Title:
Bottle with retained ring finish feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a bottle neck finish and a tamper resistant bottle cap that satisfy the need to retain the ratchet ring in place after the bottle cap has been removed from the bottle. Specifically, the present inventions incorporate features onto one or both of a bottle neck and a threaded cap having a frangibly connected ratchet ring. In one embodiment of the present invention, the claimed features create frictional engagement between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck. The frictional resistance effectively prevents the ratchet ring from falling off the bottle neck when the user pours the contents of the bottle. In another embodiment, the claimed features create an interference between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck. The interference prevents the ratchet ring from falling off the bottle neck.



Inventors:
Hidding, Douglas J. (Barrington Hills, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/196937
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/04/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D51/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WALKER, NED ANDREW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David I. Roche;Baker & McKenzie (Suite 3900, 130 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL, 60601, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bottle neck adapted to engage with a cap having an offset ratchet ring comprising: an opening at an upper end of the neck; an exterior surface having at least one thread adapted to engage with the cap; at least one ratchet portion disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one thread, wherein the at least one ratchet portion has at least one ratchet tooth and is adapted to engage with the ratchet ring; and, at least one projection disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one thread, wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck after the cap is removed from the bottle neck.

2. The bottle neck of claim 1 further comprising the cap having the ratchet ring.

3. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection has a chamfered top edge.

4. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection is formed by a lip.

5. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection is formed by at least one enlarged ratchet tooth.

6. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein there are two diametrically opposite projections and two diametrically opposite ratchet portions.

7. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by friction.

8. The bottle neck of claim 7 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to contact an inside surface of the ratchet ring.

9. The bottle neck of claim 8 wherein the inside surface is a tip of a ratchet tooth.

10. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by interference.

11. The bottle neck of claim 10 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to contact an upper surface of the ratchet ring when the ratchet ring is moved axially along the bottle neck.

12. The bottle neck of claim 1 wherein the at least one projection and the at least one ratchet portion are in approximately a same cross-sectional plane.

13. In combination, a bottle neck and a bottle cap: the bottle cap comprising a circular cover, a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover, the skirt including an interior surface having at least one thread, and a tamper evidencing ratchet ring frangibly connected below the skirt, wherein the ratchet ring has at least one ratchet tooth; the bottle neck comprising an opening at an upper end of the neck, an exterior surface having at least one corresponding thread, at least one ratchet portion disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one corresponding thread, wherein the at least one ratchet portion has at least one corresponding ratchet tooth which is adapted to engage with the at least one ratchet tooth of the cap when the cap is placed on the bottle neck, and at least one projection disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one thread, wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck after the cap is removed from the bottle neck.

14. The combination of claim 13 wherein the at least one projection has a chamfered top edge.

15. The combination of claim 13 wherein the at least one projection is formed by a lip.

16. The combination of claim 13 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by friction.

17. The combination of claim 13 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by interference.

18. The combination of claim 13 wherein the at least one projection and the at least one ratchet portion are in approximately a same cross-sectional plane.

19. The combination of claim 13 wherein there are two diametrically opposite projections and two diametrically opposite ratchet portions.

20. The combination of claim 19 wherein: the ratchet ring has a plurality of inward facing ratchet teeth, each having a tip; the plurality of tips defining a first diameter; the two projections each having an outside edge; the distance between the two outside edges defining a second diameter; and, the second diameter is greater than the first diameter.

21. The combination of claim 20 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by friction.

22. The combination of claim 20 wherein the at least one projection is adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck by interference.

