Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20070205640 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/365,347
Publication dateSep 6, 2007
Filing dateFeb 28, 2006
Priority dateFeb 28, 2006
Publication number11365347, 365347, US 2007/0205640 A1, US 2007/205640 A1, US 20070205640 A1, US 20070205640A1, US 2007205640 A1, US 2007205640A1, US-A1-20070205640, US-A1-2007205640, US2007/0205640A1, US2007/205640A1, US20070205640 A1, US20070205640A1, US2007205640 A1, US2007205640A1
InventorsPhilip Pecorino
Original AssigneePecorino Philip A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Portable food holder for stadium seating
US 20070205640 A1
Abstract
A portable folding tray and carrying case, wherein the folding tray may be supported from the upright back portion of a first seat and the carrying case can form seat cushions for a second seat located behind the first seat. The folding tray includes a back panel hinged to a tray panel so that they can be pivoted between a tray-open configuration in which the tray panel is horizontal so as to be suitable for supporting various articles, including food and drink. In a tray-closed configuration, in which the back and tray portions are pivoted next to each other, the tray is easy to transport between the cushions of the carrying case. The two cushioned panels of the carrying case are pivotally connected to one another and in an open configuration the panels are adapted to be placed on the second seat as a cushion.
Images(7)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(19)
1. A portable folding tray, comprising:
a back panel;
a tray panel having an opening extending through the tray panel,
a hinge device pivotally connecting the tray panel to the back panel, said hinge device allowing the tray panel to be pivoted between a tray-open configuration with the tray panel substantially horizontal, and a tray-closed configuration with the tray panel along side the back panel;
a flexible member connected to the tray panel, the flexible member being extendable to form a cavity that is accessible through the opening for receiving an article passed through the opening, the flexible member being collapsible; and
a connector for removably attaching the folding tray to an upright back portion of a seat so that the folding tray is supported thereon.
2. The folding tray of claim 1, wherein the connector includes two hook members connected to the back panel for engaging an edge portion of the upright back portion of the seat.
3. The folding tray of claim 1, wherein the back panel further includes a storage pocket.
4. The folding tray of claim 3, wherein the storage pocket further includes flexible sidewalls for permitting the volume occupied by the storage pocket to be varied.
5. The folding tray of claim 3, wherein the storage pocket further includes a zipper for closing the storage pocket.
6. A portable folding tray and carrying case, comprising:
a folding tray, that includes:
a back panel;
a tray panel pivotally connected to the back panel so that the tray panel may be pivoted between a tray-open configuration with the tray panel substantially horizontal, and a tray-closed configuration with the tray panel along side the back panel;
a connector for removably attaching the folding tray to an upright back portion of a first seat so that the folding tray is supported; and
a carrying case which receives the folding tray when not in use, that includes:
two cushioned case panels pivotally connected to one another so that the case panels may be pivoted between a closed configuration, wherein the two case panels are substantially parallel to each other and the folding tray in the tray-closed configuration can be interposed between the two case panels, and an open configuration, wherein the case panels are adapted to be disposed as bottom and back cushions on a second seat.
7. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 6, wherein:
the tray panel has an opening extending through the tray panel; and
a flexible member connected to the tray panel, the flexible member being extendable to form a cavity that is accessible through the opening for receiving an article passed through the opening, the flexible member being collapsible.
8. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 6, wherein the connector includes two hook members attached to the back panel and adapted to engage an edge portion of the upright back portion of the seat.
9. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 6, wherein the back panel of the folding tray further includes a storage pocket.
10. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 9, wherein the storage pocket further includes collapsible sidewalls for permitting the volume occupied by the storage pocket to be varied.
11. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 6, further comprising:
a first handle connected to one of the two cushioned panels of the carrying case.
12. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 11, further comprising:
a second handle connected to the folding tray, the first and second handles being aligned with each other while the folding tray is interposed between the two cushioned case panels of the carrying case.
13. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 12, further comprising:
a third handle connected to the other of the two cushioned panels of the carrying case, wherein the first, second, and third handles are aligned with each other while the folding tray is interposed between the two padded panels of the carrying case.
14. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 13, further comprising:
a fourth handle connected to the folding tray, wherein the first, second, third, and fourth handles are aligned with each other while the folding tray is interposed between the two padded panels of the carrying case.
