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Publication numberUS20080110711 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/559,224
Publication dateMay 15, 2008
Filing dateNov 13, 2006
Priority dateNov 13, 2006
Publication number11559224, 559224, US 2008/0110711 A1, US 2008/110711 A1, US 20080110711 A1, US 20080110711A1, US 2008110711 A1, US 2008110711A1, US-A1-20080110711, US-A1-2008110711, US2008/0110711A1, US2008/110711A1, US20080110711 A1, US20080110711A1, US2008110711 A1, US2008110711A1
InventorsKatherine R. Coughlin
Original AssigneeHelen Rae Designs Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Luggage
US 20080110711 A1
Abstract
Luggage is disclosed that includes a main body that defines an interior compartment bounded by a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and side walls. The front wall is hingeably connected with one of the side walls and includes a closing mechanism for sealing or unsealing the interior compartment. An accessory compartment is formed within one of the front wall, the rear wall, or one of the side walls. The accessory pocket includes a first sealable access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from an exterior of the main body. It also includes a second access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from the interior of the main body. Wheels are positioned along the bottom wall, and handle assembly is attached with the main body and deployable from a stowed position.
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Claims(20)
1. Luggage comprising:
a main body defining an interior compartment bounded by a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and a plurality of side walls, wherein the front wall is hingeably connected with one of the side walls and includes a closing mechanism for sealing or unsealing the interior compartment;
an accessory pocket formed within one of the front wall, the rear wall, or one of the side walls, wherein the accessory pocket includes a first sealable access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from an exterior of the main body and includes a second access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from the interior of the main body;
a plurality of wheels positioned along the bottom wall; and
a handle assembly attached with the main body and deployable from a stowed position.
2. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein the second access mechanism is sealable.
3. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein the accessory pocket is lined with a nonabsorbent material.
4. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein the handle is deployable into a plurality of distinct locked positions.
5. The luggage recited in claim 1 further comprising a second accessory pocket formed within one of the front wall, the rear wall, or one of the side walls, wherein the second accessory pocket is sealable and is shaped and sized to hold a laptop computer.
6. The luggage recited in claim 5 wherein the accessory pocket and the second accessory pocket are both formed within the front wall.
7. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein the accessory pocket is formed within the front wall.
8. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein each of the side walls is tapered from a wider portion at a bottom of each side wall to a narrower portion at a top of each side wall.
9. The luggage recited in claim 1 further comprising one or more removable shelves disposed within the interior compartment and substantially parallel to the bottom side.
10. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein each of the plurality of wheels is rotatable 360° about an axis orthogonal to the bottom wall.
11. The luggage recited in claim 1 wherein the front wall is connected with the main body by an expandable portion having a plurality of states that provide distinct interior volumes of the interior compartment when the interior compartment is sealed.
12. The luggage recited in claim 1 further comprising a secondary handle affixed to the top wall, wherein the secondary handle has a plurality of states, a first of the states providing a space between the secondary handle and the top wall sufficient for the secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand and a second of the states providing the secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the top wall.
13. The luggage recited in claim 12 further comprising a second secondary handle affixed to one of the side walls, wherein the second secondary handle has a plurality of states, a first of the states providing a space between the second secondary handle and the one of the side walls sufficient for the second secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand and a second of the states providing the second secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the one of the side walls.
14. Luggage comprising:
a main body defining an interior compartment bounded by a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and two opposing side walls, wherein the front wall is hingeably connected with one of the side walls and includes a closing mechanism for sealing or unsealing the interior compartment;
an accessory pocket lined with a nonabsorbent material and formed within the front wall, wherein the accessory pocket includes a first sealable access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from an exterior of the main body and includes a second sealable access pocket to permit access to the accessory pocket from the interior of the main body;
a plurality of wheels position along the bottom wall, each such wheel rotatable 360° about an axis orthogonal to the bottom wall; and
a handle assembly attached with the main body and deployable from a stowed position into a plurality of distinct locked positions.
15. The luggage recited in claim 14 further comprising a second accessory pocket formed within the front wall, wherein the second accessory pocket is sealable and is shaped and sized to hold a laptop computer.
16. The luggage recited in claim 14 wherein each of the side walls is tapered from a wider portion at a bottom of each side wall to a narrower portion at a top of each side wall.
17. The luggage recited in claim 14 further comprising one or more removable shelves disposed within the interior compartment and substantially parallel to the bottom wall.
18. The luggage recited in claim 14 wherein the front wall is connected with the main body by an expandable portion having a plurality of states that provide distinct interior volumes of the interior compartment when the interior compartment is sealed.
19. The luggage recited in claim 14 further comprising a secondary handle affixed to the top wall, wherein the secondary handle has a plurality of states, a first of the states providing a space between the secondary handle and the top wall sufficient for the secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand and a second of the states providing the secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the top wall.
20. Luggage comprising:
a main body defining an interior compartment bounded by a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and two opposing side walls, wherein:
the front wall is hingeably connected with one of the side walls and includes a closing mechanism for sealing or unsealing the interior compartment; and
each of the side walls is tapered from a wider portion at a bottom of each side wall to a narrower portion at a top of each side wall;
an first accessory pocket lined with a nonabsorbent material and formed within the front wall, wherein the first accessory pocket includes a first sealable access mechanism to permit access to the first accessory pocket from an exterior of the main body and includes a second sealable access pocket to permit access to the first accessory pocket from the interior of the main body;
a second accessory pocket formed within the front wall, wherein the second accessory pocket is sealable and is shaped and sized to hold a laptop computer;
a plurality of wheels position along the bottom wall, each such wheel rotatable 360° about an axis orthogonal to the bottom wall;
one or more removable shelves disposed within the interior compartment and substantially parallel to the bottom wall;
a handle assembly attached with the main body and deployable from a stowed position into a plurality of distinct locked positions; and
a secondary handle affixed to the top wall, wherein the secondary handle has a plurality of states, a first of the states providing a space between the secondary handle and the top wall sufficient for the secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand and a second of the states providing the secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the top wall.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to concurrently filed, commonly assigned U.S. Des. patent application Ser. No. ______ entitled “LUGGAGE,” by Katherine R. Coughlin, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This application relates generally to luggage. More specifically, this application relates to luggage suitable for business travelers to carry onto commercial aircraft.

