FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention pertains generally to displays and more particular to display hangers that can be supported on a shelf and from which a merchandising display can be hung.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
To promote the sale of smaller-sized merchandise, retailers will often display the merchandise in a highly visible and alluring manner. For example, the merchandise may be suspended in a hanging manner from a shelf or other surface proximate to a checkout counter or other prominent location. Examples of merchandise that is commonly displayed in this manner include lip balm and medicine packets. The merchandise may be releasably attached to a plastic merchandising strip that is connected to and suspended from a display hanger. The display hanger in turn engages the shelf or other surface. To facilitate the engagement between the display hanger and the shelf, the shelf may be perforated with a plurality of holes that can receive support structures projecting from the flat portion of the display hanger. Often, the display hanger is designed so that a portion will lay substantially flat along the shelf and another portion, to which the merchandising strip can be connected, will project in a cantilevered manner beyond a front edge of the shelf. An exemplary design of such a display hanger is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,346,166, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference. The present invention relates to improvements over that design.
The invention provides a display hanger from which merchandising strips displaying merchandise can be suspended. The display hanger is adapted to engage with and project from a perforated shelf. A typical perforated shelf for use with the display hanger includes a horizontal planar surface through which a plurality of holes are disposed and a front edge that extends at an inclined angle from the horizontal planar surface. The plurality of holes can be arranged in multiple rows aligned parallel to and spaced apart from the front edge. The portion of the horizontal planar surface between the front edge and the nearest row of holes is typically solid.
The display hanger includes an elongated support arm that extends between front and rear ends. Joined to and extending from the rear end are at least one and preferably two insertion prongs. Extending downward from the elongated arm is at least one and preferably two locating prongs. The locating prongs are spaced forward from the rear end and the insertion prongs a first predetermined distance. Located a second predetermined distance forward from the locating prongs are at least one and preferably two elongated, downward extending, wings. The wings each include a rearward edge oriented towards the rear end of the elongated arm. In particular, the rearward edges extend from the elongated arm along a forward-inclined angle.
When the display hanger is correctly engaged to the display shelf, the locating prongs are received in the first row of holes nearest to the front edge of the display shelf and the insertion prongs are received in a second or subsequent row of holes. When the display hanger is so engaged, the wings will be aligned generally perpendicularly to the front edge with the rearward edges opposing the front edge. Because of their inclined angle, the rearward edges can extend generally parallel to the angled front edge. This minimizes the portion of the elongated arm extending beyond the display shelf which is unsupported by the wings against cantilevered bending. The unsupported portion of the elongated arm is further minimized by likewise minimizing the second predetermined distance between the locating prongs and the wings. Additionally, the locating prongs are arranged to only be received in a first row of holes, thereby helping to ensure that the display hanger is correctly engaged to the display shelf.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
An advantage of the invention is that it provides a display hanger in which the danger of cantilevered bending is minimized. Another advantage is that the display hanger includes locating prongs that help insure the display hanger correctly engages the display shelf. These and other advantages and features of the invention will become apparent from the detailed description and the accompanying figures.
The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a display hanger designed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention engaging a display shelf and from which is suspended a merchandising display strip.
FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the display hanger of FIG. 1 disengaged from the display shelf.
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the display hanger illustrating the forward inclined angle of the rearward edges of the wings.
FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the display hanger in the process of being engaged to the display shelf, with insertion prongs being inserted into holes.
FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the display hanger engaged to the display shelf illustrating the offset between the front edge and the rearward edges of the wings.
FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a push pin being inserted to lock together the display hanger and the display shelf.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
Referring to the drawings, wherein like reference numbers refer to like elements, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a display hanger 100 engaging a display shelf 102 that can be located at a retail establishment. The display shelf 102 includes a generally horizontal plane 110 that defines a top surface 112 and a bottom surface 114. Disposed between the top and bottom surfaces 112, 114 are a plurality of holes 116 that are arranged in multiple rows, including at least a first row 118 and a second row 120. The display shelf 102 also includes a front edge 122 that extends downward at a given angle with respect to the horizontal plane 110. The first and second rows 118, 120 are spaced apart from the front edge 122 by a solid portion 126 of the horizontal surface 110 in which no holes are formed. It should be appreciated that references to terms of direction, such as “top,” “bottom,” “front,” “down” and the like are merely for purposes of orientation and are not intended as a limitation on the scope of the invention. The display shelf can be made from any suitable material such as, for example, stamped and formed sheet metal.
Also illustrated in FIG. 1 is an example of a merchandising strip 130 which is suspended from the display hanger 100 (typically two such strips are hung on the hanger 100, one on each wing). The exemplary merchandising strip 130 is an elongated structure that can be made from plastic and includes a suspension hole 132 formed at its upper end for connecting the merchandising strip 130 to the display hanger 100. To releasably hold merchandise, the merchandising strip 130 also includes a plurality of retainers in the form of clamping devices 134 that extend along its vertical length. So that the merchandise appears to be suspended in a highly visible manner, the display hanger 100 functions to spatially offset the merchandising strip 130 from the display shelf 102.
