Title:
Compartment divider assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A compartment divider assembly, in accordance with the principles of the invention, may include a first divider having a longitudinal axis, a second divider having a longitudinal axis that crosses the longitudinal axis of the first divider, and an interior frame—with each of the first and second dividers being moveable back and forth through the interior frame. If desired, the assembly may further include an exterior frame, with at least one end of at least one of the first and second dividers connected to the exterior frame.



Inventors:
Johnson, Kevin D. (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/284575
Publication Date:
03/25/2010
Filing Date:
09/23/2008
Assignee:
Articulation, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
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20020074301Structure for locating rail and rail holder of rackJune, 2002Lai
20090200253INTERCHANGEABLE RETAIL STORE DISPLAYAugust, 2009Sandow
20020130095Retail space utilization methodSeptember, 2002Robert Jr.



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID E. PRITCHARD (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A compartment divider assembly, comprising: a first divider having a longitudinal axis; a second divider having a longitudinal axis that crosses the longitudinal axis of the first divider; and an interior frame, the first divider moveable back and forth through the interior frame, and the second divider moveable back and forth through the interior frame.

2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the first divider longitudinal axis is substantially perpendicular to the second divider longitudinal axis.

3. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the first and second dividers are moveable back and forth through the interior frame independently of one another.

4. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the interior frame includes a first passageway and a second passageway, with the first divider moveable back and forth through the first passageway, and the second divider moveable back and forth through the second passageway.

5. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the first divider comprises a rail, and the interior frame comprises a passageway, the first divider rail moveable back and forth through the passageway.

6. The assembly of claim 5 wherein the rail comprises a first rail member and a second rail member substantially parallel with the first rail member, the first and second rail members slidably connected to one another along at least a portion of their respective lengths.

7. The assembly of claim 6 wherein one of the first and second rail members includes a channel along at least a portion of its length, and the other of the first and second rail members includes a protrusion along at least a portion of its length, the channel and the protrusion constructed and arranged to slidably engage one another.

8. The assembly of claim 6 wherein the passageway is constructed and arranged to inhibit rotation of the rail in the passageway when the first and second rail members are in the passageway simultaneously, when the first rail member is in the passageway but the second rail member is not in the passageway, and when the second rail member is in the passageway but the first rail member is not in the passageway.

9. The assembly of claim 5 wherein the second divider comprises a rail, and the interior frame comprises a second passageway, the second divider rail moveable back and forth through the second passageway.

10. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the first divider comprises two spaced-apart rails in a first common plane, the two first divider rails moveable back and forth through the interior frame.

11. The assembly of claim 10 wherein the second divider comprises two spaced-apart rails in a second common plane, the two second divider rails moveable back and forth through the interior frame.

12. The assembly of claim 11 wherein the first divider longitudinal axis is substantially perpendicular to the second divider longitudinal axis.

13. The assembly of claim 11 wherein the interior frame includes, in sequential order, first, second, third, and fourth passageways, the two rails of the first divider moveable back and forth through the first and third passageways respectively, the two rails of the second divider moveable back and forth through the second and fourth passageways respectively.

14. The assembly of claim 1 further comprising locking structure constructed and arranged to inhibit movement of the first and second dividers relative to the interior frame.

15. The assembly of claim 14 wherein the locking structure comprises a cam lock.

16. The assembly of claim 1 wherein one of the first and second dividers has a first end, and the assembly further comprises an exterior frame, the first end connected to the exterior frame.

17. A compartment divider assembly, comprising: a first divider having a longitudinal axis, a first end, and a second end; a second divider having a longitudinal axis that crosses the longitudinal axis of the first divider, the second divider further having a first end, and a second end; an interior frame through which each of the first and second dividers is moveable back and forth; and an exterior frame, with each of the first and second divider first and second ends connected to the exterior frame.

18. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the first divider longitudinal axis is substantially perpendicular to the second divider longitudinal axis.

19. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the first and second dividers are moveable back and forth through the interior frame independently of one another.

20. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the interior frame includes a first passageway and a second passageway, with the first divider moveable back and forth through the first passageway, and the second divider moveable back and forth through the second passageway.

