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Publication numberUS3838266 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 24, 1974
Filing dateMay 17, 1973
Priority dateMay 17, 1973
Publication numberUS 3838266 A, US 3838266A, US-A-3838266, US3838266 A, US3838266A
InventorsJonathan I
Original AssigneeHallmark Cards
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Illuminated product display fixture
US 3838266 A
Abstract
An illuminated product display fixture provided with a housing having an upright opening therein for receiving a plurality of removable, preformed, interchangeable, translucent, tray-like synthetic resin modules each having a series of article receiving pockets or niches therein. Articles displayed in individual pockets are illuminated around the entire perimeter thereof by provision of an elongated light source in the housing loacted between the modules and a paraboloidal reflector which serves to assure relatively uniform light distribution through the side walls of each pocket. Preferably, opaque, rearwardly facing reflectorized material on the back wall of each pocket enhances light distribution in the housing and prevents visual observation of hot spots when articles are deflected from one or more pockets.
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United States Patent Jonathan ILLUMINATED PRODUCT DISPLAY FIXTURE Inventor: Isaac Jonathan, Kansas City, Mo.

Hallmark Cards, Incorporated, Kansas City, Mo.

Filed: May 17, 1973 Appl. No.: 361,141

Assignee:

US. Cl. 240/2 AD, 40/l24.2, 240/4, 240/6, 312/117 lnt. Cl. F21v 33/00 Field of Search 240/2 AD, 2 R, 4, 6; 40/124, 124.2; 312/117, 126, 128

2/1950 Anders 240/2 AD 4/1959 Fitzgerald 240/2 AD Primary ExaminerRichard L. Moses Attorney, Agent, or FirmSchmidt, Johnson, Hovey & Williams [5 7] ABSTRACT An illuminated product display fixture provided with a housing having an upright opening therein for receiving a plurality of removable, preformed, interchangeable, translucent, tray-like synthetic resin modules each having a series of article receiving pockets or niches therein. Articles displayed in individual pockets are illuminated around the entire perimeter thereof by provision of an elongated light source in the housing loacted between the modules and a paraboloidal reflector which serves to assure relatively uniform light distribution through the side walls of each pocket. Preferably, opaque, rearwardly facing reflectorized material on the back wall of each pocket enhances light distribution in the housing and prevents visual observation of hot spots when articles are deflected from one or more pockets.

20 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures ILLUMINATED PRODUCT DISPLAY FIXTURE BACKGROUND This invention relates to an illuminated product display fixture for retail outlets which is especially useful for displaying items such as greeting cards, party goods and other flat materials which are usually stacked for customer selection and successive removal, but which is also uniquely usable for displaying three-dimensional artistic products and decorative accessories which benefit from indirect illumination thereon for customer appeal. More particularly, the invention is concerned with a display fixture which is adapted to evenly illuminate the articles to be displayed by indirect lighting while providing means for more effectively displaying a large variety and selection of articles for customer selection.

Exemplary greeting card display fixtures of the prior art conventionally have employed a plurality of horizontal, vertically spaced and rearwardly staggered panels for the reception of the articles to be displayed. Upstanding glass keepers at the forward edge of each horizontal stretch were normally utilized to give a series of elongated compartments of rectangular cross-section which extended substantially the entire width of the display rack. An overhead lighting fixture was usually disposed above the rack to directly illuminate the articles displayed therebelow.

These display racks of the prior art were deficient in several important respects. Specifically, because of their fixed construction and unchangeable dimensions, it was very difficult to display odd-shaped greeting cards, various sized cards, or other merchandise. For example, it is common in the greeting card industry to feature seasonal cards of varying shapes, such as eggshaped cards at Easter time. As can be appreciated, with the normal display fixtures, it is very difficult to position such cards for effective retail merchandising because they oftentimes become tipped or otherwise distorted in the rack, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the promotion. A related problem has occurred when it is attempted to display various gift items in conjunction with the greeting cards. These impulse items as they are known in the trade are desirably displayed alongside the greeting cards to enhance their saleability. However, because of their differing shapes and dimensions, it has heretofore been impossible to effectively display them in the same rack of fixture with the greeting cards.

