Title:
Pencil box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable supply container with a concave upwardly open bottom shell, a cover hinged to one side of the bottom shell and adapted to selectively cover the opening the bottom shell, and a downwardly facing concave top shell. The top shell has a first portion secured to the cover along one end and two sides, and a second portion connected to the first portion by a transverse hinge between the two sides. A first releasable connection is provided between the cover and the bottom shell on the other side of the bottom shell, and a second releasable connection is provided between the top shell second portion and the cover on the other end. The outer surface of the bottom shell has a non-slip surface having a different tactile feel than the outer surface of the top shell.



Inventors:
Henry, Lou (Scarsdale, NY, US)
Conklin, Melanie (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/005469
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
12/27/2007
Assignee:
It's Academic of Illinois, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C11/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOOD, PHILLIPS, KATZ, CLARK & MORTIMER (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A generally rectangular portable supply container having a two sides between opposite ends, comprising: a concave upwardly open generally rectangular bottom shell; a generally rectangular cover hinged to one side of the bottom shell; and a downwardly facing concave generally rectangular top shell, said top shell having a first portion secured to said cover along one end and two sides, and a second portion connected to said first portion along a transverse hinge extending between said two sides.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein said transverse hinge biases said second portion toward closing against said cover.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein said transverse hinge is bowed inwardly toward said cover whereby an overcenter biasing force is applied to said second portion as said second portion approaches said cover.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the outer surface of said bottom shell has a different tactile feel than the outer surface of said top shell.

5. The container of claim 1, further comprising a non-slip cover on the bottom of said bottom shell.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein said non-slip cover has a different tactile feel than the outer surface of said top shell.

7. The container of claim 1, wherein said sides have a length longer than the width of said ends.

8. The container of claim 1, further comprising a first releasable connection between said cover and said bottom shell on the other side of said bottom shell, and a second releasable connection between said top shell second portion and said cover on the other end.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein said transverse hinge is substantially parallel to said ends.

10. The container of claim 1, wherein: said bottom shell has an outwardly extending flange spaced from and around its opening with a lip around the bottom shell opening projecting upwardly from said flange; said cover includes a flat compartment-separating member with a lip extending upwardly and downwardly from the flat member around its periphery; said top shell includes a downwardly projecting lip around its opening, with said top shell lip of said first portion received inside said upwardly extending cover lip; when said cover closes said bottom shell, said downwardly extending cover lip engages said bottom shell flange with said bottom shell lip received inside said downwardly extending cover lip; and when said top shell second portion is closed against said cover, said top shell lip is received inside said upwardly extending cover lip.

11. A portable supply container having a two sides between opposite ends, comprising: a concave upwardly open bottom shell; a cover hinged to one side of the bottom shell and adapted to selectively cover the opening said bottom shell; a downwardly facing concave top shell, said top shell having a first portion secured to said cover along one end and two sides, and a second portion connected to said first portion by a transverse hinge between said two sides; a first releasable connection between said cover and said bottom shell on the other side of said bottom shell; and a second releasable connection between said top shell second portion and said cover on the other end; wherein the outer surface of said bottom shell has a non-slip surface having a different tactile feel than the outer surface of said top shell.

12. The container of claim 11, wherein said non-slip surface is defined by a rubber cover on the bottom of said bottom shell.

13. The container of claim 11, wherein said sides have a length longer than the width of said ends.

14. The container of claim 11, wherein: said bottom shell has an outwardly extending flange spaced from and around its opening with a lip around the bottom shell opening projecting upwardly from said flange; said cover includes a flat compartment-separating member with a lip extending upwardly and downwardly from the flat member around its periphery; said top shell includes a downwardly projecting lip around its opening, with said top shell lip of said first portion received inside said upwardly extending cover lip; when said cover closes said bottom shell, said downwardly extending cover lip engages said bottom shell flange with said bottom shell lip received inside said downwardly extending cover lip; and when said top shell second portion is closed against said cover, said top shell lip is received inside said upwardly extending cover lip.

15. The container of claim 11, wherein said transverse hinge biases said second portion toward closing against said cover.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein said transverse hinge is bowed inwardly toward said cover whereby an overcenter biasing force is applied to said second portion as said second portion approaches said cover.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not applicable.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed toward portable storage containers, and particularly toward school supply containers such as pencil boxes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND TECHNICAL PROBLEMS POSED BY THE PRIOR ART

Portable supply containers such as pencil boxes or school boxes have long been used by students to carry and/or organize various supplies needed for classes, such as pencils, pens, erasers, protractors, compasses, rulers and the like. Some containers have consisted of soft pockets which are closed by suitable zippers. Typically, such containers allow their inclusion with notebooks for convenient carrying, but have limited storage capacity.

