Title:
Attachment Method and Apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An attachment apparatus may have a fixed engaging surface, and a movable unit that can be attached to any of a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface. The movable unit has a mating surface and a locking mechanism. The user selects a series of holes, inserts a series of properly spaced tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes, rotates and/or translates the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface, and engages a locking mechanism that secures the movable unit in its rotated and/or translated state so that it may not be counter-rotated/translated and detached from the fixed engaging surface. The locking mechanism may be one or more pins that extend through both the mating surface and the fixed engaging surface. The pattern of holes that matches the tabs from the movable unit is repeated on the fixed engaging surface so that the movable unit may be positioned in various locations as desired by the user.



Inventors:
Hurt, Daniel P. (Waverly, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/744447
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
05/04/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/207
International Classes:
A47B57/10; A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060037920Holder for elongated articlesFebruary, 2006Baranya
20070163971Under shelf mountJuly, 2007Kosir
20020144960Space saver dish strainerOctober, 2002Adkins
20050242049Devices and methods for displaying decorative ornamentsNovember, 2005Bayer et al.
20080223804Display rack with ventilation window in the vertical wallsSeptember, 2008Riley
20060213851Card Rack Display CartonSeptember, 2006Grueneberg
20090194492ACCESSORY MERCHANDISERAugust, 2009Brasher
20100072152SHELF FOR SHOWCASEMarch, 2010Kim
20090071917Apparatus for storing sandals and other loose itemsMarch, 2009Hathorn
20090120888RACKMay, 2009Himes
20030188468Sports memorabilia displayOctober, 2003Tahan



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hamre, Schumann, Mueller & Larson, P.C. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An attachment system comprising: a first engagement surface; a second engagement surface; and a plurality of mutually engageable features distributed among the first and second engagement surfaces; wherein a greater number of the features are distributed across the first engagement surface than across the second engagement surface, and the features distributed across the first engagement surface are distributed in a repeating pattern for receiving the second engagement surface at any one of a plurality of different positions; and wherein the features are engageable in an action that is generally parallel to the first and second engagement surface for preventing separation of the first and second engagement surfaces.

2. The attachment system of claim 1, further comprising a goods holder, wherein: the first engagement surface is a surface of a planar sheet; and the second engagement surface is a surface of a plate disposed upon the goods holder.

3. The attachment system of claim 2, wherein the planar sheet is a track.

4. The attachment system of claim 2, wherein the planar sheet is a panel.

5. The attachment system of claim 2, wherein the planar sheet is a surface of a cabinet.

6. The attachment system of claim 2, wherein the planar sheet is a shop door.

7. The attachment system of claim 2, wherein the planar sheet is a side of a trailer.

8. The attachment system of claim 1, wherein the generally parallel action is a rotational motion.

9. The attachment system of claim 1, wherein the generally parallel action is a translational motion.

10. The attachment system of claim 1, wherein the generally parallel action is a sliding motion.

11. The attachment system of claim 1, wherein the mutually engageable features are apertures and projections.

12. The attachment system of claim 11, wherein the apertures are slots and the projections are tabs.

13. The attachment system of claim 12, wherein the tabs are L-shaped.

14. The attachment system of claim 12, wherein the tabs are capped.

15. The attachment system of claim 1, further comprising a goods holder, wherein: the first engagement surface is a surface of a planar sheet; the second engagement surface is a surface of a plate disposed upon the goods holder; the mutually engageable features are slots and tabs, the slots being distributed across the planar sheet in a repeating pattern and the tabs being distributed across and projecting from the plate, the slots being more numerous than the tabs; and the generally parallel action is a rotational motion of the plate relative to the planar sheet.

16. The attachment system of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of interlockable features distributed among the first and second engagement surfaces for interlocking the first and second engagement surfaces when the first and second engagement surfaces are in engagement.

17. The attachment system of claim 16, wherein the interlockable features are apertures, further comprising a peg for insertion into selected ones of the apertures when the first and second engagement surfaces are in engagement.

