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Title:
A COMBINATION OF AN APPLICATOR AND A SCREEN PROTECTOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/135082
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A combination of an applicator and a screen protector for a mobile device with a screen. The screen protector (2) comprises a screen protecting film (3) with an adhesive on a first face, a peelable first release layer (4) covering the adhesive and a second release layer (5) releasably attached to the opposite face of the screen protecting film. The applicator comprises a frame (1) arranged to engage with the four sides of the mobile device, so as to align the screen protector with respect of the device. The second release layer (5) is releasably attached to the frame at a plurality of discrete locations (8) on opposing sides of the frame such that, when the frame is placed, over the mobile device, the screen protecting film is supported above the screen with the first face facing the screen. The attachment at the plurality of locations between the second release layer and the frame is arranged to be released by pressure on the second release layer in a direction tending to urge the screen protecting film towards the screen.

Inventors:
ROBERTS, Jason (5 Church Street, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 3DY, TW1 3DY, GB)
THORPE, Benjamin (8a The Greenway, Uxbridge UB8 2PH, UB8 2PH, GB)
MCMANUS, Jeremy David (65 Wakehurst Road, London SW11 6DA, SW11 6DA, GB)
Application Number:
GB2019/050017
Publication Date:
July 11, 2019
Filing Date:
January 03, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TECH 21 LICENSING LIMITED (Syds Quay, Eel Pie Island Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 3DY, TW1 3DY, GB)
International Classes:
C09J7/40; B29C63/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOULT WADE TENNANT LLP (Verulam Gardens, 70 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8BT, WC1X 8BT, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A combination of an applicator and a screen protector for a mobile device with a screen;

the screen protector comprising;

a screen protecting film with an adhesive on a first face for attachment, in use, to a screen, a first release layer covering the adhesive on the first face of the screen protecting film, the release layer being peelable off of the screen protecting film, and a second release layer releasably attached to the second face of the screen protecting film which is opposite to the first face;

and the applicator comprising;

a frame arranged to engage with the four sides of the mobile device, in use, so as to align the screen protector with respect of the device, whereby the second release layer is releasably attached to the frame at a plurality of discrete locations on opposing sides of the frame such that, when the frame is placed, in use, over the mobile device, the screen protecting film is supported above the screen of device with the first face facing the screen;

and wherein the attachment at the plurality of locations between the second release layer and the frame is arranged to be released by pressure on the second release layer in a direction tending to urge the screen protecting film towards the screen.

2. A combination according to claim 1 , wherein the second release layer is releasably attached to the frame via a plurality of weakened portions on the second release layer.

3. A combination according to claim 2, wherein the weakened portions are

perforations through the second release layer.

4. A combination according to claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the second release layer is attached to the top surface of the frame.

5. A combination according to claim 4, wherein the attachment between the second release layer and the frame is an interference fit between a number of posts extending from the frame engaging in complimentary openings in portions of the second release layer which are not removed with the screen protecting film.

6. A combination according to any preceding claim, wherein an open area within the frame in which the screen protecting film is supported is larger than the screen protecting film such that a user can apply pressure across the whole surface of the screen protecting film without removing the frame.

7. A pack containing a combination of an applicator and a screen protector according to any one of the preceding claims in which the screen protector is attached to the frame.

8. A method of attaching a screen protecting film to the screen of a mobile device comprising applying a applicator according to any one of the claims 1 to 6 over the top of the mobile device which is positioned on a flat surface with its screen facing upwardly, the method further comprising applying downward pressure to the second release layer in a direction towards the screen so as to release the second release layer from the frame and to adhere the screen protecting film on the screen.

9. A method according to claim 8, wherein the step of releasing the second release layer from the frame comprises tearing a number of portions of the second release layer to separate a central portion of the second release layer from a portion which remains attached to the frame.

10. A method according to claim 8 or claim 9 comprising applying pressure across the full face of the screen protecting film prior to the removal of the frame from the device.

