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Title:
EASY POUR LOW PROFILE FLOW CONTROL DISPENSING CAP
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The inventions relate to containers that store liquids and/or particle solids and the removable caps that are used to stop contents from leaving the containers when the cap is in a closed position and to allow contents to be poured from the container in an open position. The caps may be used in a system that includes containers designed to stack together or to be otherwise stored together in a manner that minimizes the storage space required for such containers. The caps may include a base and a nipple having a low profile such that the top of the nipple does not protrude beyond the top of the base. The base may include a counterbore that is sufficiently large in diameter to allow the nipple to be grasped when in a closed position. The present inventions may be practiced with a stopper that interacts with the nipple to close the path through which fluid may flow.


Inventors:
Springer, Kenny J. (Anaheim, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/176322
Publication Date:
09/17/2009
Filing Date:
07/18/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/329, 215/355
International Classes:
B65D51/00; B65D39/00; B65D41/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070062907Container with improved waistMarch, 2007Heisner
20080237233DRINK BOTTLESOctober, 2008Choi et al.
20090289026INTAKE TRACKING HYDRATION CONTAINERNovember, 2009Ferrara
20070175854Blow-molded container having thread grooveAugust, 2007Penny
20090149804Mother's Milk Container Closure and Attachment AssemblyJune, 2009Delman et al.
20100096355LEVER TYPE EASY PULL CROWN CAPApril, 2010Chaolu
20090166481Device for simulating breast-feedingJuly, 2009Chen
20100012613WATER CONTAINER CAP FOR HOLDING ADDITIVES TO WATERJanuary, 2010Anson et al.
20040016720Low pressure valveJanuary, 2004Egan
20050098527Multiple cavity bottle and method of manufacturing sameMay, 2005Yates III
20050121452Containers and methods of production thereofJune, 2005Stoltz
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patentique, Pllc (P.O. Box 5803, Bellevue, WA, 98006, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for controlling the flow from a container, said apparatus comprising a base comprising a first base end located outside of the container and a second base end inserted into the container; an annular opening having a first end and second end, said annular opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to said first or second base end; a counterbore having a counterbore axis substantially parallel to said annular opening axis; and a nipple comprising a first end and a second end, said second end inserted into the annular opening of said base, said nipple operably configured to move between positions comprising an open position and a closed position.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with said first base end when the apparatus is in a closed position.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said apparatus is removably attached to said container.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein said base further comprises threads for removably attaching said base to said container.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the flow from the container is retarded when said apparatus is in a closed position.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the diameter of said counterbore is sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in a closed position.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said base further comprises a stopper proximate to said second base end, wherein said nipple contacts said stopper when in a closed position to retard the flow of liquid from the container.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said stopper is circular.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said stopper is connected to the base with at least one support.

10. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said nipple comprises an annular opening.

11. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the wall of said nipple annular opening contacts the outer diameter of the stopper in a closed position to retard flow from the container.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said annular opening in contact with said stopper is chamfered.

13. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein said nipple further comprises a nipple counterbore at said second end, and wherein the wall of said nipple counterbore contacts the stopper in a closed position to retard flow from the container.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the wall of said nipple counterbore is chamfered.

15. A method of retarding the flow of liquid from the container, said method comprising coupling a base and a nipple such that the nipple may move between positions comprising an open position and a closed position, wherein said base comprises (i) a first base end located outside of the container and a second base end inserted into the container; (ii) an annular opening having a first end and second end, said annular opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to said first or second base end and (iii) a counterbore having a counterbore axis substantially parallel to said annular opening axis; and wherein said nipple comprises a first end and a second end; said the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with said first end of said base in a closed position and the diameter of said counterbore is sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in the closed position; removably attaching the coupled base and nipple to said container; and moving the nipple into a closed position.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said base comprises threads for removably attaching said base to said container and said method further comprises attaching the coupled base and nipple to said container with said threads.

