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Publication numberUS20050279123 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/143,035
Publication dateDec 22, 2005
Filing dateJun 2, 2005
Priority dateJun 17, 2004
Also published asCA2570413A1, EP1765109A2, WO2006007266A2, WO2006007266A3
Publication number11143035, 143035, US 2005/0279123 A1, US 2005/279123 A1, US 20050279123 A1, US 20050279123A1, US 2005279123 A1, US 2005279123A1, US-A1-20050279123, US-A1-2005279123, US2005/0279123A1, US2005/279123A1, US20050279123 A1, US20050279123A1, US2005279123 A1, US2005279123A1
InventorsJohn Maldonado, Michelle Stone
Original AssigneeJohn Maldonado, Michelle Stone
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hardside cooler with soft cover
US 20050279123 A1
Abstract
An insulated container, such as a cooler or ice chest, with a hardside interior and a softside exterior is disclosed that has the benefits of softside coolers, such as the ability to include pockets and pouches, as well as the benefits of hardside coolers (e.g. protection to the contents inside and rigid attachment of wheels, handles, etc.) The softside exterior may be directly connected to the hardside interior, for example by sewing. The cooler may have a lid hingedly attached to the liner, and the lid may be hard plastic including a softside exterior on the top of the lid. The cooler may have wheels and an extendable handle attached to the hardside interior to aid in transportation of the cooler in some embodiments.
Images(17)
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Claims(28)
1. An insulated container comprising:
a hard liner having a front, back, two sides, and a bottom to define a cavity;
a hard lid hingedly attachable to the liner; and
pliable material attachable to the outside of the hard liner.
2. The insulated container of claim 1, wherein the pliable material contains flexible closed cell foam.
3. The insulated container of claim 2, wherein a pliable material is attached to the lid.
4. The insulated container of claim 3, in which the pliable material is sewn directly onto the hard liner or lid.
5. The insulated container of claim 3, in which the insulated container further comprises an extendable handle, at least two feet, and at least two wheels rotatably attachable to the liner.
6. The insulated container of claim 3, in which the pliable material includes snaps adapted to mate with snaps on the liner and lid to attach the pliable material to the insulated container.
7. The insulated container of claim 1, wherein the softside cover includes a front pouch.
8. An insulated container such as a cooler or ice chest comprising:
a hard liner having a cavity;
a lid hingedly attachable to the liner; and
a pliable material attached to the outside wall of the hard liner.
9. The insulated container of claim 8, in which the liner has a front, back, bottom, and two sides that define the cavity.
10. The insulated container of claim 9, in which the pliable material is directly attachable to the lid.
11. The insulated container of claim 10, in which the pliable material is sewn directly onto the liner or the lid.
12. The insulated container of claim 10, in which the pliable material includes snaps adapted to mate with snaps on the liner or lid.
13. The insulated container of claim 10 in which an upper end of the pliable material is attached to a hoop, and an upper end of the liner includes a lip to form a pocket between the lip and the upper end of the liner, the hoop being sandwiched in the pocket to attach the pliable material to the liner.
14. The insulated container of claim 9, in which the pliable material includes at least a side pocket or a front pouch with an accessory.
15. The insulated container of claim 14, wherein at least a portion of the side pocket is mesh.
16. The insulated container of claim 10, wherein the lid softside includes a dry storage pocket.
17. The insulated container of claim 10, wherein the container further comprises an extendable handle and wheels attachable to the liner.
18. The insulated container of claim 17, wherein the container further comprises at least a side handle attachable to each side of the liner.
19. The insulated container of claim 18, wherein the side handle comprises a rotatable loop.
20. The insulated container of claim 17, wherein the container further comprises at least two feet attachable to the bottom of the liner.
21. The insulated container of claim 17, wherein a skid resistant base it attachable to the bottom of the container.
22. The insulated container of claim 10, wherein the liner and lid comprises hard plastic.
23. The insulated container of claim 8, where the liner further comprises at least one cup holder bracket.
24. The insulated container of claim 23, wherein the bottom of the lid comprises a circular recess or a recess adapted to retain a cup holder attachable to the at least one cup holder bracket.
