Title:
Child resistant container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A child-resistant container configured to receive and store a plurality of items having a hollow receptacle provided with a neck, a cap releasably engaging the neck and a child-resistant lock assembly. The lock assembly includes one or more helical threads formed on the outer circumference the receptacle's neck or on the inner surface of the cap. One or more pins are formed on the inner surface of the cap or around the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle. One or more resilient elements are formed on the cap or the receptacle's neck. The thread has two ends with a hook at a first end and a V-shaped region between the first end and a second end of the thread. The hook points toward a trough of the V-shaped region, the thread forming a channel of a width sufficient to accommodate sliding travel of the pin therein.



Inventors:
Buono, Caetano (Staten Island, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/206928
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
08/18/2005
Assignee:
Van Blarcom Closures, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/223, 215/330, 215/331
International Classes:
B65D55/02; B65D41/04
View Patent Images:
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20070158295Tamper-evidencing container and closure structuresJuly, 2007Lohrman et al.
20060006128Cap capable to be screwed in with nipple and cover capJanuary, 2006Resendiz Sanudo
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20070075032Multi-panel plastic containerApril, 2007Kelley et al.



Primary Examiner:
HICKS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COHEN, PONTANI, LIEBERMAN & PAVANE (551 FIFTH AVENUE, SUITE 1210, NEW YORK, NY, 10176, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container comprising: a hollow receptacle having a neck with an outer circumference; a cap having an inner circumference; and a pin formed on and radially extending inward from the inner circumference of the cap, or formed on and radially extending outward from the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle; a thread extending helically around the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle if the pin is on the inner circumference of the cap, or extending helically around the inner circumference of the cap if the pin is on the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle, the pin and thread formed and positioned to be capable of engaging one another so as to allow substantially rotational motion of the cap and the receptacle relative to one another, the thread having two ends with a hook at a first end and a V-shaped region between the first end and a second end of the thread, the hook pointing toward a trough of the V-shaped region, the thread forming a channel of a width sufficient to accommodate sliding travel of the pin therein, the hook extending toward the trough of the V-shaped region to form a channel there between of a sufficient width to permit sliding travel of the pin therein; and a resilient element formed on the cap or the receptacle so as to axially bias the cap and the receptacle away from one another during displacement of the cap between the engaging and locking positions.

2. The container of claim 1, comprising a plurality of interleaved substantially identical threads with a hook of one thread pointing toward a trough of a V-shaped region of another thread.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein the thread comprises: at least one first thread having two ends with a hook at a first end and a V-shaped region between the first end and a second end of the first thread; at least one second thread positioned along one side of each first thread at its first end to form a channel there between of a sufficient width to permit sliding travel of the pin therein, a portion of each second thread proximate the hook of each first thread having a flank formed therein to form a part of a trough such that the hook of the respective first thread points toward the trough of the respective second thread to form a channel there between of a sufficient width to permit sliding travel of the pin therein; and at least one third thread positioned along a second side of the second end of each first thread to form a channel there between of a sufficient width to permit sliding travel of the pin therein, an end of each third thread proximate the trough of the V-shaped region of each first thread having a hook pointing toward the trough of the respective first thread to form a channel there between of a sufficient width to permit sliding travel of the pin therein.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the pin is formed on and radially extends inward from the inner circumference of the cap, and the thread extends helically around the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle.

5. The container of claim 2, wherein the pin is formed on and radially extends inward from the inner circumference of the cap, and the thread extends helically around the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle.

6. The container of claim 3, wherein the pin is formed on and radially extends inward from the inner circumference of the cap, and the thread extends helically around the outer circumference of the neck of the receptacle.

7. The container of claim 3, comprising a plurality of first, second and third threads.

8. The container of claim 6, comprising a plurality of first, second and third threads.

9. The container of claim 4, comprising a plurality of pins circumferentially spaced apart along the inner circumference of the cap.

10. The container of claim 6, comprising a plurality of pins circumferentially spaced apart along the inner circumference of the cap.

11. The container of claim 8, comprising a plurality of pins circumferentially spaced apart along the inner circumference of the cap.

12. The container of claim 1, wherein the thread has an end portion at each end of the thread separated by the V-shaped region, and wherein the two end portions are parallel to one another.

13. The container of claim 2, wherein the thread has an end portion at each end of the thread separated by the V-shaped region, and wherein the two end portions are parallel to one another.

14. The container of claim 3, wherein the first thread has an end portion at each end of the first thread separated by the V-shaped region, and wherein the two end portions are parallel to one another.

