Dispenser and Display Device

A dispenser and display device for articles on a store shelf includes a pair of vertically disposed panels that define a space there between to guide the articles from an upper portion to a lower portion. A pin extending from each of the panels allows a display assembly, having an access door, a frame, and a card, to movably attach to the dispenser and display device. The display assembly is therefore movable between an open configuration and a closed configuration. The frame is movably connected to the access door such at a volume is defined between the access door and the frame. The volume is configured to complementarily receive the card in order to display advertising indicia disposed on the front of the card. A display panel is also described.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/048,048 filed Apr. 25, 2008 entitled Dispenser and Display Device and is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure generally relates to a gravity feed dispenser display and more particularly, to an improved display panel and access door for assembly with a gravity feed dispenser display.

BACKGROUND

Gravity feed dispensers have been used in the product dispensing markets, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience marts, and department stores, to provide on shelf storage, automatic rotation of stock, and easy access for customers. The principal of operation is quite simple. The products are arranged on a rack, which is inclined to horizontal such that when a customer removes one product at an end of a row of products, the entire row of products indexes forward one location equivalent to one product. Rollers are known to ease movement of the product.

It is known that gravity feed dispensers may be reloaded from a front access door. U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,116, which issued to first-named inventor Johnson on Jan. 31, 2006, is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,116 describes an access door that includes a front surface, a rear surface, a handle, a clip, a pair of resilient arms, and a pair of alignment arms. The front surface may be used for advertising display purposes, such as indicia advertising the products therein. A user may easily move the access door from an open position to a closed position, where an open position may allow easy restocking of product into the gravity feed dispenser. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, reloading the dispenser via an access door allows the dispenser to dispense product on a first-in, first-out (“FIFO”) basis. This helps ensure that older product is purchased or consumed before newer products.

As noted, the front surface of the access door may be used for indicating the product within the dispenser (i.e., it acts as a label) and may further serve to advertise the product therein. For example, it is known to apply a sticker to the front surface of the access door. The sticker contains, for example, any indicia of the product, such as a graphic or text describing or illustrating the product. Indicia may further communicate information, such as price, size, or any other advertising-related information.

One problem with using a sticker is that the sticker may not be easy to remove if a user wishes to update the indicia container thereon. For example, product information may change, the advertising campaign may change, or the product itself may change. Thus, another known solution for including product and/or advertising information on the front surface of the access door includes placing multiple slots in the front surface of the access door. A card, which may include the indicia, has tabs that correspond to the multiple slots on the access door. By inserting the tabs of the card through the slots on the access door, the card remains in place but is easily removable and replaceable.

The prior art solutions, however, are not without disadvantages. As already noted, for example, using stickers on the front surface of the access door does not allow easy replacement of the indicia displayed on the access door. While the tabbed cards help overcome this disadvantage, tabbed cards often fall off of the front surface of the access door, especially if a shopper accidentally brushes against the card while passing by the dispenser.

Therefore, in view of the above-described problems with known access doors for gravity feed dispensers, a need exists for an improved access door that overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art.

SUMMARY

In one preferred embodiment, a dispenser and display device for articles on a store shelf includes a pair of vertically disposed panels that define a space there between to guide the articles from an upper portion to a lower portion. A pin may extend between and engaging each of the panels to allow a display assembly, having an access door, a frame, and a card, to movably attach to the dispenser and display device. Alternatively, a pin may extend from each panel to allow a display assembly to movably attach to the dispenser and display device. The display assembly is therefore movable between an open configuration and a closed configuration. The frame is movably connected to the access door such that a volume is defined between the access door and the frame. The volume is configured to complementarily receive the card in order to display advertising indicia disposed on the front of the card.

In one example, the access door may further include an aperture, preferably centrally disposed.

In yet another example, the access door is movable to an open position and the card further comprises identification indicia disposed on its back for registration with the aperture such that the identification indicia is viewable when the access door is disposed in the open position.

In yet another example, the frame includes a latch to secure the frame to the access door.

