Title:
Towel holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A towel holder has at least one bracket, a first towel bar, and a movable second towel bar, such that when a towel is threaded around the first towel bar and the second towel bar, the towel is retained in a generally fixed position relative to the towel holder.



Inventors:
Brinson, Garland R. (Burleson, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/605708
Publication Date:
05/29/2008
Filing Date:
11/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K10/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030196977Rotating, DVD, VCR, and video game display holderOctober, 2003John Jr.
20100044326METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DISPLAYING AND SELLING PRODUCTSFebruary, 2010Meyer-hanover et al.
20080308511Bra organizer and protectorDecember, 2008Ruelas
20090084739Gas cylinder containment systemApril, 2009Shock et al.
20030070998Bathroom utensil holder with magnetic capApril, 2003Bulka
20070108148Full hard steel storage organizer componentsMay, 2007Stitchick et al.
20100000952DECKING MEMBERJanuary, 2010Mckinney et al.
20070241070Wall mounted merchandising systemOctober, 2007Maheu et al.
20070210024Adjustable organizer for placement in a motor vehicleSeptember, 2007Haake
20030024892Banner display deviceFebruary, 2003Macsenti
20080210651Stepless shelf adjusting structure for rackSeptember, 2008Chen



Primary Examiner:
KRYCINSKI, STANTON L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF JAMES E. WALTON, PLLC (BURLESON, TX, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A towel holder, comprising: at least one bracket; a first towel bar coupled to the at least one bracket; and a second towel bar operably associated with the first towel bar, the second towel bar being moveable relative to the first towel bar between a first position generally adjacent to the first towel bar and a second position spaced apart from the first towel bar; wherein, the first towel bar and the second towel bar impart a gripping force on a towel when the towel is wrapped around the first towel bar and the second towel bar.

2. The towel holder according to claim 1, further comprising: two opposing brackets; and a groove disposed on an inner portion of each bracket, the grooves being adapted to receive the ends of the second towel bar; wherein the second towel bar is slidingly movable within the grooves relative to the first towel bar.

3. The towel holder according to claim 2, further comprising: a spring operably associated with the second towel bar, the spring being configured to bias the second towel bar toward the first towel bar.

4. The towel holder according to claim 3, further comprising: a retaining means for releasably retaining the second towel bar in a position spaced away from the first towel bar.

5. The towel holder according to claim 3, wherein the spring pushes the second towel bar toward the first towel bar.

6. The towel holder according to claim 3, wherein the spring pulls the second towel bar toward the first towel bar.

7. The towel holder according to claim 1, further comprising: an extension rod disposed at each end of the second towel bar, each extension rod being pivotally coupled to a bracket, whereby the second towel bar pivots relative to the brackets.

8. The towel holder according to claim 7, wherein the pivotal motion of the second towel bar is restricted by contact with the first towel bar.

9. The towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the first towel bar is a straight rod and the second towel bar is a straight rod.

10. The towel holder according to claim 1, wherein the first towel bar has a generally circular shape and the second towel bar has a generally circular shape.

11. A towel holder, comprising: a bracket member; a first towel ring coupled to the bracket member; and a second towel ring operably associated with the first towel ring, the second towel ring being pivotally movable relative to the first towel ring between a first position generally adjacent to the first towel ring and a second position spaced apart from the first towel ring; wherein, the first towel ring and the second towel ring impart a gripping force on a towel when the towel is wrapped around the first towel ring and the second towel ring.

12. The towel holder according to claim 11, wherein the second towel ring is disposed behind the first towel ring.

13. The towel holder according to claim 11, further comprising: a connector for coupling the second towel ring to the first towel ring.

14. The towel holder according to claim 13, wherein the connector attaches to the first towel ring by clipping on to the first towel ring.

15. The towel holder according to claim 13, wherein the first towel ring passes through apertures in the connector.

16. A towel holder, comprising: a pair of brackets; a first towel bar extending between the brackets; a second towel bar slidingly carried by the brackets, the second towel bar having means for retaining the second towel bar in proximity to the brackets.

17. The towel holder according to claim 16, wherein the means for retaining the second towel bar in proximity to the brackets is upper extension portions and lower extension portions, the upper extension portions being disposed above the brackets and the lower extension portions being disposed below the brackets.

18. The towel holder according to claim 16, wherein the upper extension portions and the lower extension portions all extend beyond the brackets.

19. The towel holder according to claim 16, wherein the length of the second towel bar is adjustable.

20. The towel holder according to claim 19, wherein the second towel bar is an adjustable, spring-loaded, telescoping bar.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to towel holders.