Another serious drawback of the constructions of the prior art involve the illumination system normally utilized. Direct overhead lighting has conventionally been provided by means of either incandescent or fluorescent lighting sources positioned above the rack. Such a direct lighting system normally produces a harsh, unspecific lighting effect on the cards below. This is to be contrasted with soft or glow lighting wrich serves to enhance the beauty of the articles displayed. The latter more desirable effect has been impossible to achieve with the constructions of the prior art, thus limiting their utility.

A further problem has been encountered when it was attempted to change the promotional format of the displayed articles, as is common during the various seasons of the year. In the retail merchandising of greeting cards for example, it is common to provide a selection of cards applicable the year round along with seasonal promotions such as at Christmas, parents days or the Easter season. Because it is necessary to maintain the aesthetic qualities of the display, it has often been necessary to completely change the array of cards within the fixture at the time of each seasonal promotion. There has not previously been a satisfactory way of modifying only a particular segment of the rack because the fixed nature of these constructions severely limited the possible modes of displaying the cards. As will be appreciated, this lack of flexibility increased merchandising costs by making it necessary to completely rearrange a display on a card-by-card basis several times throughout the year to accomodate a new promotion. The problem presented in this respect was greatly magnified by virtue of the fact that seasonal promotions vary as to the area of the display occupied thereby.

It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide an illuminated product display fixture which is adapted for the reception of articles of any desired size and wherein the rack can be changed at will to display articles of different sizes without the necessity of completely altering the fixture in its entirety.

A further object is to provide a display rack which allows the simultaneous display of articles or greeting cards of varying shapes within a single rack and one where the display format can be altered quickly and with little expense to the retail merchant.

A still further object is to provide a display fixture which illuminates the article to be sold by indirect or glow lighting which serves to enhance the beauty of the articles displayed.

SUMMARY In accordance with the foregoing objects, an illuminated product display fixture which overcomes the outlined deficiencies is made available by providing unique tray-like modules adapted to receive the articles to be displayed which are supported by a housing having illumination means for highlighting the articles on display. Preferably at least one product display module is provided having at least one integral inwardly extending pocket which is adapted to hold the cards or articles to be displayed. The module pockets have translucent portions which allow light to be directed therethrough from the lighting means therebehind in the modules supporting housing to illuminate the articles on display in the product pocket.

The illumination system positioned behind the module includes a light source located to direct light rays therefrom toward the display module and evenly distribute the light over the front face of the displayed product.

A special type of reflector disposed behind the light source enhances even distribution of the light reflected therefrom through the translucent portions of the pocket or niche.

In preferred forms, a plurality of side-by-side modules composed of translucent plastic material are employed. Each of the modules has formed therein a multiplicity of pockets arranged in symmetrical rows for substantially the entire width and length of the module. The illumination system is preferably an elongated fluorescent lighting element disposed behind a plurality of the abutting, removable modules to thereby simultaneously provide illumination for a number of modules.

In such a system, the reflector behind the lighting element is generally paraboloidal in cross-section and extends for at least the entire length of the fluorescent light source.

In additional preferred embodiments, it has been found advantageous to construct the display fixture by employing a series of coextensive, vertically aligned housings which are secured within vertically spaced, forwardly extending tiers which are part of the overall frame of the upstanding display rack. These housings are advantageously formed of sheet metal material and have a generally semicircular or paraboloidal cross section.

The reflector portion of the illumination system is applied to the concave face of such housings, and the sidewalls thereof (or the sidewalls of the frame) are adapted to hold the elongated, fluorescent lighting elements which are spaced forwardly of the reflector. Additionally, the housings preferably are constructed and arranged to allow at least a pair of translucent plastic modules to removably nest therewithin in an abutting, side-by-side relationship.

In other preferred forms the removable modules (which can be vacuum-formed from sheets of translucent plastic material) are selectively covered at desired areas with rearwardly-facing reflector elements which serve to intensify the light passing through the uncovered sidewall and front peripheral edge portions of the module pockets. These reflective elements are normally positioned on the rear face of the back walls of the pockets to block the passage of light through the bottom walls and to intensify the same through the sidewalls of the pockets. In order to further emphasize particular pockets within a module, the depths of the pockets may be varied at will, which additionally allows the reception of articles of various sizes within a single module.

DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illuminated product display fixture according to the present invention, showing a plurality of modules of translucent plastic material ready for the reception of articles to be displayed, with a pair of removable display elements positioned atop the rack;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary side view in section, showing the display fixture of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary front elevational view of the display fixture of FIG. 1 shown with a pair of the modules removed to better illustrate the illumination system positioned therebehind, the pair of removable top display elements shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 also being removed;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of one of the removable display elements which can optionally be positioned atop the display rack, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, enlarged, cross-sectional view of one of the vertically aligned display housings shown in FIG. 2, with a translucent article receiving tray-like module nested therewithin;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional, fragmentary view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged, fragmentary, rear elevational view of one of the removable translucent plastic modules of the present invention shown with reflective elements attached to the rear face of the bottom walls of the pockets and along the rear faces of the forward peripheral edges of the pockets; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of one of the modules of the present invention, shown with inwardly extending pockets of varying depths.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION An illuminated product display fixture l0 embodying the preferred concepts of this invention is shown perspectively in FIG. 1. It comprises an upstanding frame and panel assembly 12 having a vertical back 14 with a pair of tapered, forwardly extending sidewalls 16 attached thereto. A pair of forwardly opening drawers 18 are shown at the bottom of assembly 12 which, in conventional manner, are adapted to hold additional articles to be displayed in the fixture above.

A plurality of translucent, preferably synthetic resin, vacuum-formed product display modules generally designated by the numeral 20 are positioned between sidewalls 16 in a spanning side-by-side abutting relationship. As shown in FIG. 1, these modules are generally rectangular in shape and are provided with a plurality of integral, inwardly extending pockets 22, each pocket having continuous sidewalls 24 and a generally planar back wall 26. Additionally, a forward peripheral edge 28 thereof is in surrounding or circumscribing relationship to each of the pockets 22 which, as shown are preferably arranged in vertically aligned, transversely extending rows.

Turning now to FIG. 2, it can be seen that a series of horizontal, vertically-spaced tier walls 30 are provided which project forwardly and are connected to the back wall and associated sidewalls by conventional means such as welding or bolts. These tiers 30 are progressively shorter in length from the lowermost member to the highest. In this way, it is possible to position the housings 32 between the successive tiers at different heights and angles within the frame member 12. In order to assure a structurally sound display fixture, the respective housings 32 are preferably fixedly attached between a pair of vertically spaced tiers 30 and extend substantially the entire width of the fixture 10.

Referring to FIG. 5, the housings 32 and their associated elements will be described in greater detail. A typical housing 32 is advantageously composed of a bendable sheet metal backing 34 which is generally paraboloidal in cross section. In preferred forms, the backing 34 is formed with a series of interconnected, transversely straight stretches 36, with the intersection of each of the connected stretches forming a point on an imaginary paraboloid imposed upon the cross section. In this way, the reflective effects of a true paraboloidal structure are approximated without the expense of fashioning the backing sheet 34 to have a geometrically precise paraboloidal cross-section.

Along substantially the entire concave face of the backing 34 a reflector element 38 is attached which extends substantially the entire width thereof. Although reflector 38 has been shown as being adhesively secured, or the like, to backing 34 and thus in substantial conformity with the cross sectional configuration thereof, it is to be appreciated that the reflector can be joined to the backing in a manner to cause the flexible reflective material to bridge the angular corners of the backing in the form of arcuate segments to more nearly approximate the curvilinear shape of a paraboloid.

Disposed within the concave area formed by the backing member 34 of each housing 32 is an elongated light source 40 which is attached to the sidewalls 16 of the fixture and is adapted to be connected to a source of electricity in a known manner. In preferred forms, the lighting source 40 is an elongated, fluorescent tube which extends substantially the entire width of the display rack 10.

