Title:
Adapter for filling fuel burning lighter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides an adapter for interfacing between a reusable gas refill container and a refillable lighter, an apparatus for engaging a reusable gas refill container and an apparatus for engaging a refillable lighter. The adapter includes a body and an aperture defined by the body, wherein the aperture is sized to receive an ejection port of a gas refill container. The body also includes a threaded portion that mates with a threaded portion of the refillable lighter.



Inventors:
Rakowski, Tom (Northbrook, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/434721
Publication Date:
11/11/2004
Filing Date:
05/08/2003
Assignee:
RAKOWSKI TOM
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F23D14/28; F23D14/46; F23Q2/52; (IPC1-7): F23D14/28; F23D14/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASICHAS, ALFRED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert W. Connors (Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLC P.O. Box 1135, Chicago, IL, 60690-1135, US)
Claims:

The invention is claimed as follows:



1. A fuel burning refillable lighter adapter comprising: a body an aperture defined by the body, the aperture sized to receive an ejection port of a fuel refill container; and a threaded portion of the body, the threaded portion configured and arranged to mate with a threaded portion of the refillable lighter.

2. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, wherein the threaded portion of the body is a male threaded portion that mates with a female threaded portion defined by the lighter.

3. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, which includes a seal that sealingly engages the fuel refill container.

4. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 3, wherein the seal sealingly engages the ejection port of the fuel refill container.

5. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, wherein the body defines a space that is sized and shaped to receive a sealing device that sealingly engages the fuel refill container.

6. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, wherein the body includes a flange portion adjacent to the threaded portion, the flange portion configured and arranged to seal to the fuel refill container.

7. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, wherein the body is made of a material selected from the group consisting of: metal, plastic, wood, ceramic and any combination thereof.

8. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, which includes a grasping portion adjacent to the threaded portion, the grasping portion configured and arranged to be grasped and turned by a person.

9. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 1, which includes an opening sized and shaped to receive a device that enables the adapter to be threaded into/out of the lighter.

10. A fuel burning refillable lighter adapter comprising: a body; a lumen defined by the body, the lumen sized to enable an ejection port of a fuel refill container to extend all the way through the lumen; and a sealing portion of the body, the sealing portion configured and arranged to sealingly couple to a mating portion of the refillable lighter.

11. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 10, wherein the sealing portion of the body is a male portion and the mating portion of the refillable lighter is a female portion.

12. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 10, wherein the sealing portion of the body is a female portion and the mating portion of the refillable lighter is a male portion.

13. The fuel burning refillable lighter adapter of claim 10, wherein the sealing portion of the body and the mating portion of the lighter form a sealed interface selected from the group consisting of: a threaded interface, a splined interface, an o-ring interface, a nut and ferrule interface, a clamped interface, a hose-barbed interface, a press-fit interface and any combination thereof.

14. A fuel burning refillable lighter transmitter comprising: a body, the body including a receiver and a distributor; a lumen defined by the body, the lumen extending through the receiver and the distributor and sized to receive an ejection port of a fuel refill container; and wherein the receiver receives the ejection port and the distributor is configured and arranged to sealingly couple to a mating portion of the refillable lighter.

15. The fuel burning refillable lighter transmitter of claim 14, wherein the distributor and the mating portion of the lighter form a sealed interface selected from the group consisting of: a threaded interface, a splined interface, an o-ring interface, a nut and ferrule interface, a clamped interface, a hose-barbed interface, a press-fit interface and any combination thereof.

16. The fuel burning refillable lighter transmitter of claim 14, wherein the receiver is sized and shaped to be grasped and moved by a person.

17. The fuel burning refillable lighter transmitter of claim 14, wherein the receiver is sized and shaped to engage a tool for inserting the transmitter into the lighter.

18. A fuel refill container engaging apparatus comprising: a refillable lighter; an adapter removably attached to the lighter so that the adapter cannot become unattached from the lighter without being manually removed; and wherein the adapter defines an aperture through which the lighter is able to engage the fuel refill container in a sealed arrangement.