25. The insulated container of claim 8, further comprising a strap attachable to the liner in at least two locations to provide a securing mechanism with respect to the lid.
26. A cooler comprising:
a hard plastic liner having a front, back, two sides, and a bottom to define a cavity;
a hard plastic lid, wherein the lid is hingedly attachable to the liner;
a softside pliable material;
means for attaching the softside pliable material to the hard plastic liner; and
means for fastening the lid against the liner when closed.
27. The cooler of claim 26, wherein the means for attaching the softside cover is sewing the cover directly onto the hard plastic liner.
28. The cooler of claim 26 in which the means for fastening the lid includes a inner surface and an outer surface on the lid, clamping a recessed portion on an upper perimeter of the liner.
Description
    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a non-provisional utility application claiming priority to U.S. Provisional patent application No. 60/580,865, entitled, “Hardside Cooler with Soft Cover,” by Stone and Maldonado, filed Jun. 17, 2004, incorporated by reference in its entirety herein; this application also claims priority to U.S. Provisional application 60/581,801, entitled “Hardside Cooler with Soft Cover” by Stone and Maldonado, filed Jun. 21, 2004, by Stone and Maldonado, incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The present invention relates generally to the field of insulated containers such as coolers or ice chests. More particularly, the present invention relates to an apparatus and method for providing a cooler having the hard liner integrated with a soft cover.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0005]
    Generally, it is known to provide an insulated container, such as a cooler or an ice chest. Coolers and ice chests may be generally categorized as hardsided or softsided. Hardsided coolers include coolers having an outside body made from hard plastic, such as blow molded or injection molded plastic and thus the hard outside body provides a protective covering for the contents in the cooler. Hardsided coolers may be constructed with a liner within the outside body. Such as liner of the prior art is shown as item 200 in FIG. 11. Insulating foam is placed between the liner and the outside body during construction of these hardsided coolers, as is known by one of ordinary skill in the art. The liner also may be comprised of injection molded plastic, capable of providing a leak-proof cavity in which ice, liquid, beverages, food, etc. may be contained. The liner of the cooler may include a plurality of pairs of channels 202 to allow a divider to be positioned vertically within the liner, to divide the liner vertically to create vertical spaces or compartments within the liner. A divider may also be adapted to lay flat on a shelf 206 in the liner to divide the liner into compartments horizontally.
  • [0006]
    As stated above, to construct the hardsided coolers, insulating foam may be placed between the liner and the hard outside body to better thermally insulate the cooler. The foam may be poured in liquid form between the outside body and the liner to form the cooler, with the cooler being placed into a curing unit, to cure the foam into a solid stated. A lid may be attached to the cooler via a hinge and a locking mechanism may be provided on the lid to secure the contents stored in the cooler. A rubber seal may be placed around the perimeter of the lid to sealingly engage the perimeter 207 of the liner 200, thereby providing a leak-proof cavity within the cooler.
  • [0007]
    In contrast to hardside coolers, softside coolers typically comprise coolers made of a pliable material, such as fabric, and may include thermal insulation between the pliable material and the food and/or beverages within the cooler. Softside coolers tend to be popular because softside coolers are often collapsible and require less storage space, when not being used. Softside coolers may be more fashionable than a hardside cooler as a softside cooler may contain pockets, as softside coolers may allow the attachment of accessories or gadgets to the softside material. Softside coolers have advantages of multifunctionality with storage compartments, slip pockets, and other devices, which can easily be sewn to the sides of the softside cooler. However, compared to hardside coolers, softside coolers provide less protection to the contents within the cooler, and may be more prone to wear over time as compared to the hardsided counterparts.
  • [0008]
    On the other hand, compared to softside coolers, current hardside coolers are known to have improved performance and durability due to the use of plastic liners and lids, compared to coolers made of other materials. As such, hardsided cooler offer improved protection of delicate contents (e.g. sandwiches, eggs, or cake) compared to softsided coolers. Further, cleaning the inside of the plastic liner is also relatively easy compared to cleaning the inside of the softside products. However, hardside coolers may be more difficult to carry and store, as hardside coolers have a hard outer body, which typically is not flexible. Further, it may prove problematic in some instances to attach components or gadgets to the hardside cooler.
