Title:
Towel holders
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a towel holder device for maintaining towels in place, keeping them from falling off of a rack or sink countertop. The device comprises an elongated strip of solid material with two ends. The strip is formed to create an enclosure space for holding a towel, with the towel in a desired shape. The two ends are spaced apart and face each other. The strip is formed of a material that has a flexing ability sufficient to enable the two ends to be separated enough to expand the enclosure space to enable the towel to fit into and out of the space without resistance from the strip. The flexing ability enables the strip to return to its original shape, holding the towel with a friction fit to prevent movement of the towel. The strip is capable of providing any of a number of changeable decorative appearances.



Inventors:
Simmons, Diana L. (Tucson, AZ, US)
Application Number:
10/435644
Publication Date:
03/08/2007
Filing Date:
05/09/2003
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45F5/04
View Patent Images:
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20030070267Safety catchApril, 2003Kung
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Primary Examiner:
BRITTAIN, JAMES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Donald W. Meeker (Newport Beach, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A towel holder device for maintaining towels in place in an orderly array, the device comprising: an elongated strip of solid material having two ends, the strip formed into a desired peripheral shape encircling an enclosure space with the two ends adjacent to each other to form a towel holder for encircling and maintaining a towel therein within the enclosure space with the towel in a desired shape formed by the peripheral shape of the towel holder encircling at least one portion of the towel, the two ends spaced apart and facing each other, the strip formed of at least one flexible material so that the two ends are separable by a sufficient amount to expand the enclosure space into a first open position to receive at least one side of a folded towel to fit into and out of the enclosure space without resistance from the strip and so that the two ends are releasable to allow the strip to return to its original shape maintaining the towel within the enclosure space with a friction fit to prevent movement of the towel with the towel hanging over a towel rack or placed on a sink countertop, the towel holder configured with an outer surface to match a decorative look of the towel, the towel holder being replaceable by other towel holders with different differently configured peripheral shapes and outer surfaces to provide any of a number of changeable decorative appearances.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the strip is covered with a covering material having a quality to match the towel and an environment in which the towel is placed.

3. The device of claim 2 wherein the covering material is formed of a high friction material capable of assisting to assist in maintaining the towel within the strip.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein the covering material is fabricated of variously colored and imprinted cloth formed into a sleeve around the strip.

5. The device of claim 2 wherein the covering material capable of receiving has a visual image thereon.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein the visual image is imprinted on the covering material.

7. The device of claim 5 wherein the visual image is on an element attachable to the covering material.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein the strip is fabricated of a material having a desired appearance to match the towel and an environment in which the towel is placed.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein the strip is fabricated by molding a colored synthetic material.

10. The device of claim 8 wherein the strip is fabricated by casting a desired metal to form the strip.

11. The device of claim 8 wherein the strip is fabricated by bending a desired metal to form the strip.

12. The device of claim 1 wherein the strip has a visual image thereon.

13. The device of claim 12 wherein the visual image is imprinted on the strip.

14. The device of claim 12 wherein the strip is formed by a molding process and the visual image is formed on the strip in the molding process.

15. The device of claim 12 wherein the strip is formed by a casting process and the visual image is formed on the strip in the casting process.

16. The device of claim 12 wherein the visual image is on an element attachable to the strip.

17. The device of claim 1 wherein the strip is formed to create an enclosure of any desired shape.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of towel holders, and in particular a ring-type device that maintains the towel in place and is easily removed and also easy to replace after the towel has been used.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Towels are very often not considered decorative, but merely functional. Very often towels are not returned to the towel rack, but left somewhere else in the bathroom or kitchen. When returned to the rack the towels often wind up being thrown over the rack in some haphazard fashion. Towels haphazardly strewn about create a messy appearance and do not help the towels to dry after use.

Prior art patents describe several ring-type devices that are designed to hold drapery in place, some of which offer the ability to interchange devices to suit decorative needs, but none are given for use in maintaining a towel in place.

Towels for use in the bathroom, whether bath towels or hand towels, are commonly manufactured in a large variety of colors to match the bathroom decor or the personal taste of the homeowner. Additionally, the towels may be printed in a variety of patterns or designs. Also, especially on higher quality towels, a decorative trim piece such as an elongated trim strip may be added to one surface of the towel. This trim piece may be integrally formed during weaving of the fabric, or may be a separate trim piece that is sewn onto the end of the towel. Sewing of the trim piece onto the towel permits a greater variety of decorative results, since the trim strip can be of a different color, a different material and/or of a different construction. Thus, for example, a satin trim piece can be sewn onto a cotton towel. As another example, a fringed trim strip can be sewn onto the towel edge.

