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COMBINED CARRYING CASE AND
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
This a continuation-in-part from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/060/135, filed Sep. 26, 1997.
FIELD OF INVENTION
This invention relates generally to portable seating devices and more particularly to a briefcase or backpack and folding cushioned seat combined as a single article of manufacture. The article can serve as a case for carrying various articles, including papers, books, clothing, or the is like and as a seat with a backrest which has a specialized lumbar support.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Various portable chairs having seats arranged for dispo- 20 sition directly upon a supporting surface such as the ground, beach, etc., have been disclosed in the literature. Examples of such prior art chairs are shown in U.S. Patent Nos. D 121,266, Dl 71,506, Dl 94,234, D219,377, and 2,915,154. While such chairs are generally suitable for their intended 25 purpose they leave much to be desired from the standpoint of efficiency and adaptability for multi-purpose use and for providing lumbar support.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,092,244 (O'Neil) discloses a portable seat 3Q which can also serve as a carrying case. To that end, the structure comprises a pair of side walls each having a convex outer surface and a concave inner surface. The side walls are connected together at a hinge and are pivotable from a first position to a second position. The structure includes a handle 3J formed of a pair of frame-like members. One frame member is pivotally connected to one of the side walls and the other frame member is pivotably connected to the other side wall. One side wall forms a seat whereas the other side wall is oriented at an angle to the seat to form a backrest. 4Q
In U.S. Pat. No. 3,422,938 (Worcester), there is also disclosed a portable seat which can serve as a carrying case. The structure of Worcester comprises a pair of walls having mating peripheral edges. One of the walls forms an inner concavity between its edges. The walls are connected 45 together at a hinge to enable the walls to be swung to a closed position to enclose the concavity and thereby form a storage compartment or to be swung to an open position wherein one of the walls forms a seat and the other wall forms a backrest. A handle is provided to enable the carrying 50 of the device when closed and to aid in the bracing of the wall when it is serving as the backrest.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,079,992 describes a combination carrying case and folding seat which is arranged to be disposed directly on a supporting surface, such as the ground. First 55 and second shell-shaped members are pivotably connected together at their rear by a hinge. The device also includes a third member removably mounted over the first member and closing the hollow interior of the first member for storage of items therein. The third member forms a seating surface of go the device. Flanges are provided to form a vertical support for the unit when said unit is in its closed position, with one of the flanges serving as a brace for the second member when the device is in its open or seating position.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,730,871 describes a backrest construction 65 which may be incorporated into an upholstered chair or recliner, or which may be used in a portable backrest either
alone or in combination with a seat. The construction includes a frame with a vertical track carried on it and which in turn carries a lumbar support that may be moved up and down on the track. The lumbar support not only may be moved vertically to adjust its height, but in addition, it may be moved toward and away from the plane of the frame so as to decrease or increase the support provided by it.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,746,166 discloses a portable seat and carrying case, comprising first and second side wall members hinged to each other and rotatable between a closed, case-fashion position and an open, seat-fashion position. Each identical side wall member comprises a pair of outwardly directed, concentric circular bearing surfaces, one being formed outside a projection and the other inside a recess. The projecting bearing surface of one side matches the recessed bearing surface of the other side of each of the side wall members, and, when coupled to each other, form a hinged connection therebetween. A bottom member forms part of and rotatably supports the side wall members in their coupled position.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,502,728 describes a portable seat and backrest that can be folded for convenient carrying which includes a seat and backrest having spring steel plates as frames and covered by foam pads. The curvature of the backrest is controlled by a slide assembly movable on tracks on the rear of the backrest.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,637 describes a foldable stadium seat and storage apparatus which includes a seat portion assembly, a storage assembly, and a first hinge assembly connecting the seat portion assembly and the storage assembly together. The first hinge assembly is connected between the interior side of the seat portion assembly and the interior side of the storage assembly. A strap is employed that is capable of encompassing the seat portion assembly and the storage assembly for retaining the interior side of the seat portion assembly and the interior side of the storage assembly in juxtaposition when the foldable stadium seat and storage apparatus is in a folded orientation. The seat portion assembly includes a first end proximal to the first hinge assembly, and a handle is connected to the first end of the seat portion assembly. The storage assembly includes a hollow chamber portion defined by rigid walls of the storage assembly. The storage assembly includes a cylindrical well portion for retaining a beverage can. The storage assembly also includes a first expandable storage chamber and a second expandable storage chamber. A backrest portion may be connected to a distal end of the seat portion assembly by a second hinge assembly.
Despite these articles being described or available, there has been no specific combination of a carrying case which can be used as a cushioned seat which further can provide the advantage of lumbar support.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, it is a general object of the instant invention to provide a carrying case which can also serve as a seat having an advantage of providing lumbar support.
It is a further object of this invention to provide a device forming a comfortable seat and backrest with lumbar support which can be readily converted to a simple folding carrying case with substantial internal or external storage space.
It is yet a further object of this invention to provide a small and lightweight combination folding seat and carrying device.
It is yet a further object of this invention to provide a readily portable seat and carrying case having significant
aesthetic appeal, e.g., having the appearance, when folded, of an expensive, high quality carrying case or backpack.
