Title:
Latch Mechanism of a Protective Case for Portable Electronic Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective case for an electronic device includes a cover and a back plate that are hingedly coupled to one another. The cover has a locking plate hingedly coupled to the top of the cover. A latching mechanism is disposed on the top of the back plate. The locking plate is configured to rotate over the cover and back plate and be engaged by the latching mechanism, locking the cover and back plate together. Furthermore, a portable electronic device is configured to be enclosed by the cover and the back plate, which provide protection for the portable electronic device.



Inventors:
Rumfola III, Ross (Akron, NY, US)
Damon, Daniel J. (South Wales, NY, US)
Pardi, Jared P. (Cheektowaga, NY, US)
Stucke Jr., Donald W. (East Aurora, NY, US)
Application Number:
14/146972
Publication Date:
07/10/2014
Filing Date:
01/03/2014
Assignee:
MATTEL, INC. (El Segudno, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20140076761RELATING TO STILLAGESMarch, 2014Hellweg
20040074798Impact resistant package and methodApril, 2004Taylor et al.
20060037879Personal hygiene device for a hair brushFebruary, 2006Christmas
20170081078Nesting BowlMarch, 2017Maple
20030049437Flexible carrier tape having high clarity and conductivityMarch, 2003Devaney et al.
20120080498CURVED END EFFECTOR FOR A STAPLING INSTRUMENTApril, 2012Shelton IV et al.
20060118453Cup caddyJune, 2006Hillebrecht et al.
20100000904MODULAR STEMWARE AND SERVING SETJanuary, 2010Cox
20080006541Carrier for beverage bottlesJanuary, 2008Cherch et al.
20090184015Toothbrush holderJuly, 2009Ruppert
20150129440Firearm Storage UnitMay, 2015Abascal



Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EDELL, SHAPIRO & FINNAN, LLC (Gaithersburg, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective case for a portable electronic device, comprising: a first cover including a top, a bottom, and an opening disposed between the top and the bottom; a second cover including a top and a bottom, the bottom of the second cover hingedly connected to the bottom of the first cover; the portable electronic device being receivable between the first and second covers; at least one latch member disposed on one of the first and second covers; and a locking plate configured to be engaged by the at least one latch member and disposed on the other of the first and second covers, wherein when the locking plate is engaged by the at least one latch member, the portable electronic device is locked between the first cover and second cover.

2. The protective case of claim 1, further comprising a screen protector covering the opening of the first cover.

3. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the locking plate is hingedly connected to the top of the first cover.

4. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the locking plate includes a first aperture and a second aperture.

5. The protective case of claim 4, wherein the at least one latch member includes a first latch member and a second latch member.

6. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the at least one latch member is substantially L-shaped.

7. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the at least one latch member is slidably reconfigurable between a first configuration and a second configuration, wherein the at least one latch member is configured to engage the locking plate in the first configuration and is configured to disengage the locking plate in the second configuration.

8. The protective case of claim 7, further comprising a spring biasing the at least one latch member in the first configuration.

9. A protective case for a portable electronic device, comprising: a first cover including a first edge and a second edge; a second cover including a first edge and a second edge, the second edge of the second cover being hingedly connected to the second edge of the first cover so that the first cover and the second cover can be positioned in an open position, where the first edge of the first cover is spaced away from the first edge of the second cover, and a closed position, where the first edge of the first cover is adjacent to the first edge of the second cover; the portable electronic device being receivable between the first and second covers; at least one latch member disposed on one of the first and second covers proximate its the first edge; and a locking plate disposed on the other of the first and second covers proximate to its first edge, the locking plate being shaped to extend over the first edge of the first and second covers to engage the at least one latch member when the first cover and second cover are in the closed position.

10. The protective case of claim 9, wherein the first cover includes an opening and a screen protector covering the opening.

11. The protective case of claim 9, wherein the locking plate is hingedly connected to the first cover.

12. The protective case of claim 9, wherein the locking plate includes a first aperture and a second aperture.

13. The protective case of claim 12, wherein the at least one latch member includes a first latch member and a second latch member.

14. The protective case of claim 9, wherein the at least one latch member is substantially L-shaped.

15. The protective case of claim 9, wherein the at least one latch member is slidably reconfigurable between a first configuration and a second configuration, wherein the at least one latch member is configured to engage the locking plate in the first configuration and is configured to disengage the locking plate in the second configuration.

