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Publication numberUS20060108252 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/249,084
Publication dateMay 25, 2006
Filing dateOct 11, 2005
Priority dateOct 11, 2004
Publication number11249084, 249084, US 2006/0108252 A1, US 2006/108252 A1, US 20060108252 A1, US 20060108252A1, US 2006108252 A1, US 2006108252A1, US-A1-20060108252, US-A1-2006108252, US2006/0108252A1, US2006/108252A1, US20060108252 A1, US20060108252A1, US2006108252 A1, US2006108252A1
InventorsMichael Lax
Original AssigneeLax Michael R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Lockable container with merchandising features
US 20060108252 A1
Abstract
A lockable container that has a slot for hanging on a merchandising rack as well as an integral locking mechanism is provided. The container includes a spine coupling two covers together. The covers include recessed openings that are aligned with each other to form a slot that passes through the container when the first and second covers are closed together. The container also includes a locking member located opposite the spine for enclosing and locking an asset. The container includes a plurality of clips for retaining and securing any type of asset. A portion of the container is transparent to permit a potential customer to view the asset in the container. The container is firm, cost effective, user and environment friendly and not overly sized.
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Claims(30)
1. A container for securing an asset therein and for hanging in a merchandising environment, the container comprising:
a first cover comprising a first opening;
a second cover coupled to the first cover and comprising a second opening, wherein:
the first and second covers are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses the asset, and
the first and second openings are aligned with each other to form a slot that passes through the container when the first and second covers are in the closed configuration; and
a locking member that is configured to move between an unlocked configuration in which the first and second covers can move to the open configuration, and a locked configuration in which the first and second covers are locked in the closed configuration.
2. The container of claim 1, wherein:
the first cover comprises a first recess in which the first opening is located;
the second cover comprises a second recess in which the second opening is located; and
the first and second recesses butt up against each other so that the first and second openings are contiguously aligned with each other to form the slot when the first and second covers are in the closed configuration.
3. The container of claim 1, wherein the first cover comprises a plurality of clips for retaining and securing at least one asset.
4. The container of claim 1, wherein the locking member is entirely internal to the container when the locking member is in the unlocked configuration.
5. The container of claim 1 further comprising a locking mate arrangement operatively coupled to at least one of the first and second covers, wherein the locking member engages the locking mate arrangement when the locking member is in the locked configuration.
6. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking member is configured to be acted upon by an external key arrangement to selectively position the locking member into one of the locked configuration and the unlocked configuration with respect to the locking mate arrangement.
7. The container of claim 1, wherein the container is constructed of a material selected from a group consisting of plastic, metal, wood, polymer, thermoplastic resin, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and any combination thereof.
8. The container of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second covers has a transparent portion configured to permit a potential customer to view the asset in the container.
9. The container of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first an second covers has printing and artwork that is applied by thermal transfer film.
10. The container of claim 1 further comprising a hinge having a longitudinal axis, wherein:
the hinge is coupled to each of the first and second covers;
the first cover includes first and second bottom enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third bottom enclosure wall disposed opposite the hinge and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis;
the second cover includes first and second top enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third top enclosure wall disposed opposite the hinge and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis; and
the top and bottom enclosure walls are disposed so that, when the second cover is closed upon the first cover, each top enclosure wall overlaps a corresponding one of the bottom enclosure walls, thereby defining, along with the hinge, a compartment for enclosing the asset.
11. A container for securing an asset therein and for hanging in a merchandising environment, the container comprising:
a spine having a length;
a slot positioned at a point along an axis that is parallel to the spine and that does not extend beyond the length of the spine; and
a locking member located opposite the spine and configured to move between an unlocked configuration and a locked configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses and locks the asset, the locking member having a length that is substantially the same as the length of the spine.
12. The container of claim 11 further comprising:
a first cover coupled to the spine and comprising a first recess in which a first opening is located; and
a second cover coupled to the spine and comprising a second recess in which a second opening is located, wherein the first and second recesses butt up against each other so that the first and second openings are contiguously aligned with each other to form the slot.
13. The container of claim 11 further comprising a plurality of clips for retaining and securing at least one asset.
14. The container of claim 11, wherein the locking member is entirely internal to the container when the locking member is in the unlocked configuration.
15. The container of claim 11 further comprising a locking mate arrangement that is engaged by the locking member when the locking member is in the locked configuration.
16. The container of claim 15, wherein the locking member is configured to be acted upon by an external key arrangement to selectively position the locking member into one of the locked configuration and the unlocked configuration with respect to the locking mate arrangement.
17. The container of claim 11, wherein the container is constructed of a material selected from a group consisting of plastic, metal, wood, polymer, thermoplastic resin, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and any combination thereof.
18. The container of claim 12, wherein at least one of the first and second covers has a transparent portion configured to permit a potential customer to view the asset in the container.
19. The container of claim 12, wherein at least one of the first an second covers has printing and artwork that is applied by thermal transfer film.
20. The container of claim 12, wherein:
the spine has a longitudinal axis;
the first cover includes first and second bottom enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third bottom enclosure wall disposed opposite the spine and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis;
the second cover includes first and second top enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third top enclosure wall disposed opposite the spine and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis; and
the top and bottom enclosure walls are disposed so that, when the second cover is closed upon the first cover, each top enclosure wall overlaps a corresponding one of the bottom enclosure walls, thereby defining, along with the spine, a compartment for enclosing the asset.
21. A container for securing an asset therein and for hanging in a merchandising environment, the container comprising:
a hinge having a longitudinal axis;
a first cover coupled to the hinge, the first cover including first and second enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third enclosure wall disposed opposite the hinge and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis;
a second cover coupled to the hinge, the second cover configured to be closed upon the first cover thereby defining, along with the hinge and the first, second and third enclosure walls, a compartment for enclosing the asset;
a locking member located opposite the hinge and configured to move between an unlocked configuration and a locked configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses and locks the asset; and
a slot that traverses the compartment.
22. The container of claim 21, wherein:
the first cover comprises a first recess in which a first opening is located;
the second cover comprises a second recess in which a second opening is located; and
the first and second recesses butt up against each other so that the first and second openings are contiguously aligned with each other to form the slot.
23. The container of claim 21, wherein the first cover comprises a plurality of clips for retaining and securing at least one asset.
24. The container of claim 21, wherein the locking member is entirely internal to the container when the locking member is in the unlocked configuration.
25. The container of claim 21 further comprising a locking mate arrangement operatively coupled to at least one of the first and second covers, wherein the locking member engages the locking mate arrangement when the locking member is in the locked configuration.
26. The container of claim 25, wherein the locking member is configured to be acted upon by an external key arrangement to selectively position the locking member into one of the locked configuration and the unlocked configuration with respect to the locking mate arrangement.
27. The container of claim 21, wherein the container is constructed of a material selected from a group consisting of plastic, metal, wood, polymer, thermoplastic resin, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and any combination thereof.
28. The container of claim 21, wherein at least one of the first and second covers has a transparent portion configured to permit a potential customer to view the asset in the container.
29. The container of claim 21, wherein at least one of the first an second covers has printing and artwork that is applied by thermal transfer film.
30. The container of claim 21, wherein:
the first, second and third enclosure walls are bottom enclosure walls;
the second cover includes first and second top enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, and a third top enclosure wall disposed opposite the hinge and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis; and
the top and bottom enclosure walls are disposed so that, when the second cover is closed upon the first cover, each top enclosure wall overlaps a corresponding one of the bottom enclosure walls.
Description

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/617,989, filed Oct. 11, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a lockable container having merchandising features for securing assets and, more particularly, to a lockable container that has a slot for hanging on a merchandising rack as well as an integral locking mechanism.

Currently, there are many containers that can be hung on merchandising racks and used to secure storage media such as, for example, digital versatile discs (“DVDs”), compact discs (“CDs”), and video games. A typical container that is displayed on a merchandising rack is usually part of a casing that includes a hole in its top section for hanging on a peg of a merchandising rack. Such a container may therefore be displayed in a live retail, rental or any other merchandising environment, where potential customers and consumers can handle and examine the storage container to determine, for example, whether to buy or rent the asset stored therein. Because many potential customers may handle the casings that include such containers, it is necessary to deter potential thieves from stealing a container and the asset stored therein. This may be achieved through different means.

One approach involves placing a locking device such as a security tag (e.g., an electronic article surveillance (“EAS”) tag or radio frequency identification (“RFID”) tag) within the container or casing as an external security apparatus that wraps around the casing and the peg which is part of the merchandising rack. This approach, however, has some limitations. For example, a potential thief may tamper with and cut off such a device, thereby liberating the casing and container from the peg. Moreover, the containers and casings themselves may not be firm enough and may be easily penetrable by, for example, using a tool to flex, rip or cut through the plastic sleeves of such containers and casings. Thus, it would not be overly difficult for a potential thieve to steal the asset stored in the container without removing the security tag or stealing the casing or container itself. Some casings accordingly include several protective layers or sleeves that may be made from firm material. Other casings that utilize blister packaging or clamshell packaging techniques may be used instead. However, such casings hey are relatively expensive, environmentally unfriendly and bulky in size.

