Title:
Luggage Case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A luggage case is disclosed including a plurality of walls connected together to define an internal space for receipt of items to be retained in the luggage case. The luggage case including an elongate support structure connected to at least one of the walls. The support structure extending adjacent to at least two edges of the at least one wall. The elongate support structure comprising at least one elongate element and at least one fixation member to fixedly connect the at least one elongate element to said at least one wall.



Inventors:
Justham, Christopher Andrew (Manchester, GB)
Hopwood, Philip Raymond (Lancashire, GB)
Application Number:
12/244237
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
10/02/2008
Assignee:
ANTLER LIMITED (Bury, GB)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060201763Trunk for easy customs inspectionSeptember, 2006Yu
20080308371Luggage bag with removable storage unitsDecember, 2008Yang
20040134734Carrying case with removable accessory modulesJuly, 2004Hollingsworth
20090242342Foldable cross-patterned pull-handle and bag having the sameOctober, 2009Kwon
20080283350Carry-On Luggage With Garment Hanging FeatureNovember, 2008Vorderkunz
20030038007Telescopic handle for luggage cartFebruary, 2003Han
20080196988Suitcase with handle containing a fastening hookAugust, 2008Tong
20080099290EMERGENCY CASEMay, 2008Stern
20050051404Foldable luggage with carrierMarch, 2005Chi
20060289260Laptop Cover with HandlesDecember, 2006Elliott
20090250362Protective Transport BagOctober, 2009Melmon et al.



Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAEGRE DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP (INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US)
Claims:
1. A luggage case comprising a plurality of walls connected together to define an internal space for receipt of items to be retained in said case, wherein the case comprises an elongate support structure connected to at least one of said walls, said support structure extending adjacent to at least two edges of said at least one wall, said elongate support structure comprising at least one elongate element and at least one fixation member to fixedly connect the at least one elongate element to said at least one wall.

2. A case according to claim 1, wherein said at least one elongate element is mounted internally of said case.

3. A case according to claim 2, wherein said support structure extends adjacent to at least three edges of said at least one wall.

4. A case according to claim 1, wherein said at least one wall to which the elongate support structure is connected is a side wall of the luggage case.

5. A case according to claim 4, wherein said elongate support structure extends adjacent to front, rear and top edges of said at least one side wall.

6. A case according to claim 3, wherein said elongate support structure extends along at least around 50% of a length of at least one of said at least three edges.

7. A case according to claim 1, wherein said elongate support structure comprises a plurality of elongate elements.

8. A case according to claim 7, wherein a single elongate element extends adjacent one of said edges.

9. A case according to claim 7, wherein said elongate support structure comprises a plurality of fixation members.

10. A case according to claim 9, wherein at least a first fixation member fixedly connects two elongate elements to said at least one wall.

11. A case according to claim 9, wherein at least a first fixation member defines a slot for receipt of a portion of one of the at least one elongate elements.

12. A case according to claim 9, wherein at least a first fixation member is provided adjacent to a corner of the case interconnecting at least two walls of the case.

13. A case according to claim 12, wherein said corner interconnects three walls of the case.

14. A case according to claim 9, wherein at least a first fixation member is mounted internally of the case and the at least a first fixation member is connected to a corresponding outer fixation part mounted externally of the case.

15. A case according to claim 14, wherein the at least a first fixation member is fixedly connected to the corresponding outer fixation part by a fixation member provided through said at least a first fixation member and the outer fixation part.

16. A case according to claim 9, wherein the at least a first fixation member comprises a plastics material.

17. A case according to claim 9, wherein the at least a first fixation member comprises a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, nylon, glass filled polymer, metal, and combinations thereof.

18. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element comprises a plastics material.

19. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element comprises a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, carbon fibre, polyester, fibre reinforced polymer, and combinations thereof.

20. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element is manufactured by a pultrusion process.

21. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element possesses an outer cross-sectional diameter of around 3 to 9 mm.

22. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element possesses an outer cross-sectional diameter of around 6 mm.

23. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element possesses a unit weight of around 30 to 60 g/m.

24. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element possesses a unit weight of around 44.5 g/m.