Despite the numerous decorative effects that can be achieved by combining various available colors, designs and trims, there are still decorative effects that cannot be achieved by these techniques. In addition, many homeowners wish to frequently change the decor of their bathrooms. Self-decorators have attempted for years to add decorative tributes to their towels, i.e. bows, flowers, lace, themes, schemes, etc. However, once the towel has been decorated it is often rendered unusable if it is to retain its decorative appearance. Often the decoration is too cumbersome or difficult for a towel user to undo and then redo after use.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 1,971,794, issued Aug. 28, 1934 to Panettiere, provides a fastening device that is adapted to support towels and the like, and is designed to clampingly engage the towel in such a manner that the towel will be more firmly gripped as the pull on the towel is increased. The towel is easily engaged and released, and when engaged will be firmly gripped and held against removal.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 2,329,446, issued Sep. 14, 1943 to Whitehead, shows a festoon ring for supporting draperies and the like. The festoon ring is designed to hingedly open for insertion of the drape.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 3,772,734, issued Nov. 20, 1973 to Kimel, claims an openable curtain ring that has a body in the form of a loop carrying two jaws at the end of the loop. The jaws are adapted to clamp against a piping on the curtain. The curtain can be released by deforming the loop so that the jaws are moved apart. Releasable locking means are provided to maintain the jaws clamped against the piping. An embodiment is disclosed in which a hook is added to the ring for supporting a second curtain that hangs alongside the first-mentioned curtain.

U.S. Pat No. D311,836, issued Nov. 6, 1990 to Dala, describes an ornamental design for a clip designed to secure beach towels to chairs or the like.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. D382,431, issued Aug. 19, 1997 to Parra, discloses the ornamental design for a flexible towel holder.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 6,368,695, issued Apr. 9, 2002 to Gabriele, indicates decorative trim pieces that are added to towels with a releasable attachment means so that the trim pieces can be replaced to effect changes in decor. The ability to remove the trim piece prior to laundering of the towel also permits the use of a greater variety of materials, including materials that would be damaged by laundering. Preferably, the attachment means is a plurality of male fastener components attached to a first flexible support that is secured to the trim strip back, and a plurality of mating female fastener components attached to a second flexible support, that is secured a surface of the towel.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 4,164,058, issued Aug. 4, 1979 to Barna, puts forth a decorative ring-like structure that includes a generally longitudinally split cylindrical sleeve having a fabric tube snugly received thereover. The fabric tube has a length substantially greater than the circumference of the sleeve to provide a decorative pleated arrangement.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 6,408,927, issued Jun. 25, 2002 to Kananen, concerns drapery retainers that generally comprise of very large beads, each pierced by a cylindrical hole through which a curtain or drape is drawn. The beads may be joined together to form multiple stacked beads or the beads may be equipped with attachment devices to fasten the beads to walls behind the drapes. The beads may be of any suitable base material such as wood, metal or plastic with the base material decoratively finished. Alternatively, the base material may be covered with decorative cloth or other wrap that can be replaced as desired. Also disclosed are devices for joining the beads together and for attaching cloth or wrap.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 5,775,401, issued Jul. 7, 1998 to Faurie, illustrates a curtain tie back arrangement that uses a plurality of pivotal and variably spaced rings through which the drapery material is decoratively laced.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 4,903,370, issued Feb. 27, 1990 to Erdmann, is for a curtain or drapery holding device that has a removable magnetic front piece. The front piece is designed to take various decorative forms.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,996, issued Jun. 28, 1994 to Rendall, provides a bracket for removably fastening a flexible web article to a generally planar support surface. The bracket includes first and second generally closed bands of approximate equivalent size adapted to grip the flexible web article and fastening element adapted for engagement with the support surface for affixing the closed bands thereto. The fastening element includes a first side portion having a surface adapted to attach to the support surface and an opposite second side portion which carries the closed bands in juxtaposition to each other. In one embodiment, the closed bands, in the form of two planar rings, are coupled to the second side portion in an abutted position to permit pivoting of each ring about the second side portion. In a second embodiment, an attachment band is carried by the second side portion and loops through two planar rings to fasten them to the fastening element. In a third embodiment, an attachment band which loops through two planar rings is swivelably coupled to the second side portion.

Prior art U.S. Pat. No. 4,398,692, issued Aug. 16, 1983 to Macfie, shows a utility fastener device for securing sheet material to an associated structure. The device includes a ring closed by a snap closure in the form of a socket closure and plug closure between which the material is gripped. The socket closure includes an interior opening having a gripping rim catching material pushed into the opening by the plug. The socket opening and plug have a smooth rounded configuration devoid of sharp edges to hold the material without puncturing or tearing.

