Title:
TUBE ASSEMBLY FOR HOLDING DRINKWARE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided a tube assembly for holding and securing one or more items wherein the items have a top end and a bottom end. The tube assembly includes a tube having a top end, a bottom end and a wall defining a hollow cavity within the tube. A top cap is configured for releasably engaging and sealing the top end of the tube. The top cap includes a slot configured for receiving coins or other objects. The tube assembly also includes a bottom cap configured for releasably engaging and sealing the bottom end of the tube. Within the cavity are located a first spacer comprising a first space for receiving the top end of the item, and a second spacer comprising a second space for receiving the bottom end of the item.



Inventors:
Sparling, Brad (London, CA)
Harrison, Richard (London, CA)
Sparling, Angela (London, CA)
Application Number:
12/463688
Publication Date:
12/17/2009
Filing Date:
05/11/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/459.5
International Classes:
B65D75/00; B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, KAUSHIKKUMAR A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BENNETT JONES LLP (c/o Roseann Caldwell 4500 Bankers Hall East 855 - 2nd Street SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 4K7, CA)
Claims:
1. A tube assembly for holding and securing one or more items wherein each of the items have a top end and a bottom end, the tube assembly comprising: a) a tube having a top end, a bottom end and a wall defining a hollow cavity within the tube; b) a top cap configured for releasably engaging and sealing the top end of the tube, and comprising a slot configured for receiving coins or other objects; c) a bottom cap configured for releasably engaging and sealing the bottom end of the tube; d) a first spacer configured to fit within the cavity and comprising a first space for receiving the top end of the item; and e) a second spacer configured to fit within the cavity and comprising a second space for receiving the bottom end of the item.

2. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a coaster configured to fit within the cavity.

3. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tube comprises a rigid material.

4. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second spacers comprise a material that secures the items in place within the cavity.

5. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the items comprise drinkware, glassware and similar objects.

6. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein the items are bottles.

7. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the first and second spacers each comprise the first space on one side of the spacer and the second space on the second opposite side of the spacer.

8. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 7, comprising two or more items and comprising one more spacer than the number of items in the assembly, wherein each item is separated from other items by a spacer disposed between the items.

9. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the top end of the items have different sizes and shapes than the bottom end of the items.

10. The tube assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein one or more of any visible surface of the tube, the items, the top cap, the bottom cap and the spacers are printed, embossed or other display visual matter.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to packaging devices, and more particularly, to a tube assembly for holding and securing drinkware, glassware, cups and other similar objects.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fragile objects such as drinkware, glassware, bottles, breakable valuables, and the like, have unique packaging needs. A set of drinkware (such as drinking glasses), for example, is often packaged in a box that includes separators to create individual compartments for each drinkware item for ensuring that the drinkware items do not contact or collide with each other, thus causing damage, while the drinkware are being moved. In these boxes, the drinkware are often stored in a side-by-side configuration rather than being stacked on top of each other. This type of packaging is used by distributors to store drinkware, department stores to display and sell drinkware, and consumers to buy and transport drinkware, amongst other uses.

This method of packaging drinkware and other glassware has several limitations. One limitation is related to the configuration of the drinkware or glassware. Generally, the items are not stacked on top of each other, which is not always the most efficient use of space. Transporting a small number of items packaged in this way can be cumbersome. Another limitation is related to the disposability of the box in which the drinkware or glassware are packaged. The packaging box is often thrown out once the items are removed. When the drinkware or glassware have to be moved again, a new box must be obtained and ad-hoc separators created to keep the items from contacting or colliding with each other. This is both inefficient and harmful to the environment. Oftentimes, a person will retain the box and store it in a location where it is not visible because the box is not aesthetically pleasing. Storing empty boxes in a house or in a warehouse for potential future use takes up valuable storage space.

Solutions are known in the art for storing glassware such as bottles in rigid containers. Examples of such containers may contain a bottle of a beverage, such as an alcoholic beverage, and may also act as a commemorative keepsake after the beverage is consumed. For example, a bottle of whiskey may be purchased and stored in a rigid container that has aesthetic drawings or photographs on the outside visible surface of the container. After the beverage is fully consumed, however, the container is no longer useful for storing the bottle and takes up valuable storage space on a counter, in a drawer or in other locations. An owner of such a commemorative container may even dispose of the container because it no longer serves any useful purpose.

