CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/449,326 filed on Mar. 4, 2011 entitled “E-Z Cardholder.”
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a card holder. More specifically, the present invention pertains to a sleeve for magnetized cards that protects the magnetized data and improves access to a card when required.
A magnetized card is a type of card that stores data by modifying the magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card. The part of the card that contains the information is called the stripe, and is read by physical contact with a magnetic reading head. Magnetized cards have become extremely commonplace in recent years with the advent of digital access to banking and identification information. Magnetic information is now stored on credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, school identification cards and a variety of other cards that are used on a daily basis.
The problem with magnetized cards is their susceptibility to damage. The increase in popularity causes many consumers to carry less cash and to pay for a majority of their transactions with a magnetized card. Consumers often carry their cards in their pockets, wallets, or other places where they are afforded little protection. If a magnetized card is not adequately protected, it is susceptible to physical damage and demagnetization. If the magnetic stripe is scratched or bent, it may render the card unusable in a magnetic card reader. The strip may be physically worn away or abraded, eliminating the stored information thereon. In addition, many consumers find it inconvenient to carry their cards in a wallet that is stored in a pocket, jacket or purse. This requires a consumer to locate their wallet, select the appropriate card and remove it for use.
The present invention allows consumers to transport credit cards, debit cards, and other types of magnetic cards without causing damage to the magnetic stripe. The device is designed to securely hold a card with a magnetic strip, and features a protective sleeve with an anti-magnetic material on the inside that ensures the magnetized data on the stripe remains aligned. The device attaches to a key ring, allowing the desired cards to be easily accessed when required. The cards can be accessed with a single hand if required, improving their accessibility over wallets and other traditional storage means. The sleeve can additionally include a window on the front for displaying flat articles, such as pictures, calendars, business cards, or advertising materials.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Several carrying cases have been disclosed in the art that attempt to protect magnetized cards from damage. These devices have familiar designs that focus on protecting the magnetic stripe from damage.
Riley, U.S. Pat. No. 6,845,863 discloses a protective sleeve for the placement of credit cards or other cards bearing magnetic strips and bar codes on a rear surface. The device places such cards into a protective sleeve to prevent damage to the bar code and the magnetic strip attached to the cards. The sleeve has a front clear portion for the visual identification of the front of the card and a rear portion having a thin non-conductive metallic strip imbedded on the rear portion coinciding with the location of the magnetic strip on the card, and a smooth fabric portion coinciding with the location of the printed bar code on the card, the bar code and magnetic strip being generally provided on the rear surface of the card. Similarly, Mangan, U.S. Pat. No. 4,141,400 discloses a pair of plates that are releasably held together to define a thin pocket for cards having a magnetic strip on one face. One of the plates has ribs between which the magnetic strip slides to protect that strip from abrasion and edge ribs in the pocket prevent the card from bending, curling or folding. Such card holders adequately protect a magnetized card, but do not include a means of attaching the holder to a key ring for improved access to the desired card.
Other devices in the prior art utilize devices that fold into sections to protect the magnetized cards. Godfrey, U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,942 discloses a device that incorporates keepers into the cardholders, in the form of sheets of magnetically soft ferromagnetic material with high resistance. The benefit of the invention is obtained when devices are placed with the reading surface of their magnetized stripes in close contact with the surface of the ferromagnetic material which, making use of known properties of the material, then acts as keeper of the magnetic patterns. Devices such as these contain many pockets and require folding, making them cumbersome to use when accessing a desired card.
Several devices use an adhesive material to keep the magnetized cards positioned in the device. Drexler, U.S. Pat. No. 4,711,347 discloses a protective envelope having an adhesive flap which lifts open to expose a data storage area of a data card, allowing data to be read while the card remains protected in the envelope. The flap may be then closed over and re-adhered to the card. The envelope comprises a base and a cover panel bonded at three edges to form a pocket for card storage. The cover panel is made up of a pair of fixed edge stripes bonded to respective opposed side edges of the base and a liftable flap bonded to a back edge of the base. Envelope materials are preferably a transparent, flexible plastic, but only the flap need be flexible. The flap may extend beyond and fold over a front edge of the base and adhere to an underside of the base. Such devices lose their adhesive properties over time, leading to the potential loss of magnetized cards.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention improves upon magnetized card holders by allowing users better access to their magnetized cards. The device includes an anti-magnetic material to protect the data stored on the stripe. In addition the device attaches to a key ring holder by an aperture, allowing the desired cards to be easily accessible when required. The location of the key ring holder affords a user the option of adding an aperture to their credit cards, thereby allowing the card to rotate into and out of the holder as desired. The present invention substantially diverges in design elements from the prior art and consequently it is clear that there is a need in the art for an improvement to existing magnetized card holder devices. In this regard the instant invention substantially fulfills these needs.
In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of magnetized card holders now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new magnetized card holder wherein the same can be utilized for providing convenience for the user when requiring access to their magnetized cards.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved magnetized card holder device that has all of the advantages of the prior art and none of the disadvantages.
