Title:
Compact disk (CD) Jewel Case hinge storage apparatus and marketing method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An optical disk (“compact disk,” “CD,” “DVD,” or other “optical disk”) case is disclosed which utilizes spaces within such “CD Jewel Cases” to store, transport, display, sample, and market other products. The largest of such spaces unused within CD Cases is a hinge space located at or near the point where the bottom and top covers are joined in a movable “hinge.” A marketing method for presenting two or more items to a prospective purchaser using the CD Case of the present invention is also disclosed for co-marketing products, or premiums or gifts offered with products. In such method, additional items, which may be solid or liquid, single or many, and are often consumables (such as perfume), may then be stored and transported with the optical disk and its case, and eventually presented to a potential purchaser in the same CD Case at the “point of sale” for the optical disk or the additional item.



Inventors:
Husmann, Mark (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/332010
Publication Date:
07/19/2007
Filing Date:
01/13/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/452, 206/223, G9B/33.011
International Classes:
B65D85/30; B65B3/02; B65D71/00
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Primary Examiner:
PERREAULT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thomas W. Cook (Sausalito, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An optical disk case comprising: a substantially flat main body having a plurality of edges, with a plurality of sides appended thereto, the plurality of sides formed to create a substantially closable space, a main body hinge means formed approximately along a spine edge of the main body; a tray adapted to fit within the substantially closable space of the main body, the tray having a means for holding a compact disk, and a means for engaging with the main body to hold the tray within the substantially closable space of the main body; the tray is formed narrower than the main body, leaving an unoccupied space within the main body adjacent the spine edge of the main body when the tray is placed within the substantially closable space of the main body and the means for engaging the main body is engaged with the main body; a substantially flat front cover with a spine edge, the front cover adapted to partially close the substantially closable space of the main body when the front cover is situated over the substantially closable space of the main body; and a front cover hinge means formed approximately along the spine edge of the front cover, and adapted to form a hinge when coupled to the main body hinge means; the front cover is formed narrower than the main body, and approximately equal in width with the tray, leaving an access to the unoccupied space within the main body adjacent the spine edge of the main body when the front cover hinge means is engaged with the main body hinge means, and the front cover is rotated into position to partially close the substantially closable space of the main body.

2. The optical disk case of claim 1, in which a wall is formed along the edge of the tray adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body.

3. The optical disk case of claim 2, in which the wall formed along the edge of the tray adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body is tall enough to separate the unoccupied space from the remainder of the substantially closable space of the main body.

4. The optical disk case of claim 3, in which the wall formed along the edge of the tray adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body is oriented perpendicular to the main body and the tray when the tray is placed within the substantially closable space of the main body and the tray means for engaging the main body is engaged with the main body.

5. The optical disk case of claim 3, in which the wall formed along the edge of the tray adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body is oriented at an angle to the main body and the tray when the tray is placed within the substantially closable space of the main body and the tray means for engaging the main body is engaged with the main body.

6. The optical disk case of claim 2, in which the wall formed along the edge of the tray adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body is tall enough to hold a removable panel against the front cover when such a removable panel is placed over the tray means for holding a compact disk, and such removable panel extends into the unoccupied space within the main body.

7. a tray for placing within an optical disk case comprising: a substantially flat part having a plurality of edges, the substantially flat part is adapted to fit within the interior of the main body of a standard optical disk case, the substantially flat part having a means for holding a compact disk and a means for engaging with the interior of the main body of the standard optical disk case to hold the substantially flat part within the standard optical disk case; and the substantially flat part is formed narrower than the main body of the standard optical disk case, leaving an unoccupied space adjacent the spine edge of the main body of the standard optical disk case when the substantially flat part is placed within the main body of a standard optical disk case, and the means for engaging the main body of the standard optical disk case is engaged with the main body of the standard optical disk case;

8. The tray for placing within an optical disk case of claim 7, further comprising a wall is formed along a spine edge of the substantially flat part, wherein the wall is adjacent the unoccupied space within the main body when the means for engaging the main body of the standard optical disk case is engaged with the main body of the standard optical disk case.

9. The tray for placing within an optical disk case of claim 8, in which the wall formed along the spine edge of the substantially flat part is tall enough to separate the unoccupied space from the remainder of the substantially closable space of the main body when the substantially flat part is placed within the main body of the standard optical disk case, and the means for engaging the main body of the standard optical disk case is engaged with the main body of the standard optical disk case.

10. The tray for placing within an optical disk case of claim 8, in which the wall formed along the spine edge of the substantially flat part is oriented perpendicular to the substantially flat part.

11. The tray for placing within an optical disk case of claim 8, in which the wall formed along the spine edge of the substantially flat part is oriented at an angle to the substantially flat part.

12. The tray for placing within an optical disk case of claim 8, in which the wall formed along the spine edge of the substantially flat part is tall enough to hold a removable panel against a front cover of the standard optical disk case when such a removable panel is placed over the substantially flat part within the main body of the standard optical disk case, the means for engaging the main body of the standard optical disk case is engaged with the main body of the standard optical disk case, and the front cover of the standard optical disk case is closed over the main body of the standard optical disk case.

13. A method for co-marketing a product using the optical disk case of claim 1 comprising the steps of: placing the product in the unoccupied space within the main body adjacent the spine edge of the main body; and covering the access to the unoccupied space with a closure means to close the unoccupied space.

14. The method for co-marketing a product as in claim 13, in which the closure means is a thin plastic wrap.

15. The method for co-marketing a product as in claim 13, in which the closure means is a thin plastic sheet.

16. The method for co-marketing a product as in claim 13, in which the closure means is a removable panel between the tray and the front cover.