Furthermore, even if the container is not stolen, certain complications may arise due to the fact that the locking device is separate from the container or casing. For example, the locking device must either be cut off by the retailer at the point of purchase or by the consumer at home. This device is then discarded, which is not environmentally friendly. In addition, in order to lock the container or casing in a live retail or rental environment, a retailer must first insert the lock into or attach the lock to the container or casing. When the container or casing is unlocked by a retailer, the lock is either reused, stocked, restocked, or discarded. This can lead to, for example, increased costs, administrative complications, and environmental problems.

Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a stand-alone container that has an integral locking mechanism and is firm, cost effective, user and environment friendly and not overly sized for securing assets and hanging in a merchandising environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a stand-alone container that has an integral locking mechanism and is firm, cost effective, user and environment friendly and not overly sized for securing assets and hanging in a merchandising environment and methods of use are provided. Such assets may include, for example, storage media (e.g., DVDs, CDs, video games, memory cards or any other suitable storage media), jewelry, pharmaceutical products, razor blades, printer cartridges, or any other item of value. The container of the present invention may also be used to secure items such that others are prevented from accessing the item, whether or not the item is of particular value. For example, the lockable container of the present invention may be used to secure violent or adult movies or video games in the home, such that children are unable to access the items. However, for simplicity, the present invention will be described herein as securing an “asset.”

In some embodiments of the present invention, a container for securing an asset therein and for hanging in a merchandising environment is provided. The container includes a first cover having a first opening and a second cover coupled to the first cover and having a second opening. The first and second covers are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses the asset. The first and second openings are aligned with each other to form a slot that passes through the container when the first and second covers are in the closed configuration. The container also includes a locking member that is configured to move between an unlocked configuration in which the first and second covers can move to the open configuration, and a locked configuration in which the first and second covers are locked in the closed configuration.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the openings are located on recesses in each of the first and second covers. These recesses butt up against each other so that the openings are contiguously aligned with each other to form the slot when the first and second covers are in the closed configuration. Moreover, one of the covers in the container may include a plurality of clips for retaining and securing at least one asset.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the locking member in the container may be entirely internal to the container when the locking member is in the unlocked configuration. The container may include a locking mate arrangement that is operatively coupled to at least one of the covers such that it is engaged by the locking member when the locking member is in the locked configuration. The locking member is configured to be acted upon by an external key arrangement to selectively position the locking member into one of the locked configuration and the unlocked configuration with respect to the locking mate arrangement.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the container may be constructed from plastic, metal, wood, polymer, thermoplastic resin, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate or any combination thereof. At least one of its covers may have a transparent portion configured to permit a potential customer to view the asset in the container. At least one of these covers may have printing and artwork that is applied by thermal transfer film.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the container may have a spine or hinge having a longitudinal axis that is coupled to the covers. Moreover, the first cover may include first and second bottom enclosure walls that are disposed opposite each other and that extend substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The first cover may also include a third bottom enclosure wall that is disposed opposite the hinge and that extends substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis. Similarly, the second cover may include first and second top enclosure walls that are disposed opposite each other and that extend substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, as well as a third top enclosure wall that is disposed opposite the hinge and that extends substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis. These enclosure walls may be disposed so that, when the second cover is closed upon the first cover, each top enclosure wall overlaps a corresponding one of the bottom enclosure walls, thereby defining, along with the hinge, a compartment for enclosing the asset.

In some embodiments of the present invention, a container that includes a spine and a slot positioned at a point along an axis that is parallel to the spine and that does not extend beyond the length of the spine is provided. The container also includes a locking member located opposite the spine and configured to move between an unlocked configuration and a locked configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses and locks the asset. The locking member preferably has a length that is substantially the same as the length of the spine.

In some embodiments of the present invention, a container that includes a hinge having a longitudinal axis and being coupled to two covers is provided. The first cover includes first and second enclosure walls disposed opposite each other and extending substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The first cover also includes a third enclosure wall disposed opposite the hinge and extending substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis. The second cover is configured to be closed upon the first cover thereby defining, along with the hinge and the first, second and third enclosure walls, a compartment for enclosing the asset. The container also includes a locking member located opposite the hinge and configured to move between an unlocked configuration and a locked configuration in which, when the asset is present in the container, the container encloses and locks the asset. Finally, the container includes a slot that traverses the compartment.

Further features of the invention, its nature and various advantages will be more apparent from the accompanying drawings and the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified perspective of an illustrative lockable container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of an illustrative lockable container for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of multiple lockable containers of FIG. 2 for hanging on a peg of a merchandising rack in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of another illustrative lockable container for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 4 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an illustrative hub structure for a lockable container in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 7 and 8 are perspective views of an illustrative locking member for use with the lockable container of FIGS. 2 or 4 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an assembly of the lockable container of FIG. 4 and the locking member of FIG. 7 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a partially cut-away perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 9 in which the container is in an unlocked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 11 is another partially cut-away perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 9 in which the container is in an unlocked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a partially cut-away perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 9 in which the container is in a locked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 13 and 14 are other partially cut-away perspective views of the assembly of FIG. 9 in which the container is in a locked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an illustrative status window indicating that a container is in a locked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of an illustrative status window indicating that a container is in an unlocked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 17 is an exploded perspective view of an illustrative magnetic key arrangement in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the magnetic key arrangement of FIG. 17 in which the key arrangement is in an unlocked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the magnetic key arrangement of FIG. 17 in which the key arrangement is in a locked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 9 and the key arrangement of FIG. 17 in a position to lock the container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 9 and the key arrangement of FIG. 17 in a position to unlock the container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an illustrative overlapping walls feature for a lockable container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 23 is a top plan view of another illustrative lockable container for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 23 in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 25 and 26 are perspective views of an illustrative locking member for use with the lockable container of FIG. 23 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of an assembly of the lockable container of FIG. 23 and the locking member of FIG. 25 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 28 is a partially cut-away perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 27 in which the container is in an unlocked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 29 is a partially cut-away perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 27 in which the container is in a locked state in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 30 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 27 and an illustrative key arrangement in a position to lock the container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of the lockable container of FIG. 27 and the key arrangement of FIG. 28 in a position to unlock the container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of yet another illustrative lockable container for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 33 and 34 are perspective views of an illustrative locking member for the lockable container of FIG. 32 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 35 is a perspective view of an assembly of the lockable container of FIG. 34 and the locking member of FIG. 33 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 36 is a perspective view of still another illustrative lockable container for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 37 is a perspective view of an illustrative roll of capsules for use in the container of FIG. 36 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 38 is a simplified sectional view of the container of FIG. 36 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 39 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 36 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of yet another illustrative lockable container for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 41 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 40 demonstrating how a lid of the container may open in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 42 is a simplified sectional view of the container of FIG. 40 in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 43 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 40 in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a lockable stand-alone container for securing assets that has a slot for hanging on a merchandising rack as well as an integral locking mechanism and methods of use are provided.

The container is a stand-alone container, and therefore is not part of a casing that includes a hole that is separate from, or is not part of, the container. A slot for hanging on a peg of a merchandising rack passes through the container itself.

The locking mechanism of the present invention is integral with the container, and therefore remains with the container, regardless of whether the container is locked or unlocked. Thus, the container may be both locked and unlocked without removing any portion of the locking mechanism (e.g., a locking member) from the container. Accordingly, there is no need to reuse, restock, recycle or discard any portion of the locking mechanism.

The locking mechanism of the present invention may or may not be internal to the container, and therefore may or may not be situated entirely within the container when the container is either open or closed. An internal locking system makes it more difficult for an individual to tamper with the locking mechanism.

When locked, the lockable container of the present invention may be hung and displayed, for example, in a live retail or rental environment. Customers may handle the container without gaining access to its contents. Once the customer decides to purchase, rent, or lease the contents of a particular lockable container, the customer may bring the container to a checkout counter. At the checkout counter, an employee or other authorized user may unlock the lockable container using a key arrangement so that the customer can gain access to its contents.

Since the integral locking mechanism of the present invention may be selectively positioned into either a locked or unlocked position, the lockable container of the present invention may be used in applications that do not require the container to be locked.

FIG. 1 shows a simplified perspective view of an illustrative lockable container 1 in accordance with the present invention. (It should be noted that lockable container 1 of FIG. 1 is merely a schematic illustration to generally illustrate features of the lockable container of the present invention.) Lockable container 1 includes a first cover 2 and a second cover 4 that is coupled to the first cover for securing at least one asset 6 within container 1. First and second covers 2 and 4 may be pivotally coupled, or “hinged”, to each other. As shown in FIG. 1, asset 6 resides within first cover 2. However, this is merely illustrative, and one or both of first cover 2 and second cover 4 may be capable of receiving asset 6.

