Title:
Containers with dual orientation dispensing feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container according to a particular embodiment of the invention has a substantially rectangular vertical cross section and a substantially rectangular front face, and the container comprises a dispensing outlet adjacent a corner of the container's substantially rectangular front face. In various embodiments, the container's shape and outlet position allow users to dispense liquid from the container when the container is in: (1) a first, “short and wide” orientation, in which the front face of the container is wider than it is tall; and (2) a second, “tall and thin” orientation in which the front face of the container is taller than it is wide. The container may include an elongate handle that extends outwardly from the container's front face. In one embodiment, the handle extends substantially diagonally with respect to a side edge of the container's front face, and is adapted to facilitate the rotation of the container between the first and second orientations.



Inventors:
Manderfield Jr., Grover John (Marietta, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/287726
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
11/28/2005
Assignee:
Consolidated Container Company LP
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D90/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VOLZ, ELIZABETH J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (BANK OF AMERICA PLAZA, 101 SOUTH TRYON STREET, SUITE 4000, CHARLOTTE, NC, 28280-4000, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A container comprising: a body portion that defines an interior storage portion; a front wall that is disposed adjacent said body portion, said front wall comprising a corner; and an outlet disposed adjacent said corner of said front wall.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein: said body portion and said front wall cooperate to form an integrated, substantially watertight vessel that is adapted for storing a liquid within said interior storage portion; and said outlet is adapted to selectively restrict the flow of said liquid out of said substantially watertight vessel through said outlet.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein: said front wall defines a first side edge and a second side edge; and said corner is defined by an intersection of said first and second side edges of said front wall.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein: said container is adapted to allow users to dispense liquid from said container through said outlet both when: (A) said container is in a first, “short and wide” orientation, in which a width of said container is greater than a height of said container; and (B) said container is in a second, “tall and thin” orientation, in which said height of said container is greater than said width of said container.

5. The container of claim 1, wherein: said front wall has a substantially rectangular shape; and said body portion has a substantially rectangular vertical cross section when said container is in a dispensing configuration.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein: said front wall has a substantially square shape; and said body portion has a substantially square vertical cross section when said container is in said dispensing configuration.

7. The container of claim 1, wherein: said container comprises an elongate handle that extends outwardly from said front wall.

8. The container of claim 7, wherein said elongate handle extends substantially diagonally with respect to at least one side edge of said front wall.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein: said body portion comprises: (A) a “tall” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall, and (B) a “short” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall, said “short” side wall being substantially perpendicular to said “tall” side wall; and said container is configured to be positioned in a first orientation in which: (A) said “tall” side wall is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (B) said “short” side wall is not in a substantially horizontal orientation; said container is configured to be positioned in a second orientation in which: (A) said “short” side wall is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (B) said “tall” side wall is not in a substantially horizontal orientation; said container defines an interior storage portion that is in liquid communication with said outlet; and said container is adapted to dispense a liquid from said interior storage portion both when said container is in said first orientation and when said container is in said second orientation.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein said container is adapted to be rotated between said first and second orientations.

11. The container of claim 9, wherein said container is adapted to be rotated between said first and second orientations about a side corner edge of said container.

12. The container of claim 9, wherein said container is adapted so that: when said container is in said first orientation, said “short” side wall is in a substantially vertical orientation; and when said container is in said second orientation, said “tall” side wall is in a substantially vertical orientation.

13. A container comprising: a front wall; a rear wall that is spaced apart from said front wall; a first “tall” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall; a second “tall” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall, said second “tall” side wall being spaced apart from said first “tall” side wall; a first “short” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall; a second “short” side wall that extends between said front wall and said rear wall, said second “short” side wall being spaced apart from said first “short” side wall; and an outlet extending outwardly from said front wall, said outlet being disposed adjacent both: (A) said first “tall” side wall; and (B) said first “short” side wall, wherein: said container is configured to be positioned in a first orientation in which: (A) said first “tall” side wall is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (B) said first “short” side wall is not in a substantially horizontal orientation; said container is configured to be positioned in a second orientation in which: (A) said first “short” side wall is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (B) said first “tall” side wall is not in a substantially horizontal orientation; said container defines an interior storage portion that is in liquid communication with said outlet; and said container is adapted to dispense a liquid from said interior storage portion both when said container is in said first orientation and when said container is in said second orientation.

