Title:
Sink drain insert with utensil scrubber
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A utensil scrubber apparatus for use with a sink drain comprises an insert sized to tightly fit within a sink drain and having first and second portions. The first portion provides circular peripheral flange and a medial opening for allowing both liquids and solids to pass down through the insert and into the sink drain. The second portion is axially concentric with the first portion and extends downwardly, providing a tapered circular outer surface for tightly fitting within the sink drain. A plurality of resilient bristles upwardly extend from the top surface of the first portion in a position adjacent to the opening. The bristles are sized and arranged in such a way as to allow for a relatively easy means of dislodging food from a utensil. In the preferred embodiment, the insert contains a scenting agent for masking potentially unpleasant odors emanating from the sink drain.



Inventors:
Buehler, Carl M. (Palatine, IL, US)
Gates, Stephen Brian (Cedar Hills, UT, US)
Buehler IV, Carl (Palatine, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/985741
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
11/17/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K1/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUSON, GREGORY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT LAW & VENTURE GROUP, PLLC (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sink drain apparatus for use with a sink drain, the apparatus comprising: a horizontally oriented, disk shaped upper portion providing opposing top and bottom surfaces; a lower portion integral with the upper portion and depending downwardly therefrom, the lower portion providing a tapered outer surface for tightly fitting within the sink drain; the upper portion extending radially from the outer surface as a peripheral flange; the upper and lower portions defining an opening extensive from the top surface of the upper portion downwardly through the upper and lower portions for conducting water flow through the apparatus; and a stand of resilient bristles extending vertically upward from the top surface, the stand positioned adjacent to the opening.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the upper portion extends to partially eclipse the opening.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the bristles have a range of lengths, the lengths diminishing uniformly across the stand.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein at least one part thereof is comprised of at least one of a resilient material, a scenting agent, and a mixture of a resilient material with scenting agent.

5. An apparatus comprising: a sink drain having a drain opening surface and a drain inside surface, the inside surface extending downwardly from the drain opening surface; and engaged with the sink drain; a drain insert of a resilient material and having: a) a horizontally oriented, disk shaped upper portion providing opposing top and bottom surfaces; b) a lower portion integral with the upper portion and depending downwardly therefrom, the lower portion having a tapered outer surface tightly fitting within the drain inside surface; the upper portion extending radially from the outer surface as a peripheral flange in contact with the drain opening surface; the upper and lower portions defining an opening extensive from the top surface of the upper portion downwardly through the upper and lower portions for conducting water flow through the apparatus; and a stand of resilient bristles extending vertically upward from the top surface, the thicket positioned adjacent to the opening.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the upper portion extends to partially eclipse the opening of the drain insert.

7. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the bristles have a range of lengths, the lengths diminishing uniformly across the stand.

8. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein at least one part the drain insert is comprised of at least one of a resilient material, a scenting agent, and a mixture of the resilient material with the scenting agent.

9. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the drain insert is resiliently wedged within the sink drain with the insert side wall compressively engaged with the drain inside surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

THE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

Not applicable.

INCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A “MICROFICHE APPENDIX”

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Present Disclosure

This disclosure relates generally to sink drain stoppers, screens and inserts, and more particularly to a sink drain insert that provides a means for scrubbing utensils.

2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98

Limbert, U.S. D154,936, discloses an ornamental design for a sink stopper.

Kraines et al., U.S. D195,162, discloses an ornamental design for a sink stopper.

Jackson et al., U.S. D427,774, discloses an ornamental design for a disposal stopper-strainer-brush.

Eastman, U.S. D469,167, discloses an ornamental design for a stopper.

Repper et al., U.S. Pat. No. 1,053,875, discloses a combined stopper and brush comprising a handle with a reduced lower end, a shoulder formed on said handle, bristles held upon said handle, a conical ferrule secured on the handle and provided with a laterally extending rim upon its lower end, a protector collar or band positioned on the outer side of said ferrule and held in position against the shoulder formed on the handle by means of the laterally extending rim.