23. In combination, a bottle neck and a bottle cap: the bottle cap being molded from a two plate mold; the bottle cap comprising a circular cover, a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover, the skirt including an interior surface having at least one thread, and a tamper evidencing ratchet ring frangibly connected below the skirt, wherein the ratchet ring has a plurality of ratchet teeth; the bottle neck comprising an opening at an upper end of the neck, an exterior surface having at least one corresponding thread, two diametrically opposite ratchet portions disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one corresponding thread, wherein each ratchet portion has a plurality of corresponding ratchet teeth which are adapted to engage with the plurality of ratchet teeth of the cap when the cap is placed on the bottle neck, and two diametrically opposite projections disposed on the exterior surface below the at least one thread, wherein the two projections are adapted to hold the ratchet ring on the bottle neck after the cap is removed from the bottle neck.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to containers with closure devices, and in particular, relates to the neck finish of a blow molded bottle adapted for use with a cap having a ratchet ring. The neck is formed with at least one projection for retaining the ratchet ring when the cap is removed. In the alternative, this invention relates to a ratchet ring for a screw cap adapted to engage with the neck of a blow molded bottle to prevent the ratchet ring from falling off of the bottle when the contents are poured.

Blow molded bottles have been used in conjunction with injection molded caps for many years. Generally, two types of bottle caps are available for blow molded bottles, push-on caps and thread-on caps. Push-on caps are installed by aligning the cap with the opening of a bottle and simply applying an axial force to the top of the cap. Thread-on caps generally require that the cap and bottle be aligned and that a rotative force be applied to the cap.

There are generally two types of thread-on caps, both have rings depending from the cap, but the ring in one type is offset from the cap; i.e. the ring has a larger diameter than the cap. With this type of design the ring is offset from the cap, allowing the ring and frangible connections to be molded with a two plate mold. Conversely, the other design of threaded caps must be molded with side action, which is a much more complex process with moving parts. This invention generally relates to thread-on caps with offset rings.

One of the problems associated with those types of injection molded caps relates to the tamper-evident connection which must be created between the bottle cap and bottle. One method of forming that tamper-evident connection is to use an offset ring having ratchet teeth; i.e. a ratchet ring. The ratchet ring has internal teeth for engagement with the bottle neck, which has external teeth. When the bottle cap is screwed on the bottle neck, the ratchet teeth of the bottle cap ride over the mating ratchet teeth on the bottle neck, thereby enabling the bottle cap to be fully tightened on the bottle neck. However, when a user attempts to unscrew the bottle cap using low-to-medium twisting force, the ratchet teeth of the bottle cap positively engage the mating ratchet teeth of the bottle neck, thereby preventing unthreading and unsealing of the cap. When higher levels of twisting force are applied to the bottle cap in the direction of unscrewing, the ratchet ring breaks away from the bottle cap and the bottle cap may be unscrewed from the bottle neck. In this manner, breakage of the connection between the ratchet ring and the bottle cap serves as visual evidence that the bottle has been opened.

While the use of a bottle neck with ratchet teeth in combination with a bottle cap having a tamper evidencing ring provides for an acceptable tamper-evident connection, this combination does have its limitations. After removing the cap for the first time, effectively breaking the frangible connection between the cap and the ratchet ring, users sometimes forget to remove the ratchet ring from the bottle neck before pouring the contents into a glass. Subsequently, the ratchet ring will fall into the user's glass when the contents are poured. With respect to single use bottles which users drink from directly, the ratchet ring will fall into the user's face when they attempt to take a sip from the bottle. Such results are undesirable for convenience of use and hygienic reasons.

For the foregoing reasons, there is a need for an improved neck finish which is adapted to retain the ratchet ring in place on the bottle neck when the user pours the contents after removing the cap. There is a further need for an improved ratchet ring which is adapted to hold itself in place on the bottle neck when the user pours the contents after removing the cap.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a bottle neck finish and a tamper resistant bottle cap that satisfy the need to retain the ratchet ring in place after the bottle cap has been removed from the bottle. Specifically, the present inventions incorporate features onto one or both of a bottle neck and a threaded cap having a frangibly connected ratchet ring. In one embodiment of the present invention, the claimed features create frictional engagement between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck. The frictional resistance effectively prevents the ratchet ring from falling off the bottle neck when the user pours the contents of the bottle. In another embodiment, the claimed features create an interference between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck. The interference prevents the ratchet ring from falling off the bottle neck.

