Title:
Disk storage system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disk storage system includes a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk. The case includes a locking bar disposed along an edge of the case, the locking bar being configured to releasably pivotally press fit into receiving structure of a disk storage container.



Inventors:
Stewart, Glenn (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Taylor, Brian (Provo, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/366281
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
03/02/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
G9B/33.018, G9B/33.021, G9B/33.011
International Classes:
B65D85/30
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Parsons Behle & Latimer (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A disk storage system, comprising a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, having a locking bar disposed along an edge of the case, the locking bar being configured to releasably pivotally press fit into receiving structure of a disk storage container.

2. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 1, wherein the locking bar comprises a pair of locking bars, disposed along a common axis on a bottom edge of the case, and whereby the plane of the disk case can pivot about the bottom edge when connected to the receiving structure of the disk storage container.

3. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a disk storage container, having receiving structure configured to releasably pivotally receive the locking bar of the disk case.

4. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 3, wherein the receiving structure comprises a resilient receiving clip, having a central aperture shaped to pivotally contain the locking bar, and a pair of over-center lobes, configured to releasably retain the locking bar within the aperture.

5. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 4, wherein the locking bar is of a non-circular cross-sectional shape, and the central aperture includes faceted sides, whereby the disk case is urged to pivot between discrete angular positions.

6. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a moveable index tab, removably attached to an edge of the case, and configured to bear indicia related to the contents of a disk contained in the case.

7. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 6, further comprising a plurality of mounting holes, disposed along a top edge of the case, the moveable indexing tab having a mounting post configured to removably insert into to any of the mounting holes.

8. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 1, further comprising interlocking structure, comprising an upstanding protrusion on one side of the planar disk case, and an alignment recess on the opposite side of the planar disk case, the protrusion of one case being configured to fit into the recess of another case when stacked one atop another, so as to align and interlock the stacked cases.

9. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 8, wherein the upstanding protrusion comprises a plurality of ridges disposed on a top surface of the disk case, and the alignment recess is associated with a bottom surface of the disk case.

10. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 8, wherein the disk case includes a top face and a bottom face, and the interlocking structure further includes a center protrusion, generally aligned with a center of the disk case and extending from the bottom face, and a slot disposed in the top face and generally aligned with the center of the disk case, configured to receive the center protrusion.

11. A disk storage system, comprising a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, the disk case having interlocking structure, comprising an upstanding protrusion on one side of the planar disk case, and a recess on the opposite side of the planar disk case, the protrusion of one case being configured to fit into the recess of another case when stacked one atop another, so as to promote substantial alignment of the stacked cases.

12. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the upstanding protrusion comprises a plurality of arcuate ridges, disposed on a top surface of the disk case and generally concentrically aligned with a center of the case, and the alignment recess comprises a plurality of recesses associated with a bottom surface of the disk case.

13. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the disk case comprises a base portion and a closeable lid, and the interlocking structure further includes a center protrusion extending downwardly from the lid and through an aperture in the base portion when the lid is closed, and the lid further including a center slot in a top face thereof, configured to receive the center protrusion to promote alignment of the stacked cases.

14. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 11, further comprising a pair of locking bars, generally axially aligned along an edge of the case, the locking bars being configured to releasably pivotally press fit into receiving structure of a disk storage container.

15. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 14, further comprising a disk storage container, having receiving structure comprising a pair of resilient receiving clips configured to releasably pivotally receive the locking bars, the receiving clips having a central aperture shaped to pivotally contain the locking bar, and a pair of over-center lobes, configured to releasably retain the locking bar within the aperture

16. A disk storage system, comprising a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, having a locking bar disposed along an edge of the case; and a disk storage device, having receiving structure configured to releasably pivotally receive the locking bar of the disk case.

17. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 16, wherein the disk storage device is selected from the group consisting of a rotary disk storage device, a tray-type disk storage device, and a chain-type disk storage device comprising a plurality of interconnectable links having the receiving structure attached thereto.

18. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 16, wherein the receiving structure comprises a resilient receiving clip, having a central aperture shaped to pivotally contain the locking bar, and a pair of over-center lobes, configured to releasably retain the locking bar within the aperture.

19. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 18, wherein the locking bar is of a non-circular cross-sectional shape, and the central aperture includes faceted sides, whereby the disk case is urged to pivot between discrete angular positions.

20. A disk storage system in accordance with claim 16, further comprising a moveable index tab, removably attached to an edge of the case, and configured to bear indicia related to the contents of a disk contained in the case.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to storage containers for compact disks, digital video disks and the like, and organizing systems for such containers.

2. Related Art

Since the introduction of the optical laser disk, better known as the Compact Disk (CD), and subsequently the Digital Video Disk (DVD), there have been a wide variety of devices designed to protect, store and file individual or multiple CDs and/or DVDs. One of the first of these devices introduced to the market was the “jewel case.” Made of rigid polycarbonate, the jewel case is an assembled case of two-piece construction including a lid and a base. The lid includes a very small cylindrical protrusion that “snaps” into a corresponding cylindrical slot in the base of the case to provide a hinge between the lid and base.