2. Description of Related Art

Most towel holders are comprised of a single bar attached to brackets at either end of the towel bar. A towel is hung over the bar, draping both in front of and behind the bar. Friction and gravity hold the towel in place over the bar. If too much of the weight of the towel is distributed on one side of the bar, the towel will slide off of the bar onto the counter or floor beneath the towel rack.

Often, users desire to have the towel remain in a fixed place over the bar. This is particularly true when the towel is serving a primarily decorative purpose. Unfortunately, conventional towel racks have no means for maintaining the towel in a fixed place. Thus, when the towel becomes twisted, crooked, or misaligned, the decorative appeal is lost.

In other instances, users desire to maintain the towel on the bar, even when the towel is being used. This is particularly true with small children who often have difficulty reaching the towel rack to hang the towel back up, or who occasionally forget to hang the towel back up. But again, conventional towel racks have no means of maintaining the towel in a fixed position on the towel rack.

Although great strides have been made in the area of towel holders, many shortcomings remain.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an oblique view of the preferred embodiment of a towel holder.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the towel holder of FIG. 1 taken at II-II.

FIG. 3 is a side view of a bracket of the towel holder, according to an alternate embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a side view of a bracket of the towel holder, according to another alternate embodiment.

FIG. 5 is an oblique view of a towel holder, according to another alternate embodiment.

FIG. 6A is an oblique view of an alternate embodiment of a towel holder.

FIG. 6B is a front view of the towel holder of FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7 is a front view of another alternate embodiment of a towel holder.

FIG. 8 is a front view of another alternate embodiment of a towel holder.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1 in the drawings, the preferred embodiment of a positive-grip towel holder 100 is illustrated. Towel holder 100 is configured and adapted to retain a towel 112 in a fixed position relative to towel holder 100. Towel holder 100 comprises an optional back portion 102, a pair of brackets 104, a first towel bar 106 extending between brackets 104, a groove 108 on the inner portion of each bracket 104, and a movable second towel bar 110. First towel bar and Second towel bar 110 is configured to be slidingly received in grooves 108. In the preferred embodiment, second towel bar has a generally square or rectangular cross-sectional area. This reduces the amount of rotation of second towel bar within grooves 108. The height of second towel bar 110 is smaller than the height of grooves 108, thus allowing second towel bar 110 to move back and forth within grooves 108, as indicated by arrows A. In an alternate embodiment, second towel bar 110 may include tab portions that extend axially outward from each end of second towel bar 110 and slidingly mate with grooves 108. These tab portions allow grooves 108 to be smaller in width than second bar 110.

Although first towel bar 106 and second towel bar 110 have been shown in FIG. 1 as having generally rectangular cross-sectional shapes, it should be understood that first towel bar 106 and second towel bar 110 may have other cross-sectional shapes. Likewise, although brackets 104 have been shown as simple T-shaped bracket, it should be understood that brackets 104 may take on a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that brackets 104 may be directly attached to a wall or other structure, thereby eliminating the need for back portion 102. This flexibility in the shape and configuration of the various components of towel holder 100 allows towel holder 100 to be produced in a wide variety of decorative styles.

When towel 112 is placed on towel holder 100 as shown in FIG. 1, movable second towel bar 110 moves toward first towel bar 106 in response to forces applied to towel 112, thereby compressing towel 112 between first towel bar 106 and second towel bar 110. This compression retains towel 112 in a fixed position relative to towel holder 100. In the depicted example, towel 112 is hung on towel holder 100 such that a small portion of towel 112 hangs from the front side of first towel bar 106. The rest of towel 112 passes between the back side of first towel bar 106 and the front of second towel bar 110. Towel 112 then passes upward on the backside of second towel bar 110 and loops over both second towel bar 110 and first towel bar 106, with the remaining portion of towel 112 hanging down from towel holder 100. Thus, when any downward force, as indicated by arrow B, or outward force, as indicated by arrow C, is applied to towel 112, the force causes second towel bar 110 to be moved closer to first towel bar 106, causing towel 112 to be gripped firmly. This pinning or trapping of towel 112 between second towel bar 110 and first towel bar 106 provides sufficient grip to prevent towel 112 from being pulled off of first towel bar 106. It should be understood that other draping configuration may also be used that provide the same results.

Referring now to FIG. 2 in the drawings, a cross-sectional view taken at II-II of FIG. 1 is illustrated. As is shown, in the preferred embodiment, groove 108 is recessed within bracket 104 and ends flush against first towel bar 106. This allows second towel bar 110 to move as close as possible to first towel bar 106, thereby providing as much grip as possible on towel 112.

