Title:
Protective envelope package for flash memory devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flat rectangular sheet of packaging material that is divided into three panels by two horizontal fold lines, allowing it to be folded to form a standard-sized envelope for mailing or shipping Flash memory cards. The lower panel, which contains several removable rectangular sections that are designed to fit common Flash memory card dimensions, is folded upwards and attached to the central panel after removal of a section. After a Flash memory card has been inserted into the resulting cavity, the top panel of the sheet can be folded down and sealed, resulting in a robust envelope that can then be used to securely ship or mail the Flash memory card.



Inventors:
Robinson, Ian Douglas (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/321040
Publication Date:
06/17/2004
Filing Date:
12/17/2002
Assignee:
ROBINSON IAN DOUGLAS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/724, 206/722
International Classes:
B65D27/00; B65D85/86; (IPC1-7): B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ian Robinson (1166 Culligan Blvd, San Jose, CA, 95120, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A flat rectangular sheet of packaging material with two horizontal fold lines parallel to the shorter sides of the rectangle, so that said sheet has three similar-sized panels with the outer panels able to fold inwards to create an envelope, and the center of the lower panel containing several removable rectangular sections, each with dimensions that securely fit a flash memory card.

2. The sheet of claim 1 wherein strips of adhesive material are attached to the upper, lower and side edges of said sheet to facilitate sealing of the envelope.

3. The sheet of claim 1 wherein assembly and sealing instructions are pre-printed on the material.

4. The sheet of claim 1 wherein envelope opening instructions are pre-printed on the material.

Description:

FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH

[0001] Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

[0002] Not Applicable

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention relates generally to packages and, more specifically, to a protective envelope package for shipping digital information storage media such as Flash memory cards.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Flash memory cards have become extremely popular with consumers, as a convenient method for storing digital information (such as images, music or computer files) in a small, inexpensive, lightweight package. This type of media also provides an easy way to transfer information between devices, such as copying images from a digital camera to a personal computer. Due to this increasing popularity, there is a frequent need to securely ship or mail Flash memory cards.

[0005] There are many types of insulation and packaging materials available to transport small fragile objects, but the use of general-purpose envelopes or mailers many times larger than the object generally requires the insertion of padding or filler materials to prevent movement. In the absence of such packaging materials, standard envelopes or containers are often too flimsy to reliably protect small items during shipping, and can also be difficult to process by automated postal service machinery.

Prior Art

[0006] The prior art is devoid of a package uniquely designed for securely shipping Flash memory cards. This situation exists because the increase in popularity of Flash memory media is a relatively recent phenomenon, driven by product standardization, higher availability and lower costs.

[0007] There have been packaging products developed for earlier forms of data storage media, including magnetic tapes, floppy disks and CD-ROMs. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,487,826 to Back & Greer (1996) describes cardboard mailer packages designed to hold floppy disks, while U.S. Pat. No. 6,126,201 to Pace & Puisis (2000) describes a package designed to hold compact discs or CD-ROMs that can be mailed or inserted into magazines. In each case, the packages are customized to snugly fit the dimensions of the specific media, but do not fit Flash memory cards.

[0008] Because Flash memory cards are significantly smaller than floppy disks or CD-ROMS, they do not fit snugly into packages designed for those earlier types of storage media. Flash memory cards typically range from the size of a business card (85 mm×55 mm) to the size of a postage stamp (24 mm×18 mm), and hence are significantly smaller than packaging cavities designed to hold floppy disks (90 mm×90 mm), for example.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

[0009] Accordingly, the objects and advantages of the present invention include:

[0010] (a) to provide a shippable package designed specifically to securely hold Flash memory cards in the most popular formats, including PCMCIA, Compact Flash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Data and RS-MMC;

[0011] (b) to provide a flat single-sheet package that can be folded twice into a standard envelope size suitable for secure mailing and passage through automated mail processing equipment;

[0012] (c) to provide an optional self-sealing mechanism that requires no additional tape or adhesive to close the envelope securely;

[0013] (d) to provide pop-out sections to snugly fit the dimensions of popular Flash memory card formats, including PCMCIA, Compact Flash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Data and RS-MMC;

[0014] (e) to provide pre-printed instructions on the inside of the package to aid the process of Flash memory card insertion, folding, sealing and mailing/shipping;

[0015] (f) to provide pre-printed instructions on the outside of the package to aid the process of safely opening the envelope and removing the Flash memory card;

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0016] The present invention provides a package that will protectively house a Flash memory card during transport or mailing without using bulky packaging materials. This package is essentially flat and conforms in overall dimensions (when folded) to a standard mailing envelope, which provides increased protection for the enclosed Flash memory card while in transit. The package is provided as a flat letter-sized sheet with two horizontal fold lines to facilitate folding into thirds, resulting in a package the size of a standard envelope. Several ‘pop-out’ removable sections within the lower panel (inner section) of the package are provided to fit specific Flash memory device dimensions.

DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a plan view of the invention, as an initially flat sheet, prior to folding into an envelope, showing the two horizontal fold lines, pop-out sections on the lower panel, and (optional) adhesive sealing strips around the edges.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a perspective view, showing the package after the first (lower) fold has been made, revealing the lower panel pop-out sections.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a perspective view, showing the removal of a pop-out section prior to the insertion of a Flash memory card.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a perspective view, showing the package with the lower panel fully folded and a Flash memory card inserted into the cavity made by removal of the pop-out section.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a perspective view, showing the package after the upper panel has been folded down, prior to final sealing of the envelope.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] A preferred embodiment of the invention prior to folding is illustrated in FIG. 1, while FIGS. 2 through 5 then illustrate the basic process of manipulating the invention to create the final protective envelope. The process involves folding up the lower panel of the sheet, removing a pop-out section, inserting the Flash memory card into the cavity left by the pop-out section, and folding down the top panel prior to sealing the envelope.

[0023] FIG. 1 is a plan view of the invention, showing how it would appear before use, essentially as a flat sheet of material (such as cardboard or plastic) with two horizontal guide marks to assist with folding, and several die-cut score marks in the lower panel that precisely fit the dimensions of the most common Flash memory card formats.

[0024] The sides of the folded sheet can either be manually sealed (with glue, staples or adhesive tape, for example) or the sheet can optionally be manufactured with self-adhesive strips around the edges that simplify the process of sealing the envelope.

[0025] The die-cut score marks in the lower panel of the invention facilitate the manual removal of small rectangular segments, to create custom-sized cavities that can snugly house a Flash memory card. Popular Flash memory card formats that can be housed in the package cavities include (but are not limited to) the following:

[0026] 1. PC Card (PCMCIA)—85 mm×55 mm;

[0027] 2. (Sony) Memory Stick—50 mm×22 mm;

[0028] 3. SmartMedia—45 mm×37 mm;

[0029] 4. Compact Flash (CF)—43 mm×36 mm;

[0030] 5. Secure Data (SD) Card—32 mm×24 mm;

[0031] 6. MultiMedia Card (MMC)—32 mm×24 mm;

[0032] 7. Reduced Size MultiMedia Card (RS-MMC)—24 mm×18 mm;

[0033] The first step in preparing the package is to fold up the lower panel of the flat sheet, as shown in FIG. 2, which is a perspective view showing the package after partly folding up the lower panel. After this panel is fully folded and laying flat against the central panel, the appropriate rectangular segment can be removed manually, to create a cavity for housing the Flash memory card.

[0034] FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the appearance of the package after the rectangular pop-out section for a Flash memory card (in the Secure Data format) has been removed from the lower panel. This leaves a rectangular hole in the lower panel, which provides snug-fitting sides for the Flash memory card, while the central panel provides a firm base for the cavity. The lower panel is firmly glued or otherwise attached to the central panel to provide a more robust package and cavity for the Flash memory card.

[0035] FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the appearance of the package after a Flash memory card (in this case a Secure Data card) has been inserted into the cavity created by removing the pop-out section. Since the dimensions of the Secure Data (SD) card and MultiMedia Card (MMC) formats are identical, either type of device could be fitted into the specific cavity illustrated. After the Flash memory card has been snugly fitted into the cavity, the package is ready for final sealing to create a standard-sized envelope.

[0036] Finally, FIG. 5 shows how the upper panel is then folded down over the central panel, thus fully enclosing the Flash memory device in its cavity, such that it cannot move about in any direction during shipment. The final folded upper panel can either be manually sealed (using glue, staples, or adhesive tape, for example) or it might be attached by utilizing self-adhesive strips located around the edges of the package—thus firmly sealing the envelope.

[0037] After this final step has been completed, a robust package the size of a standard business envelope is created. This envelope can then be addressed and stamped (or franked) as required, prior to shipment and delivery. Since Flash memory devices are typically very thin, they are unlikely to cause the envelope to bulge or be otherwise deformed.

[0038] After mailing or shipping the invention, the recipient of the envelope can open it (by following the instructions printed on the back) and safely remove the Flash memory device from the package.

[0039] Operation

[0040] The manner of using the invention is very simple and straightforward, requiring no special skills other than the ability to fold the original sheet of material, and to push out the appropriate die-cut rectangular section of material to fit the Flash memory card. After securely sealing the envelope (using self-adhesive strips or other methods), it can then be addressed and stamped or franked as necessary.