Title:
Universal headrail and drive system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mounting and drive system for a window covering is provided. The mounting and drive system has an elongated body that has a first end and a second end and is configured to releasably retain a window covering that has window covering material connected to a rotating element such that rotation of the element raises or lowers the window covering material. A drive mechanism is permanently attached to one end of the elongated body. The drive mechanism is configured to be releasably coupled to the rotating element of the window covering such that the drive mechanism can turn the element to raised or lower the shade.



Inventors:
Pon, David (Tustin, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/732525
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/04/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
160/166.1
International Classes:
B65H75/48
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
CARDENAS-GARCIA, JAIME F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCHANAN INGERSOLL & ROONEY PC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A mounting and drive system for a window covering comprising: an elongated body, the elongated body having a first end and a second end, the elongated body sized and configured to releasably retain a window covering of a type having a rotating element which is turned to raise and lower window covering material; and a drive mechanism, the drive mechanism being permanently attached to the first end of the elongated body, the drive mechanism being configured to be releasably coupled to the rotating element of the window covering such that the drive mechanism can turn the rotating element when the rotating element is coupled to the drive mechanism.

2. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 wherein the drive mechanism is further comprised of a drive device selected from the group consisting of a loop cord drive, a motor, and a crank operated drive.

3. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 further comprising at least one mounting device being connected to at least one of the elongated body and the drive mechanism.

4. The mounting and drive system of claim 3 wherein the at least one mounting device is a bracket or clip.

5. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 wherein the elongated body has at least one of at least one recess and at least one shoulder sized to receive a portion of a cartridge shade.

6. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 further comprising a sidewall, the sidewall being attached to the second end of the elongated body.

7. The mounting and drive system of claim 6 wherein the sidewall has at least one recess sized to receive a portion of the window covering.

8. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 wherein the drive mechanism has a bore of a polygonal shape sized to receive the rotating element of the window covering.

9. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 further comprising a cartridge shade, the cartridge shade being comprised of a headrail, a window covering material connected to the headrail, and a lift mechanism for raising and lowering the window covering material, the lift mechanism being comprised of lift cords wound about a shaft, the lift cords being connected to the window covering material, the shaft of the lift mechanism being connected to the headrail of the cartridge shade, the headrail of the cartridge shade being releasably coupled to the elongated body, and the shaft of the lift mechanism being releasably coupled to the drive mechanism such that the cartridge shade is removable from the elongated body.

10. The mounting and drive system of claim 9 wherein the cartridge shade is a window covering selected from the group consisting of roman shades, pleated shades, cellular shades, roll-up shades, venetian blinds, and mini blinds.

11. The mounting and drive system of claim 9 also comprising a spring loaded coupler connected between the shaft of the lift mechanism.

12. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 further comprising a cartridge shade, the cartridge shade being comprised of a window covering material wound on a roller, the roller having a stub shaft extending from an end of the roller, the roller being releasably coupled to the elongated body, the stub shaft being releasably coupled to the drive mechanism such that the cartridge shade is removable from the elongated body.

13. The mounting and drive system of claim 12 wherein the roller of the cartridge shade is a tubular roller.

14. The mounting and drive system of claim 1 wherein the elongated body is configured to releasably retain a window covering having a rotating element that is one of a roller, a tube, a shaft, and a shaft having a drum.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The invention relates to a mounting system that can receive and hold window coverings raised and lowered by lift cords and window coverings wound on a roller. The window blind may be a mini blind, a venetian blind, a pleated shade, a cellular shade, a roll-up shade, a roller shade, or a roman shade.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are a variety of window coverings in which window covering material extends from a headrail to a bottom rail and lift cords extend from the bottom rail past or through the window covering material into the headrail. The lift cords may pass through a cord lock to the exterior of the blind or they may be wound on an axle within the blind. For those window coverings in which the lift cords are wound on an axle, a drive system, typically a cord loop drive or a motor, are provided in the headrail to turn the axle. It is this type of lift system in which cords are wound on an axle with which the present invention is concerned. Such window coverings include venetian blinds, cellular shades, pleated shades, roman shades and roll-up shades.

