CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application is a Continuation-in-Part of co-pending application Ser. No. 09/894,563; filed Jun. 28, 2001.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to a document or page holder and more specifically to a compact, portable document holder.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Many current document holders, which are used to hold documents in an upright position for reading while typing or entering data on a keyboard, tend to be bulky. This presents a problem especially for those who use a laptop computer or other portable computer and travel from place to place, since the document holders are not easily stored in the laptop computer case or other attache. Consequently, a compact small document holder is desired.
A document holder is provided that can collapse into a flattened, compact configuration. The document holder comprises a base and a back support coupled to the base. The back support comprises two opposing leg portions and a flexible holding clip portion there between. The leg portions have upper surfaces opposite lower surfaces. The clip portion also has an upper surface opposite a lower surface. In an exemplary embodiment, the clip portion lower surface is convex and penetrates a plane tangential to the upper surfaces of both legs.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
At least one support member retains the back support in an extended position relative to the base. The support member is storable in the base. A securing clip, also storable in the base, is releasably received in a slot defined in the holder for securing the holder to an object. When the back support is in an extended position, a document can be held in a relatively upright position between the back support legs and clip portions.
FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an exemplary embodiment holder of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a front view of the holder shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the holder shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a top view of the holder shown in FIG. 1 in a collapsed (i.e., closed) position.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a securing clip which is storable in the holder shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the securing clip shown in FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the holder shown in FIG. 1 secured on an object using the securing clip shown in FIG. 5.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the holder shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the holder shown in FIG. 1 mounted on an object and holding a document.
A portable document holder 10 is described below and illustrated in the drawings. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the portable document holder 10 is collapsible into a flattened, compact configuration 11, as shown in FIG. 4. In the exemplary embodiment, the holder 10 comprises a base 12, a back support member 14 or back support, and a clip member 16 also referred to herein as “clip” or “holding clip” integral with the back support member. The back support member is coupled to the base. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a front end 18 of the back support is coupled to a front end 20 of the base. It should be noted that the terms “front,” “rear,” “back,” “forward,” “rearward,” “upper,” “lower” are used herein for descriptive purposes to describe relative positions and not exact positions.
In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the entire holder is made from polypropylene. Alternatively, the entire holder can be made from other plastic materials or metallic materials, such as aluminum.
In the exemplary embodiment, the back support is coupled to the base via an integral hinge. In other words, one or more thin hinge pieces 22 extends between the front end 20 of the base and the front end 18 of the back support (FIGS. 2 and 3). The back support 14, base 20 and hinge pieces 22 are all integral. The thin pieces of material forming the hinge pieces 22 are foldable or bendable, allowing the back support to pivot relative to the base. In an alternate embodiment, other types of hinges, as for example non-integral hinges, may be used to couple the front end of the back support to the front end of the base.
In the exemplary embodiment, the back support comprises two leg portions or legs 26,28 extending transversely from a front end member 32 of the back support to a rear end member 30. In the exemplary embodiment, the two legs 26, 28 are integrally formed with the front end member 32 and also integrally formed with the rear end member 30 of the back support. The two legs 26, 28 and rear end member 30 define a generally inverted U-shape. The front end member, rear end member, and the two legs define a central opening 34. The holding clip 16 is a flexible member extending transversely from the front end member 32 between the two legs 26, 28. The holding clip has an upper surface 36 opposite a lower surface 38. The holding clip lower surface intercepts a plane tangent to the upper surfaces 40, 42 of both legs 26, 28. In the exemplary embodiment, the holding clip lower surface 38 is a convex surface. The holding clip's flexibility may be enhanced by removing a portion 47 of the material forming the holding clip proximate the front member defining two opposite legs 49 and 51 extending to the front member, as for example shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the base portion has an internal well 24 defined by a floor 43 and a surrounding sidewall 45. The well 24 accommodates the back support when in the closed position shown in FIG. 4. The size of the back support is such that it fits within the well defined in the base when the back support is collapsed relative to the base. To maintain the back support in an extended position relative to the base, two support members 44,46 are used as shown in FIG. 3. However, instead of two, only one support member may be incorporated. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the support members are cut out from a portion of the well floor 43 defining complementary support member openings 48,50, respectively. In the exemplary embodiment, the openings 48, 50 are defined by peripheral edges 55, but they do not penetrate the entire thickness of the well floor 43, thereby defining corresponding depressions for storing the corresponding support members. Alternatively, the support member well openings 48, 50 may penetrate the entire thickness of the well floor 43. With this alternative configuration for the openings 48, 50, the edges 55 of the would preferably be tapered toward each other in a direction away from the back support. The tapered edges reduce the size of the opening to prevent the support members from being pushed through their corresponding openings when being stored in the base.
In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, each of the support members 44,46 comprises a main body portion 53 from which extends a neck portion 52 that terminates in a head 54. The heads 54 of each of the support members “snaps” into a corresponding slot 56, 58 defined in a lower surface of each leg 28, 26 of the back support. In the exemplary embodiment, each of these slots 56, 58, as shown in FIG. 3, is formed by four protrusions 60 that are spaced apart, forming a quad that allows the neck portion 52 to fit between two of the protrusions 60 and the head 54 to fit within all four of the protrusions 60.
In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the width 62 of each support member well opening 48, 50, decreases in a direction opposite of the front end 20 of the base, i.e., in a rearward direction. To maintain the back support in an extended position, the head and neck portions of the support members 44, 46 are “snapped” into place in their corresponding slots 56,58 formed on the back support. The opposite end 64, 66 of each support member 44, 46 is fitted within the widest portion of its corresponding support member well opening 48, 50. Because the support member well openings 48, 50 decrease in width in a rearward direction, the ends 64,66 cannot slide rearwardly relative to their corresponding opening. In turn, the support members 44, 46 are able to maintain the back support in an extended, generally upright position. In an alternate embodiment, the ends 64, 66 of the support members 44,46 may be pivotally coupled to the base, as for example by an integral hinge 67 shown in dashed lines in FIG. 8, or another type of hinge such as a pin (not shown).