  • [0009]
    Another type of cooler is a combination of a hardsided cooler and a softsided cooler. This hybrid cooler comprises a hard liner 200 of the prior art, typically injection molded, removable from within a softside pouch. The MaxCold™ 10, offered by Igloo Products Corp. of Katy, Tex., is an example of a cooler having a removable hard liner, within a softside (e.g. fabric) outer carrier. The benefits of such a design are that the hard liner is removable for easy cleaning. Further, the softside carrier may also be washed separately. However, the repeated removal of the liner from the cooler may prevent the softside carrier from retaining its original shape; thus, the liner may fall out of the carrier if the cooler is tipped over. Additionally, the soft lid of the softside carrier may not fasten securely as a hardside cooler having a hard lid, in some situations.
  • [0010]
    In light of the foregoing, it would be desirable to provide an insulated container, such as a cooler or ice chest, which has the advantages of both hardside and softside coolers, while minimizing the disadvantages of hardside and softside coolers. By way of example, it would be desirable that the cooler or ice chest have a durable hard inner surface, which protects the contents of the cooler and is relatively easy to clean. Further, it would be desirable to provide an outer surface of the cooler with a softside material to which accessories may be attached. Additionally, it is desirable to have a hard lid that protects the contents inside and is adapted to securely keep the lid closed. It would also be desirable to be able to attach wheels and an extendable handle to the insulated container or cooler to facilitate transportation of the device.
  • [0011]
    The present invention is directed to overcoming, or at least reducing the effects of, one or more of the issues set forth above.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    The insulated container, such as a cooler or ice chest, described herein is an “all-in-one” cooler that combines advantages of both softside and hardside coolers, and creates one solution to some of the disadvantages described above. In some embodiments, the cooler utilizes a hard plastic liner and a plastic lid hingedly attached to the liner, similar to hardsided coolers. Pliable material, such as soft fabric and/or flexible closed-cell foam, may be attached to the hard liner to create the outer walls of the body, in some embodiments. The pliable material may be directly attached to the liner, via glue or via direct stitching, in some embodiments. The fabric and foam may provide thermal advantages, such as keeping heat away from cooled contents or keeping heat from escaping when the cooler contains warm contents.
  • [0013]
    In another embodiment, the insulated container may utilize a hard container and hard lid. The container and lid may comprise plastic as typically used in hardside coolers and the like. The lid is attachable to the container in such a way to enclose the container in one position and to provide access to the container in another position. A pliable material is attached to the outside of the container to become an integral part of the cooler. The pliable softside material may be nylon, polyester, or other material similar to material typically used in a softside cooler. In yet another embodiment, separate pliable material may be attachable to the lid and may be nylon, polyester, or other material similar to the materials typically used in a softside cooler. It should be understood that the container could be any shape, e.g. cylindrical, square, rectangular, as long as it contains a cavity, as would be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure.
  • [0014]
    In some embodiments, an insulated cooler is provided having a hard liner, which contains a cavity, a hard lid hingedly attached to the hard liner, and a softside cover attached to the exterior of the liner. In some embodiments, the pliable material creates a softside cover, and is fastened directly to the exterior of the liner. The pliable material may be fastened to the exterior of the liner by sewing the pliable material to the exterior of the liner; gluing the pliable material to the exterior of the liner; providing velcro straps on the pliable material to fasten through openings in the liner; providing mating snaps on the pliable material and the exterior of the liner; or providing the pliable material and the exterior of the liner with mating parts of a zipper, for example.
