Title:
PROTECTIVE DOCUMENT DISPENSER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A document dispenser constructed from a transparent body, within which documents are stored. The document dispenser is sealed against infiltration of solid particulates or liquids in order to protect the documents. The body includes drain holes that permit egress of any solid particulates or liquid that may be introduced into the document dispenser, so that damage to the documents can be reduced.



Inventors:
Wood, Durenda (Duluth, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/839952
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
08/16/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D75/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PERREAULT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Durenda Wood (Duluth, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is at least:

1. A document dispenser comprising: a resilient back sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from said front surface by a first thickness, a first length, and a first width, said first thickness being less than said first length and being less than said first width; a resilient front sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from said front surface by a second thickness, a second length, and a second width, said second thickness being less than said second length and being less than said second width, at least a portion of said resilient front sheet being parallel to, and spaced from said resilient back sheet, the spacing being in the direction of said first and second thicknesses; a resilient cover sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from said front surface by a third thickness, a third length, and a third width, said third thickness being less than said third length and being less than said third width; wherein said resilient back sheet is connected to said resilient front sheet at portions thereof, said connected portions defining, and at least partially enclosing, at least one interior space, and defining an opening; and wherein said resilient cover sheet is connected to said resilient back sheet at a first portion and is connected to said front sheet at a second portion, a third portion between said first portion and said second portion substantially covering the opening.

2. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising at least one drain hole.

3. The document dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said resilient front sheet, said resilient back sheet and said resilient cover sheet are formed as an integral sheet.

4. The document dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said resilient cover sheet is connected to said front sheet by a first magnet or metal disk attached to said resilient front sheet, and a second magnet or metal disk attached to said resilient cover sheet.

5. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising a fold in said resilient front sheet and said resilient back sheet, whereby said opening is covered by a folded portion of said resilient front sheet or said resilient back sheet.

6. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising a magnet attached to a surface of said resilient back sheet.

7. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising a magnet attached to a surface of said resilient cover sheet.

8. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising a magnet embedded in said resilient back sheet.

9. The document dispenser according to claim 1, further comprising a magnet embedded in said resilient cover sheet.

10. The document dispenser according to claim 1, wherein said interior space is configured to securely retain and display a document.

11. A document dispenser comprising: a body comprising at least two exterior major surfaces, and a first interior space enclosed thereby for holding at least one document, and further defining an opening for providing access to said first interior space for containing the document, whereby the document may be dispensed therefrom; means for releasably sealing said opening; and means for allowing egress of liquid or particulate debris from said first interior space to an environment outside of the body.

12. The document dispenser according to claim 11, further comprising a cutout portion proximate said opening for facilitating removal of the document.

13. The document dispenser according to claim 11, wherein said means for allowing egress of liquid or particulate debris from said first interior space allows such egress when said opening is sealed via said means for releasably sealing said opening.

14. The document dispenser according to claim 11, further comprising a second interior space, said second interior space being separate from said first interior space.

15. The document dispenser according to claim 14, further comprising a second means for releasably sealing an opening of said second interior space.

16. The document dispenser according to claim 14, wherein said second interior space is disposed on an opposite side of a divider from said first interior space, said divider being selected from the group consisting of a crease, a fold, a perforation, and a frangible section.

17. The document dispenser according to claim 14, wherein said second interior space is disposed on an opposite side of at least one of said at least two exterior major surfaces from said first interior space.

18. The document dispenser according to claim 11, wherein said means for releasably sealing said opening comprises a folded portion of at least one of said at least two exterior major surfaces.

19. A document dispenser comprising: a first sealable pocket for dispensing one or more document of a first configuration therefrom; and a second sealable pocket for dispensing one or more document of a second configuration therefrom, wherein each of said first sealable pocket and said second sealable pocket comprises a configuration approximately equal to a configuration of a respective document.

