Title:
STACKABLE RIBBED BOTTLE SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bottle having a storage chamber defined by spaced upper and lower surfaces and planar sidewalls; a conical ceiling in said upper surface having an opening at the top thereof; a conical convex recess in said lower surface for receiving the conical ceiling of the next adjacent bottle when stacking said bottles, and means for interlocking the sides and upper and lower surfaces of the bottles when stacked. The bottle may have ribs in the conical ceiling, conical recess and sidewalls for increasing top load resistance. A plurality of bottles may be assembled into a stable bottle stack with minimal packaging material.



Inventors:
Lane, Dean Vincent (Chilliwak, CA)
Application Number:
12/225945
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D21/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080257853Stopper For Sealing Bottles, Particularly For Sealing Bottles of Wine For AgeingOctober, 2008Cappello
20010002662Plastic container having base with annular wall and method of making the sameJune, 2001Rashid
20090032486Two-piece child-resistant closure and packageFebruary, 2009Brozell et al.
20080142468Dual-action child-resistant package and child-resistant closure for such a packageJune, 2008Delagrange
20060060553Baby bottle cap holderMarch, 2006Fleming
20070181526Easy-pull bottle capAugust, 2007Frishman
20010027958Container, cover, and insert for a consumer productOctober, 2001Short et al.
20070181527MEDICINAL CONTAINERSAugust, 2007Kaufman



Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YOUNG BASILE (3001 WEST BIG BEAVER ROAD SUITE 624, TROY, MI, 48084, US)
Claims:
1. A system of interlocking storage bottles, each bottle comprising: (a) a storage chamber with an upper surface, a lower surface and at least four generally planar side walls; (b) a central conical ceiling extending upwardly from the upper surface; (c) a cylindrical neck extending from the center of the ceiling having an opening at its top end and means for attachment thereto of a cap; (d) a conical recess in the lower surface of a size sufficient to envelop the ceiling, neck, and a cap of another storage bottle insertable therein; (e) vertical interlocking means for releasably connecting each side wall to the side wall of another storage bottle stackable adjacent thereto; (f) horizontal interlocking means for releasably connecting the upper surface to the lower surface of another storage bottle disposable thereabove; and (g) at least one indentation in each of at least two adjacent side walls to form a handle for pouring from the storage chamber.

2. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein each storage bottle may be stacked in an upright position above, below or beside another upright storage bottle to form a stable bottle stack.

3. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 further comprising a recess in at least one side wall of each bottle for application thereto of a label.

4. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein each of the storage bottles is a liquid storage bottle.

5. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein each of the storage bottles is manufactured of a PET plastic material.

6. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein the size of the storage bottles is selected for use with industry standard drinking water dispensers.

7. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein the vertical interlocking means comprises at least one recess on the side wall for engaging a corresponding protrusion on the side wall of another storage bottle.

8. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein the horizontal interlocking means of each bottle comprises at least one recess disposed in proximity to a corner of the lower surface for engaging a corresponding protrusion disposed in proximity to a corner of the upper surface of another storage bottle.

9. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein the means for attachment of a cap to the neck of each bottle comprises protrusions.

10. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 wherein the bottles in the bottle stack are fillable with a consumable material.

11. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 2 wherein the bottles in the bottle stack further comprise ribs in the conical ceiling.

12. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 2 wherein the bottles in the bottle stack further comprise ribs in the conical recess.

13. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 2 wherein the bottles in the bottle stack further comprise ribs in at least one sidewall.

14. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 2 wherein the conical ceiling of each bottle has a hexadecagonal cross section.

15. The system of interlocking storage bottles of claim 1 further comprising an undercut at the bottom edge of each of the sidewalls of each bottle providing means for lifting one or more bottles in a stack of bottles.

16. A consumables storage bottle having a storage chamber, a conical ceiling in an upper surface, a lower surface, and at least four generally planar side walls comprising: (a) a cylindrical neck extending upwardly from the center of the conical ceiling and having an opening at its top end and protrusions for attachment thereto of a cap; (b) a conical recess extending upwardly from the lower surface of a size sufficient to envelop the ceiling, neck and a cap of another storage bottle insertable therein; (c) vertical interlocking means for releasably connecting each side wall to the side wall of another storage bottle stackable adjacent thereto; (d) horizontal interlocking means for releasably connecting the upper surface to the lower surface of another storage bottle disposable thereabove; and (e) at least one indentation in each of two adjacent side walls to form a handle for pouring from the storage chamber.

17. The storage bottle of claim 16 wherein the vertical interlocking means comprises at least one recess on the side wall for engaging a corresponding protrusion on the side wall of another storage bottle.

18. The storage bottle of claim 16 wherein the horizontal interlocking means comprises at least one recess disposed in proximity to a corner of the lower surface for engaging a corresponding protrusion disposed in proximity to a corner of the upper surface of another storage bottle.

