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Expandable room barrier for children and pets, and system of use

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Title: Expandable room barrier for children and pets, and system of use.
Abstract: A soft, foam panel in a trapezoidal prism shape, multiple units of which can form an adaptable and expandable security barrier for children or pets. The foam panels come in a variety of lengths, heights, and end configurations, and are designed to be stable as independent units laid out next to each other with adequate stability to prevent a child from pushing them over, but, optionally, capable of being made additionally stable by being attached to one another at their ends by hook and loop or similar means of attachment and, optionally, weighted at the bottom for additional stability. By adding or taking away panels, and changing their angle of attachment, an adult can effectively adapt the invention to barricade off sections of rooms with a variety of shapes and sizes. For sanitary purposes, the foam panels are covered with a cover which can be easily removed for washing. ...


- Carlsbad, CA, US
Inventor: Wendy Sue Lippard
USPTO Applicaton #: #20070062651 - Class: 160135000 (USPTO) - 03/22/07 - Class 160 


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Related Patent Categories: Flexible Or Portable Closure, Partition, Or Panel, Plural Strip, Slat, Or Panel Type, Portable
The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20070062651, Expandable room barrier for children and pets, and system of use.



CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] None.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] This invention was not federally sponsored.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] This invention is directed toward a versatile and expandable child security device. The device is based upon soft, foam panels in a trapezoidal prism shape, multiple units of which can form an adaptable and expandable security barrier for children or pets. The foam panels come in a variety of lengths, heights, and end configurations, and are designed to be stable as independent units laid out next to each other with adequate stability to prevent a child from pushing them over, but, optionally, capable of being made additionally stable by being attached to one another at their ends by hook and loop or similar means of attachment and, optionally, weighted at the bottom for additional stability. By adding or taking away panels, and changing their angle of attachment, an adult can effectively adapt the invention to barricade off sections of rooms with a variety of shapes and sizes. For sanitary purposes, the foam panels are covered with a cover which can be easily removed for washing.

[0004] The need to confine children to a certain area undoubtedly began in prehistoric times, when it was necessary to keep children from wandering into dangerous areas (such as fire pits) or leaving the relative safety of the group's home and traveling into the surrounding territory, which in those days abounded with many of the same large predators and hazardous conditions that cause parents today to panic when they lose sight of their children outdoors. The first recorded child confinement device is the playpen, which consists of some sort of frame (adjustable or rigid), usually square or rectangular in shape, with edges high enough to keep children confined but short enough to allow an adult to step over the edges of the playpen. Some typical examples of playpens are found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,208,037 to Le Gai, U.S. Pat. No. 4,538,309 to Gunter, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,367,725 to Tsai. The adult places the child in the playpen, then steps into the playpen to remove the child at a later time. Since the adult has to step into and out of the playpen, the playpen's sides, by necessity, have to be short enough to allow an adult to easily and safely access the interior. Some playpens have doors which allow an adult to enter to deposit, withdraw, or tend to a child in the playpen. Even so, playpens have inherent limitations in that they are not adjustable to a wide variety of different room shapes and can only be used to confine a child to that particular location.

[0005] The prior has several examples of attempts to resolve this problem. For example, U.S. Design Pat. No. Des. 341,207 to Freese, et. al., Des. No. 335,261 to Abrams, et. al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,334 to Goodin, U.S. Pat. No. 6,536,163 to Monahan et. al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,536,502 to Britto, et. al., UK Patent Application GB 2041054 to Hermetische, et. al. WIPO PCT Patent Application WO 02/099238 A1 to Hicks, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,457,914 to Johnson describe adjustable security gates usually comprised of two or more sliding panels or a hinged, swinging, lockable gate, which can be used to seal off a doorway or stairway of varying widths. These adjustable gates are generally manufactured with a rigid frame in the shape of a dowel, tubing or rod, made of metal or wood which holds a panel, usually made of sheet plastic, plastic or metal mesh, grids, bars, or wood, where a planar element spans from the first frame to the second such that one can be adjustably moved along the track in which the first sits. The safety gate can be secured to the doorway or stairway edges to close off that entrance to a child, by means and mechanisms which are usable by an adult but not by a child to attach, set up, and remove the gate. While these inventions offer a means by which a user can secure a door against unwanted movement by a child, they do not allow a user to cordon off a section of a room as does the present invention.

