Title:
Apparatus and methods for storing and securing personal belongings
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems and associated methods are disclosed for securing personal belongings to a seat or chair. The invention provides two locking mechanisms, one associated with a container having a locking door, and the second associated with a tether with a second lock for locking the container to the seat or chair. The preferred embodiments further provide a bracket for mounting the container on the seat or chair for more convenient access. The system may further include a slide assembly between the container and the bracket allowing the container to be positioned for more convenient access while remaining tethered to the seat or chair. The invention is applicable to virtually any type of seat or chair with appropriate modification. That is, the invention provides an article storage container that is secured to either a swivel, or straight-legged chair, or vehicle seat. The container may located in a stowed position that occupies space not normally utilized by the person sitting in the chair and is moveable to an accessible position that permits article to be stored and retrieved from the container.



Inventors:
Mankovitz, Roy J. (Montecito, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/246972
Publication Date:
04/12/2007
Filing Date:
10/07/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
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20070182226Vehicle seat load detection deviceAugust, 2007Sakuma et al.
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20070069514Seat belt type RMarch, 2007Regoli et al.
20060279077RETRACTABLE SEATBELT APPARATUSDecember, 2006Nakano et al.
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Primary Examiner:
NELSON JR, MILTON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (TROY, MI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A system for securing personal belongings to a seat or chair, comprising: a container with a door having a first lock; a bracket for mounting the container on the seat or chair; and a tether with a second lock for locking the container to the seat or chair.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair has a back rest with an upper edge, and: the bracket includes a bent lip configured to hang over the top edge.

3. The system of claim 1, further including slide assembly between the container and the bracket, allowing the container to be positioned for more convenient access while remaining tethered to the seat or chair.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges, and: the bracket has two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges, and: the bracket has two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges; and the bracket has an adjustable length to accommodate seat portions of varying width.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion, and: the bracket has two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges; and the bracket includes a central aperture through which the central post extends.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a plurality of legs, and: the tether is adapted to attach to one or more of the legs.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion, and: the tether is adapted to attach to the central post.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion attached to a plurality of radial caster supports, and: the bracket mounts the container to one or more of the radial caster supports.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion attached to a plurality of radial caster supports, and: the tether is adapted to attach to one or more of the radial caster supports.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a back rest with opposing side edges, and: the bracket has two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges of the back rest.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the seat or chair includes a back rest with opposing side edges, a back surface and a region between the back rest and a seat portion, and: the tether is adapted to attach to the region between the back rest and the seat portion.

13. The system of claim 1, wherein the bracket and the tether are configured to mount the container on the back of a vehicle seat, and: the tether is adapted to attach to the region between the back rest and the seat portion.

14. The system of claim 1, wherein the tether is on a spring-loaded reel attached to the bracket.

15. The system of claim 1, wherein the container is a purse or handbag.

16. A system for securing personal belongings to a seat or chair, comprising: a bracket; and a tether coupled to a purse or handbag, the tether extending from a lockable, spring-loaded reel connected to the bracket; and wherein the bracket and tether enable a user to perform the following functions: a) mount the bracket on a first portion of a seat or chair, b) attach the tether to a second portion of a seat or chair, c) retract the tether into the spring loaded reel, and lock the tether to prevent the removal of the purse or handbag from the seat or chair.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein the bracket is adapted to hang over a top edge of a seat or chair.

18. The system of claim 16, wherein the tether terminates in a loop adapted to receive a leg of a seat or chair.

19. The system of claim 16, wherein the lockable, spring-loaded reel is disposed within the purse or handbag.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention in general relates to furniture and, in particular, to apparatus and methods for securing personal belongings in an office and other environments.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A long-standing problem for employees is how and where to secure their personal belongings at the office. Such belongings might include purses, lunches, books and magazines, walking shoes and personal supplies. Of particular concern is the secure storage of purses containing valuables, which are often placed under the worker's desk or in a drawer of the desk.

When stored under the desk, a purse often interferes with the worker's leg room, may be damaged by accidental kicking, and is inconvenient to retrieve. Further, the purse is not secure from theft when the worker leaves the desk area. When stored in a desk drawer, the purse takes up valuable space which would normally be used for files or supplies, and unless the desk is locked every time the worker leaves the area, theft remains a problem.

Some employers provide workers with lockable metal storage lockers, much like those used in schools for storing student's belongings. However, these lockers are expensive and take up significant office space.

