Title:
Folded material containment packages and related methods of packaging folded material products
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Packages for holding a product therein have a generally rectangular resilient body having opposing primary front and rear walls, opposing first and second sidewalls extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions attached to portions of the front and rear walls. The packages include a corner cutout portion that exposes a portion of a product held in the package thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers. The corner cutout portion can be a top corner cutout portion that extends over three-dimensions of the resilient package.



Inventors:
Weber, Mark (Charlotte, NC, US)
Mcgarry, Matthew (Charlotte, NC, US)
Barr, Louisa (Charlotte, NC, US)
Lebwohl, Ian (New York City, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/832916
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
04/27/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/525, 206/736, 206/769
International Classes:
B65D25/54; B65D75/54; B65D75/56; (IPC1-7): B65D25/54
View Patent Images:
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20090283441Cosmetics kitNovember, 2009Santaw et al.
20040045840Case for holding an eyeglasses care kitMarch, 2004Gagnon
20100059410CONTAINERS FOR DISPLAYING FOLDED TEXTILE PRODUCTSMarch, 2010Smith
20100084308PACKAGING SYSTEM WITH A SELECTABLE LOCKING FEATUREApril, 2010Rigby
20050211589Containment system for a dendritic objectSeptember, 2005Holzhaus II
20090261005PACKAGE FOR A SAW BLADE OR SIMILAR PRODUCTOctober, 2009Kasubowski et al.
20080286710PACKAGED ORTHODONTIC APPLIANCE AND ADHESIVE MATERIALNovember, 2008Cinader Jr. et al.
20020195361Lock memberDecember, 2002Fukami



Primary Examiner:
REYNOLDS, STEVEN ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Julie H. Richardson;Myers Bigel Sibley & Sajovec, P.A. (P. O. Box 37428, Raleigh, NC, 27627, US)
Claims:
1. A package for holding a product therein, comprising: a generally rectangular resilient package having opposing primary front and rear walls, opposing first and second sidewalls extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions attached to portions of the front and rear walls, wherein the package includes a corner cutout portion that exposes a portion of a product held in the package, thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers.

2. A package according to claim 1, wherein the corner cutout portion is a top corner cutout portion that extends over three dimensions of the resilient package.

3. A package according to claim 1, wherein the front wall has a curvilinear perimeter portion that defines a front portion of the cutout.

4. A package according to claim 3, wherein the rear wall has a curvilinear perimeter portion that defines a rear portion of the cutout.

5. A package according to claim 2, wherein the corner cutout extends from a generally medial top portion of the package down to a lower location at an outer portion of both the front and rear walls and across the first sidewall therebetween, and wherein the first sidewall has a generally horizontal edge portion extending between the front and rear walls at a location that is below a center of the package and in a direction that is generally orthogonal to the front and rear walls that defines a lower side portion of the cutout.

6. A package according to claim 2, wherein the front and rear walls are generally parallel to each other with the sidewalls extending generally orthogonal thereto, and wherein the front and rear walls have a curvilinear perimeter portion that merge into opposing sides of the first sidewall.

7. A package according to claim 1, further comprising a hanger for suspending the package on a display rack.

8. A package according to claim 7, wherein the second sidewall has an aperture positioned adjacent the top portion of the package sized and configured to receive an arm of the hanger therethrough.

9. A package according to claim 8, further comprising a folded product held in the package so that the hanger extends through the package aperture under a top fold region thereof and out the cutout.

10. A package according to claim 9, wherein the folded product is a soft fabric shower curtain.

11. A package according to claim 10, wherein the shower curtain is folded in a generally rectangular shape having a first area associated therewith, the package further comprising a folded liner having a generally rectangular folded shape having a second area associated therewith that is smaller than the first area, the liner held in the package inside a closed edge of a longitudinal fold of the shower curtain proximate the cutout portion of the package, thereby trapping the liner in the package while allowing direct tactile and visual contact with the shower curtain.

12. A package according to claim 1, wherein the package is a polymer bag.

13. A package according to claim 12, wherein the package is transparent or translucent.

14. A package according to claim 1, further comprising a paper insert that is configured to reside inside the package and generally follow the cutout shape of the front and rear walls.

15. A package according to claim 1, further comprising a folded product held in the package, wherein the cutout exposes between about 15-30% of both front and rear surface areas, and at least about 30% of the top and one side, of the folded product held therein.

16. A package according to claim 15, wherein the package cutout is configured to expose a contiguous length, width and thickness of a region of the folded product held in the package.

