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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
FOLDING TABLE AND BENCH SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/016080
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A table and bench system may include a table and one or more benches that may be selectively attached and detached to the table. Advantageously, this may allow the table and benches to be easily moved, transported and stores. In addition, the table and bench system may include a handle that may assist in moving, transporting or storing the table and benches. Preferably, when the benches are attached to the table, the benches top are generally aligned to facilitate stacking of the table and benches. In addition, when the benches are attached to the table, the legs of the table are preferably disposed generally adjacent to the legs of the benches. Further, the upper surfaces of the benches tops preferably face in an opposite direction than the upper surface of the table top because that may create generally aligned surfaces, which may facilitate stacking and shipping of the table and bench system.

Inventors:
Nye, Curtis S. (2622 West 2375 North, Clinton, UT, 84015, US)
Winter, David C. (1956 East 2050 North, Layton, UT, 84040, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2004/026177
Publication Date:
February 24, 2005
Filing Date:
August 12, 2004
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
LIFETIME PRODUCTS, INC. (Building D11, Freeport Center Clearfield, Utah, 84016, US)
International Classes:
A47B3/00; A47B3/14; A47B39/00; A47B39/06; A47B83/02; A47C4/00; A61K31/4995; A47G; (IPC1-7): A47G/
Foreign References:
US6443521B12002-09-03
US6109687A2000-08-29
US2579934A1951-12-25
US2951530A1960-09-06
US6883864B22005-04-26
Other References:
See also references of EP 1679991A2
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gilmore, Richard C. (Workman Nydegger, 1000 Eagle Gate Tower 60 East South Templ, Salt Lake City UT, 84111, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS What is claimed is:
1. A table and bench system in which benches can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system, the table and bench system comprising : a first bench comprising: a bench top including a top, a bottom, a first side and a second side; and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; a second bench comprising: a bench top including a top, a bottom, a first side and a second side; and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; and a table comprising: a table top including a top, a bottom, a first side and a second side; a retaining assembly attached to the bottom of the table top, the retaining assembly including a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, the retaining assembly including a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table; a first receiving member attached to the bottom of the table top, the first receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; a second receiving member attached to the bottom of the table top, the second receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table; and one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position.
2. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the retaining assembly and the first receiving member allow the first bench to be selectively attached to the table; and wherein the retaining assembly and the second receiving member allow the second bench to be selectively attached to the table.
3. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of one side of the first bench and the first receiving member receives a portion of an opposing side of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table ; and wherein the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of one side of the second bench and the second receiving member receives a portion of an opposing side of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
4. The table and bench system as in Claim 3, wherein the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of the first side of the first bench and the first receiving member receives a portion of the legs of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table ; and wherein the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of the first side of the second bench and the second receiving member receives a portion of the legs of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
5. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the retaining assembly includes a first post and a second post that are generally aligned along an axis of the table top.
6. The table and bench system as in Claim 5, wherein the first post and the second post have a generally Ishaped configuration with the first receiving portion being disposed on one side of the posts and the second receiving portion being disposed on another side of the posts.
7. The table and bench system as in Claim 5, wherein the first post and the second post have a generally Tshaped configuration with the first receiving portion being disposed on one side of the posts and the second receiving portion being disposed on another side of the posts.
8. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein one of the sides of the first bench is inserted into the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly when the first bench is attached to the table; and wherein one of the sides of the second bench is inserted into the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly when the second bench is attached to the table.
9. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, further comprising one or more channels in the first bench that are sized and configured to be received in the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly when the first bench is attached to the table ; and further comprising one or more channels in the second bench that are sized and configured to be received in the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly when the second bench is attached to the table.
10. The table and bench system as in Claim 9, further comprising a lip of the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly that is sized and configured to be inserted into at least one of the channels in the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; and further comprising a lip of the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly that is sized and configured to be inserted into at least one of the channels in the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
11. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the first receiving member includes a clip that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; and wherein the second receiving member includes a clip that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
12. The table and bench system as in Claim 11, wherein the clips of the first and second receiving members are deformable to allow the first and second benches to be attached and detached to the table.
13. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the first receiving member receives at least a portion of the legs of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; and wherein the second receiving member receives at least a portion of the legs of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
14. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, further comprising one or more end caps attached to the ends of the legs of the first bench and one or more end caps attached to the ends of the legs of the second bench; wherein the first receiving member receives at least a portion of the end caps of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; and wherein the second receiving member receives at least a portion of the end caps of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
15. The table and bench system as in Claim 1, wherein the top of the first bench is generally aligned with the top of the second bench when the first and second benches are attached to the table; and wherein the legs of the first bench and the legs of the second bench are disposed generally adjacent to the legs of the table when the first and second benches are attached to the table.
16. A table and bench system in which a bench can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system, the table and bench system comprising: a bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; a table including a table top and one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position; a retaining assembly attached to the table top, the retaining assembly including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive a portion of a first side of the bench top when the bench is attached to the table; a receiving member attached to the table top, the receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the legs of the bench when the bench is attached to the table ; wherein the retaining assembly and the receiving member allow the bench to be selectively attached and detached to the table.
17. The table and bench system as in Claim 16, wherein the retaining assembly includes a first post and a second post that are generally aligned along an axis of the table top.
18. The table and bench system as in Claim 16, further comprising one or more channels in the bench that are sized and configured to be received in the receiving portion of the retaining assembly when the bench is attached to the table.
19. The table and bench system as in Claim 18, further comprising a lip of the receiving portion of the retaining assembly that is sized and configured to be inserted into at least one of the channels in the bench when the bench is attached to the table.
20. The table and bench system as in Claim 16, wherein the receiving member includes a clip that receives at least a portion of the legs of the bench when the bench is attached to the table.
21. The table and bench system as in Claim 16, further comprising one or more end caps attached to the ends of the legs of the bench; wherein the receiving member receives at least a portion of the end caps of the bench when the bench is attached to the table.
22. A table and bench system in which benches can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system, the table and bench system comprising: a first bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; a second bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; and a table comprising: a table top; one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position; a first post attached to the table top, the first post including a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, the first post including a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table; a second post attached to the table top, the second post including a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, the second post including a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table; a first clip attached to the table top and being sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table; and a second clip attached to the table top and being sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.
23. The table and bench system as in Claim 22, wherein a top surface of the first bench and a top surface of the second bench face in a direction generally opposite a top surface of the table top when the first and second benches are attached to the table.
24. The table and bench system as in Claim 22, further comprising a handle attached to the table.
25. The table and bench system as in Claim 22, wherein when the first bench or the second bench is attached to the table, the legs of the table are secured in the collapsed position.
26. The table and bench system as in Claim 22, further comprising a frame attached to the table, the frame including a first side rail disposed proximate a first side of the table and a second side rail disposed proximate a second side of the table ; wherein when the first bench and the second bench are attached to the table, the first bench and the second bench are generally disposed between a first plane generally aligned with the first side rail and a second plane generally aligned with the second side rail.
27. The table and bench system as in Claim 26, wherein the first side rail includes an offset portion and the second side rail includes an offset portion.
28. A method for attaching a bench to a table, the bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; the table including a table top, one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position, a first retaining assembly including a receiving portion, a second retaining assembly including a receiving portion, and a clip ; the method comprising: inserting a first portion of the bench top into the receiving portion of the first retaining assembly and inserting a second portion of the bench top into the receiving portion of the second retaining assembly; and inserting a portion of the one or more legs of the bench into the clip to secure the bench to the table.
Description:
FOLDING TABLE AND BENCH SYSTEM CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims priority to and the benefit of United States Provisional Patent Application Serial Number 60/494,393, entitled FOLDING TABLE WITH NESTED BENCHES, which was filed on August 12,2003. This application is also a continuation-in-part of United States Design Patent Application Serial Number 29/188,032, entitled FOLDING PICNIC TABLE WITH NESTED BENCHES, which was filed on August 12,2003. The disclosures of each of the foregoing applications are incorporated by reference herein their entireties.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the Invention The present invention generally relates to furniture and, more particularly, to tables and benches that can be collapsed for storage.

