Title:
SNEEZE GUARD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There are disclosed various embodiments of sneeze guards. In an embodiment, there is provided a guard assembly including a pane, a frame surrounding the pane, and a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with the guard assembly. The upper portion of each one of the support legs is adjustably attached to the guard assembly. In one embodiment, each support leg includes a height adjustment mechanism. In another embodiment, there is provided a method of using a sneeze guard. The method includes adjusting a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with a guard assembly from closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the guard assembly. In an embodiment, the method also includes adjusting a height adjustment mechanism to selectively adjust a length of the support leg.



Inventors:
Baumgartner, Sydney W. (Hallsville, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/871070
Publication Date:
04/17/2008
Filing Date:
10/11/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B96/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GALLEGO, ANDRES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Holland & Hart LLP (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus comprising: a guard assembly including a pane, a frame substantially surrounding the pane, and the guard assembly having a top portion and a bottom portion in opposition to one another, and lateral portions extending between the top portion and the bottom portion; and a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with the guard assembly, each one of the support legs having an upper portion and a lower portion, the upper portion of each one of the support legs adjustably attached to one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly, respectively, and each one of the support legs including a height adjustment mechanism between the upper portion and the lower portion, so as to allow selective adjustment of a length between the upper portion and the lower portion of each of the support legs, and selective adjustment of a height from the top portion of the guard assembly to the lower portion of each one of the support legs.

2. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the pane comprises a transparent material.

3. Apparatus in accordance with claim 2, wherein the transparent material includes one selected from the group consisting of acrylic and glass.

4. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a. channeled tubular frame.

5. Apparatus in accordance with claim 4, wherein the channeled tubular frame is aluminum tubing.

6. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the frame is configured to completely surround the pane.

7. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a pair of connectors attached to each one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly, respectively, wherein the pair of support legs are in adjustable connection with the guard assembly with the pair of connectors.

8. Apparatus in accordance with claim 7, wherein the pair of connectors each comprise a bushing and a spring pin assembly, respectively.

9. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein each of the pair of support legs includes a pair of mating tubular portions.

10. Apparatus in accordance with claim 9, wherein the pair of mating tubular portions includes an inner tube at the upper portion and an outer tube at the lower portion.

11. Apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the height adjustment mechanism includes a connection region having a first connection portion and a second connection portion.

12. Apparatus in accordance with claim 11, wherein the first connection portion includes a first bushing and spring pin assembly, and wherein the second connection portion includes a second bushing and spring pin assembly.

13. Apparatus comprising: a guard assembly including a pane, a frame substantially surrounding the pane, and the guard assembly having a top portion and a bottom portion in opposition to one another, lateral portions extending between the top portion and the bottom portion; a pair of adjustable connectors attached to each one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly; a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with the guard assembly at the pair of adjustable connectors, wherein the legs are configured for adjustment between a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the pane of the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the pane of the guard assembly.

14. Apparatus in accordance with claim 13, wherein the pane comprises a transparent material.

15. Apparatus in accordance with claim 14, wherein the transparent material includes one selected from the group consisting of acrylic and glass.

16. Apparatus in accordance with claim 15, wherein the frame comprises a channeled tubular frame.

17. Apparatus in accordance with claim 16, wherein the channeled tubular frame is aluminum tubing.

18. Apparatus in accordance with claim 13, wherein the frame is configured to completely surround the pane.

19. Apparatus in accordance with claim 13, further comprising a pair of connectors attached to each one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly, respectively, wherein the pair of support legs are in adjustable connection with the guard assembly with the pair of connectors.

20. Apparatus in accordance with claim 19, wherein the pair of connectors each comprise a bushing and a spring pin assembly, respectively.

21. A method of using a sneeze guard, the method comprising: adjusting a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with a guard assembly from a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the guard assembly; and adjusting a height adjustment mechanism of each one of the support legs to selectively adjust a length between an upper portion and a lower portion of each one of the support legs so as to selectively adjust a height from a top portion of the guard assembly to the lower portion of each one of the support legs.

22. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein the adjusting the pair of support legs includes rotating an upper portion of each one of the support legs within respective ones of a pair of adjustable connectors attached to the guard assembly.

