Patent application title: Trophy Interlocking Connector
William S. Schwartz (Land O Lakes, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47G3300FI
Class name: Stock material or miscellaneous articles decorative article trophy or memento (e.g., preserved artifact, etc.)
Publication date: 2015-10-29
Patent application number: 20150305539
The present invention to provide a trophy assembly that can be assembled
quickly and easily by using a connection insert in the base and
optionally in top attachments that eliminates the need for the threaded
rods and associated hardware of conventional trophy assemblies.
It consists of a tubular column having molded or extruded ribs positioned
longitudinally and circumferentially around the inside surface that are
slotted to engage clips in a base connection (or top) insert; abuse (or
top) connector insert (mounting ring) that is generally circular and
cylindrical, dimensioned such that the outer cylindrical sidewall is
substantially equal to the diameter of a recess cut into the trophy base
The connection insert has interference members that project outwardly
from that cylindrical surface to provide an interference fit with the
sidewall of recess when the insert is pressed into the recess in the
It is also methods of assembling trophies using the assembly above
1. A trophy assembly comprising a base, a hollow tubular column, and an
connection insert receivable into a recess in the base, wherein the
column has a first column end, an opposed second column end and a
longitudinally extending central axis and an interior column surface
having a plurality of inwardly and longitudinally extending ribs affixed
to interior column surface and being configured and dimensioned to be
received within connection insert; the base has an upper surface and a
lower surface, with the recess being formed into its upper surface, the
base recess having an annular surface and a bottom surface spaced from
the base upper surface, the annular surface being generally normal to the
base upper side and extending from the base upper surface to the recess
bottom surface; and wherein the connection insert comprises a mounting
ring and a column-retaining clip, the mounting ring comprising an annular
ring including a lower portion having an external annular surface
dimensioned to be inserted as a press fit into the base recess and an
internal annular surface of the ring to receive insertion of one end of
the tubular column; the column-retaining clip comprises a sloped
unsupported end and a lower stop; the column ribs each have a slot lying
in a plane that is generally normal to central axis and proximal the
first column end, the slots being configured and dimensioned such that
the column retaining clips engage the slots when the first column end is
placed over the column-retaining clip and rotated; the stop is configured
and dimensioned to engage at least one of the ribs substantially upon
column-retaining stop contact the slots; and whereby the base and the
column are joined, the lower stop resists over-rotation.
2. A trophy assembly according to claim 1, wherein the connection inserts further comprises; at least one radially deflectable pressure tab extending radially inwardly of the internal ring surface, such that insertion of the tubular column within the ring will deflect pressure tab radially outwardly, the pressure tab or tabs having a support portion and an unsupported end portion extending generally radially outwardly of the support portion and being dimensioned such that, when a tubular column is inserted, the unsupported ends are deflected to extend outwardly of ring external annular surface to contact the base recess wall surface to effect an interference fit between pressure tabs and base recess annular surface, whereby a rigid fit is provided between the base recess and the ring and its inserted tubular column.
3. The trophy of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of pressure bars spaced circumferentially about the insert mounting ring.
4. The trophy assembly of claim 1 wherein there is a slot cut into at least one sidewall of the base recess and a mating projection attached to the sidewall ring of the connection insert that fits into the recess slot so that the insert can only be inserted into the recess with the insert projection fitted into the base slot, thus ensuring correct and consistent orientation of the insert into the base.
5. The trophy assembly of claim 1 wherein the mounting ring has an upper portion comprising a flange extending radially outwardly of said ring lower portion and dimensioned to engage the portion of said base upper surface surrounding said base recess to prevent further axial insertion of said base recess.
6. The trophy assembly of claim 1, wherein at least one of the column-retaining clips has a cut-out section in its underside and is configured and dimensioned such that upon rotation of column, the column-retaining clip with the cutout section is deflected by one of ribs, and is released after passing the rib slot on the engaged column rib when the column is rotated, and thus resists reverse rotation.