17. A packaging system comprising at least one flow control apparatus comprising a base comprising a first base end located outside of the container and a second base end inserted into the container; an annular opening having a first end and second end, said annular opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to said first or second base end; a counterbore having a counterbore axis substantially parallel to said annular opening axis; and a nipple comprising a first end and a second end, said second end inserted into the annular opening of said base, said nipple operably configured to move between positions comprising an open position and a closed position; at least one container configured to be stacked to minimize spacing between containers; wherein when said flow control apparatus is attached to said container, the flow control apparatus is substantially flush with or below an adjacent surface or container.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein a surface of said container is indented at the attachment of the flow control apparatus.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with said first end of said base in a closed position and wherein the diameter of said counterbore is sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in the closed position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/035,652, filed Mar. 11, 2008, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure relates to containers that store liquids and/or particle solids and the closure mechanisms or caps for openings in the containers from which the contents exit. This disclosure also relates to container systems that are designed to minimize space when stacked together and closure mechanisms and caps that facilitate the storage and transport of multiple containers.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosure relates to containers that store liquids and/or particle solids and the removable caps that are used to stop contents from leaving the containers when the cap is in a closed position and to allow contents to be poured from the container in an open position. The caps may be used in a system that includes containers designed to stack together or to be otherwise stored together in a manner that minimizes the storage space required for such containers.

In a first aspect, the disclosure includes an apparatus that includes at least two parts engaged or coupled together. The apparatus may be changed from an open to a closed position to control the flow of contents from the container.

In a second aspect, the disclosure includes a method of retarding the flow of contents from a container by using an apparatus that allows contents to flow from a container in an open position and retards such flow in a closed position.

In a third aspect, the apparatus and methods of the disclosure are practiced in relation to a container system in which containers are configured to minimize spacing between containers, thereby decreasing storage area requirements and reducing storage and shipping costs.

In an embodiment of the disclosures, the apparatus includes a base and a nipple such that the top of the base and the nipple are substantially flush or level when the apparatus is in a closed position. Pulling up on the nipple will move the apparatus into an open position.

In another embodiment of the disclosures, the assembly includes a base and a nipple in which the base includes an opening in which the nipple is seated and a counterbore that permits grasping of the nipple when the assembly is in a closed position.

In yet a further embodiment, the assembly includes a stopper that is integrated into the base and used in conjunction with the nipple to retard, inhibit, mitigate or prevent the contents of the container from leaving when the assembly is in a closed position.

The apparatus may be used with any container that stores liquids and/or particle solids. In an alternative embodiment, the apparatus is used with containers that are designed to minimize their volumetric footprint for storage such that when the apparatus is attached to the container, the apparatus does not protrude and create wasted space, but is instead substantially flush or below the surface of an adjacent container or surface. Use of the apparatus in this context ensures that the containers can be efficiently stacked in storage areas. Non-limiting examples of storage areas include production factories, production facilities, factories, product wholesale warehouses, wholesale and retail distribution centers, retail stores, delivery vehicles, storage facilities, shipping facilities, shelves, product displays, boxes and cartons. Use of the apparatus in this context furthermore permits the redesign of existing product packaging to create economic efficiencies in multiple stages of product manufacturing, shipment and transport and sales.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1A shows an apparatus of the present invention in an open position that permits flow from a container.

FIG. 1B shows an apparatus of the present invention in a closed position that retards or inhibits flow from a container.

FIG. 1C illustrates the separate parts of an apparatus of the present invention in an exploded view.

FIG. 2A shows a representative base of the present invention when viewed from the first, or top, end. Line A-A represents a theoretical line through which a sectional view is taken.

FIG. 2B represents a sectional view of the base through line A-A of FIG. 2A.

FIGS. 2C and 2D illustrate views of the base that include portions of the second end and the first end, respectively.

FIG. 3A shows a representative nipple of the present invention.

FIG. 3B shows a representative nipple of the present invention when viewed from the first, or top, end. Line B-B represents a theoretical line through which a sectional view is taken.

FIG. 3C represents a sectional view of the nipple through line B-B of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A illustrates a representative apparatus of the present invention when viewed from the first, or top, end. Line C-C represents a theoretical line through which a sectional view is taken.

FIG. 4B shows an apparatus of the present invention in an open position that permits flow from a container in a sectional view through line C-C of FIG. 4A

FIG. 4C shows an apparatus of the present invention in a closed position that retards or inhibits flow from a container in a sectional view through line C-C of FIG. 4A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF MODES OF PRACTICING THE DISCLOSURE

The present invention is an Easy Pour Low Profile Flow Control Dispensing Cap, which is a closure mechanism for containers that store liquids, particle solids or a mixture of liquids and solids. The caps include at least a nipple and a base that can be screwed onto a container that has matching threads. Alternatively, the cap can snap onto a container that is configured to receive the cap. The nipple and the base are held together by a series of ridges designed to permit the nipple and base to be snapped together initially while making it difficult for the parts to be separated during normal use of the cap. When snapped down completely into a closed position, the assembly will keep the product in the container from leaking out. Importantly, the low profile of the cap makes the cap ideal for use in packaging systems that minimize the storage footprint of the containers and therefore require caps that do not protrude beyond the volumetric envelope of the container. For example, the containers may be designed in the shape of a rectangular prism to minimize wasted space when stored in cartons and boxes, or to be stacked efficiently. Use of the inventive low profile cap that is flush with or below the sides of other containers or other surfaces will also minimize wasted storage space for such containers.