19. The fuel refill container engaging apparatus of claim 18, wherein the adapter is removably threaded onto the lighter.

20. The fuel refill container engaging apparatus of claim 18, wherein the aperture receives an ejection port of the refill container.

21. The fuel refill container engaging apparatus of claim 18, wherein the adapter is removably attached to a bottom portion of the refillable lighter.

22. A refillable lighter engaging apparatus comprising: a fuel refill container; and an adapter operably coupled to the refill container via an aperture defined by the adapter, the refill container having an ejection port that extends through the aperture to engage the refillable lighter.

23. The refillable lighter engaging apparatus of claim 22, wherein the adapter is sealingly coupled to the refill container.

24. The refillable lighter engaging apparatus of claim 22, wherein the adapter is sealingly coupled to the ejection port.

25. A method for enabling a person to refill a lighter comprising the steps of: providing an adapter that attaches to the lighter so that a fuel refill container can sealingly contact the lighter and supply fuel to the lighter.

26. The method of claim 25, which includes the step of enabling the person to remove the adapter from the lighter after use so that the adapter can be reattached to the lighter at a later point in time.

27. The method of claim 25, which includes enabling the person to thread the adapter onto the lighter.

28. The method of claim 25, including the step of structuring the adapter so that the refill container can be inserted through the adapter to engage the lighter.

29. The method of claim 25, which includes enabling a person to leave the adapter attached to the lighter without substantially changing an overall appearance of a profile of the lighter.

30. A method for generating revenue comprising the steps of: selling an adapter that attaches to a lighter and allows a fuel refill container that would otherwise not operate properly with the lighter to at least partially refill the lighter.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates generally to gas-fired lighters and more particularly to the refilling of such gas fired lighters.

[0002] Refillable gas-fired cigarette, cigar or pipe lighters exist that require specially designed refill containers. In certain instances, those specific gas containers provide a single or limited number of gas refills and are relatively expensive. While sources of lighter fuel exist that hold refill fluid at higher pressures and that would provide more refills, those higher pressure sources have ejection ports that are not compatible with lighters requiring a specific type of refill connection.

[0003] In one example, a known lighter manufacturer produces a lighter having a refill connection with a threaded bore. For refills, that lighter requires a specific refill container having a matching male thread. Standard, relatively inexpensive and relatively high pressure lighter fluid sources will not seal against the threaded bore of the above-described lighter. Those refill containers cannot therefore be used currently to refill the above-mention lighter.

[0004] At least one attempt has been made to provide a “universal” multi-refill device, i.e., a device capable of being used to refill different lighters. U.S. Pat. No. 3,940,015 provides a cover that fits over a gas refill container and holds a series of adapters. The adapters are sized differently to operate with differently sized inlet valves of various lighters. The device of that patent appears to be sized to fit onto a particular refill container, and the adapters of the device appear to be sized to operate with the tube or ejection port of that particular refill container. The patent is therefore limited in those respects.

[0005] In a similar manner, the Swiss lighter company, Caran d'Ache, produces commercially a gas refill container with an adapter that fits snugly onto the exit nozzle of the container. The adapter enables the refill container to operate with lighters made by Caran d'Ache. That adapter is intended to sell the company's expensive, low pressure refill container and will not operate with lighters made by other companies. Further, it is believed that the adapter will not operate with refill containers made by other companies. The adapter does not enable relatively inexpensive, high pressure lighter refillers to be used to refill cigarette, cigar or pipe lighters.

[0006] A need exists for a device that allows higher pressure refill containers to operate with lighters that require a specific or threaded connection. Also, a need exists for a device that enables higher pressure refill containers having differently sized ejection ports to operate with lighters having specific inlet valve configurations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention relates to refillable lighters and more particularly to an adapter or fuel transmitter that enables higher pressure gas refill containers to operate with lighters having inlet valves that have been previously incompatible with those refill containers. In one aspect therefore, an adapter for a gas-fired refillable lighter is provided. The adapter includes a body that defines an aperture on one end. The aperture is sized to receive an ejection port of the gas refill container. On the other end, the body defines a threaded portion that is sized to mate with a threaded portion of the refillable lighter.

[0008] The threaded portion of the body can be male or female to operate with lighters that define female/male threads. In one embodiment, the body is metal and has metal threads, although the body may alternatively be plastic, wood or ceramic and define plastic, wood or ceramic threads.

[0009] The adapter or transmitter includes a seal that sealingly engages the gas refill container. An aperture housing the seal is sized to receive variously sized ejection ports of different refill containers. The seal is made of a compressible material that deforms and seals around the variously sized ejection ports. In one embodiment, the aperture includes or defines a portion that is wide enough to accept an O-ring type of seal. In that case, the ejection port extends through the O-ring so that the O-ring seals between the outer cylindrical surface of the ejection port and the inner cylindrical surface O-ring of the adapter.

[0010] In another embodiment, an O-ring is provided that seals between a flange portion of the refill container (from which the ejection port extends) and an outer flat surface of the adapter.

[0011] In any case, the body of the adapter includes a threaded or attachment portion and a flanged or grasping portion that is adjacent to the threaded portion. The flange portion in one embodiment is wider than the threaded portion so as to provide a surface that is readily grasped and turned by a person to insert or remove the adapter into or from, respectively, the lighter. In another embodiment, the adapter includes a “low profile” flange that inserts into the lighter on a permanent or semi-permanent basis via the use of a tool, such as a hexhead screwdriver.

[0012] In another aspect, the present invention includes an apparatus for engaging a gas refill container. The apparatus includes a refillable lighter and an adapter that is removably attached to the lighter. A person can grasp either the lighter or the adapter and move the combination, wherein the adapter cannot and will not slide with respect to the lighter and thereby become unattached from the lighter. The adapter includes a portion that allows the adapter and lighter to operably engage the gas refill container.

[0013] In one embodiment, the adapter is removably threaded onto the lighter. In one embodiment, the adapter is removably coupled to a bottom portion of the refillable lighter.

[0014] In still another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for engaging a refillable lighter is provided. The apparatus includes a gas refill container. An adapter is operably coupled to the refill container via an aperture that is substantially centrally located within the adapter. The refill container has an ejection port that extends through the aperture to the refillable lighter. The ejection port contacts the inlet valve of the refillable lighter to open that valve and the ejection port. That action allows the pressure of fluid within the lighter and the refill container to equalize, e.g., to “fill” the lighter.

[0015] In yet another aspect of the present invention, a method for enabling a person to refill a lighter is provided. The method includes providing an adapter that attaches to the lighter so that a refill container can insert through the adapter, contact the lighter, and supply gas to the lighter. The method also includes enabling the person to remove the adapter from the lighter after use so that the adapter can be reattached to the lighter at a later point in time.

[0016] In one embodiment, the person is enabled to thread the adapter onto the lighter. In another embodiment, the adapter is structured so that the refill container can be inserted through the adapter to engage the lighter.

[0017] In still a further aspect of the present invention, a method for generating revenue is provided. Here, an adapter is sold that attaches to a lighter and allows a refill container that would otherwise not operate properly with the lighter to at least partially refill the lighter.

[0018] In view of the above non-inclusively described aspects of the present invention, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide an adapter that allows a refill container to at least partially fill a lighter.

[0019] It is another advantage of the present invention to provide an apparatus that operably couples to and communicates with the fuel contained in a refill container.

[0020] It is a further advantage of the present invention to provide an apparatus that operably couples to and provides fuel to a refillable lighter.

[0021] Moreover, it is an advantage of the present invention to enable higher pressure refill containers to operate with certain refillable lighters.

[0022] It is still another advantage of the present invention to provide an adapter that operates with differently sized refill containers.

[0023] It is yet a further advantage of the present invention to provide an adapter for a cigarette, cigar or pipe lighter that may be used repeatedly to refill the lighter and that may remain permanently or semi-permanently attached to the lighter.