17. The method for co-marketing a product as in claim 16, further comprising covering access to the unoccupied space with a thin plastic sheet.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The applicant has filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office two disclosure document deposit requests covering the invention disclosed herein on May. 23, 2005. These filings were entitled “Container or Dispenser for CD or DVD Cases,” and “Compact Disk Case with Compartments for Sample Merchandise and Marketing Materials.”

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to optical “compact disk” (“CD,” “DVD,” or “optical disk”) containers (also known as “CD Jewel Cases” or “CD Cases”), which protect optical disks upon transport and sale, and apparatus by which one may utilize space or spaces Within such holders to store, transport, display, and market other products with optical disks. More specifically, the present invention consists primarily of modifications of CD Cases of otherwise standard design, which modifications provide access to unused areas within CD Cases. In the present invention, relatively minor changes in standard CD Cases provide space within a CD Case, and ready access to that space for items which might be sold with an optical disk in such a CD Case. In some versions of the present invention, such modifications and changes may include components which define holders which may be inserted into a space within a CD Case, into which other items may be placed. However, the holders used to position optical disks within CD Cases (generally referred to as “CD Trays” or “Trays”), if properly formed consistent with the present invention, will alone provide access to usable space within such CD Cases. The largest and most usable space which may be used for holding additional items according to the present invention is generally found at or near the point where the bottom and top covers are joined in a movable “hinge.”

The present invention also provides a marketing method for presenting two or more items to a prospective purchaser. With such a method, one may place an additional item in the space near the hinge of a CD Case formed according to the present invention, and that additional item may then be stored and transported with the optical disk and its case, and eventually presented to a potential purchaser. Such additional items, which may be solid or liquid, single or many, and are often consumables (such as perfume), when contained in a CD Case consistent with the present invention, are prominently presented to prospective purchasers at the “point of sale” for the optical disk. On the other hand, an optical disk may be offered as a “premium” or gift, often of lesser value, which may be received by a purchaser along with, and at the point of sale of, the perfume or other additional item. In any case, wherever such optical disks and additional items are presented to a prospective purchaser utilizing the apparatus of the present invention, such optical disks and additional items are “Co-marketed” by prominently displaying both the optical disk and the additional item (or items) for sale in the same CD Case.

As “digital versatile disks” (“DVDs”), and most other optical disks, are similar in size and shape to compact disk optical disks, DVD Cases and other cases may be formed with access to their interior similar to that found in the modified CD Cases of the present invention. As a result, similar Co-marketing opportunities arise when additional items are situated within such other cases, according to the present invention.

BACKGROUND ART OF THE INVENTION

Compact optical disks have gradually replaced vinyl disks for the recording of audio and visual material, as well as for non-audio/visual, digitally recorded material for computer file storage. As a result, large quantities of recorded or unrecorded compact optical disks are produced and used in different fields of application, and such disks must be properly protected and identified using a storage case. Generally, a rigid three part clear plastic case is used for these purposes, such CD Cases are generally formed from stiff plastic material such as styrene. The three parts of standard CD Cases generally comprise (1) a main body, or case bottom or bottom cover, into which is placed (2) a CD Tray, which is formed to hold a optical disk, generally within a recessed well or depression formed in the Tray, and (3) a top cover (or “Front Cover”), formed to close over the interior space created within the main body. A hinge is generally supplied in standard cases. Such hinge is created by the interaction of pins on the Front Cover with holes in the main body. The pins of the hinge are formed on tabs extending from one edge of the Front Cover, at the ends of such edge, while the holes are formed near a corresponding edge of the main body, and at the ends of such edge.

The standard CD Case as a whole is asymmetrically formed around the optical disk which it holds, so that the holes and the pins forming the hinge are formed in such a case beyond the area required to contain such optical disk. With such placement, the Front Cover of the standard optical disk case completely covers an optical disk placed within the main body, however the Front Cover does not cover the entire front side of such CD Case. Rather, there is a substantially open, and generally unused, space just beyond the diameter of an optical disk placed within the case. This space (the “hinge space”) is formed in a standard CD case by various walls or panels, and is generally bounded at its bottom (when the CD Case is laying flat) or back (when the case is set on its edge) by a portion of the main body of the CD Case. Another portion of the main body also defines the hinge space at the distal “spine” edge of the CD Case, and two additional portions of the main body define the ends of the hinge space, into which the hinge holes are formed. In a standard CD Case, the hinge space is also generally bounded at its top (when the CD Case is laying flat) or front (when the case is set on its edge) by an extension of the CD Tray beyond the diameter of the held optical disk. The CD Tray in a standard CD Case also defines an interior part-wall between the hinge space and the interior of the CD Case which holds the optical disk, and the Tray defines a recessed well in which the optical disk may reside. The CD Tray is held rigidly in position within the main body by pins formed on the Tray, which Tray pins insert into corresponding holes formed in the main body of the CD Case.

Other variations on this general design exist in more recent, thin CD Cases, in which the space into which the hinge is formed is left open at its bottom (or back). In such variations, the interior of the CD Case and the hinge space are bounded almost entirely by the top of the case, as the case top extends beyond the diameter of an optical disk placed in the CD Case. A spine edge in such variations is formed at the edge of the top of the case, and tabs or walls are formed in the case top to define the ends of this space, and act as end tabs which co-act to form a hinge. The end tabs in these thin cases generally have holes formed in their ends, which holes may interact with pins formed on extensions from the main body of the CD Case. The opening at the back of the space at the hinge in these thin cases is a consequence of the geometry inherent in reducing the thickness of a case, and is desirable because the design uses less plastic material overall to form the case. As a result of the thin design of these thin cases, the space near the hinge usable for storage in such cases is generally too small to carry much more than identifying information printed on paper.