Smith, U.S. Pat. No. 1,659,839, discloses a drain plug having a large rubber plug that is provided with a series of beads or slots that are cut around the outer walls thereof in the form of saw-teeth, and which is adapted to fit the drain pipes of bathtubs, kitchen sinks, laundry trays, or other forms of drains where large drain plugs are needed.

Farmer, U.S. Pat. No. 2,087,341, discloses a deodorant device for drains comprising a perforated body having an apertured portion with an elevated recess therein, a base flange projecting from the body, a plurality of depending lugs extending below said flange adapted to fit in a drain, and a deodorant cake arranged in said elevated recess and apertured in substantial alignment with the aperture in the elevated recess portion.

Wood, U.S. Pat. No. 2,801,021, discloses a closure device for a circular substantially cylindrically walled opening comprising a cup-like resilient integral casing loosely receivable in the opening and having a side all, a continuous bottom at one end and an inwardly directed integral flange at its other end; a freely rotatable and depressible elongated plunger within the casing; at least two apertured substantially circular discs within the casing and surrounding the side of the plunger, said discs being restrained from axial movement in one direction by the inwardly directed flange and in the other direction by said continuous bottom; a multi-sectored circular disc slideably restrained between the first mentioned discs and having its outer edge adjacent the inner periphery of the casing side wall; the axial thickness of said disc being a minor proportion of the height of said casing and being less than the thickness of said bottom, said plunger having an outwardly diverging taper extending from near the inner end of the plunger for part way along the plunger; the sectored disc being formed with an aperture smaller than the apertures in the first mentioned discs so that the inner edge of the sectored disc contacts the side of the taper.

Ingram, U.S. Pat. No. 4,381,569, discloses an adjustable drain plug for use in sinks and lavatories especially to replace a previous drain plug which is either lost or broken. The drain plug comprises an elongated, flexible plastic or rubber stopper which removably fits into the hole in the drain and has a flanged top covered by a rigid top cover of metal or plastic. An elongated drain member is preferably constructed in a sleeve formation in two sections and receiving a threaded stud attached to the head and also adjustably threaded into the top of the member with a lock nut thereon. The two sections are adjustable being connected by a threaded stud and there is an adjustable foot on the bottom of the member either in the form of a flat disc or a hook. Alternatively, the stopper may be formed in four tapered sections which may be screwed down and over the top of the member.

Vidal, U.S. Pat. No. 4,418,432, discloses a new article of flexible and springy, though rigid enough, water impervious material provided with spikes, bristles, open web of crinkled filaments, or rough indented openings to be installed around any conventional stopper for preventing hair, hairpins, or any other object carried away with the water flow during the taking of showers or washings or the like, from entering and clogging the drainpipes of bathtubs, lavatories and the like, through an entangling action carried out by said spikes, bristles, web, or rough indented openings, and said article having a body which is shaped to be adapted to surround the lifted conventional pop-up stoppers or the like, of the drain control systems of bathtubs, lavatories and the like, and which may take any of several preferred cross section forms, such as for example, a hollow core elongated semi-cylindrical form which is integral with a flat imperforate lower portion or base, providing several preferred undersurfaces or a hollow core cylindrical form, or a vertical strip-like form, or a cup-like form, or a stepped strip-like form, and said forms being constituted by a net-like structure with a plurality of openings, which in the three last mentioned cross-section forms, is integral with imperforate zones and with an outwardly directed surrounding flexible flat base having a central hole defined therein and the base providing several preferred under-surfaces.

