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Publication numberUS20040232180 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/745,907
Publication dateNov 25, 2004
Filing dateDec 23, 2003
Priority dateMay 19, 2003
Publication number10745907, 745907, US 2004/0232180 A1, US 2004/232180 A1, US 20040232180 A1, US 20040232180A1, US 2004232180 A1, US 2004232180A1, US-A1-20040232180, US-A1-2004232180, US2004/0232180A1, US2004/232180A1, US20040232180 A1, US20040232180A1, US2004232180 A1, US2004232180A1
InventorsPaul Badillo
Original AssigneePaul Badillo
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Belt clip and locking fastener for selectively securing an electronic device
US 20040232180 A1
Abstract
A combined belt clip and locking fastener is provided which is adapted for selectively securing an electronic device such as a cellular telephone or Personal Digital Assistant to a belt or other object. More specifically, one embodiment of the present invention includes a beveled button interconnected to the electronic device that is adapted for removable interconnection to a locking portion of a separable fastener based on a rotational movement.
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Claims(21)
What is claimed is:
1. A fastening system adapted for selectively securing an electronic device, comprising:
a locking portion comprising an upper end, a lower end and lateral edges extending therebetween;
a clip operably interconnected to said locking portion that is adapted to selectively interconnect said fastening system to an object, such as a user's belt;
a receiving pocket positioned within said locking portion and comprising at least one outwardly extending lip on a first end with a restricted diameter upper surface;
a button having a lower surface and an upper surface to define a first thickness and a beveled edge extending between said lower surface and said upper surface of said button, wherein said first thickness is reduced; and
wherein said receiving pocket is sized to receive and secure said button in a first position, but said button cannot be withdrawn from said receiving pocket until said beveled edge is positioned substantially adjacent to said outwardly extending lip.
2. The fastening system of claim 1, wherein said button further comprises an attachment means which is adapted to interconnect said button to an electronic device to allow said electronic device to be removably interconnected to said locking portion.
3. The fastening system of claim 1, wherein said clip is integrally molded to said upper end of said locking portion.
4. The fastening system of claim 3, wherein said receiving pocket is comprised of a deflectable tab portion interconnected to said locking portion, wherein when said button is pushed against said deflectable tab sufficient spacing is provided to allow said button head to seat in said receiving pocket.
5. The fastening system of claim 1, wherein said fastening system is comprised of one integrally molded plastic member.
6. The fastening system of claim 1, wherein when said button is selectively interconnected to said locking portion it is adapted to freely rotate.
7. The fastening system of claim 1, wherein alignment of said beveled edge of said button with said outwardly extending lip requires rotation of said button in said receiving pocket.
8. The fastening system of claim 7, wherein said rotation of said button to facilitate disengagement of said button from said outwardly extending lip is between about 150 and 210 degrees.
9. A carrying device adapted for removably securing an electronic device based on a rotational movement, comprising:
a locking means, integrally interconnected to a clip, said clip adapted for removable interconnection to an object, such as a belt;
a receiving pocket integrally positioned within said locking means and comprising a deflectable tab and an engagement means positioned on an upper portion of said receiving pocket;
a locking button operably sized to fit in said receiving pocket upon insertion in a first direction, wherein said locking button becomes secured by said engagement means, and is removable by rotating said locking button at an angle distinct from said first direction to facilitate release from said receiving pocket; and
a means for interconnecting said locking button to the electronic device.
10. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said means for interconnecting said locking button to the electronic device comprises an adhesive material.
11. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said engagement means comprises an upwardly extending lip positioned proximate to said receiving pocket.
12. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said locking button comprises an upper surface and a lower surface which defines a first thickness, and a beveled edge extending between said upper surface and said lower surface which has a thickness less than said first thickness.
13. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said receiving pocket is shrouded with a restricted diameter upper portion to prevent said locking button from inadvertent disengagement from said pocket.
14. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said electronic device comprises at least one of a cellular phone, a radio, a global positioning system and a personal digital assistant.
15. The carrying device of claim 9, wherein said device is comprised of a one piece plastic material.
16. A method for one-handed removal of an electronic device from a carrying system, comprising the steps of:
providing a button adapted for interconnection to the electronic device;
providing a base assembly comprising a clip on a first side which is adapted for removable interconnection to an object, such as a user's belt, and a receiving pocket on an opposing side;
providing an engagement means positioned within said receiving pocket that is adapted to retain said button in said receiving pocket when said button is oriented in a first position, and release said button from said engagement means when said button is rotated at least about 30 degrees from said first position;
wherein the electronic device may be selectively secured and removed from said base assembly with one hand based on a rotational movement of said button which is interconnected to said electronic device.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein said engagement means comprises a receiving pocket with an upwardly extending lip and a reduced diameter cap portion sized to retain said button.
18. The method of claim 16, wherein said button comprises a beveled edge which allows movement over said upwardly extending lip when said beveled edge and said upwardly extending lip are aligned.
19. The method of claim 16, wherein said engagement means further comprises a deflectable tab that allows said button to be slidingly positioned in said receiving pocket when said deflectable tab is pushed downward in a direction toward said clip.
20. The method of claim 16, wherein said button is interconnected to the electronic device with an adhesive.
21. The method of claim 16, wherein said carrying system is comprised of a one piece molded plastic.
Description

