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Title:
INDICATOR ATTACHMENT ARRANGEMENT FOR GARMENT HANGERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/066919
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A moulded plastic garment hanger (102) having an improved indicator attachment arrangement is described. The garment hanger includes an indicia display area having a cavity (114) for receiving a removable indicia plate (116) therewithin. The indicia plate is removably secured to the cavity with an undercut dovetail on either side of the cavity and a detent mechanism that latches the indicia plate into engagement with the hanger. The indicia plate is resiliently deformable and includes a planar area for printing, imprinting or embossing logos or size indicia thereon. The body of the hanger (104) also includes an opening for insertion of a tool between the body and the resilient plate to flex the removable indicia and release it from the detent and the dovetail sidewalls. The present invention contemplates automated as well as manual removal of the indicator from the hanger.

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Inventors:
Hunt, William Llewellyn (13 West Ridge, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire SL8 5BU, GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2005/000027
Publication Date:
July 21, 2005
Filing Date:
January 07, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BRAITRIM (UK) LTD (Braitrim House, 98 Victoria Road, London NW10 6NB, GB)
Hunt, William Llewellyn (13 West Ridge, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire SL8 5BU, GB)
International Classes:
A47G25/14; G09F3/06; G09F3/18; G09F3/20; (IPC1-7): G09F3/18; A47G25/14; G09F3/06; G09F3/20
Foreign References:
US6019260A
US6289569B1
US5604975A
US20010011663A1
GB2336300A
GB2344098A
US2801036A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Want, Clifford J. (Harrison Goddard Foote, 40-43 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1JA, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A garment hanger having a front face, the garment hanger comprising: a. a removable indicia plate; b. receiving means located in the front face for slidably receiving the removable indicia plate between opposed runner means in an insertion direction substantially parallel to a plane defined by the front face; c. latching means cooperatively operable between the receiving means and the removable indicia plate for latching the indicia plate in the receiving means to prevent slideable removal of the indicia plate from the receiving means in a direction opposed to the insertion direction; and d. access means for providing access to a tool for urging the indicia plate from between the opposed runner means out of the receiving means in a direction substantially perpendicular to the plane defined by the front surface.
2. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers, said system comprising: (a) a clothing hanger, said hanger having a hook member, a moulded plastic body having a front and a rear face, with said front face defining an indicia display area for receiving a removable indicia, said hanger including means for supporting an article of clothing from the hanger; (b) receiving means formed in the front face of said moulded plastic body for receiving the removable indicia; (c) access means formed in said moulded plastic body to facilitate removal of said removable indicia; (d) engaging means for engaging said removable indicia to prevent inadvertent removal thereof from the receiving means during normal usage, (e) said removable indicia being a indicia plate corresponding to said indicia display area, said plate being adapted to be received by said receiving means; (f) and latching means on said indicia plate to engage said engaging means when said indicia is fitted to said hanger body; whereby said flat, plastic indicia plate may be slid into said indicia display area formed in said moulded plastic hanger body, secured thereto during normal use, and removed by a tool inserted into the access means formed in said moulded plastic body.
3. A removable indicia display system as claimed in claim 2, wherein the indicia plate is resilient.
4. A removable indicia display system for clothing hangers as claimed in claims 2 or 3, wherein said receiving'means is a recessed area formed in said moulded plastic hanger body to receive said plastic indicia plate therewithin.
5. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in claim 4, wherein said plastic plate is substantially a same thickness as the recessed area in the moulded plastic body, to provide a flush mount appearance for said removable indicia.
6. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in claim 5, wherein said receiving means for receiving said removable indicia includes a dovetail engagement surface for receiving a corresponding and oppositely formed dovetail engagement surface on said removable indicia.
7. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in claim 6, wherein said dovetail engagement surface is formed on two opposed sides of said removable indicia.
8. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in any of claims 2 to 7, wherein said latching means includes a projection formed in the indicia display area, and a recess formed in said removable indicia, to provide a snap fit engagement to prevent inadvertent removal of the removable indicia during normal usage.
9. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in claim 8, wherein said projection defines a substantially flat engagement surface that is adapted to engage a substantially flat engagement face formed in said recess defined in the removable indicia.
10. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in any of claims 2 to 9, wherein said access means is formed in said moulded plastic body to enable a tool to be automatically inserted between said removable indicia and said moulded plastic body to pry said plastic indicia plate from engagement by said receiving and said engagement means.
11. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in claim 10, wherein said access means is an opening tapered and generally aligned with a plane defined by said plastic indicia plate.
12. A removable indicia display system for garment hangers as claimed in any of claims 2 to 9, wherein said access means is an opening transverse to a plane defined by said plastic indicia plate.
13. A method of automatically removing display indicia from garment hangers, wherein the garment hanger includes a face having a display area, receiving means on the face of the hanger for receiving said display indicia, engaging means releasably to secure the display indicia to the face of the hanger, and access means in the body of the hanger to allow access to the removable display indicia, the access means comprising a tapered opening aligned with a plane defined by said removable display indicia, said method comprising: (a) aggregating a plurality of hangers to be processed to provide a continuous feed of hangers to be processed; (b) singulating a single hanger to be processed from the aggregated hangers; (c) immobilizing the singulated hanger in registration with a removal tool; (d) inserting a removal tool into the tapered opening between the hanger body and the removable display indicia wedgingly to engage the removable display indicia and thus deflect the removable indicia until it snaps out of the hanger body ; (e) repeating steps (b) through (d) for each additional aggregated hanger.
14. A method of automatically removing display indicia from garment hangers as claimed in claim 13, wherein said access means is an opening transverse to a plane defined by said resilient plastic indicia plate, and during the inserting step, the removal tool is driven through the opening in the hanger body to deflect the removable display indicia out of engagement with the hanger body.
15. A method of automatically removing display indicia from garment hangers as claimed in claims 13 or 14 which further includes a step of sorting and packaging the hanger bodies for reuse.
16. A method of automatically removing display indicia from garment hangers as claimed in any of claims 13 to 15, which further includes a step of collecting the removed display indicia for further processing.
17. A method to facilitate the reuse of a garment hanger having a resilient display indicia, wherein the resilient display indicia corresponds to an attribute of a first article of clothing suspended therefrom, said garment hanger including a face having a display area, receiving means on the face of the hanger for receiving said resilient display indicia, engaging means to releaseably secure the resilient display indicia to the face of the hanger, and a tapered opening in the body of the hanger aligned with a plane defined by said resilient display, said method comprising: (a) removing the first article of clothing from the garment hanger ; (b) immobilizing the hanger in registration with a removal tool ; (c) inserting a removal tool into the opening in the hanger body to wedgingly engage the removable display indicia and thus deflect the removable indicia outwardly until it snaps out of engagement with the hanger body; (d) reusing the garment hanger with a second article of clothing and inserting a new resilient display indicia into said means for receiving said resilient display indicia, wherein the new display indicia corresponds to an attribute of the second article of clothing.
18. A method to facilitate the reuse of a garment hanger having a resilient display indicia as claimed in claim 17 wherein the inserting step is manually performed in a retail environment.
19. A method to facilitate the reuse of a garment hanger having a resilient display indicia as claimed in claims 17 or 18, wherein the inserting step is automatically performed at a reuse centre and the reusing step is preformed at a clothing manufacturing facility.
20. A method to facilitate the reuse of a garment hanger having a resilient display indicia as claimed in any of claims 17 to 19, which further includes a step of sorting and packaging the hanger bodies for reuse and shipping to said clothing manufacturing facility.
21. A method to facilitate the reuse of a garment hanger having resilient display indicia as claimed in any of claims 17 to 20, which further includes a step of collecting the removed display indicia for further processing.
Description:
INDICATOR ATTACHMENT ARRANGEMENT FOR GARMENT HANGERS This invention relates to a garment hanger with a removable indicia plate and to a method of removing the indicia plate from the garment hanger.

For purposes of displaying garments suspended on hangers in an orderly and attractive manner to retail customers, it is often desirable to affix an indicator on the hanger in a position visible to the retail customers when the garment and hanger are suspended on a rack. The indicator identifies some attribute of the garment suspended from the hanger, such as a vendor logo, the design house, the size, pattern, quality, colour, manufacturing data, or some combination thereof.