Removably nested within the housings 32 are a plurality of modules 20, each module having formed therein a multiplicity of pockets 22. The modules are advantageously formed from sheets of translucent synthetic resin materials with specific areas of the inwardly extending pockets being covered to achieve the desired illumination of articles held therewithin. This can be achieved by covering such portions (for example the rear surfaces of the back walls 26) with a reflective material such as flexible reflective foil. These reflectors can be applied to the external surfaces of the modules as by gluing or other conventional means. In other procedures, reflective and/or opaque areas can be produced by silk screening or laminating a reflective coating onto the appropriate spaced rectangular portions of a translucent plastic sheet prior to the forming of the module therefrom. The sheet can then be subjected to vacuum forming or the like in order to yield a finished module having selected opaque or reflective areas, as desired. However produced, these areas have the effect of increasing the amount of light directed through the uncovered areas of the pockets. This result is enhanced by employing reflective members as opposed to those which are only opaque, and therefore reflective surfaces are preferred.

Reflectors employed with the modules of the present invention are best shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, the rear surfaces 42 of the planar back walls 26 are covered with an externally applied reflector foil 43 which faces the light source 40. Likewise, the rear surfaces 44 of the forward peripheral edges 28 may if desired be rendered opaque and reflective by such methods. It is to be understood however, that either or both of these areas (or any other desired area) can be covered by the silk-screening or laminating methods described previously.

During the production of the modules 20 it is sometimes desirable to vary the depths of the pockets 22. As shown in FIG. 8, this can be done within a single module to allow the reception of articles of differing dimensions therewithin. Further, it may also be advantageous to provide a portion within a module for trade name advertising or other informational indicia. This can be accomplished by providing a flat sheet 46 (see FIGS. 1 and 2) across the face of an area of the module normally occupied by a pocket. In most situations it has been found desirable to allow such areas to remain translucent so that light from the source 40 can be directed therethrough. This yields the desirable emphasis upon the manufacturers trade name or the like.

Turning now to FIG. 3, there is shown a front elevational view of the display fixture of the present invention with a pair of abutting modules removed to show the illumination system of the present invention. These nesting modules 20 are dimensioned to be removably positioned within the housings 32 which are permanently attached to the sidewalls l6 and the forwardly extending tiers as at points 35. In preferred forms, a pair of modules 20 are positioned in an abutting, sideby-side relationship to extend substantially the entire width of the fixture 10. In such a case, a vertical bracing means 48 is positioned centrally of the transverse width between successive vertically aligned tiers to aid 5 in the securement of the modules 20. As further shown in FIG. 3, a single, elongated light source extends the entire width of the fixture 10 thereby illuminating a pair of abutting modules simultaneously.

As shown in the figures, the standard fixture 10 is preferably of a height causing the upper portion thereof to be at normal eye level, as is conventional in display units. However, in order to increase the capacity of the fixture, it has been found to be advantageous to employ an additonal pair of display elements 50 which are removably positioned atop the display fixture (see FIGS. 1 and 2). Such elements 50 are of a similar construction to the housings 32 and their associated components. However, in order to make them fully removable from the fixture itself, each is provided with its own back wall 52, sidewalls 54, backing 56 of paraboloidal cross-section amd modules 58. Additionally, each is provided with an independent light source 60 so that each unit is completely removable from the fixture 10. In this embodiment, the retail merchant can optionally position the elements 50 atop the fixture 10 or, if problems of space or avoidance of visual obscuration dictate otherwise, they can be moved to any other display area as desired. This feature gives an added dimension of flexibility heretofore unavailable with the display racks of the prior art.

In further preferred embodiments, an envelope rack 62 can be positioned between two of the vertically aligned housings 32. This allows the envelopes associated with the cards to be proximal thereto but without detracting from the display characteristics of the fixture 10. In the constructions of the prior art, the envelopes have conventionally been placed behind the cards displayed. This inevitably lessened the effect of the display because the envelopes often became disarranged or placed in front of the cards themselves, thus requiring frequent reorganization by the merchant.

