Title:
DISHWASHER TINE, TINE EXTENDER AND RACK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided in one embodiment of the invention a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, where the dishwasher rack has at least one receiving element for receiving the dishwasher tine and where the tine comprises an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, such that the first end has a securement means for securely attaching the tine to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack, and such that the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. In another embodiment of the invention there is provided a dishwasher rack for use in an automatic dishwasher, where the dishwasher rack has a plurality of spaced receiving elements for receiving a plurality of corresponding removable dishwasher tines. The tines each comprise an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, where the first end has a securement means for securely attaching each tine to the receiving element, such that the dishwasher tines can be arranged to securely hold objects in the dishwasher rack.



Inventors:
Richardson, Margaret A. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/197008
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
08/22/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karin E. Peterka, Attorney at Law (Altadena, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, wherein the dishwasher rack has at least one receiving element for receiving the dishwasher tine, the tine comprising an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching the tine to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means.

2. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the elongated tube is rigid and securely attached to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack in an upright position.

3. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the elongated tube is flexible and securely attached to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack.

4. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the elongated tube is flexible, and wherein the second end has a securement means, such that the second end is adapted to removably attach to a second receiving element of the dishwasher rack.

5. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the securement means comprises any one of the group of thread and screw portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, plug and socket portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, and spring lock portions.

6. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the adjusting means comprises any one of the group of thread and screw portions, telescoping portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, plug and socket portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, and spring lock portions.

7. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the second end has at least one gripping means for gripping a portion of the object.

8. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the tine has a decorative element coupled to the tine.

9. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 wherein the elongated tube is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled.

10. The dishwasher tine of claim 1 further comprising additional elongated tubes and a flexible sheet connected between the elongated tubes.

11. A dishwasher rack for use in an automatic dishwasher, wherein the dishwasher rack has a plurality of spaced receiving elements for receiving a plurality of corresponding removable dishwasher tines, the tines each comprising an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching each tine to the receiving element, such that the dishwasher tines can be arranged to securely hold objects in the dishwasher rack.

12. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the dishwasher rack is removable from the automatic dishwasher.

13. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the dishwasher tines are securely attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack in an upright position.

14. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the dishwasher tines are flexible and securely attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack.

15. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the securement means comprises any one of the group of thread and screw portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, plug and socket portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, and spring lock portions.

16. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the dishwasher tines are of varying heights.

17. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the second end has at least one gripping means for gripping a portion of the object.

18. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein the elongated tube is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled.

19. The dishwasher rack of claim 11 wherein one or more of the dishwasher tines has at least one decorative element coupled to the tine.

20. A removable dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, the extender comprising: an elongated telescoping tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the tube can be extended in a telescoping configuration to extend the height of the dishwasher tine.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of published U.S. utility publication number US 2008/0156750 A1, application Ser. No. 11/646,788, filed Dec. 28, 2006, entitled “Dishwasher Tine Extender”, currently pending, and which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

a. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of a dishwasher tine, tine extender and rack for an automatic dishwasher are provided. More particularly, an adjustable-height dishwasher tine and tine extender and a fixed height dishwasher tine and tine extender for protecting and supporting a variety of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware within an automatic dishwasher, as well as a dishwasher rack for use with embodiments of said tines and tine extenders, are provided.

b. Background Art

Automatic dishwashers, particularly those designed for home use, accomplish the washing and rinsing of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, stemware, and the like, by spraying pressurized streams of water mixed with a detergent over the dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. Such streams of water are often powerful, so as to forcefully spray dishware, glassware, serving-ware, plasticware, and stemware to dislodge encrusted food and beverage particles. However, the powerful water pressure can upset light items, such as crystal glassware or plasticware, and especially items with a high center of gravity, like stemware, where a large portion of the weight of the item may be in its base and its stem rather than in the liquid retaining bowl. Thus, these items may get dislodged from the dishwasher rack and may break. Ordinary glassware may be broken by collision, causing inconvenience to the user. Moreover, when fine china or crystal is subjected to pressurized water, often irreplaceable dishware of greater personal value may be ruined. In addition, if stemware or glassware is lying on its side, the cup of the stemware or glassware may collect a pool of dirty dishwasher water that would then require that the stemware be hand washed. These occurrences decrease the utility of the dishwasher.