To accommodate the various types of hangers available in the industry numerous indicating means have been developed, i-) a a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.'Similarly, hangers have been developed to accommodate a variety of different indicating means.

U. S% Patent 2,690, 863 discloses a plastic garment hanger having a central panel on one or both faces with a pair of corner pockets for receiving a size tag.

U. S. Patent No. 4,333, 590 discloses a plastic garment hanger adapted to receive an external spacer member having a recessed panel area that may be used to receive and display an adhesive garment label.

U. S. Patent 4,137, 661 discloses a garment hanger with a label holder that may be attached to the

hook of the hanger having a surface for receiving a size tag.

U. S. Patent No. 4,322, 902 discloses a moulded plastic indicator for a garment hanger that enables the indicator to be attached to a top of a hook.

U. S-. Patent No. 5, 388, 354 discloses. a low-. profile moulded plastic indicator for a garment hanger which enables an indicator to be securely attached to a top of a hook. U. S. Patent 5,604, 975 is typical of a number of related patents, that are directed to the automated handling of these low profile indicators.

In recent years, customers have expressed a desire that the indicator be removable from the hanger for re-use with other sized garments or for re-use in a environmentally friendly hanger reclamation program. The indicator attachment mechanisms described above do not readily facilitate this operation. It is, of course, necessary for the indicator to remain securely attached to the hanger during usual handling operations to which the hanger is subjected in day to day use. The above attachment mechanisms require a manual step to remove the indicator which makes re-use of the hanger cost prohibitive in a high volume automated re-use program.

U. S. Patent 6,289, 569 discloses an indicator attachment mechanism intended for automated assembly and disassembly of the indicator and hanger for use in an automated re-use program. The patent also discloses automated apparatus for removing the indicator.

U. S. Patent 6,019, 260, discloses a garment hanger having an arrangement that enables automatic removal of a side indicator from a hanger, and an

automatic detachment wedge for automatically removing side indicators from hangers.

While each of these arrangements have advantages for their intended field of use, certain retailers desire hangers having a more traditional appearance, and particularly the appearance of traditional tops hangers used to display heavier and more expensive garments in upscale department stores. These retailers also desire the advantages inherent in the use of upscale logos and size indicia, but desire a custom appearance for the logos and indicia.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved indicator attachment arrangement which securely fastens an indicator to the side of a more traditional garment hanger but which permits automated removal of the indicator in a simple operation that reduces the likelihood of damage to the indicator or to the hanger.

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a garment hanger as claimed in claim 1.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a removable inidica display system as claimed in claim 2.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a method of automatically removing display indicia from clothing tops hangers as claimed in claim 13.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a method to facilitate the reuse of a tops hanger having a resilient display indicia as claimed in claim 17.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the hanger has an indicia display area formed in the front face or front side of the hanger that is open to display information during the normal use of the hanger.

The indicia display area may be formed in or on the face of the hanger, but in the preferred embodiment, the display area includes a cavity in the body of the hanger a depth of which is equal to or greater than a thickness of the indicator. The cavity is adapted to receive the indicator parallel to the face of the hanger in a flush mount arrangement.

The cavity is open to the top of the hanger and includes undercut dovetails that extend downwardly on opposed sides of the cavity. These enable indicia with matching dovetail engagement surfaces to be slid into the cavity from above for an aesthetically pleasing flush mount appearance. The indicator is secured in the cavity in normal use with an attachment means that preferably includes a detent means, which detent means may be formed as a laterally projecting protrusion positioned on the hanger body to engage an opening in an inner face of the indicator to prevent removal of the indicator from the hanger. The indicator is resilient and allows the indicator to be to be disengaged from the dovetail and protrusion to facilitate removal of the indicator from the hanger without damage to the indicator or to the hanger. Alternatively, the indicator may be frangible or deformable, where re-use of the indicator is not required.