Other containers have also been used by students which have hard shells which are portable (though not as conveniently portable perhaps as some pocket containers), and can better define different compartments for storing and organizing supplies. Such containers will better protect the supplies contained therein than soft pocket-type containers, and are therefore particularly suitable for storing supplies in locations such as desks and lockers, where the container is more likely to be inadvertently struck by heavy objects such as books and the like. However, since such containers are oftentimes accessed while in a location which is partially covered and not well lit (e.g., inside a desk or locker) and therefore not clearly visible, there is an enhanced risk that such a container will be inadvertently opened in an incorrect orientation which could cause the contents to spill out of the container.

The present invention is directed toward overcoming one or more of the problems set forth above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, a generally rectangular portable supply container is provided, including a concave upwardly open generally rectangular bottom shell, a generally rectangular cover hinged to one side of the bottom shell, and a downwardly facing concave generally rectangular top shell, the top shell. The top shell has a first portion secured to the cover along one end and two sides, and a second portion connected to the first portion along a transverse hinge extending between the two sides.

In one form of this aspect of the present invention, the transverse hinge biases the second portion toward closing against the cover. In a further form, the transverse hinge is bowed inwardly toward the cover whereby an overcenter biasing force is applied to the second portion as the second portion approaches the cover.

In another form of this aspect of the present invention, the outer surface of the bottom shell has a different tactile feel than the outer surface of the top shell.

In still another form of this aspect of the present invention, a non-slip cover is provided on the bottom of the bottom shell. In a further form, the non-slip cover has a different tactile feel than the outer surface of the top shell.

In yet another form of this aspect of the present invention, the sides have a length longer than the width of the ends.

In another form of ths aspect of the present invention, a first releasable connection is provided between the cover and the bottom shell on the other side of the bottom shell, and a second releasable connection between the top shell second portion and the cover on the other end.

In still another form of this aspect of the present invention, the transverse hinge is substantially parallel to the ends.

In yet another form of this aspect of the present invention, the bottom shell has an outwardly extending flange spaced from and around its opening with a lip around the bottom shell opening projecting upwardly from the flange, the cover includes a flat compartment-separating member with a lip extending upwardly and downwardly from the flat member around its periphery, and the top shell includes a downwardly projecting lip around its opening, with the top shell lip of the first portion received inside the upwardly extending cover lip. When the cover closes the bottom shell, the downwardly extending cover lip engages the bottom shell flange with the bottom shell lip received inside the downwardly extending cover lip. When the top shell second portion is closed against the cover, the top shell lip is received inside the upwardly extending cover lip.

In another aspect of the present invention, a portable supply container has a concave upwardly open bottom shell, a cover hinged to one side of the bottom shell and adapted to selectively cover the opening the bottom shell, and a downwardly facing concave top shell. The top shell has a first portion secured to the cover along one end and two sides, and a second portion connected to the first portion by a transverse hinge between the two sides. A first releasable connection is provided between the cover and the bottom shell on the other side of the bottom shell, and a second releasable connection is provided between the top shell second portion and the cover on the other end. The outer surface of the bottom shell has a non-slip surface having a different tactile feel than the outer surface of the top shell.

In one form of this aspect of the present invention, the non-slip surface is defined by a rubber cover on the bottom of the bottom shell.

In another form of this aspect of the present invention, the sides have a length longer than the width of the ends.

In a further form of this aspect of the present invention, the bottom shell has an outwardly extending flange spaced from and around its opening with a lip around the bottom shell opening projecting upwardly from the flange, the cover includes a flat compartment-separating member with a lip extending upwardly and downwardly from the flat member around its periphery, and the top shell includes a downwardly projecting lip around its opening, with the top shell lip of the first portion received inside the upwardly extending cover lip. When the cover closes the bottom shell, the downwardly extending cover lip engages the bottom shell flange with the bottom shell lip received inside the downwardly extending cover lip. When the top shell second portion is closed against the cover, the top shell lip is received inside the upwardly extending cover lip.

In still another form of this aspect of the present invention, the transverse hinge biases the second portion toward closing against the cover. In a further form, the transverse hinge is bowed inwardly toward the cover whereby an overcenter biasing force is applied to the second portion as the second portion approaches the cover.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable supply container according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 container showing a portion of the top shell pivoted open to allow access to the top compartment;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 container showing the intermediate cover pivoted open to allow access to the bottom compartment;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing the other side of the container from that shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A portable supply container 10, such as a pencil or school box, which incorporates various aspects of the present invention is illustrated in the Figures. The container 10 includes a bottom shell 20, an intermediate cover 24, and a top shell 28.

The bottom shell 20 is concave so as to define a storage compartment 30 therein and, in the preferred orientation, is upwardly open. (References to top, bottom, up, down and the like herein are for convenience of references with respect to the orientation illustrated in the Figures; it should be understood that the container, being portable, could obviously moved to a different orientation during its use.) The outer surface of the bottom shell 20 may advantageously include a bottom portion which is non-slip formed, for example, by a rubber coating 32 secured to the bottom of the bottom shell 20 defined by a hard smooth plastic. The shell 20 is generally rectangular when viewed from above, having sides 34 and ends 36 where the sides 34 may be advantageously longer than the ends 36. An outwardly extending flange 40 around the bottom shell 20 is spaced below the lip 42 defining the bottom shell opening.

