Title:
Merchandise package
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A merchandise package includes a back panel and a front panel coupled to the back panel. At least one of the back panel and front panel defines a first channel for retaining a plurality of items. A window defined in the front panel communicates with the first channel. An alternative merchandise package includes a back panel, a front panel mounted to the back panel and a partition member. The partition member extends from the front panel to define a plurality of channels between the front and back panels for retaining a plurality of items. A window defined in the front panel communicates with at least one of the channels. The merchandise package may be used to contain a quantity of items, such as battery packages, for sale as a collective unit. Subsequently, the window may be exposed, and the individual items or packages contained therein may be sold individually. Hence, the merchandise package functions as both a bulk package and a retail display.



Inventors:
Martin, Sean A. (Middleton, WI, US)
Jacobus, Joseph H. (Janesville, WI, US)
Johnstone, Michael J. (Madison, WI, US)
Mack, Ross J. (Dane, WI, US)
Lamasney, Robert G. (Cross Plains, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/952960
Publication Date:
03/30/2006
Filing Date:
09/29/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/471
International Classes:
B65D85/00; B65D73/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030024841Packaging methods and apparatusFebruary, 2003Murphy
20090250487Cell Phone WipesOctober, 2009Choate
20050092641Medicine container and packaging thereforMay, 2005Marsden et al.
20080105578Perforated film wrapping machineMay, 2008Cerf
20060201841Disposable dispensing and display carton for paper towels and other rolled productsSeptember, 2006Mohr et al.
20090211937CARRIERS FOR CUPSAugust, 2009Sharma et al.
20090057185BLISTER PACK WITH INTEGRAL ACCESS TOOLMarch, 2009Gelardi et al.
20080105580Applicator TipMay, 2008Nentwick et al.
20050145525Ultraviolet indicating closure for containersJuly, 2005Williams
20060032772Pre-cut aluminum foil round coversFebruary, 2006Cottrell
20080302680PACKAGED ITEM ALONG WITH CONTAINER FOR USE THEREWITHDecember, 2008John



Primary Examiner:
PICKETT, JOHN G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Christopher M. Goff (7700 Forsyth Boulevard Suite 1800, St. Louis, MO, 63105, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A merchandise package, comprising: a back panel; and a front panel coupled to the back panel, wherein at least one of the back panel and front panel defines a first channel for retaining a plurality of items, and a window communicating with the first channel is defined in the front panel.

2. The package of claim 1, wherein a second channel is defined by at least one of the front and back panels, and the window communicates with the first and second channels.

3. The package of claim 1, wherein a second channel is defined by at least one of the front and back panels, the window comprises a first window communicating with the first channel, and the merchandise package further comprises a second window communicating with the second channel.

4. The package of claim 2, further comprising a partition member extending from one of the front and back panels between the first channel and the second channel.

5. The package of claim 1, wherein the plurality of items are arranged in a column in the channel.

6. The package of claim 1, wherein the plurality of items are arranged in a first layer in the channel and a second layer in the channel behind the first layer.

7. The package of claim 1, wherein the plurality of items comprise batteries.

8. The package of claim 7, wherein the batteries are grouped into packages.

9. The package of claim 1, further comprising a tear strip defined in the front panel covering the window.

10. The package of claim 1, wherein the back panel comprises at least one of paperboard, corrugated paper, or thermoplastic material.

11. The package of claim 1, wherein the front panel comprises thermoplastic material.

12. The package of claim 1, wherein the front and back panels comprise thermoplastic material.

13. The package of claim 1, further comprising a flap extending from the back panel to support the package in a generally upright position.

14. The package of claim 13, further comprising a tab extending from the back panel and interfacing with the flap to fix the position of the flap with respect to the back panel.

15. The package of claim 14, wherein the flap and tab hingedly extend from the back panel.

16. The package of claim 1, further comprising a flap mounted to the back panel to support the package in a generally upright position.

17. The package of claim 1, further comprising a tab defined in the front panel proximate the window.

18. The package of claim 1, further comprising a lip defined in the front panel proximate the window.

19. The package of claim 1, further comprising: a tab defined in the front panel proximate a top edge of the window; and a lip defined in the front panel proximate a bottom edge of the window.

