Title:
DISH DRAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dish drying apparatus. The dish drying apparatus has two outlet lips, one on each end, both proximal to the same side. The dish drying apparatus also has two user-configurable configurations, such that the dish drying apparatus can be placed to either side of a sink and is capable of draining, through the outlet lip, into the sink.



Inventors:
Lam, Andy (Scarborough, CA)
Application Number:
12/423091
Publication Date:
03/18/2010
Filing Date:
04/14/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L19/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080223801Food storage container organizerSeptember, 2008Krempa
20080121598Towel holderMay, 2008Brinson
20080098937Folding FurnitureMay, 2008Green
200602667255th Wheel trailer hangerNovember, 2006Coushaine
20100059468PLATE TENSIONING SHELFMarch, 2010Liang
20040262250Merchandising strip with locking tabDecember, 2004Kosir
20090127214Cleaning article holderMay, 2009Kruger et al.
20070080124Adjustable wine shelfApril, 2007Frentzel



Primary Examiner:
HAWN, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RIDOUT & MAYBEE LLP (TORONTO, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. A dish tray comprising: a. a floor, having an underside, a topside, a right edge, a left edge, a front edge, and a back edge, and having a concave shape from said front edge to said back edge; b. a right endwall extending upwardly from said right edge; c. a left endwall extending upwardly from said left edge; d. said left endwall, right endwall, front edge and back edge forming a rim; e. a gap in said right endwall, forming a right outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; f. a second gap in said left endwall, forming a left outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; g. an elevation means, for elevating one edge of the floor relative to another edge of the floor; and having at least two, user selectable configurations; h. wherein in the first configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the left edge is higher than the right edge; i. and wherein in the second configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the right edge is higher than the left edge.

2. A dish tray comprising: a. a floor, having an underside, a topside, a right edge, a left edge, a front edge, and a back edge; b. a right endwall extending upwardly from said right edge; c. a left endwall extending upwardly from said left edge; d. a front sidewall extending upwardly from said front edge; e. a back sidewall extending upwardly from said back edge; f. said left endwall, right endwall, front sidewall and back sidewall forming a rim; g. a gap in said right endwall, forming a right outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; h. a second gap in said left endwall, forming a left outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; i. an elevation means, for elevating one edge of the floor relative to another edge of the floor; and having at least two, user selectable configurations; j. wherein in the first configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the left edge is higher than the right edge; k. and wherein in the second configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the right edge is higher than the left edge.

3. The dish tray of claim 1, wherein, in either configuration, the angle of the floor to the surface on which the floor is placed is between 4 and 5 degrees.

4. The dish tray of claim 1 wherein the elevation means is a wire support attached to the underside of the floor and capable of rotating from a first position more proximal to the right edge to a second position more proximal to the left edge.

5. The dish tray of claim 1 wherein the elevation means is at least one removable foot said foot capable of affixing to a right foot dock located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and also capable of affixing to a left foot dock located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

6. The dish tray of claim 5 wherein the at least one removable foot comprises two removable feet.

7. The dish tray of claim 1 further comprising at least one permanent right foot located on an underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on an underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

8. The dish tray of claim 4 further comprising at least one permanent right foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

9. The dish tray of claim 8 wherein the elevation means has a base that is more distal to the floor than a distal end of the permanent right foot and a distal end of the permanent left foot.

10. The dish tray of claim 5 further comprising at least one permanent right foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

11. The dish tray of claim 10 wherein the removable foot has a base that is more distal to the floor than a distal end of the permanent right foot and a distal end of the permanent left foot.

12. A dish drainer comprising: a. the dish tray of claim 1; b. a rack element positioned on the topside of the dish tray;

13. The dish drainer of claim 12 wherein the dish tray and the rack element are one piece.

14. The dish drainer of claim 12 wherein the dish tray and the rack element are two separate pieces.

15. The dish drainer of claim 14 wherein the dish tray and the rack element are removably affixed to one another.

16. The dish drainer of claim 12 wherein the rack element comprises: a. a rack element floor; b. a plurality of ribs extending in a generally perpendicular orientation to the floor; wherein said ribs allow the stacking of dishes in a generally vertical orientation.

17. The dish drainer of claim 16 further comprising at least two drain hole in said rack element floor, configured such that, when a wet dish is stacked, water drains through at least one drain hole onto the topside of the dish tray floor.