In yet another type of window covering the window covering material is wound on a roller. In some window coverings, such as the common roller shade a spring is provided inside the roller. In other blinds the roller is mounted within a headrail and a drive system, typically a loop cord drive or a motor, is provided in the headrail to turn the roller. The present invention is also applicable to this latter type of window covering in which a roller is turned by a drive system.

Generally, these types of window coverings are mounted by attaching the headrail of the window covering to the face of the window frame, by attaching the headrail to an end mount on the inner walls of the window casing, by attaching the headrail to an overhead mount along the upper wall of the window casing, or by attaching the headrail to the ceiling adjacent to the window. Two or more brackets are typically used to mount the window covering to the window casing, ceiling or window frame. These brackets are almost always attached to the window frame or ceiling by screws. The headrail is then mounted on the brackets. In most window covering systems the headrail can be detached from the brackets so that the window covering can be taken down for cleaning. Such removal may require some skill and can be a two person job. When brackets are installed they are usually positioned and configured to receive a particular headrail. If one wished to replace a window covering, these brackets usually must be removed from the window frame and replaced with different brackets prior to mounting a new window covering. Because of these things homeowners and owners of commercial buildings do not often change window coverings. Once installed a window covering may stay in place for many years. There are many homes and offices in which the window coverings have been in place for ten and even twenty years.

Another factor which has discouraged the replacement of window coverings is that many window coverings are custom made for a particular window. There are, of course, many standard size windows and standard size blinds. However, people usually select blinds which match for a particular room, office or even an entire house or office building. Therefore, any change in window coverings can involve a replacement of several blinds. If any one of those blinds is a custom size, then the replacement process can be quite involved and require the service of a professional.

Most people purchase window coverings without ever seeing a sample of the purchased blind hanging from the purchaser's window opening prior to making a purchase. As a result, purchasers often make decisions without being able to sample and fully appreciate the different aesthetic effects the various available window coverings may have in the purchaser's room. Consequently, purchasers can purchase window coverings that are not fully satisfying to the purchaser or do not fully complement the desired interior design of the room in which the purchaser may mount the window covering. Should the customer return the blind the retailer or installer may incur significant costs in accepting the return and providing a replacement.

Many homeowners, as well as office workers, prefer to redecorate their homes and offices every few years. Most homeowners will decorate their houses for holidays, putting up and taking down decorations several times each year. Store owners frequently change window displays and often have signs in their windows. Window coverings having signs such as “CLOSED” and decorative window coverings have been available for many years. However because of the effort involved in replacing window coverings, decorating for holidays and redecorating projects seldom include changing window coverings.

Consequently, there is a need for a system that permits a homeowner, store keeper or office worker to install new or different window coverings without requiring significant amounts of time for moving the window covering or mounting the new window covering after dismounting the old window covering. Preferably, the system will permit any person of average do-it-yourself skills to easily replace window coverings and to move a window covering from one window to a different window. Ideally, the system would also permit a customer to obtain temporary window coverings that can be installed immediately and used until the desired window covering has been fabricated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

I provide a universal headrail or mounting having a drive system. This product has an elongated body and a drive mechanism permanently attached to the elongated body. The elongated body has a first end and a second end. The elongated body is sized and configured to releasably retain a window covering that has a rotating element that is turned to raise and lower window covering material. The drive mechanism is permanently attached to the first end of the elongated body and is configured to be releasably coupled to the rotating element of a window covering such that the drive mechanism can turn the rotating element when the rotating element extending from the element is coupled to the drive mechanism. The rotating element can be a roller, a shaft, a shaft having a drum for each lift cord shaft and other similar structures that rotate to raise and lower window covering material.

The drive mechanism can include a loop cord drive, a motor, or a crank operated drive. Preferably, the rotating element has a hexagonal cross-section or other polygonal shape and the drive mechanism has a bore of the same polygonal shape which receives the element. A sidewall may be attached to the second end of the elongated body. The sidewall may have a shoulder or recess that is sized to receive the opposite end of the shaft or roller.