First cover 2 includes opening 12 while second cover 4 includes opening 14. First and second covers 2 and 4 are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration. When asset 6 is present in container 1 in the closed configuration, the container encloses the asset. Moreover, first and second openings 12 and 14 are aligned with each other to form a slot that passes through the container when first and second covers 2 and 4 are in the closed configuration. (It should be noted that first cover 2 may also be referred to as a “base portion” of container 1 since it is the portion of the container within which the asset reside. Second cover 4 may also be referred to as a “cover.”)

Container 1 may be locked to secure asset 6 within the container. In particular, container 1 includes an internal locking member 8 and a locking mate arrangement 9. Locking member 8 and locking mate arrangement 9 are configured for engagement such that first cover 4 is secured to second cover 2, thereby securing asset 6 within container 1 in the closed configuration.

It should be noted that, although locking member 8 is illustrated as being coupled to first cover 2, this is merely illustrative, and locking member 8 may be coupled to either first cover 2 or second cover 4. Additionally, although locking mate arrangement 9 is illustrated as being joined to second cover 4, this is merely illustrative, and locking mate arrangement 9 may be joined to one or both of first cover 2 and second cover 4.

In examples in which container 1 is used to secure storage media (e.g., DVDs, CDs, or any other suitable storage media), container 1 may be sized similarly to, for example, a standard library case. In such an example, container 1 may work with current manufacturing automation, and may posses similar wall heights, disc position, and booklet size as a standard library case. Alternatively, container 1 need not have dimensions that are substantially larger than the storage media. For example, container 1 may be only slightly larger than the storage media to the extent it is capable of entirely enclosing the storage media while allowing room for the slot formed by openings 12 and 14 to be unobstructed when the storage media is present in the container. For example, if the storage media is a DVD or a CD, the dimensions of container 1 may correspond to those of the storage media where the slot passes through the container such that it is aligned with the center hole (i.e., the opening in the center of the storage medium) of the DVD or CD.

Preferably, container 1 is constructed of any durable material suitable to secure asset 6 within container 1 and prevent unauthorized persons from breaking the container to gain access to the asset. Container 1 may be constructed of, for example, plastic, metal, wood, a polymer, a thermoplastic resin (such as polypropylene, ABS, or polycarbonate), or any other suitable durable material.

Container 1 may include at least one transparent portion (not shown) to permit a potential customer to view the contents of the container, for example, asset 6. In such an embodiment, if container 1 is used to contain an item for sale, a potential customer may view the contents before deciding whether to purchase asset 6. Container 1 may include, for example, a transparent jacket (not shown) arranged on the outside of the container for displaying information materials in connection with the asset 6 to the potential customer. For example, if container 1 is used to secure a DVD movie, the transparent jacket may include a miniature pictograph, title, or any other suitable information in connection with the DVD movie.

Locking member 8 is configured to detachably couple to locking mate arrangement 9 to secure first cover 2 to second cover 4. For this purpose, one or both of locking member 8 and locking mate arrangement 9 may be configured to be acted upon by an external key arrangement, as described below. The interaction of the external key arrangement and container 1 selectively positions internal locking member 8 in either a locked position or an unlocked position, and thereby couples or decouples locking member 8 and locking mate arrangement 9, respectively.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an illustrative lockable container 10 for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention. Container 10 includes a first cover 22, a second cover 24, and a spine 16 disposed therebetween. First cover 22 and second cover 24 are pivotally coupled to spine 16 to form a living hinge. A spine is typically a hinge coupling the covers together. Spine 16 extends along an axis, which is an existing or imaginary segment.

Container 10 may consist of a single compartment that may retain different types and sizes of assets. Container 10 may alternatively include several compartments formed by the first and second covers in conjunction with trays 15 or 17. Each one of trays 15 and 17 is configured to receive and retain a storage medium (not shown) or other asset. For purposes of illustration, FIG. 2 shows two sets of trays for storing storage media, each set constituting a pair of identical trays. Such trays may prevent the asset from being moved or transported while in the container. (Another example of such a securing mechanism is or hub 38 described below and shown in FIG. 6.)

First cover 22 may for example include resilient clips 19 for receiving and retaining a storage medium (not shown) in a casing (or alternatively only the casing) or other asset in one of trays 15. When a storage medium and/or casing is present in container 10, it may be secured in one of trays 15 by applying a downward force to the storage medium or casing which engages and causes resilient clips 19 to bend. Thereafter, resilient clips 19 resume their original positioning due to their natural resiliency and the storage medium and/or casing is secured within tray 15. To remove the storage medium and/or casing, a user may apply a force upon the storage medium or casing and cause resilient clips 19 to bend, thereby releasing the storage medium and/or casing. Thus, the storage medium may be safely placed upon and removed within tray 15 without being damaged.

First cover 22 may alternatively or simultaneously include one or more universal trays 17 for receiving and retaining a storage medium. Each universal tray 17 may include one or more molded-in clips for retaining various sizes of assets such as flash media (e.g., SD memory cards, compactflash memory cards, memory sticks, etc.)

By varying the number, locations and/or sizes of the various clips in container 10, the latter can be modified to retain different assets of different types, shapes and sizes without changing other properties of the container. For example, clips may be molded into at least one of the covers of container 10 so that the container can store a variety of formats of flash media formats. Alternatively, some of the clips may be slideable. It should be noted that trays 15 and 17 are merely illustrative and that any suitable mechanism may be used to receive and retain a storage medium within container 10. For example, if the storage medium is a DVD or a CD, exemplary hubs described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/696,614, filed Oct. 25, 2000 and U.S. patent publication No. 2002/0023853, published Feb. 28, 2002, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties, or hub 38 described below and shown in FIG. 6, may be used.

Container 10 may include one or more of the security features described, for example, in Lax U.S. Pat. No. 6,561,347, incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. For example, container 10 may include “overlapping walls” which protect the top and bottom edges of the container from tampering. As shown in FIG. 2, first cover 22 may include walls 23 disposed opposite each other and extending from the top and bottom edges thereof such that they are perpendicular to the spine's axis. Second cover 24 may include walls 25 disposed opposite each other and extending from the top and bottom edges thereof such that they are also perpendicular to the spine's axis. Preferably, walls 23 and 25 extend the entire width, or at least substantially the entire width, of container 10. Moreover, first cover 22 may include wall 2233 disposed opposite the spine (parallel to its axis) and extending from the side thereof. Second cover 24 may include wall 2455 disposed opposite the spine (parallel to its axis) and extending from the side thereof. Preferably, wall 2233 and 2455 extend the entire length, or at least substantially the entire length, of container 10. When second cover 24 is closed on first cover 22, each of walls 23 and 2233 of first cover 22 sits behind, hence overlaps, a corresponding wall 25 and 2455 of second cover 24, respectively. This results in overlapping or double walls that make container 10 harder to break into at the location of the double, or overlapping, walls.

First and second covers 22 and 24 are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration. When the storage medium is present in container 10 in the closed configuration, the container encloses the storage medium. Moreover, first cover 22 includes a recess 26 that extends inwards while second cover 24 includes a recess 28 which also extends inwards. Each of recesses 26 and 27 has an opening, namely, openings 27 and 28, respectively. When first and second covers 22 and 24 are in the closed configuration, recesses 26 and 28 butt up against each other so that openings 27 and 29 are contiguously aligned with each other to form slot 21 (see FIG. 3) that passes through the container.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of multiple containers 10 which may be hung consecutively and displayed on a merchandising rack (not shown). This is achieved by allowing a peg 333 coupled to the rack to pass through slot 21, which is formed by the aligned recessed openings in each cover of each closed container. First cover 22, second cover 24 or both may include a transparent portion or may be partly or fully transparent or translucent and may include printing that, for example, identifies the asset contained therein as well as artwork. Such printing and artwork may be applied by thermal transfer film so that there is no need for a welded film and printed slip-sheet. Container 10 may include window 13 which does not include printing so that a potential customer can view and clearly identify the asset inside the container.

Like the illustrative lockable container described hereinabove in connection with FIG. 1l container 10 may be used in conjunction with a locking member such as internal locking member 18. Illustrative locking members, and locking containers, for use with container 10 are shown in FIGS. 7, 8, 25, 26, 33 and 34 and are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/723,911, filed Feb. 7, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Moreover, container 10 may be locked or unlocked using a key arrangement (not shown). Illustrative key arrangements for use with container 1 are shown in FIGS. 17-21, 30 and 31.

FIGS. 4 and 5 show a top plan view and a perspective view, respectively, of another illustrative lockable container 30 for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention. Container 30 includes a first cover 32, a second cover 34, and a spine 36 disposed therebetween. First cover 32 and second cover 34 are pivotally coupled to spine 36 to form a living hinge.

