Title:
PICTURE STORAGE PROTECTION UNIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A picture storage protection apparatus with a protective sheet sized to cover at least the exposed portion of the stored pictures in a picture storage compartment or a picture display pocket to protect the pictures against exposure damage. The sheet is capable of being inserted into at least one picture storage compartment and/or a picture display pocket. A picture storage protection apparatus with a protective flap adapted to extend over stored pictures in a picture storage compartment and/or a picture display pocket to protect the stored or displayed pictures against exposure damage. The picture storage compartment is attached to a picture frame or a picture display pocket.



Inventors:
Broehl, Joshua Michael (Worthington, OH, US)
Shova, Bryan Martin (Columbus, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/136143
Publication Date:
12/10/2009
Filing Date:
06/10/2008
Assignee:
WILTON INDUSTRIES, INC. (Woodridge, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
DAVIS, CASSANDRA HOPE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCGUIREWOODS, LLP (Tysons Corner, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A picture storage protection apparatus comprising: a. a picture frame having a picture receptacle adapted to receive at least one picture therein with at least a portion of said at least one picture having a first major surface exposed; and b. a protective sheet sized to cover at least a portion of the first major surface of said at least one picture against exposure damage when said protective sheet is mounted in said at least one picture receptacle substantially parallel with the first major surface.

2. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 1, wherein the receptacle comprises a picture storage compartment.

3. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 2, wherein the sheet is a material having at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking and anti-glare.

4. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 2, wherein an exposed surface of the sheet is the same color as a rear of the storage compartment.

5. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 2, wherein at least one surface of the sheet is capable of bearing indicia related to the contents of the picture storage compartment.

6. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 2, further comprising a label mounted to at least one surface of the protective sheet.

7. A picture storage protection apparatus comprising: a. a picture frame having a picture receptacle mounted to the picture frame; b. a protective flap having a first end adapted to extend over at least one picture in said receptacle for protecting said at least one picture against exposure damage.

8. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 7, wherein the protective flap is formed of a material capable of folding over pictures in the receptacle.

9. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 8, wherein the protective flap is formed of a material having at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking and anti-glare.

10. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 7, wherein the picture receptacle comprises a picture display pocket attached to the picture frame, and a picture storage compartment attached to the picture display pocket.

11. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 10, wherein the first end of the protective flap is adapted to extend over pictures in the picture storage compartment, and a second end of the protective flap is attached to a rear of the picture display pocket.

12. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 11, wherein the second end of the protective flap is pivotably mounted to a rear of the picture display pocket by at least one hinge.

13. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a closure device holding the first end of the protective flap closed against the picture storage compartment.

14. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 13, wherein the closure device comprises elastic bands attached to sidewalls of the picture storage compartment.

15. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 13, wherein the closure device comprises at least one snap on the flap with a corresponding mating snap on the outside of the picture storage compartment.

16. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 13, further comprising at least one memory label mounted to a rear of said at least one picture storage compartment for recording the contents of said at least one picture storage compartment.

17. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 11, wherein the second end of the protective flap is removably attached to the rear of the picture display pocket through at least one snap with a corresponding mating snap on an outside of the picture display pocket.

18. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 10, wherein the first end of the protective flap is adapted to extend over pictures in the picture display pocket, and the second end of the protective flap is attached to a rear of the picture storage compartment.

19. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 18, wherein the second end of the protective flap is pivotably mounted to a rear of the picture storage compartment by at least one hinge.

20. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 19, further comprising a closure device holding the first end of the protective flap against the picture display compartment.

21. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 20, wherein the closure device comprises at least one snap with a corresponding mating snap on an outside of the picture display pocket.

22. The picture storage protection apparatus of claim 18, wherein the second end of the protective flap is removably attached to the rear of the picture storage compartment through at least one snap with a corresponding mating snap on an outside of the picture storage compartment.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to the field of picture storage protection devices, and more particularly to a device for protecting pictures in a picture receptacle attached to a picture frame.

2. Description of the Related Art

When pictures are stored in a receptacle, such as a storage compartment or display pocket of a picture frame, as in co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 12/045,793, which is incorporated herein by reference, a portion of the photo extends above the top of the storage compartment or display pocket to allow for easy removal, especially when the receptacle is attached to a picture frame. While the extending portion of a stored picture can be easily gripped, to enable people to select and/or remove stored pictures more easily, the extending portion is exposed to possible damage, such as edge-curling of the picture, ultra-violet light, splashing of liquid, and dust. A protecting device is needed to prevent damage to pictures stored in such picture receptacles.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention address some or all of the concerns discussed above. Products according to the invention have the potential to be simple to manufacture, inexpensive, and widely accepted. People can use such a photo storage protection apparatus to prevent exposure damage to such stored pictures.