7. The trophy assembly of claim 6 further comprises an aperture extending through the base lower surface and the recess bottom surface, the aperture being positioned to provide access to a column-retaining clip with a cutout section from below the base through the aperture, whereby a release probe may be inserted through the aperture from below the base lower surface and into the recess to engage and deflect upwardly the column-retaining chip, whereby the column may be released from connection insert and base by inserting probe, and rotating the column.
8. The trophy assembly of claim 6, wherein the underside surface of the column-retaining clip with a cutout section includes a probe recess for receiving the probe, whereby, when the release probe is inserted through the base it will fit into the probe recess of the column-retaining clip with a cutout section thereby ensuring proper location of the probe.
9. The trophy assembly of claim 1, further comprising a figure or figurine, wherein figure or figurine has an connection insert attached to the underside thereof, and the connection insert has clips that are configured and dimensioned to engage at least one of column rib slots when the figure is placed over the column second end and rotated, whereby the column upper end and the figure are joined.
10. The trophy assembly of claim 9 further comprising a trophy top structure having a recess to accept a connection insert, or having the clip portion of a connection insert without the side bars or tabs attached to its underside to enable attachment to the top of the column or having a lid with a recess on its underside to accept a connection insert, or having the clip portion of a connection insert without the side bars or tabs attached to its underside to enable attachment to the top of the column.
11. The trophy assembly of claim 1, further comprising a column lid, wherein the column lid has a connection insert without the side bars or tabs affixed to the underside thereof, and the connection insert has a clip configured and dimensioned to engage at least one of column ribs when the lid is placed over column second end and rotated, whereby the column upper end and the lid are joined.
12. The trophy assembly of claim 11, wherein the lid has means for attaching other structures thereto.
13. A method assembling a trophy having a base with a recessed opening in the top side, a tubular column having ribs disposed longitudinally on the inside surface with slots cut into the ribs at a position proximate the column end, comprising; inserting a connection insert into a recessed opening in the trophy base; inserting the column lower section into the connection insert, the recess and column diameter being configured and dimensioned such that when the column is inserted it forms a compression fit of the insert into the recess; and rotating the column to engage slots in the column ribs with spring clips in the connection insert.
14. The method of claim 13 further comprising providing a top structure having a top connection insert attached to the underside thereof, the connection insert having clips orientated in an opposite direction from the connection insert of the base insert, inserting the top of the column into the top connection insert; and rotating the column to engage slots in the column top and bottom sections to engage clips in the base and top connection inserts.
15. The method of claim 13 wherein the connection insert comprises; at least one radially deflectable pressure tab extending radially inwardly of the internal ring surface, such that insertion of a tubular column within the connection insert will deflect the pressure tab radially outwardly, wherein the pressure tab have a support portion and an unsupported end extending generally radially outwardly of the support portion and being dimensioned such that, when a tubular column is inserted, the unsupported ends are deflected to extend outwardly of ring external annular surface to contact the base recess wall surface to effect an interference fit between engaging element and base recess annular surface, whereby a rigid fit is provided between the base recess and the ring and its inserted tubular column.
16. The method of claim 13 wherein there is a slot cut into at least on sidewall of the base recess and a mating projection attached to the sidewall ring of the connection insert that fits into the recess slot so that the insert can only be inserted into the recess with the insert projection fitted into the base slot, thus ensuring correct and consistent orientation of the insert into the base.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 The present invention claims priority of the provisional application Ser. No. 61/985182 which was filed on Apr. 28, 2014, the figures and disclosure of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for all purposes.
 1. Field of Invention
 This invention relates to trophy assemblies having tubular columns, bases and top structures (typically figurines) sold by awards dealers and typically used to commemorate sports victories and other achievements.
