Title:
Retaining means for insulated sleeve usable with universal cup holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sleeve for receiving therein a convenience item, this sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, having a substantially flat bottom, an open top, and being constructed of expansible material. In a first embodiment of this invention, the sleeve has a slot located at or near the juncture of the flat bottom with a cylindrically shared side. This slot enables a lower portion of the sleeve to be inserted over a restraining device, with the slot making it possible for the sleeve to be restrained, and caused to stay with the restraining device when the convenience item is removed from the sleeve. In another embodiment, VELCRO® is advantageously used to restrain the sleeve against removal with the convenience item from a drink recess.



Inventors:
Guard, Edward J. (Maitland, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/974484
Publication Date:
04/16/2009
Filing Date:
10/15/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HICKS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Julian, Renfro Esquire C. (Post Office Box 2601, Winter Park, FL, 32790-2601, US)
Claims:
1. A sleeve for directly receiving therein a convenience item, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, having a substantially flat bottom and an open top, and being constructed of expansible material, said sleeve arranged to directly and closely receive a convenience item, said sleeve having retaining means, located adjacent said substantially flat bottom, said retaining means making it possible to restrain said sleeve, and to cause said sleeve to stay with an associated restraining device when a closely-fitting item residing in said sleeve is removed from said sleeve.

2. The sleeve as recited in claim 1 in which said sleeve is an insulated sleeve capable of receiving therein, a beverage container to be maintained in either a hot or a cold condition, the expansible material of which said sleeve is constructed making it possible for a variety of sizes of containers to be received therein.

3. An insulated sleeve for receiving therein a beverage container and serving to keep such container either hot or cold, said sleeve being constructed of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be directly received therein, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides, said sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and an open top, and having retaining means, located in the bottom of said sleeve, at or adjacent said substantially flat bottom, said retaining means making it possible to restrain said sleeve, and to cause said sleeve to stay with an associated restraining device when a beverage container is removed from said sleeve.

4. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 3 in which the restraining device is part of a cup holder with which said retaining means of said insulated sleeve interfits.

5. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 4 in which said retaining means involves a slot located adjacent said substantially flat bottom of said sleeve, said slot permitting a lower portion of said sleeve to be stretched over the restraining device forming part of the cup holder, said restraining serving to restrain said sleeve, and to cause said sleeve to stay with the restraining device when a beverage container is removed from said sleeve.

6. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 3 in which said restraining device is part of a beverage recess located in a console of a vehicle, with which recess said insulated sleeve interfits.

7. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 6 in which said retaining means involves a first type of VELCRO® mounted on the exterior of said sleeve, with a second type of VELCRO® utilized in the beverage recess and serving as the restraining device.

8. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 3 wherein said substantially flat bottom is made of the same material as used for the sides of the sleeve.

9. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 3 wherein said substantially flat bottom is made of a first type of VELCRO®, so that the sleeve may be removably secured to a surface upon which a second type of VELCRO® may be used.

10. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 3 wherein said insulated sleeve has an enlarged upper opening to facilitate the insertion of a cup or can into said sleeve.

11. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 10 in which said enlarged upper opening incorporates the use of a soft, circularly shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

12. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 10 in which an upper portion of said sleeve of expansible material has been inserted through a soft, circularly-shaped member, latter member being held in operative relation with said sleeve by a portion of said sleeve being folded tightly over said circularly-shaped member.

13. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 10 wherein said insulated sleeve has first and second sides, with a different color on each side, with said sleeve able to be turned inside-out to reveal a different color on said second side, than was apparent from said first side.

14. An insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold, said sleeve being constructed of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be directly received therein, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides, said sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and an open top, and having a slot in said sleeve at the juncture of the flat bottom with a cylindrically shaped side, said slot permitting a lower portion of said sleeve to be inserted over a restraining device, said slot making it possible to restrain said sleeve, and to cause it to stay with the restraining device when a beverage container is removed from said sleeve.

15. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 in which the restraining device is part of a cup holder with which said insulated sleeve interfits.

16. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 in which the restraining device is part of a cup holder with which said insulated sleeve interfits.

17. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 wherein said insulated sleeve has first and second sides, with a different color on each side, with said sleeve able to be turned inside-out to reveal a different color on said second side, than was apparent from said first side.

18. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 wherein said insulated sleeve has an enlarged upper opening to facilitate the insertion of a cup or can into said sleeve.

19. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 18 wherein said enlarged upper opening incorporates the use of a soft, circularly-shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

20. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 18 wherein an upper portion of said sleeve of expansible material has been inserted through a soft, circularly-shaped member, latter member being held in operative relation with said sleeve by a portion of said sleeve being folded tightly over said circularly shaped member.

21. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 wherein said substantially flat bottom is made of the same material as used for the sides.