21. The assembly of claim 17 including a bracket at each of the first divider first and second ends, the brackets connecting the first divider first and second ends to the exterior frame.

22. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the exterior frame comprises first, second, third, and fourth segments, the first divider extending between and connected to the first and third segments, the second divider extending between and connected to the second and fourth segments.

23. The assembly of claim 22 wherein the first divider has an adjustable length, and the second segment has an adjustable length.

24. The assembly of claim 23 wherein the second divider has an adjustable length, and the first segment has an adjustable length.

25. The assembly of claim 23 wherein the second segment comprises a rail including a first rail member and a second rail member substantially parallel with the first rail member, the first and second rail members slidably connected to one another along at least a portion of their respective lengths.

26. The assembly of claim 25 further comprising locking structure at the rail, the locking structure constructed and arranged to inhibit slidable movement between the first and second rail members.

27. The assembly of claim 25 wherein one of the first and second rail members includes a channel along at least a portion of its length, and the other of the first and second rail members includes a protrusion along at least a portion of its length, the channel and the protrusion constructed and arranged to slidably engage one another.

28. The assembly of claim 27 further comprising locking structure at the rail, the locking structure constructed and arranged to form a releasable friction fit with a surface of the protrusion, thereby inhibiting slidable movement between the first and second rail members.

29. The assembly of claim 22 including a first bracket at the first divider first end and a second bracket at the first divider second end, the first and second brackets constructed and arranged to move back and forth along the first and third segments respectively.

30. The assembly of claim 29 wherein the first segment comprises a rail including a first rail member and a second rail member substantially parallel with the first rail member, the first and second rail members slidably connected to one another along at least a portion of their respective lengths, and wherein the bracket includes a passageway moveable back and forth along the rail, the passageway constructed and arranged to inhibit rotation of the rail in the passageway when the first and second rail members are in the passageway simultaneously, when the first rail member is in the passageway but the second rail member is not in the passageway, and when the second rail member is in the passageway but the first rail member is not in the passageway.

31. The assembly of claim 30 wherein the passageway includes a circumferential sidewall.

32. The assembly of claim 21 wherein the brackets are constructed and arranged to offset the first divider from the second divider, whereby the second divider longitudinal axis crosses but does not intersect the first divider longitudinal axis.

33. The assembly of claim 32 wherein the interior frame includes a first passageway and a second passageway offset from the first passageway, with the first divider moveable back and forth through the first passageway, and the second divider moveable back and forth through the second passageway.

34. The assembly of claim 22 further comprising a first corner member connecting the first and second segments, and a second corner member connecting the second and third segments, the first and second corner members operable to permit adjustment of an interior angle between the first and second segments and the second and third segments respectively.

35. The assembly of claim 17 further comprising a plurality of legs at the exterior frame.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to devices for securing, bracing, or separating objects within a compartment or space.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Whether storing, transporting, or shipping various items, people have long sought to organize these items in particular spaces. Such items and spaces may include, for example, clothing in a dresser drawer, groceries in the trunk of a car, and large quantities of product in a commercial shipping container. Reasons for wanting to organize such items are varied, and may include, for example, increasing the efficiency of a limited space, protecting items from damage when being transported, and protecting people from unsecured items.

Devices for securing, bracing, or separating objects within a compartment or space have been proposed; but typically, such devices are designed to accommodate a particular type of item, space, or compartment. In addition, some of the proposed devices offer a degree of adjustability—for example, to handle items of different sizes. However, the steps required to make the adjustments typically can be quite cumbersome.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

in one aspect of the present invention, a compartment divider assembly may include a first divider having a longitudinal axis, a second divider having a longitudinal axis that crosses the longitudinal axis of the first divider, and an interior frame—with each of the first and second dividers being moveable back and forth through the interior frame.

In another aspect, a compartment divider assembly may include: a first divider having a longitudinal axis, a first end, and a second end; a second divider having a longitudinal axis that crosses the longitudinal axis of the first divider, the second divider further having a first end, and a second end; an interior frame through which each of the first and second dividers is moveable back and forth; and an exterior frame, with each of the first and second divider first and second ends connected to the exterior frame.