[0006] US Patent Application No. 2004/0128932 A1 to Estape teaches a foam panel system which is secured to studs and other conventional framing materials in which the foam panels can be manufactured with a surface texture which resembles brick, stone, wood, and other surface textures and appearances. This invention does not provide for its use as a child security system.

[0007] US Patent Application No. 2005/005363 A1 to Giori also deals with use of foam blocks, in this case enclosing a foam core in a vacuum sealed cover chamber. Again, while the invention uses foam blocks it does not do so in a manner which allows for restriction a child's movements.

[0008] An invention which does create an expandable series of panels can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,722,146 to Kemeny. This patent teaches a portable display, such as one might find at a trade show, where a series of panels are connected at the edges have foam cores and outer surfaces which can be textured, painted, or upon which can be affixed trade show displays. U.S. Pat. No. 5,007,473 also deals with thin panels, attached at their edges, which, when made into a partition of more than one panel, can remain upright merely by adjusting the panels such that at least one panel is not directly in line with the others. While these inventions do provide devices which can be used such that multiple units of the invention are attached in a series, neither invention relates to childproofing a room, the display panels are not designed to remain upright upon a child's pushing, and the structural integrity of the invention rests on the panels remaining a angles to each other--where the invention lined up with each panel directly in line with the last it would fall over absent a means of attachment to a nearby wall or other support structure.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,007,473 also deals with thin panels, attached at their edges, which, when made into a partition of more than one panel, can remain upright merely by adjusting the panels such that at least one panel is not directly in line with the others. As with the '145 patent, the invention does not relate to childproofing a room, the display panels are not designed to remain upright upon a child's pushing, and the structural integrity of the invention rests on the panels remaining a angles to each other--where the invention lined up with each panel directly in line with the last it would fall over absent a means of attachment to a nearby wall or other support structure.

[0010] An actual barricade system design for children is found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,626,330 to Young. This patent teaches a temporary barricade system which a user can erect around a delicate and/or valuable object when a young child is riding a wheeled vehicle in the house. While this patent does describe a barricade system, it is not designed to confine a child, but rather to protect an object from a bicycle or other wheeled toy ridden by a child.

[0011] Another barricade system for children is found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,123,321 to Miller. This patent describes a modular fence which has a repeated series of panels, consisting of a rigid frame supporting flexible panels, where the panels are connected at their edges, thereby allowing for the creation of an adjustable and flexible barrier which can be used to confine children or pets, or cordon off an area. This invention, however, relies again upon at least two panels being set up out of alignment with each other, thereby creating whatever stability the system has, other than some accessory support devices or braces which can be attached at key point. The invention also does not provide for a soft cushioned panel against which a child can fall safely.

[0012] Thus there has existed a long-felt need for a device to restrain children and pets to a specific region of the house, patio, or yard, where the device can be adapted to a wide range of different shaped rooms and regions. It is desirable too that the device is stable, such that a child cannot push it over, and should allow a child to practice standing and walking by leaning against the barricade. Finally, the barricade should be made with a soft surface, such that the child is not injured should he or she fall onto the barrier, and covered with an easily removed cover which can be exchanged for another cover, perhaps of a different color or with a different cartoon character emblazoned on it, and washed such that it remains sanitary for the child.

[0013] The current invention provides just such a solution by having a versatile and expandable child security device which comprises a soft, foam panel in a trapezoidal prism shape, multiple units of which can form an adaptable and expandable security barrier for children or pets. The foam panels come in a variety of lengths, heights, and end configurations, and are designed to be stable as independent units laid out next to each other with adequate stability to prevent a child from pushing them over, but, optionally, capable of being made additionally stable by being attached to one another at their ends by hook and loop or similar means of attachment and, optionally, weighted at the bottom for additional stability. By adding or taking away panels, and changing their angle of attachment, an adult can effectively adapt the invention to barricade off sections of rooms with a variety of shapes and sizes. For sanitary purposes, the foam panels are covered with a cover which can be easily removed for washing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] It is a principal object of the invention to provide a safe means of sectioning off a room or other area in a manner which is adjustable, adaptable, and safe for the child or pet being confined or excluded.