In yet another example, the frame includes a second latch, wherein the second latch is keyed such that the frame may only properly sit upon the access door when correctly oriented. The latch may be keyed, for example, by having an extended portion of a tab.

In yet another example, a contoured surface for retaining three-dimensional advertising indicia forms part of the top surface of the frame and extends over at least a portion of the viewing area and extending away from the access door.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Certain embodiments are shown in the drawings. However, it is understood that the present disclosure is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentality shown in the attached drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example of a dispenser and display device having a display assembly that includes a display panel, a frame, and a card;

FIG. 2 is a front view of an example of a display assembly that includes an access door, a frame, and a card;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the example display assembly of FIG. 2 taken along line 3-3;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the example display assembly of FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4;

FIG. 5 is a magnified view of one end of the display assembly shown in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of an example of the back of a display assembly that includes an access door, a frame, and a card;

FIG. 7 shows a magnified view of a portion of the back of the display assembly shown in FIG. 6, showing, among other things, an extended portion of a latch;

FIG. 8 shows a front, perspective view of an example of a display assembly;

FIG. 9 shows a front view of an example of a display assembly having a contoured surface for retaining three-dimensional advertising indicia;

FIG. 10 shows a cross-sectional view of the example display assembly of FIG. 9 taken along line 10-10;

FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of an example of movably connecting the frame to the access door in an example display assembly with a hinge;

FIG. 12 shows the display assembly of FIG. 11 with the example hinge in a closed position;

FIG. 13 shows a perspective view of an example of the back of a display assembly that includes a display panel, a frame, and a card.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For the purposes of promoting and understanding the principles disclosed herein, references are now made to the preferred embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language is used to describe the same. It is nevertheless understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Such alterations and further modifications in the illustrated device and such further applications of the principles disclosed as illustrated herein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which this disclosure relates.

FIG. 1 shows a gravity feed dispenser 100, i.e., a dispenser and display device for articles on a store shelf, generally having a pair of vertically disposed panels 102, 104 that define a volume 106 there between to guide articles from an upper portion 108 to a lower portion 110. Other features of the gravity feed dispenser 100, as known in the art, may include, for example, base 112.

In one embodiment, gravity feed dispenser 100 further includes a pin 114 extending between and engaging each of the panels 102, 104, wherein the pin defines a lower extent 116 of the upper portion 108. In another embodiment, the gravity feed dispenser 100 further includes a pin that extends from each panel 102, 104. Each pin may not extend to engage or contact the opposing pin, such that a space may be defined therebetween as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. It will be recognized by one of ordinary skill in the art that the pin in the foregoing embodiment and pin 114 shall be freely substitutable for one another depending design preference and each shall be referred to hereafter as pin 114. Furthermore, the dispenser 100 includes a display assembly 118 connected to the pin 114 and movable between a closed configuration or position and an open configuration or position. As shown in FIG. 1, for example, the display assembly is in a closed configuration. As further described below, the display assembly 118 includes a display panel (shown as access door 120), a frame 122, and a card 124. For the sake of simplicity, FIGS. 1-12 will be using access door 120 as the display panel, but it is understood that the relevant principles also apply to a display panel that is not an access door 120. A display panel is fixedly attached to an object whereby an access door is more readily movable between an open position or orientation and a closed position or orientation. Fixedly attached, however, still allows the display panel to be removed or assembled into or onto another object, i.e., it is not necessarily permanently fixed. By being “fixed,” however, the open position of the display panel is entirely removed from the assembly, which could be a gravity feed dispenser, for example.

The frame 122 is movably connected to the access door 120 such that a volume 126 is defined between the access door 120 and the frame 122. The volume 126 is configured to complementarily receive the card 124 in order to display advertising indicia 128 disposed on a front 130 of card 124. In this particular example, advertising indicia 128 is a tomato, which may correspond to the articles within the dispenser 100.