20. The document dispenser according to claim 19, wherein said first sealable pocket and said second sealable pocket are arranged in a configuration selected from the group consisting of a side-by-side configuration, a front-to-back configuration, a top-to-bottom configuration, and combinations thereof.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present non-provisional application is related to, and hereby claims priority to, and the full benefit of, United States Provisional patent application entitled Weather Resistant Document Dispenser, having assigned Ser. No. 60/822,607, filed on 16 Aug. 2006, and incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to a document dispenser that protects documents contained therein from wind, precipitation, or other environmental hazards.

2. Description of Related Art

In numerous applications, it is desirable, or required, to display documents, such as advertisements, notices, business cards, licenses, or the like. Such documents are frequently printed on a printed medium such as plain paper or card stock and are susceptible to physical damage such as tearing, creasing, or puncturing. In addition, such documents are also susceptible to damage from exposure to liquids, which can cause smearing or running of ink, discoloration or bleaching, or distortion or deterioration of the printed medium.

One solution to these problems is lamination of the document with plastic or other impermeable cover. Lamination of a document aids in protection from tears to the extent that the laminate is more resilient than the printed medium, and aids in protection from wetting and associated damage. There are, however, many disadvantages associated with lamination.

One disadvantage is that once laminated, any damage to the laminate effectively becomes damage to the document because the laminate cannot typically be removed without serious damage to, or destruction of, the document. Therefore, scratches, melting, staining, tearing, bubbling, or other delaminating, ruins the document. Furthermore, lamination inherently obscures the surface of the document, creating glare, haze, or other undesirable optical distortion, interfering with inspection of the document, and, further, is sometimes used to conceal a forged or altered document, such as a license. Additionally, lamination is time-consuming, inefficient, and expensive, making it impractical for low cost items, such as business cards, coupons, flyers, or the like.

Another solution to the aforementioned problems is a plastic envelope or case in which the document is stored. Like a laminate, the envelope or case protects the document from physical damage to the extent that it is more resilient than the printed medium. Unlike the laminate, however, damage to the envelope or case can be remedied by replacement of the envelope or case, since the document is not attached to the case other than by slight friction and can be removed from an opening in the envelope or case.

Unfortunately, however, such an opening allows not only introduction of the document, but also allows intrusion of unwanted solid particulate debris and, more importantly, liquid. When solid particulate debris or liquid infiltrates the envelope or case, it causes soiling, damage, or destruction of the document. With regard to solid particulate debris, an envelope-style container often exacerbates the problem by forcing the debris into intimate contact with the surfaces of the document, accelerating scratching, tearing, puncturing, or other wear of the document. In the case of liquid, both the envelope-style and the case-style exacerbate damage by restricting air circulation and evaporation, whereby not only is the printed medium damaged by the liquid, but acids or bases have more time in which to work on the printed medium or the ink, and whereby growth of mold or other damaging organics is supported.

Thus, what is needed is a simple and cost effective device that affords protection to a document from physical damage and from wetting, while allowing inspection or display, and easy insertion and removal of one or more document.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages, and meets the recognized need for such a device, by providing a document dispenser comprising a resilient back sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from the first surface by a first thickness, a first length, and a first width, the first thickness being less than the first length and being less than the first width, a resilient front sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from the first surface by a second thickness, a second length, and a second width, the second thickness being less than the second length and being less than the second width, at least a portion of the resilient front sheet being parallel to, and spaced from the resilient back sheet, the spacing being in the direction of the first and second thicknesses, a resilient cover sheet having a front surface and an opposing back surface spaced from the front surface by a third thickness, a third length, and a third width, the third thickness being less than the third length and being less than third width, wherein the resilient back sheet is connected to the resilient front sheet at portions thereof, the connected portions defining, and at least partially enclosing, at least one interior space, and defining an opening, and wherein the resilient cover sheet is connected to the resilient back sheet at a first portion and is connected to the front sheet at a second portion, a third portion between the first portion and the second portion substantially covering the opening.

According to another aspect of the invention, the document dispenser includes drain holes arranged such that liquid or debris can escape, if introduced.

According to another aspect of the invention, magnets and/or ferrous metal disks are incorporated in the body of the document dispenser to provide secure and releasable connection of the device to a support. Furthermore, the magnets and/or ferrous metal disks may be used to provide releasable closure of the cover sheet to the body of the document dispenser.