Description of Related Art Various types of tables and chairs are well known. In particular, it is well known to use tables and chairs at home, in the office, outdoors, in recreational settings and in other various locations. While tables and chairs are typically designed for use in a particular environment, various types of tables and chairs can often be used in other environments if desired.

Tables and chairs that are intended to be used outdoors, for example, are often made of materials that are designed to withstand the weather such as rain, snow, sleet and sunshine. Thus, many tables and chairs that are designed to be used outdoors are constructed from materials such as wood, metal and concrete. Tables and chairs constructed from these materials are often sturdy, durable and long-lasting.

Disadvantageously, tables and chairs constructed from wood, metal or concrete are often very heavy and difficult to move. Thus, these types of tables and chairs are often not readily portable. In addition, tables and chairs constructed from these materials often require periodic maintenance and repair. For example, tables and chairs constructed from wood must be periodically painted or stained in order to protect the wood from damage. In addition, tables and chairs constructed from metal must be protected so that they do not rust, oxidize or otherwise deteriorate over time.

It is known to use chairs and benches in connection with a table to allow people to sit at and eat or otherwise use the table. Benches may be more efficient to

use than chairs because benches may allow numerous persons to sit on a single bench.

For example, a bench may be disposed along each side of a table and the benches may allow multiple people to sit at the table. Benches, however, are often relatively unstable and may tip over easily. In addition, benches tend to be rather large, bulky and quite heavy. Thus, while an individual may be able to easily carry a chair because of its relatively small size and lightweight, an individual may have much greater difficulty in carrying a large, bulky and heavy bench. Accordingly, two or more people are often required to move benches. Further, conventional benches may not be easily stored because of their large size and weight.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A need therefore exists for tables and benches that reduces or eliminates some or all of the above-described disadvantages and problems.

One aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table and one or more seating members, such as chairs and/or benches. Advantageously, the seating members may be secured to the table, which may make it easier to transport, store and/or ship the table and seating members. In addition, the seating members may be selectively attached and detached from the table, which may allow the table and/or seating members to be used in a wide range of environments and situations.

Another aspect is a table that may include one or more legs that are movable between an extended position and a collapsed position relative to the table top. Advantageously, when the legs are in the extended position, the table can be used to support various items and/or for many different purposes. When the legs are in the collapsed position, the table can be easily transported and stored. Preferably, when the legs are in the collapsed position, the legs are positioned near or adjacent to the tabletop. In particular, the legs are preferably positioned near or adjacent to a lower surface or underneath portion of the table top. The legs may also be removably connected to the tabletop, if desired.

Still another aspect is a table that may include one or more legs that are pivotally connected to the tabletop. Significantly, if the legs are pivotally connected to the tabletop, then the legs may be quickly and easily moved between an extended position and a collapsed position. Each of the legs may be independently connected to the table top so that the legs can be individually moved between the extended and collapsed positions. One or more of the legs may also be interconnected to allow the

interconnected legs to be simultaneously moved between the extended and collapsed positions.

A further aspect is a seating member, such as a bench, that may allow, for example, one or more persons to sit. The seating member may include one or more legs than may be movable between an extended position and a collapsed position.

When the legs are in the extended position, the seating member can be used to support one or more persons and/or for many different purposes. When the legs are in the collapsed position, the bench can be easily transported and stored. Preferably, the legs are positioned near or adjacent to a lower surface or underneath portion of the bench top when the legs are in the collapsed position. The legs may also be removably connected to the bench top, if desired.

A still further aspect is a seating member, such as a bench, that may allow, for example, one or more persons to sit. The seating member may include one or more legs that are pivotally connected to the bench top. Significantly, if the legs are pivotally connected to the bench top, then the legs may be quickly and easily moved between an extended position and a collapsed position. Each of the legs may be independently connected to the bench top so that the legs can be individually moved between the extended and collapsed positions. One or more of the legs may also be interconnected to allow the interconnected legs to be simultaneously moved between the extended and collapsed positions.

Another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table and a pair of seating members, such as benches, that are preferably sized and configured to be used in connection with the table. Advantageously, the seating members may be connected to the table to allow the table and seating members to be coupled together.

This may allow the table and seating members to be more easily carried and transported as a single unit. Preferably, the seating members are selectively attached to and detached from the table.

Still another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table and a pair of seating members, such as benches, that are preferably sized and configured to be used in connection with the table. The table and seating members may each include legs that can be selectively moved between an extended position and a collapsed position. Advantageously, the seating members may be connected to the table to allow the table and seating members to be coupled together. Desirably, the

seating members are connected to the table when the legs of the table and seating members are in the collapsed position. This may allow the table and seating members to be more easily carried and transported as a single unit. Preferably, the seating members are selectively attached to and detached from the table.

Yet another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more independently deployable seating members, such as benches, in which the benches that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. The benches may be selectively attached to the table top to allow, for example, the table and benches to be easily transported and stored. The benches can also be selectively detached from the table top to allow the table and benches to be used.

Advantageously, the table and benches may form part of an integral system that may be easy to transport, use and store. Desirably, two benches are used in connection with the table to allow individuals to sit on both sides of the table and the benches may be independently connected to the table to allow either or both benches to be selectively attached or detached from the table. The benches, however, do not have to be independently connected to the table.

A further aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches. The table may include one or more receiving portions that are sized and configured to receive all or a portion of the benches when the benches are attached to the table. For example, if the apparatus or system includes two benches, the table may include two receiving portions that are sized and configured to receive the benches. On the other hand, for example, the table could include one receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive both benches. The receiving portions may allow the benches to be integrally stored within and/or attached to a portion of the table.

A still further aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, and the benches may be stored within or attached to the table. Advantageously, this may allow the table to be used while the benches are stored within or attached to the table. For example, in certain situations, seating is not required when the table is being used for serving, displaying, and the like. Accordingly, if desired, the benches may be attached to the table while the table is being used. Because the benches may be attached to the table while the table is being used, the benches do not require storage space or create an

inconvenience for the user. The benches, however, could be removed and stored separately from the table and just the table portion of the system could be used, if desired.

Another further aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. Advantageously, this creates a table with its own seating. In addition, because the benches are preferably separate from the table, this allows the benches to be used independently from the table. Accordingly, the table and benches may be used together as a group, or the table and benches may be used separately.

This may allow the table and/or benches to be used in a wide variety of situations and environments. This may also increase the potential uses of the table and/or benches, and allow the table and/or benches to be used for a number of different purposes.

Another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. The table may include a frame that may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the table. The frame may also be sized and configured to allow one or more benches to be selectively attached to the table, and/or to facilitate attached of the legs to the table. The frame, for example, may include two side rails that are disposed along the sides of the table. Desirably, all or a portion of the benches may be disposed between the side rails of the frame when the benches are attached to the table. All or a portion of the benches may also be disposed between the table legs and the frame when the benches are attached to the table. While the frame may be used to reinforce the table so that it can support a large amount of weight or force may be applied to the table, the frame could also be used to simply facilitate attachment of the table legs to the table and/or attachment of the benches to the table.