In use, as will be described more fully below, the indicator is disengaged from the front face of the hanger by inserting a tool, probe or wedge through an

opening formed in the hanger to resiliently bow the indicator outwardly to release the indicator from the dovetails on the sides of the indicator and the protrusion or detent means. In the case of a non- resilient indicator the indicator may be fractured or deformed by the tool to release the indicator from the hanger. The opening may extend transversely through the hanger body from the opposite side, or as shown in the preferred embodiment, may extend downwardly and parallel to the plane of the indicator to allow a tool to be wedgingly inserted between the hanger body and the indicator to remove the indicator.

In a particularly preferred embodiment, the detent means comprises a laterally projecting protrusion formed in a cavity defined in or on the hanger body and a corresponding aperture formed or integrally moulded in the inner wall of the indicator. To secure the indicator to the hanger, the indicator is slid downwardly into the cavity until the indicator encounters the protrusion.

The protrusion includes a ramp or wedge shaped portion to enable the indicator to be deflected outwardly as it travels downwardly into the cavity. When the protrusion reaches the aperture formed in the indicator, the resiliency of the indicator snaps the aperture of the indicator into engagement with the protrusion to secure the indicator to the hanger body. The aperture of the indicator and one surface of the protrusion include matching flat engagement surfaces to secure the indicator within or on the hanger body.

The indicator may comprise a single plate or an upper plate including the aperture for engaging the protruding detent means and a lower plate against which

the upper plate abuts, such that the lower plate is prevented from sliding out of the cavity by the latched. upper plate.

The present invention also relates to a method and apparatus for removing the aforesaid indicators from garment hangers. An opening is formed in the hanger body that enables a tool, probe or wedge to be inserted between the hanger body and the indicator to bow the indicator outwardly from the hanger body, and thus release the indicator from the dovetailed sidewalls and the flat engagement surfaces of the detent means.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the opening is formed parallel to the plane of the indicator to enable a wedge member to be inserted from above.

Alternatively, an opening can be formed in the hanger body transverse to the plane of the hanger body, which allows a tool or probe to be inserted through the body to deflect the indicator out of engagement with the side walls and detent means.

In the embodiment in which the indicator comprises an upper plate and a lower plate, both plates may be removed in this manner.

The method and apparatus of the present invention provide an extremely versatile arrangement, which can accommodate many different sizes and shapes of indicators. In the preferred embodiment, the indicator is sufficiently large and planar to provide a flat surface for printing logos or other indicia, such as the size, pattern, quality, colour, or some combination of the foregoing. Further, by using combinations of colour and printed indicia, several items of information may be communicated to the consumer in a single glance.

While in the preferred embodiment, the indicia is formed as a planar member, it is also possible to form custom three dimensional logos or imprinted indicia in the indicator as desired.

The present invention may also be applied to a wide variety of hanger types and styles with equal effectiveness. Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a removable indicia display system for clothing hangers, wherein the system comprises a clothing hanger, with the hanger having a hook member for suspending the hanger, a moulded plastic body having a front and a rear face, with said front face defining an indicia display area for receiving a removable indicia.

The hanger includes one or more means for supporting an article of clothing from the hanger. The hanger includes receiving means for receiving a removable indicia, wherein the receiving means is formed in the front face of said moulded plastic body; the hanger further includes an access formed in said moulded plastic body to facilitate automatic removal of said removable indicia and engagement means for engaging said removable indicia to prevent inadvertent removal thereof during normal usage. The removable indicia may be formed as at least one resilient plastic indicia plate corresponding to said indicia display area, with the at least one plate adapted to be received by said receiving means and latching means formed by said indicia plate to engage said engagement means when said indicia is fitted to said hanger body.

The engagement means and the latching means together providing a snap fit detent means for securing the indicator to the hanger. With this arrangement, the flat, resilient plastic indicia plate may be slid into

said indicia display area formed in said moulded plastic hanger body, secured thereto during normal use, and automatically removed by a tool inserted into the opening formed in said moulded plastic body.

The foregoing and other objects of the invention may now be more readily ascertained from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings ; in which: Figure 1 illustrates a front elevation view of a prior art moulded plastic tops hanger having an adhesive label applied to a logo display area.

Figure 2 illustrates a front elevation view of a moulded plastic tops hanger of the present invention having a removable indicia plate with a printed logo mounted in the indicia display area of the present invention.