A number arrangements of the three parts of a standard CD Case have been developed for storage or display of additional items with the optical disk in the CD Case, and such arrangements often attempt to utilize the space adjacent the hinge. Uniformly, the purpose of such arrangements has been one of two:

    • (1) Firstly, the space near the hinge is used in many prior arrangements to hold an ornament to attract a prospective purchaser, or induce a purchase, or for later ornamental purposes as the CD Case is used.
    • (2) Secondly, the space adjacent the hinge space is used to hold a fragrance which stays with the CD Case, again to attract a prospective purchaser or induce a purchase, or so that a purchaser may smell such a fragrance while using the CD Case to store or use the optical disk.

Some of these prior arrangements are embodied in devices which appear superficially like the present invention, or have one or more features of the present invention. In attempting to achieve useful storage, display, and fragrance characteristics consistent with the purpose of these prior devices, others have created variations on the standard CD Case design to accomplish their purposes. Such apparatus within the related art includes:

U.S. Pat. No. 5,850,912 to Ganser et al., which discloses a housing for a compact disk having an “information carrier” in the hinge portion of a CD Case.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,893,455 to Biedebach et al., which discloses a compact disk package with spine insert, in which a fully enclosed space is defined by the three parts of a CD Case.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,971,143 to Yoshioka, which discloses a compact disk package with ornamental and fragrance effects created by filling a space in the hinge portion of a CD Case.

The inventions disclosed in these patents and appearing in these products appear to fulfill their respective objectives. As noted above, these objectives include placing objects or substances within the space near the hinge to attract a prospective purchaser with “eye catching” ornamental objects or substances, or placing such objects or substances within the space adjacent the hinge to induce a purchase, as a prospective purchaser weighs the attractiveness of various products. The objectives of the inventions disclosed in prior patents also include placing a fragrance within the space adjacent the hinge, which fragrance is then allowed to dissipate as the CD Case is used by the purchaser. This is in essence the same attractive and sale inducing function achieved with ornamental objects, as a prospective purchaser considers at the time of purchase the benefit of the presence of the fragrance so delivered when the purchaser may smell such a fragrances while the CD Case is in use.

However, the objectives achieved by these prior inventions is wholly unlike the objectives of the present invention, which are more fully set forth below, but include modifying CD Cases of otherwise standard design to provide access to the hinge space for delivery of a second product which might beneficially be sold with a first product residing on an optical disk. Such first product may be music, or video, content, or it may be software or even simply digitized data which may be useful to a prospective purchaser. Such a second product may be perfume, or candy, or a pen for marking the CD, or a towel for cleaning the CD, or any other product which might naturally be conjoined at the point of sale with the CD and its content. By using the unused space within standard CD Cases, as modified consistent with the present invention, such conjoined products benefit from the delivery of two products with a single sale, or the sampling of one product while considering purchase of another product. Using the apparatus of the present invention, the hinge space becomes available to jointly sell two products, or to sell one of the products using the other product only as a promotional device to achieve the sale. The present invention thereby provides vendors with flexibility in packaging their products to increase the promotional impact on prospective purchasers for any product which might be written to a CD, and for any product which might be placed within the hinge space of a CD Case modified according to the present invention. This increased promotional impact, achieved by jointly marketing two products in separate compartments of a single CD Case, results in an entirely new marketing method using a CD Case, which method is generally referred to herein as “co-marketing” or “product group marketing.” The prior patents and products in the art do not describe or suggest a media carrying case which allows delivery of two products with a single sale, nor do they describe or suggest an apparatus which allows increased promotional impact through jointly marketing two products in separate compartments of a single CD Case, nor do they describe or suggest “co-marketing” or “product group marketing” using a CD Case consistent with he present invention.

The objectives of the present invention are only achieved by creating, in the present invention, a different apparatus than is found in the prior art, and the apparatus of the present invention is uniquely situated to achieve these objectives. No patent or product of which the inventor is aware provides ready access to the Hinge Portion of a CD Case, which access is designed specifically to co-market products as set forth herein. The method of the present invention, which comprises co-marketing or product group marketing using CD Cases, is best achieved using the CD Case of the present invention, as only this apparatus has been designed with product group marketing in mind.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Summary of the Invention

In its simplest form, the present invention is a CD Case, which is generally used for holding and protecting an optical disk when not in use, and displaying an optical disk (or at least pictures and literature associated with that optical disk) for sale. However, the CD Case of the present invention is modified to provide an accessible space for holding and displaying other products which may beneficially be sold or sampled with the optical disk in the same CD Case.

As noted above, a standard CD Case consists of a rigid three-part clear plastic case formed from stiff plastic material such as styrene. The first part of a standard CD Case is a main body, which is sometimes called the case bottom, or bottom cover, into which an optical disk may be placed. The second part of a standard CD Case is a CD Tray, which is formed to securely hold a CD or other optical disk within the main body. When the CD Tray is properly positioned in the main body of a standard CD Case, the Tray is securely situated in the main body over its entire area, and held in position within the main body by Tray pins extending from points near the four corners of the Tray, and corresponding Tray holes in the main body, into which the Tray pins may extend when the Tray is pressed into position within the main body. The third part of a standard CD Case is a Front Cover, formed to close over the main body, thereby creating in interior for the case. The Front Cover also is supplied with cover pins, the cover pins generally formed on tabs extending from one edge of the Front Cover, at the ends of such edge, so that each cover pin extends toward a corresponding tab and cover pin at an adjacent corner of the Front Cover. The cover pins may extend into corresponding holes in the main body, and when the Front Cover is engaged with the main body in finished position, and the cover pins are set into the corresponding holes in the main body, a hinge is created. The hinge so created allows the Front Cover to rotate along one of its edges in fixed rotational relationship with a corresponding edge of the main body, as the cover pins rotate within the corresponding holes of the main body.

With this arrangement of three components in a standard CD Case, a space is created at or directly adjacent the line at which the main body of the CD Case co-acts hinge-like with the Front Cover. This space within the interior of the CD Case in standard CD Cases, extends in its entirety beyond the diameter of an optical disk held within the CD Case. The standard CD Case as a whole is therefore asymmetrically formed so that the cover pins and corresponding holes are formed beyond the area in such a case required to contain an optical disk. The hinge space is directly behind and between the main body holes in the standard CD Case, and between the cover pins when the Front Cover is snapped into position over the main body in such a case, and so the entirety of the hinge space is within the CD Case, but just beyond the diameter of an optical disk placed within the Tray of the case. In this arrangement, the interior boundary of the hinge space is just beyond the edge of an optical disk placed within the Tray of the fully assembled CD Case, and the exterior boundary of the hinge space is at the “spine” of the CD Case, adjacent the pivot line established by the hinge between the main body and the Front Cover. In this standard CD Case arrangement of components, the hinge space is bounded at its back (when the case is set on its edge) by a portion of the main body of the CD Case. Another portion of the main body also defines the hinge space at the spine edge, and two additional portions of the main body define the ends of the hinge space, into which the main body holes are formed.

With this arrangement of components in a standard CD Case, the Front Cover of the standard CD Case completely covers an optical disk placed in correct position within a Tray properly positioned within the main body of the CD Case, but the Front Cover does not cover the hinge space. Instead a front wall (or “Front Panel”) covers the front of the hinge space in a standard CD Case. The space near the hinge in a standard CD Case has been designed into standard CD Cases to provide anchors between the main body and the Front Side to which components which function as a hinge may be attached (i.e., the cover pins and corresponding holes). The hinge in a standard CD Case is its weakest point, and so most often broken. Accordingly, the top pins and corresponding holes in the main body are increased in size to provide the strength to avoid such breakage, and the Front Panel covering the front of the space near the hinge primarily fills the function of providing additional rigidity where additional rigidity is desirable to avoid breaking the hinge.

In a standard CD Case, the Front Panel which bounds the front side of the space adjacent the hinge is formed as an extension of the CD Tray. The CD Tray also defines an interior wall (the “Tray wall”) between the space near the hinge and the remainder of the interior of the CD Case. The Tray holds an optical disk (in a recessed well in the Tray), and an extension of the Tray forms the Tray wall between the space adjacent the hinge and the interior of the case, and extends further to form the Front Panel.

In the present invention, the hinge space, modified to create a space having new utility in the present invention (the “Hinge Space” of the present invention) is used to transport, house, display, and deliver other products. This is unlike any previous use for CD Cases, and this use requires a different structure to properly accomplish the co-marketing purpose of the present invention. Thus, while numerous CD Cases of the prior art utilize the space adjacent the hinge, the CD Cases of the prior art are intended for a different purpose and so are formed consistent with those purposes. For example, some CD Cases of the prior art are intended to display an object, and to thereby catch the eye of a prospective purchaser, however in such CD Cases the object so displayed is not intended to be removed from the CD Case. As a result, the space near the hinge in such prior art CD Cases remains closed, so that the object remains enclosed in the CD Case when in use. The user of the CD may see the object in the space near the hinge of such an CD Case each time the user picks up the CD Case with the object so enclosed, but the user cannot normally touch that object without pulling the Tray from the main body of the case. As another example, some CD Cases of the prior art are intended to allow a fragrance to emanate from the CD Case when in use. As a result, the space near the hinge in such prior art CD Cases again remains closed, except for small holes or vents which lead from the space adjacent the hinge to the exterior of the CD Case. Such vents provide channels for the fragrance contained in the space near the hinge to travel to the user each time the CD Case is picked up.

Unlike these prior art CD Cases, the present invention is intended for co-marketing. This is accomplished by using the CD Case to transport, house, and display additional items as in the prior art, however the present invention goes beyond the prior art in its delivery of such additional items and products. The present invention is specifically designed to allow easy access to its Hinge Space. The present invention is even specifically designed in some cases to allow the additional items or products to fall freely from the Hinge Space when the Front Side of the CD Case of the present invention is turned downward, thereby allowing gravity alone (in some versions of the present invention) to act on the additional items or products so that they fall naturally away from, or out of, the Hinge Space.

When manufactured, this simplest version of the present invention requires only that the wall generally found at the front of the Hinge Space (the “Front Panel,” formed by an extension of the Tray) be left off as the CD Case is formed. Leaving this Front Panel off opens the front of the Hinge Space to the exterior of the CD Case at its Front Side, so that an object may be placed within the Hinge Space by laying the CD Case flat, and laying the object to be placed in the case directly within the Hinge Space. It is in this sense that the Hinge Space of the CD Case of the present invention is “open,” so that an object placed within the Hinge Space may also be touched by a prospective purchaser (if the CD Case of the present invention is not covered by shrink wrap or other packaging cover), and the contents of the Hinge Space removed by pulling on such contents with a fingertip. With such an open Hinge Space, a variety of products which naturally fit within the Hinge Space may be carried to a consumer of music or other entertainment, and a variety of products may be modified in their shape to fit within such space. Thus, for instance, lipstick, or other makeup is often packaged in sizes having diameters larger than the width or depth of a Hinge Space, may be packaged to fit within the Hinge Space. And because the Hinge Space is open, many products which are larger than the depth of the Hinge Space may also be carried to a consumer in the same way, as such products, so long as they fit roughly within the width of a Hinge Space, may be allowed to protrude from the Hinge Space.