[0001] This application is a Continuation-In-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/441,928, filed May 19, 2003, which claims priority to U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/163,110, filed Jun. 26, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. D478,418, both applications are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to clips and fasteners designed for selective interconnection to a belt or pocket, and more specifically, a molded belt clip and separable fastener for selectively securing an electronic device, such as a cellular phone, radio, or other object.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Cellular telephones, pagers, radios, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other similar electronic devices (hereinafter “electronic device”) have become increasingly popular, with many people carrying these devices on their belts or pockets. The inevitable advances in technology will surely bring about new items that users will desire to carry on their belts so that they are easily accessible.

[0004] Various means of clipping small items to a user's belt have been in use for many years. More specifically, U.S. Pat. No. 5,779,115, assigned to NOKIA®, teaches a carrying device that employs a hand-operated slide that includes an element to deflect a spring to release a lock. The device employs a button, and a cylindrical stem interconnected to a circular plate which is sewn on a case adapted to receive a cellular phone. The body portion of the holding device is attached to the user's belt and employs the locking feature. The user inserts the button into the lock which allows for storage of the electronic device on a belt or pocket. To disengage the cell phone from the holding device, the user must release the locking mechanism by deflecting the release mechanism. This type of lock has the disadvantage of being made from many parts thus time consuming and expensive to manufacture due to the extensive assembly required. Further, the traditional lock release may be inadvertently activated causing the item to become dislodged and possibly damaged in a fall. Failure, due to normal wear and tear, of the locking spring and the clip housing are also common, which will cause the cell phone to become dislodged from the locking mechanism and possibly damaged. Finally, it is cumbersome and awkward in certain situations to disengage the lock with a thumb or finger, and is difficult for the elderly or physically challenged.

[0005] Separable fasteners with a single piece locking feature are also known in the art. For example, the MOD-U-LOCK® attachment system, built by the National Molding Corporation and sold commercially by DURAFLEX®, is a separable fastener that utilizes the elastic properties of plastic to lock the button into place. The locking portion includes a flexible tab with a locking lip and a pocket to receive the button, which may be released by applying finger pressure against an upper portion of the tab. However, the locking portion of this type of separable fasteners is usually rigidly interconnected onto existing materials, and thus provides no means for removable interconnection to a belt, pocket, or other object.

[0006] Another drawback of the separable fasteners is that they have limited applications outside use with soft compliant items. When a user applies pressure to a tab, it is deflected to achieve a sufficient gap so that the button, which is interconnected to a device, may be easily slipped into and out of the locking mechanism without interference with the locking lip on the tab. In current low-profile lock designs, a deflected tab will come in contact with the item the lock is attached to. If the lock is attached to a compliant item, a nylon bag for example, pressure from the tab will deflect the item and a sufficient gap will be supplied for button disengagement. If the item to which the locking portion of the separable fastener is not compliant, a deflected tab may not be able to provide a sufficient gap for the insertion or removal of the button. Fasteners in use today are low profile, and as such lack a sufficient gap when deflected to be used on non-compliant materials.