1 1 . A screen protector for a mobile device with a screen, the screen protector

comprising a screen protecting film with an adhesive on a first face for attachment, in use, to a screen, a first release layer covering the adhesive on the first face of the screen protecting film, the release layer being peelable off of the screen protecting film, and a second release layer releasably attached to the second face of the screen protecting film which is opposite to the first face; the second release layer comprising a central portion to which the screen protecting film is attached and two peripheral portions running along opposing edges of the central portion, the peripheral portions each being provided with at least one opening, and a line of weakness being formed between the central portion and each peripheral portion to allow the central portion to be removed from the peripheral portions.

12. A screen protector according to claim 1 1 , wherein the lines of weakness are

provided by perforations.

Description:
A COMBINATION OF AN APPLICATOR AND A SCREEN PROTECTOR

The present invention relates to a combination of an applicator and a screen protector to be applied a portable electronic device with a screen. Such devices include tablets, smartphones and e-readers.

Screen protectors are available for such devices in the form of a screen protecting film of protective transparent plastics or glass material and an adhesive layer allowing the screen protecting film to be stuck to the screen. It is difficult to correctly align the screen protecting film with the device. This is important not only for the appearance of the device, but also to ensure various components which are exposed on the screen side of the device such as speakers, microphones, camera lenses, light sensors, fingerprint readers and face recognition sensors are not obstructed by the screen protector. Often it can take more than one attempt for a user to correctly align the screen protecting film which results in excess dirt building up on the adhesive layer, degradation of the adhesive layer and, in many cases, the screen protecting film will have to be thrown away.

As used in this specification, the term‘screen protecting film’ defines the physical properties of the layer. It does not convey any limitations on the material used. This may be any known material used for screen protection or any other suitable material. Such materials are commonly transparent plastic or glass.

In an effort to assist in the alignment process, a number of devices have been proposed. One of these is the“Easy Install Frame” sold by Belkin. This takes the form of a frame which is fitted over the face of the device. The screen protecting film, together with its backing film, are adhered via an upper release layer to one edge of the frame prior to sale. The frame and screen protector are then fitted over the face of the device. The screen protector is then lifted up effectively being pivoted about the edge at which it is adhered to the frame, the backing material is removed and the screen protecting film is adhered to the screen by the film which is only supported at one edge being progressively lowered onto the screen.

A second such device is manufactured by PureTEK as the“Roll-on Kit™”. This device comprises a tray into which the device is placed so as to be in the correct alignment. The screen protector is attached to the tray at one edge and the film supported only at this edge is progressively attached to the screen. A roller is provided at one end of the tray which, following the removal of the backing material from the screen protector is rolled across the surface of the device in order to apply the screen protecting film to the screen.

A problem that these two applicators have in common is that, because the screen protector is attached only to one end of the frame, the application of the screen protecting film to the screen requires manipulation of a flexible component which is only attached via one edge. In order to attach the screen protecting film, a backing layer first needs to be removed from its adhesive surface. Because this requires the screen protector to be lifted away from the frame and the backing material peeled off, this is an awkward procedure. While backing material is being removed from the generally unsupported flexible layer, it is easily possible for a user’s hands to come into contact with the adhesive layer thereby introducing dirt onto the adhesive side of the screen protecting film. Further, once the backing layer has been removed, the adhesive layer of the screen protecting film then needs to be progressively pushed onto the screen. At this time, the user is holding the free edge of the upper release layer in their hand and is pressing the film down with the other hand. This is generally awkward and requires repeated unpeeling and reapplication of localised areas of the film in order to remove any bubbles. During this manipulation, because the user’s hand is very close to the adhesive layer, it is easily possible for the hand to come into contact with this layer again providing an opportunity to introduce dirt onto the adhesive.

