Title:
Adjustable compartmented container for articles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable compartmented container for articles is disclosed, having primary and secondary partitioning members. The location of the primary partitioning members is adjustable via notches in the body of the container, and the location of the secondary partitioning members is adjustable via notches in the primary partitioning members. The length of the secondary partitioning members is adjustable, and the container and primary partitioning members have beveled top surfaces—i.e., they are shorter at the front and taller at the rear.



Inventors:
Patterson, William (Millersville, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/232670
Publication Date:
03/22/2007
Filing Date:
09/22/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PICKETT, JOHN G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHN ALEXANDER GALBREATH (REISTERSTOWN, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A compartmented container for articles, comprising: (a) a front interior surface, rear interior surface, and side interior surfaces, said interior surfaces having a plurality of container notches located thereon, said container notches extending downward from the top edges of said interior surfaces; (b) at least one primary partition having two ends, each said end adapted for removable engagement with one of said container notches, said primary partition also having a plurality of primary partition notches located thereon, said primary partition notches extending downward from a top edge of said primary partition and passing only partially therethrough; (c) at least one secondary partition having two ends, each said end adapted for removable engagement with one of said primary partition notches or one of said container notches; whereby articles may be conveniently stored in adjustable-size compartments.

2. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein the heights of said side interior surfaces and said primary partition increase from said front interior surface to said rear interior surface.

3. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein said secondary partition is length-adjustable.

4. The compartmented container of claim 3, wherein said secondary partition has a plurality of score lines located thereon, extending from a top edge to a bottom edge of said secondary partition.

5. The compartmented container of claim 4, wherein said container also comprises a foam block having at least one opening thereon.

6. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein said container notches include a plurality of side interior surface notches of equal length, extending downward from a top edge of one of said side interior surfaces of said container.

7. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein said container notches include a plurality of side interior surface notches of unequal length, extending downward from a top edge of one of said side interior surfaces of said container.

8. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein said container also comprises a lid.

9. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein at least one of said front, rear, or side interior surfaces comprises an adjustment panel lining an inside surface of said container.

10. The compartmented container of claim 1, wherein said container also comprises at least one third partition having a notch thereon adapted to receive an insert, and at least one said insert.

11. A compartmented container for articles, comprising: (a) a front wall, rear wall, and side walls, said walls having a plurality of container notches located thereon, said container notches extending downward from the top edges of said container; (b) at least one primary partition adapted for adjustable, removable engagement with said container notches on said front and rear walls, said primary partition also having a plurality of primary partition notches located thereon, said primary partition notches extending downward from a top edge of said primary partition and passing only partially therethrough; (c) at least one secondary partition adapted for adjustable, removable engagement with one of said primary partition notches or one of said container notches on said side walls; whereby articles may be conveniently stored in adjustable-size compartments.

12. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein the heights of said side walls and said primary partition increase from said front wall to said rear wall.

13. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein said secondary partition is length-adjustable.

14. The compartmented container of claim 13, wherein said secondary partition has a plurality of score lines located thereon, extending from a top edge to a bottom edge of said secondary partition.

15. The compartmented container of claim 14, wherein said container also comprises a foam block having at least one opening thereon.

16. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein said container notches include a plurality of side wall notches of equal length, extending downward from a top edge of one of said side walls of said container.

17. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein said container notches include a plurality of side wall notches of unequal length, extending downward from a top edge of one of said side walls of said container.

18. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein said container also comprises a lid.

19. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein at least one of said front, rear, or side walls includes an adjustment panel lining an inside surface of said container.

20. The compartmented container of claim 11, wherein said container also comprises at least one third partition having a notch thereon adapted to receive an insert, and at least one said insert.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The invention is in the area of adjustable compartmented containers for articles.