14. The container of claim 13, wherein: said first “tall” side wall is substantially parallel to said second “tall” side wall; and said first and second “tall” side walls are substantially perpendicular to said front wall.

15. The container of claim 13, wherein said first “short” side wall is substantially parallel to said second “short” side wall; and said first and second “short” side walls are substantially perpendicular to both: (A) said front wall; and (B) said first and second “tall” side walls.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein: said first and second “short” side walls are substantially planar; and said first and second “tall” side walls are substantially planar.

17. The container of claim 13, wherein said container is adapted so that: when said container is in said first orientation, said first, “short” side wall is in a substantially vertical orientation; and when said container is in said second orientation, said first, “tall” side wall is in a substantially vertical orientation.

18. The container of claim 13, wherein said outlet is disposed immediately adjacent a corner of said front wall.

19. The container of claim 13, wherein said outlet is spaced apart from a corner of said front wall by less than about 1.5 inches.

20. The container of claim 13, wherein said container is adapted so that when said container is in said first orientation, a width of said container is greater than a height of said container along at least 80% of a depth of said container.

21. The container of claim 13, wherein said container is adapted so that when said container is in said first orientation, a width of said container is at least 10% greater than a height of said container along at least 80% of a depth of said container.

22. The container of claim 21, wherein said container is adapted so that when said container is in said second orientation, a height of said container is at least 10% greater than a width of said container along at least 80% of a depth of said container.

23. The container of claim 13, wherein: said container comprises an elongate handle that extends outwardly from said front wall.

24. The container of claim 23, wherein said container is adapted so that when said container is positioned on a substantially horizontal surface in said first orientation, said elongate handle extends substantially diagonally relative to said horizontal surface.

25. The container of claim 23, wherein: said elongate handle forms an angle of between about 35 and 65 degrees with said container's first “tall” side wall.

26. The container of claim 23, wherein: said elongate handle forms an angle of between about 42 and 47 degrees with said container's first “tall” side wall.

27. The container of claim 23, wherein said outlet is disposed adjacent a first, “dispensing” corner of said front wall; and said elongate handle extends along a plane that extends adjacent both: (A) a first, “dispensing” corner of said front wall, and (B) a second corner of said front wall, said second corner being diagonally offset from said first, “dispensing” corner.

28. The container of claim 27, wherein: said elongate handle extends along a plane that extends through both: (A) said first, “dispensing” corner of said front wall, and (B) said second corner of said front wall.

29. A container comprising: a body portion defining an interior storage portion; a front wall adjacent said body portion, said front wall defining at least one corner portion; an outlet disposed adjacent said corner portion of said front wall, wherein: said body portion and said front wall cooperate to form an integrated, substantially watertight vessel that is adapted for storing a liquid within said interior storage portion; said outlet is adapted to selectively restrict the flow of said liquid out of said substantially watertight vessel through said outlet; said container is configured to be positioned in a first, “short and wide” orientation in which a width of said container is greater than a height of said container; said container is configured to be positioned in a second, “tall and thin” orientation in which a height of said container is greater than a width of said container; and said container is adapted to dispense a liquid from said interior storage portion both when said container is in said first orientation and when said container is in said second orientation.

30. The container of claim 29, wherein: when said container is in said “short and wide” orientation, a width of said front wall is greater than a height of said front wall; and when said container is in said “tall and thin” orientation, a height of said front wall is greater than a width of said front wall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from provisional application 60/631,471, entitled “Container”, which was filed on Nov. 28, 2004, and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Various containers for liquids are known. However, there is a need for improved containers that, for example, allow for easier handling and for more versatile and convenient storage and operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A container (such as a beverage container) according to a particular embodiment of the invention has a substantially rectangular cross section and a substantially rectangular (e.g., substantially square) front face. In one embodiment, the container comprises a dispensing outlet adjacent a corner of the container's substantially rectangular front face. In various embodiments, the container's shape and outlet position allow users to dispense liquid from the container when the container is in a first, “tall and thin” orientation, and when the container is in a second, “short and wide” orientation.