 2. Background
 Typical conventional trophy assemblies such as illustrated in FIG. 8 hereof comprise a base, a lower lid, a column, an upper lid and a figure or other structure symbolic of the achievement or award. Larger trophy assemblies may comprise additional columns mounted to create multi-level trophies with the figure on the top with other decorative elements elsewhere in the assembly. Historically, trophies utilizing columns have been assembled using threaded rods that run through the base, the lower lid, the column, and the upper lid, and then attach to the figure using a coupler. A nut is then used to secure the base to the rod and compress the base, lower lid, column, upper lid, and figure together, thereby creating a rigid assembly.
 The conventional threaded rod design has several disadvantages. One disadvantage is that the nut, threaded rod, coupler, and lids (the "hardware") contribute more than about 50% of the number of components of a typical small trophy. This impacts the cost and weight of the final assembly, increases inventory and freight expenses, and requires substantial space for inventory. More importantly, assembling even the smallest of such trophies is a labor intensive process, typically requiring many discrete steps, including rotations and alignments of components. Accordingly, the average awards dealer must incur high labor costs, often necessitating the hiring of part time employees and payment for numerous overtime hours, to repeatedly complete this laborious process in order to have a sufficient number of awards ready in time for awards ceremonies during peak season. These disadvantages arise primarily from the structural design being based on threaded rods and compression for structural rigidity.
 U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496 (incorporated by reference in its entirety) discloses a trophy assembly having a base with an integral lower clip structure, a column with interior column ribs, in which the lower clip is adapted (as by slots) to engage the column ribs, thereby joining the base and the column when the column is placed over the clip and rotated. The patent discloses a plastic base for use in a trophy assembly having a base and a column, wherein the base has in integral clip structure adapted to engage slots on the interior surface of the column. Further, the patent discloses a similar means to attach a figure (or other adornment or structure) to the top of a tubular column for use in a trophy assembly. The patent is restricted to having a connecting structure made as an integral part of a plastic base. U.S. published application 2009/0146025, for which U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496 is a continuation-in-part discloses basically the same system but with the attachment structure being a non-integral component attached to the base by a variety of means. Since the patent disclosure requires an integral connection of the attachment means to the base it is limited to plastic bases and plastic bases represents only about 45% of the market. The present invention provides attachment means to work with the remaining 55% that uses wooden, marble and composite bases.
 It is an object of the present invention to provide a trophy assembly that can be assembled quickly and easily by using a column design and interlocking base and top attachments that enables the column itself to become a structural element that holds the assembly together, thereby eliminating the need for the threaded rods and associated hardware.
 It is a further object of this invention to provide a method of assembling trophies that eliminates the need for steps involving the use of a threaded rod, such method comprising selecting bases, columns, and upper members or figures, forming slots in the column ribs, and joining the base, column and upper members together by rotating the column member onto clips so that the clips engage the ribs. Other objects and advantages of the present invention are made clear to those skilled in the art by the following description of the presently preferred embodiments thereof. The present invention can reduce the number of parts needed by 50% or more and reduce the time for assembly by 50% or more.
 Fewer parts and saving in labor cost provides major advantages for t assembly and methods of the present invention.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention eliminates the need for almost all of the hardware components needed for conventional trophy assemblies and is far less labor intensive. Additionally it allows a trophy column to be connected to a trophy base that is formed from wood, marble, plastic, polymer, composite materials or other appropriate materials.
