Title:
Sneeze Guard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sneeze guard including a primary post, a clamp assembly secured to the post in a fixed position, a bracket carried by the clamp assembly, a secondary post held in the bracket in side-by-side relation to the primary post, and a panel mounted on the secondary post. The clamp assembly can be secured to the post in a number of different fixed positions. The secondary post is adjustable axially with respect to the bracket. The panel is carried by an arm pivotally secured to the secondary post, so that the angular position of the panel can be adjusted. A single clamp assembly may carry two brackets, each of which holds a secondary post. Each clamp assembly and bracket may be formed of semi-cylindrical parts adapted to grasp a post between them.



Inventors:
Williman, Jeremy (Milton Keynes, GB)
Application Number:
11/695997
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/03/2007
Assignee:
LAWRENCE METAL PRODUCTS, INC. (Bay Shore, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A sneeze guard comprising: a primary post; a clamp assembly secured to the post in a fixed position, a bracket carried by the clamp assembly, a secondary post held in the bracket in side-by-side relation to the primary post, and a panel mounted on the secondary post.

2. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 wherein the primary and secondary posts are parallel to each other.

3. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 wherein the primary post and clamp assembly include means for preventing axial movement of the clamp assembly relative to the primary post.

4. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 3 wherein the preventing means includes a hole in the post, and a protrusion extending from the clamp assembly accommodated by the hole.

5. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 4 including a plurality of holes in the post spaced apart along the length of the post, each hole being capable of accommodating the protrusion.

6. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 wherein the secondary post is adjustable axially with respect to the bracket.

7. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 6 including means for maintaining the relative positions of the secondary post and bracket in any desired position of adjustment.

8. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 including an arm interconnecting the panel to the secondary post, the arm being pivotally secured to the secondary post.

9. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 8 including means for maintaining the relative angular positions, around the pivot axis, of the secondary post and the arm in any desired position of adjustment.

10. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 8 including means between the arm and the secondary post for permitting translational movement of the arm relative to the pivot point.

11. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 10 wherein the permitting means includes a fitting pivotally secured to the secondary post, the arm being supported by the fitting and slidable within the fitting in a plane parallel to the panel.

12. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 wherein the clamp assembly carries two brackets, and a secondary post is held in each bracket.

13. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 1 wherein the clamp assembly includes a sleeve around the primary post, and a clamp arrangement overlying and tightly griping the sleeve.

14. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 13 wherein the sleeve includes two substantially half-cylindrical elements sandwiching the primary post between them, and the clamp arrangement includes two C-shaped parts tightly squeezing the sleeve elements between them.

15. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 14 wherein the bracket includes two substantially semi-cylindrical parts accommodating the secondary post between them.

16. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 15 wherein one of the C-shaped parts of the clamp arrangement and one of the semi-cylindrical parts of the bracket are joined into a single piece by a bridge member extending between them.

17. A sneeze guard as defined in claim 16 wherein the other C-shaped part of the clamp arrangement and the other semi-cylindrical part of the bracket are both secured to the bridge member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to sneeze guards, or food shields, typically mounted on counters where salads or various types of prepared foods are displayed. These counters are used by patrons who serve themselves by filling plates or carry-out containers with food from the counter. The purpose of the sneeze guards is to prevent or minimize contamination of the openly-displayed food by patrons as they help themselves to the foods available on the counter.

A typical sneeze guard comprises a transparent panel supported at its ends by fixtures mounted on the counter, or sometimes including stanchions which rest on the floor adjacent to the food counter. In many cases, the position of the panel is fixed.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a sneeze guard which offers great flexibility to the fabricator of the counter, or sneeze guard installer, concerning the positioning of the sneeze guard with respect to the counter.

Another object of the invention is to provide a sneeze guard wherein the panel may be set at a fixed height with the plane containing the panel being angularly adjustable, the height of the panel height of the panel may be adjustable, and/or the position of the panel may be adjustable within the plane which contains it.

A further object of the invention is to provide a sneeze guard including a series of end-to-end panels arranged on a counter having a length which requires that more than one panel be used, and wherein successive panels may be adjusted to heights and angles different from adjacent panels.

It is a further object to provide a panel assembly according to this invention which may be readily mounted on existing installations.

It is an additional object to the invention to provide a sneeze guard wherein the brackets which hold the panel are mounted on upstanding posts, and each bracket is split so that it can be mounted on a post without passing the bracket over the end of the post.

Additional objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description, in which reference is made to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a food counter on which a sneeze guard according to the present invention has been installed;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary, perspective, exploded view of a primary post of the sneeze guard and a sleeve associated with the post;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 showing the post and associated clamp assembly and bracket portion;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 showing the assembled clamp assembly and the bracket parts;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view showing the bracket holding a secondary post, and a panel mounted on the secondary post;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the assembled parts wherein the secondary post is a stub post;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the posts and bracket supporting two successive panels, the two brackets being at 180° to each other;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the assembled posts and panels from the rear;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the assembled posts and panels, the brackets being arranged at 90° to each other; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic view of a post and panel arrangement showing various positions of adjustment of a panel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows an illustrative arrangement of a food counter furnished with two sneeze guards. Counter 10 has a forwardly-projecting shelf 11, formed of metal rods, upon which patrons may rest food trays as they help themselves to food and move along the length of the counter. The counter also is furnished with a series of wells 12 for accommodating pans containing various prepared food items.

