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United States Patent Application 20120012689
Kind Code A1
ALDEN; David A. January 19, 2012

CORD WINDER DEVICE

Abstract

A device for winding, storing, tangle prevention, and protecting cords and/or cables is described. The device for winding a cord includes a frame having a cord access aperture for receiving the cord. The frame also includes an inner spool and a concentrically located spring, such as a flat coil spring, operatively connected to a catch mechanism for engaging the cord. The spring is adapted for winding the cord around the inner spool upon engaging the cord with the catch mechanism and releasing a spring control, such as a ratchet and pawl, that serves to secure tension in the spring. Methods associated with such a device are also described herein.


Inventors: ALDEN; David A.; (Park City, UT)
Serial No.: 029971
Series Code: 13
Filed: February 17, 2011

Current U.S. Class: 242/376
Class at Publication: 242/376
International Class: B65H 75/48 20060101 B65H075/48; B65H 75/44 20060101 B65H075/44


Claims



1. A device for winding a cord, the cord bendable to form a looped portion, the device comprising: a front housing connected to a back housing and a cord receiving opening positioned therebetween; an axle including a first end fixedly connected to the back housing and a spring anchor to operably interconnect the axle to a first end tab of a drive spring; a spool including: an aperture to receive a second end of the axle; a spring engaging member connected to a second end tab of the drive spring; a plurality of grasping members positioned radially around at least a portion of an outer surface of the spool, the plurality of grasping members adapted for engaging the looped portion of the cord; and a plurality of inwardly facing spool teeth positioned radially around at least a portion of an inside perimeter of the spool; and a pawl that is selectively moveable from a first position to a second position, the pawl including: an aperture to receive a mating projection on the front housing; a projection on a front surface of the pawl to operably interconnect the pawl to a spring release mechanism associated with the front housing; and a plurality of pawl teeth on at least a portion of the pawl, wherein the plurality of pawl teeth operably engage the plurality of spool teeth, and wherein, when the pawl is in the first position, the plurality of pawl teeth are engaged with the plurality of spool teeth; wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is engaging at least one grasping member of the plurality of grasping members and is pulled in a direction opposite from a winding direction while substantially simultaneously activating the spring release mechanism, the plurality of pawl teeth disengage from the plurality of spool teeth and the pawl is moved to the second position; and wherein, when the cord is released, the drive spring at least partially unloads and causes the spool to rotate in a winding direction, which causes the cord to wind onto the spool.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the cord is wound onto the spool until at least one of three events occurs: (1) the cord is fully wound onto the spool; (2) the cord is pulled again to cause the plurality of pawl teeth to reengage the plurality of spool teeth; or (3) the spring release mechanism is deactivated.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of spool teeth are oriented at an angle of about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees with respect to a vertical axis.

4. The device of claim 1, further comprising at least one of a front spool side and a back spool side adapted to connect to a portion of the spool.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the drive spring is a coil spring adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the spring release mechanism is a button.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein the front housing and back housing are interconnected by at least one of a strut, a pin, a screw, a rivet, a clamp, and a threaded fastener.

8. An assembly, comprising: headphones including a cord; and a winder for winding the cord, the winder including: a first housing member connected to a second housing member and a cord receiving opening positioned therebetween; an axle including a first end fixedly connected to the second housing member and means for operably interconnecting the axle to a means for biasing; means for rotating a looped portion of the cord, the means for rotating including: means for grasping the looped portion of the cord; means for interconnecting to the axle and the means for biasing; and means for preventing rotation in a first direction while allowing rotation in a second direction; and means for selectively disengaging the means for rotating, the means for selectively disengaging selectively moveable from a first position to a second position, the means for selectively disengaging including: means for interconnecting to the first housing member; and means for slidably engaging the means for preventing rotation; wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is operably engaged with the means for grasping, the means for slidably engaging is engaged with the means for preventing rotation and the means for selectively disengaging is in the first position; wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is engaging the means for grasping and is pulled in a direction opposite from a winding direction and substantially simultaneously a bias release mechanism is activated, the means for slidably engaging disengages the means for preventing rotation and the means for selectively disengaging is moved to the second position; and wherein, when the cord is released, the means for biasing at least partially unloads and causes the means for rotating to rotate in a winding direction, which causes the cord to wind onto the means for rotating.

9. The assembly of claim 8, wherein when the means for biasing at least partially unloads and causes the means for rotating to rotate in a winding direction, the cord is wound onto the means for rotating until at least one of three events occurs: (1) the cord is fully wound onto the means for rotating; (2) the cord is pulled again; or (3) the bias release mechanism is deactivated.

10. The assembly of claim 8, further including extracting a desired length of the cord from the winder by exerting a force on the looped portion of the cord such that as the means for rotation rotates the means for preventing rotation slidably engages the means for slidably engaging in a ratchet configuration, and wherein the cord extraction re-loads the means for biasing.

11. The assembly of claim 8, wherein the means for preventing rotation are spool teeth oriented at an angle of about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees with respect to a vertical axis.

12. The assembly of claim 8, wherein the means for biasing is a coil spring.

13. A winder for winding a cord, the cord separable from the winder, the winder comprising: a selectively moveable pawl; a spool that selectively rotates relative to the pawl; and a biased member connected to the spool, the pawl having at least a first position and a second position operably associated therewith; wherein, when in the first position, the biased member is loaded and a plurality of pawl teeth associated with the pawl are engaged with a corresponding plurality of spool teeth associated with the spool, wherein the pawl is moved from the first position to the second position by pulling the cord operably associated with the spool in a direction opposite to a winding direction, and wherein, when in the second position, the plurality of pawl teeth are disengaged from the plurality of spool teeth; and wherein, when in the second position, the biased member is at least partially unloaded by activating a spring release mechanism and releasing the cord, which causes the spool to rotate, which causes the cord to wind onto the spool.

14. The winder of claim 13, wherein the biased member is a coil spring adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque.

15. A method for selectively winding a cord, comprising: folding the cord; operably engaging a portion of the folded cord with a grasping member of a winder; pulling on the cord to cause at least one pawl tooth of a pawl of the winder to disengage from at least one spool tooth of a spool of the winder; and activating a spring release mechanism operably associated with the pawl to at least partially unload a spring of the winder such that the spool rotates to wind the folded cord around the spool.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising deactivating the spring release mechanism to stop further spool rotation and spring unloading.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein, when the folded cord is fully wound around the spool, two end portions of the folded cord are collocated and substantially adjacent.

18. The method of claim 15, further comprising extracting the cord from the winder to a desired length by pulling the folded cord such that as the spool rotates and the cord extraction re-loads the spring.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising removing the cord entirely from the winder, wherein, when the cord is entirely removed, the spring remains in a loaded state.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein the grasping member is at least one of a hook and a v-shaped, friction engaging member.

21. The method of claim 15, wherein the spring release mechanism is activated by moving a button from a first position to a second position.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the button cannot move from the first position to the second position unless the cord has operably engaged a grasping member, and, substantially simultaneously, a tension on the cord is exerted in a direction opposite from a winding direction and activating the button, and thereby preventing accidental spin-out.

23. A device for winding a cord, comprising: a frame having a cord access aperture for receiving the cord, the frame including an inner spool and a concentrically located spring operatively connected to a catch mechanism for engaging the cord; wherein the spring is adapted for winding the cord around the inner spool upon engaging the cord with the catch mechanism and releasing a brake operatively securing a tension in the spring.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/305,267 filed on Feb. 17, 2010 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/419,105 filed on Dec. 2, 2010, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD

[0002] The present invention is related to a device for easily and unobtrusively winding, storing, and protecting cords and/or cables.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Many devices have a cord or cable associated with the device. For example, kitchen appliances such as toasters, coffee makers, and blenders all have a power cable for the transmission of electrical power. In the digital age, most audio-visual devices have a cord or cable. For example, users use headphones or earbuds with their MP3 players and smart phones. Moreover, the cost to replace damaged or broken cords/cables/headphones is increasingly expensive. Although there are a variety of winders available to organize and store cords and cables, these conventional devices fail to be user friendly and/or fail to adequately wind and store the cord or cable. As such, cable management, including organizing, storing, preventing tangling, and protecting cords/cables, remains a continued source of frustration for many people. Accordingly, there is a need for devices that organize and/or make cords easier to use and store.

SUMMARY

[0004] It is to be understood that the present invention includes a variety of different versions or embodiments, and this Summary is not meant to be limiting or all-inclusive. This Summary provides some general descriptions of some of the embodiments, but may also include some more specific descriptions of other embodiments.

[0005] In accordance with one or more embodiments, winders of various size and characteristics are provided to wind and store a variety of cords or cables and to operate "automatically." As used herein, "automatically" means the winder device in its ready state can operate without turning a crank or handle in order to rotate a winding spool. In use, a folded portion of a cable or cord is engaged around a grasping member, such as a hook. Thereafter, the cord/cable is pulled slightly to disengage a pawl from a spool, and a button is then pushed releasing a spring for winding the cord/cable around the spool. When the two ends of the cord/cable reach the entry point, the refraction stops. To extract the cord/cable, the user pulls the two portions of the cord/cable, either to a desired length or all the way until the cord/cable releases from the winder. Alternatively, a locking hook may be used to lock the cable to the hook so that the cable remains attached to the winder when fully unwound. As the cord/cable is extracted, the spring is re-loaded for the next use. Accidental spin-out is prevented by locking the winder device in its loaded state. Accordingly, a winder device substantially as herein shown and described is provided.

[0006] In at least one embodiment, a device for winding a cord is provided. The cord is bendable to form a looped portion. Accordingly, a device is provided, the device comprising:

[0007] a front housing connected to a back housing and a cord receiving opening positioned therebetween;

[0008] an axle including a first end fixedly connected to the back housing and a spring anchor to operably interconnect the axle to a first end tab of a drive spring;

[0009] a spool including: [0010] an aperture to receive a second end of the axle; [0011] a spring engaging member connected to a second end tab of the drive spring; [0012] a plurality of grasping members positioned radially around at least a portion of an outer surface of the spool, the plurality of grasping members adapted for engaging the looped portion of the cord; and [0013] a plurality of inwardly facing spool teeth positioned radially around at least a portion of an inside perimeter of the spool; and

[0014] a pawl that is selectively moveable from a first position to a second position, the pawl including: [0015] an aperture to receive a mating projection on the front housing; [0016] a projection on a front surface of the pawl to operably interconnect the pawl to a spring release mechanism associated with the front housing; and [0017] a plurality of pawl teeth on at least a portion of the pawl, wherein the plurality of pawl teeth operably engage the plurality of spool teeth, and wherein, when the pawl is in the first position, the plurality of pawl teeth are engaged with the plurality of spool teeth;

[0018] wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is engaging at least one grasping member of the plurality of grasping members and is pulled in a direction opposite from a winding direction while substantially simultaneously activating the spring release mechanism, the plurality of pawl teeth disengage from the plurality of spool teeth and the pawl is moved to the second position; and

[0019] wherein, when the cord is released, the drive spring at least partially unloads and causes the spool to rotate in a winding direction, which causes the cord to wind onto the spool.