15. The folding tray and carrying case of claim 6, wherein the connector is further adapted to engage the carrying case.
16. A portable folding tray, comprising:
a back panel;
a tray panel pivotally connected to the back panel so that the tray panel may be pivoted between a tray-open configuration with the tray panel substantially horizontal, and a tray-closed configuration with the tray panel along side the back panel;
a cord having two ends, one end being connected to the tray panel;
a channel through which the cord is disposed, said channel imparting a force on the cord such that the cord can be translated through the channel, said force being sufficient to maintain the tray panel in the tray-closed configuration; and
a connector for removably attaching the folding tray to an upright back portion of a seat so that the folding tray is supported thereon.
17. The folding tray of claim 16, further comprising:
a handle connected to the end of the cord not connected to the tray panel.
18. The folding tray of claim 16, further comprising:
a stopper connected to the cord, the stopper being sized to prevent the cord from passing through the channel.
19. A portable folding tray, comprising:
a back panel;
a tray panel having an opening extending through the tray panel,
a shutter device supported by the tray panel, said shutter device being moveable to open and close said opening;
a hinge device pivotally connecting the tray panel to the back panel, said hinge device allowing the tray panel to be pivoted between a tray-open configuration with the tray panel substantially horizontal, and a tray-closed configuration with the tray panel along side the back panel; and
a connector for removably attaching the folding tray to an upright back portion of a seat so that the folding tray is supported thereon.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to food holders and seats for use in stadiums and, more particularly, to a folding tray, and a combination folding tray and seat cushion that are collapsible and portable.
  • [0003]
    2. Discussion of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Often in large performance venues such as theaters, sports arenas, and stadiums, spectators are provided with stadium style seating, which consists of multiple rows of seats fixed in place. It is common for these seats to lack basic amenities such as cup holders for beverages, supported surfaces for holding food, storage areas for personal belongings, or cushioning for the seats. This creates an inconvenience for spectators who wish to watch the featured performance as well as enjoy food, beverages, and a comfortable seat. The lack of amenities causes spectators to juggle their food, beverages, and personal belongings between their hands, lap, and the stadium floor.
  • [0005]
    A variety of portable trays have been used to help spectators to manage these items. These trays have been of various types, including lap trays and seatback mounted folding trays. In addition, portable seat cushions have be used to provide a more comfortable seating surface.
  • [0006]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,466,659 of Carpentier et al. discloses a portable folding tray that is mounted to the back of a seat using a pair of hooks that engage the sides of the seat and a strap system that can be tightened in order to impart an engagement force to the hooks. The tray provides a horizontal flat surface for placing food and beverages on top of it. The tray also features an upright back surface which includes storage pockets. The horizontal flat surface can be pivoted against the back surface so that the tray can be folded into a stowed position.
  • [0007]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,597,605 of Gilbert discloses a portable seat cushion with a storage pocket that can be used in conjunction with a portable folding seat. The portable cushion features a seat cushion and a back cushion that are joined together with a fabric hinge. In the open position of the portable seat, the seat cushion is placed horizontally on top of the seat bottom and the back cushion is fixed vertically against the seat back. The storage pocket is attached to the vertical back cushion by a pair of elastic straps so as to form a sleeve which is used to removably fix the seat cushion to the seat by interposing the seatback between the vertical cushion and the storage pocket. The storage pocket resides on the back side of the seat on which the seat cushion is placed.
  • [0008]
    U.S. Pat. No. 5,480,058 of Hutchins, No. 5,413,035 of Fernandez, and No. 6,290,063 of Vogt et al. show trays with rigid recessed cavities for holding food and/or beverages. Other patents, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,288 of Raffensperger, show various other types of combinations of seat cushions and storage devices.
  • [0009]
    The portable trays of the prior art can be used to hold food and beverages. However, without sufficiently deep recessed cavities for holding food and drink containers, the food and drink containers may tip over and spill their contents. The prior art trays with rigged recessed cavities are either too shallow to adequately secure food and beverages, or are so deep and rigid as to hinder compact storage of the tray. Further, these trays are not featured in combination with a seat cushion.