[0007] There is thus a significant need for a one-piece integrally molded interconnection system that may be selectively attached to a belt or pocket, and which comprises a locking mechanism that selectively secures an electronic device that employs no moving parts, wherein rotation of the electronic device facilitates disengagement thereof. There is a further need for a simplistic interconnection system which requires no assembly, is durable, and can be used for a multitude of applications.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] It is thus one aspect of the present invention to provide a detachable fastener that selectively interconnects to a user's belt and selectively secures an electronic device, while eliminating post-manufacturing steps of assembly and the costs associated therewith. Thus, the detachable fastener of the present invention does not employ springs or other means to disengage the lock, since the resilient properties of the molded plastic perform the required function. By attaching a belt clip of the present design the same functionality of a spring actuated belt clip is achieved, without the numerous components and costs associated therein.

[0009] It is another aspect of the present invention that the single piece design be light, strong, and less susceptible to breakage and jamming due to the reduction of movable parts. Also, the single piece design will have no metal parts which are prone to corrosion and tend to activate metal detectors. Due to the single piece design and the elimination of post manufacturing steps, significant time and expenses is saved.

[0010] It is a further aspect of the present invention to provide a selectable fastener that has a robust design, and which can readably changed with a revision of a mold. Thus, the shape and design of the clip may be changed easily, as well as the color. In addition, the clip may be molded with substantially planar areas for the attachment of company logos or other advertisements, or the desired indicia may be etched or molded directly onto the clip.

[0011] It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a separable lock that includes a button which selectively interfaces with a locking portion of the separable lock by sliding into a locking pocket. This button may be interconnected to any number of electronic devices, tools, or carrying pouches, sleeves, or holsters, such as a cell phone, a pager, a PDA, an MP3 player, a CD player, a diagnostic device, a radio, tape cassette player, a health monitor, a hammer, a tape measure, an inventory device, a water bottle, a flashlight, a sleeve or holster adapted to secure a cell phone, a gun holster, a pouch, a hand cuff holder, a knife case, and a time piece (hereafter “electronic device”). Generally, the attachment of the button to the electronic device depends on the application, but the button may be sewn, glued, integrally molded, screwed, riveted, clipped, taped, or tied to the item, as appreciated by one skilled in the art. Finally, items of the same general size may fit into the same lock depending on the shape of the interface portion of the lock and interconnecting button.

[0012] It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a belt clip that is integrally interconnected to the locking portion of the separable fastener by a thinner, resiliently deflectable, section of material. By squeezing together finger and thumb tabs on the clip and lock, the thinner section will resiliently deflect, thereby allowing selective interconnection to a user's belt. The lock portion will generally use the same materials, such that the tab attached to the locking portion may be easily deflected to allow insertion and removal of the button that is interconnected to the electronic device.

[0013] It is a related aspect of the present invention to provide a locking portion of the integral assembly that is attached to the belt clip via a spring and pin combination, and thus does not utilize the one-piece integral design discussed above, but is still simplistic to manufacture, and thus cost effective.

[0014] It is still yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a holder used to carry larger items that, due to their shape and/or size, a user would find difficult to disengage the lock on the clip. In this embodiment, the locking portion employs the locking pocket, but no movable tab. In contrast, the locking portion is equipped with a small protrusion which in turn interfaces with a tab on the button. Disengagement is achieved by flexing the tab, thereby releasing the interface. In addition, the connection between the clip and the locking portion may not include a reduced thickness, but rather employ the same dimensions as the joined components to increase the strength of the holder to accommodate heavier items.

[0015] In each of the above mentioned aspects of the invention, a button that is selectively interconnected to the electronic device will be employed. The interface portion of the button will dictate the mobility of the item when it is installed in the lock's pocket and engaged in a locked position. For example, a round interface will allow the device to rotate, whereas a square interface will constrain the device to prevent rotation, while an interface which is notched will allow the user to set a desired rotation angle in a preferred position of use.