2. Description of the Related Art

U.S. Pat. No. 4,807,760 to Sussman, discloses a compartmented tray for cosmetics. However, the location of Sussman's single main separator is not adjustable via notches in the tray wall, the length of his horizontal partitions is not adjustable, and his tray (including the main separator) does not have a beveled top surface—i.e., shorter at the front and taller at the rear. In contrast, the invention discloses all these features.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,148,942 to Snook, U.S. Pat. No. 6,692,091 to Mulaw, U.S. Pat. No. 4,838,445 to Lanius, U.S. Pat. No. 2,985,333 to Kirkman, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,577,773 to Bitel disclose compartmented organizers. However, these devices do not show main separators that themselves can be adjusted by positioning them in various notches in the box or container. Instead, the main separator position is fixed.

U.S. Pat. No. D169,743 to Fritz, U.S. Pat. No. 4,602,715 to Sarver, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,390,815 to Spiegel show adjustable compartmented containers. However, in these devices the main separators have a different notch structure than in the invention. In these devices, both the main separators and the partitions have through-notches that extend partway down the separators and partitions, such that the separators and partitions “nest” into each other at each intersection point in a significantly different way than in the invention. Said another way, although these devices show separators whose location can be adjusted via notches in the container wall, the way the separators and partitions fit together is significantly different than in the invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,261,465 to Thomas shows a container for circuit boards. In Thomas's device, the horizontal compartmenting members are not partitions, but are instead circuit boards of varying length. Said another way, Thomas does not have partitions that fit into notched main separators, as in the invention. Instead, the horizontal members are circuit boards, which are the very items the container is designed to hold.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,717,020 to Viira, U.S. Pat. No. 5,456,358 to Schmidt, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,266,835 to Schmidt also show various toolboxes, but none of these devices disclose partitions that are adjustable via notches in the box and/or the partitions themselves, as in the invention. U.S. Pat. No. 6,712,224 to Ling discloses a tool rack assembly; however, this device is not a container and does not have both primary and secondary partitioning members as in the invention.

Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,050,768 to Alden, U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,794 to Bidot, U.S. Pat. No. 4,844,305 to McKneely, U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,108 to Schiltz, and U.S. Pat. No. 1,081,674 to Klenk also show various containers, but none of these devices has the specific features of the invention as claimed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is an adjustable compartmented container for articles, wherein the location of the primary partitioning members is adjustable via notches in the body of the container, and the location of the secondary partitioning members is adjustable via notches in the primary partitioning members. The length of the secondary partitioning members is adjustable, and the container and primary partitioning members have beveled top surfaces—i.e., they are shorter at the front and taller at the rear.

Several objects and advantages of the invention are:

It is an object of the invention to provide a superior means of organizing and containing articles such as tools. In addition to tools, the following non-limiting list of applications is presented: sundries such as those that are typically stored in an overnight bag; items used by paramedics or other medical personnel; items used by military personnel; items typically stored in a brief case; and various chemicals and liquids.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a compartmented container with partitions that can be easily adjusted to fit many differently-sized and shaped items.

The adjustable compartmented container of the invention has many advantages, including the following:

The articles are held in generally a vertical position for easy retrieval and replacement, and for efficient space utilization. The generally vertical positioning also has the benefit of keeping stored liquids from spilling.

The sides of the container, and the primary partitions, have beveled top surfaces—i.e., they are shorter at the front and taller at the rear. This “tiering” allows for better visual inspection of the container's contents and easier retrieval and replacement of the items. Said another way, this feature makes it very easy for the user to quickly find a particular item, or to quickly see that a particular item is missing from the container. In addition, because the compartments have varying depth, from less-deep compartments at the front of the container to compartments of greater depth at the rear of the container, shorter items can be stored toward the front of the container and taller items can be stored toward the rear of the container.

The expanded polystyrene block located in the middle forward edge of the container allows for easy storage and retrieval of smaller items, for example a pocket knife, awl, tape measure, center punch, etc.

Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container, without any partitions in place.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container, further illustrating its adjustable primary partitions.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the container, further illustrating its adjustable secondary and third partitions and other features.

FIG. 4 is a side view of a primary partition and the notches located thereon.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a secondary partition and the score lines located thereon.

FIG. 6 is a top view of a third partition having notches adapted to receive inserts.