The present invention also includes a gripping feature that makes it easy for users to grip the nipple and open the cap to pour out the products. The nipple may include a lateral flange or other protrusion from at its top end that can be used to pull or push the nipple with fingers relative to the base. In the alternative, the nipple may include a flange or other lateral protrusion at its top end that permits gripping by tools or other mechanical means.

The caps may include a stopper. The base, nipple and stopper may be configured to control the flow of the product from a container in an open position. When the cap is attached to a container in a closed position, flow of contents is retarded or inhibited. When the cap is in an open position, the contents of the container can pass through the cap. Thus flow can be controlled through one or more cap positions, including without limitation an open and closed position. In addition, the quantity and rate of flow can be varied by changing the configurations of the base, nipple and/or stopper. The ability to control flow as described in contrast to caps that have no device to control flow is advantageous for all users to improve control and placement of the content stream and to prevent spills. Use of the caps for children, the disabled and the elderly who may have difficulty pouring or handling larger and heavier containers is also beneficial.

In an alternative embodiment, the caps may be used to control the flow from other sources. Non-limiting examples of such sources include hoses, faucets and spigots. The caps may be screwed or snapped onto such sources.

As described herein, the disclosure includes an apparatus for controlling the flow of liquid and/or particle solids from a container or other source. The apparatus includes a base comprising a first end and a second end, or a top and a bottom. The ends of the base may be used to approximate a top and bottom plane for the base. The first base end is located external to the container. The second end of the base is inserted into an opening in the container. The base has an annular opening, or hole, that passes through the base from the top end to the bottom end. This hole has an axis substantially perpendicular to at least one end of the annular opening or at least one end of the base. The base has at least one counterbore with an axis substantially parallel to the axis of the annular opening at its top or first end. The apparatus also includes a nipple comprising a first end and a second end, or a top and a bottom. The nipple is coupled to or engaged with the base to permit a telescoping or sliding movement of the nipple relative to the base to place the apparatus in an open or closed position. The nipple is configured to fit into the hole of the base, and the second end of the nipple may be inserted into the hole through the top end of the hole in the base. Non-limiting examples of the apparatus include a screw cap and a snap-top cap and caps that include both screw and snap features.

In some embodiments, when in a closed position the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with the first end of the base. In most instances, the first end of the base, or the upper surface, will be substantially flat. In other cases, the upper surface of the base will be slightly curved. In some cases, the first end of the nipple, or the upper surface of the nipple, will be flat. In other cases, the upper surface of the nipple may have a slight curvature. When in a closed position, the top end of the base and the top end of the nipple may form a substantially smooth or flat surface. The upper surfaces of the base and the nipple may be configured to be substantially flat in combination when in a closed position. In the alternative, the upper surfaces of the base and/or nipple may be curved, but configured such that the combined surfaces are relatively smooth and continuous in the closed position.

In some cases, the closure will be substantially flush with the external surface of the container that contacts without limitation adjacent containers or surfaces of storage devices such as shelves, boxes, cartons. The top of the closure in a container may contact adjacent surfaces without increasing the total amount of space between the two containers. In other cases, the top of the closure when in a closed position will have a low profile such that no contact with other surfaces occurs. In yet other cases, the top of the closure in a container may contact adjacent surfaces resulting in a de minimis increase the total amount of space between the two containers.

The apparatus of the disclosure achieves a low profile that can improve storage efficiencies by decreasing the total volume of space required for storage. In some embodiments, the container will include an indentation or a step-down area that allows the low profile cap to be seated lower relative to other surfaces of the container.