Accordingly, there remains a need for improvements in packaging that is useful for storing and securing drinkware, glassware and the like.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a tube assembly for holding and securing one or more items wherein each of the items have a top end and a bottom end, the tube assembly comprising: a) a tube having a top end, a bottom end and a wall defining a hollow cavity within the tube; b) a top cap configured for releasably engaging and sealing the top end of the tube, and comprising a slot configured for receiving coins or other objects; c) a bottom cap configured for releasably engaging and sealing the bottom end of the tube; d) a first spacer configured to fit within the cavity and comprising a first space for receiving the top end of the item; and e) a second spacer configured to fit within the cavity and comprising a second space for receiving the bottom end of the item.

The items held ands secured within the tube assembly include drinkware, glassware and similar objects, but the present invention is not limited to breakables such as glassware or ceramics, and may include items that are not breakable. Glasses and cups will be used as generic terms throughout the document to refer to several items that may be carried securely in the tube assembly of the present invention.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings which show, by way of example, embodiments of the present invention and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of several components of a tube assembly according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3(a) shows a top view of the top cap for the tube assembly of FIG. 2; FIG. 3(b) shows a top view of the bottom cap for the tube assembly of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4(a) shows a bottom view of a spacer for the tube assembly of FIG. 2; FIG. 4(b) shows a cross sectional view of a spacer for the tube assembly of FIG. 2; FIG. 4(c) shows a top view of a spacer for the tube assembly of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to a further embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6(a) shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to another embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 6(b) shows a top view of the top cap for the tube assembly of FIG. 6(a);

FIG. 7(a) shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to yet a further embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 7(b) shows a top view of the top cap for the tube assembly of FIG. 7(a);

FIG. 8 shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 shows a cross sectional view of a tube assembly according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Reference is first made to FIG. 1 which shows in perspective view some of the components of the tube assembly 100 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The tube assembly 100 comprises a generally cylindrical tube 102 having an internal cavity 101, a top cap 104, a bottom cap 106 and a glass 110. The top cap 104 and bottom cap 106 are shaped and sized to fit snugly within respective ends of the tube 102. The tube assembly 100 may also have spacers (not shown) for securing the drinking end 109 and the support end 111 of the glass 110 within the cavity 101 of the tube 102. The tube assembly 100 may also include a coaster (not shown) and other items (such as a hockey puck or a baseball).

Any or all the components of the tube assembly 100 may comprise a material that is suitable for embossing a logo or design onto. For example, the glass 110, the top cap 104, the tube 102, the bottom cap 106 and the coaster (not shown) may all include a logo or design of a sports team, player or a company on any of their surfaces. Such a configuration allows the tube assembly 100 to serve as a souvenir in addition to protecting and holding the glass 110.

As shown in FIG. 1, the top cap 104 includes a slot 105 that is sized and shaped to allow an object to be inserted through the slot 105 and deposited into the cavity 101 when the top cap 104 is disposed on an end of the tube 102. For example, slot 105 may be sized and shaped for allowing coins to be inserted therein thus allowing the tube 102 to serve as a coin bank when the glass 110 is not in the cavity 101 of the tube 102. Top cap 102 and bottom cap 104 are held in the respective ends of the tube 102 by pressing the top cap 104 against the top ridge 103 of the tube 102, and by pressing the bottom cap 106 against the bottom ridge 107 of the tube 102.

FIG. 2 shows in cross-sectional view a tube assembly 200 according to a second embodiment of the present invention, where the top of the tube assembly 200 is indicated by the direction of arrow 260. The tube assembly 200 comprises a tube 202 having a cavity 201, a top cap 204, and a bottom cap 206. Top cap 204 and bottom cap 206 are sized and shaped to fit snugly in respective ends of the tube 202. As shown in FIG. 2, a glass 210 is secured within the tube 202. The glass 210 has an open, drinking end 209 and a closed, support end 211. The top cap 204 and the bottom cap 206 are held in the respective ends of the tube 202 which prevents the glass 210 from falling out of the tube 202 while the tube assembly 200 is transported or moved. Also shown in FIG. 2 are spacers 222 and 232 that are sized and shaped to fit within the cavity 210 so as to hold and secure the glass 210 in place between the top cap 204 and the bottom cap 206. The spacers 222 and 232 each have a support space 221 and 231 respectively for receiving the support end 211 of a glass 210. As shown, the support end 211 of the glass 210 is resting on the support space 231 of the spacer 232. The spacers 222 and 232 each also include a drinking space 223 and 233 respectively for receiving the drinking end of a glass 210. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the drinking end 209 of the glass 210 is inserted into the drinking space 223 of the spacer 222.

Optionally, a coaster 240 may also be included as part of the tube assembly 200. The coaster 240 is sized and shaped to fit within the cavity 201 and is held in place between the top cap 204 and the spacer 222. A user may remove the top cap 204, the coaster 240, the spacer 222 and the glass 210 and rest the glass 210 on the coaster 240 to protect the surface on which the glass 210 is resting while the user is enjoying a beverage.