Jewel cases are approximately 8 times as thick as the CD/DVD disk that they are designed to contain. This thickness allows for text to be displayed on the edge of the case for identifying the contents of the disk that is stored in the case, which helps with indexing and filing of the CD/DVDs. The disk that is stored in the case also snaps securely to the center of the base portion of the case, holding it in place.

The jewel case does a very good job of holding and protecting a CD/DVD until the case happens to be dropped or encounters a strong shock, at which time the case tends to pop open, often releasing the CD/DVD. In many cases of such mechanical shock, the polycarbonate material of the case is damaged or broken, and the case is thus often rendered unusable. The rigid polycarbonate material and the design are unforgiving to strong impacts, which reduces the efficiency and suitability of the jewel case for protecting the CD/DVD.

Because the jewel case was one of the very first devices developed to store CDs and DVDs, there have been many shelving and container systems that have been developed that conform to the dimensional standards of the relatively thick jewel case. Unfortunately, many of these shelving or container storage systems do not include a provision for positively securing the jewel case to the storage device. Consequently, in many such systems the jewel case can easily fall out or off of the filing system. When the jewel case falls from any one of these filing systems, the case is frequently compromised, damaged, or destroyed in the impact, thus negating the protective nature of the case. Additionally, if the jewel case is not placed into the storage or filing system in the correct manner, the indexing feature of the readable text on the spine becomes unavailable to read, negating the benefits of this feature of the jewel case.

There have been several variations on the jewel case theme. One is the slim line jewel case. The slim line jewel case includes the same type of center locking method for securing the CD/DVD to the base of the case, and is generally made of the same polycarbonate material, with the same type of two-piece hinge. Unlike the standard jewel case, however, the slim line jewel case is much thinner, being only 4 times as thick as a CD/DVD. One drawback of this configuration is that there is no longer space for identification information to be provided on the spine of the case. Additionally, the slim-line case retains all of the other shortcomings of the standard jewel case, except that it is thinner.

The standardization of the jewel case has also spawned a jewel case that holds multiple CD/DVDs. Because multiple disk jewel cases are thicker, this brings back the information feature on the spine of the case. However, this device still leaves the case vulnerable to the lack of protecting the CD/DVD from sudden impact. It appears that all of the known versions of the jewel case are variously susceptible to a lack of protection against dropping, and/or also tend to present difficulties for storing, filing and/or indexing.

Another approach to the issue of protecting CDs/DVDs was introduced in the form of the c-shell type of CD/DVD cases. C-shell cases offer a higher degree of protection than jewel cases. C-shells are constructed of a polypropylene material that is not as rigid as the polycarbonate material that is used for jewel cases. This style of case is generally of integral (i.e. one piece) constructed, and is produced through a single injection molding process. The c-shell case incorporates a “living hinge” that connects the lid and base portions together. In a living hinge, the hinge is a thin section of the material of the case, which integrally joins the lid and base portions of the case, and is integrally molded of the same material in the same mold as the entire case. The flexibility of the material of the hinge allows the top and bottom halves of the case to easily fold together.

C-shell cases are economical because they are made in a single mold and no assembly is required. They also offer a higher level of protection to the CD/DVD because of the greater resilience of the polypropylene material and the configuration of the hinge. When a C-shell case receives a sudden impact or is dropped, the case resists breaking, opening or coming apart to a greater degree than do jewel cases in a similar situation.

Clasp configurations for c-shell cases come in two different styles. One style of case uses tabs associated with the hole at the center of the CD/DVD to interlock the top and bottom of the case. Another style of clasp includes small interlocking tabs on the edges of the top and bottom of the case that lock the two portions together. Either style of closure can be sufficient, and c-shell cases generally use one or the other type of closure, but not both. Either of these types of clasps are subject to fatigue if the case is opened and closed excessively. After repeated opening and closing of the case these features can loose their ability to maintain a strong hold to the other side of the case to keep it closed. This can result in the reduction of the ability of the c-shall case to protect the CD/DVD.

In addition to protecting their contents, another distinguishing characteristic of CD/DVD holders is their provision for allowing systematic organization and storage of multiple holders. Only one style of the c-shell type of cases offers a systematic method for organizing or storing the individual cases. This style of case utilizes a standard 3 ring binder hole spacing, the holes being provided in an edge tab of the c-shell case, for filing individual cases into a 3-ring binder. While this approach has some advantages, it does not allow a large number of cases to be stored or indexed in a systematic method because of practical size limitations of 3-ring binders. The 3-ring binder is a marginal system for storing papers, and is even less adequate for filing or storing CD/DVD cases, which are much thicker than paper.

Another style of CD/DVD case that offers a system for storing and indexing CD/DVDs is the soft material or paper holders. Soft material or paper holders include substantially planar, flexible pockets into which CDs/DVDs can be inserted. The pockets can have a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles, textures, or systematic holding containers. This style of holding system offers probably the best systematic approach to storing and indexing CD/DVDs. This type of system is also very thin, and allows a large number of CD/DVDs to be stored in a small space. Soft material or paper holders can also offer a viewing window on the protective sleeve to identify the CD/DVD, and a location on the sleeve or pocket to place labels or other information.