In accordance with the present invention, a preferred embodiment for a picture storage protection apparatus comprises a combination of a picture receptacle and a protective sheet. The protective sheet is sized to cover the exposed portion of the stored pictures in a picture storage compartment or a picture display pocket against exposure damage to the stored pictures, and the protective sheet is capable of being inserted into at least one picture storage compartment or display pocket in the manner that a person inserts a picture into such a picture storage compartment or display pocket. A picture receptacle refers to a picture storage compartment, a picture display pocket and a combination of a picture storage compartment and a picture display pocket. The protective sheet is made of a material, such as an opaque, generally rigid paperboard, capable of protecting the stored pictures against damage. Preferably, the sheet material has at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking, and anti-glare. Moreover, an exposed surface of the sheet is preferably the same color as a rear of the picture storage compartment or display pocket, and at least one surface of the sheet is capable of bearing indicia related to the contents of the picture storage compartment. In a further embodiment of the protective sheet, an optional memory label is mounted to a front surface of the protective sheet, thereby permitting owners of photographs to write the contents of the picture receptacle on the memory label.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the picture storage protection apparatus comprises a picture frame having at least one picture receptacle, said at least one such receptacle being mounted to the picture frame, and a protective flap adapted to extend over the stored pictures in the picture receptacle to protect against exposure damage to the stored pictures. A picture receptacle refers a picture storage compartment, a picture display pocket, or a combination of a picture storage compartment and a picture display pocket. A first end of the protective flap is attached to a rear of the picture receptacle that is attached to the frame, and a second end of the flap is adapted to extend over pictures in the receptacle. The protective flap is formed of a material capable of folding over the stored pictures in the receptacle, such as paper or plastic. Moreover, the protective flap is preferably formed of an opaque material having at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking, and anti-glare.

The first end of the protective flap is attached to a rear of the picture display pocket or to a rear of the picture frame through adhesives, nails, hinges, living hinges, or a combination thereof. A closure device holds the second end of the protective flap closed against the storage compartment. The closure device can be elastic bands, tie strings, magnets, mating snaps, any equivalent devices or a combination thereof.

Alternatively, the first end of the protective flap is removably attached to a rear of the picture display pocket or to a rear of the picture frame using Velcro fasteners, snaps, magnets, tie strings, elastic strings, or a combination thereof. Again, a closure device holds the second end of the protective flap closed against the storage compartment.

In another alternative embodiment, the second end of the protective flap is attached to a rear of a picture storage compartment or a picture display pocket using a flexible attachment device. The flexible attachment device can be a hinge, living hinge, or other similar attachment device. In the case of living hinges, the storage compartment and the protective flap are formed of a material capable of forming a living hinge, such as polypropylene.

In another alternative embodiment, the second end of the protective flap is removably attached to a rear of the storage compartment or to a rear of the picture display pocket using at least one mating snap, Velcro fasteners, or another attachment device. A closure device holds the first end of the protective flap closed against the storage compartment. The closure device can be elastic bands, tie strings, magnets, mating snaps, or any equivalent or a combination thereof.

This brief summary has been provided so that the nature of the invention may be understood quickly. A more complete understanding of the invention may be obtained by reference to the following description of the preferred embodiments thereof in connection with the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view illustrating a picture storage device without the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present invention inside the picture storage device as illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present invention as illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view illustrating an embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a rear perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention attached to a rear of a picture storage/display unit.

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective exploded view illustrating an embodiment of FIG. 5 with the attached picture storage/display unit.

FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention in an opened position to allow for access of pictures stored in the picture storage/display unit.

FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 7 closed over the pictures in a picture storage/display unit.

FIG. 9 is a rear exploded perspective view illustrating a picture storage/display unit with the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10A is a partial perspective view illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10B is a magnified partial perspective view illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10C is a magnified partial perspective view illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 11 is rear perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention in a close position.

