Title:
Mailer envelope with integrated return response vehicle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mailer envelope formed from a flat pattern blank includes a lower panel with a response vehicle formed thereon and defined by a pair of spaced parallel vertical perforation lines joined at their tops by an arcuate perforation line in a front panel of the pattern defining a response vehicle seal flap, with a transparent patch glued over the interior surface of the response envelope. A pair of preprinted perforated response coupons are located in the seal flap of the mailer envelope. A removable label, such as a return address label or ornamental seal, on the mailer envelope is user removed and used to simultaneously seal the response vehicle, or envelope, which has a mailing address preprinted on its front face.



Inventors:
Collins, Robert William (Shawnee, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/104695
Publication Date:
10/19/2006
Filing Date:
04/13/2005
Assignee:
WMachinery Company (Overland Park, KS, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/70, 229/71
International Classes:
B65D27/06; B65D27/00; B65D27/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth W. Iles (Law Offices of Kenneth W. Iles 9903 West 129th Street, Overland Park, KS, 66213-3222, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An envelope comprising: a. an envelope having a front face and a rear face; b. a response vehicle formed on a portion of a rear panel of a flat pattern blank of said envelope; and c. means for sealing said response envelope.

2. An envelope in accordance with claim 1 wherein said response vehicle sealing means further comprises a removable adhesively backed label removed from its original position on said front face of said envelope and placed across a portion of a seal flap of said return envelope and a portion of a front panel of said response vehicle and adhered thereto.

3. An envelope in accordance with claim 1 wherein a rear face of said response vehicle comprises a transparent rear face.

4. An envelope in accordance with claim 1 further comprising at least one response coupon printed on said envelope.

5. An envelope in accordance with claim 4 further comprising a perforated perimeter about said response coupon.

6. An envelope in accordance with claim 4 further comprising a seal flap of said envelope with said at least one response coupon printed on said seal flap.

7. An envelope in accordance with claim 6 wherein said response coupon further comprises a printed response on an inner surface of said seal flap of said envelope.

8. An envelope in accordance with claim 1 wherein said response vehicle includes a perimeter defined by a pair of spaced vertical perforated lines connected by an arcuate perforated line along the top of each of said spaced vertical perforated lines and a bottom edge of said flat pattern blank with said bottom edge of said flat pattern blank forming a bottom edge of said response vehicle and said arcuate line defining a seal flap of said response envelope.

9. An envelope in accordance with claim 8 further comprising a score line along a lower portion of said seal flap and parallel to said bottom edge of said response envelope.

10. An envelope in accordance with claim 8 further comprising a separate adhesive layer disposed along a line adjacent to and inside of each of said spaced vertical perforations and said bottom edge of said response vehicle and a front panel of said response vehicle adhered to said adhesive layers.

11. An envelope in accordance with claim 1 further comprising left-hand and right-hand side flaps formed in said flat pattern blank.

12. An envelope in accordance with claim 2 wherein said label further comprises a label patch secured to an inside surface of said flat pattern blank and an envelope window in said flat pattern blank with a label disposed on said label patch and disposed inside said envelope window.

13. An envelope comprising: a. an envelope having a front face and a rear face; b. a response vehicle formed on a portion of a rear panel of a flat pattern blank of said envelope with an integrated response vehicle seal flat formed on a portion of a front panel of said envelope; c. a removable adhesively backed label on said envelope; and d. means for sealing said response envelope.

14. An envelope in accordance with claim 13 wherein said response vehicle further comprises a rear panel fastened to said response envelope.

15. An envelope in accordance with claim 13 wherein said response vehicle includes a perimeter defined by a pair of spaced vertical perforated lines connected by an arcuate perforated line along the top of each of said spaced vertical perforated lines and a bottom edge of said flat pattern blank with said bottom edge of said flat pattern blank forming a bottom edge of said response vehicle and said arcuate perforated line defines a seal flap of said response envelope.

16. An envelope in accordance with claim 13 further comprising at least one response coupon printed on a seal flap of said envelope.

17. An envelope having a front face and a rear face; a. a response vehicle formed on a portion of a flat pattern blank of said envelope with an integrated response vehicle seal flap formed on a portion of a flat pattern blank and said response vehicle further comprising a perimeter defined by a pair of spaced vertical perforated lines substantially formed in said flat pattern blank connected by an arcuate perforated line connecting a top end each of said spaced vertical perforated lines formed in said flat pattern blank and a bottom edge of said flat pattern blank with said bottom edge of said flat pattern blank forming a bottom edge of said response vehicle and said arcuate line defining a seal flap of said response vehicle; b. a rear panel on said response vehicle further comprising a sheet of material glued onto said flat pattern blank; and c. means for sealing said response envelope.