According to another aspect of the invention, the front and back sheets of the document dispenser at the opening are folded over to prevent infiltration of liquid and debris into the interior space of the document dispenser.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides a document dispenser comprising a body comprising at least two exterior major surfaces, and an interior space enclosed thereby for holding at least one document, and further defining an opening for providing access to the interior space for introduction of the document, means for releasably sealing the opening, and means for allowing egress of liquid or particulate debris from the interior space to an environment exterior to the body.

These and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will become more apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art after reading the following description and claims in light of the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Accordingly, the present invention will be understood best through consideration of, and reference to, the following drawing figures, viewed in conjunction with the Detailed Description of the Invention referring thereto, in which like reference numbers throughout designate like structure, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a document dispenser according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front plan view of the document dispenser according to the configuration of FIG. 1 shown in an open state;

FIG. 3 is a side plan view showing the embodiment of FIG. 1 shown in a closed state;

FIG. 4 is a front plan view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention showing an alternative configuration in an open state;

FIG. 5 is a side plan view showing the document dispenser according to the configuration of FIG. 4 in an open state for receiving and dispensing documents;

FIG. 6 is a front plan view of a document dispenser according to an alternate embodiment; and

FIG. 7 is a front plan view of a document dispenser according to another alternative embodiment.

It is to be noted that the figures presented are intended solely for the purpose of illustration, and that they are, therefore, neither desired nor intended to limit the invention to any or all of the exact details of construction shown, except insofar as they may be deemed essential to the claimed invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In describing preferred embodiments of the present invention illustrated in the drawing figures, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. The invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

In that form of the preferred embodiment of the present invention chosen for purposes of illustration, FIGS. 1-5 show document dispenser 10 constructed of a resilient, transparent or translucent material. The material is preferably selected to imbue document dispenser 10 with a soft, pliant feel, and sufficient flexibility to allow repeated use without substantial degradation from bending or the like. Document dispenser 10 comprises resilient front sheet 11, resilient back sheet 12, and resilient cover sheet 13. As shown in the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1, front sheet 11, back sheet 12, and cover sheet 13 are formed as a unitary body from a single sheet; although it will be recognized that an alternate, acceptable construction may be realized from bonding or otherwise joining separate sheets to form a unitary construction. In the preferred embodiment, front sheet 11, back sheet 12, and cover sheet 13 are formed from the unitary body by folds 10a and 10b. Front sheet 11 and back sheet 12, folded against one another, are joined along their respective side edges to form interior space 20 in which one or more documents 50 are stored. A portion of an edge of front sheet 11 is not attached to back sheet 12, thereby forming opening 21, by which interior space 20 may be accessed.

Additional openings 22, which extend over a small portion of fold 10a, and/or the side edges of document dispenser 10, connect interior space 20 to an outside environment, and serve as drain holes for the escape of solid particulates or liquids that may infiltrate interior space 20. Such additional openings may be formed by leaving front sheet 11 and back sheet 12 detached at discrete portions of the side edges, or by providing front sheet 11, back sheet 12, or both, with perforations through a surface, preferably at a location spaced from opening 21.

Also shown in FIG. 1 are magnets 30, 31, 32, and 33, arranged in pairs. A first pair of magnets comprising magnets 30 and 32 are attached to, or formed within, front sheet 11 and cover sheet 13, respectively. A second pair of magnets comprising magnets 31 and 33 are likewise attached to, or formed within, front sheet 11 and cover sheet 13, respectively. The pairs of magnets are preferably disposed at edges of front sheet 11 and cover sheet 13, and spaced from opening 21. The attraction of the magnets is used to removably connect an inside surface of cover sheet 13 to an exterior surface of front sheet 11, thereby securing cover sheet 13 in a position covering opening 21.