US 2013/0020005 discloses an applicator to which a screen protector is stuck prior to application. A user then aligns the applicator via a projection on the applicator which engages with a socket in the device. Once in place, pressure on the applicator deflects part of the applicator such that the screen protector is applied to the screen. There is a problem in that the backing material is removed from the screen protector prior to engagement between the applicator and the device. The direction of application of the applicator is such that the screen protector needs to be in very close proximity to the screen as it is effectively moved across the face of the device. This provides ample opportunity for it to catch on the screen before it has reached the correct location.

A further device that we aware of is an applicator provided by Gadget Guard (no further details are available at the time of writing). This is an applicator which is provided separately from the screen protector. The applicator is in the form of a frame which is designed to fit around the mobile device. The screen protector is placed into the frame by the end user and the release layer covering the adhesive on the screen protecting film is removed. The frame is then placed over the device and pressure is applied directly to the screen protecting film to press it onto the screen. Because the screen protector is assembled by the user into the frame, it can be applied in the wrong orientation or not fully applied in the correct position This may only be apparent to the user after they have removed the release layer in which case if it is very difficult to realign the film without contacting the adhesive. Further, because the screen protector is fitted within the frame, the frame itself covers part of the surface of the screen protector and pressure cannot be applied across the full face of the screen protector. This is particularly important to a device having a screen with curved edges as the screen protecting film needs to be applied to the screen at the curved edges.

A number of other applicators are known which are designed to engage with the edge of the mobile device such that they provide an alignment edge on the face of the device. Such an applicator is disclosed, for example, in W02015/101770. Such applicators only provide an alignment edge and there is otherwise no interaction between the screen protector and the applicator.

There is therefore a need for a combination of an applicator and a screen protector which is easy to use and can guarantee correct alignment between the screen protecting film and the screen. The applicator should minimise as far as possible the possibility for having a user’s hands to come into contact with the adhesive layer during installation.

According to the present invention there is provided a combination of an applicator and a screen protector according to claim 1.

The approach taken by the present invention is to provide a second release layer which is attached at a plurality of discrete locations on opposing sides of the frame. Once the first release layer is removed and the adhesive on the first face of the screen protecting film is exposed, the user lifts the frame and places it over the mobile device. This allows the frame to be placed over the mobile device such that the screen protecting film is securely supported above the screen of the device. The user then applies pressure on the second release layer thereby releasing the second release layer from the frame. During this operation, the user only needs to hold the frame such that their hands are nowhere near the adhesive layer on the first face of the screen protecting film. Further, because the screen protector is supported on opposing sides of the frame, the screen protection is held securely and reliably across the frame. Whilst being held in this secure manner, it is placed over the mobile device. Because it is held securely in the frame and approaches the screen in a direction of generally perpendicular to the plane of the screen, there is little opportunity for the adhesive on the first face to catch on the screen as compared with

US2013/0020005. Even if the adhesive should catch because the user has not placed the frame squarely over the mobile device, the user simply lifts the frame and re-orientates it to apply the screen protector in the correct orientation. At this time, their hands are again nowhere near the adhesive layer but are engaged only with the frame.

Once the frame is located in the correct position, the screen protector is supported above the screen. The user then holds the side of the frame and presses down on the second release layer in order to second release layer from the frame and, in the process, attach the screen protecting film to the screen. By contrast with the prior art devices mentioned above, the present invention applies the screen protecting film by pressing downwardly on the second release layer of which is supported on opposing sides of the frame. In the prior art references where the screen protector is attached to the film, the user is holding a release layer at a location perilously close to the adhesive on the screen protecting film and is constantly peeling off and applying the layer in a complex manipulation.

With such applicators described above, a substantial portion of the population who are generally unskilled in applying screen protectors to mobile devices are likely to introduce dirt onto the adhesive layer of the screen protecting film. With the present invention, however, it generally requires misuse of the applicator in order to introduce any dirt as the opportunities for accidentally touching the adhesive layer have been all but eliminated.