  • [0015]
    In other embodiments, a cooler has a lid is hingedly attached to a liner having a cavity and a softside is also attached to the outside wall of the liner. The cooler may also include a pliable material (or “softside” material) attached to the lid to create a softside cooler. In some embodiments, the softside material may be sewn directly to the liner. In other embodiments, the softside may be snapped or zipped onto the liner. The cooler may further have wheels and an extendable handle attached to the liner. In some embodiments, the softside may contain a side pocket or a front pouch with an accessory such as a carabineer, key ring, or grommet, for example. The front pouch or side pocket may include a portion of mesh material. In one embodiment, the cooler may further have a skid resistant base connected to the bottom of the liner.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a cooler 100 of the present disclosure including a “T-Shaped” handle 10 in the extended position, inter alia.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the present disclosure having a cooler 100 having a portion of a pocket 95 comprised of mesh material 96.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the present disclosure of a cooler 100 having an extendable handle 10′.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the present disclosure of a cooler 100 having a portion 201 of a liner 200 adapted to secure a lid 220.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 5 shows a side view of an embodiment of FIG. 4 of the present disclosure.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 6 is a rear view of an embodiment of FIG. 4 of the present disclosure of a cooler 100 having four wheels 20.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of the present disclosure of a cooler 100 with the lid 20 in the open position.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 8 shows the front view of an embodiment of the present disclosure of the cooler 100 having at least a portion of a front pouch 40 comprising mesh material 96.
  • [0024]
    FIGS. 9A and 9B show an embodiment of present disclosure of the cooler 100 having a snap-fit lid 220 and a liner 200.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 10A shows a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present disclosure having a skid-resistant base 94.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 10B shows a top view of the alternative embodiment of the present disclosure of FIG. 10A.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 10C shows a rear perspective of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 10A of the present disclosure.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 10D shows a rear perspective of an alternative embodiment of FIG. 10A of the present disclosure.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 10E shows a perspective view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 10A with the cooler 100 with its lid 220 open.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a liner 200 of the prior art.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 12A shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the present disclosure of a cooler 100 having the pliable material such on the lid 220 opened to expose a dry storage pocket 70.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 12B is a close-up view of an area of the dry storage pocket 70 depicted in FIG. 12A and shows one embodiment of the present disclosure.
  • [0033]
    While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. However, it should be understood that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS
  • [0034]
    Illustrative embodiments of the invention are described below as they might be employed in the use of designs for insulated container, coolers, or ice chests. As used herein, an insulated container may be utilized interchangeably with ice chest, cooler, and the like, and each term (insulated container, ice chest, cooler) is to be given its ordinary meanings. In the interest of clarity, not all features of an actual implementation are described in this specification. It will of course be appreciated that in the development of any such actual embodiment, numerous implementation-specific decisions must be made to achieve the developers' specific goals, such as compliance with system-related and business-related constraints, which will vary from one implementation to another. Moreover, it will be appreciated that such a development effort might be complex and time-consuming, but would nevertheless be a routine undertaking for those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure.
  • [0035]
    Further aspects and advantages of the various embodiments of the invention will become apparent from consideration of the following description and drawings.
  • [0036]
    As shown in FIG. 1, an insulated container or cooler 100 comprises a liner 200 with a lid 220 hingedly attached to the liner 200. The liner 200 may be injection molded plastic typical of liners currently on the market, and is shown in isolation in FIG. 11. Within the cooler 100 is a cavity for placing ice, food and beverages, so that the insulated container or cooler 100 operates to keep the contents cool; alternatively, the insulated container 100 may be utilized to keep contents therein warm.
  • [0037]
    On the outside of the cooler 100 is shown a pliable (or softside) material 240. The pliable material of the cooler of this embodiment may comprise fabric, flexible polyester, and closed-cell foam, for example. Between the liner 200 and the pliable material may be placed insulating material. The pliable material 240, such as closed-cell foam, shown on the outside of the cooler 100, may be attached directly to the hard plastic of the liner 200 to create the outer walls of the body in this embodiment. For example, the pliable material 240, such as closed-cell foam, may be directly attached to the liner 200, via glue or adhesive placed there between. Alternatively, the pliable material may be directly stitched to the liner 200. The closed-cell foam provides insulation for the liner 200. Furthermore, closed-cell foam is adapted not to absorb liquid if either the liner 200 or pliable material 240 were to leak or tear.