19. The storage bottle of claim 16 further comprising ribs.

20. The storage bottle of claim 16 wherein the conical ceiling has a hexadecagonal cross section.

21. The storage bottle of claim 16 wherein the ribs are located within the conical ceiling and the conical recess.

22. An assembly comprising a plurality of the bottles of claim 16, wherein only the side walls of each bottle are adjacent each other bottle, to form a generally quadrilateral assembly.

23. The assembly of claim 22, further comprising at least one band of a flexible wrapping material encircling the exposed side walls of the assembly.

24. The assembly of claim 22, further comprising a flexible wrapping material enclosing the exposed top surface and exposed side walls of the assembly.

25. The assembly of claim 22, further comprising a strap of a flexible material extending between opposed sides of the assembly, each end of the strap connected to the band to form a handle for the assembly.

26. The use of the bottle of claim 16 in combination with a dense filling material as a flood control device.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to containers, and more particularly to a system of stackable bottles.

BACKGROUND ART

It is known to provide a storage bottle which permits stacking of bottles on the bottles' sides. Examples of such bottles include U.S. Pat. No. 4,892,207 to Cullis entitled: “Bottled Water Container”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,002,199 to Frahm entitled: “Stackable Bottle”, U.S. Pat. No. 4,308,955 to Schieser et al. entitled: “Interfitting, Stackable Bottles”; and U.S. Pat. No. 3,889,834 to Harris entitled: “Container Construction”. Such stackable bottles are not ideal as the sideways stacking of bottles may increase the likelihood that the contents of the bottles will leak out of the bottles, particularly where the bottle contents are liquid.

It is also known to provide stackable bottles which permit the nesting of the neck of one bottle into a recess in the bottom of another bottle. Examples of such bottles include those described in U.S. Pat. No. 1,042,998 to Climalene entitled: “Improvements in Stackable Containers”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,133,469 to Mehta et al. entitled: “Stackable Bottle”, U.S. Pat. No. 4,805,793 to Brandt et al. entitled: “Stackable Bottle”, U.S. Design Pat. No. D466,413 to Justice entitled: “Stackable, Nesting Beverage Container” and PCT Patent Application No. PCT/AU93/00380 to Preston entitled: “Stackable Water Bottles”. These nesting, stackable bottles do not include means for interlocking the sides or tops and bottoms of the bottles to provide stability to a stack of such bottles. In addition, nesting bottles often do not provide sufficient strength to withstand collapse under the pressure exerted by bottles stacked above.

In addition, stackable bottles are known which incorporate a nesting neck and interlocking means to connect their top and bottom surfaces. Examples of such bottles include U.S. Pat. No. 3,474,843 to Maris entitled: “Blow-Molded Containers” and U.S. Pat. No. 2,641,374 to Der Yuen entitled: “Container”. Such bottles, however, do not include means for interlocking their side walls.

Other bottles are known which incorporate a nesting neck and interlocking means to connect the sides of the bottles, including U.S. Pat. No. 6,588,612 to Dorn et al. entitled: “Plastic Container with Stacking Recesses” and U.S. Pat. No. 3,369,658 to Hasselmann entitled: “Portable Container Transport Unit”. These bottles, however, do not include means for interlocking their top and bottom surfaces.

In the bottle described in U.S. Design Pat. No. D407,020 to Doty entitled: “Stackable Polymeric Container for Liquids”, a stackable bottle is described in which the handles of the bottle are components of the horizontal interlocking means. Such a structure is less than ideal in that the handles of the bottle will not be accessible when the bottle is in a stack.

In PCT Patent Publication No. WO/03055756 to Clark entitled: “Modular Bottle”, a bottle is described which permits snug nesting of the neck of one bottle into a recess in the bottom of another, as well as side interlocking means. The bottle is intended for use as a construction toy after consumption of the beverage contained therein. The bottle does not provide a planar top and bottom support surface for stable vertical stacking of bottles containing consumables.

Existing systems for packaging and shipping stackable bottles require cardboard or other firm support structures to enclose the packaged bottles.

Ideally, a stackable bottle for use in a system of stackable bottles should have a neck and floor recess which generally are of a size to fit with corresponding necks and recesses in other stackable bottles of the system. Such bottles should provide interlocking means for connecting the sides of adjacent bottles and interlocking means for connecting the top of one bottle to the bottom of another. The overall geometry of the bottles should be generally planar along the sides to optimize stacking volume. Each such bottle should include at least one handle which is accessible when the bottle is incorporated into a stack of such bottles. Such a bottle should be strong enough to permit vertical stacking without collapsing the lower bottles. An assembly of such bottles should be packageable without a cardboard or other firm material support.