First cover 32 may include two resilient document retaining members 51 and 53 which may be used to retain documents, such as a booklet related to the storage media secured within container 30. Second cover 34 may receive and retain a storage medium or other asset with a hub 38, which is shown in more detail in FIG. 6. First cover 32 includes recessed opening 3222 while second cover 34 includes recessed opening 3444. First and second covers 32 and 34 are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration. When the storage medium (not shown) is present in container 30 in the closed configuration, the container encloses the storage medium. Moreover, first and second recessed openings 3222 and 3444 are aligned with each other to form slot,3234 (see FIGS. 20 and 21) that passes through the container when first and second covers 32 and 34 are in the closed configuration.

When the storage medium is present in container 30, it may be placed upon hub 38. The storage medium's central hole is placed around resilient members 40. (It should be noted that while four resilient members 40 are shown, this is merely illustrative, and any suitable number of resilient members may be used.) A downward force is applied to the storage medium which causes resilient members 40 to bend further inwardly into voids 42, due to the engagement of the opening of the storage medium with resilient members 40. Upon the application of sufficient downward force upon the storage medium, resilient members 40 bend inwardly far enough such that the circumference around resilient members 40 is less than the circumference of the storage medium's center hole, thereby allowing the storage medium to be placed upon frustum 44. At this point, resilient members 40 resume their original positioning due to their natural resiliency, and the storage medium is retained on frustum 44. To remove the storage medium, a user may apply a force upon hub 38, allowing the user to lift the storage medium off of the hub. Thus, the storage medium may be safely placed upon and removed from hub 38 without being damaged.

It should be noted that hub 38 of FIG. 6 is merely illustrative, and that any suitable hub may be used to receive and retain a storage medium within container 30. For example, exemplary hubs are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/696,614, filed Oct. 25, 2000 and U.S. patent publication No. 2002/0023853.

Like the illustrative lockable container described hereinabove in connection with FIG. 1, container 30 may be used in conjunction with an internal locking member. An illustrative locking member 100 for use with container 30 is shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Locking member 100 may include a plurality of I-beam engagement portions that interact with a plurality of corresponding I-beam engagement tabs or protrusions formed in one or both of first and second covers 32 and 34. As more fully explained below, locking member 100 locks container 30 in a closed position by trapping the corresponding engagement tabs formed in one or both of first and second covers 32 and 34 together in locking trenches of the I-beam engagement portions.

Locking member 100 includes at least one spring-arm arranged on an end of the locking member that is configured to magnetically couple with an external magnetic key arrangement (see, for example, key arrangement 300 of FIG. 17, which will be described in detail hereinbelow). The spring arm causes locking member 100 to alternately move into the locked and unlocked positions. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, and as more fully explained below, locking member 100 includes spring arms 102 and 104 arranged on opposite ends of the locking member.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, locking member 100 includes multiple I-beam engagement portions for engaging associated tabs or protrusions within container 30. Locking member 100 includes three engagement portions 106, 108, and 110 that will be referred to herein as “single engagement portions.” “Single engagement portion” shall refer to an engagement portion that has no corresponding engagement portion on the opposite side of locking member 100. Locking member 100 includes eight engagement portions 112 and 114, 116 and 118, 120 and 122, and 124 and 126 that will be referred to herein as “double engagement portions.” “Double engagement portion” shall refer to an engagement portion that has a corresponding engagement portion on the opposite side of locking member 100. (It should be noted that although locking member 100 is described herein as having three single engagement portions and eight double engagement portions, this arrangement is merely illustrative, and locking member 100 may have any suitable arrangement and number of engagement portions.)

The double engagement portions of locking member 100 (i.e., portions 112-126) are configured to engage associated tabs of first cover 32 and second cover 34 of container 30 (see FIGS. 4 and 5). In connection with second cover 34, the double engagement portions engage the tabs as follows: double engagement portions 112 and 114 are configured to engage tabs 50 and 52, respectively; double engagement portions 116 and 118 are configured to engage tabs 54 and 56, respectively; double engagement portions 120 and 122 are configured to engage tabs 58 and 60, respectively; and double engagement portions 124 and 126 are configured to engage tabs 62 and 64, respectively. In connection with first cover 32, the double engagement portions engage the tabs as follows: double engagement portions 112 and 114 are configured to engage tabs 66 and 68, respectively; double engagement portions 116 and 118 are configured to engage tabs 70 and 72, respectively; double engagement portions 120 and 122 are configured to engage tabs 74 and 76, respectively; and double engagement portions 124 and 126 are configured to engage tabs 78 and 80, respectively.

Single engagement portions 106, 108, and 110 are configured to engage tab portions 82, 84, and 86 of second cover 34 and corresponding respective tabs 88, 90, and 92 of first cover 32.

Each engagement portion (i.e., engagement portions 106-126) includes a locking trench and a release trench. The various locking trenches are designed so that when container 30 is closed and the tab portions on first cover 32 are aligned with the corresponding tab portions on second cover 34, locking member 100 slides into the locked position so that each locking trench catches and traps the corresponding tab portions therebetween, preventing the corresponding tab portions from being separated. This alignment prevents container 30 from being opened.

In particular, engagement portions 106, 108, and 110 each have locking and release trenches 128 and 130, 132 and 134, and 136 and 138, respectively. Engagement portions 112 and 114 include locking trenches 140 and 142, respectively. With regard to release trenches for engagement portions 112 and 114, the engagement portions share a “release trench” 93 in container 30 (see FIG. 9). In actuality, release trench 93 is a space within container 30. Engagement portions 116 and 118 each include locking and release trenches 144 and 146, and 148 and 150, respectively. Engagement portions 120 and 122 each include locking and release trenches 152 and 154, and 156 and 158, respectively. Engagement portions 124 and 126 each include locking and release trenches 160 and 162, and 164 and 166, respectively.

A simplified example of the interaction between tabs of first and second covers 32 and 34 and locking and release trenches of locking member 100 is as follows. When first cover 32 is closed upon second cover 34, tabs 66 and 68 face corresponding tabs 50 and 52, respectively, and tab 88 faces corresponding tab 82. In this position, tabs 50 and 66 sit within and traverse release trench 93 (i.e., space 93) of container 30, tabs 52 and 68 sit within and traverse release trench 93 of container 30, and tabs 88 and 82 sit within and traverse release trench 130 of single engagement portion 106. Because the tabs sit within the release trenches and are able to traverse the trenches, the container can be opened (see, for example, locking member 100 in an unlocked position in FIGS. 10 and 11).

To lock container 30, locking member 30 is made to slide in a direction that engages the corresponding tabs with the appropriate locking trenches. This traps the corresponding tabs within the locking trenches and prevents the tabs from separating and, consequently, the container from opening. In other words, the container may not be opened, since the associated tabs of first cover 32 are prevented from freely traversing the various release trenches when the first cover is pulled away from second cover 34. For example, when locking member 30 is slid into the locked position, the corresponding tabs 50 and 66 are caught within locking trench 140 of double engagement portion 112, corresponding tabs 52 and 68 are caught within locking trench 142 of double engagement portion 114, and corresponding tabs 82 and 88 are caught within locking trench 128 of single engagement portion 106. The locking trenches prevent tabs 66 and 68 of first cover 32 from separating from corresponding tabs 50 and 52, respectively, of second cover 34, and prevent tab 88 of the first cover from separating from corresponding tab 82 of the second cover. The remaining tab portions are similarly caught within the corresponding locking trenches to securely lock the container in a closed position.

FIG. 9 shows container 30 with locking member 100 inserted therein in the unlocked position. Locking member 100 may be inserted into container 30 after the container has been manufactured. For example, locking member 100 may be snapped into place within container 30 at the location in which the container is manufactured. As shown in FIG. 9, in some embodiments of the present invention, at least one end of locking member 100 may be extended to the edge of container 30 to provide more security. This may prevent, for example, a thief from prying at the corners of container 30 to attempt to open the container.

In some embodiments, during the molding or stamping process of container 30, locking member 100 may be fabricated offline and assembled, if necessary. Locking member 100 may subsequently be inserted into container 30 during the last stage of the molding or stamping process, prior to closing the container and before a film is attached.