15. The container of claim 1, wherein the thread has an end portion at each end of the thread separated by the V-shaped region, and wherein the two end portions are not parallel to one another.

16. The container of claim 1, wherein the resilient element is formed on the cap.

17. The container of claim 11, wherein the resilient element is formed on the cap.

18. The container of claim 1, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

19. The container of claim 2, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

20. The container of claim 3, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

21. The container of claim 4, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

22. The container of claim 8, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

23. The container of claim 11, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

24. The container of claim 16, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

25. The container of claim 17, wherein the cap is formed as a single piece of material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a child resistant container for preventing access to the contents of the container storing potentially dangerous substances such as medicine, household cleaners, poisons or the like.

2. Description of the Related Art

Numerous child-resistant mechanisms for containers are known. Examples of such mechanisms are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,339,770, 3,451,576, 3,675,804, 3,822,027, 3,857,505, 3,896,959, 4,270,664, 5,005,718, 5,115,929, 5,370,251, 5,579,934, 5,702,014, 5,865,330, 5,197,616, 6,450,352, and 6,612,450.

In some of these mechanisms the receptacle has an opening with threads on its outer periphery, and a cap with threads on its inner periphery that cooperate with the receptacle's threads. After the cap has been screwed onto the receptacle, the cap is locked onto the receptacle and cannot be unscrewed from the receptacle until a particular unlocking action is taken by the user, such as, pressing one or more tabs on the periphery of the cap while turning the cap, or pressing the cap down onto the receptacle while turning the cap. When the unlocking action is undertaken, the locking mechanism is overcome and turning of the cap on the receptacle is possible to enable removal of the cap from the receptacle.

In each of the mechanisms in which the cap is pressed down onto the receptacle to remove the cap, the cap is formed by two or more units which must be separately fabricated and assembled by the manufacturer of the caps prior to use on the receptacle, thereby adding to manufacturing costs and complexity as compared to manufacturing a single unit cap.

Some of the mechanisms employing a push-and-rotate function have a resilient element biasing the cap and the receptacle away from one another so as to provide reliable engagement. Typically, the resilient element is a separately manufactured element coupled to the cap during assembly of the cap and receptacle. Thus, use of the resilient element adds to manufacturing costs and complexity of assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventive container is configured with a child-resistant lock mechanism that employs a one-piece cap removably screwed onto a receptacle. The child-resistant lock mechanism comprises mutually engaging formations provided on the opposing circumferences of the receptacle and the cap and effectively prevents children from reaching for the contents of the receptacle. As the cap rotates to its closing position, formations provided on its inner circumference are guided along an arrangement of guide channels formed on the outer circumference of the receptacle's neck. During displacement of the cap to the locking position, the formations encounter a region of the guide channels providing resistance to further displacement of the cap in the closing direction. The user, after forcing the formations to overcome this resistance, further guides the formation to the locking position, in which the cap and receptacle are tightly pressed against one another. However, due to external stresses, or simply due to physical abilities of some children, the cap still can be displaced from the closing position as a result of a torque applied in an opening direction. As the formations are guided along the guide channels to a disengaging position of the cap, a blocking region formed along the guide channels abuts the formations and prevents their further displacement in the opening direction. A simple, but effective push and rotate action will allow the intended user to further displace the formations to the disengaging position. However, the same action may be confusing for children and, thus, may prevent the children from reaching for the contents of the container.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the inventive container with the child-resistant lock mechanism comprises at least one guide channel circumferentially extending along the outer circumference of the receptacle's neck and configured to trap a locking formation, which is formed on the inner wall of the cap. The guide channel is defined between two threads, one of which, located closer to the receptacle's top, includes a hook-like end region abutting the formation so that the cap cannot be further displaced in the opening direction. To disengage the formation from the end region, a compression force should be applied to the one-piece cap, which, in combination with an additional torque applied in the opening direction, will displace the formation to the disengaging position.

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the threads extend obliquely with respect to the central longitudinal axis of the receptacle and are spaced axially from one another so that the width of the guide channel is preferably substantially equal to the outer dimension of the formation to minimize an axial play during angular displacement of the formation to the locking position. As the one-piece cap and container rotate relative to one another, the formation is guided along the oblique guide channel and is pre-stressed against the receptacle by a biasing assembly provided between the cap and receptacle. As a result, the locking formations reliably engage the guide channels and provide smooth displacement of the cap along the intended path between the engaging and locking positions without axial play.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, the resilient elements are integrally provided on a ledge or skirt which is recessed in the inner circumference of the cap. The ledge supports at least one, but preferably multiple resilient elements which press against the flange of the receptacle and generate a force biasing the cap away from the receptacle's top and counteracting a force applied by the user. Thus, since the one-piece cap is pre-stressed, the locking formations are urged to the engaging position of the cap, in which the locking formations abut the hook-like end portion so as to prevent further displacement of the cap to the disengaging position, in which the receptacle and the cap can be separated.

In accordance with still another embodiment of the invention, the threads are provided on the inner circumference of the cap, while the formations extend radially outwards from the outer circumference of the neck.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the flange of the receptacle is integrally formed with one or multiple spaced resilient elements pressing against the ledge which is formed on the inner circumference of the cap. Accordingly,

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are intended solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, wherein like reference numerals delineate similar elements throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 is a partial sectional side view of a child-resistant container in accordance with the present invention, including a cap and a receptacle, with the cap detached from the receptacle;

FIG. 2 is a flattened side view of one embodiment of a neck of the receptacle shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a flattened side view of another embodiment of a neck of the receptacle shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a partial sectional side view of the container of FIG. 1 in which the cap is in locked engagement with the receptacle;

FIG. 5 is a partial sectional side view of the container of FIG. 1 in which the cap is in a stage of removal from the receptacle;

FIG. 6 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of the neck of the container of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 7 is an alternative embodiment of the child-resistant container of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, a container 10 includes a receptacle 12, such as a bottle, and a cap 14 that can be screwed onto the receptacle 12. While a variety of items can be stored in the receptacle 12, preferably the receptacle 12 is shaped and dimensioned to receive and store medically related items, such as pharmaceutical capsules and tablets.

The receptacle 12 has a body 34 with a flange 40 and a neck 16 which axially extends from the flange 40. The diameter of the neck 16 is smaller that that of the flange 40. The outer surface of the neck 16 has one or more generally helical threads, including at least one long thread 30 and optionally at least one long thread broken into two short portions, upper short thread 32a, and lower short thread 32b. The thread or threads 30, 32a, 32b define one or more guide channels 50, 52 which are used for receiving and guiding locking pins 20 formed on the inner surface of the cap 14, as explained in detail below. The width of the guide channels 50, 52 is sufficient to accommodate sliding travel of a pin 20 therein, as discussed in detail below. If more than one set of threads is employed, the threads are preferably spaced uniformly around and along the peripheral surface of the neck 16 relative to a central axis A-A.

The long thread 30 includes first and second substantially linear regions 36 and 38 extending obliquely to the central axis A-A of the receptacle 12, and a V-shaped transition region 26 located, preferably substantially midway between the ends of the long thread 30. The V-shaped transition region 26 includes a seat 28 which is defined by converging flanks 70 and 72. The second region 36 of the long thread 30 has a hook 74 at its end which points downward toward a trough of the V-shaped transition region 26 of another long thread 30 or of a similar transition region in a short thread 32a, 32b or between a short thread 32a and a short thread 32b.

When short threads 32a, 32b are employed, as opposed to only one or more long threads 30, the upper short thread 32a is positioned above a portion 38 of the long thread 30 (with respect to the central axis A-A) and the lower short thread 32b is positioned below a different portion 36 of the long thread 30 (with respect to the central axis A-A). The upper short thread 32a has a hooked end portion 43 and a substantially linear portion 45. Like the hooked end 74 of the long thread 30, the hooked end portion 43 of the upper short thread 32a points downward substantially toward the V-shaped transition region 26 of a long thread 30 or of a similar transition region in a short thread 32a, 32b or between a short thread 32a and a short thread 32b. The lower short thread 32b has a substantially linear portion 64 and a flank 70 which forms all or part of a V-shaped transition region similar to that 26 of the long thread 30. There is preferably a space between the end of the lower short thread 32b and the upper short thread 32a so that a V-shaped transition region is formed between an upper short thread 32a and an adjacent lower short thread 32b. The V-shaped transition region formed by the short threads 32a, 32b is positioned substantially below a hooked end portion 43, 74 of a upper short thread 32a or of a long thread 30. A space or channel is formed between the hooked end portion 43, 74 and the trough of the V-shaped transition region of a width sufficient to accommodate sliding travel therein of a pin 20 of the cap 14, as discussed in detail below.

In one embodiment, the end of at least one lower short thread 32b opposite the flank 70 is positioned sufficiently close to the flank 72 of a long thread such that the width of the guide channel 52 narrows considerably. This narrowing can be complete so that the end contacts the flank 70 or may be less than complete; however, the narrowing is such that the width of the channel narrows to less than the diameter of the pin or pins 20 on the cap 14. Alternatively, the flank of a long thread 30 approaches the flange 40 sufficiently close so that the space between the flange 40 and the flank 72 of a long thread is less that the diameter of the pins 20 on the cap 14.

