FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the field of portable traveling bags and business cases for the transporting and storage of papers, books, computers, portable electronic equipment, school supplies and the like, in addition to portable traveling bags and, more particularly, to a business case with an expandable internal compartment for use as an overnight travel bag.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Carry bags, backpacks and business cases are well known in the art and are readily available in many shapes and sizes for many types of use. In addition, it is well known in the art to provide carry bags and the like which have small expandable compartments designed for storing or carrying specific items or devices. Specifically, it is common in the art to provide a business case for carrying electronic equipment (i.e., personal laptop computers, personal digital assistants and the like) and paperwork. In addition, it is common in the art to provide expandable compartments for accommodating such items and carrying associated items such as electronic mediums, pens, books and files. Furthermore, it is well known in the art to provide carry bags and garment bags for carrying clothing and related accessories for travel. However, carry cases generally serve a single purpose, thus, a business case designed for carrying business related items is not generally useful for carrying overnight clothing for short-term travel.
Therefore, a need exists in the art for a dual-purpose carrying case which offers a user the opportunity to carry not only office or work-related items, but also provides the user with sufficient expandable storage capacity as an option for carrying clothing, personal toiletry items, and the like. It is a novel aspect of the present invention to provide a business case with a plurality of expandable internal compartments for storing electronic devices, paperwork, files and the like that is also adapted for carrying clothing and related items for overnight or short-term travel in a compact carrying case, the bulk and volume of which can be minimized after unpacking the personal items.
Dyke U.S. Pat. No. 3,443,671 discloses an expandable suitcase capable of being enlarged throughout the entire cross-section comprising a transversely extensible collar around the periphery. However, Dyke fails to teach a business case comprising a plurality of expandable internal compartments and an interior padded computer carrying compartment, a file folio and the like. Further, Dyke fails to disclose a business case of sufficient expansion for allowing a user to carry overnight clothing for short-term travel.
Margerum et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,904,003 discloses a combination business case and desk allowing the brief case to be converted from one configuration to the other. Margerum teaches of one embodiment providing a pivotable side wall of the brief case which may be lowered to be used as a desk writing area while allowing a user to directly access the contents located in the drawers, file folders and the like therein. However, Mergerum fails to disclose a business case having a means for expansion. Specifically, Margerum fails to teach of a business case having a plurality of expandable internal compartments for storing electronic devices, paperwork, files and the like in addition to overnight clothing and related items for short-term travel.
Ginat U.S. Pat. No. 4,236,615 discloses several embodiments of packing cases having expansible compartments, including packing cases comprising an expansible partition of flexible material secured along the peripheral edges of a case. The partition is normally disposed within the main compartment of the case to form an auxiliary compartment separate from, but expansible within, the main case compartment and closable by a fastener device. In one embodiment, an opening is formed in an end wall of the case, and the partition is dimensioned such that the expansible auxiliary compartment is approximately the full volume of the main compartment. In two further embodiments, the bottom wall of the case can be opened, and the partition, in addition to being disposable within the main compartment to form an expansible auxiliary compartment therein, may also be projected through the opened bottom wall to form a bottom extension of the main compartment. However, Ginat fails to disclose a business case comprising an interior padded computer carrying compartment, a file folio and the like for retaining business related items therein. Further, Ginat fails to disclose a business case of sufficient size for carrying overnight luggage for short-term travel in addition to business related articles.
Kotkins, Jr. U.S. Pat. No. 4,773,515 discloses a multi-compartment, expansible luggage bag comprising a main storage compartment with one or more expansible joints to increase the size of the main storage compartment. In conjunction with the main storage compartment, provided is a separable end storage compartment having an inner flexible membrane that can be extended inwardly beyond each of the expansion joints to maximize the volume of the end storage compartment when the expansion joints are open. However, Kotkins, Jr. fails to disclose a business case comprising an interior padded computer carrying compartment, a file folio and the like for retaining business related items therein. Furthermore, Kotkins Jr. fails to disclose sufficient expansion members that allow for carrying business related items in addition to overnight clothing.