25. A case according to claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate element defines a hollow section.

26. A case according to claim 25, wherein said hollow section possesses a cross-sectional diameter that is around 20 to 60% of the outer cross-sectional diameter of the at least one elongate element.

27. A case according to claim 25, wherein said hollow section possesses a cross-sectional diameter that is around 30% of the outer cross-sectional diameter of the at least one elongate element.

28. A luggage case comprising a plurality of walls connected together to define an internal space for receipt of items to be retained in said case, wherein the case comprises a support structure, said support structure comprising at least one corner bracket provided at a corner interconnecting at least two of said walls of the case, said bracket comprising a first part mounted internally of said case and a second part mounted externally of said case.

29. A case according to claim 28, wherein said first and second parts are fixedly connected to one another by a fixation member provided through said first and second parts.

30. A case according to claim 28, wherein at least one of said first and second parts comprises a plastics material.

31. A case according to claim 28, wherein at least one of said first and second parts comprises a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, nylon, glass filled polymer, metal, and combinations thereof.

32. A case according to claim 28, wherein at least one of said first and second parts is manufactured by moulding.

33. A case according to claim 28, wherein a first corner bracket of the at least one corner bracket is provided at the corner interconnecting a bottom wall and a side wall of the case, and the first corner bracket comprises a ground contacting element.

34. A case according to claim 33, wherein the ground contacting element is a foot stud.

35. A case according to claim 33, wherein the ground contacting element is a wheel.

36. A case according to claim 28, wherein said support structure additionally comprises at least one elongate element.

37. A case according to claim 36, wherein said at least one elongate element is mounted internally of said case.

38. A case according to claim 37, wherein a first corner bracket defines a slot for receipt of a portion of one of the at least one elongate elements.

39. A case according to claim 38, wherein the support structure is connected to at least one side wall of the case.

40. A case according to claim 39, wherein the first part of the first corner bracket fixedly connects a first elongate element to said at least one side wall.

41. A case according to claim 40, wherein the support structure extends adjacent to at least three of front, back, top and bottom edges of said at least one side wall.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/982,283, filed Oct. 24, 2007, titled LUGGAGE CASE, and claims priority to United Kingdom Patent Application Serial No. 0720533.9, filed Oct. 19, 2007, the disclosures of which are expressly incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a luggage case, particularly but not exclusively, to a lightweight luggage case.

BACKGROUND

Luggage cases are employed to transport items safely and securely from one location to another. It is desirable that they are sufficiently robust as to protect the items being transported but must also be sufficiently lightweight to enable a user to safely carry and/or pull the case between locations. As weight restrictions on commercial aircraft become increasingly stringent, it is also desirable that a passenger's luggage case contributes as little weight as possible towards the passenger's luggage entitlement.

Relatively robust luggage cases having a rigid body are known, although such cases are typically rather heavy. Lightweight cases having a fabric body and lightweight support structures are also known, but such cases often do not afford the level of desired protection to the items transported inside them.

A conventional method of providing a case with a degree of structural support, and protecting the corners and edges of the case, is to provide exterior piping around the periphery of each side wall of the case. Such piping typically comprises a length of thin steel wire encapsulated in a tube of flexible plastic, which is connected in any desirable manner to the exterior of the case. Such piping is, however, undesirable since it adds to the weight of the case but provides only a very limited amount of structural support.

SUMMARY

An object of the present invention is to obviate or mitigate one or more problems associated with conventional luggage cases. A further object is to provide a robust, lightweight luggage case.

A first aspect of the present invention provides a luggage case comprising a plurality of walls connected together to define an internal space for receipt of items to be retained in said case, wherein the case comprises an elongate support structure connected to at least one of said walls, said support structure extending adjacent to at least two edges of said at least one wall, said elongate support structure comprising at least one elongate element and at least one fixation member to fixedly connect the or each elongate element to said at least one wall.

In this way, the elongate support structure provides a simple and convenient means of affording a sufficient level of structural support to the case whilst not adding an undesirable amount of weight to the overall weight of the case.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a luggage case comprising a plurality of walls connected together to define an internal space for receipt of items to be retained in said case, wherein the case comprises a support structure, said support structure comprising at least one corner bracket provided at a corner interconnecting at least two of said walls of the case, said bracket comprising a first part mounted internally of said case and a second part mounted externally of said case.