To simultaneously support and spatially offset the merchandising strip from the display shelf, referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, a preferred embodiment of the display hanger 100 includes an elongated arm 140 that extends between a front end 142 and a rear end 144. The elongated arm 140 is shaped as a generally rectangular plate defined by the opposing front and rear ends 142, 144 and by parallel, elongated first and second side edges 146, 148 that extend between the front and rear ends. The elongated arm 140 is further divided into a forward portion 150 that is proximate to the front end 142 and a rear portion 152 proximate to the rear end 144. Disposed into the respective front and rear portions 150, 152 are a front aperture 156 and a rear aperture 158. The front and rear apertures 156, 158 are located approximately along a center line 154 of the elongated arm 140 that is defined midway between the first and second side edges 146, 148. In the illustrated embodiment, both the front and rear apertures 156, 158 are circular and are spaced from the respective front and rear ends 142, 144.
Formed into the rear portion 144 and extending downward from the elongated arm are a first locating prong 160 and a second locating prong 162. The first and second locating prongs 160, 162 may be located on either side of the center line 154 and are spaced-apart from the rear end 144 a first predetermined distance that is designated by reference number 166. In the present embodiment, wherein the elongated arm 140 is formed as a rectangular plate, the first and second locating prongs 160, 162 can be produced by cutting and forming downward portions of the plate.
Also included in the illustrated embodiment of the elongated arm 140 is a raised embossment 168 which is centrally located and has a circular shape. The raise embossment 168 provides a means for strengthening the product arm and preventing bending of the display hanger. Such strengthening and bending prevention is provided by formation of the generally flat sheet metal material from which a preferred embodiment is formed such that the strengthen means comprises projecting structure such as the embossment shown, but may also take other shapes to include formed ribs, undulations, and other formed structures. For example, ribs could extend either partially or entirely down the top of the hanger (and would thereby still extend between the support means and the mounting means). The embossment 168 or other such strengthening means is provided between the support hooks 189 or support holes 181 (either or both of which provide support means) and the mounting means which comprises one or more mounting prongs 170, 172.
Extending from the rear end 144 in the rearward direction are a first insertion prong 170 and a second insertion prong 172. The first and second insertion prongs 170, 172 are symmetrically offset on opposite sides of the center line 154 and are generally aligned with the respective first and second locating prongs 160, 162. Moreover, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the first and second insertion prongs 170, 172 are offset below but are generally parallel to the elongated arm 140. To achieve this effect, the insertion prongs 170, 172 each have a transition segment 174, 175 and a free end 176, 177. The transition segments 174, 175 are integrally joined to and extend vertically downward from the rear end 144. The free ends 176, 177 are joined to the transition segments 174, 175 and extend in a plane generally parallel to the elongated arm 140.
As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, beginning a second predetermined distance 184 forward of the locating prongs 160, 162 and extending downward from the elongated arm 140 are a first wing 180 and parallel second wing 182. The first and second wings 180, 182 extend from and are common to the respective first and second side edges 146, 148 of the elongated arm 140 and include respective first and second lower edges 186, 187. In the illustrated embodiment, the first and second lower edges 186, 187 are generally parallel to the elongated arm 140 and the respective first and second side edges 146, 148. The wings 180, 182 extend from the second predetermined distance 184 and extend to the front end 142. For connecting with the merchandising strip 130, each wing includes a support hook 188, 189 struck inwardly from the respective wing and projecting towards the elongated arm 140. Additionally, or alternatively, each wing 180, 182 includes a hold which can receive the hook of a merchandise strip with a hook/hanger including metal merchandising strips (not shown) which similarly include retainers for holding merchandise.
The first and second wings 180, 182 each include a respective first and second rearward edge 190, 192 that extends between the particular side edges 146, 148 and lower edges 186, 187. Referring to FIG. 3, the first and second rearward edges 190, 192 join and extend from the elongated arm 140 at the second predetermined distance 184 from the locating prongs. The rearward edges 190, 192 extend toward the lower edges 186, 187 along a forward-inclined angle. In a preferred embodiment, the forward-inclined angle is approximately 60° with respect to the elongated arm 140, though, in other embodiments, the angle of incline may differ. Preferably the angle is matched closely to the angle of the front edge 122 of the shelf.
Where the first and second wings 180, 182 coterminate with the front end 142, there is formed first and second forward edges 194, 195 that extend between the elongated arm and the lower edges 186, 187. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the forward edges 194, 195 extend perpendicularly from the elongated arm 140.