Pulichino, Jr. U.S. Pat. No. 4,925,021 discloses a soft luggage-type suitcase having three compartments enclosed by panels or lids hinged to a container having top, bottom and side walls. Pulichino also teaches of the use of a soft luggage suitcase with a hanger bracket to avoid the common problems traditionally associated with zipper closures. However, Pulichino fails to disclose a means for expanding the interior compartment of a business case for carrying clothing and related toiletries for overnight travel.
Brown U.S. Pat. No. 5,010,988 discloses an expandable shock protected carrying case. Specifically, Brown discloses a carrying case adapted for use in carrying lap top computers, printers, fax machines and the like, comprising a case having an outer shell formed of a durable waterproof material and a case interior including a main storage compartment and a secondary storage compartment. An expansion zone formed on a surrounding side wall structure allows the secondary storage compartment to be adjustable between a collapsed stowed position and an expanded operative position thereby providing a second compartment to store computer equipment. The carrying case further includes a shock barrier construction defined by a layer of shock absorbent material fitted between the exterior shell and an inner lining in surrounding protecting relation to the case interior. However, Brown fails to disclose a business case comprising an expandable gusset that allows a user to convert the business case from a low-profile configuration having minimal central volume to an expanded volume for carrying overnight clothing, toiletries and the like.
Chu U.S. Pat. No. 5,086,888 discloses a folding suitcase with a hard casing consisting of six hard sides, wherein the plate bodies of hard casing on the bottom, left and right sides (i.e. bottom, left and right plate bodies) are separable from their corresponding soft surface materials so that these plate bodies become removable. In addition Chu teaches that when hook-and-loop fasteners are disengaged from each other and the bottom, left and right plate bodies are removed, only the soft surface materials are left on the bottom, left and right sides of the suitcase which become foldable, so the suitcase as a whole can be folded into a flat shape with its front and rear sides overlapping each other in order to reduce the space required for warehousing, shipping and storing it. However, Chu discloses a rigid-sided case and fails to disclose a soft-sided business case which provides for expansion. Although Chu provides for a low-profile configuration, this configuration is only suitable for storage or warehousing and does not provide an interior volume for carrying business related items. Furthermore, Chu fails to disclose a business case comprising an interior file folio, padded computer carrying compartment and the like.
Marceau U.S. Pat. No. 5,160,001 discloses a soft combination business case and carrying case for the purpose of transporting a portable computer easily and in relative safety with its ancillary supplies. Marceau also teaches of an interior structure for suspending the computer unit in the central zone of the carrying case, spaced from the case bottom for protecting the computer against damage. However, Marceau's improved computer storage bag fails to disclose a business case for storing and transporting business related items in addition to overnight clothing. Furthermore, Marceau fails to disclose a business case comprising an interior file folio and an expansion means for increasing the interior volume of the business case.
Hollingsworth U.S. Pat. No. 5,217,119 discloses an improved carrying case for a laptop computer or other delicate electronic instrument that is generally rectangular, having front and rear walls. Furthermore, disclosed is a suspension system for the laptop computer or other equipment including a cradle suspended from the front and rear walls for receiving a laptop computer, and elastic panel members supporting the cradle for absorbing shocks and impacts occurring upon placing of the case on a floor or the like. However, Hollingsworth fails to disclose a business case that can be expanded to carry clothing for short-term travel in addition to business related materials. Furthermore, Hollingsworth fails to disclose a business case that can be converted from a low-profile case of minimal volume to an expanded volume case.
Zia et al. U.S. Pat. No. 5,242,056 discloses a portable office carrying case having a base fabricated of ridged material and at least the front and back sides fabricated of ridged material to protect electronic equipment, such as a portable computer, placed within the case by the user to be moved and placed on a working surface. Zia et al. further discloses a portable office carrying case having a hinged front ridged side that is detachable from the sides so that the user may lower the front side from a vertical position onto the working surface providing access to the keyboard of the computer at substantially the working surface level; and means for attaching a storage pocket to the outside of the back ridged side and a divider that may be mounted inside the case to define compartments for storing office materials. However, Zia et al. fails to disclose a business case comprising an expandable gusset that allows a user to convert the business case from a low-profile configuration having minimal central volume to an expanded volume for carrying overnight clothing, toiletries and the like.