A similar problem arises in public places such as restaurants and automobiles, where it is desired to have a secure storage area in the interior of the car which is large enough to accommodate a purse, and yet is easily reachable by a seated passenger or driver.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention broadly resides in systems and associated methods for securing personal belongings to a seat or chair. In contract to existing systems, the invention provides two locking mechanisms, one associated with a container having a locking door, and the second associated with a tether with a second lock for locking the container to the seat or chair. The preferred embodiments further provide a bracket for mounting the container on the seat or chair for more convenient access. The system may further include a slide assembly between the container and the bracket allowing the container to be positioned for more convenient access while remaining tethered to the seat or chair.

The invention is applicable to virtually any type of seat or chair with appropriate modification. For example, where the seat or chair has a back rest with an upper edge, the bracket may includes a bent lip configured to hang over the top edge. Where the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges, the bracket may have two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges. In embodiments of this kind, the bracket may feature an adjustable length to accommodate seat portions of varying width.

Where the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion, the bracket may have two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges, with a central aperture through which the central post extends.

Where the seat or chair includes a plurality of legs, the tether may be adapted to attach to one or more of the legs. Where the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion, the tether may be adapted to attach to the central post. In situations where the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion attached to a plurality of radial caster supports, the bracket may mount the container to one or more of the radial caster supports. In cases where the seat or chair includes a seat portion with opposing side edges and a central post under the seat portion attached to a plurality of radial caster supports, the tether may be adapted to attach to one or more of the radial caster supports.

Wherein the seat or chair includes a back rest with opposing side edges, the bracket may have two ends, each terminating in a bent lip to engage with a respective one of the opposing side edges of the back rest. If the seat or chair includes a back rest with opposing side edges, a back surface and a region between the back rest and a seat portion, the tether may be adapted to attach to the region between the back rest and the seat portion. The tether may be provided on a spring-loaded reel attached to the bracket, and the container may assume the form of a purse or handbag.

Thus, the invention provides an article storage container that is secured to either a swivel, or straight-legged chair, or vehicle seat. The container may located in a stowed position that occupies space not normally utilized by the person sitting in the chair and is moveable to an accessible position that permits article to be stored and retrieved from the container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional swivel or task chair used in an office environment;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a conventional, straight-legged chair;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the chair of FIG. 1, showing a first embodiment of the invention where a storage container is attached underneath the chair in a stowed position, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the chair of FIG. 3, showing the storage container in an accessible position;

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the bracket for mounting the storage container of FIG. 3 to the chair;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the bracket of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the bracket of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the storage container of FIG. 3;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the storage container of FIG. 3;

FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of the chair of FIG. 3 showing in detail how the storage container engages the bracket;

FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of the chair of FIG. 1 showing a second embodiment of the invention where a storage container is mounted to the back of the chair, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable;

FIG. 12 is a top view of the chair and storage container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a side elevation view of the chair of FIG. 2 with the second embodiment showing a storage container mounted on the back of the chair, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable;

FIG. 14 is a front elevation view of the chair of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of the chair of FIG. 2 with the first embodiment showing the storage container attached underneath the chair, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable;

FIG. 16 is a front elevation view of the chair of FIG. 1 showing a third embodiment of the invention where the container is located on the legs of the chair, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable;

FIG. 17 is a front elevation view of the chair of FIG. 1 showing a fourth embodiment of the invention, and also showing how the container is secured to the chair by a locking cable.

FIG. 18 is a front view in elevation of automobile driver and passenger seats, showing the attachment of secured storage containers in another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 19 is a side elevation view of the automobile driver's seat of FIG. 18, taken along the line 19-19, showing a storage container mounted on the back of the seat, and also showing how the container is secured to the seat by a locking cable;

FIG. 20 is a top view of the chair and storage container of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 shows an embodiment of the invention which includes a hook to hook over a chair back;

FIG. 22 shows the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 21 in conjunction with a chair and a user's purse;

FIG. 23 shows the embodiment of the invention depicted in FIG. 21 with the cord in the retracted position; and

FIG. 24 shows yet another embodiment of the invention, wherein a retractable tether is built into a specially designed locking purse.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a “task chair” 8 of the type commonly used in an office environment. The chair 8 has a center post 10, a seat 12, a back 14 and four caster supports 16.

With reference to FIGS. 3-10 a personal belongings storage system according to the invention is installed on the chair of FIG. 1. An adjustable bracket 18 (FIGS. 5, 6 and 7) has mutually slidable parts 20 and 22 with a series of mounting holes 24, 26, respectively. Bracket 18 has a slotted opening 28 through which center post 10 can pass (FIG. 6). The underside of part 20 has guide tracks 30 (FIG. 7) that engage guide rails 32 (FIGS. 8 and 9) mounted on a slidable storage container 34.

