Patent application title: Balloon Support with Optional Advertising Element
Ronald A. Feldstein (Blue Bell, PA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63H3300FI
Class name: Amusement devices: toys convertible from, or serving as diverse article
Publication date: 2012-01-19
Patent application number: 20120015581
A support for retaining inflated balloons in an upright, uniform, and
visually pleasing position is disclosed. The support includes lower and
higher tie-down coils that are separated from one another to define a
space therebetween wherein an inflated balloon may be situated in an
upright position. Each coil is arranged for retaining an inflated balloon
therein. A segment extends within the space between the tie-down coils
and includes an arcuate portion shaped to enable the inflated balloon to
be situated upright within said space.
1. A support for retaining inflated balloons in an upright and visually
pleasing position, each inflated balloon including an outer contour when
inflated, said support comprising: a. lower and higher tie-down coils
separated from one another to define a space therebetween wherein an
inflated balloon may be situated, each said coil being arranged for
retaining an inflated balloon therein; and, b. a connection segment
extending within said space and connecting said tie-down coils, said
connection segment including an arcuate portion shaped to retain the
inflated balloon in an upright position within said space.
2. The support of claim 1, wherein said lower and higher tie-down coils are aligned along a center axis of said support defined by the circumference of said coils.
3. The support of claim 1, additionally comprising a display extension situated adjacent to said lower tie-down coil and having a free end.
4. The support of claim 3, wherein the free end of said display extension is configured for penetrating a ground surface.
5. The support of claim 4, additionally comprising a stake extending from said display extension in proximity to said free end, said stake configured for penetrating a ground surface.
6. The support of claim 5, wherein said stake comprises a laterally extending portion arranged for engagement by the foot of a user and a pointed lower end for penetrating a ground surface.
7. The support of claim 3, wherein each tie-down coil is substantially normal to said display extension.
8. The support of claim 1, wherein the support comprises one continuous material of substantially similar diameter.
9. The support of claim 8, wherein said diameter is approximately 0.25 inches.
10. The support of claim 5, wherein said stake is arranged for engagement by the foot of a user of said support.
11. The support of claim 1, additionally comprising an advertising element coupled to said support.
12. The support of claim 11, wherein said advertising element is removeably attachable to said support.
13. The support of claim 12, wherein said connection segment additionally comprises a linear portion, and wherein said advertising element is removeably attachable to said linear portion.
14. The support of claim 1, additionally comprising an additional tie-down coil situated above said higher tie-down coil and separated from said higher tie-down coil to define a second space therebetween wherein an inflated balloon may be situated, said additional tie-down coil being arranged for retaining an inflated balloon therein, said support additionally comprising a second connection segment extending within said second space and connecting said additional tie-down coil to said higher tie-down coil, said additional connection segment including an arcuate portion shaped to enable the inflated balloon to be situated upright within said second space.
15. The support of claim 1, wherein the balloon is inflated with ambient air.
FIELD OF INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a support for supporting one or more balloons in an upright position, the support provided with an optional advertising element.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 In many areas, inflatable balloons are used as decorations for various purposes such as celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and other similar personal and business party-type events. Groups of inflatable balloons may also be used as toys. Inflatable balloons also may be utilized for gaining attention such as in professional displays and for other advertising purposes. For example, one or more inflatable balloons may be used for drawing consumer attention to real estate properties and related signage promoting the sale of such properties through open houses, or otherwise. Often such inflatable balloons are attached to such advertising signage.
 Balloons usually are constructed of latex rubber, Mylar, or a non-elastic polymer film. Balloons are inflated with ambient air or a lighter than air gas, usually helium. When helium is used, the balloons will float upwardly and when air is used, the balloons will hang downwardly.
 Helium-filled balloons are very popular novelty items, and have become common for various purposes. One of the reasons that helium-filled balloons are so popular is that they float and bob and weave with the air currents due to their lighter-than-air property. However, due to increased demand for helium, it is becoming difficult to offer helium-filled balloons at prices agreeable to potential balloon consumers. As helium prices increase, helium-filled balloon prices increase, and helium-filled balloon demand decreases. In addition, there has been some environmental concern over metallized nylon balloons, as they fail to biodegrade or shred as rubber balloons do, and a helium balloon released into the atmosphere can travel a long way before finally bursting or deflating. Release of these types of balloons into the atmosphere is considered harmful to the environment. These types of balloons can also conduct electricity on the surface thereof and released foil balloons can become entangled in power lines and cause power outages.
 The present invention thus seeks to address the present difficulties associated with helium-filled balloons by providing a balloon support that enables balloons filled with free or much less expensive ambient air to remain secured therein in a visually pleasing, uniform and upright position without the need for helium.
 Balloon holders of various design exist in the prior art. Some generally comprise a shaped cup for holding a single balloon. A rod, dowel, or stick structure is attached to the holding cup and extends therefrom. The cup may have a hole or slot for securing the balloon to the cup. The neck or knot of a balloon is attached in some fashion to the cup. In this manner, even during high winds and other forms of inclement weather, the balloon remains anchored to the cup and in an upright position and seems to replicate the properties of lighter-than-air helium balloons. The prior art also includes balloon holders arranged for holding a plurality of balloons in a decorative cluster where the balloons are situated next to each other.