FIG. 7 is a side view of an alternate embodiment primary partition and the unequal-length notches located thereon.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment, wherein adjustment notches are not built into the interior walls of the container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following provides a list of the reference characters used in the drawings:

  • 10. Container
  • 11. Front wall
  • 12. Rear wall
  • 13a&b. Side walls
  • 14. Lid
  • 15. Front wall notches
  • 16. Rear wall notches
  • 17. Side wall notches
  • 18. Primary partition
  • 19. Primary partition notches
  • 20. Secondary partition
  • 21. Score line
  • 22. Foam block
  • 23. Front adjustment panel
  • 24. Rear adjustment panel
  • 25a&b. Side adjustment panels
  • 26. Third partition
  • 27. Insert

As shown in FIG. 1, the invention comprises a compartmented container 10. Container 10 has a front wall 11, a taller rear wall 12, and two side walls 13a&b. A lid 14 is attached to container 10 at the top of rear wall 12, using any suitable attachment means known in the art. Side walls 13a&b are shorter where they join front wall 11 and taller where they join rear wall 12.

The interior surface of front wall 11 has a plurality of front wall notches 15 located thereon. Front wall notches 15 extend substantially from the top to the bottom of front wall 11. Similarly, the interior surface of rear wall 12 has a plurality of rear wall notches 16 located thereon. Rear wall notches 16 extend substantially from the top to the bottom of rear wall 12. Front wall notches 15 and rear wall notches 16 are substantially vertical.

The interior surfaces of side walls 13a&b each have a plurality of side wall notches 17 located thereon. Proximate to front wall 11, side wall notches 17 extend substantially from the top to the bottom of side walls 13a&b. Side wall notches 17 are also substantially vertical. Side wall notches 17 are of substantially equal length across the extent of side walls 13a&b from front wall 11 to rear wall 12, such that further back from front wall 11, side wall notches 17 do not extend fully to the bottom of side walls 13a&b. Rather, the bottoms of side wall notches 17, from the front-wall-proximate portion to the rear-wall-proximate portion of side walls 13a&b, slope upwards in the same manner as the top surface of side walls 13a&b.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, primary partitions 18 extend from front wall 11 to rear wall 12, and opposing ends of primary partitions 18 fit into front wall notches 15 and rear wall notches 16 respectively. A plurality of primary partition notches 19 are located on each side surface of primary partition 18. Primary partition notches 19 are substantially vertical. Primary partition notches 19 are of substantially equal length across the extent of primary partition 18 from the front-wall-proximate portion to the rear-wall-proximate portion, such that further back from the front-wall-proximate portion, primary partition notches 19 do not extend fully to the bottom of primary partition 18. Rather, the bottoms of primary partition notches 19, from the front-wall-proximate portion to the rear-wall-proximate portion of primary partition 18, slope upwards in the same manner as the top surface of primary partition 18. It can be appreciated, from the earlier description of side wall notches 17 on side walls 13a&b, that FIG. 4 also generally illustrates the interior surface of side wall 13a, and that a mirror image of FIG. 4 would also generally illustrate the interior surface of side wall 13b.

As shown in FIG. 3, a secondary partition 20 extends between two primary partitions 18, and is substantially perpendicular to the primary partitions 18. Opposing ends of secondary partition 20 fit into primary partition notches 19 on each of the two primary partitions 18. Another secondary partition 20 extends between a primary partition 18 and side wall 13a, and is substantially perpendicular to primary partition 18 and side wall 13a. One end of this secondary partition 20 fits into a primary partition notch 19 on the primary partition 18, and the other end fits into side wall notch 17 on side wall 13a. Secondary partition 20 fits down into two primary partition notches 19, or one primary partition notch 19 and a side wall notch 17, until secondary partition 20 reaches the bottom of the notches—at which point the top edge of secondary partition 20 is ideally (although not necessarily) in line with the top edge of primary partition 18 and/or side wall 13a or b.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, secondary partition 20 has a plurality of score lines 21 located thereon. Secondary partition 20 is scored partly through along score lines 21, so that the length of secondary partition 20 may be adjusted to fit the distance between two primary partitions 18, or between a primary partition 18 and a side wall 13a or b, by breaking off a portion of secondary partition 20 along score line 21.