18. An envelope in accordance with claim 17 further comprising a removable adhesively backed label on said envelope located behind a window on said envelope.

19. An envelope in accordance with claim 17 further comprising a score line between said front panel of said envelope and said rear panel of said envelope, with said score line lying between said front panel of said response vehicle and said response vehicle seal flap.

20. An envelope in accordance with claim 17 wherein said response vehicle further comprises a transparent response vehicle front panel fastened to said response envelope.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

SEQUENCE LISTING

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to an envelope for encouraging the recipient to respond. More particularly, the present invention is an envelope having an integrated response vehicle in the form of a return envelope and further including a plurality of preprinted response indicators for including with the return envelope.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART INCLUDING INFORMATION DISCLOSED UNDER 37 C.F.R. 1.97 and 1.98

Mass mailers and others often want to receive a mailed response from the recipient of the initial mailing. Typically, response rates are quite low and mass mailers want to encourage responses. One way to encourage responses is to make responding as simple and easy as possible.

Some efforts to simply responding to mailings have led to issued patents.

For example, z-fold mailers are basically one sheet of paper folded into thirds and typically have printed matter on both sides, as shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,431,437, 6,152,361, 6,071,367 and 6,071,367. Such a mailer can include a response vehicle in the form of a return receipt (U.S. Pat. No. 6,152,361) or a return envelope formed by folding the original mailer in a different fashion (U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,437). Such mailers, however, are wholly self-contained and are typically not readily used when enclosures, such as coupons, customer education material or the like, are mailed. Nor do such z-fold mailers typically allow for use of a response instruction, for example, yes, or no, to be formed on the z-fold mailer itself, preferably perforated for easy removal.

An envelope with a return postcard form printed onto the envelope body, which requires a thick envelope so that a piece of the envelope can be classified as a postcard by the United States Postal Service, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,999. The envelope can hold an item inside it. The return postcard, however, obviously cannot be used to hold enclosures, such as a check or a designation of an item for purchase, and therefore it not helpful in many mass mailing situations.

An envelope formed from folding a rectangular sheet of paper into four parallel sections and gluing it is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,598,970, in which two panels form a return envelope. A disadvantage of this type of envelope is that it is simply glued together along the outer edges of the sheet, resulting in an envelope that has only limited expansion capacity and hence can hold only thin items well. Further, since the envelope is opaque, the recipient cannot immediately identify the contents.

An envelope formed from a single rectangular sheet of folded paper having a return envelope capacity is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,706,877, which includes perforated side edges that must be torn off in order for the recipient to open it. These types of envelopes are commonly used when heightened mail security is desired, but are notoriously frustrating to open and hence are resented by recipients. This envelope can readily hold only thin materials, such as a single sheet of paper. This envelope also includes a peel off address label that the recipient is supposed to peel off and apply in the upper left-hand corner for use as a return mailing address.

Each of these envelopes have, for some purposes, shortcomings, and thus there is a need for a mailer envelope that includes a return vehicle, which may conveniently be in the form of an envelope, integrated into the mailer envelope; that includes a transparent panel on the response vehicle for immediately seeing and checking the contents of the return vehicle; that utilizes the return address on the mailer envelope as the mailing address on the response vehicle or that includes a preprinted return mailing address on the response vehicle; and that includes appropriate response coupons integrated into the mailer envelope, thereby engaging the recipient minimally while encouraging a response.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a mailer envelope that includes a return envelope integrated into the mailer envelope.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a mailer envelope that includes a transparent panel on the return envelope for easily checking the contents of the return envelope.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a mailer envelope that can utilize the return address on the mailer envelope as the mailing address on the response vehicle or that includes a preprinted return address on the response vehicle.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a mailer envelope that includes appropriate response coupons integrated into the mailer envelope, thereby engaging the recipient minimally while encouraging a response.