Dishware and stemware protectors for automatic dishwashers are known. Such known dishware and stemware protectors include a separating device with longitudinal slots and perforated web sheets, such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,635,799. However, this separating device is limited in where it can be positioned and attached to the dishwasher rack due to its size and shape. In addition, a known dishwasher rack clip for mounting in a dishwasher rack to hold objects to be washed is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,827,225. However, this known clip is not designed to attach over a dishwasher tine to extend the dishwasher tine. In addition, a known dishwasher accessory for securing and supporting stemware in a dishwasher rack is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,394,285. However, this known accessory has an elongated member that is not designed to protect and support plateware, dishware or plasticware due to its fixed horizontal position. Thus, known dishware and stemware protector devices have not proven practical in application or are widely adaptable to different shapes of dishware and designs of dishwasher racks.

In addition, dishwasher racks for automatic dishwashers are known. Such dishwasher racks typically have fixed, non-removable, and inflexible dishwasher tines formed in a unitary configuration with the rack. Thus, such racks with such fixed, non-removable, and inflexible dishwasher tines are limited in their ability to protect and support a variety of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware within an automatic dishwasher. Moreover, such dishwasher racks cannot accommodate a variety of removable tines of different lengths and configurations.

Accordingly, there is a need for a new and improved dishwasher tine, tine extender and rack that does not have the problems associated with known dishware and stemware protector devices and known dishwasher racks and tines.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The need for a new and improved dishwasher tine, tine extender and rack is satisfied. None of the known devices provide all of the numerous advantages discussed herein. Embodiments of the improved dishwasher tine extender may provide one or more of the following advantages: it is simple and economical to manufacture, use and maintain; it is durable and provides a long service life; in an embodiment it is easily attached to and removed from a standard dishwasher tine; it provides for the use of a variety of interchangeable dishwasher tine extender designs, such as adjustable-height, hinged, flexible, rigid, flexible double-sided, center mounted, side grip, side cap, suction cup ended, and other designs; it holds dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware securely in an upright position; it is securely mounted on a dishwasher tine to provide stability and lateral support for dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware; it is quick and easy to install; it prevents or minimizes stemware and glassware from tipping, cracking, and breaking, or ending up on their side full of dirty dishwasher water; it occupies minimal space inside a dishwasher; in an embodiment it is removable from the dishwasher when not in use; it provides in an embodiment a one piece, unitary design; it provides in an embodiment a stemware grip portion for added securement to stemware; and in an embodiment it may be easily stored within an automatic dishwasher or removable from the automatic dishwasher when not in use. Embodiments of the improved dishwasher rack may provide one or more of the following advantages: it provides a unique dishwasher rack with a plurality of receiving elements for receiving and securing a variety of removable, adjustable-height and fixed-height dishwasher tines to protect and support a variety of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware within an automatic dishwasher; it provides a dishwasher rack that may be customized to accommodate a variety of different design options for including adjustable-height and fixed-height dishwasher tines of varying sizes and heights; it provides a dishwasher rack that may be fixed within or removable from an automatic dishwasher; it is simple and economical to manufacture, use and maintain; it increases space efficiency for a variety of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware within an automatic dishwasher; and, it is durable and provides a long service life. Embodiments of the improved dishwasher tine may provide one or more of the following advantages: it provides for a variety of removable adjustable-height and fixed-height tines that can be inserted into the various receiving elements of the dishwasher rack disclosed herein; it can be securely attached to the dishwasher rack disclosed herein to provide stability and lateral support for dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware; it is quick and easy to install; it is simple and economical to manufacture, use and maintain; it is easily attached to and removed from the dishwasher rack disclosed herein; and it can be repositioned in a variety of different ways and attached to any of the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack disclosed herein. Thus, it is the object of the invention to provide embodiments of a new device which has many of the advantages of prior art devices and many novel features which result in a new device that is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art devices, either alone or in any combination.