22. The insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 14 wherein said substantially flat bottom is made of a first type of VELCRO®, so that the sleeve may be removably secured to a surface upon which a second type of VELCRO® may be used.

23. A cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold, said cup holder having curved, flexible arms able to receive beverage containers of a wide variety of sizes, said cup holder also having a base member disposed below said flexible arms, with said flexible arms and said base member being supported in a functional relationship by a generally vertically disposed spine member, said insulated sleeve being constructed of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be directly received, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides, said sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and an open top, and having a slot located at or near the juncture of said flat bottom with a curved side, said slot permitting said sleeve to be inserted over said base member, said slot making it possible to restrain said sleeve, and to cause said sleeve to stay with said cup holder when the beverage container is removed from said insulated sleeve.

24. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 23 in which said sleeve is caused to reside between said flexible arms of said cup holder when said slot has been inserted over said base member.

25. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 24 in which an enlarged upper portion surrounds said open top, with said enlarged upper portion resting against upper portions of said flexible arms when said sleeve has been caused to reside between said flexible arms, thus to prevent the downward crumpling of said sleeve at the time a cup or can is inserted into said sleeve.

26. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 25 wherein said enlarged upper opening incorporates the use of a circularly-shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

27. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 25 wherein an upper portion of said sleeve of expansible material has been inserted through a soft, circularly-shaped member, latter member being held in operative relation with said sleeve by a portion of said sleeve being folded tightly over said circularly-shaped member.

28. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 25 wherein said insulated sleeve has first and second sides, with a different color on each side, with said sleeve able to be turned inside-out to reveal a different color on said second side, than was apparent from said first side.

29. The cup holder in combination with an insulated sleeve for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold as recited in claim 28 wherein said substantially flat bottom member is made of double sided VELCRO®, so that a VELCRO® surface is presented on the underside of said sleeve, irrespective of whichever side is outermost at a given time.

30. The sleeve for directly receiving therein a convenience item as recited in claim 1 in which said retaining means involves a slot located in said sleeve adjacent said substantially flat bottom of said sleeve, said slot permitting a lower portion of said sleeve to be stretched over the associated restraining device, the restraining device serving to restrain said sleeve, and to cause said sleeve to stay with the restraining device when the convenience item is removed from said sleeve.

31. The sleeve for directly receiving therein a convenience item as recited in claim 30 in which said open top incorporates the use of a circularly-shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

32. The sleeve for directly receiving therein a convenience item as recited in claim 1 in which the restraining device is part of a beverage recess located in a console of a vehicle, with which recess said insulated sleeve interfits, said retaining means involving a first type of VELCRO® mounted on the exterior of said sleeve, with a second type of VELCRO® utilized in the beverage recess and directly serving as the restraining device.

33. The sleeve for directly receiving therein a convenience item as recited in claim 32 in which said open top incorporates the use of a circularly-shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

34. An insulated sleeve for directly receiving therein, a beverage container and serving to keep such container either hot or cold, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides, said sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and an open top, said sleeve having a slot located in a curved side adjacent said flat bottom, said slot being able to receive a restraining device extending into said slot, such that said sleeve will not be removed with a beverage container residing in said sleeve, when the beverage container is withdrawn from said sleeve.

35. The insulated sleeve for directly receiving therein a beverage container as recited in claim 34 in which said sleeve is made of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of containers may be received therein.

36. An insulated sleeve for directly receiving therein, a beverage container as recited in claim 34 in which said open top incorporates the use of a circularly shaped member utilized to assure said opening remaining distortion-free.

37. An insulated sleeve for directly receiving a beverage container to be kept either hot or cold, said sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides and an open top, said open top utilizing a ring-shaped member preventing the crumpling of the top of said sleeve when a beverage container is inserted into said sleeve, said sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and having retaining means located near the juncture of the flat bottom with a cylindrically shaped side, said retaining means making it possible to restrain said sleeve, and to cause it to stay with an associated restraining device when the beverage container is removed from said sleeve.

38. The insulated sleeve for directly receiving a beverage container to be kept either hot or cold as recited in claim 37 in which the restraining means is part of a beverage recess located in a console of a vehicle, with which recess said insulated sleeve interfits.

39. The insulated sleeve for directly receiving a beverage container to be kept either hot or cold as recited in claim 38 in which said retaining means involves a first type of VELCRO mounted on the exterior of said sleeve, with a second type of VELCRO utilized in the beverage recess and serving as the restraining means.

40. The insulated sleeve for directly receiving a beverage container to be kept either hot or cold as recited in claim 37 in which in which said retaining means involves a slot located in said sleeve adjacent said substantially flat bottom of said sleeve, said slot permitting a lower portion of said sleeve to be stretched over an associated restraining device, so that the sleeve will not be removed when the beverage container is withdrawn.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the past, many drink holders have been proposed, with one widely used type involving a plastic device involving a ring of fixed size, with an integral hook enabling the device to engage and be supported from the window frame of an automobile. These inexpensive devices had many disadvantages, such as bouncing off of the window frame should the automobile lurch or stop suddenly. Also, because the circumferential ring was of fixed size, only a limited dimension of drink container could be accommodated, with the fixed ring typically receiving only a 12 ounce drink can.

