Title:
Tree Stands
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention provides a tree stand comprising a tree retaining member (16) arranged in use to releasably mount a tree, the tree retaining member (16) comprising tree gripping means (14) comprising a resilient member moveable between a first position in which the gripping means (14) are arranged to grip a tree mounted in the tree stand, and a second position in which the gripping means (14) are arranged to enable release of a mounted tree, wherein the tree stand further comprises a means to releasably lock the gripping means in the first position (22). The invention further provides a kit comprising a tree stand of any one of claims 1 to 9 and a tree.



Inventors:
Noblett, Joseph (Lancashire, GB)
Application Number:
11/576865
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
09/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G33/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PARSLEY, DAVID J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A tree stand comprising a tree retaining member arranged in use to releasably mount a tree, the tree retaining member comprising tree gripping means comprising a resilient member moveable between a first position in which the gripping means are arranged to grip a tree mounted in the tree stand, and a second position in which the gripping means are arranged to enable release of a mounted tree, wherein the tree stand further comprises a means to releasably lock the gripping means in the first position.

2. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the resilient gripping means is biased towards the second position.

3. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the tree retaining member is mounted in a fluid reservoir.

4. A tree stand as claimed in claim 3 wherein the fluid reservoir comprises a receptacle having an opening therein, into which water or other substances may be added.

5. A tree stand as claimed in claim 3 wherein the tree retaining member is in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir.

6. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the resilient gripping means comprises a portion of the tree retaining member.

7. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the releasable locking means comprises a means to bias the or each resilient gripping member to the first position until the locking means is moved.

8. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the releasable locking means comprises a collar which in use is arranged to bias the resilient gripping member to the first position.

9. A tree stand as claimed in claim 1 wherein the resilient gripping means comprises a plurality of gripping members arranged at or near to the opening of the receptacle.

10. A kit comprising a tree stand according to claims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 and a tree.

11. A tree stand comprising: (a) a tree retaining member arranged in use to releasably mount a tree; (b) resilient tree gripping means moveable between a first position in which the resilient tree gripping means are arranged to grip a tree mounted in the tree stand and a second position in which the resilient tree gripping means are arranged to enable release of a mounted tree; and (c) a collar arranged to fit around the resilient tree gripping means and move the resilient tree gripping means into the first position to releasably lock the resilient tree gripping means in the first position, wherein the tree retaining member is a cylindrical receptacle and the resilient tree gripping means are integral with the tree retaining member, extending axially therefrom in a direction substantially parallel with the wall of the tree retaining member and radially slightly outwardly with respect to the opening of the tree retaining member.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to tree stands, and in particular, but not exclusively to Christmas tree stands. The invention also extends to a kit, and a method of securing a tree to a tree stand.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

It is known to place cut trees in holders or stands to present the tree and enable it to be decorated with any desired items.

Particularly, it is know at Christmas time to place cut trees, usually fir or spruce trees, in Christmas tree stands so that the Christmas tree may be presented in a domestic environment and decorated with appropriate Christmas decorations.

There are various types of stands available for securing cut trees. One commonly used type of stand is a cut-out section of a tree trunk which has a recess cut or bored part-way through the section. The cut trunk end of a tree is then simply inserted into the recess in the stand. The weight of the cut-out section effects stabilisation of the tree and reduces the chance of the tree toppling. The circumference of the tree is usually chosen to be substantially identical or slightly larger than the circumference of the recess in the stand, to enable a snug fit of the tree in the stand.

A problem with the above-mentioned type of stand is that it is almost impossible to buy a cut tree in which the diameter is identical to the diameter of the recess of a consumer's particular stand, and therefore a consumer may spend considerable time finding a suitable tree, or may have to shave or bore their cut tree in order to enable it to fit in the stand.

Furthermore, with the above known type of tree stand, once the tree is inserted into the recess, it can be very difficult for a user to remove the tree from the tree stand due to the tight fit of the tree in the recess of the stand. In extreme cases, when the tree needs to be discarded, the stand must be discarded attached to the tree.

A second known type of stand comprises a generally cylindrical tube having a number of apertures into which can be threaded screws, and when a tree is inserted into the stand, the screws may be inserted such that they protrude into the cylinder and abut the trunk of the tree in order to tightly restrain the tree in the stand. The stand is commonly connected to, or forms part of a weighted base member which helps to prevent the tree and stand from toppling over in use.

A disadvantage with this type of stand is the need for the user to bend over or kneel in order to loosen or tighten screws once the tree has been inserted. Furthermore, the screws may be difficult to operate, and once tightened into the trunk of the tree, may be difficult to remove. This is particularly problematical for elderly or infirm persons. Furthermore, the screws may work loose over a period of time, especially if the tree is agitated, for example when being decorated.

