Whirlpool has been granted a patent for a shelf assembly for refrigerators. The assembly includes a frame with front and rear channels, a panel with ends that fit into the channels, and a spacer assembly that clips onto the rear frame member to retain the panel. The assembly also includes a support ledge and retaining members to secure a glass panel in place. GlobalData’s report on Whirlpool gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Whirlpool, smart home appliances was a key innovation area identified from patents. Whirlpool's grant share as of September 2023 was 67%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Shelf assembly for refrigerator with retaining member for glass panel

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Whirlpool Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11774169B2) describes a shelf assembly with a unique design for securely holding a glass panel. The assembly includes a frame assembly with front and rear frame members that define a receiving area. A support ledge extends inwardly from the front and rear frame members into the receiving area. The glass panel is positioned on the support ledge, with its first end received on the front portion of the ledge and its second end received on the rear portion. The second end of the glass panel has at least one corner with an outwardly extending tab positioned between recesses in the panel.

To ensure the secure placement of the glass panel, the assembly includes retaining members. These retaining members have a planar body portion with mounting bosses extending outwardly from the lower surface. The retaining members are positioned over the corners of the glass panel, with the mounting bosses received in the recesses. This arrangement helps to hold the glass panel firmly in place within the shelf assembly.

The frame assembly of the shelf assembly includes side frame members that connect the front and rear frame members, forming a peripheral frame assembly. Within this peripheral frame assembly, there are retaining tabs vertically spaced-apart from the front portion of the support ledge. These retaining tabs help to further secure the glass panel. In one configuration, a portion of the first end of the glass panel is received under one of the retaining tabs. In another configuration, the first end of the glass panel is received between two retaining tabs and the front portion of the support ledge.

The patent also describes an alternative embodiment of the shelf assembly. In this embodiment, the peripheral frame assembly includes first and second side frame members that define a receiving area. The support ledge extends inwardly from the front and rear frame members, as well as the first and second side frame members. The panel is positioned on the support ledge, with its first end received on the front portion of the ledge and its second end received on the rear portion. The second end of the panel has corners with outwardly extending tabs positioned between recesses. Retaining members are positioned over these corners, with their mounting bosses received in the recesses.

Overall, this patent presents a unique and secure design for a shelf assembly that can hold a glass panel effectively. The combination of the frame assembly, support ledge, retaining tabs, and retaining members ensures the stability and safety of the glass panel within the assembly.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.