The elongated body and attached drive mechanism are mounted to the window frame by brackets, a clips, or other mounting devices known to those skilled in the art.

The mounting and drive system can also include a cartridge shade that has a headrail, a window covering material connected to the headrail, and lift cords wound about an axle or shaft for raising and lowering the window covering material. The axle or shaft of the lift mechanism is connected to the headrail at one of the ends and is able to be connected to the drive mechanism at its opposite end. The headrail of the cartridge shade is releasably coupled to the elongated body and the shaft of the lift mechanism is releasably coupled to the drive mechanism such that the cartridge shade is removable from the elongated body.

In other embodiments, the mounting and drive system may further include a cartridge shade that has a window covering material wound on a roller that is releasably coupled to the elongated body. The roller has a stub shaft extending from one end of the roller that is releasably coupled to the drive mechanism such that the cartridge shade is removable from the elongated body. The roller can be solid or tubular.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a description of certain present preferred embodiments thereof and certain present preferred methods of practicing the same proceeds.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings I have shown certain present preferred embodiments of the invention and have illustrated certain present preferred methods of practicing the same.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first present preferred embodiment of my mounting and drive system.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of a first present preferred drive mechanism that can be permanently attached to the first end of the elongated body, with the elongated body and a portion of the drive mechanism shown in dotted lines.

FIG. 3 is an perspective view of a second present preferred drive mechanism that can be permanently attached to the first end of the elongated body of the first present preferred embodiment.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the third present preferred drive embodiment of my mounting and drive system.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a fourth present preferred embodiment.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a fifth present preferred embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 together with a cartridge shade of the type having a headrail and lift cords.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 7 illustrating a cartridge shade of the type having a roller about which window covering materials is wound.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

I provide a mounting and drive system such as is shown in FIGS. 1 through 8 and a cartridge shade such as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 which is received by the mounting and drive system. For purposes of describing the present invention, the term “cartridge shade” is used to refer to either or both of two types of window coverings. One type of cartridge shade has a headrail containing a shaft or axle on which lift cords are wound. The lift cords are wound or unwound about the shaft to raise or lower window covering material extending from the headrail. There is no mechanism in the headrail for turning the shaft or axle.

In those cartridge shades in which the window covering material is comprised of slats, as in venetian blinds or mini blinds, a tilt mechanism may be provided that permits a user to open or close shade elements or slats of the blind. In other cartridge shades having slats, the rotation of the shaft will tilt the shade elements as well as raise and lower the blind.

A second type of cartridge shade has a roller about which window covering material is wound and a stub shaft extending from at least one end of the roller. There is no spring within the roller or any other mechanism for turning the roller.

Cartridge shades may be roman shades, pleated shades, cellular shades, roll-up shades, venetian blinds, roller shades or mini blinds.

Referring to FIG. 1, a first present preferred embodiment has an elongated body 1 that has a first end 5 and a second end 6. A drive mechanism 3, which has a loop cord drive 4, is permanently attached to the first end 5 of the elongated body. The term, “permanently attached,” means that the drive mechanism is not removed or released from the elongated body when a window covering being retained by the elongated body is removed from the elongated body. For example, a drive mechanism that is connected to the first end of the elongated body by clips or snaps, can be “permanently attached” to the elongated body. Consequently, it should be understood that the drive mechanism does not have to be integrally formed with the elongated body for the drive mechanism to be “permanently attached” to the elongated body.

The elongated body 1 is sized and configured to releasably retain a cartridge shade. The drive mechanism 3 is configured to be releasably coupled to the rotating element of a cartridge shade such that the drive mechanism can turn the element when the element is coupled to the drive mechanism. The rotating element can be a roller, a tube, a shaft having a drum for each lift cord or any other similar structure that rotates to raise and lower window covering material. It should be noted that the elongated body may have various shapes and dimensions. For example, the elongated body can be a generally a U-shaped body as shown in FIG. 1 or L-shaped as shown in FIG. 4. The elongated body can also have other shapes and configurations that are capable of retaining a window covering. Furthermore, the elongated body and drive system could be integral portions of a window covering frame or door having a window.