23. A method in accordance with claim 21, wherein the adjusting the height adjustment mechanism includes selectively repositioning a first bushing and spring pin assembly of a first connection portion and a second bushing and spring pin assembly of a second connection portion of the pair of support legs, respectively.

24. A method of using a sneeze guard, the method comprising: adjusting a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with a guard assembly from a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the guard assembly.

25. A method in accordance with claim 24, wherein the adjusting the pair of support legs includes rotating an upper portion of each one of the support legs within respective ones of a pair of adjustable connectors attached to the guard assembly.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This patent application claims the benefit of pending prior U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/850,940, filed Oct. 11, 2006, by Sydney W. Baumgartner for SNEEZE GUARD, which patent application is hereby incorporated herein.

BACKGROUND

Sneeze guards are typically used in conjunction with food buffets and the like found in banquet halls, convention centers, country clubs, night clubs, restaurants and other institutions.

Compliance with food service health and safety codes requires a barrier or shield between a customer and the food served by a restaurant or other food service institution. In order to comply with such codes, a variety of sneeze guards currently exist. However, these sneeze guards generally have several problems.

First, efficient utilization of floor space often requires set up and tear down of food buffets and similar other food serving areas on a frequent basis. Conventional barriers pose several problems in this regard. Foremost, it is difficult for a single person to efficiently set up or tear down a conventional serving line comprising several sneeze guards. Most prior sneeze guards have been rigid, cumbersome devices, sometimes with lights and/or a counter attached. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,082,334, 4,013,880 and 3,847,250. Also, as a result of being cumbersome, prior art sneeze guards have been prone to being scratched and broken as they are carried from a storage area to a serving line.

The typical guards for a large establishment can also require extensive and valuable storage space, as they are not foldable or stackable. Furthermore, many guards are, constructed such that the barrier shield may not readily be removed for cleaning or replacement thereof. Sneeze guards are typically deficient in terms of portability, durability, efficiency, and attractiveness.

Another disadvantage of prior sneeze guards is the requirement for frontal support elements that can interfere with access to food by patrons or by personnel who continually restock the food items of a buffet. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,892,366 and 3,817,310.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In an embodiment, there is provided apparatus comprising a guard assembly including a pane, a frame substantially surrounding the pane, and the guard assembly having a top portion and a bottom portion in opposition to one another, and lateral portions extending between the top portion and the bottom portion; and a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with the guard assembly, each one of the support legs having an upper portion and a lower portion, the upper portion of each one of the support legs adjustably attached to one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly, respectively, and each one of the support legs including a height adjustment mechanism between the upper portion and the lower portion, so as to allow selective adjustment of a length between the upper portion and the lower portion of each of the support legs, and selective adjustment of a height from the top portion of the guard assembly to the lower portion of each one of the support legs.

In another embodiment, there is provided apparatus comprising a guard assembly including a pane, a frame substantially surrounding the pane, and the guard assembly having a top portion and a bottom portion in opposition to one another, lateral portions extending between the top portion and the bottom portion; a pair of adjustable connectors attached to each one of the lateral portions of the guard assembly; a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with the guard assembly at the pair of adjustable connectors, wherein the legs are configured for adjustment between a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the pane of the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the pane of the guard assembly.

In yet another embodiment, there is provided a method of using a sneeze guard, the method comprising adjusting a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with a guard assembly from a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the guard assembly; and adjusting a height adjustment mechanism of each one of the support legs to selectively adjust a length between an upper portion and a lower portion of each one of the support legs so as to selectively adjust a height from a top portion of the guard assembly to the lower portion of each one of the support legs.

In still another embodiment, there is provided a method of using a sneeze guard, the method comprising adjusting a pair of support legs in adjustable connection with a guard assembly from a closed position with each of the legs disposed substantially parallel with the guard assembly to an opened position with each of the legs disposed substantially perpendicular with the guard assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Illustrative embodiments of the invention are illustrated in the drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1-49 illustrate various embodiments of sneeze guards;

FIGS. 1-5 and 8-39 illustrate an exemplary embodiment of a sneeze guard;

FIGS. 6 and 46-49 illustrate another embodiment of a sneeze guard, which may be configured as a 14-inch stand; and

FIGS. 7 and 40-45 illustrate another embodiment of a sneeze guard, which may be configured as a 16-inch stand.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-5 illustrate an exemplary sneeze guard. FIGS. 8-39 illustrate various configurations and components of the sneeze guard shown in FIGS. 1-5. The sneeze guard shown includes a guard assembly A and a pair of legs J. In an embodiment, legs J may include a first portion C and second portion D for supporting guard A.