In the third known type of tree stand, the tree is inserted into a tree retaining member which in itself is mounted in a fluid reservoir. The tree retaining member comprises no mechanical means to fix the tree in position, but instead relies on a snug fit between the tree and the tree retaining member in order to retain the tree. The interior of the tree retaining member may include ribs or veins which grip the tree in order to fix the tree within the retaining member. A problem with this type of tree stand is again that it may be difficult to remove a tree inserted into the tree retaining member due to the tight fit of the tree in the retaining member, and the possibility that tree gripping means are further fixing the tree in the tree retaining member.

It would be advantageous to provide a mechanism in which a tree may be inserted into a tree stand and gripped by the tight fit of the tree in the tree stand, but in which the tree could be removed relatively easily.

It is therefore an aim of preferred embodiments of the present invention to overcome or mitigate a problem of the prior art, whether expressly stated herein or not.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a tree stand comprising a tree retaining member arranged in use to releasably mount a tree, the tree retaining member comprising tree gripping means, comprising a resilient member moveable between a first position in which the gripping means are arranged to grip a tree mounted in the tree stand, and a second position in which the gripping means are arranged to enable release of a mounted tree, wherein the tree stand further comprises a means to releasably lock the gripping means in the first position.

Preferably the resilient gripping means is biased towards the second position. Thus, the releasable locking means preferably enables the resilient gripping means to grip a mounted tree until the releasable locking means are removed, at which point the resilient gripping means is biased to the second position.

Suitably the tree retaining member comprises a hollow receptacle having an opening into which a tree may be inserted. Preferably the receptacle is an elongated member having a bore running therethrough. Preferably the elongate member may be a substantially cylindrical member, more preferably having a circular cross section. Alternatively the receptacle may comprise a frusto-conical member having an opening at one end thereof.

The tree retaining member is preferably mounted in a fluid reservoir. The fluid reservoir preferably comprises a receptacle having an opening therein, into which water or other substances may be added. The tree retaining member is preferably mounted such that it does not substantially protrude from the reservoir.

The tree retaining member is preferably in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir. In this way, water poured into the fluid reservoir is able to enter the tree retaining member to feed a tree mounted therein, in use.

The resilient gripping means may comprise a portion of the tree retaining member.

Suitably the tree retaining member comprises a receptacle having an opening therein, into which a cut tree or shrub trunk can be inserted, and the resilient gripping means comprises a portion of the tree retaining member at or near the opening of the tree retaining member. Suitably the resilient gripping means comprise at least one member at least a portion of which, in the first position, is arranged to grip a tree mounted in the receptacle in use. Suitably, the or each member in the second position is biased away from the opening of the receptacle, and preferably extend radially outwardly from the receptacle wall.

Preferably the releasable locking means comprises a means to bias the or each resilient gripping member to the first position until the locking means is moved. The locking means may comprise a locking member which prevents movement of the or each resilient gripping member until the locking member is moved.

Suitably the releasable locking means comprises a collar which in use is arranged to bias the or each resilient gripping member to the first position.

Suitably the resilient gripping means comprises a plurality of gripping members arranged at or near the opening of the receptacle and more preferably around substantially the whole of the opening of the receptacle. Preferably the receptacle is a cylindrical member having a circular opening therein, and the gripping means comprises a plurality of fingers extending axially around the opening of the receptacle. Preferably the locking means comprises a collar which in use is arranged to fit around the outside of the fingers and move the fingers into the first position. When the collar is removed the fingers are free to bias to the second position in which the fingers do not enter or obscure entry of a tree into the opening of the receptacle. Preferably the receptacle is a cylindrical member and the collar is an annular member dimensioned to fit around the outside of the receptacle. Preferably the collar is held in place on the outside of the receptacle by the resilience of the or each resilient gripping member.

Suitably the tree retaining member and/or resilient gripping means are constructed from plastics, metal, or the like.

Preferably the tree retaining member is the sole means for retaining a tree in the tree stand. Thus preferably, a tree inserted into the tree retaining member is solely retained by abutment of the tree with the interior surface of the tree retaining member and gripping means. Thus preferably the tree retaining member does not comprise mechanical means to retain a tree. Thus in order to retain a tree in the tree stand a user does not have to effect operation of any mechanical means such as screws or bolts, and does not therefore have to kneel or bend to the ground level to insert and retain the tree.

The tree stand may further comprise weighting means. Preferably the weighting means comprises a base member which may be connected to the fluid reservoir or formed integrally with the fluid reservoir.

Preferably the base member comprises a plurality of legs, which in use, are arranged to engage a surface on which the tree stand is mounted.

The tree stand may be of any suitable material, but is preferably metal (including alloy) and is more preferably constructed from iron, cast iron, aluminium or stainless steel.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a kit comprising a tree stand of the first aspect of the invention and a tree.