By comparison with Gadget Guard applicator referred to above, the screen protector is attached to the frame via the second release layer. This simplifies the assembly process and eliminates the possibility for misalignment or incorrect assembly of the screen protector into the frame. Because the screen protector is attached via the second release layer rather than being an interference fit inside the frame as in the Gadget Guard device, the present invention is not constrained to having a frame which encroaches across the face of the screen protecting film. As such, the present invention can make the whole surface of the screen protecting film available for the application of pressure. Such an arrangement is preferable particularly when the screen protecting film itself is flexible as the present invention will allow of the flexible film to be pressed down prior to the removal of the frame.

The releasable attachment between the second release layer and the frame may take the form of an adhesive attachment in which the adhesive between the second release layer and film is peeled away by the pressure on the second release layer. However, preferably, the second release layer is releasably attached to the frame via a plurality of weakened portions on the second release layer. This allows the central part of the second release layer to be torn away from the frame upon the application of pressure on the second release layer.

The weakened portions may be in the form of score lines which extend through some but not all of the thickness of the second release layer. Alternatively or additionally there may be perforations which extend fully through the release layer but are intermittent in nature.

The second release layer may be attached to the frame by peripheral portions of the second release layer which are not removed with the screen protecting film being sandwiched between two components of the frame. However, preferably, the second release layer is attached to the frame by peripheral portions of the second release layer which are not removed together with the screen protecting film being attached to a top surface of the frame. This allows the frame to be made as a one piece moulding.

This attachment may be via an adhesive attachment but is preferably an interference fit between a number of posts extending from the frame engaging the complimentary openings on the portions of the second release layer which are not removed with the screen protecting film. This provides a simple way of assembling the screen protector onto the frame and also helps to ensure that an open area within the frame is at least as big as the screen of the device such that the user can apply pressure across the whole surface of the screen protecting film without removing the frame.

The present invention also extends to a pack containing a combination of an applicator and a screen protector which are assembled together as well as a method of applying the screen protecting film as defined in claim 8. Our intention is to supply the applicator and the screen protector together. However, the screen protector may be supplied separately and can then be attachable to the frame, for example in a shop or repair centre which provides a screen protector fitting service. In this case, where the frame is provided with the posts as mentioned above, the openings on the second release layer help to align and retain the second release layer on the frame. In this case, the posts may be arranged asymmetrically such that the second release layer can only be attached in a single orientation. Under these circumstances, the present invention extends to a screen protector according to claim 1 1 .

An example of the combination of an applicator and a screen protector together with its method of application will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figs. 1 A to 1 H are a series of perspective views which show the application process with Fig. 1 A showing just the mobile and Figs. 1 B to 1 FI showing the frame; and

Fig. 2 is a plan view of the screen protector.

The combination according to the present invention comprises two main components namely a frame 1 and a screen protector 2 which are attached together as described below. Also shown in the drawings are a mobile device in the form of a smartphone P with a screen S.

The screen protector 2 comprises three separate layers namely a screen protecting film 3 as shown in Figs. 1 G and 1 FI as well as a first release layer 4 shown in Fig. 1 B and a second release layer 5 shown in Figs. 1 C to 1 G.

These layers are of generally conventional materials. The screen protecting film 3 may be any known plastics or glass material and is preferably our Impact Shield (RTM) material. The first and second release layers 4, 5 are PET. The frame 1 is a hard rigid plastic such a polycarbonate, EPS, nylon or PET. The screen protecting film has a layer of adhesive 6 on the side which initially faces the first release layer 4. The second release layer 5 has a light adhesive to attach it to the screen protecting film 3.

The frame 1 generally has an open rectangular structure the inner dimensions of which are configured to closely match the dimensions of the mobile device. It is intended that a different frame 1 will be available to fit each type of mobile device should the dimensions differ. The frame 1 shown in the drawings is designed to fit closely around all four sides of the smartphone P such that it cannot move laterally with respect to the frame 1.