Although not necessary, it is generally preferred that the ratchet ring be easily removed by the user. Spilled liquids such as milk can dry between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck to form unsightly crust which could fall into the user's glass upon the next use. Thus, in multi-use bottles, it is advantageous for the user to be able to remove the ratchet ring to prevent crust build-up. In contrast, it may be beneficial to have a stronger engagement between the bottle neck and the ratchet ring for single use applications. Single use bottles are generally used while on-the-go and away from home where garbage cans are not always readily available. Thus, if the ratchet ring were easily removed on a single use bottles, users would be more likely to improperly dispose of the ratchet ring.

In a first embodiment of the present invention, features are incorporated into a bottle neck finish. The bottle neck of the present invention is preferably adapted for use with standard bottles caps having standard ratchet rings, although the present invention is not limited as such. The bottle neck generally includes an opening at its upper end for pouring of contents, a generally cylindrical exterior surface having threads for retaining a bottle cap, a circumferential ratchet portion below the threads, and a circumferential transfer ring below the ratchet portion. The ratchet portion includes ratchet teeth which are capable of meshing with a matching set of ratchet teeth on a bottle cap. The bottle neck of the present invention also includes a projection which is adapted to engage the ratchet ring of the bottle cap. The projection can be adapted to engage the ratchet ring by friction and/or interference.

To engage the ratchet ring by friction, the projection contacts an inner surface of the ratchet ring when the bottle cap is fully threaded onto the bottle neck. The contact point between the projection and the ratchet ring can occur at any inner surface of the ratchet ring, including the peaks of the ratchet teeth or the valleys between adjacent ratchet teeth. This contact biases the ratchet ring outward to induce tension in the ratchet ring, providing a tight fit between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck. The tight fit creates frictional engagement between the ratchet ring and the bottle neck, preventing the ratchet ring from falling off of the bottle when the contents are poured. To engage the ratchet ring by interference, the projection contacts an upwardly facing surface of the ratchet ring when the ratchet ring moves axially on the bottle neck, effectively preventing the ratchet ring from falling off of the bottle neck.

In a second embodiment, the projection of the present invention is formed on the ratchet ring. In a similar fashion as above, the projection can be adapted to engage the bottle neck by friction and/or interference. To engage the bottle neck by friction, the projection contacts any outer surface of the bottle neck. To engage the bottle neck by interference, it may be necessary to form a corresponding feature on the bottle neck to allow for the interference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, objects, and advantages of the inventions described and claimed herein will be become better understood upon consideration of the following detailed description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a bottle cap and bottle neck made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the bottle neck with the cap removed and the ratchet ring held in place;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the bottle neck;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the bottle neck with a partial cut-away showing the cross section of the bottle neck and a standard cap;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the bottle neck with a partial cut-away showing the cross section of the bottle neck and a first embodiment of a modified cap;

FIG. 6 is a side view of a second embodiment of a modified cap a partial cut-away showing the inside surface of the bottle cap' and

FIG. 7 is a top view of a bottle neck with the second embodiment of a modified cap installed.

It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale and that the embodiments are sometimes illustrated by graphic symbols, phantom lines, diagrammatic representations and fragmentary views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of the inventions described and claimed herein or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that the inventions described herein are not necessarily limited to the particular embodiments illustrated herein.

Like reference numerals will be used to refer to like or similar parts from Figure to Figure in the following description of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 generally depicts a preferred embodiment of the bottle neck 14 of the present invention that is adapted for use with a standard bottle cap 2 having a ratchet ring 8. A standard bottle cap 2 having a ratchet ring 8 is described herein, although the bottle neck 14 of the present invention is not limited to use with such cap. The bottle cap 2 shown in FIG. 1 has a circular cover 4, a skirt 6 depending from the peripheral edge 5 of the cap, and a ratchet ring 8 which is frangibly attached below the skirt 6. The bottle cap 2 has at least one thread on the inside surface of the depending skirt 6, for engagement with corresponding threads 22 on the bottle neck. The ratchet ring 8 includes a plurality of ratchet teeth 12, every other one of which are frangibly attached to a plurality of semi-circular outwardly directed tabs 10 which are equally spaced around the periphery of the skirt 6. For further details regarding the bottle cap 2, see U.S. Pat. No. 6,003,701 which is incorporated herein by reference.

