Title:
Push suitcase
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A suitcase specifically designed to be pushed consisting of front wheels attached to an inverted end of the suitcase and also at least one support wheel attached to a retractable wheel system that extends at an angle pointing away from the user and front wheels in order to achieve optimum stability and control in movement and steering as the suitcase is pushed by the user. An adjustable handlebar also contributes to the stability and ease in pushing the present invention.



Inventors:
Mize, Jeffrey (Ashburn, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/849057
Publication Date:
03/05/2009
Filing Date:
08/31/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
190/18R, 190/115
International Classes:
A45C5/14; A45C5/00; A45C13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBERG & LIEBERMAN, LLC (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A push suitcase apparatus, comprising: a suitcase body, said suitcase body having a front end and a back end; at least one front wheel, on said suitcase body; a wheel system, on said suitcase body; and at least one support wheel, on said wheel system;

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said at least one front wheel is on a bottom end of said suitcase body.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein said at least one front wheel is two front wheels, each at a corner of said suitcase body.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said at least one front wheel is configured to swivel.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said support wheel is configured to swivel greater than 360 degrees.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said wheel system is retractable.

7. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said wheel system is on said suitcase body via a connector.

8. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said wheel system is on a bottom end of said suitcase body.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said wheel system is configured to depend from said suitcase body at an angle.

10. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said wheel system is configured to position said at least one support wheel at the back end of said suitcase body.

11. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein said wheel system is configured to move said support wheel toward and away from said suitcase body.

12. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said wheel system is configured to lock into place at a bottom end of said suitcase body.

13. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein said wheel system is configured to be released from a locked position and deployed via a support lever.

14. The push suitcase apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a support bar in communication with said suitcase body; a handlebar in communication with said support bar; and a handle housing in communication with said suitcase body.

15. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said support bar can retract into said handle housing via a pressure lever.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a suitcase specifically designed to be pushed consisting of front wheels attached to an inverted end of the suitcase and also at least one support wheel attached to a retractable wheel system that extends at an angle pointing away from the user and front wheels in order to achieve optimum stability and control in movement and steering as the suitcase is pushed by the user. An adjustable handlebar also contributes to the stability and ease in pushing the present invention.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Millions of people throughout the world travel everyday. Because of this, there are millions of suitcases and other varying forms of luggage that go with them. Typically, travelers stuff their belongings into one or two suitcases and then wheel these items from point to point until either the suitcases are checked by airline personnel, placed into a vehicle or otherwise dropped off at a destination point. Moreover, suitcases range in size from huge to relatively small. If the suitcase is small enough, a traveler in many countries can forgo the baggage claim area of an airport and instead wheel this smaller suitcase onto an airplane. A major problem, however, is that travelers often create issues for themselves and others based on the bulky nature of most wheeled suitcases.

There are many types of suitcases on the market that involve wheels. The rationale of course is that it is easier to pull a suitcase featuring a wheel than to drag or carry the suitcase. However, suitcases that are pulled through the help of a handle and wheels still create foot traffic issues for travelers. For example, travelers often are permitted to bring a relatively small suitcase onto airplanes. Although these suitcases meet airline and government specifications, the fact remains that they still may be heavy. What often happens is that passengers must wait in crowded conditions as they make their way onto and through an airplane cabin to reach their seats. Passengers in front of them are milling about trying to get situated while passengers behind them are breathing down their necks as they look forward to finding their own seats. This common situation is exacerbated when the traveler has a typical wheeled suitcase. The reason is that if the traveler pulls the suitcase as most are intended, the suitcase will be positioned behind the traveler and thus out of the traveler's control in a situation where navigation and control of the suitcase is detrimental so that others are not bumped, tripped or otherwise affected by the suitcase in the tight quarters of a crowded airplane cabin. And with those other passengers breathing down the traveler's neck, pulling a suitcase does not work.

To compensate in these situations, travelers often attempt to push the suitcase through the airplane cabin. However, typical suitcases do not have the proper stability or control mechanisms to be pushed. This causes a traveler in the current example to struggle to control the typical suitcase as it is pushed through the crowded aisle of a narrow airplane cabin. As a result, the lack of control often causes these suitcases to bump into both people and seats. Because of this common scenario, there is a need for a suitcase that can be pushed in a controlled and stable manner.

There are a variety of pushcarts that people use to stack bags, golf clubs or luggage. The purpose of pushcarts is to compensate for many of the issues associated between pulling heavy items and pushing them while stacking in various forms unrelated items onto the pushcart. However, a need remains for a suitcase that can avoid the aesthetic elements generally compromised through the use of pushcarts, and also is designed specifically for the various shapes, weight and usage associated uniquely with suitcases. Also, there is a need for some frail travelers to use a suitcase that is specifically designed for pushing because a suitcase that can be pushed also may serve as a de facto walking aid that the person can hold onto.