To install bracket 18 it is positioned under seat 12, and parts 20, 22 are pushed together until they firmly embrace seat 12. Then fasteners represented at 36 are installed in overlapping pairs of holes 24 and 26 to hold parts 20 and 22 in place. The top of container 34 has a hinged door 38 in which a lock 40 is installed (FIG. 9). Thus to gain access to the inside of container 34, one must have a key to lock 40.

Container 34 has an eyelet 42 either attached in a non-removable fashion or is formed in a one-piece construction with the body of container 34. A tether 46, which is preferably made of steel, is attached to loop 42 at one end and to center post 10 at the other end in a manner so tether 46 cannot be removed from container 34 or center post 10. One way to accomplish this uses a two-wire connector that will not permit removal of the wires after they have entered the connector.

Loops are formed in the ends of tether 46 by use of the connectors. The size of the loop formed around the post 10 is made sufficiently small so that the cable cannot be slipped over the seat 18 or over the legs 16, effectively locking the tether 46 and the container 34 to the chair 8. Alternatively, the connectors can be replaced by a key or combination lock 47 in a manner similar to that use to secure a bicycle to a bike rack, whereby the user can remove the container 34 from the chair 8 using a key or combination.

To place personal belongings or other articles in container 34, container 34 is pulled out from under seat 12 to an accessible position as shown in FIG. 4 and door 38 is unlocked. Then door 38 is relocked and container 34 is slid back under seat 12 as shown in FIG. 3. In summary, container 34 is permanently secured to chair 8 so that it cannot be removed under normal circumstances and only one in possession of a key to lock 40 can open container 34.

In a second embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, a container 47 is mounted on the rear of seat back 14 of chair 8 by a bracket 48 which fits over the top of the back 14. A tether 49 secures container 56 to center post 10 using a lock 51 in a similar manner to that described in the previous embodiment, whereby the container 47 cannot be removed from the chair 8 without a key. By making the tether 49 sufficiently short, it is possible to tightly secure the container 47 and the bracket 48 to the back 14 so that the container cannot be lifted off the back 14.

Alternatively, by making the tether longer, it is possible to allow the container 47 to be lifted off the back 14, whereby the seated user can reach behind, remove the container, and swing it around to the front for access without getting up from the seat. The container can then be swung to the rear and replaced on the seat back. In either instance, the container 47 remains attached to the chair by the tether 49. Container 47 has a hinged door with a lock and an eyelet formed in a one piece construction with container 47.

FIG. 2 shows a conventional straight four-legged chair 53 having a seat 50, a back 52 and four legs 54. In FIGS. 13 and 14, a container 56 is mounted on the chair 53 of FIG. 2, specifically on the rear of back 52 by one or more brackets 58 which fit over the top of the back 52. An eyelet 60 is either attached in a non-removable fashion or is formed in a one-piece construction with container 56. A tether 64 is placed around two of rear legs 54 and extends tightly across the junction of seat 50 and back 52 and is secured by a lock 65. The tether 64 is made sufficiently tight so that it cannot be slipped over the back 52 or over the legs 54 without removing the lock 65. A second tether 62 extends between eye 60 and tether 64 in an endless loop that is linked around the tether 64 before it is locked to the chair 53.

The ends of tethers to 62 and 64 may be configured in endless loops via one-way connectors, as described above. As a result, container 56 is secured to the chair and can only be removed from the chair by severing tether 62 or 64 or unlocking the lock 65. As in the previous embodiment, the length of the tether 60 may be adjusted to either tightly secure the container 56 and the bracket 58 to the back 52 so that the container cannot be lifted off, or by making the tether longer, to allow the container 56 to be lifted off the back 52, whereby the seated user can reach behind, remove the container from the back 52, and swing it around to the front for access without getting up from the seat. In either instance, the container 56 remains attached to the chair by the tethers 62 and 64.

In FIG. 15, the slidable container of the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4 is mounted on the chair 53 of FIG. 2 by a tether arrangement as shown in FIGS. 13 and 14. The same reference numerals used in the previously described figures are used to identify the same components.

In FIG. 16, a lockable container 70 is mounted on one of legs 16 of the task chair of FIG. 1. Container 70 is secured by a tether 72 to center post 10 and/or by a tether 74 to leg 16, and locked in place by one or more suitable locks 75, 77. The tethers are made sufficiently tight to prevent them being slipped off the chair without removal of the respective locks 75, 77.