  • [0038]
    As shown in FIG. 1, the cooler 100 may include an extendable telescope handle 10. It should be realized that in the embodiment shown, a right and front view perspective is shown; a left and front perspective view may be identical. The telescopic handle 10 may be comprised of a “T” style telescoping handle as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Alternatively, the handle may be comprised of a U-shaped or double telescoping handle 10′ as shown in FIGS. 3-6. As explained in more detail herinafter with respect to the U-shaped handle 10′, the liner 200 may include a bracket 205 (as shown in FIG. 5) that is attached to or encloses a portion of extendable handle 10′; and the handle may be attached to a base 19 of the insulated container 100. The base 19 comprises a pair of wheels 20 such that when the insulated container 100 is titled backwardly, the weight of the insulated container 100 rests on the wheels 20 to facilitate transportation of the insulated container 100 from location to location. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-6, the cooler 100 includes telescoping handle 10, 10′ and wheels 20. However, the handle 10, 10′ and wheels 20 are not utilized in other embodiments.
  • [0039]
    As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1, the insulated container 100 includes handles 30 and a front pouch 40. The loop handles 30 may rotate to multiple positions and angles to aid in the transportation of insulated container 100 from location to location.
  • [0040]
    A headphone grommet 50 is shown in FIG. 1 and is adapted to be attachable to the front pouch 40. The front pouch 40 may include an accessory such as a carabineer or key ring, for example. The insulated container 100 may further comprise molded-in cupholder brackets 60 such as those disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/852,662, entitled “Insulated Ice Chest with Accessory Holders,” filed May 25, 2004, incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Cup holders may be provided and attached on these brackets 60.
  • [0041]
    As shown in FIG. 1, a dry storage pocket 70 may also be provided on the upper portion of the insulated container 100. A lid cover 80 of softside pliable material is also provided for cooler 100, which may be insulated. The handle 10 may be single as shown in FIG. 1 or double posted 10′ as shown in FIG. 3.
  • [0042]
    To construct the insulated container 100, the pliable or softside material 240 is attachable to the liner 200 in various ways. For instance, the pliable softside material 240 may be directly affixed to the outside of the liner 200 via adhesive or glue. Or the pliable softside material 240 may be directly stitched to the liner 200, as described above. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the liner 200 of the insulted container 100 of FIG. 1 includes a collar 207 located at the top and outside of the liner 200, the prior art liner 200 being shown in isolation in FIG. 11. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the collar 207 includes a downwardly protruding lip 208, which folds back downwardly over the exterior upper perimeter of the liner 200. A circumferential pocket is therefore created between the inside of the lip 208 and the outside of the upper perimeter of the liner 200.
  • [0043]
    Further, the pliable material 240 may include a ring or hoop of hardened material (e.g. plastic) attached to the upper end of the material 240 and located on the upper perimeter of the bag-shaped pliable material for assembly purposes. The upper end of the pliable material 240 may be stitched around the hoop or ring.
  • [0044]
    To construct the insulated container 100 of FIG. 1, the ring or hoop may be inserted into the circumferential pocket on the upper end of the liner to attach upper end of the softside pliable material 240 to the upper end of the liner 200. In other words, the hoop and the upper end of the pliable material 240 may be sandwiched between the circumferential lip 208 and the perimeter of the liner 200. In this way, the softside pliable material 240 may be attached to the liner 200. Alternatively, the plastic ring or hoop may be snapped into only the corners of the circumferential pocket on the perimeter of the liner 200. In other embodiments, the plastic ring or hoop may snap into the entire perimeter of the lip 208 of the collar 207. Alternatively, the pliable, softside material 240 may be directly stitched to the liner 200, or glued to the liner 200, as discussed above. Regardless of the means for attachment, insulation material such as foam may be placed between the pliable material 240 and the liner 200 to improve the insulating function of the insulated cooler 100.
  • [0045]
    Further, the lid 220 of the cooler 100 may contain a softside material 240 attached to the lid 220. For example, the softside material 240 may be directly attached to the lid, such as being glued or sewn onto the lid.
  • [0046]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the pliable material or softside material may be attached to the lid 220 and/or the liner 200. The pliable material or softside material may be nylon 91, PVC 93, or polyester, for example. Any pliable material or softside material may be utilized, as would be realized by one of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure. The direct attachment of the softside material 240 to the liner 200 advantageously prevents the premature disengagement of the liner 200 from the softside pliable material 240. Further, direct attachment of the softside pliable material 240 to the liner 200 creates an insulated container 100, which is more robust than typical softside coolers presently on the market.