These objects are achieved by providing an envelope formed from a flat pattern blank that includes a lower panel with a response vehicle formed thereon and defined by a pair of spaced parallel vertical perforation lines joined at their tops by an arcuate perforation line in a front panel of the pattern defining a response vehicle seal flap, with a transparent patch glued over the interior surface of the response vehicle to form a response vehicle which is an envelope. Alternatively, the response vehicle may be a postcard, in which case, the arcuate response vehicle seal flap is omitted. A pair of preprinted perforated response coupons are located in the seal flap of the mailer envelope. A removable on the mailer envelope, which may be a return address label or an ornamental seal or the like, is removed by the user and is used to seal the response vehicle and may also serve as the return mailing address. Located on the seal flap of the mailer envelope is a set of response coupons defined by perforated lines forming rectangles with preprinted responses on them. The preprinted response may be printed on both sides of the sheet, so that the response will be visible though the transparent rear face of the envelope response vehicle. In the case of a postcard response vehicle, the response coupons may include a preprinted response on one side and an adhesive on the other with a release coated paper on it to prevent the adhesive from sticking to the mailer envelope.

The response vehicle has several advantages, including having the weight of a postcard, the appearance of a postcard and yet the utility of an envelope, with an interior space for holding a response on a separate enclosure.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, the preferred embodiment of the present invention and the best mode currently known to the inventor for carrying out the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a flat pattern of an envelope with integrated return response vehicle according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the assembled envelope of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the assembled envelope of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the envelope of FIG. 1 showing the initial step for responding.

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the response vehicle of the envelope of FIG. 1 shown in a further response step subsequent to the step shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the response vehicle of the envelope of FIG. 1 shown in a further response step subsequent to the step shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of the response vehicle of the envelope of FIG. 1 shown ready for mailing.

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of the response vehicle of the envelope of FIG. 1 shown ready for mailing and showing the face side of the response vehicle with the preprinted mailing address.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an envelope with integrated envelope-like return response vehicle, that is mailer envelope, 10 according to the present invention comprises a flat pattern blank 12 preferably made principally from paper, with the flat pattern blank 12 being preferably formed from a web 15, or rectangular sheet such as a die cut blank, of any material of a single sheet of material suitable for making envelopes. Right-hand, left-hand, up, down, top, bottom an so forth have their normal meanings, but are applied to the figure being discussed as it appears on the page, which do not necessarily, for example in FIG. 1, indicate the corresponding directions on the finished, or folded mailer envelope, or envelope, 10. Left, right, top and bottom are used consistently throughout all figures when it is not misleading to do so. The flat pattern blank 12 includes a front panel 14 and a rear panel 16, with the interior surface 18 of the mailer envelope 10 of the front panel 14 and the rear panel 16 being the visible surface or top surface as the flat pattern blank 12 is shown in FIG. 1. The opposite face of the interior surface 18 is the exterior surface 20, for example FIGS. 2, 3. The flat pattern blank 12 further includes a left-hand side flap 22 connected to and contiguous with the left-hand side 24, with a left-hand flap score line 26 defining the inner edge 27 of the left-hand side flap 22 and the outer left-hand edge 29 of the front panel 14. A right-hand side flap 28 having a right-hand flap score line 32 defining the inner edge 33 of the right-hand side flap 28 is connected to and contiguous with the right-hand side 30 of the front panel 14, with the score line 31 defining the outer right-hand edge 34 of the front panel 14 and the inner edge 34 of the right-hand side flap 28.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the use of a flat pattern blank 12 having left-hand and right-hand side flaps 22, 28 results in a mailer envelope 10 that is more esthetically pleasing to recipients, that is stronger than an envelope glued from a simple rectangular blank (a construction that pinches the front and rear panels together, both reducing the effective size of the resulting envelope and limiting the expansion capacity of the envelope and thereby unnecessarily limiting the amount of material that can be placed inside the resulting envelope) and that has a larger capacity for inserts.

Still referring to FIG. 1, a seal flap 36 along and above the seal flap score line 38, of the front panel 14 includes a left-hand edge 40 and a right-hand edge 42, which are both angled inward toward a vertical center line of the flat pattern blank 12, and a top edge 44. The inner surface 18 of the portion of the flat pattern blank 12 that forms the seal flap 36, includes a right-hand square adhesive area 48, a left-hand side square adhesive area 46 and a center rectangular adhesive area 50, coated with any suitable adhesive, preferably dextrin. Each of the adhesive areas 46, 48, 50 is adjacent to the top edge 44 of the seal flap 36. A left-hand response coupon 52 having a printed “yes” response 53 and a right-hand side response coupon 54 having a printed “no” response 55 are formed by perforation lines 56 in the seal flap 36 that define a basically rectangular response coupon 52, 54. Each response coupon 52, 54 includes an indented tab area 58 along an edge nearest the middle of the seal flap 36 for facilitating removing the response coupon 52, 54, from the mailer envelope 10. Messages can be printed on either the interior surface 18, as shown, which neatly presents the responses to the recipient upon opening the mailer envelope 10 or on the exterior surface 20 (FIG. 2) of the response coupons 52, 54, with options such as “yes” or “no”, or “I accept” or “I decline” for the recipient to choose from in responding. Any other desired shape, such as, for example, a square, circle, hexagon, octagon, of closed polygon, may be used to form the response coupons 52, 54 and any desired number or sizes of the response coupons 52, 54 may be used as desired. Further, the response coupons 52, 54 may be self-adhesive stickers having a release coated sheet under them as well as being perforated. Naturally, other explanatory and promotional material is normally enclosed in the completed mailer envelope 10 to elicit a response from the recipient.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the return address is a removable sealing label 65, for sealing the response vehicle 60 in the form of a return envelope, that includes a printed return address 67 inside an oval shaped perforation line 63, which is coated with an adhesive, formed in a return address label patch 59 that is adhered to the inner surface 18 of the blank pattern blank 12 by adhesive on the adhesive layer 61, which coats the return address label patch 59, which is rectangular, but not the oval shaped return address label 65. Alternatively, the label 65 may be an ornamental seal used simply for sealing the response vehicle 60, which is preferred when the return address is preprinted on the rear face 106 of the mailer envelope 10 (FIG. 3). An oval shaped hole, or envelope window, 71, very slightly larger that the oval shaped perforation line 63, is formed into the flat pattern blank 12 and the removable return address label 65 is set into the hole or return address window 71. The return address label 65 adhesive adheres to the response vehicle 60 without moistening and the return address label's 65 oval central portion is not coated with adhesive and serves as a release coated surface to allow easy removal of the oval shaped return address label 65. The return address label 65 is behind the return address window 71 as the mailer envelope 10 is naturally viewed by the recipient when he is looking toward the addressed side of the mailer envelope 10.

Still referring to FIG. 1, a response vehicle 60, in the form of a response envelope, is formed substantially in the lower center portion of the rear panel 16, with the response vehicle 60 being removed from the mailer envelope 10 by tearing it from the mailer envelope 10 along the perforated lines 62, which pops out when pulled on, and which includes the left-hand side edge 63 defined by the perforation line 64, the right-hand side edge defined 65 by the perforation line 66, both of which are straight and vertical, and the seal flap perforation line 68, which is arched or arcuate, and which is formed substantially in the front panel 14 and which connects the tops of the perforated lines 64, 66. The left-hand perforation line 64 is spaced inwardly from and is parallel to the left-hand side 29 of the flat pattern blank 12. Similarly, the right-hand perforation line 66 is spaced inwardly from the right-hand edge 30 of the flat pattern blank 12, toward the centerline of the flat pattern blank 12 and is parallel to the right-hand edge 30. This construction results in an response vehicle 60 that is substantially narrower in width than the mailer envelope 10.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the seal flap perforation line 68 and the response vehicle 60 seal score line 88 define the seal flap 69 of the response vehicle 60. The bottom edge 70 of the rear panel 16 also forms the bottom edge 72 of the response vehicle 60 in the flat pattern blank of FIG. 1. The web 15 of material of the mailer envelope 10 thus forms the front panel 73 (FIG. 4) of the response vehicle 60. The rear panel 74 of the response vehicle 60 is formed from a separate sheet of material, preferably a sheet of transparent plastic film, that is glued to the interior surface 18 of the web 15 along the left-hand glue strip 76, the right-hand glue strip 78 and the bottom glue strip 80, each of which is a rectangular strip of uniform width and thickness. The left-hand glue strip 76 is formed to the right of, and immediately adjacent to, the left-hand perforation line 64 and the right-hand glue strip 78 is formed to the left of, and immediately adjacent to, the right-hand perforation line 66.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the bottom glue strip 80 is horizontally disposed and lies above and immediately adjacent to the bottom edge 70 of the flat pattern blank 12. The three glue strips 76, 78, 80 form three sides of a square, or rectangle, with the top edge 82 of the body of the response vehicle 60 open, that is, unglued. The top edge 82 is also the top edge of the transparent window material of the rear panel 74 of the response vehicle 60. The adhesive layers that form the glue strips may be spaced dabs of adhesive or the like and need not be continuous strips as show.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the rear panel 74 of the response vehicle 60 can be made of opaque material, such as security paper, but the response card will be readily visible thorough the transparent window so that in some instances the response vehicle 60 will not need to be opened upon its return to the original sender. A cavity 84 (FIG. 5) is formed between the front 73 and the rear (transparent) panel 74 of the response vehicle 60 for inserting a response coupon 52, 54, and other material, for example, any form of response, such as a document.