Another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. The benches may include a frame that may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the benches. For example, the frame may include two side rails that are disposed along the sides of the table and the bench legs may be pivotally connected to the frame. When the bench legs are in the collapsed

position, all or a portion of the bench legs may be disposed between the side rails of the frame, if desired.

Still another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. The table and/or benches may include one or more components, such as posts, channels and/or grooves, which may be used to help secure the benches to a table. For example, one or more posts may be attached to a table top and the posts may include one or more flanges that may be configured to engage portions of a bench top. In addition, one or more channels or grooves may be formed in the bench tops and these channels may be sized and configured to engage portions of the posts. The channels may be positioned at or near the edge of the benches and the channels may help secure the benches to the table.

A further aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table and one or more clips may be used to help secure the benches to a table. The clips, for example, may be attached to a table top and may be adapted to receive one or more portions of a bench. In addition, the clips may be bendable, flexible or deformable to allow the benches to be attached to the table.

Another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table and the table may include a cavity that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the table frame and/or benches. The cavity is preferably located in the lower portion of the table top and the cavity may be at least partially defined by a lip that extends downwardly from the tabletop. The downwardly extending lip is preferably disposed about the perimeter of the tabletop, but the lip may also be spaced inwardly from the perimeter of the tabletop. The lower portion of the lip is preferably generally disposed within the same plane and all or a portion of the table frame and/or benches may be disposed between the lower portion of the table top and the plane generally aligned with the lower portion of the lip. The cavity, however, could also consist of any sized depression, opening, etc. formed in the table top and the table frame or benches do not have to be disposed within the cavity.

Additionally, the table top does not require either a lip or a cavity and, for example,

the benches could be directly attached to the table top by one or more clips, latches, collars, and the like.

A still further aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table. Desirably, when the benches are secured to the table, the table top and the benches may be sized and configured to facilitate stacking, shipping and/or storing of the table and benches. For example, the upper surface of the table top may be generally parallel to the upper surface of the benches when the benches are in the stored position. On the other hand, for example, the upper surface of the table top may be generally parallel to the lower surface of the benches and/or legs of the benches when the benches are in the stored position.

Still another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table and that can be carried and moved together as a unit. The apparatus or system may include a handle or grip to allow the table and benches to be moved and carried more easily. The handle may be attached to one side of the table and the handle may be attached to a portion of the table frame. The handle may also be pivotally attached to the table and/or the table frame for convenience and ease of use. The handle may also be constructed from flexible material, such as fabric, if desired.

Still yet another aspect is an apparatus or system that may include a table with one or more seating members, such as benches, that can be selectively attached and detached from the table and the table and/or benches may be relatively small and/or lightweight. This may facilitate storage, movement and/or transportation of the apparatus or system. The apparatus or system may also be sized and configured so that it does not take up any unnecessary space.

Another aspect is a table and/or benches that may be constructed from a lightweight material, which may allow a single person to readily lift and move the table and/or benches. For example, the table top and bench tops may be constructed from lightweight materials, such as plastic, but the table top and bench tops may be constructed from other materials with suitable characteristics. Desirably, the table top and bench tops are constructed from blow molded plastic, and the blow molded plastic table top and bench tops may be designed to create rigid, high-strength

structures that are capable of withstanding repeated use and wear. Advantageously, the blow-molded plastic table top and bench tops may be easily manufactured and formed into the desired shapes and sizes. In addition, the blow-molded plastic table top and bench tops may form structural components of the table and/or bench, which may minimize the number of components required to construct the table or bench. If desired, all or a portion of the table top and/or bench tops may be filled with materials such as expanded polymeric materials, including expanded polystyrene, expanded urethane and the like.

Advantageously, the table and/or one or more benches may be durable, lightweight, straightforward to manufacture and strong. For example, if the table top and bench tops are constructed from blow-molded plastic, the table top and bench tops may include two opposing walls that are spaced apart by a relatively small distance, which may increase the strength and rigidity of the table top and bench tops.

The blow-molded plastic table top and bench tops may also include one or more depressions or tack-offs to further increase the strength of the table top and/or interconnect the spaced apart walls. Significantly, the blow-molded table top and bench tops may be relatively rigid, weather resistant and temperature insensitive.

Additionally, the blow-molded plastic table top and bench tops may not corrode, rust or otherwise deteriorate over time. Further, the blow-molded table top and bench tops can also be formed in various shapes, sizes, configurations and designs. The table top and/or bench tops, however, may also be constructed using other suitable methods or processes such vacuum molding, injection molding, tumble molding, and the like, and the table top and/or bench tops may be constructed using other suitable materials.

In addition, the table and one or more benches may be quickly and easily assembled, which may reduce manufacturing and labor costs. Further, the table and one or more benches may be used in wide variety of situations and uses. For example, the table and/or benches may be used as a portable picnic table that can be used and readily stored. The table and/or benches may also be used in connection with various outdoor activities such as camping, watching sporting events, and the like. In addition, the table and/or benches can be used to support various items such as a television, computer, sewing machine, microwave, lamp, luggage, and the like; and the table and/or benches may be used while performing a wide variety of tasks such as reading, writing, studying, working, etc. Thus, the table, the bench, or both

can be used in a number of different environments and can perform numerous different tasks.

Another aspect is a table and bench system that may include benches that can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system. The table and bench system may include a first bench with a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position and a second bench with a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position. The table and bench system may also include a table with a table top including a top, a bottom, a first side and a second side. A retaining assembly may be attached to the bottom of the table top and the retaining assembly may include a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table and a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table. A first receiving member may also be attached to the bottom of the table top, the first receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table. In addition, a second receiving member may be attached to the bottom of the table top, the second receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table. Further, one or more legs may be movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position.

Advantageously, the retaining assembly and the first receiving member may allow the first bench to be selectively attached to the table ; and the retaining assembly and the second receiving member allow the second bench to be selectively attached to the table. Preferably, the first receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of one side of the first bench and the first receiving member receives a portion of an opposing side of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table ; and the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly receives a portion of one side of the second bench and the second receiving member receives a portion of an opposing side of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table. In particular, the first receiving portion of the retaining

assembly may receive a portion of the first side of the first bench and the first receiving member may receive a portion of the legs of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, and the second receiving portion of the retaining assembly may receive a portion of the first side of the second bench and the second receiving member may receive a portion of the legs of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.

The retaining assembly may include a first post and a second post that are generally aligned along an axis of the table top, and the posts may have generally I- shaped or T-shaped configurations with the first receiving portion being disposed on one side of the posts and the second receiving portion being disposed on another side of the posts. Further, the first receiving member may include a clip that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, and the second receiving member may include a clip that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table. The receiving members or clips may receive at least a portion of the legs or end caps when the benches are attached to the table. Desirably, the top of the first bench is generally aligned with the top of the second bench when the first and second benches are attached to the table, and the legs of the first bench and the legs of the second bench are disposed generally adjacent to the legs of the table when the first and second benches are attached to the table.

Still another aspect is a table and bench system in which a bench can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system. The table and bench system may include a bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position, a table including a table top and one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position, a retaining assembly attached to the table top, the retaining assembly including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive a portion of a first side of the bench top when the bench is attached to the table, and a receiving member attached to the table top, the receiving member including a receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the legs of the bench when the bench is attached to the table, wherein the retaining assembly and the receiving member allow the bench to be selectively attached and detached to the table.