While the prior art contains some of these elements, none of the prior art bottles incorporate all of the desired characteristics of a stackable bottle and system of stackable bottles according to the present invention.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

In one of its aspects, the invention comprises a stackable storage bottle and a system of interlocking stackable storage bottles, each bottle having a storage chamber with an upper surface, a conical ceiling extending upwardly from the upper surface, a lower surface, and at least four generally planar side walls; a cylindrical neck extending from the center of the conical ceiling and having an opening at its top end; a conical recess in the lower surface of a size sufficient to envelop the ceiling, neck and cap of another storage bottle insertable therein; an indentation in at least one side wall to form a handle; vertical interlocking means for releasably connecting each side wall to the side wall of another storage bottle stackable adjacent thereto; and horizontal interlocking means for releasably connecting the upper surface to the lower surface of another storage bottle stacked thereabove.

In another aspect, each storage bottle may be stacked in an upright position above, below or beside another upright storage bottle to form a stable bottle stack.

In a further aspect, each bottle may have a recess in at least one of the side walls for application thereto of a label. In yet another aspect, the storage bottles may be manufactured of a PET plastic material. The bottle may be a consumables bottle, for example, a drinking water bottle, and may be of a size selected for use with industry standard drinking water dispensers.

In still a further aspect, the vertical interlocking means may comprise at least one recess on the side wall for engaging a corresponding protrusion on the side wall of another storage bottle and the horizontal interlocking means may comprise at least one recess in the lower surface for engaging a corresponding protrusion on the upper surface of another storage bottle.

In yet a further aspect, the neck of each bottle may further comprise an external thread or protrusions for attachment thereto of a screw cap or snap cap.

In still a further aspect, ribs may be incorporated on the conical ceiling, the conical recess, or the sidewalls to make the bottle stronger and increase the top load capability. The said ribs also improve collapsibility of the bottle when empty to reduce volume at the end of the life cycle. In an alternative embodiment, the conical ceiling may have a hexadecagonal cross section.

In a further aspect, the invention provides an assembly of a plurality of stackable bottles wherein only the side walls of each bottle are adjacent each other bottle, to form a quadrilateral having opposed lateral sides. The assembly may have at least one band of a flexible wrapping material encircling the exposed side walls of the assembly, and a strap of a flexible material extending between opposed sides of the assembly, each end of the strap connected to the band to form a handle for the assembly. The assembly may instead be fully enclosed on top and on the sides with a flexible plastic material.

Upon consumption of the liquid contents of the bottle, it may be filled with a dense material, such as sand, and employed as a retaining device. For example, a flood control device by stacking filled bottles into assemblies to stop the flow of water or a retaining wall for soil.

Other aspects of the invention will be appreciated by reference to the description of the preferred embodiment which follows and the drawings thereof, and to the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The invention will be described by reference to the preferred embodiment and the drawings thereof in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a stackable bottle, depicting a label recess and one handle indentation, according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of a stackable bottle, depicting two handle indentations and a cap, according to the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective bottom view of a stackable bottle, according to the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective bottom view of a stackable bottle showing a bottom edge undercut and vertical side ribs, according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a stackable bottle showing a hexadecagonal conical ceiling, according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a cross-section of two stackable bottles, demonstrating the nesting of the neck portion of one bottle with the floor recess of the other bottle, according to the invention;

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an assembly of four stackable bottles, according to the invention; and

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a stack of bottles on a pallet, according to the system of the invention.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 3, a stackable bottle 2 according to the present invention comprises a storage compartment having an upper surface 4 with a conical ceiling 6, a centrally disposed neck 8 extending from the conical ceiling with an opening 10 therein, and a lower surface 42. The bottle has four side walls 12, 14, 16, 18, vertical interlocking means comprising side wall protrusions 20, 22 corresponding to side wall recesses 24, 26, and horizontal interlocking means comprising at least one upper surface protrusion 28 corresponding to at least one lower surface recess 46.

The side wall protrusions are of a size, relative to the size of the side wall recesses, which permits a releasable locational transition fit engagement of the protrusions into the recesses. Similarly, the upper surface protrusions are of a size, relative to the size of the lower surface recesses, which permits a releasable locational transition fit engagement of the protrusions into the recesses. As shown in FIG. 3, the lower surface 42 of the bottle incorporates a centrally disposed conical recess 44 and at least one peripheral recess 46 for engagement with an upper surface protrusion (not shown).

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the neck 8 may have annular protrusions 30 for attachment of a snap cap 9. Alternatively, the neck 8 may have an external thread for attachment of a screw cap (not shown). At least one indentation 34 may be provided in a side wall to act as a handle. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, indentations 34, 36 are provided in the vicinity of a corner and adapted to be grasped by the thumb and index finger of one hand; although other manipulations are possible. For example, a user may engage one indentation 34 with one hand and another indentation 36 with the other hand to lilt the bottle. A pair of indentations 34, (not shown) between adjacent side walls 12, 14 may form a first handle at one of the side edges or corners of the bottle. A second pair of indentations 36, (not shown) may be formed between the remaining side walls 16, 18. As shown in FIG. 1, the bottle may include one or more shallow recesses 40 in the side wall surfaces for application of labels or other marking devices.

