Title:
Mail/shipping or storage container and means securing lid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved mailing/shipping or storage box having convenient means for securing the lid to the box includes a container of plastic or a synthetic material of a similarly rigid construction, wherein the container includes a lid, wherein the lid includes one or more holes arranged such that the hole(s) in the container is aligned with the hole(s) in the lid, when in a closed position, and wherein one or more zip ties is inserted through the holes and zipped closed, such that the lid is secured to the container for mailing or shipping.



Inventors:
Clark, Alvira Jane (Groton, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/926680
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
08/26/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/459.5, 229/921
International Classes:
B65D43/22; B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030197052Combination bakery carton and a method of constructing a combination bakery cartonOctober, 2003Miess
20080048015PAPER-BOX HANDLE STRUCTUREFebruary, 2008Liao et al.
20080190785Carton with handleAugust, 2008Spivey et al.
20070278280Mailing Device With Additional Hidden Pocket and Method of UseDecember, 2007Wert et al.
20090321506STRUCTURES FOR SECURING CONTAINERSDecember, 2009Minton et al.
20070063004Magnetic Bin SystemMarch, 2007Weinberg et al.
20040248717Process and machine for the production of cardboard packaging boxesDecember, 2004Calugi
20060124718Dual-purpose cupJune, 2006Matty
20080054053DIVISIBLE CARTON WITH KEELMarch, 2008Merzeau
20070295795Composite Container with Integrated Easy-Open FeatureDecember, 2007Clougherty



Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AQUILLA PATENTS & MARKS PLLC (221 COE HILL ROAD, CENTER HARBOR, NH, 03226-3605, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A mailing or shipping box, comprising: a) a container of plastic or a synthetic material of a similarly rigid construction, wherein said container includes a lid therefor; b) wherein said container and said lid both include one or more holes therein arranged such that said hole(s) in said container is aligned with said hole(s) in said lid, when in a closed position; and c) wherein one or more zip ties is inserted through said hole(s) and zipped closed, such that said lid is secured to said container for mailing or shipping.

2. The mailing or shipping box of claim 1, wherein said container and/or lid therefor comprises a substantially clear or translucent material, or a substantially opaque material, or a colored material.

3. The mailing or shipping box of claim 1, wherein said container and lid therefor include a hinge mechanism.

4. The mailing or shipping box of claim 1, wherein said container includes partitioning means.

5. The mailing or shipping box of claim 1, wherein said container is waterproof.

6. The mailing or shipping box of claim 1, wherein said zip ties comprise a surface suitable for printing or embossing.

7. The mailing or shipping box of claim 6, wherein said zip ties comprise a surface printed or embossed with text and/or graphics.

8. A mailing or shipping kit, comprising: a) a container of plastic or a synthetic material of a similarly rigid construction, wherein said container includes a lid therefor; b) wherein said container and said lid both include one or more holes therein arranged such that said hole(s) in said container is aligned with said hole(s) in said lid, when in a closed position; c) one or more zip ties for inserting through said hole(s) and zipping closed, for securing said lid to said container for mailing or shipping; and d) instructions for using said kit.

9. The mailing or shipping kit of claim 8, wherein said zip ties comprise a surface printed or embossed with text and/or graphics.

10. A method for shipping or mailing articles in a box, comprising the steps of: a) providing a container of plastic or a synthetic material of a similarly rigid construction, wherein said container includes a lid therefor; b) wherein said container and said lid both include one or more holes therein arranged such that said hole(s) in said container is aligned with said hole(s) in said lid, when in a closed position; c) placing one or more articles to be mailed or shipped into said container; d) closing said lid on said container; and e) inserting one or more zip ties through said holes and zipping said ties closed, such that said lid is secured to said container for mailing or shipping.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said container and/or lid therefor comprises a substantially clear or translucent material, or a substantially opaque material, or a colored material.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein said container and lid therefor include a hinge mechanism.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein said container includes partitioning means.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein said container is waterproof.

15. The method of claim 10, wherein said zip ties comprise a surface suitable for printing or embossing.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said zip ties comprise a surface printed or embossed with text and/or graphics.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention pertains to the field of mailing, shipping and storage containers. More particularly, the invention pertains to an improved mailing/shipping or storage box that includes convenient means for securing the lid to the box and methods for using the same.