Another example related to typical wheeled suitcases of any size is when a traveler must pull more than one suitcase. When a traveler pulls two suitcases behind him or her, the loss of balance creates an inability to properly steer. This also is a common site as traveler's struggle to pull their two suitcases as each suitcase drifts off into different directions and fails to steer in the desired direction. For typical suitcases, pushing two at the same time also is not practical for the same reasons. While travelers may gain the benefit of viewing the suitcases in front of them rather than behind, the notion of tilting these suitcases with the top end toward the passenger in order to use the wheel or wheels for pushing simply is counterproductive. Because of this, there also remains a need for a suitcase that features compliments front wheels with a support wheel and wheel system that can retract at an angle going against the traditional tilt of a suitcase in order to provide stability and control while pushing one or more suitcases.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,086 issued to Waddell et al on Mar. 18, 2003, is an ergonomic, upright wheeled luggage that allows users to push or pull the luggage with the use of either two wheels or four wheels. Unlike the present invention, Waddell does not offer a retractable element to its wheels, which takes away the ability of the user to tilt the luggage to compensate for any environmental condition that may arise. Because of this issue, Waddell forces a user to push the luggage as it stands at a flat angle. That angle does not provide the user the best ability for such items as quick and sudden steering or other maximized movements. In contrast, the roughly 20 to 30 degree angle of the present invention affords the user with much better mobility while pushing the suitcase, while the retractable element of the wheel and wheel support provides increased adaptability. Moreover, Waddell sacrifices mobility for ergonomics whereas the present invention compliments its wheel system with a retractable handlebar to enhance all abilities associated with steering and control. An additional difference is that Waddell limits itself to either two or four wheels and does not account for the cost benefits or stability benefits of merely a third wheel. Similar differences revolve around U.S. Pat. No. 5,630,521 issued to Waddell et al on May 20, 1997.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,279,705 issued to Wu on Aug. 28, 2001, is a wheeled luggage with third wheel mechanism that utilizes moveable parts to cause a third wheel to extend from a tilted luggage. Unlike the present invention, Wu uses the extended third wheel in the traditional sense in that the top of the luggage is tilted toward the user while the third wheel is extended on the interior of the luggage side closest to the user. The design by Wu in terms of the placement of this third wheel would not benefit those users wishing to specifically push the luggage. The present invention, in contrast, is much more suitable for those wishing to push their suitcase due in part to the placement of the retractable wheel on the bottom of the suitcase facing away from the user.

U.S. Pat. No. 7,066,311, issued to O'Shea on Jun. 27, 2006, is a retractable wheel assembly for a carrier that engages a retractable wheel for such items as luggage and backpacks. Unlike the present invention, O'Shea does not account for the angle and placement of a retractable wheel and wheel system specifically to benefit those wishing to push their suitcase.

Although there are many luggages and wheel designs on the market, the fact remains that just because a luggage can be pulled, it does not mean that pushing will bring the same experience. In addition, there is a need for a suitcase that can be pushed in a stable and controllable manner. The present invention solves that need by placing a support wheel and wheel system on the bottom end of a suitcase so that the wheel system is pointing in the direction opposite of the traveler and consequently, opposite the front wheels. As the traveler grips the handlebars of the present invention and causes the top of the suitcase to tilt toward the traveler, the combination of front wheels closest to the traveler and the retractable support wheel and wheel system as previously described provide optimum stability and control for pushing. In this manner, the need for a suitcase that can not only be pulled, but also specifically pushed, is realized.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention is a suitcase that provides optimum stability and steering capability for travelers specifically when the suitcase is being pushed. In addition, the present invention also can adapt to situations where the traveler may wish to pull the suitcase. This transition from pushing to pulling is simply conducted by retracting the wheel system of the present invention back into its locking element. From there, the present invention can be pulled by the traveler holding the handlebar and tilting the suitcase so that the top end is tilted toward the traveler and the front wheels closest to the traveler precipitate the rolling aspect.

However, the present invention does provide the support and stability necessary for hassle-free pushing of the suitcase. The key to this function is the support wheel and wheel system that are connected to the bottom end of the suitcase. The wheel system is retractable which means that it can be raised into the bottom portion of the suitcase and locked into place. The wheel system also can be easily removed from its locking mechanism, or retractable snap, through the use of a conventional foot pedal connection or support lever. When the wheel system is released from its retractable snap, the wheel system will point downward and away from the traveler at about a 20 to 30 degree angle although the angle can be more or less depending on the terrain, size of suitcase and other factors. The support wheel connected to the far end of the wheel system of course spins and can swivel for optimal rolling and steering. It should be noted that the number of support wheels employed by the wheel system could vary depending on the size and weight specifications of the suitcase. For example, a relatively small, carry-on appropriate suitcase may only require one support wheel in connection with the wheel system. Conversely, a large suitcase may use two support wheels in connection with the wheel system.

