Title:
LOCKING CASE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A locking case includes a lightweight plastic shell covered by a soft fabric, such as a woven nylon. A case hardened wire grid is fitted into each side of the plastic shell, and a foam pad, such as urethane, is fitted into the wire grid. A metal tab extends out of the case from each side of the shell. A zipper assembly has two zipper tabs with holes, such that when the case is closed, a lock can be inserted through both zipper tabs and both tabs. A security or metal cable is securely attached to the case, such as to the wire grid, where the metal cable has a loop that can be extended outside the case, wrapped around a fixed object, and locked to the four tabs by a padlock. One or more metal plates can be plated along interior sides of the shell for added protection.



Inventors:
Pomerantz, Joseph L. (Moorpark, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/836348
Publication Date:
02/12/2009
Filing Date:
08/09/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/523
International Classes:
A45C13/00; A45C5/00; A45C13/02; A45C13/06; B65D81/107
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Haynes and Boone, LLP (Dallas, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A locking case, comprising: a non-metal shell with two rotatable pieces; a metal wire grid fitted into each of the two pieces; and a foam pad fitted into each of the wire grids.

2. The case of claim 1, wherein the shell is plastic.

3. The case of claim 1, wherein the wire grid comprises an array of intersecting case hardened wires.

4. The case of claim 1, wherein the foam pads comprise urethane.

5. The case of claim 1, wherein the foam pads are smooth.

6. The case of claim 5, wherein the foam pads compress into each other when the case is closed.

7. The case of claim 1, further comprising a soft fabric covering the non-metal shell.

8. The case of claim 7, wherein the soft fabric comprises nylon.

9. The case of claim 1, further comprising a zipper assembly around at least three sides of the shell.

10. The case of claim 9, wherein the zipper assembly comprises two zipper tabs, wherein each zipper tab has an opening configured to accept a lock.

11. The case of claim 1, further comprising a tab with an opening extending outside each piece of the shell and configured to accept a lock.

12. The case of claim 10, further comprising a tab with an opening extending outside each piece of the shell, wherein the tabs and the zipper tabs align when the case is closed to accept the lock.

13. The case of claim 1, further comprising a security cable attached to the shell and extendable outside the shell.

14. The case of claim 13, wherein the security cable has a loop extendable outside the case and configured to accept a lock.

15. The case of claim 1, further comprising at least one plate located along an interior side of the shell.

16. The case of claim 15, comprising two metal plates located on opposing sides of the shell.

17. A locking case comprising: a non-metallic shell having two half pieces rotatable along one edge; a wire grid within each of the half pieces; a foam pad within each of the wire grids; a zipper along at least three sides of the shell and having two zipper tabs, each zipper tab having an opening to accept a lock; a tab with an opening attached to each of the wire grids, wherein the tabs and zipper tabs are adjacent each other when the case is closed; and a cable attached to the shell and having a loop extendable outside the case.

18. The case of claim 17, wherein the shell is plastic.

19. The case of claim 17, wherein the grid comprises an intersecting array of case hardened wires.

20. The case of claim 17, further comprising a fabric cover over the shell.

21. The case of claim 17, wherein the foam pad comprises a smooth urethane foam.

22. The case of claim 21, wherein the foam pads compress into each other when the case is closed.

23. The case of claim 17, further comprising at least one plate located along an interior side of the shell.

24. The case of claim 23, comprising two metal plates located on opposing sides of the shell.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

The present invention relates generally to hand-carried cases, and in particular to locking hand-carried cases.

2. Related Art

Hand-carried cases for securing items, such as guns, electronic components, and other valuable and/or fragile items, are typically categorized as hard cases or soft cases. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, hard cases are typically more secure, but less visually appealing, than soft cases.

Therefore, there is a need for a locking case that overcomes the disadvantages of conventional cases discussed above.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect of the invention, a hand-carried locking case has a shell made of a lightweight molded plastic having a case hardened wire shell or grid is secured to the interior of the shell, which makes it very difficult or impossible to cut through the case. The exterior of the shell is covered with a soft material, such as a woven nylon fabric. This soft material increases the aesthetics of the case.

A block piece of foam is secured to both interior sides of the case. In one embodiment, the foam has a planar surface such that when the case is closed, the planar surfaces of both pieces of foam contact and depress the opposing piece. A soft fabric can be used to cover the foam. The foam, which can be a “memory” type foam such as urethane, can be used so that items placed between the two foam pieces are molded into the foam for secure retention. Once the item is removed, the foam can be re-molded with a different item placed between the foam pieces.

The locking case can be zippered shut, with two zippers. Both zippers have a relatively large metal tab with a hole. In typical use, the tabs are brought together at the handle of the case. A lock or padlock can then be used to secure the two tabs together, thereby locking the case. In one embodiment, the padlock can be used to secure two additional tabs to the two zipper tabs. The other two tabs are part of the wire grid, with each tab extending out of the case from the grid. With this arrangement, a padlock can be used to secure all four tabs for increased security.

In another embodiment, a flexible metal cable is attached to the inside of the case, such as to the wire grid. The other end of the cable has a loop which can be used to secure the case to a fixed object, such as a car steering wheel. The metal cable is sufficiently long to enable the user to wrap the cable around objects before securing the loop to the tabs with a padlock. When not in use, the cable can be conveniently stored inside the case, such as between the two opposing foam pieces, between the outer periphery of one foam piece and the inside of the case, or snapped into grooves on the wire grid.

For even more security, one or more plates, such as sheet metal, can be placed along one or more interior side surfaces of the case. The plates can be secured in any suitable fashion, such as with bolts to the grid or glued to the plastic shell. The plates prevent intruders from cutting into the case from the side(s).