  • [0010]
    The combination seat cushion and storage devices of the prior art can be used to provide cushioning to seats and storage for personal items. However, these combination seat cushions and storage devices do not provide a folding tray'that can be removably attached to the back of a seat located conveniently in front of the seat on which the cushion is placed.
  • [0011]
    Thus, it would be desirable to have a portable folding tray with a flexible, collapsible recessed cavity extending from a tray and which can adequately hold food and beverages without impairing the ability of the tray to be compactly folded for storage. It would further be desirable to provide a combination folding tray and carrying case where the case can also function as a seat cushion.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    The present invention is directed to a device that permits the storage of food and beverages by providing a portable folding tray that can be removably attached to the back of a seat and can be featured in combination with a carrying case that can also function as a seat cushion.
  • [0013]
    In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, a folding tray is removably attached to the back of a seat. The folding tray includes a back surface and a food surface that is pivotally attached to the back surface. The folding tray can be removably attached to the back of a seat using hooks or suction cups.
  • [0014]
    In an unfolded position the tray pivots against a stop so that it is held in a horizontal position. This horizontal tray provides a food surface for holding food and beverages. The food surface may have openings in it that lead to netted cavities that can hold food, e.g., drinks or popcorn. Because the cavities are made of netting, they can easily collapse to form a compact package. The back surface of the tray can include various flexible pockets, hooks, or clips for various items, such as pens, scorecards, brochures, refuse, bags, umbrellas or the like. The flexible pockets also allow the device to be collapsed into a compact package.
  • [0015]
    The folding tray can be placed in a folded position in which the food surface is pivoted against the back. Placing the tray in a folded position facilitates easy transportation of the device. The tray can also be placed in a folded position while it is attached to the back of a seat in order to provide an unobstructed path along the stadium seating aisle so that others in the stadium may walk past the user and tray. The folding tray can include handles that would aid in transportation.
  • [0016]
    The folding tray may also be featured in combination with a carrying case that includes two cushioned panels hinged to each other and disposed about the folding tray. The cushioned panels of the carrying case provide a protective enclosure and a means for securing the folding tray during transportation. The hinge that connects the panels may be a flexible hinge, such as a pair of fabric straps, which allow the panels to be pivoted against each other in order to place the carrying case in an open or closed position. The cushioned panels of the carrying case can function as a seat cushion and a back cushion. While the case is not being used to enclose the folding tray, the case can be placed in the open position and located on a seat. One panel of the case may be placed on the back portion of the seat and the other panel may be placed on the bottom portion of the seat in order to provide cushioning for the seat.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    The foregoing and other features of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the following detailed description and drawings of an illustrative embodiment of the invention in which:
  • [0018]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the folding tray enclosed within the carrying case in a closed configuration;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 2 is a side view of the folding tray enclosed within the carrying case in a closed configuration;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the folding tray and carrying case in semi-open configurations;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the carrying case in an open configuration and positioned on a seat as back and seat cushions;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the folding tray in an open configuration and positioned on a seat back;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 6(A) is an enlarged section view taken along line 6A-6A in FIG. 5;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 6(B) is an enlarged section view taken along line 6B-6B in FIG. 5;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 7 is an partial perspective view of the folding tray in a semi-open configuration with a tray transitioning device;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 8 is a side view of the folding tray in an open configuration with a tray transitioning device;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 9 is an enlarged partial top view of the folding tray with a breakaway in the tray panel exposing a shutter;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 10(A) is an enlarged section view taken along line 10-10 in FIG. 9 with the shutter in an open position; and
  • [0029]
    FIG. 10(B) is an enlarged section view taken along line 10-10 in FIG. 9 with the shutter in a closed position.
  • DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • [0030]
    FIG. 1 shows a combination 11 of a folding tray 13 and a carrying case 12 in accordance with the present invention. The folding tray 12 is shown in a tray-closed, stowed configuration and is enclosed within the carrying case 13. The carrying case 13 includes two case panels 14, 15. Each case panel 14, 15 is in the form of a cushion with means for providing padding, such as urethane foam, memory foam, stuffing or the like. The case panels 14, 15 can include an outer covering such as fabric, flexible plastic sheet, or other suitable material. Preferably the outer covering is waterproof.