At the bottom front portion of the suitcase closest to the traveler are at least one depending on the size of the suitcase, but preferably two or more front wheels. These front wheels spin in either direction and also rotate and gyrate when the suitcase is in motion. When the suitcase is being pushed, the suitcase is tilted or inverted at an angle where the front wheels provide support at the point closest to the traveler. When the wheel system is deployed, the support wheel provides even support at the end of the suitcase farthest from the traveler. The combination of the front wheels and the support wheel connected to the wheel system provide balance and stability. Even though the suitcase will be inverted toward the traveler when the wheel system is deployed, the support wheel and front wheels are on a relatively even plain and connected through sturdy means so that when the entire suitcase is pushed or steered, the support wheel and front wheels work in concert. This is particularly true when the present invention is being pushed due to the stability afforded by the combination of balance between all wheels and the angle and direction of the wheel system.

While the support wheel, wheel system and front wheels serve to maintain a steady and stable flow while the suitcase is in motion, the traveler ultimately pushes the suitcase through the use of the handlebar. The angle of the handlebar is adjustable to fit the needs of each individual traveler pushing the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 is a side view of an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an environmental view of the bottom end (155) of the present invention and its wheel system (20).

FIG. 4 is an environmental view of the bottom end (155) of the present invention and its wheel system (20) in an alternative embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 shows us a side view of the present invention. The main body of the present invention is a suitcase (5) that can be virtually any size or width. Because the suitcase (5) can store a number of items, it is inevitable that it would become heavy. In this regard, the present invention is capable of being pushed in a controlled and stable manner.

As we see in FIG. 1, the present invention contains at least one, but preferably two, front wheels (30). These front wheels (30) are connected to the suitcase (5) by conventional means. The front wheels (30) are located at the bottom (150) of the suitcase (5) on the front end (130). The front end (130) is the area closest to the traveler who will be pushing the present invention. The front wheels (30) are in this location because when the front end (130) is inverted so that the top end (150) of the suitcase is angled closer to the traveler than the bottom end (155), the front wheels (30) will be engaged with the ground. The front wheels (30) spin, roll and gyrate.

As we also see in FIG. 1, the support wheel (10) is on an equal plain with the front wheels (30). The support wheel (10) also spins, rolls and swivels through the use of a rotary element (15). The rotary element (15) and support wheel (10) is connected to the wheel system (20). The wheel system (20) is retractable and is connected to the bottom end (150) of the suitcase (5) at the wheel system connection (90). The view of FIG. 1 shows us an embodiment of the present invention when the wheel system (20) is deployed.

Although the angle of the deployed wheel system (20) may vary depending on the embodiment of the present invention, the preferred embodiment as seen in FIG. 1 is for the wheel system (20) to be at an angle of about 20 to 30 degrees. Other embodiments can place the angle of the wheel system (20) to as much as 90 degrees depending on the ultimate placement and other relevant factors of the wheel system (20).

As we see in FIG. 1, the wheel system (20) is angled from its wheel system connection (90) attached to the bottom end (155) of the suitcase (5) in a direction away from the front end (130) and toward the far end (140). This means that the support wheel (10) is located near a point underneath the far end (140). Still, the support wheel (10) remains on an even plain with the front wheels (30) for optimum stability. In addition, the support wheel (10) also provides leverage and support for the inverted suitcase (5). This leverage and support is obtained because the support wheel (10), through the solid structure of the wheel system (20), absorbs the weight of the suitcase (5). The wheel system (20) is comprised of a strong metal capable of absorbing the weight of a fully packed suitcase (5), but also may consist of a sturdy plastic or other hard manufactured material.

Moreover, the rotary element (15) will not spin on its own based on the weight of the suitcase (5), but will turn the support wheel (10) through their mutual connection when the traveler guides the suitcase in a particular direction through the use of the handlebar (70). When the present invention is pushed by the traveler via the handlebar (70), the support wheel (10) and front wheels (30) will roll along with the pushing no regardless of the weight of the suitcase (5). When the traveler wishes to steer the present invention while pushing, he or she simply steers via the handlebar (70). The pushing force of this action will cause the front wheels (30) to gyrate in the direction of the steering force, while the rotary element (15) attached to the support wheel (10) also will cause the support wheel (10) to turn in the same direction. Because the front end (130) is inverted with much of the suitcase (5) weight focused on the front wheels (30) while other areas of the weight is dispersed along the wheel system (20) and support wheel (10), the pushing and steering movements of the present invention are proportionate and fluid. In this manner, a traveler can continue to push the present invention in circles and then have the stability, based in large part on the rotary element (15) and gyration ability of the front wheels (30), to suddenly change directions without the fear of the suitcase (5) tipping over. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the placement of the front wheels (30) at each side of the front end (130) also helps maintain balance.