By moving one or more of the first divider, second divider and interior frame of a compartment divider assembly of the present invention, a user readily may create one or more divided spaces within a compartment, and easily may adjust the size of the divided spaces so as to accommodate, support, and brace items of differing shapes and sizes. These and other advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and description of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into this patent document and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description of the drawings given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, taken generally along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 2A is a partial cross-sectional view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, taken along line 2A-2A of FIG. 2;

FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, taken generally along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3A is a partial cross-sectional view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, taken along line 3A-3A of FIG. 3;

FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, including a cam lock assembly, taken generally along line 44 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of the portion shown in FIG. 4, but with the cam lock assembly in an orientation different from that of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of a rail lock and a portion of an exterior frame rail of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6B is a perspective view of the rail lock and the portion shown in FIG. 6A, but with the rail lock in an orientation different from that of FIG. 6A; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 positioned in the cargo area of a car.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

With reference to FIG. 1, a compartment divider assembly 10, in accordance with principles of the invention, includes a first divider 12, a second divider 14, an interior frame 16, and an exterior frame 18. The first divider 12 has a longitudinal axis L1; and the second divider 14 has a longitudinal axis L2 that crosses the first divider longitudinal axis L1. Each of the first and second dividers 12, 14 is moveable back and forth through the interior frame 16. Also, each of the first and second dividers 12, 14 includes a first end 20, 24 and a second end 22, 26; and each of the first and second ends is movably connected to the exterior frame 18.

Although the second divider longitudinal axis L2 crosses the first divider longitudinal axis L1, these axes do not have to intersect one another (e.g., meet at, or pass through, a common point). For example, the second divider longitudinal axis may cross over or under the first divider longitudinal axis. In the embodiment shown, the second divider longitudinal axis L2 crosses under the first divider longitudinal axis L1.

The exterior frame 18 comprises four interconnected segments, with each segment in the form of an exterior frame rail. The first divider 12 extends between and is slidably connected to the first and third exterior frame rails 28, 32, and the second divider 14 extends between and is slidably connected to the second and fourth exterior frame rails 30, 34—with each of the dividers 12, 14 slidably moveable back and forth through the interior frame 16, independently of one another. Accordingly, a user may slidably move the interior frame 16 and one or both of the dividers 12, 14, to create a number of divided spaced within the space defined by the perimeter of the exterior frame 18. For example, if one large space is desired, the user may slide the first divider 12 to the second or fourth exterior frame rail 30, 34, and may slide the second divider 14 to the first or third exterior frame rail 28, 32. And if one or more smaller spaces are desired, the user can form divided spaces having any of a number of different sizes, simply by slidably moving the first and second dividers 12, 14 through the interior frame 16 and along the exterior frame rails as needed.

The compartment divider assembly 10 of FIG. 1 also includes locking structure that may be engaged or disengaged to prevent or permit movement of the first divider 12 relative to the second divider 14. The locking structure is in the form of a cam lock assembly 36 (FIGS. 4 and 5) incorporated into the interior frame 16, both of which are discussed in detail below. Once a user has slidably moved one or more of the interior frame 16, the first divider 12, and the second divider 14 so as to create one or more spaces of desired size, the user may activate the cam lock assembly 36. In this fashion, the compartment divider assembly 10 is able to inhibit or prevent lateral movement of one or more items that either have been or will be positioned in a space within the perimeter of the compartment divider assembly 10.

As best seen in FIGS. 1-3, the first divider 12 includes two parallel spaced-apart rails 38, 40; and the second divider 14 likewise includes two parallel spaced-apart rails 42, 44. The first end of each first divider rail 38, 40 is connected to a first bracket 46; and the second end of each first divider rail 38, 40 is connected to a second bracket 48. In similar fashion, the first end of each second divider rail 42, 44 is connected to a third bracket 50; and the second end of each second divider rail 42, 44 is connected to a fourth bracket 52. The brackets 46, 48, 50, 52 assist in maintaining the parallel spaced-apart relationship of the divider rails 38, 40, 42, 44. The brackets 46, 48, 50, 52 also slidably connect the divider rails 38, 40, 42, 44 to the exterior frame 18, as discussed below.