[0024] Additional features and advantages of the present invention are described in, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description of the Invention and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0025] FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a refillable lighter, refill container and adapter of the present invention, wherein a portion of the lighter, a portion of the container and all of the adapter are shown in cross-section to illustrate the operation thereof.

[0026] FIG. 2 is a sectioned elevation view of one embodiment of the adapter of the present invention.

[0027] FIGS. 3 and 4 are elevation views illustrating one alternative embodiment of the adapter of the present invention.

[0028] FIGS. 5 and 6 are elevation views illustrating another alternative embodiment of the adapter of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the overall apparatus of the present invention includes an adapter or transmitter 10, a refillable lighter 50 and a refill container 100. The transmitter or adapter 10 is shown in cross-section for purposes of illustration. A portion of front wall 52 of a housing 54 of lighter 50 is cut away to illustrate how adapter 10 interfaces with lighter 50. A top portion of refill container 100 is illustrated. The refill container 100 is mainly illustrated in cross-section to illustrate the inner workings of container 100. Adapter 10, lighter 50 and container 100 each include an orifice that is centered along center line 12 to show the alignment of the different components of the present invention.

[0030] Lighter 50 includes components of standard refillable lighters including the housing 54 and a lid 56 hingedly connected to housing 54. Lid 56 covers a rotatable friction-causing wheel 58 that creates a spark when rotated against a flint (not illustrated) housed inside a flint carrier 60. The user creates a flame via the frictional wheel 58 and the flint housed inside carrier 60 by turning roller 62. The turning of roller 62 thus creates a spark that ignites a stream of gas, e.g., butane, that exits from housing 54 to create the flame. The present invention is expressly not limited to lighters that use a flint but applies to any type of lighter including lighters using piezo or quartz crystal actuation.

[0031] Lighter 50 runs out of fuel, such as gas (for ease of illustration the term “gas” is used throughout the description, however, the present invention is operable with other types of fuel), when the pressure of such gas falls to, or substantially to, atmospheric pressure. At that point, there is no driving force to push a stream of gas from inside housing 54. Or, the amount of gas that is pushed from housing 54 is too small to either create or sustain a flame. At that point, the user has to inject a pressurized source of gas into housing 54 to repressurize the housing with gas.

[0032] Front wall 52 of lighter 50 is cut away to illustrate an inlet valve 64 of lighter 50. Under normal operation, a spring 66 pushes valve 64 against a seal plate 68. When the user of lighter 50 wishes to refill the lighter, the user applies a force via refill container 100 to valve 64, which moves valve 64, compresses spring 66 and allows fluid communication to exist between an inlet flow path 70 and the inside 72 of housing 54. The container 100 includes pressurized gas 104 that pressurizes the inside 72 of housing 54 through flow path 70.

[0033] For proper filling, a sealed connection between the refill container 100 and the apparatus surrounding inlet valve 64 needs to be maintained. That is, gas 104 exiting the refill container 100, if allowed to escape around the outside of the ejection port 106 of container 100, will escape to atmosphere rather than flow through the narrow flow path 70. At least a portion of the gas 104, therefore, will not flow through flow path 70, making the filling of lighter 50 inefficient and messy.

[0034] Certain lighters, such as lighter 50, provide a threaded connection to seal to a refill container. Lighter 50 illustrates female threads 74 that are formed around inlet valve 64. A specific refill container (not illustrated) having mating male threads is required to thread into female threads 74, push against valve 64, and create an open flow path of gas from the refill container to the inside 72 of lighter 50.

[0035] Container 100 is any known, relatively high pressure gas refill container. For cigarette, pipe and cigar lighters, those containers, collectively referred to as container 100, typically store butane. The present invention, however, is expressly not limited to any particular type of gas refill. One suitable brand of container is made by Colibri, Providence, R.I. Container 100 includes a shell 102 that stores a dry source of gas 104, such as butane. Container 100 includes an ejection port 106 that is normally not in fluid communication with the gas 104 within shell 102. For example, ejection port 106 can connect to a flange 108 that is pushed against top wall 110 of shell 102 via a spring 112. When pressure is applied to the tip of port 106, flange 108 compresses spring 112 and moves port 106, so that an opening 114 through the wall of port 106 allows gas 104 to escape through opening 114 and port 106.