  • [0031]
    Panels 14 and 15 are pivotally connected to each other by two flexible hinges 16, 17. The flexible hinges 16, 17 can be made from fabric, rubber, plastic, or other suitable material. Hinges 16, 17 are so dimension as to allow the carrying case 13 to receive the folding tray 12 when the folding tray 12 is in a tray-closed configuration and the folding tray 12 is interposed between the approximately parallel panels 14 and 15 of the carrying case 13 as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2. Enclosing the folding tray 12 in the carrying case 13 facilitates the carrying of the combination. Hinges 16, 17 also allows the folding tray to be removed and the carrying case 13 to be placed in an open configuration with panel 14 approximately perpendicular to panel 15 as depicted in FIG. 4, which is suitable for functioning as cushion for the back and bottom of a seat. In addition, the flexible hinges 16, 17 permit one panel to be rotated nearly 360 degrees relative to the second, allowing the carrying case to be foldable in either direction. If the panels are made in one color on one side and another color on the other side, the bottom and back cushions will have two different colors in use, depending on which way they are folded. For example, each side may be decorated with the colors and logo of two local teams, and depending on which team is playing, it can be folded to expose the colors and logo of that team. This could save in manufacturing costs, since one combination can be sold to fans of two different teams.
  • [0032]
    Respective handles 18, 19 are provided on each panel 14, 15 and are located on an end of the panel opposite the hinges 16, 17. Alternatively, hinges 16, 17 may be replaced by a single hinge or any number of hinges.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 3 shows an exploded view of the combination 11 of the carrying case 13 and the folding tray 12 in a semi-open configuration. It can be seen that the tray can lie loosely between the panels. However, if desired, a hook (e.g., hooks 22, 23 of FIGS. 2 and 3) or Velcro material or some releasable adhesive may be used to more firmly attach the tray and case when they are combined.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 4 shows the carrying case 13 in an open configuration. The carrying case 13 is shown with cushion panel 15 positioned on the bottom portion of a seat 40. Case cushion panel 14 provides padding for the back portion of the seat. However, they can easily be reversed. In the case where the bottom portion of seat 40 can pivot between the horizontal and the vertical position, the flexible hinges 16, 17 allow the carrying case 13 to move with the seat. Alternatively, extra cushioning could be provided to the bottom portion of a seat by placing carrying case 13 in a closed configuration and positioning both panel 14 and 15 on top of the bottom portion of the seat.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 5 shows folding tray 12 in a tray-open, food-holding configuration on the back of a seat 41. The folding tray 12 includes a back panel 24 and a tray panel 25. Two hinges 26, 27 pivotally connect the back panel 24 to the tray panel 25 and are positioned so that the tray panel can be pivoted against the back panel in order to permit the tray panel to transition between a tray-open, food-holding configuration with the tray panel approximately perpendicular to the back panel as depicted in FIG. 5, to a tray-closed, stowed configuration with the tray panel along side the back panel as depicted in FIG. 2 and in phantom lines in FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B). FIG. 3 shows the tray panel 25 in a transitional state between the tray-open and tray-closed configurations.
  • [0036]
    The folding tray 12 also features a means for limiting the pivoting of the tray panel 25. Hinges 26, 27 are designed to restrict the pivoting of the tray panel 25 so that when the tray panel 25 is pivoted from a tray-closed configuration to a tray-open configuration, further pivoting is restricted, so that the tray stays in a relatively horizontal position. Thus, the tray panel 25 can be maintained in the tray-open configuration and is capable of supporting various articles, including food and beverages. Hinges that are limited to a particular range of motion, for example 90 degrees, are known in the art and a variety of styles are available. One example of such a hinge is Trunk Stop Hinge, Item #02003528 available from Van Dyke Supply Co., Inc., Woonsocket, S. Dak. Alternatively, the tray panel 25 could be maintained in the open configuration by use of a bracket or block positioned underneath the tray panel, strings of a predetermined length connecting the tray panel to the back panel, or various other means to limit pivoting of the tray panel.