18. The dish drainer of claim 16 wherein the rack element floor and the dish tray floor are the same element.

19. The dish drainer of claim 12 further comprising at least one cutlery rack mount on the rack element, said cutlery rack mount capable of being affixed to a cutlery rack.

20. The dish drainer of claim 19 wherein the at least one cutlery rack mount comprises a left cutlery rack mount, proximal to the left endwall, and a right cutlery rack mount, proximal to the right endwall.

21. The dish drainer of claim 20 further comprising a cutlery rack capable of affixing to the right cutlery rack mount, and, in an alternative configuration capable of affixing to the left cutlery rack mount, said cutlery rack being capable of holding cutlery in a generally vertical orientation, said cutlery rack having at least one cutlery drain hole configured such that, when wet cutlery is placed in said cutlery rack, water drains through the cutlery drain hole onto the topside of the dish tray floor.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 61/044,603 filed Apr. 14, 2008, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to dish drying racks used to contain wet dishes after their washing, and the drain trays typically used below such racks to collect drained off water.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Dish racks, used adjacent to the kitchen sink, are commonly used for the collection of wet dishes subsequent to the manual washing of the dishes in the sink. Typically, dishes are washed, rinsed, and placed in specialized compartments in the rack, still wet. A series of apertures or holes extend through the bottom of the rack, through which water from the dishes is drained off by gravity.

A mat is sometimes used under the dish rack to absorb the water. Or, a tray, generally sold with the rack, is positioned beneath the rack and includes a tray floor, bounded by raised side walls, on which the rack is supported. Drainage water from the racked dishes collects in the tray floor, out of contact with the dishes, accelerating drying. Many trays comprise an outlet lip at one end of the tray floor, which is draped over the sink, and from which collected water can be returned to the sink. This is commonly a ‘gap’ in the raised side wall, at the centre of the edge of the tray which is placed closest to the sink.

Other trays merely collect the water in the tray floor, for eventual disposition by way of evaporation.

Dish drying racks and trays are likely as old as dishes themselves; U.S. Pat. No. 1,406,773, patented in 1922, describes a dish drying rack with an adjustable supporting means, allowing the tray to be placed at an angle to facilitate and expedite run-off of water into the sink. Various configurations of dish drying racks and trays can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,835,232, 2,936,898, 5,588,539.

Combinations of dish rack and tray in one unit dates back to 1958 and U.S. Pat. No. 2,954,875. Dish racks have been taught to be foldable (U.S. Pat. No. 6,170,676), expandable (U.S. Pat. No. 6,179,134), adjustable (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,364,130, 5,318,190), storable (U.S. Pat. No. 5,158,184), and of various shapes and sizes (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,531,641, 6,491,170, 7,325,695, 2007/0151937, D347,717, D353,921, D397,534, and D432,750). Even some of the problems faced when shipping or displaying dish rack and tray combinations have been explored (U.S. Pat. No. 5,385,261).

Other dish drainage apparatus are taught in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,119,943, 4,221,299, 4,531,641, 4,969,560, and 4,756,582.

One problem with most known dish racks is that they take up a lot of countertop space. A dish rack is typically placed to the side of the sink, taking up “prime” countertop real estate. The rack takes up most of the countertop, because the spout, outlet lip, or gap in the raised sidewall needs to be placed over the sink, and this spout, outlet lip, or gap, either runs the entire width of the rack, or is located at the centre of the rack.

It would be desirable to have a dish rack that does not use up this “prime” countertop real estate. In particular, it would be desirable to have a dish rack and tray that can be pushed to the back of the counter top, while still capable of draining into the sink. It would also be desirable if such a dish rack and tray is designed to be capable of being placed to either side of the sink, without the need for re-tooling or for a store to stock two different racks or trays.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention is a dish tray comprising: a floor, having an underside, a topside, a right edge, a left edge, a front edge, and a back edge, and having a concave shape from said front edge to said back edge; a right endwall extending upwardly from said right edge; a left endwall extending upwardly from said left edge; said left endwall, right endwall, front edge and back edge forming a rim; a gap in said right endwall, forming a right outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; a second gap in said left endwall, forming a left outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; an elevation means, for elevating one edge of the floor relative to another edge of the floor; and having at least two, user selectable configurations; wherein in the first configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the left edge is higher than the right edge; and wherein in the second configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the right edge is higher than the left edge.