Many efforts were put forth to improve upon this basic concept, and the Marcum U.S. Pat. No. 4,629,153 entitled “Container Holder Device” revealed the use of components that could be tightly affixed to the window frame of an automobile, to prevent the device from suddenly separating from the window frame, and the contents of the beverage container spilled. Furthermore, Marcum taught the ring member having flexible tabs serving to hold a drink can tightly. However, this patentee's device is necessarily expensive and quite importantly, it cannot accommodate containers of a variety of diameters.

The Greene U.S. Pat. No. 5,282,598 entitled “Container Holder” teaches a holder used to support a beverage container in an automobile by inserting a portion of the device between the backrest and seat cushion of a automobile seat. It is seen that this type of support for a drink container has only limited use, and has not received wide acceptance.

The Morgan U.S. Pat. No. 5,873,486 entitled “Selectively Mountable Cup Holder” is another of the fixed ring type of cup holder, in this instance teaching the use of selectable mounting means, whereby the user can select the particular means most appropriate to the surface intended to receive his cup holder. However, this is a relatively complex and expensive device, unable to receive a variety of cup sizes.

Because of the distinct limitations of these and other prior art devices, I was motivated to improve upon cup holders of the split ring type, such a cup holder represented by my Universal Cup Holder forming the subject of U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089. That device utilizes expandable arms able to snugly receive drink containers of a variety of diameters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a primary purpose of my invention, I have provided an insulated sleeve or sock for keeping a beverage container either hot or cold, with this novel sleeve or sock being particularly adapted for use with a suitable drink holder. This novel insulated sleeve is constructed of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be received therein. However, my novel sleeve can also be utilized as a repository for convenience items such as sunglasses, cell phones, garage door openers, and the like.

My novel, insulated sleeve is generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides, with the sleeve having a substantially flat bottom and an open top. A very important characteristic of my novel sleeve involves the fact that it has retaining means thereon, with such retaining means making it possible to restrain the sleeve in a very desirable manner, so that it will be caused to stay with an associated restraining device when a beverage container is removed from the sleeve. In other words, this arrangement prevents the sleeve from remaining on the can or cup when the user proceeds to lift the can or cup out of the sleeve.

In accordance with one important embodiment of my invention, the restraining means is part of a cup holder with which the retaining means of the insulated sleeve interfits. In accordance with this important embodiment, the retaining means utilized in connection with the sleeve involves a slot shaped aperture located adjacent the substantially flat bottom of the sleeve, with this slot permitting a lower portion of the sleeve to be inserted over the restraining device forming part of the cup holder. This restraining device serves to restrain the sleeve, and to cause the sleeve to stay with the restraining device when a beverage container is removed from the sleeve by a user.

In accordance with another embodiment of this invention, the restraining device is part of a beverage recess located in a console of a vehicle, with which recess the novel insulated sleeve interfits. As one example, the retaining means on my novel sleeve involves a first type of Velcro mounted on the exterior of the sleeve, with a second type of Velcro utilized in the beverage recess and serving as the restraining device.

In accordance with the first-mentioned embodiment, my novel insulated sleeve is particularly usable in combination with a cup holder having curved, flexible arms able to receive beverage containers of a variety of sizes. An example of such a cup holder is represented by my earlier-mentioned Universal Cup Holder that was the subject of U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089, which issued Jan. 6, 1987. Such cup holder has a base member disposed below the flexible arms, with the flexible arms and the base member being supported in a functional relationship by a generally vertically disposed backbone member.

Advantageously, my insulated sleeve is configured to interact with the base member of a cup holder in the nature of my aforementioned Universal Cup Holder so as to prevent the sleeve member separating from the cup holder when the beverage can, cup or other container is removed from the insulated sleeve. In this way the versatility of the cup holder is greatly expanded. My novel sleeve is not limited to use with beverage containers, however, for my sleeve can additionally be used as a repository for receiving convenience items and accessories such as sunglasses, cell phones, garage door openers, and the like.

A primary object of my invention is to provide a novel sleeve, generally cylindrical in shape, having an open top for receiving therein either a beverage container or a convenience item, with this sleeve constructed of expansible material and having retaining means thereon, with this retaining means making it possible to restrain said sleeve and to cause said sleeve to stay with an associated restraining device when a closely-fitting item residing in the sleeve is removed from said sleeve.

Another object of my invention to provide a novel sleeve of expansible material, with such sleeve being generally cylindrical in shape and having an open top for receiving therein, a beverage container to be maintained in either a hot or a cold condition, the expansible material of which said sleeve is constructed making it possible for a variety of sizes of containers to be received therein, with my sleeve also utilizing retaining means making it possible to restrain said sleeve and to cause said sleeve to stay with an associated restraining device.