18. A method of attachment, comprising: providing a movable unit having a mating surface with a plurality of tabs; providing a fixed engaging surface having a plurality of holes; selecting a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface; inserting the tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes; and rotating the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising: engaging a locking mechanism that secures the movable unit in its rotated state so that it may not be counter-rotated and detached from the fixed engaging surface.

20. A method of attachment, comprising: providing a movable unit having a mating surface with a plurality of tabs; providing a fixed engaging surface having a plurality of holes; selecting a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface; inserting the tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes; translating the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface; and engaging a locking mechanism that secures the movable unit in its translated state so that it may not be counter-translated and detached from the fixed engaging surface.

21. An attachment system, comprising: a goods holder having a plurality of tabs projecting from a planar surface and a locking aperture; a planar sheet having a plurality of slots and a plurality of locking apertures distributed therein; and a locking body having a projecting member for insertion into the locking aperture of the goods holder and into at least one of the locking apertures of the planar sheet for interlocking the goods holder and the planar sheet when the goods holder and the planar sheet are in engagement; wherein the slots and the tabs are mutually engageable; wherein the slots are more numerous that the tabs and distributed in a repeating pattern for receiving the goods holder at any one of a plurality of different positions upon the planar sheet; and wherein the slots and tabs are engageable in a translational motion for bringing the planar surface of the goods holder into parallel engagement with a portion of the planar sheet.

22. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a bike rack.

23. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a shelf.

24. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a hook.

25. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a pouch.

26. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a basket.

27. The attachment system of claim 21, wherein the goods holder is a ski rack.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/798,405, filed on May 5, 2006.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to an attachment apparatus and method.

2. Description of the Related Art

In many applications, it is desirable to attach an object to a fixed surface. For instance, in a garage, it may be desirable to attach a bicycle rack to a wall or other vertical surface.

Attaching the bicycle rack directly to the wall has some disadvantages. For instance, the attachment may require tools, such as a drill or screwdriver, and special hardware, such as drywall screws. The bicycle rack may have to support quite a bit of weight, and if attached directly to a wall, may require that the attachment occur only on a stud, thereby limiting the locations available for the bike rack. If the garage is rearranged at some point, requiring changing the location of the bicycle rack, then the bike rack has to be unattached, leaving holes and possibly anchors in the wall, and then reattached, which has all the disadvantages stated above.

Existing attachment systems have disadvantages as well. For instance, a common pegboard system has a fixed surface with an array of holes, where each hole can accommodate a hook or peg. Using pegboard may be an improvement over attaching an object directly to a wall, but it still has disadvantages. For example, the fixed surface of a pegboard system is often made from a particulate substance, which is not especially strong. Many pegboard systems cannot accommodate the weight of a bicycle rack with a bike on it. Furthermore, the pegs in common pegboard systems lack a locking mechanism, and may be easily knocked loose. This may be an issue with a bicycle rack, especially when loading or unloading the bicycle. It would be quite unpleasant if a bump or jar were to knock loose the whole bicycle rack from the pegboard.

Accordingly, there exists a need for an attachment apparatus and method, in which a sturdy fixed surface can support one or more repositionable objects, where the objects may be locked to the surface to prevent accidental detachment from the surface.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An embodiment is an attachment system comprising: a first engagement surface; a second engagement surface; and a plurality of mutually engageable features distributed among the first and second engagement surfaces. A greater number of the features are distributed across the first engagement surface than across the second engagement surface, and the features distributed across the first engagement surface are distributed in a repeating pattern for receiving the second engagement surface at any one of a plurality of different positions. The features are engageable in an action that is generally parallel to the first and second engagement surface for preventing separation of the first and second engagement surfaces.

Another embodiment is a method of attachment, comprising: providing a movable unit having a mating surface with a plurality of tabs; providing a fixed engaging surface having a plurality of holes; selecting a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface; inserting the tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes; and rotating the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface.