Leg portion C (which may also be referred to as upper portion C or inner tube C) may be foldable and detachable with respect to the guard assembly via locking spring-pin assemblies shown adjacent reference character B at each of the legs. Leg portion D (which may also be referred to as lower portion D) may include, but is not limited to, an outer tube D. The inner tube configuration of leg portion C and outer tube portion of leg portion D may be exchanged with one another.

The female parts of spring-pin assembly B may include a sleeve (also referred to as a connecting tube) shown adjacent reference character B welded to the side of the upper frame section for acceptance of leg portion C. Holes may be drilled into the rear and inner walls of each sleeve for acceptance of a spring-pin (the holes may be offset by 90 degrees). The upper ends of leg portion C may contain a spring-pin. A lower bushing and an upper bushing cap take up slack between the leg portion C and sleeve B and provides a smooth, reduced friction surface for insertion and rotation of the legs. The bushing cap also serves to cover the upper open end of sleeve B, the open end of tubular leg portion C, and weld lines between sleeves B and upper frame section.

In an embodiment, leg portion D (or second portion D) may be foldable and detachable with respect to leg portion C via locking spring-pin assemblies F and G. Locking spring-pin assembly F is disposed on the end of leg portion D for attachment to leg portion C. Locking spring-pin assembly G is disposed on the end of leg portion C for attachment to leg portion D. In an embodiment, locking spring-pin assemblies F and G may include similar configurations as spring-pin assembly B described above.

It should be appreciated that the height of first portion C and second portion D may be adjusted by repositioning locking spring-pin assemblies with respect to one another as shown between Position #1 in FIG. 3 and Position #2 in FIG. 4. Such adjustments changes the distance of a region E (which may be referred to a connection region E or an adjustment mechanism E).

In an embodiment, adjustment within region E may be configured to serve as an elevator to raise and extend the entire guard assembly. For example, this extensions may be a distance of four inches.

Guard A may include a pane housed in a channeled tubular frame. The channeled tubular frame may be constructed of aluminum tubing. The channeled tubular frame may have a diameter of approximately one inch (2.54 cm) and a length-wise channel approximately one-half inch (1.26 cm) deep and 5/16″ (0.8 cm) wide. For example, dimensions for the guard frame of 16½″ (42 cm) high and from four to six feet (122 to 183 cm) wide may be suitable for most uses.

In an embodiment, pane H may include an acrylic panel. Such an acrylic panel generally has the advantages of being light weight and shatterproof. In another embodiment, pane H may include glass or other transparent material.

The guard A, inner tube C, outer tube D, and other portions of the sneeze guard may be painted, treated or “powder coated” in a variety of colors.

In other embodiments, FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate sampler style stands with fixed legs that rotate. FIG. 6 may be a 14-inch stand, which is also shown in FIGS. 46-49. FIG. 7 may be a 18-inch stand, which is also shown in FIGS. 40-45.

In an embodiment, the pair of legs may have having a first portion and a second portion rotatably coupled to one another. The pair of legs may also include spring-pin assemblies for mounting the guard assembly on the legs. Each of the legs may also include spring-pin assemblies for mounting the first portion and the second portion to one another so as to allow independent pivoting each of the legs with respect to the guard assembly. In various embodiments, the legs may be rotated to either an open position (e.g., configuration for use) or closed position (e.g., configuration for storage).

The various embodiments of the sneeze guards are labor saving. For example, one person may quickly assemble a multitude of sneeze guards so as to erect a buffet or serving line. The sneeze guards may be constructed as light weight, yet durable. The sneeze guards may be quickly folded for ease of portability or storage.

In addition, sneeze guards may be used individually, side by side, or back to back in an attractive manner. In one embodiment, support legs sweep back and away from the access side of the sneeze guards, thereby eliminating bothersome frontal support members. For cleaning or replacement, sneeze guards may include a removable guard assembly or barrier shield.