 There exist balloon holders or stands that are arranged for placement at the location of a For Sale sign and used as part of advertising the sale of a house or property for attracting potential customers. Such a balloon holder can be in the form of a stick that is arranged for placement in the ground or dirt, the holder being arranged for displaying a single ambient-air-filled balloon in an upright position to give the appearance that the balloon is filled with helium. Such balloon holders may be arranged for attachment to the For Sale sign or may be arranged for situating in close proximity thereto. However, such balloon holders, stands, or sticks are often arranged for retaining a single balloon in an upright position. Therefore, multiple balloon holders would be required for displaying multiple balloons.
 Alternatively, there exist balloon holders or stands that are arranged for holding more than one balloon filled with ambient air. However, these holders are not arranged for retaining all balloons in an upright position. Such holders do not provide a uniform appearance and do not give the impression that all balloons are helium filled.
 It would be advantageous to have a balloon holder that is arranged for retaining more than one balloon, wherein all retained balloons are filled with ambient air, yet are retained in an upright, visually pleasing and uniform position without the need for helium, and wherein all balloons will remain secured to the holder, especially during high winds and other forms of inclement weather.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 A support for retaining inflated balloons in an upright, uniform, and visually pleasing position is disclosed. The support includes lower and higher tie-down coils that are separated from one another to define a space therebetween wherein an inflated balloon may be situated in an upright position. Each coil is arranged for retaining an inflated balloon therein. A segment extends within the space between the tie-down coils and includes an arcuate portion shaped to enable the inflated balloon to be situated upright within said space.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is side elevational view of the balloon support of the present invention holding three balloons (shown in phantom) in an upright position, one above the other;
 FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the balloon support of the present invention holding three balloons (shown in phantom) in an upright position, one above the other;
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the balloon support of the present invention;
 FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1; and,
 FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Referring now in detail to the various figures of the drawings wherein like reference characters refer to like parts, there is shown at 10 in FIGS. 1 through 3, an embodiment of the balloon support of the present invention. As best shown in these figures, the support 10 includes a plurality, e.g., three, tie-down coils, which are indicated at 14, 18 and 22. Each tie-down coil is provided for retaining and supporting a single balloon, indicated at 26, 30, and 34, in an upright position. Referring now to FIG. 4, before attaching a balloon to a tie-down coil, the balloon is inflated through its open neck 38 and knotted at its neck. The balloon may be inflated with a pressurized gas, e.g., ambient air. As shown in FIG. 4, the knotted neck 38 of the balloon is pinched between loops of the tie-down coil to retain the balloon within the tie-down coil in an upright position.
 Each tie-down coil (e.g., 14) is helically wound in a manner such that the individual coiled loops lightly contact each other or are slightly spaced from each other to enable the knotted balloon neck 38 to be fitted and retained therebetween. Each tie-down coil (e.g., 14) is generally circular and of a suitable circumference such that the lower portion of the inflated balloon (e.g., 26), may be seated within the tie-down coil to make contact substantially around the circumference of the tie-down coil (e.g., 14) and be retained therein in an upright position. For example, the diameter of each tie-down coil could be approximately two inches.
 In this manner, each ambient air-filled balloon will be retained in the same upright position and give the appearance that they are helium filled. Also, while the tie-down coils are illustrated herein as being substantially circular, some degree of ellipticity will still allow for adequate seating of the balloon therein. In this manner, although the balloon is filled with ambient air, it will remain upright within the stand 10 and give the more visually appealing appearance that it is helium filled.
 The exemplary support 10 shown in the figures includes three tie-down coils indicated at 14, 18, and 22, each having an inflated balloon, 26, 30, and 34 retained therein, respectively. In each instance the knotted neck 38 of the inflated balloon is stretched and placed between the coiled loops of the tie-down coil to provide adequate tension to retain the inflated balloon in an upright position within the circular tie-down coil.
 Tie-down coils 14, 18, and 22 are spaced from one another by an adequate distance to allow a fully inflated balloon to be retained in an upright position in the space therebetween. Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, the support 10 includes a connection segment that extends between tie-down coil 14 and tie-down coil 18. The connection segment includes an arcuate portion 42 that is shaped to make contact with the balloon. The arcuate portion 42 serves to retain the inflated balloon 26 in the upright position when the balloon is secured within the tie-down coil 14. For example, the arcuate portion 42 will assist in retaining the balloon in an upright position in the event of heavy winds, which could move the balloon therefrom. For example, the arcuate portion 42 could be approximately twelve inches in height and include a radius of curvature of approximately six inches.
 The connection segment also includes a straight portion 44 to provide distance between balloon 26 and the balloon 30 secured thereabove to provide visually appealing effect. For example, the straight portion 44 could be approximately five inches in length. A similarly shaped connection segment extends between tie-down coil 18 and tie-down coil 22, which includes an arcuate portion 46 and a straight portion 48, these portions providing the same function as portions 42 and 44, as described above. As the tie-down coil 22 is situated at the top of the balloon support 10 and has no upwardly extending connection segment associated with it, the inflated balloon 34 retained within the tie-down coil 22 could be larger in size than the balloons 26 and 30 retained within tie-down coils 14 and 18, respectively, to provide a visually appealing effect.