Turning now to FIGS. 2-8, display assembly 118 is shown in greater detail. As best shown in FIG. 4, the display assembly 118 is slightly curved, which provides a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. It is understood, however, that display assembly 118 may take any suitable shape. The access door 120 includes a front surface 202 (beneath card 124) and a rear surface 204. Access door 120 further includes a top margin 206, bottom margin 208, and side margins 210, 212. A shoulder 402, 404 is defined in each side margin.

Frame 122 contains a front surface 132, a rear surface 404, and an opening defining a viewing area 134 bounded by top rail 136, bottom rail 138, and side stiles 140, 142. Lips 146, 148, and 150 extend from the rear surface 404 along the side stiles 140, 142 and the bottom rail 138. As best shown in FIG. 4, each side lip 148, 150 engages one of the shoulders 402 while the bottom lip 146 is disposed adjacent the door bottom 208 such that the frame rear surface 404 is disposed from the door front surface 202 to define a volume 406 configured to complimentarily receive a card 124 bearing advertising indicia.

In one example, top 136 of the frame 122 does not include a lip. As such, volume 406 exists between the rear surface 404 of the top rail 136 of the frame 122 and the front surface 202 of the top 206 of the access door 120. Thus, the volume is defined by three, not two, surfaces. This volume is a passage 152 through which the card 124 may be inserted. As such, a user may insert a card 124 through the passage 152 with relative ease and/or remove the card from the access door 120 through the passage 152. The side stiles 140, 142, top rail 136, and bottom rail 138 interface with the edges of the card, thereby preventing the card from falling forward out of the access door. In the example shown in FIG. 2, the viewing area 134 of frame 122 allows the inner, top surface 154 of the card 124 to be exposed. As such, a user may press against the inner, top surface 154 of the card 124 and move the card towards and through passage 152. It is also contemplated, however, that the viewing area 134 of the frame 122 may include a front cover portion (not shown), which could prevent the card 124 from being exposed.

In one example, frame 122 is movably connected to the access door 120. As shown in FIG. 1, for example, frame 122 includes latches 156, 158, 160, and 162 on side stiles 140, 142, which secure the frame 122 to the access door 120. As best seen in FIG. 4, latches 160, 162 contain inset members 406, 408, which overhang the rear surface 204 of the access door 120, thereby securing the frame 122 to the access door 120. The latches 156-162 may be slightly flexible, thereby allowing them to slightly bend away from the access door 120. As such, inset members 406, 408 no longer overhang the rear surface 204 so the frame may be removed.

As best shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, hinge 1102 is another example of movably connecting the frame 122 to the access door 120. In FIG. 12, the hinge 1102 is in a closed position, i.e., the frame 122 is in a secured position against the access door 120. The hinge may be, for example, a living hinge. As known in the art, a living hinge, in one embodiment, includes a flexible piece of material, usually plastic, that joins two or more rigid pieces together, with all pieces being molded during a single or multi-stage process. Living hinges may generally be formed by a single injection molding process that creates the two or more rigid pieces and the living hinge, all in the same process or any other suitable process. In another embodiment, however, hinge 1102 may be a pin hinge using a hinge pin. Any suitable hinge now known or later developed, however, may be used.

As one skilled in the art will appreciate, each latch 156-162 corresponds with a notch on access door 120. The notches are the only places to which latches 156-162 can latch, thereby helping to properly align the frame 122 with the access door 120. Furthermore, in one example, one or more latches, such as latch 156, may be keyed such that the frame 122 may only properly sit upon the access door 120 when correctly oriented. Thus, for example, the frame 122 could not be secured to the access door 120 if the bottom rail 138 of frame 122 is placed along the top margin 206 of the access door 120. In one example, best shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, latch 156 includes extended portion 606, thereby making latch 156 longer than latches 158-162. The corresponding notch on access door 120 is then longer than the other notches. As such, latch 156 will only fit into one notch, thereby not allowing the frame 122 to be secured to the access door 120 in an undesired orientation. One skilled in the art will recognize other methods of keying one or more latches 158-162. For example, the latches 158-162 may be offset or there may be more latches (e.g., two) on one side than on the other (e.g., one).