In FIG. 17 an arcuate lockable container 76 is mounted on two of legs 16, secured to center post 10 by a tether 78 and locked in place by a suitable lock 80.

FIG. 18 is a front view of typical automobile driver and front passenger seats 90 and 92, respectively. Each seat comprises a back 94, 96, a seat 98, 100, rails 102, 104 for securing the seats to the car floor, and headrests 106, 108. The seat backs 94, 96 are connected to the seats 98, 100 by steel connectors 110, 112 at either end of the respective seat. Typically, the connectors are hinged to permit reclining. As shown in FIGS. 19 and 20, which are side and top views of the driver seat 90, a container 114 is mounted on the rear of back 94 by brackets 116 which fit over the top of the back 94 on either side of the headrest 106. An eyelet 118 is either attached in a non-removable fashion or is formed in a one-piece construction with container 114. A tether 120 extends between eyelet 118 and a connector 110 in a loop that is secured using a lock 122. As a result, container 114 is secured to the seat connector 110 and can only be removed by unlocking the lock 122. A lockable door 124 is provided on the side of the container, for example, at 114 facing the passenger seat to permit storing and removing belongings.

In like manner to that described above, the passenger seat 92 may be similarly equipped with a container (not shown) mounted on the back 96 using brackets 126 and having a lockable door facing the driver seat. In use, the seated driver can reach behind the passenger seat with the right hand, and unlock and open the container door to store and retrieve belongings while seated. Similarly, the seated passenger can reach behind the driver's seat with the left hand, and unlock and open the container door 124 to also store and retrieve belongings while seated.

FIG. 21 shows an embodiment of the invention 200, which includes a hook 210 to hook over a chair back. The hook, which may be made of a rigid material such as plastic or metal, is attached to a spring-loaded reel 212 from which extends a retractable cord or band 214 of a strong flexible material, such as metal or a strong plastic, which is not easily cut by a would-be thief. The end of the cord 214 is formed into a loop 216 suitable for looping around the end of chair leg. The reel 212 includes a locking control button or lever 218 for releasing and retracting the cord.

The operation of the embodiment 200 is shown in FIG. 22 in conjunction with a chair 220 and a user's purse 222. The hook 210 is hooked over the back of the chair 220, and the cord is pulled out from the reel 212 using the release button 218, and looped around the purse 222 and can also be looped through the purse strap 224, if there is one. The chair is then tilted by the user so that the loop 216 can be slipped over one of the legs, preferably a rear leg 226. Using the lockable button 218, the cord 216 is then retracted so that the loop 216 moves up snugly against the bottom surface of the chair seat. The tension of the cord 216 thus established between the hook 210 and the loop 216 pulls the cord 214 tight, which holds the purse 222 snugly against the back of the chair, while also preventing a thief from easily opening the purse to remove its contents. The reel 212 may be locked in this tight position with a suitable key, which may be in the form of a combination lock.

It may be seen from the above description that the embodiment 200 serves to secure conventional purses to a chair back using a portable device, and is thus useful for temporary venues such as restaurants and meeting rooms. A view of the embodiment 200 with the cord in the retracted position is shown in FIG. 23.

The embodiment 200 is suitable for use with conventional purses, which in general do not have locking mechanisms for their contents. FIG. 24 shows yet another embodiment 300 of the invention, where the apparatus of embodiment 200 is built into a specially designed locking purse 310. In this instance, the hook 210 may be connected to the purse 310 with a flexible cord or chain 312, so that when not in use, the hook 210 can be stored in a compartment 314 in the purse 310. The spring loaded reel 212 is placed inside the purse 310, and the cord 214 and loop 216 extend from a second compartment 316. The operation of this embodiment is substantially the same as that described above for the embodiment 200, except that there is no need to wrap the cord 214 around the purse 310, and when the purse is securely in place against the chair back, it can be locked by a lock 318 provided, which secures the contents as well as the reel 212.

In each of the described embodiments of the invention, the tethers are secured by one means or another to both the chair and to the storage container so the container cannot be removed by an unauthorized person. The container is locked so it can only be opened by a key. As a result, the security of the contents of the container is ensured.

The described embodiments of the invention are only considered to be preferred and illustrative of the inventive concept, the scope of the invention is not to be restricted to such embodiments. Various and numerous other arrangements may be devised by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. It is therefore intended by the appended claims to cover any and all such applications, modifications and embodiment within the scope of the present invention.