Yet another aspect is a table and bench system in which benches can be selectively attached and detached to the table to facilitate moving and transport of the system. The table and bench system may include a first bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position, and a second bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position. The table and bench system may also include a table with a table top, one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position, a first post attached to the table top, the first post including a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, the first post including a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table, a second post attached to the table top, the second post including a first receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, the second post including a second receiving portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table, a first clip attached to the table top and being sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the first bench when the first bench is attached to the table, and a second clip attached to the table top and being sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the second bench when the second bench is attached to the table.

A further aspect is a method for attaching a bench to a table, the bench including a bench top and one or more legs movable relative to the bench top between a collapsed position and an extended position; the table including a table top, one or more legs movable relative to the table top between a collapsed position and an extended position, a first retaining assembly including a receiving portion, a second retaining assembly including a receiving portion, and a clip. The method may include inserting a first portion of the bench top into the receiving portion of the first retaining assembly and inserting a second portion of the bench top into the receiving portion of the second retaining assembly, and inserting a portion of the one or more legs of the bench into the clip to secure the bench to the table.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of embodiments of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the present invention.

It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limits its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a table and bench system, illustrating a table and two benches that are in the extended or use positions; Figure 2 is a perspective view of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating the benches attached to the table and the system being carried by a user; Figure 3 is a bottom view of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating the table; Figure 4 is a bottom view of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating the bench; Figure 5 is a top view of the bench shown in Figure 4; Figure 6A is an enlarged side view of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating a post that may be used to secure one or more benches to the table; Figure 6B is an enlarged side view along lines 6B-6B of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 9, illustrating a bench connected to the table; Figure 7 is an enlarged side view along lines 7-7 of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 9, illustrating the legs of a bench being connected to the table; Figure 8 is a perspective view of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating a bench attached to the table and a bench being attached to the table; Figure 9 is a bottom view of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating the benches attached to the table;

Figure 10 is a side view of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating the benches attached to the table; and Figure 11 is a side view of a portion of the table and bench system shown in Figure 1, illustrating a handle assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS As described in greater detail below, certain preferred embodiments of the invention are generally directed towards a table and bench system. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to a table and bench system. It will be understood, in light of the present application, that the table and bench system disclosed in this application can be successfully used with other types of furniture, seating members, and the like.

Additionally, to assist in the description of the table and bench system, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left are used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the table and bench system can be located in a variety of desired positions--including various angles, sideways and even upside down. A detailed description of the table and bench system now follows.

As shown in Figure 1, an exemplary embodiment of a table and bench system 2 includes a table 4 and one or more seating members 6. The seating members 6 are preferably benches, but other types of seating members, such as chairs and stools, could also be used in connection with the table and bench system 2.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the table and bench system 2 preferably includes two benches 6, and the benches may be sized and configured to allow two or more persons to sit on a bench at one time. Desirably, this allows four or more persons to simultaneously sit at the table 4. It will be appreciated that the benches 6 could also be larger or smaller, and the size and configuration of the benches may depend, for example, upon the size and configuration of the table 4. It will also be appreciated that the size and configuration of the benches 6 may determine the number of persons that could sit on the benches or at the table 4.

Each of the benches 6 preferably includes a bench top 10 and the bench tops preferably have a length that is generally equal to or less than the length of the table top 8. The bench tops 10, however, could have a length that is greater than the length of the table top 8. The bench tops 10 and the table top 8 may have a length that is designed to be used by two, four, six, eight, or any other suitable number of people at

one time. The table top 8 preferably has a width that is at least twice as large of the width of the bench tops 10 to help connect the bench tops to the table 4. The bench tops 10 and/or the table top 8 may also have a width and length that allows a frame, legs, and other components to be securely connected to the table 4 and/or the benches 6.

In one example, the table top 8 may have a length of about four, six, or eight feet and a width of about twenty-four (24) or thirty (30) inches. In this example, the corresponding bench tops 10 may have a length that is generally equal to or less than about four, six, or eight feet, respectively, so that the ends of the bench tops 10 do not extend beyond the ends of the table top 10. The bench tops 10 may also have a width that is generally equal to or less than about twelve (12) or fifteen (15) inches, respectively, which may be generally equal to or less than about one-half the width of the table top 8. This may allow, for example, two benches to be connected to the table top 8 in a side-by-side manner. In another example, the table top 8 may have a width of about twenty-six (26) inches and a length of about forty-two (42) inches, and the bench tops 10 may have a width of about nine (9) inches and a length of about thirty-four (34) inches. It will be appreciated that the table top 8 and the bench tops 10 could have any other suitable sizes, widths, and lengths depending, for example, upon the intended use of the benches 6 and/or the table 4. It will also be appreciated that the table top 8 and bench tops 10 could be larger or smaller, or have other suitable configurations depending, for example, upon the interrelationship between the table 4 and benches 6.

The table 4 and the benches 6 may include one or more legs that are movable between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position.

Advantageously, as described in detail below, when the table legs and bench legs are in a collapsed position, some or all of the benches 6 may be attached to the table 4 (as shown in Figure 2). Significantly, when the benches 6 are attached to the table 4 and the table and bench legs are in the collapsed position, that may allow the table and benches to be moved and stored as a single unit. On the other hand, when the benches 6 are not attached to the table 4 and the table legs and bench legs are in an extended position (as shown in Figure 1), the tabte 4 and benches 6 may be used for any suitable purpose.

Thus, for example, the benches 6 may be used to allow one or more persons to sit at the

table 4. Alternatively, the table 4 and benches 6 may be used separately and independently, if desired.

The table top 8 and bench tops 10 are preferably constructed from plastic that is blow-molded into the desired shape and configuration. Advantageously, the blow- molded plastic table top 8 and bench tops 10 may allow strong, durable and lightweight tables and benches to be quickly and efficiently manufactured.

The blow-molded plastic table top 8 and bench tops 10 may also include one or more depressions or tack-offs to further increase the strength of the table top and/or interconnect spaced apart walls. The depressions are preferably located in the lower or underneath portions of the table top 8 and bench tops 10, but the depressions may be located in any suitable portions of the table top and/or bench tops. The depressions preferably include a distal end that is disposed near or contacts an opposing surface and, as shown in Figures 3 and 4, the depressions preferably cover at least a substantial portion of the lower surface of the table top 8 and bench tops 10. The table top 8 and bench tops 10, however, could include any suitable number of depressions in any desired pattern or configuration. Additional details regarding the size, shape, and configuration of depressions that may be suitable for use in connection with a table top are disclosed in United States patent application serial no.

10/409,000, entitled High-strength, Lightweight Blow-molded Plastic Structures, which was filed April 8,2003, and is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Of course, the depressions may have other suitable shapes, sizes and configurations depending, for example, upon the intended use and/or design of the table 4 or benches 6. Further, neither the table top 8 nor the bench tops 10 require any depressions, which are optional.

It will be appreciated that other suitable materials and processes may be used to construct the table top 8 and bench tops 10. For example, the table top 8 and bench tops 10 may also be constructed from wood, metal, or any other suitable material. In addition, the table top 8 and bench tops 10 may be formed by any suitable method or manufacturing process such as injection molding, vacuum forming, tumble molding, rotary molding and the like. It will also be appreciated that the table top 8 and bench tops 10 are not required to be manufactured using the same or similar methods, processes or materials. For example, the table top 8 could be constructed from blow-molded plastic, and the bench tops 10 could be formed from

vacuum or injection molded plastic. Similarly, it will also be appreciated that each of the bench tops 10 are not required to be manufactured using the same or similar processes.

The table 4 may include one or more legs or pairs of legs that may be movable relative to the table top 8 between an extended position in which the legs extend outwardly from the table top (as shown in Figure 1) and a collapsed position in which the legs are positioned near or adjacent to the table top (as shown in Figures 2 and 3).