With reference to FIGS. 1-5, the interior frame 16 includes, in sequential order, first, second, third, and fourth passageways 54, 56, 58, 60, with each passageway permitting slidable back-and-forth movement of a particular rail of a particular divider through the passageway. In further detail, the two rails 38, 40 of the first divider 12 are moveable back and forth through the first and third passageways 54, 58 respectively; and the two rails 42, 44 of the second divider 14 are moveable back and forth through the second and fourth passageways 56, 60 respectively. Passageways one and three 54, 58 are perpendicular to passageways two and four 56, 60; and therefore, the first divider 12 is substantially perpendicular to the second divider 14.

The compartment divider assembly 10 shown in the Figures has an adjustable length in both a first axis (e.g., an x-axis) and a perpendicular second axis (e.g., a y-axis). As best seen in FIGS. 1-3, the rails 38, 40 of the first divider 12 are adjustable in length, and the rails 42, 44 of the second divider 14 are adjustable in length. Also, each of the first, second, third, and fourth exterior frame rails 28, 30, 32, 34 has an adjustable length. In this fashion, the compartment divider assembly 10 may be readily used in differently sized compartments, or may occupy more or less of a given compartment. And depending on the design of the particular compartment, this adjustability can make it even easier for a user to move the assembly 10 into and out of the compartment.

In this embodiment, each of the divider rails 38, 40, 42, 44 includes a first rail member and a second rail member slidably connected to the first rail member. Because all of the divider rails of this embodiment are identical, the detailed description of this aspect focuses on a single divider rail—with the understanding that these details apply to the other divider rails. With reference to FIGS. 1-3, the first divider rail 40 includes a first rail member 40a substantially parallel with and slidably connected to a second rail member 40b. Each of these members is relatively thin, and the members are positioned in a side-by-side relationship with one another. The first rail member 40a includes a channel along substantially all of its length, and the second rail member 40b includes a complementary protrusion along substantially all of its length—with the channel and the protrusion sized to slidably engage each other. In fact, and as shown in FIG. 3, each of the first and second rail members 40a,b includes both a channel and a protrusion along substantially all of its length—the channel and the protrusion of one rail member shaped so as to form the complement of the protrusion and the channel of the other rail member. The protrusion of one rail member and the channel of the other rail member form a tongue-and-groove-type relationship with one another. In this particular embodiment, each channel and corresponding protrusion includes a relatively high number of surfaces for retaining the protrusion in the channel. In this fashion, the torsional strength of the rail 40 along the rail portion where the first and second rail members 40a,b overlap one another may be enhanced, and the overall weight of the rail 40 may be reduced.

In similar fashion, and with reference to FIGS. 1-3, each of the four exterior frame rails 28, 30, 32, 34 includes a first rail member and a second rail member slidably connected to the first rail member. Each exterior frame rail includes all of the characteristics, aspects, and features of the divider rails as described immediately above in the preceding paragraph; and therefore, the detailed description of those characteristics, aspects, and features is not repeated here. The cross-sectional shape and slidable interaction of the exterior frame rail members (and of the divider rail members, for that matter) is perhaps best seen in FIG. 3A—a drawing that includes a cross-section of the second exterior frame rail 30, at a place where the first and second rail members 30a,b are overlapping one another.

For the divider rails 38, 40, 42, 44 and exterior frame rails 28, 30, 32, 34 described in the preceding two paragraphs, advantageously the first and second rail members that comprise a particular divider rail or a particular exterior frame rail may be identical. For example the two members may be cut from a single length of railing having one cross-sectional shape along its entire length. Once the two members are cut to the desired length, one of the members simply may be flipped or inverted lengthwise, so that the channel and protrusion of the first member are generally oriented toward the corresponding (and identical) protrusion and channel of the second member. The two members may be positioned generally end-to-end; and the channel and protrusion of one member may be fed into the corresponding protrusion and channel of the other member to form the rail.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 6A, and 6B, each exterior frame rail 28, 30, 32, 34 of the compartment divider assembly 10 further includes locking structure in the form of a rail lock 62, 64, 66, 68. Because all of the exterior frame rails of the embodiment are identical, the detailed description of this aspect focuses on a single exterior frame rail—with the understanding that these details apply to the other exterior frame rails. As shown in FIG. 1, and with reference to the third exterior frame rail 32, a rail lock 66 (highly schematic) is connected to an end of the first rail member 32a When the rail lock 66 is in an engaged position (as discussed in further detail below), the rail lock inhibits or prevents slidable movement between the first and second rail members 32a,b.