Unfortunately, soft material or paper holders fall far short of good protection. Some of these systems have the ability to close an entire container of protective sleeves, but once the system is opened, the CDs/DVDs are vulnerable to fall out of the holders. They also do not offer very good protection for individual CDs/DVDs. The only method of removing the CD/DVD from the system is as a bare individual disk. This removes all protection, and also defeats system-to-system interchangeability (i.e. the ability to easily transfer a single disk from one storage system to another). The technique used to remove the CD/DVD from the protective sleeve also has drawbacks. The sleeve offers very little space for an individual to reach into the sleeve and retrieve the CD/DVD without contacting the optical portion of the disk.

There is another type or style of CD/DVD storage system that is relevant to this discussion. It is known as the “cake box” system. Cake boxes are typically used for bulk storage of blank or burnt CD/DVDs. They offer a space-efficient method for storing and protecting CDs/DVDs. With the top of the cake box on, there is significant physical protection of the entirety of disks. One problem with cake box systems, however, is that it is difficult to access individual disks because they are merely stacked in series on a stick. To access a middle or bottom disk, all of the preceding disks must be removed. Once the top of the cake box has been removed, the bare disks are exposed, and removing them from the stack has the potential to damage the optical side of the disk. Additionally, with cake box systems there is no simple method for transferring a single disk from one storage system to another.

In sum, there are a wide variety of CD/DVD storage cases and systems that are now available. However, these systems have various limitations and drawbacks, such as those mentioned above. For the above and other reasons, there is a need for the present invention.

SUMMARY

It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a CD/DVD storage system that adequately protects the disks, and also allows easy identification of the CD/DVD type, contents or title.

It has also been recognized that it would be advantageous to have a CD/DVD storage system that allows standardized, system-to-system transfer of CD/DVD cases.

In accordance with one embodiment thereof, the present invention provides a disk storage system, including a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, having a locking bar disposed along an edge of the case. The locking bar is configured to releasably pivotally press fit into receiving structure of a disk storage container.

In accordance with another aspect thereof, the invention provides a disk storage system, including a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, and having interlocking structure. The interlocking structure includes an upstanding protrusion on one side of the planar disk case, and a recess on the opposite side of the planar disk case. The protrusion of one case is configured to fit into the recess of another case when stacked one atop another, so as to promote substantial alignment of the stacked cases.

In accordance with yet another aspect thereof, the invention provides a disk storage system, including a substantially planar disk case, configured to removably receive a substantially flat disk, and a disk storage device. The disk storage case includes a locking bar disposed along an edge thereof, and the disk storage device includes receiving structure configured to releasably pivotally receive the locking bar of the disk case.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a disk storage case in accordance with the present invention, showing the lid open;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the disk storage container of FIG. 1 with the lid closed;

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the disk storage container of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 4a and 4b are cross-sectional perspective views of one disk storage container and two stacked disk storage containers, respectively, of the embodiment of FIG. 1, the cross-section being taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 2;

FIGS. 5a and 5b are cross-sectional perspective views of one disk storage container and two stacked disk storage containers, respectively, of the embodiment of FIG. 1, the cross-section being taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a rotary storage device configured for holding a plurality of disk storage cases like that of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a linear tray-type storage device configured for holding a plurality of disk storage cases like that of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a flexible link-type storage system configured for holding a plurality of disk storage cases like that of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a side, cross-sectional view of the link-type storage system of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of a locking bar and corresponding receiving clips having a circular cross-section;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of a locking bar and corresponding receiving clips having an octagonal cross-section;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of a locking bar having a square cross-section and a corresponding receiving clip having a sixteen-sided cross-section; and

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of a locking bar having a truncated octagonal cross-section, and a corresponding receiving clip having a sixteen-sided cross-section.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made to exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

As noted above, the inventors have recognized that it would be desirable to have a single CD/DVD case that adequately addresses several desirable factors for a CD/DVD storage case, including protecting the CD/DVD, identifying the CD/DVD type, contents or title, and providing a case that allows standardized, system-to-system transfer of disks in their protective cases. There have been several filing systems developed to accommodate various types of CD/DVD cases, but many of these systems are independent of the cases themselves. Additionally, many of these prior systems do not offer a method to positively attach the case in a way that would ensure that the case does not fall out of the holding/storing/filing system. It is difficult to create a wide variety of storing/filing containers without a standardized feature built into the CD/DVD case that allows for the case to be transferred from one storage/filing system to another. Although the case's primary objective is to protect the CD/DVD from damage, it can also offer a built-in method for storing, filing or organizing the CD/DVD once it is in the case.

Advantageously, the inventors have developed a system for protecting, storing, filing and indexing compact disks, digital video disks, and the like. The system includes a very thin and durable CD/DVD case that can be releasably connected to a wide variety of organizing, storing or filing systems, and also includes a convenient system for identifying individual disks. The disk coupling system includes a “standard” sized coupling feature built into the case itself, which can then be attached to a holding/storing/filing system. Consequently, many different types of organizing systems can be developed to receive the developed standardized feature.

