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Patent: To Assemble Inexpensive Furniture For Your Office
Patent: To Assemble Inexpensive Furniture For Your Office | dal_ftw_txbz, Carl Brock Brandenburg, Legare, patent, 8220398, modular furniture,

Carl Brock Brandenburg of Fort Worth recently received U.S. Patent 8,220,398 for “Modular Furniture System.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  A Texas man has devised a new type of furniture that can be inexpensively assembled and reassembled, depending on floorplans. 

Carl Brock Brandenburg of Fort Worth recently received U.S. Patent 8,220,398 for “Modular Furniture System.”

Brandenburg applied for the patent more than eight years ago on April 12, 2004.

The patent assignee is Legare LP of Fort Worth.

Brandenburg’s invention relates to interlocking modular furniture, according to the patent documents. More particularly, the present invention relates to an assembly method for ready-to-assemble furniture made from planar material. 

The internet has caused an incredible growth in the number of new businesses established to take advantage of products and services that can be sold and distributed over the internet. These businesses typically begin as small, private businesses that require but cannot afford the overhead that an already established, profitable company can.

Nevertheless, these new businesses still have many of the same office needs as established companies, including suitable office furniture for employees. 

The internet has also allowed many established businesses to change their working environments and allow employees to work from home in what is generally known as telecommuting. In telecommuting, employees work from home using the internet to access all the information and services required to complete their work. Telecommuting has helped companies reduce the size of their offices, but it has only transferred the responsibility of outfitting the employee's home office with suitable furniture to the employee. 

In both the small company and the home office environment, there is a desire for cost-effective office furniture that is both functional and stylish. In the small, start-up company, the emphasis is on unique style and functionality. In the home office environment, the emphasis is on comfort and matching an existing decor. In the small company, there is usually no one responsible for facility management, and the burden lies on a subset of the employees to choose, purchase, configure, assemble, and maintain the office furniture. In the home, it is the responsibility of the employee to perform these tasks. As a result, the furniture selected must be easy to configure, assemble, and maintain, in addition to being stylish, functional, and affordable. 

Office furniture can be categorized into two basic categories--case goods and modular systems.  Casegoods are freestanding furniture components typically found in offices that have individual rooms for employees, and they usually include complete desks, filing systems, and shelf units. Casegoods lack modularity and are simply separate furniture components that are set beside one another. For this reason, casegoods typically lack the style that small companies desire. Casegoods usually come pre-assembled because of their complex design, and are typically too large for the home environment since casegoods are rarely designed to fit through narrower doorways and into the smaller spaces typically found in the home. Although some small, inexpensive components are available through local office supplies from manufacturers such as O'Sullivan and Rubbermaid, their styling is typically very dull, and their quality is low, being manufactured from laminated particle board, sheet metal, and blow-molded plastic, Brandenburg said in his patent documents. Furthermore, although some stylish and more attractive components are available from manufacturers, such as the Beirise Collection, the TJ Collection from Herman Miller, Docker and Roadworks from Steelcase, and Tripoli and Varia from Haworth, these components are extremely expensive, and are typically purchased only by very profitable companies or individuals. 

In contrast, modular systems consist of components that can be configured and assembled for a particular office environment, then disassembled, reconfigured and reassembled to satisfy changing needs. Components of modular systems include vertical support panels, work surfaces, shelving, and storage systems that can be assembled in many different configurations. Modular systems are designed for large office spaces that will be broken up by the furniture itself which is typically configured to form individual cubicles for employees. Thus, modular systems are not well suited for small office spaces or a home environment where they do not integrate well with existing decor. Such modular systems also require a certain level of expertise to configure and assemble them. Modular systems are engineered to have a very long service life and are very expensive, out of the reach of all but the most profitable companies. Although modular systems can be purchased as used or reconditioned, this market is small, and there are few retail outlets where a buyer can go and shop to find used furniture in good condition. These modular systems include such systems as Action Office and Ethospace from Herman Miller, Context and Series 9000 from Steelcase, and Causeway and Unigroup from Haworth. There are less expensive lines of furniture available, but the quality of the furniture is typically low, because the manufacturers strive to provide all the features of the more expensive systems at a much lower cost, but cannot do so without reducing the quality of manufacture. As a result, existing modular systems are neither cost effective nor appropriate for small office or home use. 

As a result neither existing casegoods nor existing modular furniture systems provide cost-effective, functional, and stylish furniture that can be configured and assembled by persons without a certain level of expertise in facility management or in assembling such furniture. 

As a result, Brandenburg invented a modular furniture system having planar vertical components having slots and/or tabs, and planar horizontal components having slots and/or tabs, wherein the vertical components and the horizontal components releasably and interlockingly mate with each other to form a plurality of different pieces of furniture.