16. The protective case of claim 15, further comprising a spring biasing the at least one latch member in the first configuration.

17. A protective case for a portable electronic device, comprising: a first cover including an inner surface and an outer surface; a second cover including an inner surface and an outer surface, the second cover being hingedly connected to first cover so that the first and second covers can be positioned in an open position, where the inner surface of the first cover and the inner surface of the second cover are exposed, and a closed position, where the inner surface of the first cover is adjacent to the inner surface of the second cover; the portable electronic device being receivable between the first and second covers; at least one latch member disposed on the outer surface of one of the first and second covers; and a locking plate pivotally coupled to the outer surface of the other of the first and second covers, the locking plate being repositionable between an unlocked position and a locked position, where when the locking plate is in the locked position and the first cover and the second cover are in the closed position, the locking plate is engaged with the at least one latch member.

18. The protective case of claim 17, wherein the locking plate includes a first aperture and a second aperture.

19. The protective case of claim 18, wherein the at least one latch member includes a first latch member and a second latch member, the first latch member being engagable with the first aperture and the second latch member being engagable with the second aperture.

20. The protective case of claim 17, wherein the first cover includes an opening and a screen protector covering the opening.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and is based on U.S. Patent Application No. 61/748,999, filed Jan. 4, 2013, Attorney Docket No. 0621.2149P, entitled “Latch Mechanism of Protective Case for Portable Electronic Device,” the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a protective case for a portable electronic device, and in particular, a latch mechanism that retains the case in a closed position.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Various protective covers, cases, and sleeves for portable electronic devices, such as cellular phones, smart devices, media players, and portable computers, are known. Some designs provide additional protection to the device from damage, but do not permit use of the device when disposed in the protective cover. Other designs permit use of the device when disposed in the cover, but do not sufficiently protect the device from damage, misuse, or unauthorized use when handled by young children or infants. Furthermore, some designs allow the device to be slipped into a protective cover, while others lock the device within the protective cover. Protective covers, however, often are difficult to open to gain access to the interior of the protective cover and remove the device.

Therefore, there is a need for a protective case for a portable electronic device that is appropriate for use by infants and young children. In addition, there is a need for a protective case for a portable electronic device that is configured to be easily opened and easily locked closed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one exemplary embodiment, the present invention includes a protective case for an electronic device with a cover having a top, a bottom, and an opening disposed between the top and the bottom, and a back plate having a top and a bottom, and the bottom of the back plate is hingedly connected to the bottom of the cover. Furthermore, the present invention includes at least one latch member disposed on the top of the back plate, and a locking plate that is disposed on the top of the cover and configured to be engaged by the at least one latch member. Moreover, when the locking plate is engaged by the at least one latch member, an electronic device is locked into place between the cover and back plate.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a top view of the protective cover for an electronic device according to an embodiment of the present invention, the protective cover being opened and showing the interior compartments of a cover and a back plate (with an electronic device house therein).

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the bottom of the protective case of FIG. 1 with a latching mechanism and a locking plate;

FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of the locking plate of the protective case of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of the top of the back plate of the protective case of FIG. 1, showing the latching mechanism;

FIG. 5 illustrates a front view of the top of the protective case of the FIG. 1 showing the locking plate hinged over the back plate;

FIG. 6 illustrates an front view of the locking plate engaged with the latching mechanism of the protective case of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 illustrates a detailed view of back plate of the protective cover of FIG. 1, showing the connection of a tool to the back plate;

FIG. 8 illustrates a top view of the hinged connection between the cover and the back plate of the protective cover of FIG. 1.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This application incorporates herein by reference, in their entirety, the disclosure of U.S. Non-Provisional Application No. 13/351,811, entitled “Protective Case for Portable Electronic Device”, filed Jan. 17, 2012and the disclosure of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/596,759 entitled “Protective Case for Portable Electronic Device”, filed Feb. 9, 2012.