In one embodiment of the device there is provided a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, the extender comprising: an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a removable dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, the extender comprising: an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a fixed, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, the extender comprising: an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely and fixedly mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, wherein the dishwasher rack has at least one receiving element for receiving the dishwasher tine, the tine comprising an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching the tine to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a dishwasher rack for use in an automatic dishwasher, wherein the dishwasher rack has a plurality of spaced receiving elements for receiving a plurality of corresponding removable dishwasher tines, the tines each comprising an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching each tine to the receiving element, such that the dishwasher tines can be arranged to securely hold objects in the dishwasher rack.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a removable dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, the extender comprising: an elongated telescoping tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the second end can be extended in a telescoping configuration to extend the height of the dishwasher tine.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become better understood from the following description and appended claims and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments or versions of the present invention are shown in the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an open automatic dishwasher showing an embodiment of dishwasher tine extenders attached to tines of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective close-up view showing an embodiment of dishwasher tine extenders attached to tines of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a flexible dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a rigid dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a flexible double-sided dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to tines of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a center mount dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a side grip dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a side cap dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher;

FIG. 10 is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of FIG. 9 with a first portion in a semi-extended stage;

FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of FIG. 9 with a first portion in a fully extended stage;

FIG. 12 is a front perspective view of another embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher;

FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a hinged dishwasher tine extender attached to a tine of a dishwasher,

FIG. 14 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height hinged dishwasher tine extender of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher;

FIG. 15 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the hinged dishwasher tine extender of FIG. 13 with a stemware grip portion;

FIG. 16 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 15 with the stemware grip portion gripping a stemware;

FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 15 with the stemware grip portion hinged downwardly;

FIG. 18 is a front view of an embodiment of a stemware grip portion;

FIG. 19 is a front view of another embodiment of a stemware grip portion;

FIG. 20 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a dishwasher tine extender with a suction cup end portion;

FIG. 21 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of the dishwasher tine of FIG. 20 with the suction cup end portion attached to a stemware base;

FIG. 22 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of the dishwasher tine of FIG. 20 with the suction cup end portion attached to a glassware portion;

FIG. 23 is a front perspective view of a dishwasher tine extender with multiple suction cup end portions;

FIG. 24 is a front perspective view of an embodiment a dishwasher tine extender with a flexible sheet connected between multiple elongated, hollow tubes;

FIG. 25A is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender in a telescoping configuration;

FIG. 25B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of FIG. 25A in a semi-extended stage;

FIG. 25C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender of FIG. 25A in a fully extended stage;

FIG. 26A is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a plurality of adjustable-height dishwasher tines having a telescoping configuration and being fixedly attached to a dishwasher rack;

FIG. 26B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine of FIG. 26A in a semi-extended stage;

FIG. 26C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine of FIG. 26A in a fully extended stage;

FIG. 27 is a front perspective view of an open automatic dishwasher showing an embodiment of a dishwasher rack of the invention with dishwasher tines removably attached to receiving elements of the dishwasher rack;

FIG. 28 is a front perspective close-up view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 27 with dishwasher tines removably attached to receiving elements of the dishwasher rack;

FIG. 29 is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 27 with receiving elements and no dishwasher tines attached;

FIG. 30A is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a removable dishwasher tine and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element;

FIG. 30B is a front perspective view of another embodiment of a removable dishwasher tine and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element;

FIG. 30C is a front perspective view of yet another embodiment of a removable dishwasher tine and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element;

FIG. 31A is a front perspective close-up view of an embodiment of the dishwasher rack of the invention with receiving elements and no dishwasher tines attached;

FIG. 31B is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 31A with dishwasher tines of the same height removably attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack;

FIG. 31C is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 31A with dishwasher tines of varying heights removably attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack;

FIG. 32A is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine removably attached to a receiving element of an embodiment of the dishwasher rack of the invention;

FIG. 32B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine of FIG. 32A with a second portion in a semi-extended stage;

FIG. 32C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine of FIG. 32A with a second portion in a fully extended stage;

FIG. 33 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a first embodiment of a decorative element;

FIG. 34 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a second embodiment of a decorative element;

FIG. 35 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a third embodiment of a decorative element;