Another important object of my invention is to provide a novel insulated sleeve or sock of expansible material such that a cup or a beverage can is able to be received and kept either hot or cold, with effective retaining means being incorporated into the design of the insulated sleeve enabling the sleeve to be retained on a cup holder of the split ring type when the user wishes to drink from the can or cup.

Another significant object of my invention is to provide a novel insulated sleeve highly adaptable for use with a drink holder, that on the one hand snugly receives a cup or beverage can and prevents it from being dislodged from the drink holder should the vehicle upon which it is mounted hit a bump in the road, yet on the other hand will be retained on the drink holder when the user removes a cup or beverage can from the insulated sleeve for the purpose of drinking therefrom.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a novel insulated sleeve highly adaptable for use with a drink holder of the split ring type that involves a pair of expansible arms, with my novel insulated sleeve preventing a cup or can from jumping out from between the arms should the vehicle in which it is mounted hits a bump or swerves, and in addition, the insulated sleeve is readily and securely anchored to the drink holder, so that it will not be removed with the cup or can when the cup or can is lifted out of the sleeve.

Another important object of my invention is to provide a novel insulated sleeve embodiment that is provided with a slot in its lower portion, which slot can be received over a lower portion of the drink holder to securely anchor the sleeve to the drink holder, with this slot serving the additional purpose of permitting the escape of air from a tight fitting sleeve when the cup or can is inserted into the sleeve, as well as permitting the entry of air when the cup or can is removed from the sleeve.

Yet still another object of my invention is to provide an insulated sleeve embodiment in which one type of Velcro is mounted on the exterior of the novel insulated sleeve, which can effectively interact with Velcro of the other type that is mounted on the bottom or sides of a beverage recess, to prevent the sleeve from accompanying the beverage container when such container is removed from the recess.

Yet still another object of my invention is to provide an insulated sleeve having a rounded upper portion containing a soft upper ring that reduces rattle, and that assures the maintenance of a round upper, highly effective opening for the sleeve, facilitating the entry of a cup or can.

Yet still another object of this invention is to provide an insulated sleeve having a rounded upper portion containing a novel top ring serving to retain a perfect circular decorative shape at the top of the sleeve, which simplifies the insertion of a can or cup into the interior of the sleeve.

Yet still another object is to provide an insulated sleeve of expansible material, along the upper edge of which a novel top ring is contained, with this novel top ring causing an enlargement of the upper part of the insulated sleeve, with this enlarged portion resting, when the sleeve has been received between the flexible arms of a cup holder, against the upper portions of such arms, thus preventing any downward crumpling of the top of the sleeve when a cup or can is inserted into the sleeve.

Yet still another object is to provide a novel sleeve or sock which, in addition to being a drink holder, can serve as a repository for convenience items such as sunglasses, garage door openers, small cameras, cell phones and the like, with this novel sleeve being securely retained in a supporting device by the use of retaining means on the sleeve.

It is to be understood that my novel retainer sleeve or sock can be readily made of nylon with a spandex stitch, neoprene or other expansible material, which can involve a product displaying two different colors by easily turning the sleeve inside out, thus greatly increasing the attractiveness of the product to the consuming public.

It is also to be understood that my novel sleeve or sock can be made of designer quality, utilizing colors that match the color of the mugs to be used therewith.

These and other objects, features and advantages will become more apparent as the description proceeds.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of my novel insulated sleeve after it has been interfitted with a beverage holder of the split ring type, that utilizes curved, flexible arms;

FIG. 2 is a view of the drink holder of the split ring type, with which my insulated sleeve may be utilized, with this particular drink holder being captioned “PRIOR ART” inasmuch as the United States patent in which this figure originally appeared has now expired;

FIG. 3 is a combinational presentation of my novel insulated sleeve of expansible material with the split ring cup holder, with this view revealing, in perspective, my novel insulated sleeve or sock having been removed from the cup holder, and also revealing that a slot is provided in a lower portion of the sleeve so that the base member of the cup holder is able to be received therein, for the purpose of retaining the insulated sleeve on the earlier-patented cup holder;

FIG. 4 illustrates a typical installation procedure, which may for example involve the beverage holder held in the left hand, and my novel sleeve or sock held in the right hand;

FIG. 5 reveals that part of the sleeve 10 has been inserted between the curved, flexible arms 18 and 20, with the user's right hand causing the opening in the bottom of the novel sleeve to be enlarged, so that bottom member of the beverage holder or cup holder can be received in the opening;

FIG. 6 illustrates the completion of the procedure of anchoring the sleeve to the cup holder;

FIG. 7 is a view of my novel soft top ring, partly in section, before mounting in the novel sleeve, with this view revealing a preferred construction for the top ring;