Another embodiment is a method of attachment, comprising: providing a movable unit having a mating surface with a plurality of tabs; providing a fixed engaging surface having a plurality of holes; selecting a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface; inserting the tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes; translating the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface; and engaging a locking mechanism that secures the movable unit in its translated state so that it may not be counter-translated and detached from the fixed engaging surface.

Another embodiment is an attachment system, comprising: a goods holder having a plurality of tabs projecting from a planar surface and a locking aperture; a planar sheet having a plurality of slots and a plurality of locking apertures distributed therein; and a locking body having a projecting member for insertion into the locking aperture of the goods holder and into at least one of the locking apertures of the planar sheet for interlocking the goods holder and the planar sheet when the goods holder and the planar sheet are in engagement. The slots and the tabs are mutually engageable. The slots are more numerous that the tabs and distributed in a repeating pattern for receiving the goods holder at any one of a plurality of different positions upon the planar sheet. The slots and tabs are engageable in a translational motion for bringing the planar surface of the goods holder into parallel engagement with a portion of the planar sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric drawing of an attachment apparatus, including a fixed engaging surface and a movable unit.

FIG. 2 is a side-view drawing of the attachment apparatus of FIG. 1, including a fixed engaging surface and a movable unit.

FIG. 3 is a front-view drawing of the movable unit of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is an isometric drawing view of the movable unit of FIG. 3 with the cover and locking mechanism removed.

FIG. 5 is an isometric drawing of the movable unit of FIG. 4 with the addition of a cover.

FIG. 6 is an isometric drawing of the movable unit of FIG. 5, with the addition of a locking mechanism.

FIG. 7 is an isometric drawing of the locking mechanism of FIGS. 3 and 6.

FIG. 8 is a side-view plan drawing of the locking mechanism of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a plan drawing of an attachment apparatus having a track fixed engaging surface.

FIG. 10 is a rear-view isometric drawing of the fixed engaging surface of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is another rear-view isometric drawing of the fixed engaging surface of FIG. 9.

FIGS. 12 through 15 are plan drawings of various cabinet door fixed engaging surfaces.

FIGS. 16 through 21 are isometric drawings of various cabinet systems that incorporate the fixed engaging surface on various doors and walls.

FIG. 22 is a plan drawing of an exemplary hole pattern.

FIG. 23 is a side-view cross-sectional drawing of a locked movable unit.

FIG. 24 is an isometric cross-sectional drawing of the locked movable unit of FIG. 23.

FIG. 25 is a side-view cross-sectional drawing of an unlocked movable unit.

FIG. 26 is an isometric cross-sectional drawing of the unlocked movable unit of FIG. 25.

FIG. 27 is a rear-view isometric drawing of a mating surface.

FIG. 28 is a rear-view plan drawing of the mating surface of FIG. 27.

FIG. 29 is a front-view isometric drawing of the mating surface of FIG. 27.

FIG. 30 is a front-view plan drawing of the mating surface of FIG. 27.

FIG. 31 is a top-view plan drawing of the mating surface of FIG. 27.

FIG. 32 is a front-view isometric drawing of an attachment apparatus, including a fixed engaging surface and a movable unit.

FIG. 33 is a rear-view isometric drawing of the attachment apparatus of FIG. 32.

FIG. 34 is a close-up rear-view isometric drawing of the attachment apparatus of FIGS. 32 and 33.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/798,405, filed on May 5, 2006, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein.

An attachment apparatus may have a fixed engaging surface, and a movable unit that can be attached to any of a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface. The movable unit has a mating surface and a locking mechanism. The user selects a series of holes, inserts a series of properly spaced tabs on the mating surface into the selected holes, rotates and/or translates the movable unit with respect to the fixed engaging surface so that the tabs on the mating surface engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface, and engages a locking mechanism that secures the movable unit in its rotated and/or translated state so that it may not be counter-rotated/translated and detached from the fixed engaging surface. The locking mechanism may be one or more pins that extend through both the mating surface and the fixed engaging surface. Alternatively, the locking mechanism may be a detent, a pin and slot, or any other suitable locking mechanism.