In use of the present invention, the display rack is constructed by first connecting the vertically aligned housings to the frame, and thereafter applying the flexible reflectors 38 to the concave face of the housing. After attaching the light source 40, the removable modules 20 are placed within the housings 32 to complete the final display rack. These modules preferably are removably nestable within the housings 32. While this can be accomplished by any conventional means, in the embodiments shown a rearwardly extending, circumscribing lip 64 is provided around the rectangular periphery of the module 20 which is adapted to be inserted within mated flange recesses 66, 67 and 69 carried by the housings 32, post 48 and sidewalls 16 respectively. When so positioned, the various modules within the rack 10 are ready for the reception of the articles to be displayed. Because each of the modules 20 can have inwardly extending pockets 22 of varying sizes and depths, different articles or cards can be displayed simultaneously within the same module or rack. For example, the egg-shaped cards discussed previously can be displayed by providing modules with corresponding oval-shaped pockets. In this way such oddshaped cards can be neatly displayed without any of the aforementioned problems.

It is also possible to display so-called impulse items simultaneously with the greeting cards. This can be accomplished by providing modules with appropriate pockets or niches for the reception of such articles. All that is required for changing the articles within the display is to employ modules with appropriate pocket configurations. Thus, while the peripheral dimensions of the modules usually are maintained the same, an almost limitless number of varying pocket dimensions are possible. This flexibility is especially valuable for display of seasonal promotions common in the greeting card industry, when it is desirable to replace only a portion of the cards displayed in the overall rack. By the use of the instant invention, a number of cards can be kept on a more or less permanent basis for general occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries, while another portion of the rack can be utilized for the changing needs of seasonal merchandising. Moreover, this can be accomplished without losing any of the artistic merits of the display and with little cost to the retail merchant, because there is no need for completely changing the array of cards. The only cost would be that of the new plastic module, which can be produced with relatively little expense.

The present invention also overcomes the problems of harsh direct lighting found in conventional display fixtures. This result obtains because of the shape of the individual modules and the provision of reflector 38 in conjunction with the light source 40 which serves to indirectly illuminate the displayed articles through the translucent portions of the module pockets. It is to be understood that reflectors of any desired shape can be employed in the present invention along with conventional light sources. However, in order to avoid areas of differential illumination along the face of the modules 20, it is desirable to provide an illumination system free of hot spots often associated with normal incandescent bulbs. For this reason, it is preferred that the elongated, fluorescent lighting elements shown in the drawings being employed in conjunction with reflectors arghrzfry' parababi dal cross section. However, it is contemplated that incandescent lighting sources which are properly covered with a reflective material along a part of their surface to avoid these hot spots can be utilized. Moreover, with such lighting elements, it may be possible to employ parabolic reflectors which, according to well-known laws of optics, serve to evenly distribute the light from a properly positioned point source such as an incandescent bulb.

The illumination system of the present invention is adapted to distribute light in a desirable glow fashion in order to enhance the beauty of the greeting cards or other articles displayed. As discussed above, the pattern of soft illumination can be modified at will within the rack or a particular module by covering particular areas of the module in order to make it opaque and thus enhance the illumination effects through the uncovered portions. In most applications it has been found advantageous to leave the inwardly extending sidewalls 24 of the pockets uncovered while applying a reflective material to the rear portion of the backwall 26. In this way, the desirable illumination effect is produced which serves to properly emphasize the articles received within the pockets. Further, the flexibility of the present display rack is increased because particular areas thereof can be illuminated to a different degree than other corresponding areas, thus highlighting cific portions of the fixture.

Having thus described the invention what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. An illuminated product display fixture for displaying articles, comprising:

receptacle means having at least one pair of vertically aligned modules positioned in side-by-side relationship and extending substantially the entire width of said fixture, said modules each being provided with translucent portions to allow light to be directed therethrough and at least one inwardly extending pocket adapted to receive the articles to be displayed, said pockets having inwardly extending sidewalls and a generally planar, integral backwall;

spe-

an illumination system positioned behind said modules, said system including a light source spaced from said modules, which is adapted to evenly distribute the light emanating therefrom, and a reflector disposed behind said light source which is constructed and arranged to evenly distribute the light reflected therefrom through said translucent portions; and

structure for carrying said modules and illuminating system in article displaying and illuminating disposition.