17. A package according to claim 16, wherein the remainder of the folded product located away from the cutout in the package is held generally encased in the resilient package.

18. A package according to claim 1, wherein the bottom and second sidewall of the package have generally closed surfaces, and wherein the top of the package and first sidewall are generally closed surfaces away from the cutout.

19. A package according to claim 1, wherein the resilient package is a seamed elastomeric bag with a generally flat bottom.

20. A package according to claim 1, wherein the cutout shape on the front and rear walls is generally a quadrant of a circle.

21. A package with a folded-product held therein, comprising: a resilient package having a top corner cutout portion and opposing primary front and rear walls, opposing first and second sidewalls extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions attached to portions of the front and rear walls; and a folded material product, the product held in the package so that at least a top edge portion of the product is exposed by the corner cutout portion thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers.

22. A package according to claim 21, wherein the top corner cutout has a perimeter that extends over three dimensions of the top corner of the package, and wherein the folded material is a folded fabric product that has a plurality of vertical folds that are exposed by the cutout thereby providing direct tactile accessibility thereof to potential customers.

23. A package according to claim 22, wherein the folded fabric product has a generally rectangular shape, and wherein, in the package, the folded fabric has a contiguous exposure corner region that includes at least a major portion of a length and width of the front and rear surfaces of the product, and an upper portion of one side of the vertical folds.

24. A package according to claim 21, wherein the cutout has a generally curvilinear boundary on the front and rear walls of the package.

25. A package according to claim 24, wherein the cutout includes portions on the front and rear walls that are generally configured as a quadrant of a circle.

26. A package according to claim 21, further comprising a hanger configured to suspend the package on a display rack.

27. A package according to claim 26, wherein the second sidewall has an aperture positioned adjacent the top portion of the package sized and configured to receive an arm of the hanger therethrough, wherein the hanger has an upper hook portion with shoulders that terminate into the arm, and wherein the arm is configured with a loose end portion that is attachable to a primary body of the hanger to attach thereto after insertion into the folded fabric.

28. A package according to claim 27, wherein the hanger extends through the package aperture under an upper horizontal fold region and then extends out of package cutout.

29. A package according to claim 21, wherein the folded material is a soft fabric shower curtain.

30. A package according to claim 29, further comprising a folded shower liner held in the package inside a closed vertical fold edge of the shower curtain proximate the cutout, thereby trapping the liner in the package with the shower curtain while allowing direct tactile and visual contact with the shower curtain.

31. A package according to claim 21, wherein the package is a generally rectangular elastomeric bag.

32. A package according to claim 31, wherein the package is transparent or translucent.

33. A package according to claim 21, further comprising a paper insert that is configured to reside inside the package and has a front and rear wall shape that generally follows the shape of the package front and rear walls.

34. A method of packaging a folded material product, comprising: folding a target material into a generally rectangular shape; providing a resilient generally rectangular bag with a corner cutout portion, the bag having front and rear walls with an open first side having a flap portion and an opposing generally closed second side between the front and rear walls; providing an insert in the bag so that visual indicia thereon is visible at least through the front and rear walls of the bag; inserting the folded material into the open side of the bag so that a three-dimensional corner edge portion thereof is exposed for direct visual and tactile interaction; and closing the flap over the open side of the bag to secure the folded material in the bag.

35. A method according to claim 34, further comprising inserting a hanger through an upper fold of the material so that the package and material can be suspended for display.

36. A method according to claim 35, wherein the bag generally closed side has an upper aperture therein, wherein the hanger has a hanger body with an arm, and wherein the inserting step comprises: inserting the arm of the hanger through the aperture; and then securing the arm to the hanger body.

37. A method according to claim 34, wherein the material is a soft fabric.

38. A method according to claim 34, wherein the material is a fabric shower curtain.

39. A method according to claim 34, wherein the folding step comprises: folding a shower curtain soft fabric material into a first generally rectangular shape; and folding a liner into a generally rectangular shape that is smaller than that of the shower curtain.

40. A method according to claim 39, further comprising placing the liner inside the bounds of the folded shower curtain so that one vertical side portion is held trapped within a vertical fold of the shower curtain so that, in position in the package, the liner is held within the folded shower curtain under the exposed corner edge portion thereof, and wherein the inserting step is carried out by inserting the folded shower curtain with the folded liner into the bag.

41. A method according to claim 39, further comprising placing a paper insert with color indicia thereon into the bag, the insert having a contour proximate the cutout that generally follows that of the bag so that the indicia thereon is externally viewable about at least the front and rear wall portions of the bag and so that the insert does not extend out of the bag into the cutout corner portion thereof.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to packaging of goods.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Consumer goods or samples are often displayed on shelves or racks in stores for customer viewing. In the past, some packages have been configured with openings that allow direct visual and/or tactile contact of a product held therein. See, e.g., FR2583721, 5,622,258, 5,622,258, 6,401,932, 6,126,008, D450,578 and D430,016.

Nonetheless, there remains a need to provide alternate packaging configurations that allow customer tactile interaction while also retaining the product therein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention are directed to packages with a corner cutout that allows a potential consumer to have direct visual and/or tactile access to a relatively large expanse of product while safely retaining the product in the package. The package may be configured as a resilient bag.

In particular embodiments, the corner cutout may have portions with a curvilinear boundary shape and the packages may be particularly suitable for holding folded soft fabric products such as shower curtains, liners, window coverings, and the like.

Certain embodiments of the present invention are directed to packages for holding a product therein. The package can have a generally rectangular resilient shape with opposing primary front and rear walls, opposing first and second sidewalls extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions attached to portions of the front and rear walls. The package includes a corner cutout portion that exposes a portion of a product held in the package, thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers.

In some embodiments, the corner cutout portion is a top corner cutout portion that extends over three-dimensions of the package, from a generally medial top portion of the package down to a lower location at an outer portion of both the front and rear walls and across the first sidewall therebetween. In particular embodiments, the front wall can have a curvilinear perimeter portion that defines a front portion of the cutout.

The package can hold a shower curtain that is folded in a generally rectangular shape having a first area associated therewith. The package can also hold a folded liner having a generally rectangular folded shape with a second area associated therewith. The second area can be smaller than the first area. The liner can be held in the package inside a closed edge of a longitudinal fold of the shower curtain proximate the cutout portion of the package, thereby trapping the liner in the package while allowing direct tactile and visual contact with the shower curtain

Other embodiments are directed to packages with a folded-material product held therein. The filled packages include: (a) a resilient package having opposing primary front and rear walls, opposing first and second sidewalls extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions attached to portions of the front and rear walls, wherein the package comprises a top corner cutout portion; and (b) a folded product held in the package so that at least a top edge portion of the product is exposed by the corner cutout portion of the package, thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers.

The folded product can be a folded soft fabric product in a generally rectangular shape with a plurality of horizontal and vertical folds. The folded fabric is held in the package so that it has a contiguous exposure corner region that includes an upper portion of the horizontal folds, a medial to lower portion of front and rear surfaces therebelow, and an upper portion of one side of the vertical folds.

Still other embodiments are directed to methods of packaging a folded material product. The methods include: (a) folding a target material into a generally rectangular shape; (b) providing a resilient generally rectangular bag with a corner cutout portion, the bag having front and rear walls with an open side having a flap portion and an opposing generally closed side therebetween; (c) providing a paper insert in the bag so that visual indicia thereon is visible at least through the front and rear walls of the bag; (d) inserting the folded material into the open side of the bag so that a three-dimensional corner edge portion thereof is externally accessible for direct visual and tactile interaction; and (e) closing the flap over the open side of the bag to secure the folded material in the bag.

The method may also include inserting a hanger through an upper fold of the material so that the package and material can be suspended for display. The folding step can include folding a shower curtain soft fabric material into a first generally rectangular shape; and folding a shower liner into a generally rectangular shape that is smaller than that of the shower curtain. The method can include placing the liner inside the bounds of the folded shower curtain so that one vertical side portion is held trapped within a vertical fold of the shower curtain so that, in position in the package, the liner is held within the folded shower curtain under the exposed corner edge portion thereof.

The foregoing and other objects and aspects of the present invention are explained in detail herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a display package according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a front view of the package shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B is a rear view of the package shown in FIG. 1 according to certain embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the package and exemplary contents of same according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged front perspective view of the folded soft fabric product shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of the folded soft fabric product shown in FIG. 4 with a second folded product configured for insertion therein according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 6-11 illustrate a series of operations that can be carried out to package a product according to embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying figures, in which embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout. In the drawings, layers, regions, or components may be exaggerated for clarity. In the figures, broken lines indicate optional features unless described otherwise. In the claims and/or figures, operations are not limited to the order recited unless stated otherwise.

Generally described, with reference to FIG. 1, the invention relates to a package 10 configured to provide direct tactile and visual access to consumer products held therein. The package 10 can have a resilient or flexible package body 15. The flexible package body 15 may comprise a flexible elastomeric and/or polymeric material. As shown, the package body 15 includes a cutout corner portion 15c with a boundary 15b configured and sized to provide direct tactile and visual access to the product 20 held therein. The term “cutout” means any tactile access aperture formed into the package body 15 by any suitable means, such as, but not limited to, by cutting, stamping, forming, tearing or otherwise. The term “corner” means a location on the package body 15 where two lines or surfaces meet.