A foam block 22, constructed of expanded polystyrene or another suitable material, is located between two primary partitions 18 near front wall 11. Foam block 22 has various holes and slots located thereon for storage of small items such as a pocket knife, awl, tape measure, center punch, etc.

The positions of primary partitions 18, and thus the size of the compartments they create, can be adjusted by placing primary partitions 18 in different front wall notches 15 and corresponding rear wall notches 16. Similarly, the positions of secondary partitions 20, and thus the size of the compartments they create, can be adjusted by placing secondary partitions 20 in different primary partition notches 19 and/or side wall notches 17.

FIGS. 3 and 6 show a third partition 26, having notches thereon adapted to receive at least one insert 27. The notches are substantially vertical, and extend substantially from the top to the bottom of third partition 26. The notches are T-shaped, as is the corresponding end of the insert. Insert 27, when engaged with third partition 26, is substantially perpendicular to third partition 25. Third partition 26, when used with one or more inserts 27, is useful for further separating a compartment to store items such as a set of screwdrivers. Third partition 26 fits into the notches on primary partition 18 and/or side walls 13a or b, in a similar manner as secondary partition 20.

FIG. 7 shows an alternative embodiment, wherein the primary partition notches 19 located on primary partition 18 are not of equal length, but rather all extend from the top to the bottom of primary partition 18. It is also understood the interior surfaces of side walls 13a&b may also be notched in such a manner, i.e., with unequal-length notches. In this alternative embodiment, a plurality of differently-heighted secondary partitions 20 are required to fully fill primary partition notches 19 and/or side wall notches 17 from top to bottom. Said another way, those secondary partitions 20 inserted toward front wall 11 would be shorter than those secondary partitions 20 inserted toward rear wall 12. Equal-height secondary partitions 20 could be used, if all were of a height suitable for insertion toward front wall 11; however, when inserted toward rear wall 12, such secondary partitions 20 would fall below the top of primary partitions 18 and/or side walls 13a&b.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative embodiment wherein front wall notches 15, rear wall notches 16, and side wall notches 17 are not built into the interior surfaces of container 10, but instead are located on a front adjustment panel 23, a rear adjustment panel 24, and side adjustment panels 25a&b respectively. In this embodiment, the adjustment panels line the interior of container 10 and thus provide partition adjustment capability.

While the above descriptions contain many specificities, these shall not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as exemplifications of embodiments thereof. Many other variations are possible without departing from the spirit of the invention. Examples of just a few of the possible variations follow:

The amount of separation between notches (and thus the number of notches) on the interior surface of the container, and on the primary partitions, can vary. More notches of course yields more adjustability, and fewer notches yield less adjustability. Spacing the notches about 3/16 inch apart gives a good degree of adjustability.

The orientation of the notches in the container, primary partition, and third partition can be other than the substantially vertical orientation shown in the various embodiments. For example, the notches may be at an angle to the vertical plane.

Similarly, the amount of separation between score lines (and thus the number of score lines) on the secondary partitions can vary. More score lines yields more adjustability.

The dimensions of the container, including its height, width, depth, etc., can be different than that shown in the various embodiments.

The location of the foam block within the container can vary.

The number of primary, secondary, third partitions, and inserts can vary from the number illustrated. There may be one or more of each of these partitions/inserts, or alternatively a particular partition/insert may be eliminated.

The slope of the container from front to rear—i.e., the degree to which the rear is taller than the front—can be different than the slope shown in the various embodiments.

Although the primary and secondary partitions, when engaged together, are shown as substantially perpendicular to each other. However, this does not have to be the case—instead, the primary and secondary partitions may be at an angle to each other, with the notches constructed so as to allow such positioning. The same holds true for the positioning between third partitions and primary partitions, and third partitions and inserts.

The third partition may alternatively have “inserts” that are permanently fixed to it, rather than removable via T-shaped notches as shown. In this alternative embodiment, the “inserts” would be permanently attached members, substantially perpendicular to the third partition.

The foam block, shown for clarity in FIG. 3 with its top surface level with the top edge of the container, may instead be positioned lower in the container. This lower positioning allows room for various small tools, etc. to be inserted into the foam block, and not protrude over the top edge of the container.

Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.





 
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