Referring to FIG. 1, illustrated is a protective case 100 in the opened position. The protective case includes two panels that are hingedly connected to one another, the cover 200 and the back plate 300. Illustrated in FIG. 1 is the inner surface 270 of the cover 200 and the inner surface 340 of the back plate 300. The cover 200 includes a top 220, a bottom 240, a left side 250, and a right side 260. As illustrated, the right side 260 of the cover 200 includes a carrying handle 262. In other embodiments of the protective case 100, the case 100 may have a handle 262 positioned on the left side 250, the top 220, the bottom 240, or no handle at all disposed on the cover 200. In yet another embodiment, the protective case 100 may have a handle 262 disposed on the back plate 300. The cover 200 further includes an opening 232 that may be covered by a screen protector 234. This screen protector 234 may be a thin transparent planar member through which actuation of the touch screen 410 of an electronic device 400 is capable by a user. Moreover, the screen protector 234 may be configured to prevent debris and liquids from contacting an electronic device 400.

Furthermore, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the back plate 300 includes a top 312, a bottom 322, a left side 326 and a right side 330. Additionally, the back plate 300 may include a cavity 354, as indicated in FIG. 7, which positions the electronic device 400 in the proper position within the protective case 100. The cavity 354 may include a plurality of resilient members that serve to cushion and maintain the position of the electronic device 400 within the cavity 354 of the back plate 300, when the cover 200 and the back plate 300 are attached in the closed position (illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6). The resilient members of the cavity 354 positions the screen 410 of the electronic device 400 in a viewable position through the opening 232 of the cover 200 when the cover 200 and the back plate 300 are in the closed position (illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6). The resilient members are positioned along a resilient pad to cushion and maintain the position of the electronic device 400 along both the horizontal axis and vertical axis. The resilient pad and the resilient members may be formed or molded from a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material. The protective case 100 also includes a tool 500, which can be a pen, a stylus, or other useful tool that can be used with the electronic device 400 housed within the protective case 100. In this embodiment, the tool 500 is a stylus 530 with a conductive tip 532 that can be used with various electronic devices 400 containing touch screens 410.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, illustrated is the protective case 100 with the back plate 300 and the cover 200 in nearly a fully closed position. As illustrated, the cover 200 includes a locking plate 222 located on the top 220 of the cover 200. This locking plate is hingedly connected to the outer surface 210 of the top 220 of the cover 200. The locking plate 222 may be configured to pivot between an open position, as illustrated, and a closed position, illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. In the illustrated embodiment, the hinged connection of the locking plate 222 to the cover 200 is a continuous hinge. In other embodiments, the hinge connection may be another type of hinge, including a living hinge. In other embodiments, the locking plate 222 may be disposed on the cover 200 at another location other than the top 220. The locking plate 222 may also be located on the back plate 300 in other embodiments of the protective case 100.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 4, illustrated is the latching mechanism 315 of the back plate 300 of the protective case 100. The latching mechanism 315 is disposed on the top 312 of the back plate 300. Also located at the top 312 of the back plate 300 is a recess 314 that is configured to receive the locking plate 222 of the cover 200. The recess is sized to enable the locking plate 222 to be flush with the outer surface 310 of the back plate 300 when the locking plate 222 is positioned within the recess 314. As illustrated, disposed within the recess 314 is the latching mechanism 315. The latching mechanism 315 consists of a first latch member 316 and a second latch member 318 that protrude from the outer surface 310 of the back plate 300. Furthermore, the latching mechanism 315 includes a spring 320 disposed on the inner surface 340 of the back plate 300.

The latch members 316, 318 are capable of shifting laterally between two positions, a first position as illustrated in FIG. 4, and a second position as illustrated in FIG. 2. In the first position (FIG. 4), the latch members 316, 318 are shifted together compared to the second position (FIG. 2). The spring 320 biases the latch members 316, 318 into the second position. Each of the latch members 316, 318 are designed to be L-shaped, as illustrated in FIG. 4. This shape enables each of the latch members 316, 318 to engage openings in the locking plate 222, retaining the locking plate 222 between the outer surface 310 of the back plate 300 and the latch members 316, 318. When the latch members 316, 318 are squeezed together, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the latch members 316, 318 disengage from the opening of the locking plate 222, allowing it to be pivoted open, and allowing the cover 200 to be rotated to an open position.