Continuing with the simplest version of the present invention, since additional items or products may move freely out of the Hinge Space, the additional items or products must be held in place during transport and display. Usually, the additional items or products are held in place by merely enclosing the CD Case of the present invention in a thin plastic sheet or a plastic wrap. The thin plastic sheet may be glued in place, as is common in the music delivery industry presently, or the wrap may be melted to seal it around the CD Case, or the CD Case may be covered with a process commonly known as “shrink wrap.” However the wrap is applied to the CD Case, the wrap when put in place to surround the CD Case (or just cover the opening of the Hinge Space) provides a barrier to movement into or out of the Hinge Space until the wrap is broken or pealed away, or removed entirely. The barrier created by the wrap is by itself sufficient to keep most additional items and products in place during shipment and display of the CD Case of the present invention, and at the same time provide easy access to a prospective purchaser when the optical disk is purchased, and removed from its case. Once purchased, the prospective purchaser may first remove the wrap from the front of the Hinge Space (generally while removing the wrap from the CD Case prior to opening the Front Cover), at which time the purchaser may then pull the additional item or product from the Hinge Space, or simply allow the additional item or product to drop from the Hinge Space in response to gravity if the Front Side of the CD Case is pointed generally downward. In such applications, the thin plastic sheet used to wrap a CD Case, as is common in the music delivery industry presently, will act as a barrier to movement into or out of the Hinge Space until the wrap is broken or pealed away, a barrier which in a great many cases will by itself be sufficient to keep even larger items and products in place during shipment and display of the CD Case of the present invention.

In one preferred embodiment of the simple version of the present invention, the CD Case, as noted above, is left open at the front of the Hinge Space by merely forming the Tray which will be placed within the CD Case without the Front Panel. However, in such a formation, the Tray is otherwise formed as found in standard CD Cases, with all of its components including the Tray wall between the Hinge Space and the remainder of the Tray. The Tray wall is in most cases a half-wall or half-panel, as the Tray is designed to be raised slightly when it is properly situated within the main body of the CD Case during assembly. The raising of the Tray allows a depression, or recessed well, to be formed in the Tray for insertion of a CD.

In another preferred embodiment of the simple version of the present invention, the CD Case is left open as the Tray is again formed without the Front Panel, however in such second configuration, the Tray is also formed without the half-wall or half-panel between the Hinge Space and the remainder of the Tray. Of course, in this second configuration, the Hinge Space and the space above the Tray (and the space above an optical disk held in the Tray) are open to one another. Since anything placed within the Hinge Space may freely move within the Hinge Space if such object is not otherwise constrained, the additional item or product to be Co-marketed must be selected from among those items and products which will not move from the Hinge Space to the open space above the CD in the CD Case (i.e., the additional item or product must be a solid object wider than the opening between the Tray and the Front Cover, or material contained in and constrained by a solid container with such dimensions).

Another preferred embodiment of the simple version of the present invention, that embodiment with the half-wall or half-panel between the Hinge Space and the remainder of the Tray, takes advantage of the open “pass through” afforded by this design. In this embodiment, a removable panel of paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, or other material may extend in one direction into some of, or all of, the space in the interior of the CD Case, and so be laid over some or all of the recessed well or depression in which an optical disk may reside. The removable panel may also extend in the other direction into some of, or all of, the Hinge Space. The removable panel may carry a coupon or other promotional item, or the removable panel may merely cover the optical disk or interior of the CD Case, or the removable panel may cover another item contained in the interior of the CD Case (and laid over the top of the optical disk residing in the recessed well of the Tray). In any case, the removable panel of this preferred embodiment, because it extends into the Hinge Space, may be employed advantageously in the Hinge Space, separate and apart from the usefulness within the interior of the CD Case.

As one example of the use of the removable panel, a rigid removable panel may be used to retain the additional product co-marketed in the Hinge Space. On the other hand, a flexible removable panel (and some rigid panels) might be removed from the CD Case as it bends up and out of the Hinge Space, thereby allowing a marketer or user to create a larger, wider display. Or the removable panel might provide easy access to a coupon for a sample, or to words or other descriptive material residing on the panel. The removable panel may even be used to surprise a prospective purchaser by hiding the name of the artist or other identifying information displayed on an optical disk within the CD Case until a purchase is complete, or allow a well known artist to avoid being associated with a product contained in a CD Case until a purchase is complete, thereby in some sense preserving the non-commercial presentation of an artist's work. With such use, an artistic work might not be directly associated with a very commercial enterprise (or any enterprise in which the artist would not wish a consumer to make a direct association between the artist, his work, and the enterprise).

When used in the method of the present invention, the three parts of the CD Case of the present invention are formed according to the description of the simple version of the invention as set forth above. The Tray is situated properly within the main body of the CD Case, and components comprising the hinge between the Front Cover and the main body are engaged so that they co-act, and so create the hinge for the CD Case. An optical disk is then placed within the recessed well of the Tray within the main body, and the Front Cover is rotated to cover the space enclosed within the main body (including the optical disk). One or more additional items or products are then placed within the Hinge Space of the CD Case of the present invention by insertion through the open front of the Hinge Space. The CD Case is then wrapped using thin plastic sheeting, so that the additional item or product so placed within the Hinge Space cannot be removed from the Hinge Space during transport, or by a prospective purchaser by hand, or by the force of gravity before purchase. A purchaser may, in some embodiments, sample the additional item, by appropriate modifications to the thin plastic wrap covering the CD Case, or the purchaser may simply purchase the co-marketed products. Once the optical disk or the additional item or product are chosen by the prospective purchaser, the prospective purchaser may pay for the Co-marketed combination of optical disk and additional item or product and, the purchase being complete, the purchaser may remove the wrap. Once the wrap is removed by the purchaser, the additional item or product may then be removed from the uncovered CD Case by simply orienting the CD Case so that its Front Side faces generally downward. Of course, the purchaser may also remove the additional item or product from the Hinge Space by hand as well, using a finger tip, or a pencil tip, or other tool, and in corn applications the additional item may be sampled at this time.