With reference to FIGS. 6A and 6B, the rail lock 66 abuts and is connected to an end of the first rail member 32a, and releasably engages the elongated protrusion of the second rail member 32b. The rail lock 66 includes an upper part 70 and a lower part 72 pivotably connected to the upper part—with the upper part fastened to the adjacent end of the first rail member 32a. FIG. 6A shows the rail lock 66 in a locked position—in which at least the lower part 72 is frictionally engaging the protrusion. Whereas FIG. 6B shows the rail lock 66 in an unlocked position—in which the lower part 72 is not frictionally engaging the protrusion. Accordingly, if a user wants to slidably adjust the length of an exterior frame rail, the user may simply disengage or unlock the rail lock of that exterior frame rail. And once the user has adjusted the rail to the desired length, the user can readily reengage or lock the corresponding rail lock.

As seen in FIGS. 1-3, each exterior frame rail 28, 30, 32, 34 is connected to an adjacent exterior frame rail by a corner member (as at 74). For example, one end of the second exterior frame rail 30 is connected to an adjacent end of the first exterior frame rail 28 by a first corner member 74; and the other end of the second exterior frame rail 30 is connected to an adjacent end of the third exterior frame rail 32 by a second corner member 76. Each of the four corner members 74, 76, 78, 80 includes first and second rail-receiving portions (as at 82 and 84 in FIG. 3) connected by a flexible (e.g., “living”) hinge portion (as at 86 in FIG. 3). And because each corner member includes a flexible hinge portion, the interior angle between adjacent exterior frame rails may be adjusted. For example, if a user wants to use the compartment divider assembly in the trunk of a car, and the sides of the particular trunk taper inward in the direction of the car front (due, e.g., to the rear wheel wells), the user might choose to adjust the assembly's perimeter shape from that of a rectangle (see, e.g., FIG. 1) to that of a trapezoid—in which case the corner member hinge portions would flex, and the interior angles of adjacent exterior frame members would adjust, as needed.

With reference to FIGS. 1-3, each corner member 74, 76, 78, 80 also includes a leg (as at 88 in FIG. 2)—with each leg extending beyond the base 90 (FIG. 4) of the interior frame 16. In this fashion, if the compartment divider assembly 10 is positioned, for example, horizontally on a generally planar support surface, the legs can support the assembly 10 and keep the first and second dividers 12, 14 and interior frame 16 in an elevated non-contacting relationship with the support surface.

The brackets 46, 48, 50, 52 are now described in further detail. With reference to FIG. 1, the first bracket 46 connects the first divider first end 20 to the first exterior frame rail 28; and the second bracket 48 connects the first divider second end 22 to the third exterior frame rail 32. In similar fashion, the third bracket 50 connects the second divider first end 24 to the second exterior frame rail 30; and the fourth bracket 52 connects the second divider second end 26 to the fourth exterior frame rail 34. The brackets are moveable back and forth along their respective exterior frame rails. As best seen in FIGS. 2, 2A, 3, and 3A, each of the brackets includes a passageway in the form of a tube (as at 92 in FIGS. 2 and 2A) that defines an interior space—with the tube being sized to accommodate a corresponding exterior frame rail as one or more of the dividers is slidably moved back and forth along the exterior frame.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 2A, 3, and 3A, the tube of each of the four brackets 46, 48, 50, 52 has an interior surface and interior cross-sectional shape identical to that of the other brackets. And for each bracket, this interior surface and shape cooperate with the exterior surface and exterior cross-sectional shape of the corresponding exterior frame rail so as to inhibit or prevent rotation of the tube and the rail relative to one another at the location of the tube—regardless of whether both the first and second rail members are in the tube simultaneously, or only one of the first and second rail members is in the tube. For example, in FIGS. 2 and 2A, only the first rail member 28a of the first exterior frame rail 28 is positioned in the interior space of the tube 92 of the first bracket 46; and yet the surface and shape of the tube 92 and rail member 28a are such as to inhibit or prevent rotation of the tube 92 and rail member 28a relative to one another. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 3A, both rail members 30a,b of the second exterior frame rail 30 are positioned in the tube 94 of the third bracket 50 at the same time; and likewise, the surface and shape of the tube 94 and rail 30 cooperate to inhibit or prevent rotation of the tube 94 and rail 30 relative to one another.