In other embodiments, the apparatus may be practiced with a base having at least one counterbore diameter sufficiently large to permit the nipple to be grasped when the apparatus is in a closed position. In the closed position, the nipple may be substantially flush with the top of the base and difficult to pull out of the closed position without sufficient clearance. The counterbore may provide clearance for the fingers or for tools to grasp the nipple and/or its flange in order to pull or push the nipple. In some cases, the counterbore will be circular, and the diameter of the counterbore will exceed the greatest diameter of the nipple or its flange to permit the use of fingers or tools to grasp the nipple in a closed position. In some embodiments, the radius of the counterbore will exceed the greatest radius of the nipple or its flange from about 0.4 inch to 1 inch. In other embodiments, the radius of the counterbore will exceed the greatest radius of the nipple by at least 0.3 inch. In other cases, the counterbore, while not circular, also provides sufficient clearance for fingers or tools to grasp the nipple and/or its flange.

In many cases, an apparatus in which when in a closed position the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with the first end of the base may be practiced together with an apparatus that includes a counterbore diameter sufficiently large to permit the nipple to be grasped when the apparatus is in a closed position.

In some embodiments, the nipple may be moved between at least an open and a closed position. The flow of liquid and/or particle solids will be inhibited or retarded when the apparatus in a closed position is attached to a container, and flow will be permitted when the apparatus is in an open position. In the open position, a flow path will be provided by openings in the base, the nipple and/or the stopper. The apparatus permits a controlled flow from the container and furthermore features of the apparatus may be changed to provide varying flow speeds and rates. Features that may be changed include without limitation hole sizes, stopper size and thickness, support sizes and thicknesses.

In some embodiments, the apparatus is removably attached to the container. The apparatus may be practiced with a base that comprises a rotational axis and threads that allow the base to be threaded onto a mating feature on a container. The threads permit the apparatus to also be removed from the container. Alternatively, the apparatus may be snapped onto the container with means known to those of skill in the art. In some cases, the apparatus may include both threads and snap-on features that permit the apparatus to be snapped on or off the container as well as threaded on or off the container. In many embodiments the container will include a device or feature that mates with the threads or snaps of the apparatus.

In many embodiments, the annular opening or hole of the base will have more than one diameter. In these cases, the nipple may also have more than one diameter matching the diameters of the base. In addition, many embodiments will include at least one ridge that protrudes from the wall of the annular opening to retain the nipple in the apparatus. In such cases, the nipple will also include at least one ridge that protrudes from the external wall and is initially forced past the retention ridge of the base to engage the nipple with the base. In this context the nipple is snapped into the hole and retained by the nipple ridge, which does not permit the nipple to separate from the base because the force required to pull the nipple ridge past the retention ridge in the base is greater than the force used to operate the apparatus in the normal course of usage.

In some embodiments, the annular opening or hole of the base includes a second ridge that acts as a detent or catch to keep nipple in a closed position. The nipple can be moved in and out of the closed position with normal operating force, which pulls or pushes the nipple ridge past the detent ridge in the base hole.

In many embodiments, the outer diameter or diameters of the nipple will match the diameter or diameters of the annular opening in a manner that ensures a precision fit.

In other embodiments, the base will further comprise an outer perimeter with ridges and/or grooves that are helpful in gripping the base, especially when the base is screwed onto a container. The outer perimeter may for example include without limitation one or more rough or sandpaper like surfaces, grooves, pebbled surfaces, dimpled surfaces, ridges and other protrusions.

In some cases, the nipple of the disclosure further comprises a flange or other lateral protrusion at the first or top end of the nipple. This flange allows the nipple to be grasped by fingers or mechanical grasping means. Force applied to the flange will move the flange relative to the base and allow it to travel or telescope along the annular opening of the base. The movement of the nipple may be limited by the ridges in the base and nipple.

In yet further embodiments, the disclosure includes an apparatus for controlling the flow of liquid and/or particle solids from a container. The apparatus may include a stopper that is located within the annular opening of the base that, when in contact with the nipple, retards or inhibits the contents of the container from leaving when the apparatus is in a closed position. In some embodiments, the stopper will be located proximate to the second end of the annular opening in the base. The stopper may be located within the container when the cap is attached to the container. In some embodiments, the stopper comprises a circular disc with a diameter smaller than the diameter of the annular opening. In other cases, the stopper may comprise a different shape that matches the shape of the bottom of the nipple. In some cases, the stopper will be integrated with the base with at least one support connecting the base and the stopper. The support is configured to provide a space through which the contents of the container may flow when the apparatus is in an open position. The shape and structure of the supports may be varied to provide different size and shape openings through which the contents of the container will flow. In some cases, the stopper and its support or supports are separated from the base and connected to a flange or other structure. The separate stopper is configured to position the stopper within the hole in the base such that when in contact with the nipple, flow is retarded in the closed position.

