Title:
Mailer assembly for transporting fragile media
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A business form assembly suitable for transmitting CD's, DVD's, prerecorded software and other fragile items through the postal system or courier network is described by the present invention. The assembly includes an inner chamber having a series of raised areas and recessed areas which provide cushioning to the contents of the mailer. A series of outer sheets, along with postal and other relevant indicia are used and connected to the inner chamber to complete construction of the outgoing and return mailer assemblies of the present business form.



Inventors:
Buck, Roger D. (Pittsburg, KS, US)
Application Number:
10/847047
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/17/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/311, 229/72, 229/300, G9B/33.012, 206/232
International Classes:
B65D27/08; B65D81/03; B65D85/57; G11B33/04; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MORGAN JR, JACK HOSMER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WARD KRAFT, INC. (P.O. BOX 938, FORT SCOTT, KS, 66701, US)
Claims:
1. A business form for transporting prerecorded and fragile materials, comprising; an inner chamber including first and second panels, each of said panels having first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face, and have a first length and width and each of said panels is provided with a series of raised areas and recessed areas which are provided in a pattern; first and second sheets each having first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face, and a length and width, said inner face of said first sheet is adhered to said outer face of said first panel along said first and second sides and one of said first and second ends and said inner face of said second sheet is adhered to said outer face of said second panel along each of said first and second sides and one of said first and second ends; said first and second sheets and said first and second panels are joined together along one of said first and second ends so as to create a sealed end and an open end; one of said first and second sheets having an adhesive closure strip disposed substantially adjacent one of said first and second ends on said open end to form a closure for a return assembly; at least one outgoing closure panel having first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face and a length and width; said outgoing closure panel is adhered to one of said outer faces of one of said first and second sheets along at least one of said first and second end edges so as to form an outgoing mailer assembly; delivery indicia provided on said outer face of said closure panel and said outer face of one of said first and second sheets; and said outgoing closure panel having an adhesive closure strip positioned on one of said first and second ends opposite said end adhered to said one of said first and second sheet first and second ends, said closure strip is folded about said first and second sheets and said first and second panels and over said open end so as to form a sealed outgoing mailer assembly.

2. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein at least one series of said recessed areas and said raised areas is substantially coterminous with one of said first and second ends.

3. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein said recessed areas and said raised areas are provided in an alternating pattern with one another.

4. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein each of said recessed areas and raised areas are substantially equal to one another.

5. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein a portion of a recessed area is provided adjacent each of said first and second sides.

6. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein said width of each of said first and second sheets is approximately equal to said width of each said first and second panels.

7. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein one of said first and second ends of said first and second panels when connected to said first and second sheets permits venting of entrapped air.

8. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein advertising indicia is provided on at least one of said inner face of said closure panel and said outer face of one of said first and second sheets.

9. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein said adhesive closures strip is selected from a group including remoistenable, transfer tape, heat activated and combinations thereof.

10. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein said pattern is selected from a group including random, regular, irregular, discontinuous, segmented and combinations thereof.

11. A business form as recited in claim 1, wherein said raised areas and recessed areas are selected from a group including bars, segments, dots, dimples, ridges, lines, geometric and combinations thereof.

12. A return mailer assembly for transmitting fragile materials, comprising; at least one CD, DVD, prerecorded software or combinations thereof; a first envelope having an interior and an exterior and an open end, said interior having a plurality of raised and recessed areas arranged in a pattern, said first envelope sized and configured to receive said at least one CD, DVD or prerecorded software; said first envelope is provided with an adhesive closure strip to seal said open end and return indicia; and at least one external wrapping sheet temporarily, adhesively disposed on at least a portion of said exterior of said first envelope and provided with delivery indicia, said external wrapping sheet further including an adhesive closure strip which when said sheet with said closure strip is folded over said open end of said first envelope, said external wrapping sheet forms an outgoing mailer.

13. A return mailer assembly as recited in claim 1, including at least a second envelope at least temporarily secured to said first envelope and having a size and configuration substantially equivalent to said first envelope so as to create a mailer for delivering multiple CDs, DVDs, prerecorded software programs and combinations thereof to requestor.