In particular, as best seen in Figure 3, the table 4 may include a first pair of table legs 12 and 14 and a second pair of table legs 16 and 18, which may be disposed near opposing ends of the table top 8. Further, the first pair of table legs 12 and 14 and the second pair of table legs 16 and 18 may be offset to allow the legs to be moved between the extended and collapsed positions. Of course, the table legs 12,14, 16, and 18 may be disposed in any other suitable location or manner, and the table may include any suitable number of legs.

As shown in Figure 3, the pair of legs may be connected by one or more cross braces, crossbars, or the like. For example, the first pair of legs 12 and 14 may be connected by a first cross brace 20 (which may be located proximate to a first end of the table top 8) and a second cross brace 22 (which may be disposed away from the first end of the table top 8). Similarly, the second pair of legs 16 and 18 may be connected by a first cross brace 24 (which may be located proximate to a second end of the table top 8) and a second cross brace 26 (which may be disposed away from the second end of the table top 8). It will be appreciated that any suitable number and locations of cross braces may be used to connect the legs depending, for example, upon the intended use or design of the table 4. It will also be appreciated that the cross braces are optional and that the table 4 does not require the use of any particular number or location of cross braces.

The lower surface or underneath portion of the table top 8 may include one or more grooves or channels that are sized and configured to receive one or more of the legs 12,14, 16,18 and/or cross braces 20,22, 24, 26 when the table legs are in a collapsed position. Advantageously, the grooves may allow the table legs 12,14, 16, 18 to contact or be folded against the lower surface or underneath portion of the table top 8. This may also allow the table legs 12,14, 16, 18 to be positioned adjacent to or near the lower portion of the table top 8 when the legs are in the collapsed position.

The grooves may facilitate stacking of the table 4 and/or attachment of the benches 6 to the table top 8. The grooves, however, are not required.

The table 4 may include a frame and the frame is desirably connected to the lower surface or underneath portion of the table top 8. The frame may include two side rails 28 and 30, which may consist of elongated members that extend generally the entire length of the table top 8 and the side rails may be disposed generally along the sides of the table top 8. The side rails 28 and 30 are preferably constructed from metal, such as steel, and the side rails preferably have a generally L-shaped configuration. The side rails 28 and 30, however, could have other suitable sizes and configurations, and the side rails could be constructed from other materials with appropriate characteristics.

Advantageously, the side rails 28 and 30 may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the table top 8, if desired, and the table legs 12, 14,16, 18 may be pivotally attached to the side rails. The legs 12,14, 16,18, however, could be connected to any suitable portion of the table top 8 and the frame could have other suitable sizes and configurations.

As shown in Figure 3, the table 4 may include a recess or cavity in the lower portion of the tabletop 8 and the recess may be bounded on one or more sides by a lip.

The lip is preferably disposed about the outer perimeter of the table top 8, but the lip could be spaced inwardly from the edge of the tabletop. It will be understood that the recess does not have to be bounded by the lip, and the table top 8 could include more than one recess. Advantageously, all or a portion of the table frame may be generally disposed within the recess, which may generally hide the frame from view by a user of the table 4. Thus, visual defects or other imperfections in the frame may be hidden from view of the user. In addition, because the frame is generally hidden from view, the frame may not have to be finished such as by painting. The table 4, however, does not require a frame, a recess, a downwardly extending lip, or that the frame be disposed within the recess.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in Figure 3, one or both of the side rails 28 and 30 may include one or more offset portions, which may advantageously dispose the table legs 12 and 14 in an offset relationship with respect to the table legs 16 and 18. For example, the side rail 30 may include a first portion 32 which may lead to a first curvilinear portion 34. The first curvilinear portion 34 may lead to a second curvilinear portion 36 which may lead to a second portion 38. Accordingly, as

shown in Figure 3, the first portion 32 may be disposed offset with respect to the second portion 38. Thus, the second portion 38 may be disposed closer to a first edge of the table top 8 with the first portion 32 disposed farther from the first edge of the table top. Similarly, the first portion 32 may be disposed closer to a second, opposing edge of the table top 8 with the second portion 38 disposed farther from the second, opposing edge of the table top. It will be appreciated that the first portion 32 may be disposed offset with respect to the second portion 38 in any other suitable manner. As shown in the accompanying figures, the first portion 32 is preferably generally parallel to the second portion 38, but the first and second portions could be at any desired angles or configurations, including generally straight. It will be appreciated that the side rail 30 does not require any offset portions, which are optional. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the side rail 28 may have a similar configuration, if desired.

As shown in Figure 3, the table leg 14 may be positioned proximate the second portion 38 of the side rail and the table leg 18 may be positioned proximate the first portion 32 of the side rail. Thus, the table legs 14 and legs 18 may be located in an offset position when the legs are in the collapsed position. Advantageously, the offset position may allow the legs 14 and 18 to be positioned near or adjacent to each other when the legs are in the collapsed position. The offset position may also allow the legs 14 and 18 to have a length that is approximately the length of the table top 8.

Of course, the legs 14 and 18 could also be adjustable in height, if desired. In addition, the table legs 14 and legs 18 could also be located in other suitable locations and used in connection with suitable components. Further, the table legs 14 and 18 do not require an offset position, which is optional. As shown in the accompanying figures, the side rail 28 and the table legs 12 and 16 may have a similar configuration to the side rail 30 and the table legs 14 and 18. The side rail 28 and the table legs 12 and 16 may also have other suitable configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the design and/or intended use of the table 4.

As shown in Figure 3, the table legs 12,14, 16, and 18 may be pivotally connected to the table top 8 and/or to the frame using one or more braces. For example, the cross brace 20 may be pivotally connected to the table top 8 and/or to the frame by braces 40 and 42, and the cross brace 24 may be pivotally connected to the table top and/or to the frame by braces 44 and 46. One of ordinary skill in the art

will appreciate that the table legs 12,14, 16,18 may be attached to the table top 8 or the frame by other suitable configurations and arrangements A slotted brace may be used to guide the table legs 12,14, 16,18 between the extended and collapsed positions. The slotted brace may also be used to secure the table legs in the extended and/or collapsed positions. For example, some or all of the table legs 12,14, 16, and 18 could be secured by (and guided by) a corresponding slotted brace, such as, slotted braces 48,50, 52, and 54. Advantageously, the slotted brace may be lightweight, relatively easy to manufacture, and easy to attach to the table leg. It will be understood that other types of braces and guides may be used to assist in moving a table leg between an extended position and a collapsed position.

Further, other types of braces and guides may be used to maintain a leg in an extended position, in a collapsed position, or in both. Of course, braces are not required to assist in moving a leg in any particular fashion or in securing a leg in any particular position.