Locking member 100 sits in second cover-34 in a lock-receiving space 94 (FIG. 4), preferably in a sliding engagement within the space. This may be accomplished by any suitable method. For example, as described hereinabove, locking member 100 may be snap-fit into lock receiving space 94 (FIG. 4) by fitting engagement portions 116 and 118, and 124 and 126, between tabs 56 and 54, and 64 and 62, respectively. The tabs keep locking member 100 securely in place.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, locking member 100 includes two spring-arms 102 and 104 that are integrally formed with the locking member. (It should be noted that the embodiment shown in the FIGS. in which the spring arms are formed with the locking member is merely illustrative. The spring arms may alternatively be integrally formed with one or both of first cover 32 and second cover 34.) Spring arms 102 and 104 are configured to work in conjunction with a stop 95 formed in first cover 32 and a stop 96 formed in second cover 34, respectively. Spring arms 102 and 104 are configured to be acted upon by a magnetic key arrangement, for example, to allow locking member 100 to selectively move into the locked and unlocked positions. For this purpose, spring arms 102 and 104 may include locking heads 170 and 168, respectively, having metallic inserts 174 and 172.

In this manner, a first magnetic arrangement of a magnetic key arrangement (e.g., magnetic key arrangement 300 of FIG. 17) operates to displace spring arm 104 in direction 176, while a second magnetic arrangement of the magnetic key arrangement operates to displace spring arm 102 in direction 178. In particular, spring arms 102 and 104 each include locking heads 170 and 168, respectively, having locking surfaces 171 and 169, respectively. Locking surfaces 171 and 169 are configured to engage respective stops 96 and 95 to lock and unlock container 30. Once spring arms 102 and 104 are displaced, the spring arms can clear associated stops 95 and 96. In this manner, locking member 100 may be slideably displaced into either the locked position (as shown, for example, in FIGS. 10 and 11) or the unlocked position (as shown, for example, in FIGS. 12-14).

For example, first and second magnetic arrangements of a magnetic key arrangement (see, for example, magnetic key arrangement 300 of FIG. 17) may attract spring arms 104 and 102, thereby displacing the spring arms in directions 176 and 178, respectively. The first and second magnetic arrangements of the magnetic key arrangement may maintain spring arms 104 and 102 within first and second magnetic fields created by the first and second magnetic arrangements while container 30 slides through a channel in the magnetic key arrangement. This magnetic attraction holds locking member 100 in place, allowing locking surfaces 171 and 169 to clear stops 95 and 96, respectively, when container 30 moves within the channel of the magnetic key arrangement. The relative motion between locking member 100 and container 30 results in positioning the locking member into either a locked or unlocked position.

In some embodiments of the present invention in which spring arms 102 and 104 are integrally formed (e.g., molded) with locking member 100, the spring arms may need to be rotated out of alignment with the longitudinal axis of the locking member so that magnetic inserts 174 and 172 are properly positioned within the spring arms. The process of rotating each of spring arms 102 and 104 out of alignment with locking member 30, however, may cause an unwanted bias on the spring arms, thereby causing locking heads 170 and 168 to be displaced outward in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the locking member. Accordingly, each spring arm 102 and 104 may be provided with hooks 184 and 180, and hook catches 186 and 182, respectively. In this manner, spring arms 102 and 104 may be properly positioned after inserting magnetic inserts 174 and 172, respectively, so that the spring arms do not protrude perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of locking member 100.

As shown in FIGS. 15 and 16, container 30 may include a status window 91 for indicating the locked or unlocked status of the container. In one example, first and second covers 32 and 34 may include respective cut-outs 75 and 77 (see FIG. 7) that, when combined upon closure of container 30, form status window 91. In some embodiments, status window 91 allows a user to view at least of portion of locking member 100.

As shown in FIGS. 15 and 16, status portion 190 on the face of locking member 100 includes locking and unlocking status information. The status information may be placed thereon by any of the known methods. When the locking member 100 is slid between the locked and unlocked positions, the appropriate status information, and consequently the position of the locking member, appears through status window 91 for a user to read. In one example, status portion 190 of locking member 100 may include a sticker that shows a green opened lock 194 and a red closed lock 192. Thus, when locking member 100 is slid into the locked position, red closed lock 192 shows through status window 91 (FIG. 15). When locking member 100 is slid into the unlocked position, green opened lock 194 shows through status window 91 (FIG. 16).

FIGS. 17-19 show an exemplary magnetic key arrangement 300 in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 17 shows an exploded perspective view of magnetic key arrangement 300. Magnetic key arrangement 300 may be used, for example, in connection with container 30 and locking member 100 to position the locking member in the locked and unlocked positions with respect to the container. Magnetic key arrangement 300 may include a channel 302 for receiving a side edge 97 (FIG. 9) of container 30. Magnetic key arrangement may include a first magnetic arrangement 304 and a second magnetic arrangement 306 embedded in opposite sides and opposite ends of the magnetic key arrangement. Magnets 304 and 306 may be, for example, non-commercial magnets that are not readily available. Magnets 304 and 306 may be of different sizes, thereby making the magnets even more difficult to manipulate.

In an exemplary embodiment, first and second magnetic arrangements 304 and 306 are magnets or the like designed to interact with metallic inserts 172 and 174 (FIG. 8) to displace spring arm 104 in direction 176 (magnetic arrangement 306) and spring arm 102 in direction 178 (magnetic arrangement 304) to unlock container 30. Similarly, first and second magnetic arrangements 304 and 306 are magnets or the like designed to interact with metallic inserts 172 and 174 (FIG. 8) to displace spring arm 102 in direction 176 (magnetic arrangement 306) and spring arm 104 in direction 178 (magnetic arrangement 304) to lock container 30.

It should be noted that although key arrangement 300 of the present invention shows first and second magnet arrangements 304 and 306, the number of magnets and combinations thereof may be increased as desired. For example, key arrangement 300 may include three magnets, rendering it extremely difficult for a thief to properly manipulate three magnets to unlock container 30.

Magnetic key arrangement 300 may include exemplary security features such as, for example, a key-lock feature, a key-lock counter-mount feature, a benefit-denial feature, or any combination thereof. These features will be described in detail hereinbelow.

The “key-lock” feature of the present invention locks magnetic key arrangement 300 closed, thereby preventing its use to unlock container 30 if, for example, a cash register is unmanned or if a store is closed. In some embodiments, channel 302 includes a blocking member or bar 308, operatively connected to a key assembly 310. Key assembly 310 is structured and arranged to move blocking member 308 into a locked position (FIG. 19) and an unlocked position (FIG. 18).

To move blocking member 308 into the locked position (FIG. 19), an appropriate key is inserted into key assembly 310 and turned. Bar 308 is then released, thereby causing bar 308 to extend in a perpendicular direction with respect to the surface of channel 302. In this locked position, bar.308 prevents container 30 from “sliding” through channel 302, rendering magnetic key arrangement 300 inoperable. This prevents unauthorized use of magnetic key arrangement. 300 to unlock or lock container 30. For example, a thief may be prevented from simply walking over to an unmanned register and unlocking container 30. The key-lock feature of the present invention also prevents internal theft by rendering magnetic key arrangement 300 inactive after the store is closed.

To unlock magnetic key arrangement 300 (FIG. 18), the appropriate key is inserted into key assembly 310 and turned in a direction that moves bar 308 out of channel 302. In some embodiments, to move bar 308 out of channel 302, the bar may be rotated out of the channel such that it rests in a groove 312 that extends below the surface of channel 302 (see, for example, FIG. 18).

The “key-lock counter-mount” feature of the present invention permits magnetic key arrangement 300 to be securely and detachably coupled to, for example, a retail store checkout counter. Magnetic key arrangement 300 may be releasably attached by use of a second key arrangement 314 that locks and unlocks magnetic key arrangement 300 to the counter. Second key arrangement 314 works in connection with a permanent mounting plate 316 that is permanently affixed to a checkout counter using any suitable method.

In some embodiments, magnetic key arrangement 300 may be releasably attached to mounting plate 316 by a bottom cover 318. Bottom cover 318 may include hook portions 320 that are constructed and arranged to slidingly engage into associated catch portions 322 formed in mounting plate 316. Hook portions 320 may be strong enough so that a potential thief can not forcibly remove magnetic key arrangement 300 from mounting plate 316. For example, hook portions 320 may include reinforced walls for increased strength.

Second key arrangement 314 includes a second blocking member or bar 324 that is constructed and arranged to traverse grooves 326 and 328 of bottom cover 318 and mounting plate 316, respectively. Grooves 326 and 328 are aligned in a linear relationship when bottom cover 318 of magnetic key arrangement 300 is slidingly engaged to mounting plate 316. When second bar 324 traverses grooves 326 and 328, bottom cover 318 is prevented from sliding out of engagement with mounting plate 316.

To move second bar 324 into a locked position in which magnetic key arrangement 300 is locked to a checkout counter, bottom cover 318 is slid into engagement with mounting plate 316. An appropriate key is then inserted into second key assembly 314 and turned. Bar 324 is then released, thereby causing the bar to extend into and traverse grooves 326 and 328. To unlock magnetic key arrangement 300 from the counter, the appropriate key is inserted into key assembly 314 and turned in a direction that moves bar 322 out of grooves 326 and 328. Magnetic key arrangement 300 may then be slid out of engagement with mounting plate 316.