FIG. 8 is a rear view, partly in section, of my insulated sleeve in place in a beverage holder, revealing the upper, rounded portion of the insulated sleeve that contains the soft top ring that reduces rattle, which top ring also assures the maintenance of a round upper opening, facilitating the entry of a cup or can;

FIG. 9 is a type of fragmentary view of one embodiment of my novel insulated sleeve, showing the commencement of the installation of a ring into the upper portion of my novel sleeve, with this procedure involving a top portion of the novel sleeve being inserted for a limited extent through the ring;

FIG. 10 is a view of one version of a bottom member of my novel sleeve, with this particular version being an embodiment in which the bottom member is made of one type of Velcro;

FIG. 11 is a view showing the completed ring held in the hands of a user;

FIG. 12 is a view of my novel sleeve revealing part of the ring installation procedure, with the uppermost edge of the sleeve here shown in the process of being folded over the ring so as to securely retain the top ring in the uppermost part of the sleeve;

FIG. 13 shows the almost-complete procedure employed to bring about the encapsulation of the novel ring into the upper portion of the novel sleeve;

FIG. 14 shows the insertion of a cup with tapered sides into my novel sleeve when it is held between the expansible arms of a cup holder; and

FIG. 15 shows the cup entering more deeply into the novel sleeve, with the tapered sides of the cup causing the flexible arms of the cup holder to move apart to some extent.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With initial reference to FIG. 1, I have there depicted a first embodiment of my novel insulated sleeve or sock 10, in this instance shown in an operative relationship with a Universal Cup Holder 12. This particular Universal Cup Holder with which my novel sleeve is shown was the subject of my previously-mentioned U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089, which issued Jan. 6, 1987. It will be noted that this cup holder is of the split ring type, involving a pair of curved arms that are readily expandable to receive cups of diverse sizes, as well as receiving conventional beverage cans. It is important to note that my insulated sleeve or sock 10 easily interacts with this cup holder (beverage holder), in the manner illustrated in FIG. 1, such that the insulated sleeve will be securely retained on the cup holder, even when the user goes about removing the cup or can from the sleeve.

For convenience, my Universal Cup Holder without the novel sleeve is depicted in FIG. 2 and, because the aforementioned patent has expired, this figure has been designated Prior Art.

With reference to both FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, it will be noted that the universal cup holder 12 has symmetrically configured expandable arms 18 and 20, with these arms being supported, as best seen in FIG. 2, from a vertical backbone member 22. It is to be understood that the arms are strong yet sufficiently flexible as to accommodate a wide range of cup sizes. Located directly below the flexible arms 18 and 20 and in a symmetrical relationship therewith is base member 24, which is suitable for supporting a cup or beverage can. Being the subject of my now-expired U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089, no claim of invention is directed to the universal cup holder per se.

Also to be noted in FIG. 2 is a member 26 associated with the mounting of the universal cup holder on a door, window trim or dashboard of an automobile, for example. The mounting member 26 may include Velcro. The member 26 can also be configured so that the cup holder can be carried on a bicycle or motor bike. In addition to this, Velcro may be applied along the backside of the backbone member 22.

Although my original universal cup holder invention has been highly successful from the commercial standpoint, it is to be noted that when a drink can was being carried between the expansible arms 18 and 20, such can might become dislodged should the automobile in which the drink holder is mounted hit a bump in the road, for example. Because the universal drink holder may also be mounted on a bicycle, the rider must be particularly aware of the fact that a beverage can may bounce out of the holder if the bicycle encounters an irregularity in the road for example.

In a desire to provide a more stable environment for cans and cups carried in a split ring drink holder, I was encouraged to design my novel insulated sleeve or sock 10 to closely receive a can containing a soft drink, or coffee or tea contained in a cup having straight or tapered sides, or the like. As is obvious, the novel insulated sleeve 10 will serve, in addition to snugly receiving the cup or can, the very useful additional purpose of keeping a cold beverage cold and a hot beverage hot.

With particular reference to the right hand side of FIG. 3, it is to be noted that my novel insulated sleeve or sock 10 is fitted with an enlarged upper portion 14, which preferably contains a soft, internally disposed ring 15, partially visible in FIG. 1 and illustrated more fully in certain later figures. This construction assures the maintenance of a circular upper opening. Significantly, the enlarged upper portion 14 in accordance with this invention makes it possible for a user to insert a drinking cup or a canned beverage into the insulated sleeve without the top of the insulated sleeve deforming or crumpling so as to make insertion of the cup or can difficult.

Discussed hereinafter in connection with FIG. 7 and subsequent figures is the preferred construction of the soft upper ring 15.