Figure 3 illustrates an enlarged isometric view of a section of the top of the hanger illustrating an opening for insertion of a tool for removal of the indicia plate and a dovetail arrangement for securing the indicia plate to the tops hanger in normal usage.

Figure 4 illustrates an enlarged sectional view of the top of the hanger illustrating the dovetail arrangement for securing the indicia plate to the tops hanger in normal usage.

Figure 5 illustrates a frontal elevation and isometric view of the front of an upper indicia plate of the present invention.

Figure 6 illustrates a plan view of the top of the upper indicia plate of Figure 5 illustrating the dovetail configuration for the indicia plate.

Figure 7 illustrates a elevation and isometric view of a rear face of the upper indicia plate of Figure 5.

Figure 8 is an enlarged isometric view of the cavity formed in the hanger body to receive the indicia plate, illustrating the detent, the opening for removal of the indicia plate and a reinforced section for receiving a wire hook for the hanger.

Figure 9 is an isometric illustration of the back of a lower indicia plate.

Figure 9a is an isometric illustration of the upper indicia plate of Figure 5 showing a relationship of the aperture formed in the upper indicia plate to the protrusion formed in the hanger body illustrated in Figure 8.

Figure 10 is a planar top view of the combination of the hanger and indicia plate illustrating the position of the opening used to remove the indicator.

Figure 11 is a diagrammatic view of the indicia plate being removed from the hanger by a tool.

Figure 12 is a diagrammatic block diagram of the automatic method for removing the indicia plate from the hanger.

In the figures like reference numerals represent like parts.

Referring now to the drawings and the hangers depicted in the drawings, Figure 1 illustrates a prior art hanger having an adhesive logo tag for advertising the manufacturer of the garment to be suspended from the hanger. Figures 2-12 are illustrative of preferred embodiments of the present invention.

As illustrated in Figure 1, the prior art hanger is a conventional tops hanger having first and second arms 12,14 for suspending a garment from the hanger. This type of hanger is typically used for coats and jackets, and with a trouser bar is used to display suits. The hanger in Figure 1 is moulded from plastic and includes a wire or metal hook 16 that is securely fastened in the body of the hanger. On the face of the hanger is an adhesive logo 18 that is secured to the face of the hanger in a recessed area 20. The adhesive logo 18 generally displays the logo of a manufacturer of the product, although it can be used to denote style and size. Generally, this logo is colour coordinated to the hanger and is manually or semi-automatically applied to the face of the hanger with a labeling machine. The printing of the label and the application of a separate adhesive label. to the hanger significantly adds to the cost of the hanger. Further, once the label is in place, it is virtually impossible, from an economic standpoint, to remove the label and apply a different label to the hanger, as the cost of removing the label is equal to or exceeds the cost of moulding a new hanger.

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, some retailers desire to use a hanger similar to the prior art hanger illustrated in Figure 1 inasmuch as it closely resembles conventional high-end wood hangers used in upscale

department stores for display of suits and jackets.

Further, because of a slightly smaller size of the garment hanger of figure 1 compared to such wooden hangers, it may also be used to display a wide variety of clothing.

The present invention provides all of the advantages present in the prior art hanger of Figure 1 and adds the ability to use the hanger with multiple indicia which may be assembled with the hanger at the time the clothing is placed on the hanger in garment on hanger"program. It further provides the opportunity or ability to remove the indicia automatically in a reuse centre to enable reuse of the hanger in a retail distribution chain. This system is particularly adapted to the manner in which garments are currently manufactured, distributed and sold in, for example, the United States. Large retailers of clothing generally contract with a plurality of clothing manufactures to produce uniform standardized clothing which is essentially identical from batch to batch, even though manufactured by different entities in different locations. Further, these manufacturers may also produce the same clothing, with different labels for different outlets at the same plant, or may in many cases subcontract the production of the garments to Far Eastern manufacturers based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.

It is desirable to maintain a consistent appearance for the display indicia used in conjunction with the clothing so that the display indicia applied in different countries, is for all practical purposes, identical to the eye of the average consumer. It is also

desirable to manufacture the hanger as close to the point of use by the clothing manufacturer as possible.