Referring now to FIG. 3 in the drawings, an alternate embodiment of bracket 104 is illustrated. FIG. 3 represents a cross-sectional view taken at II-II of FIG. 1 for this alternate embodiment. In this embodiment, a spring member 120 biases second towel bar 110 toward first towel bar 106 by pushing against second towel bar 110, thereby providing more grip for holding towel 112. An optional retaining means, such as notch 122 in groove 108, may be included to retain second towel bar 110 while towel 112 is loaded. Thus, a user may push second towel bar 110 away from first towel bar 106 such that second towel bar 110 slides into notch 122, thereby retaining second towel bar 110 in an “open” position in which towel 112 may be draped over towel holder 100 as described in FIG. 1. Once towel 112 has been placed in the desired position, second towel bar 110 is released from notch 122, thereby allowing spring 120 to bias second towel bar 110 into a “closed” position, in which second towel bar 110 is biased toward first towel bar 106, thereby gripping towel 112 between first towel bar 106 and second towel bar 110.

Referring now to FIG. 4 in the drawings, another alternate embodiment of bracket 104 is illustrated. FIG. 4 represents a cross-sectional view taken at II-II of FIG. 1 for this alternate embodiment. This embodiment is similar to the embodiment of FIG. 3, with the exception that spring member 120 biases second towel bar 110 toward first towel bar 106 by pulling on second towel bar 110. As with the embodiment of FIG. 3, recessed portion 122 may be included for releasably retaining second towel bar 110.

Referring now to FIG. 5 in the drawings, another alternate embodiment of bracket 104 is illustrated. FIG. 5 represents a cross-sectional view taken at II-II of FIG. 1 for this alternate embodiment. In this embodiment, second towel bar 110 includes an extension rod 130 on each end of second towel bar 110. Each extension rod 130 extends back to a pivot pin 132 operably associated with bracket 104. This allows second towel bar 110 to pivot relative to brackets 104 in the direction indicated by arrow D. As shown in FIG. 5, extension rods 130 are preferably sized and dimensioned such that second towel bar 110 is prevented from pivoting downward past first towel bar 106 by positive contact with first towel bar 106. However, it will be appreciated that other means for restricting the rotation of second towel bar 110 relative to first towel bar 106 may be used, including the use of tabs or dogs extending out from either first towel bar 106 or one or both of brackets 104.

In addition, it should be understood that in some applications it may be desirable to have second towel bar 110 pivot down below first towel bar 106. In other applications, positive contact between second towel bar 110 and first towel bar 106 is not necessary. In other embodiments, extension rods 130 may include additional means for biasing second towel bar 110 toward first towel bar 106, such as various types of spring members. In another alternate embodiment, extension rods 130 may include or otherwise function as cam members or counterweights operably associated with second towel bar 110. It should be understood that in certain embodiments second towel bar 110 may be pivotally fixed on one end, such that second towel bar 110 pivots relative to first towel bar 106.

Referring now to FIGS. 6A and 6B in the drawings, an alternate embodiment of towel holder 100 is illustrated. In this embodiment, a second towel bar 138 includes upper extension portions 140a and 140b that rest upon and slide along top surfaces 142a and 142b of brackets 104, respectively. Second towel bar 138 also includes lower extension portions 144a and 144b that engage lower surfaces 146a and 146b of brackets 104, respectively. Second towel bar 138 functions the same as second towel bar 110 with respect to securing towel 112. It will be appreciated that the length of upper extension portions 140a and 140b and of lower extension portions 144a and 144b may vary depending upon the application; however, it is preferred, but not mandatory, that upper extension portions 140a and 140b and lower extension portions 144a and 144b extend far enough outward to engage surfaces 142a, 142b, 146a and 146b of bracket 104. It should be understood that second towel bar 138, upper extensions 140a and 140b, and lower extensions 144a and 144b may be integrally formed together, or may be separate components that are secured together by suitable means.

The embodiment of FIGS. 6A and 6B is particularly well suited for use in a retro-fit application with an existing towel rack. It will be appreciated that the length of second towel bar may be adjusted by various means, including by having one or more telescoping sections, one or more spring-loaded telescoping sections, and other suitable means for adjustment the length of second towel bar 138. This adjustment feature allows a single adjustable second towel bar 138 to fit towel holders having a wide range of spacing between brackets 104.