[0020] In at least one embodiment, the cord is wound onto the spool until at least one of three events occurs: (1) the cord is fully wound onto the spool; (2) the cord is pulled again to cause the plurality of pawl teeth to reengage the plurality of spool teeth; or (3) the spring release mechanism is deactivated.

[0021] In at least one embodiment, the plurality of spool teeth are oriented at an angle of about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees with respect to a vertical axis. In at least one embodiment, the device for winding a cord further comprises at least one of a front spool side and a back spool side adapted to connect to a portion of the spool. In at least one embodiment, the drive spring is a coil spring adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque. In at least one embodiment, the spring release mechanism is a button. In at least one embodiment, the front housing and back housing are interconnected by at least one of a strut, a pin, a screw, a rivet, a clamp, and a threaded fastener.

[0022] In at least one embodiment, an assembly is provided, the assembly comprising:

[0023] headphones including a cord; and

[0024] a winder for winding the cord, the winder including: [0025] a first housing member connected to a second housing member and a cord receiving opening positioned therebetween; [0026] an axle including a first end fixedly connected to the second housing member and means for operably interconnecting the axle to a means for biasing; [0027] means for rotating a looped portion of the cord, the means for rotating including: [0028] means for grasping the looped portion of the cord; [0029] means for interconnecting to the axle and the means for biasing; and [0030] means for preventing rotation in a first direction while allowing rotation in a second direction; and [0031] means for selectively disengaging the means for rotating, the means for selectively disengaging selectively moveable from a first position to a second position, the means for selectively disengaging including: [0032] means for interconnecting to the first housing member; and [0033] means for slidably engaging the means for preventing rotation; [0034] wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is operably engaged with the means for grasping, the means for slidably engaging is engaged with the means for preventing rotation and the means for selectively disengaging is in the first position; [0035] wherein, when the looped portion of the cord is engaging the means for grasping and is pulled in a direction opposite from a winding direction and substantially simultaneously a bias release mechanism is activated, the means for slidably engaging disengages the means for preventing rotation and the means for selectively disengaging is moved to the second position; and [0036] wherein, when the cord is released, the means for biasing at least partially unloads and causes the means for rotating to rotate in a winding direction, which causes the cord to wind onto the means for rotating.

[0037] In at least one embodiment, the means for biasing at least partially unloads and causes the means for rotating to rotate in a winding direction, the cord is wound onto the means for rotating until at least one of three events occurs: (1) the cord is fully wound onto the means for rotating; (2) the cord is pulled again; or (3) the bias release mechanism is deactivated.

[0038] In at least one embodiment, the assembly further includes extracting a desired length of the cord from the winder by exerting a force on the looped portion of the cord such that as the means for rotation rotates the means for preventing rotation slidably engages the means for slidably engaging in a ratchet configuration, and wherein the cord extraction re-loads the means for biasing. In at least one embodiment, the means for preventing rotation are spool teeth oriented at an angle of about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees with respect to a vertical axis. In at least one embodiment, the means for biasing is a coil spring.

[0039] In at least one embodiment, a winder for winding a cord is provided. The cord is separable from the winder. The winder comprising:

[0040] a selectively moveable pawl;

[0041] a spool that selectively rotates relative to the pawl; and

[0042] a biased member connected to the spool, the pawl having at least a first position and a second position operably associated therewith;

[0043] wherein, when in the first position, the biased member is loaded and a plurality of pawl teeth associated with the pawl are engaged with a corresponding plurality of spool teeth associated with the spool, wherein the pawl is moved from the first position to the second position by pulling the cord operably associated with the spool in a direction opposite to a winding direction, and wherein, when in the second position, the plurality of pawl teeth are disengaged from the plurality of spool teeth; and

[0044] wherein, when in the second position, the biased member is at least partially unloaded by activating a spring release mechanism and releasing the cord, which causes the spool to rotate, which causes the cord to wind onto the spool.

[0045] In at least one embodiment, the biased member is a coil spring adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque.

[0046] A method for selectively winding a cord is provided, the method comprising: folding the cord; operably engaging a portion of the folded cord with a grasping member of a winder; pulling on the cord to cause at least one pawl tooth of a pawl of the winder to disengage from at least one spool tooth of a spool of the winder; and activating a spring release mechanism operably associated with the pawl to at least partially unload a spring of the winder such that the spool rotates to wind the folded cord around the spool.

[0047] In at least one embodiment, the method further comprises deactivating the spring release mechanism to stop further spool rotation and spring unloading. In at least one embodiment, when the folded cord is fully wound around the spool, two end portions of the folded cord are collocated and substantially adjacent.

[0048] In at least one embodiment, the method further comprises extracting the cord from the winder to a desired length by pulling the folded cord such that as the spool rotates and the cord extraction re-loads the spring. In at least one embodiment, the method further comprises removing the cord entirely from the winder, wherein, when the cord is entirely removed, the spring remains in a loaded state.

[0049] In at least one embodiment, the grasping member is at least one of a hook and a v-shaped, friction engaging member.

[0050] In at least one embodiment, the spring release mechanism is activated by moving a button from a first position to a second position. In at least one embodiment, the button cannot move from the first position to the second position unless the cord has operably engaged a grasping member, and, substantially simultaneously, a tension on the cord is exerted in a direction opposite from a winding direction and activating the button, and thereby preventing accidental spin-out.

[0051] One or more embodiments described herein are directed to a device for winding a cord. Accordingly, a device is provided, comprising:

[0052] a frame having a cord access aperture for receiving the cord, the frame including an inner spool and a concentrically located spring operatively connected to a catch mechanism for engaging the cord; wherein the spring is adapted for winding the cord around the inner spool upon engaging the cord with the catch mechanism and releasing a brake operatively securing a tension in the spring.

[0053] As used herein, "cord" and "cable" refer to components that are capable of being wound and include, but are not limited to, rope, ribbon, a cord of metal wire or chain, an insulated electrical conductor, or a combination of electrical conductors insulated from one another. For example, the terms "cord" and "cable" include, but are not limited to, armored cable, fiber optic cable, flameproof insulated cable, high temperature cable, HV cable, marine cable, mining cable, snake cable, coaxial cables, and patch cables, including microphone cables, headphone cables, telephone cables, and XLR, RCA, and TRS connector cables.

[0054] Various components are referred to herein as "operably associated." As used herein, "operably associated" refers to components that are linked together in operable fashion, and encompasses embodiments in which components are linked directly, as well as embodiments in which additional components are placed between the two linked components.

[0055] As used herein, "at least one," "one or more," and "and/or" are open-ended expressions that are both conjunctive and disjunctive in operation. For example, each of the expressions "at least one of A, B and C," "at least one of A, B, or C," "one or more of A, B, and C," "one or more of A, B, or C" and "A, B, and/or C" means A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, or A, B and C together.

[0056] Various embodiments of the present inventions are set forth in the attached figures and in the Detailed Description as provided herein and as embodied by the claims. It should be understood, however, that this Summary does not contain all of the aspects and embodiments of the one or more present inventions, is not meant to be limiting or restrictive in any manner, and that the invention(s) as disclosed herein is/are understood by those of ordinary skill in the art to encompass obvious improvements and modifications thereto.

[0057] Additional advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent from the following discussion, particularly when taken together with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0058] To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the one or more present inventions, a more particular description of the one or more present inventions is rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the one or more present inventions and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The one or more present inventions are described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

[0059] FIG. 1A is an exploded view of a winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment of the one or more present inventions;

[0060] FIG. 1B is an exploded view of the winder device of FIG. 1A, shown without the drive and button springs;

[0061] FIG. 1C is a front elevation view if the winder device of FIG. 1A;

[0062] FIG. 1D is a left side elevation view of the winder device of FIG. 1A;

[0063] FIG. 1E is a top plan view of the winder device of FIG. 1A;

[0064] FIG. 1F is a front perspective view of the winder device of FIG. 1A;

[0065] FIG. 1G is a side perspective view of the winder device of FIG. 1A;

[0066] FIG. 2A is a front interior elevation view of the back housing of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0067] FIG. 2B is a rear elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0068] FIG. 2C is a top plan view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0069] FIG. 2D is a left elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0070] FIG. 2E is a right elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0071] FIG. 2F is a bottom plan view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0072] FIG. 2G is a front interior perspective view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0073] FIG. 2H is a rear perspective view of the back housing shown in FIG. 2A;

[0074] FIG. 3A is a front elevation view of the spool of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0075] FIG. 3B is a rear elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 3A;

[0076] FIG. 3C is a left elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 3A;

[0077] FIG. 3D is a right elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 3A;

[0078] FIG. 3E is a front perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 3A;

[0079] FIG. 3F is a rear perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 3A;

[0080] FIG. 4A is a front elevation view of the spool sides of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0081] FIG. 4B is a rear elevation view of the spool side shown in FIG. 4A;

[0082] FIG. 4C is a left elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 4A;

[0083] FIG. 4D is a front perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 4A;

[0084] FIG. 4E is a rear perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 4A;

[0085] FIG. 5A is a front elevation view of the drive spring of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0086] FIG. 5B is a top plan view of the drive spring shown in FIG. 5A;

[0087] FIG. 5C is a front perspective view of the drive spring shown in FIG. 5A;

[0088] FIG. 6A is a front elevation view of the pawl of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0089] FIG. 6B is a rear elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0090] FIG. 6C is a top plan view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0091] FIG. 6D is a left elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0092] FIG. 6E is a right elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0093] FIG. 6F is a bottom plan view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0094] FIG. 6G is a front perspective view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0095] FIG. 6H is a rear perspective view of the pawl shown in FIG. 6A;

[0096] FIG. 7A is a front elevation view of the front housing of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0097] FIG. 7B is a rear elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0098] FIG. 7C is a top plan view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0099] FIG. 7D is a left elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0100] FIG. 7E is a right elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0101] FIG. 7F is a bottom plan view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0102] FIG. 7G is a front perspective view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0103] FIG. 7H is a rear perspective view of the front housing shown in FIG. 7A;

[0104] FIG. 8A is a front elevation view of the button plate of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0105] FIG. 8B is a rear elevation view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0106] FIG. 8C is a top plan view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0107] FIG. 8D is a left elevation view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0108] FIG. 8E is a right elevation view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0109] FIG. 8F is a bottom plan view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0110] FIG. 8G is a front perspective view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0111] FIG. 8H is a rear perspective view of the button plate shown in FIG. 8A;

[0112] FIG. 9A is a front elevation view of the button of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0113] FIG. 9B is a rear elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0114] FIG. 9C is a top plan view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0115] FIG. 9D is a left elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0116] FIG. 9E is a right elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0117] FIG. 9F is a bottom plan view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0118] FIG. 9G is a front perspective view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0119] FIG. 9H is a rear perspective view of the button shown in FIG. 9A;

[0120] FIG. 10A is a front elevation view of the button spring of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G;

[0121] FIG. 10B is a top plan view of the button spring shown in FIG. 10A;

[0122] FIG. 10C is a front perspective view of the button spring shown in FIG. 10A;

[0123] FIG. 11A is a rear perspective view of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G, with the rear housing removed to show the drive spring being loaded as the cord/cable is removed from the winder device;

[0124] FIG. 11B is a front perspective view of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G, with the front housing removed to show the pawl teeth engaged with the teeth on the spool, which maintains the drive spring in a loaded condition;