Various views of one embodiment of a CD/DVD case configured as part of the disk storage system are provided in FIGS. 1-3. The case 10 generally includes a base portion 12 and a lid portion 14 that are interconnected by a living hinge 16. The living hinge is a relatively thin portion of material that integrally connects the top and base portions together. Because of the living hinge configuration, the entire case 10 is an integral unit that can be injection molded in a single piece, and no assembly is required. For purposes of this discussion, and with reference to the embodiments shown in the figures, the edge of the case that includes the living hinge 16 and the locking bars 60 (discussed below) is referred to as the “bottom” edge 18 of the case, and the edge of the case that is opposite the hinge is referred to as the “top” edge 20.

The base portion 12 includes a shallow, generally cylindrical depression 22 that is just slightly larger in diameter than a disk (e.g. a CD/DVD, not shown) that is to be stored in the case. At the center of the depressed region is disk mounting assembly 24. The mounting assembly includes a plurality (usually 3 or 4) of partially disconnected flexible resilient disk locking tabs 26 located around its periphery. These disk locking tabs are configured to deflect and snap into the center hole of a disk to removably attach the disk to the base portion. The cylindrical depression 22 facilitates easy insertion of the disk into the case, and also promotes easy alignment of the center hole of the disk with the disk mounting assembly.

The base portion 12 also includes two concentric disk support ridges that are designed to contact and support the plane of a disk that is mounted on the mounting assembly and keep the data-bearing surface of the disk away from direct contact with the base portion. The support ridges include an inner support ridge 28 that is substantially continuous and located near the disk mounting assembly, and an outer support ridge 30 that is discontinuous and located near the periphery of the cylindrical depression 22. The inner and outer support ridges are positioned to support the disk above the surface of the base portion without contacting the data-bearing portion of the disk. The inner support ridge 28a is positioned to contact the disk near it's center hole, inside of the data-bearing portion of the disk, and the outer support ridge is likewise positioned to contact the outside edge of the disk, outward of the data-bearing surface of the disk. The provision of the support ridges helps reduce possible damage to or deterioration of the disk from contact with the disk case, and also provides a small gap between the disk and the base portion, so as to facilitate removal of the disk from the case.

The base portion 12 also includes a pair of finger slots 32, which are semi-circular extensions of the cylindrical depression 22 in which the disk is mounted. The finger slots provide clearance around the edge of the disk to allow a user to lift the disk edge with their fingertips to cause the disk to pop off of the mounting assembly 24, in order to remove the disk from the case.

Like the base portion 12, the lid portion 14 also includes a shallow cylindrical depression 34, with a perimeter lip 36 that extends substantially completely therearound. In the center of the depression is a center post 38 that is configured to insert into the center aperture 40 of the mounting assembly 24 when the case 10 is in the closed position (as shown in FIG. 2).

The base 12 also includes a discontinuous arcuate lip 42 surrounding the base depression 22. This lip of a larger diameter than the disk and leaves a small clearance between the edge of a disk disposed in the case and the inside surface of the lip. When the lid is closed over the base portion, as shown in FIG. 2, the outer edges 44 of the perimeter lip 36 of the lid fits inside the lip 42 of the base portion. Closure of the lid can be maintained by sizing the lid to provide a snug press fit between the outer edge 44 of the lid and the arcuate lip 42 of the base. Additionally, the center post 38 of the lid can be configured of a desired size to provide a snug press fit into the center aperture 40 of the mounting assembly 24. Alternatively or also additionally, the lid can be provided with one or more detent devices (not shown) associated with the outer edge and/or the center post, so that the lid is held closed with a positive snap fit.

To facilitate opening of the case, the lid includes two side edges 46, which can be flattened as shown, and are positioned to lie within two edge depressions 48 in the sides of the base portion when the case is closed, as shown in FIG. 2. When the case is closed, a user can open the lid simply by holding the base portion with one hand and pulling the side edges 46 of the lid away from the base with the fingers of the other hand.

The discontinuous lip 42 of the base portion 12 extends between the cylindrical depression 22 and several elevated surface portions 50a-50c of the base. These elevated surface portions remain exposed and become generally coplanar with the lid 14 when the lid is closed. The elevated portions of the base include several groups of concentric arcuate ridges 52a-52c. These ridges operate in conjunction with corresponding alignment recesses 54a-54c provided on the bottom of the base portion 12 of the case and shown in FIG. 3. When one case is stacked atop another case, the arcuate ridges on the top of the lower case fit into the alignment recesses on the bottom of the upper case. It will be apparent that the location of the ridges and alignment recesses can be reversed, with the ridges on the bottom of the case and the alignment recesses on the top.

The configuration and operation of the stacking alignment structure is also shown in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 4 and 5. It can be clearly seen from these figures that the ridges 52a disposed near the top edge 20 of the case fit into the upper alignment recess 54a. Though not shown directly in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 4 and 5, the ridges 52b and 52c, located at the lower corners of the base portion, similarly fit into the corresponding alignment recesses 54b and 54c. In this way, a stack of disk cases interlock together, so that disk cases will not slide off of each other when stacked. The configuration of the arcuate ridges and alignment recesses also provides additional benefits. For example, the appearance of the ridges provides an aesthetically pleasing design, and the ridges and alignment slots naturally make the case easier to grasp and hold onto. Standard jewel cases with their smooth surfaces can sometimes be slippery and difficult to hold onto. Also, the series of separate ridges helps reduce the weight of the disk case.