In the sale of hangers, freight is a major consideration, as freight charges include not only the weight of the article to be shipped, but also the bulk of the article to be shipped. Thus, manufacturing facilities for the manufacture of such hangers are typically scattered around the world close to the points of manufacture of the clothing.

It is desirable however, to maintain a highly consistent look for the display indicia area so that the display indicia is identical in colour and printed appearance regardless of where the garment is manufactured. The present invention enables these display indicia, typically formed of plastic, to be custom moulded to the manufacturer's specification, and then shipped in bulk to the point of manufacture of the garment. Hangers, meanwhile may be manufactured locally, with hangers of the same design used for multiple manufacturers.

As illustrated in Figure 2, hanger 102 is a tops hanger having first and second shoulders 106 and 108 for suspending a garment therefrom. Hanger 102 also includes a central body portion 104 having a wire metal hook 110 secured to the body at a boss member 112. Body member 104 also includes a recessed area 114 which receives a removable display indicia 116. The removable display indicia may contain a logo, size information, style information or other data relevant to the garment.

As illustrated, the removable display indicia comprises an upper indicia plate and a lower indicia plate.

While the present invention will be described with respect to a tops hanger, it should be understood the invention is applicable to any hanger in which the face of the hanger is openly visible to display information when a garment is suspended from the hanger.

The hangers of the present invention are preferably injection moulded in an injection moulding process and may be manufactured from styrene, k-resin, H. I. styrene, polypropylene, or other suitable thermoplastics.

The body of the hanger will now be described with respect to Figures 3 and 4, wherein Figure 3 is an isometric view of the face of the hanger body 104 and Figure 4 is a top plan view illustrating the construction of the body that receives removable display indicia. The hanger body 104 generally defines a recessed area 114 having a specifically configured cavity for receiving the removable display indicia. This cavity includes undercut dovetail edges 118,120 which extend from the upper portion of the cavity or recessed area 114 downwardly along the opposed sides of the indicia display area. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the depth of the recessed area or cavity 114 is equal or slightly greater than the thickness of the removable display indicia to be inserted therein to provide an aesthetically pleasing flush, or almost flush, mount for the display indicia on the face of the hanger.

Alternatively, the display indicia could be mounted on the face or outer surface of a hanger body, wherein the dovetail edges 118, 120 would be formed in a ridge (not shown) that extends around the perimeter of the indicia display area. Likewise retaining shapes other than a

dovetail, such as an L-shape, or a groove in a boss could be used, providing the shape may be moulded and allows for removal of the display indicia as will be hereinafter explained in greater detail.

The hanger body 104 also includes engagement or latching means 124 for engaging the removable indicia to prevent the inadvertent removal therefrom during normal usage of the hanger. The engagement means 124 comprises a protrusion having a sloped or ramp face on one side, and a flat engagement face on an opposite side. The operation of the engagement means will be described hereinafter with respect with Figures 8 and 9. Body member 104 also defines an opening or access 122 formed in the body which will allow insertion of a removal tool 160 shown in Figure 11 to enable automatic removal of the removable display indicia after it has been latched into place. As illustrated in Figures 3 and 4, body member 104 also includes an outwardly convex member 126 which extends downwardly from boss 112 to provide reinforcement for the wire hook mounting with a hanger body.

The removable display indicia will be hereinafter described with respect to Figures 5-7 in which Figure 5 is an isometric view of the face of the upper plate of the removable display indicia, Figure 6 is a top plan view of the upper plate, illustrating the dovetail configuration of the edges of the display indicia and Figure 7 is a isometric view of the rear or back surface of the upper plate of the removable display indicia. The removable display indicia 116 includes a planar face 130 for receiving information relevant to the garment suspended from the hanger. This information may be a manufacturer's logo, size information, colour

information, style information or any combination thereof. The information may be printed in a conventional printing process on the planar surface 130, may be imprinted into the surface during the moulding operation, or may be embossed outwardly during the moulding operation to provide custom logos for a specific manufacturer in accordance with the manufacturer's desire. The information may be displayed on one or both of the upper and lower plates. The removable display indicia includes first and second sides 138,140 together forming a dovetail which cooperate with the edges 118, 120 of the hanger body respectively to secure and slidingly engage the removable display indicia when it is inserted into the recessed area or cavity 114.

