US 20030196916 A1
A media disc case is described that includes a container at least partially fabricated from a see-through material for holding a media disk. A sleeve is affixed to the container for holding a graphical insert. A graphical insert is loaded into the sleeve. The graphical insert includes an opening therein, and is positioned such that a portion of a media disc held in the container is visible through the opening.
1. A media disc case, comprising:
a container at least partially fabricated from a see-through material for holding a media disk;
a sleeve affixed to the container for holding a graphical insert;
a graphical insert loaded into the sleeve, the graphical insert including an opening therein positioned such that a portion of a media disc held in the container is visible through the opening.
2. The media disc case of
3. The media disc of
4. A method for securing a media disc case, comprising:
fabricating a container from a see-through material for holding a media disk;
affixing a sleeve to the container for holding a graphical insert;
loading a graphical insert into the sleeve, the graphical insert including an opening therein positioned such that a portion of a media disc held in the container is visible through the opening.
 Aspects of the invention provide media disc cases that allow both customers and retail clerks to confirm the presence of a media disc in a case prior to selling the disc. Such a media disc case also prevents the fraudulent return on an empty case for store credit. One media disc case according to an aspect of the invention includes two components: (1) a case that is at least partially clear and (2) a modified windowed graphical insert. According to a further aspect of the invention, the modification to the graphical insert is strategically placed so that it may go unnoticed by consumers and potential thieves. Thus, a store employee can ascertain the presence of a disc in the case at the time of sale. This arrangement allows the store employee to determine whether the case is empty because of manufacturer error or store theft. In addition, a customer service clerk may readily ascertain the presence of a disc in the case when a customer returns the packaged disc for credit.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a media case 10 according to a first aspect of the invention. According to this aspect of the invention, the media case 10 is fabricated at least partially from a see-through plastic material. The media case 10 includes a front panel 12 and a rear panel 14 that are hinged together to form a book-like structure that includes a “spine” 16 and an “open” side 18 opposite the spine 16. The rear panel 14 includes a cavity 20 that is shaped to receive a media disc. The front and rear panels 12 and 14 are provided with interlocking clasp elements at the open side 18 that are snapped together to close the case 10.
 The media case 10 further includes a plastic, see-through sleeve, illustrated below, for receiving a graphical insert. The plastic sleeve extends around the front panel 12, spine 16, and rear panel 14, similar to a book jacket. It should be noted that the use of the terms “front” and “rear” in describing the panels 12 and 14 is arbitrary. It will be appreciated that various configurations of the panels and disc-holding cavity 20 may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the media case 10 shown in FIG. 1, which has been opened to receive a graphical insert 22. A shown in FIG. 2, the graphical insert 22 includes a hole 24. As described below, the hole 24 is used to provide visual access to a media disc seated in the cavity 20.
FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the media case 10, in which the insert 22 has been fully inserted behind a clear plastic sleeve 26. As shown in FIG. 3, the hole 24 in the graphical insert 22 is positioned over a portion of a media disc 28 held in the cavity 20.
FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 are perspective views of the media case 10 illustrating the closing of the case 10. In FIG. 4, the case 10 is opened such that the angle formed by the front panel 12 and rear panel 14 is greater than 180°. Opening the case 10 this wide allows the sleeve 26 to be pulled away from the body of the case 10 to facilitate insertion of the graphical insert 22. In FIG. 5, the front panel 12 and rear panel 14 have been substantially closed with respect to each other to form an angle of less than 90°. It will be seen that folding the case 10 closed pulls the sleeve close to the front and rear panels 12 and 14. In FIG. 16, the case has been completely closed. As shown in FIG. 6, the hole 24 is relatively small and unobtrusive.
FIG. 7 shows a composite perspective view of a graphical insert 30, both in isolation and assembled into a finished media disc package 34. As shown in FIG. 7, the hole 32 is relatively inconspicuous, but allows a store employee to peek into the interior of the case to confirm that a disc is present in the case. An employee may confirm the presence of a disc, for example, as part of the checkout process, or when a disc is returned or exchanged.
 It will be appreciated that the present invention may be suitably combined with other systems for securing the media disc case including, for example, systems for locking the media disc into the case. It will also be appreciated that other types of holes, slots or other suitable openings may be provided without departing from the spirit of the invention.
 According to a further aspect of the invention, it would be possible to use a media case fabricated from an opaque material, and to provide a hole or window through the opaque material to confirm the presence of a disc in the case. The hole or window may be protected by a transparent material to prevent dust or foreign objects from entering the interior of the case.
 While the foregoing description includes details which will enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, it should be recognized that the description is illustrative in nature and that many modifications and variations thereof will be apparent to those skilled in the art having the benefit of these teachings. It is accordingly intended that the invention herein be defined solely by the claims appended hereto and that the claims be interpreted as broadly as permitted by the prior art.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a media disc case according to a first aspect of the invention.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the case shown in FIG. 1 with a graphical insert partially inserted into a receiving sleeve on the case.
FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the case shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the graphical insert fully inserted into the receiving sleeve.
FIG. 4 shows an alternative perspective view of the case shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the graphical insert fully inserted into the receiving sleeve.
FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of the case shown in FIGS. 1-5 in a substantially closed configuration.
FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of the case shown in FIGS. 1-5 in a closed configuration.
FIG. 7 shows a composite view of a graphical insert and media disc case according to an aspect of the invention.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates generally to improvements in the field of packaging for media discs, and particularly to advantageous aspects of systems and methods for ascertaining whether a media disc is present in a media disc container.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 Mass merchant retailers have expressed a number of concerns relating to media disc products, including compact discs (CDs), digital video discs (DVDs), and the like. First, media discs are being stolen out of their cases by customers or by store personnel. Thieves commonly remove a disc from a case by slitting the overwrap. The slit may not be noticeable to a subsequent customer, who may purchase the case, not realizing that it is empty because he or she does not notice the slit, and because a typical media disc package is such that the media disc cannot be seen when the package is sealed. Once home, the customer typically becomes angry upon discovering the theft and then must suffer the inconvenience of having to return the product to the store.
 Secondly, mass retailers typically have a high rate of return of DVD movies. Retailers are aware customers commonly return empty cases for full returns. It is suspected that thieves are steaming open both the overwrap and security labels, removing the discs and carefully gluing the package together. Again, a media disc typically cannot be seen from the outside of the sealed package. Thus, a clerk at the mass retailer simply issues a full credit for the empty case, and the customer theft is complete.
 There is thus a need for systems and methods that allow both customers and store employees to readily confirm whether there is in fact a media disc in a case at checkout.
 An aspect of the invention provides a media disc case including a container fabricated from a see-through material for holding a media disk. A sleeve is affixed to the container for holding a graphical insert. A graphical insert is loaded into the sleeve. The graphical insert includes an opening therein and is positioned such that a portion of a media disc held in the container is visible through the opening.
 Additional features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent by reference to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings.
 The present invention claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/3.69,637 entitled “Systems and Methods for Ascertaining Whether Media Disc Is Present in Media Disc Container” and filed Apr. 3, 2002, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.