What is needed is a simple, flexible decorative towel holder that is inexpensive to manufacture and easy to apply, which would keep towels in place and assist in encouraging people in a household to replace towels properly on the towel rack in an organized and attractive array. A device is needed that would assist in identifying personal towels and also create a decorative effect to enhance the appearance of a towel and of a room.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a simple, flexible decorative towel holder that holds the towels in place to keep them from falling off the rack or the sink countertop.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a simple, flexible decorative towel holder that helps to dry towels by keeping the towels hanging straight down.

An added object of the present invention is to provide a decorative towel holder that is easy and simple to use due to its flexing ability, thereby encouraging usage of the device.

One more object of the present invention is to provide a method of maintaining an orderly environment by providing an incentive to put the towels back in their proper place.

An additional object of the present invention is to provide a means to identify towels, such as one labeled for a guest, to avoid confusion and extra laundry.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a means to teach children or developmentally disabled persons how to care for their own towels by providing identifying characters.

A contributory object of the present invention is to provide a flexible strip capable of providing any of a number of changeable decorative appearances.

In brief, a towel holder device is provided for maintaining towels in place, keeping them from falling off of a rack or sink countertop. The device comprises an elongated strip of solid material with two ends. The strip is formed to create an enclosure space for holding a towel, with the towel in a desired shape. The two ends are spaced apart and face each other. The strip is formed of a material or materials that have a flexing ability sufficient to enable the two ends to be separated enough to expand the enclosure space to enable the towel to fit into and out of the space without resistance from the strip. The flexing ability enables the strip to return to its original shape, holding the towel with a friction fit to prevent movement of the towel.

The strip of the towel holder is capable of providing any of a number of changeable decorative appearances. The strip can be formed to create an enclosure of any desired shape, such as a circle, an oval, a square, a rectangle or any other desired shape capable of retaining a towel. The strip is capable of being covered with a covering material that has a quality to match the towel and an environment in which the towel is placed. The covering material may be formed of a high friction material capable of assisting in maintaining the towel within the strip. The covering material can be fabricated of variously colored and imprinted cloth formed into a sleeve around the strip and is capable of receiving a visual image thereon. The visual image can be imprinted on the covering material or can be an element attachable to the covering material. The strip may also be fabricated of a material that has a desired appearance to match the towel and an environment in which the towel is placed. The strip is fabricated by molding a colored synthetic material or fabricated by casting or bending a desired metal to form the strip. The strip that is fabricated in this manner is capable of receiving a visual image thereon. The visual image may be an element attachable to the strip, imprinted on the strip, or the strip may formed by a molding or casting process and the visual image is formed on the strip in the molding or casting process.

An advantage of the present invention is that is holds towels in place.

Another advantage of the present invention is it provides an identifying means for towels.

An additional advantage of the present invention is that it is simple to use.

One more advantage of the present invention is in being inexpensive to manufacture.

Yet another advantage of the present invention is that it helps towels to dry.

Still another advantage of the present invention is that it provides changeable decorative appearances.

A final advantage of the present invention is in keeping towels in a smooth, unwrinkled condition.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other details of my invention will be described in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are furnished only by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention, and in which drawings:

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of the tower holder of the present invention holding a front half of a towel hung over a towel rack, the towel holder having an imprinted or mold-formed or casting-formed image of a teddy bear thereon;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the tower holder of FIG. 1 holding both the front and back halves of a towel hung over a towel rack;

FIG. 3 is a top plan schematic view of a number of possible configurations for the towel holder, a circle in 9A, an oval in 9B, a square in 9C, a rectangle in 9D;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the towel holder of FIG. 1 formed of a material to match a towel, preferably in color, or an environment in which a towel is placed, preferable in material or color;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the towel holder of FIG. 1 having a covering material to match a towel, preferably in color, or an environment in which a towel is placed, preferable in material or color;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the towel holder of FIG. 1 formed of a material to match a towel, preferably in color, or an environment in which a towel is placed, preferable in material or color and further having a visual image, a flower, on an element, which may be fabric or synthetic material attachable to the towel holder or synthetic material formed in the molding process for a synthetically molded towel holder or metal formed in the casting process of a metal towel holder;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the towel holder of FIG. 5 having a covering material to match a towel, preferably in color, or an environment in which a towel is placed, preferable in material or color and further having a visual image, a flower, on an element, which may be fabric or synthetic material or metal attachable to the covering material;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view showing a series of possible images which might be desirable to place on the towel holder for children, a horse in 7A or a teddy bear in 7B, or special occasions, a heart for Valentines Day or a romantic sentiment in 7C, or a wreath for Christmas in 7D;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of a sink having a towel holder around two halves of a towel folded over within the towel holder and placed on the sink counter, the towel holder formed of a material to match a towel, preferably in color, or an environment in which a towel is placed, preferable in material or color and further having a visual image, a word, imprinted or mold-formed or casting-formed thereon.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