As will be understood by those ordinarily skilled in the art, magnets 32 and 33 may be formed as a ferrous metal (ferromagnetic) material, such as a metallic disc, whereby attraction with magnets 30 and 31, as described above, may be enabled. When a ferrous metal material is used in place of permanent magnets, attraction between the ferrous metal material and a magnet will, thus, enable intended closure of document dispenser 10, but will prevent cover sheet 13 from being retained in an open position under circumstances wherein document dispenser 10 may be mounted upon a ferrous metal substrate, and whereby liquid or particulate debris may be disadvantageously introduced if cover sheet 13 does not close correctly. As such, inclusion of ferrous metal material in the place of permanent magnets in the cover sheet reduces the likelihood of cover sheet 13 being retained in an open position. Additionally, the weight of the ferromagnetic material may aid in closure of the cover sheet, such as via gravity.

With the magnets of the magnet pairs in operative connection, the cover sheet is secured in a position covering the opening, and the document dispenser is in a closed state, useful for safely transporting or storing one or more documents. Additionally, due to the transparency or translucency of cover sheet 13 and front sheet 11, the foremost document can be seen even when the document dispenser is in the closed state. When carrying or storing business cards, or other material intended for distribution, the cover sheet can be lifted or unfolded along fold 10b, thereby operatively disconnecting the magnets of the magnet pairs, and exposing opening 21 to allow removal of one or more documents 50 from interior space 20.

Also shown in FIG. 1 is attachment portion 40, disposed on an exterior surface of back sheet 12. Attachment portion 40 is either connected to the exterior surface or formed integrally therewith, and comprises a magnet, a hook and loop fastener, an adhesive, a loop, a pocket, a button, a snap, a clip, a clasp, a clamp, or other removable or permanent attachment means. Attachment portion 40 can be used to secure the document dispenser to a support structure, such as a flat surface, like that of a store or other window, mirror, display case, wall, or the like, or a curved surface, such as a post, pole, or column, whereby the documents can be easily inspected or accessed for dispensing and/or distribution. In such a mounted state, document dispenser 10 is useful for storing one or more document 50, for example a license or an identification document, a menu, an advertisement, or the like, in order that it may be inspected without removal from document dispenser 10, with or without removing document dispenser 10 from the structure; thereby, allowing document 50 to remain protected within interior space 20 of document dispenser 10.

Preferably, attachment portion 40 comprises an adhesive that can be applied on pre-selected portions of the exterior surface of back sheet 12 such as the corners, the center, a horizontal or vertical strip, the top half, the bottom half, the entire surface, or a combination thereof. Furthermore, the adhesive can be protected by a film, which is removed to activate attachment portion 40, or the adhesive can be provided separately, such as in a tube or as a double-sided tape, for application to portions of the exterior surface of back sheet 12 at the time of attachment of document dispenser 10 to the structure. Attachment portion 40 may take the form of a magnet, either permanently or removably attached to back sheet 12, or included separately for selective attachment, such as with adhesive, to back sheet 12 as desired by a user.

Referring more particularly to FIG. 2, document dispenser 10 is shown in an open state, wherein cover sheet 13 is not folded over opening 21. In such a state, opening 21 is accessible, and documents 50 can be inserted into or removed from interior space 20 therethrough. Preferably, document dispenser 10 is stored in the open state only when it is unlikely that liquid or solid particulates will infiltrate interior space 20 through exposed opening 21, preferably occurring only during document insertion and/or removal. In one alternative configuration, cover sheet 13 is folded backwards along fold 10b, such that it rests proximate back sheet 12. In another alternative configuration, cover sheet 13 is not folded, and extends generally in the plane of back sheet 12, and may include a second attachment portion similar to attachment portion 40 for reinforcing the attachment of document dispenser 10 to the structure.

Also shown in FIG. 2 is cutout portion ha along the edge of cover sheet 11 adjacent opening 21, where front sheet 11 is shaped such that a portion of document 50 is exposed when the document dispenser is in the open state. The cutout portion thus facilitates easy removal of one or more documents 50 from interior space 20. Cutout portion 11a further defines extended portions 11b, which portions are arranged on either side of cutout portion 11a. Extended portions 11b preferably extend over or above both sides of the line of fold 10b, such that when cover sheet 13 is folded along fold 10b, extended portions 11b are likewise folded over, whereby extended portions 11b provide further protection from infiltration of liquid or solid particulates into interior space 20 when document dispenser 10 is in the closed state.