  • [0037]
    Hinges 26, 27 allow the tray panel 25 to be pivoted into the tray-closed, stowed configuration in order to permit easy transportation of the folding tray 12, as well as to provide an unobstructed path along the stadium seating aisle. Alternatively, hinges 26, 27 may be replaced by a single hinge or any number of hinges or connections that would allow the tray panel 25 to be pivoted against the back panel 24. Additionally, depending of the design of the particular hinge used, it may be desirable to interpose spacers between the hinges 26, 27 and the back panel 24 in order to enhance the ability of the tray panel 25 to be compactly placed along side the back panel 24 when the tray panel 25 is in the tray-closed position.
  • [0038]
    In the open, food-holding configuration as shown in FIG. 5, the tray panel 25 provides a top horizontal surface to support various articles and items, including food and drinks. The tray panel 25 features openings 28, 29 which can be used to hold articles such as beverages or popcorn as shown in FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B). The openings 28, 29 can be featured with a gripping member 31 that can assist in holding articles placed into the openings as shown in FIG. 6(A). Gripping member 31 can be raised relative to the top surface of tray panel 25, thus creating a raised lip which could prevent items from inadvertently falling into openings 28, 29. The gripping member 31 may be formed integral with the tray panel 25 or be a rubber grommet, plastic ring or the like. The gripping member may also help to wedge a beverage container within the openings 28,29.
  • [0039]
    Additionally, openings 28, 29 can be enclosed by a flexible member, such as netting 30, to form an open cavity as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6(B). The netting 30 is designed to be collapsible, allowing the volume occupied by the enclosure to be reduced, thus reducing the entire volume occupied by the folding tray 12 when it is closed, resulting in a more compact design that is also easier to transport. FIG. 3 shows the netting 30 in a partially collapsed state. In an expanded state, the netting provides a cavity for receiving articles placed into the openings in the tray panel as shown in FIG. 6(B). The flexible member may also be made from fabric, mesh, flexible plastics, or other suitable materials. Support members 32 can be used to maintain a desired shape of the netting 30. The support members 32 may be disposed at the based of the netting 30 opposite the openings 28, 29 so that when the netting 30 is expanded from a collapsed state, a desired shaped of the enclosure is maintained. The support members may be of various shapes, including rings or disks, and can be made of flexible or rigid materials such as rubber or plastic. Openings 28, 29 can be featured with any combination of gripping members and/or flexible members forming cavities.
  • [0040]
    The back panel 24, as shown in FIG. 5, features connectors or attachment members 22, 23 that can be used to removably attach the folding tray 12 to the back of seat 41. Attachment members 22, 23 can engage a support structure such as the edge portion of the upright back portion of seat 41 to support the folding tray 12 in an upright position as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6(B). Additionally, when the folding tray 12 is enclosed in the carrying case 13, the attachment members 22, 23 are capable of engaging a panel of the carrying case as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, thus increasing the ability of carrying case 13 to securely enclose and protect folding tray 12 during transport, and to reduce any tendency of the tray to slide in the case during transport. The back panel 24 may feature any number of attachment members. Attachment members may include hooks, suction cups, straps, clips, magnets (e.g. wherein the support structure is metal), a sleeve in which the back of the support seat is interposed, non-permanent adhesives (such as removable double-sided tape), or any other suitable means or combination thereof for removably attaching the folding tray to the back of a seat. In the case where the attachment members extend onto the front of the seat on which the folding tray is attached, for example as shown by clip 23 in FIG. 6(A), the attachment members can be partially or fully enclosed in padding material, thus reducing any discomfort to the occupant of the seat on which the folding tray is attached.
  • [0041]
    Back panel 24 may also feature storage pockets 33 as shown in FIG. 5. The pockets 33 are designed to be collapsible, thus allowing the volume occupied by the folding tray to be reduced, resulting in a more compact design that is also easier to transport. If the pockets 33 are made of flexible or elastic material, they can be further expanded in order to provide an enclosure for holding various items (e.g. pens, scorecards, programs, refuse, bags, cameras, umbrellas or the like). The pockets 33 may be made from fabric, mesh, flexible plastics, or other suitable materials. The pocket can consist of a piece of material that is attached to the back panel 24 of the folding tray 12 on three sides, thus leaving one side, preferably the top side, unattached and open to receive items for storage. Alternatively, the pocket may consist of a rigid front panel and elastic, flexible and collapsible sidewalls wherein the sidewalls are attached to the back panel 24 of the folding tray 12. The addition of the sidewalls permit the pocket to expand to a greater volume, thus allowing the pocket to store more items without significantly increasing the volume occupied by the pocket while in the collapsed, closed configuration. Pockets 33 may also be sealable featuring a zipper 39 as shown in FIG. 3, or snaps, flaps or the like, thus protecting the items inside (e.g. from rain) and preventing then them from falling out (e.g. during transportation).