According to another aspect of the present invention is a dish tray comprising: a floor, having an underside, a topside, a right edge, a left edge, a front edge, and a back edge; a right endwall extending upwardly from said right edge; a left endwall extending upwardly from said left edge; a front sidewall extending upwardly from said front edge; a back sidewall extending upwardly from said back edge; said left endwall, right endwall, front sidewall and back sidewall forming a rim; a gap in said right endwall, forming a right outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; a second gap in said left endwall, forming a left outlet lip, said gap located more proximal to the front edge than to the back edge; an elevation means, for elevating one edge of the floor relative to another edge of the floor; and having at least two, user selectable configurations; wherein in the first configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the left edge is higher than the right edge; and wherein in the second configuration, when the tray is placed on a horizontal surface, the right edge is higher than the left edge.

In one embodiment of the present invention, in either configuration, the angle of the floor to the surface on which the floor is placed is between 4 and 5 degrees.

A further embodiment of the present invention is the dish tray wherein the elevation means is a wire support attached to the underside of the floor and capable of rotating from a first position more proximal to the right edge to a second position more proximal to the left edge.

In a further embodiment of the present invention, the elevation means is at least one removable foot said foot capable of affixing to a right foot dock located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and also capable of affixing to a left foot dock located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

In one embodiment, the at least one removable foot comprises two removable feet.

In a further embodiment, the dish tray further comprises at least one permanent right foot located on an underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on an underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

In a further embodiment, the dish tray further comprises at least one permanent right foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

In yet a further embodiment, the elevation means has a base that is more distal to the floor than a distal end of the permanent right foot and a distal end of the permanent left foot.

In yet a further embodiment, the dish tray further comprises at least one permanent right foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the right edge than to the left edge, and at least one permanent left foot located on the underside of the floor and more proximal to the left edge than to the right edge.

In a further embodiment, the removable foot has a base that is more distal to the floor than a distal end of the permanent right foot and a distal end of the permanent left foot.

Another aspect of the present invention is a dish drainer comprising the dish tray as previously described, and a rack element positioned on the topside of the dish tray.

In a further embodiment, the dish tray and the rack element are one piece.

In another embodiment, the dish tray and the rack element are two separate pieces.

In a further embodiment, the dish tray and the rack element are removably affixed to one another.

In a further embodiment, the rack element comprises: a rack element floor; a plurality of ribs extending in a generally perpendicular orientation to the floor; wherein said ribs allow the stacking of dishes in a generally vertical orientation.

In a further embodiment, the dish drainer further comprises at least two drain hole in said rack element floor, configured such that, when a wet dish is stacked, water drains through at least one drain hole onto the topside of the dish tray floor.

In a further embodiment, the rack element floor and the dish tray floor are the same element.

In a further embodiment, the dish drainer further comprises at least one cutlery rack mount on the rack element, said cutlery rack mount capable of being affixed to a cutlery rack.

In a further embodiment, the at least one cutlery rack mount comprises a left cutlery rack mount, proximal to the left endwall, and a right cutlery rack mount, proximal to the right endwall.

In a further embodiment, the dish drainer further comprises a cutlery rack capable of affixing to the right cutlery rack mount, and, in an alternative configuration capable of affixing to the left cutlery rack mount, said cutlery rack being capable of holding cutlery in a generally vertical orientation, said cutlery rack having at least one cutlery drain hole configured such that, when wet cutlery is placed in said cutlery rack, water drains through the cutlery drain hole onto the topside of the dish tray floor.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a dish drainer that is one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows the topside of the dish tray of the dish drainer of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows the underside of the dish tray of FIG. 2, with the wire support proximal to the left endwall.

FIG. 4 shows the underside of the dish tray of FIG. 2, with the wire support proximal to the right endwall.

FIG. 5 shows the wire support from FIGS. 3 and 4, in isolation.

FIG. 6 shows a side view of the dish drainer of FIG. 1, in use, on the right side of a sink.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of the dish drainer of FIG. 1, in use, on the left side of a sink.

FIG. 8 shows the top view of the dish drainer of FIG. 1, in use, on the right side of a sink.

FIG. 9 shows the top view of the dish drainer of FIG. 1, in use, on the left side of a sink.

FIG. 10 shows the top view of the rack element of the dish drainer of FIG. 1.

FIG. 11 shows the bottom view of the rack element of the dish drainer of FIG. 1.

FIG. 12 shows the cutlery rack of the dish drainer of FIG. 1, in isolation.

FIG. 13 shows a perspective view of the rack element of a dish drainer that is an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of the rack element of FIG. 13, affixed to a dish tray.