Additional stacking alignment features are also shown in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 4a and 4b. As noted above, the center post 38 of the lid 14 is configured to insert into the center aperture 40 of the mounting assembly 24 of the base portion 12. The center post is of a length such that, when fully inserted into the center aperture of the mounting assembly, the free end 56 of the center post extends below the bottom surface of the base portion, creating a small circular protrusion at the center of the case. At the same time, on the outer surface of the lid 14, the inside of the base of the center post includes a circular slot 58. The center post can have a slightly tapered shape so that the protruding free end of the center post of one closed case will just fit into the circular slot on the top of the lid of a case below when the cases are stacked. This operation is clearly shown in FIG. 4b. The arcuate ridges 52 and alignment recesses 54, along with the center post protrusion 56 and slot 58 all function to provide stacking alignment structure that helps keep cases aligned and stable when stacked. The cases effectively interlock together.

Advantageously, the configuration of the disk case 10 allows it to be very thin. In various embodiments, the case can be less than 4 times the thickness of an individual CD/DVD. In the embodiment shown in the figures, the case is approximately 0.162″ thick, which is about 4 times the thickness of an individual CD/DVD. The case can be injection molded of polypropylene or other materials, such as polycarbonate and polyurethane. Polypropylene provides greater toughness and resilience than the polycarbonate material of traditional jewel cases. This greater toughness and resilience advantageously provides good protection in a thinner, lighter-weight container. Polypropylene also has sufficient flexibility and toughness to provide a durable yet flexible living hinge feature.

Disposed along the bottom edge 18 of the base portion 12 are a pair of locking bars 60 surrounded by notches 62. The lid portion also includes corresponding notches 64 that are positioned to align with the notches 62 in the base portion when the lid is closed. The notches provide a clear passage around the top of the locking bars, so that the locking bars can operate as hinge pins. The locking bars and the clearance of the notches around them are clearly shown in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 4a and 4b.

Advantageously, the locking bars 60, in conjunction with receiving clips (66 in FIGS. 6-9) of a disk storage/filing device, provide a coupling feature. The coupling feature has a dual function. First, it removably connects the case to the storage/filing container or system, allowing the case 10 to be easily and repeatedly inserted into and removed from the disk storage/filing container. Second, it provides a pivot point for the CD case within the storage/filing container or system, thereby facilitating easier viewing and removal of CD cases from the storage system. The receiving clips are designed to receive the locking bars of the CD case, and can be provided in an array of multiple receiving clips so that the storage or filing container can accommodate a number of CD cases.

The coupling feature of the disk storage system disclosed herein essentially comprises a coupler, including a first coupling member associated with the CD case 10, the locking bar 60 being one embodiment of a first coupling member, and a second coupling member associated with a disk storage device, the receiving clip 66 being one embodiment of such a second coupling member. The second coupling member is configured to releasably receive the first coupling member, so that the disk case can be selectively attached to and removed from the disk storage device, and aligned so that the disk case can pivot about an axis parallel to an edge of the disk case (in this case the bottom edge 18) when attached to the storage device.

Three embodiments of disk storage/filing containers are shown in FIGS. 6-9. These disk storage/filing containers each include a series of pairs of receiving clips 66 that are configured to resiliently interlock with the locking bars 60 of individual disk cases, so that the locking bar is held in the disk storage/filing container like a hinge pin in a hinge. The coupling feature of the locking bars in conjunction with the receiving clips can provide a connecting system for any of a wide variety of storing/filing containers or systems.

The storage/filing container 200 of FIG. 6 is a rotary storage/index system that is configured similar to a Rolodex® index card organizing system. This system includes two rows of aligned receiving clips 66 disposed around the perimeter of a horizontally pivoting shaft or roller 202. The horizontal shaft is mounted on a pair of support legs 204, and includes a pair of rolling handles 206 located on each end. The support legs are spaced apart and are tall enough to allow disks to pass between the legs without contacting the legs or the surface supporting the storage/filing container as the roller is rotated.

To use the type of disk storage/filing container 200 shown in FIG. 6, the locking bars 60 of a disk case 10 are inserted into an aligned pair of locking clips 66, so that the case is attached to the horizontal roller 202 in a plane that is generally parallel to the rotational axis 208 of the roller. The locking bars 60 are generally collinear, which allows them to act as hinge pins, to allow pivoting of the locking bars within the receiving clips 66. Accordingly, under the force of gravity, disk cases that are attached to the rotational storage/index system 200 will naturally tend to hang downwardly, or to rotate to rest against the nearest adjacent disk in the system, depending upon the rotational position of the roller 202 relative to the position of the respective disk case. However, the receiving clips 66 provide a strong enough connection that disks will not unintentionally come out, such as when a disk case is in a hanging position, as illustrated by the inverted disk 10a in FIG. 6, or under the weight of adjacent disk cases that are resting against a given disk case. The notches 62, 64 in the disk case provide clearance around the locking bars for the receiving clip structure, so as not to interfere with the pivoting motion.