  • [0047]
    The outside cover of softside material 240 may also include a side slip pocket 95. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, a portion of the side slip pocket 95 may be comprised of a mesh material 96. In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the side slip pocket 95 is non-mesh pliable material, such as fabric.
  • [0048]
    As shown in FIGS. 1-5, the disclosed cooler 100 may include a plurality of legs 300. The legs 300 may operate to stop the cooler 100 from rotating about the wheels 20, which may be simple plastic wheels, or for larger insulated containers, the wheels may be rubberized. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the legs 300 allow the insulated container 100 to remain level when a user releases the handle 10.
  • [0049]
    In the embodiments of FIGS. 2 and 3, a grommet 50 is shown located on the top of a front pouch 40 to allow a cord (not shown) for an electronic device, such as a headphone cord, to extend inside of the front pouch 40. Also shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 are at least one cup holder bracket 60 on the perimeter of the upper surface of the liner 200 for connecting a removable cup holder (not shown) to the liner 220. Alternatively, the insulated container may include at least one cup holder 61 formed into the top of the lid 220, as shown in FIG. 10A and described hereinafter. Further, as shown in FIG. 10E, the insulated container may include a compartment 62 for selectively securing the removable cup holder (not shown) in the lid 220, shown on the bottom side of the lid 220 in FIG. 10E. Also shown in FIG. 10E is the underside of the at least one cup holder 61 described above. It should be mentioned that the cup holder 61 also may be formed on the bottom of the lid 220, for use when the lid 220 is open.
  • [0050]
    The lid 220 rests against the upper perimeter of the liner 200 when the lid is closed. The upper perimeter of the liner 200 of the insulated container 100 may include a recess 201, as shown in FIG. 4, to facilitate the opening of the lid 220. In operation, the recess 201 allows an operator to more easily apply an upward force on the bottom side of the 220 to open the lid 220, than if the upper perimeter of the liner 200 were not recessed.
  • [0051]
    In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the liner 200 of the cooler 100 includes a bracket 205 attachable to a portion of an extendable handle 10′. In some embodiments, the wheels 20 and the extendable handle 10 may be constructed of an integral, molded component and be attachable to the liner 200 through the softside pliable material 240 by fasteners, such as screws, glue, and the like.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 6 shows a rear view of another embodiment of the insulated container 100 having wheels 20 (e.g. two sets of two wheels are shown) rotatably attachable to the liner 200 through the softside pliable material 240. The wheels 20 are rotatably mounted on an axle 21, which is attachable via a bracket 22 to the liner 200. The softside pliable material 240 may be sandwiched between the bracket 22 and the liner 200.
  • [0053]
    As stated above, the handle 10 of the insulated container 100 may be comprised of single “T” member 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, having a gripping handle on an upper end. The single member may be adapted to have a length that is adjustable. As shown in FIG. 1, the single member of the handle 10 is telescopic. Alternatively, handle 10′ of the insulated container 100 may be comprised of a pair of members substantially parallel to each other, as shown in FIGS. 3-6. Each member may have a length that is adjustable, e.g. each member may be comprised of telescopic sections.
  • [0054]
    Referring to FIG. 6, a lower section of 11 the extendable handle 10′ is shown secured to the upper end of the liner 200 by brackets 205. The lower section 11 of the handle 10′ is shown be secured to the liner 200 at an area proximate bracket 22 for added support. In operation, an upward force on the handle 10 causes the telescopic members to increase the length of the handle 10′, to facilitate the movement of the insulated container 100 from one location to another.
  • [0055]
    Accessory holders may be provided on the insulated container 100. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, the cooler 100 includes a cup holder bracket 60 on each upper corner of the liner 200. These brackets 60 are adapted to mate with removable cup holders, as described above.
  • [0056]
    FIG. 7 shows a perspective view of another embodiment of the insulated container 100 having a lid 220 in the open position. The insulated container 100 shown as the softside pliable material 240 attached to the liner 200 as described above (i.e. upper perimeter of the softside pliable material 240 includes a plastic hoop or ring, which is sandwiched between the downwardly-extending lip 208 and the upper perimeter of the liner 200).
  • [0057]
    FIG. 8 shows the front view of another embodiment of the cooler 100 having a front pouch 40 partly comprised of a mesh material 96.