The pattern of holes that matches the tabs from the movable unit is repeated on the fixed engaging surface so that the movable unit may be positioned in various locations as desired by the user. The various occurrences of the pattern may be separated, or they may overlap to permit greater flexibility in positioning the movable unit.

An exemplary attachment apparatus is shown in FIG. 1, in which a paper towel holder is non-removably attached to a movable unit, and the movable unit is attached to a fixed engaging surface. The movable unit may be detached and reattached at any of a series of holes in the fixed engaging surface. The holes in the fixed engaging surface may be regularly spaced, or may have an irregular spacing. The fixed engaging surface may be built into the side or edge of a cabinet or a wall, or may alternatively be manufactured as a separate plate that may be fastened to a surface by a user. In FIG. 1, the exemplary fixed engaging surface is built into the side of a cabinet. Several uses include, but are not limited to, cabinets, shop doors, inside a trailer or garage, ski racks, bike racks, and so forth.

This exemplary fixed engaging surface 11 is shown as a rectangular wall of a cabinet, but it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the engaging surface may be any suitable shape, such as a vertical bar, a horizontal bar, a series of parallel or intersecting bars, a rectangle, a square, an ellipse, a circle, a U-shape, or any other suitable shape. The fixed engaging surface 11 may be incorporated into another structure, such as a cabinet door or wall, as shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the fixed engaging surface may be a stand-alone structure, which may then be attached to a wall or other surface.

This particular fixed engaging surface 11 includes holes that serve two different functions.

Engagement holes 12 are also periodically distributed along the engaging surface, typically with a repeating pattern. These are the holes that are engaged by the movable unit for positioning and for support. In other words, the engagement holes determine where the movable unit may be placed, and also support the weight of the movable unit and any hardware that may be coupled to the movable unit. If the periodic pattern repeats by a regular interval, such as an inch, then the movable unit may be positioned to within an inch along the repeating pattern. In the exemplary pattern of FIG. 1, the engagement holes are repeated in a vertical pattern, so that the movable unit may be placed at a desired height. This vertical pattern may be repeated elsewhere on the fixed engaging surface 11 and/or on other surfaces.

Locking holes 13 are distributed along the engaging surface as well. Once the movable unit is placed into contact with the fixed engaging surface 11 and is rotated and/or translated, the locking holes 13 engage one or more locking pins on the movable unit and prevent the movable unit from being un-rotated and/or un-translated. The locking holes 13 may have a periodic pattern as well, which is typically integrated with the periodic pattern of the engagement holes 12.

A movable unit 20 is shown attached to the fixed engaging surface 11. In FIG. 1, the movable unit 20 supports a paper towel holder, but one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the movable unit may support any suitable structure, such as a bicycle rack, a toothbrush holder, a hose holder, a ledge, and so forth. The movable unit 20 is shown in greater detail in the text and figures that follow.

FIG. 2 shows a side view of the attachment apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows a front view of the movable unit 20 and the paper towel holder 25 of FIGS. 1 and 2.

The movable unit 20 has a cover 21, which covers the internal structure of the movable unit. The cover 21 may be largely ornamental in nature, and may feature a particular color and/or pattern. In some embodiments, the cover 21 may be omitted entirely.

In addition to the cover 21, the movable unit 20 has a locking mechanism 22, which may move independently of the cover.

The locking mechanism 22 may have a handle 24 for activating the lock, so that when pushed in the locking mechanism 22 is locked, and when pulled out the lock is released. In some embodiments, the locking mechanism 22 does not pull completely out of the movable unit, but remains attached to in both locked and unlocked states. It will be understood that other activating mechanisms may be used in place of or in addition to a handle, such as a threaded locker that advances when rotated.

The locking mechanism 22 may also have a logo 23, which increases brand awareness and reinforces the brand name to the user. The logo 23 may have any suitable design, texture, pattern, color and shape. The logo may alternatively be built into the handle or other activating mechanism. The logo may alternatively be placed on the cover 21.