Hollingsworth U.S. Pat. No. 5,534,754 discloses a carrying case for electronic equipment, such as a notebook computer, comprising a pair of opposed walls, a plurality of side walls connected there between to define a principal compartment for receiving the notebook computer, and a suspension member affixed to an upper portion of one of the opposed walls and depending downwardly there from into the principal compartment. The suspension member includes upper and lower supports to cradle the notebook computer and an elastic panel disposed between the upper and lower supports to absorb any shock which would otherwise occur due to the carrying case being abruptly dropped. Alternatively, the suspension member can be an elastic panel having opposed ends supported by an upper portion of one of the opposed walls to define an elastic sling which is suspended downwardly from the wall within the principal compartment to receive the notebook computer. The suspension member can also be releasably connected between the opposed walls to define a shock absorbing cradle which can be removed so that the carrying case can be used for other purposes. However, Hollingsworth fails to disclose an expansion gusset for increasing the interior volume of a business case. Furthermore, Hollingsworth fails to disclose a business case that can be converted from a low-profile case of minimal volume to an expanded volume case for carrying overnight clothing for short-term travel.
Shyr U.S. Pat. No. 5,967,270 discloses a combination business case and computer bag assembly including a housing member having a bottom member, a plurality of side members, and a pair of pivotable top flap members. One of the side members includes a flexible floating compartment that is dimensionally configured to receive a portable computer. When the portable computer is held in the flexible floating compartment, it extends in the business case enclosure to protect the portable computer. However, Shyr fails to disclose a business case comprising an expandable gusset that allows a user to convert the business case from a low-profile configuration having minimal central volume to an expanded volume for carrying overnight clothing, toiletries and the like.
Wyant U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,382 discloses a school-use backpack that is similar in styling to conventional school-use backpacks, which can be expanded to increase the interior storage volume of the backpack when additional storage space is required. In particular, the backpack disclosed in Wyant includes front, back, and side panels which define a zippered main storage compartment, two shoulder straps, and a zippered gusset which is sewn into the side panel of the backpack. However, Wyant is limited to a school-use back pack. Furthermore, Wyant fails to disclose a business case comprising an interior padded computer carrying compartment, a file folio and the like for retaining business related items therein.
In view of the foregoing, there exists a clear need for an expandable business case for transporting business related items including, but not limited to files, papers, a portable computer, pens, a calculator, note pads and the like. Furthermore, there exists a need to provide a business case which is convertible from a low-profile case of minimal volume for business related items to an expanded volume case for carrying overnight clothing for short-term travel in addition to business related items.
Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a business case comprising the features of construction, combination of elements and configuration of parts which will be exemplified in the construction of the invention set forth.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device which exhibits strength and durability of use.
It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a convertible business case that allows the user to expand the interior volume.
Furthermore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a business case comprising a plurality of expandable internal compartments and an interior padded computer carrying compartment, a file folio and the like.
Still further, it is an object of the present invention to provide a business case allowing for sufficient expansion for carrying overnight clothing for short-term travel.
Still further, it is an object of the present invention to provide a business case constructed with internal compartments for carrying business related items in addition to clothing and personal toiletries.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a business case that exhibits a low-profile configuration.
It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a business or carrying case comprising an expansion gusset that allows a user to convert the business case from a low-profile configuration having minimal central volume convertible to a business case having an expanded central volume.
Other objects, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as the methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the invention, and the combination of parts and economies of development and performance, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of this specification.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to a dual purpose business case or briefcase made of suitable material for carrying business related materials, and as having an expandable interior compartment for carrying personal clothing and travel accessories, such as toiletries. Specifically, a soft-sided business case is provided that is preferably constructed of woven nylon, synthetic or natural leather. The contents of the expandable internal compartment are preferably concealed from view when either of the adjoining compartments adapted for carrying business items is opened. The business case can be constructed in whole or in selected part of a waterproof material or can be treated in a manner to protect one or more of the interior compartments from water.