FIG. 36 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a fourth embodiment of a decorative element; and,

FIG. 37 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a fifth embodiment of a decorative element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to a unique, novel, and nonobvious dishwasher tine, tine extender and rack. In one embodiment, a dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack is provided. Preferably, the rack has a plurality of upstanding tines. With reference now to the drawings, FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an open automatic dishwasher 10 showing an embodiment of dishwasher tine extenders 12 attached to tines 14 of a dishwasher rack 16. Plates 18 are held in place by the dishwasher tine extenders 12. FIG. 2 is a front perspective close-up view showing an embodiment of dishwasher tine extenders 12 of FIG. 1 attached to tines 14 of a dishwasher rack 16. The dishwasher tine extender 12 comprises an elongated, hollow tube 20 with a first end 22 and a second end 24. Preferably, the tube is formed of an elastomeric material, vinyl, rubber, nylon, plastic, or coated metal. However, the tube may also be made of other suitable materials. The first end 22 has a securement means 26 adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine. Preferably, the securement means may comprise a suction type securement, an adhesive type securement, a snap fit type securement, a fitted bore type securement, or other suitable type securement means. Preferably, the dishwasher tine extender is removable from and attachable to the dishwasher tine. Preferably, the objects comprise dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. In one design of this embodiment, the elongated, hollow tube is rigid and securely mounted on the dishwasher tine in an upright position. Preferably, the tube in this embodiment is of a unitary, continuous configuration. FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a rigid dishwasher tine extender 28 of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack. In another design of this embodiment, the elongated, hollow tube is flexible and securely mounted on the dishwasher tine. FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a flexible dishwasher tine extender 30 of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack. The flexible dishwasher tine extender is preferably mounted onto the tine in an upright position and may be bent to the shape of various dishware or glassware to securely hold and support the dishware or glassware. FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a flexible double-sided dishwasher tine extender 32 of the invention attached to two tines 14 of a dishwasher rack. In this design, an elongated, hollow tube 34 is flexible, and has both a first end 36 having a first securement means 38 and a second end 40 having a second securement means 42, such that both the first end and the second end are adapted to receive a dishwasher tine 14. FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a center mount dishwasher tine extender 44 of the invention attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher rack. In this design, an elongated, hollow tube 46 has a center mounting portion 48 with a securement means 50 for securely mounting the extender to the dishwasher tine. Preferably, the center mounting portion is pressure fitted onto the dishwasher tine and the securement means comprises graduated ridges and/or a flexible interior wall within the hollow tube. FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a side grip dishwasher tine extender 52 of the invention attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher rack. In this design, the securement means comprises a side gripping means 54 attached to a side 56 of the first end 58 of the tube. The side gripping means may be in the form of a clamp, clip, hook, or latch. However, the side gripping means may also be in other suitable forms. FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a side cap dishwasher tine extender 60 of the invention attached to a tine of a dishwasher rack. In this design, the securement means comprises a side cap attachment means 62 attached to a side 64 of a first end 66 of the tube.

Another embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender is shown in FIG. 9. FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 68 of the invention attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher. In this embodiment, a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack is provided where the rack has a plurality of upstanding tines. The extender comprises an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. In the design of this embodiment as shown in FIG. 9, the elongated, hollow tube is height adjustable and comprises a first screw portion 70 and a second internally threaded portion 72. The second threaded portion 72 can be extended from the first screw portion 70 by twisting the second portion 72 away from the first portion 70. The height may be adjusted by rotating the second internally threaded portion away from the first screw portion. In an alternate design, the first portion may have resistance ridges and the second portion may be extended from the first portion by applying pressure on or to the resistance ridges and extending the second portion. FIG. 10 is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 68 of FIG. 9 with the second portion 72 in a semi-extended stage. FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 68 of FIG. 9 with the second portion 72 in a fully extended stage.

FIG. 12 is a front perspective view of another embodiment of an adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 74 of the invention attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher. In this design, the elongated, hollow tube is of an adjustable-height and comprises a first portion 76 that can be attachable to and detachable from a second portion 78 via an attachment element 80. Preferably, the attachment element comprises twist lock portions or a twist lock assembly. Preferably, the first portion has a series of openings 81 for receiving the attachment means to attach the second portion to the first portion. The attachment element may further comprise clamp lock portions or spring lock portions.