Another object of the present invention to provide a holder for magnetized cards that protects against damage to the magnetic stripe of a magnetized card.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a protective holder for magnetized cards that allows easy removal of the magnetic cards.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a protective holder for magnetized cards that attaches to a key ring for convenient access.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a protective holder for magnetized cards that affords a user the option of adding an aperture to their credit cards, thereby allowing the card to rotate into and out of the holder as desired.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a protective holder for magnetized cards that contains a window on the front of the device for displaying various flat articles, such as photographs, calendars, business cards, or advertising materials.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a protective holder for magnetized cards that is inexpensive to produce.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS
Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
Although the characteristic features of this invention will be particularly pointed out in the claims, the invention itself and manner in which it may be made and used may be better understood after a review of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein like numeral annotations are provided throughout.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention, including a sleeve, a magnetized card, and an aperture for attachment of a key ring holder and a notch.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the present invention, including the open sides of the sleeve, the anti-magnetic material, the interior cavity, an aperture and a notch.
FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention with a window for displaying a flat article and an opening along the sleeve's breadth.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention with a window for displaying a flat article and an opening along the sleeve's length.
Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention, including a sleeve 11, a magnetized card 12, an aperture 13 for attachment of a key ring holder 14 and a notch 18. The sleeve 11 has a front, back, opposed sides, and a perimeter. The sleeve 11 is made of a flexible material, and has dimensions greater than a standard credit card. This allows for placement therein of a standard sized magnetized card 12, such as a credit card, drivers license, school identification card or other type of card.
The key improvement in the present invention is the inclusion of an aperture 13 for attachment of the device to a key ring holder 14. Consumers often carry magnetized cards inside their wallets, purses, or other places that make for limited accessibility of such cards, which is inconvenient. The aperture 13 functions to attach the sleeve 11 to a key ring 14. In addition, a user can add an aperture to a magnetized card 12, allowing the card 12 to attach to the key ring holder 14 as well. This prevents a card 12 from accidentally falling out of the sleeve 11. The perimeter of the aperture may be reinforced with a bearing reinforcement element to increasing the bearing strength of the hole and prevent tearing or pull-through of the key ring. The reinforcement may include a grommet, eyelet or similar bearing reinforcement structure.
To allow for use of a card 12 that is attached to the key ring holder 14, at the aperture 13 the sleeve 11 is joined along the perimeter at two adjoining sides. This creates two open sides to slide a card 12 out of the sleeve 11 and rotate the card 12 and sleeve 11 with respect to one another about the aperture 13. To access a card 12 attached at the aperture 13, the desired card 12 is rotated about the aperture 13, and accessed through the open sides of the sleeve 11, thereby allowing for access to the magnetized stripe on the card 12.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a perspective view of the present invention, including the open sides of the sleeve 11, the anti-magnetic material 16, the interior cavity 17, an aperture 13 and a notch 18. The flexible nature of the sleeve 11 allows a user access to a card 12 within the cavity 17. This is accomplished by separating the sleeve 11 at the two open sides and removing a card 12 that is freely inserted in the cavity 17, or by rotating the card 12 about the aperture 13 as shown in FIG. 1. Grasping a card 12 from inside the sleeve 11 is facilitated by a notch 18 cut into the body of the sleeve 11. The notch 18 exposes the end of a card 12, and gives a user a convenient way to remove the card 12 from within the sleeve 11.
To protect the magnetize stripe on the card 12, the cavity 17 contains an anti-magnetic or non-ferric material, such as a thin foil aluminum or other alloy that is adhered to the interior of the cavity 17. This anti-magnetic material prevents the information stored on the stripe from being erased if the sleeve 11 is exposed to a magnetic field. In addition to protecting the stripe from magnetic fields, the anti-magnetic material also prevents friction between the card 12 and the sleeve 11.
Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention, with a window 19 for displaying a flat article and an opening along one end of the sleeve 20. The window 19 is formed by a transparent material on the front cover of the sleeve 11. The window 19 is separated from the cavity 17, thereby creating a pocket for inserting a flat article, such as a picture, calendar, business card, or advertising material.
A further alternative embodiment joins the sleeve 11 along the perimeter at three sides. The sleeve 11 contains an aperture 13 for attaching to a key ring 14, but in this embodiment, the cards 12 are not attached at the aperture 13 and key ring holder 14. Instead, the cards 12 are securely held within the sleeve 11 and are completely removed from the sleeve 11 when required. The opening to access a card 12 from within the cavity 17 is located along the end of the sleeve 20. The sleeve 11 also contains a notch 18 for grasping a card 12.
Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention, with a window 19 for displaying a flat article and an opening along the sleeve length 21. Similar to the embodiment in FIG. 3, the sleeve 11 is joined along the perimeter at three sides, and contains an aperture 13 for attaching to a key ring 14. The cards 12 do not attach at the aperture 13 or key ring holder 14, and are completely removed when required. The opening in the sleeve 11 for accessing a card 12 within the cavity 17 is located along the length 21 of the sleeve, and similarly contains a notch 18 for grasping a card 12.
In use the device serves as an magnetic shield for magnetized cards, a convenient card holder that provides easy and swift access and a device that protects the magnetic strips of cards housed therein from physical damaged while transported. A window along the exterior of the sleeve can be utilized for holding pictures, graphics or business cards, if desired, while a set of keys may be tethered to the device via a key ring aperture. Together, the elements of the device provide a convenient card carrying device that can be utilized to combine cards, keys and credit cards without requiring the user to carry a wallet or loose articles in his or her pockets.
To this point, the instant invention has been shown and described in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made within the scope of the invention and that obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art. With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.
Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.