In a preferred embodiment said at least one elongate element is mounted internally of said case. That is, the at least one elongate element is preferably mounted inside an exterior surface of said at least one side wall of the case. An additional layer of material may be provided inside the at least one elongate element so that at least some or all of said elongate element(s) is/are not exposed to the internal space of the case. In this way, a user's items retained in the case are protected from contacting the at least one elongate element. It may be desirable in certain embodiments to leave uncovered at least a portion of one or more of the at least one elongate element and/or fixation member so that said portion(s) can be view from the internal space of the case.

The elongate support structure may extend adjacent to three or more edges of said at least one wall to which the structure is fixedly connected. It is preferred that the structure is connected to a side wall of the case. The side wall may represent any appropriate wall of the case which may be considered a ‘side wall,’ but it is envisaged that in many preferred embodiments of the present invention the luggage case will comprise top and bottom walls interconnected by front, rear and at least one side wall. Preferably the elongate support structure extends adjacent to front, back and top edges of said at least one side wall. It may be desirable for the elongate support structure to extend adjacent to four edges of the at least one side wall to which it is connected. In this case, the structure may extend adjacent to front, back, top and bottom edges of said at least one side wall.

In a further preferred embodiment, the elongate support structure may be connected to a bottom wall of the case. The case may incorporate one or more elongate support structures which may or may not be interconnected, for example a first support structure may be connected to a side wall of the case and a second support structure may be connected to a bottom wall of the case. In this case, the first and second support structures may be interconnected by at least one of the fixation members forming part of one or more of the support structures. As a further preferred embodiment, the case may incorporate a pair of support structures connected to opposite side walls of the case and a third support structure may be connected to the bottom wall of the case, said bottom wall interconnecting the pair of side walls. In this case it may be desirable for the third support structure to incorporate a pair of elongate elements, one element extended adjacent to each of front and rear edges of the bottom wall, and each element being connected to a fixation member provided at a corner interconnecting the bottom wall with each of the two side walls.

Alternatively, or additionally, the elongate support structure may be connected to at least one planar member extending across at least one wall of the case. For example, the elongate support structure may extend adjacent to front, back and top edges of said at least one side wall and the structure further connected to a board of material which extends across the bottom wall of the case. Optionally, the case may incorporate a board of material extending across the top wall of the case. Preferably the board is mounted internally of the case so that it is protected from damage from outside the case by the bottom and/or top wall of the case.

As a further option, the case may be provided with one or more handles and the elongate support structure may be connected to at least one of said handles. This may provide the case with a stronger and more robust construction in which stresses between the handle and the case may be more widely and evenly distributed throughout the support structure and thereby the case. The handle may be connected directly to one or more of the elongate elements forming part of the support structure and/or connected directly to one or more of the fixation members of the support structure. If the luggage case incorporates a planar board member as mentioned above in a preferred embodiment, at least one of the handles may be connected directly

The elongate support structure preferably extends along the majority of a length of at least one of the edges of the wall of the case to which it is connected. Preferably said elongate support structure extends along at least around 50% of a length of at least one of said edges, more preferably along at least around 75% of said length, and most preferably along at least around 90% of said length. It is particularly preferred that the elongate support structure extends along substantially the full length of at least one of the edges of the side wall of the case to which the structure is connected.

It is preferred that said elongate support structure comprises a plurality of elongate elements. Any number of elongate elements may be provided adjacent to each edge of the wall of the case to which the elongate elements are connected. A single elongate element may extend adjacent one of said edges of the wall of the case. The support structure extends adjacent to at least three of the front, back, top and bottom edges of said at least one side wall of the case. It is preferred a single elongate element extends adjacent to each of said at least three edges. That is, where the support structure extends adjacent to three of said edges, it is preferred that the structure incorporates three elongate elements, one of said three elements extending adjacent to each of said three edges.

Preferably the or each elongate element extends substantially parallel to the edge along which it extends adjacent to.