Vidal, U.S. Pat. No. 4,671,976, discloses a web-type stock material having upwardly projecting filamentary elements and a defined periphery, comprising, in combination, a flexible base member for overlying a floor surface in immediately surrounding relation to a liquid egress opening in the surface, the base member having a central hole for register with the egress opening; and a three-dimensional mat carried by the base member and comprising filamentary elements distributed throughout a volume extending horizontally at least over the entire area of the hole and vertically upwardly above the base member to a locality spaced above the base member for engaging and arresting liquid-carried debris such as hair outside and above the egress opening while permitting flow of liquid downwardly into the egress opening. Some at least of the filamentary elements extend transversely across the hole and intersect with each other at a multiplicity of points distributed substantially uniformly over the entire area of the hole so as to subdivide the hole into a multiplicity of individually small openings for downward liquid flow into the egress opening, the transversely extending filamentary elements and the base member cooperatively constituting a web having a periphery defined by the base member; and the filamentary elements include a multiplicity of flexible elements projecting upwardly throughout the entire vertical extent of the aforesaid volume and distributed substantially uniformly at least over the entire area of the hole in closely adjacent relation to each other.

Jackson, U.S. Pat. No. 5,377,362, discloses a combined sink strainer and scrub brush unit with or without a sink stopper disc which seats into a garbage disposal inlet depending from a sink bottom. A horizontal strainer base has a series of drain apertures therein and a series of spaced brush elements either molded with the base or attached to the base and depending from the base. A handle is attached to the base for manual removal of the unit from the disposal inlet and for hand-manipulating the unit to scrape/scrub foodstuff and other debris from dish plates, cooking pots, and sink surfaces into the sink and disposal inlet. A rubber stopper disc is mounted on top of base for rotational and sliding movement thereon. Radial drain holes in the disc are alignable with the base drain apertures in a drain “open” position and are offset therefrom in a drain “closed” sealing position.

Strech, U.S. Pat. No. 5,636,390, discloses a combination sink stopper, surface scrubbing, garbage scooping, garbage stuffing device having a generally horizontally oriented disk-shaped body providing a down-facing surface flange for stopping a drain of a garbage disposal device. A curved scooper extends vertically downwardly from the body, the scooper providing a curved edge designed to contact a sink surface and scoop garbage from the surface into the scooper. When the garbage is collected in the scooper, the scooper is positionable vertically within the drain of the disposal so as to cleanly push the garbage into the disposal comminuting chamber.

Bart, U.S. Pat. No. 6,866,440, discloses a garbage disposal drain stopper comprising a stopper body having a top and a bottom. The garbage disposal drain stopper includes a sealing surface carried by the stopper body. The sealing surface is configured to engage a garbage disposal drain and to provide a substantially water tight seal with the garbage disposal drain. A first grip is carried on the stopper body top. A second grip is carried on the stopper body bottom. The first and second grips and the stopper body are configured to be substantially symmetrical in configuration such that the garbage disposal drain stopper is removable from a drain with substantially equal effort whether the first or the second grip is utilized. At least one of the grips includes a chamber from which a consumable may be dispensed.

Colpitts et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,032,253, discloses a sink basket and plug assembly comprising a basket portion and a plug portion. The basket portion includes a well having at least one fluid passageway extending therethrough. The plug portion is at least partially receivable within the well and has an open and a closed position. When closed the plug restricts the passage of fluids through the fluid passageway. When open the plug permits the flow of fluid through said fluid passageway. At least one of the basket portion and the plug portion includes an indexing member and the other includes an indexing receiver. The indexing member is releasably receivable within the indexing receiver and retains the plug in its open position. Movement of the plug from its open to its closed position requires the application of a lifting force to the plug to dislodge the indexing member from the indexing receiver.

Wolf, US publication 2007/0000037, discloses a sink drain air freshener container that is generally used with a sink cover or a sink strainer/stopper. The air freshener container contains a plastic-based air freshener that emits the fragrance for at least 20 days after being unwrapped and placed in use in a sink. The air freshener container has perforations to enable the container to be drained. The strainer/stopper is preferably made of disposable plastic and the container is preferably part of the top portion of the strainer/stopper stem that is used in conjunction with the strainer/stopper perforated basket.