FIG. 20 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a dishwasher tine extender 82 with a gripping means 84 for gripping a portion of the object. The gripping means 84 is attached to a first end 86 of hollow tube 88. A second end 90 has securement means 92. Preferably, the gripping means is a suction cup end portion. FIG. 21 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of the dishwasher tine of FIG. 20 with the gripping means 84 in the form of a suction cup end portion attached to a base 94 of a stemware 96. FIG. 22 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of the dishwasher tine of FIG. 20 with the gripping means 84 in the form of a suction cup end portion attached to a side 98 of a glassware 100. FIG. 23 is a front perspective view of a dishwasher tine extender 102 having multiple gripping means 84. Preferably, the gripping means comprises a plurality of suction cups. Preferably, the gripping means secures the stemware, glassware, or dish-ware in a preferred cleaning orientation and is designed for detachable engagement with the stemware, glassware or dishware.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 13 which is a front view of an embodiment of a hinged dishwasher tine extender 104 attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher. This embodiment provides for a dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, where the extender comprises an elongated hinged tube 106 with a first end 108 having a securement means 110, a second end 112, and hinged portion 114. In this design, the hinged tube may be height adjustable. Preferably, the elongated tube is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled. That is, the hinged tube has multiple functions and maintains at least three positions-a vertical position for supporting and holding objects such as glassware, a horizontal position for supporting and holding objects such as stemware, and an angled position for supporting and holding objects such as plasticware. The securement means of the first end is adapted to receive a dishwasher tine 14, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine. Preferably, the objects comprise any one of the group of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. FIG. 14 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of an adjustable-height hinged dishwasher tine extender 116 of the invention attached to a tine 14 of a dishwasher. This design has a height adjustable element 118 for adjusting the height of the tine extender. FIG. 15 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a hinged dishwasher tine extender 104 of FIG. 13 with a stemware grip portion 120 formed in the second end 112 for gripping a stem of a stemware. Preferably, the second end of the hinged tube has a stemware grip portion to secure and hold the stem of a stemware. FIG. 16 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 15 with the stemware grip portion 120 gripping a stem 122 of a stemware 124. FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 15 with the stemware grip portion 120 hinged downwardly against a dishware 126. FIG. 18 is a front view of an embodiment of a stemware grip portion 128. FIG. 19 is a front view of another embodiment of a stemware grip portion 120 as shown in FIGS. 15-17.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 24, which is a front perspective view of an embodiment a dishwasher tine extender assembly 130 with a flexible sheet 132 connected between multiple elongated, hollow tubes 134. This embodiment provides for either a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender with additional elongated tubes and a flexible sheet connected between the elongated tubes, or a removable fixed-height dishwasher tine extender with additional elongated tubes and a flexible sheet connected between the elongated tubes. This embodiment provides for a dishwasher tine extender assembly for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack having a plurality of upstanding tines, where the extender comprises multiple, elongated, hollow tubes where each tube has a first end 136 and a second end 138. The first end has a securement means 140 adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine. Preferably, the flexible sheet comprises a plastic netting material. This embodiment provides for a flexible and customizable wall to protect and support non-linear dishware when the dishwasher tine extender is mounted vertically onto the dishwasher tine. Preferably, each end of the elongated, hollow tubes 134 has an entry or opening that allows for a double-sided securement of the tube to two dishwasher tines, and that allows the flexible sheet to be used in a horizontal position. Preferably, the objects comprise any one of the group of dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. The assembly acts to support in an upright position stemware and glassware with the bowl facing down into the flow of the stream of water and detergent typically directed upwardly from the water distribution means present in the automatic dishwasher.

In another embodiment, there is provided a fixed, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack, the rack having a plurality of upstanding tines similar to the extender shown in FIG. 9 and other Figures. The extender of this embodiment comprises an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely and fixedly mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. However, the extender of this embodiment is preferably retrofitted to existing dishwasher tines within the automatic dishwasher via an epoxy or secure gripping means or may be produced by an automatic dishwasher manufacturer as a new dishwasher rack with adjustable-height tines. The adjusting means of the extender may comprise thread and screw portions, resistance ridges such as in FIG. 9, twist lock portions such as in FIG. 12, clamp lock portions (not shown), or spring lock portions (not shown).

