Patent application title: BAG WITH ATTACHED FOLDABLE MAT
Rebecca Lesser (East Patchogue, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AA45F500FI
Class name: Package and article carriers carried by animate bearer article held by receiver
Publication date: 2009-05-14
Patent application number: 20090120978
A bag for carrying items such as food items, the bag having an attached
foldable mat that may be selectively opened or closed by the user. When
in the open position the mat provides a surface usable by the user for
eating or the like. When in the closed position the mat is secured
against the enclosure and out of the way of the user.
1. A bag for carrying items comprisinga. an enclosure comprising a cavity
for carrying items and an opening for placing items into the cavity and
removing items from the cavity;b. a foldable mat attached to the
enclosure; andc. securing means for securing the foldable mat in a closed
2. The bag of claim 1 wherein the mat is fixedly attached to the enclosure.
3. The bag of claim 1 wherein the mat is removably attached to the enclosure.
4. The bag of claim wherein the mat is attached to the enclosure along an edge of the enclosure to form a hinge assembly and allow the mat to pivot with respect to the enclosure along the hinge assembly.
5. The bag of claim 1 wherein the mat comprises a plurality of sections adjoined along at least one hinge, wherein the sections may be folded with respect to each other.
6. The bag of claim 1 wherein the mat comprises:a left flap comprising a near left section and a far left section adjoined by a left flap hinge;a center flap comprising a near center section and a far center section adjoined by a center flap hinge; anda right flap comprising a near right section and a far right section adjoined by a right flap hinge;wherein said left flap adjoins said center flap along a left lengthwise hinge, and said right flap adjoins said center flap along a right lengthwise hinge;wherein said left flap is foldable on top of said center flap along the left lengthwise hinge, and said right flap is foldable on top of said center flap along the right lengthwise hinge;wherein said far left section, said far center section, and said far right section are then foldable on top of said near left section, said near center section, and said near far right section along the left flap hinge, the center flap hinge, and the right flap hinge in order to form a folded mat; andwherein the folded mat is securable by the securing means against the enclosure in a closed position.
7. The bag of claim 1 wherein the securing means comprises a hook and loop attachment device.
8. The bag of claim 1 wherein the securing means comprises a flap under which the foldable mat may be secured.
9. The bag of claim wherein the mat is attached to the enclosure along an edge of the enclosure to form a hinge assembly and allow the mat to pivot with respect to the enclosure along the hinge assembly.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims the benefit and filing priority of copending U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/002,923 filed Nov. 13, 2007.
This invention relates to bags for carrying items such as food items, and in particular to a bag having an attached foldable mat that may be selectively opened or closed by the user.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Bags for carrying food items, such as lunchboxes, are popular with children who bring their lunches and/or snacks to school. Usually the children will sit at a table in a cafeteria and take their lunch out to eat at the designated time. The tables at which they sit often present unsanitary conditions since other children may have just left the table after eating their lunch, and the table may not have been cleaned or disinfected. Parents may place into the lunchbox paper towels, napkins or other devices on which the lunch should be placed for eating, but many times the children may forget to lay out the napkin or opt not to use it for fear of reprisal by classmates.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is a bag for carrying items such as food items. The bag has an enclosure with a cavity for carrying items and an opening for placing items into the cavity and removing items from the cavity. The bag also has a foldable mat attached to the enclosure which may be unfolded to the open position for laying the food items out and then folded to the closed position for transport. The bag also has securing means such as a flap with a VELCRO brand hook and loop device for securing the foldable mat in the closed position.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention bag with attached foldable mat;
FIG. 2 is a top view thereof;
FIG. 3 is a front view thereof;
FIG. 4 is a left side view thereof;
FIG. 5 is a right view thereof;
FIG. 6 is a rear view thereof;
FIG. 7 is a bottom view thereof;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view thereof showing the attached mat in an unfolded position;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view thereof showing the attached mat in a partially folded position; and
FIG. 10 is a perspective view thereof showing the attached mat in a further partially folded position.
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
The present invention is a bag designed for containing, carrying or storing items such as food items, such as a lunchbox. The bag may be made from any durable washable material including plastics, metals and combinations thereof. The bag may be formed into any shape or dimension which is capable of containing, carrying or storing the food items. Some examples include rectangular, square, triangular, circular, cylindrical, conical, hexagonal, octagonal and combinations thereof.
The bags described herein may include a series of walls to form the enclosures. In embodiments, the bag may include a front wall, a back wall, a top wall, a bottom wall and at least one side wall. In some embodiments, the front and back walls are connected to each other via the top, bottom and side walls. The walls may be connected using any suitable means capable of allowing the enclosure to contain, carry or store one's food.
In one embodiment, the enclosure includes a top wall, a bottom wall, a front wall, a back wall and two side walls. The side walls connect the front and back walls and also form an apex at the top wall of the bag.
The positioning of the walls is designed to form at least one cavity inside the enclosure in which a users personal items, such as food, may be placed. In some embodiments, the bag includes a single cavity. In some embodiments, the enclosures may include additional inner walls which form additional cavities. It is envisioned that the additional cavities may be configured to store certain personal items, such as a thermos, sandwich bag, utensils, napkins, icepacks, and other storage bins. Any number of interior cavities may be formed in the bag.