 In some embodiments the invention is a method of assembling trophies using the assembly components above described
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The invention may be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which, like reference numerals identify like elements, and in which:
 FIG. 1A illustrates a top perspective view of the trophy connection insert of the present invention;
 FIG. 1B illustrates a bottom perspective view of the trophy connection insert of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 illustrates another top perspective view of the trophy connection insert for a column top structure of the present invention;
 FIG. 3 illustrates a bottom perspective view of the trophy connection insert for a column top structure of the present invention;
 FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of the trophy connection of the present invention;
 FIG. 5 illustrates a bottom view of the trophy connection of the present invention;
 FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of the trophy connection of the present invention;
 FIG. 7 illustrates a trophy employing the connection insert of the present invention;
 FIG. 8 illustrates a prior art trophy assembly;
 FIG. 9 illustrates a sectional view of the flexible tab in a first position of the present invention prior to insertion of a column;
 FIG. 10 illustrates a sectional view of the flexible tab in a second position of the present invention after a column is inserted;
 FIG. 11 illustrates a sectional view of the trophy connection in a second position with the column pushing down on the inside edge of the tabs;
 FIG. 12 illustrates a sectional view of the trophy connection insert in a first position before complete insertion of the column;
 FIG. 13 illustrates a connection insert positioned between the base and a column;
 FIG. 14 illustrates a column having internal ribs with slots.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The invention is, in broad scope, a trophy assembly comprising a tubular column having molded or extruded ribs positioned circumferentially around the inside surface that are or may be slotted to engage clips in a base (or top) connection insert; a base (and/or top connection insert) connection insert that is generally circular and cylindrical, dimensioned such that the outer cylindrical sidewall is substantially equal to the diameter of a recess cut into the trophy base (such as that shown in FIG. 3 of the U.S. published patent application 2009/0146025 incorporated herein by reference for all purposes). The connection insert outer surface or ring has interference members, tabs, that project outwardly from that cylindrical surface when a column is inserted to provide interference fit with the sidewall of the base recess. The base recess is also configured to be sufficiently deep to fully receive the cylindrical sidewall of the connection insert with a lip or flange that engages the periphery of the cylindrical sidewall of that recess. The interference members form a jam fit to retain the insert in place within the recess. The recess may also have a slot in the sidewall to mate with a matching projection on the sidewall ring of the connection insert for rotation alignment.
 The connection insert may also be suitable include a plurality of openings spaced circumferentially about the cylindrical sidewall each containing therewithin a deflectable tab having a portion affixed to the cylindrical sidewall, and a deflectable portion, extending inwardly of the inner surface, such that insertion of a suitably dimensioned column into the connection insert will deflect each of the tabs radially outwardly to provide additional interfering engagement with the cylindrical internal sidewall of the recess. These tabs may be ribbed with ridges and are similar to the engagement of tabs (for example item, 32) of clip member (item 30) in FIGS. 3 and 7 of the U.S. 2009/0146025 Publication (incorporated by reference for all purposes). The connection insert is structured so that when the column is rotated (twisted) slots in the column ribs will engage clips in the connection insert and make the assembly secure. A similar attachment means may be provided for a top structure of a trophy with the clips in the connection insert arranged an opposite direction from those of the base insert so that when the column is inserted in both the top structure insert and base insert and rotated, both the bases and top of the column engages their respective insert clip connectors. The term "connection insert" used herein and in the claims means the assembly and structure described above and in description of Figures below.
 Embodiments of the invention are illustrated in the Figures. Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrates top and bottom perspective views of the trophy connection insert 100 (base insert) of the present invention. The trophy connection insert 100 may be formed from a relatively rigid but somewhat flexible material such as rubber, plastic or other suitable material. ABS polymer is very suitable. The trophy connection insert 100 includes an outer cylinder sidewall (ring) 103 which extends around the periphery of the trophy connection insert 100 and will preferably have a retaining flange 105 which may extend continuously around the top edge of the cylinder sidewall 103. The retaining flange 105 facilitates stabilizing the cylinder sidewall ring 103 in order to prevent the cylinder sidewall 103 from deforming when the insert is inserted into a recess in the trophy base. The flange also covers the visual gap between the base and the connection insert.
 The trophy connection insert 100 will include a pair of diagonal walls 111 which may extend across the trophy connection 100 to connect to the inner surface 109 of the cylinder sidewall ring 103. The diagonal walls 111 are substantially perpendicular in order to support the cylinder sidewall ring 103. Spring clips (column-retaining clips) 114 and 113 are spaced around the inside of the insert. There will be at least two but may be as many as six. Four are preferred.