With further reference to the right hand side of FIG. 3, it is to be appreciated that if the insulated sleeve or sock 10 were merely held between the expansible arms 18 and 20 of the cup holder, the sleeve might well tend to remain in an encircling relationship with the can or cup, when the user decides to take a drink of the beverage. Because it is desirable for the sleeve or sock to remain with the cup holder, I have provided, in accordance with a primary embodiment of this invention, a novel and highly advantageous, non-complex retaining arrangement for retaining the insulated sleeve on the base member of a cup holder, making use of the novel slot or aperture 36 depicted in FIG. 3. Later, however, will be described an alternate embodiment in which my novel sleeve can be retained by an entirely different arrangement in the beverage recess of the console located between the seats of an automobile, boat or airplane.

With continuing reference to FIG. 3, it is to be understood that the novel sleeve 10 is constructed of expansible material so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be received therein. The sleeve or sock is generally cylindrical in shape, with curved sides 30 and a flat bottom 32. Obviously the sleeve has an open top 34 through which a can or cup may be readily inserted. An elastic band 17 held in place by suitable stitching is preferably disposed around the bottom edge of the uppermost portion of the sleeve, serving to help hold the soft internal ring in a desired position at the top of the sleeve 10.

Quite significantly, I provide in accordance with a first embodiment of my novel sleeve, the earlier-mentioned aperture 36 located at or near the juncture of the flat bottom 32 with a cylindrically shaped side 30 of the novel sleeve. Inasmuch as the insulated sleeve 10 is made of expansible material, the aperture 36 can enlarge laterally to permit the entry of the base member 24, so that the insulated sleeve will be firmly anchored to the cup holder. It will be noted that the aperture 36 is preferably elongate, so I may prefer to refer to it as being a slot. Furthermore, the base member 24 of the cup holder 12 may also be aptly referred to as a restraining device.

With reference now to FIG. 4, I have shown a typical installation procedure, which may for example involve the cup holder held in the left hand, and my novel sleeve or sock held in the right hand. As is obvious, the installation of the sleeve onto the cup holder could be equally well accomplished if the positions of the hands were reversed, and the novel sleeve held in the left hand. The novel opening or slot 36 in the bottom portion of the sleeve 10 is clearly visible in FIG. 4.

In related FIG. 5 it can be readily seen that a part of the sleeve or sock 10 has been inserted between the curved, flexible arms 18 and 20, with the user's right hand causing the opening 36 to be enlarged, so that bottom (base) member 24 of the cup holder can be received in the opening, thus to bring about the securing of the sleeve or sock to the cup holder.

Turning now to FIG. 6, it will be seen that the procedure of anchoring the sleeve or sock 10 to the cup holder has been completed, such that the base member 24 extends through the slot 36 so as to reside inside the lower portion of the sleeve 10, with the base member 24 thus serving as an effective restraining means, and firmly anchoring the insulated sleeve 10 to the cup holder 12.

As will be readily understood, when the lower portion of the insulated sleeve 10 has been inserted onto and incorporated with the base member 24 of the universal cup holder 12, the sleeve will be retained in a position between the flexible arms 18 and 20, as was seen in FIG. 1. At this point it is to be seen that the bottom member 32 of the sleeve resides under the base member 24.

Because of this arrangement making use of the slot 36, when the user withdraws a can or cup from the insulated sleeve 10, the sleeve will advantageously be retained and will stay with the restraining device 24 during the withdrawal effort, rather than being withdrawn with the can or cup. Indicated by dashed lines in FIG. 6, and also in FIG. 8, is the use of the earlier-mentioned elastic band 17 that I prefer to use around the uppermost edge of the sleeve 10, held in place by suitable stitching.

In FIG. 7 I have revealed a preferred construction of the previously mentioned soft top ring 15 utilized for maintaining a perfect circular decorative shape of the top of the novel sleeve 10. Although my novel insulated sleeve is not limited for use with cup holders in the nature of my earlier-mentioned Universal Cup Holder that was the subject of U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,089, when my novel sleeve is used with a split arm beverage holder, the top of the sleeve defined by the ring 15 prevents any downward crumpling of the top of the sleeve when a beverage can or cup is being inserted. This is because the enlarged upper portion 14 defined by the use of the ring 15 fits closely against the upper edges of the split arms, such as the arms 18 and 20 depicted in FIG. 1 and FIGS. 14 and 15. I have established that the use of my novel top ring assures a snug fit with the split arms of standard beverage containers up to 20 ounces.

Continuing with FIG. 7, now in greater detail, I may create the basic top ring 15 out of soft plastic tubing having a ⅜ inch outer diameter, and a ¼ inch inner diameter. I have found that an eleven inch length of this tubing, when brought into a circular configuration, will establish a circle of 3⅞ inch diameter. In order to secure the ends of the tubing together in a satisfactory manner, I prefer to use a short length of tubing of ¼ inch outer diameter, such that, for example, a two inch length of tubing will be accommodated in the ends of the larger tubing, and thus complete the circle. The short length of tubing I prefer to use for securing the ends of the ring 15 together is depicted at 16 in FIG. 7. Obviously, I am not to be limited to these dimensions or to the mentioned materials.