In various embodiments of the invention, the container includes a handle (e.g., an elongate handle) that extends outwardly from the container's front face. In one embodiment of the invention, the handle extends substantially diagonally with respect to: (1) the container's front face; (2) one or more of the container's side surfaces; and/or (3) the surface on which the container is supported when the container is in the first and/or second orientation. In a particular embodiment of the invention, the container's dispensing outlet is disposed adjacent (e.g., immediately adjacent) a first, “dispensing” corner of the container's front face, and the container's handle extends along a plane that extends adjacent (and preferably through) both: (1) the first, “dispensing” corner of the container's front face, and (2) a second corner of the container's front face that is diagonally opposite the first, “dispensing” corner of the container's front face. In one embodiment of the invention, the plane is substantially perpendicular to the container's front face.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective front view of a container according to a particular embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective side corner view of the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective front view of the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a front view of the container shown in FIG. 1 in which the container is in a “tall and thin” orientation.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the container shown in FIG. 1 in which the container is in a “short and wide” orientation.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a container according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a first side view of the container shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a second side view of the container shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 11 is a third side view of the container shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 12 is a front view of the container shown in FIG. 8 in which the container is in a “short and wide” orientation.

FIG. 13 is a rear view of the container shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 14 is a fourth side view of the container shown in FIG. 8.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which various embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

General Structure of the Container

A container 100 according a particular embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 1-7, and a container 200 according to another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 8-14. As may be understood from FIGS. 1-7, in various embodiments, the container comprises:

(1) A front face 105 (e.g., a substantially rectangular front face).

(2) An outlet 135 disposed adjacent the container's front face 105. In one embodiment, the outlet 135 is disposed adjacent a particular, “dispensing” corner 123 of the container's front face 105. In a particular embodiment of the invention, the outlet 135 is a neck-type outlet.

(3) A rear face 110. In one embodiment of the invention, the rear face 110 is offset from, and substantially parallel to the container's front face 105.

(4) A first “tall” side surface 115 that extends between the container's front and rear faces 105, 110 (preferably from the container's front face 105 to the container's rear face 110).

(5) A second “tall” side surface 120 that extends between the container's front and rear faces 105, 110 (preferably from the container's front face 105 to the container's rear face 110). In one embodiment, this second “tall” side surface 120 is offset from, and substantially parallel to, the first “tall” side surface 115. Also, in a particular embodiment, the first and second “tall” side surfaces 115, 120 are substantially perpendicular to: (A) the container's front face 105; and/or (B) the container's rear face 110.

(6) A first “short” side surface 125 that extends between the container's front and rear faces 105, 110 (preferably from the container's front face 105 to the container's rear face 110).

(7) A second “short” side surface 130 that extends between the container's front and rear faces 105, 110 (preferably from the container's front face 105 to the container's rear face 110). In one embodiment, this second “short” side surface 130 is offset from, and substantially parallel to, the first “short” side surface 125. Also, in a particular embodiment, the first and second short side surfaces 125, 130 are substantially perpendicular to: (A) one or both of the first and second “tall” side surfaces 115, 120; (B) the front face 105; and/or (C) the rear face 110. In various embodiments of the invention, one or more of the following are substantially planar: (1) the container's front face 105; (2) the container's rear face 110; (3) one or more of the container's “tall” side surfaces 115, 120; (4) one or more of the container's “short” side surfaces 125, 130.

In various embodiments, the container's outlet 135 is disposed adjacent a corner 123 of the container's front face 105. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, in various embodiments, the container's outlet 135 is immediately adjacent a corner 123 (which may be referred to as a “dispensing corner”) of the container's front face 105. However, in other embodiments, the container's outlet 135 adjacent to, but spaced apart from, a corner 123 of the container's front face 105. In various embodiments of the invention, the container's outlet 135 is spaced apart from a corner 123 of the container's front face 105 by less than 1.5 inches, and preferably by less than 1 inch.