In another embodiment of the present invention, access to the Hinge Space may be gained through the back side of the CD Case, by forming an opening in the main body of the CD Case directly behind the Hinge Space. In such embodiment, the Tray of a standard CD Case may be formed in its usual configuration, and placed in its usual position within the main body of the CD Case of the present invention, thereby preventing easy access from the Front Side of the CD Case, because the easy access to the additional items or products is provided from the rear of the CD Case through the opening in the main body as described herein. Again, as with other versions of the present invention, the additional items or products are held in position using the outer wrapping for the CD Case, generally the thin plastic covering set forth above.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, access to the Hinge Space may be gained through the spine of the CD Case, by formation of an opening in the main body of the CD Case along its side intended to constitute the spine. This embodiment uses an opening along one end of the CD Case, near the hinge, and along the length of the Hinge Space, where the panel usually formed on the spine end of the main body is simply left off. In such embodiment, the Tray of a standard CD Case may again be used in its usual configuration, because the easy access to the additional item or product which is central to the present invention is provided along the spine of the CD Case. On the other hand, the Tray of a standard CD Case may be used in a reduced, and even more open configuration, by again removing the portion of the Tray which would normally bound the front of the Hinge Space (i.e., the Front Panel). Again leaving the Hinge Space open for easy access both from the front of the CD Case and along its spine. Again, as with other versions of the present invention, the additional item or product is held in position using the outer wrapping for the CD Case, generally the thin plastic covering set forth above.

In each embodiment of the present invention, movable panels may be employed to close the openings which provide easy access to the additional items or products consistent with the purposes and method of the present invention. Such movable panels may have a number of purposes, however one major purpose of such panels is to securely retain an additional item or product in place in the Hinge Space where a thin plastic wrapping is not used, or where such wrapping is used but additional strength is desirable to ensure the additional item or product remains in place. Such additional strength may be desirable, for example, when the additional item or product is a heavy object, such as a bottle full of perfume, which bottle completely fills the Hinge Space. Particularly when the value of the additional item or product greatly exceeds the value of the co-marketed optical disk, it is be important that the item or product remain in place, rather than break through the thin plastic wrap, fall to the floor, and break.

In embodiments where movable panels are desirable, such panels may be set in place, and kept in place with pins and corresponding holes, or such panels may be formed with separate hinge (and latch) components, or such panels may be formed from an extension of the plastic of the Tray. Where a movable panel is an extension of the Tray, the Front Panel of the Tray of a CD Case of the present invention may be formed to be movable if the plastic along a line at the end of the Tray wall is formed thinner than the rest of the Tray wall, before it thickens again to form the Front Panel. Such thinning of the plastic, creates a line in which the plastic is naturally easier to bend between the half wall and the Front Panel. In such a configuration, the Front Panel in such a Tray may swing around that line, thereby allowing the Front Panel to open and close the opening over the Hinge Space when the Tray is properly situated in the main body of the CD Case. Wherever a movable panel is used to close the opening to the Hinge Space, a latching mechanism may be employed to secure the movable end or edge of such panel. Thus, for instance, the Front Panel of the Tray of a CD Case of standard configuration which may swing around the line formed by the thinned plastic of the Tray, as set forth herein, may also be formed with small pins or hooks which may be inserted into corresponding holes or openings in the main body of the CD Case when the Tray is properly situated in the main body of the CD Case. When such pins or hooks are inserted into such holes or openings in the main body, they engage such holes or openings, and thereby fix the movable end or edge of the Front Panel.

In each embodiment of the present invention, spacers may be inserted within the Hinge Space to occupy space around an additional item or product if such additional item or product is of a shape or size which does not fit snugly within the Hinge Space of the CD Case. An example of such spacers includes tabs or ledges formed in the hard plastic of the Hinge Space, which tabs or ledges fit snugly around a cylindrical object residing within the Hinge Space, thereby holding the cylindrical object snugly in place. A second example of such spacers includes a pin or tab extending from one end of the Hinge Space, which pin or tab extends from that end of the Hinge Space to an end of an additional item or product when such is placed within the Hinge Space. Such pin or tab acts to prevent the additional item or product from moving longitudinally within the Hinge Space, and so reduces the likelihood the ends of the additional item or product will contact the end of the Hinge Space with sufficient force to break the additional item or product or the end of the Hinge Space. Such modifications by formation of spacers, tabs, ledges, and pins within the Hinge Space in a CD Case are within the scope of the present invention in all cases where the additional item or product may be easily accessed through the front, spine, back or ends of a Hinge Space formed according to the present invention. Of course, all such spacers, tabs, and ledges used to secure an object within the Hinge Space must be positioned within the constraints of any movable panels formed to close the opening or openings which provide access to the Hinge Space (or at least in consideration of such movable panels).

The more important features of the invention have thus been outlined, rather broadly, so that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. Additional features of specific embodiments of the invention will be described below. However, before explaining preferred embodiments of the invention in detail, it may be noted briefly that the present invention substantially departs from pre-existing apparatus and methods of the prior art, and in so doing provides the user with the highly desirable feature of direct access to the Hinge Space of a CD Case. Such direct access is necessary to provide the Co-marketing facility which is a central objective of the present invention. Without such direct access, whether through the front, back, or spine of the CD Case, a prospective purchaser cannot easily remove the additional item or product which is intended to be Co-marketed with the optical disk contained in the CD Case.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

A principal object of the present invention is to provide easy access to the Hinge Space in a CD Case.

A further principal object of the present invention is to provide a storage, transport, and display apparatus for additional item or products which might be sold with optical disks.

