Title:
Napkin holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Packaging for napkins comprising: a box for holding napkins comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel, two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together, wherein when the box is filled with napkins the side panels are parallel to the planes of the napkins; at least one stabilizer having an operative position and a non-operative position; wherein in the non-operative orientation, the stabilizer does not substantially affect the shape of the box and in the operative orientation, the stabilizer stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel parallel to and contiguous with or close to a planar surface.



Inventors:
Braun, Ori J. (Palo Alto, CA, US)
Bass-blum, Dina (Palo Alto, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/868386
Publication Date:
03/24/2005
Filing Date:
06/15/2004
Assignee:
BRAUN ORI J.
BASS-BLUM DINA
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D5/355; B65D5/42; B65D5/52; (IPC1-7): B65D73/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William H. Dippert, Esq. (Reed Smith LLP 29th Floor 599 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY, 10022-7650, US)
Claims:
1. Packaging for napkins comprising: a box for holding napkins comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel, two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together, wherein when the box is filled with napkins the side panels are parallel to the planes of the napkins; and at least one stabilizer having an operative position and a non-operative position; wherein in the non-operative orientation, the stabilizer does not substantially affect the shape of the box and in the operative orientation, the stabilizer stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel parallel to and contiguous with or close to a planar surface.

2. Packaging according to claim 1 wherein the stabilizer comprises at least one foldable element and in the non-operative position the foldable element is folded and in the operative position the stabilizer is unfolded.

3. Packaging according to claim 2 wherein the folded element is a pleat parallel to the side panels formed in the bottom panel of the box, wherein when the pleat is folded, the bottom panel has a first width and when the pleat is unfolded the bottom panel has a second width greater than the first width, wherein the panel width is a dimension perpendicular to the side panels.

4. Packaging according to claim 3 wherein at least one of the side panels is creased and/or perforated along a line parallel to the bottom panel and when the pleat is unfolded the at least one side panel is bent along the crease line.

5. Packaging according to claim 2 wherein the foldable element comprises a region of at least one panel defined by a closed perimeter having a perforated section and a non-perforated section and wherein in the operative position the perimeter is torn along the perforated section and the foldable element is folded along the non-perforated section so that it extends outward from the box.

6. Packaging according to claim 5 wherein the at least one panel comprises a side panel

7. Packaging according to claim 5 wherein the at least one panel comprises the bottom panel.

8. Packaging according to claim 5 wherein the at least one panel comprises a tie panel.

9. Packaging according to claim 1 wherein the at least one stabilizer comprises at least one element rotatably attached to the bottom panel and in the non-operative position the element does not protrude beyond the side panels and in the operative position the rotatable element is rotated into a position in which a portion of the element protrudes beyond at least one of the side panels.

10. Packaging according to claim 1 wherein the base panel has a first edge along which it is connected to a first one of the side panels and a second edged substantially coplanar with but not attached to a second one of the side panels and the stabilizer comprises: a first panel connected to the second edge of the base panel; a second panel connected to the second side panel along a line parallel to the base panel; and a third panel connected to the first panel and connected to the second panel along a line parallel to the base panel; wherein in the non-operative position the second and third panels are sandwiched between the first panel and the second side panel and in the operative position the first, second and bottom panels are substantially perpendicular to the side panels and the third panel is substantially coplanar with the second side panel.

11. Packaging according to claim 10 and comprising at least one VELCRO™ hook fastener attached to the first panel and a matching VELCRO™ loop fastener located on the bottom panel or on the third panel, which when the stabilizer is in the operative position are coupled together and secure the stabilizer in the operative position.

12. Packaging according to claim 1 wherein the stabilizer comprises a support panel having a lower panel connected to the bottom panel and an upper panel having a tab, which upper panel borders the lower panel along a creased and/or perforated line parallel to the bottom panel, and in the non-operative position the lower and upper panels are substantially coplanar and contiguous with a side panel having a slot corresponding to the tab formed therein and in the operative position the lower panel is substantially perpendicular to the side panel, the upper panel is folded along the common border and the tab is inserted in the slot.

13. Packaging for napkins comprising: a box for holding napkins comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel, two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together, wherein when the box is filled with napkins the side panels are parallel to the planes of the napkins; and at least one support panel separate from the box and attachable to the box so that at least a portion of the support panel extends outward from the box and stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel contiguous with a planar surface.

14. Packaging according to claim 13 wherein the support panel is formed with tabs and the box is formed with slots that match the tabs and wherein in the operative position the tabs are inserted into the slots.

15. Packaging according to claim 13 wherein the support panel or a panel of the box has an adhesive and wherein in the operative position the adhesive region binds the support panel to the box.

16. Packaging according to claim 13 wherein the support panel has a VELCRO™ hook or loop fastener region and a panel of the box has respectively a matching loop or hook fastener region and wherein in the operative position the loop and hook fastener regions are pressed together to attach the support panel to the box.

17. Product packaging comprising: a box for holding a plurality of products, the box comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel and two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together; at least one divider panel perpendicular to the large side panels that divide the box's lumen into at least two compartments at least one stabilizer having an operative position and a non-operative position; wherein in the non-operative orientation, the stabilizer does not substantially affect the shape of the box and in the operative orientation, the stabilizer stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel parallel to and contiguous with or close to a planar surface.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 USC 119(e) of U.S. Ser. No. 60/478,368 filed on Jun. 16, 2003, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to napkin holders and in particular to point of purchase packaging for napkins that function as napkin holders for use on a table.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Napkins in retail-sale quantities are often cellophane wrapped or packaged in lightweight cardboard cartons for point of purchase presentation and sale. The packaging may be decorated or plain. In some cases, for relatively large retail quantities of napkins packaged in cartons, the cartons may be used as convenient and decorative napkin holders. A carton used to package a large quantity of napkins may be wide enough in a direction along which the napkins are stacked inside the carton so that the carton may be placed on a table with the planes of the napkins “upright”, i.e. substantially perpendicular to the table. A napkin may be taken out of the carton through a suitable opening produced by removing a portion of the carton delineated by a line or lines of perforations. The carton thereby presents the napkins on the table to a diner in much the same way that a conventional refillable napkin holder, fabricated for example out of plastic, metal or ceramic, presents napkins to a diner.

On the other hand, for napkins packaged in relatively small quantities, for example in quantities of 50 or less, a point of purchase package that contains the napkins is generally too narrow to be stably placed with an edge of the package on a table and the napkins in an upright position. However, for many occasions it is often convenient or desirable to present a relatively small quantity of napkins on a table or to present relatively small quantities of napkins at different locations on a table. It would therefore be convenient to have a relatively small quantity of napkins packaged in point of purchase packaging that could function as a napkin holder that hold the napkins upright on a table.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An aspect of some embodiments of the present invention relates to providing point of purchase packaging for a relatively small quantity of napkins that can function as a napkin holder for substantially upright presentation of the napkins on a table.

According to an aspect of some embodiments of the present invention the packaging comprises a container, hereinafter referred to as a “dual-function box”, for holding a quantity of napkins, and at least one stabilizing element. The box, optionally formed from cardboard, has a relatively narrow panel, hereinafter a “bottom panel”, which is contiguous with edges of the napkins and, when the box is fully filled with napkins, substantially perpendicular to the planes of the napkins.

The at least one stabilizing element has a non-operative position and an operative position. When the at least one stabilizer is in the non-operative position, the packaged napkins have a conventional, box-like shape having four rectangular, relatively narrow edge surfaces and two relatively large face surfaces. With its at least one stabilizer non-operative, the package is suitable for convenient stacking on a shelf at a point of purchase, for example on a shelf in a super market. When the at least one stabilizer is in the operative position, the box may be placed with its bottom panel on a table so that the box and the napkins it contains are substantially in an upright or near upright position. The at least one stabilizer functions to stabilize the box in the upright position in which it is placed and reduces ease with which the box may be tipped over. In some embodiments of the invention, with its at least one stabilizer operative, the box may be stably placed with it bottom panel on a table but with the box and its napkins angled with respect to the upright direction, i.e. angled with respect to a normal to the table. Napkins in the napkin box are removed from the box through a suitable opening.

In some embodiments of the invention, the stabilizer is a foldable element, hereinafter referred to as a “foldable stabilizer”, integrally formed with the dual-function box. The at least one foldable stabilizer has a folded or “retracted” position and an unfolded or “extended” position. The stabilizer is in a non-operative position when folded or retracted and in an operative position when unfolded or extended.

In some embodiments of the invention, a stabilizer is not an integral element of the dual-function box construction but is a separate stabilizer, which is packaged with the dual-function box. To adapt the box to function as a napkin holder the stabilizer is attached to the box to stabilize the box when it is placed on a table with its bottom panel on the table.

In some embodiments of the invention, the stabilizer is formed with tabs and is attached to the box by inserting the tabs into matching slots in the box. In some embodiments of the invention, the stabilizer has an adhesive formed on a region thereon. A removable non-stick film optionally protects the adhesive. The stabilizer is attached to the box by removing the protective film and pressing the adhesive to the box. In some embodiments of the present invention the stabilizer has a VELCRO™ loop or hook fastener attached thereto and the dual-function box has a corresponding VELCRO™ hook or loop fastener attached thereto. To attach the stabilizer to the box the hook and loop regions are pressed together.

With its at least one stabilizer non-operative a dual-function box is said to be in a “stackable configuration” and with its at least one stabilizer operative the dual-function box is said to be in a “serving configuration”.

There is therefore provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention packaging for napkins comprising: a box for holding napkins comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel, two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together, wherein when the box is filled with napkins the side panels are parallel to the planes of the napkins; at least one stabilizer having an operative position and a non-operative position; wherein in the non-operative orientation, the stabilizer does not substantially affect the shape of the box and in the operative orientation, the stabilizer stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel parallel to and contiguous with or close to a planar surface.

Optionally, the stabilizer comprises at least one foldable element and in the non-operative position the foldable element is folded and in the operative position the stabilizer is unfolded.

Optionally, the folded element is a pleat parallel to the side panels formed in the bottom panel of the box, wherein when the pleat is folded, the bottom panel has a first width and when the pleat is unfolded the bottom panel has a second width greater than the first width, wherein the panel width is a dimension perpendicular to the side panels.

Optionally, at least one of the side panels is creased and/or perforated along a line parallel to the bottom panel and when the pleat is unfolded the at least one side panel is bent along the crease line.

In some embodiments of the present invention the foldable element comprises a region of at least one panel defined by a closed perimeter having a perforated section and a non-perforated section and wherein in the operative position the perimeter is torn along the perforated section and the foldable element is folded along the non-perforated section so that it extends outward from the box.

Optionally, the at least one panel comprises a side panel. Additionally or alternatively, the at least one panel comprises the bottom panel. In some embodiments of the present invention, the at least one panel comprises a tie panel.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the at least one stabilizer comprises at least one element rotatably attached to the bottom panel and in the non-operative position the element does not protrude beyond the side panels and in the operative position the rotatable element is rotated into a position in which a portion of the element protrudes beyond at least one of the side panels.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the base panel has a first edge along which it is connected to a first one of the side panels and a second edged substantially coplanar with but not attached to a second one of the side panels and the stabilizer comprises:

    • a first panel connected to the second edge of the base panel; a second panel connected to the second side panel along a line parallel to the base panel; and a third panel connected to the first panel and connected to the second panel along a line parallel to the base panel; wherein in the non-operative position the second and third panels are sandwiched between the first panel and the second side panel and in the operative position the first, second and bottom panels are substantially perpendicular to the side panels and the third panel is substantially coplanar with the second side panel.

Optionally, the packaging comprises at least one VELCRO™ hook fastener attached to the first panel and a matching VELCRO™ loop fastener located on the bottom panel or on the third panel, which when the stabilizer is in the operative position are coupled together and secure the stabilizer in the operative position.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the stabilizer comprises a support panel having a lower panel connected to the bottom panel and an upper panel having a tab, which upper panel borders the lower panel along a creased and/or perforated line parallel to the bottom panel, and in the non-operative position the lower and upper panels are substantially coplanar and contiguous with a side panel having a slot corresponding to the tab formed therein and in the operative position the lower panel is substantially perpendicular to the side panel, the upper panel is folded along the common border and the tab is inserted in the slot.

There is further provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, packaging for napkins comprising: a box for holding napkins comprising a bottom panel, two relatively large parallel side panels perpendicular to the bottom panel, two parallel tie panels opposite each other and perpendicular to the side panels that connect the side panels together, wherein when the box is filled with napkins the side panels are parallel to the planes of the napkins; and at least one support panel separate from the box and attachable to the box so that at least a portion of the support panel extends outward from the box and stabilizes the position of the box when the box is placed with its bottom panel contiguous with a planar surface.

Optionally, the support panel is formed with tabs and the box is formed with slots that match the tabs and wherein in the operative position the tabs are inserted into the slots.

Optionally, the support panel or a panel of the box has an adhesive and wherein in the operative position the adhesive region binds the support panel to the box.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the support panel has a VELCRO™ hook or loop fastener region and a panel of the box has respectively a matching loop or hook fastener region and wherein in the operative position the loop and hook fastener regions are pressed together to attach the support panel to the box.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

Non-limiting examples of embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to figures attached hereto. In the figures, identical structures, elements or parts that appear in more than one figure are generally labeled with a same numeral in all the figures in which they appear. Dimensions of components and features shown in the figures are chosen for convenience and clarity of presentation and are not necessarily shown to scale. The figures are listed below.

FIGS. 1A and 1B schematically show respectively an empty and napkin-filled dual-function box comprising a foldable stabilizer and in a stackable configuration, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 1C and 1D schematically show respectively the empty and napkin-filled dual-function box shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B in a serving configuration, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1E schematically shows a variation of the dual-function box shown in FIGS. 1A-1D, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B schematically show another dual-function box comprising a foldable stabilizer in a stackable configuration and a serving configuration respectively, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 3A and 3B schematically show a dual-function box, having foldable stabilizers formed on side panels of the box, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4A schematically shows a dual-function box having arcuate shaped foldable stabilizers, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4B schematically shows another dual-function box having foldable stabilizers, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 5A and 5B schematically show a dual-function box formed with slots for receiving a stabilizer having matching tabs, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 6A and 6B schematically show a dual-function box, which is coupled to two stabilizers to convert the box to a serving configuration, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 7A and 7B schematically show a dual-function box and a stabilizer having an adhesive region that is used to attach the stabilizer to the box, in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 8A and 8B schematically show a dual-function box having at least one stabilizer that is rotated from its non-operative position to its operative position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 9A-9D schematically show stages in unfolding a stabilizer of a dual-function napkin box, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 10A-10C schematically show the dual-function box shown in FIGS. 9A-9D with the addition of VELCRO™ fasteners to secure its stabilizers in an operative position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 11A and 11B schematically show another dual-function box in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 12A and 12B schematically show a variation of a dual function box for packaging products other than napkins, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1A and 1B schematically show an empty dual-function box 20 having a foldable stabilizer, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Box 20 is shown empty and in a stackable configuration in FIG. 1A and in the stackable configuration but filled with napkins 22 in FIG. 1B.

Dual-function box 20 comprises two relatively large side panels 24 and a bottom panel 26 having long edges 28 and a pleat 30, substantially parallel to the long edges, that functions as a foldable stabilizer. Pleat 30 is produced by a top bend 32 and two lateral bends 33 formed in bottom panel 26. Whereas pleat 30 is shown located substantially equidistant from long edges 28 of bottom panel 26, pleat 30 may be located closer to one of the edges. Side panels 24 have top edges 34, side edges 36 and are optionally rectangular and have same dimensions. A tie panel 40 connects each side edge 36 of one side panel 24 to a corresponding side edge 36 opposite it on the other side panel. Each tie panel 40 has a bottom edge 41 displaced from bottom panel 26 and a top edge 42 optionally parallel to the bottom edge. Bottom edge 41 of each tie panel 40 intersects a side edge 36 of each side panel 36 at an intersection point 37. Optionally, bottom edge 41 of each tie panel 40 is located at a same height above bottom panel 26. Optionally, tie panels 40 have identical shapes. Each side panel 24 is optionally perforated or creased along a dashed line 44 that optionally connects intersection points 37 of the panel's side edges 36 with bottom edges 41 of tie panels 40. For convenience of presentation it is assumed that lines 44 represent creases. In the stackable configuration, optionally, a suitable cellophane wrapper (not shown) seals and protects dual-function box 20 and napkins 22 contained therein.

Dual-function box 20 is converted from the stackable configuration to the serving configuration by pressing down on top bend 32 with the fingers to flatten out pleat 30 and put the pleat into an operative position. Flattening out pleat 30 increases the width of bottom panel 26 so that box 20 and napkins 22 may be placed on a table (not shown) with the bottom panel in contact with the table and the box and napkins stably in an upright position. Flattening out pleat 30 to expand bottom panel 26 generates bending forces on side panels 24 that operate to oppose the flattening of the pleat and to tear tie panels 40. Creases 44 formed in side panels 24 reduce the bending forces and their tendency to tear tie panels 40 by enabling the bending forces to relatively easily bend side panels 24 along their respective crease. FIG. 1C schematically shows dual-function box 20 empty and in a serving configuration with pleat 30 flattened. FIG. 1D schematically shows dual-function box 20 in a serving configuration with pleat 30 flattened and filled with napkins 22.

Whereas FIGS. 1A-1D schematically show dual-function box 20 having a crease 44 on each side panel 24, a dual-function box in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention may have a crease (or line of perforations) 44 on only one of its side panels. For such a dual-function box, when a pleat 30 in the box's bottom panel 26 is flattened out to convert the box to the serving configuration, the box will lean towards the side panel 24 having the crease. A serving configuration that “leans” can be advantageous for presentation of napkins 22 contained in box 20.

FIG. 1E schematically shows a dual-function box 50 having side panels 51 and 52 and a crease 54 (or line of perforations) on side panel 51 but not on side panel 52, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Box 50 is shown in the serving configuration leaning to one side and with its pleat stabilizer 30 flattened. Optionally, side panel 51 is sufficiently long to support napkins 22 so that they do not “droop” over a top edge 34 of the box.

FIGS. 2A and 2B schematically show a dual-function box 60 in a stackable configuration and a serving configuration respectively, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. For clarity of presentation, in FIG. 2A box 30 is shown empty and in FIG. 2B the box is shown filled with napkins 22. Features germane to the discussion or visualization of germane features, which are not normally seen in the perspective of FIG. 2A, are shown in ghost lines.

Dual-function box 60 comprises by way of example side panels 24 having side edges 36, tie panels 62 and a bottom panel 26 having long edges 28. Bottom panel 26 has perforation lines 64 formed therein along which the material from which box 60 is formed may be relatively easily torn. Each perforation line 64 begins and ends at points 66 lying substantially along a same long edge 28 of bottom panel 26. At least one perforation line 64 begins and ends along each edge 28.

Perforation lines 64 delineate regions 68 of bottom panel 26 that function as foldable stabilizers. By way of example in FIGS. 2A and 2B perforation lines 64 are semicircular and stabilizers 68 are semicircular. However perforation lines 64 may have shapes other than semicircular and may for example delineate triangular, elliptical or rectangular regions of bottom panel 26. In addition, whereas bottom panel 26 has three perforation lines 64 that delineate three stabilizers 68, a bottom panel of a dual-function box in accordance with an embodiment of the invention may have any number of perforation lines, and thereby stabilizers, equal to or greater than two.

To convert box 60 to a serving configuration, bottom panel 26 is torn along perforation lines 64 and stabilizers 68 are folded through about 180° so that they are coplanar with bottom panel 26 and extend outwards from the box. FIG. 2B schematically shows box 60 filled with napkins 22 and stabilizers 68 in their extended, operative positions. Only stabilizers 68 on one side of box 60 are shown in the perspective of FIG. 2B Whereas dual box 60 comprises stabilizers formed on bottom panel 26, in some embodiments of the present invention, a dual-function box has stabilizers formed on side panels 24 of the box.

FIGS. 3A and 3B schematically show a dual-function box 70, having stabilizers formed on side panels 24 of the box. FIG. 3A schematically shows dual-function box 70 empty and in a stackable configuration. Features germane to the discussion of dual-function box 70 not normally seen in the perspective of FIG. 3A are shown in ghost lines. FIG. 3B schematically shows dual-function box 70 with its stabilizers in their operative, extended positions.

Box 70 has at least one stabilizer 72 delineated by a perforation line 74 on each side panel 24. Each perforation line 74 begins and ends at points 76 substantially along a same side edge 36 of the panel and has a section 78 of the perforation line that lies substantially along a long edge 28 of bottom panel 26. Section 78 of a perforation line 74 is shown slightly raised above edge 28 for clarity of visualization. By way of example, box 70 has four perforation lines 74, each of which delineates a quarter circle stabilizer 72. For clarity of presentation and to prevent clutter, only some features of dual-function box identified by a same numeral are labeled by the numeral. “Side panel” stabilizers, in accordance with embodiments of the invention may have shapes other than those shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B.

FIG. 4A schematically shows a dual-function box 80 in a serving configuration and filled with napkins 22. Dual-function box 80 comprises stabilizers 82 having, by way of example, an arcuate shape.

Foldable stabilizers similar to foldable stabilizers 68, 72 or 82 may also be formed on tie panels 62, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 4B schematically shows a dual-function box 180 having two foldable stabilizers 182 formed on each tie panel 62 of the box. In the figure, box 180 is shown in a serving configuration and stabilizers 182, only three of which are seen in the perspective of the figure, in operative positions. It is noted that whereas dual-function box 180 has two foldable stabilizers 182 formed on each tie panel 62, in some embodiments of the invention a box similar to box 180 may have a single foldable stabilizer similar to a stabilizer 182 on each tie panel 62. Single stabilizers on opposite tie panels 62 protrude from opposite sides of the box when in their respective operative positions.

In some embodiments of the present invention, a dual-function box comprises at least one stabilizer that is not integrally formed with the box. In a stackable configuration the stabilizer is separate from the box but is optionally packaged with the box and napkins it contains. For example, the stabilizer may be packaged inside the box with the napkins or inside a cellophane wrapper that protects the box and the napkins it contains. The stabilizer has a coupling feature that enables the stabilizer to be coupled to the box in an extended position that stabilizes the box in a serving configuration.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the coupling feature comprises tabs on the stabilizer that match slots formed in the dual-function box. To couple the at least one stabilizer to the box the tabs are inserted into the slots.

FIGS. 5A and 5B schematically show an empty dual-function box 90 formed with slots 92 for receiving a stabilizer 94 formed with matching tabs 96, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 5A schematically shows box 90 in a stackable configuration in which it is not coupled to its stabilizer 94. FIG. 5B schematically show box 90 in its serving configuration in which stabilizer 94 is coupled to the box and functioning in its operative position to stabilize the box's orientation on a table (not shown). By way of example, at least one stabilizer 94 has an oval shape and slots 92 formed in box 90 are formed in side panels 24 of the box. Ghost lines show features normally hidden in the perspective of the figures.

Configurations of slots 92 and tabs 96 and their number as well as a shape of an at least one stabilizer 94, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention may be different from that shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B. FIGS. 6A and 6B schematically show a dual-function box 100, which is coupled to two stabilizers 102 to convert the box to a serving configuration, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. By way of example, each stabilizer 102 has two tabs 104 and box 100 has a slot 106 to match a tab 104 along each side edge 36 of each side panel 24 of the box. FIG. 6A schematically shows box 100 separate from its stabilizers and FIG. 6B shows the stabilizers in their operative positions coupled to the box by insertion of tabs 104 into their respective slots 106.

Variations of slot and tab configurations different from those described above for coupling a stabilizer to a dual-function box, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention, will readily occur to a person of the art.

In some embodiments of the present invention a separate at least one stabilizer is formed with an adhesive region. In a stackable configuration the adhesive region is covered with a protective non-stick film. The protective film is removed to expose the adhesive region, which is pressed to the box to couple the stabilizer in an operative position.

FIGS. 7A and 7B schematically show a box 110 and a stabilizer 112 having an adhesive region 114. Adhesive region 114 is optionally protected by a suitable non-stick film (not shown) which is removed to stick stabilizer 112 to bottom panel 26 and couple the stabilizer to the box so that it is operative to stabilize orientation of the box when it is placed on a table. FIGS. 7A and 7B respectively show box 110 and stabilizer 112 separate and coupled together. By way of example stabilizer 112 has an oval shape similar to that of stabilizer 94 (FIGS. 5A and 5B). In some embodiments of the invention corresponding VELCRO™ loop or hook fastener which are attached to box 110 and stabilizer 112 replace adhesive region 114. To attach stabilizer 112 to box 110 the hook and loop regions are pressed together.

Stabilizers different from that shown in FIGS. 7A and 7B for stabilizing a dual-function box that are coupled to the box using an adhesive region, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, will readily occur to a person of the art.

FIGS. 8A and 8B schematically show a napkin box 120 having at least one stabilizer 122 that is rotated from its non-operative position to its operative position. FIG. 8A schematically shows box 120 seen in perspective from a position in which bottom panel 26 of the box is seen. Box 120 has, by way of example, two rotatable stabilizers 122, each of which is attached to bottom panel 26 of the box by a suitable rivet 124 or fastener, using any of various devices and techniques known in the art. In FIG. 8A stabilizers 122 are in their non-operative position and do not protrude beyond edges 28 of bottom panel 26. A rivet 124, which attaches a stabilizer 122 to bottom panel 26 allows the stabilizer to be rotated to its operative position in which it sticks out beyond edges 28 of the bottom panel. FIG. 8B schematically shows box 120 with its stabilizers 122 in their operative positions.

FIGS. 9A-9B schematically show another dual-function napkin box 130 and stages in unfolding the dual-function box's relatively larger folding stabilizer 132, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Features of napkin box 130 in FIGS. 9A-9D germane to the discussion, which would not normally be seen in the perspective of the figures, are shown in dashed lines.

Folding stabilizer 132 comprises a fold-over “support” panel 134, which when napkin-box 130 is in a stackable configuration, is folded along a side panel 24 of the napkin box. Fold-over panel 134 is connected to bottom panel 26 along an edge 28 of the bottom panel and to side panel 24 along an edge 136 of the side panel by two connecting panels 138 and 140. Panels 138 and 139 are connected to each other along a perforated or creased line 139. FIG. 9A schematically shows box 130 in its stackable configuration with stabilizer 132 folded along side panel 24. In the figure, fold-over panel 134 is shown not quite lying flush with side panel 24 in order to more clearly show connecting panels 138 and 140 and to show how fold-over panel is connected to side panel 24 and bottom panel 26.

FIGS. 9B and 9C show different positions of folding stabilizer 132 as it is unfolded from its non-operative position to its operative position schematically shown in FIG. 9D. In the operative position, ideally bottom panel 26 and connecting panel 140 are substantially flush with fold over panel 134. In FIG. 9D bottom panel 26 and connecting panel 140 are not quite flush with fold-over panel 134 to more clearly show the relationship between the fold-over panel, the bottom panel and the connecting panel when napkin box 130 is in a serving configuration with stabilizer 132 in an operative-position.

Optionally, in the operative position of stabilizer 132, connecting panel 140 and bottom panel 26 are securely fastened to fold-over panel 134 so as to prevent the bottom panel or the connecting panel from “lifting off” of the fold-over panel. Optionally, to fasten fold-over panel 134 to bottom panel 26 and connecting panel 140, opposing regions of VELCRO™ hook fasteners and VELCRO™ loop fasteners are located on the bottom panel, the connecting panel and fold-over panel 134. The hook and loop fastener regions are located so that when stabilizer 132 is in an operating position a hook or loop region on bottom panel 26 is located opposite a loop or hook region respectively on fold-over panel 134. Similarly, a hook or loop fastener region located on connecting panel 140 is opposite a loop or hook fastener region respectively on fold-over panel 134 when stabilizer 132 is in the operating position. When stabilizer 134 is unfolded into its operating position, pressure is applied to fasten the hook regions to the loop regions to securely fasten bottom pane 26 and connecting panel 140 to fold-over panel 134.