14. A return mailer assembly as recited in claim 12, wherein said pattern is selected from a group including random, regular, irregular, discontinuous, segmented and combinations thereof.

15. A return mailer assembly as recited in claim 12, wherein said pattern is created by calendar rolls.

16. A return mailer assembly as recited in claim 12, wherein said exterior of said first envelope is provided with advertising indicia.

17. A return mailer assembly as recited in claim 12, wherein said wrapping sheet is temporarily adhered to said first envelope by adhesive dots or spots.

18. A method for delivering CDs, DVDs and prerecorded software comprising the steps of; receiving an order from a requestor, said order containing a request for one or more copies of available programs; collecting said programs from an inventory; inserting at least one program into a first envelope having an interior having a plurality of raised and recessed portions; sealing said first envelope with at least one additional closure sheet attached to said envelope; and delivering said at least one program in said first envelope to said requestor.

19. A method as recited in claim 18, including a further step of inserting an additional program in a second envelope after the step of inserting at least one program into said first envelope.

20. A method as recited in claim 18, including a further step of printing said closure sheet prior to the step of sealing said first envelope.

21. A method as recited in claim 19, including a further step of removably adhering said second envelope to said first envelope after the step of inserting.

22. A method as recited in claim 19, including a further step of separating the second envelope after the step of delivering such that only one of said first and second envelopes is returned.

23. A method as recited in claim 18, including a further step of returning said first envelope after the step of delivering.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of business forms and more particularly to business forms, mailers, envelopes and the like that are used in the handling and transporting of communication or pictorial or audio reproduction elements. More particularly the subject of the instant specification is directed to a secure mailer or envelope assembly that is used in the transporting and handling of compact discs (“CD”), pre-recorded media, circuit boards, etchings, glass and silicone panels and patches and other fragile items that are transported through the postal system or other delivery or courier operations and for returning the elements to the subscription service from where the products were initially obtained. The business form construction of the present invention includes a unique inner arrangement that provides shielding and cushioning against the rigors of handling encountered in the movement of fragile or breakable items from a shipment origin to a recipient destination.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

With the rise of communication traffic over a global communications network, the Internet, there has been a natural increase in the amount of commercial traffic, particularly personal consumer business activity intended for individual consumption of products and other offerings that have normally been provided only through “brick and mortar” establishments such as shopping centers, plazas and malls. The rise in convenience in attaining personal consumer products as well as commercial offerings has also created a need for better packaging and delivery methods so as to protect the goods and products as they are delivered through the postal system or other courier or transportation delivery networks, such as overnight express companies, freight lines and other suitable means for providing products to homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the packaging has not evolved as quickly as other technologies, such as communication technologies, web site capabilities and the like, and in connection with certain products, the packaging used for delivery of the products to the end users suffers from significant drawbacks leading to start up business entities incurring significantly more costs in the area of damaged and returned goods than was initially contemplated.

One business that has seen significant growth in recent memory includes those companies that are involved in the delivery of prerecorded media and computer software, e.g. educational software, to consumers or other end users or subscribers. Currently, an end user subscribes to a service offering in which the user or consumer is provided with a number of options or subscription levels in which to attain prerecorded materials or software such as CD's, digital video discs (“DVD”), and the like. The prerecorded material may include movies, television serials, audio books, music, instructional media, such computer operating instructions, educational media, personal and business software and the like.

Heretofore, many if not all of these prerecorded CDs and DVDs have been provided in traditional “jewel cases” which consists of a relatively rigid package that are typically constructed of plastic (polyethylene, polystyrene, etc.). Such packages will normally stand up to most of the impacts and other pressures that are applied or encountered during the handling of the package as it weaves its way through postal sorting or courier processing to the entity that placed the original order. While such packaging is desirable for use in reducing damage to the CD or DVD it suffers from a significant drawback in the form of expense.