  • [0042]
    Back panel 24 may also feature a pair of handles 20, 21. The handles 20, 21 may be located along the top of the back panel as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5. As shown in FIG. 6(A), one handle 20 may be located on a first surface of back panel 24 and a second handle 21 may be located on a second surface opposite the first. However, they may also be located on one surface or only one handle may be used. Handles 20, 21 are preferably aligned with each other. When folding tray 12 is combined with carrying case 13, handles 20, 21 are further preferably aligned with handles 18 and 19 of the carrying case 13 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The alignment of handles 20, 21 and 18, 19 would permit handles 20, 21 and 18, 19 to be gripped simultaneously, thus creating a common support point for folding tray 12 and carrying case 13, resulting in an increased ability to carry the combination so that the case 13 securely encloses and protects the folding tray 12. Further, the alignment of handles 20, 21 and 18, 19 would permit the user to transport the combination folding tray and carrying case with a single hand. While useful to have the four handles 18-21, it is still possible to carry out the goals of the invention if only one handle is used.
  • [0043]
    Preferably, when the folding tray 12 is used in combination with the carrying case 13, the seat on which the folding tray 12 is attached is located in front of the seat on which the carrying case 13 is disposed. This arrangement would allow a person who is sitting on the seat with the carrying case 13 to also be able to use the folding tray 12.
  • [0044]
    As an alternative embodiment, folding tray 12 may include a tray panel transitioning device 34 for quickly transitioning tray panel 25 from the tray-open configuration to the tray-closed configuration and maintaining tray panel 25 in the tray-closed configuration. As show in FIGS. 7 and 8, one end of a cord 35 is connected to the tray panel 25. The cord 35 is disposed through a channel 36 which is connected to the back panel 24. The other end of the cord 35 may have a handle 37. The channel 36 imparts a force (e.g. a friction force) onto cord 35 such that the cord may be pulled through the channel 36 without significant difficulty, but the force is sufficient enough to maintain the tray panel 25 in the tray-closed configuration. Thus, the tray panel 25 can be transitioned from a tray-open configuration to a tray-closed configuration by pulling on the end of cord 35 that is not attached to the tray panel such that cord 35 passes through channel 36.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 7 shows tray panel 25 in a semi-closed position with a portion of cord 35 pulled through channel 36. Once the tray panel 25 is in the tray-closed configuration it is maintained there by the force imparted by channel 36 onto cord 35. While the tray panel is in the tray-closed configuration, the moment force around the pivot point, i.e. hinges 26, 27, is reduced, and thus, the force needed to maintain the tray panel 25 in a tray-closed configuration is reduced. The tray panel 25 can be returned to the tray-open configuration by pulling and pivoting the tray panel 25 down so as to overcome the force on cord 35 from channel 36. Channel 36 may be a rubber grommet or the like, which is suitable for imparting a force, such as a friction force, on cord 35. A tray panel transitioning device 34 may be located on either side or on both sides of the folding tray 12. Additionally, channel 36 may be disposed through back panel 24.
  • [0046]
    Further, a locking device 38 may be located along the cord 35. The locking device may be positioned along the portion of the cord that is disposed through the channel 36, opposite the end that is connected to the tray panel 25, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The locking device 38 is sized so that it cannot pass through channel 36. The locking device can be position along the cord such that the amount of cord that can pass through the channel is limited to a predetermined length that corresponds to the length of cord that is disposed through the channel when the tray panel is in the tray-open configuration. Once this predetermined length of cord passes through the channel, the locking device 38 contacts the channel 36 and prevents any more cord from passing through. Thus, the locking device 38 can limit the pivoting of the tray panel 25, which is connected to the cord 35, and maintain the tray panel in the horizontal tray-open configuration as shown in FIG. 8. The locking device 38 may also be design such that its position can be adjusted along the length of the cord 35 in order to control the amount of cord that passes through the channel 36, which in turn adjusts the angle at which the tray panel 25 is maintained in the tray-open position. Thus, the tray panel 25 can be maintained in a tray-open position with the tray panel 25 above or below the horizontal position. The locking device 38 may be a clamp, spring clamp, or other suitable device. Alternatively, handle 37 can function as a locking device by shorting the cord 35 so that when the tray panel 25 is in the tray-open position, the handle 37 contacts the channel 36.