Another embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender is shown in FIGS. 25A-25C. In this embodiment of the device there is provided a removable dishwasher tine extender 142 for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack 16. FIG. 25A is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 142 attached to tine 14 of dishwasher rack 16. FIG. 25B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 142 of FIG. 25A in a semi-extended stage. FIG. 25C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 142 of FIG. 25A in a fully extended stage. In this embodiment, the removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 142 for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack is provided where the rack 16 has a plurality of upstanding tines 14. The dishwasher tine extender 142 comprises an elongated, hollow, telescoping tube 144 having a first end 146 and a second end 148, wherein the first end 146 has a securement means 150 adapted to receive a dishwasher tine, so that the extender is securely mounted on the dishwasher tine, and wherein the elongated tube can be extended in a telescoping configuration to extend the height of the dishwasher tine. In the design of this embodiment as shown in FIGS. 25A-25C, the elongated, hollow telescoping tube is height adjustable in a telescoped configuration that comprises a first portion 152, a second portion 154 that is telescoping, and a third portion 156 that is telescoping (see FIG. 25C). This embodiment may comprise one or more telescoping portions. The third portion 156 that is telescoping can be extended from the second portion 154 that is telescoping and can be moved into a secure, locked position, preferably by twisting or rotating the third portion 156. The second portion 154 that is telescoping can be extended from the first portion 152 and can be moved into a secure, locked position, preferably by twisting or rotating the second portion 154.

One of the embodiments of the dishwasher tines is shown in FIGS. 26A-26C. FIG. 26A is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a plurality of adjustable-height dishwasher tines 158 having a telescoping configuration and being fixedly attached to a dishwasher rack 160. FIG. 26B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tines 158 of FIG. 26A in a semi-extended stage. FIG. 26C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tines 158 of FIG. 26A in a fully extended stage. In this embodiment, a fixed, adjustable-height dishwasher tine extender 158 for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack is provided where the rack has a plurality of such tines 158. The tine 158 comprises an elongated telescoping tube 162 with a first end 164 and a second end 166, wherein the first end 164 is secured to the dishwasher rack 160 itself. Alternatively, the tine may be secured to an existing dishwasher tine or retrofitted into the dishwasher rack. Preferably, the elongated tube 162 is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. In the design of this embodiment as shown in FIGS. 26A-26C, the elongated tube is height adjustable in a telescoped configuration, such that the adjusting means comprises a first portion 168, a second portion 170 that is telescoping, and a third portion 172 that is telescoping (see FIG. 26C). This embodiment may comprise one or more telescoping portions. The third portion 172 that is telescoping can be extended from the second portion 170 that is telescoping and can be moved into a secure, locked position, preferably by twisting or rotating the third portion 172. The second portion 170 that is telescoping can be extended from the first portion 168 and can be moved into a secure, locked position, preferably by twisting or rotating the second portion 170.