The brackets or exterior frame rails can be constructed so that, when an exterior frame rail is in non-perpendicular alignment with an adjacent exterior frame rail (e.g., when the peripheral shape of the exterior frame is trapezoidal), the bracket tube through which the non-perpendicular rail passes may still be moved smoothly back and forth along that rail. This can be accomplished in any suitable fashion. For example, and with reference to FIGS. 2 and 2A, bracket 46 may include a middle section 96 positioned between and connected to the bracket tube 92 and a bracket end section 98—the bracket end section 98 being at the first end 20 of the first divider 12. This middle section 96 may comprise a flexible material and may bend or flex laterally. Also, a tube itself may comprise a flexible material that enables it to flex laterally. In addition, a tube or an exterior frame rail may be constructed so that the interior space defined by the tube is large enough to allow for smooth back-and-forth movement along the non-perpendicular exterior frame rail.

As mentioned briefly above, the interior frame 16 of the compartment divider assembly 10 includes a cam lock assembly 36 incorporated into the interior frame 16. This aspect of the interior frame 16, including the way in which the cam lock assembly 36 cooperates with the rest of the interior frame 16 and the divider rails 12, 14, now is described in detail. With reference to FIGS. 3-5, the interior frame 16 includes an outer casing 100 and a cylinder 102 positioned inside the casing 100. The cylinder 102 includes a post 104 at the top that extends through an opening in the top wall of the casing 100; and the post 104 is connected to a cam lever 106 positioned at the exterior surface of the casing top wall. Each of the interior frame first, second, third, and fourth passageways 54, 56, 58, 60 includes a pair of openings in the outer casing sidewall, and a pair of corresponding openings in the cylinder sidewall—with each opening defined, at least in part, by a peripheral edge or surface.

With reference to FIG. 4, when the cam lock assembly 36 is in an unlocked position, a lower portion (as at 108) of each cylinder opening is positioned slightly below a corresponding lower portion (as at 110) of each outer casing opening. With the casing 100 and cylinder 102 in this orientation, each divider rail may be slidably moved back and forth through its passageway. With reference to FIG. 5, when the cam lock assembly 36 is in a locked position, the lower portion (as at 108) of each cylinder opening is positioned slightly above the corresponding lower portion (as at 110) of each outer casing opening—with each cylinder lower portion exerting an upward force on a corresponding rail, and biasing an upper surface (as at 112) of each rail against an upper edge or surface (as at 114) of each outer casing opening. With the casing 100 and cylinder 102 in this orientation, the rails are releasably locked in position.

As best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, the cross-sectional shape of the openings of each passageway 54, 56, 58, 60 corresponds generally with the cross-sectional shape of the rail that is movable through the passageway. In this fashion, the openings inhibit rotation of the rail in the passageway—regardless of whether both the first and second rail members are in the passageway simultaneously, or only one of the first and second rail members is in the passageway.

With reference to FIG. 7, the compartment divider assembly 10 is positioned in the cargo area of a car 116. The interior frame 16, first divider 12, and second divider 14 have been adjusted to create divided compartments that are bracing several grocery items.

Examples of Additional Embodiments of Compartment Divider Assembly and Components

A Two-Divider Assembly with Each Divider Including a Single Rail (No Exterior Frame)

Each of the first and second dividers includes a single rail, as opposed to, e.g., multiple parallel rails. The dividers are perpendicular to each other, and the rails are moveable back and forth through the interior frame. The interior frame includes a releasable lock assembly.