The bottle neck 14 of the present invention is generally positioned at the top of the body 32 of a blow-molded bottle 34 and is formed of a generally cylindrical exterior surface 20. At the top edge of the exterior surface 20 is a lip 18 which defines an opening 16. The lip 18 is generally inwardly directed to form a sealing surface for sealing with the bottle cap 2. A liner, while not shown, may be placed between the cap 2 and lip 18 for purposes such as to enhance sealing of the bottle or to provide a second level of tamper-evidency. The exterior surface 20 includes at least one, and preferably four, threads 22 which engage threads on the inside surface of the cap skirt 6.

The bottle neck 14 further includes at least one, and preferably two, ratchet portions 24 having at least one, and preferably a plurality of ratchet teeth 26. The two ratchet portions 24 are located diametrically opposite each other on the exterior surface 20 below the threads 22. The bottle neck 14 includes at least one projection 28 for engagement with the ratchet ring 8. The bottle neck 14 also includes a circumferential “bumper roll” or transfer ring 30 located below the ratchet portions 24 and projections 28 to facilitate gripping the bottle during the filling operation and grabbing the bottle during the loading of the bottle into a shipping container.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a top view of the bottle neck 14 is shown in frictional engagement with the ratchet ring 8 with the bottle cap 2 removed. FIG. 2 shows best how the ratchet ring 8 engages with the external ratchet teeth 26 of the bottle neck 14. The ratchet ring 8, being preferably made of low density plastic, is flexible enough such that the internal teeth 12 ride over the external teeth 26 when clockwise force is applied to the ratchet ring 8. However, when counter-clockwise force is applied the ratchet ring 8, the peaks 9 of the internal teeth 12 positively engage with the external teeth 26 effectively preventing rotation of the ratchet ring 8. FIG. 2 also demonstrates the frictional engagement of the present invention. The projections 28 extend outwardly from the external surface 20 and contact a portion of the inside surface 11 of the ratchet ring 8. In the preferred embodiment, the projection 28 is formed as an elongated lip which contacts at least one, and preferably a plurality of internal teeth 12 at the tips 9, although the invention is not limited as such. For example, the projection 28 could be short and thus engage the inside surface 11 of the ratchet ring 8 between adjacent teeth 12.

Turning now to FIG. 3, a side view of the preferred bottle neck 14 is shown. The external surface 20 of the bottle neck is shown to be generally cylindrical in shape with a generally flat step 36 formed below the threads 22. Preferably, the projection 28 and the ratchet portions 24 are formed on the stepped out portion 38 of the external surface 20. As shown in FIG. 4, a partial cut-away view of the bottle neck, the cross-section of the projection 28 is preferably triangular in shape, with the top surface 40 of the projection 28 generally parallel to and extending from the step 36. In an alternate embodiment, the projection 28 may have a chamfered top surface 40 to facilitate application of the bottle cap 2 to the bottle neck 14.

FIG. 4 also demonstrates the frictional engagement between the bottle neck 14 and the ratchet ring 8. The projection 28 is shown contacting the tip 9 of an external tooth 12 forcing the ratchet ring 8 outwardly away from the bottle neck 14 and inducing normal forces between the contacting surfaces of the ratchet ring 8 and projection 28. When a user attempts to pour the contents of the bottle 34, the gravitational force on the ratchet ring 8 is not sufficient to exceed the static frictional force, preventing the ring 8 from falling off of the bottle neck 14.

FIG. 5 demonstrates the interference engagement between the bottle neck and the ratchet ring 8. When a bottle cap 2 having a ratchet ring 8 is applied to the bottle neck, the projection 28 is positioned between the bottle cap 2 and the ratchet ring 8. When the contents of the bottle 34 are poured, gravitational forces cause the ratchet ring 8 to move axially along the bottle neck 14. However, the projection 28 prevents the ratchet ring 8 from falling off by contacting an upper surface of the ratchet ring 42.