The bags described herein also include at least one opening in which a user's personal items may be passed between the inside of the cavity and the exterior of the bag. The opening may be positioned on any outer wall of the enclosure. It is envisioned that the at least one opening is configured in a manner sufficient in size to allow for the passage of a user's food. The opening may be created by part of one of the exterior walls being movably attached to the enclosure. The opening may be movably attached using any known method including, but meant to limited to, magnets, rivets, hooks, VELCRO hook and loop devices, buttons, snaps, zippers, slots, grooves and male/female engaging members. In particularly useful embodiments, at least one opening is positioned at the top of the bag for the passage of items between the cavity and the exterior of the bag. It is envisioned that a portion of the exterior wall of the bag may be capable of pivoting away from the exterior of the bag in a manner which creates the opening. It is further envisioned that the pivotable portion of the exterior of the bag is capable of pivoting back to the original position thereby closing the opening in the bag.
Attached to the bag is a placemat or mat. The mat may be made from the same or different material that is used to form the bag. In embodiments, the mat may be simply be a piece of relatively planar durable washable material which is movably attached to the bag in order to allow a user of the bag to move the mat from the bag and into a position in which the mat lies relatively flat on top of a table or bench and creates a clean place for the user to place his food while eating his lunch. In embodiments, the mat is formed of cardboard panels which are encased in a durable cover material, such as plastics, which is water-tight, cleanable, and made to withstand multiple uses and cleanings.
The mat may be made from a single piece of material or in some embodiments the mat may be made from multiple pieces of material which are connected to one another in a foldable manner. It is envisioned that in alternative embodiments, the mat may be a single piece of material which includes extendable flaps stored within the single piece of material. Following the removal of the mat from the bag, the extendable flaps, which are stored within the material, may be extended or withdrawn from the material to expand the area in which the mat covers.
In embodiments, the mat is fixedly attached to the bag. In other embodiments, the place mat is removably attached to the bag. Some non-limiting examples of useful ways of attaching the mat to the bag include, stitching welding, magnets, rivets, hooks, VELCRO hook and loop devices, tape, buttons, snaps, zippers, slots, grooves and male/female engaging members. In some embodiments, the bag and mat are formed as one monolithic structure. In other embodiments, the bag and mat are formed separately.
In addition to offering the user of the bag a cleanable area to place his food, the mat may further include a writing surface which allows someone to leave a message on at least one side of the mat. The writing surface may be erasable. In addition, the bag may include a writing utensil holder for storing a writing utensil, such as a marker, chalk, crayon, pencil, pen and the like.
In some embodiments, the bag includes an additional opening positioned behind the mat on one of the exterior walls. Movement of the mat into a position for receiving one's food on a table may expose the additional opening. Such an opening would allow direct access to one's food when the mat is being used.
It is envisioned that the bag may include a light source designed to light up any portion of the bag, including the inside cavity of the bag as well as any exterior wall or portion of the bag. The light source may also be used to light up the mat. Some useful, non-limiting examples of include LED lighting, LCD lighting, fluorescent lighting, phosphorescent lighting and combinations thereof.
It is further envisioned that the bags described herein may include a temperature changing means, which allows any portion of the bag to be heated or cooled, which may be used to keep the user's food warm or cold. The temperature changing means may be positioned inside the cavity of the bag or may be positioned on the mat.
In some embodiments, the cavity of the bag may include a compartment designed to receive the temperature changing means, such as an ice-pack or heat-pack. In particularly useful embodiments, the compartment may be positioned on the bottom of the cavity. In other embodiments, the temperature changing means may include a heating or cooling element which is connected to a power source, such as a battery, an electrical adapter or solar panels. The heating or cooling element may be controlled by a thermostat. The temperature changing means may be permanent or removable from the bag or mat. it is envisioned that the heating or cooling element may be incorporated into the mat in a manner which allows the mat to become hot or cold. It is further envisioned that the mat may change colors as the temperature changes to inform the user of the bag of the current temperature of the mat for safety purposes.
The enclosures described herein may include at least one handle for carrying the enclosure. The handle may be positioned on an exterior wall of the enclosure. In some embodiments, more than one handle is used to carry the enclosure. In some embodiments, the handle is expandable to fit any size hand or to be used as a strap so the bag may be carried over the shoulder. In some embodiments, two handles are incorporated onto the bag, the two handles may be designed to engage one another in a manner which assures the opening in the lunch box is thoroughly closed. The handles may be made from any suitable material including, but not limited to, leather straps, woven materials, plastics, metals and the like.
In other embodiments, one or more handles may be positioned on the exterior of the mat. The mat handle may be used to remove the mat from the exterior wall of the bag.
The enclosures may further include additional compartments which may be permanently or removably attached to an exterior wall of the bag. Such compartments may be made used to carry additional personal items, such as a wallet, keys, make-up, a brush, an article of clothing, or tools. In some embodiments, the additional compartment may be expandable to accommodate different size items. Such an expandable compartment may be formed using a mesh netting which is attached to the exterior of the bag.