The table legs 12,14, 16,18 and the cross braces 20,22, 24,26 may be constructed from hollow metal tubes because metal tubes are relatively strong and lightweight. Desirably, the table legs 12,14, 16,18 and the cross braces 20,22, 24, 26 are constructed from steel, but other materials with suitable characteristics may also be used to construct the table legs 12,14, 16,18 and/or the cross braces 20,22, 24,26. While the table legs 12,14, 16,18 preferably have a generally oblong cross- section and the cross braces 20,22, 24,26 preferably have a generally circular cross- section, it will be appreciated that the table legs and the cross braces could have any suitable shapes and configurations depending, for example, upon the type of material used to construct the legs or the cross braces, the intended use or design of the table 4, or other appropriate factors.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the benches 6 may include one or more legs and the legs are preferably movable between an extended position and a collapsed position relative to the bench tops 10. For example, as seen in Figure 4, the bench 6 may include a first pair of bench legs 56 and 58 and a second pair of bench legs 60 and 62, which may be disposed near opposing ends of the bench top 10. Of course, the bench legs 56,58, 60, and 62 may be disposed in any other suitable location or manner. The bench 6 may include a frame and one or more the bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may be attached to the frame, if desired. The frame may include side rails

64 and 66 and the side rails may be generally disposed along the sides of the bench top 10. The side rails 64 and 66 are preferably constructed from metal, and the side rails preferably extend along the length of the bench top 10. The side rails 64 and 66, however, could be constructed from other materials with appropriate characteristics, and the side rails may extend along only a portion of the bench top 10. In addition, the frame does not require the use of the side rails 64 and 66, and the frame could have other suitable configurations and arrangements. In fact, the benches 6 do not require either the side rails 64,66 or a frame. Further, while the bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may be connected to the frame, the legs could be attached to any suitable portions of the bench 6. An optional brace may be used to secure one or more of the bench legs 56,58, 60,62 in the extended and/or collapsed positions.

As shown in Figure 4, the bench 6 may include a recess or cavity in the lower surface or underneath portion of the bench top 10. The recess may be bounded on one or more sides by a lip that extends downwardly from a lower surface or portion of the bench top 10. The lip is preferably disposed about the outer perimeter of the bench top 10, but the lip could be spaced inwardly from the edge of the tabletop. It will be understood that the recess does not have to be bounded by the lip, and the bench top 10 could include more than one recess. The bench frame is preferably generally disposed within the recess in the lower portion of the bench top 10.

Advantageously, if the bench frame is generally disposed within the recess, then the frame is generally hidden from view by a user of the bench 6. Thus, visual defects or other imperfections in the frame may be hidden from view of the user. In addition, because the frame is generally hidden from view, the frame may not have to be finished such as by painting.

When the bench legs 56,58, 60,62 are in the collapsed position, all or a portion of the legs may be disposed within the recess. Additionally, all or a portion of the legs may be disposed between the side rails 64,66 of the bench frame when the legs 56,58, 60,62 are in the collapsed position. For example, as seen in Figure 4, when the legs 56,58, 60,62 are in the collapsed position, one end of the legs may be generally disposed in the recess and between the side rails 64,66 of the frame and the other end of the legs may not be disposed in the recess or between the side rails of the frame. It will be appreciated that one or more bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may be disposed partially within, completely within, or outside of the recess; and/or disposed

partially between, completely between or outside of the side rails 64,66 of the frame depending, for example, on the intended purpose of the bench 6.

As shown in Figure 4, the benches 6 may include a first pair of bench legs 56, 58 that are spaced apart from a second pair of bench legs 60,62, and the first and second pairs of bench legs may be attached to the bench top 10. The first pair of bench legs 56,58 and the second pair of bench legs 60,62 may be interconnected by one or more crossbars or cross braces. For example, the bench legs 56,58 may be interconnected by a cross brace 68 and the cross brace may be attached to the frame and/or to the bench top 10. Similarly, the second pair of bench legs 60,62 may be interconnected by a cross brace 70 and the cross brace may be attached to the frame and/or to the bench top 10. It will be appreciated that bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may be movable relative to the bench top 10 without using a cross brace or cross bar. It will also be appreciated that the bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may also have other suitable arrangements and designs depending, for example, accordingly to the design and configuration of the bench 6 and/or table 4. For example, a pair of bench legs may comprise a single support, which may be curved or at an angle.

The bench legs 56,58, 60,62 may be connected to one or more support members, such as a foot. For example, the first pair of bench legs 56,58 may be connected to a foot 72, and the second pair of bench legs 60,62 may be connected to a foot 74. One or more end caps may be connected to the each foot and the end caps may be sized and configured, for example, to prevent foreign objects from entering the feet and/or to create a non-slip surface. For example, end caps 76 and 78 may be connected to opposing ends of the foot 72, and end caps 80 and 82 may be connected to opposing ends of the foot 74. The end caps 76,78, 80,82 are preferably constructed from plastic and are slidably attached to the ends of the feet. The benches legs 56,58, 60,62, however, do not require the feet.

As shown in Figure 4, an exemplary embodiment the bench 6 includes the first pair of bench legs 56, 58 connected near one end of the bench top 10 and the second pair of bench legs 60,62 connected near the opposing end of the bench top. The foot 72 is connected to the end of the first pair of bench legs 56,58 and the foot 74 is connected to the end of the second pair of bench legs 60,62. In this embodiment, the ends of the feet 72,74 extend beyond the side rails 64,66 of the frame and beyond the outer edges of the bench top 10. Thus, in this embodiment, when the legs 56,58, 60,

62 are in a collapsed position, the ends of the feet 72,74 and the end caps 76,78, 80, 82 are generally not positioned within the recess in the lower portion of the benches or disposed between the side rails 64,66 of the frame. In addition, the ends of the feet 72,74 and the end caps 76,78, 80,82 may at least partially extend beyond the lip and/or outer edges of the bench tops 10. Advantageously, when the legs 56,58, 60, 62 are in the collapsed position, the feet 72,74 and the end caps 76,78, 80,82 may be positioned in a contacting relationship with at least a portion of the side rails 64,66 and/or a portion of the lower surface or underneath portions of the bench top 10. This may help minimize the height of the bench 6 when the legs 56,58, 60,62 are in the collapsed position.

The benches 6 may include one or more lips that extend downwardly from the bench tops 10. For example, the benches 6 may include lips 84,86 that are positioned at or near an outer edge of the bench top 10, but the lips could be inwardly spaced from the outer edge of the bench tops. The lips 84,86 may help form part of the recess in the underneath portion of the bench tops 10 and the lips preferably include a lower surface that is spaced apart from a lower surface 88 of the bench top 10. When the feet 72 and 74 are in a collapsed position, the feet and/or the end caps may contact a portion of the lips 84,86.

It will be appreciated that the feet 72,74 and end caps 76,78, 80,82 could be at least partially disposed within one or more openings, depressions, grooves, channels, and the like that are formed in the bench top 10 and/or the frame. This may allow the feet 72,74 and end caps 76,78, 80,82 to be positioned adjacent to a lower surface or underneath portion of the bench top 10.

The bench legs 56,58, 60,62 and the feet 72,74 of the benches may be constructed from metal such hollow steel tubes with generally circular cross-sections.

Advantageously, the tubular legs 56,58., 60,62 and feet 72,74 may be relatively strong and lightweight. The bench legs 56,58, 60,62 and feet 72,74 may also have other suitable shapes and be constructed from other suitable materials with suitable characteristics.

The benches 6 are preferably selectively attached to the table 4 to allow the table and benches to be easily stored and transported. For example, as seen in Figure 2, the benches 6 are preferably attached to the underneath portion of the table 4 and the underneath portions of the benches are preferably disposed adjacent to the

underneath portion of the table top 8. It will be appreciated, however, that the upper portions of the benches 6 may be disposed adjacent to the underneath portion of the table top 8 if desired. Desirably, the benches 6 are attached to the table 4 so that at least a portion of the benches touch or contact the table so that the height of the table and bench system may be minimized. The benches 6, however, may also be spaced apart from the table 4 if desired. In addition, when the benches 6 are attached to the table 4, the upper portions of the benches 6 are preferably generally aligned so that a generally planar surface is created. The upper portions of the benches 6 may also be positioned generally parallel to the upper portion of the table top 8. Advantageously, this configuration may help facilitate stacking of the table and bench system and packaging of the table and bench system.