A Two-Divider Assembly with Each Divider Including a Pair of Parallel Spaced-Apart Rails (No Exterior Frame)

Each of the first and second dividers includes two parallel spaced-apart rails. The dividers are perpendicular to each other, and the rails are moveable back and forth through the interior frame. The interior frame includes, in sequential order, first, second, third, and fourth passageways. The first divider rails are moveable back and forth through the first and third passageways respectively; and the second divider rails are moveable back and forth through the second and fourth passageways respectively. The interior frame includes a cam lock assembly. At the end of each divider, a bumper is connected to the end of each rail. The bumpers may be biased against the sidewalls of a particular compartment (e.g., the walls of a car trunk). If the dividers have a fixed length (e.g., sized to fit a particular car trunk), the sidewall-contacting surface of each of the bumpers may comprise a material having a relatively low coefficient of friction. In this fashion, when the lock is disengaged, a user may adjust the dividers with relative ease.

A Two-Divider Assembly with an Exterior Frame Connected to a Compartment Sidewall

The exterior frame includes a single segment in the form of a rail; and the rail is mounted to a sidewall of the compartment. If the compartment is the trunk of a car, the rail may be mounted to, for example, the interior surface of the rear wall of the trunk (i.e., the trunk wall that is closest to the back of the car). The assembly further includes first and second dividers that are perpendicular to each other, and that move back and forth through the interior frame. The interior frame includes a releasable lock assembly. An end of one of the dividers is movably connected to the rail.

Dividers

A divider may comprise any suitable number of rails or other suitable structure that serves to divide, support, or brace. Examples of such structures include rails, rods, nets, cords, and cables. If desired, a support member may be present at each end of a divider; and the structure that serves to divide, support, or brace may be connected to the support members via coil springs or the like. The springs may add a level of resilience to the structure. A divider rail may be adjustable in length. For example, the rail may be a telescoping rail. And if desired, the adjustable rail may have one or more locks to releasably maintain a desired length.

A divider may comprise one or more retractable rails or flexible support members. Such rails may be especially advantageous for compartment divider assemblies used in the beds of pickup trucks. For example, in a divider that runs the length of the bed adjacent a wheel well, it may be helpful to retract rails that otherwise would be blocked by the wheel well. Or if the divider includes flexible support members (e.g., cords), it may be possible simply to stretch the cords around the wheel well.

A divider may include padding along the surfaces that may come in contact with items being supported or braced by the divider.

Interior Frame

The interior frame may comprise sections that rotate relative to one another. For example, an interior frame may comprise two rotatable sections (e.g., along the frame length), with a first divider moveable through one section (e.g., via a first passageway), and a second divider moveable through the other section (e.g., via a second passageway). If desired, the first and second dividers may be moved between a perpendicular orientation and a parallel or near-parallel orientation by rotating one section relative to the other section.

Releasable Lock Assemblies

Any suitable lock or lock assembly may be used to selectively prevent relative movement between a first divider and a second divider once a user has moved one or more of the dividers to a desired position. Examples of such locks and assemblies include a cam lock assembly, a locking pin, and a screw-and-bolt assembly.

A compartment divider assembly, in accordance with the principles of the invention, may be made of any suitable material(s), using any suitable manufacturing technique(s).

As may be seen from the discussion above, a compartment divider assembly in accordance with the principles of the invention may be used in any suitable location. Examples of a few such locations include a dresser drawer, the cargo area of a car as shown in FIG. 7, the trunk of a car, the bed of a pickup truck, and the interior of a commercial cargo container (e.g., of the type hauled by ship, plane, train, or truck). In addition, an assembly of the invention may be used in any suitable orientation. For example, as shown in FIG. 7, an assembly may be used in a generally horizontal orientation. Alternatively, an assembly may be used in a vertical orientation. A vertical orientation may be especially useful in the context of a commercial cargo container.

While the present invention has been illustrated by a description of a few embodiments, and while the illustrative embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the inventor to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the following claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications readily will appear to those skilled in the art upon a reading of this patent document. For example, a compartment divider assembly of the present invention may have more than two dividers and more than one interior frame. The invention, in its broader aspects, is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative apparatus and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described in this patent document.