[0016] It is another aspect of the present invention that there be a sufficient gap integrated into the locking portion of the integral assembly such that there is sufficient space for the tab on the lock to be deflected.

[0017] It is still yet another aspect of the invention to provide a button that be selectively removable from the locking position when it is rotated to a predetermined angle with respect to the locking portion of the clip, and thus is removable without deflecting a release mechanism. In one embodiment of the present invention the button employs an angled bevel on the interface portion that is adapted to provide sufficient clearance from the locking portion of the clip when the button is rotated to a predetermined angle. The button is interconnected to the electronic device and is designed to selectively interconnect with the locking portion of the separable fastener, as previously described. During insertion, the beveled area of the button travels in an unobstructed path into the locking portion of the clip. Further, once the button is seated securely in the pocket, a non-beveled area of the button will be in contact with the locking portion, thereby preventing removal. Removal of the electronic device is achieved by rotation, preferably about 180 degrees, such that the beveled area is again proximate to the locking portion, thereby providing an unobstructed path for button removal. One skilled in the art will appreciate that any rotation angle, or plurality thereof, may be used to facilitate button removal. In addition, previously described locking portions of the present invention that are resiliently deflectable, may be used. Alternatively, a locking portion with no moving parts may be employed. More specifically, the beveled button alleviates the need for a resiliently deflectable tab that provides an unobstructed path for selective interconnection. Further, the removal of the resiliently deflectable tab will allow the locking portion to be constructed with a lower profile, because the tab's travel space is no longer required. Additional advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent from the following discussion, particularly when incorporated with the accompanying drawings.

[0018] Thus, in one aspect of the present invention a fastening system adapted for selectively securing an electronic device is provided comprising:

[0019] a locking portion comprising an upper end, a lower end and lateral edges extending therebetween;

[0020] a clip operably interconnected to said locking portion that is adapted to selectively interconnect said fastening system to an object, such as a user's belt;

[0021] a receiving pocket positioned within said locking portion and comprising at least one outwardly extending lip on a first end with a restricted diameter upper surface;

[0022] a button having a lower surface and an upper surface to define a first thickness and a beveled edge extending between said lower surface and said upper surface of said button, wherein said first thickness is reduced; and

[0023] wherein said receiving pocket is sized to receive and secure said button in a first position, but said button cannot be withdrawn from said receiving pocket until said beveled edge is positioned substantially adjacent to said outwardly extending lip.

[0024] The Summary of the Invention is neither intended nor should it be construed as being representative of the full extent and scope of the present invention. The present invention is set forth in various levels of detail in the Summary of the Invention as well as in the attached drawings and the Detailed Description of the Invention and no limitation as to the scope of the present invention is intended by either the inclusion or non-inclusion of elements, components, etc. in this Summary of the Invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025]FIG. 1 is perspective view of a first embodiment of an integral belt clip and locking fastener;

[0026]FIG. 2 is a rear elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0027]FIG. 3 is a left elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0028]FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0029]FIG. 5 are front elevation and plan views of a square engagement button used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0030]FIG. 6 are front elevation and plan views of a round engagement button used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0031]FIG. 7 are front elevation and plan views of a notched engagement button used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0032]FIG. 8 is a left elevation view of the button attached to an electronic device and a method of insertion into the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

[0033]FIG. 9 is a left elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 interconnected to a belt and the electronic device selectively secured thereto;

[0034]FIG. 10 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0035]FIG. 11 is a rear elevation view of the invention shown in FIG. 10;

[0036]FIG. 12 is a left elevation view of the invention shown in FIG. 10;

[0037]FIG. 13 is a front elevation view of the invention shown in FIG. 10;

[0038]FIG. 14 is a bottom plan view of the invention shown in FIG. 10;

[0039]FIG. 15 is a left elevation view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0040]FIG. 16 is a rear elevation view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0041]FIG. 17 is a left elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 16;

[0042]FIG. 18 is a front elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 16;

[0043]FIG. 19 is a front elevation view of a button with an extended tab;