[0015] It is another object of the invention that the barrier can be made from a series of foam blocks or panels, which are, optionally, weighted at their bottom for stability, such that a child cannot push them over.

[0016] Another object of the invention is that the foam panels can be made in the shape of a trapezoidal prism, such that they are stable when placed on the ground and can be stored easily by alternatively stacking them in "up" and "down" positions.

[0017] It is an additional object of the invention that each foam block can be covered by a cover which is easily removed for cleaning.

[0018] A further object of the invention is that the weight can be created with a hollow canister affixed to the bottom portion of the foam panel into which a user can pour water.

[0019] It is a further object of the invention that the cover has attached to it means of attachment to other blocks, where the means of attachment can be both on its distal edges thereby allowing "end to end" connections, and adjustable means at the top of each distal end, thereby allowing for a secure anchoring of different foams panels set at angles to one another such that the barrier does not necessarily have to be in a straight line.

[0020] It is also an object of this invention that the cover can be made from a wide variety of types of material, with an even wider variety of colors, patterns, cartoon characters on the side, and other iterations allowing the user of the invention to customize the appearance of the invention to his or her use of it.

[0021] It is another object of the invention that the invention can be conveniently stored when not in use by merely stacking the foam panels weighted-end-down, or on their ends, to the side of a room or in a garage.

[0022] A further object of the invention is that the foam provides a soft cushion against which a child can fall safely.

[0023] It is an additional object of the invention that the foam panel is stable enough to allow a child learning to walk to stabilize himself or herself by leaning against the foam panel or grabbing onto the covering fabric.

[0024] It is a further object of the invention that the foam panels can be made in different lengths, such that "half units" and "quarter units" can be used to close of sections which are too small for full sized units.

[0025] An additional object of this invention is that the foam panels can have different end configurations, including 90, 30, 45, and 60 degrees, such that a user can build a "seamless" barrier where there are no "thin" spots where only a portion of one foam panel is connected to the next one.

[0026] It is also an object of this invention that invention that the foam panels can be made in different heights, such that a parent or pet owner can select a height appropriate for his or her child or pet.

[0027] It is a final object of this invention that the foam panels be manufactured in a relatively inexpensive manner such that the invention is affordable by almost all parents.

[0028] It should be understood the while the preferred embodiments of the invention are described in some detail herein, the present disclosure is made by way of example only and that variations and changes thereto are possible without departing from the subject matter coming within the scope of the following claims, and a reasonable equivalency thereof, which claims I regard as my invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0029] FIG. 1 is a perspective, partial elevational view of the invention showing its cover, the optional hook and loop fastener means on its end, and the optional water tank embedded on its underside, which can be filled with water to add weight to the bottom of the invention and increase its stability.

[0030] FIG. 2 is a top, perspective view of three units of the invention attached in a semi-circular pattern such as might be used by a parent to seal off a corner of a room. This view shows how the optional top fasteners can rotate such that they can effectively maintain the desired angle from one unit to another.

[0031] FIG. 3 is a top view of three units of the invention attached in a straight line, such as might be used by a parent trying to barricade off half of a room or seal off a sliding glass doorway or even a garage door. In this arrangement, both the end fasteners and the top fasteners are effective in maintaining the desired shape of the barricade system.