A through slot 68 is defined on the front end of the holder. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the slot 68 is defined through the front ends of the back support and base. In other words, an upper portion of the slot is defined on the back support and a lower portion of the slot is defined on the base. The slot 68 is designed to accommodate a securing clip 70 (FIG. 5) for anchoring the holder on to object 72, such as a mouse pad, a desk blotter, a stack of papers, a note pad, or any other object, as for example shown in FIG. 7.
In the exemplary embodiment, the securing clip 70 is integrally formed with an upper plate 74 and a lower plate 76 integrally coupled to the upper plate via an end portion 78, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. A channel 80 is defined by the plates 74, 76 and the end portion 78. The securing clip 70 may be formed with a cut-out 73 across one of its plates to provide access to the other plate so that a user may spread the plates apart for grasping on object between the plates so as to secure the clip 70 to the object. More cutouts 75 may be included for providing access from one plate to the other. The securing clip 70 is fitted through the slot 68 from the front end of the holder by pushing the end portion of the securing clip into the slot. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 5, two protrusions 82 extend from opposite sides of the securing clip proximately the securing clip end portion 78. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 8, the slot 68 has a pair of opposed sides 86 and 88, each of which includes a groove 84 (one of which is shown in FIG. 8) to receive the protrusions 82. By forming the securing clip 70 from a resilient material, as for example, polypropylene, the protrusions 82 have a degree of flexibility. In this regard, as the securing clip 70 is pushed through the slot 68, the protrusions 82 compress. When the protrusions 82 reach their corresponding grooves 84, the protrusions expand into the grooves 84, maintaining the securing clip 70 engaged to the slot 68.
In the exemplary embodiment, the securing clip 70 fits in a complementary securing clip opening 90 formed on the base well floor 43. The clip opening 90 may only penetrate a portion of the well floor thickness defining a depression for storing the securing clip 70, or the opening 90 may penetrate the entire thickness of the well floor. If it penetrates the entire thickness, the edges 92 of the opening may be tapered so as to reduce the area of the opening in a direction away from the back support so as to provide support for the securing clip when stored in the securing clip opening.
When the back support collapses onto the base, it fits within the well 24. A lock protrusion 94 may be formed extending from a section of the back support, as for example the rear end member 30 of the back support as shown in FIG. 1. The lock protrusion fits into a corresponding groove 96 formed on the base portion when the back support is collapsed against the base portion. By making the protrusion 94 from a flexible material, the lock protrusion compresses and expands into its corresponding groove 96 when the back support is collapsed against the base, thereby “locking” the back support against the base.
In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1,3 and 4, depressions 98 and 100 are formed in the sidewall 45 on opposite ends of the base to provide access for grasping and extending the back support from the base when the back support is locked in a closed or collapsed position against the base. In an alternate embodiment, only one depression is formed. By forming the base with two depressions that are linearly aligned with each other as in the exemplary embodiment, the depressions may be used to accommodate a pen or other object for providing a weight for stabilizing the base and obviating the need to secure the base to another object.
To operate the exemplary embodiment holder, a user pops open the back support from the base and extends it relative to the base. The support members 44, 46 are then pivoted up from the well floor and their heads 54 are inserted into the corresponding slots 56, 58 formed on the bottom surface of the back support. The support members retain the back support in an upright position. In a preferred embodiment, the back support is inclined relative to the base at an angle 110 between 60° and 70° when supported by the support members in the upright position. However, it is believed that a 64° to 66° angle is optimum for providing an angle 112 between the base and the document held of about 74° to 76°. By changing the length of the support members, the angle of the back support relative to the base can be changed. Furthermore, the angle of the document held in place by the holder can also be changed, although to a lesser degree, by changing the amount of resilience in the holding clip 16, and/or the angle of the holding clip convex surface 38 pressing against the document. The securing clip 70 may also be removed from the well floor 43 and inserted into the front slot 68 to provide a means for anchoring the holder onto an object, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 9.
A single page or multiple pages of a document 104 (FIG. 9) may be positioned between the back support legs 26, 28 and the rear surface 38 of the holding clip member 16. The rear surface of the clip member attempts to push the page or pages through a plane tangential to the upper surfaces 40, 42 of the back support. This causes the document 104 to bend slightly as shown in FIG. 9 and as shown by the dashed line 106 in FIGS. 1 and 3. This bending causes the document to be retained in an upright position. In the exemplary embodiment, the convex lower surface 38 of the holding clip 16 imparts a smooth bend in the document 104.
The portable document holder of the present invention, when collapsed, is very compact, substantially flat, and relatively small. For example, the exemplary embodiment holder in its collapsed, compact configuration, may be about 6 cm (2.4 in.) wide by about 5 cm (2 in.) long and by about 1 cm (0.4 in.) high. The exemplary embodiment holder made from polypropylene has a weight, including the securing clip 70, of about 10 grams (⅓ oz.).
Although the present invention has been described and illustrated with respect to various exemplary embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that it is not so limited, since changes and modifications may be made therein which are within the full intended scope of this invention as herein after claimed. For example, the base of the holder may be formed without a well. An external clip or other means may be used to retain the back support against the base when in the collapsed position. The support members and securing clip may still be stored in depressions or openings defined in the base. The well in the base may also be used to store other small accessories that may be useful to a person using the document holder. For example, a small keyboard brush may also be releasably attached to the well.