In some embodiments, the nipple will include an annular opening passing from the first end through the second end of the nipple, and the internal wall of the nipple annular opening will contact the stopper in a closed position to retard or inhibit the contents of the container from leaving. The second end or bottom of the nipple is inserted into the hole in the base where the stopper is also located. In other embodiments, the nipple will further comprise a counterbore at the second end of the nipple and the internal wall of the counterbore will contact the stopper in a closed position to retard or inhibit the contents of the container from leaving. In many embodiments, the portion of the internal wall of the nipple annular opening or the nipple counterbore that contacts the stopper will be chamfered. In the alternative, the opening in the nipple and the shape of the stopper are not substantially circular and may without limitation be square, oval or rectagonal.

In some embodiments, the stopper may be used together with an apparatus that when in a closed position the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with the first end of the base. In other embodiments, the stopper may be practiced with a base having a counterbore diameter sufficiently large to permit the nipple to be grasped when the apparatus is in a closed position. In yet other embodiments, the stopper may be used together with both an apparatus that when in a closed position the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with the first end of the base and with a base having a counterbore diameter sufficiently large to permit the nipple to be grasped when the apparatus is in a closed position.

In some embodiments, the containers may contain liquids. Non-limiting examples of containers include bottles, cartons, sports bottles, water bottles and jugs. The caps may be produced in different sizes and heights to conform to the size of the product container. Similarly, the configuration of the stopper, base and nipple can be modified to provide optimal flow characteristics depending on the size and dimensions of the specific container and/or its contents. The colors of the caps and general shapes of the base, nipple and stopper may be varied.

Non-limiting examples of liquids stored in the containers used in conjunction with food product packaging include water, milk, juice, soda, energy drinks, cooking oil and soy sauce. Non-limiting examples of liquids stored in the containers used in conjunction with non-food product packaging include motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, dishwashing soap, hand soap, household and industrial cleaning liquids and supplies and laundry detergents.

In some embodiments, the nipple and base are made of the same material. In other embodiments, the nipple and base are made of different materials. Non-limiting examples of materials include food grade plastics and non-food grade plastics, HDPE (high density polyethylene), food grade polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polycarbonates, PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

As described herein, the disclosure includes a method of retarding or inhibiting the flow of liquids and/or particle solids from a container comprising coupling a base and a nipple to permit movement of the nipple to and from a closed position, wherein said base comprises (i) a first end and a second end inserted into the container; (ii) an annular opening having a first end and second end, said annular opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to at least one end of the annular opening or at least one end of the base; and (iii) a counterbore having a counterbore axis substantially parallel to said annular opening axis; and wherein said nipple comprises a first end and a second end, said second end inserted into the annular opening of said base; said the first end of the nipple is substantially flush with said first end of said base in a closed position and the diameter of said counterbore is sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in the closed position; moving said nipple into a closed position; and moving the nipple into a closed position. Of course, the nipple may be pushed into a closed position before attaching the cap to the container, or the user can ensure that the closure is in a closed position before or after attachment. The container may include an opening into which the second of the base is inserted and a device that mates to the threads or snap-on features of the cap. Alternatively, such mating features may be integral to the container.

In some embodiments, the method further includes a base comprising a rotational axis and threads for removably attaching the apparatus to the container. The method may be practiced with a base that comprises threads that allow the base to be threaded onto a mating feature on the container. The threads permit the apparatus to also be removed from the container. Alternatively, the method may be practiced with an apparatus that may be snapped onto the container with means known to those of skill in the art. In some cases, the method may be practiced with an apparatus that may include both threads and snap-on features that permit the apparatus to be snapped on or off the container and threaded on or off the container.

As described herein, the disclosure includes a packaging system comprising a flow control apparatus comprising a base comprising a first end and a second end, an annular opening having a first end and second end, said annular opening having an axis substantially perpendicular to at least one end of the annular opening or at least one end of the base; a counterbore having a counterbore axis substantially parallel to said annular opening axis, and a nipple comprising a first end and a second end, said nipple coupled to said base to permit movement of the nipple to and from a closed position and at least one container configured to be stacked to minimize spacing between containers, wherein when said flow control apparatus is attached to said container, the flow control apparatus is substantially flush with or below an adjacent surface.

The containers of the packaging system are configured to minimize the space between the containers when stacked or stored together for efficient storage and transport. Non-limiting containers of the disclosure include milk jugs as described by S. Rosenbloom, “Solution or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth,” New York Times (online), Jun. 30, 2008. The containers of the system may include a step-down or an indentation at the point of attachment of the cap to account for the cap height. Alternatively, the container may include a recess in which the cap is seated such that the top of the closure is substantially flush with the surface of the container.

In some embodiments, the system will be practiced with the first end of the nipple substantially flush with said first end of said base in a closed position. In other embodiments, the system will be practiced with the diameter of the base counterbore sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in the closed position. Of course, the system may be practiced with both the first end of the nipple substantially flush with said first end of said base in a closed position and/or the diameter of the base counterbore sufficient to allow said nipple to be grasped in the closed position. A stopper of the present disclosure may be used with these embodiments as well.

Those of skill in the art will recognize that the inventions of the present disclosure may be practiced with washers that may be integrated or separate from the base, nipple, stopper and container.

The citation of documents herein is not to be construed as reflecting an admission that any is relevant prior art. Moreover, their citation is not an indication of a search for relevant disclosures. All statements regarding the date(s) or contents of the documents is based on available information and is not an admission as to their accuracy or correctness.

Having now generally provided the disclosure, the same will be more readily understood through reference to the following examples which are provided by way of illustration, and are not intended to be limiting of the disclosure, unless specified.

EXAMPLES

Example 1

In FIG. 1C, the apparatus 1 comprising a base 2 and a nipple 3 is shown in an exploded view.

Base 3 is shown in FIGS. 2A through 2D. Base 3 includes a first end 6 and a second end 7. FIG. 2A illustrates the base from the top end looking down, while FIG. 2C shows the base with a portion of the top or first end, and FIG. 2D shows the base with a portion of the bottom or second end that is inserted into a container.

The base includes an annular opening or hole 13 that has diameters 24 and 25 and top and bottom openings 27 and 28, respectively. A counterbore 4 is centered about hole 13.

The hole further comprises a retention ridge 8 and detent ridge 20 as well as a groove 9 defined by detent ridge 20 and the decrease in diameter of the hole from 24 to 25.

The base 3 also includes threads 5 used to attach the base to the container.

In FIGS. 2A through 2C, the stopper 10 is illustrated as connected to the second end of the base by four supports 11. Four spaces 12 are defined by the gaps between the supports 11, the stopper 10 and the end of the base 7.

Ridges 26 are included at the outer perimeter of the base that allow a user to grip the base easily. The outer perimeter is located external to the container.

Nipple 3 is shown in FIGS. 3A through 3C. The nipple has a first or top end 14 and a second or bottom end 15. The nipple also includes an annular opening or hole 19, with corresponding hole openings 29 and 30. The internal wall of the hole has a chamfer 16 proximate to second end 15. The exterior of the nipple includes diameters 21 and 22 as well as chamfer 23 proximate to second end 15. Ridge 17 is illustrated as near the transition between diameters 21 and 22. Nipple flange 18 is shown at the first or top end of the nipple.

FIGS. 1A and 4B show the apparatus of the present invention in an open position. Nipple end 15 is inserted into base hole opening 27. The nipple 3 is retained in base 2 by retention ridge 8. The nipple ridge 17 must be forced past ridge 8 to detach the nipple from the base. The amount of force necessary to detach the nipple is substantially greater than the normal force used to operate the apparatus. In this open position, the contents of the container may flow through space 12, diameters 25 and 24 of the hole in the base, and through hole 19 of the nipple.

FIGS. 1B and 4C show the apparatus of the present invention in a closed position. In the closed position, chamfer 16 contacts stopper 10 to seal the path through which fluid can travel. The nipple 3 is kept in the closed position by nipple ridge 17, which is seated in groove 9 and retained by detent ridge 20. During normal use of the apparatus, sufficient force is applied to overcome detent ridge 20 and allow nipple ridge 17 to move in and out of groove 9.

In the figure shown, the first end of the nipple 14 is substantially flush with the first end of the base 6 in the closed position.

All references cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties, whether previously specifically incorporated or not.

Having now fully described the inventive subject matter, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the same can be performed within a wide range of equivalent parameters and conditions without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure and without undue experimentation.

While this disclosure has been described in connection with specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that it is capable of further modifications. This application is intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the disclosure following, in general, the principles of the disclosure and including such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice within the art to which the disclosure pertains and as may be applied to the essential features hereinbefore set forth.