The support structure is preferably located within a distance of up to around 5 cm from each edge of said at least one side wall along which the structure extends. More preferably the structure is located within a distance of up to around 2 cm from each of said edges. Most preferably the structure extends substantially along each of said edges.

Preferably said elongate support structure comprises a plurality of fixation members. The or each fixation member may fixedly connect any desirable number of elongate elements. Preferably the or each fixation member fixedly connects two elongate elements to said at least one wall of the case. In order to connect the or each elongate element to one or more of the fixation members, it is preferred that the or each fixation member defines a slot for receipt of a portion of one of the at least one elongate elements. The or each slot is preferably provided with some form of fixing means, e.g. a screw, to help retain the portion of the elongate element received in said slot.

The or each fixation member may be provided at any desirable location adjacent to one of the edges of the wall of the case. For example, at least one of the fixation members may be provided near the middle of an edge of said wall or near a corner of the wall interconnecting at least two wall of the case. Preferably the or each fixation member is provided adjacent to a corner of the case interconnecting at least two walls of the case. More preferably said corner interconnects three walls of the case. For example, one of the fixation members may be provides adjacent a lower front corner of the case at which point the front, bottom and one side wall of the case intersect. Alternatively or additionally, one of the fixation members may be provided adjacent an upper rear corner of the case at which point the rear, top and one side wall of the case meet.

It is preferred that the or each fixation member is mounted internally of the case, that is, inside an exterior surface of the wall to which the support structure is connected, and the or each fixation member is connected to a corresponding outer fixation part mounted externally of the case, that is, mounted on said exterior surface of said wall.

The or each fixation member may be fixedly connected to the corresponding outer fixation part by any appropriate means, such as screwing, gluing and/or riveting. It is preferred that a fixation member, such as a screw, is provided through said fixation member and outer fixation part so as to connect the fixation member and outer fixation part.

The or each fixation member may be formed from or comprise any desirable material. For example, the or each fixation member may comprise a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, nylon, glass filled polymer, metal, and combinations thereof. Preferably the or each fixation member comprises a plastics material, such as but not limited to polypropylene.

The or each elongate element may be manufactured using any convenient process employing any desirable material, and possess any appropriate size, shape and weight. In order to bestow the luggage case with an adequate level of support yet not contribute too greatly to the overall weight of the case, it is preferred the or each elongate element is a relatively thin, lightweight rod which exhibits a relatively high compressive strength in response to a force applied to the end of the rod, that is, parallel to a longitudinal axis of the rod.

In a preferred embodiment the or each elongate element comprises a plastics material. The or each elongate element may comprise a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, carbon fibre, polyester, fibre reinforced polymer, and combinations thereof.

The or each elongate element is preferably manufactured by a pultrusion process. The or each elongate element is preferably manufactured from pultruded polypropylene. The or each elongate element may be in the form of a rod of substantially circular cross-section, substantially square cross-section or any other desirable shape. Regardless of the cross-sectional shape of the or each elongate element, it is preferred that the or each element possesses an outer (i.e. maximum) cross-sectional diameter of around 3 to 9 mm. More preferably the outer cross-sectional diameter of the or each element is around 4 to 8 mm, and most preferably around 6 mm.

As mentioned above, it is preferred that the or each elongate element is relatively lightweight. It is preferred that the or each element possesses a unit weight of around 30 to 60 g/m, more preferably around 40 to 50 g/m, and most preferably a unit weight of around 44.5 g/m.

In order to keep the weight of the or each element as low as possible whilst maintaining the compressive strength of the or each element it is preferred that the or each elongate element defines a hollow section. More preferably the or each element is hollow along substantially its entire length. Said hollow section preferably possesses a cross-sectional diameter that is around 20 to 60% of the outer cross-sectional diameter of the or each elongate element, more preferably a cross-sectional diameter that is around 30% of the outer cross-sectional diameter of the or each elongate element. By way of example, a preferred embodiment of the elongate element is a tubular element possessing a circular cross-section of approximately 6 mm outer diameter and which defines a central circular hollow section of diameter around 2 mm.