 The spring column-retaining clips (or arms such as 113 and 114) are configured so that when a trophy column is inserted into the connection insert and rotated the clips will slide into slots (described below) on ribs of the inside column wall. The clips are sized and configured to flex slightly upward when the column is inserted and they have a sloped front end to facilitate insertion into the column rib slots. As shown, clip 114 is somewhat different from the 113 clip. This is to provide a locking mechanism for the connection insert to the column. The 114 clip has a cutout slot on the underside. Only one such locking clip (114) is shown and is generally one is all that is needed but more than one may be provided.
 There is a cutout (178 in FIG. 5) in the underside of 114 to provide a locking means. When a column is inserted and rotated the unconnected end of 114 is lifted slightly and when the column is rotated further the cutout in 114 moves over the column slot and drops into the slot, effectively locking the clip into place. The cutout (178) is desirably located adjacent the back side of the 114 clip to provide a rotation stop for the insert clips--when the slot in the column ribs reach this stop further rotation is blocked. To reverse this locking mechanism, a small aperture (opening) is drilled through the bottom of the trophy base up through the base recess in a location such that a probe (such as a stiff wire) may be pushed up into the aperture to push the clip 114 upward. With the clip pushed upward, the column may be rotated (counter to the locking rotation), effectively unlocking the column from the base connecting insert. The bottom surface of the lower spring clip 114 may also include a recess (as the circular 172 of FIG. 5) for receiving the probe so that when the release probe is inserted through the base to engage the lower spring clip, the clip recess (172 in FIG. 5) assist in preventing slippage of the probe off its engagement with the lower spring clip. This locking mechanism prevents the base and column from separating in use and allows a quick and easy means to disconnect the column from the base. It will be appreciated that for this assembly to work properly there needs to be means to insure that the insert is placed in precisely the correct location in the base. A suitable means is to provide a slot in the walls of the base recess area and a matching projection, 171 in the Figures, on the outer walls 103 of the connection insert. Thus, the insert can only be placed into the base recess when the insert projection and the recess slot are mated. This also aids in preventing rotation of the column in the base insert. Generally one recess slot (172) and projection (such as 171 will be sufficient but more may be added as desired.
 The outer surface of the cylinder sidewall 103 includes axial bars 115 which engage the base recess walls to form a frictional/compression fit between the connection insert and the base recess walls.
 The connection insert 100 may also include flexible tabs 117 which are recessed with respect to the outer surface of the cylinder sidewall ring 103. These flexible tabs extend downward from the retaining flange 105 and have axial ribs 119. The flexible tabs 117 are pushed outwards when the trophy column is inserted into the connection insert. When the flexible tabs are pushed outwards by insertion of the trophy column, they engage the trophy base recess walls to form an additional friction fit by the axial ribs 119 and the trophy base. Ribs or ridges on the tabs also facilitate and strengthen the friction fit.
 The combination of the friction of the bars 115 of the sidewall 103 of the insert and the tabs 117/119 provide a secure attachment of the connection attachment to a base and allows bases made of any material to be easily and efficiently joined to a trophy column.
 The trophy connection insert 100 includes diagonal parts 111 which extend across the trophy connection 100 and connect to the inner surface 109 of the cylinder sidewall ring 103. The diagonal parts 111 are substantially perpendicular in order to support the cylinder sidewall ring 103. The diagonal parts 111 are connected to curved arms (spring clips) 113. The arm, (spring clips) 113 and 114 are spaced around the periphery of the cylinder sidewalls 103 and have a top surface and are inclined at the unconnected end to facilitate engagement with the column rib slots. These clips are upwardly and downwardly flexible to cooperate and engage the column slots, by being flexed down slightly on the end when the trophy column slots are rotated over the clips.
 FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of the trophy base connection insert 100.
 FIG. 5 illustrates a bottom view of the trophy base connection insert 100.
 FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of the trophy base connection insert 100.
 FIG. 9 illustrates the retaining flange 105, the cylinder sidewall ring 103 and the flexible tab 117 with ridges 119 which can pivot and which is shown in a non-extending position within the a cylindrical sidewall ring 103 as before the column is inserted.