The “benefit denial” feature of the present invention may be used in addition to, or in combination with, either of the key-lock or key-lock counter-mount features described hereinabove. With the benefit denial feature, if a thief tries to forcibly tamper with magnetic key arrangement 300 (e.g., by trying to remove it from a retail store checkout counter), magnetic key arrangement 300 is made to “fall apart,” rendering it useless. In some embodiments, magnetic key arrangement 300 may be manufactured such that forceful tampering with the unit will cause magnets 304 and 306 to fly together, breaking the unit and rendering it unusable. Magnetic key arrangement 300 may also be manufactured such that it can not be easily reassembled without certain assembly tools.

For security, any of the known EAS or RFID tags (e.g., an AM or RF non-deactivatable security tag) (not shown) may be mounted on mounting plate 318 or within outer casing 330 of magnetic key arrangement 300. In such an embodiment, an AM or RF detector may be placed within a retail store to detect if an unauthorized user attempts to steal magnetic key arrangement 300 or, for example, if a stolen magnetic key arrangement is brought into the store. The non-deactivatable tags may set off alarms, notifying security personnel.

In some embodiments, magnetic key arrangement 300 may be configured to communicate the locking state of lockable container 30 to a user in an audible manner, tactile manner, optical manner, visual manner, or any combination thereof. For example, magnetic key arrangement 300 may include any number of indicators or verification redundancies (e.g., audible, visual, tactile, or optical indicators, or any combination thereof) to indicate the locked or unlocked status of container 30. In one example, magnetic key arrangement 300 may include a speaker arrangement (not shown) for communicating an audible indicator to the user. In another example, magnetic key arrangement 300 may be configured to transmit a tactile indicator to the user, such as a vibration signal through the lockable container. In yet another example, magnetic key arrangement 300 may include at least one light source (e.g., LED, lamp, or any other suitable light source) for communicating an optical indicator to the user.

In some embodiments, magnetic key arrangement 300 may include an “identification, serialization, and web server with database” feature. A bar code (not shown), for example, may be placed on outer casing 330 of magnetic key arrangement 300. The bar code may show, for example, one or more of the product number or serial number, the name or ID number of the store or other authorized user, the date the product was sold, leased or the like to the authorized user, or any other suitable information. This allows stolen magnetic key arrangements to be traced through a database containing serial numbers, manufacturing information and store ID of the key arrangement distributed to retailers, replicators, or the like. The stolen magnetic key arrangement may then be traced back to the last listed authorized user.

FIGS. 20 and 21 demonstrate methods for positioning locking member 100 into the locked and unlocked positions, respectively, within container 30.

To lock container 30 by orienting locking member 100 in the locked position, side edge 97 of container 30 is positioned within channel 302 in the orientation shown in FIG. 20. Spring arm 102 is aligned with magnet 306 (FIG. 17), and spring arm 104 is aligned with magnet 304 (FIG. 17). In this position, metallic insert 174 of spring arm 102 is drawn towards magnet 306, thereby displacing locking head 170 in direction 176 (FIG. 8). At the same time, metallic insert 172 of spring arm 104 is drawn towards magnet 304, thereby displacing locking head 168 in direction 178. The movement of spring arms 102 and 104 displaces the locking surfaces of each spring arm from their respective stops. In particular, locking surface 171 of spring arm 102 is displaced from stop 96, and locking surface 169 of spring arm 104 is displaced from stop 95. This allows locking member 100 to slide freely into the locked position as described hereinabove and as shown, for example, in FIGS. 12-14. Locking member 100 may attain the locked position by the movement of container 30 in direction 348. In actuality, container 30 slides through channel 302 (FIG. 17) while locking member 100 remains stationary, held in place by magnets 304 and 306. In particular, spring arms 102 and 104 may be held in place by the respective magnetic fields created by magnets 306 and 304. After locking member 100 is moved into the locked position, locking surface 171 of spring arm 102 is located on the opposite side of stop 96, and locking surface 169 of spring arm 104 is located on the opposite side of stop 95 (see positioning shown in FIGS. 12-14). Stops 95 and 96 prevent locking member 100 from sliding in direction 190 (FIG. 12), thereby preventing locking member 100 from moving into the unlocked position.

To unlock container 30 by engaging locking member 100 in the unlocked position, side edge 97 of the container is positioned within channel 302 (FIG. 17) in the orientation shown in FIG. 21. Spring arm 102 is aligned with magnet 304, and spring arm 104 is aligned with magnet 306. In this position, metallic pin 174 of spring arm 102 is drawn towards magnet 304 such that locking head 170 is displaced in direction 178 (FIG. 8). At the same time, metallic insert 172 of spring arm 104 is drawn towards magnet 306 such that locking head 168 is displaced in direction 176. The movement of spring arms 102 and 104 displaces the locking surfaces of each spring arm from their respective stops. In particular, locking surface 171 of spring arm 102 is displaced from stop 96, and locking surface 169 of spring arm 104 is displaced from stop 95. This allows locking member 100 to slide freely into the unlocked position as described hereinabove and as shown, for example, in FIGS. 10 and 11. Locking member 100 may attain the unlocked position by the movement of container 30 in direction 350. In actuality, container 30 slides through channel 302 (FIG. 17) while locking member 100 remains stationary, held in place by magnets 304 and 306. In particular, spring arms 102 and 104 may be held in place by the respective magnetic fields created by magnets 304 and 306. After locking member 100 is moved into the unlocked position, locking surface 171 of spring arm 102 is located on the opposite side of stop 96, and locking surface 169 of spring arm 104 is located on the opposite side of stop 95 (see positioning shown in FIGS. 10 and 11). Stops 95 and 96 prevent locking member 100 from sliding in direction 192 (FIG. 10), thereby preventing locking member 100 from moving into the locked position.

As an alternative to the method of unlocking container 30 shown in FIG. 21, the container may be unlocked by reinserting the container into channel 302 in the same orientation as it was inserted to lock the container (see FIG. 20). In such a position, container 30 may be moved in direction 350 to unlock the container.

As discussed above, the recessed openings included in the covers of container 30 align with each other to form slot 3234 that passes through the closed container as shown in FIGS. 20 and 21.

Container 30 may include one or more of the security features described, for example, in Lax U.S. Pat. No. 6,561,347, incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. For example, container 30 may include overlapping walls which protect the top and bottom edges of the container from tampering. As shown in FIG. 5, first cover 32 may include walls 31 and 33, extending from the top and bottom edges thereof, and second cover 34 may include walls 35 and 37, extending from the top and bottom edges thereof. Preferably, walls 31, 33, 35, and 37 extend the entire width, or at least substantially the entire width, of container 30. When first cover 32 is closed on second cover 34, wall 35 of second cover 34 sits behind wall 31 of first cover 32, and wall 37 of second cover 34 sits behind wall 33 of first cover 32. When walls 37 and 35 of second cover 34 sit behind walls 33 and 31, respectively, of first cover 32, overlapping or double walls result that make container 30 harder to break into at the location of the double, or overlapping, walls.

FIG. 22 shows another security feature that may be used in connection with container 30 in accordance with the present invention. A portion of container 30 is shown in FIG. 22 in the closed state. Wall 33 of first cover 32 overlaps wall 37 of second cover 34. Wall 33 and wall 37 meet at a seam portion 39. In some embodiments, wall 33 extends to a length so that it meets wall 37 at a location that is at the top of, or extends into, opposite side 41 of second cover 34. Preferably, opposite walls 31 and 35 interact in the same way as walls 33 and 37. Consequently, seam portion 39 is located at the top of, or extends into, opposite side 41 of second cover 34. Such a configuration may be advantageous because seam 39 is likely covered with display material that also typically covers opposite side 41 of second cover 34. Thus, the likelihood that seam 39 will be tampered with is lessened since the seam is hidden.

FIGS. 23 and 24 show a top plan view and a perspective view, respectively, of another illustrative lockable container 400 for securing a storage medium in accordance with the present invention. In contrast with container. 30 and locking member 100 described hereinabove, container 400 has various loops that are configured to engage associated portions of locking member 500 to secure the contents of the container.

Container 400 includes a first cover 402, a second cover 404, and a spine 406 disposed therebetween. Second cover 404 may retain a storage medium (not shown). First cover 402 and second cover 404 are pivotally coupled to spine 406 to form a living hinge. The living hinge allows first and second covers 402 and 404 to be rotated toward each other so that the first and second covers can meet and couple to one another to enclose and, therefore, secure the storage medium or other asset.