Referring to Figures 6 and 7, the reverse side of the upper plate of the removable display indicia 116 includes a recess 134 which receives the outwardly convex portion 126 formed in the hanger body. It also includes a latching means or aperture 136 which is formed on the inner surface of the removable indicia plate 116 to engage the protrusion 124 formed on the inner cavity wall of the recessed area 114 of the hanger body. The protrusion 124 and the latching means 136 provide a latching engagement for the removable display indicia 116. The latching means 136 includes a flat engagement face 142 which cooperates with and engages a flat engagement face 144 formed on the protrusion 124 as will hereinafter be described with respect to Figures 8 and 9.

The recessed area or cavity 114 is illustrated in Figure 8, and the removable display indicia 116 is illustrated in Figure 9. It will be understood that when the removable display indicia 116 is inserted into the

cavity or recessed area 114 it is inverted from the position illustrated in Figure 9 to correspond to the position of the cavity 114 illustrated in Figure 8. The undercut dovetail surfaces 118,120 formed in the recessed area or cavity 114 cooperate with the dovetail edges 138,140 formed on the removable display indicia to slidingly engage the removable display indicia 116 when it is slid into the cavity 114. These cooperating dovetail edges provide guidance and a secure mount for the removable display indicia, and also provide some tolerance or compensation for plastic shrinkage of either the removable display indicia or the hanger body during manufacture, as a joint between the indicia and hanger will appear to be a smooth continuous line even if the dimensions of the cavity or the display indicia are slightly out of tolerance. As the lower plate of the removable display indicia 116 is inserted into the body cavity 114, the cooperating opposed edges 138,140, engage the undercut dovetail opposed edges 118,120 and provide guides for the insertion of the removable display indicia. As the leading edge 148 of the removable display indicia encounters the protrusion 124, the removable display indicia is resiliently deformed and travels upward along the ramp surface 146 during the insertion of the removable display indicia 116. The resiliently of the removable display indicia 116 enables the display indicia to bow outwardly as it traverses the ramp portion 146 of protrusion 124. In the case of a non-resilient display indicia the protrusion is resilient so that protrusion is resiliently deflected as the plate is inserted. Similarly with the upper plate, except that the removable display indicia continues to traverse

inwardly until it is fully seated in the recessed area or cavity 114. As the leading edge of the upper plate of the removable indicia 148 encounters an upper edge of the lower plate, the protrusion snaps into the inter-locking aperture 136 formed on the inner surface of the removable display indicia 116. It should be noted that the latching engagement includes first and second flat engagement surfaces 142,144 which cooperate to securely latch the removable display indicia in the fully inserted position. It should be noted that the bottom surface 150 of the recessed area or cavity 114 is substantially perpendicular to the front face, as is the corresponding engaging surface 148 of the removable display indicia 116. This enables or facilitates the removal of the indicia 116 from the hanger 102 and prevents the indicia 116 from being locked into the cavity by a continuous undercut that otherwise would surround the indicia.

The present invention also enables the removal of the removable display indicia 116 from the hanger body with a hand tool in the event that a retailer decides to reuse the hanger and change the colour, the manufacturer or the size of the garment to be hung from the hanger.

It also enables automatic removal of the display indicia in the event that the hanger is returned by the retailer to a hanger reuse centre for reprocessing and reclamation of the hanger. As was discussed earlier with respect to the prior art, it is cost prohibitive to remove adhesive labels, foil printing or imprinted logos from the prior art tops hangers, and thus those hangers must be scrapped or ground for scrap in a recycle operation. It is possible, however, with the present invention, to return the hangers to a reuse centre and automatically remove

the removable display indicia 116 from the hanger body and to reuse the hanger with a different display indicia 116 subsequently.