 FIG. 10 illustrates the retaining flange 105, the cylinder sidewall ring 103 and the flexible tab 117 with ridges 119 which can pivot and which is shown in an extending position (as when a column is inserted) and which is recessed within the a cylindrical sidewall 103.
 FIG. 11 illustrates the trophy base connection 100 in a second position just after a column is inserted with the ridges engaging a surface of the base recess.
 FIG. 12 illustrates the trophy base connection insert 100 in a first position just before a column is inserted.
 FIG. 7 illustrates the trophy base connection insert 100 positioned between the trophy base and the trophy column 165.
 FIG. 8 illustrates a conventional trophy assembly that uses rods, coupler and a nut to secure it.
 FIG. 7 illustrates a trophy base column having internal axial ribs 130 with slots 131.
 FIG. 7 illustrates a trophy 300 which may include a figurine 161. The figurine structure can have a top connection insert built-in or it can be connected to a lid such as in 163 of FIG. 7 that has a top connection insert built-in. In one embodiment the lid will include on its underside a connection insert substantially similar to that described above for insert 100 for the base connection insert. The connection can also be as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3 where the reference numbers correspond to parts of FIGS. 1A and 1B but with 200 series rather than 100 series (thus 214 in FIGS. 2 and 3 corresponds to similar part 114 in FIGS. 1A and 1B and so forth). While the lid or top structure may be recessed on the underside to receive a top connection insert in the same manner as the base connection insert, the top connection insert structure may be otherwise attached or molded into the top lid or structure in which case the tabs and ribs on the sidewall ring of the connection insert will not be needed. The clips in the top lid will be preferably be oriented in the opposite direction from those of the base connection insert so that when the base and top are assembled together with a trophy column a single rotation of the column will engage rib slots in the top and bottom of the column simultaneously. In general it will not be necessary that the top connection insert have a locking clip such as described for the base connection insert clip 114 of FIGS. 1A and 1B but it may do so if desired.
 For multicolumn trophies it is important that the top connection insert clips are oriented in the opposite direction from those on the base connection insert as shown by the comparison of FIGS. 1A and FIG. 2 where the clips are directed in opposite direction--that is as minor images of each other. If the clips of the top and bottom insert were oriented in the same direction (such as both being like 100 in FIGS. 1A and 1B) it would not be possible to attach the tops of the columns by rotating the columns. So while the top connectors for single column trophies may be configured as in FIGS. 1A and 1B or as in FIGS. 2 and 3, they cannot be so configured for use in multicolumn trophies. The top connection inserts for multicolumn trophies can be inserted into recesses on the underside of the top structure (lid) or can be molded into the underside of a top structure (lid). The upper surface of the top structure (lid) can have a centrally located connection insert recess so that a single column can be mounted and topped off with a figurine or the top structure can have a multiple of connection inserts that allow addition of another level of columns and then another top structure (lid). In this manner, the final height and appearance of the trophy can be controlled by the dealers and end users design choices. They may also be attached to a lid having the connection insert attached to its underside, in which case the figurine structure will be attached to the lid with threaded bolt and nut (through a hole in the center of the lid) or otherwise attached such as by having the lid molded into and as a part of the figurine structure or attached by adhesive. FIGS. 19, 23, 24 and 28 of U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496 and the associated description in the specification show useful details of multiple column trophies. These figures as is all the figures and disclosure of U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496 are incorporated by reference for all purposes. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that they are many means to attach a figurine structure to a lid having a connection insert.
 In one embodiment the lid may have column/figurine attachment and optionally a snap-in configuration on the top of the lid for attaching figurines. In such an attachment there are generally two arms (clips) that enter column rib slots thereby locking the lid to the top of a column, and there are two incline planes with recessed areas to grab the ribs of the column(s). When rotated onto the top of a column using significant force, the incline planes temporarily change the round column into an oval shape until the column rib slots fall into place. The lid is then locked onto the top of the column. A figurine can be attached to the lid by a nut and bolt assembly or any other suitable means. In another embodiment the top structure may be a lid without a figurine attached. It may be merely a lid to close off the top of the trophy column(s) or it may be a lid adapted to receive a figure or other structure or adornment such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,572,520 (the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference for all purposes).
 An embodiment of the trophy column with internal ribs (ridges) ridges is shown in FIGS. 7 and 14 where the column 165 has internal ribs 130 and slots 131. The slots may be precut in fixed length columns and the ribs may only extend from top and bottom of the column a sufficient distance to accommodate the slots (the size and length determined by the configuration of the connection inserts to be used. However, it is preferred that the ribs extend the entire length of the column, so that elongated columns may be cut to size as needed, thus reducing the necessity of an inventory of various size columns. The slots will generally be the depth of the height of the ridges (as shown in FIGS. 7 and 14).
 The slots in the column ribs may be cut by any suitable means but it is desirable that a specially adapted machine be provided to facilitate fast and accurate cutting of the slots. The column may be constructed of plastic or suitable polymer material or metal such as aluminum that is extrudable. Polymer material (plastics) are more easily extruded and therefore preferred. More details of suitable column construction are described in U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496, (see for example FIGS. 2-6 and the associated description in the specification). The disclosure and figures of U.S. Pat. No. 8, 353,496 are incorporated by reference for all purposes. In U.S. Pat. No. 8,353,496 the column (with reference numbers to Figures of the patent) is described as:
 "Column 120 is preferably an extruded plastic column, which may conveniently be made from styrene or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), but which can also be formed from a variety of other plastic and non-plastic materials known to those of ordinary skill in the art, including, without limitation, aluminum and similar metals. Column 120 may be manufactured in a variety of lengths, which may then conveniently be cut to the size needed for a given trophy application. While any convenient column size may be used, columns of between two and 24 inches in length are typical.
 Column 120 is generally hollow and has two opposed ends 121, 122 and an inside surface 123, Column 120 is preferably in the form of a generally cylindrical, hollow tube, adapted to fit over clips 140 and 540 (shown in FIGS. 25),160 and 170 (shown in FIGS. 16-17), 190 (shown in FIG. 20), 200 (shown in FIG. 21), 210 (shown in FIGS. 19), and 570 (shown in FIG. 27) such that column 120 can be rotated about clips 140, 540, 160, 170, 190, 200, 210, 560, 570. Although not illustrated, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that column 120 may also conveniently have a cross section that is ellipsoidal, triangular, octagonal, or in many other configurations known in the art.
 Referring to FIGS. 2, 3. 6, and 7, column 120 may conveniently be formed of extruded plastic with at least two, and preferably four, continuous, inwardly and longitudinally extending interior ribs 124 running the length of interior surface 123. Ribs 124 may conveniently be evenly spaced around interior column surface 123, but may also be arranged with uneven spacing if so desired. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 4, column 120' may be formed from extruded or molded plastic having ribs 124' affixed to, i.e., attached or formed on interior surface 123', but only proximate to column ends 121' or 122', but is otherwise substantial identical to column 120. In another alternate configuration, shown in FIG. 5, column 120'' may be formed from a central member and inserts 121'' and 122'' adapted to fit either partially or entirely (not shown) within column 120'', thereby allowing for creation of column members of any convenient length, without requiring ribs running the entire length of the column. In such a configuration, inserts 121'' and 122'' may conveniently have ribs 124'' formed on, or attached to, their inside surface, and may conveniently be attached to a central member via adhesive, friction, or any of a variety of other methods known in the art, It will also be apparent to practitioners of ordinary skill in the art that ribs 124 may be formed via a variety of methods including extrusion, adhesive attachment, forming indentations in the outer surface of columns 120 or inserts 121'', 122'', removing material from interior surface 123, and other methods known in the art, and that ribs 124 may be of a wide variety of shapes including without limitation substantially rectangular (as shown), semicircular (not shown), trapezoidal (not shown), or made up of a plurality of individual protrusions (not shown). Ribs 124 may be of any convenient size and configuration suitable to engage lower clips 140 and 540, and upper lips 160, 170, 190, 200, 210, 560, 570, Herein, each time column 120 is referenced, it is understood that embodiments of any of columns 120, 120' and 120'' may be utilized,
 "Column" as the term is used herein may also include what is termed in the industry as a "riser". A riser is a decorative component that graphically depicts generic victory, specific sports, winning rank such as 1st, 2nd or 3rd or perhaps the year of the event. The bottom end of the riser is identical in shape and size to the bottom edge of a column. The top surface of the Riser either has a bottom connection insert mounted into it so that a user can mount another column into the top of the Riser or there may be a lid mounted into the top surface so that a figurine can be mounted on top. Risers can be oftentimes utilized as substitutes for columns. For example, a user can connect a Riser to the top of the base, and then mount a figurine directly on top of the Riser to complete the trophy.