FIG. 12 is a rear exploded view illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a rear exploded view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

In describing the preferred embodiment of the invention which is illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, it is not intended that the invention be limited to the specific term so selected and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose. For example, the word connected or terms similar thereto are often used. They are not limited to direct connection, but include connection through other elements where such connection is recognized as being equivalent by those skilled in the art.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, a picture storage protection apparatus includes a combination of a picture receptacle and a protective sheet 12. The picture receptacle is the combination of a picture storage compartment and a picture display pocket, or can be only one of these two structures. The functions served by these structures are unified in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 as a single cavity that can receive, display and store planar pictures. The unique features described herein can be used in association with other types of apparatuses, as will be understood by the person having ordinary skill.

As shown in FIGS. 1-2, the protective sheet 12 is of a size that covers substantially the entire exposed portion of the rear surface of the pictures 24 in the picture receptacle 20, thereby protecting against damage to the exposed parts of the pictures. The sheet 12 is capable of being inserted into a picture receptacle in the manner that photos are inserted into the picture storage and display receptacle 20, and is placed against the rear of any stack of photos to protect the photos at the exposed rear edge or edges. As shown in FIG. 2, the sheet 12 is placed against a rear wall 22 of the picture receptacle 20, covering over the exposed portion of the stored pictures 24 in the storage and display receptacle 20.

The picture receptacle 20 with the stored pictures 24 is shown in FIG. 1 without the protective sheet 12 that is illustrated in FIG. 2. The rear wall 22 of the picture receptacle 20 can be affixed to a border 26 of the frame through pivotal tabs 28 and 29. Other attachment devices can also be used to affix the picture receptacle 20 to the border 26, such as flanges, mating snaps, hinges or equivalents. The picture receptacle 20 can be a separate unit, or the receptacle 20 can be attached permanently or removably to a rear of a picture frame or a picture display pocket.

For the sake of convenience and clarity, terms such as “front,” “rear,” “top,” “height,” and “width” will be used herein to describe the relative placement and orientation of various components of the invention, each with respect to the border elements as they appear in FIGS. 1-13. The border element is similar in shape and size to those used in many conventional picture frame applications. Similarly, the term “picture” is used herein to describe any planar sheet having at least one major surface that is desirably displayed.

In a preferred embodiment, the sheet 12 is composed of a material capable of protecting stored pictures against exposure damage. Preferably, the sheet is formed of a material having at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking, and anti-glare, such as is found with cardboard, plastic, wood and metal.

A rear surface 14 of the sheet 12 is preferably the same color as a rear wall 22 of the picture receptacle 20 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. In the preferred embodiment, a front surface 16 of the sheet 12 is capable of being written upon, such as for a person to record the contents of the picture receptacle 20, as shown in FIG. 4. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 4, an optional adhesive memory label 18 is mounted to the front surface 16 of the sheet for recording the contents of the storage and display receptacle 20. The optional adhesive memory label 18 can also be mounted to the rear surface 14 of the protective sheet 12 as shown in FIG. 3. However, it is more preferable to mount the memory label 18 to the front surface 16 of the sheet to protect the memory label against exposure damage.

Referring to FIGS. 5-13, various embodiments of storage protection apparatuses are shown, each of which preferably has a protective flap adapted to extend over the stored pictures in a picture storage compartment or a display pocket, or both, to protect against exposure damage to the pictures. The picture receptacle, which is defined herein as a storage compartment, a display pocket or both, is attached permanently or removably to a picture frame or a picture display pocket.

In FIGS. 5-6, the frame 60 has a border element 62 and a viewing pane 64 (not shown in FIG. 5) similar in shape and size to those used in many conventional picture frame applications. Additionally, the frame 60 has a picture receptacle 66 and a peripheral easel 68 to support the frame. The receptacle 66 has a storage compartment 40 and a display pocket 50.

The storage compartment 40 of the FIG. 5 embodiment is a rectangular body having three adjoining sidewalls 42, 44, and 46 that extend toward the display pocket 50 from the edges of a rear wall 48 of the storage compartment 40. The sidewalls 42-46 of the storage compartment 40 attach to a rear wall 55 (shown in FIG. 6) of the display pocket 50 to define a storage chamber 49 in the space therebetween. The storage chamber 49 preferably has a width that is less than, or equal to, the display pocket 50, and a height that is preferably less than the height of the display pocket 50. The storage compartment 40 is preferably deep enough to accommodate a plurality of pictures, for example, in the range of 5-10, for convenient storage while the pictures are not on display through the pane 64 in the display pocket 50. The pictures can be inserted into the storage compartment 40 through the top opening 41 (shown in FIG. 6) and be stacked in the chamber 49 in the manner of a deck of playing cards. Like the finger notch 52 of the display pocket 50, a finger notch 45 in the top edge of the compartment wall 48 allows convenient removal of pictures from the storage chamber 49.

