Title:
STACK OF CONTAINERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a stack (1) of disposable pet food containers with each container in the stack (1) above the bottom most container (19) in the stack (1) comprising a lower surface which is provided with an adhesive layer. Each container in the stack above the bottom most container (19) in the stack (1) are respectively adhered to a container below it in the stack through an adhesive layer provided on a lower surface of the container. The containers above the bottom most container (19) in the stack (1) are arranged such that when one of said containers is removed from the stack (1) the adhesive provided on the lower surface of the container is exposed and is in a ready state to adhere the container to a support surface upon placing the container on the support surface. The adhesive layer of each container above the bottom most container (19) acts to increase the rigidity of the stack (1) and so the rigidity of any enclosure of the stack may be reduced as compared to the rigidity of packaging used to enclose separate containers. This reduces the amount of material needed to make the enclosure and so also reduces the cost of manufacturing an enclosure.



Inventors:
Collins, Mark Gordon (Cheshire, GB)
Collins, Neil Simon (Cheshire, GB)
Application Number:
11/744367
Publication Date:
03/13/2008
Filing Date:
05/04/2007
Assignee:
PETFAST LIMITED (Cheshire, GB)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/62
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PAGAN, JENINE MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARLOW, JOSEPHS & HOLMES, LTD. (40 WESTMINSTER STREET 3RD FLOOR, PROVIDENCE, RI, 02903, US)
Claims:
1. A stack of containers comprising a first container, said first container having a lower surface, said lower surface being provided with an adhesive and a second container, said second container comprising an upper surface, with said first container being mounted on said second container such that the lower surface of the first container adheres to the upper surface of the second container by means of said adhesive.

2. The stack of containers as claimed in claim 1 where the stack comprises a number of containers greater than two.

3. The stack of containers as claimed in claim 1 where the stack comprises at least seven containers.

4. A stack of containers according to claim 2 where each container of the stack above the bottom most in the stack has a lower surface provided with an adhesive.

5. A stack of containers according to claim 2 where each container of the stack below the top most in the stack has an upper surface provided with a sealing cover.

6. A stack of containers according to claim 5 where the sealing cover comprises a means to facilitate ease of removal from the container.

7. A stack of containers according to claim 1 where each container is a disposable pet food container for storing and dispensing pet food.

8. A stack of containers according to claim 1 where the adhesive has an inner surface contacting the lower surface of the first container, and an outer surface intended to contact either the upper surface of the second container or, when the first container is removed from the stack, a support surface on which the first container is supported.

9. A stack of containers according to claim 8 where the lower surface of the first container, the upper surface of the second container and the inner and outer surfaces of the adhesive material are chosen such that upon removal of the first container from the stack, the adhesive material remains attached to the lower surface of the first container, as opposed to the upper surface of the second container.

10. A stack of containers according to claim 8 where the inner surface of the adhesive material is preferably of greater adhesive strength than the outer surface of the adhesive material such that upon removal of the first container from a support surface, the adhesive material remains attached to the lower surface of the first container as opposed to the support surface.

11. A stack of containers according to claim 1 where the first container is arranged such that when it is removed from the second container, the adhesive provided on the lower surface of the first container is exposed and in a ready state to adhere the first container to a support surface upon placing the first container on the support surface.

12. A stack of containers according to claim 1 where the lower surface of the first container, via which said first container is intended to be supported when in use, comprises at least one protruding region which protrudes outwardly from the remainder of the lower surface and the adhesive is provided on at least the protruding region.

13. The stack of containers as claimed in claim 12 where the protruding region is formed in a decorative shape.

14. The stack of containers as claimed in claim 13 where the decorative shape is the shape of an animal's paw.

15. The stack of containers as claimed in claim 1 where the first container comprises a sidewall, said sidewall extending from the lower surface, said sidewall having an inner and an outer surface and terminating in a flange at its free edge and a sealing cover which is releasably attached to the sidewall.

16. The container as claimed in claim 15 where the sealing cover, together with the container, forms modified atmospheric packaging (MAP).

17. The container as claimed in claim 1 where each container is moulded from a plastics material.

18. The container as claimed in claim 17 where the plastics material is a polyethylene material.

19. The container as claimed in claim 18 where the polyethylene material is APET.

20. The container as claimed in claim 17 where the plastics material is sheet plastics material of thickness 500 micrometres or less.