A further principal object of the present invention is to provide a storage, transport, and display apparatus for optical disks which might be sold or given away promotionally with perfumes, or other additional item or products.

A further principal object of the present invention is to allow a seller of optical disks to co-market additional item or products.

A further principal object of the present invention is to allow a seller of perfume, or other product which might be contained in the Hinge Space of a CD Case to co-market optical disks, or to provide them free for promotional purposes to sell the additional item or product.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate two preferred embodiments of the present invention, and such drawings, together with the description set forth herein, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view drawing of a CD case within prior art, the top of the case presented in open configuration, ready to accept an optical disk.

FIG. 2 is a front (or top) drawing of the CD case within prior art shown in FIG. 1, the top of the case presented in closed configuration.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view drawing of the CD case within prior art shown in FIG. 1, drawn along line 3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a front (or top) view drawing of a first preferred embodiment of the CD Case of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view drawing of the first preferred embodiment of the CD case of the present invention shown in FIG. 4, drawn along line 5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view drawing of a second preferred embodiment of the CD case of the present invention, drawn with a removable panel.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view drawing of the Tray a second preferred embodiment of the CD case of the present invention, drawn to show the various angles at which one component of the Tray may be formed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A FIRST PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a CD case within the prior art 10 is shown in perspective view, viewed from above. The case is open, with Front Cover 11 rotationally attached to main body 12 of the case at both ends of a spine wall 18 (the wall along one edge commonly referred to as the “spine” of the case) along one edge of main body 12. The rotational attachment is accomplished by Front Cover pins (not shown) which extend into corresponding holes (not shown) in main body 12, thereby creating a hinge between main body 12 and the Front Cover 11. The hinge so created allows Front Cover 11 to rotate along an axis 16 close to one of its edges 17 in substantially fixed rotational relationship with the corresponding spine wall 18 along the spine of main body 12, as the cover pins rotate within the corresponding holes of main body 12. Tray 20 appears in FIG. 1, properly positioned in main body 12, and ready to accept an optical disk (not shown) in recessed well 22 formed in Tray 20. On the hinge side of CD case 10, Tray 20 in FIG. 1 extends from recessed well 22, up and over the space between the cover pins of Front Cover 11 and corresponding holes in main body 12. The extension of Tray 20 in this fashion creates Tray wall 24 between recessed well 22 of Tray 20 and the space between the cover pins and corresponding holes in main body 12. This space, which we refer to herein generally as the “hinge space” (and, as the hinge space is modified consistent with the presented invention, the “Hinge Space”) is bounded on its bottom (or back) by main body 12, and along its one side by spine wall 18 at the spine of CD case 10. This space is also bounded on its other side, when Tray 20 is properly positioned within main body 12, by Tray wall 24, and on its front or top by Front Panel 25. The sum of these components bounding the hinge space creates an elongated enclosure between the cover pins and corresponding holes in the main body.

Turning now to FIG. 2, a front (or top) drawing of CD case 10 within prior art of FIG. 1 is shown, with Front Cover 11, formed of clear plastic in FIG. 2, in position over main body 12 of case 10, so that case 10 is presented in a closed configuration. FIG. 2 also shows Tray 20, with recessed well 22, under the clear plastic of Front Cover 11. FIG. 2 also shows spine wall 18 along the spine of the CD Case, Tray wall 24, and Front Panel 25.

In FIG. 3, a cross sectional view drawing of the CD case within prior art shown in FIG. 1 is shown, the cross section drawn along line 3 of FIG. 2. Accordingly, FIG. 3 shows many of the same components as appear in FIG. 2, i.e. Front Cover 11, formed of clear plastic, in position over main body 12 of case 10, also presented in a closed configuration, with Tray 20, and recessed well 22 in Tray 20, under the clear plastic of Front Cover 11, and spine wall 18, Tray wall 24, and Front Panel 25. However, in FIG. 3, hinge space 30, which extends the length of the spine of case 10, clearly appears bounded at its back by the back of main body 12, at its one side by spine wall 18, at its Tray side by Tray wall 24, and at its front by Front Panel 25. It should be noted that hinge space 30 is entirely enclosed by such components, each of which are rigid components formed from main body 12 or Tray 20. Accordingly, materials placed within hinge space 30 cannot be removed from hinge space 30 without removing Tray 20, or breaking one of these rigid components.

Turning now to FIG. 4, a front (or top) view drawing of a first preferred embodiment of the CD Case of the present invention is shown, with changes to main body 12, Tray 20, and Front Cover 11 consistent with the present invention. More particularly, main body 12 is again shown as in FIG. 2, again with Front Cover 11, formed of clear plastic in FIG. 2, in position over main body 12 of case 10, so that case 10 is presented in a closed configuration. FIG. 4 also shows Tray 20, with recessed well 22, under the clear plastic of Front Cover 11. FIG. 2 also shows spine wall 18 along the spine of the CD Case, and Tray wall 24. However, Hinge Space 30 in FIG. 4 is open at its front, there being no Front Panel 25 to close it as in prior art. Without Front Panel 25, the front side of the interior of main body 12, that is, area 31 between spine wall 18 and Tray wall 24, may be seen through Hinge Space 30. Thus, Tray 20 is properly (and snugly) placed in main body 12 on three sides of Tray 20, but on the fourth side Tray 20 ends with Tray wall 24, there being no Front Panel 25 covering the front of Hinge Space 30. As Front Panel 25 is therefore missing from Tray 20 in the present invention, a user has immediate access to Hinge Space 30 because Front Cover 11, in the present invention and in prior art, only covers the space above an optical disk placed in recessed well 22, and does not extend over Hinge Space 30. Accordingly, by merely removing Front Panel 25, Hinge Space 30 is left open, and materials may be easily placed in, and removed from, Hinge Space 30 without removing Tray 20 from its secure position in main body 12.