In FIG. 1-7 and 9, a towel holder device 20 and 20A-20D is provided for maintaining towels 30 in place in an orderly array. The device 20 and 20A-20D comprises an elongated strip 22 of solid material that has two ends. The strip 22 is formed to create an enclosure space 21 for maintaining a towel 30 therein with the towel 30 in a desired shape. The two ends are spaced apart and facing each other. The strip 22 is formed of a material that has a flexing ability sufficient to enable the two ends to be separated by a sufficient amount to expand the enclosure space 21 to enable the towel 30 to fit into and out of the space 21 without resistance from the strip 22. The flexing ability enables the strip 22 to return to its original shape, while maintaining the towel 30 therein with a friction fit to prevent movement of the towel 30, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 9.

The strip 22 is capable of providing any of a number of changeable decorative appearances. The strip 22 can be formed to create an enclosure of any desired shape, such as a circle 22 in FIG. 3A, an oval 22B in FIG. 3B, a square 22C in FIG. 3C, a rectangle 22D in FIG. 3D or any other desired shape capable of retaining a towel 30. The strip 22 is capable of being covered with a covering material 23, as shown in FIG. 5, which has a quality to match the towel 30 and an environment in which the towel 30 is placed. The covering material 23 may be formed of a high friction material capable of assisting in maintaining the towel 30 within the strip 22. The covering material 23 can be fabricated of variously colored and imprinted cloth formed into a sleeve around the strip 22 and is capable of receiving a visual image 24A-24G thereon. The visual image can be imprinted on the covering material 23, not shown, or can be an element 24A-24F attachable to the covering material 23, as shown in FIG. 7. The strip 22 may also be fabricated of a material that has a desired appearance to match the towel 30 and an environment in which the towel 30 is placed, as shown in FIG. 4. The strip 22 may be fabricated by molding a colored synthetic material or fabricated by casting or bending a desired metal to form the strip 22. The strip 22 that is fabricated in this manner is capable of receiving a visual image 24A-24G thereon. The visual image may be an element 24A-24F attachable to the strip as shown in FIG. 6, imprinted or embossed or engraved 24G on the strip as shown in FIG. 9, or the strip 22 may formed by a molding or casting process and the visual image 24B is formed on the strip 22 in the molding or casting process, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

In practice, a user could place a towel 30 over a towel rack 40, flex the towel holder 20 to create an opening 21, and encircle the front half 30F of the towel 30, as shown in FIG. 1. The user would then release the strip 22 to return to its original shape, while maintaining the towel 30 therein with a friction fit to prevent movement of the towel 30. A user could alternatively encircle both the front 30F and back 30B halves of a towel 30 hung over a towel rack 40, as shown in FIG. 2. A further use could be to place the towel holder 20 around two halves 30F and 30B of a towel 30 folded over within the towel holder 20 and placed on the sink counter, as shown in FIG. 9.

In practice, the towel holder 20 could be used to teach children or developmentally disabled persons how to care for their own towels 30 by choosing an image 24A-24F or character which might be desirable to the child or developmentally disabled person, such as a horse 24A in FIG. 8A or a teddy bear 24B, shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 8B.

In practice the towel holder 20 could be used to identify personal towels 30 to avoid confusion and extra laundry, by labeling 24G the strip 22 as shown in FIG. 9.

In practice the towel holder 20 could be used to provide any of a number of changeable decorative appearances. The strip 22 can be formed to create an enclosure of any desired shape, such as a circle 22 in FIG. 3A, an oval 22B in FIG. 3B, a square 22C in FIG. 3C, a rectangle 22D in FIG. 3D or any other desired shape capable of retaining a towel 30. The user could cover the strip 22 with a covering material 23 that has a quality to match the towel 30 and an environment in which the towel 30 is placed, as shown in FIG. 5. The user could affix a visual image 24F on to the covering material 23, as shown in FIG. 7, or the visual image can be imprinted on the covering material 23, not shown.

In practice, the user could choose a towel holder 20 that is fabricated of a material that has a desired appearance to match the towel 30 and an environment in which the towel 30 is placed. The strip 22 may be fabricated by molding a colored synthetic material or fabricated by casting or bending a desired metal to form the strip 22. The strip 22 that is fabricated in this manner is capable of receiving a visual image 24A-24F thereon. The visual image 24G could be imprinted or molded on the strip 22, as shown in FIG. 9, or the user could attach the visual image (24E for example) to the strip 22, as shown in FIG. 6. The user could change the visual image 24A-24F for special occasions, for example, a heart 24C for Valentines Day or a romantic sentiment, shown in FIG. 8C, or a wreath 24D for Christmas, as in FIG. 8D.

It is understood that the preceding description is given merely by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention and that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention as claimed.