[0125] FIG. 11C is a front perspective view of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1G, with the front housing removed to show the pawl teeth disengaged from the teeth on the spool, and showing the drive spring being unloaded, which causes the cable/cord to be wound into the winder device;

[0126] FIG. 12A is an exploded view of another winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present inventions;

[0127] FIG. 12B is a front elevation view if the winder device of FIG. 12A;

[0128] FIG. 12C is a left elevation view of the winder device of FIG. 12A;

[0129] FIG. 12D is a top plan view of the winder device of FIG. 12A;

[0130] FIG. 13A is a front elevation view of the back cover plate of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0131] FIG. 13B is a rear elevation view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0132] FIG. 13C is a top plan view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0133] FIG. 13D is a left elevation view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13;

[0134] FIG. 13E is a right elevation view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0135] FIG. 13F is a bottom plan view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0136] FIG. 13G is a front perspective view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0137] FIG. 13H is a rear perspective view of the back cover plate shown in FIG. 13A;

[0138] FIG. 14A is a front elevation view of the back housing of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0139] FIG. 14B is a rear elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0140] FIG. 14C is a top plan view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0141] FIG. 14D is a left elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0142] FIG. 14E is a right elevation view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0143] FIG. 14F is a bottom plan view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0144] FIG. 14G is a front perspective view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0145] FIG. 14H is a rear perspective view of the back housing shown in FIG. 14A;

[0146] FIG. 15A is a front elevation view of the axle of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0147] FIG. 15B is a top plan view of the axle shown in FIG. 15A;

[0148] FIG. 15C is a right elevation view of the axle shown in FIG. 15A;

[0149] FIG. 15D is a front perspective view of the axle shown in FIG. 15A;

[0150] FIG. 16A is a front elevation view of the spool of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0151] FIG. 16B is a rear elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 16A;

[0152] FIG. 16C is a left elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 16A;

[0153] FIG. 16D is a right elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 16A;

[0154] FIG. 16E is a front perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 16A;

[0155] FIG. 16F is a rear perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 16A;

[0156] FIG. 17A is a front elevation view of the spool sides of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0157] FIG. 17B is a rear elevation view of the spool side shown in FIG. 17A;

[0158] FIG. 17C is a left elevation view of the spool side shown in FIG. 17A;

[0159] FIG. 17D is a front perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 17A;

[0160] FIG. 17E is a rear perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 17A;

[0161] FIG. 18A is a front elevation view of the drive spring of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0162] FIG. 18B is a top plan view of the drive spring shown in FIG. 18A;

[0163] FIG. 18C is a front perspective view of the drive spring shown in FIG. 18A;

[0164] FIG. 19A is a front elevation view of the pawl of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0165] FIG. 19B is a rear elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0166] FIG. 19C is a top plan view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0167] FIG. 19D is a left elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0168] FIG. 19E is a right elevation view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0169] FIG. 19F is a bottom plan view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0170] FIG. 19G is a front perspective view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0171] FIG. 19H is a rear perspective view of the pawl shown in FIG. 19A;

[0172] FIG. 20A is a front elevation view of the front housing of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0173] FIG. 20B is a rear elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0174] FIG. 20C is a top plan view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0175] FIG. 20D is a left elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0176] FIG. 20E is a right elevation view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0177] FIG. 20F is a bottom plan view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0178] FIG. 20G is a front perspective view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0179] FIG. 20H is a rear perspective view of the front housing shown in FIG. 20A;

[0180] FIG. 21A is a front elevation view of the button of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0181] FIG. 21B is a rear elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0182] FIG. 21C is a top plan view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0183] FIG. 21D is a left elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0184] FIG. 21E is a right elevation view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0185] FIG. 21F is a bottom plan view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0186] FIG. 21G is a front perspective view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0187] FIG. 21H is a rear perspective view of the button shown in FIG. 21A;

[0188] FIG. 22A is a front elevation view of the button spring of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0189] FIG. 22B is a top plan view of the button spring shown in FIG. 22A;

[0190] FIG. 22C is a front perspective view of the button spring shown in FIG. 22A;

[0191] FIG. 23A is a front elevation view of the front cover plate of the winder device illustrated in FIGS. 12A-12D;

[0192] FIG. 23B is a rear elevation view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0193] FIG. 23C is a top plan view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0194] FIG. 23D is a left elevation view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0195] FIG. 23E is a right elevation view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0196] FIG. 23F is a bottom plan view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0197] FIG. 23G is a front perspective view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0198] FIG. 23H is a rear perspective view of the front cover plate shown in FIG. 23A;

[0199] FIG. 24A is a front elevation view of the another embodiment of a spool adapted for use with the winder devices disclosed herein;

[0200] FIG. 24B is a rear elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 24A;

[0201] FIG. 24C is a left elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 24A;

[0202] FIG. 24D is a right elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 24A;

[0203] FIG. 24E is a front perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 24A;

[0204] FIG. 24F is a rear perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 24A;

[0205] FIG. 25A is a front elevation view of another embodiment of a spool side adapted for use with the spool illustrated in FIGS. 24A-24F;

[0206] FIG. 25B is a rear elevation view of the spool side shown in FIG. 25A;

[0207] FIG. 25C is a left elevation view of the spool side shown in FIG. 25A;

[0208] FIG. 25D is a front perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 25A;

[0209] FIG. 25E is a rear perspective view of the spool side shown in FIG. 25A;

[0210] FIG. 26A is a front elevation view of yet another embodiment of a spool adapted for use with the winder devices disclosed herein;

[0211] FIG. 26B is a rear elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 26A;

[0212] FIG. 26C is a left elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 26A;

[0213] FIG. 26D is a right elevation view of the spool shown in FIG. 26A;

[0214] FIG. 26E is a front perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 26A;

[0215] FIG. 26F is a rear perspective view of the spool shown in FIG. 26A;

[0216] FIG. 27A is an exploded view of another winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment of the one or more present inventions;

[0217] FIG. 27B is a front elevation view of the winder device of FIG. 27A;

[0218] FIG. 27C is a left elevation view of the winder device of FIG. 27A;

[0219] FIG. 27D is a top plan view of the winder device of FIG. 27A;

[0220] FIG. 28A illustrates a user engaging a folded portion of a cable/cord with a winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment of the one or more present inventions, the winder device shown in an un-wound position;

[0221] FIG. 28B illustrates a user pressing a spring release mechanism to wind the cable in the winder device of FIG. 28A;

[0222] FIG. 28C illustrates a user holding the winder device of FIG. 28A in a wound position;

[0223] FIG. 29 is a cross sectional view of the winder device shown in FIG. 28;

[0224] FIG. 30 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of a cord grasping element of a winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment of the one or more present inventions;

[0225] FIG. 31 is an illustration of a plurality of winder devices shown in a stacked configuration;

[0226] FIG. 32A shows a winder device in accordance with embodiments of the one or more present inventions used in connection with a coffee maker;

[0227] FIG. 32B shows the winder device of FIG. 32A also connected to an electrical outlet;

[0228] FIG. 33 shows a winder device in accordance with embodiments of the one or more present inventions used in connection with a blow dryer;

[0229] FIG. 34 shows a winder device in accordance with embodiments of the one or more present inventions used in connection with a hand-held device; and

[0230] FIG. 35 shows a winder device in accordance with embodiments of the one or more present inventions used in connection with a floor lamp.

[0231] The drawings are not necessarily to scale. The dimensions shown are exemplary and for enablement purposes and should not be construed as limiting in any way.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0232] One or more embodiments of the one or more inventions described herein include one or more devices, assemblies and/or methods related to a winder device. A winder device in accordance with at least one embodiment described herein can be used to organize, store, and/or protect cables, such as wire rope, and electrical cords. One or more embodiments of the winder devices described herein have application for audio equipment, such as stereophones, headsets, earphones, earbuds, etc.

[0233] Referring now to FIGS. 1A-10C, one embodiment of the one or more present inventions is shown. In at least the embodiment depicted, the winder device 100 generally includes back and front housings 104 and 108, back and front spool sides 112 and 116, a spool 120, a drive spring 124, a pawl 128, a button 132, button spring 136, and a button plate 140.

[0234] With particular reference now to FIGS. 2A-2H, the back housing 104 of at least one embodiment is shown. The back housing 104 generally includes a front interior surface 200, a back surface 204, and top and bottom struts 208 and 212 adapted to interconnect the back housing 104 and the front housing 108. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom struts 208 and 212 are integrally formed with the back housing 104. The top and bottom struts 208 and 212 may include at least one bracket 216 and at least one bracket receiving space 220 adapted to mate with corresponding elements on the front housing 108 such that the back and front housings 104 and 108 are interconnected by a press or interference fit. However, any number or combinations of fastening devices may be used to interconnect the back housing 104 and the front housing 108, including pins, screws, rivets, retaining rings, clamps, threaded fasteners, or glues and other adhesives.

[0235] In at least one embodiment, the front interior surface 200 of the back housing 104 also includes a spool side area 224 adapted to abut at least a portion of the back spool side 112. In some embodiments, the spool side area 224 is recessed such that at least a portion of the back spool side 112 sits within the spool side area 224. In at least one embodiment, the spool side area 224 is disc-shaped. Furthermore, in at least one embodiment, the spool side area 224 includes a circular ledge 228 positioned within at least a portion of the spool side area 224. The ledge 228 is adapted to facilitate movement of the back spool side 112 within the back spool side area 224. The ledge 228 may also facilitate the placement or positioning of the back spool side 112 in the spool side area 224.

[0236] In at least one embodiment, the front interior surface 200 of the back housing 104 further includes an axle 232 adapted to receive a portion of the spool 120. The axle 232 of at least one embodiment is cylindrical in shape and is substantially rigid. Moreover, in at least one embodiment, the axle 232 is formed integral with the back housing 104. However, in other embodiments, the axle may be formed separately from the back housing and subsequently fastened thereto using a variety of known fastening mechanisms. The axle 232 may also include a spring anchor 236 for securing the drive spring 124 to the axle 232. In at least one embodiment, the spring anchor 236 is a longitudinal opening that spans the length of the axle 232 and bifurcates at least a portion of the axle 232. In other embodiments, the spring anchor 236 may be a longitudinal groove (or other receiving portion) that spans at least a portion of the length of the axle 232. The axle 232 remains fixed (or otherwise non-rotatable) while under loaded and unloaded conditions. In at least one embodiment, the axle 232 is made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ("ABS"); however, the axle 232 may be made from a variety of other materials that are durable, low friction, and wear resistant, such as a metal, or other hard plastic.

[0237] In at least one embodiment, the front interior surface 200 of the back housing 104 further includes a plurality of spokes 240 positioned adjacent to the spool side area 224 and the axle 232. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of spokes 240 extend radially outward from the axle 232 toward the spool side area 224. The plurality of spokes 240 decrease the surface contact between the drive spring 124 and back housing 104 and further serve as structural reinforcements for the back housing 104.

[0238] In at least one embodiment, the back surface 204 of the back housing 104 includes a surface treatment or material, such as a non-slip, grippable, traction providing, shock absorbing, drop resistant, or other impact resistant material (not shown) to facilitate a user's handling or manipulation of the winder device 100 and/or to protect the winder device 100 from being damaged. Similarly, in still other embodiments, the back surface 204 includes a decorative or aesthetic decal or design to enhance the marketability of the device.