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view drawing of the first preferred embodiment of the CD case of the present invention shown in FIG. 4, drawn along line 5 of FIG. 4. Accordingly, FIG. 5 shows many of the same components as appear in FIG. 4, i.e. Front Cover 11, formed of clear plastic, in position over main body 12 of case 10. In FIG. 5, the present invention is also presented in a closed configuration, with Tray 20, with recessed well 22, under the clear plastic of Front Cover 11, and spine wall 18, and Tray wall 24. However, because Hinge Space 30 in FIGS. 4 and 5 is open at its front, there being no Front Panel to close this space as in prior art, the front side of the interior of main body 12 may be seen below Hinge Space 30, in area 31 between spine wall 18 and Tray wall 24, there being no Front Panel 25 to close Hinge Space 30 as in prior art. Without Front Panel 25, Again, Tray 20 is properly (and snugly) placed in main body 12 in FIG. 5, but Tray 20 in FIG. 5 ends with Tray wall 24. As a result, a user has immediate access to Hinge Space 30 because Front Cover 11, in the present invention and in prior art, only covers the space above an optical disk placed in recessed well 22, and does not extend over Hinge Space 30. In FIG. 5, Hinge Space 30, which extends the length of the spine of case 10, again appears bounded at its back by the back of main body 12 (while presenting area 31 to the exterior of the CD case) at its one side by spine wall 18, and at its Tray side by Tray wall 24. In FIG. 5, Hinge Space 30 is clearly open at its front (or top) because of the absence of the Front Panel usually found in prior art. As a result, materials placed within Hinge Space 30 can be readily removed from Hinge Space 30 without removing Tray 20, or breaking one of the rigid components which bound it. The first embodiment of the present invention shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 may each be covered by thin plastic sheeting to close Hinge Space 30, and thereby hold an object placed there within Hinge Space 30.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A SECOND PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view drawing of a second preferred embodiment of the CD case of the present invention, drawn along a line which bisects the CD case of the present invention, similar to bisecting line 5 drawn in FIG. 4. Accordingly, FIG. 6 shows many of the same components as appear in FIG. 5, i.e. Front Cover 11, formed of clear plastic, in position over main body 12 of case 10. In FIG. 5, the present invention is also presented in a closed configuration, with Tray 20, with recessed well 22, under the clear plastic of Front Cover 11, and spine wall 18, and Tray wall 24. However, in FIG. 6, Tray wall 24 is only formed substantially half height, which configuration allows removable panel 40, when placed within case 10, to extend the entire width of case 10. Thus, removable 40 panel may be placed in such position as to extend from line 41 near one side of main body 12, all the way across the front of the case over Tray well 22, through Hinge Space 30, and up to line 42 near spine wall 18. Since there is no Front Panel to close Hinge Space 30 in this embodiment as in prior art, the front side of the interior of main body 12 may be seen below Hinge Space 30, in area 31 between spine wall 18 and Tray wall 24, before placement of removable panel 40. However, with removable panel 40 in place, end 42 of removable panel 40 may cover the area between Tray wall 24 and spine wall 18. As a result, an object placed within Hinge Space 30 may also be covered by end 42 of removable panel 40, or such object placed within Hinge Space 30 may even be held in place within Hinge Space 30 even if the CD case of the present invention is not sealed with the plastic cover envisioned by most embodiments. In FIG. 6, Hinge Space 30, which extends the length of the spine of case 10, again appears bounded at its back by the back of main body 12 (while presenting area 31 to the exterior of the CD case if removable panel 40 is absent), at its one side by spine wall 18, and at its Tray side by Tray wall 24. In FIG. 6, Hinge Space 30 is clearly open at its front (or top) if removable panel 40 is absent or removed from case 10, so materials placed within Hinge Space 30 can be readily removed from Hinge Space 30 without removing Tray 20, merely by sliding or removing panel 40. Tray wall 24 in this embodiment may be formed taller, to securely hold removable panel in place by exertion of pressure on removable panel so that it in turn presses against front cover 11. Tray wall 24 may also be formed shorter, as low as the level of the top surface of an optical disk residing in recessed well 22, to allow removable panel 40 to move more freely in case 10, or allow other items or objects to be placed in case 10 above or below removable panel 40 in and around recessed well 22, or below removable panel 40 in Hinge Space 30.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view drawing which shows further Tray modifications of the second preferred embodiment of the CD case shown in FIG. 6, again drawn along a line which bisects the CD case, similar to bisecting line 5 drawn in FIG. 4. However, in FIG. 7 only Tray 20 is shown with such modifications, the Front Cover 11 and main body 12 of case 10 being left out for clarity. In FIG. 7, Tray wall 24 may be formed substantially half height, as in FIG. 6, or higher, or Tray wall 24 may formed full height, to separate Hinge Space 30 from the remainder of the interior of case 10. Also, the distal end 45 of Tray wall 24 may be formed to extend upward (if the CD Case is laying flat) vertically from its lower proximate end 46, which is joined with the remainder of Tray 20 along proximate end 46, or the distal end 45 of Tray wall 24 may be formed to extend upward at an angle from its lower proximate end 46. The variety of possible configurations for forming Tray wall 24 as part of Tray 20 allows panels, such as panel 40 in FIG. 6 to reside loosely within Case 10, or be tightly held between distal end 45 and Cover 11. The variety of possible configurations for forming Tray wall 24 as part of Tray 20 also allows Hinge Space 30 to be configured for oddly shaped objects, or reduced or increased in size panels according to the requirements of the object to be delivered with the optical disk in case 10.

Other embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope of the invention being indicated by the following claims and equivalents.