FIG. 3 shows document dispenser 10 in a closed state with cover sheet 13 folded over and attached to front sheet 11. In particular, extended portions 11b are shown folded outward, that is to say, away from back sheet 12, to prevent infiltration of solid particulates or liquid. As discussed above, however, extended portions 11b can alternatively be folded inward; i.e., toward back sheet 12.

Also shown in FIG. 3 is an alternative connection means 34 for connecting cover sheet 13 to front sheet 11. As shown, alternative connection means 34 takes the form of a hook and loop fastener with one of the hook portion and the loop portion attached to an inside surface of cover sheet 13 and the other of the hook portion and the loop portion attached to the outside surface of front sheet 11. Additionally, alternative connection means 34 may take the form of a snap, a releasable adhesive, a clip, or other releasable connection means.

FIG. 4 shows an alternative configuration, wherein document dispenser 10 is configured to receive and display documents of a larger size, for example an 8½ by 11 inch sheet of paper. As will be understood by those ordinarily skilled in the art, the configuration of document dispenser 10 may be selected to accommodate documents of all shapes and sizes.

FIG. 5 shows a side view of document dispenser 10 in the open state. From this view, the method of insertion of documents 50 into interior space 20 through opening 21 can be seen, and is illustrated by arrow 51. Also shown is another alternative connection means 35, which takes the form of an adhesive strip, such as a pressure sensitive adhesive.

Referring now to FIG. 6, document dispenser 100 is shown including first pocket 121 for receiving, retaining, and dispensing one or more document 151 of a first dimension, and second pocket 125 for receiving, retaining, and dispensing one or more document 155 of a second dimension. Document dispenser 100 includes first cover 113 for releasably sealing first pocket 121 via attachment means 130, and second cover 118 for releasably sealing second pocket 125 via attachment means 130. Attachment means 130 is preferably formed as magnet pairs 131 or hook and loop fastener 133, but may, alternatively, be formed as magnet/ferrous metal disk pairs, snaps, clips, adhesive, or the like. Preferably, each of pockets 121 and 125 is constructed according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention, whereby document dispenser 100 comprises a first document dispenser according to the preferred embodiment, such as document dispenser 10 of FIG. 4 configured to dispense relatively larger documents, and a second document dispenser, such as document dispenser 10 of FIG. 1 configured to dispense relatively smaller documents attached to front sheet 11 of the first dispenser. Thus, each of documents 151 and 155 is protected from damage from liquid, debris, or the like, as described above with regard to document dispenser 10.

Now referring to FIG. 7, document dispenser 200 comprises a plurality of document dispensers 10 serially connected, such as side-by-side (shown), top-to-bottom, front-to-back, or the like. Such connections may be formed as durable or frangible (such as perforated) connections, whereby a plurality of documents 50 may be displayed simultaneously and in close proximity. Document dispenser 200 preferably further facilitates easy distribution of individual document dispensers 10 via frangible connections between adjacent document dispensers 10.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be noted by those ordinarily skilled in the art that the within disclosures are exemplary only and that various other alternatives, adaptations, and modifications may be made within the scope and spirit of the present invention. For example, one of the magnets of any pair of magnets may alternatively be replaced by a ferromagnetic material, such as a metal member, such as a disc, without departing from the scope of the invention. Additionally, the number of magnet pairs may be selected to ensure secure closure of the cover sheet, and such magnet pairs may be arranged along peripheral edges of the cover sheet at any desired interval, or within the pocket, as will be understood by those ordinarily skilled in the art.

Similarly, the material from which the document dispenser of the present invention is formed may be selected from opaque materials, whereby inspection of one or more documents contained therein may not be possible while in the closed position; but whereby advertising or other signage may be disposed on one or more exterior surface of the document dispenser to convey information about documents contained therein, or to raise interest in the contents. Likewise, the document dispenser may be formed from separate sheets via welding, adhering, or other durable and sealing attachment method. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments as illustrated herein, but is only limited by the following claims.