Similarly, in various embodiments of the invention, the container's outlet 135 is positioned immediately adjacent both a first side surface of the container 100 (e.g., the container's second “tall” side surface 120) and a second side surface of the container 100 (e.g., the container's first “short” side surface) 125. In various embodiments of the invention, these first and second side surfaces cooperate to form a corner (e.g., a substantially perpendicular corner) of the container 100. However, in alternative embodiments, one or more other side surfaces may separate these first and second side surfaces from each other.

In a particular embodiment of the invention, the container's outlet 135 is disposed adjacent both the container's second “tall” side surface 120 and the container's first “short” side surface 125, and the container's outlet 135 is spaced a short distance apart from the container's second “tall” side surface 120 and/or the container's first “short” side surface 125. For example, in one embodiment, the container's outlet 135 is disposed adjacent both the second “tall” side surface 120 and the first “short” side surface 125 of the container 100, and the container's outlet 135 is spaced less than 1.5 inches (and preferably less than 1 inch) apart from the container's second “tall” side surface 120 and/or the container's first “short” side surface 125.

As shown in FIG. 6, in a particular embodiment of the invention, the container's shape and/or outlet position allow users to dispense liquid from the container's outlet 135 when the container 100 is in a first orientation in which: (1) the container's first “short” side surface 125 is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (2) the container's second “tall” side surface 120 is not in a substantially horizontal orientation. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 7, in various embodiments, the container's shape and/or outlet position allow users to dispense liquid from the container's outlet 135 when the container 100 is in a second orientation in which: (1) the container's second “tall” side surface 120 is in a substantially horizontal orientation; and (2) the container's first “short” side surface 125 is not in a substantially horizontal orientation.

As may be understood from FIG. 6, in a particular embodiment of the invention, when the container 100 is in the “first orientation” referenced above, the container's second “tall” side surface 120 is in a substantially vertical position. Similarly, as may be understood from FIG. 7, in certain embodiments, when the container 100 is in the “second orientation” referenced above, the container's first “short” side surface 125 is in a substantially vertical position.

Also, as may be understood from FIG. 6, in various embodiments of the invention, when the container 100 is in the “first orientation” referenced above, the container 100 is in a “tall and thin” orientation in which the container's height is generally greater the container's width. In various embodiments, when the container 100 is in the “first orientation” referenced above, the container's height is greater than its width along at least 90%, 80%, 70%, or 60% of the container's depth. In a particular embodiment of the invention, the container's depth is measured from the container's front face 105 to its rear surface 110.

Also, as may be understood from FIG. 7, in various embodiments of the invention, when the container 100 is in the “second orientation” referenced above, the container 100 is in a “short and wide” orientation in which the container's height is generally less than the container's width. In various embodiments, when the container 100 is in the “second orientation” referenced above, the container's width is greater than its height along at least 90%, 80%, 70%, or 60% of the container's depth.

As noted above, in various embodiments of the invention, the container 100 includes a handle 145 that extends outwardly from the container's front face 105. In one embodiment of the invention (e.g., the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-7), the container's handle 145 extends substantially diagonally with respect to the container's front face 105. Similarly, in certain embodiments of the invention, the handle 145 extends substantially diagonally with respect to the container surface (e.g., the container's second “tall” side surface 120 or first “short” side surface 125) on which the container 100 is supported when the container 100 is in the first and/or second orientation. In various embodiments of the invention, the handle 145 forms an angle with the container's second “tall” side surface 120 and/or first “short” side surface 125 of between about 30 and 60 degrees, and preferably between about 40 and 50 degrees, and preferably about 45 degrees.

In a particular embodiment of the invention, the container's dispensing outlet 135 is disposed adjacent a first corner 123 of the container's front face, and the container's handle 145 extends along a plane that extends adjacent (and preferably through) both: (1) a first, “dispensing” corner 123 of the container's front face 105, and (2) a second corner 133 of the container's front face 105 that is diagonally offset from the container's first, “dispensing” corner 123. In one embodiment of the invention, this plane is substantially perpendicular to the container's front face 105. However, in other embodiments, the plane may, for example, form an acute angle relative to the container's front face 105.

Structural Support Elements

In various embodiments of the invention, the container's various side surfaces (or other surfaces) may include one or more recesses 150 to provide structural support to the container 100. Similarly, one or more of the container's edge surfaces may be beveled to provide for a stronger container exterior.