The concerns of business travelers differ in a number of respects from the concerns of vacationers and other travelers. For example, business travelers are usually subject to greater time constraints during their travel, resulting in a general reluctance to check baggage because of the delays that then result from the need to retrieve the baggage after arrival at a destination. Business travelers are thus motivated to pack their belongings for travel in luggage that can not only be accommodated on commercial aircraft but is also structured to carry both personal and business items for their trips. The greater time constraints on business travelers also manifest themselves in a greater desire on the part of business travelers to be able to navigate through airports quickly. Luggage that is difficult to maneuver can sometimes impede these efforts.

Many of these concerns are greater for women travelers than they are for men travelers. For example, woman tend to travel with a purse or pocketbook, resulting in a greater number of articles to carry than men. The footwear worn by women also tends to increase their concerns about the maneuverability of luggage through airports. And the generally smaller frame of women tends to make luggage designed for male travelers more difficult to maneuver efficiently.

Furthermore, prompted by a variety of security concerns, the last several years have seen the introduction of a number of unexpected limitations on the content, size, and number of pieces of carry-on luggage that are permitted. Some airports have sometimes limited the number of pieces to one, making it more difficult to accommodate travelers who would otherwise prefer to use multiple pieces. Restrictions have also been imposed on carrying liquids, including thixotropic liquids like toothpastes, gels, and similar substances. Certain of these restrictions require removal and separate presentation of such liquid substances, causing an inconvenience for a number of travelers.

All of these various considerations result in there being a general need in the art for improved luggage structures.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention provide improved luggage structures. Such luggage includes a main body that defines an interior compartment bounded by a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and a plurality of side walls. The front wall is hingeably connected with one of the side walls and includes a closing mechanism for sealing or unsealing the interior compartment. An accessory compartment is formed within one of the front wall, the rear wall, or one of the side walls. The accessory pocket includes a first sealable access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from an exterior of the main body. It also includes a second access mechanism to permit access to the accessory pocket from the interior of the main body. A plurality of wheels are positioned along the bottom wall. A handle assembly is attached with the main body and deployable from a stowed position.

In some embodiments, the second access mechanism is sealable. The accessory pocket may also advantageously be lined with a nonabsorbent material. The handle may be deployable into a plurality of distinct locked positions.