  • [0058]
    It should be noted that heretofore, the attachment of the softside pliable material 240 to the hardside liner 200 proved problematic; however, with improvements in manufacturing and sewing technology as described above, the softside exterior may be directly attached to the hardside interior. For example, one means for attaching the softside material 240 to the hard liner 200 is sewing the softside material 240 directly onto the hardside liner 200. Another means for attaching the softside material 240 to the liner 200 is via glue. Yet another means for attaching the softside material 240 to the liner 200 is by incorporating mating snaps on both the softside material 240 and the hard liner 200 such. Yet another means for attaching the softside material 240 to the liner 200 is velcro straps on the softside material or hook and loop straps on the softside material that feed through an opening in the liner 200 or fasten around an exterior element of the liner 200. While, yet another means for attachment could be to provide the softside material 240 and hardside liner 200 with mating parts of a zipper and zipping the softside material around the outside of the hardside liner. In short, other means for attaching the softside material may be utilized. A preferred method of attaching the pliable material 240 to the liner 200 is via the hoop on the upper perimeter of the pliable material 240 being snapped into the circumferential pocket formed between the lip 208 and the upper perimeter of the liner 200 as described above. In this way, the insulated container 100 has benefits of softside coolers (e.g. the cooler 100 can contain pockets 95 and pouches 40 and is fashionable) and also has the benefits of a hardside cooler (such as offering the protection of the contents in the container and allowing for the rigid attachment of hardware such as wheels 20, feet 300, and extendable handle 10).
  • [0059]
    As described above with respect to FIG. 4, the upper perimeter of the liner 200 may include a recess 201 to facilitate the opening of the lid 220. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-8, the lid 220 is shown flush with liner 200 when in the closed position. As such, the, the lid 220 rests on the d liner and, due to gravity, closes the cooler. No additional means for securing the lid 220 to the liner 200 is necessary.
  • [0060]
    In the embodiment of FIGS. 9A and 9B, a portion of each surface of the lid 220 and liner 200 mate to create a snap-fit. The lid 220 contains clamp 221, which contains an outer side 222 and a ramp-shaped inner side 223. The upper end of the liner 200 includes an area 201 which is recessed or has a decreased wall thickness in relation to the rest of the liner 200, as shown in FIG. 9B. When closing the lid 220, the clamp 221 snaps onto the recessed portion 201 of the upper end of the liner 200. The lid 220 then snaps closed, the contacting fit on the front of the lid 220 acting to prevent the lid 220 from inadvertently popping open. When closed, the upper portion of the recess 201 is clamped between the outer side 222 and the inner side 223. In this way, the lid 220 advantageously prevents prematurely opening of the insulated container 100. Further, this method of selectively securing the lid 220 increases the manufacturability of the insulated container 100, as the inner side 222 and outer side 222 can be molded when molding the lid 220 (i.e. the single mold for the lid may be designed to include the inner 223 and outer 222 sides without increasing the cost of manufacturing the lid 220); subsequent operations are not required.
  • [0061]
    Also the lid 220 can be opened more quickly than when other securing means are utilized, such as prior art zippers. Further, the stress induced on the upper perimeter of the liner 200 is relatively low and affects only a percentage of the perimeter of the upper end of the liner 200. That is, the entire upper end of the liner 200 is not stress-cycled as the lid 220 is opened and closed, as would be the case if the lid 220 had a perimeter just slightly larger than the upper perimeter of the liner 220 creating an interference fit all the way around the parameter.
  • [0062]
    Thus, with the reduced stress, durability of the container is increased concomitantly. The resulting stress is applied only to a small area as compared to other applications to secure the lid 220 and liner 200 such as creating seal ring around entire perimeter of the liner 200. Additionally, this embodiment does not cause excessive wear upon the opening and closing mechanism or on the mechanism the operator would grasp to open the lid, e.g. the softside pliable material.
  • [0063]
    The lid 220 may also include other types of mechanisms for securing the lid 220 in a closed position with respect to the liner 200, as would be realized by one of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure. For example, the lid 220 may contain an inner surface that snaps onto a lip on the inside of liner 200 when the lid 220 is closed onto the liner 200.