[0044]FIG. 20 is a right elevation view of the button with extended tab shown in FIG. 19;

[0045]FIG. 21 is a left elevation view of the button with an extended tab attached to an item and the method of insertion into the embodiment shown in FIG. 16;

[0046]FIG. 22 is a left elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 16 interconnected to a user's belt and an electronic device selectively secured thereto;

[0047]FIG. 23 is a rear elevation view of an alternative embodiment;

[0048]FIG. 24 is a left elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 23;

[0049]FIG. 25 is a front elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 23;

[0050]FIG. 26 is a front elevation view of a resilient engagement button;

[0051]FIG. 27 is a right section view of a resilient engagement button;

[0052]FIG. 28 is a top plan view of a resilient engagement button;

[0053]FIG. 29 is a rear elevation view that shows an example of a hard stop; and

[0054]FIG. 30 are front elevation and plan views of a beveled button used with an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

[0055]FIG. 31 is a partial right cross section of the locking portion of the belt clip shown in FIG. 25 selectively interconnected to the beveled button shown in FIG. 30; and

[0056]FIG. 32 is a partial right cross section of the locking portion of the belt clip shown in FIG. 25 selectively interconnected to the beveled button shown in FIG. 30, rotated to facilitate removal thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0057] Referring now to FIGS. 1-32, a separable fastener that includes at least a locking portion and a button, which is interconnected to an electronic device, is shown herein. One embodiment of the present invention includes a locking portion with a resiliently deflectable tab that employs a locking protrusion that is adapted to selectively interconnect with a button. Engagement and disengagement of the button is achieved by selectively deflecting the tab in order to provide a obstruction-free path for which the button to travel. Alternatively, in another embodiment of the invention, a button is provided that employs a beveled area that is adapted to provide an obstruction free path for removal when the beveled area is rotated to a predetermined angle.

[0058] Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, one embodiment of the present invention is shown herein. In general, a one-piece integral belt clip holder 60 is a union of a belt clip 10 and a locking portion 30 of a separable fastener which are attached by a web 31 of plastic or other material with resilient properties, made from a material such as rubber, deflectable plastic, etc. The web 31 is resilient to allow for attachment to a belt when pressure is applied to the finger grip on the clip portion 12 and the finger grip on the lock portion 13. Alternatively, the lower portions of the belt clip 10 and the locking portion 30 may be pulled apart to allow for selective interconnection to a belt or other object. The lock portion 30 employs a flexible plastic tab 15 with a lip 16 that secures a button and prevents upward movement and disengagement from the lock portion 30. Alternatively, other types of residual materials commonly known in the art may be used, including rubber, polyethylene, etc. A locking pocket 19 constrains the button portion of the separable fastener, and consists of a front wall 17, a back wall 18, and side pocket walls 22. When the tab 15 is flexed, the non-locking portion remains supported in the pocket and is easily disengaged. The belt clip portion 10 may be equipped with a hook 11 which will help maintain the unit on the user's belt. Both portions of the belt clip 10 and the locking portion 30 of the separable fastener are integrally molded preferably with open molded spaces 14 and 21 which eliminates assembly, inherent labor costs, and the expenses related thereto.

[0059] Referring now to FIGS. 5-7 and FIGS. 26-27, a secondary engaged portion of the separable fastener is shown, and which is designed for interconnecting to an electric device such as a cellular phone, radio, etc. This item is referred to herein as a button 42, and is generally comprised of a plastic material such as polypropylene, polyethylene, etc. The button's attachment surface 41 is connected to the button 42 by a stem 46 such that the button 42 is easily slipped into the pocket of the lock. In one embodiment, the interconnecting stem 46 and/or the attachment area 41 may be made of rubber or other resilient material capable of deflection which will decrease stresses on the button and electronic device interface when a force is applied to a portion of the electronic device. The stem 46 is not limited to a cylindrical shape. For example, a rectangularly shaped stem 46 may be used which would provide resiliency in one direction and greater stiffness in the others. Also, at the button to electronic device interface, a resilient material will provide a better bond between the button attachment surface 41 and the electronic device because the resilient material will be capable of deflection and conformance to the electronic device that may have a non-planar shape. The button 42 dictates the mobility of the item when it is locked in the pocket. More specifically, a square shape will give a user substantially no rotation, while a round button shape will allow for free rotation. Alternatively in one embodiment, notches 43 may be employed to provide a variety of rotational positions depending on the preferred application.