The hooked end region 74, 43 does not contact the bottom or edges of the V-shaped transition region into which the hooked end region points but instead is separated therefrom to allow the guide channel to continue. The guide channels 50, 52, as well as the separation between the hooked end region 74, 43 and the V-shaped transition region into which the hooked end region points, must be wider than the diameter of the pins 20 on the cap 14.

The number of threads 30, 32a, 32b depends on the size and diameter of the cap 14 and neck 16, the thickness of the threads 30, 32a, 32b, and the width of the guide channels 50, 52. Thus, there may be only one long thread which repeatedly helically wraps around and along the neck 16, a plurality of interleaved long threads, or one or more long threads interleaved with pairs of short threads.

Referring to FIG. 2, only the neck 16 of the receptacle 12 is shown with threads and the neck is shown as if it were flattened on a surface. In this embodiment, only long threads 30 are employed. The thread pattern begins, for example, at line R0 and repeats at lines R1, R2, R3 and R4. If a single long thread is desired the V-shaped transition region into which the hooked end region points, the neck of the receptacle will have the configuration between lines R0 and R1. Similarly, if two long threads are desired, the neck of the receptacle will have the configuration between lines R0 and R2; if three long threads are desired, the neck of the receptacle will have the configuration between lines R0 and R3; and if three long threads are desired, the neck of the receptacle will have the configuration between lines R0 and R4. This repeating pattern can be repeated as many times as desired to obtain as many long threads as desired. The pitch of the thread or threads is selected to obtain appropriate coverage of the neck 16 by the threads and to ensure proper closure by the cap 14 of the receptacle 12.

Referring to FIG. 3, again only the neck 16 of the receptacle 12 is shown with threads. In this embodiment, long threads 30 and short threads, 32a, 32b are employed. The interleaved thread pattern begins, for example, at line R0 and repeats at lines R1 and R2. Again, this repeating pattern can be repeated as many times as desired to obtain as many threads as desired.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the cap 14 has an inner circumference 71 provided with at least one locking pin 20 which extends radially inwardly from the inner circumference 71 and is sized and shaped to slide in the guide channels 50, 52 of the receptacle 12. Preferably, the inner circumference 71 of the cap 14 has more than one pin 20 which are evenly spaced around the inner circumference. The number of pins 20 will not be greater than the number of V-shaped transition regions in the threads of the receptacle 12. Most preferably, there are at least four pins 20 (and correspondingly, four V-shaped transition regions in the threads of the receptacle 12). Although the pins 20 are preferably substantially cylindrical in shape, they may have alternative shapes such as conical, cubic and other regular- and irregular-shapes. The pins 20 may be attached to the inner circumference 71 by an adhesive, by melt-welding and/or may be mechanically inserted into the inner circumference 71. However, to simplify fabrication of the cap, the pins 20 are preferably formed into and/or as part of the cap 14 during the process of manufacturing the cap 14, such as by molding.

Formed into the inner circumference 71 of the cap 14 is a ledge or skirt 56 axially spaced from a flared bottom outer circumference 42 of the cap 14. Extending downward from the ledge 56 is at least one, and preferably, multiple equidistantly spaced resilient elements 22. Preferably, the resilient elements 22 are formed integrally with the cap 14 and are oriented, shaped and positioned so that when the cap 14 is placed onto the receptacle 12, the resilient elements 22 will, when the cap 14 is screwed onto the receptacle 12, press against the flange 40 of the receptacle 12 and urge the cap 14 upward and axially away from the receptacle 12. The resilient elements 22 are preferably formed as a plurality of tabs attached to the ledge 56 and acutely angled relative to the ledge 56 so that the resilient elements 22 can bend toward the ledge 56 when the resilient elements 22 contact under pressure the flange 40 of the receptacle 12.