Morton et al., GB 743001, discloses a sink plug comprising a hole-engaging annulus of resilient waterproof material held between two clamping plates, a controlling disc disposed between the two plates to retain the annulus in position with respect to the plates and adjustable means for applying pressure to the plates whereby the annulus may be compressed to vary its diameter so that the plug can be adjusted to suit the hole it is desired to close.

Press Plugs Pty., GB 753796, discloses a closure device for openings comprising an open ended resilient integral casing having a continuous bottom and side wall, the outer periphery of the casing being of such size as to end within the opening to be closed; and pressure applying means comprising a substantially medially apertured sectored disc disposed within the casing with its outer edge adjacent the inner periphery of said side wall; means confined wholly within said casing for limiting axial displacement of said disc and an axially slidable plunger having an inwardly converging taper, located within the aperture of the sectored disc so that depression of the plunger causes radial expansion of the sectored disc and distension of the casing side wall into frictional engagement with the opening.

The related art described above discloses sink stoppers that provide a scrubbing means. However, the prior art fails to disclose a sink drain insert that provides a utensil scrubbing means while simultaneously allowing for water to freely flow through the insert, to the drain. The present disclosure distinguishes over the prior art providing heretofore unknown advantages as described in the following summary.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure teaches certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the objectives described below.

As the prior art demonstrates, it is common practice to use a disc-shaped stopper or sink drain. In addition, it is also known to combine a sink stopper and a scrubbing means that can be used to clean objects such as utensils. However, these combination devices have the scrubbing means mounted on the underside of the sink stopper. In order to use such scrubbing means, one must remove the sink stopper from the drain, grasp the stopper in a hand, and manually scrub the utensil to clean it.

The present apparatus provides an improved approach by providing a sink drain insert that is removably secured within a sink drain while exposing a means for cleaning utensils without removing the apparatus from the drain. The insert provides a peripheral flange and a tapered circumferential outer surface which allows the insert to be secured within the sink drain. A first portion of the insert defines a medial opening, which allows liquids and solids to pass through the insert into the sink drainpipe. A plurality of resilient bristles upwardly extend from the top surface of the first portion and are in a position adjacent to the opening. The bristles are sized and arranged in such a way as to allow for relatively easy and fast dislodging of food from a utensil and especially from between the tines of a fork. Preferably, the insert also contains a scenting agent for masking potentially unpleasant sink drain odors.

A primary objective inherent in the above described apparatus and method of use is to provide advantages not taught by the prior art.

Another objective is to provide a sink drain insert that assists in the dislodging of food from utensils.

A further objective is to provide such an insert that does not obstruct the flow of water from the sink into the sink drain.

An still further objective is to provide such an insert that provides a pleasant fragrance to mask any unpleasant odors from the sink drain.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the presently described apparatus and method of its use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

Illustrated in the accompanying drawing(s) is at least one of the best mode embodiments of the present invention In such drawing(s):

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the presently described apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view thereof; and

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along lines 3-3 in FIG. 1, as mounted in a sink.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The above described drawing figures illustrate the described apparatus in at least one of its preferred embodiment, which is further defined in detail in the following description. Those having ordinary skill in the art may be able to make alterations and modifications to what is described herein without departing from its spirit and scope. Therefore, it must be understood that what is illustrated is set forth only for the purposes of example and that it should not be taken as a limitation in the scope of the present apparatus and method of use.

Described now in detail is a utensil scrubber apparatus for use in a sink drain 20. As shown in the figures, the apparatus is a generally disc-shaped insert 2 sized to tightly fit within a sink drain 20. In the preferred embodiment, the insert 2 is molded as a unitary part using a relatively resilient material, such as rubber or silicone; although other materials may be substituted. The insert 2 preferably includes a scenting agent 5 for masking unpleasant sink drain odors. The scenting agent may be homogeneously mixed with the resilient material prior to molding the finished part, or it may be applied as an outer coating. Other methods of applying the scenting agent 5 may be used as are known to those of skill in the art.