[0060] The button attachment surface 41 is selectively interconnected to an electronic device or an electronic device carrying pouch by means including sewn, glued, integrally molded, clipped, screwed, riveted, taped, or tied to the electronic device. The button attachment surface 41 may further employ a rivet hole 45 or stitching holes 44 to facilitate interconnection with an electronic device or electronic device carrying pouch. One embodiment of the present invention is adapted for interconnection to a sleeve or holster that is adapted to secure a cellular phone, wherein the sleeve encompasses all or a portion of the cellular phone's body.

[0061] Referring now to FIG. 8, the locking function of one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated herein. More specifically, the button 42 is shown interconnected to the electronic device 50, while the integral belt clip and holder 60 is shown with a tab 15 in the locked position. To lock the electronic device 50 into place, in one embodiment the user applies pressure to the tab 15 in the direction of the clip portion 10 of the integral assembly 60. Alternatively embodiments may employ release mechanisms which are pushed in different directions of release. After pressure is applied to the tab 15, there is an unobstructed path for the button 42 to engage the pocket 19. That is, the button interface 42 can be easily guided downward into the lock pocket 19. When the user releases the pressure on the tab 15 the locking portion of the tab 16 will prevent the button interface 42 from traveling upward. Thus, the electronic device 50 is released by the application of pressure to the tab 15 towards the clip portion 10 of the integral assembly 60, thereby deflecting the tab, separating the lock 16 and button interface 42, and providing an unobstructed path in which the electronic device can travel in an upward direction.

[0062] The requisite pressure that deflects the tab 15 prior to the introduction of the button interface 42 into the pocket 19 can be supplied by the interface 42 itself. More specifically, the user can initiate the downward motion of the electronic device 50 into the pocket 19 without touching the tab 15. Thus, the contact of the interface 42 with the tab 15, along with the downward force supplied by the user, will sufficiently deflect the tab 15 so that the interface 42 will engage the pocket 19.

[0063] Referring now to FIG. 9, the button 42 is shown interconnected to the electronic device 50, while the belt clip 10 is attached to the user's 5 belt. The tab 15 of the lock 30 has been flexed towards the user 5, while the button interface has been seated in the pocket 19, and the tab 15 has been released. Thus, the button has been prevented from upward motion by the lock 16, and the electronic device 50 is operably interconnected to belt clip and holder 60.

[0064] Referring now to FIGS. 10-14, a second embodiment of the present invention is shown herein. This embodiment is similar to the first embodiment of the present invention shown in FIGS. 1-9, but the single piece molding is modified to simplify manufacturing because “side pulls” on the mold are not required. In some molding processes side pulls are required to form holes or cavities into the final product. By deleting the need for side pulls, an integral design is moldable using a two-piece mold construction, and more clips can be made using a single mold. The requirement of side pulls adds complexity and cost to the molding operation. More specifically, the belt clip portion 10 is constructed slightly longer than the locking portion 30. In addition, the belt clip finger grip is split into two pieces 12A and 12B.

[0065] Referring now to FIG. 15, a third embodiment of the present invention is shown herein that employs a pin 7 and spring mechanism to connect the locking 30 and clip 10 portions of the unit. More specifically, the pressure on the finger grips 12 and 13 is reduced by the use of a pin and spring such that selective interconnection to a user's belt or other object is more easily performed.

[0066] Referring now to FIGS. 16-20, a fourth embodiment of the present invention is shown herein which is more durable and specifically designed for larger items such as radios, CD players, PDAs, inventory devices, water bottles, etc. In this embodiment of the present invention, the locking feature 3 on the integral assembly 60 is not attached to a flexible tab. Instead, the locking portion 30 employs a small protrusion 3, which interfaces with a flexible tab 2 on the button 42 when the button is seated in the pocket 19 and the tab 2 is released. Further, the halves are connected by a thicker interface 32 which increases the strength of the unit.