A second access pocket may also sometimes be formed within one of the front wall, the rear wall, or one of the side walls. The second accessory pocket is sealable and is shaped and sized to hold a laptop computer. In a particular embodiment, both the accessory pocket and the second accessory pocket are formed within the front wall.

Embodiments of the invention also include different shapes for the luggage. For example, in some instances, each of the side walls tapered from a wider portion at a bottom of each side wall to a narrower portion at a top of each side wall.

In some instances, one or more removable shelves are disposed within the interior compartment and substantially parallel to the bottom side. Each of the plurality of wheels may be rotatable 360° about an axis orthogonal to the bottom wall. The front wall may be connected with the main body by an expandable portion having a plurality of states that provide distinct interior volumes of the interior compartment when the interior compartment is sealed.

Different embodiments also provide a secondary handle affixed to the top wall. The secondary handle has a plurality of states. A first of the states provides a space between the secondary handle and the top wall sufficient for the secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand. A second of the states provides the secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the top wall. In one embodiment, a second secondary handle is affixed to one of the side wall. The second secondary handle also has a plurality of states. A first of the states provides a space between the second secondary handle and the one of the side walls sufficient for the second secondary handle to be gripped by a human hand. A second of the states provides the second secondary handle in a substantially flat configuration against the one of the side walls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings wherein like reference numerals are used throughout the several drawings to refer to similar components. In some instances, a sublabel is associated with a reference numeral and follows a hyphen to denote one of multiple similar components. When reference is made to a reference numeral without specification to an existing sublabel, it is intended to refer to all such multiple similar components.

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of carry-on luggage in one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear elevational view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a right side view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a left side view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a top elevational view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a bottom elevational view of the carry-on luggage of Fig.;

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1 showing the accessory pocket in an open position;

FIG. 9 is a front view of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1 with the front side open to show features of the interior compartment of the luggage;

FIG. 10 provides a detailed view of the handle assembly of the carry-on luggage of FIG. 1, illustrating the configuration of the handle assembly to be deployed into a plurality of distinct locked positions; and

FIG. 11 illustrates a structure that may be used to provide lie-flat handles in an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention provide articles of luggage that are especially suited for business travelers and for women travelers, although their various features provide certain advantages for a wide range of travelers that includes nonbusiness travelers, men, and people having a wide range of heights.

A general overview of the structure of the luggage in specific embodiments is provided with FIGS. 1-7, which provide different views of an exemplary embodiment for purposes of illustration. The luggage defines an interior compartment that is used for carrying articles and may have both open and closed positions. In addition, the luggage may include one or more accessory pockets, some of which are also shown in the drawings and access to such accessory pockets may be provided with structures that seal the accessory pockets as described below. The drawings of FIGS. 1-7 show the luggage in its closed position so that the interior compartment is sealed, with FIG. 1 providing a front perspective view of the overall structure of the luggage. FIG. 2 shows a front elevational view; FIG. 3 shows a rear elevational view; FIG. 4 shows a right side view; FIG. 5 shows a left side view; FIG. 6 shows a top elevational view; and FIG. 7 shows a bottom elevational view.

The interior compartment of the luggage 100 is defined by a body 104 that bounds the interior compartment with a top wall 108, a bottom wall 120, a front wall 128, a rear wall 124, and two side walls 112 and 116. The front wall 128 is hingeably connected with one of the side walls 116 and includes a closing mechanism 165 that allows the interior compartment to be sealed or unsealed. In the illustrative embodiment, the closing mechanism comprises a zipper structure, although other closing mechanisms may be used in alternative embodiments.

The luggage may be maneuvered through a combination of a handle assembly 140 and a plurality of wheels 160 that are positioned along the bottom wall. Each of the wheels is 160 is configured to be rotatable through a full 360° about respective axes 170. Such flexibility permits the handle assembly 140 to be gripped by a person and for the luggage 100 thereby to be rolled smoothly in any direction. For example, the combination permits the luggage easily to be rolled to the side of a walking person, not requiring that it be pulled along from behind, although it is also possible for the luggage to be moved in that conventional fashion also.