The display hanger 100 can be formed from any suitable material. Preferably, the display hanger is stamped formed from an integral blank of sheet metal. As will be appreciated by one of skill in the art, the prongs, wings, and hooks can be formed by any of various known stamping and strike forming operations. In an alternative embodiment, the display hanger might be formed from injection molded plastic.
Referring to FIG. 4, to engage the display hanger 100 with the display shelf 102, the display hanger is first directed at an angle toward the horizontal plane 112 such that the first and second insertion prongs 170, 172 are inserted into two adjacent holes 116 in the second row 120. The display hanger 100 is next pivoted with respect to the display shelf 102 so that the first and second locating prongs 160, 162 are received in two adjacent holes in the first row 118. To facilitate inserting the locating prongs 160, 162 into the holes when the display hanger 100 is pivoted, the first predetermined distance 166 between the rear end 144 and the locating prongs is gauged to accommodate the distance between the first and second rows 118, 120.
As will be appreciated from FIG. 5, after the display hanger has been pivoted, the rear portion 152 of the elongated arm 140 lies substantially flat against the top surface of the horizontal plane 110 of the display shelf 102 with the front portion 150 extending beyond the front edge 122 for suspending the merchandising strip. To constrain the display hanger 100 from tilting over about the front edge 122, the free ends 176, 177 of the insertion prongs 170, 172 extend adjacently along the bottom surface 114 of the horizontal panel 110. This is facilitated by the downward depending transition sections 174, 175 that join the offset free ends 176, 177 to the elongated arm 140.
The potential that the display hanger 100 will experience cantilevered bending is reduced because of the rearward edges 190, 192 of the wings 180, 182. Specifically, because of their angled slant, the rearward edges 190, 192 are able to extend parallel to the angled front edge 122 of the display shelf 102. As will be appreciated from FIG. 5, this minimizes the portion of the elongated arm 140 that is unsupported by the first and second wings 180, 182. Accordingly, the portion of the elongated arm 140 that is subject to bending deformation is minimized. The danger of cantilevered bending is further reduced by ensuring that the offset between the front edge 122 of the display shelf 102 and the rearward edges 190, 192 is minimized. It will be appreciated that this degree of offset is a function of the second predetermined distance 184 between the locating prongs 160, 162 and the rearward edges 190, 192. Accordingly, selecting an appropriate valve for the second predetermined distance 184 will further minimize the unsupported portion of the elongated arm 140.
For ensuring that the display hanger 100 correctly engages the display shelf 102 so as to protect against cantilevered bending, and to additionally prevent the display hanger from excessively extending beyond the front edge 122, the locating prongs 160, 162 are included. Specifically, referring to FIG. 4, when the display hanger 100 is correctly engaged to the display shelf 102, the insertion prongs 170, 172 are received in the holes in the second row 120 and the locating prongs 160, 162 are received in the holes in the first row 118. Accordingly, when the display hanger 100 is pivoted to the position illustrated in FIG. 5, the elongated arm 140 is substantially flat against the horizontal plane 110. Referring back to FIG. 4 however, if the insertion prongs 160, 162 are incorrectly inserted into the holes of the first row 180, it will be appreciated that when the display hanger 100 is pivoted with respect to the display shelf 102, the locating prongs will strike the solid portion 126 of the horizontal plane 110. Accordingly, the elongated arm 140 will not lie flat against the horizontal plane 110 and thereby provides a visual indication that the display hanger 100 is incorrectly engaged to the display shelf 102. Likewise, if the insertion prongs 160, 162 are incorrectly inserted into a third or fourth row of holes, then when the display hanger 100 is pivoted downwards the rear edges 190, 192 of the wings will strike against the solid portion 126. Referring to FIG. 5, it will be appreciated that striking the rear edges 190/192 against the display shelf 102 during incorrect engagement is also a function of selecting an appropriate value for the second predetermined distance 184.
To keep the display hanger 100 and the display shelf 102 engaged, in an embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6, a securing pin 200 can be used to secure the two together. The securing pin 200 includes a rounded, circular head 202 from the center of which extends a shank 204. The shank 204 is made of multiple, resilient fingers 206 that flex outwardly from the shank. To secure the securing pin 200 to the display hanger 100 and display shelf 102 after the two are engaged, the shank 204 is inserted into the rear aperture 158 that is disposed through the rear portion 152 of the display hanger and received in a hole 116 disposed through the display shelf. As the shank 204 is inserted, the resilient fingers 206 will create an interference fit with the rear aperture 158 and the hole 116 thereby preventing the securing pin 200 from being removed. Additionally, the head 202 is positioned so as to clamp the display hanger 100 and display shelf 102 together. As will be appreciated, to accommodate the securing pin 200 in the present embodiment, the locating prongs 160, 162 and insertion prongs 170, 172 can be arranged to ensure that the rear aperture 158 aligns with a hole 116 in the display shelf 102.
All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.
The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.
Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.