Another feature of access door 120 is an aperture 164, which in one example, may be centrally disposed. The access door 120 is movable, for example about pin 114, to an open position from the closed position. Various opening and closing positions are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,116, which as noted above, is incorporated herein by reference. Card 124 also contains identification indicia 602 disposed on the back 604 for registration with the aperture 164 such that the identification indicia 602 is viewable when the access door 120 is disposed in the open position. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, if the access door is open for restocking the food dispenser 100, the front 130 of the card 124 is facing downward, thereby placing the advertising indicia 128 on the front 130 of the card 124 our of view of the user. Thus, for example, if the user forgets which product should go in the particular dispenser 100, the user will have to lift the access door 120 to determine which product should be placed in the dispenser 100. This is a particular problem, for example, when several dispensers 100 are next to each other offering several different products. A user restocking all of the dispensers 100 may open all access doors 120 for quickly restocking all dispensers 100, thereby possibly making it difficult to see the advertising indicia 128. By having identification indicia 602 on the back 604 of the card 124, however, the user restocking the multiple dispensers 100 will be able to easily determine how the products correspond to each dispenser 100 having an access door 120 in an open position.

It is understood that the display assembly 118 may include any additional features now known or later developed. For example, as best shown in FIG. 6, access door 120 includes arms 608, 610, 612, and 614, which may allow access door 120 to rest against a portion of a dispenser 100 for stability and alignment. In particular, arms 608 and 610 may snap into corresponding receiving portions on an apparatus, such as a gravity feed dispenser. Furthermore, clip 616 allows the display assembly 118 to be easily attached (or removed) from pin 114 extending between and engaging the panels 102, 104 of the dispenser 100.

Turning now to FIGS. 9-10, another example embodiment is shown. In this example, the display assembly 118 includes a contoured surface 902 for retaining three-dimensional advertising indicia. Thus, instead of inserting a two-dimensional card 124 card viewable within viewable area 134, three-dimensional advertising indicia can be inserted. Three-dimensional advertising indicia includes, for example, a folded card or cards assembled to occupy three dimensions, paint or ink on the inner surface of the contoured surface 902, or even the product itself. In other examples, a two-dimensional card may be inserted behind the viewing area 134 of the contoured surface 902. Although not shown, it is understood that the display assembly 118 may include any suitable features shown in other figures and as described throughout. For example, the display assembly 118 of FIG. 9 may also include an aperture 164 (not shown in FIG. 9) in the access door 120.

It is further contemplated that access door 120 really acts as a display panel for a gravity feed dispenser. In the embodiment where the display panel is an access door, the access door 120 is movable between an open and closed orientation. However, the display panel may be fixedly connected to the gravity feed dispenser or any other suitable device. An example of a display panel that is not an access door is shown in FIG. 13. As shown, not only does the panel 1300 of the display assembly 118 have arms 608 and 610 that can snap into corresponding mechanisms on a gravity feed dispenser, arms 1302 and 1304 could also snap onto a gravity feed dispenser or other suitable device. Thus, the display panel 1300 may be fixedly attached, i.e., snapped, onto a gravity feed dispenser, but the display panel 1300 may also be removed if desired. Nonetheless, the other applicable principles of this disclosure would be understood by one skilled in the art and could be applied to a fixedly attached display panel. For example, a frame may be movably connected to the display panel to define a volume configured to complementarily receive a card bearing advertising indicia.

In view of this disclosure, one skilled in the art will recognize several advantages of the disclosed display assembly. For example, one skilled in the art will recognize that a frame 122 movably connected to the access door 120 may allow a user to easily replace a card 124 with a new card having, for example, different advertising indicia. Furthermore, one skilled in the art will appreciate an aperture 164, which facilitates the process of refilling a dispenser 100 by, among other things, allows the back of the card 124 to indicate to a user the product associated with the particular dispenser 100 being filled. Other advantages will be recognized by one having ordinary skill in the art.