Additional handles 166 may also be provided to permit the luggage 100 to be picked up by a person and carried. In some instances, as in the illustration provided, a plurality of such handles 166 may be provided on different ones of the walls so that the luggage 100 may be carried in different orientations. For example, a handle 166-2 on the top wall permits the luggage 100 to be carried in a vertical position, while a handle 166-1 on one of the side walls 112 permits the luggage 100 to be carried in a horizontal position. Resting feet 156 may accordingly be provided on the side wall 116 opposite the handle side wall so that the luggage may be rested on the ground or other surface when in such a horizontal position.

In certain embodiments, the side walls 112 and 116 have a generally trapezoidal shape with a narrower section at the top than at the bottom. This provides the body 104 with a narrowing shape that allows the luggage 100 to be stored easily in the overhead compartments of aircraft. The overall size of the luggage may thus be of a size appropriate as a carry-on bag in some embodiments, although similar structures may be used in different sizes. In some instances, a set of luggage may be provided, with the set comprising individual pieces having features like those illustrated but with different overall sizes.

The luggage may also advantageously include an expansion section 164 that permits the volume of the interior compartment to be varied depending on the contents to be carried within the luggage. Such an expansion section 164 includes a sealing mechanism such as a zipper to hold material connecting the front wall 128 to the remainder of the body 104 in a compact configuration when sealed, but to release the material and thereby allow the front wall 128 to adopt a farther position when unsealed.

The different accessory pockets may generally be provided in any of the front wall 128, the rear wall 124, or one of the side walls 112 or 116, with the illustrated embodiment having two accessory pockets 132 and 136 provided in the front wall 128. One of the accessory pockets 136 may advantageously be shaped and sized to hold a laptop computer, with access to the accessory pocket 136 being provided with a sealing mechanism 178 shown in the illustration to comprise a zipper structure.

Another of the accessory pockets 132 may be adapted especially for holding articles that contain liquids, with a similar sealing mechanism 175 being provided in the form of a zipper structure. To accommodate such articles, which are susceptible to leakage, the interior of this accessory pocket 132 may be lined with a nonabsorbent material such as a plastic. Segregation of the liquid-containing articles in this pocket from other articles stored in the primary interior compartment thus advantageously avoids damage to other articles carried within the luggage 100 in the event of leakage.

Certain security restrictions for carrying luggage require that examination of laptop computers and/or of liquid articles by security personnel be performed separately from examination of the luggage as a whole. The combination of accessory pockets 132 and 136 permits such items to be removed easily from the luggage 100 for production to security personnel. In a typical airport security configuration, the luggage 100 may be placed with its back wall 124 on a conveyor structure for routing through an x-ray device, with the accessory pockets 132 and 136 then being readily available in the top wall 128 to extract the articles requiring separate examination and then to replace them after the security check.

FIG. 8 provides an illustration of the luggage 100 with the lined accessory pocket 132 in an open configuration and FIG. 9 provides an illustration of the luggage with the front wall 128 opened to show the interior compartment of the luggage. These drawings also show a configuration in which access to the lined accessory pocket 132 is additionally provided from an interior face of the front wall 128. A separate access structure 184 with a sealing mechanism 186 shown in the form of a zipper structure permits the accessory pocket 132 to be accessed when the luggage 100 is opened. Because liquid-containing articles are most commonly expected to be toiletries, this provides a convenient mechanism for accessing the majority of the personal articles contained within the luggage 100 after arrival at a destination. For example, when the luggage 100 is used to store clothing within the interior compartment and to store toiletries within the lined accessory pocket 132, ready access is provided to all such articles simultaneously when the luggage 100 is opened.

The interior compartment may also include one or more removable shelves 180 supported by brackets affixed to interior faces of the side walls 112 and 116. These shelves 180 are arranged substantially parallel to the bottom wall 120 so that articles may be stored on the shelves 180 when the luggage 100 is in a vertical position. The shelves 180 permit articles within the luggage 100 to be separated and organized as desired, depending on the specific nature of the articles. For example, shoes, which tend to have soiled undersides, may thus be stored separately from clothing within the interior compartment. The ability to remove the shelves 180 permits the space of the interior compartment to be divided in an adaptable fashion for the most effective organization of the stored articles. In some embodiments, there may be more support brackets provided on the interior faces of the side walls 112 and 116 than there are shelves. This permits even further adjustment of the separated areas within the interior compartment by allowing the shelves to be positioned differently for different uses of the luggage 100 even if the number of shelves 180 in those different uses is the same.