[0239] In at least one embodiment, the back housing (including the aforementioned features) 104 are formed integrally. For example, the back housing 104 may be formed using an injection molding or other cost effective manufacturing process or processes.

[0240] Referring now to FIGS. 3A-3F, the spool 120 of at least one embodiment of the present inventions is shown. The spool 120 of this embodiment has a substantially cylindrical configuration, an outer surface 300, a front surface 304 a back surface 308, and a plate 312. The plate 312 is generally positioned to separate the front surface 304 from the back surface 308 and\or to prevent the drive spring 124 from interfering with the pawl 128. In at least one embodiment, the spool 120 has a diameter D.

[0241] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 3A-3B, the plate 312 includes an aperture 316 adapted to receive a portion of the axle 232 associated with the back housing 104. In one embodiment, the aperture 316 is sized to have at least some clearance such that the spool 120 may easily slide on and rotate about the axle 232. In other embodiments, ball bearings or other friction reducing materials may be provided at a contact point of the aperture 316 and the axle 232.

[0242] Referring now to FIGS. 3B and 3F, the back surface 308 of at least one embodiment of the spool 120 includes a back edge 320 and a hollow portion 324 therein. The back edge 320 includes a first set of holes 328 for selectively receiving a plurality of corresponding projections 416 positioned on the back spool side 112 (discussed below). Moreover, any number of fastening means may be included on the back edge 320 to selectively and/or removably interconnect the back surface 308 of the spool 120 to the first face 400 of the back spool side 112, such as slots or channels.

[0243] The hollow portion 324 is adapted to receive the drive spring 124. The hollow portion 324 substantially encloses the drive spring 124; however, one of skill in the art will appreciate that in other embodiments, the hollow portion 324 may partially enclose the drive spring 124. The hollow portion 324 helps maintain the shape of the drive spring 124 and also protects the drive spring 124 from distortion and/or damage.

[0244] In addition, in at least one embodiment the back surface 308 of the spool 120 also includes a spring engaging member adapted to engage the drive spring 124. The spring engaging member of one embodiment is a spring slot 332 that extends from the back edge 320 of the back surface 308 longitudinally along the outer surface 300 to some length or depth. The length of the spring slot 332 may vary depending on the type or size of the drive spring 124 that is used for a particular winder.

[0245] Referring now to FIGS. 3A and 3E, in at least one embodiment, the front surface 304 includes a front edge 336 that has a second set of holes 340 and teeth 344. The second set of holes 340 are adapted to receive a plurality of projections 416 positioned on the front spool side 116 (discussed below). Any number of interconnecting mechanisms, such as slots or channels, may be included on the front edge 336 to selectively and removably interconnect the front surface 304 of the spool 120 to the first face 400 of the front spool side 116.

[0246] The teeth 344 generally project radially inward (i.e., toward the center of the spool 120) and are sized and shaped to engage at least a portion of the pawl 128. The teeth 344 are oriented at an angle .alpha. in order to reduce and/or prevent winder spin-out. Accidental spin-out is undesirable because a user has to then manually re-load the drive spring 124 before the cord/cable may be wound. As such, the engagement between the spool 120 and the pawl 128 is configured such that the drive spring 124 is maintained in a loaded condition until the user is ready to wind the cord/cable (thereby unloading the drive spring). In order to achieve the desirable spool/pawl engagement, the teeth 344 are properly angled to engage and maintain the engagement (i.e., minimize slip) with the pawl teeth 616. In at least one embodiment, this engagement is achieved by orienting the teeth 344 at an angle .alpha. that ranges from about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees. In a preferred embodiment, the teeth 344 are oriented at an angle .alpha. of about 37 degrees.

[0247] Referring back to FIGS. 3A-3F, the outer surface 300 of the spool 120 includes a plurality of grasping members. In at least one embodiment, the grasping members are hooks 348 adapted to selectively engage a portion of a cord, cable, or other object to be wound with the winding device 100. The number of hooks 348 positioned on the outer surface 300 of the spool 120 may vary depending on a number of variables, such as size and the graspability of the object. Moreover, the grasping members are not limited to hooks and may include a variety of configurations, geometries, and superficial features that are adapted to assist with grasping and/or selectively retaining the cord/cable. Consequently, the height H of the spool 120 may vary depending on the exact configuration of the grasping members. In some embodiments, it may be desirable to include locking hooks to lock the cord/cable to the hook so that the cord/cable remains attached to the winder device when fully unwound.

[0248] In at least one embodiment, the spool 120 is manufactured as an integral piece using any number of conventional manufacturing processes, such as injection molding, and is made at least partially from Delrin, or other similar materials. In other embodiments, the grasping members may be individually and/or selectively interconnected to the outer surface 300 of the spool 120, depending on the application.

[0249] Referring now to FIGS. 4A-4E, a spool side of one embodiment is shown. In at least one embodiment, the winder device includes two spool sides, adapted for positioning on either side of the spool. In other embodiments, the winder device has no spool sides. In yet other embodiments, the winder device has only one spool side. In still yet other embodiments, the spool sides are formed integrally with the spool.

[0250] In at least one embodiment, the winder device 100 includes a back spool side 112 and a front spool side 116. The back and front spool sides 112 and 116 may be substantially identical parts. As such, the spool side shown in FIGS. 4A-4E, can be either the back spool side 112 or the front spool side 116. Because the back and front spool sides 112 and 116 are substantially identical, the number of different component parts that need to be manufactured decreases and the throughput of the manufactured parts increases. However, in some embodiments, it may be desirable to have back and front spool sides 112 and 116 that are not substantially identical parts. For example, the back and front spool sides 112 and 116 may have different interconnecting mechanisms that allow the spool 120 to be selectively removable from the back and front spool sides 112 and 116.

[0251] In at least one embodiment, the back and front spool sides 112 and 116 are adapted to interconnect with the spool 120. The back and front spool sides 112 and 116 have a first face 400, a second face 404, an outer diameter 408, an inner diameter 412, and a substantially planar torus shape. The first face 400 of back spool side 112 is adapted to interconnect to the back surface 308 of the spool 120 and the second face 408 of the back spool side 112 is adapted to abut the spool side area 224 of the back housing 104. Similarly, the first face 400 of the front spool side 116 is adapted to interconnect to the front surface 304 of the spool 120 and the second face 404 of the front spool side 116 is adapted to abut the spool side area 732 of the front housing 108.

[0252] In addition, in at least one embodiment, a plurality of projections 416 positioned on the first face 400 of the back and front spool sides 112 and 116 are positioned proximate to the inner diameter 412. The plurality of projections 416 may be spaced, equidistantly, non-equidistantly, or in any number of other configurations, around the perimeter of the inner diameter 412. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of projections 416 have a dowel pin or cylindrical rod shape. The plurality of projections 416 are adapted to be received by corresponding fastening means, i.e., in corresponding holes on the front and back surfaces 304 and 308 of the spool 120. Moreover, the plurality of projections 416 may have various shapes and/or geometry, so long as the spool 120 has corresponding or mating interconnection means.

[0253] The back and front spool sides 112 and 116 may be made from any number of materials, including thermoplastics, such as Delrin having high stiffness, low friction, and good dimensional stability. Moreover, the spool sides 112 and 116 may be manufactured using a number of methods and/or processes, including injection molding.

[0254] Referring now to FIGS. 5A-5C, a biased member is shown. In at least one embodiment, the biased member is a drive spring (mainspring) 124. However, the biased member may be a coil spring in a biased condition. The drive spring 124 includes a first end tab 500 and a second end tab 504. The first end tab 500 is adapted to engage the spring anchor 236 on the axle 232, and the second end tab 504 is adapted to engage the spring slot 332 on the spool 120. In at least one embodiment, the first end tab 500 further includes an approximately 90 degree bend that interconnects the drive spring 124 to the axle 232 and the second end tab 504 includes a 180 degree or substantially U-shaped bend that interconnects the drive spring 124 to the spool 120. The width W of the drive spring 124 is designed to fit within at least a portion of the hollow portion 324 of the spool 120 and is made of a strip of metal ribbon. The drive spring 124 may be made of a strip of blue steel, a steel alloy, a carbon steel alloy, other metal alloys, or combinations thereof. Moreover, in at least one embodiment, in a non-compressed (or un-stressed) state, the drive spring 124 includes about ten turns and is adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque, and more preferably about 0.8 inch-pounds of torque. As such, the drive spring 124 is the power source for the winder device 100. In another embodiment, the biased member may be an elastic material such as `bungee` cord.

[0255] Referring now to FIGS. 6A-6H, a pawl 128 of at least one embodiment is shown. The pawl 128 generally includes an outer surface 600, a front surface 604, a back surface 608, and an aperture 612 between the front and back surfaces 604 and 608. The front surface 604 of the pawl 128 is adapted to abut at least a portion of the button 132, and the back surface 608 of the pawl 128 is adapted to abut at least a portion of the spool 120, in at least one embodiment.

[0256] The outer surface 600 has pawl teeth 616 on a portion thereof. The pawl teeth 616 are adapted to selectively and operably engage the teeth 344 on the front edge 336 of the spool 120. The number of pawl teeth 616 may vary depending on a variety of factors. In at least one embodiment, the outer surface 600 also includes an offset or recessed portion 620. Incorporation of a recessed portion 620 may be advantageous for winder devices where additional clearance between the pawl 128 and the spool 120 is desired.

[0257] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 6A and 6G, the front surface 604 of at least one embodiment includes a projection 624 adapted to engage a portion of the button 132 (discussed below). As shown in FIG. 6A, the projection 624 is D-shaped. In alternative embodiments, the projection 624 may have a number of different configurations, including cylindrical, conical, polygonal, or an "O" shaped projection. In some embodiments, the front surface 604 has more than one projection. The position of the projection 624 may vary depending on the size of the pawl 128 and the configuration of the front housing 108, among others. Moreover, in at least one embodiment, the projection 624 has a surface treatment such as a texturizing coating (not shown) on at least a portion thereof to enhance the surface contact between the projection 624 and the button 132.

[0258] Referring now to FIGS. 6A and 6B, the aperture 612 is adapted to receive a portion of the front housing 108. More particularly, the aperture 612 is adapted to receive a projection 728 on the back interior surface 704 of the front housing 108.

[0259] Referring now to FIGS. 7A-7H, the front housing 108 is shown. The front housing 108 of at least one embodiment generally includes a front surface 700, a back interior surface 704, an aperture 708 therethrough, and top and bottom struts 712 and 716 adapted to interconnect the front housing 108 and the back housing 104. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom struts 712 and 716 are integrally formed with the front housing 108. The top and bottom struts 712 and 716 may include at least one bracket 720 and at least one bracket receiving space 724 adapted to mate with corresponding elements on the back housing 104 such that the front and back housings 108 and 104 are interconnected by a press or interference fit. In alternative embodiments, various fastening mechanisms are used to interconnect the front and back housings 108 and 104. In another embodiment, in lieu of the top and bottom struts 712 and 716, the front and back housings 108 and 104 are connected with a centered bracket (not shown). In still another embodiment, the front housing 108 includes one bracket that is adapted to connect to the back housing 104. In yet another embodiment, the axle 232 interconnects the front and back housings 108 and 104 and no brackets need be provided.