In practice, the movable unit 20 would appear as shown in FIG. 3. However, in order to illustrate the inner workings of the movable unit 20, FIGS. 4 through 8 show isometric views of the movable unit 20 of FIG. 3, as various components are removed from the movable unit 20. During routine use, the user would not see these inner views, since the exterior of the movable unit would be covered by the cover 21.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of the movable unit with the cover 21 and locking mechanism 22 removed. The paper towel holder 25 is attached to a movable unit mating surface 41, which may have various clips, tabs, mounts and other features on it so that it may structurally support the paper towel holder 25 during use. It will be understood that the mating surface 41 may have any suitable structure, depending on the application and required strength of the attachment apparatus. For instance, a bicycle rack may require significantly more strength than a paper towel holder, and may therefore require a more hefty inner structure for the mating surface 41.

During use, the mating surface 41 is brought into contact with the fixed engaging surface 11. Note that the fixed engaging surface 11 contacts the mating surface 41 on the surface facing away from the viewer in FIG. 4. The various tabs 42 extend into the engagement holes 12 in the fixed engaging surface 11, and extend through the fixed engaging surface 11. The mating surface 41 (along with the whole movable unit) is then rotated so that the tabs 42 secure the mating surface 41 (and the whole movable unit) to the fixed engaging surface 11. After the rotation, the tabs 42 cannot release from the engagement holes 12, and the fixed engaging surface and the movable unit cannot be pulled apart.

Although two tabs 42 are seen in FIG. 4, two additional tabs are hidden from view behind the mating surface 41. It is preferable to have four tabs on the mating surface 41, although other suitable numbers of tabs may also be used, such as two, three, six, eight, and so forth. If four tabs are used, it is preferable to arrange them centered along the topmost, bottommost, leftmost and rightmost edges of the mating surface 41. Other suitable configurations may be used as well.

The tabs 42 in FIG. 4 have a deliberate directionality to them. When the tabs are inserted into the corresponding holes in the fixed engaging surface, and the movable unit 20 is rotated clockwise, they engage the fixed engaging surface 11 and prevent the movable unit 20 from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface 11. Alternatively, the tabs 42 may be configured so that a counter-clockwise rotation secures the movable unit 20 to the fixed engaging surface 11.

Two locking holes 43 are seen in FIG. 4, which extend all the way through the mating surface 41. During use, there are locking pins attached to the locking mechanism 22 that extend all or partially through these two locking holes 43. When locked, the locking mechanism 22 is pressed toward the fixed engaging surface 11, and the locking pins extend through the locking holes 13 in the fixed engaging surface 11, and prevent the user from counter-rotating the movable unit 20 to disengage it from the fixed engaging surface 11. When unlocked, the locking mechanism 22 is pulled outward, away from the fixed engaging surface 11, so that the locking pins do not extend through the locking holes in the fixed engaging surface 11, and the user may freely counter-rotate the movable unit to disengage it from the fixed engaging surface 11.

Although two locking holes 43 are shown in FIG. 4, more than two locking holes may also be used. A single locking hole may also be used, provided that it is located away from the center of rotation of the tabs 42.

FIG. 5 shows the movable unit of FIG. 4, with the addition of the optional cover 21. The optional cover 21 may be non-removably secured to the mating surface 41 and may help conceal the clips and other features on the mating surface 41. The cover 21 may also protect the inner workings of the movable unit 20 from contaminants and/or moisture. The cover 21 may also serve a cosmetic or informational purpose, any may have a logo, a design, and/or some text on it.

FIG. 6 shows the movable unit of FIG. 5, with the addition of the locking mechanism 22. The locking mechanism 22 extends through a hole in the cover 21, and contains one or more locking pins or pegs that extend through the mating surface 41 and also through the locking holes 13 in the fixed engaging surface 11.

FIG. 7 is an isometric drawing of the locking mechanism 22 of FIGS. 3 and 6. At the left edge, the locking mechanism 22 has a handle 24. To lock the movable unit 20, the user presses the handle 24 in, so that the locking pins or pegs 71 engage the corresponding locking holes 13 in the fixed engaging surface 11. To release the movable unit 20, the user pulls on the handle 24, which disengages the locking pins or pegs 71 from the fixed engaging surface 11. The locking 71 pins or pegs have a friction fit with their corresponding locking holes 13 in the fixed engaging surface 11.