 Referring again to FIGS. 1-3, the support 10 includes a display extension 50. The display extension 50 extends downwardly from the lowermost tie-down coil 14. At its lowermost end, the display extension 50 is free and is arranged for penetration into the ground. Optionally, the display extension 50 may be pointed at its free end. Also, in proximity to the free end of the display extension 50, there is provided a stake 54, which is also configured for penetrating the ground. The stake 54 comprises a lateral segment 54a that extends from the display extension 50 and is arranged for engagement by the foot of a user. The lateral segment 54a bends downwardly at a right angle and the stake 54 includes a lower end 54b which extends downwardly and optionally may be pointed for penetrating the ground surface. For example, the lateral segment 54a could be approximately 3.5 inches in length and the downwardly extending lower end 54b could be approximately 6 inches in length.
 By applying force, e.g., stepping on, the lateral segment 54a, the stake 54 along with the display extension 50 may be driven into the ground a sufficient depth such that the support 10 with multiple balloons 26, 30, and 34 retained therein may remain in an upright position, even during high winds and other inclement outdoor weather, without further support. In this manner, the support 10 of the present invention may be located in proximity to signage and utilized for drawing consumer attention to such signage, such as in connection with the sale of a house or property.
 Within available space provided on the support 10, such as on straight portions 44 and 48, one or more advertising elements 60 may optionally be provided removeably affixed to the support 10. As an option, the advertising element 60 could complement the signage, e.g., the For Sale sign, to which the support 10 is connected or adjacently positioned. Alternatively, the advertising element 60 could serve as sole advertising, such as a For Sale sign in connection with the sale of a house or property. Referring now to FIG. 5, the advertising element 60 is shown as including a vertically oriented pliant attachment mechanism 64 that enables the advertising element 60 to be removeably attached, e.g., snapped over, either of the straight portions 44 and 48. Although not shown in the drawings, the advertisement element 60 could be attached to the support 10 by other suitable fastening means, e.g., hook-and-loop fasteners, sold under the trademark Velcro.
 As best shown in FIG. 1, the attachment mechanism 64 is vertically oriented and positioned at the left end of the advertising element 60. Alternatively, the attachment mechanism 64 could be positioned and oriented at any other convenient location on the advertising element 60. For example, the attachment mechanism 64 could be vertically oriented and positioned centrally on the reverse side of the advertising element 60, or could be oriented vertically and positioned at the right end of the advertising element 60.
 The advertising element 60 may be formed of any suitable material, e.g., foam core board, or corrugated board. In known ways, the advertising piece 60 may be attached anywhere along the length of the support 10 in a manner that enables the advertising piece 60 to rotate about or spin around the support 10, for example, in response to the force of wind in the event the support 10 is placed in an outdoor location. Alternatively, in known ways, the advertising piece 60 may be attached to the support 10 in a manner to remain stationary or non-rotational.
 The display extension 50 is generally linear in shape and is of any suitable length to raise the balloons 26, 30, 34, and the advertising element 60 to a height suitable for maximizing visibility to viewers, e.g., consumers. For example, the height of the display extension 50 could be approximately eighteen inches, while the overall height of the support 10 could be approximately sixty inches.
 It is important to mention that although the support 10 illustrated in the drawings is shown as retaining three balloons in an upright position, it should be understood that the number of balloons retained by the support is merely exemplary and does not constitute a limitation on the present invention. For example, although the embodiment chosen for illustration herein is arranged for retaining three balloons, 26, 30, and 34, the support 10 could be arranged for securing a greater or lesser number of balloons in an upright position in the manner described above without departing from the scope of this invention.
 As may be appreciated from the figures, the support 10 may be formed of one continuous material so that the support 10 is of one-piece construction without needing attachments. For example the material may be metal or plastic or other suitable material. Many types of wire are suitable, for example music wire or hard drawn precoated zinc (galvanized). The support 10 may be made from any wire of any alloy. It may be precoated or uncoated; it may be coated after production. The support 10 may be made from stainless steel. The support 10 may be coated with paint, powder-coat, epoxy, zinc, chromium, cadmium, nickel, copper, or any other known coating. Spring tempered wire is stronger (more rigid) and avoids bending. A standard metal wire (not spring tempered) may allow parts of the support 10 to bend more easily. Round wire may be used, as well as square wire and "shaped" wire. The entire support 10 may be made from one piece of material, of substantially the same diameter. For example, the diameter of the entire support 10 could be 0.25 inches. Alternatively, the support 10 may be made of two-piece or other multi-piece construction, wherein the several pieces may be snapped together or screwed together in known ways. The present invention provides for a support 10 to secure one or more balloons even in inclement weather which may include high winds.
 While various embodiments have been shown and described, various modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustrations and not limitation.
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