Because of the rotational configuration of the disk storage/filing container 200 and the natural pivoting of disk cases 10 under the force of gravity, a relatively large space or gap will naturally open between a pair of disks on the top or front of the disk storage/filing container. To gain access to a desired disk case, the user simply twists one of the rolling handles 206 until the desired disk case is visible and accessible in the gap. In this way a user can see and gain access to any desired disk. To remove the desired disk, the user manually grasps the disk case, and pulls the case until the locking bars 60 snap out of the receiving clips 66.

Another embodiment of a disk storage/filing container is shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, the disk storage/filing container 300 comprises a generally linear tray 302 having two lines of aligned receiving clips 62 extending from the front end 304 of the tray to the back end 306. This embodiment of a storage container is similar to a card catalog tray that organizes specific sized cards, except that in this case the tray holds and organizes disk cases 10. The locking bars 60 of disk cases are inserted into aligned pairs of receiving clips, so that the disk cases are arranged in series from the front to the back of the tray.

The rear wall 308 of the tray 302 can be configured to allow the rearmost disk case to recline backwardly, thereby allowing all disks in front of it to also recline to rest upon the next adjacent disk case therebehind. To gain access to a desired disk case, a user simply rotates cases forward starting at the front of the tray, so that the frontmost disk case leans forwardly against the front wall 310 of the tray, and disks behind can then also rotate forward to rest against the preceding case. This procedure allows sequential viewing of and access to each case in the tray.

Another embodiment of a disk storage/filing container system is depicted in FIGS. 8 and 9. This storage system 400 comprises a plurality of flexibly interconnectable receiving clip links 402, which each include a receiving clip 66. The receiving clip links are in turn interconnected by connecting links 404. The receiving clip links and connecting links can be configured with interlocking structure to allow a chain of receiving clip links of any desired length to be connected together. For example, the interconnecting links can have a detent pin 406 on one end, and a detent slot 408 on the opposing end, and the receiving clip links can be configured similarly. Alternatively, the interconnecting links can include only detent slots, and the receiving clip links include only detent pins. Other configurations are also possible.

The chain-type receiving clip structure 400 can be modularly constructed, so that the receiving clip links 402 each comprise an assembly of one receiving clip link with one permanently attached interconnecting link pair 404. In this configuration, the receiving clip links can only attach to other receiving clip links in one orientation, so that the spacing and alignment of pairs of receiving clips is assured. The chain-type receiving clip structure allowing a chain of links to be interconnected user to interconnect any number of receiving clip links in series.

The locking bars 60 and receiving clips 66 can be configured in a variety of ways. Cross-sectional views of several different embodiments of locking bars and corresponding receiving clips, both in the interlocked and disconnected conditions, are shown in FIGS. 10-13. As a general matter, the locking bar 60 interlocks into the receiving clip 66 due to a dimensional technique known as “over centering.” This applies to each of the receiving clip and locking bar configurations shown in FIGS. 10-13. The receiving clip includes opposing lobes 68 that encircle the receiving clip aperture 70 and define an arc that extends over the center—i.e. more than 180° around—the aperture. This provides an opening 72 between the clip lobes that has a slightly smaller width W than the maximum dimension or thickness of the locking bar, so that pressure must be exerted on the case to deform the lobes and allow the locking bar to pass into the inner aperture of the receiving clip. In FIG. 10, the locking bar 60a has a maximum thickness of T1 which is greater than the width W. Once pressed in, the clip lobes snap back to their normal shape or position, and thus hold the locking bar within the aperture.

In FIGS. 10-13 the receiving clips 66 are shown as a part of a continuous receiving clip strip 74a-74d having a series of individual receiving clips. This type of configuration could be attached to the roller 202 of the rotary storage/filing system 200 of FIG. 6, or to the bottom of the tray-type storage/filing container 300 of FIG. 7. However, the various shapes and configurations of the receiving clips shown in FIGS. 10-13 are also applicable to the chain-type storage/filing system 400 of FIGS. 8 and 9, even though each receiving clip link 402 includes only one receiving clip.

Shown in FIG. 10 is a locking bar 60a having a circular cross-section, and a receiving clip 66a also having a circular shape. The aperture 70 of the receiving clip has circularly curved sides 76 to match the shape of the locking bar. The matching circular shape of the locking bar and aperture allows the locking bar to pivot within the aperture like a hinge pin. The receiving clip can also provide frictional resistance to pivoting of the disk case, depending upon the tightness of the fit between the receiving clip and the locking bar.

The locking bars and receiving clips can also have various other cross-sectional shapes, as shown in FIGS. 11-13. Shown in FIG. 11 is a locking bar 60b having an octagonal cross-section, and a receiving clip 66b having a series of facets 78 that correspond to the shape and size of the facets 80 on the locking bar. In this configuration, the minimum dimension T2 of the locking bar is still greater than the width W of the opening 72 of the receiving clip to prevent the case 10 from unintentionally falling out of the receiving clip. Nevertheless, once the locking bar is inserted into the receiving clip, the locking bar can pivot within the aperture of the receiving clip, but the arrangement of the facets provides a detent mechanism that urges the locking bar (and hence the disk case) to rotate between several discrete angular positions, depending upon the number of facets on the locking bar and the receiving clip. Thus, rotation of the disk case relative to the receiving clip is resisted not only by friction, but also by a mechanical interlock between the locking bar and receiving clip.