The cost of such packages in not only significantly greater in the area of the cost to manufacture but also in connection with increased amounts of postage that are necessary to handle the package in order to deliver the package to the end user. The increased postage costs are attributable to the weight of the package when compared with for example a business envelope. However, while the contents of the jewel case may normally survive, the jewel case itself may become cracked, damaged or rendered unusable by the rigors of the handling or simply by the end user in attempting to open the package. Thus, use of a jewel case for the delivery of prerecorded software or programs, while generally effective in mitigating the number of damaged and returned products, can reduce the desirability of an “on-line” offering due to the cost of the packaging, its replacement and the related postage used to deliver the package to an end user consumer or business.

The detrimental economic aspects of using a jewel case has been recognized by a number of such “on-line” companies, and these entities have sought to use other packaging arrangements to deliver their goods to a customer. Unfortunately, while such packaging has been more economical than the jewel case, the packaging itself has generally not evolved in a manner sufficient to completely overcome some of the problems and unique needs of this industry.

One example of other packaging currently being used today includes “diskette” mailers that are essentially as sleeve with a flap that is folded over the opening. These mailers or sleeves are constructed of a heavy weight paperboard material and are generally sized and configured so as to accommodate a CD or DVD. Such sleeves can also be large enough to receive a jewel case. However, while these sleeves are more economical to use than jewel cases, they still incur increased postage due to the weight of the material from which they are constructed, as well as increased cost for production and normally cannot be used in returning the CD or DVD to the original sender as the postal indicia cannot be obliterated on the outgoing mail piece.

Another drawback with such diskette mailers as well as with jewel cases is simply the thickness of the packaging material. This increased thickness of the packaging requires additional storage space and thus takes away from available inventory space that instead could be used to stock products that are intended for consumer or business applications encountered in retail and wholesale applications.

Another structure currently in use amounts to little more than a two way mailer configuration, similar to those mailers being used to exchange correspondence and enable the recipient to return a remittance, such as with a utility bill. These mailers have simply been enlarged so as to be able to accommodate the size of a CD or DVD. While economical as the mailer is constructed from bond paper, and suitable for use as a return communication piece, unfortunately, use of these types of mailers suffer from significant damage to the contents and leads to unacceptable levels of scratched and broken CDs and DVDs. Regrettably, the CD or DVD may be damaged on the outbound transmission nearly as equally as much as the inbound transport thus depriving the consumer ordering the CD or DVD of the ability initially view or hear the product that they have ordered, thereby requiring the shipper to reissue a replacement disc, thus depriving the retailer of even the initial rental of the CD or DVD.

A still further solution has been to insert into conventional envelopes padding material such as “bubble wrap”, fibrous fill and the like. While this again reduces the amount of breakage encountered over a basic envelopes structure, such inserts take up space and require an additional step of having to position the material prior to loading the envelope with the disk, again leading to heightened or increased cost.

What is needed therefore is an economical package, that can easily be processed through the postal sorting and courier handling systems, takes up minimal space, and which provides sufficient protection to the contents so as to be able to reduce the amount of breakage and damaged encountered with prior art systems.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the present invention described below are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather, the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may appreciate and understand the principles and practices of the present invention.

The present invention relates to a business form, more specifically a business form suitable for use in two way or return mail applications and more particularly to a business form used in mailing and returning prerecorded CDs, DVDs, software and other fragile items to a recipient. The envelope assembly of the present invention includes calendared sheets which create an air gap or air pillow internally of the return mailer configuration so as to cushion the impacts and other forces exerted on the contents of the mailer during processing and handling. The business form of the present invention can be produced in an economical fashion and unlike prior art constructions does not consume an inordinate amount of inventory or other storage space to hold the mailers. In addition, the mailer assembly of the present invention can be easily imaged and printed with indicia which may include marketing and advertising indicia, address information, use and return instructions and other indicia relevant to the transmission and return of the package and related contents.

In one exemplary embodiment, a business form for transporting prerecorded and fragile materials is described and includes an inner chamber that has first and second panels, each of the panels has first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face, and a first length and width. Each of the panels is also provided with a series of raised areas and recessed areas which are provided in a pattern.