FIG. 8 shows a side view of the locking mechanism 22 of FIG. 7. The locking pins or pegs 71 have an intermediate locking feature that ensures that the locking pins or pegs 71 can disengage from the fixed engaging surface 11, but cannot be pulled out of the movable unit 20. In this manner, the pins or pegs cannot be lost or misplaced because they remain with the movable unit at all times. An example of this intermediate locking feature is the square-shaped notches 73 about halfway along the pins. Each notch is generally square facing the proximal side 72 of the pin, and has a ramp facing the distal side 74 of the pin, so that during assembly at the factory it may be non-removably inserted through the mating surface 41.

Alternatively, the fixed engaging surface may have one or more tabs that extend through the mating surface of the movable unit. The features on both the mating surface and the fixed engaging surface may be of either or both genders. In other words, the slots and tabs are reversible, and may be located on either or both of the mating surface and fixed engaging surface.

FIG. 9 shows the fixed engaging surface 91 as a track, which may be fastened to a surface or object by the user. Although the track is shown in FIG. 9 as being vertically oriented, the track may alternatively be horizontal.

The track has two columns of engagement holes 92, which repeat periodically with a spacing of one inch, one-half inch, 1.5 inches, or any suitable metric or English spacing. The track has a column of locking holes 93, which are interspersed with the engagement holes 92.

In addition, the track also has several mounting holes 94, which may be used to attach the engaging surface to a wall or other structure. Typically, a user inserts a screw or other fastener through one of these mounting holes 94, where the screw head is larger than the mounting hole 94. The mounting holes may be spaced regularly or may be spaced irregularly. For a horizontally mounted track, the mounting holes 94 may be spaced by a fraction of a typical stud spacing, so that the track may be mounted in a variety of positions and optionally attached to the studs in a wall. The pattern for the mounting holes 94 may be integral with the other holes in the track, or may be independent of the other holes. In addition, the mounting holes themselves may be irregularly shaped, such as being elongated in one direction. This may allow for greater flexibility in mounting the track, which in turn provides even greater flexibility in positioning the movable unit during use.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show the rear side of the fixed engaging surface 91 of FIG. 9. The round features on the rear side may be standoffs 101, so that the tabs 42 and locking pins 71 do not interfere with the surface or object upon which the track is fastened. Note that there are four tabs 42 present, that they are arranged in essentially a square, and that they are in the “engaged” position that prevents the movable unit 20 from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface 91. Note also that the locking mechanism is engaged, thereby preventing rotation of the movable unit and the mating surface, with respect to the fixed engaging surface.

Note that the functions of the engagement holes 92 and the locking holes 93 need not be restricted to only engaging the tabs 42 of the movable part 20 and accepting the locking pins 71 of the locking mechanism, respectively. As an alternative, a portion of each engagement hole 92 may accept a locking pin 71, and/or a portion of each locking hole 93 may accept a tab 42.

For instance, note in FIGS. 10 and 11 that the locking holes 93 accept both a locking pin 71 and a tab 42. The central portion of the each locking hole 93 is sized to accept a locking pin 71. The locking holes 93 shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 have a square profile, although any suitable shape that produces a friction fit may be used. In addition, the peripheral portions of each locking hole are sized to accept tabs 42. In this manner, a locking hole 73 may accept both a locking pin 71 and a tab 42 simultaneously, as shown in the lower hole 93 in FIG. 10 and the lower-right hole in FIG. 11.

FIGS. 12-15 show an exemplary fixed engaging surface that may be produced as a cabinet door. The fixed engaging surface may be made of metal or plastic, and may be manufactured by stamping, casting, injection molding, vacuum forming, laser cutting, or other suitable processes. The repeating pattern 120 of the holes may have a spacing of one inch, a half-inch, or any other suitable dimension. Depending on the required strength of the attachment apparatus, the thickness of the components may be varied and the location and spacing of the tabs/holes may also be varied.