Preferably the tree is a cut tree suitable for use as a Christmas tree.

Suitably the cut tree comprises a trunk which in the region of the cut end thereof, has a circumference substantially identical to the interior circumference of the tree retaining member.

By “cut tree” we mean a tree or shrub which has been cut by any suitable means to provide a cut end of the trunk of the tree distal to the apex of the tree. Thus trees may be cut by chopping, cutting, sawing and the like for example.

The cut end of the trunk of the tree may be shaped by any suitable means, including sawing, chopping, shaving, planing or the like.

Preferably the tree stand is as described hereinabove for the first aspect of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For better understanding of the various aspects of the invention, and to show how examples of the same may be put into practice, a specific embodiment will now be described, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an upper perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the tree stand of the invention, in which the releasable locking means are not shown;

FIG. 2 illustrates a side sectional view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates a plan view of the releasable locking means of the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2; and

FIG. 4 illustrates a side sectional view of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in which the releasable locking means has locked the tree gripping means into position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

We refer firstly to FIGS. 1 and 3.

A tree stand 2 comprises a weighting means in the form of a base 10 which includes four legs 12. Connected to the base 10 is a fluid reservoir 4 which is cylindrical in shape. Connected concentrically within the fluid reservoir 4 on the base 10, is a tree retaining member 6 which is generally cylindrical in shape. Between the tree retaining member 6 and the fluid reservoir 4 are ribs 20 made from substantially planar sheet material. The tree retaining member 6 comprises an aperture 8 located at the connection between the retaining member 6 and the base 10, which allows fluid communication between the retaining member 6 and the fluid reservoir 4. The tree retaining member 6 further comprises resilient gripping means 14 to help hold a tree in place within the tree retaining member 6. The tree retaining member 6 and gripping means 13 are constructed from a resilient metal such as steel or aluminium.

The resilient gripping means comprise four gripping members in the form of fingers 14, extending axially from the cylindrical tree retaining member 6 in a direction substantially parallel with the wall of the tree retaining member 6. The four fingers 14 are separated by slits 15. The fingers 14 are integral with the tree retaining member 6. The fingers 14 are resiliently biased such that in position shown in FIG. 1, the first position, the fingers 14 extend radially slightly outwardly with respect to the opening of the tree retaining member 6, in order that a tree may be inserted into the tree retaining member 6. In this position, as shown in FIG. 1, the slits 15 are slightly opened, in order that the fingers 14 are biased away from each other and outwardly of the tree retaining member 6.

We turn now to FIG. 3 which illustrates a top down view of the releasable locking means 24 of the tree stand 2 of the invention (separate from the tree stand 2). The locking means 22 comprises an annular locking member having an outer surface 23 and an inner surface 24. The annular member includes a bore 25 running therethrough.

The inner surface 24 is arranged to have substantially the same diameter as the outer surface of the tree retaining member 6 of the tree stand 2.

Use of the tree stand shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 4.

In use, a user firstly slips collar 22 over the tree retaining member 6, whilst biasing the fingers 14 into their first, closed position, until the collar slips past the slits 15, at which point the user may release the fingers 14 to their second, open position.

A user then inserts the cut end of a tree, such as a Christmas tree, into the opening of the tree retaining member 6, until the distal end of the cut tree abuts the bottom of the tree retaining member 6 and the bottom of the reservoir 4. In this position, the fingers 14 are biased to their second, open position in which the fingers do not resiliently grip the tree mounted in the tree stand and this enables the mounted tree to be released from the tree retaining member 6, if desired. In order to resiliently grip the tree mounted in the tree stand, a user then slides the collar 23 up the tree retaining member 6 until it begins to cover the slits 15 and the bottom of the fingers 14. As a user continues to slide the collar 23 up the tree retaining member 6, the collar pushes against the fingers 14, and biases them towards the first closed position, in which they begin to abut and grip the cut tree. When a user feels that the fingers 14 are gripping the tree to a sufficient pressure, the user may then let go of the collar 23. The collar will be held in place in its position by biasing from the resilient fingers 14, which are biased towards their second position naturally, due to the resilience of the metal forming the fingers. The user may then wish to fill the fluid reservoir with water, which will seep into the bottom of the tree retaining member 6 through aperture 8.

When the user wishes to remove the tree from retaining member 6, the user slides the collar 23 down the tree retaining member 6, and the release of pressure enables the fingers 14 to resiliently bias to their second position, away from the opening of the tree retaining member 6, to the position shown in FIG. 1. In this position, the fingers 14 do not resiliently grip the cut tree, and a user may then withdraw the cut tree from the tree retaining member 6.

The reader's attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment(s). The invention extend to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.