Now turning to FIGS. 5 and 6, illustrated is the locking plate 222 being pivoted over the back plate 300 and into the recess 314 (FIG. 5), and the locking plate 222 being locked into place by the latch members 316, 318 (FIG. 6). As illustrated, the locking plate 222 includes a first recess 224 and a second recess 228. The first recess 224 includes a first aperture 226. The second recess 228 includes a second aperture 230. The first aperture 226 is configured to receive the first latch member 316, while the second aperture 230 is configured to receive the second latch member 318. Because of their L-shape, the latch members 316, 318 are configure to protrude through the apertures 226, 230, and latch onto the locking plate 222, as illustrated in FIG. 6. As described previously, when the latch members 316, 318 are squeezed together, the latch members 316, 318 are disengaged from the locking plate 222, aligning the latch members 316, 318 with the apertures 226, 230 of the locking plate 222, enabling the locking plate 222 to be pivoted to the open position. In other embodiments, the locking plate 222 may include only one aperture and the latching mechanism 315 may include only one latch member.

Referring to FIG. 8, illustrated is a top view of the inner surface 270 of the cover 200 and the inner surface 340 of the back plate 300. As illustrated, the back plate 300 and the cover 200 are hingedly connected to each other. The cover 200 includes a hinge connector 242 disposed on the bottom 240 of the cover 200. Similarly, the back plate 300 includes a hinge connector 324 disposed on the bottom 322 of the back plate 300. The hinge connector 324 of the back plate 300 is configured to mate with the hinge connector 242 of the cover 200 to enable the cover 200 and the back plate 300 to rotate with respect to each other between an open position (FIGS. 1, 7, and 8) and a closed position (FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6).

Furthermore, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, the inner surface 340 of the back cover 300 includes a first receptacle 348 and a second receptacle 352 for receiving the tab 510 of the tool 500. First receptacle 348 is disposed near the bottom 322 and the left side 326 of the back cover 300. Conversely, second receptacle 352 is disposed near the bottom 322 and the right side 330 of the back cover 300. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the tool 500 includes a stylus pen 530, a cord 520, and a tab 510. The cord 520 contains a first end and a second end. Disposed on the first end of the cord 520 is the tab 510, while the stylus 530 is disposed on the second end of the cord 520. The tab 510 is shaped (with a generally cylindrical shape except for one flat side surface) and sized to frictionally fit in a single position into either the first receptacle 348 or the second receptacle 352. This allows the tool 500 to be positioned with the cord 520 properly oriented on the right side 260, 330 of the protective case 100 or the left side 250, 326 of the protective case 100, depending on the user's preference. Additionally, the left side 326 of the back plate 300 has a first orifice 328, while the right side 330 of the back plate 300 has a second orifice 332. The first and second orifices 328, 332 are sized and shaped to enable the cord 520 of the tool 500 to rest within the orifices 328, 332, as illustrated in FIG. 8. By enabling the cord 520 of the tool 500 to rest within either the first or second orifice 328, 332, the cover 200 and back plate 300 are able to form a tight seal around the protective case 100. Furthermore, by resting the cord 520 of the tool 500 within either the first or second orifice 328, 332, the outer surface 210 of the cover 200 and the outer surface 310 of the back plate 300 form a flush surface when the cover 200 and the back plate 300 are oriented in the closed position.

It is to be understood that a protective case for a portable electronic device may be fabricated from any suitable material, or combination of materials, such as plastic, foamed plastic, wood, cardboard, pressed paper, metal, supple natural or synthetic materials including, but not limited to, cotton, elastomers, polyester, plastic, rubber, derivatives thereof, and combinations thereof. Suitable plastics may include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polystyrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), or the like. Suitable foamed plastics may include expanded or extruded polystyrene, expanded or extruded polypropylene, EVA foam, derivatives thereof, and combinations thereof.

It is also to be understood that terms such as “left,” “right,” “top,” “bottom,” “front,” “rear,” “side,” “height,” “length,” “width,” “upper,” “lower,” “interior,” “exterior,” “inner,” “outer” and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points or portions of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration. Further, the term “exemplary” is used herein to describe an example or illustration. Any embodiment described herein as exemplary is not to be construed as a preferred or advantageous embodiment, but rather as one example or illustration of a possible embodiment of the invention.

Although the disclosed inventions are illustrated and described herein as embodied in one or more specific examples, it is nevertheless not intended to be limited to the details shown, since various modifications and structural changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the inventions and within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims. In addition, various features from one of the embodiments may be incorporated into another of the embodiments. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims.