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 The present invention relates to containers. In particular, the present invention relates to variable-length, multi-sectioned containers, wherein a larger composite container may be shortened by the removal of a section or lengthened by the addition of a section.
 Almost every commercial good is delivered to the customer in disposable packaging. The type of packaging that is selected for a particular good depends upon several factors: for example, availability; attractiveness to the consumer; size, shape, and durability of the goods; ease of manufacture; and cost. A manufacturer can reduce the cost of packaging per item of goods, and pass this reduced cost on to the consumer through lower price of the goods, by increasing the amount of goods contained within the individual container. Simply put, increased amount of goods within each container generally results in lower cost per amount of good.
 Having an increased container size can present several problems for the customer—the container could be so large as to hold a quantity of goods that is impractical for the average consumer. Also, for some goods, an overly large container can present product dispensing problems. A common example of this difficulty is in the packaging of semi-solids such as paste, jellies and jams, cosmetics and skin-care products, and peanut butter. For these products, retrieval of the goods from the container is easy at first; however, removing the last quantities of product from a large container can prove frustrating. Consumers find that a spoon or other tool is often too short to reach the product at the bottom of a tall container. Further, while removing the last portion of goods from the container, the residual amounts of the product that coat the inside surface of the container will inevitably be smeared on the consumer's hand.
 This problem can be solved by the consumer by discarding the container before completely consuming the residual amounts of product in the container. Unfortunately, this wastage prevents the cost savings that was originally intended when increasing the package size. The problem can also be solved by the manufacturer by either decreasing the package size or by increasing the ratio of opening diameter to package volume. Again, the goal of cost savings is defeated in the former strategy, and additional packaging costs are created by the latter strategy.
 Another problem is created by the use of larger containers: customers must waste valuable storage space for these larger containers that, when the product is mostly consumed, contain mostly empty space. In these cases, the costs saved by buying in bulk quantities is offset by increased cost of storage.
 The economic trade-offs between buying in bulk and the difficulties of using larger containers is especially important in industrial and commercial kitchens where food is purchased in bulk for economy whenever possible but, because of the large size of the containers, workers encounter difficulty in getting all of the contents scraped out of containers. It is not uncommon to for workers to cut the tops off containers so as to have better access to their contents. Using all of the container's contents is important in kitchens where profit margins are slim. When the product in the container is used rapidly and completely, this practice makes good sense but if not all the contents of the container are used shortly after the top of the container is cut off, then resealing the container becomes a problem.
 Thus, there exists considerable need for a container that can be used to package and store a quantity of product, without the foregoing limitations.
 According to its major aspects and briefly described, the present invention is a variable-length, multi-sectioned container, wherein a larger composite container may be shortened by the removal of a section or lengthened by the addition of a section. The primary object of the present invention is to provide a solution to the problems of messy dispensing and wasted space associated with the use of a large container.
 The solution provided by the present invention lies in the selection of the closures used in the container. By closures, it is meant to indicate the portions of the individual components of the container that permit complementary components to become attached. Here, the closures are selected to make the lid and the upper edge of the bottom section complementary, and therefore, reversibly attachable. Mere complementarity of a lid and a hollow bottom section is a common feature of most containers; however, the present invention also comprises a hollow middle section with closures on the lower edge that are identical to those found on the lid, and closures on the upper edge that are identical to those found on the bottom section.
 As a result of this identity and complementarity, the middle section can be removed and the lid can be mated to the bottom section. In a container holding peanut butter, for example, when the product has been consumed to a level below the juncture of the middle section and the bottom section, the middle section can be removed and discarded. The lid is retained, and, since it has complementary closures to the remaining bottom section, used to cover the unused peanut butter. The resulting smaller container will enable the consumer to remove peanut butter without mess and to prevent the wasted space that would have been associated with the formerly too big container. Likewise, additional middle sections can be added to the container to provide a larger storage capacity, if desired, without sacrificing any of the foregoing advantages of the solution provided by the present invention.
 An important advantage of the present invention is found in its application in larger containers such as those typically purchased by institutional and commercial kitchens. Many of these kitchens operate with thin profit margins and must make good use of the products they buy. They buy in bulk to reduce cost. Buying in bulk means has implications on storage capacity and in the need to use as much of the contents of a large container. The present invention mitigates both the storage concerns and the difficulties of using larger containers.
 Other features and their advantages will be apparent to those skilled in the manufacture and use of containers from inspection of the drawings or careful reading of the Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments.
 In the drawings,
 The invention is a variable-length, multi-sectioned container, wherein a larger composite container may be shortened by the removal of one or more middle sections or lengthened by the addition of one or more middle sections.
 While in its most preferred embodiment a screw-type closure is used, several other types of closure can be incorporated into the present invention. For example, the common snap-tight fit can be used to provide an inexpensive container in any application where a liquid-tight, precision closure is not required. A pressure fitting, where the interior portion of the closure fits snugly within the exterior portion of the closure, is another option for a less expensive container. Also, a standard child-proof seal can be incorporated in the present invention to provide a container that cannot be easily disassembled by a child. Finally, in many applications, such as in small insulated lunch boxes and drink caddies made of woven textile products, the closure of choice can be a slide fastener. However, this list is not exclusive, and many other common closures used in the manufacture of containers may also be used in the present invention.
 The container can be manufactured from a variety of materials. In its most common embodiments, the present invention can be made of glass; metals, such as steel or aluminum; plastics, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyethylene-terephthalate; polymer foam, such as polyurethane; woven textiles, such as nylon or polyester; or wood. However, this list is not exclusive, and many other common materials used in the manufacture of containers may also be used in the present invention. Likewise, the container and container sections can be formed in a variety of shapes. Although the hollow, body sections of the container can be square, rectangular, conical, spherical, or any other shape that is desired for functionality or aesthetics, the container is preferably cylindrical.
 Referring now to
 Referring now to
 The identity and complementarity of the closure of container
 An alternate embodiment of the present invention is middle section
 The dimensions of container
 It will be apparent to those skilled in the art of manufacturing or using jars that many modifications and substitutions can be made to the foregoing preferred embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention, defined by the appended claims.
 container, generally . . .
 lid . . .
 middle section . . .
 interior threads . . .
 exterior threads . . .
 bottom section . . .
 sealing band . . .
 perforations . . .
 standard jar . . .