In a preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 5, a first end 32 of the protective flap 30 is attached to a backer board (not shown in FIG. 6) of the picture display pocket 50 just above the storage compartment 40, and a second end 34 of the flap 30 extends over the pictures stored in the storage compartment 40 along the folding creases 35 and 36 that are shown in FIG. 6. The second end 34 is directly opposite the first end 32. In FIG. 5, the first end 32 substantially covers the entire extending portion of the rear wall 55 that is above the storage compartment 40. As such, the rear wall 55 of the display pocket 50 is not shown in FIG. 5, but is illustrated in FIG. 6.

The first end 32 of the protective flap 30 can be attached permanently or removably to a border of the display pocket 50, or even to a border element 62 of the frame 60. The permanent attachment can be achieved through conventional means, such as nails, hinges, living hinges or adhesives. The removable attachment can be achieved through snaps, Velcro fasteners, or other similar devices.

The protective flap 30 preferably has a width and a depth that are equal to, or greater than, the storage compartment 40, and a height that is preferably less than one half of the height of the storage compartment 40. Alternatively, the protective flap 30 can have a height that is equal to, or greater than, the storage compartment 40. In all the embodiments, the dimension of the protective flap should be sufficient to cover the exposed section of the stored pictures in the picture receptacle 66.

The protective flap 30 is formed of a material flexible enough to extend or fold over pictures stored in the storage compartment 40 and the display pocket 50 and/or of a material capable of forming living hinges. In particularly preferred embodiments, the protective flap 30 is formed of a material having at least one of the properties of ultra-violet light blocking, splash blocking, and anti-glare, such as is found with cardboard, plastic, wood and metal.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 5-6, a closure device 38 holds the second end 34 of the protective flap 30 closed against the rear wall 48 of the storage compartment 40. The closure device 38 is preferably an elastic band attached at opposite ends to the sidewalls 42 and 46 of the storage compartment 40. Elastic bands can also be attached to a rear of the picture display pocket 50 next to the two sidewalls 42 and 46 of the storage compartment 40, to the backer board or to the border element 62 of the frame 60. The closure device 38 can also be tie strings attached to two sidewalls 42 and 46 of the storage compartment 40. Other types of closure devices are contemplated, including magnets, mating snaps, Velcro fasteners, or other closure/attachment fasteners.

In another embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 7-10, the protective flap 130 has a second end 134 attached to the storage compartment 140 through a flexible attachment device, and a first end 132 removably attached to the storage compartment 140. Similarly to the first end 32 of the protective flap 30 shown in FIGS. 5-6, the second end 134 of the protective flap 130 can alternatively be attached permanently or removably to the display pocket 150. The permanent attachment can be achieved through conventional means, such as nails, hinges, living hinges or adhesives. The removable attachment can be achieved through snaps, Velcro fasteners, or other such devices.

In FIG. 7 (and magnified in FIGS. 10B & C), the first end 132 is shown removably attached to the storage compartment 140 through mating snap protrusions 133 and 139 with the corresponding mating snap cavities or grooves 163 and 169 on the sidewalls of the picture display pocket 150. The second end 134 is permanently attached to a rear wall 148 of the storage compartment 140 through a living hinge 136.

To form the living hinge 136, the rear wall 148 of the storage unit 140 is formed, such as by injection molding or casting, of, for example, polypropylene or polyethylene. In other embodiments of the storage protection unit, the picture receptacle 166 (the combination of the storage compartment 140 and the display pocket 150, or only one of these) is preferably fabricated from plastic, although all other sufficiently durable materials, including, but not limited to various rigid, semi-rigid, and flexible materials, are also contemplated. Although it is preferred that the receptacle 166 be a unitary body, it is contemplated that the display pocket 150 and the storage compartment 140 can be separate, independent bodies, positioned apart from one another on the rear of the border element 162, or positioned together after mounting one independent body to the other.

The storage compartment 140 is preferably deep enough to accommodate a plurality of pictures, for example, in the range of 5-10, for convenient storage while the pictures are not on display in the picture display pocket 150. The pictures can be inserted into the picture storage compartment 140 through the top opening 141 and be stacked in the picture storage compartment 140 in the manner of a deck of playing cards. The picture display pocket 150 has an additional feature of a finger notch 152 in the top edge of the wall 155 that allows convenient removal of pictures from the picture display pocket 150.