Continuing with a description of the present embodiment, first and second sheets are also provided with each of the sheets having first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face, and a length and width. The inner face of the first sheet is adhered to the outer face of the first panel along the first and second sides and one of the first and second ends. The inner face of the second sheet is adhered to the outer face of the second panel along each of the first and second sides and one of the first and second ends.

The first and second sheets and the first and second panels of the presently described embodiment are joined together along one of the first and second ends so as to create a sealed end and an open end. One of the first and second sheets is provided with an adhesive closure strip that is disposed substantially adjacent one of the first and second ends that is on the open end, to form a closure for a return assembly. At least one outgoing closure panel is provided and has first and second sides, first and second ends, an inner face and an outer face and a length and width. The outgoing closure panel is adhered to one of the outer faces of one of the first and second sheets along at least one of the first and second end edges so as to form an outgoing mailer assembly.

Delivery indicia is provided on the outer face of the closure panel and the outer face of one of the first and second sheets for the purposes of delivering the outgoing mail piece as well as for the return of the mail piece to the original sender.

The outgoing closure panel of this presently described embodiment is provided with an adhesive closure strip that is positioned on one of the first and second ends opposite the end adhered to the one of the first and second sheets first and second ends. The closure strip is then folded about the first and second sheets and the first and second panels and over the open end so as to form a sealed outgoing mailer assembly.

In a still further embodiment of the present invention, return mailer assembly for transmitting fragile materials, is described and includes at least one CD, DVD, prerecorded software or combinations thereof. A first envelope is provided that has an interior and an exterior and an open end. The interior has a plurality of raised and recessed areas that are arranged in a pattern. The first envelope is sized and configured to receive the at least one CD, DVD or prerecorded software.

The first envelope of the presently described embodiment is provided with an adhesive closure strip that is used to seal the open end and return indicia to enable the return of the CD, DVD or software to the sender after use.

At least one external wrapping sheet is provided in connection with this construction and is temporarily, adhesively disposed on at least a portion of the exterior of the first envelope. The wrapping sheet is provided with delivery indicia and further includes an adhesive closure strip which when the external sheet with the closure strip is folded over the open end of the first envelope, the external wrapping sheet forms an outgoing mailer.

In connection with the foregoing embodiment an additional modification includes the provision of at least a second envelope that is at least temporarily secured to the first envelope. The second envelope has a size and configuration that is substantially equivalent to the first envelope so as to create a mailer for delivering multiple CDs, DVDs, prerecorded software programs and combinations thereof to requestor.

In a yet still further embodiment of the present invention, a method for delivering CDs, DVDs and prerecorded software is described and includes the steps of initially receiving an order from a requestor, such as over a global communications network. The order contains a request for one or more copies of available programs from a distributor of such programs. After receipt of the order the programs are next collected from an inventory of such available programs. Then, at least one program is inserted into a first envelope that has an interior that includes a plurality of raised and recessed portions so as to provide a cushioning for the program. Then, the first envelope is sealed with at least one additional closure sheet that has been temporarily, adhesively attached to the exterior of the envelope, and finally, the at least one program is delivered to the requestor such as through the postal system or courier network.

In still further exemplary modifications of the foregoing method embodiment, a second envelope can be provided and removably attached to the first envelope so that multiple programs can be distributed to the requestor. In this arrangement, the requester, then on receipt can detach or separate the envelopes from one another and return the separate envelopes when their use is completed thus avoiding the necessity of having to wait to send all of the programs back at the same time.

These and other objects of the invention will become clear from an inspection of the detailed description of the invention and from the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These, as well as other objects and advantages of this invention, will be more completely understood and appreciated by referring to the following more detailed description of the presently preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 depicts a cross sectional view of the business form mailer assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 2 provides a cross section of the inner chamber of the envelope assembly showing raised and recessed areas to provide cushioning to fragile contents inserted within the envelope;

FIG. 3 shows the back panel of the sealed mailer and advertising indicia that may be provided;

FIG. 4 shows the outgoing mailer opened to reveal the internal envelope used to return the contents to the sender;

FIG. 5 illustrates an additional embodiment of the present invention in which plural padded envelopes are removably connected to one another to enable the mailing of multiple programs to a requestor;

FIGS. 6-6B depict a series of exemplary patterns that may be used to provide the internal cushioning of the mailer assembly;

FIG. 7 provides a block diagram showing an exemplary method of use of the mailer assembly of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is now illustrated in greater detail by way of the following detailed description which represents the best presently known mode of carrying out the invention. However, it should be understood that this description is not to be used to limit the present invention, but rather, is provided for the purpose of illustrating the general features of the invention.

The present invention is found in the field of business forms and more particularly business forms used in two way business communications. Specifically, the present mailer construction is ideally suited for use in the transmission of fragile items that have heretofore been damaged by prior art structures through the use of an internal chamber having a series or plurality of raised and recessed areas that may be provided in a regular or random pattern.

As used herein fragile items includes compact discs (“CD”), digital video discs (“DVD”), prerecorded computer software, silicone chips, boards and wafers, glass plates, etchings and the like.

Turning now to FIG. 1 of the present invention, a cross sectional depiction of the business form mailer assembly 10 is provided. The assembly 10 has an inner chamber 11 which is constructed from first and second panels 12 and 14. Each of the panels 12 and 14 have first and second ends 13 and 15 and first and second sides (only one side is shown in the present FIGURE due to the cross sectional arrangement) and a length and a width. Each of the first and second panels 12 and 14 have an inner face 16 and an outer face 18. The inner face of each of the panels 12 and 14 is provided with a pattern of raised and recessed areas 20 and 22 (shown on the inner face 16 of panel 14 and other FIGURES provided herein.

The raised and recessed areas 20 and 22 may be substantially equal in space or area, or there may be a greater area occupied by the raised or recessed portions depending on the equipment, needs and such other arrangements that may be optimized to produce a cushioned interior chamber 11. FIG. 1 presents and exemplary illustration of the patterns with one panel 12 having the pattern 20 running the length of the panel while the pattern provided on panel 14 runs perpendicular to the pattern on sheet 12 or the width of the panel 14. Various patterns can be used in the inner chamber 11 as will be later described herein.

The raised and recessed areas are produced by calendaring rolls which have corresponding raised and recessed portions to impart into the sheet a calendared pattern by applying substantial pressure as is readily understood by those with skilled in the art.

The assembly 10 also includes first and second sheets 24 and 26 which again have first and second ends 28 and 30 and first and second sides (only one side is shown in the present FIGURE due to the cross sectional arrangement). In addition, the first and second sheets 24 and 26 each have an inner and outer face 32 and 34. The inner face 34 of sheet 26 is adhered to the outer face 18 of panel 12 and the inner face 34 of sheet 24 is adhered to the outer face 18 of panel 14. The sheets 24 and 26 may have adhesive applied over their entire surface area such that complete contact is achieved with panels 12 and 14 or alternatively, only the sides and an end edge may be adhered together or some other pattern of adhesive applied to connect the sheets and panels together. Generally, the adherence between the sheets 24 and 26 and panels 12 and 14 is permanent so that the sheets and panels cannot be separated without tearing. In addition, where a pattern of adhesive is use or the sheets and panels are adhered only along both side edges and one end edge, the calendared or embossed pattern may then be allowed to vent air into the open end of the chamber as is shown by arrow 36.

As is shown in FIG. 1, ends 28 and 30 of sheets 24 and 26 are open to create an opening so that CDs, DVDs or other prerecorded software may be inserted into the inner chamber of the assembly 10.

End 30 of sheet 24 is provided with an adhesive closing strip 42 for sealing the open end of the inner chamber upon returning the CD to the sender or subscription service from which the CD was obtained. The closure strip 42 may be made from a remoistenable adhesive, transfer tape, where peeling off a release liner exposes a pressure sensitive adhesive or such other adhesive that may be activated by the recipient prior to closing the inner chamber and returning the envelope to the sender.

The sheet 24 is also provided with a fold line 40 that enables the closure strip 42 to be folded about open end of the inner envelope. In addition, sheet 26 is provided with a line of weakness 38, such that prior to sealing of the envelope caused by the folding over of the closure strip, the line of weakness enables the separation of the end edge 28 of the sheet 26 so that the adhesive strip 42 can contact the outer surface 32 of sheet 26 to create and effective seal. Alternatively, the end portion 28 of sheet 26 can be folded inwardly rather than being detached which still enables the closure strip 42 to effectively seal the inner chamber of the assembly 10.

As is also shown in FIG. 1, an outer closure panel 46 is provided and is in contact with sheet 26. Where it is desirable, a second closure panel can be provided on the opposite side of the assembly 10 so that it is in contact with sheet 24. The closure panel 46 will serve as the face of the outgoing mailer and is sized and configured to conceal and protect the outer face 32 of sheet 26 so that the return address indicia is not obliterated during transport of the mailer to the requestor. The closure panel 46 has first and second end 47 and 48, inner and outer faces 50 and 49 and first and second sides (only one side is shown in the present FIGURE due to the cross sectional arrangement). The first side 50 is in contact with the outer face 32 of sheet 26.

The end edge 47 of closure panel 46 is provided with an adhesive closure strip 51 and a fold line 52 which enables the closure strip to be easily folded over the open end of the panels and sheets so as to come into contact with the outer face 32 of sheet 24. As provided above, the closure strip 51 may be a rewettable or remoistenable adhesive, transfer tape arrangement or other suitable closure that is sufficient to accomplish the purpose of the present invention.

FIG. 1 also provides that each of the panels 12 and 14 are connected to one another through adhesive 53 with panel 14 connected to sheet 24 by at least adhesive 54, sheet 26 to panel 12 by adhesive 55. The outer panel 46 is connected to sheet 26 by adhesive patterns 56 and 57 which may be adhesive dots or spots such that the outer closure can be easily peeled away from the sheet 26 by breaking the adhesive pattern. That is, the closure panel 46 is temporarily, removably adhered to the sheet 26 which permits the outgoing address and postal indicia to be stripped away so as to reveal the return address and postal indicia.

Turning now to FIG. 2, an enlarged cross section of inner chamber 11 is provided for greater clarity. Panels 12 and 14 are provided with a pattern of raised and recessed portions 20 and 22 which run parallel with one another and are illustrated in a regular and repeating pattern. Panel 12 is connected to sheet 26 through an adhesive 55* which has been applied in a pattern to show areas of adhesive contact and other adhesive free areas to enable the venting of trapped air if that arrangement is required. Likewise, panel 14 is connected to sheet 24 by adhesive pattern 54* similarly to that described above except that the adhesive pattern is a full contact pattern covering the entire surface of the faces in contact with one another. FIG. 2 also provides an illustration of a CD, DVD or prerecorded software program 60 inserted within the inner chamber 11 for mailing to a potential recipient.

FIG. 3 shows a back view of the mailer assembly 10 and is used to depict that each of the sheets and panels used in the construction of the mailer has first and second sides 62 and 64 and first and second ends 66 and 68. In an exemplary embodiment, each of the widths of panels 12 and 14 and sheets 24 and 26 as well as closure panel 46 is substantially the same. However, the lengths of panels 12 and 14 is generally less than the lengths of sheets 24 and 26 which are then also shorter then closure panel 46 as is shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 also provides that the back face (here outer surface 32 of sheet 24) is provided with advertising or marketing indicia, instructions or other printed matter 70.

FIG. 4 illustrates the mailer assembly 10 in which the outer closure panel 46 has been peeled away revealing inner face 50 and outer face 32 of sheet 26. The closure panel 46 or panel used in forming the outgoing mailer assembly is peeled away by breaking the adhesive bonds of pattern 57.

The outer face 32 of sheet 26 is shown with relevant return address information 72, postal indicia 74, FIM or PostNet code 76 and such other reply mail indicia 78 as may be needed to return the CD to the sender. In addition, the inner face 50 of closure panel 46 may be provided with instructions, marketing indicia, coupons or the like 80 for use in connection with returning the program, placing another order or presenting some sort of offer to the recipient that may be of interest to the recipient. For clarity, FIG. 4 also shows the adhesive closure strip 51 and fold line 52 however, it should be understood that the closure strip would remain connected to the outer surface 32 of panel 24 when the package is opened in order to gain access to the inner chamber 11.

FIG. 5 represents a still further embodiment of the present invention. A requestor may order more than one program or CD at a time and rather than send out separate mailers, the sender or provider could alternatively bundle envelopes together for delivery to the recipient. Such an assembly is generally depicted by reference to numeral 100 and includes first and second envelopes 110 and 120 the construction of each of which has been previously described and will not be repeated here. Instead reference is directed back to FIGS. 1-4. The envelopes 110 and 120 would be joined by a removable adhesive arrangement 115 which would temporarily, adhesively bind the first and second envelopes to one another. Upon receipt, the recipient would separate the envelopes from one another and then may return the programs one at a time instead of being faced with the dilemma of having to complete use of all the order programs before returning the programs in a package. The assembly of FIG. 5 is again provided with an outer closure panel 130, whose size may be adjusted in order to accommodate the additional thickness of the package being assembled by the service provider.

It should be understood that while the embodiment of FIG. 5 presents two envelopes, more than two envelopes may also be used in delivering the requested programs to the recipient. The use of additional envelopes would then necessitate the provision of additional adhesive patterns to temporarily bind the envelopes together as well as different length cover sheets. Alternatively, a single length cover sheet could be provided, however such sheet would have plural lines of weakness and adhesive closure means and depending on the size of the package being assembled, the assembler would remove the excess portions of the closure panel that are not needed.

FIGS. 6 through 6B are provided to illustrate the diversity of the types of patterns that may be used to carry out the present invention and provide sufficient cushioning to protect the fragile material to be contained in the assembly. In FIG. 6 a regular pattern of dots or dimples 85 is depicted. In FIG. 6A different geometric elements including squares 87, ovals 88 and triangles 89 are used in regular and irregular arrangements. In FIG. 6B an irregular pattern of bars and blocks 90, 91 and 92 are shown with the blocks appearing in horizontal and perpendicular arrangements to one another.

It should be understood that any sort of pattern may be used depending on the requirements and preferences of the customer. In addition, the pattern may also comprise an embossed configuration similar to a trademark or logo which would provide sufficient cushioning to protect the contents of the mailer assembly.

FIG. 7 provides a block diagram of an exemplary method of use of the present invention. The method begins at step 200, typically for example with a consumer logging on to a computer and gaining access to a global communication network through an ISP (Internet Service Provider). The consumer or subscriber then places an order which is received by the subscription or fulfillment service at step 210. Next, the subscription service collects the requested programs from the inventory at step 220. If additional programs have been ordered, those programs are collected at step 222.

Next, the requested program or programs are inserted into one or more envelopes at step 230 and 224. If a second or additional envelopes are used, such as in the fulfillment of a multiple request order, the second or additional envelopes are connected to the first envelope at step 226 through use of a removable adhesive pattern. Once all of the programs have been collected and inserted into the secure envelope assembly of the present invention, the envelope or envelopes are sealed at step 240 through use of the adhesive closure strip on the outer closure panel as described herein.

The programs in the respective envelopes are then deposited with the postal system or picked up by a courier service at step 250. On receipt, the envelope is opened, or alternatively if multiple envelopes are received, the envelopes are separated from one another at step 252. Once the recipient has completed use of the program, the recipient reinserts the program in the envelope and returns the envelope to the subscription service at step 260.

It will thus be seen according to the present invention a highly advantageous mailer assembly for transmitting and returning prerecorded CDs, DVDs, software and other fragile items has been provided. While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, that many modifications and equivalent arrangements may be made thereof within the scope of the invention, which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation of the appended claims so as to encompass all equivalent structures and products.

The inventors hereby state their intent to rely on the Doctrine of Equivalents to determine and assess the reasonably fair scope of their invention as it pertains to any apparatus, system, method or article not materially departing from but outside the literal scope of the invention as set out in the following claims.





 
Previous Patent: Case

Next Patent: Golf club saver