The benches 6 may also be attached to the table 4 such that all or a portion of the benches may be disposed within the recess in the lower portion of the table top 10 and/or beyond the plane formed by the lower portion of a downwardly extending lip.

The benches 6 could also be attached to the table 4 such that all or a portion of the benches 6 are disposed outside of any recesses formed in the table top and/or beyond the plane formed by the lower portion of a downwardly extending lip. Additionally, the benches 6 could also be attached to the table 4 such that the benches 6 are disposed between the side rails of the bench frame and/or the table legs. Of course, the benches 6 could also be attached to the table 4 such that at least a portion of the benches 6 are disposed outside of the side rails of the bench frame and/or the table legs. The benches 6 may also be individually attached to the table 4 to allow individual benches to be selectively connected and disconnected from the table. Of course, the various components of the table and bench system may be positioned in other suitable arrangements and configurations.

The benches 6 are preferably connected to the table 4 using one or more clips, latches, or posts, which may be disposed towards the center of the lower portion the table top 8 or in any other suitable location. For example, as seen in Figure 3, the table and bench system may include two posts 90 and 92, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention. As best seen in Figure 6A, the posts 90 and 92 may have a generally I-shaped cross section and each post may include one or more receiving portions that are sized and configured to facilitate attachment of a bench 6 to the table 4. In particular, the posts 90 and 92 preferably have a height that allows a

channel or groove formed in the bench top 10 (such as, channels 94,96, 98, and 100 shown in Figure 5) to securely or snuggly engage at least a portion of a receiving portion of the posts.

The posts 90 and 92 are preferably constructed from a relatively strong and strudy material such as certain plastics, metals, or the like, but other materials with suitable characteristics may also be used. The posts 90 and 92 may be connected to the table top 8 using a snap fit, a friction fit, an interference fit, or the like. Further, the posts 90 and 92 may be connected to the table top 8 by one or more screws, but other types of fasteners, adhesives and the like may also be used to attach the posts 90 and 92 to the table top 8. The posts 90 and 92 are preferably generally aligned along a center axis of the table top 10 and towards the center of the table top 10, but the posts 90 and 92 could be connected to any suitable portion of the table 4 depending, for example, upon the size and configuration of the benches 6 and table 4.

Additionally, the posts 90 and 92 could have other shapes and configurations depending, for example, upon the size and shape of the benches 6 and intended use of the table 4.

When the benches 6 are attached to the table 4, the benches may be positioned adjacent to or in contact with the side rails 28 and 30 of the frame; the lip of the table top 10; the table legs 12,14, 16,18 ; the cross braces 20,22, 24, and 26; and/or other portions of the table 4. Accordingly, one or both of the benches 6, when attached to the table 4, may advantageously restrict the movement of one or more collapsed table legs and/or bench legs. Thus, when one or both of the benches 6 are attached to the table 4, the table and bench system 2 may be advantageously transported with less concern that one or more of the table or bench legs may inadvertently move from a collapsed position to an extend position..

As shown in Figure 5, the bench tops may include channels or grooves 94,96, 98,100 that are configured to engage or otherwise mate with at least a portion of the posts 90,92. The bench tops may include recessed portions 102,104 that may be located at or near the sides of the bench top. The recessed portions 102,104 may present a substantially flat surface or other suitable type of surface. Of course, the recessed portions 102,104 and/or the channels 94,96, 98,100 may be formed at other appropriate locations and need not be formed in the same or similar locations.

Further, the bench tops do not require the channels, grooves or recessed portions.

The channels or grooves 94,96, 98,100 are preferably sized and configured to facilitate attachment of the benches 6 to the table 4. In particular, the channels 94,96, 98,100 are preferably sized and configured to engage or otherwise mate with the posts 90,92. For example, the channel 94 may engage a portion of the first post and the channel 96 may engage a portion of the second post to help attach one of the benches 6 to the table 4. Likewise, the channel 98 may engage another portion of the first post and the channel 100 may engage a portion of the second post to help secure the other of the benches to the table 4. The channels 94,96, 98,100 may have other suitable arrangements and configurations depending, for example, upon the size and location of the posts 90,92.

The posts 90,92 preferably have the same general configuration and, in particular, the posts preferably have the same general configuration as shown in Figure 6A. Thus, while the post 90 will be described in detail below, the post 92 preferably has the same general configuration. It will be appreciated that the posts 90, 92 may also have other suitable configurations depending, for example, upon the size and design of the table 4 and/or benches 6.

As shown in Figure 6A, the post 90 includes a central portion with two outwardly extending flanges 106 and 108. The central portion and the outwardly extending flanges 106 and 108 are preferably arranged into a generally T-shaped configuration, but the post 90 could have other suitable configurations. The ends of the flanges 106,108 may include a lip or ridge 110,112, respectively, and the lips are preferably spaced apart from the central portion of the post 90. In particular, the post 90 may include an inner portion 114 disposed between the lip 110 and the central portion of the post and an inner portion 116 disposed between the lip 112 and the central portion of the post. The lips 110, 112 preferably extend along substantially the entire length of the flanges 110,112, but the lips may extend along only a portion of the length of the flanges. As shown in the accompanying figures, the post 90 preferably has a generally symmetrical configuration because, as discussed below, that may allow a bench to be connected to each side of the post. The post 90, however, does not have to be generally symmetrical if, for example, a bench is not intended to be connected to each side of the post.

The post 90 may include one or more outwardly extending members that may, for example, facilitate attachment of the post to the table 4 and/or increase the

stability of the post. In particular, the post 90 preferably includes a first outwardly extending member 118 and a second outwardly extending member 120. A first receiving portion is preferably disposed between the first outwardly extending member 118 and the first flange 106 and a second receiving portion is preferably disposed between the second outwardly extending member 118 and the second flange 108. As discussed in greater detail below, a portion of the benches 8 may be disposed within the first and second receiving portions when the benches are attached to the table 4.

The post 90 is preferably constructed from a relatively strong and sturdy material, such as plastic. The post 90 is also preferably constructed from slightly resilient or flexible material that facilitates insertion of a portion of the benches 6 in to the first and second receiving portions. In addition, the post 90 is preferably constructed as an integral, one-piece structure that is connected to the table top 8 by one or more fasteners and/or a friction, snap or interference fit. It will be understood that the post 90 may also be constructed from multiple components and the post can be connected to the table top 8 in any suitable manner.

As shown in Figure 6B, the post 90 may help connect the bench 6 to the table 4. In particular, a portion of the bench 6 may be disposed within the first or second receiving portion of the post 90 to help connect the bench to the table 4. For example, the portion of the bench 6 including a channel or groove 122, such as the channel 94, 96,98 or 100, may be disposed within the second receiving portion of the post 90.

Desirably, at least a portion of the lip 112 is positioned within the channel 122 to help securely connect the bench 6 to the table 4. A portion 124 of the bench top 10 may also be disposed within the second receiving portion of the post 90. Accordingly, certain movement of the bench top 10 relative to the table 4 may be restricted when a portion of the bench is disposed within the receiving portions of the post 90.

The benches 6 may also be connected to the table 4 using one or more clips or collars 126 and 128. For example, as seen in Figure 3, the clips 126 and 128 are preferably positioned proximate the sides of the table top 8, but the clips may be positioned in other suitable locations. While the clips 126 and 128 are preferably attached to the table top 8, it will be appreciated that the clips may also be attached to the table frame or other suitable portions of the table 4 depending, for example, upon the size and configuration of the table or benches. Because the clips 126 and 128

preferably have the same general configuration, only the clip 126 will be discussed in detail. It will be appreciated that the clips 126 and 128 do not have to have the same configuration and the clips could have other suitable shapes, sizes and configurations.