Preferably the luggage case of the first aspect of the present invention comprises at least two side walls, more preferably two opposite side walls, interconnecting front and rear walls of the case and the top and bottom walls of the case. It is preferred that one of the elongate support structures is fixedly connected to a first one of said side walls, and a second one of said elongate support structures is fixedly connected to a second one of said side walls. Where such an arrangement is employed, it is preferred that the first and second elongate support structures are interconnected by at least one planar member (e.g. a lightweight material board) extending across at least one of the front, rear, top and bottom walls of the case. It is particularly preferred that a planar member is provided which extends across the bottom wall of the case. Two planar members may be employed, a first planar member extending across the top wall and a second planar member extending across the bottom wall of the case.

In the second aspect of the present invention which provides a luggage case comprising a support structure incorporating at least one corner bracket that comprises a first part mounted internally of said case and a second part mounted externally of said case, the first and second parts may be connected together in any desirable way. It is preferred that the first and second parts are fixedly connected to one another by a fixation member, such as a screw or rivet, provided through said first and second parts, but glue may also be used instead of or in addition to the fixation member.

With regard to the at least one corner bracket of the second aspect of the present invention the first and/or second parts may be formed of any appropriate material. For example, at least one of said first and second parts may comprise a material selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, nylon, glass filled polymer, metal, and combinations thereof. Preferably at least one of said first and second parts comprises a plastics material, such as polypropylene. At least one of said first and second parts may be manufactured by any convenient means, a preferred method is moulding.

One of the at least one corner brackets according to the second aspect of the present invention may be provided at the corner of the case interconnecting a bottom wall and a side wall, in which case said corner bracket comprises a ground contacting element. The ground contacting element may be a foot stud, which may be formed integrally with the second outer part of the corner bracket, or may be an element which is configured to facilitate movement of the case across a surface, such as a wheel, rolling track or low friction surface.

The support structure preferably extends adjacent to at least two edges, more preferably at least three edges, of said at least one wall. Most preferably the support structure is connected to a side wall of the case, and still more preferably extends adjacent to of front, back, top and bottom edges of said one side wall. In a preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention the support structure additionally comprises at least one elongate element, which is preferably mounted internally of the case. The size, shape, weight etc of the or each elongate element may be as set out above in respect of the first aspect of the present invention. Thus, the or each elongate element may be a relatively thin, lightweight tubular rod, preferably circular in cross-section and being hollow along substantially its entire length.

Preferably the or each corner bracket defines a slot for receipt of a portion of one of the at least one elongate elements. It is preferred that the support structure is connected to at least one side wall of the case. Most preferably the first part of the corner bracket fixedly connects the or each elongate element to said at least one side wall.

With regard to both the first and second aspects of the present invention, it will be appreciated that reference to top, bottom, front, rear, and side walls is not intended to be limiting and that these terms are used merely for convenience and clarity only. Many suitcases are designed to be rested on more than one wall of the case and many incorporate more than one handle to facilitate easy and convenient carrying of the suitcase. Thus, in a luggage case design of the kind described below with reference to FIG. 1, the case incorporates a handle mounted on the ‘top’ wall of the case when viewed as in FIG. 1 and so the ‘bottom’ wall of the case may be considered as the wall opposite the ‘top’ wall, which, in FIG. 1, is the wall at the bottom of the Figure. However, it will be appreciated the case may additionally incorporate a second handle mounted to a wall other than the ‘top’ wall, in which case a different wall opposite to the wall to which the second handle is mounted may be considered the ‘bottom’ wall. The aspects of the present invention set out above are therefore eminently suitable to be employed with any desirable design of luggage case, regardless of which walls of the case in question may be considered as the ‘top’, ‘bottom’, ‘front’, ‘back’ and ‘side’ walls. All that is required by the present invention is that the case incorporates first and second walls (e.g. top and bottom) which are interconnected by at least three further walls (e.g. front, back and side walls). It will be appreciated that in most luggage case designs, the case will incorporate size walls, that is, top and bottom walls interconnected by front, back and two side walls. Where more than one ‘side’ wall is present in the luggage case of the invention, it is preferred that an elongate support structure of the kind described above with reference to the first and/or second aspect of the present invention is fixedly connected to at least two of said side walls, preferably at least two opposite side walls, as described below with reference to FIGS. 1 to 5.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a side view of a luggage case with a portion broken away to illustrate the interior of the luggage in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a support structure of a luggage case in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged schematic illustration of an upper portion of the support structure of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of a corner bracket in accordance with an aspect of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of a lower portion of a support structure in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a side view of a luggage case 1 in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. The luggage case 1 comprises a front wall 2, side walls 3 (one side wall shown), a rear wall 4, a base wall 5, and a top wall 6, defining a main luggage compartment 7 inside the luggage case 1. The case is provided with a handle 8 and a pair of wheels 9 (only one of which is visible in FIG. 1) to aid a user in moving the case.