FIG. 15 shows the underside of the dish tray of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 shows a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the dish drainer of the present invention, wherein the rack element and the dish tray are one piece.

FIG. 17 shows the dish drainer of FIG. 16 in use.

FIG. 18 is a top view of the dish drainer of FIG. 16.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the dish drainer of FIG. 16, in its operating environment, on the right side of a sink.

FIG. 20 is the top view of FIG. 19.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is a dish tray that can be pushed to the back of a countertop, while still capable of draining into a sink. With a small, user-selectable change in conformation, the dish tray can be configured to sit on either side of a sink, with no requirement for additional re-tooling, or for two different trays to be made.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, the Dish Drainer is seen to comprise a tray 20 and a rack 22. In certain embodiments (shown and described below with reference to FIGS. 16-18), the tray 20 and rack 22 elements may be made from one piece of plastic or metal. However, in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-15, the Dish Drainer comprises two separate pieces, one for the tray 20 and one for the rack 22. The rack 22 is removably affixed to the tray 20 by means of the rack-receiving elements 32, shown in this embodiment as holes within the tray extension 30 of the tray 20, which receive the tray fasteners 48, which are shown as protruding elements extending inwardly from the sidewall extension 50 of the rack 22.

The Tray 20 is shown in detail in FIGS. 2-5. The tray 20 is defined by sidewalls 36, endwalls 26, and a central tray floor 34. The tray floor 34 as shown is concave, allowing water dripping into the tray to pool away from the two sidewalls 36, though the tray floor could also be of any other shape that allows the water to pool away from the sidewalls (not shown). The endwalls 26 each comprise at least one upwardly turned wall 52 portion, and a left outlet lip 24 or a right outlet lip 25. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, the wall 52 extends from one sidewall 36 to approximately the midpoint of the tray 20, and the left outlet lip 24 extends from the other sidewall 36 to the lip 52, i.e. approximately the midpoint of the tray 20. However, as can be clearly envisioned, the left outlet lip 24 may be of virtually any length, and may be located anywhere along the endwall 26, so long as it is off-centre (as described further below), and surrounded by wall 52. Each endwall 26 comprises at least one wall 52 and an outlet lip (either a left outlet lip 24 or a right outlet lip 25), as described above. The left outlet lip 24 and right outlet lip 25 are both off-centre, and located on the same side of the tray 20 (i.e. both left outlet lip 24 and right outlet lip 25 are closer to the front sidewall 54 and more distal to the back sidewall 56).

The tray 20 as shown also comprises lip extension 28, which is shown in further detail in FIG. 18, described further below.

The tray 20 has an underside 58, shown in further detail in FIGS. 3-4. The underside comprises left feet 38, located on the same side as left outlet lip 24, and right feet 39, located on the same side as right outlet lip 25. As shown, the underside 58 has four feet 38, 39, though more feet could be utilized. Alternatively, two, long feet, each extending longitudinally between sidewalls 36 could be used.

Only two of the four feet 38 shown are actually used when the tray 20 is in use, as explained further below. Specifically, when the left outlet lip 24 is placed in the sink 60, the left feet 38 are used to stabilize the tray 20. When the right spout 25 is placed in the sink 60, the right feet 39 are used to stabilize the tray 20. The feet 38, 39 may have pads 37 made of rubber or other material that will prevent the tray 20 from slipping or moving when in use.

The underside 58 also comprises a wire support 40, attaching to the tray 20 by hinge 44. The wire support 40 comprises a left base 42 and a right base 46. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the wire support 40 can rotate from one side of the underside 58 to the other. Shown in FIG. 3, the wire support 40 is on one side of the underside 58, with left base 42 contacting the underside 58, and left base 46 extending out. In FIG. 4, the wire support 40 is shown on the other side of the underside 58, with left base 46 contacting the underside and right base 42 extending out. The portion of the wire support 40 that extends out extends further than feet 38,39. The wire support 40 is shown in isolation in FIG. 5.

When in use, the tray 20 is placed on a countertop with its underside 58 facing down. The tray 20 rests either on right feet 39 and right base 46 (when in the configuration shown in FIG. 3), or on the left feet 38 and left base 42 (when in the configuration shown in FIG. 4). As shown (though not necessarily in all embodiments), the tray 20 also rests on tray extension 30, in either configuration.