The cover 24 includes a flat compartment-separating member 50 with a lip 52 extending both upwardly and downwardly from the flat member 50 around its periphery.

A suitable hinge 56 is provided between the bottom shell 20 and the cover 24 along one side 34, allowing the cover 24 to be pivoted open to expose the bottom shell compartment 30 for accessing its contents (see FIG. 3). When pivoted shut (see FIGS. 1, 2, 5 and 6), the flat member 50 covers the bottom shell opening, with the bottom shell lip 42 being located inside the downwardly extending lip 52 of the cover 24 and the downwardly extending lip 52 of the cover abutting the outwardly extending flange 40 of the bottom shell 20.

A releasable connection 58 defined by cooperating latch elements 60, 62 is also provided on the bottom shell 20 and the cover 24 on the side opposite the hinge 56. This connection 58 allows the cover 24 to be releasably held in place over the shell compartment 30 to close the bottom shell 20. As best seen in FIG. 5, one suitable connection 58 includes a first latch element 60 on the bottom shell 20 defining a downwardly facing shoulder, and a downwardly extending tab defining the other latch element 62 with an upwardly facing shoulder. The latch elements 60, 62 and/or their supporting structures (e.g., the side 34 of the bottom shell 20) may be flexed when latching or unlatching the latch elements 60, 62 to separate the facing shoulders and allow pivoting of the cover 24.

The top shell 28 is also concave, but downwardly open, so as to define a storage compartment 70 therebeneath. The top shell 28 includes a first portion 72 and a second portion 74. The first portion 72 is suitably secured to the cover 24 along one end and two sides. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 4, downwardly extending tabs 76 may be suitably secured in mating openings 78 in the cover 24. The top shell 28 may also include a downwardly projecting lip 80 (see FIG. 5) around its opening which is received inside the upwardly projecting lip 52 of the cover 24 to facilitate alignment and securing of the cover 24 and top shell 28 together.

The top shell second portion 74 is hinged to the first portion 72 by a transverse hinge 82 between the two sides 34. The hinge 82 may advantageously consist of a thinned line of material between the two portions 72, 74, formed during molding or by partially cutting through the top shell 28 in that area. Further, by causing the top surface of the top shell 28 to be flexed slightly into the storage compartment 70 (i.e., flexed down) across the line of the hinge 82, the hinge 82 will have an effective overcenter type of operation whereby the second portion 74 will be biased toward closing and retained closed by a resulting bias in the hinge 82 when pivoted sufficiently toward closing.

A second releasable connection 90 may also be provided between the second portion 74 of the top shell 28 and the cover 24 to assist in keeping the top shell second portion 74 secured down on the cover and/or to assist a user in grasping the second portion 74 to open it to gain access to the compartment 70. For example, the downwardly projecting lip 80 of the top shell 28 may be frictionally received inside the upwardly projecting lip 52 of the cover 24, and/or connections using suitable snap-together interacting parts could also be used. The previously described biasing hinge 82 may also be considered to be such connection 90.

A recess 92 may also be provided in the cover lip 52 together with a projecting thumb portion 94 to allow a user to easily grasp the second portion 74 to pivot it up to allow access to the top storage compartment 70.

It should be appreciated that with the container 10 as disclosed, any number of smaller supplies such as erasers can be placed in the compartment 30 defined by the bottom shell 20, and easily accessed when the cover 24 is opened without danger of the supplies falling from the compartment 30. Similarly, longer supplies such as pencils, pens and rulers may be advantageously kept in the upper compartment 70 defined by the top shell 28, with access to those supplies gained by pivoting up the second portion 74 of the top shell 28 (and with the three closed sides of the compartment 70 retaining the supplies in the upper compartment 70 even when the second portion 74 is opened).

The outer surface of the top shell 28 may advantageously be provided with a different tactile feel than the outer surface of the bottom shell 28. For example, the top shell 28 may be smooth plastic whereas, as previously noted, the bottom surface of the bottom shell 20 may be rubber coated. Such coating not only aids in preventing the container 10 from slipping on any surface it might be placed on, but it also will assist any user in being able to tell by feel whether or not the container 10 is properly oriented before they attempt to open it (e.g., when opening the container 10 without being able to look closely at it such as when in a desk or locker). In that regard, it should be appreciated that if the container 10 were upside down with the bottom shell 20 on top, and the bottom shell 20 opened from the cover 24, the contents of the compartment 30 in the bottom shell 20 would spill out onto and off of the cover 24. By assisting in ensuring that the user can reliably appreciate the proper orientation of the container 10, such accidents in which important supplies can be lost or damaged may be avoided.

Still other aspects, objects, and advantages of the present invention can be obtained from a study of the specification, the drawings, and the appended claims. It should be understood, however, that the present invention could be used in alternate forms where less than all of the objects and advantages of the present invention and preferred embodiment as described above would be obtained.