2. The illuminated display fixture of claim 1, wherein said module is removeably nestable within said structure.

3. The display fixture of claim 1, wherein said module is provided with a plurality of inwardly extending pockets having translucent sidewalls, said pockets being arranged in transverse rows extending substantially the entire width of said module.

4. The illuminated display fixture of claim 3, wherein said modules are composed of translucent, synthetic resinous material.

5. The illuminated display fixtures of claim 4, wherein said pockets are of varying depths.

6. The illuminated display fixture of claim 3, wherein the rear surfaces of said backwalls are covered with a reflective material.

7. The illuminated display fixture of claim 3, wherein each of said pockets has a generally planar, forward peripheral edge in surrounding relationship thereto.

8. The illuminated display fixture of claim 7, wherein the rear surfaces of said forward peripheral edges are covered with a reflective material.

9. The illuminated display fixture of claim 1, wherein said light source is an elongated, fluorescent lighting element extending substantially the entire width of said fixture.

10. The illuminated display fixture of claim 1, wherein said reflector is generally paraboloidal in cross section and extends substantially the entire width of said fixture.

11. The illuminated display fixture of claim 10, wherein said reflector comprises a housing of bendable sheet metal material with a reflective material applied to the concave face thereof.

12. The illuminated display fixture of claim 11, wherein a single light source is provided for each of said pairs.

13. The illuminated display fixture of claim 12, wherein said light source is an elongated, fluorescent lighting element extending substantially the entire width of said fixture.

14. An illuminated product display fixture for displaying articles, comprising:

an upstanding frame member having a vertical back and a pair of forwardly extending sidewalls;

a plurality of vertically spaced, forwardly extending tiers positioned within said frame, the widths of the respective tiers decreasing from the lowermost tier to the uppermost tier;

housing elements carried between each of said spaced-apart tiers, said housings being of generally paraboloidal cross section and extending transversely substantially the entire width of said frame, and being permanently attached thereto;

reflector elements covering the concave faces of each of said housings;

an elongated, fluorescent lighting element positioned within each of said housings, and extending substantially the entire width of said frame; and

a plurality of removable modules nested within said housings forwardly of said fluorescent lighting sources, each of said modules providing a plurality of inwardly extending pockets having sidewalls and generally planar backwalls, said backwalls being spaced from said fluorescent lighting sources.

15. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 14, wherein said fixture includes three vertically aligned housings.

16. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 15, including a rearwardly extending envelope rack positioned between two of said housings and extending substantially the entire width of said frame.

17. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 14, wherein a pair of removable modules are positioned in an abutting side-by-side relationship to substantially cover each of said housings.

18. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 14, wherein said backwalls of said pockets are selectively covered with a reflective material, thereby increasing the amount of light directed through the uncovered translucent portions of said modules.

19. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 14, including a pair of removable display elements positioned atop said fixture in side-by-side relationship, each of said elements having a reflector of generally paraboloidal cross-section extending substantially the entire width thereof and an independent, elongated, fluorescent lighting source extending substantially the entire width thereof spaced apart from said reflector, and a removable module composed of translucent plastic material positioned forwardly of said lighting source, said module having a plurality of inwardly extending rows to cover substantially the entire width of said element.

20. The illuminated product display fixture of claim 14, wherein one of said modules is provided with a generally planar facing for the reception of informational indicia.

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US4655353 *Dec 5, 1984Apr 7, 1987American Greetings CorporationKnock-down merchandise display fixture
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US8919579May 10, 2010Dec 30, 2014American Greetings CorporationUltra narrow flexible retail display for greeting card and non-greeting card merchandise
US8943719Jan 17, 2007Feb 3, 2015American Greetings CorporationMethod and apparatus for marketing greeting cards
US8955694Sep 4, 2013Feb 17, 2015American Greetings CorporationGreeting card display fixture
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Classifications
U.S. Classification362/127, 312/117, 40/124.2, 362/224, D06/683.1
International ClassificationA47F11/10, A47F11/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47F11/10
European ClassificationA47F11/10