[0260] In at least one embodiment, the back interior surface 704 of the front housing 108 is adapted to engage the pawl 128. The back interior surface 704 includes a projection 728 to interconnect with the aperture 612 of the pawl 128. Depending on the configuration of the pawl 128, the size, shape, and position of the front housing's projection 728 may vary. In at least one embodiment, the projection 728 is cylindrical and proximate the aperture 708 of the front housing 108. The back interior surface 704 of the front housing 108 may also include a spool side area 732 adapted to abut at least a portion of the front spool side 116. In some embodiments, the spool side area 732 is recessed such that at least a portion of the front spool side 116 sits within the spool side area 732. Moreover, the portion of the back interior surface 704 that is proximate the spool 120 may optionally be recessed to ensure that the spool 120 has sufficient clearance to rotate and/or to make the winder device 100 lighter.

[0261] Referring now to FIGS. 7A-7B and 7G-7H, the aperture 708 of the front housing 108 of at least one embodiment is adapted to allow at least a portion of the pawl 128 to pass at least partially therethrough. The shape of the aperture 708 may vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the size of the winder device, size of the pawl, etc. In at least one embodiment, the aperture 708 has a generally kidney-bean shape. In operation, the position of the pawl 128 in the aperture 708 varies depending on the position of the button 132.

[0262] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 7A and 7G, in at least one embodiment, the front surface 700 of the front housing 108 generally includes a button receiver 736. The button receiver 736 is generally adapted to receive the button 132 and the button plate 140. The button receiver 736 is preferably positioned such that the aperture 708 passes therethrough. In some embodiments, the button receiver 736 is recessed relative to the front surface 700 of the front housing 108. The size and shape of the button receiver 736 may vary depending on the size and shape of the button 132 and button plate 140. In at least one embodiment, the button receiver 736 has a clip 740 adapted to interconnect to a portion of the button 132. The clip 740 in at least one embodiment is sized and shaped to engage the button's spring receiver 916. The front surface 700 of the front housing 108 may also include a direction indicator 744. In an exemplary embodiment, the direction indicator 744 is positioned on the button receiver 736. The direction indicator 744 helps facilitate use of the winder device 100. Furthermore, the front surface 700 of the front housing 108 may include an ornamental design or feature (not shown), including a product name, brand, logo, design, or decorations such as rhinestones. An ornamental design or feature may be desirable for brand recognition and/or marketing purposes.

[0263] The button plate 140 of at least one embodiment is shown in FIGS. 8A-8H. The button plate 140 generally includes a front face 800, a back face 804, and a window 808 therebetween. The back face 804 of the button plate 140 is adapted to interconnect to the front housing 108. In at least one embodiment, the back face 804 of the button plate 140 is adapted to engage at least a portion of the button receiver 736. The back face 804 of the button plate 140 may be snap-fit, press-fit, glued, or otherwise positioned at least partially within the button receiver 736 of the front housing 108. As such, depending on the desired interconnection, the back face 804 of the button plate 140 may include additional fastening means, including screws, pins, and glues, among others. In some embodiments, when the button plate 140 is received within the button receiver 736, the button plate 140 is substantially flush with the front surface 700 of the front housing 108, whereas in other embodiments, the button plate 140 is raised relative to the front surface 700 of the front housing 108.

[0264] In at least one embodiment, the back face 804 of the button pate 140 is also adapted to engage at least a portion of the button 132. For example, the back face 804 of the button plate 140 may include at least one bracket receiving slot 812 for engaging the button 132. In at least one embodiment, the back face 804 has two bracket receiving slots 812, one on each longitudinal side of the button plate 140. The bracket receiving slots 812 are adapted to receive corresponding brackets 908 on the button 132. In at least one embodiment, the bracket receiving slots 812 are larger than the button brackets 908 such that the button brackets 908 may slide within the bracket receiving slots 812 so that the button 132 can move in a translational direction within the window 808.

[0265] In at least one embodiment, the window 808 is positioned such that at least a portion of the front face 900 of the button 132 extends at least partially therethrough. In some embodiments, when the button 132 is aligned in the window 808, the button 132 is substantially flush with the window 808 of the button plate 140. In other embodiments, the button 132 extends beyond the front face 800 of the button plate 140.

[0266] Referring now to FIGS. 9A-9H, the button 132 of at least one embodiment is shown. The button 132 generally includes a front face 900 and a back face 904 and is adapted to interconnect to the button plate 140 and the front housing 108.

[0267] In at least one embodiment, the back face 904 of the button 132 abuts at least a portion of the button receiver 736 on the front housing 108. Brackets 908 may be used to at least partially retain the button 132 within the button receiver 736. In at least one embodiment, the button 132 has two brackets 908, one on either side of the back face 904 of the button 132, that are adapted to be received in the bracket receiving slots 812 of the button plate 140. As such, the button 132 is slidably engaged with the button plate 140 and the button 132 is able to move within the button receiver 736.

[0268] The back face 904 of the button 132 is also generally adapted to engage at least a portion of the pawl 128. In at least one embodiment, the back face 904 includes a pawl receiver 912. The pawl receiver 912 may be shaped to correspond to the shape of the pawl's projection 624. In at least one embodiment, the pawl receiver 912 is substantially D-shaped (to interconnect to a D-shaped projection 624 on the pawl 128). In other embodiments, the pawl receiver 912 is substantially O-shaped, polygonally shaped, or conically shaped to receive a corresponding pawl projection.

[0269] In at least one embodiment, the back face 904 of the button 132 also includes a spring receiver 916 configured as a longitudinal slot. The spring receiver 916 is adapted for receiving the clip 740 on the front surface 700 of the front housing 108. The spring receiver 916 is also adapted to receive a biased member. An exemplary biased member is illustrated in FIGS. 10A-10C. In at least one embodiment, the biased member is a coil or helical button spring 1000. The button spring 1000 may be made from a number of materials. The button spring 1000 is adapted for positioning within the spring receiver 916. As such, the clip 740 is proximate the button spring 1000. The button spring 1000 of at least one embodiment is adapted to store and release a sufficient amount of energy such that when the button 132 is moved from a first position of use to a second position of use, the button spring 1000 is loaded (i.e., compressed against the clip 740) and when the button 132 is moved from the second position of use to the first position of use, the button spring 1000 is unloaded (i.e., expands away from the clip 740).

[0270] The front face 900 of the button 132 may include surface features to assist a user's manipulation of the button 132. For example, in at least one embodiment, the front face 900 has a grippable or textured surface (not shown) such that users of varying age and dexterity may slidably move the button 132.

[0271] Although an exemplary winder device 100 is depicted in FIGS. 1A-10C, one of skill in the art can appreciate the winder device 100 may be sized up or down depending on the application and the type of cord/cable used. For example, for extension cords, power cords or other larger/longer/thicker cords, the winder device may require a large size whereas, for kitchen appliances and computers, the winder device may require a medium size, and whereas, for headphone and cellular phones, the winder device may require a small size. That is, the size of the winder device may be designed large enough to store and protect the type of cable/cord while also small enough to be non-bulky and unobtrusive.

[0272] Referring now to FIGS. 11A-11C, the operation of at least one embodiment of the winder device 100 is shown. FIGS. 11A and 11B show that as a user pulls the cord/cable 100 associated with the winder out of (or at least partially out of) the winder device 100, the spool 120 rotates. When the spool 120 rotates, the spool 120 engages the pawl 128 and torque is transmitted to the drive spring 124. As such, the rotation of the spool 120 causes the drive spring 124 to wind/spiral tighter, which loads the drive spring 124. In the loaded condition, the drive spring 124 stores a certain amount of energy. Moreover, as the spool 120 rotates, the teeth 344 on the spool 120 selectively engage the pawl teeth 616 such that when the user stops pulling on the cord/cable 1100, the pawl teeth 616 lock the position of the spool 120 in place. Because of the engagement between the pawl teeth 616 and spool's teeth 344, the spool 120 is held in place and is maintained in a loaded state, which prevents the drive spring 124 from releasing its energy.

[0273] FIG. 11C shows how the cable/cord 1100 is wound into the winder device 100. When the user is ready to wind the cable/cord 1100 onto the spool 120, the user loops the cable/cord 1100 around one of the grasping members (hooks in the embodiment shown) and pulls slightly to exert some force against the cable/cord 1100 to at least partially disengage the pawl teeth 616 from the spool 120. Once the pawl teeth 616 have disengaged, the user is able to move the button 132 from a first position of use to a second position of use (by moving the button up in the embodiment shown), which moves the pawl teeth 616 away from the spool's teeth 344. Once the pawl 128 and the spool 120 are disengaged, the drive spring 124 is able to release and return to an unloaded state. Unloading the drive spring 124 causes the spool 120 to spin and wind the cable/cord 1100 into the winder device 100. One of skill in the art will appreciate that having both ends of the cord/cable at one entry point (rather than each end of the cord/cable coming out of different entry points) is desirable in that both ends of the cord can be quickly accessed.

[0274] It is desirable to be able to keep the drive spring in a loaded state so that the spool is ready to wind the cable/cord when the user is ready. As such, it is desirable to prevent accidental spin-out (or unloading) of the drive spring. In at least one embodiment, accidental spin-out is prevented by preventing the button from moving when a cord/cable is not engaged with the winder device. That is, the button cannot move from a first position of use to a second position of use unless and until a cord is engaged with the spool and the user pulls slightly on the cord while moving the button. A user who completely removes his or her headphones from the winder device is prevented from accidentally unloading the drive spring because he or she may not move the button to a second position of use until the cord/cable has been re-engaged with the spool's grasping members and the user has pulled slightly on the cord/cable. Similarly, a user who partially removes his or her earbuds from the winder device is prevented from accidentally unloading the drive spring because he or she has to pull slightly on the cord/cable before he or she may move the button to a second position of use. Preventing accidental spin-out is highly desirable for the user who, for example, takes his or her earphones out of the winder device and then places the winder device in a backpack, briefcase, or purse while he or she is using the earphones. In this example, the winder device will not accidentally unload while in the backpack, briefcase, or purse and the winder device is ready to wind the cord/cable when the user is ready to. If, however, the drive spring does spin-out or unload accidentally, the user may simply reload the drive spring by manually rotating the spool.

[0275] Referring now to FIGS. 12-23, another embodiment of the present inventions is illustrated. To draw a few exemplary and non-limiting distinctions between the winder device 100 of at least one embodiment (discussed above) and the winder device 1200 of at least another embodiment (discussed below), one will notice that in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 12-23, the winder device 1200 includes front and back cover plates. One of skill in the art will appreciate that depending on the application or use of the winder, it may be desirable to have or not have front and back cover plates. For example, when a lower profile winder is desirable, the winder device 100 without cover plates may be advantageous. Alternatively, when a more robust winder is desired, the winder device 1200 having cover plates may be advantageous. To further contrast the at least two embodiments, the winder device 100 has an axle 232 that is integral to the back housing 104 whereas the winder device 1200 has an axle 1220 separate from the back cover plate 1204 and back housing 1212. Again, depending on the particular application or use of the winder device, it may be desirable for the winder device to have fewer individual components such that the efficiency of the manufacturing and/or assembly processes are increased. In contrast, it may be desirable to have a separate axle if the cable/cord to be wound requires a stronger axle.