FIG. 1 also shows us a side view of the handlebar (70). The handle bar (70) is connected to the handlebar support bar (60). The handlebar support bar (60) can be adjusted higher or lower from the handle housing (50). In addition, the handlebar support bar (60) can be completely stored inside the handle housing (50) when required.

FIG. 2 is a front view of an embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 2, we see an embodiment where the front wheels (30) are located at each end of the front end (130). When a traveler wishes to invert the top end (150), he or she can grab a hold of the handlebar (70) and pull it toward their body with possibly a stabilizing foot at the bottom end if necessary depending on the individual. The present invention will then be completely rested on the front wheels (30), which hang below the bottom end (155). This aspect allows the traveler to pull the present invention if desired. However, to achieve the optimum stability and balance for pushing the present invention as described above in FIG. 1, the traveler may engage the support lever (40). In the particular embodiment of FIG. 2, we see the support lever (40) as a pedal-like lever that simply requires a small amount of exerted force to push it down.

The inner workings of the support lever (40) are better viewed in FIG. 3. But the main principle of the support lever (40) is that when it is engaged, the wheel system (20) is released from its stored and retracted position along the bottom end (155) of the suitcase (5). Once released, the wheel system (20) will snap into its deployed position as seen in FIG. 1. Once this occurs, the aforementioned function for pushing the suitcase is possible.

FIG. 2 also provides a good look at the handlebar (70) and its retraction system. The handlebar (70) is shaped like a small handlebar (70) as one might see on some forms of bicycles or other fitness equipment. The angle of the handlebar (70) may be adjusted and locked into place in order to best fit the needs of the particular traveler. In addition, the handlebar support bar (60) also may be adjusted and retracted by locking it in place at the desired length using a small, pressure lever (80) that is located either on the side of the handlebar (70) or at a position at the front end (130) of the suitcase (5) at the location of the handle housing (50) depending on the embodiment in use. The handle housing (50) as seen in FIG. 2 is hollow except for various holes so that when the pressure lever (80) is pressed, an obstruction inside the handlebar support bar (60) will constrict allowing the handlebar support bar (60) to retract into the handle housing (50). Once the pressure on the pressure lever (80) is released, the obstruction connected to the pressure lever (80) and handlebar support bar (60) will extend to the left and right and will ultimately insert into the holes inside the handle housing (50). In this manner, the handlebar support bar (60) can retract completely inside the handle housing (50). In addition, a space cut into the handle housing (50) will permit the handlebar (70) to fit inside for optimal storage.

FIG. 3 shows us a view of the bottom end (155) of the present invention. In FIG. 3, we specifically see a view of how the wheel system (20) appears when it is retracted. A space (110) is cut into the bottom end (155) of the present invention where the support wheel (10) and wheel system (20) can remain in this retracted position. The wheel system (20) is held in place by the retractable snap (120) as shown in FIG. 3. The retractable snap (120) is connected to the lever wire (100). The lever wire (100) is a conduit between the retractable snap (120) and the support lever (40). When the support lever (40) is engaged, the lever wire (100) applies a pulling force on the retractable snap (120) causing it to move out of its usual blocking position in front of the wheel system (20). Once this happens, the wheel system (20) snaps out of the space (110) due to the pent up energy in the wheel system connection (90) that was being hindered by the retractable snap (120). When the traveler wishes to return the wheel system (20) back into the space (110), the traveler may tilt the suitcase (5) and manually push the wheel system (20) toward the space (110). The retractable snap (120) will bend inward with the wheel system (20) until the wheel system (20) reaches as far as possible into the space (110), at which time the retractable snap (120) will snap back into place, thus blocking the wheel system's (20) ability to move from the space (110). It should be noted, however, that this element involving the support lever (40) and retractable snap (110) is only one embodiment of the present invention. Other conventional means of retractability also may be employed in order to utilize the wheel system (20) at its particular placement and angles for pushing the suitcase (5) as best seen in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an environmental view of the bottom end (155) of the present invention and its wheel system (20) in an alternative embodiment. All elements are consistent with those aforementioned. It is contemplated that a smaller suitcase would only need one wheel as shown in FIG. 3; whereas a larger suitcase (for stability reasons) would possibly need two wheels as shown in FIG. 4.

It is contemplated that the present invention is not merely the embodiments described above, but any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.





 
Previous Patent: Vehicle Damper and Method

Next Patent: Pillbug