As with the embodiment of the tube assembly 100 shown in FIG. 1, any of the visible surfaces of the components of the tube assembly 200 shown in FIG. 2 may be embossed, printed or otherwise provided with a logo or design.

Reference is next made to FIG. 3(a) which a top view of the top cap 204. The top cap 204 includes an edge 303 that is configured to releasably engage with the inside of one end of the tube 202. The top cap 204 generally comprises a flexible material that allows the top cap 204 to interferingly engage with and seal one end of the tube 202 when a small amount of force is exerted on the top cap 204.

As shown in FIG. 3(a), the top cap 204 includes a slot 305 that is sized and shaped for receiving coins, bottle caps, or other objects, and allowing these objects to be deposited into the cavity 201. An individual may wish to collect coins or other objects in the cavity 201 of the tube 202 when the glass 210 is removed. In another aspect, the top cap 204, the coaster 240 and the spacer 222 all have openings that align with the slot 305 allowing the coins, bottle caps, or other objects to be deposited into the cavity 201 even when the tube assembly 200 is assembled.

FIG. 3(b) illustrates a top view of the bottom cap 206 of the tube assembly 200. The bottom cap 206 includes an edge 307 that is configured to releasably engage with the inside of the other end of the tube 202 for sealing this other end of the tube 202 in a similar manner to the top cap 104. Bottom cap 206 does not include a slot or other opening as does top cap 204.

Reference is next made to FIG. 4(b) which illustrates a cross-sectional view of a spacer 222 for the tube assembly 200. The spacer 222 includes a support space 221 and a drinking space 223. The support space 221 is configured to support a glass 210 that is inserted into the tube 202. The drinking space 223 is configured to receive the drinking end 211 of the glass 210 as shown in FIG. 2. The spacer 222 generally comprises a material such as styrofoam that will not damage the glass 210 while the tube assembly 200 is being moved.

FIG. 4(a) illustrates the drinking space 223 of the spacer 222 (a bottom view of the spacer 222 as defined by the arrow 260). The spacer 222 includes a hole 402 for allowing air to pass through the spacer while it is being pressed into or taken out of the tube 202. FIG. 4(c) illustrates the support space 221 of the spacer 222 (a bottom view of the spacer 222 as defined by arrow 260). As shown, the support space 221 is smaller in diameter than the drinking space 223. Such a configuration is useful for securing glassware in the shape of the glass 210. It will be appreciated, however, that the spacer 222 may secure any configuration of glassware, bottles or other dishes. For example, in another aspect, the drinking space is smaller in diameter than the support space for securing glassware such as a beer bottle. In another aspect, the drinking space and the support space are of the same diameter.

Reference is next made to FIG. 5, which illustrates the expandability of the basic structure of the tube assembly 200. The tube assembly 500 comprises a tube 502 having a cavity 501, a top cap 504, a bottom cap 506, glasses 510, 514, and 518, spacers 522, 532, 542, and 552, and coasters 540a, 540b and 540c (not all shown). The spacers 522, 532, 542 and 552 each include support spaces 521, 531, 541 and 551 respectively. As shown, the glasses 510, 514 and 518 are each resting in the support spaces 531, 541 and 551 respectively. As well, the drinking space 523 of spacer 522 receives the drinking end 509 of glass 510; the drinking space 533 of spacer 532 receives the drinking end 513 of glass 514; and the drinking space 543 of spacer 542 receives the drinking end 517 of glass 518.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, there will generally be one more spacer in any given tube assembly of the present invention than there are glasses in the same tube assembly. In another aspect, however, the bottom spacer (spacer 552 in FIG. 5) is not included. Instead, the bottom cap 506 is molded of a material that receives the support end 519 of glass 518.

In this aspect, coasters indicated individually by references 540a, 540b and 540c are included (though not individually shown) in the tube assembly 500 for each of the glasses 510, 514 and 518. In other embodiments, coasters are not included.

Top cap 504 also includes a slot (not shown) that is sized and shaped for receiving coins or other objects in a similar manner to the top cap 204. In this way, the tube assembly 500 is useful for receiving and storing coins or other objects when the glasses 510, 514 and 518 are removed from the cavity 501 of the tube 502.