Still referring to FIG. 1, a bottom score line 86 defines the boundary between the rear panel 16 and the front panel 14, which also serves as the seal flap 69 score line 88. To form the mailer envelope 10 from the flat pattern blank, the left-hand and right-hand side flaps 22, 28 are folded upward and out of the plane of the paper and folded against the front panel 14. Then the lower panel 16 is folded along the score line 86 upward and out of the paper as illustrated in FIG. 1 and pressed against the front panel 14, and then glued to the exterior surface 20 (FIG. 2) of the left-hand and right-hand side flaps 22, 28. After the contents have been inserted into the mailer envelope 10, the seal flap is folded upward out of the paper as shown in FIG. 1 and pressed against the exterior surface 20 of the lower panel 16 to seal the mailer envelope 10.

Referring to FIG. 2, the front face 90 of the assembled mailer envelope 10 includes the recipient's mailing address 92 in the approximate center of the mailer envelope 10 and postage indicia 94 in the upper right-hand corner. As shown in FIG. 2, the assembled mailer envelope 10 includes a left-hand edge 93, a bottom edge 95, a right-hand edge 97 and a top edge 99 each connected to two adjacent edges to form a rectangular shaped mailer envelope 10. A detachment point 104 in the form of an arcuate cut at the right-hand edge of the removable label 65 facilitates removal of the removable label 65 by the recipient. Alternatively, the return address can be printed directly onto the mailer envelope 10 with a perforated perimeter allowing it to be removed from the body of the mailer envelope 10 easily and the back of the return address cut out covered with a self-adhesive layer that is in turn covered by a release coated sheet that will be inside the assembled mailer envelope 10 and will also be perforated about the perimeter of the return address cut out.

Referring to FIG. 3, the rear face 106 of the mailer envelope 10 is shown with the envelope being in the sealed condition ready for initial mailing. In the preferred embodiment, the return address 107 is preprinted on side of the response vehicle 60 that becomes the front face 73 of the response vehicle 60 when it is mailed.

FIGS. 4-7 illustrate the mailer envelope 10 in sequential stages of disassembly by the recipient to reveal the contents of the mailer envelope 10, create the response vehicle 60, select a response coupon 52, 54, insert the appropriate response coupon into the response vehicle 60 and seal it, making the response vehicle 60 ready for mailing.

Referring to FIG. 4, the return envelope 60 is shown being peeled away from the mailer envelope 10 along the perforations 64, 66 and the response coupon 52 is shown been peeled away from the mailer envelope 10 for insertion into the response vehicle 60. The response coupon 52 is printed with a “yes” response and the response coupon 54 is printed with a “no” response.

Referring to FIG. 5, the response vehicle 60 and the “yes” response coupon 52 have been fully detached from the mailer envelope 10 and the recipient is inserting the response coupon 52 into the response vehicle 60 in the direction of the arrow 108. A hole 110 corresponding to the removed response coupon 52 is formed in the seal flap. A postage permit 114 is printed on the upper left-hand corner of the front face 73 of the response vehicle 60.

Referring to FIG. 6, the response vehicle 60 has been completely detached from the mailer envelope 10 and the seal flap 69 of the response vehicle 60 has been folded downward against the rear panel, or face, 74 of the response vehicle 60. Then the recipient peels the removable label 65 away from the remaining body portion 112 and placed against the lower portion of the response vehicle seal flap 69 and the rear panel 74 of the response vehicle 60 as shown in FIG. 7, and it adheres thereto, thereby simultaneously sealing and providing a return address (which will be the same as the mailing address, a common practice for the convenience of the sender, who then does not need to provide his own address as the return address).

Referring to FIG. 8, the mailing address 107, including a postal bar code, is preprinted on the opaque front panel 73 and the postage or postage permit 114 is placed on the upper left-hand corner and the response vehicle 60 is ready for mailing back to the original sender.

While the present invention has been described in accordance with the preferred embodiments thereof, the description is for illustration only and should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention. Various changes and modifications may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.