[0067] Referring now to FIG. 21, the locking function of one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated herein. More specifically, the button 42 is shown interconnected to a sleeve 36 on a larger device 50, while the integral belt clip and holder 60 is shown with a stationary locking protrusion 3. The sleeve 36 may be used to selectively secure the larger device 50 to the button 42 if attachment locations on the item 50 are not feasible. To lock the device into place the user applies pressure to the tab 2 on the button 42. After pressure is applied to the tab 15 there is an unobstructed path for the button 42 to engage the pocket 19, that is, the button 42 may be easily guided downward into the lock pocket 19. When the user releases the pressure on the tab 2, the locking portion of the integral assembly 3 will prevent the button 42 from traveling upward because a portion of the tab 2 will selectively interconnect with the lock 3. The item is released by the application of pressure to the tab 2 thereby deflecting the tab, separating the lock 3 and the tab interface 4, and providing an unobstructed path in which the device can be moved upward.

[0068] The requisite pressure that deflects the tab 2 prior to the introduction of the button interface 42 into the pocket 19 can be supplied by the interface 4 itself. More specifically, the user can initiate the downward motion of the device into the pocket without touching the tab 2. The contact of the interface 4 with the lock 3, along with the downward force supplied by the user, will sufficiently deflect the tab 2 so that the button interface 42 will be able to be seated into the pocket 19.

[0069] Referring now to FIG. 22, the button 42 is shown interconnected to the larger device 50, while the belt clip 10 is attached to the user's 5 belt. The tab 2 of the button 42 has been flexed towards the device 50, the button interface has been seated in the pocket 19, the tab 2 has been released, and the button has been prevented from upward motion by the contact of the interface 4 with the lock 3.

[0070] Referring now to FIGS. 23-25, a fifth embodiment of the present invention is shown that employs a thick connection interface 32, but is substantially similar to the first two embodiment described with respect to the aspects of the locking feature. In order for any locking mechanism to work properly in some embodiments of the present invention, a gap 70 must be integrated into the locking portion 30 of the integral design to allow unrestricted travel of the locking tab 15. This gap 70 will extend from the back surface of the locking portion 71 to the back wall of the locking pocket 18A. When the user deflects the tab 15, the gap 70 will provide sufficient deflection of the tab 15 so that the button 42 will not come in contact with the locking lip 16 when a user inserts and removes a device from the integral assembly 60. The greater the gap 70, the easier and quicker the button can be inserted and released from the pocket and lock.

[0071] Referring now to FIG. 29, a “hard stop” is shown. As used herein, a hard stop 1 is any type of backing material, detent, or other mechanism which prevents the tab 15 from extending or deflecting past a predetermined position. The predetermined position may be dictated by the maximum deflection the tab 15 can move without incurring damage. To engage and disengage a button from the integral assembly 60, a user must depress the tab 15 toward the belt clip 10 of the integral assembly. Extreme deflections of the tab 15 may fatigue the material such that it will be permanently deformed or break. In order to prevent this detrimental effect, the hard stop 1 maybe added to the belt clip portion 10 of the integral assembly 60. When a user applies pressure on the tab 15 towards the belt clip portion 10, the tab 15 will deflect enough for engagement or disengagement of a button, but the tab 15 will be stopped from further deflection when it comes in contact with the hard stop 1. Preferably, the hard stop 1 is molded integrally with the belt clip 10.

[0072] Further, the hard stop 1 may be added to or molded onto the tab 15 of the locking portion 30 of the integral assembly 60 as opposed to the belt clip 10, as discussed above. When a user applies pressure on the tab 15 towards the belt clip portion 10, the tab 15 will deflect enough for engagement or disengagement of a button, but the tab 15 will be stopped from further deflection when the hard stop 1 on the tab 15 comes in contact with the belt clip portion 10.

