Patent application title: PRODUCT MERCHANDISER
David Haaf (San Rafael, CA, US)
David Haaf (San Rafael, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47F700FI
Class name: Special article stacked articles having feature perfecting the dispensing of articles
Publication date: 2012-04-19
Patent application number: 20120091078
A device for the support and display of merchandise. The device includes
a base, a front panel, rear panel and a pair of side panels the latter
extending between the front and back panels and connected to the base to
create an inner volume. A series of perforations are formed within each
side panel. The perforations are configured such that elements of each
side panel are selectively extendible within the inner volume.
1. A device for the support and display of merchandise, said device
comprising an inner volume formed by a base, a front panel, a rear panel
and a pair of side panels extending between said front and back panels, a
series of perforations formed within each side panel, said perforations
being configured such that elements of each side panel are selectively
extendible within said volume.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein said front panel, back panel, and side panels orthogonally extend from said base.
3. The device of claim 2 wherein said front panel is smaller than said back panel.
4. The device of claim 3 wherein top edges of said side panel slope upwardly and away from said base as its side panels extend from said front panel to said back panel.
5. The device of claim 4 wherein spacing between said perforations and said top edges of said side panels remain substantially constant from perforation to perforation.
6. The device of claim 1 wherein the number of perforations is the same on each side panel.
7. A method of displaying multiple units of merchandise employing a device, said device comprising an inner volume formed by a base, a front panel, a rear panel and a pair of side panels extending between said front and back panels, providing a series of perforations formed within each side panel, said perforations being configured such that elements of each side panel are selectively extendible within said volume, said method comprising stacking said multiple units of merchandise within said device.
8. The method of claim 7 wherein at least one pair of said elements are extended to protrude within said inner volume.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein a sufficient number of said elements are extended within said volume to separate each unit of merchandise from other units of merchandise and to orient said units of merchandise substantially parallel to said front and back panels.
 The present invention deals with a device and method of using it for support and display of merchandise to insure that as units of merchandise are being sold, the remaining unsold units remain properly displayed. Through the use of the present invention, units of merchandise remain oriented in a substantially parallel vertically extending relationship to one another as the display is depleted.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Oftentimes, products to be sold at retail, and particularly high volume low cost items, are shipped to retailers in packaging intended to be placed directly upon a retailer's shelf for presentation to customers. In turning to FIG. 1A, stacked items such as prepackaged goods referred to as merchandise units 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d, 11e, etc. are tightly stacked within merchandiser 10, the merchandiser having a base 12, front panel 13, rear panel 14, and side panels; only side panel 15 being depicted in FIG. 1A. Identifying labeling is prepositioned on front panel 13 which may also include suitable bat codes and other indicia enabling the retailer to simply remove merchandiser 10 from its shipping container, followed by placing the assembly directly upon a store shelf. This minimizes labor costs and proves to be an effective way of appropriately displaying merchandise for sale.
 Although merchandise units tightly fitted within the inner volume of merchandiser 10 present the appropriate visual appearance (FIG. 1A), displays of this nature become less attractive as merchandise units are removed from merchandiser 10. As noted in FIG. 1B, as the merchandise units closest to front panel 13 are withdrawn, unsold merchandise units 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d and 11e fall forward within merchandiser 10 resulting in an unattractive, poor visual presentation to the consumer.
 There are merchandisers that contain permanent slots that support merchandise units and maintain their appropriate orientations. However, permanent slots reduce the usable inner volume of the merchandiser resulting in fewer numbers of merchandise units capable of being nested within the appropriate inner volume 16 during shipment and storage. They also cannot be used to support and display merchandise that is not structurally rigid and are composed of structural, usually cardboard, elements that are more extensive than required of the present invention.
 Thus, it is an object of the present invention to provide a merchandiser which enables a user to maximize stacking density during manufacture and shipment to the appropriate warehouse and retail establishment.
 It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a merchandiser which can selectively orient merchandise therein when packing densities are reduced through the removal of merchandise units there from.
 These and further objects will be more readily apparent when considering the following disclosure and appended claims.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 A device for the support and display of merchandise. The device includes a base, a font panel, rear panel and a pair of side panels the latter extending between the front and back panels and connected to the base to create an inner volume. A series of perforations are formed within each side panel. The perforations are configured such that elements of each side panel are selectively extendible within the inner volume.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 FIG. 1A is a side plan view of a merchandiser of the prior art having a plurality of merchandise units
 FIG. 1B is a side cross sectional view of the merchandiser of FIG. 1A after some of its merchandise units have been removed.
 FIG. 2A is a side plan view of the merchandiser of the present invention in a first orientation.
 FIG. 2B is a side plan view of the merchandiser of FIG. 2A in a second orientation.
 FIG. 3 is a top down view of the merchandiser of the present invention devoid of merchandise units.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the merchandiser of FIG. 2B.
 FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of a further embodiment of the present invention.
 FIGS. 6 and 7 are top perspective views of the embodiment of FIG. 5 having merchandise supported therein.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Novel features which are characteristic of the invention, as to organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof will be better understood from the following description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for illustration description only and are not intended as definitions of the limits of the invention. The various features of novelty which characterize the invention are recited with particularity in the claims.
 There has been broadly outlined more important features of the invention in the summary above and in order that the detailed description which follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and which will form additional subject matter of the claims appended hereto. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based readily may be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important therefore, that claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
 Certain terminology and the derivations thereof may be used in the following description for convenience and reference only, and will not be limiting. For example, words such as "upward," "downward," "left," and "right" refer to directions in the drawings to which reference is made unless otherwise stated. Similar words such as "inward" and "outward" refer to directions toward and away from, respectively, the geometric center of a device or area and designated parts thereof. Reference in the singular tense include the plural and vice versa, unless otherwise noted.