First cover 402 may include two resilient document retaining members 408 and 410 which may be used to retain documents, such as a booklet related to the storage media secured within container 400. Second cover 404 may include a hub 412 to retain a storage medium. An illustrative hub is described hereinabove in connection with FIG. 6. First cover 402 includes recessed opening 4222 while second cover 404 includes recessed opening 4444. First and second covers 402 and 404 are configured to move between an open configuration and a closed configuration. When the storage medium is present in container 400 in the closed configuration, the container encloses the storage medium. Moreover, first and second recessed openings 4222 and 4444 are aligned with each other to form slot 4244 (see FIGS. 30 and 31) that passes through the container when first and second covers 402 and 404 are in the closed configuration.

FIGS. 25 and 26 show perspective views of an illustrative locking member 500 for use with container 400 in accordance with the present invention. Locking member 500 is slideably coupled to container 400 so that the locking member may be selectively slid into the locked and unlocked positions.

First and second covers 402 and 404 may include a plurality of loops that interact with locking member 500 to lock container 400 in the closed position. Locking member 500 is inserted into container 400 so that it is capable of sliding in directions 414 and 416 (see FIG. 27) into the locked and unlocked positions, respectively.

Locking member 500 may include molded spring arms 502 and 504 which, as more fully described hereinbelow, are used to prevent locking member 500 from sliding into the unlocked position when locked and into the locked position when unlocked. It should be noted that spring arms 502 and 504 may take on any other suitable arrangements so long as they meet the objectives of the present invention. For example, for locking member 500, molded spring arms 502 and 504 may be metal leaf springs (not shown) that are included as part of second cover 404 of container 400, rather than as part of locking member 500.

Locking member 500 includes locking tabs 506, 508, 510, and 512 that interlock with adjacent corresponding loops 420 and 428, 422 and 430, 424 and 432, and 426 and 434, respectively, formed in each side of container 400 to lock the container in the closed position, as described in detail hereinbelow. The locking tabs and loops function similarly to the engagement and receptacle structures of container 30 and locking member 100, described hereinabove. Loops 420, 422, 424, and 426 are disposed on second cover 404, and loops 428, 430, 432, and 434 are disposed on first cover 402, so that when container 400 is in the closed position, the loops sit in an adjacent relationship. For example, when container 400 is closed and ready to be locked, loop 420 sits adjacent to loop 428, loop 422 sits adjacent to loop 430, loop 424 sits adjacent to loop 432, and loop 426 sits adjacent to loop 434. Locking tabs 506, 508, 510, and 512 are constructed and arranged to at least partially sit within the corresponding loops when locking member 500 is in the unlocked position, as shown in FIGS. 27 and 28. This allows the locking tabs of locking member 500 to more easily slide into engagement with the loops of container 400 when the container is in the closed position.

Locking member 500 may be inserted into container 400 by, for example, snapping the member into the container. In some embodiments, locking member 500 includes a shoulder portion 520 that snap fits with, and sits under, tab portion 439 of container 400 (FIGS. 23 and 24). Shoulder portion 520 may maintain locking member 500 securely within container 400, even when the locking member slides between the locked and unlocked positions.

In one example, the available working distance from the inside edge of container 400 to a booklet inserted in the container may be approximately 7.5 mm. In such an example, locking member 500 may occupy about 5 mm of the available space.

Locking member 500 is designed to be used with an external magnetic key arrangement, such as magnetic key arrangement 600 of FIGS. 30 and 31, to respectively lock and unlock container 400. In particular, magnetic key arrangement 600 selectively positions internal locking member 500 into either the locked position or the unlocked position. For this purpose, internal locking member 500 includes magnetically attractable portions formed therein for magnetically coupling to at least one magnet arrangement of the magnetic key arrangement 600. For example, metallic inserts 520 and 522 may be respectively inserted at opposite ends of locking member 500, and metallic inserts 524 and 526 may be respectively inserted into spring arms 502 and 504.

As shown in FIGS. 28-31, when container 400 is used to secure an asset, first cover 402 is pivoted toward second cover 404. The loops in first and second covers 402 and 404 (i.e., loops 420, 422, 424, 426, 428, 430, 432, and 434) then fall into the adjacent relationship described hereinabove, and shown in FIG. 26. In the position shown in FIG. 28, container 400 is ready to be locked by interlocking locking tabs 506, 508, 510, and 512 with loops 420-432. In particular, container 400 may be inserted into channel 602 of magnetic key arrangement 600, as shown in FIG. 30. Locking member 500 interacts with magnets 604, 606, and 608 embedded in magnetic key arrangement 600. In particular, magnet 608 aligns with spring arm 502 and magnets 604 and 606 line up with insert 522. Magnet 608 pulls spring arm 502 in direction 530 (FIG. 25) so that spring arm 502 is no longer in abutting relationship with stop 440. This allows locking member 500 to slide in direction 414 (FIG. 27).

Locking member 500 locks container 400 in the closed position because, as a result of the sliding action, locking tab 506 interlocks with loops 420 and 428, locking tab 508 interlocks with loops 422 and 430, locking tab 510 interlocks with loops 424 and 432, and locking tab 512 interlocks with loops 426 and 434. This locked positioning of locking member 500 is shown in FIG. 29. Once locked, locking member 500 is prevented from moving in direction 416 because, as a result of the sliding action, spring arm 502 abuts against stop 440.

It should be noted that that any number or combination of magnets may be used to allow locking member 500 to slide in directions 414 and 416. For example, one or more magnets may be located at the end of the magnetic key arrangement, rather than at the sides as shown in FIGS. 30 and 31. With this configuration, the placement of the magnets will pull on locking member 500, thereby causing the locking member to slide in direction 416.

Referring to FIGS. 29 and 31, to unlock container 400, the container may be rotated by 180 degrees and inserted into channel 602 of magnetic key arrangement 600. (It should be noted that locking member 500 may alternatively be used along with a magnetic key arrangement such as arrangement 300 (FIG. 17), having a channel that extends the entire length of the key arrangement.) The process to unlock the container 400 is substantially the reverse of the process described hereinabove. Locking member 500 interacts with magnets 604, 606, and 608 embedded in magnetic key arrangement 600, as shown in FIG. 31. Magnet 608 aligns with spring arm 504, and magnets 604 and 606 align with insert 520. Magnet 606 pulls spring arm 504 in direction 530 (FIG. 25) so that spring arm 504 no longer abuts stop 442. This allows the locking bar to slide in direction 416. Magnets 604 and 606 cause locking member 500 to slide in direction 416 as explained hereinabove (i.e., by pulling insert 520 into the center of the magnetic field created by magnets 604 and 606). Consequently, locking member 500 moves into the unlocked position because, as a result of the sliding action, locking tab 506 is moved out of interlocking relationship with loops 420 and 428, locking tab 508 is moved out of interlocking relationship with loops 422 and 430, locking tab 510 is moved out of interlocking relationship with loops 424 and 432, and locking tab 512 is moved out of interlocking relationship with loops 426 and 434. Once unlocked, locking member 504 is prevented from moving in direction 414 because, as a result of the sliding action, spring arm 504 now abuts stop 442. Stop 442 also helps to maintain locking member 500 of container 400 in the unlocked position during shipping.

It has been found that the three-magnet magnetic key arrangement (e.g., magnetic key arrangement 600) is particularly secure because it makes it extremely hard for a thief to manipulate the magnets to unlock the container. It should be noted, however, that even though the magnetic key arrangement of the present invention shows three magnets that work with four magnetically attractable portions, the number of magnets, magnetically attractable portions, and combinations thereof may be increased to make security more efficient or decreased for efficiency or ease of manufacture. Moreover, for increased security, the magnets may be non-commercial magnets that are not readily available, and may be of different sizes, making them even more difficult to manipulate. Moreover, the magnetic key arrangement may include steel inserts on opposite edges or may be a saturated bias-type permanent magnet.

Inserts 520, 522, 524, and 526 and the corresponding magnets 604, 606, and 608 result in seven variables that may be changed to create different lock and key combinations akin to changing the cylinder of a door lock. For example, one or more of inserts 520, 522, 524, and 526 may be constructed from a metallic or semi-metallic material, or may have a varying diameter or shape. By varying one or both of the size and material of the inserts, a corresponding magnetic key arrangement requires magnetic assemblies of varying characteristics to unlock container 400. For example, if inserts 520 and 522 were constructed with small diameters, and inserts 524 and 526 were constructed with large diameters, larger decoupling magnets would be required to magnetically couple with inserts 520 and 522, whereas a relatively small decoupling magnet would magnetically couple with inserts 524 and 526.

Similarly, magnets 604, 606, and 608 may be varied in material, size, shape, and any combination thereof. For example, magnets 604, 606, and 608 may be constructed of ferrite or semi-ferrite materials to work with a particular locking member 500 having inserts 520, 522, 524, and 526 specifically designed to work with magnets 604, 606, and 608.

In one example, the force needed to lock or unlock container 400 may be small. For example, magnets 604 and 606 of magnetic key arrangement 600 may pull about a 0.6 inch stroke. The magnets may be, for example, 2 inches in diameter, 1.5 inches thick, and NEO 42.