[0073] Referring now to FIGS. 30-32, an alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown herein. More specifically, a button 42 that employs a beveled area 73 is shown that is adapted to selectively interconnect with the lock portion 30 of the clip 60. When interconnecting, the beveled area 73 allows the button 42 to pass unobstructed into the locking pocket 19. Once seated in the pocket 19, the button's 42 non-beveled area selectively interconnects with the locking protrusion 3 of the locking portion 30, thereby preventing removal. To separate the button 42 from the locking portion 30, the user rotates the button 42, such that the beveled area 73 is proximate to the locking protrusion 3, thereby providing an unobstructed path for the button 42 to travel. In contrast to the previously-described embodiments, this embodiment requires no deflection of the tab employed on the clip. More specifically, the shape of the bevel 73 allows the button 42 to be inserted into the lock 30 without resiliently deflecting the locking tab, and wherein a predetermined rotation allows the button 42 to be removed from the lock 32 because the lock 30 and the button 42 are adapted to slide past each other. This feature is highly desirable for individuals who have difficulty using their hands, wherein use of the resiliently deflectable tab may be difficult. Further, individuals, such as the elderly or the disabled, will be able to easily utilize this embodiment of the present invention since the unlocking mechanism simply entails selective rotation of the electronic device.

[0074] Generally, the button 42 is constructed with a predetermined thickness. In order to create the bevel 73, the thickness of the button 42 is selectively trimmed at a predetermined angle relative to the top of the button 42. This cut defines a bevel portion 73 on the button 42 which allows for unobstructed travel of the button 42 in and out of the lock. More specifically, the button 42 is defined after the bevel 73 is created by an unaffected portion of length d and a bevel of angle θ. The angle θ and the length d may be of any dimension depending on the thickness of the button 42 and the locking requirements required. Preferably, in one embodiment of the invention, d is about {fraction (3/8)} inches. In addition, the beveled portion 73 may span any distance around a perimeter of the circular button 42 as long as sufficient non-beveled area remains to ensure that locking is possible, wherein more than small rotations of the electronic device will cause unlocking. For example, in one embodiment of the invention the bevel spans at least about 50%, or about 180°, around the perimeter of the button 42. Further, the bevel 73 may be made of one smooth swept cut around the perimeter, or may be made of a series of faceted cuts to allow for various locking and unlocking options. In one embodiment of the present invention, the angle θ is about 30°.

[0075] To provide clarity to the various components found in the drawings, and the numbering of the various components provided herein:

# Component
 1 Hard Stop
 2 Extended Tab
 3 Locking Protrusion
 4 Extended tab/Protrusion interface location
 5 User
 7 Pin
10 Belt clip portion
11 Hook
12 Belt Clip Finger Grip
12A Belt Clip Finger Grip
12B Belt Clip Finger Grip
13 Locking Portion Finger Grip
14 Open molding area
15 Tab
16 Locking Lip
17 Front wall of locking pocket
17A Front wall of locking pocket (Looking from the belt clip)
18 Back wall of locking pocket
18A Back wall of locking pocket (Looking from the belt clip)
19 Locking Pocket
21 Open molding space
22 Side pocket walls
30 Lock portion
31 Web
32 Belt clip/Lock portion interface
36 Sleeve
41 Button attachment surface
42 Button
43 Button notches
44 Stitch holes
45 Rivet hole
46 Stem
50 Electronic Device or other item
60 Integral Belt Clip and Holder
70 Gap
71 Back surface of locking portion
73 Button bevel area

[0076] While various embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail, it is apparent that modifications and adaptations of those embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art. However, it is to be expressly understood that such modifications and adaptations are within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as set forth in the claims that follow.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20130210503 *Feb 14, 2013Aug 15, 2013Feinger, LLCAccessory for mobile devices
US20130274568 *Feb 25, 2013Oct 17, 2013Intuity Medical, Inc.Fully integrated wearable or handheld monitor
Classifications
U.S. Classification224/269
International ClassificationA45F5/02
Cooperative ClassificationA45F5/021, A45F2200/0516, A45F5/02, A45F2005/026
European ClassificationA45F5/02B, A45F5/02