from the container 40 by accessing the bags from the front access opening 46 at the front panel 40. The bags can be individually dispensed from the container 20 since the bags are stored in a stacked and organized fashion. Further elaboration of the structures may be referenced in the copending patent applications noted above.

As noted before, the organizer 10 may be structured with a desired height of the bag holder section 12 in relation to the particular dimensions of the bags designed to be used with the organizer 10. The bag storage container 40 may function as a base that supports the plastic bag 22 held by the bag holder section 12, as shown in FIG. 8. It may also function in addition or in the alternative, as a structure that supports other items, such as sundry items like kitchen cleaners, when the bag is not installed. To facilitate these functions, the container 40 is provided with a shallow pan or trough 48 at the top of the container 40, facing the bag storage section 12. The trough 48 has a raised periphery rim 49, which provides a boundary to facilitate confining the plastic bag or items such as detergent bottles or cans within the trough.

In a further aspect of the present invention, the organizer includes only the bag storage section 14 shown in the figures, without the bag holder section 12. The bag storage container 40 may be attached to a surface by suitable fastening means, such as screws, glue or tape. The bag storage container 40 may have a flat bottom to facilitate resting on a top surface, e.g., the inside bottom panel of an undersink cabinet.

The organizer can include sections and components made from metal and/or plastic, depending on factors such as designed load, desired aesthetic appeal, and easy of maintenance (e.g. easy cleaning surfaces). The sections and components in the bag holder section 12 and the bag storage section 14 may be made of metal (e.g., stainless steel, aluminium, etc.), appropriate rigid, semi-rigid or pliable plastics or rubber (e.g., PVC, polyeurathane, etc.), or other synthetic or natural materials. Further, their surfaces may be appropriately finished, e.g., painted, chromed, coated, plated, polished, textured, etc. The selection of the material and finish can provide an aesthetic structure in addition to the functional aspects. Generally, it is desirable to provide a structure and finish that is generally smooth, i.e., without structural seams, joints or sharp bents across its surface.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an organizer in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, showing a contrast in the materials for various parts. The sections shown by stippling may correspond to plastic material, and the remaining sections may be metal material. For example, the side cylindrical wall of the bag storage container may include a polished stainless steel wall or finish.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit, scope, and teaching of the invention. A person skilled in the art will recognize that the organizer incorporating the essence of this invention can also be used for storage of other types of collapsible items made from plastic or paper. Accordingly, the disclosed invention is to be considered merely as illustrative and limited in scope only as specified in the appended claims.