In some embodiments, the package 10 can have a generally rectangular resilient body with opposing primary front and rear walls 15f, 15r, respectively, opposing first and second sidewalls 16s1, 16s2 extending therebetween, and top and bottom portions 16t, 16b extending between portions of the front and rear walls 15f, 15r. The package body 15 thus defines an enclosure space for holding a desired product therein. The package 10 has the corner cutout portion 15c that exposes a portion of a product 20 held in the package 10, thereby allowing direct visual and/or tactile access by potential customers.

As shown, the package 10 can include at least one folded product 20 held therein. The folded product 20 can be an elastomeric and/or soft fabric material. The term “soft fabric” refers to fabrics that are not self-supporting and yields to pressure or weight and may include fabrics ranging in texture and density from fine to relatively stiff. However, the package 10 may be useful for holding and displaying other home-improvement items, such as, but not limited to, bedding, sheets, tablecloths, table placemats, towels, fabric or other material samples, and the like. The package 10 may be particularly suitable for holding a folded shower curtain of standard and/or custom size. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3, the package 10 is configured to hold a plurality of folded products 20, 25, such as a shower curtain 20 and a shower liner 25, as will be discussed further below.

In some embodiments, the corner cutout 15c may be substantially two-dimensional and extend primarily, if not entirely, on the front wall 15f of the package body 15b. In other embodiments, as shown in FIG. 2B, the corner cutout 15c may be three-dimensional and extend about portions of both the front and rear walls 15f, 15r as well as the top or ceiling segment 16t, between the front and rear walls 15f, 15r, to provide a continuously extending (open or gap space) cutout corner region 15c on the package 10. In particular embodiments, the cutout 15c can be configured with a shape that is generally the same and aligned on both the front and rear walls 15f, 15r.

As shown, the boundary or perimeter of the cutout 15b can be curvilinear. In particular embodiments, the cutout perimeter or boundary 15b has a generally arcuate shape, typically generally a quarter circle shape, on both the front and rear walls 15f, 15r of the package 10. Although shown as located on a top right-hand side of the package 10, the corner cutout 15c may be positioned about other corner locations, although typically on at least one front top corner. In certain embodiments, the cutout 15c is positioned in the reverse of that shown, with the cutout 15c on the top left-hand side of the package 10 extending about the front and rear walls 15f, 15r (not shown).

As shown in FIG. 1, the curvilinear cutout 15c can have a boundary-portion 15b that is sized and configured to expose at least about 15% of the front and/or rear surface area of the folded product 20 for direct tactile access by a potential consumer. In some embodiments, the package cutout 15c is sized and configured to expose a top three-dimensional corner, including a contiguous portion of the top 20t, side 20s, front 20f and rear 20r of the folded product 20 to that it can be directly tactilely contacted and examined by a potential consumer.

In certain particular embodiments, the cutout 15c extends from a generally medial location on an upper or top 16t of the package body 15 and extends below a medial portion of a first sidewall 16s1 of the package 10 so that the cutout 15c exposes between about 15-40% of the primary front and rear surfaces 20f, 20r of the product, with greater than a major portion of the first sidewall 16s1 portion of the package 10 being absent thereby exposing a relatively large expanse of the product for consumer direct tactile and visual perusal while retaining the product 20 in the package 10. The remaining top portion of the package 16t (away from the cutout 15c) and bottom 16b can be substantially closed, as can the second side of the package 16s2 positioned opposite the cutout 15c. In the illustrated embodiment, the package 10 is configured so that the cutout 15c exposes at least about 20% of the front and rear surface areas 20f, 20r of the folded product 20.

The package 10 may also include an insert 18 that generally follows the contours of the boundary 15b of the cutout 15c. The insert 18 may be a paper insert that includes labeling 18l and/or images 18u of the product 20 in an exemplary use environment. The insert 18 may be sized to be flush with, extend a distance beyond (as shown), or reside inside the package (and not into) the cutout 15c. If the insert extends into the cutout 15c, its boundary may be sized to be adjacent that of the perimeter of the cutout 15b so that the tactile interaction area is not blocked by the insert 18. The labeling 18l and/or images 18u may be in color. The package 10 can be visually transmissive so that the image/labeling on the insert 18 can be seen by a consumer through the package wall(s). As such, the package body 15 may be transparent or translucent.