A napkin box 150, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, identical to napkin box 130 shown in FIGS. 9A-9D except for the addition of VELCRO™ fastener regions is schematically shown in FIGS. 10A-10C. In FIG. 10A napkin box 150 is shown in a stackable configuration. Optionally, fold-over panel 134 has two fastener regions, which are on the “inside” surface of the panel and are not normally seen in the perspective of FIG. 10A. The fastener regions are shown as dashed shaded regions 151 and 152. A fastener region 153 on bottom panel 26 is opposite fastener region 151 when stabilizer 132 is in its operative position. A portion of fastener region 153 not normally seen in the perspective of FIG. 10A is shown with dashed shading. A fastener region 154 located on connecting panel 140, which is opposite fastener region 152 in the operative position is not seen in FIG. 10A because it is directly opposite fastener region 152 in the non-operative position as well, and in FIG. 10A is hidden by fastener region 152. Fastener region 154 is shown in FIG. 10B, which shows an optional position of stabilizer 132 between its non-operative position and its operative position. The operative position of stabilizer 132 is shown in FIG. 10C in which napkin box 150 is in a serving configuration. In FIG. 10C fastener regions 153 and 154 on respectively hide fastener regions 151 and 152 on fold-over panel 134.

It is noted that in the non-operative position of stabilizer 132, when fold-over panel 134 is folded along panel 24, fastener regions 154 and 152 on connecting panel 140 and fold-over panel 134 respectively fasten the fold over panel to the connecting panel. In the process of unfolding stabilizer 132 to configure the stabilizer in the operative position, connecting panel 140 may remain fastened to fold-over panel 34 without preventing or substantially hindering the process. In some embodiments of the invention, fastener regions 154 and 152 on connecting panel 140 and fold-over panel 134 are replaced by a permanent adhesive bond between the connecting panel and the fold-over panel.

FIGS. 11A and 11B schematically show yet another dual-function box 160 in a stackable configuration and a serving configuration respectively, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Dual-function box 160 comprises two “fold-down” panels 162, each of which in the stackable configuration of the box, shown in FIG. 11A, is substantially contiguous with a different side panel 24. In the perspective of FIG. 11A only one fold-down panel is seen. Fold-down panel 152 comprises a lower panel 167 and an upper panel 166. Lower panel 167 and an upper panel 166 share a common border along a perforation or crease line 164. A tab 168 extends from upper panel 162.

In FIG. 11B dual-function box is in a serving configuration and its fold-down panels 162, only one of which is shown in FIG. 11B, are in operative positions. In the operative position fold-down panel 162 is folded away from side panel 24 and folded along perforation or crease line 162 so that lower panel 167 is substantially perpendicular to side panel 26 and tab 168 is inserted into a slot 170 formed in side panel 24.

Whereas in the above description, dual function boxes are used for packaging napkins, dual function boxes and variations of dual function boxes, in accordance with embodiments of the invention may be used for packaging products other than napkins. For example, a dual function box 200 with partitions may be used for point of purchase packaging and for serving of drinking straws or plastic forks, spoons and knives.

FIG. 12A schematically shows a dual function box 200 similar to dual function box 160 shown in FIGS. 11A and 11B but having full tie panels 62 and partition panels 202 that, by way of example, divide the box's lumen into three compartments 204. Box 200 is shown in the serving configuration and filled, by way of example with plastic knives forks and spoons. In FIG. 12B dual function box 200 is shown in the serving configuration and filled with plastic forks, spoons and knives. Whereas in the above example dual function box 200 is similar to dual function box 160, a partitioned dual function box may be similar to other of the dual function boxes shown in FIGS. 1A-10C.

In the description and claims of the present application, each of the verbs, “comprise” “include” and “have”, and conjugates thereof, are used to indicate that the object or objects of the verb are not necessarily a complete listing of members, components, elements or parts of the subject or subjects of the verb.

The present invention has been described using detailed descriptions of embodiments thereof that are provided by way of example and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. The described embodiments comprise different features, not all of which are required in all embodiments of the invention. Some embodiments of the present invention utilize only some of the features or possible combinations of the features. Variations of embodiments of the present invention that are described and embodiments of the present invention comprising different combinations of features noted in the described embodiments will occur to persons of the art. The scope of the invention is limited only by the following claims.