The drive mechanism is configured to be releasably coupled to the rotating element of a window covering such that the drive mechanism can turn the rotating element of a window covering when the element is coupled to the drive mechanism in various ways. For example, the drive mechanism 3 can have a tube 8, as shown in FIG. 2. The tube 8 has a bore 14 that is sized to receive the shaft of a cartridge shade. The bore 14 faces towards the second end 6 of the elongated body such that the bore 14 can receive the shaft. When one end of the rotating element of a cartridge shade is within bore 14, the rotation of the tube 8 by the cord loop will cause the element to rotate. Depending on the direction in which the element is rotated, the window covering material of the window covering will either be raised or lowered. The size of tube 8 relative to the elongated body and other portions of the drive mechanism is larger than it would be in practice so the tube can be readily seen in the drawing.

Preferably, the rotating element or projection of the cartridge shades that may be retained by the elongated body will have a polygonal shape so that the bore 14 of the drive mechanism will also have a polygonal shape to retain the rotating element or projection. Of course, the bore and rotating element can have other cross-sectional shapes, such as a star, oval or even a toothed gear shape. In all cases, the bore 14 of the drive mechanism and the rotating element will have corresponding cross-sectional shapes enabling the cartridge shade to be releasably coupled to the drive mechanism.

The drive mechanism 3 does not have to be a loop cord drive. For example, the drive mechanism 3 can have a motor 17 with a bore 14, as illustrated in FIG. 3. When the motor 17 is activated, the motor rotates such that the bore 14 rotates. When the rotating element of a window covering is retained in the bore 14, the motor can cause the element to rotate, which can raise or lower the window covering material of the window covering. It should be understood that the motor could be activated by a remote control or by other mechanisms known to those skilled in the art. In a motorized system the cartridge shade likely would be configured so that a portion of the motor extends into the headrail.

The drive mechanism 3 can also include a crank drive 18, as shown in FIG. 4. The crank drive 18 has a crank 11 that has an upper portion 7, a cross bar portion 9, and a handle 10. The upper portion 7 of the crank is connected to the socket portion 29 of a coupling. The socket portion interlocks with one end 28 of the coupling 24. The opposite end 22 of the coupling holds gear 20 such that rotation of the crank 11 rotates gear 20. If this drive system is used, the rotating element of the cartridge shade may have a gear 21. Gear 20 has teeth that intermesh with the teeth of gear 21 so that rotation of gear 20 causes gear 21 to rotate the element (not shown).

This drive mechanism could also be configured so that the housing 23 of the drive system is configured to retain gear 21. In that event, gear 21 will have a bore 14 configured to receive the shaft of the cartridge shade. In this embodiment, the elongated body 1 to which the drive mechanism 3 is attached is L-shaped.

When a user turns handle 10 to rotate crank 11 in a first direction, the crank causes the socket portion 29 of the coupling to rotate the coupling 24. Rotation of the coupling 24 rotates gear 20, which causes gear 21 and bore 14 to rotate in a first direction. When a user rotates the crank 11 in a direction that is opposite the first direction, the crank causes the bore 14 and gear 21 to rotate in a second direction. Consequently, when the shaft of a shade is coupled to bore 14, the crank can be rotated to raise or lower the window covering material of the shade.

A sidewall 37 can also be attached to the second end 6 of the elongated body. The sidewall can be used to ensure that a window covering is retained by the elongated body in an aesthetically pleasing way by having a size and shape that is consistent with the structure of the drive mechanism 3 permanently attached to the opposite end of the elongated body. The sidewall 37 can have at least one recess 38 that is sized to receive a portion of a window covering, such as an end of a stub shaft extending from the rotating element of a cartridge shade or a projection extending from the headrail of another cartridge shade. The recess 38 helps ensure that the window covering is securely retained by the elongated body.