Furthermore, while the particular preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it is obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the teaching of the disclosure. For example, the principles disclosed within are described in connection with a gravity feed dispenser, but the same ideas could be used for any suitable device bearing advertising indicia, such as a vending machine. The matter set forth in the foregoing description and accompanying drawings is offered by way of illustration only and not as limitation. The actual scope of the disclosure is intended to be defined in the following claims when viewed in their proper perspective based on the related art.

Claims

1. A dispenser and display device for articles on a store shelf, comprising:

a pair of vertically disposed panels that define a space there between to guide the articles from an upper portion to a lower portion;
a pin extending from each of the panels, wherein the pin defines a lower extent of the upper portion; and
a display assembly connected to each pin and moveable between a closed configuration and an open configuration, wherein the display assembly includes an access door, a frame, and a card, wherein the frame is movably connected to the access door such that a volume is defined between the access door and the frame, wherein the volume is configured to complementarily receive the card in order to display advertising indicia disposed on a front of the card that corresponds to the articles.

2. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 1, wherein the access door further comprises an aperture generally centrally disposed.

3. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 2, wherein the access door is movable to an open position and the card further comprises identification indicia disposed on a back for registration with the aperture such that the identification indicia is viewable when the access door is disposed in the open position.

4. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 1, wherein the frame includes a latch to secure the frame to the access door.

5. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 4 further comprising:

a second latch, wherein the second latch is keyed such that the frame may only properly sit upon the access door when correctly oriented.

6. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 5 further comprising an extended portion on the second latch, thereby keying the latch such that the frame may only properly sit upon the access door when correctly oriented.

7. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 1 further comprising:

a contoured surface for retaining three-dimensional advertising indicia, forming part of the top surface of the frame extending over at least a portion of the viewing area and extending away from the access door.

8. A display assembly for a dispenser and display device comprising:

a display panel comprising a front and rear surface and top, bottom, and side margins, wherein a shoulder is defined in each side margin; and
a frame movably connected to the display panel comprising a front and rear surface and an opening defining a viewing area bounded by top and bottom rails and side stiles, wherein a lip extends from the rear surface along the side stiles and bottom rail, wherein each side lip engages one of the shoulders and the bottom lip is disposed adjacent the door bottom such that the frame rear surface is disposed from the door front surface to define a volume configured to complementarily receive a card bearing advertising indicia.

9. The display assembly as recited in claim 8, wherein the display panel is an access door.

10. The display assembly as recited in claim 9, wherein the access door further comprises an aperture generally centrally disposed within the viewing area.

11. The display assembly as recited in claim 10, wherein the access door is movable to an open position and the card further comprises identification indicia disposed on a back for registration with the aperture such that the identification indicia is viewable when the access door is disposed in the open position.

12. The display assembly as recited in claim 8, wherein the side stiles include a latch to secure the frame.

13. The display assembly as recited in claim 12 further comprising:

a second latch, wherein the second latch is keyed such that the frame may only properly sit upon the display panel when correctly oriented.

14. The dispenser and display device as recited in claim 13 further comprising an extended portion on the second latch, thereby keying the latch such that the frame may only properly sit upon the display panel when correctly oriented.

15. The display assembly as recited in claim 8, wherein the frame is movably connected to the display panel by a hinge.

16. The display assembly as recited in claim 8, wherein the front surface of the top of the display panel and the rear surface of the top rail of the frame define a passage through which the card may be inserted into the volume.

17. The display assembly as recited in claim 8 further including:

a contoured surface for retaining three-dimensional advertising indicia, forming part of the top surface of the frame extending over at least a portion of the viewing area and extending away from the display panel.

Patent History

Publication number: 20090266776
Type: Application
Filed: Apr 24, 2009
Publication Date: Oct 29, 2009
Inventor: Terry J. Johnson (Chicago, IL)
Application Number: 12/429,861

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Having Feature Perfecting The Dispensing Of Articles (211/59.2)
International Classification: A47F 1/04 (20060101);