20. The package of claim 1, further comprising at least one peg hole defined in the front and back panels.

21. The package of claim 1, further comprising tape covering at least a portion of the window.

22. The package of claim 1, further comprising a shrink band covering at least a portion of the window.

23. The package of claim 1, wherein the back panel comprises a paper material, and the front panel is adhesively mounted to the back panel.

24. The package of claim 1, wherein the front panel is coupled to the back panel using an interference fit.

25. A merchandise package, comprising a back panel; a front panel mounted to the back panel; a partition member extending from the front panel to define a plurality of channels between the front and back panels for retaining a plurality of items; a window defined in the front panel and communicating with at least one of channels.

26. The package of claim 25, wherein the window communicates with at least two of the plurality of channels.

27. The package of claim 25, further comprising a plurality of windows, each window communicating with at least one of the channels.

28. The package of claim 25, wherein the plurality of items are arranged in columns in the channels.

29. The package of claim 25, wherein the plurality of items are arranged in layers.

30. The package of claim 25, wherein the plurality of items comprise batteries.

31. The package of claim 30, wherein the batteries are grouped into packages.

32. The package of claim 25, further comprising a tear strip defined in the front panel covering the window.

33. The package of claim 25, wherein the back panel comprises at least one of paperboard, corrugated paper, or thermoplastic material.

34. The package of claim 25, wherein the front panel comprises thermoplastic material.

35. The package of claim 25, wherein the front and back panels comprise thermoplastic material.

36. The package of claim 25, further comprising a flap extending from the back panel to support the package in a generally upright position.

37. The package of claim 36, further comprising a tab extending from the back panel and interfacing with the flap to fix the position of the flap with respect to the back panel.

38. The package of claim 37, wherein the flap and tab hingedly extend from the back panel.

39. The package of claim 25, further comprising a flap mounted to the back panel to support the package in a generally upright position.

40. The package of claim 25, further comprising a tab defined in the front panel proximate the window.

41. The package of claim 25, further comprising a lip defined in the front panel proximate the window.

42. The package of claim 25, further comprising: a tab defined in the front panel proximate a top edge of the window; and a lip defined in the front panel proximate a bottom edge of the window.

43. The package of claim 25, further comprising at least one peg hole defined in the front and back panels.

44. The package of claim 25, further comprising tape covering at least a portion of the window.

45. The package of claim 25, further comprising a shrink band covering at least a portion of the window.

46. The package of claim 25, wherein the back panel comprises a paper material, and the front panel is adhesively mounted to the back panel.

47. The package of claim 25, wherein the front panel is coupled to the back panel using an interference fit.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to the field of merchandise packaging, and more particularly, to a merchandise package including multiple channels for retail display of individual battery packages.

By universal agreement, a number of battery types have been defined in terms of voltage, current, and dimensional criteria. Most common among these defined battery types are the round cells, readily available sources of direct current packaged in cylindrical canisters. These round cells have been given letter designations and range, in physical size, from AAAA, AAA, AA, C to D.

Although the battery chemistries, available power, and recharging options may vary, the dimensions and electrical properties are confined within agreed-upon tolerances. These standardized battery properties allow consumers to replenish the battery compartments of their electronic devices from the stocks of thousands of convenience stores, hardware stores, and electronic shops throughout the world.

Advancements in microcircuitry, optics, and micro-machinery, have resulted in a proliferation of portable electronic devices which rely on standard round cells for power. Whereas a hundred years ago a consumer might possess only one or two lanterns or flashlights calling for batteries, the modern household, in addition to flashlights, may have portable radios, CD and tape players, intercoms, cellular phones, computers, musical devices, camcorders, interactive toys, remote control cars, calculators, or any of a multitude of home electronic devices.

To anticipate the immediate need for replacement batteries, the modem consumer is called on to maintain a stockpile of batteries of various sizes ready at hand. To address this need, manufacturers package multiple batteries in a single container, usually offering a reduced unit price for quantity purchases. Multiple batteries have been offered on blister cards, such as those shown in U.S. Pat. No. Des. 408,732; in front-to-back plastic clamshell packages, and in paperboard containers, such as those shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,350.

Smaller vendors often purchase battery packages in bulk from distributors or certain large retail outlets, such as warehouse stores. The bulk products are broken down by the retailer into smaller units for resale at the smaller retail outlets. Typically, store displays for vending battery packages include multiple peg hooks for various battery types and package sizes. Individual battery packages are hung on the peg hooks and individually removed by consumers. Such displays often consume a significant amount of display space area, and may be impractical for smaller retail outlets.

What is needed is a larger package that can display smaller individual battery packages inside the larger package.

The present invention is directed to overcoming, or at least reducing the effects of, one or more of the problems set forth above.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is seen in a merchandise package including a back panel and a front panel coupled to the back panel. At least one of the back panel and front panel defines a first channel for retaining a plurality of items. A window defined in the front panel communicates with the first channel.

Another aspect of the present invention is seen in a merchandise package including a back panel, a front panel mounted to the back panel and a partition member. The partition member extends from the front panel to define a plurality of channels between the front and back panels for retaining a plurality of items. A window defined in the front panel communicates with at least one of the channels.

The merchandise package may be used to contain a quantity of items, such as battery packages, for sale as a collective unit. Subsequently, the window may be exposed, and the individual items or packages contained therein may be sold individually. Hence, the merchandise package functions as both a bulk package and a retail display.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify like elements, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front isometric view of a merchandise package in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a back isometric view of the merchandise package of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the merchandise package of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a back view of a back panel of the merchandise package of FIG. 1.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the description herein of specific embodiments is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While the present invention may be embodied in any of several different forms, the present invention is described here with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as setting forth an exemplification of the present invention that is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiment(s) illustrated. Nothing in this application is considered critical or essential to the present invention unless explicitly indicated as being “critical” or “essential”.

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-4 illustrate various isometric and two-dimensional front and back views of a merchandise package 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The merchandise package 10 includes a front panel 12 and a back panel 14. A plurality of channels 16 are defined by partition members 18 extending from the front panel 12. Packages 20, such as battery packages, are disposed between the front panel 12 and the back panel 14 in the channels 16 for retail display. A window 22 is defined in the front panel 12 that communicates with the channels 16 to allow one of the packages 20 to be extracted from the merchandise package 10. Although a single window 22 is illustrated, it is contemplated that multiple windows 22 may be defined in the front panel 12, each communicating with one or more channels 16. Following removal of a package 20, the remaining packages 20 in the channel 16 slide down through gravity feed and the next package 20 will be accessible through the window 22. A support member 24 may be defined in the top panel 12 proximate the end of the channel 16 for supporting the packages 20 proximate the window 22. Peg holes 25 are defined in the front and back panels 12, 14 to allow the merchandise package 10 to be displayed on a peg hook display.

The front panel 12 may be formed to define channels 16 of the appropriate dimensions for retaining various types or sizes of battery packages 20, including individual batteries. Also, the packages 20 may be one or more layers deep, such that two or more columns of packages 20 are disposed in each channel 16, one column being in front of another column. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the packages 20 are shrink wrapped four packs of AA batteries. Of course, other batteries or packages, such as AAAA, AAA, C, D, coin cells, 9V, etc. may be used. Moreover, the merchandise package 10 may be used for vending items other than batteries or battery packages. Other items, such as chewing gum, candy, film, etc. may be readily arranged in columns in the channels 16 to be accessed through the window 22. Such items may be inconvenient to sell in larger quantity packages in areas of a store, such as a counter or check out lane. The merchandise package 10 allows such items to be purchased in larger quantities, displayed, and individually sold.

The merchandise package 10 serves a two-fold purpose, both as a product and as a display. First, the merchandise package 10 may be sold by a bulk or wholesale retailer. Multiple merchandise packages 10 may be conveniently displayed on a peg hook or tray in a large or wholesale retailer for purchase by a small retailer. Second, when used as a display, the small retailer may expose the window 22 and display the merchandise package 10 for individual sale of the packages 20 contained therein.

In one embodiment, the back panel 14 is formed of a paperboard or corrugated material and the front panel 12 is a thermoformed thermoplastic material that is adhesively or frictionally (e.g., interference fit or snap-fit) mounted to the back panel 14. The partition members 18 may be sealed to the back panel 14, or they may extend to be in near contact or direct contact with the back panel 14 without being fixed thereto. In a single-sheet thermoforming process, a single sheet of thermoplastic material is heated and then brought into contact with a molding tool having a plurality of ports through which air is drawn to cause the semi-molten plastic to conform to the shape of the molding tool. The front panel 12 may be formed of PVC plastic, or alternatively of polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, PET, RPET, or other suitable thermoplastic materials. The sheet is a thin sheet of thermoplastic, for example about 0.5 mm thick.

In another embodiment, the back panel 14 may also be formed of a thermoplastic material. The front and back panels 12, 14 may be formed separately and pressed or welded together, or alternatively, they may be formed using a single sheet of thermoplastic material using a hinged clamshell design. In an embodiment where the front and back panels 12, 14 are both formed using a thermoforming process, the partition members 18 may be defined in either panel 12, 14 or both panels 12, 14.

The window 22 may be formed using a scored or perforated tear strip 26 that may be removed prior to displaying the merchandise package 10 for retail use. Tabs 28 may be defined in the front panel 12 on a top edge 30 of the window 22 for retaining the packages 20 in place during display. A lip 32 may also be defined in the front panel 12 proximate a bottom edge 34 of the window 22 and extending from the support member 24 for retaining the packages 20 in the channels 16. Of course, other arrangements may be used for supporting the packages 20 proximate the window 22. For example, tabs may be provided on top and bottom edges of the window 22. Also, the dimensions of the window may be slightly smaller than those of the packages 20 so as to form upper and lower lip surfaces that retain the packages 20 in place.

The partition members 18 may include a first portion 36 extending a majority of the length of the channel 16 and a second portion 38 proximate the window 22 so that they do not interfere with removal of the tear strip 26. In another embodiment, the window 22 may already be exposed (i.e., no tear strip 26) and the bottom packages 20 may be secured in place with tape or a shrink band that may be removed prior to using the merchandise package 10 to vend the packages 20.

Turning now to FIG. 4, a view of the back panel 14 is provided. The back panel 14 includes a body portion 40 with back flaps 42 and bottom tabs 44 hingedly extending therefrom. Hinges 46, 48 are defined by a score line or fold line extending along edges of the body portion 40. The back flaps 42 may be folded toward the rear of the merchandise package 10 and secured in place by the bottom tabs 44 to construct a stand for supporting the merchandise package 10 on a counter, shelf, or other flat surface. FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate the back panel 14 with the stands in an assembled state. Of course, other types of flap arrangements may be used to create a stand for holding the merchandise package 10 in a generally upright position. For example, an add-on constructed of paperboard or plastic may be adhesively mounted to the rear of the back panel 14 to define a stand similar to those found in a common picture frame.

Returning to FIG. 1, in one embodiment, the front panel 12 may not include partition members 18 for defining channels 16. Instead, the dimensions of the battery packages 20 may be such that channels 16 are defined inherently by the positioning of the battery packages 20. For example, with the 4-pack AA battery packages illustrated in FIG. 1, even without the partition members 18, it is likely that the packages 20 will remain in columns as individual packages are removed 20. If one of the packages 20 becomes misaligned with respect to its column 16, it can still be removed through the window 22 when it reaches the bottom position.

In yet another embodiment, only one channel 16 may be defined by sidewalls 46 defined in the top portion 12. A single column of packages 20 or individual items may be contained in the channel 16 and accessible through the window 22.

Although the channels 16 and window 22 are arranged to create a gravity feed for the packages 20, the invention is not so limited. The channels 16 may extend in a different direction, such as horizontal, and the window 22 may be oriented differently depending on the channel 16 arrangement.

The particular embodiments disclosed above are illustrative only, as the invention may be modified and practiced in different but equivalent manners apparent to those skilled in the art having the benefit of the teachings herein. Furthermore, no limitations are intended to the details of construction or design herein shown, other than as described in the claims below. It is therefore evident that the particular embodiments disclosed above may be altered or modified and all such variations are considered within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the protection sought herein is as set forth in the claims below.