2. Description of Related Art

Mailing and shipping boxes are well known. For example, various pre-formed boxes are provided in mailing or shipping stores, department stores, gift shops and the like for providing a package for gifts. These typically are formed from a single piece of cardboard and are provided to the user in a substantially flat configuration. The boxes are formed so as to permit the user to fold the blank so as to create a box. Similarly, corrugated cardboard boxes that are formed from a single piece of cardboard and subsequently are folded so as to create a box are known. Packing and shipping materials and means for securing packages for mailing or other transport also are well known, such Styrofoam packing, air bags, bubble wraps, and tape or staples, for examples.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,129,211 discloses a rectangular shipping box and display container. The rectangular folding box comprises at least four side walls, which are connected to one another by fold lines, and a bottom wall comprising flaps. In order to provide the folding box with a display function, one of the side walls has in the center a tear line which runs perpendicular to the bottom wall. Furthermore, the bottom wall has in the center a tear line which adjoins the tear line of the said side wall. The side wall which is situated opposite the side wall provided with a tear line can be folded along a line which adjoins the tear line of the bottom wall and runs parallel to the tear line of the first side wall mentioned. The folding box is formed from a one-piece, substantially rectangular foldable blank of corrugated cardboard provided with a unique arrangement of fold lines, tear lines, tear strips and cut lines or severance lines to facilitate formation of the shipping box and conversion to a display container. In one embodiment, the top or front wall has a removable panel connected to a tear tape which facilitates the box being divided into two container sections. The sections are then pivoted to a position alongside of each other to expose a plurality of packages oriented interiorly of the container in a manner to effectively display the packages.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,115 discloses a merchandising and shipping box for implements, such as mops and brooms. The box may be used for shipping the implements as well as for supporting the implements on display. The box includes opposing side panels, front and rear panels, a bottom panel and a top panel. The top panel is provided with a plurality of apertures arranged in two spaced rows, and an elongated slot extending between the two rows of apertures. The apertures are adapted to support handle portions of the implement with head portions thereof oriented upwardly, and the elongated slot is connected to an enlarged transverse slot for receiving head portions of the implements therethrough whereby the implements may be positioned within the elongated slot with the head portion oriented downwardly. The different orientations of the implements within the box facilitates viewing of the implements as well as provides a stable support for the implements while on display.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,199,636 discloses a gift mailing box. The mailing box made of corrugated cardboard is formed from a single scored piece of corrugated cardboard that when folded provides multiple layers of support at the comers of the box providing extra strength for protection against crushing. The box is constructed so as to permit folding in such a way as to be self locking and has pressure sensitive adhesive means applied to interior surfaces for sealing the box when folded. The gift box has two layers of cardboard at the rear corners and four layers of cardboard at the front comers to provided increased protection from crushing.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,105,112 discloses a lockable shipping box. The lockable box has a tray and cover hinged together at the open rear end of the cover and locked at their opposite ends. A pair of detent spring fingers extending upwardly from the end of the tray lock over shoulders within the unhinged end of the cover. The detent spring fingers are released to open the box by inserting key lugs through holes in the lid of the cover in line with the spring detent fingers to disengage them from the cover. The cover and a tray are hinged together by a pair of elongated combination slide and hinge pins extending out from the rear midportions of the sides of the tray, whose longer dimension rotatably engages within hinge sockets at the rear ends of adjoining longitudinal grooves within the sides of the cover. Slide pins within the sides of the open rear end of the cover engage within longitudinal grooves in the lower outsides of the tray for helping guide the nesting movement of the tray and cover in conjunction with the combination hinge and slide guide pins on the tray sliding within the longitudinal grooves within the sides of the cover. The bottom and top edges of the slide guide pins are reduced by flats to leave arcuate side edges which rotatably engage within the enlarged hinge sockets. The reversible address plate is locked on the closed box by locking lugs extending upwardly from the sides of the tray which engage into notches on the address plate through holes in the lid of the cover when the cover is closed down over the tray.

Also known are containers for transfer of goods between warehouses and stores, which have lids that flip in from the side and can be secured with a padlock, which requires the receiver to have keys to open the container.

There are available on Internet Web sites over 250,000 companies that sell or make specialty containers. However, most containers are for cargo or land shipping of large amounts of merchandise packaged into large containers.

The United States Post Office has standards that must be met for the use of boxes for mailing by the United States Post Office. The boxes must be able to withstand certain pressure and drop tests and bursting tests. Numerous boxes of the prior art do not meet these standards. Further, the previously available shipping boxes typically do not have means associated with the boxes for securing the lid to the box, preventing accidental opening and spilling of the contents, or the opening of the boxes by unauthorized persons. Typically, in use in mailing, the boxes would be covered by wrapping paper, or otherwise sealed by external tape. Also a separate mailing label would have to be added by the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides an improved mailing/shipping or storage box that includes convenient means for securing the lid to the box and methods for using the same. In one embodiment, the mailing/shipping or storage box is a container of plastic or a synthetic material of a similarly rigid construction, wherein the container includes a lid therefor, wherein the container and lid both include one or more holes arranged such that the hole(s) in the container are aligned with the hole(s) in the lid in the closed position, and wherein one or more zip ties is inserted through the hole(s) and zipped closed, such that the lid is secured to the container for mailing/shipping or storage. Optionally, means for securing an identification or mailing label are affixed to the container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides an improved mailing/shipping or storage box that includes convenient means for securing the lid to the box and methods for using the same. One embodiment provides a secure, reusable container made from a substantially rigid material, suitable for mailing, shipping, storage, etc., preferably of a clear or translucent material, such as high-density polyethylene, for example, for uses such as personal mailing, shipping by manufactures and/or retailers, or as a storage container. The preferred embodiment includes up to six or more holes drilled into the top lip around the edge of the box and the lid, which is secured to the box by what are commonly known as zip ties. The zip ties' ends optionally are cut to the preferred size after securing the lid. A label optionally is affixed to the box, which is then stored, or mailed or shipped according to well known means, such as would be appropriate for US and International mail and/or parcels.