 Turning to FIGS. 2A through 4, the merchandiser of the present invention can be visualized to assist in one's understanding of its functionality.
 In reference to FIG. 2A, merchandise units 11a-11e, etc., are shown to be tightly packed within internal volume 30 (FIG. 3) much like the arrangement of FIG. 1A. Because the merchandise units are tightly packed within internal volume 30 behind front panel 31 and in front of rear panel 32 and residing upon base 33 and between side panels 34 and 35 there is no particular need for the present invention. However, to avoid the haphazard look of FIG. 1B, perforations 21a, 21b, 21c, etc., are configured within side panels 34 and 35 for use as needed.
 Turning to FIG. 2B, it is noted that merchandise units for ward of units 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d and 11e have been removed from internal volume 30 generally by consumers who select the forward most merchandise unit, closest to front panel 31 at point of purchase. In doing so, to avoid the poor visual presentation of FIG. 1B, that is, to avoid the merchandise units from haphazardly falling forward, perforations in side walls 34 and 35 can be selectively extendible within volume 30. In doing so, the remaining merchandise units 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d, and 11e remain upright extending orthogonally from base 33 thus providing to the consumer the appropriate visual appearance.
 It is noted that, again, in turning to FIG. 2B, only perforations 22a-22e are caused to extend within inner volume 30 for those are the only elements necessary to maintain the remaining merchandise units properly oriented. However, any number of elements within side panels 34 and 35 can be pressed to extend within inner volume 30 as shown as elements 35a-i from side panel 34 and 36a-i from side panel 35. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 4, although only merchandise units 11a-11e need to be retained in their appropriate upright orientations, all of the elements of FIG. 3 can extend within inner volume 30 at the discretion of the user. Oftentimes this is done to enable merchandise units 11a-11e to move forward proximate front panel 31 to enhance product positioning on the retailer shelf.
 When reviewing all of the figures as a group, certain characteristics of the present invention become quite apparent. Firstly, because the perforated elements need not be pressed to extend within inner volume 30, merchandise unit packing can be most efficient not requiring spacers which unduly occupy inner volume 30 unless needed. Secondly, elements can be caused to extend within inner volume 30 selectively. Although not shown, it should be readily apparent that the elements can easily be extended by simply asserting one's thumb or forefinger at the appropriate perforation which pushes the perforated portion of the side wall selectively within inner volume 30. Similarly, these same elements can be pushed back to be flush with the side wall when they are no longer necessary. Thus, merchandiser 20 can be used repeatedly for a variety of applications further noting that when merchandise units vary in thickness, alternate perforations can be pressed to extend within inner volume 30 to account for such variation.
 As preferred embodiments, it is noted that front panel 31, back panel 32 and side panels 34 and 35 extend orthogonally from base 33. Further, font panel 31 is generally smaller than back panel 32 such that top edges 27 and 28 slope upwardly and away from base 33 as side panels extend from front panel 31 to back panel 32. As noted by reference to the various figures, perforations 21a, 21b, 21c, etc. are shown as a preferred non-limiting embodiment being spaced from top edges 27 to 28 consistently from perforation to perforation. This need not be the case, however. As a further preferred, non-limiting embodiment, it is shown in FIG. 3 that the number of perforations can be the same on each of side panel which may or may not be evenly spaced from perforation to perforation.
 Reference is next made to FIG. 5. As noted previously, the examples illustrated in the previous figures all depicted merchandisers having an equal number of perforations on opposite side panels perhaps best depicted in FIG. 3. However, this need not be the case. In this regard, it is noted in FIG. 5 that merchandiser 50 has, on its left side panel, three perforations resulting in inwardly extending elements 51, 52 and 53 while right side panel is provided with two perforations resulting in inwardly extending elements 54 and 55.
 The embodiment of FIG. 5 is interesting in several regards. First of all, it reinforces the recognition that the present invention need not have an equal number of perforations on each opposing side panel. Secondly, in turning to FIG. 6, when dealing with merchandise which is irregularly shaped it can be a benefit to have unevenly spaced and oddly numbered perforations to best accommodate such objects. In FIG. 6, a folded carpet scratcher 55 which is typically sold to cat owners, is shown as containing folded fabric connected by a cardboard sleeve 43. When folded, a v-shaped cross section is established with the "v" portion 41 facing to the left and the open portion 42 facing to the right. Because portion 42 occupies more space than portion 41, such an object can be more readily accommodated by merchandiser 50 whereby inwardly extending element 54 is spaced further from back wall 44 than is inwardly extending element 51.
 Finally, FIG. 7 is shown in which folded scratcher elements 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60 are supported by merchandiser 50 presenting a clean, uniform display to a consumer. There is no corresponding merchandiser available today which could accommodate such oddly shaped "soft" products in such an esthetically pleasing presentation as depicted herein.
 The above disclosure is sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention, and provides the best mode of practicing the invention presently contemplated by the inventor. While there is provided herein a full and complete disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the invention, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction, dimensions, relationships, or operations as described. Various modifications, alternative constructions, changes and equivalents will readily occur to those skilled in the art and may be employed as suitable without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Such changes might involve alternative materials, components, structural arrangements, sizes, shapes, forms, functions, operational features or the like.
 Therefore, the above description and illustration should not be considered as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.
Patent applications by David Haaf, San Rafael, CA US
Patent applications in class Having feature perfecting the dispensing of articles
Patent applications in all subclasses Having feature perfecting the dispensing of articles