As shown in the figures, the insert 2 has a circular upper portion 2A providing opposing top 10A and bottom 10B opposing surfaces. A lower portion 2B is axially concentric with the upper portion 2A and depends downwardly therefrom. The upper portion 2A defines a medial opening 4 and a peripheral flange 6. The lower portion 2B provides a tapered outer surface 8 which is sized and configured for tightly fitting within the sink drain 20. The peripheral flange 6 extends radially beyond the outer surface 8 and overlaps the sink drain 20 so as to prevent the apparatus from entering downwardly into the sink drain 20. In the preferred embodiment, the upper portion 2A extends into the opening 4, providing a scrubber lip 12, which enables a utensil to be scraped and any food particles will fall into the drain 20.

A plurality of flexible and resilient bristles 14 are integral with, and extend vertically upward from the scrubber lip 12 in a position adjacent to the opening 4 as best seen in FIG. 1. This plurality of bristles 14 are referred to herein as a “stand” 15, defined as a plurality of resilient and flexible, nominally linear, rod-shaped elements that are positioned in a close, side-by-side grouping and are all directed in parallel. Preferably, each of the bristles 14 is of such diameter as to be able to fit between the tines of a fork or in small openings or crevasse in a utensil. In the preferred embodiment, the resilient nature of the bristles 14 also enables them to flex and conform to the contours of utensils and to act as small springs to urge food layers and particles out of, and off of utensils by spring rebound action. When a utensil is rubbed against the stand 15 of bristles, plural spring action causes a scouring action on the utensil resulting in a superior cleaning action. Because the stand 15 is positioned adjacent to the opening 4, water flowing out of the sink tends to flow through the stand 15 and flush away any debris caught in the stand 15. Within the stand 15, the bristles 14 are arranged as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, from the tallest bristles 14 adjacent to the opening 4, diminishing in a uniform manner to the shortest bristles 14 located furthest away from the opening 4. It has been found that this arrangement of the bristles 14 in the stand 15 provides a most convenient cleaning effect as it provides for the top edges of each of the bristles 14 to rub against the utensil for a more effective cleaning and scouring action.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the bristles 14 have a range of lengths, and are arranged on the top surface 10A with bristles 14 of greater length nearest to the opening 4. In addition, the bristles 14 are spaced far enough apart to allow portions of utensils to pass in between. Thus, the preferred bristle 14 arrangement allows a user to apply a utensil against the bristles 14 at a comfortable angle, move the utensil across the bristles 14 in a scrubbing motion, and easily dislodge any food from the utensil without having to physically touch the food or the bristles 14. It should be noted that arrangements of the bristles 14 may be different from that shown in the figures in order to meet various needs arising from different utensils.

When in use, the insert 2 is positioned within the sink drain 20, as shown in FIG. 3. The bottom surface 10B rests on an opening surface 22 of the sink peripheral to the sink drain 20. In addition, the outer surface 8 is frictionally wedged with an inside surface 24 of the sink drain 20. This engagement creates a resilient wedging relationship between the insert 2 and the sink drain 20 so as to prevent the insert 2 from re-positioning itself within the sink drain 20 as a utensil is being cleaned. Opening 4 allows liquids, as well as solids dislodged from utensils, to pass through the insert 2 and into the sink drain 20, thus preventing any buildup of water and/or food particles in the sink.

The enablements described in detail above are considered novel over the prior art of record and are considered critical to the operation of at least one aspect of the apparatus and its method of use and to the achievement of the above described objectives. The words used in this specification to describe the instant embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification: structure, material or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word or words describing the element.

The definitions of the words or drawing elements described herein are meant to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structure, material or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements described and its various embodiments or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim.

Changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalents within the scope intended and its various embodiments. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements. This disclosure is thus meant to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted, and also what incorporates the essential ideas.

The scope of this description is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that each named inventor believes that the claimed subject matter is what is intended to be patented.

SEQUENCE LISTING

Not applicable.