The protective flap 130 is in a closed position when the frame is on display, as shown in FIG. 8, with mating snap protrusions 133 and 139 on the protective flap 130 in corresponding mating snap cavities 163 and 169 on the sidewalls of the picture display pocket 150. The user can gain access to the stored photos by pulling open the protective flap 130 and pivoting the flap about the living hinge 136 along the bottom edge as shown in FIGS. 10A, 10B and 10C. When the user no longer needs access, the user can rotate the protective flap 130 back into the closed position and snap it shut with a gentle push.

Magnified views of the mating snaps 133 and 169 are shown in FIGS. 10B-10C (the mating snaps 139 and 163 are not shown in FIG. 10B-10C, but are substantially the same as the snaps 133 and 169). In addition, FIGS. 10A, 10B, and 10C show the protective flap 130 in various stages of covering the stored pictures in the picture storage compartment 140.

In another embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 11-12, the first, upper end 232 of the protective flap 230 is removably attached to the rear wall 255 of the picture display pocket 250, and the second, lower end 234 of the protective flap 230 is removably attached to a rear of the storage compartment 240. The removable attachment can be achieved through the mating snaps 233, 263, 239 and 269 as shown in FIGS. 11-12. The mating snaps 233 and 239 are on the front surface 235 of the protective flap 230. To attach the protective flap 230 to a picture receptacle 266 (a picture receptacle 266 refers a combination of the storage compartment 240 and the picture display pocket 250, or only one of these two structures), the mating snap 233 on the front surface 235 of the protective flap 230 (shown detached from the frame 260 in FIG. 12) is connected to its corresponding mating snap 263 on the rear wall 255 of the display pocket 250. The mating snap 239 on the front surface 235 of the protective flap 230 is connected to its corresponding mating snap 269 on the rear wall 248 of the picture storage compartment 240. Other removable attachment devices include Velcro fasteners, magnets, tie strings, elastic strings, and other similar devices. The picture receptacle 266 is located within a border element 262 of the frame 260, which is supported by a peripheral easel 268.

Preferably, as shown in FIG. 12, an optional adhesive memory label 231 is mounted to the front surface 235 of the protective flap for recording the contents of the storage compartment 240. The optional adhesive memory label 231 can also be mounted to a rear surface 236 of the protective flap (the rear surface 236 is visible in FIG. 11). However, it is more preferable to mount the memory label 231 to the front surface of the sheet in order that the memory label 231 faces the rear of the photos and is protected by the flap against exposure damage.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 13, the protective flap 330 can be attached permanently or removably to the border element 362 of a picture frame 360 to protect the exposed portions of both the displayed pictures and the stored pictures in the picture receptacle 366. A picture receptacle 366 refers to a combination of the storage compartment 340 and the picture display pocket 350, or only one of these two structures. As noted above, although it is preferred for the picture receptacle 366 to be a unitary body, it is contemplated that the display pocket and the storage compartment can be separate, independent bodies, positioned apart from one another on the rear of the border of the frame, or positioned together after mounting one independent body to the other. In FIG. 13, the picture receptacle 366 is located within a border element 362 of the frame 360, which is supported by a peripheral easel 368.

The removable attachment can be achieved through mating snaps 333, 363, 339 and 369 as shown in FIG. 13. The mating snaps 333 and 339 are on the front surface 335 of the protective flap 330. To attach the protective flap 330 to the picture receptacle 366 or the picture frame 360, the mating snap 333 on the front surface 335 of the protective flap 330 is connected to its corresponding mating snap 363 on the border element 362 of the frame 360, which is above the display pocket 350. The mating snap 339 on the front surface 335 of the protective flap 330 is connected to its corresponding mating snap 369 on the rear wall 348 of the picture storage compartment 340. Other removable attachment devices include Velcro fasteners, magnets, tie strings, elastic strings, and other similar devices.

Furthermore, as shown in FIG. 13, an optional adhesive memory label 331 is mounted to the front surface 335 of the protective flap for recording the contents of the storage compartment 40. The optional adhesive memory label 331 can alternatively be mounted to a rear surface 336 of the protective flap (the rear surface 336 is not shown in FIG. 13). However, it is preferable to mount the memory label 331 to the front surface 335 of the sheet in order that the memory label 331 faces the rear of the photos where it is protected by the flap against exposure damage.

This detailed description in connection with the drawings is intended principally as a description of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the designs, functions, means, and methods of implementing the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and features may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention and that various modifications may be adopted without departing from the invention or scope of the following claims.