Thus, the locking case has desirable features of both soft cases (aesthetics) and hard cases (security), along with features unique to both.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the detailed description of the preferred embodiments set forth below taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a locking case according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a zipper tab that is part of the locking case of FIG. 1.

Embodiments of the present invention and their advantages are best understood by referring to the detailed description that follows. It should be appreciated that like reference numerals are used to identify like elements illustrated in one or more of the figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a locking case 100 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Locking case 100 includes a hard plastic shell 102, such as a lightweight molded plastic, covered by a fabric 104. Fabric 104 can be a woven nylon material or any suitable material, depending on the target market. Examples of material include cloth, leather, and rubber. Fabric 104 may be permanently secured to shell 102 or it may be removable such that fabric 104 can be replaced, repaired, or washed as needed. Methods of removably attaching the fabric to the shell can be by any conventional means and are known to those skilled in the art.

Locking case 100 has a handle 106 attached to each side of shell 102, although only one handle or no handles may also be suitable. Handles 106 may be flexible, such as the same material as fabric 104, or rigid. A zipper 108 is attached to fabric 104, which enables the user to open and close locking case 100. Shell 102 has two sides attached by hinges (not shown), which can be secured together by zipper 108. Within each side of shell 102 is a wire shell or grid 110. Grid 110 is comprised of intersecting lines of wire, which can be case hardened, to make it more difficult for someone to cut through the case, i.e., the outer fabric (e.g., nylon), plastic shell, and case hardened metal wire all have to be cut through to get into the case.

A foam pad 112 is placed into each grid 102. Foam pad 112 can be a “memory” type foam, such as urethane. “Memory” foams conform to the shape of items placed into the foam, but then conform to a different shape when a different item is placed within the foam. In one embodiment, the thickness of foam pads 112 is such that when the case is closed, the opposing sides of foam pads 112 compress against each other. This allows small or thin items to be secured tightly within foam pads 112. Foam pads 112 may also be covered by fabric, such as a velour or other smooth fabric to prevent snags. In one embodiment, foam pads 112 are secured to the case, such as with ties. In another embodiment, the foam pads are simply compressed into the case, which makes them relatively secure within the case, but also enables the user to easily remove them for cleaning, repair, or replacement. In this embodiment, foam pads 112 are smooth, e.g., they do not have a corrugated surface, such as egg-crate type foams. Smooth foam pads hold items more securely than egg-crate type foam pads, and “memory” type foams do not require cut-outs as with Styrofoam type pads.

Once zipped up, case 100 can be locked using a zipper tab 200, shown in FIG. 2. Zipper 108 has two zipper tabs 200, which when the case is completely open, are near the hinges of the case. When case 100 is completely zipped up or closed, zipper tabs 200 are typically near the center of handle 106. Referring to FIG. 2, zipper tab 200, typically made of steel, has a relatively large tab portion 202 with an opening 204. In one embodiment, the tab portion is approximately 1 1/2 inches or more, and the opening is at least approximately 1 inch long and ½ inch wide. The large tab portion 202 enables the user to easily zip the case open or shut, while the large opening enables padlocks to be easily inserted through the opening 204. Once zipped up, the two zipper tabs 200 are brought together. At this time, a padlock (not shown) can be inserted through opening 204 of each zipper tab to lock the case.

Case 100 may also have additional security features. In one embodiment, a metal tab 114 is secured to each one of grid 110 and extends beyond the outer surface of shell 102 near the center of handle 106. Thus, when case 100 is closed, both metal tabs 114 are adjacent each other, with their respective openings aligned. Metal tabs 114 can be integral with the wires or separately secured to the grid. With the case closed, both metal tabs 114 and both zipper tabs 200 are located near the center of handle 106. A padlock or other type of lock can then be easily inserted through the holes of all four tabs to lock the case. Note that with this embodiment, the case can be locked even without using the zipper tabs, i.e., a padlock can be locked through only the openings of metal tabs 114.

Another security feature is a cable 116, preferably metal, that is attached to the case at one end. Cable 116 has a first looped end 118, which can be permanently secured to the case, such as to wire grid 110. Cable 116 may also be user-removable if desired. A second looped end 120 can be used to secure the case to various objects. For example, once case 100 is closed, but not yet locked, most of cable 116 extends outside the closed case through an opening of zipper 108 near the center of handle 106. Cable 116 can then be wrapped around an object, such as a car steering wheel or other fixed object with an opening. Second looped end 120 can then be brought adjacent to metal tabs 114 and/or zipper tabs 200, where a padlock is inserted into looped second end 120 and openings in metal tabs 114 and/or zipper tabs 200. As a result, case 100 can be securely attached and locked to numerous objects. When not in use, cable 116 can be conveniently stored inside case 100, such as wrapped along the outer edge of foam pad 112 or pressed into snaps (not shown) located along the top of wire grid 110.

For increased security, one or more plates can be placed in the interior of the case, along one or more sides. The plates (not shown) can be sheet metal or any other suitable material that is resistant to cutting. The plates can be attached to the case by any suitable means, such as glue, rivets, or bolts. In one embodiment, a sheet metal plate is attached to each opposing side of the case (not the side of the hinge or handle). This prevents an intruder from cutting into the case from the sides where the plates are located.

Thus, case 100 has desirable features of both soft cases and hard cases, as well as additional features not found in either. Case 100 can be in a variety of sizes for a number of different uses. For example if marketed as a handgun case, the case will be smaller and more square than a case marketed as a shotgun or rifle case. In addition to fire arms, the case of the present invention can accommodate anything of value or that needs security or safe storing and transportation.

The above-described embodiments of the present invention are merely meant to be illustrative and not limiting. It will thus be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from this invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the appended claims encompass all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of this invention.