[0036] Without adapter 10, standard high pressure container 100 will not function properly with the refill arrangement of lighter 50. In particular, when the user presses the tip of port 106 against the tip of valve 64, compressing both springs 66 and 112 to establish a flow path between the inside of shell 102 and the inside 72 of housing 54, gas 104 will tend to escape around the outside of ejection port 106 and within female threads 74 instead of flowing through flow path 70 into lighter 50.

[0037] To remedy the above-described problem and enable standard higher pressure gas refillers, such as container 100, to fill lighters, such as lighter 50, adapter 10 in FIGS. 1 and 2 is provided. FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate that the adapter or transmitter 10 includes a body 14 that has or defines a connection portion or distributor 16 and a receiver or grasping portion 18. In one embodiment, connection portion or distributor 16 includes male mating threads that mate with female threads 74 of lighter 50.

[0038] It should be appreciated that connection portion or distributor 16 is not limited to having male threads but alternatively has another type of device for sealingly engaging a wall or series of walls extending outside of the inlet valve 64 of lighter 50. For example, lighter 50 could define male threads, wherein connector portion 16 defines mating female threads. Other possibilities for the connection portion or distributor 16 include one or more indentations that receive one or more O-ring that seals against a smooth bore (not illustrated) defined by lighter 50 around inlet port 64. Or, connection portion or distributor 16 can define splines on a male or female member that couple sealingly to mating splines defined by a female or male portion, respectively, of the lighter 50. Still further, connection portion or distributor 16 provides either the tube or the nut and ferrule portion of a ferruled connection, wherein the lighter 50 provides the other of the tube or the nut and ferrule. Still further, the lighter 50 connection portion or distributor 16 sealed interface can be a hose-barbed, clamped or press-fit interface. Moreover, the interface includes any combination of the above interfaces.

[0039] Body 14 of adapter 10 also includes a receiver or grasping portion 18. Receiver 18 provides a number of uses. First, grasping portion 18 is wider in cross-section than is connection portion or distributor 16, so that an annular groove 20 can be formed in receiver 18 to house and hold an O-ring 22 (FIG. 1). Annular ring 20 is centered around the same center line as is a bore or aperture 24 defined by adapter 10, which extends through the adapter. Aperture 24 enables ejection port 106 to pass through adapter 10 and contact inlet valve 64 of lighter 50. Grasping portion 18 also enables the user to grasp adapter or transmitter 10 to manually insert or remove the adapter into or out of lighter 50. To that end, the outer surface of grasping portion 18 can be knurled, roughened or otherwise adapted to be grasped and turned.

[0040] In the illustrated embodiment, the threads of connection portion or distributor 16 mate with female threads 74 of lighter 50 to disallow gas from escaping around the outside of adapter 10. In a similar manner, O-ring 22 seals around ejection port 106 to disallow gas from escaping around ejection port 106 and through a clearance area defined by the difference in radius between aperture 24 and ejection port 106. In this manner, adapter or transmitter 10 forces gas 104 to flow from container 100 through flow path 70 into the inside 72 of lighter 50.

[0041] It should be appreciated that the size of aperture 24 can be made wide enough to allow multiple different diameter ejection ports 106 to operate with the adapter 10. Importantly, O-ring 12 should be flexible enough to make a proper seal between an inner wall of the annular groove 20 of receiver 18 and the outside wall of ejection port 106, regardless of the diameter of ejection port 106.

[0042] Adapter or transmitter 10 is made of any suitable material, such as metal or plastic. Suitable metals include, but are not limited to, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, and any combination or alloy thereof. Plastics, such as polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene, polycarbonate, polyamide, nylon, acrylic, teflon as well as others, are suitable. Adapter or transmitter 10 is alternatively wood or ceramic or any combination of the above-listed materials. O-ring 22 can be of any suitable compressible material, such as neoprene, viton, Buna-N (Nitrile), silicone, polyurethane, ethylene polypropylene, butyle and natural rubber.