In another embodiment of the invention there is provided a unique dishwasher rack for use in an automatic dishwasher. The dishwasher rack may be fixed to or removable from an automatic dishwasher. The dishwasher rack preferably has a plurality of spaced receiving elements for receiving and securing a plurality of corresponding removable dishwasher tines. The tines each comprise an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching each tine to the receiving element, such that the dishwasher tines can be arranged to securely hold objects in the dishwasher rack. Preferably, the objects comprise dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. Preferably, the securement means comprise thread and screw portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, spring lock portions, or another suitable securement means. The tines may be adjustable-height via an adjusting means or fixed in height. The adjusting means may comprise thread and screw portions, telescoping portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, plug and socket portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, spring lock portions, or another suitable adjusting means. FIG. 27 is a front perspective view of an open automatic dishwasher 174 showing an embodiment of a dishwasher rack 176 of the invention with an embodiment of dishwasher tines 178 removably attached to receiving elements 180 of the dishwasher rack. FIG. 28 is a front perspective close-up view of the dishwasher rack 176 of FIG. 27 with the dishwasher tines 178 removably attached to the receiving elements 180 of the dishwasher rack. Plates 18 are held in place by the dishwasher tines 178. Each tine 178 may comprise an elongated, hollow tube with a first end 181a and a second end 181b, where the first end is securely attached to the receiving element via any number of suitable securement means as discussed below. Preferably, the tine is formed of an elastomeric material, vinyl, rubber, nylon, plastic, or coated metal. However, the tube may also be made of other suitable materials. FIG. 29 is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack 176 of FIG. 27 showing the receiving elements 180 and no dishwasher tines attached. Preferably, the dishwasher rack is formed of a coated metal, metal, plastic, nylon or polymeric material. However, the rack may also be made of other suitable materials. The dishwasher tines may be securely attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack in an upright position or they may be flexible and securely attached to the receiving elements of the dishwasher rack. The dishwasher tines may be of varying heights or of the same height. In another embodiment the second end of one or more of the dishwasher tines may have at least one gripping means for gripping a portion of an object. Preferably, the gripping means is a suction cup. In another embodiment the elongated tube of the dishwasher tine is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled. Optionally, one or more of the dishwasher tines may have at least one decorative element coupled to the tine (see FIGS. 33-37). Preferably, the decorative element is coupled to or attached to the top of the dishwasher tine.

In another embodiment of the device there is provided a removable, adjustable-height dishwasher tine for holding objects in an automatic dishwasher rack. The dishwasher rack has at least one receiving element for receiving the dishwasher tine. The tine preferably comprises an elongated tube with a first end and a second end, wherein the first end has a securement means for securely attaching the tine to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. Preferably, the adjusting means comprises thread and screw portions, telescoping portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, snap fit portions, clamp lock portions, spring lock portions, or another suitable adjusting means. FIGS. 30A-30C show several embodiments of a removable dishwasher tine 182 and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element 184 in the dishwasher rack 176, where the tine 182 has a securement means comprising a male portion 186 that may be inserted into and attached to a female portion 188 in the rack receiving element 184. FIG. 30A is a front perspective view of one of the embodiments of dishwasher tine 182 and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element 184 with the securement means in a thread and screw type configuration. In this embodiment the male portion 186 comprises a screw portion 190 and the female portion 188 comprises an internally threaded portion 192. The tine 182 can be securely attached to the receiving element 184 by twisting the screw portion 190 into the internally threaded portion 192. FIG. 30B is a front perspective view of another embodiment of dishwasher tine 182 and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element 184 with the securement means in a plug and socket type configuration. In this embodiment the male portion 186 comprises a plug portion 194 and the female portion 188 comprises a socket or receptacle portion 196. The tine 182 can be securely attached to the receiving element 184 by inserting the plug portion 194 into the socket portion 196 and twisting the plug portion to securely lock the plug portion into the socket portion to securely lock the tine in place. FIG. 30C is a front perspective view of another embodiment of dishwasher tine 182 and corresponding dishwasher rack receiving element 184 with the securement means in a snap fit type configuration. In this embodiment the male portion 186 comprises a snap bead portion 198 and the female portion 188 comprises a snap lock portion 200. The tine 182 can be securely attached to the receiving element 184 by inserting and applying pressure to snap lock the snap bead portion 198 into the snap lock portion 200 to securely lock the tine in place. The securement means may comprise thread and screw portions, plug and socket portions, snap fit portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portions, clamp lock portions, spring lock portions, suction type securement, fitted bore type securement, or another suitable securement means. Preferably, the dishwasher tine is removable from and attachable to the receiving element in the dishwasher rack. The removable dishwasher tines are designed to securely hold and support objects in the dishwasher rack. Preferably, the objects comprise dishware, glassware, servingware, plasticware, and stemware. The elongated tube of the dishwasher tine may be rigid and securely attached to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack in an upright position or the elongated tube of the dishwasher tine may be flexible and securely attached to the receiving element of the dishwasher rack. In another embodiment the elongated tube is flexible, and the second end has a securement means, such that the second end is adapted to removably attach to a second receiving element of the dishwasher rack. In another embodiment the second end of the elongated tube has at least one gripping means for gripping a portion of the object. Preferably, the gripping means is a suction cup. In another embodiment the elongated tube is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled. In another embodiment the elongated tube is hinged in positions comprising vertical, horizontal, and angled, and the second end has a stemware grip portion. In another embodiment the device comprises additional elongated tubes and a flexible sheet connected between the elongated tubes. Optionally, one or more of the dishwasher tines may have at least one decorative element coupled to the tine (see FIGS. 33-37). Preferably, the decorative element is coupled to or attached to the top of the dishwasher tine.