Mounted on counter 10 are three vertical primary posts 13a, 13b, and 13c each of which carries a bracket 14a, 14b, and 14c fixed to the post. Each of brackets 14a and 14c also grips a secondary post, whereas bracket 14b is capable of gripping two secondary posts. The secondary post may be a relatively long post 15a, where the height of the sneeze guard is to be adjustable, or it may be a stub post 15b about equal in length to the length of bracket 14, where no vertical adjustability of the sneeze guard is required. Pivoted to the upper end of each secondary post 15 is an arm 16 to which one end of a transparent panel 17 is secured.

A typical bracket 14a for holding a single secondary post is shown in more detail in FIGS. 2-5. Primary post 13a is furnished with a through hole 20 (FIG. 2). A clamp assembly including two half-cylindrical sleeve elements 21 and 22, preferably formed of molded plastic, are fitted around the post. One of the sleeve elements, 21, is provided with a protrusion, such as an internal, radially projecting pin 23, which is accommodated within hole 20 in the post. In this way, when the sleeve is in place encircling the post, the sleeve cannot be adjusted along the length of the post.

Preferably, a series of holes 20a are spaced apart along the length of primary post 13a so that sleeve 21, 22 can be located at different heights on the post. The use of predrilled holes along the length of each of the posts 13a-c, all the holes being in the same relative locations in relation to their respective posts, insures that the brackets can readily be mounted at the same height on all the posts without the need for trial-and-error measurement.

Bracket 14 includes a semi-cylindrical collar part 24 (FIG. 3) having a flat bridge member 25 projecting from one of its edges, the member being formed into a C-shaped clamp part 26 at one end. Another C-shaped clamp part 27 is fixed to member 25 by means of a screw 28 passing through a hole 29 in clamp part 27 and being threaded into an internally threaded hole 30 in bridge member 25. In this way, clamp parts 26, 27 of the clamp assembly tightly grip the outer surface of sleeve 21, 22. The fact that a tool, e.g., a screw driver, is used in cooperation with screw 28 to secure clamp part 27 to the post insures that the clamp assembly 21, 22, 26, 27 will not inadvertently be disengaged from its selected location on the post.

Another semi-cylindrical collar part 33 (FIG. 4) has a projecting tab 34 formed with a hole 35. Collar part 33 is secured to member 25 by means of a thumbscrew 36 passing through hole 35 and being threaded into hole 37 in member 25. A trim ring 40 is provided to cover the lower part of sleeve 21, 22 to give the arrangement a finished appearance. Once assembled, collar parts 24 and 33 form a cylindrical collar for accommodating secondary post 15a (FIG. 5).

Use of half-cylindrical sleeve elements 21 and 22, and C-shaped clamp parts 26 and 27 avoids the need to slip the sleeve and clamp over the top of primary post 13a in order to mount the clamp assembly on the post. Thus, the clamp assembly can be fitted on to the post even if the latter is furnished with an enlarged upper end, or a decorative finial on its upper end, as is sometimes the case.

Projecting upwardly from the top of secondary post 15a is an ear 41, having a threaded blind hole (not shown), and projecting from arm 16 is a lug 42 formed with a through hole (not shown). A thumbscrew 43 extends through the hole in lug 42 and is threaded into the blind hole in ear 41, to create a pivotal connection between the top of post 15a and arm 16 which holds panel 17. By loosening thumbscrew 43, the angle of panel 17 can be adjusted with respect to secondary post 15a, after which thumbscrew 43 is tightened to hold the panel in the desired angular orientation. Similarly, by loosening thumbscrew 36, secondary post 15a can be adjusted axially within collar 24, 33 after which tightening thumbscrew 36 causes the post 15a to be tightly gripped and held in the desired position of height adjustment. Thus, it will be appreciated, that while clamp 14 is held in a fixed position along the length of primary post 13a, secondary post 15a is axially adjustable with respect to the bracket.

FIG. 6 shows an arrangement in which the height of panel 17 is not adjustable. In this arrangement, bracket 14c, mounted on primary post 13c, has a collar 24, 33 which accommodates a secondary stub post 15b, the length of the stub post being about equal to the length of collar 24, 33.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate post 13b on which is mounted bracket 14b capable of gripping two secondary posts 15a. In FIGS. 7 and 8, the collars which hold secondary posts 15a are arranged 1800 from each other with respect to the axis of primary post 13b. In FIG. 9, the two collars which hold secondary stub posts 15b are arranged 900 from each other with respect to the axis of post 15b.

The embodiments of FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate one advantage of using the combination of primary posts 13 and secondary posts 15 for supporting panels 17. Since secondary posts 15 are independently adjustable in height, although carried by the same bracket 14b, sequential panels 17 need not necessarily be located at the same height, as would be the case if the only height adjustment available were the adjustment of bracket 14b along the length of post 13b.

FIG. 10 illustrates various adjustment options available with an installation according to the present invention. In order to provide adjustment of the position of panel 17 in its own plane with respect to the pivot at the upper end of the secondary shaft, a special fixture can be employed, as shown in FIGS. 10c, 10d, and 10f. In this case, instead of arm 16 being directly connected to the upper end of secondary shaft 15 by means of a pivot connection, a fitting 45 is provided, the fitting being pivoted to the upper end of secondary post 15, and being slidably adjustable along the length of arm 16a which holds panel 17.

The invention has been shown and described in preferred form only, and by way of example, and many variations may be made in the invention which will still be comprised within its spirit. It is understood, therefore, that the invention is not limited to any specific form or embodiment except insofar as such limitations are included in the appended claims.





 
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