It may be necessary to modify the standard cap 2 described herein to allow for an interference engagement between the bottle neck 14 and ratchet ring 8. The ratchet ring 8 of the standard cap 2 is generally placed nearly flush against the bottom edge 44 of the cap 2, as shown in FIG. 4. Such flush placement of the ratchet ring 8 would prevent the projection from extending between the cap 2 and the ring 8. Accordingly, in a first embodiment to the modified cap 2, as shown in FIG. 5, elongated frangible connections 46 are utilized to increase the gap between the ratchet ring 8 and the bottle cap 2. Whereas the prior art connections extend between the outwardly extending tabs and the internal ratchet teeth 12, the frangible connections 46 of the present invention preferably extend between the outwardly extending tabs 10 and the upper surface 42 of the ratchet ring at approximately the interface 48 between the internal teeth 12 and the ratchet ring band 50. The frangible connection 46 must be moved outwardly to prevent interference between the frangible connection 46 and the projection 28 when the cap 2 is applied to the bottle neck 14.

A second embodiment of the modified bottle cap 2 is depicted in FIG. 6. FIG. 6 is a side view of the bottle cap 2 with a partial cut away showing the inside surfaces of the bottle cap 2 and ratchet ring 8. The ratchet ring 8 is maintained nearly flush to the bottom surface 44 of the bottle cap 2, but is characterized in that at least one portion of the band 50 is stepped down. As before, every other ratchet tooth 12a is frangibly attached to the tabs 10 by frangible connections 46. However, the band 50 has at least one stepped-down portion 56, each of which are preferably characterized by two ramped segments 52 and a top surface 54. There is at least one stepped down tooth 12b placed on the inside surface of the stepped-down portion 56, each having a height “b.” The remaining teeth 12a have a height “a” which is greater than height “b.” Therefore, a gap is formed between the bottom surface 44 of the cap 2 and the top surface 54 of the stepped-down portion 56 to facilitate engagement between the teeth 12b and the projection 28 by interference.

Turning now to FIG. 7, a top view of the bottle neck 14 is shown with the second embodiment of the modified bottle cap 2 installed. FIG. 7 shows every other ratchet tooth 12a frangibly connected 46 to the tabs 10 of the bottle cap 2. While only one stepped down tooth 12b is necessary, it is preferable that every fourth tooth is a stepped-down tooth 12b, as shown in the Figure. Preferably, and as shown in FIG. 7, there are two projections 28 which have a length appropriately sized and located to engage only with the top surface of two of the stepped-down teeth 12b. Special attention may be necessary during application of the bottle cap 2 to the bottle neck 14 to ensure that the projections 28 are appropriately aligned with the stepped-down portions 56.

While the projections 28 described herein is preferred to be located on the bottle neck 14, in an alternative embodiment, the projection 28 may be located on the inside surface of the ratchet ring 8. The projection would engage with any portion of the outside surface of the bottle neck 14, including the external surface 20 (which includes the stepped out portion 38) and the ratchet portions 24, by friction or interference.

The projections 28 of the present invention, whether located on the bottle neck 14 or on the ratchet ring 8, are not limited to any particular shape or location. Preferably, and as shown in FIG. 1, there are two projections 28 which are formed as lips which extend outward from the bottle neck 14. The projections 28 preferably share a common cross-sectional plane as the ratchet portions 24, of which there are preferably two portions. However, the projection 28 may be above or below the ratchet portion. Preferably, the ratchet portions 24 and the projections 28 alternate around the periphery of the bottle neck, with the two projections 28 diametrically opposite each other and the ratchet portions 24 diametrically opposite each other. Alternatively, the projection 28 can be incorporated into the ratchet portions 24 on the bottle neck or into the ratchet ring 8. For example, the projection 28 can be incorporated into one or more of the ratchet teeth 26 or 12 on either the bottle neck or the ratchet ring, respectively. The projection 28 can also take form as an enlarged ratchet tooth 26 or 12, either on the bottle neck or on the ratchet ring, respectively. Alternatively, the projection 28 can be incorporated into one or more of the valleys between the ratchet teeth 26 or 12 on either the bottle neck or the ratchet ring, respectively, by decreasing the depth of the valley.

Although the inventions described and claimed herein have been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the inventions described and claimed herein can be practiced by other than the preferred embodiments, which have been presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred embodiments contained herein.