With reference to FIG. 8, it will be noted that the upper, rounded portion of the insulated sleeve is partially sectioned to reveal the utilization of the soft upper ring 15 that reduces rattle, and that assures the maintenance of a round upper opening, facilitating the entry of a cup or can. As mentioned hereinabove, the upper rounded portion of the insulated sleeve desirably fits closely against the upper edges of the arms of a cup holder having split arms, thus effectively preventing any crumpling of the upper portion of the novel insulated sleeve when a can or cup is being inserted therein.

In FIG. 8 it will be noted that the dimension of the slot 36 is such that an air vent 38 is created adjacent the vertical backbone member 22, with this air vent permitting the flow of air therethrough when a tight-fitting beverage container is inserted into, or removed from the sleeve. Although I have described my novel insulated sleeve in the context of significant use with the universal cup holder, it will shortly be made quite apparent that my novel insulated sleeve may have utilization independent of the cup holder.

It is important to note that the novel top ring 15 makes it readily possible to frame the opening of the cup holder with a stylish color combination, which can be a soft or a bright combination. As earlier mentioned, my novel sleeve is constructed of multiple layers of expansible material, such as nylon using a spandex stitch, and neoprene, so that a variety of sizes of beverage containers may be received therein.

It is to be understood that my novel sleeve or sock can be made of designer quality, utilizing colors that match the color of the mugs or cups to be used therewith. Also, the sleeve can have a different color on the inside, than appears on the outside. For example, the exterior of a given sleeve could be red, with the interior being white. In such instance, turning the sleeve inside-out would result in a sleeve displaying a white exterior. It is thus to be seen that a user can readily change the displayed color of the novel sleeve merely by turning the sleeve inside-out. A wide range of attractive color pairs can be selected in the manufacture of my novel sleeve.

Turning now to FIG. 9 it is to be seen that this is a type of fragmentary view of my novel insulated sleeve, that reveals the installation procedure in which an upper portion 40 of the expansible sleeve material is inserted through the novel top ring 15. After this suitable short length of the sleeve material has been passed through the ring 15, this short portion 40 of the sleeve material is folded over the ring 15, in the manner shortly to be discussed in some detail. Because, as previously mentioned, the sleeve is constructed of expansible material, the folded over portion 40 of the sleeve material serves to securely retain the top ring 15 in the uppermost part of the sleeve 10. It has already been mentioned that an elastic band 17 may be held by stitching around the upper edge of the sleeve 10, to enhance the holding of the ring in position.

With continuing reference to FIG. 9, the use of zigzag stitching 44 will be noted, which is preferably employed to hold the sides of the sleeve 10 together. This particular sleeve embodiment may utilize on its exterior, a piece of loop-type Velcro, secured at a location corresponding to the optional location of a piece of hook-type Velcro 50 that is indicated by the use of dashed lines. Such a piece of hook-type Velcro may be secured in the cup-holding recess of a console located between the seats of an automobile, boat or aircraft. Because the sleeve 10 of FIG. 9 could be used without the use of a cup holder having arms, the sidewalls of the cup-holding recess of the console in a vehicle would typically be utilized with one or more pieces of hook-type Velcro secured on the inner sidewall of the recess, at a location more or less corresponding to the location indicated by the component 50 in FIG. 9. To be noted is the fact that when my sleeve is intended for use in the drink-receiving recess of the console of a vehicle, it is preferable for such sleeve to be provided with at least one aperture located at or near the bottom of the sleeve, to permit the inflow or outflow of air when a tightly-fitting item is to be removed from, or inserted into the sleeve. Of course, if the aforementioned slot 36 is located in the bottom of the sleeve, it provides ample airflow-permitting means.

Continuing with FIG. 9, I reveal that lock-type stitching 46 could be utilized to define the periphery of the slot or aperture 36. Also shown in this figure is a cutaway by which I reveal the outer layer 60R of nylon, the intermediate layer of neoprene 62, and the inner layer of nylon 60W. The 60R may be understood to denote red, and 60W may be understood to denote white. Obviously I am not to be limited to these colors, for as previously mentioned, many other attractive pairs of colors may be chosen for the inner and outer portions of the sleeve. Also to be noted is the fact that my novel sleeve may be entirely black.

In FIG. 10 I show the bottom 52 of a sleeve in the instance in which the sidewall of the sleeve may involve the use of a piece of loop-type Velcro. Particularly in the instance of the sidewall having at least one piece of loop-type Velcro secured to its exterior, the bottom 52 is also of loop-type Velcro. The rectangle 54 designated by the dashed lines in FIG. 10 devotes the approximate location where a piece of hook-type Velcro would be mounted in the bottom of a beverage-receiving recess in a vehicle console. In a given instance, both pieces of hook-type Velcro, members 50 and 54, may be secured in the drink-receiving recess, but in other instances, just one piece of hook-type Velcro may be used in the beverage-receiving recess.