FIGS. 31A-31C show an embodiment of removable dishwasher rack 176 with receiving elements 180 for receiving removable dishwasher tines 182 of varying heights. FIG. 31A is a front perspective close-up view of an embodiment of dishwasher rack 176 with receiving elements 180 and with no dishwasher tines attached. FIG. 31B is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 31A with dishwasher tines 182 of the same height removably attached to the receiving elements 180 of the dishwasher rack. In this configuration, the dishwasher tines are rigid and securely mounted on the dishwasher rack in an upright position. Preferably, the tines in this embodiment are of a unitary, continuous configuration. FIG. 31C is a front perspective view of the dishwasher rack of FIG. 31A with dishwasher tines 182 of varying heights removably attached to the receiving elements 180 of the dishwasher rack. In this configuration, the dishwasher tines are rigid and securely mounted on the dishwasher rack in an upright position. Preferably, the tines in this embodiment are of a unitary, continuous configuration and are manufactured in various heights and lengths.

FIGS. 32A-32C show another embodiment of the removable dishwasher rack 176 with receiving elements 180 for receiving another embodiment of a removable adjustable-height dishwasher tine 202. Preferably, the tine is rigid and securely mounted on the dishwasher rack in an upright position and is adjustable in height via a height adjusting means. The height adjusting means of the tine may comprise thread and screw portions, resistance ridges, twist lock portion, clamp lock portions, spring lock portion, or another suitable height adjusting means. FIG. 32A is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine 202 removably attached to receiving element 180 of dishwasher rack 176. In this embodiment, the tine 202 preferably comprises an elongated tube 204 with a first end 206 and a second end 208, wherein the first end has a male portion that is adapted to be inserted into a female portion of the receiving element 180 to secure the tine in place on the dishwasher rack 176, and wherein the elongated tube is adjustable in height via an adjusting means. In the design of this embodiment as shown in FIG. 32A, the elongated, hollow tube is height adjustable and comprises a first ridged portion 210 and a second corresponding portion 212. In order to adjust the height of the tube, the second portion 212 can be extended from the first portion 210 by pulling the second portion 212 up and away from the first portion 210. In an alternate design, the first portion may have a screw portion and the second portion may have an internally threaded portion, and the second portion may be extended from the first portion by twisting the second portion up and away from the first portion. FIG. 32B is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine 202 of FIG. 32A with the second portion 212 in a semi-extended stage. FIG. 32C is a front perspective view of the adjustable-height dishwasher tine of FIG. 32A with the second portion 212 in a fully extended stage.

FIGS. 33-37 show either the removable dishwasher tine or removable dishwasher tine extender having various embodiments of decorative elements at the top or extending from the bottom to the top of the dishwasher tine or tine extender. FIG. 33 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a first embodiment of a decorative element 214. FIG. 34 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine extender of the invention having a second embodiment of a decorative element 216. FIG. 35 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine of the invention with screw portion having a third embodiment of a decorative element 218. FIG. 36 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine of the invention with plug portion having a fourth embodiment of a decorative element 220. FIG. 37 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the dishwasher tine of the invention with snap bead portion having a fifth embodiment of a decorative element 222.

With respect to the above description, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

Although the invention has been described with reference to certain referred versions thereof, other versions of the invention are possible. In compliance with the statute, the invention described herein has been described in language more or less specific as to structural features. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the embodiments described herein or to specific features shown, since the means and construction shown, is comprised only of the preferred embodiments for putting the invention into effect. It is also understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.