Alternatively, however, the frame could engage only along a small part of each side or possible engage just with diametrically opposed corners of the smartphone P.

The frame 1 has a plurality of upstanding posts 7 spaced along the opposing longer sides of the frame 1. The screen protector 2 is attached to these with a plurality of complimentary holes 8 in the second release layer 5 as best shown in Fig. 2. Thus, the screen protector 2 is attached on the top surface of the frame via an interference fit between the posts 7 and holes 8.

The details of the screen protector 2 are best shown in Fig. 2. Here, the outer rectangle represents the perimeter of the second release layer 5. This layer is provided with a central portion 9 flanked on either side by a pair of attachment portions 10 which extend longitudinally up the two long edges of the second release layer 5. These attachment portions 10 include the holes 8 as described above.

Between the central portion 9 and each attachment portions 10 is a line of weakness 1 1 this takes the form of a cut line which extend through the entire depth of the second release layer 5. The central portion 9 is attached to the attachment portions 10 only by a pair of attachment regions 12 where the cut line 1 1 is interrupted. The number and spacing of the attachment regions 12 can be varied. Alternatively, a score line could be provided rather than a through cut. Alternatively, an adhesive tape or the like could be provided to attach the central portion 9 to the attachment portions 10.

While the cut lines 1 1 are shown running along the longer edges of the screen protector 2, they could alternatively run along the shorter edges.

Set within the central portion 9 is the screen protecting film 3 which, as will be appreciated from Fig. 2 is spaced from the cut lines 1 1 . This allows pressure to be applied across the full area of the screen protecting film 3 whilst the frame 1 is in place on the smartphone P as describe below. As can be appreciated from Fig. 2, if the smartphone P is one where the screen extends fully to the edge of the device, the outer periphery of the screen protecting film 3 is more or less the same as the outer periphery of the smartphone P. Under these circumstances, the frame may be provided with a step 13 shown, for example, in Fig. 1 C extending along each of the longitudinal sides of the frame such that the width of the frame which engages with smartphone P is less than the width of the top of the frame between two rails 14 which support the second release layer 5.

The assembly process will now be described with reference to Figs. 1 A to 1 H.

As shown in Fig. 1 A the smartphone P is placed on a flat surface and the screen S is cleaned.

The frame 1 and screen protector 2 are preferably supplied pre-assembled to the user. As a first step, the first release layer 4 (which is shown in Fig. 1 B as being in two parts) is peeled away from the screen protecting film 3 to expose its adhesive surface 6. The frame is then placed over the smartphone P as shown in Fig. 1 C until the frame 1 also rests on the surface. At this time, the frame 1 and smartphone P are laterally aligned in two dimensions such that the screen protecting film 3 is correctly laterally positioned with respect to the screen S as it suspended a short distance above the screen S by virtue of the fact that the depth of the frame is greater than the depth of the smartphone P. The user then applies downward pressure on the second release layer 5 either using a squeegee Q as shown in Fig. 1 D, some other flat edge or a finger. This operation serves two purposes. Firstly, it severes the central portion 9 of the second release layer 5 from the attachment portions 10 and secondly it presses the screen protecting film 2 onto the screen S. Fig. 1 D shows this operation partially complete with a central portion 9 being torn from the attachment portion 10 on the left hand side drawing but remaining attached on the right hand side of the drawing.

In Fig. 1 E, the central portion 9 has become completely detached and Fig. 1 F

demonstrates the removal of any bubbles from beneath the screen protector 2. Because the screen protector 2 is set well within the two cut lines 1 1 , a user can press down the entirety of the screen protecting film 2 without removing the frame 1 , even if the

smartphone P is provided with curved edges.

Once this is complete, the central portion 9 of the second release layer 5 is peeled away and the frame 1 as shown in Fig. 1 G and the frame 1 is lifted off of the smartphone P. Alternatively, the frame 1 may be removed before the central portion 9 of the second release layer 5.




 
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