In a preferred embodiment, the business case of the present invention comprises a plurality of internal compartments and/or storage pockets. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a housing structure is provided including a first exterior sidewall and an opposing second exterior sidewall, each sidewall being fixedly attached to a lower bottom panel and an opposing upper top panel, a first side panel and an opposing second side panel that forms a business case. The first sidewall and the second sidewall are attached to the lower panel, upper panel, first side panel and second side panel by common methods known in the art for attaching the materials together, such as stitching. Further, a plurality of fastening means such as zippers, snaps, hook and loop fasteners and/or buttons are provided to allow the user to access the internal compartments of the business case and subsequently rejoin the members of the case after opening it.
In one preferred embodiment, the business case includes an first external compartment that can be expandable and serves a variety of functions. This first external compartment is internally separated from the rest of the adjacent compartments of the case. Access to this first compartment can be via a rejoinable opening, such as a zipper, on the top and adjoining sides of the compartment. The first external compartment can provide for storage of various materials, such as pens, papers, computer disks, and the like. Furthermore, the first external compartment can comprise a plurality of specialized storage compartments such as an expandable compartment, pen and pencil sleeves and a pocket member dimensioned to secure memory disks for computers, pocket calculator, and other small stationery items.
A second outside compartment is provided appropriately padded for use as a storage compartment for a notebook or laptop computer or like device. It is well known in the art to provide such a compartment for securely and safely carrying a portable computer so as to protect it and minimize shock to the device upon impact if the case is mishandled and forcibly comes in contact with a rigid object. An interior dividing wall is provided to separate the second internal compartment from the other internal compartments to insure that the notebook computer is protected from items in the other internal compartments. Specifically, it is well known in the art to provide sufficient padding and cushioning of foam or like material on the interior surface of the second internal compartment to prevent damage to the sensitive electronic equipment carried in the compartment. The computer can be secured in the second outside compartment by means of a fastening strap, hook and loop fastening strap, cradle system, elastic member or other like means known in the art. In addition, additional storage space is provided in the second outside compartment for the storage of other business related items or computer accessories.
A third internal compartment, intended for use as a storage compartment for clothing and for other personal items, is provided comprising an expansion gusset. A wrap-around zipper, or the like, is provided to secure the third internal compartment in a collapsed position. Thus, in the closed position (i.e., zippered), the wrap-around zipper maintains the business case in a low profile configuration thereby limiting the internal volume of the third internal compartment so that only the expansion gusset is disposed therein. In the open or un-zippered position, the wrap-around zipper permits the expansion of the gusset thereby allowing the expansion of the interior volume of the third internal compartment. The interior volume of the third internal compartment is of sufficient size, when expanded, to provide space for the storage of overnight clothing and personal care products used during travel. Specialized storage compartments can be disposed therein to allow the user to neatly and efficiently store toiletries and the like. A protected, waterproof compartment can be provided to prevent the toiletries from leaking onto the items in the third internal compartment or any of the internal compartments of the business case. In addition, a plurality of elastic bands, buckle-type straps or other retaining means that are well known in the art to facilitate the packing of clothing items and personal toiletries are optionally provided. Once the clothing is removed from the business case, the overall size of the case can again be minimized by securing the wraparound zipper, thereby, substantially reducing the interior volume and re-establishing the low-profile configuration of the business case. Access to the storage volume is provided through one of the common interior adjoining sidewalls of an adjacent compartment, as will be explained below.
A fourth outside compartment is provided comprising a zippered second sidewall for enclosing a file folio therein. The file folio, comprising a plurality of pockets, can be of the type commonly used in the art for the storage of file folders, documents and similar materials. The file folio can be attached in the interior compartment of the business case in a permanent manner or a removable manner. A plurality of release straps are provided and affixed to the file folio and to the interior wall of the fourth compartment. The release straps fastened by snaps, hook and loop fasteners, a zipper, or the like, serve to maintain the low-profile configuration. Upon opening of these straps, the file folio is released from a soft interior dividing wall allowing access to the interior of the central expandable volume of the third internal compartment. The soft interior dividing wall is provided to isolate the personal items from view when either the file folio or the other of the adjacent internal compartments is opened. When access to the interior of the third internal compartment is desired, the zipper extending around three sides of the fourth outside compartment is completely opened and the interior straps securing the file folio in place are released, thereby allowing the file folio to be moved away and for the two sections of the case to be laid flat in a joined side-by-side position.