 The present invention also includes methods of assembling a trophy as is illustrated in FIGS. 7 and as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,572,520 (the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference for all purposes). One embodiment of the method includes assembling a single-level trophy such as the trophy shown in FIG. 7 and comprises the steps of selecting a base member and a suitably sized and dimensioned connection insert (such as 100 in FIGS. 1A and 1B). Additionally the base is routed or otherwise cut provide a suitable recess and optionally a positioning slot in the side wall of the recess and a probe aperture from the bottom side of the base to the recess area. Subsequent steps comprise selecting a trophy column having at least one inwardly and longitudinally extending rib element, and cutting slots into rib elements, such that slots are adapted to be engaged by clip members of the connection insert. If desired, additional slots may also be cut into ribs at the top of the column such that the additional slots are adapted to be engaged by of a figurine member or lid. However, it is noted that upper members such as figures may also be attached to the trophy assembly by other means, thereby eliminating the need for an upper connection inserts. Remaining steps comprise placing the column over clip member in the connection insert and rotating the column until lower clip member fully engages the column slots, whereby the base member and column member are joined together, and then attaching an upper member such as a figure or lid. If an upper member (as a figure) is to be attached by means of an upper connection insert, the attachment may be completed by placing the upper member over top of the column column and rotating the upper member until upper clips of the top connection insert fully engages the top column slots. A single rotation will connect both the base and top member if the connection inserts are properly configured with clips facing in opposite directions as described above.
 Another embodiment of the method involves assembling a trophy with a plurality of columns and at least one upper member, and comprises the steps of selecting abuse member, cutting a suitable recess and optional probe holes and positioning slot(s). Columns having at least one inwardly and longitudinally extending rib element may then be selected and column slots may be formed within rib element proximate to each end of each column such that slots are adapted to engage clips in both the base and top the connection inserts. Subsequent steps comprise placing columns into the connection inserts, placing the tops of the columns into the connection inserts in the top member and then rotating the columns, whereby the base member, top member, and columns are joined together.
 FIGS. 7 and 8 show essential differences between the assembly of the present invention and prior convention assemblies--the present invention in FIG. 7 and the prior art assemblies in FIG. 8. As can be seen the prior assemblies require a rod with threaded ends (so it a fixed length that requires a large inventory of rod sizes to accommodate different trophy heights), washers, nuts, couplers, lids and spacers. These parts and the labor involved in connecting them are not necessary with the present invention.
 Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that additional steps may be added to the above embodiments of the assembly and method and that other obvious orderings of the steps, including steps involving pre-attachment of clips to base members and upper members, are also effective and within the scope of the present invention,
 it is to be understood that this description is to be considered only as illustrative of the principles of the invention and is not to be limitative thereof, as numerous other variations, all within the scope of the invention will readily occur to others. Thus, while the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the description herein of specific embodiments is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed.
Patent applications in class Trophy or memento (e.g., preserved artifact, etc.)
Patent applications in all subclasses Trophy or memento (e.g., preserved artifact, etc.)