[0043] In an alternative embodiment, O-ring 22 can be housed in a circular channel (not illustrated) defined by outside surface 26 of grasping portion 18 and form a seal between surface 26 and the outer surface of top wall 110 of connector 100. The O-ring housed in surface 26 should be selected so that it does not obstruct the distance that port 106 can extend past connection portion or distributor 16 when inserted through aperture 24. This end seal embodiment allows for a wider range of diameters for port 106 to operate with adapter 10.

[0044] In operation, the user either threads adapter 10 into lighter 50 first and then pushes container 100 through aperture 24 of adapter 10. Otherwise, the operator can place adapter 10 onto container 100 and thread adapter 10 into lighter 50 until the proper threaded connection is made.

[0045] Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, an alternative adapter 30 of the present invention is illustrated. FIG. 3 includes a section view taken along the line III-III of the end view of connector 30 in FIG. 4. Previously, the grasping portion 18 of adapter or transmitter 10 extended below the bottom of housing 54 of lighter 50. With that adapter the user removes the adapter after the use of same. One convenient place to store adapter 10 is to place adapter 10 over ejection port 106, which is held relatively firmly in place via O-ring 22, until the user needs to refill lighter 50.

[0046] Adapter 30, on the other hand, has a smaller overall length than does adapter 10 and can be permanently or semipermanently installed into the female threads 74 and lighter 50. Adapter 30 includes a connection portion 32 and a “low profile” flange portion 34. Flange portion 34 is-relatively narrow compared with receiver 18 of adapter or transmitter 10. In an embodiment, flange portion 34 is sized so that when adapter 30 is screwed into lighter 50, the outer surface of flange 34 is flush or substantially flush with the bottom surface of housing 54 of lighter 50.

[0047] Alternative adapter 30 is made of a softer material, such as any soft plastic or hard rubber and defines an aperture 36 that is slightly less than the outer diameter of ejection port 106. When ejection port 106 is inserted into lighter 50, ejection port 106 presses against the inner cylindrical wall of connection portion 32 and slightly expands the normal diameter of aperture 36, to create a sealed connection. Flange portion 34 defines a mounting hole 38 that enables the user to insert and remove adapter 30 from lighter 50. In the illustrated embodiment, mounting hole 38 is sized and shaped to receive a hex driver or Allen wrench. It should be appreciated by those of skill in the art that other types and shapes of mounting holes 38 can be provided to perform the same function.

[0048] Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, another alternative adapter 40 is illustrated. FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-section of the adapter 40 taken along the line V-V of the end view of adapter 40, which is also illustrated in FIG. 6. Adapter 40 includes many of the same components as adapter 30, such as a housing 48 having the connection portion 32, flange 34 and hex head opening 38. Adapter 40, however, includes an alternative aperture 42 that allows a compressible insert 44 to be placed inside the connection portion 32 of adapter 40. An annular protrusion ring 46 is provided at either end of aperture 42 to hold the sealing member 44 in place when port 106 is inserted and removed from adapter 40.

[0049] Adapter 40 allows a hard material, such as metal or hard plastic to be used for the housing 48 of adapter 40. A compressible material, such as any of those described above, which can be more compressible than the material used to make adapter 30 is then possible for the sealing member 44. That more compressible material allows for greater variance in the size of the diameters of port 106 that will operate with adapter 40. Adapter 40, like adapter 30, includes low profile flange 34, so that adapter 40 can be inserted into female threads 74 of lighter 50 on a semi-permanent or permanent basis. The sealing member 44 has a smaller inner diameter than the outer diameter of ejection port 106, so that ejection port 106 deforms sealing member 44 and seals against the member when ejection port 106 is inserted into adapter 40. As before, the connection port portion 32 includes mating threads or other sealing member that prevents or substantially prevents gas from escaping around portion 32 when the user refills lighter 50 using container 100.

[0050] It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.





 
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