The luggage case 1 is constructed of a plurality of lightweight fabric panels supported by a lightweight support structure, described in detail below with reference to FIGS. 2 to 5. The front wall 2 is constructed from a lightweight fabric supported by a conventional wire frame 10. The front wall 2 is connected to the side walls 3 by means of a fabric hinge 11, which incorporates a zip 12 and is provided with a fabric hinge cover 13. Hinge 11 is constructed of a length of lightweight fabric, affixed along a first edge 14 to a front edge 15 of each side wall 3 and along a second edge 16 to a side edge 17 of the front wall 2. The zip 12 may be opened such that the front wall 2 may pivot about the hinge 11 in order to provide access to the main luggage compartment 7.

Each side wall 3 is composed of a lightweight fabric panel 18 supported by a unitary elongate lightweight support structure 19, comprising three elongate lightweight rods 20a, 20b, 20c mounted internally of the case (not visible in FIG. 1) which are interconnected to form said unitary structure by a plurality of lightweight 2-piece corner brackets, each of which comprises an inner part 21a, 21b, 21c, 21d (not visible in FIG. 1) connected to an outer part 22a, 22b, 22c, 22d by an Allen key screw 23a, 23b, 23c, 23d (a representation of the last screw 23d being shown in FIG. 1). It will be appreciated that any appropriate type of fixation means may be used in place of the Allen key screw depicted. The three rods 20a, 20b, 20c extend adjacent to front, back and top edges of each side wall 3. The inner and outer corner bracket parts are moulded from polypropylene, but may alternatively or additionally comprise acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate, nylon, glass filled polymer and/or metal or any combination thereof.

FIG. 2 shows an upper section of the lightweight support structure 19. The lightweight support structure 19 is comprised of three rods 20a, 20b, 20c connected by inner corner bracket parts 21a, 21b, 21c, 21d. The rods 20a, 20b, 20c are manufactured from pultruded fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) but may be comprised of any appropriate, lightweight material such as carbon fibre, ABS, polyester, polypropylene, aluminium or any combination thereof. Each rod 20a, 20b, 20c is cylindrical and has a constant 6 mm diameter. Each rod 20a, 20b, 20c is tubular in that it defines a central hollow section of 2 mm diameter running the full length of the rod 20a, 20b, 20c. Rods of any appropriate cross-sectional size and shape may be used, for example the rods may be of any suitable cross-sectional dimensions between 3 mm and 9 mm at their thinnest point, and they may be solid, have hollow sections or be tubular. The central hollow section of each rod 20a, 20b, 20c has a diameter that is around one third of the outer diameter of the rod 20a, 20b, 20c. The diameter of the hollow section of each rod 20a, 20b, 20c may be any size between 20% and 60% of the outer diameter of the rod 20a, 20b, 20c. The unit weight of each rod 20a, 20b, 20c is 44.5 grams per metre (g/m). This provides a satisfactory balance between strength, stiffness and weight.

FIG. 3 shows an enlargement of the inner corner bracket parts 21a, 21b and rods 20a, 20b, 20c shown in FIG. 2. Inner corner bracket part 21a defines two slots 24a, 24b for receipt of an end portion of rods 20a and 20b. Inner corner bracket part 21b defines two further slots 25a, 25b for receipt of an end portion of rods 20b and 20c. The end portions of the rods 20a, 20b, 20c are fixed in the slots 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b by fixing screws 26a, 26b, 27a, 27b.