The package 10 may include a hanger 30 that can suspend the packaged product form a display rack. The hanger 30 can be integral with the package body 15 or may be a separate component as shown. Other hanger configurations may also be used.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 10, the lower arm 30a of the hanger 30 can be configured to extend under an upper fold of the product 20 directly contacting the inside of the upper fold to suspend the product 20. The product 20 may be configured with the upper folds defining a common inner gap 21 with the material repeatedly wrapped about the same upper and lower fold boundaries. The product 20 can also include a plurality of side folds 22 with associated closed and open spaces therebetween. Thus, the hanger arm 30a can be inserted through the underside of the upper fold region in the common inner gap space 21 and hold the product 20 secure and in the desired shape. Referring to FIG. 11, the arm 30a extends through an aperture 16a in the second sidewall 16s2 of the package 10 and across the fold region in the gap space 21 and out the cutout region 15c above the other sidewall 16s1 to thereby be able to suspend the product 20 and package body 15 on a display rack.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the package 10 shown in FIG. 1 illustrating exemplary contents. In the embodiment shown, the package 10 includes the resilient package body 15 (which can be a substantially pre-formed bag-like member), a folded first product 20 (such as a shower curtain), a second product 25 (which can be a folded shower liner), an insert 18 that has the same general shape as that of the package body 15, and a hanger 30. The first product 20 can be larger than the second product 25. The second product 25 can be sized and configured to reside inside a gap space of the first folded product 20.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, in certain embodiments, the second product 25 can be inserted in an opening between two adjacent folds 221, 222 on the first side of the product 20 and held inside a closed fold edge 22c on the other side of the product 20. The smaller product 25 is securely contained in the package 10 by the closed package side edge on one side of the package (after the flap 15f is closed) and the closed (vertical) fold on the other side of the package 10 even at the location where the product 20 is exposed in the cutout 15c.

As shown in FIGS. 3, 6 and 7, the package body 15 can include a flap 15f that may be an integral portion (extension) of the rear wall 15r or a separate member that is attached thereto. The flap 15f is configured to close the side of the package body 15 away from the cutout 15c. The flap 15f may be a unitary, substantially continuous (closed) material layer(s) as shown, or the flap 15f may include apertures or a series of straps or other components that trap the product 20 in the package 10. In some embodiments, the flap 15f may be positioned on the same side of the package 10 as the cutout 15c and have a shape that generally corresponds to that of the underlying wall portions defining the cutout perimeter (not shown). In any event, during packaging of the product 20, one edge of the package 10e is open and configured to allow the folded product 20 to be positioned in the package 10. The other edges of the package can be generally closed and/or configured to capture the product therein.

As shown in FIG. 8, the insert 18 can be placed in the package body 15 via the opening edge in the package 10 proximate the flap 15f. The insert 18 can be a paper sheet with a size, shape and contour that generally corresponds to that of the package body 15 as shown in FIG. 3. The insert 18 can be pre-folded and placed in the package body 15 prior to, after, or with the insertion of the folded product 20. The flap 15f can then be moved, wrapped and/or folded over the opposing primary surface 15r and attached thereto as shown in FIG. 9.

The hanger 30 can be attached to the package 10. As noted above, the hanger 30 may be permanently attached to and/or integral to the package body (not shown). In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the lower hanger arm 30a can be inserted through the upper fold region of the product 20 and the package aperture 16a and then secured to a mating portion 30b of the hanger on the other side thereof. The hanger 30 can also be configured to be inserted first through the package aperture 16a, then the fold region 21 of the product 20 and attached to the mating portion of the hanger. As is also shown, the hanger arm 30a can include an aperture 31 that frictionally engages a protrusion 32 on the shoulder of the hanger 30 to secure the arm 30 to the hanger body. The hanger 30 can also be configured in the reverse, with the aperture positioned on the hanger shoulder and the protrusion on the arm 30a. Other attachment configurations may also be used.

In some embodiments, the package 10 is sized between about 8-12 inches tall and 4-10 inches wide, and about 0.5-2 inches thick.

The foregoing is illustrative of the present invention and is not to be construed as limiting thereof. Although a few exemplary embodiments of this invention have been described, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention as defined in the claims. In the claims, means-plus-function clauses, where used, are intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Therefore, it is to be understood that the foregoing is illustrative of the present invention and is not to be construed as limited to the specific embodiments disclosed, and that modifications to the disclosed embodiments, as well as other embodiments, are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. The invention is defined by the following claims, with equivalents of the claims to be included therein.