[0032] FIG. 4 is a close-up, side view of the top fasteners in action, showing how the rotatable hook section can be pressed down across the immobile loop section to secure the two units together.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0033] FIG. 1 is a perspective, partial elevational view of the invention showing its optional cover, the hook and loop fastener means on its end, and the optional water tank embedded on its underside, which can be filled with water to add weight to the bottom of the invention and increase its stability. The invention consists the basic unit of a foam block with various alterations and additions to it, and which, when used with one or more additional units, can be made into a "chain" of foam blocks which, either with or without, as shown in FIG. 1. Each unit has a top (1), two ends (2), two sides (3), and a bottom (not shown in this figure). The ends are shaped as trapezoids, such that the unit has a trapezoidal prism shape, where the bottom of the end is wider than the top of the end, giving the unit an inherent stability. Over the unit is an optional cover (4), which is made from cloth, canvas, plastic, or another material that is easily sewn or otherwise fitted around the unit, and is easily removed for cleaning and then reattached. On the ends (2) of the unit, attached to the cover (4) by sewing or other similar means of attachment are, optionally, some strips of fastener material (6), in particular, hook and loop. Since one of the main goals of the invention is to provide an adjustable and adaptable means of barricading off a portion of a room or other area, one end of the unit would have hook and the other end loop, such that a series of units could be connected end to end. Optionally, there can be a water container (5) embedded into the foam at the bottom of the unit, or attached to the underside of the unit. This water container can be filled with water through a spigot (7) protruding from the unit to provide added stability if desired.

[0034] Since the unit is designed such that a child confined or excluded by the unit cannot tip it over, the measure of stability used to describe the unit is the size of a child who cannot tip it over. The invention is designed to withstand the pushing of a 40 pound child, although it is contemplated that additional units could be made with wider or narrower bottoms to maintain stability with children of greater or lesser weights. For a unit designed to withstand the pushing of a 40 pound child, purchasers of the invention who have children larger than 40 pounds will want to use the optional fasteners which enhance the stability of the unit.

[0035] FIG. 2 is a top, perspective view of three units (20) of the invention attached in a semi-circular pattern such as might be used by a parent to seal off a corner of a room. This view shows how the optional top fasteners (21) can rotate such that they can effectively maintain the desired angle from one unit to another. Each fastener has a fixed end (22) and a free end (26), where the fixed end is attached to the cover of the unit, or in cases where the cover is not used, to the unit itself. Because it is attached in only one place, the fastener can swivel around in a direction indicated by (24). The free end (26) has hook fastener material on its underside, which can attach at various points along a strip of loop material (25), located on the unit in line next to the unit from which the fastener (21) extends. The fact that the fastener (21) can rotate allows a user to place units at angles to one another, such even though the end hook and loop (23) means of attachment illustrated in FIG. 1 on the ends of the units do not connect with the mating strips on the opposite end of the next unit, the fasteners (21) still connect one unit to another such that the units as a series form a barrier--in this case a curving barrier--that can barricade a child inside or outside the arc formed by the units.

[0036] FIG. 3 is a top view of three units (31) of the invention attached in a straight line, such as might be used by a parent trying to barricade off half of a room or seal off a sliding glass doorway or even a garage door. In this arrangement, both the end fasteners (33) and the top fasteners (32) are effective in maintaining the desired shape of the barricade system. Here, the top fastener (32) has been pulled across the loop strip (35), such that the hooks on the underside of the free end (34) of the top fastener (32) attaches the units to one another in a line.

[0037] FIG. 4 is a close-up, side view of the top fasteners in action, showing how the rotatable hook section (45) can be pressed down across the immobile loop strip (46) to secure the two units together. The unit (40) has a top fastener (41) at one end and a loop strip (46) at the other, such that a series or chain of the units can be attached to each other at their ends to form a straight or curved chain. The top fastener (41) has a free end (43) which has hooks (45) attached to its underside. The free end can be swiveled to the right and left, as indicated by (48), and pulled up and down, as indicated by (47). To attach one unit to another, the user pulls the two units together, lifts up the free end (43) of the top fastener (41) and pulls it across to the other unit, then lays it down across the loop strip (46), upon which are a series of loops (47) which removably engage the hooks (45) on the free end (43). The top fastener (41) is attached to the unit (40) at an attachment end (42), by means of a single point of attachment (44), which is a rivet, screw, bolt, nail, or other similar means of attachment.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20070062651 A1
Publish Date
03/22/2007
Document #
11230023
File Date
09/20/2005
USPTO Class
160135000
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
47G5/00
Drawings
3



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