At least one mounting device 31 can be attached to the elongated body so that the elongated body may be easily mounted to a window opening. The mounting devices can be brackets, clips, screws or other devices. I prefer to use mounting brackets or mounting clips. The mounting devices can be positioned in specific locations along the elongated body to provide maximum support. The mounting devices can be located on the back or ends of the elongated body. The mounting devices can also be attached to the sidewall or the drive mechanism.

Referring to FIG. 5, the elongated body may have at least one recess 26 that is configured to retain at least a portion of the window covering. For example, recesses 26 can be sized to mate with and releasably retain tabs, clips or projections extending from the headrail of a cartridge shade. When a window covering is retained by the recesses 26, a user can maneuver the window covering so that the window covering is released by the recesses. Some of the recesses 26 could be holes that are sized to let fasteners, such as screws, pass through the elongated body to mount the elongated body to a ceiling, the top jamb portion that defines the window opening, or a portion of a window framing system.

The elongated body may also have at least one shoulder 24, as illustrated in FIG. 6 that receives the bottom of the headrail of a cartridge shade. The shoulders 24 may be flanges or other projections that are sized to engage mating recesses, brackets, or other fastening apparatus on or in the headrail of a cartridge shade to releasably retain the cartridge shade.

A cartridge shade 19 can also be releasably coupled to the elongated body 1 by inserting the rotating element 12 of the cartridge shade into the drive mechanism 3 and supporting the headrail on the elongated body 1, as illustrated in FIG. 7. The cartridge shade 19 has a headrail 60 and a window covering material 61 connected to the headrail. The cartridge shade has a lift mechanism that has a rotating element, or shaft 12, on which lift cords are wound. A spring loaded coupler 39 is provided within the headrail and is connected to one end of the shaft 12. A stub shaft 12a extends from the coupler 39 out one end of the headrail. When the stub shaft is inserted into bore 14 of the drive mechanism 3 the coupler 39 allows the stub shaft to retract into the headrail. When the cartridge shade is coupled to the drive mechanism, the headrail 60 is retained by the elongated body 1. Some types of cartridge shades may have a clutch (not shown) in the headrail 60.

It should be understood by those skilled in the art that the cartridge shade 19 can also have projections or coupling devices that extend from the cartridge shade that are configured to releasably couple the headrail to the elongated body. Such coupling devices can work in combination with the bore of the drive mechanism to ensure the cartridge shade is consistently retained by the elongated body when the rotating element of the cartridge shade is coupled to the bore of the drive mechanism.

The cartridge shade 19 shown in FIG. 7 is the type in which lift cords are wound about an axle or shaft to raise the window covering material. This type of shade includes venetian blinds, min-blinds, pleated shades, cellular shades, roman shades and roll-up shades. However, the present invention is not limited to this type of shade.

In FIG. 8 the mounting and drive system is shown with the type of window covering 62 that is wound on a roller 64. A stub shaft 66 extends from one end of the roller and is inserted into the drive system 3.

It should be readily apparent from FIGS. 7 and 8 that the user of the present invention can select from a variety of window coverings, ranging from venetian blinds to roller shades, as the cartridge shade. Further, the purchaser may obtain temporary shades that may be releasably retained in the mounting and drive system. Further, the purchaser may obtain temporary shades that may be releasably retained in the mounting and drive system. More specifically, the mounting and drive system enables the owner to easily and quickly remove and replace window coverings in his or her home or office. Consequently, a home owner may easily move cartridge shades from one room to another room having the same size windows. Shades with holiday themes or decorations can be readily installed when a holiday season beings and removed when the season ends.

Yet, another advantage of the present invention is that the owner of the present mounting and drive system can easily buy replacement blinds by just knowing the size, serial number or perhaps model number of the mounting and drive system that she has. It is not necessary to measure the window opening or install new brackets when buying and installing replacement shades.

While I have shown and described certain present preferred embodiments of the invention and have illustrated certain present preferred methods of practicing the same, it is to be distinctly understood that the invention is not limited thereto but may be otherwise variously embodied and practiced within the scope of the following claims.