In addition to screws 23a, 23b, inner corner bracket part 21a is provided with two additional screws 28a, 28b to connect the inner bracket part 21a to the corresponding outer corner bracket part 22a, and inner corner bracket part 21b is provided with two additional screws 29a, 29b to connect the inner bracket part 21b to the corresponding outer corner bracket part 22b. Each inner corner bracket part 21a, 21b defines a relative angle between the two rods 20a, 20b and 20b, 20c inserted into the bracket part 21a, 21b. While the inner corner bracket parts 21a, 21b shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 define approximately 90° angles between the rods 20a, 20b and 20b, 20c, it will be evident to those skilled in the art that the angle defined may be any appropriate angle.

FIG. 4 shows the outer 22a and inner 21a corner bracket parts fixed together. Only one of the screws 23a used to fix the inner corner bracket part 21a to the outer corner bracket part 22a is visible in FIG. 4. The fabric panel 18 forming the side wall 3 of the case is pressed between the inner corner bracket part 21a and the outer corner bracket part 22a so as to grip the fabric panel 18, which helps to maintain the fabric panel 18 under tension and provide structure to the case 1. Inner corner bracket part 21a has inserted into it the rod 20a, which extends adjacent to the fabric panel 18 of the side wall 3.

FIG. 5 shows a lower portion of the support structure 19. The lower rear inner corner bracket part 21d comprises a slot 28 in which is located an end portion of rod 20c, which is held in place by a fixing screw 29. Screw 23d is provided in combination with two further screws 30a, 30b and fixes the inner corner bracket part 21d to the corresponding outer corner bracket part 22d. The inner corner bracket part 21d incorporates two baseboard screws 31a, 31b, which fix the bracket 21d to a baseboard 32 which is described below. The inner corner bracket part 21d incorporates a mounting for the wheel 9. The wheel 9 may be attached to the inner corner bracket part 21d in any appropriate fashion.

The lower front inner corner bracket part 21c comprises a slot 33 (not shown). The inner corner bracket part 21c is fixed to the outer bracket part 22c by three screws 35, 36a, 36b in addition to the screw 23c shown in FIG. 1. Screw 36a also functions to connect the corner bracket 21c, 22c to the baseboard 32. The outer corner bracket part 22c incorporates a foot stud 37 upon which the case 1 can be supported when not being carried by the user.

The inner corner bracket parts 21c, 21d are fixed to the baseboard 32 by screws 31a, 31b, 36a such that the baseboard 32 provides added structural support to the support structure 19. The baseboard 32 may be comprised of any appropriate lightweight material such as in the present specific embodiment ABS, and may define a plurality of apertures 38 to further lower the weight of the board 32 and thereby the case 1.

The baseboard 32 also provides a point of attachment for other common elements of luggage cases, such as a trolley handle (not shown). The trolley handle is attached to the baseboard 32 via a trolley bezel 39, which is screwed into the baseboard 32. A trolley tube 40 is screwed into the trolley bezel via a trolley tube mount 41. The trolley handle may then be inserted into the trolley tube 40, ready for use.

It should be appreciated that the internal support structure 19, when mounted within the luggage case, will be covered by an inner fabric layer (not shown for clarity) so as not to expose the support structure 19 to the main luggage compartment 7.

A preferred embodiment of a luggage case in accordance with the present invention has been described above. It will be appreciated that there are other embodiments of luggage cases also in accordance with the present invention. In other embodiments of the support structure, two more inner corner bracket parts and a further rod may be provided to form an enclosed quadrilateral shaped frame extending all around the side wall of the case. It will be clear that yet further embodiments of the present invention may incorporate greater or fewer inner corner bracket parts and rods. In the above described specific embodiment the front wall of the case is constructed from a lightweight fabric panel of material supported by a conventional wire frame 10, but will be appreciated that any appropriate alternative frame may be used, such as one or more pultruded rods fixedly connected using moulded corner brackets similar to the rods and brackets which are connected to the side walls of the case described above. Moreover, although the lower corner brackets described above incorporate foot studs and wheel housings, it is envisaged that one or more of the lower corner brackets could be similar to the upper corner brackets and the foot studs and/or wheel housings provided separately.