  • [0064]
    Referring to FIG. 10A, the insulated container cooler 100 is shown with another means for fastening the lid 220 in a closed position. The fastening means, such as an elastic cord 250, may be provided to strap items, e.g. a towel (not shown), to the top of the lid 220. The elastic cord 250 may be extended between hooks 255 and 260 that may be attached to or integral with the liner 200. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 10D, the means for fastening the lid, such as elastic cord 250, may be attached to a bracket 205 and may be extendable to the hook 255 on the front of the insulated container 100 to secure an item to the lid 220. The elastic cord 250 may further act to secure the lid 220 to the liner 200. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 10C, the elastic cord 250 may be extended between the hook 260 located on the rear of the cooler 100 and the hook 255 located on the front of the cooler 100 as shown in FIGS. 10A and 10B. Each of the hooks 255 and 260 may be attached to the liner 200, e.g. via screws, glue, etc, or may be integral with the liner 200.
  • [0065]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10A-10E, the insulated container 100 has a skid-resistant-base 94 and wheels 20 attached to the bottom of a liner 200. The skid-resistant base 94 may be hard plastic, adapted to provide protection to the softside pliable material 240 on the bottom of cooler 100. The skid-resistant base 94 may be formed of injection molded plastic. As shown, the skid-resistant base 94 may be attached over softside material 240 via fasteners such as screws passing through the softside pliable material, and into the liner. Alternatively, the skid-resistant base 94 may be glued to the bottom of the insulated container 100.
  • [0066]
    Referring to FIG. 10A, the softside material 240 of the cooler 100 may contain open pockets 41 and a closable pocket 42 on the front of the cooler 100. The cooler shown in FIG. 10A also includes a side mesh pocket 96. Referring to FIG. 10B, the top of the lid 220 is shown containing a pair of circular recesses 61 in which the bottom of a beverage container could be placed. In the embodiment of FIG. 10E, the bottom of the lid 220 contains a circular recess 61 for storing a beverage container when the lid 220 is open. Alternatively, the bottom of the lid 220 may include a recess 62 for storing a cup holder (as described above) when the cup holder is not attached to a cup holder bracket 60.
  • [0067]
    FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a prior art liner 200 as described above. The liner 200 may comprise slots 202 that can be used to insert a divider (not shown) to divide the liner 200 into different compartments. In some embodiments, liner 200 may comprise a ridge 206 upon which a divider (not shown) could be placed to divide liner 200 into two horizontal compartments.
  • [0068]
    FIG. 12A shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a cooler 100 having a dry storage pocket 70 located under softside material 240 attachable to a lid 220. In some embodiments, the dry storage pocket 70 may be accessible via a zipper 270. In other embodiments, the dry storage pocket 70 may be accessed via hook and loop closures or elastic closures. FIG. 12B is a close-up view of a portion of 12A and shows in some embodiments the softside pliable material 240 may be sewn 300 directly to the lid 220.
  • [0069]
    Although various embodiments have been shown and described, the invention is not so limited and will be understood to include all such modifications and variations as would be apparent to one skilled in the art.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification62/457.7, 190/119, 190/18.00R, 190/115
International ClassificationA45C5/14, F25D3/08, A45C13/30, A45C11/20, A45C5/02, A45F3/44
Cooperative ClassificationA45C5/14, A45C5/02, A45C11/20, A45C13/02, F25D3/08, F25D2331/801
European ClassificationA45C13/02, A45C11/20, A45C5/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 5, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: IGLOO PRODUCTS CORP., TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MALDONADO, JOHN;STONE, MICHELLE;REEL/FRAME:020070/0799;SIGNING DATES FROM 20071101 TO 20071102
Owner name: IGLOO PRODUCTS CORP., TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MALDONADO, JOHN;STONE, MICHELLE;REEL/FRAME:020111/0472;SIGNING DATES FROM 20071101 TO 20071102
Oct 10, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, CONNECTICUT
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:IGLOO PRODUCTS CORP.;REEL/FRAME:021669/0015
Effective date: 20081010
Apr 1, 2014ASAssignment
Owner name: IGLOO PRODUCTS CORP., TEXAS
Free format text: RELEASE OF PATENT SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:032588/0534
Effective date: 20140328