A more detailed illustration of the handle assembly 140 in one embodiment is shown in FIG. 10. The handle assembly 140 generally comprises a stowable structure, so that most of the handle assembly 140 may be stowed within the rear wall 124 when not in use. This permits the luggage 100 to assume a compact configuration for storage in an overhead compartment of an aircraft or elsewhere. In the illustrated embodiment, a handle-assembly housing 189 is provided within the rear wall 124. The housing 189 is coupled with a pair of chutes (not shown) that hold a telescoping-column assembly that is connected with a handle 144.

The chutes may be provided in different locations in different embodiments. For example, in one embodiment, the chutes are disposed within the interior compartment. Such an embodiment has the advantage that the outside face of the rear wall 124 remains flat, permitting the luggage 100 to be stored more easily on its rear surface. In another embodiment, the chutes are disposed on the outside face of the rear wall 124. Such an embodiment has the advantage that the inside face of the rear wall 124 remains flat, avoiding the presence of structures within the interior compartment that might interfere with the ability to distribute articles as desired within the interior compartment. In still another embodiment, the rear wall 124 comprises a sufficient thickness to hold the chutes, which are disposed within the rear wall 124. Such an embodiment enjoys the advantages of both other embodiments by not only having the outside face of the rear wall 124 remain flat, but also having the inside face of the rear wall 124 remain flat, but sacrifices some volume of the interior compartment in doing so.

The telescoping-column assembly may comprise first columns 152 that are deployable within the chutes and second columns 148 that are deployable within the first columns 152. In other instances, a greater number of columns in a telescoping arrangement might be provided. The second columns 148 are affixed to a handle 144 suitable for gripping by a person. Retractable protrusions 188 are provided on the second columns 148 and may engage with pairs of correspondingly shaped bores in the first columns 152 to lock the handle assembly in a specific position. The protrusions 188 may be retracted by operation of a button 145 formed within the handle 144 through a mechanical connection between the button 145 and the protrusions 188. In certain embodiments, a plurality of bore pairs are provided to enable the handle assembly to be deployed into a plurality of distinct locked positions. The availability of a plural number of distinct locked positions allows the handle assembly to be adjusted to accommodate different heights of users of the luggage 100. The illustration in FIG. 10 demonstrates the ability of the arrangement to provide a plurality of distinct locked positions by showing the columns 148 and 152 in a first locked position that results in a first position for the handle 144 and button 145 shown in solid line, and by showing the columns 148 and 152 in a second locked position that results in a second position for the handle 144 and button shown in shadow line.

In some embodiments, the additional handle(s) 166 may be provided in a lie-flat configuration. Such a configuration allows each additional handle 166 to have a substantially flat orientation against one of the walls of the body 104 when not in use, but easily to be pulled away from the wall with sufficient space to be gripped by a human hand when in use. One mechanism by which such a lie-flat configuration may be provided is illustrated in FIG. 11. In embodiments that use this configuration, the additional handle 166 is provided as a strap having a plurality of elongated notches 174. A fastener 190 such as a rivet protrudes through each of the notches 174 to hold the strap, but the ability to move the strap to different positions as constrained by the fastener-notch assembly allows the handle to adopt the different orientations. In some instances, as evident from FIG. 1, for example, the strap may have ends that are disposed under a wall covering to hide the notches 174, with the fasteners 190 protruding through the covering, providing a more aesthetic appearance to the additional handles 166.

Thus, having described several embodiments, it will be recognized by those of skill in the art that various modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the above description should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined in the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8005189 *Mar 6, 2009Aug 23, 2011L-3 Communications Security and Detection Systems Inc.Suitcase compartmentalized for security inspection and system
US8453812 *Sep 15, 2011Jun 4, 2013Zhuofan XIAOFolding sport luggage
US20120055750 *Sep 15, 2011Mar 8, 2012Xiao ZhuofanFolding sport luggage
Classifications
U.S. Classification190/9, 190/115, 190/109, 190/124
International ClassificationA45C13/00, A47B85/08, A45C3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA45C13/262, A45C5/14, A45C7/0027, A45C13/02
European ClassificationA45C13/02, A45C5/14, A45C7/00C2S, A45C13/26W
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 13, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: HELEN RAE DESIGNS, COLORADO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:COUGHLIN, KATHERINE R.;REEL/FRAME:018512/0662
Effective date: 20061110