In operation, the cap 14 is placed by onto the neck 16 of the receptacle 12 and the cap 14 is pressed down slightly and turned in a forward (closing) direction until the pin or pins 20 glide over the upper surface of the threads 30, 32a, 32b, pass over and by the V-shaped transition regions, under the hooked end regions 43, 74, and into the guide channels 50, 52, as shown by the arrow in FIG. 4. During the turning of the cap 14 on the receptacle 12 in the forward direction, the resilient elements 22 engage the flange 40 on the receptacle 12, become depressed, and urge the cap 14 axially upward. The cap 14 cannot be turned indefinitely in the forward direction because eventually the pins 20 approach or reach the end of the guide channels 50, 52. If the width of the guide channels 50, 52 is reduced or terminates, as in one embodiment, turning of the cap 14 on the receptacle 12 in the forward direction ends, and pins 20 of the cap become wedged between the threads 30, 32b, or between the threads 30 and the flange 40, thereby locking the cap 14 onto the receptacle 12 and sealing the receptacle 14 from the ambient environment. However, in an embodiment of the present invention in which the guide channels 50, 52 does not have a reduced end portion, when the cap 14 is screwed onto the receptacle 12, an inside top surface or rim 80 of the cap 14 contacts and frictionally wedges against the top-most rim 82 of the receptacle and causes the cap 14 to lock onto the receptacle 12. Alternatively, the cap 14 can be locked onto the receptacle 12 by pressure frictional contact between the resilient elements 22 and the flange 40 when the cap 14 is fully screwed onto the receptacle 12.

To remove the cap 14 from the receptacle 12, the cap 14 must first be turned in the reverse (opening) direction with sufficient torque to release the cap 14 from wedged engagement with the receptacle 12. Children of an age too young to read will likely have insufficient strength, maturity and/or dexterity to apply the required torque in the required way to turn the cap if the receptacle is properly closed. Once released from the wedged and locked condition, the cap 14, if let go, turns further in the reverse direction with little effort due to the resilient force exerted by the resilient elements 22 on the flange 40. This reverse turning of the cap 14 ends when the pins 20, riding in the guide channels 50, 52, encounter the hooked end portions 43, 74 of the threads 30, 32a, as shown in FIG. 5. Further turning of the cap 14 in this reverse direction is prevented because resilient elements 22 acting on the flange 40 are now partially extended and force the pins 20 to engage the hooked end portions 43, 74. To completely remove the cap 14 from the receptacle 12, the cap 14 must be pressed axially downward toward the receptacle 12 to a sufficient degree to partially overcome the resiliency of the resilient elements 22 and so that the pins 20 travel into the V-shaped transition region 26 of the long thread 30 or short threads 32a, 32b, and, at substantially the same time, the cap 14 must be turned in the reverse (opening) direction while the cap 14 is still depressed on the receptacle 12. As a result, the pins 20 pass under the hooked end portions 43, 74, at least partially into the V-shaped transition region 26 of the long thread 30 or short threads 32a, 32b, as shown by the arrow in FIG. 5, and the cap is released from the receptacle 12. Again, children of an age too young to read will likely have insufficient strength, maturity and/or dexterity to be able to press the cap sufficiently and at the same time turn it in the proper direction to effect removal of the cap from the receptacle.

Since unlocking of the cap and its complete removal from the receptacle 12 is somewhat more complex than simply turning of the cap 14 in the reverse direction, the disclosed mechanism qualifies as a “child-proof” container that may be used for storage of substances that are potentially toxic to children.

Instructions for proper removal of the cap from the receptacle may be printed or embossed on the cap, the receptacle or on a label attached to the receptacle and/or the cap. Since the greatest danger of poisoning occurs for children who are too young to read, having instructions for opening of the receptacle appear on the receptacle or cap typically does not pose a substantial added risk.

Although in FIG. 3 the first and second linear regions 32a and 32b are shown as being substantially aligned with one another to form a continuous uniform incline, as are linear regions 36 and 38 of long thread 30, alternatively, these regions may be inclined differently from one another, as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 6. Although only one channel 50, one hooked end portion 43, and one pin 20 are shown in FIG. 6, as discussed above more than one of each of these elements may be used.

Although in FIG. 1 the threads 30, 32a, 32b are shown as being located on the neck 16 of the receptacle 12, and the pins 20 are shown as being located on the cap 14, alternatively, the locations of these elements may be switched so that the threads 30, 32a, 32b are located on the inner circumference 71 of the cap 12, and the pins 20 are shown located on the neck of the neck 16 of the receptacle 12, as shown in FIG. 7.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the resilient elements 22 may alternatively be located on the flange 40 of the receptacle 12 rather than on the ledge 56 of the cap 14. Similarly, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the resilient elements 22 may alternatively be located on the ledge 56 of the cap 14 rather than on the flange 40 of the receptacle 12.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the cap 14 and the receptacle 12 are made of molded plastic.

Thus, while there have been shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the present invention as applied to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices described and illustrated, and in their operation, and of the methods described may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention. For example, it is expressly intended that materials and dimensions of the inventive components can widely vary, all combinations of those elements and/or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Substitutions of elements from one described embodiment to another are also fully intended and contemplated. It is also to be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale but that they are merely conceptual in nature. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.





 
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