The Dish Drainer can be seen in use in FIGS. 6 and 7. In FIG. 6, the Dish Drainer is placed on the right hand side of sink 60. The dish drainer is placed with left outlet lip 24 extending into the sink, with lip extension 28 hanging in a generally vertical direction into the sink 60. The tray 20 rests on left feet 38, tray extension 30, and the left base 42 of wire support 40. This configuration allows for the dish drainer to be angled, preferably at an angle of between 4 and 5 degrees, relative to the countertop 62 on which it rests. As would be evident to a person skilled in the art, the angle is determined, in part, by the length of the extension of left base 42, relative to the length of the extension of left feet 38.

In FIG. 7, the dish drainer is placed on the left hand side of sink 60. In this configuration, the wire support 40 is flipped and in the opposite configuration to that shown in FIG. 6 (i.e. it is placed in the configuration shown in FIG. 3). Thus, right outlet lip 25 extends into the sink, with lip extension 28 hanging in a generally vertical direction into the sink 60. The tray 20 rests on right feet 39, tray extension 30, and the right base 46 of wire support 40. This configuration allows for the dish drainer to be angled, preferably at an angle of between 4 and 5 degrees, relative to the countertop 62 on which it rests.

As would be evident to a person skilled in the art, the dual configuration allows the dish drainer to be used on either side of a sink, as shown. In either configuration, the dish dryer can be “pushed” to the back of the countertop 62, allowing the user to use the front of the countertop 62 for other things, due to the asymmetrical nature of the outlet lips, as shown in the top plan views of FIGS. 8 and 9.

As shown in FIG. 1, and in isolation in FIGS. 10 and 11, the dish dryer also comprises a rack 22 element, designed for holding dishes, cutlery, pots, pans, glasses, and other items wishing to be dried. The rack 22 comprises a plurality of ribs 62 extending in a generally perpendicular orientation to the rack floor 68. The ribs 62 allow stacking of dishes in a generally vertical orientation when the dish dryer is in use. Water on the dishes drip down onto the rack floor 68, through drain holes 64 and onto the tray floor 34, where it moves towards the lowest point on the tray floor 34, and out through the spout 24, 25. The spout 24, 25 to which the water drains out depends on the configuration of the tray 20, as described above. The rack 22 may also have vertical wall 66 extending from its end walls, both as structural support for dishes placed within it, and to prevent water from dripping out of the rack 22 in a manner that would circumvent tray 20. Tray fasteners 32 protrude from rack extension 70 and mate with rack receiving elements 32 to removably affix the rack 22 to the tray 20.

The rack 20 may further comprise a cutlery rack 78; the cutlery rack 78 may be a part of the rack moulding, or it may be removably affixed, as shown. FIG. 12 shows the cutlery rack 78 in isolation; by having a removably affixed cutlery rack 78, it permits the user to change the endwall 26 to which the cutlery rack 78 is affixed; in this manner, the cutlery rack 78 can be oriented in a manner that is desirable depending on whether the dish dryer is positioned to the left or to the right hand side of a sink 60. The cutlery rack 78 features protrusions 72 that affix the cutlery rack 78 to an opening 74 in the rack.

An alternative embodiment of the rack 22 is shown in FIG. 13. This rack 22 comprises ribs 62, a cutlery rack 78, and drain holes 64. However, the rack 22 is affixed to the tray 20 in a different manner—utilizing clips 76 which attach to sidewalls 36. This embodiment of rack 22 is shown affixed to a tray 20 in FIG. 14.

A further alternative embodiment is shown in FIG. 15. Here, wire support 40 can be moved from one (left) position to another (right) position by removing it in its entirety and placing it in a different hinge 44 position.

An alternative embodiment of the dish dryer can be seen in FIGS. 16 to 20. In this embodiment, the key elements of both the tray 20 and the rack 22 are moulded or fabricated out of one piece of metal or plastic. In this design, the tray floor 34 is also the rack floor, and, as such, the rack floor does not require drain holes. This embodiment of the dish dryer still comprises a left outlet lip 24, a right outlet lip 25, two end walls 26, a wall 52, ribs 62, and a tray extension 30, but all components are built onto one structure, rather than two. Note that, because of this, this embodiment also does not require rack receiving elements 32 or tray fasteners 48. FIG. 16 shows the dish dryer in use—holding a dish between two ribs 62. FIG. 17 shows a top view of this embodiment, while FIGS. 18 and 19 show the embodiment in the context of a sink 60.

While the above describes several embodiments, the invention so described is not to be so restricted. Other embodiments which utilize the teachings herein set forth are intended to be within the scope and spirit of the subject invention.