An exemplary size for the cabinet door may be 33.1 inches, by 15.1 inches, by 0.8 inches. These exemplary dimensions are shown in FIG. 12, and it will be understood that any suitable dimensions may be used.

FIGS. 16-21 show a cabinet system that incorporates the fixed engaging surface on various doors and walls.

In particular, FIG. 22 shows in detail an embodiment of a pattern 220 of holes, as viewed from the rear of the fixed engaging surface. It is instructive to review the shape and function of each of these holes.

A movable unit engages roughly a 3-hole by 3-hole area in this particular pattern, so FIG. 22 shows such an area. It is understood that the pattern 220 of holes may continue vertically in either direction, and may be repeated to the left or right of the area shown in FIG. 22.

When engaged, the movable unit inserts tabs into the top-center, bottom-center, left-middle and right-middle holes. The left-middle hole 221 and right-middle hole 223 may be referred to as engagement holes. The top-center and bottom-center holes 222 may both be referred to as locking holes, although each may also accommodate an engagement tab from the movable unit. In addition, each hole pattern 220 may accommodate a set of conventional hooks 224, which may be joined together in a single three-hook device, or may all be separate.

It is instructive to examine the particular regions of each hole. Regions 225, 226, 227 and 228 are all shaped to receive and engage a tab from the movable unit. Note that these regions are curved, with the center of curvature coinciding with the center of rotation of the movable unit. Region 229 accommodates a locking pin. Region 230 is shaped to accommodate the hook from convention hook 224. When the three-hook device is inserted in the pattern 220, the three hooks rest upon and are supported by flat edges 231, 232 and 233, which are preferably horizontal, but may have any suitable orientation. In this manner, the two engagement holes 221 and 223 may be inverted images of each other, with an asymmetric “Z” shape. The locking holes 222 may also have a “Z” shape, although with a different asymmetry from the engagement holes 221 and 223. Note that the hole shapes shown in FIG. 22 are merely exemplary, and any suitable hole shapes may be used.

FIGS. 23 and 24 are side-view and isometric drawings, respectively, of a cross-section of a locked movable unit 20.

The tabs 42 extend through engagement holes in the fixed engagement surface. The movable unit has been rotated so that a portion 231 of the fixed engagement surface is pinned between the tabs 42 and the mating surface 41, thereby preventing the movable unit from being pulled away from the fixed engagement surface. The locking mechanism 22 is depressed, so that the locking pins 71 extend through the locking holes in the fixed engaging surface and prevent rotation of the movable unit 20 with respect to the fixed engaging surface.

Note that because the movable unit 20 is in locked position, the locking pins 71 are extended, and there is a gap between the notch 232 and a stop 233 on, or attached to, the mating surface 41. The stop 233 is not part of the locking mechanism 22.

FIGS. 25 and 26 are side-view and isometric drawings, respectively, of a cross-section of an unlocked movable unit 20. These figures are similar to FIGS. 23 and 24, but with the locking mechanism unlocked.

Note that the locking mechanism 22 is retracted, or pulled toward the user, in FIGS. 25 and 26. In particular, note that there is little or no gap 251 between the notch 232 and the stop 233. The locking pins 71 are retracted, so that the user may rotate the movable unit 20 to disengage it from the fixed engaging surface.

Finally, FIGS. 27 through 31 show various views of the mating surface 41.

FIG. 27 is a rear-view isometric drawing of the mating surface 41.

FIG. 28 is a rear-view plan drawing of the mating surface 41 of FIG. 27.

FIG. 29 is a front-view isometric drawing of the mating surface 41 of FIG. 27.

FIG. 30 is a front-view plan drawing of the mating surface 41 of FIG. 27.

FIG. 31 is a top-view plan drawing of the mating surface 41 of FIG. 27.