While an eight-sided locking bar is shown in FIG. 11, it will be apparent that the locking bar 60 can have any number of sides, from three sides to an infinite number of sides (i.e. a smooth curved surface, such as circular, elliptical, oval, etc.). Moreover, the cross-section of the locking bar need not be regular or symmetrical, or with sides of uniform size, whether it is curved or polygonal, and the shape of the locking bar can be selected to correspond to or differ from the cross-sectional shape of the aperture 70 of the respective receiving clip 62.

Other cross-sectional shapes that can be used for the locking bar and/or receiving clip include an egg-shaped (not shown) or kidney-shaped (not shown) cross-section. Similarly, a polygonal locking bar having a star or some other shape (not shown) or an irregular shape including one or more protrusions (not shown) for mechanically interlocking with the receiving clip can also be used. Additionally, the cross-section of the locking bar and/or the aperture of the receiving clip can be a combination shape, such as a combined polygon (e.g. one side shaped as a hexagon, the other side being square), or a combined smooth shape (e.g. one side circular, the other elliptical). It will be apparent that a wide variety of other cross-sectional shapes can also be used.

Additionally, the shape of the locking bar need not directly match the shape of the receiving clip. Indeed, the receiving clips can have a standard shape configured to accept a variety of shapes of locking bars—a sort of universal configuration—so that CD cases having a variety of shapes of locking bars can be accommodated by any storage or filing device having the standard receiving clip shape. One example of such a situation is shown in FIG. 12. In this configuration, the locking bar 60c has a square cross-section, while the receiving clip 66c has a plurality of facets 82 that would correspond to a sixteen sided locking bar. In this configuration, the sides 84 of the locking bar do not directly match in size, shape and angular orientation with the facets of the receiving clip.

However, the minimum dimension T3 of the locking bar is still greater than the width W of the opening 72 of the receiving clip, and the corners 86 of the square locking bar will fit into the angular grooves 88 between the facets of the receiving clip. Since the number of facets of the receiving clip is a multiple of the number of sides of the locking bar, the square locking bar will naturally tend to lock at the same specific angular orientations as would a sixteen-sided locking bar, but the interlock will provide less resistance to rotation because there is less mechanical contact between the two structures. Advantageously, this configuration allows the CD case to be easily inserted into or removed from the receiving clip when the locking bar is oriented with two of its flat faces normal to the receiving clip, and provides additional resistance to removal when at other angular orientations.

Another irregular polygonal shape that can be used for a locking bar is shown in FIG. 13. This locking bar 60d is an irregular octagonal shape having two large facets 90 located on opposing sides of the locking bar, with a group of smaller facets 92 located between each of the larger facets. The smaller facets on the locking bar correspond in size and angular orientation with the facets 94 on the inside of the receiving clip. In the configuration of FIG. 13, the receiving clips have a sixteen-sided configuration like that in FIG. 12, though the number size and angular variation of the facets on the receiving clip and locking bar can vary.

Like the square locking bar shown in FIG. 12, the configuration of FIG. 13 allows the CD case 10 to be easily inserted into or removed from the receiving clip 66 if and only if the case is in a particular angular orientation. The dimension T4 of the locking bar measured between the large facets 90 is less than the thickness T5 of the locking bar measured between the smaller facets 92. However, T4 is still greater than the dimension W of the gap 72 between the lobes of the receiving clip. Consequently, insertion or removal of the locking bar will be easier when T4 is aligned with W, and more difficult when it is not.

In this embodiment, the large facets 90 are substantially aligned with the front face 96 and rear face 98 of the CD case 10. To insert the locking bar 60d into the receiving clip 66d, the user holds the disk case so that the plane of the case is generally perpendicular to the base 96 of the receiving clip, and the small dimension T4 of the locking bar is aligned with the gap between the receiving clip lobes. The user can then easily press the locking bar into the receiving clip, where it will be securely held as shown at the position designated 98 in FIG. 13. However, when the case is rotated from its insertion orientation, the wider dimension T5 of the locking bar will rotate to an orientation that is across the opening 72 of the receiving clip, thus increasing the mechanical interconnection between the receiving clip and locking bar.

With the configurations of FIGS. 12 and 13, when the case is at any but a specific angle relative to the receiving holder, the CD case is more securely mechanically “locked” by way of geometric incompatibility. In this way, insertion or removal of the case is made easier in one or more specific angular orientation(s), and more difficult in others. It will be apparent that other geometric configurations of the locking bar and receiving clip can also be used to increase or decrease the ability to insert or remove the disk case in certain selected positional orientations.