As best seen in Figure 7, an exemplary embodiment of the clip 126 includes an elongated body portion and two outwardly extending portions. Disposed between the outwardly extending portions of the clip 126 is an opening that is sized and configured to receive a portion of the bench 6. Preferably, that portion of the bench 6 can be selectively inserted and removed from the opening to allow the bench to be selectively attached to the table 4. Thus, when the bench 6 is attached to the table 4, a portion of the bench 6 is inserted into the opening in the clip 126.

In greater detail, the clip 126 preferably includes an opening 130 disposed between a first receiving portion 132 and a second receiving portion 134 and the opening is preferably sized and configured to receiving a portion of the bench 6 such as the bench feet 72,74 and/or end caps 76,78, 80,82. Desirably, the first and second receiving portions 132,134 are constructed from a flexible or bendable material that allow the feet 72,74 and/or end caps 76,78, 80,82 to be inserted into the opening 130 and then the first and second receiving portions then elastically or resiliently return to their original positions to secure the legs and/or end caps in a generally fixed position. The flexible or bendable first and second receiving portions 132,134 may also deform to allow the feet 72,74 and/or end caps 76,78, 80,82 to be removed from the opening 130. Thus, the clip 126 may hold a portion of the bench 6 in a generally fixed position by a snap, friction or interference fit. The clip 126 may also have other suitable configurations depending, for example, upon the portion of the bench 6 desired to be held in a generally fixed position and the shape of the bench.

In addition, other suitable types of clips, braces and brackets may also be used to connect the bench 6 to the table 4.

Thus, posts 90,92 and clips 126,128 may be used to securely connect the benches 6 to the table 4, which allows the table and the benches to be transported and stored as a single unit. Advantageously, because the table 4 and the benches 6 are preferably constructed from lightweight materials, an individual may be able to carry the table 6 and benches 6 together. Additionally, because the benches 6 are preferably separately deployable from the table 4, the table and benches can be used in a wide variety of circumstances and environments. For example, the table 4 may be used by

itself without the benches 6, the table and benches may be used simultaneously, and the benches may be used without the table. Thus, the table 4 and benches 6 may be easily transportable and highly versatile.

In order to connect the benches 6 to the table 4 so that the table and benches can be transported as a single unit, one or both of the benches 6 are positioned near the underneath or lower portion of the table top 8. One of the benches 6 is then positioned such that one or more of the channels 94,96, 98, 100 are generally aligned with the receiving portions of the posts 90 and 92, as generally shown in Figure 8.

The portions of the bench 6 including the channels 94,96, 98,100 are then inserted into the receiving portions of the posts 90,92. The bench 6 is then moved such that a portion of the bench is inserted into one of the openings 130 in the clips 126,128. In particular, the bench 6 is moved such that a portion of the bench feet 72 and 74 and/or the end caps 76,78, 80, and 82 are inserted into the opening 130 in the clip 126,128.

Thus, the posts 90,92 and clips 126, 128 may be used to secure one of the benches 6 to the table 4. Similarly, the other bench 6 may be secured to the table 4.

Accordingly, both of the benches 6 may be attached to the table as shown in Figure 9.

As shown in Figure 9, when the benches 6 are attached to the table 4, the table legs 12,14, 16,18 are preferably held in the collapsed position by the benches. In particular, in order for the benches 6 to be attached to the table 4, the table legs 12, 14, 16,18 are preferably in the collapsed position. When the benches 6 are then attached to the table 4, the benches preferably prevent the table legs 12,14, 16,18 from moving from the collapsed position to the extended position. Advantageously, one or both of the benches 6 may help secure some or all of the table legs 12,14, 16, 18 in the collapsed position when the benches are attached to the table top. This may help prevent the legs 12,14, 16,18 from inadvertently moving from the collapsed to the extended position. The benches 6, however, do not have to be used to secure the table legs 12,14, 16,18 in the collapsed position.

In order to remove one or both of the benches 6 from the table 4, one of the benches may be moved such that the portion of the bench is removed from the clip 126,128. In particular, the bench may be moved such that the bench feet 72, 74 and/or end caps 76,78, 80,82 are removed from the opening 130 in the clip 126,128.

As the bench feet 72,74 and/or end caps 76,78, 80,82 are removed from the opening 130, the clip 126,128 may bend or deform such that the feet and/or end caps are no

longer disposed within the opening. The bench 6 is then moved so that the posts 90, 92 no longer engage the channels or grooves formed in the bench top 10. This allows the bench 6 to be freely moved with respect to the table 4. Similarly, the other bench 6 can also be removed from the table 4. Once the benches 6 are removed from the table 4, the table legs and the bench legs may be pivoted into the extended or use positions to allow the table 4 and the benches 6 to be used.

As shown in Figure 10, when the benches 6 are secured to the table 4, the table and bench system 2 is relatively compact, which may allow the system to be easily transported and moved. Desirably, when the benches 6 are secured to the table 4, the top surfaces of the benches 6 may be aligned in generally the same plane. The benches 6 may also be attached to the table 4 such that the sides of benches 6 are generally parallel to each other and, if desired, to the sides of the table. In addition, one or both of the ends of the benches 6 may be generally parallel to the each of the table 4. Further, the benches 6 may be attached to the table 4 such that the benches are located side-by-side.

When the benches 6 are secured to the table 4, the upper surfaces of the benches 6 are preferably aligned in generally the same plane as the upper surface of the table. The upper surfaces of the benches 6 and the upper surface of the table 4 are preferably positioned in different directions. For example, as shown in Figure 2, the top surfaces of the benches 6 face away from the person carrying the system 2, while the top surface of the table 4 faces toward that person. Accordingly, as shown in Figure 10, when the benches 6 are attached to the table 4, the top surface of the table and one or both of the top surfaces of the benches may advantageously be configured to present generally flat, generally parallel surfaces to facilitate stacking, shipping, storing, or other suitable purposes. Of course, the benches 6 may be attached to the table 4 in any other suitable manner, and the top surfaces of the table top 8 and the bench tops 10 (or any other components of the table 4 and the benches 6) may be positioned in any other suitable configuration or relative position.

As shown in Figure 11, a handle assembly 136 may be used to facilitate lifting and/or moving the table and bench system 2. The handle assembly 136 may be attached to a portion of table top 8 to assist a user in manipulating the table 4 and/or the benches 6. The handle assembly 136 may include a handle 138 and one or more straps, such as straps 140 and 142. The handle 138 may be constructed from a

generally rigid material, such as plastic, and the straps 140 and 140 are preferably constructed from a flexible material such as a plastic, fabric, or the like. The straps 140 and 142 may have a cross-sectional shape that is substantially thinner in the fore and aft direction and substantially wider in the side-to-side direction.

Advantageously, the handle 136 may be moved between a use position and a retracted or storage position. The handle 138 may be positioned such that, in a retracted position, all or a portion of the handle 138 may be disposed within a portion of the outer lip or edge of the table top 8. In the use position, the handle 138 preferably extends outwardly from the table top 8 to facilitate grasping of the handle.

One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the handle 138 and/or the straps 140 and 142 may be constructed from any suitable materials, such as leather, plastic, metal, wood, etc. , and the handle need not be constructed from the same or similar materials as the straps 140 and 142. In addition, the straps 140 and 142 need not be made from the same or similar materials as each other. Further, the handle assembly 136 could be attached to any suitable portion of the table 4 or benches 6, and the table and bench system 2 does not require the handle 136.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention.




 
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