Suitable containers and zip ties for use in practicing the invention are well known and readily available. Examples of suitable containers include those commonly known on the market as tote boxes or storage boxes. Preferably the container is more durable than known corrugated cardboard boxes and weighs less than cardboard. Preferably the container is non-absorbent and impervious to water and includes a securely-sealing lid that excludes water. The container is of virtually any size suitable for the contents desired to be shipped, transported or stored, from shoe box size to the largest available size container having a lid. However, for mailing and shipping uses, limitations may be imposed regarding allowable weight and size for shipping by standard shipping in US Mail, Air Cargo, International mailings, etc. Holes in the container and lid for inserting the zip ties and securing the lid are provided either during manufacturing or afterwards, such as by drilling.

Modifications optionally are made to the inside or outside of the container according to the needs of the user, such as, for example: extra inside holding panels or slats to hold merchandise in place inside the box; means for leaving an air cushion space around items, such as a TV or Computer; or means for increasing the rigidity and durability of the box, such as by reinforcing the outside of the box so that it is more durable than typical cardboard materials. Optionally the container has a partially attached lid, such as by a hinge mechanism. The container and/or lid optionally are opaque, such that the identity of the contents therein is obscured from view, such as for security purposes. Alternatively, clear or translucent materials allow identification of the contents, shipping labels, or other desired items, particularly useful when employing the container for storage, for example. A clear window optionally is affixed to the inside or outside of the container, such as for viewing a shipping or mailing label. Alternatively, a label is affixed to the inside or outside of the container for identification in mailing or storage.

Zip ties should be of suitable durability and strength for shipping and security. The zip ties optionally are printed or embossed with identification numbers, company logos or any desired identifying marks, such as trademarks, etc. An improved zip tie of the preferred embodiment includes an integral tag or tab, providing a larger surface for printing or embossing, thereby allowing improved identification means. One embodiment includes an extra flap on the zip tie that covers the inserted end of the zip tie, allow the cut ends to be concealed and further providing protection against injuries caused by the cut ends. Optionally the zip ties are glued or heat sealed by known means.

The invention further provides a complete mailing kit, including in one example a container with pre-drilled holes and included with each container (e.g., attached or packaged within) zip ties, one or more mailing labels and instructions for use of the kit. In one example, the lid is attached to one side of the container and used in the same manner to hold the attached items.

The mailing/shipping or storage box is useful for numerous different applications. For example, company logos may be affixed to the container and/or the zip ties. If used by a manufacturer, for example, the container may be modified to fit the product that is to be shipped or stored. Zip ties and/or the container may be manufactured to fit the size and style of the product, or to identify the shipper. Color coded zip ties may be used, for example, or company logo's may be printed or embossed onto the zip ties for added identification and/or security. Container optionally is stamped, marked or imprinted with information, such as names or shipping numbers, or for further identification of senders. A clear window optionally is affixed to the inside of the container or lid, so a mailing label or identification label can be placed inside of the box for added security. For shipping chemicals or hazardous materials, for example, the container and/or zip ties may be labeled specifically for such chemicals or materials. The container optionally is airtight and/or watertight.

The mailing/shipping or storage box is useful in home use, for example, to secure any personal items (e.g., firearms or ammunition) or chemicals from small children and animals. The invention also provides security means for documents, such as office records that may be stored in public or unsecured storage rooms; means the packaging of retail items to be sold from retailers shelves in stores; means for the transfer of any products from one location to another; means for securing, for example, food products and medications from tampering and contamination while in route from one location to the next or storage; and means for the removal and or shipping of contaminated materials.

The present invention thus provides numerous advantages over the prior art. The weight typically is less (postage or land use shipping) than for cardboard boxes, and the container is more durable and can be reused for re-mailing or any personal use. Retail stores will find the invention useful for resale to small shippers, such as E-Bay shippers and the general population. Shippers or manufacturers that need to ship one item at a time also will recognize the utility of the invention, such as, for example, Fed-Ex and UPS, or companies that sell any kind of shipping materials, manufactures that ship individual quantities of merchandise, movers, offices and office supply companies, companies that send a flow of merchandise in returnable containers that are reused, legal systems that store documents, the US Government for internal use of items needing minimal security, such as moving documents from one location to another, and in US Post offices.

Accordingly, it is to be understood that the embodiments of the invention herein described are merely illustrative of the application of the principles of the invention. Reference herein to details of the illustrated embodiments is not intended to limit the scope of the claims, which themselves recite those features regarded as essential to the invention.





 
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