Because as previously mentioned, my novel sleeve of expansible material is reversible, loop-type Velcro would be disposed on both sides of the bottom member 52, so that whichever way the sleeve has been turned (for color-displaying purposes), loop-type Velcro would be present on the bottom of the sleeve, for engaging the hook-type Velcro located in the bottom of the drink-receiving recess. A form of double sided Velcro may be utilized for the bottom member 52.

The periphery of the bottom member 52 (as well as the periphery of the bottom member 32) can be secured to the bottom edges of the novel expansible sleeve by gluing, by stitching, or by both gluing and stitching.

It is important to fully understand that the bottom member 52 of double-sided Velcro may also be used in instances when the sidewalls of the sleeve are made in accordance with the first-described embodiment. That embodiment involved inner and outer layers of nylon utilizing a spandex stitch, separated by a layer of neoprene, rather than in accordance with the embodiment in which a portion of the sidewall involves the use of Velcro. It will be recalled that in the first-described embodiment, the slot 36 was used as the primary retaining means, so that the sleeve will be retained on the base member of the cup holder. Nevertheless, when the Velcro bottom member is utilized in accordance with the embodiment utilizing the slot, the Velcro surface of the bottom member will be disposed on the underside of the cup holder, so as to be usable in securing the cup holder to a mounting surface.

This is manifestly an important utilization of my invention, for in such instance the drink holder may be securely mounted upon a desk, the dashboard of a vehicle, on in many other such locations. This can be accomplished merely by attaching a piece of hook-type Velcro on the desk or dashboard, available to engage the loop-type Velcro now disposed on the underside of the base member of the drink holder.

Referring now to FIG. 11, because of the importance of the ring 15 to my invention, I am here illustrating the ring in greater detail. It will be noted that the ring is being held in the hands of the operator before installing it onto the insulated sleeve itself. As previously explained, the ends of the tubular material 15 that are brought together to form the ring are held in a closed relationship by the use of short member 16. The member 16 is held in place frictionally, and is not glued or otherwise secured in the ends of the tubular material that constitute the ring 15.

With reference to FIG. 12 it will be noted that I have shown the user having placed the sleeve material inside the ring 15 with only an inch or so of the sleeve material extending through the ring. At this point, the user commences a procedure by which the end portion 40 of the sleeve is caused to move over the top of, and to encapsulate, the ring 15.

FIG. 13 reveals the fact that as of this instance, the sleeve material has largely covered and encapsulated the ring 15. Visible in FIGS. 12 and 13 is the elastic band 17 held in place by lock-type stitches, this band helping to secure and hold the ring in position.

It is to be noted that in the practice of my invention, I may sell and distribute my novel insulated sleeve with the ring 15 already encapsulated in the upper portion of the sleeve or, as an alternative, I may sell the basic sleeve material and the ring 15 in separated condition, in order that smaller packaging may be utilized. In this latter case, it will incumbent upon the purchaser to install the ring 15 in the upper portion of the sleeve, in accordance with the procedure delineated in FIGS. 12 and 13. It has earlier been made clear that the earlier-mentioned elastic band 17 (or the equivalent) is optionally used around the uppermost portion of the basic sleeve material, to enhance the closeness of the fit of the sleeve around the ring 15.

In FIG. 14 I show a cup or mug being installed in my novel insulated sleeve, with it being apparent from this figure that the sleeve is being held in the arms 18 and 20 of a universal cup holder. It has already been explained that the universal cup holder was designed to accommodate cups or mugs of varying size.

In FIG. 15 it will be seen that because of the taper of the sides of the cup being inserted into the sleeve, the arms 18 and 20 have been caused to move apart to some extent. It is because of this possibility that I have not glued or otherwise secured the short member 16 in the ends of the tube constituting the ring 15, for the frictional fit of the member 16 in the ends of the tubular material permit the ends to move apart to some degree so that the cup can be accommodated in the insulated sleeve.

By now it should be apparent that one basic embodiment of my novel sleeve utilizes retaining means primarily making use of my novel slot or aperture 36, so that the novel sleeve may be retained by its close engagement with the bottom member of a drink holder. On the other hand, another important embodiment of my invention makes use of a different form of retaining means, such that the sleeve may be retained in a beverage-retaining recess by Velcro or the like, with no drink holder being involved.

It is important to note that when a sleeve utilizing Velcro in the construction of its bottom member is utilized in connection with a cup holder, the Velcro then appearing on the underside of the cup holder makes it possible to mount the drink holder very stably on a mounting surface such as a desk, table or auto dashboard, merely by utilizing a piece of Velcro of the opposite type on such surface.

Other objects, features and advantages of my invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and I am not to be limited except by the scope of the appended claims.