Referring now to FIG. 7 in the drawings, an alternate embodiment of a towel holder 200 is illustrated. In this embodiment, towel holder 200 is in the general shape of a circular ring towel holder comprising a first towel ring 202, a second towel ring 204, and a bracket member 206. First towel ring 202 and second towel ring 204 are configured to pivot and otherwise move relative to bracket member 206 and to move independently relative to each other. Bracket member 206 may adapted for attachment to a wall or other support structure. As is shown, first towel ring 202 and second towel ring 204 are formed into generally circular shapes. However, it should be understood that first towel ring 202 and second towel ring 204 may be of any shape, may even have different shapes, and may form open or closed loops. It is preferred that first towel ring 202 have a broken circular shape. This allows for ease of assembly. However, although first towel ring 202 has been shown as a broken circular loop that passes through bracket member 206, it will be appreciated that first towel ring 202 does not have to pass through bracket member 206. Instead, first towel ring 202 and bracket member 206 may be molded as a single integral component. Bushings 208 may be used to prevent wear at the joints between first towel ring 202 and bracket member 206 and between second towel ring 204 and bracket member 206. As is shown, first towel ring 202 and second towel ring 204 may be offset from each other in various directions, and may overlap each other. With this configuration, a towel (not shown) may be draped over and between first towel ring 202 and second towel ring 204, thereby allowing towel holder 200 to grip the towel and maintain the towel in a generally fixed position on towel holder 200.

Referring now to FIG. 8 in the drawings, another alternate embodiment of a towel holder 300 is illustrated. In this embodiment, towel holder 300 is in the general shape of a circular ring towel holder comprising a first towel ring 302, a second towel ring 304, and a bracket member 306. Bracket member 306 may adapted for attachment to a wall or other support structure. As with the embodiment of FIG. 7, first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304 are configured to pivot and otherwise move relative to a bracket member 306 and to move independently relative to each other. As is shown, first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304 are formed into generally circular shapes. However, it should be understood that first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304 may be of any shape, and may even have different shapes. For example, first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304 may form D-shaped loops or may from open looped shapes, such a J-shaped hooks. It is preferred that first towel ring 302 have a broken circular shape. This allows for ease of assembly. However, although first towel ring 302 has been shown as a broken circular loop that passes through bracket member 306, it will be appreciated that first towel ring 302 does not have to pass through bracket member 306. Instead, first towel ring 302 and bracket member 306 may be molded as a single integral component. Bushings 308 may be used to prevent wear at the joints between first towel ring 302 and bracket member 306.

As is shown, second towel ring 304 is operably associated with and pivots about first towel ring 302 via a connector 310. Connector 310 is sized and shaped to span across bracket 306 and provide clearance between second towel ring 304 and bracket member 306 as necessary. Connector 310 is adapted to allow second towel ring 304 to be releasably and pivotally connected to either first towel ring 302 or bracket member 306. Connector 310 may be adapted to snap onto first towel ring 302, or connector 310 may include apertures through which first towel ring 302 passes. As is shown, first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304 may be offset from each other in various directions and may overlap each other. With this configuration, a towel (not shown) may be draped over and between first towel ring 302 and second towel ring 304, thereby allowing towel holder 300 to grip the towel and maintain the towel in a generally fixed position on towel holder 300. It will be appreciated that the embodiment of FIG. 8 is particularly well suited as a retro-fit application on an existing towel holder, as second towel bar may be simply connected to either the towel ring, the bracket, or any other component of an existing towel holder.

It should be understood that towel holders 100, 200, and 300, and the individual components thereof, may be of any shape and size, and may be comprised of any appropriate material. Also, towel holders 100, 200, and 300, and the individual components thereof, may be of any color and may be shaped, configured, and ornamentally designed to be esthetically pleasing. Additionally, towel holders 100, 200, and 300, and the individual components thereof, may coated or otherwise treated, so as to resist or prevent damage or scratching. Furthermore, other types of materials may be hung on towel holders 100, 200, and 300, including but not limited to, wash cloths, linens, curtains, and clothing.

Towel holders 100, 200, and 300 provide significant benefits and advantages, including: (1) providing a positive gripping force for retaining a towel on a towel holder; and (2) providing a retro-fit application for use with existing towel holders. Although towel holders 100, 200, and 300 have been shown in a limited number of forms, towel holders 100, 200, and 300 are not limited to just these forms, but are amenable to various changes and modifications without departing from the spirit thereof. The description of towel holders 100, 200, and 300 has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, and is not intended to be exhaustive or limited to the form disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of towel holders 100, 200, and 300, the practical applications thereof, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand the various embodiments and the various modifications that are suited to particular uses contemplated.