FIGS. 1 to 3 show ribs 31, 33, 35 incorporated on the bottle to withstand higher top load forces when stored together in a stack. For example, ribs may be located on the conical ceiling 31, the side wall 33 or the conical recess 35. FIG. 4 shows a bottom view of the bottle with ribs 35 in the conical recess and vertical side wall ribs 36. The ribs increase top load strength and improve collapsibility when the bottle is empty at the end of its life cycle. Also shown in FIG. 4 is an undercut 27 at one or more of the bottom lower edges to provide manual access for lifting the bottle. In an alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the conical ceiling may have a hexadecagonal cross section to improve top load strength.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the lower surface 42 of the bottle incorporates a centrally disposed conical recess 44 and at least one peripheral recess 46 for engagement with an upper surface protrusion.

In FIG. 6, two bottles are shown in stacked configuration demonstrating the planar construction optimal for stable stacking which optimizes stack volume. The neck 8 and conical ceiling 6 of the upper surface of the lower bottle 50 are dimensioned to fit within the recess 44 in the lower surface of the upper bottle 52. The fit permits stacking of bottles without causing damage to labels or seals disposed over the mouth of the bottle. The side walls of the upper bottle 52 are fully supported by the side walls of the lower bottle 50 aligned below. As well as providing a stability function, the horizontal interlocking means provides an alignment function to ensure stack stability.

The recess 44 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 6 presents a convex surface 51 which deflects the bottle towards the axis when the recess 44 of a bottle is mounted over the neck 8 of the bottle below. In other words, there is a self-centering aspect to the invention when stacking the bottles together which becomes useful especially when the bottles are filled with liquid. When a bottle is filled with liquid it is difficult to accurately center the bottles when stacking and accordingly the convex surface 51 of the recess 44 will tend to deflect the bottle being mounted over the next adjacent bottle towards the center of the axis.

FIG. 7 demonstrates the assembly of the invention, showing an assembly of four stackable bottles 2. Bottles are aligned and interlocked horizontally. The horizontally interlocked bottles may be wrapped in a flexible wrapping material 54, such as a flexible plastic, to provide stability for packaging and shipping. A more extensive plastic wrap (not shown) may be employed which fully encloses the sides and tops of the bottles to prevent dust accumulation. A flexible strap 55 may extend between opposed sides of the assembly to form a central handle above the upper surfaces of the bottles. If the bottle assembly is to be oriented with bottles in a horizontal position, the strap may instead be oriented above the side walls of one side of the assembly of bottles. The assembly of the invention permits packaging of the bottles without the use of paper or other firm packaging support material, thereby reducing packaging costs.

FIG. 8 demonstrates the system of the invention, showing a stack 56 of a plurality of stackable bottles 2 stacked on a pallet 60. Bottles are aligned and interlocked vertically as well as horizontally. Bottles may be grouped into assemblies of four or more bottles wrapped in a flexible wrapping material for ease of handling.

Furthermore the stacked bottles as shown in FIG. 8 are locked or interlocked in three dimensions, namely, along two dimensions as the side walls of the bottles have recesses as well as protrusions; as well as a third dimension, namely, axially as the bottoms and tops of the bottles interlock with the top protrusions and bottom recesses of the bottles. Such three dimensional interlock resists separation of the bottles in transit as well as concentrating the density of the stored materials packed in the manner described.

The system of the invention permits stacking of bottles in an upright position to discourage leakage and spillage during storage and transport. Even where a seal fails, spillage will be much less than would be the case were the bottles stacked with the neck in a horizontal position. One of the handles composed of at least one indentation 34 of each bottle on the periphery of the stack is accessible to a handler, once wrapping material is removed. No rack is necessary to hold the bottles, as the vertical and horizontal interlocking means provide stability to the stack.

The bottles of the invention may be stacked in both empty and filled conditions. Bottles may be stacked during filling, transportation, storage prior to use, during consumption of the consumable materials, and storage after use prior to recycling, in the life cycle of the bottles. In initial use, bottles may be filled with consumable or non-consumable materials, such as drinking water or other fluids. Once used initially, bottles may be filled with a dense material such as sand to provide a stackable flood control device.

The bottles of the invention may also incorporate means for identifying the contents of the storage bottles. Such identification means may include colour coding, distinguishing structural features, or other identifying features for content identification purposes. Ideally, the material used for the manufacture of the bottles is transparent to permit visual identification of the bottle contents.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other variations of the preferred embodiment may also be practised without departing from the scope of the invention.