Although FIGS. 1 through 31 show various embodiments of attachment apparatus that rely on rotation, an alternative structure may be made that relies on translation. For such a structure, the tabs on the mating surface are inserted into corresponding holes or slots in the fixed engaging surface, then the movable unit is translated so that the tabs engage the fixed engaging surface and prevent the mating surface from being pulled away from the fixed engaging surface, then a locking mechanism is employed to prevent translations between the mating surface and the fixed engaging surface. The locking mechanism may be one or more pins or pegs that extend through both the mating surface and the fixed engaging surface.

An exemplary attachment apparatus 320 that uses translation is shown in the front-view drawing of FIG. 32, the rear-view drawing of FIG. 33, and the close-up, rear-view drawing of FIG. 34.

The movable unit 322 includes a bicycle rack 323, which may be similar in construction to the paper towel holder 25 of FIGS. 1 and 2. The movable unit 322 may include a cover 324 and handle. As seen from the rear-view drawing of FIG. 34, the movable unit may include several tabs 328 that may extend through the fixed engaging surface 321. Unlike the tabs for which a rotational motion is used, the tabs 328 for translational motion all extend in the same direction. The tabs 328 may be arranged in any suitable pattern, such as a square, a rectangle, a cross pattern, or any other suitable pattern. There may be any suitable number of tabs 328, including 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or more than 8.

In FIGS. 32-34, the fixed engaging surface 321 is a track, which may be fastened to a surface or object by the user. Although the track is shown in FIGS. 32-34 as being horizontal, the track may alternatively be vertically oriented.

The track has two parallel rows of engagement holes 325, which repeat periodically with a regular spacing. The track also has a column of locking holes 326, which are interspersed with the engagement holes 325. Alternatively, the locking holes may be a subset of the engagement holes, or vice versa.

The engagement holes 325 may include a central portion 331 and four slots 330a-330d that may extend outwardly from the central portion 331. The central portion may be any suitable shape, such as square or rectangular, and may be large enough to accommodate the engaging portions of the tabs 328 as they are inserted or removed through the engagement holes 325.

The locking holes 326 may also include a central portion that engages a locking pin 329 when the movable unit 322 is in the locked position. Optionally, the locking holes may include a peripheral design that may be ornamental in nature; in FIGS. 32-34, the “Z”-shaped portion of the locking holes may be present for ornamentation, or for brand recognition.

The central portion of the locking holes 326 may or may not be the same size and/or shape as the central portion 331 of the engagement holes 325. Optionally, the attachment apparatus may use a particular hole or set of holes for either engaging or locking, depending on the placement of the holes and the placement of the tabs and locking pin on the movable unit.

The fixed engaging surface 321 may also include one or more stand-offs 327, which may space the fixed engaging surface apart from the wall or surface on which is mounted.

The attachment apparatus 320 may be used as follows. A user attaches the fixed engagement surface 321 to a wall or other mounting surface. Alternatively, the fixed engagement surface 321 may be incorporated into another structure, such as a side of a cabinet or a door. Next, the user selects a desired location for the movable unit 322. With the locking mechanism disengaged, the user brings the movable unit 322 into contact with the fixed engagement surface 321, so that the tabs 328 insert through various engagement holes 325. Next, the user translates the movable unit 322 so that the tabs 328 engage fully and prevent the movable unit 322 from being pulled apart from the fixed engagement surface 321. As drawn in FIGS. 32-34, this translation is downward, although any suitable orientation may be used. Finally, the user engages the locking mechanism, which prevents the translation of the previous step from being reversed. In the embodiment of FIGS. 32-34, the locking mechanism is a locking pin that extends through one of the locking holes 326. When the locking mechanism is locked, the user is prevented from translating the movable unit 322 with respect to the fixed engagement surface 321, so that the tabs 328 are prevented from disengaging their respective slots 330a-d.

The description of the invention and its applications as set forth herein is illustrative and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention. Variations and modifications of the embodiments disclosed herein are possible, and practical alternatives to and equivalents of the various elements of the embodiments would be understood to those of ordinary skill in the art upon study of this patent document. These and other variations and modifications of the embodiments disclosed herein may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.