[0276] Referring now to FIG. 12, an exploded view illustrates at least another embodiment of a winder device 1200. The winder device 1200 of at least this embodiment generally includes back and front cover plates 1204 and 1208, back and front housings 1212 and 1216, an axle 1220, back and front spool sides 1224 and 1228, a spool 1232, a drive spring 1236, a pawl 1240, a button 1244, and a button spring 1248.

[0277] With reference now to FIGS. 13A-13H, the back cover plate 1204 of at least one embodiment is shown. The back cover plate 1204 generally includes front surface 1300 and a back surface 1304. The front surface 1300 includes a first recessed portion 1308. In the embodiment shown, the first recessed portion 1308 is disc-shaped (having a flat circular shape). The first recessed portion 1308 is adapted to receive a mating portion on the back housing 1212. In at least one embodiment, the front surface 1300 also includes a second recessed portion 1312 adapted to cover a portion of the axle 1220. In the embodiment shown, the second recessed portion 1312 is circular and positioned in substantially the center of the back cover plate 1204. However, one of skill in the art will appreciate that the shape and position of the second recessed portion 1312 may vary depending on the shape and position of the axle 1220.

[0278] The back cover plate 1204 also includes top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320 are integrally formed with the back cover plate 1204. For example, in at least one embodiment, the back cover plate 1204 includes integral top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320 and is manufactured using an injection molding process. The top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320 are adapted to fasten the back cover plate 1204 to the back housing 1212. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320 mechanically interconnect to the back housing 1212 by a snap fit. The top and bottom brackets 1316 and 1320 may include a raised lip 1324 to enhance the snap fit design. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of fasteners may be used to interconnect the back cover plate 1204 and the back housing 1212, such as a screws, rivets, pins, retaining rings, clamps, threaded fasteners, or glues and other adhesives. In at least one embodiment, the back surface 1304 of the back cover plate 1204 further includes a non-slip, grippable, traction providing, or other surface treatment or material (not shown) to facilitate a user's handling of the winder device 1200. Similarly, depending on the application, it is envisioned that the back surface 1304 of the back cover plate 1204 includes shock absorbing, drop resistant, or other impact resistant material (not shown) to further protect the winder device 1200 from being damaged.

[0279] Referring now to FIGS. 14A-14H, the back housing 1212 of at least one embodiment is depicted. The back housing 1212 generally includes a front surface 1400 and a back surface 1404. The back surface 1404 of the back housing 1212 (see FIGS. 14B and 14H) is adapted to interconnect with the front surface 1300 of the back cover plate 1204. In at least one embodiment, the back surface 1404 of the back housing 1212 generally includes a first raised portion 1408 that is shaped to mate with or otherwise engage the first recessed portion 1308 on the front surface 1300 of the back cover plate 1204. In at least one embodiment, the first raised portion 1408 is disc-shaped (having a flat circular shape). The back surface 1404 of at least one embodiment also includes a second raised portion 1412 having an aperture 1416 adapted to allow the shaft portion 1508 of the axle 1220 to pass therethrough. The second raised portion 1412 may include, among others, an inner diameter 1420 and an outer diameter 1424. In at least one embodiment, the inner diameter 1420 is substantially "D" shaped (to receive the planar edge 1528 of the substantially circular head portion 1512 of the axle 1220), whereas the outer diameter 1424 is substantially circular in shape. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the shape of the inner diameter 1420 may vary depending on the shape and configuration of the axle 1220. In at least one embodiment, the first and second raised portions 1408 and 1412 (on the back surface 1404 of the back housing 1212) are adapted to engage the first and second recessed portions 1308 and 1312 (on the front surface 1300 of the back cover plate 1204) and selectively interconnect the back housing 1212 to the back cover plate 1204.

[0280] Referring specifically to FIGS. 14A and 14G, the front surface 1400 of the back housing 1212 is shown. In at least some embodiments, the front surface 1400 of the back housing 1212 also includes a spool side area 1428 adapted to abut at least a portion of the back spool side 1224. In some embodiments, the spool side area 1428 is recessed such that at least a portion of the back spool side 1224 sits within the spool side area 1428. Furthermore, in at least one embodiment, the spool side area 1428 includes a circular ledge 1432 positioned within at least a portion of the spool side area 1428. The ledge 1432 is adapted to facilitate movement of the back spool side 1224 within the spool side area 1428. The ledge 1432 may also facilitate the placement or positioning of the back spool side 1224 in the spool side area 1428.

[0281] In at least one embodiment, the back housing 1212 also includes top and bottom struts 1436 and 1440. The top and bottom struts 1436 and 1440 may be integrally formed with the back housing 1212. For example, in at least one embodiment, the back housing 1212 includes integral top and bottom struts 1436 and 1440 and is manufactured using an injection molding process. The top and bottom struts 1436 and 1440 are adapted to fasten the back housing 1212 to the front housing 1216 by a press fit. In at least one embodiment, the top strut 1436 may further include a plurality of pins 1444 and at least one bore 1448 to enhance the interconnection between the back housing 1212 and the front housing 1216. The bottom strut 1440 of some embodiments includes a bracket receiving space 1452 to receive a portion of the bottom strut 2036 of the front housing 1216. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number or combinations of fastening devices may be used to interconnect the back housing 1212 and the front housing 1216, including screws, rivets, retaining rings, clamps, threaded fasteners, or glues and other adhesives.

[0282] Referring now to FIGS. 15A-15D, an axle 1220 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown. The axle 1220 generally includes a first end 1500, a second end 1504, a shaft portion 1508 and a head portion 1512 therebetween. In at least one embodiment, the shaft portion 1508 provides structural support, is cylindrical in shape, and is rigid. In at least one embodiment, the shaft portion 1508 includes a spring anchor 1516 for securing the drive spring 1236 to the axle 1220. In at least one embodiment, the spring anchor 1516 is a longitudinal cut that spans the length of the shaft portion 1508 and bifurcates the shaft portion 1508 of the axle 1220. In another embodiment, the spring anchor 1516 is a longitudinal groove that spans at least a portion of the length of the shaft portion 1508.

[0283] In at least one embodiment, the head portion 1512 includes a surface having a socket 1520 adapted for mating with a screwdriver or other tool. In at least the embodiment shown, the socket includes a slot 1524 and is adapted to engage a flat head screwdriver. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the socket 1520 may include other configurations to engage conventional screwdrivers, such as Phillips or Frearson, or have other geometries, such as a hexagonal socket to engage an Allen wrench.

[0284] The head portion 1512 also supports and maintains the axle's 1220 position when the axle 1220 is under stress. The periphery of the head portion 1512 of at least one embodiment includes a portion having a planar edge 1528. The planar edge 1528 retains the axle 1220 in a fixed position while under loaded and unloaded conditions. In at least one embodiment, the periphery of the head portion 1512 is "D" shaped (that is, substantially circular while having a planar edge).

[0285] In at least one embodiment, the first end 1500 of the axle 1220 is adapted to be received in the second recessed portion 1312 of the back cover plate 1204. As such, the back cover plate 1204 covers and protects the head portion 1512 from wear and potential damage. Because the back cover plate 1204 covers the head portion 1512 of the axle 1220, user's and other objects are also protected from harm or damage. The second end 1504 of the axle 1220 of at least one embodiment is adapted for receiving at least a portion of the spool 1232 thereon.

[0286] In at least one embodiment, the axle 1220 is made from a metal or metal alloy. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the axle 1220 may be made from a variety of materials that are durable, low friction, and wear resistant.

[0287] Referring now to FIGS. 16A-16E, the spool 1232 of at least one embodiment of the present invention is shown. The spool 1232 may have a generally cylindrical configuration and in one embodiment includes an outer surface 1600, a front surface 1604, a back surface 1608, and a plate 1612 positioned therebetween (separating the front surface 1604 from the back surface 1608). In at least one embodiment, the spool 1232 has a diameter D.

[0288] In the embodiment shown, the plate 1612 includes an aperture 1616 adapted to receive the shaft portion 1508 of the axle 1220. In one embodiment, the aperture 1616 is sized to have at least some clearance such that the spool 1232 may easily slide on and rotate about the axle 1220.

[0289] In at least one embodiment, the back surface 1608 includes a back edge 1620 and a hollow portion 1624 therein. The back edge 1620 includes a first set of holes 1628 for receiving a plurality of projections 1716 that are positioned on the back spool side 1224 (discussed below). One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of interconnecting means may be included on the back edge 1620 to selectively and/or removably engage and interconnect the back surface 1608 of the spool 1232 to the first face 2408 of the back spool side 1224.

[0290] In at least one embodiment, the hollow portion 1624 is adapted to receive the drive spring 1236. The hollow portion 1624 substantially encloses the drive spring 1236 in at least one embodiment; however, one of skill in the art will appreciate that in other embodiments, the hollow portion 1624 may partially enclose the drive spring 1236. The hollow portion 1624 protects the drive spring 1236 from distortion and/or damage.

[0291] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 16B and 16F, in at least one embodiment the back surface 1608 of the spool 1232 also includes a spring engaging member. The spring engaging member of one embodiment is a spring slot 1632 that extends from the back edge 1620 of the back surface 1608 longitudinally along the cylindrical outer surface 1600 of the spool 1232 to some length. The length of the slot may vary depending on the type or size of the drive spring 1236 that is used for the particular winder embodiment.

[0292] Referring now to FIGS. 16A and 16E, the front surface 1604 includes a front edge 1636. In at least one embodiment, the front edge 1636 includes a second set of holes 1640 and teeth 1644. The second set of holes 1640 are adapted to receive a plurality of projections 1716 positioned on the front spool side 1228 (discussed below). Any number of interconnecting mechanisms may be included on the front edge 1636 to selectively and/or removably engage and interconnect the front surface 1604 of the spool 1232 to the first face 1700 of the front spool side 1228.

[0293] In at least one embodiment, the teeth 1644 project radially inward (i.e., toward the center of the spool) and are sized and shaped to engage at least a portion of the pawl 1240. The teeth 1644 are oriented at an angle .alpha. in order to reduce and/or prevent winder spin-out. Accidental spin-out is undesirable because the user has to manually re-load the drive spring 1236 before the cord/cable may be wound. As such, the engagement between the spool 1232 and the pawl 1240 is configured such that the drive spring 1236 is maintained in a loaded condition until the user is ready to winder the cord/cable (thereby unloading the drive spring). In order to achieve the desirable spool/pawl engagement, the teeth 1644 are properly angled to engage and maintain the engagement (i.e., minimize slip) with the pawl teeth 1916. In at least one embodiment, this engagement is achieved by orienting the teeth 1644 at an angle .alpha. that ranges from about 25 degrees to about 45 degrees. In a preferred embodiment, the teeth are oriented at an angle .alpha. of about 37 degrees.