In practice, when locked, container 400 may be displayed in a live retail or rental environment. Moreover, since locking member 500 is completely located inside container 400, it can not be accessed or tampered with by a consumer. At a checkout counter, container 400 is positioned in magnetic key arrangement 600 to unlock the container, and the consumer goes home with the entire container—nothing is removed. As a result, no separate locking device is generated that needs to be stored, reused, recycled, or discarded by the retailer or rental establishment.

As described hereinabove in connection with container 30, container 400 may be provided with at least one status window, for indicating the locked or unlocked status of the lockable container. As shown in FIG. 24, first and second covers 402 and 404 may include respective cut-outs 460 and 462 that, when combined upon closure of container 400, form a status window (not shown) indicating the locked or unlocked status of the container. In some embodiments, the status window may allow a user to view at least of portion of locking member 500.

As shown in FIG. 26, a status portion 540 on the face of locking member 500 may include locked and unlocked status information placed thereon by any of the known methods. In this way, when locking member 500 is slid between the locked and unlocked positions, the appropriate status information and consequently the status of container 400 appears through the status window for a user to read. For example, status portion 540 may show nothing (e.g., if container 400 is never locked), a green color if unlocked, a red color if locked, or any other suitable information. In one example, color indicators may be pad printed on locking member 500, or placed thereon with stickers or the like. Thus, when locking member 500 is slid into the locked position, a colored portion (e.g., a red portion) shows through the status window, and when slid into the unlocked position, another colored portion (e.g., a green portion) shows through the status window.

In the embodiments described hereinabove, the magnetic key arrangements 300 and 600 are single units. In such embodiments, a user locks and unlocks containers 30 and 400 by properly orienting the container in the corresponding magnetic key arrangement. Alternatively, the magnetic key arrangement may be broken down into two different units. One unit may act as a coupler, and the other unit may act as a decoupler. Preferably, the coupler and decoupler are constructed and arranged so that the coupler acts as a decoupler, but not the other way around. For example, the container and the magnetic key arrangement may be “keyed” so that the decoupler can not act as a coupler. This prevents a clerk from accidentally locking a container, rendering the purchaser unable to open the container when he or she gets home. Preferably, to key the container and the decoupler, the container may include raised stops located at the bottom of the container (not shown). The decoupler may include a thin throat or track (not shown). Thus, if a clerk tries to insert the bottom of the container having the stops into the thin throat, the container will not fit. In other words, the clerk can only put the container into the decoupler in one orientation, and therefore is only able to unlock the container. Similarly, the coupler may have a wider throat which is wide enough to accommodate the bottom of the container and the stops when attempting to lock the container (not shown). Since the throat of the coupler is wider than the throat of the decoupler, the coupler also functions as decoupler.

In some embodiments, there may be two versions of magnetic key arrangement. One may be a more robust decoupler with four mounts, RFID or EAS security tags or the like, and is leased. Preferably, the security tag is either an RF or AM (acousto-magnetic) non-deactivatable tag. The other version may be a lower cost decoupler that retailers can purchase.

Preferably, distribution of the separate coupler and decoupler is controlled for security reasons. The coupler may, for example, only be given to replicators (e.g., those persons who package the container for retail sale). The decoupler may only be given to the point-of-sale retailer (e.g., checkout counters).

FIG. 32 is a perspective view of yet another illustrative lockable container 700 for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention. The corresponding locking member for lockable container 700 is shown in FIGS. 33 and 35. An assembly of lockable container 700 and locking member 800 is shown in FIG. 35. Lockable container 700 and locking member 800 are substantially similar to lockable container 30 and locking member 100, described in detail hereinabove.

In particular, locking member 800 has a plurality of double engagement portions (i.e., portions 808-813) that are configured to engage associated tabs of second cover 704 of container 700. Double engagement portions 806 and 807 are configured to engage tabs 720 and 722, respectively; double engagement portions 808 and 809 are configured to engage tabs 724 and 726, respectively; double engagement portions 810 and 811 are configured to engage tabs 728 and 730, respectively; and double engagement portions 812 and 813 are configured to engage tabs 732 and 734, respectively. Moreover, container 700 has slot 790 that traverses the container for hanging on a merchandising rack. Slot 790 is formed by recessed opening 792 on first cover 702 and recessed opening 794 on second cover 704.

A difference between container 700 and container 30 is that container 700 is sized and designed to accommodate an asset such as, for example, razor blades. For example, as shown in FIG. 35, container 700 may include portions 706 and 708 for retaining razor blade cartridges. Additionally, container 700 may include a hole 710 for use in hanging container 700 in a retail establishment (e.g., a drug store).

Still another illustrative lockable container 900 for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIGS. 36-39. Container 900 may use a locking member 950 (FIG. 38) that is substantially similar to locking member 800 of FIGS. 31 and 33. Container 900 may be used, for example, to secure a plurality of tablets therein, as demonstrated by roll 910 (FIG. 37). Roll 910 may be secured within first cover 902 and second cover 904 of container 900. Locking member 950 may reside within portion 908 of container 900, formed by first and second covers 902 and 904. By interacting with a suitable magnetic key arrangement, lid retention portion 952 of locking member 950 disengages lid portion 906. This allows lid portion 906 to open slightly such that roll 910 may be pulled through opening 912 of container 900. Thus, one or more tablets from roll 910 may be dispensed through opening 912. To lock container 900 such that tablets may no longer be dispensed through opening 912, the container may interact with a suitable magnetic key arrangement. Container 900 may include slot 990 that traverses the container for hanging on a merchandising rack.

Yet another illustrative lockable container 1000 for securing an asset in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIGS. 40-43. Container 1000 may use a locking member 1050 that is substantially similar to locking member 800 of FIGS. 31 and 33. Container 1000 may be used, for example, to secure a plurality of tablets within receptacle 1002. Locking member 1050 may reside within portion 1008 of container 1000, formed by receptacle 1002. By interacting with a suitable magnetic key arrangement, lid retention portion 1052 of locking member 1050 disengages lid portion 1006. This allows lid portion 1006 to open such that tablets may be accessed through opening 1012 of container 1000. Thus, one or more tablets may be dispensed through opening 1012. To lock container 1000 such that tablets may no longer be dispensed through opening 1012, the container may interact with a suitable magnetic key arrangement. Container 1000 may include slot 1090 formed by aligning openings within recesses in receptacle 1002.

Accordingly, various embodiments of a lockable stand-alone container having a slot and an integral locking mechanism are provided. The container is advantageous because it can be hung and displayed on a merchandising rack through the slot. The container can accomodate various types of assets. Moreover, it is very difficult to penetrate the container because of the integral locking mechanism which preferably extends along the length of the container, the additional firmness obtained from the walls and the fact that the recessed slot is located within the container. The container may be used in applications requiring the container to be locked. If the container needs to be used in applications where the container is not required to be locked, the lock is simply not activated. The container and key arrangement are easy to use and do not require the administration of any additional parts such as external locks. The container is therefore environmentally friendly and is no additional cost to the consumer or retailer, and only minimally more for the manufacturer and replicator. Some adjustments may be required at the molder/replicator, which-may cost up to $0.04 per piece. Savings on the security sticker edge labels, which may no longer be needed, may offset this. The container is not bulky as it does not require additional casings, layers or sleeves and can be sized to substantially correspond to the size of the asset contained therein. Revenue from every piece may be generated through royalties.

In practice, when a container is molded and the locking member inserted therein, the container is not locked (i.e., the locking member is not in the closed position). The container may be locked anytime thereafter. When the container needs to be locked, the container may be put in the presence of a magnetic key arrangement and locked after replication (e.g., after packaged with a disc, booklet, etc.) by, for example, a replicator. The container may then be hung on a merchandising rack through the provided slot.

It will be understood that the foregoing is only illustrative of the principles of the invention, and that still other modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. For example, any of the features described hereinabove in connection with illustrative lockable containers, illustrative openings, illustrative slots, illustrative locking members and illustrative magnetic key arrangements may be present in any of the embodiments of the present invention described herein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8094028 *Dec 23, 2008Jan 10, 2012Mckesson Automation, Inc.Radio frequency alignment object, carriage and associated method of storing a product associated therewith
US8424703 *May 1, 2009Apr 23, 2013Brooks Automation, Inc.Substrate container sealing via movable magnets
US20090272743 *Nov 5, 2009Meulen Peter Van DerSubstrate container sealing via movable magnets
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/470, 206/1.5, 206/308.1, 206/308.2
International ClassificationB65D85/30, B65D73/00, A45C13/10
Cooperative ClassificationA45C11/00, A45C2011/001, A45C13/18
European ClassificationA45C13/18, A45C11/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 14, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: AUTRONIC PLASTICS, INC., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LAX, MICHAEL R.;REEL/FRAME:017116/0397
Effective date: 20051209