FIG. 6(a) illustrates a tube assembly 600 according to another embodiment of the present invention. The tube assembly 600 includes a tube 602 having a cavity 601, a cup 610, a top cap 604, spacers 622 and 632, a bottom cap 606 and a coaster 640. As shown, the cup 610 has a handle 612 and is accommodated within the cavity 601 of the tube 602. For this example, the cross-sectional shape of the tube 602 is oval rather than circular so as to accommodate the handle 612 within the cavity 601. Spacer 622 has a drinking space 623 for receiving the drinking end 609 of the cup 610. Spacer 632 has a support space 631 for supporting the support end 611 of the cup 610. In this aspect, the support space 621 and the drinking space 623 of the spacer 622 are the same diameter, and thus, are interchangeable. Likewise, the support space 631 and the drinking space 633 of the spacer 632 are the same diameter and are also interchangeable. In this aspect, spacers 622 and 632 may be inserted into the tube 602 in any order, and without regard to the drinking end 609 or the support end 611 of the cup 610.

FIG. 6(b) illustrates a top view of the top cap 604 of the tube assembly 600 where the arrow 660 illustrates the top direction. The top cap 604 is oval in shape and is sized so as to be releasably engaged within a top end of the tube 602. The top cap 604 also includes a slot 605 that is configured for receiving coins or other objects when the cup 610 is removed from the cavity 601 of the tube 602. The top cap 604 includes an edge 608 to interferingly engage with the inside of the top end of the tube 602. As shown, the top cap 604 and cross-sectional shape of the tube 602 are oval to accommodate the handle 612 of the cup 610, however, it will be understood that the tube and other components of the tube assemblies may be any suitable shape that allows the desired drinkware, glassware and similar objects to be stored and secured within the cavity of the tube.

FIG. 7(a) illustrates a tube assembly 700 according to a further embodiment of the present invention. The tube assembly 700 includes a tube 702 including a cavity 701, a cup 710, a top cap 704, spacers 722 and 732, and a coaster 740. As shown, the cup 710 includes a drinking end 709, a support end 711 and a handle 712. The drinking end 709 is smaller in diameter than the support end 711 of the cup 710. As such, the drinking space 723 is smaller in diameter than the support space 721 of the spacer 722. Similarly, the drinking space 733 is smaller in diameter than the support space 731 of the spacer 732. Tube assembly 700 also includes a coaster 740 in one aspect.

It will be appreciated that other objects may be included with or in place of the coaster 740 in any embodiment of the present invention. For example, it may be desirable to include a hockey puck (not shown) in the space occupied by the coaster 740 to commemorate a hockey team, player or event. In another aspect, a baseball ball, golf ball or other ball may be included in the glass 710 of the tube assembly 700 that commemorates a baseball team, player or event.

FIG. 7(b) illustrates a top view of the top cap 704 of the tube assembly 700, where the top direction is indicated by the arrow 760. As can be seen, the cross-sectional shape of the tube assembly 700 is square. The top cap 704 is similarly square-shaped and includes a slot 705 for receiving coins or other objects when the cup 710 is removed from the cavity 701 of the tube 702. As in the other embodiments, the top cap 704 includes an edge 708 that is configured to engage with and seal the top end of the tube 702. As shown, the top cap 704 and the tube 702 are square in shape to accommodate the handle 712 of the cup 710. It will be appreciated that in other aspects, the tube 702 that contains the cup 710 could be circular in shape, as in the tube assembly 100, or ovular in shape, as in the tube assembly 600.

It will also be appreciated that each of the tube assemblies of the present invention may be expanded to include any number of glasses or cups in a way similar to the tube assembly 500 shown in FIG. 5.

For example, FIG. 8 illustrates a further embodiment of the present invention in which the tube assembly 800 can hold four cups indicated by references 810, 812, 814 and 816. The tube 802 of the tube assembly 800 are square in cross-sectional shape similar to the tube assembly 700, and therefore, the top cap 804 is also square and similar in configuration to the top cap 704.

Referring next to another embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 9, the tube assembly 900 holds two cups indicated by references 910 and 912 which are resting on spacers 932 and 942 respectively. The tube 902 of the tube assembly 900 is oval in cross-sectional shape and thus similar to the tube assembly 600 shown in FIGS. 6(a) and 6(b), and therefore, the top cap 904 is similar in configuration to the top cap 604.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the tube assembly of the present invention may include any number of glasses or cups. In addition, the present invention is not limited to breakables such as glassware or ceramics, but may include cups, glasses, dishes or other items that are made of non-breakable material. Glasses and cups have been used as generic terms to refer to several items that may be carried securely in the tube assembly of the present invention.

It will also be appreciated that the tube assembly of the present invention is not limited to any cross-sectional shape such as circular, oval or square. For example, the tube may be shaped as a maple leaf or a star. The glasses held in the tube may also be of any shape, and may or may not correspond to the shape of the tube.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. Certain adaptations and modifications of the invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the presently discussed embodiments are considered to be illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.