Referring to Figure 10, the top surface of the hanger body with a removable display indicia inserted therein is illustrated. As illustrated, the opening 122 provides an access between the body and the inner surface of the removable display indicia 116. As illustrated in Figure 11, a tool 160, having a tapered point or a tapered wedge may be inserted into the opening 122 resiliently to deform the removable display indicator 116. As the tool 160 enters the opening 122, the tool displaces the resilient removable display indicia 116 outwardly until the dovetail edges 120,138 no longer engage each other, in which case the resiliency of the removable display indicator 116 snaps the display indicator out of cavity or recessed area 114. Tool 160 may be manually inserted, or may be driven downwardly by a pneumatic or hydraulic motor (not shown) in an automated removal apparatus. In the case of a substantially non-resilient display indicator, insertion of the tool may break or non-resiliently deform the display indicator to release the display indicator from the hanger.

As illustrated in Figure 12, the removable display indicia 116 may be automatically removed from the hanger body 104 in the method utilizing an apparatus somewhat similar to the apparatus disclosed in U. S.

Patent No. 6,289, 569 and U. S. Patent No. 6,019, 260. In these arrangements, hangers are first aggregated along a support rod or other aggregating structure as indicated at step 152 to provide a continuous feed of hangers to be

processed and fed to a removal station generally indicated at 154. At the removal station 154, a hanger to be processed is first singulated from the plurality of aggregated hangers in a singulating station as indicated at singulating step 156. The singulated hanger may be processed at that station or moved to a separate indicia removal station as indicated at step 158. At either location, the hanger is immobilized or guided to a fixed position in registration with the removal tool 160 previously described with respect to Figure 11. The removal step 158 utilizes a reciprocating tapered tool or tapered wedge 160 that is driven parallel to the hanger body into the opening 120 between the hanger body 104 and the removable display indicia 116 by a pneumatic motor (not shown). As the tool 160 is inserted, it wedgingly engages the hanger body 104 and the removable display indicia 116 causing resilient deformation of the display indicia at opening 122 away from the hanger body. As the display indicia bows or deforms outwardly, the outer edges 138,140 contract inwardly until one of the edges clears the corresponding edge 118 or 120 of the hanger body. Inasmuch as the lower surface 148 of the upper indicia plate and the upper surface of the lower plate of the indicia are both substantially perpendicular to the front face, the display indicia is no longer restrained, so the wedging force from the removal tool and the resilience of the display indicia snaps at least the upper plate of the indicia out of engagement with the cavity 114 and the detent means 136. The display indicia 116 is then removed as indicated at step 161 and are collected in a gravity bin or vacuum tube for further processing or regrinding. The hanger body 104 is released

from the removal station 154 to be cleaned, sorted and packaged for subsequent reuse as indicated at step 162.

These steps 156,158, 161,164, 162 are then repeated for each of the aggregated hangers. The display indicia may be cleaned and repackaged or ground to form plastic feedstock.

In addition to the automatic removal of the display indicia at a reuse centre, the present invention is also particularly well suited to enable reuse of a circulating stock of hangers in a retail environment. A department store may maintain a stock of the tops hangers of the present invention, and a separate inventory of display indicators matched to the conventional sizes or bands carried by the department store. As contemplated, when first presented to the public, the resilient display indicia 116 corresponds to an attribute of a first article of clothing suspended from the tops hanger 102 as previously discussed. When the first article of clothing is sold, the first article of clothing is removed from the tops hanger, and the tops hanger 102 is returned to the stock room or to an inventory of tops hangers. At the time of return to inventory, or when it is desired to hang a second article of clothing from the hanger, the hanger body 104, and a manual removal tool 160 are brought together and the manual removal tool 160 is inserted into the opening in the hanger body 104 to wedgingly engage the removable display indicia 116 and thus deflect at least the upper plate of the removable indicia 116 outwardly until it snaps out of engagement with the hanger body 104 as previously described. The tops hanger 102 may then be readily reused with a second article of clothing by manually inserting a new display

indicia 116 into the cavity 114 formed on the face of the tops hanger, wherein the new display indicia 116 corresponds to an attribute of the second article of clothing.

While the forgoing description is considered to be the preferred embodiment of the invention, it is understood that various modifications and changes in form or detail can be readily made. For example, the indicia may comprise a single plate extending from the top to the bottom of the cavity rather than comprising an upper plate and a lower plate. It is, therefore intended that the invention not be limited to the exact form and detail herein shown and described nor to anything less than the whole of the invention as hereinafter claimed.