21. The container as claimed in claim 17 where the plastics material is sheet plastics material of thickness 200 to 400 micrometres.

22. The container as claimed in claim 17 where the plastics material is sheet plastics material of thickness 250 to 350 micrometres.

23. The container as claimed in claim 17 where the plastics material is coated with a material which acts as a barrier layer.

24. The container as claimed in claim 23 where the material which acts as a barrier layer is a polyester.

25. The container as claimed in claim 24 where the polyester is EVA/EVOH.

26. The container as claimed in claim 24 where the polyester barrier layer is of thickness 10 to 15 micrometres.

27. A stack of containers as claimed in claim 1, provided with a re-sealable enclosure for carrying and transporting the stack of containers.

28. A stack of containers as claimed in claim 1, provided with a collapsible enclosure for carrying and transporting the stack of containers.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a stack of containers, and particularly although not exclusively to a stack of disposable pet food containers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Inherent in contemporary society is the pursuit to increase convenience and diminish exertion wherever possible. This transcends from aspects of business to personal life. Pets contribute a large part to people and their families and due to their loyalty and companionship they are increasingly treated as ‘one of the family’. This is manifested through indulgent feeding of pets, particularly cats and dogs.

The current method of such feeding involves buying large bags of dry food and/or tins, transporting this food, opening said bags/tins, transferring the food to a separate bowl, re-sealing or disposing of said bags/tins, placing the bowl on the floor and, after consumption, washing the bowl and surrounding affected area. This is a time consuming and sometimes unhygienic process.

Often, during consumption of the food, the bowl will slide across the floor due to contact with the feeding animal, resulting in food being spilled out of the bowl over a large area. This wastes food and also creates a large area that needs to be cleaned. In addition, this bowl movement can result in food spilling onto the outside of the bowl itself. This adds further to the cleaning process and so increases the likelihood that the bowl will not be thoroughly cleaned after use. Thus there are current hygiene problems that affect both the pet and the owner. In addition, the spillage of food onto the floor and bowl sides is aesthetically displeasing, especially if not properly cleaned up.

Furthermore, the movement of the bowl, during consumption of the food, may be detrimental to the pet's digestion.

When an owner is travelling with his pet it is often necessary for the owner to carry the pet's food with him and prepare it and serve it in locations that are not really suitable for such tasks. In such situations it is difficult for the pet owner to clean the food bowl after use. This creates an inconvenience for the owner and can lead to problems of hygiene if the bowl is not washed immediately after use. Furthermore, since pet food is often purchased in bulk, such as in large bags, it is not in a suitable form for easy transportation. As a result the pet owner may have to carry more pet food than he needs for the journey and carry the excess back.

In an attempt to address the above problems, U.S. Pat. No. 5,009,310 discloses a disposable container for storing and dispensing pet food. The disposable container is totally self-contained so that the entire meal can be served and the entire container discarded after use. The container includes adhesive on the bottom so the container will not move as an animal eats from the dish. However, this proposal has apparently found no commercial success.

Each disposable container, by its nature, only contains one meal serving. Therefore it is often necessary for a pet owner to purchase multiple containers at once, for example buying a week's supply on the weekly visit to the supermarket. A problem with this is that it is cumbersome to transport multiple containers at once, or that the containers must in turn be packaged together which is wasteful in terms of the extra packaging required. Also where multiple containers are stored in other packaging, such as a box, this other packaging is likely to occupy the same amount of space as the individual containers are used up.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is the object of embodiments of the present invention to overcome, or at least reduce, the problems with the prior art discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention there is provided a stack of containers comprising a first container, said first container having a lower surface, said lower surface being provided with an adhesive and a second container, said second container comprising an upper surface, with said first container being mounted on said second container such that the lower surface of the first container adheres to the upper surface of the second container by means of said adhesive.

It is found that the adhesive provides rigidity to the stack. This facilitates ease of carrying and transporting multiple containers, with a reduced need for additional packaging. This advantage increases as the number of containers in the stack increases.

Preferably the first container comprises an upper surface.

Preferably the second container comprises a lower surface.

Preferably the stack comprises a number of containers greater than two.

Preferably the stack comprises seven containers.

Preferably where the stack comprises a number of containers greater than two each container, with the exception of the bottom most container, in the stack has a lower surface.

Preferably the bottom-most container in the stack comprises a lower surface, and this is also preferably provided with an adhesive.

Preferably the lower surface is provided by a base of the container.

In one embodiment the base of each container is unitarily formed with the respective container.

Preferably where the stack comprises a number of containers greater than two each container, with the exception of the top most container, has an upper surface.

Preferably the top-most container in the stack comprises an upper surface.

Preferably the upper surface is provided by a sealing cover to the container.

Preferably the sealing cover comprises a means to facilitate ease of removal from the container.

Preferably the means of removal of the sealing cover is a pull tab located on the periphery of the sealing cover.

Preferably each container is a disposable pet food container for storing and dispensing pet food.

Preferably each container contains pet food, for example dog food or cat food.

The adhesive may be provided in the form of an adhesive material provided on the lower surface. The material may have an inner surface contacting the lower surface, and an outer surface intended to contact either the upper surface of a container immediately below it in the stack or, when the container is removed from the stack, a support surface on which the container is supported.

Any or all of the lower and upper surfaces of each container and the inner and outer surfaces of the adhesive material is/are preferably chosen such that upon removal of a container from the stack, the adhesive material remains attached to the lower surface of said removed container, as opposed to the upper surface of the container immediately below it in the stack.

The inner surface of the adhesive material is preferably of greater adhesive strength than the outer surface of the adhesive material such that upon removal of the container from a support surface, the adhesive material remains attached to the lower surface of said removed container as opposed to the support surface.

In the stack, the adhesive of each container, with the exception of the bottom-most container, is adhered to and thus covered by the outer surface of the sealing cover of the container immediately below it in the stack. Thus, with the exception of the bottom-most container in the stack, having containers in the stack removes the need for the adhesive of each container to be protected by a separate cover, for example a release paper, in order to protect the adhesive from the elements and thus to protect its adhesive bond strength, prior to its application to a support surface during use of the container to feed a pet.

It is found that, with the exception of the bottom most container in the stack, when one of the containers in the stack is removed from the container below it, the adhesive provided on the lower surface of the removed container is exposed and in a ready state to adhere the removed container to a support surface upon placing the removed container on the support surface.

Where the bottom most container includes a lower surface provided with an adhesive the adhesive may be covered with a release paper.

Preferably the lower surface of each container, via which each container is intended to be supported when in use, comprises at least one protruding region which protrudes outwardly from the remainder of the lower surface and the adhesive is provided on at least the protruding region.

The protruding region may be of any shape and preferably is generally centrally located on said lower surface of the base.

Preferably the protruding region is formed in a decorative shape, for example in the shape of an animal's paw which provides aesthetic appeal to pet owners.

Preferably each container comprises a sidewall, said sidewall extending from the lower surface, said sidewall having an inner and an outer surface and terminating in a flange at its free edge. The sidewall may be tubular. Each container may take the form of a bowl.

Where each container comprises a sealing cover said sealing cover may have an upper and a lower surface and where the container comprises a sidewall, may have its lower surface releasably attached to the sidewall such that, when the sealing cover is attached, each container forms a substantially sealed enclosure. In particular the sealing cover, together with the container, may form modified atmospheric packaging (MAP).

Preferably each container is moulded from a plastics material, and may be vacuum moulded from a sheet of such material. The sheet material may be of thickness of 500 micrometres or less. In particular it may be of thickness in the range 200 to 400 micrometres. Any suitable, preferably food grade, material may be used. In one embodiment a polyethylene material such as APET is used. This material may be coated with another material, for example polyester (EVA/EVOH) to serve as a barrier layer. In this arrangement the polyethylene layer may be of thickness in the range 250 to 350 micrometres, and the polyester barrier layer of thickness in the range 10 to 15 micrometres.

Preferably an enclosure is used to carry and transport the stack of containers.

Preferably the enclosure is re-sealable and collapsible. The enclosure may be a bag.

It is found that since the adhesive of each container in the stack, with the exception of the bottom-most container, acts to increase the rigidity of the stack, the rigidity of any enclosure may be reduced as compared to the rigidity of packaging used to enclose separate containers. This reduces the amount of material needed to make the enclosure and so also reduces financial cost. All of the features described herein may be combined with any of the above aspects, in any combination.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

For a better understanding of the invention, and to show how embodiments of the same may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a stack of disposable pet food containers;

FIG. 2 shows a view from below of a disposable pet food container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a section view of a disposable pet food container of FIG. 1 taken along the line II-II of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a disposable pet food container of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1 there is shown a stack of disposable pet food containers 1. The stack comprises three substantially identical disposable pet food containers, a top-most container 17, a middle container 18 and a bottom-most container 19, mounted one on another.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 there is shown a disposable pet food container of FIG. 1. The container comprises a substantially circular base 2 with a sidewall 3 extending upwardly around the periphery of the base and terminating in a flange 7 at its free end.

The base of the container is vacuum formed from a sheet of about 300 micrometre gauge transparent, flexible polyethylene (APET) coated on the outside with about 12 micrometre gauge polyester (EVA/EVOH). The ease with which the base can be crumpled up is a function of the material gauge used and the smooth design of the sidewall and base, with as thin a gauge as possible to ensure an adequate balance of rigidity and economic disposability.

The base comprises a lower surface 11 via which the base is intended to be supported when in use. The lower surface comprises spaced apart protruding regions 12, which protrude outwardly from the remainder of the surface, and form a stylised image of the underside of an animal's paw. The protruding regions extend outwardly beyond the bulk of the remainder of the lower surface of the container by about 3 millimetres. The protruding regions are covered with a single layer of adhesive material 13 having the outline shape of an animal's paw. The adhesive material 13 comprises an inner surface 14 and an outer surface 15 and is arranged to adhere the base to a surface on which it is supported.

Pet food 5 is provided in the container and the container is sealed with a cover film 4, forming modified atmospheric packaging.

The sealing cover has a lower surface 8 and an upper surface 9. Said lower surface is releasably attached to said flange such that, when the sealing cover is attached, the container forms a sealed enclosure. The flange allows the sealing cover to be heat sealed to the container.

A pull tab 10 is located on the periphery of the sealing cover to provide for easy removal of said cover from the flange, in order to reveal the food within the container to allow for consumption.

The containers are stacked one on another and the stack is enclosed in a bag.

With the exception of the bottom-most container, each container is adhered by means of the adhesive provided on the lower surface of the container to the outer surface of the sealing cover of the container below.

The bottom-most container is adhered to the bag.

The adhesion together of the containers in the stack, with the exception of the bottom-most container, acts to provide the stack with some structure and rigidity, obviating the need for a rigid enclosure to enable the containers to be transported. This reduces the amount of material needed to make any enclosure and so also reduces financial cost.

Since the bag is collapsible, this allows its total volume to be decreased as the pet food containers are removed. This saves on the volume of space that the product occupies.

The containers are manufactured, with the base of the container vacuum formed as described above. The containers are then filled with pet food and the sealing cover is heat sealed to the container to form a sealed enclosure.

The containers are to be sold in a stacked multi pack configuration. Each container holds enough food for a single meal serving for a pet. The pet owner purchases the requisite number of containers and transports them to the location of pet feeding. A re-sealable and collapsible bag is used to transport the stack. In order to serve a pet's meal the top-most container in the stack is removed from the stack. As the container is removed the adhesive on the lower surface of the container is exposed and is in a ready state for adhesion to a support surface. The removed container is then placed on a support surface, typically a floor, and adheres to the support surface.

By virtue of their protruding, the protruding regions on the underside of the container preferentially contact the support surface before the remainder of the lower surface, causing, at least initially, the bulk of the weight of the container to act through the protruding region. This encourages a sufficient contact to be made to adhere the container to the surface, when the container is placed on the support surface, without requiring an application of force that is great enough to cause deformation of the container.

The sealing cover is removed and can be disposed of. The adhesion, between the container and support surface holds the container in place as the pet feeds from the container. After consumption of the pet food, the container may be disposed of.

It is of course to be understood that the invention is not limited to the details of the above embodiments, which are by way of example only. Many variations are possible without departing from the invention.