These and other objects of the instant invention are achieved by providing a combination carrying case and folding seat for disposition directly upon a seating surface, 5 e.g., an uncushioned chair or bench, having a seat portion and a backrest portion. The subject device comprises first and second side walls which are substantially planar and opposing one another when in a folded configuration. The side walls form the back and seat support portions of the 1° device and are adjoined at an articulated joint or hinge. Cushioned members are disposed between the first and second side walls. The first side wall comprises a generally planar surface serving as a base for the cushioned seat member which forms a seating surface. The second side wall 15 has an inner surface on which a cushioned member can also be disposed. The second side wall is pivotable relative to the first side wall about the articulated joint and forms a backrest for the cushioned seat. In a closed position, the side walls are folded at the joint so that the inner faces of the side walls are 20 juxtaposed opposite each other. The side walls can have flanged edges so that the folded side walls can form a storage compartment therebetween. For fastening together the case, a fastening means, e.g., a zipper or a strap can be provided for maintaining the case in a closed position. 25
In an open position the second side wall forming the backrest can extend at an angle of at least 90° relative to the seating surface to form a backrest for the seat. Disposed on the inner surface of the second side wall is a lumbar support means which, preferably, is adjustable in a substantially top 30 to bottom direction relative to the backrest in its upright position. A cushioned liner can also be disposed on the inner face of the backrest for comfortable or therapeutic support for areas of the back other than the lumbar region, e.g., the thoracic or sacral regions. 35
An adjustable sliding mechanism allows for direct contact of a lumbar support pad with the lumbar region of the spine, thereby helping to alleviate discomfort which can be caused by muscle tension, sciatica, radiculopathy, or the like. This is achieved by decompression of the vertebral disc while providing a secure stable support system for the lumbar region of the spine during prolonged sitting. This device is thus uniquely designed to promote correct spinal alignment during prolonged sitting; reduce discomfort associated with common back problems; provide a firm seat adaptable for most school desks, office chairs, and arena seats; and provide for a convenient way to carry various items normally carried in a carrying case.
Other objects and advantages of the instant invention will 5Q be readily appreciated by the description provided herein when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of an article of manufacture according to the subject invention, wherein the article is in an open configuration to be used as a cushioned seat.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of an 60 article of manufacture according to the subject invention in a closed position, wherein the article is in a closed configuration to be used as a briefcase or carrying case.
FIG. 3 shows a side view of an embodiment of an article of manufacture according to the subject invention. 65
FIG. 4 shows a cut-away side view of an article of manufacture according to the subject invention illustrating
the configuration wherein, in a closed position for the article, a lumbar support pad is received by a recess in the contoured cushioned seat. This Figure also shows a cavity created between the backrest and cushioned seat members wherein items can be stored for carrying in the carrying case.
FIGS. 5A and 5B show a top view of the lumbar support pad and spinal support plate which are disposed on the inner face of the side wall forming the backrest of the subject invention.
FIG. 6A shows a perspective view of a variable configuration of the subject invention illustrating an embodiment having three separate sections forming an least two openings or compartments.
FIG. 6B shows the embodiment of FIG. 6A, further illustrating the two compartments in a partially open configuration to demonstrate.
FIG. 7 A shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the subject invention illustrating in a backpack configuration.
FIG. 7B shows a perspective view of the embodiment of the subject invention illustrated in FIG. 7A in an open position.
FIG. 7C shows a perspective view of a variation of the backpack configuration, having three separate sections forming at least two openings or compartments
FIG. 7D is a perspective view of the backpack configuration of FIG. 7C in an open position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
The subject invention concerns a combination carrying case and cushioned seat which can provide excellent lumbar support. The carrying case/cushioned seat of the instant invention can perhaps be best understood by reference to the accompanying drawings, provided herein as FIGS. 1-7.
One embodiment, shown in FIGS. 1-4, the subject combination carrying case and cushioned seat, shown generally as 10, comprises two opposing side walls 11 and 12, both of which have an outer and inner face. The inner face of side wall 12 forms a seat means when the article is in an open position. Preferably, the side walls comprise a laminated structure wherein separate layers of an outer and inner material form the outer and inner faces of the side walls. These outer and inner materials are typically flexible or pliable material, e.g., leather, vinyl, canvas, or the like. Accordingly, a third layer of a material more rigid than the side wall material can be disposed between the inner and outer layers to provide a permanent shape. For example, the third layer can be polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The material forming the third layer can be flexible or rigid so long as it substantially retains its general shape. In one embodiment of the invention, the third layer can be slightly curved, preferably convex relative to the outer face and concave relative to the inner face such that it is contoured to fit the curves of the body. In another embodiment, the third layer supporting the backrest is disposed on the inner layer of the second side wall forming a spinal support plate 45.
In a preferred embodiment, a cushioning means 20 can be disposed on the inner face of the side wall 12 to form a seat cushion. More preferably, the cushioning means is permanently affixed to the inner face of side wall 12, and covers substantially the entire surface area of the inner face, leaving uncovered an area around the perimeter of the inner face to allow for providing an end wall 13 perpendicular to the side walls which can advantageously comprise a closure means 30 for closure of the carrying case.