[0294] Referring now to FIGS. 16C and 16D, the outer surface 1600 of the spool includes grasping members. In at least one embodiment, the grasping members are hooks 1648 adapted to selectively engage a portion of a cord, cable, or other object to be used with the winding device 1200. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the number of hooks 1648 positioned on the outer surface 1600 of the spool 1232 may vary depending on a number of variables, such as size, and the graspability of the object. For example, in at least one embodiment, four hooks are provided. In another embodiment, two hooks are provided. In yet another embodiment, seven hooks are provided. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the grasping members may include a variety of configurations. The grasping element may take on a variety of different forms and is not limited to a hook. By way of example and not limitation, a V-shaped engaging mechanism that uses friction to hold the cord/cable and allows the winder to pull the cord/cable into its frame may be used. In at least another embodiment, a cord engaging mechanism includes texturing for a plurality of superficial features to assist with grabbing and holding the cord/cable. The height H of the spool 1232 may vary depending on the exact configuration of the grasping members.

[0295] In at least one embodiment, the spool 1232 is manufactured as an integral piece using conventional injection molding processes and is made from polyoxymethylene plastic (commonly sold under the trade name "Delrin"). In other embodiments, the grasping members may be individually and selectively interconnected to the outer surface 1600 of the spool 1232, depending on the application. In another embodiment, the teeth 1644 may be selectively removable from the front surface 1604 such that they may be easily replaced if they get worn or otherwise damaged.

[0296] A spool side of one embodiment is shown in FIGS. 17A-17E. In at least one embodiment, the winder device includes two spool sides, adapted for positioning on either side of the spool. One of skill in the art will appreciate that in at least one embodiment, the winder device has no spool sides, and in other embodiments, the winder device has only one spool side, and in still other embodiments, the spool sides are formed integrally with the spool.

[0297] In at least one embodiment, the winder device 1200 includes a front spool side 1228 and a back spool side 1224. The front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 are adapted to interconnect with the spool 1232. In one embodiment, the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 are shaped as a substantially flat or planar torus (doughnut-shaped) and have a first face 1700, a second face 1704, an outer diameter 1708, and an inner diameter 1712. In at least one embodiment, the second face 1704 of the back spool side 1224 is adapted to abut a front surface 1400 of the back housing 1212 and the second face 1704 of the front spool side 1228 is adapted to abut a back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216.

[0298] In addition, in at least one embodiment, a plurality of projections 1716 positioned on the first face 1700 of the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 are positioned proximate to the inner diameter 1712. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the plurality of projections 1716 may be spaced equidistantly, non-equidistantly, or other configuration, around the perimeter of the inner diameter 1712. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of projections 1716 have a dowel pin or cylindrical rod shape. The plurality of projections 1716 are adapted to be received by corresponding fastening means, i.e., in corresponding holes on the front and back surfaces 1604 and 1608 of the spool 1232. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the plurality of projections 1716 may have various shapes and/or geometry, so long as the spool 1232 has corresponding or mating fastening means. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of fastening mechanisms, including screws, rivets, retaining rings, snap fits, or glues and other adhesives, can be used to interconnect the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 to the spool 1232.

[0299] In at least one embodiment, the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 are substantially identical parts. One of skill in the art will appreciate that using front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 that are substantially identical decreases the number of different component parts that need to be manufactured and increases the throughput of manufactured parts. However, one of skill in the art can also appreciate that in some embodiments, it may be desirable to have front and back spool sides that are not substantially identical parts. For example, in other embodiments, the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 have different fastening mechanisms, are made from different materials, or have different dimensions. In another embodiment, the front and back spool sides 1228 and 1224 are integrally formed with the spool. In still other embodiments, the winder device only includes one spool side.

[0300] In at least one embodiment, the spool side(s) are made from Delrin. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the spool side may be made from any number of thermoplastics having high stiffness, low friction, and good dimensional stability. Moreover, in at least one embodiment, the spool side(s) are manufactured as an integral piece using an injection molding process.

[0301] Referring now to FIGS. 18A-18C, a biased member is illustrated. The biased member may be a mainspring or a coil spring, in a biased condition. In at least one embodiment, the biased member is a drive spring (mainspring) 1236. The drive spring 1236 includes a first end tab 1800 and a second end tab 1804. The first end tab 1800 is adapted to engage the spring anchor 1516 on the axle 1220. In at least one embodiment, the first end tab 1800 further includes an approximately 90 degree bend that interconnects the drive spring 1236 to the axle 1220. The second end tab 1804 is adapted to engage the spring slot 1632 on the spool 1232. In at least one embodiment, the second end tab 1804 includes a 180 degree U-shaped bend that interconnects the drive spring 1236 to the spool 1232. The width W of the drive spring 1236 in at least one embodiment is designed to fit within the hollow portion 1624 of the spool 1232. The drive spring 1236 may also include metal ribbon made from a strip of blue steel, steel alloy, carbon steel alloy, or other metal alloys (i.e., iron, nickel and chromium with colbalt, molybdenum, or beryllium). Moreover, in at least one embodiment, in a non-compressed (or un-stressed) state, the drive spring 1236 includes ten or more turns and is adapted to provide at least about 0.5 inch-pounds of torque, and more preferably about 0.8 inch-pounds of torque.

[0302] Turning now to FIGS. 19A-19H, a pawl 1240 of at least one embodiment is shown. The pawl 1240 generally includes an outer surface 1900, a front surface 1904, a back surface 1908, and an aperture 1912 between the front and back surfaces 1904 and 1908. In at least one embodiment, the front surface 1904 of the pawl 1240 is adapted to abut at least a portion of the button 1244, and the back surface 1908 of the pawl 1240 is adapted to abut at least a portion of the spool 1232.

[0303] On at least a portion of the outer surface 1900 pawl teeth 1916 are provided. The pawl teeth 1916 are adapted to selectively and operably engage the teeth 1644 on the front edge 1636 of the spool 1232. The number of pawl teeth 1916 may vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the size of the winder device 1200, and the size of the cables/cords to be retained in the winder device 1200, among others.

[0304] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 19A and 19G, the front surface 1904 of at least one embodiment includes a projection 1920 adapted to engage a complementary portion of the button 1244 (discussed below). As shown in FIG. 19A, the projection 1920 is substantially D-shaped. In alternative embodiments, the projection 1920 may have a number of different configurations, including a cylindrical, conical, or polygonal projection. Moreover, in at least one embodiment, the projection has a surface treatment such as a texturizing coating (not shown) on at least a portion thereof to enhance the surface contact between the projection 1920 and the button 1244.

[0305] Referring now to FIGS. 19A and 19B, the aperture 1912 is be adapted to interconnect to the front housing 1216. In at least one embodiment, the aperture 1912 is adapted to receive at least a portion of the back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216.

[0306] Referring now to FIGS. 20A-20H, the front housing 1216 of at least one embodiment is shown. The front housing 1216 generally includes a front interior surface 2000, a back surface 2004, and an aperture 2008 therethrough. The front housing 1216 is generally configured to interconnect to the back housing 1212 and to the front cover plate 1208.

[0307] Referring specifically to FIGS. 20B and 20H, the back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216 is shown. In at least one embodiment, the back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216 is adapted to engage the pawl 1240. The back surface 2004 may include a projection or other structure adapted to interconnect to the corresponding aperture 1912 of the pawl 1240. The size, shape, and position of the projection 2012 may vary depending on the configuration of the pawl 1240. In the embodiment shown, the projection 2012 is cylindrical. In at least one embodiment, the projection 1212 is proximate the aperture 2008.

[0308] In at least some embodiments, the back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216 also includes a spool side area 2016 adapted to abut at least a portion of the front spool side 1228. In some embodiments, the spool side area 2016 is recessed such that at least a portion of the front spool side 1228 sits within the spool side area 2016.

[0309] Referring specifically now to FIGS. 20A and 20G, in at least one embodiment, the front interior surface 2000 of the front housing 2016 generally includes a first raised portion 2020 that is shaped to mate with or otherwise engage a corresponding portion of the front cover plate 1208. In at least one embodiment, the first raised portion 2020 is disc-shaped. The front interior surface 2000 of the front housing 1216 of at least one embodiment also includes a button receiver 2024. The button receiver 2024 is adapted to receive the button 1244. The button receiver 2024 is preferably positioned such that the aperture 2008 passes therethrough. In some embodiments, the button receiver 2024 is recessed relative to the first raised portion 2020. The size and shape of the button receiver 2024 may vary depending on the size of shape of the button 1244. In at least one embodiment, the button receiver 2024 has a clip 2028 adapted to interconnect to at least a portion of the button 1244.

[0310] Referring now to FIGS. 20A and 20B, the aperture 2008 of at least one embodiment is adapted to allow at least a portion of the pawl 1240 to pass therethrough. The shape of the aperture may vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the size of the winder device, size of the pawl, etc. In at least one embodiment, the aperture 2008 has a generally kidney-bean shape. In operation, the position of the pawl 1240 in the aperture 2008 varies depending on the position of the button 1244.

[0311] In at least one embodiment, the back surface 2004 of the front housing 1216 is adapted to interconnect with the front surface 1400 of the back housing 1212. Referring now to FIGS. 20D-20E, the front housing 1216 includes top and bottom struts 2032 and 2036. In at least some embodiments, the top and bottom struts 2032 and 2036 are integrally formed with the front housing 1216. For example, in at least one embodiment, the front housing 1216 includes integral top and bottom struts 2032 and 2036 and is manufactured using an injection molding process. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom struts 2032 and 2036 are adapted to fasten the front housing 1216 to the back housing 1212 by a press fit. In at least one embodiment, the front housing's top strut 2032 has pins 2040 and at least one bore 2044 to mate with the corresponding bores and pins on the back housing's top strut 1436. The bottom strut 2036 of the front housing 1216 of some embodiments includes a bracket 2048 protruding out therefrom and which is adapted to be received in the bracket receiving space 1452 of the bottom strut 1440 of the back housing 1212. In alternative embodiments, various fastening devices are used to interconnect the front and back housings 1216 and 1212.

[0312] Referring now to FIGS. 20A and 20G, in at least one embodiment, the front interior surface 2000 of the front housing 1216 is further adapted to interconnect to the front cover plate 1208. The front housing 1216 of at least one embodiment includes a screw receiving hole 2052. One of skill in the art will appreciate the screw receiving hole 2052 may be positioned in numerous locations on the front housing 1216. In at least one embodiment, the screw receiving hole 2052 is positioned proximate the top strut 2032.

[0313] Referring now to FIGS. 21A-2H, the button 1244 of at least one embodiment is illustrated. The button 1244 generally includes a front face 2100 and a back face 2104 and is adapted to interconnect to the front housing 1216 and front cover plate 1208. In at least one embodiment, the back face 2104 of the button 1244 is adapted to abut the button receiver 2024 on the front interior surface 2000 of the front housing 1216.

[0314] The back face 2104 of the button 1244 is also generally adapted to engage at least a portion of the pawl 1240. In at least some embodiments, the back face 2104 includes a pawl receiver 2108. The pawl receiver 2108 may be shaped to correspond to the shape of the pawl's projection 1920. In at least one embodiment, the pawl receiver 2108 is substantially D-shaped (to interconnect to the D-shaped projection 1920 on the pawl 1240). In other embodiments, the pawl receiver 2108 may be substantially O-shaped, polygonally shaped, or conically shaped to receive a corresponding pawl projection.

[0315] In at least one embodiment, the back face 2104 of the button 1244 also includes a spring receiver 2112. In at least some embodiments, the spring receiver 2112 is configured as a longitudinal slot that is adapted for receiving the clip 2028 (on the front housing 1216) and a biased member, such as a button spring 1248. When assembled, the clip 2028 is proximate the biased member 1248.