  • [0047]
    As an additional alternative embodiment, tray panel 25 may include shutters 50 which permit the opening and closing of openings 28, 29 in the tray panel. FIG. 9 shows a shutter 50 which can be transitioned between and an open and closed position in order to open and close opening 29 in the tray panel 25. The tray panel 25 may be constructed by layering together several members with shutter 50 interposed between the layers. The tray panel 25 may have a top member 52, a bottom member 54, and a spacing member 53 interposed between the top and bottom members, as shown in FIGS. 10(A) and 10(B). Spacing member 53 has a hole 55 such that when spacing member 53 is interposed between the top member and bottom member, a space 56 is defined. Space 56 is sized to seat the shutter 50 and permit shutter 50 to be moved within the space, and be positioned relative to opening 29 such that shutter 50 can be moved between a closed position with the shutter blocking opening 29 as shown in FIG. 10(B), and an open position with the shutter unblocking opening 29 as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10(A). Alternatively, spacing member 53 may be omitted and bottom member 54 may be formed with a recess such that space 56 is formed from the recess.
  • [0048]
    Bottom member 54 may include an elongated opening 57 that provides access to the shutter 50 so that the shutter 50 can be moved between the open and closed positions, as shown in phantom in FIG. 9. A post 51, which may be connected to shutter 50, extends through elongated opening 57 and protrudes from the bottom surface of tray panel 25 as shown in FIGS. 10(A) and 10(B). Post 51 can be seized by the user and used to control the positioning of shutter 50 so that shutter 50 can be easily transitioned between the open and closed positions. Thus, tray panel 25 can be configured with openings 28, 29 both open, both closed, or one open and one closed depending on the preference of the user and the items that tray panel 25 is being used to support.
  • [0049]
    While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3151909 *Feb 18, 1963Oct 6, 1964Gerdetz Robley ECombination chair cover and bag structure
US3552473 *May 26, 1969Jan 5, 1971Persson Bo S VVenetian blind
US3817190 *Feb 13, 1973Jun 18, 1974H EvangelistaCollapsible tray with adaptable hook arrangement
US5690036 *Jul 2, 1996Nov 25, 1997Eifuku Sangyo Co., LtdTable provided with a cup-holding through-hole
US5845585 *Jun 19, 1997Dec 8, 1998Meeus; EmmanuelMotor vehicle tray
US5878672 *Jun 23, 1997Mar 9, 1999Ostermann; Heather M.Portable organizer desk for use while traveling
US5984347 *May 27, 1997Nov 16, 1999Blanc-Rosset; AndreAccessory in the form of an attache case for motor vehicle
US6308641 *May 9, 2000Oct 30, 2001Brian F. KingburyStowable reading tray
US6675721 *Feb 15, 2001Jan 13, 2004Cynthia J. ZeidersAdjustable sporting event table
US20010039903 *Jun 19, 1997Nov 15, 2001Kimberly A.. PattersonCar seat travel tray
US20060162623 *Jan 24, 2005Jul 27, 2006Tom CiullaApparatus and method for providing a workspace
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7976099Feb 24, 2009Jul 12, 2011Michael FerraraTravel tray liner
US8186530Dec 24, 2009May 29, 2012Avinoam BarFood tray
US20090223418 *Feb 24, 2009Sep 10, 2009Michael FerraraTravel tray liner
US20140360410 *Jun 3, 2014Dec 11, 2014Scott D. RobinsonCompact Folding Surface Apparatuses, Systems, and Methods of Using the Same
US20160015180 *Oct 1, 2015Jan 21, 2016Felix RamirezSports Field Bench Seating Assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/188.06
International ClassificationA47C7/62
Cooperative ClassificationA47C7/62, A47C7/021
European ClassificationA47C7/62, A47C7/02A