Material Used to Produce the Container

In various embodiments of the present invention, the container 100 may be made, for example, from HDPE, PET, PE, PP, PVC or polycarbonate. However, the container 100 may comprise, or consist of, any other suitable material or combination of materials.

Use of the Container

To use a container 100 according to certain embodiments of the invention, the container 100 is first filled with a suitable liquid (e.g., water) and then distributed to a user for use. The user may then, for example, place the container 100 on a substantially horizontal support surface, such as a refrigerator shelf.

In various embodiments, the user preferably positions the container 100 on the horizontal support surface in either the first or the second orientation described above, depending on customer's particular space constraints. For example, if the customer has a tall and thin volume of space available on a particular shelf, the customer may orient the container 100 in the first, “tall and thin” orientation on the particular shelf (See FIG. 6). Alternatively, if the customer has a short and wide volume of space available on a particular shelf, the customer may orient the container 100 in the second, “short and wide” orientation on the particular shelf. As noted above, in various embodiments of the invention, the container 100 is configured to dispense liquid from its outlet 135 both when the container 100 is in the first orientation and when the container 100 is in the second orientation (e.g., due to the fact that the outlet 135 is adjacent a bottom edge of the container's front face both when the container 100 is the first, “tall and thin” orientation and when the container 100 is in the second, “short and wide” orientation). In particular embodiments, when the container is full and the container is in either the first or the second orientation discussed above, liquid may be dispensed from the container simply by removing a dispensing cap 140 (e.g., a threaded dispensing cap) that is disposed adjacent the container's outlet 135, or by opening a valve within the container's outlet 135 in a manner known in the relevant field.

In various embodiments of the invention, the container's handle 145 is positioned to allow a user to facilitate pouring liquid out of the container 100 through the container's outlet 135 (especially when the container 100 contains only a small amount of liquid). For example, in one embodiment of the invention, the handle 145 is adapted to allow a user to rotate the container 105 onto a side edge 124 of the container adjacent the container's outlet 135 and then tip (e.g., pull) at least a portion of the container 100 forward to facilitate pouring liquid out of the container's outlet 135.

In one embodiment of the invention, this is done by executing one or more of the following steps (preferably, but not necessarily, in the order listed below):

(1) Grasping the handle 145 when the handle 145 is in a substantially diagonal orientation relative to a surface on which the container 100 is supported (e.g., a shelf). In various embodiments of the invention, the handle 145 forms an angle with a surface on which the container 100 is supported of between about 30 and 60 degrees, and preferably between about 40 and 50 degrees, and preferably about 45 degrees.

(2) Using the handle 145 to rotate the container 100 (e.g., about a side edge 124 of the container 100 that is adjacent the container's outlet 135) until the container's handle 145 is in a substantially vertical orientation. In one embodiment, in this position, the container 100 is supported substantially on the container's side edge 124 referenced above.

(3) Rotating the container 100 substantially about the container's “dispensing corner” 105 (e.g., in a substantially forward direction). This may be done, for example, by pulling a top portion of the handle 145 toward the user.

(4) Removing the container's dispensing cap 140 to allow liquid to flow from the container 100 out of the container's outlet 135.

ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS

As will be understood by one skilled in the relevant field in light of this disclosure, the present invention may be embodied in a variety of different containers and methods. For example, while the container is described above as having a substantially rectangular cross section, the container may have any other suitable type of cross-sectional configuration. For example, in certain embodiments, the container may have a generally hexagonal or octagonal cross section.

Furthermore, although the container is described above as having a handle 145 adjacent its front face 105, in various embodiments of the invention, the container's handle 145 may be adjacent another of the container's surfaces, such as one of the container's side surfaces 115, 120, 125, 130. Alternatively, the container may have no handle, or a handle that is affixed adjacent the container (e.g., a bail handle).

In addition, it should be understood that although the container is described above as having a neck-type outlet, other embodiments of the invention may include any other suitable type of outlet 135.

CONCLUSION

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. For example, it should be understood that while the container's outlet is described above as extending from the container's front face, the outlet may be on any other suitable surface of the container (e.g., a suitable side or rear surface of the container). Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.