[0316] The front face 2100 of the button 1244 may include additional surface features. For example, in at least one embodiment, the front face 2100 has a direction indicator 2116 and a ornamental design 2120. One of skill in the art can appreciate that the direction indicator 2116 may help facilitate use of the winder device 1200 and the ornamental design 2120 may be desirable for product branding and brand recognition.

[0317] Referring now to FIGS. 22A-22C, a biased member is illustrated. In at least one embodiment, the biased member is a coil or helical button spring 1248. The button spring 1248 may be made from a number of materials, including stainless steel. The button spring 1248 is generally adapted for positioning within the button's spring receiver 2112. The button spring 1248 is designed to store and release a sufficient amount of energy such that when the button 1244 is moved from a first position of use to a second position of use, the button spring 1248 is loaded (i.e., compressed or biased against the clip 2028) and when the button 1244 is moved from the second position of use to the first position of use, the button spring 1248 is unloaded (i.e., expands away from the clip 2028). After disengaging the pawl teeth 1916 from the teeth 1644 on the spool 1232 (as discussed above, i.e., by pulling slightly on the cord/cable) the movement of the button 1244 rotates the pawl teeth 1916 away from the teeth 1644 on the spool 1232.

[0318] With reference now to FIGS. 23A-23H, the front cover plate 1208 of at least one embodiment is shown. The front cover plate 1208 generally includes a front surface 2300, a back surface 2304, and a window 2308 therebetween. The back surface 2304 may include a first recessed portion 2312. The first recessed portion 2312 may be adapted to receive a mating portion on the front interior surface 2000 of the front housing 1216. In at least one embodiment, the first recessed portion 2312 is disc-shaped and adapted to engage the first raised portion 2020 of the front housing 2016. In at least one embodiment, the back surface 2304 also includes a second recessed portion 2316 that is adapted to engage at least a portion of the front face 2100 of the button 1244. The window 2308 is positioned such that at least a portion of the front face 2100 of the button 1244 extends at least partially therethrough. In some embodiments, when the button 1244 is aligned in the window 2308 of the front cover plate 1208, the button 1244 is substantially flush with the front surface 2300 of the front cover plate 1208. In other embodiments, the button 1244 extends beyond the front surface 2300 of the front cover plate 1208.

[0319] The front cover plate 1208 also includes top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324 are integrally formed with the front cover plate 1208. For example, in at least one embodiment, the front cover plate 1208 includes integral top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324. The top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324 are adapted to fasten the front cover plate 1208 to the front housing 1216. In at least one embodiment, the top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324 mechanically interconnect to the front housing 1216 by a snap fit. The top and bottom brackets 2320 and 2324 may include a raised lip 2328 to enhance the snap fit design. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of fasteners may be used to interconnect the front cover plate 1208 and the back housing 1212, such as a screws, rivets, pins, retaining rings, clamps, threaded fasteners, or glues and other adhesives.

[0320] In at least one embodiment, the back surface 2304 of the front cover plate 1208 further includes a surface treatment or material, such as a non-slip, grippable, or traction providing treatment (not shown) that facilitate a user's handling and manipulation of the winder device 1200. Similarly, depending on the application, it is envisioned that the front surface 2300 of the front cover plate 1208 includes shock absorbing, drop resistant, or other impact resistant material (not shown) to further protect the winder device 1200 from damage. It is further envisioned, that the front cover plate 1208 include decals or other ornamental features to enhance the marketability of the winder device 1200.

[0321] It is to be understood that the cord winding devices described herein may be used for a variety of cords and cables for a variety of purposes and industries. Storing headphone cords and kitchen appliance cables are but a few possible applications for utilizing the winder device. Moreover, as one of skill in the art can appreciate that the dimensions of the winder device may be sized up or down depending on the application and the type of cord/cable used.

[0322] Referring now to FIGS. 24A-24F, a spool 2400 of another embodiment is shown. This spool configuration may be particularly desirable and useful for larger winder applications that require a larger spool. Should the particular application or use dictate that the winder device have a larger size (i.e., to accommodate larger cables/cords having a larger radius of curvature), instead of re-sizing and manufacturing all of the component parts for the winder, the spool 2400 may be re-configured to work with a smaller pawl. Unlike the spool's discussed above, the front surface 2404 of the spool 2400 includes a first face 2408 having a first diameter D1 and a second face 2412, having a second diameter D2. In this configuration, the grasping members are interconnected to the second face 2412. Like the spools discussed above, the first face 2408 has teeth 2416 to operably engage the pawl teeth. Because the teeth 2416 are positioned on the first face 2408, the dimensions of the pawl and pawl teeth do not need to be increased, rather the overall size of the spool 2400 may be increased simply by having a second face 2412 with a larger diameter D2. The structural stability and/or strength of the spool 2400 may be increased by further including a plurality of radially extending struts (not shown) that interconnect the first and second faces 2408 and 2412. The second face 2412 may be slotted 2420 to receive mating projections 2500 positioned on the spool sides 2500. FIGS. 25A-25E show the spool side(s) adapted for use with the spool 2400. The projections 2504 are sized to selectively interconnect to the second face 2412 of the spool 2400.

[0323] Referring now to FIGS. 26A-26E a spool 2600 of another embodiment is shown. This spool configuration may be desirable when a low-profile or recessed spool would be useful for the particular winder application. In this embodiment, the grasping members 2604 are integrated into the spool's outer periphery 2608.

[0324] In still other embodiment of the present inventions, the winder device is configured to mate with an existing device, such as a portable DVD player, an MP3 player, a smartphone, or other commercially popular devices. FIGS. 27A-27D illustrate an exemplary embodiment of a winder device 2700 adapted to work with an APPLE brand IPHONE or IPOD. One of skill in the art will appreciate IPHONE/IPOD users typically carry headphones or earbuds with them so that they may watch television, movies, and to listen to music. The winder device 2700 provides a way to safely store and protect the associated earbuds/headphones unobtrusively.

[0325] One of skill in the art will appreciate that the structure shown in FIGS. 27A-27D is consistent with the embodiments previously described in detail herein. That is, similar in structure to the embodiments discussed herein, the winder device 2700 generally includes back and front housings 2704 and 2708, back and front spool sides 2712 and 2716, a spool 2720, a drive spring (not shown), a pawl 2728, a button 2732, and button spring (not shown). The winder device 2700 may also include a spacer 2740. In at least one embodiment, the spacer 2740 includes an aperture 2744 and the front surface 2748 also includes a projection 2752. The aperture 2744 and the projection 2752 are adapted to interconnect with the pawl 2728. The front housing 2708 of the winder device 2700 may also include an aperture 2756 that is configured to allow at least a portion of an axle 2760 to pass therethrough. One of skill in the art will readily recognize the desirability and advantages to storing earphones/earbuds and the desired device (e.g., smartphone) together in a protective housing.

[0326] With reference now to FIGS. 28A-C and 29, in at least one embodiment a winder device includes a biased member, such as a mainspring or flat coil spring, in a biased condition. A means for grasping an interior region of a folded or overlapped cord, such as a hook (as shown in FIG. 29), is operatively associated with the mainspring. Accordingly, the cord can be overlapped and engaged with the hook (see FIGS. 28A and 29). Thereafter, a spring release trigger, such as button, is depressed (as shown in FIG. 28B), thereby causing the cord to be pulled into the winder device and to be wound around an inner spool. Both portions of the cord are adjacent each other and enter the same aperture, thereby allowing the cord plugs to reside adjacent one another (as shown in FIG. 28C). Alternatively, the fold in the cord can be located closer to one end than the other, and then the fold can be engaged with the hook. Advantageously, in such a configuration cord plugs can be established at different distances from the winder.

[0327] As those skilled in the art will appreciate, in at least one embodiment the winder device is separate from the cord. Accordingly, the winder device may be sold in a separate package. The consumer then uses the winder device with any given cord to wind the cord into the winder device. By way of example, a user could purchase the winder device for use with stereo speaker wiring, and thereafter engage a folded portion of the speaker wire into the winder device to wind excess portions of the speaker wire.

[0328] With reference now to FIG. 30, the cord grasping element may take on a variety of different forms, and are not limited to a hook. By way of example and not limitation, the V-shaped cord engaging mechanism of FIG. 30 uses friction to hold the cord and allow the winder device to pull the cord into its frame. In at least one embodiment, a cord engaging mechanism includes texturing or a plurality of surficial features to assist with grabbing the cord.

[0329] With reference now to FIG. 31, a plurality of winder devices are shown in a stacked configuration. In accordance with at least one embodiment, the winder frames include a tongue and groove structure and/or other engaging mechanism for allowing the winder frames to be stacked. The winder frames may further include a releasable lock structure, such as a biased catch that allows a first winder to releasably interlock with a second winder.

[0330] In accordance with one or more embodiments of the present invention, a winder device uses a ratchet and pawl system for releasably securing the spring from unwinding. As shown in FIG. 28B, a button can be depressed that releases the spring and retracts the cord. In at least one embodiment the button is located near the center of one side of the winder. In an alternative embodiment, the winder utilizes a squeeze release, wherein the spring releases when the two halves of the winder are squeezed together. In another embodiment, a cam or other lock-and-release mechanism will be positioned on the outer perimeter of the spool.

[0331] Embodiments of the winder device described herein may be used in connection with a wide variety of electrically operated devices. FIGS. 32A and 32B show a winder device in accordance with at least some of the embodiments described herein used in connection with a coffee maker. FIG. 33 shows a winder device in accordance with the embodiments described herein used in connection with a blow dryer. FIG. 34 shows a winder device in accordance with the embodiments described herein used in connection with a handheld/mobile device. FIG. 35 shows a winder device in accordance with the embodiments described herein used in connection with a lamp. As can be seen in FIG. 35, the two portions of the cord can be different distance relative to the lamp. That is, the distance between the socket and the winder is a different distance than the distance between the winder and the lamp.

[0332] The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

[0333] The one or more present inventions, in various embodiments, include components, methods, processes, systems and/or apparatus substantially as depicted and described herein, including various embodiments, subcombinations, and subsets thereof. Those of skill in the art will understand how to make and use the present invention after understanding the present disclosure.

[0334] The present invention, in various embodiments, includes providing devices and processes in the absence of items not depicted and/or described herein or in various embodiments hereof, including in the absence of such items as may have been used in previous devices or processes (e.g., for improving performance, achieving ease and/or reducing cost of implementation).

[0335] The foregoing discussion of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. The foregoing is not intended to limit the invention to the form or forms disclosed herein. In the foregoing Detailed Description for example, various features of the invention are grouped together in one or more embodiments for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed invention requires more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in less than all features of a single foregoing disclosed embodiment. Thus, the following claims are hereby incorporated into this Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0336] Moreover, though the description of the invention has included description of one or more embodiments and certain variations and modifications, other variations and modifications are within the scope of the invention (e.g., as may be within the skill and knowledge of those in the art, after understanding the present disclosure). It is intended to obtain rights which include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted, including alternate, interchangeable and/or equivalent structures, functions, ranges or steps to those claimed, whether or not such alternate, interchangeable and/or equivalent structures, functions, ranges or steps are disclosed herein, and without intending to publicly dedicate any patentable subject matter.

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