The enclosures may also include an identification plate which may positioned along any exterior portion of the bag, the identification plate may be used to place personal information of the owner on the exterior of the bag for identification purposes. The identification plate is designed to be changeable and removable. In embodiments, the plate may be covered by a transparent material, i.e. clear plastic, to protect the plate from physical damage. In particularly useful embodiments, the plate is positioned near the top of the bag.
The enclosures may also be designed to include a latch or clip which allows the user to either attach additional items to the enclosure or alternatively, attach the enclosure to other enclosures, such as a backpack. Some additional items which may be clipped or latched onto the exterior of the bag include keys, ID tag, wallet, flash light, MACE, water bottle, pagers, telephones, and other communication devices and the like.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention will now be described with respect to the Figures. FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the bag 2 which has an enclosure 4 and a foldable mat 6. In this illustration the foldable mat 6 is in the closed or folded position. FIGS. 8-10 illustrate the mat 6 in various open positions as will be further described. Also shown in FIG. 1 is a flap 8 attached to the front wall 14 of the enclosure 4, which functions as a securing means for securing the mat 6 in the closed position as shown. On the underside of the flap 8 is one part of a hook and loop device such as a VELCRO device, and the mating part is located on the adjoining part of the mat 6 (not shown). This provides for easy opening and closing of the flap 8 as desired. Other types of securing means may be used such as snaps, buttons, clasps and the like.
The bag 2 may also have a handle 10 as shown. The bag may also have a pair of D-rings 46 for use with a shoulder strap as known in the art. There is a cavity formed within the enclosure (not shown) into which the food items are placed and removed when desired. An opening 12 is provided to enable the food items to be inserted into and removed from the cavity within the enclosure 4. Shown in FIG. 1 is a zipper for securing the opening 12 of the cavity, although other devices may be used as previously described.
FIGS. 2-7 show various other views of the bag 2 as previously described. Note that in FIG. 6, there is a mesh pocket 50 on the rear side of the bag. Also an identification tag 44 may provided as well as a hook 48 which will enable the bag to be connected to a backpack. These optional features are known in the art and need not be discussed further herein
FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of the bag 2 showing the attached mat 6 in an unfolded position. In this embodiment, the mat 6 is formed from six sections that are adjoined to each other by various hinged portions that are defined by stitching as will be described. In particular, a left flap 21 includes a near left section 20 and a far left section 22 that are adjoined to each other by a left flap hinge 24. Likewise, a right flap 23 includes a near right section 32 and a far right section 34 that are adjoined to each other by a right flap hinge 36. There is also a center flap 25 that includes a near center section 26 and a far center section 28 that are adjoined to each other by a center flap hinge 30.
The left flap 21 is adjoined to the center flap 25 along a left lengthwise hinge 40. Similarly, the right flap 23 is adjoined to the center flap 25 along a right lengthwise hinge 42.
The mat in the preferred embodiment is fabricated from a sheet of material with stitching as shown by the dashed lines in FIG. 8 to form the various hinges described. In particular, two sheets of material are used to sandwich a layer of thin padding that will as a result provide the mat 6 with a firm but manipulatable structure. There will be little or no padding at the hinged areas defined by the stitching, which then allows those areas to function as a hinge that is easily bendable when desired. Moreover, the visual appearance of the stitched areas acts as an intuitive guide for users to be able to fold the mat after it has been opened to the position shown in FIG. 8. This may be especially relevant to young users such as preschool children using the bag as a school lunchbox.
In the open position shown in FIG. 8, the user will be able to remove his or her food items from the enclosure 4, and then place them on the mat 6 in preparation for eating. As previously described, this creates a sanitary environment since the food will not come into contact with the table below. Once the user is done, he may fold the mat and secure it against the enclosure 4 as will now be described.
As shown by the curved arrows in FIG. 8, the user folds the left flap 21 on top of the center flap 25 along the left lengthwise hinge 40, and the right flap 23 on top of the center flap 25 along the right lengthwise hinge 42. This of course may be done on any order as desired. In the preferred embodiment, the right flap 23 will just meet but not overlap the left flap 21 when both are folded on top of center flap 25. FIG. 9 shows the left flap 21 fully folded onto the center flap 25 and the right flap 23 partially folded onto the center flap 25. Once both flaps 21, 23 are folded onto center flap 25 so as to be substantially flat, then the user may take the far composite portion 27 (which consists of the far left section 22, the far center section 28, and the far right section 34) and fold it over the near composite portion 29 (which consists of the near left section 20, the near center section 26, and the near right section 32) along the left flap hinge 24, the center flap hinge 30, and the right flap hinge 36. FIG. 10 shows the result of these folding steps for the mat 6.
Then, the folded mat 6 may be pivoted along the hinge 38 that exists where the mat 6 is attached to the bag 4. The flap 8 is opened and the mat 6 is tucked in and secured by the securing means described above. When the mat is desired to be unfolded the reverse process is undertaken by the user.
Although the present disclosure includes some specific embodiments, as further shown in the attached drawings, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that innumerable variations, modifications, and extensions of the basic principles described herein may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.
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