The locking bars 60 and the surrounding material of the case 10 are configured to have sufficient thickness and strength so that they can withstand repeated insertion into and removal from a disk storage system, such as the receiving clips 66 illustrated in the figures. As shown in FIGS. 10-13, the receiving clip 66 can comprise an elongate array of apertures formed in single piece of material, such as by injection molding. The material of the receiving clip can be a resilient polymer material, such as polypropylene, polycarbonate, polyurethane, Teflon, Delrin, or UHMW, though other materials can also be used. The integral continuous receiving clip configuration shown in FIGS. 10-13 allows an array of receiving clips to be mounted (e.g. with adhesive or fasteners) to any desired mounting surface. This configuration provides a group of connecting points that can be mounted in any desired location, whether as part of a container or otherwise. However, the receiving clips need not be configured in an array of apertures integrally formed of a single piece. Instead, the array of receiving clips can comprise a series of individual receiving clips, each having a single aperture and configured to receive a single locking bar. Such an array can comprise a plurality of receiving clips mounted side-by-side to a mounting surface. Another embodiment of such a system is the chain-type receiving clip configuration of FIGS. 8 and 9.

While the coupling system depicted in the figures and described above includes locking bars and resilient receiving clips, it will be apparent that there are other types of coupling systems that can be used to releasably interconnect the CD case to a storage system. Any receiving structure configured to releasably receive the coupling feature (e.g. the locking bars 60) of the CD case can be incorporated into the disk storage system. For example, a slide hook system, wherein the locking bars slide into an open-ended hook of a storage system, could be employed. Alternatively, a magnetic system could also be employed. For example, the CD case could include a ferromagnetic material that removably attaches to a permanently magnetized material associated with a storage system. Other configurations are also possible.

Another feature of the disk storage system is an indexing and identification system, best seen in FIGS. 1-3. The top edge 20 of the base portion is oriented generally parallel to the bottom edge 18. Viewing FIG. 3, the top edge of the case includes a plurality of mounting holes 100 configured to receive one or more removable indexing tabs, indicated generally at 102, that are configured to snap fit into any of the mounting holes. The indexing tab includes a flat face 104 that provides a flat surface for a label, mark or other indicia to be affixed, indicating, for example, the title or contents of the disk.

The indexing tabs can each include a pair of mounting posts 106, partially visible in FIG. 3, that are configured to snap fit into any corresponding pair of the mounting holes 100. The mounting holes are spaced along the top edge in such a manner as to accommodate varying positions for one indexing tab or several different indexing tabs on a single disk case, though of course a disk case can be left without any indexing tab at all, if desired. Because of the number of mounting holes, this allows the indexing tab to be placed at any one of many locations along the top edge of the case. For example, the disk storage container can include an indexing tab 102a mounted in a rightmost position when viewed from the front of the disk case as shown in FIG. 2 (and from the reverse side in FIG. 3), or a position 102b somewhere between, as shown in FIG. 1, or in any of multiple positions therebetween. FIGS. 6-8 show disk cases with indexing tabs placed in a variety of positions along the top edge of the case. Additionally, multiple indexing tabs can be attached to a single case, if desired.

Advantageously, the indexing tabs 102 are independent of the CD/DVD case 10 itself. The indexing tabs are small, separate parts that can be positively connected to the CD/DVD case. Because the tabs protrude upwardly from the top edge 20 of the case and can be located in a variety of locations along the edge of the case, they can provide a convenient system for labeling and sorting the disk storage containers, similar to upstanding tabs on file folders. In the tray-type disk holder 302 of FIG. 7, the indexing tabs 102 extend above the top edge 20 of the disk cases, and are in different positions along the top edges of the cases. This allows one to view the tabs of many or all of the disks in the stack, and thus quickly find a desired disk. The indexing tabs also provide structure for allowing a user to easily tip a given disk case (and all disk cases resting against it) forward or backward, allowing a user to easily and quickly thumb through a group of disks in the tray-type filing container. The indexing tabs provide similar utility in the rotary type disk storage container 200 shown in FIG. 6.

In the embodiments shown in the figures, the living hinge 16 interconnecting the lid 14 to the base 12 and the locking bars 60 are both disposed along the bottom edge 18 of the case 10. However, it will be apparent that the hinge for the lid does not need to be disposed along the same edge as the locking bars. For example, the lid can be hinged on or parallel to one of the other side edges, including the top edge 20, of the case, allowing the case to open in a direction different than that shown. With the hinge 16 on the bottom edge 18, the case can be configured to open when attached to a receiving clip 66 of a receiving system. This can allow a user to remove a disk from its disk case without removing the disk case from the receiving system. However, it can also be desired to prevent opening of individual cases when attached to a receiving system, and one way to accomplish this is to locate the lid hinge on some edge other than the edge that includes the locking bars. If the hinge is on a side edge or the top edge, the user will ordinarily remove the disk from a disk receiving or filing system before opening the case.

As shown and described the present invention provides a disk storage system that provides an individual, thin, durable protective case that positively couples with a storage system, and includes a multiple position removable indexing indicator for allowing easy identification of individual disks. The invention can also be viewed as providing a disk storage system including a thin, durable protective case having an adjustable indexing feature, and a receiving system configured to removably couple to the case. The various features of the system provide a space-efficient and convenient indexing, storing, transporting, and organizing filing system for CDs, DVDs and the like.

It is to be understood that the above-referenced arrangements are illustrative of the application of the principles of the present invention. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications can be made without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth in the claims.