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The invention pertains to bottle caps for beverage or similar bottles and, more particularly, to a self-righting cap which, when dropped, lands with an inner surface orientated away from the ground.
Beverage bottles, for example soda bottles or any bottle for any liquid, are ubiquitous. Countless millions, possibly billions of such bottles are used, often in outdoor or other environments wherein a ground surface such as the earth, a floor, etc. may be dirty. When a bottle cap is dropped, the possibility exists that dirt or other containments may contact an inner, bottle-engaging portion of the cap, thereby potentially contaminating the portion of the bottle usually in contact with the mouth of a drinker of the bottle contents. In larger bottles not usually consumed by a single user, when the portion of the bottle through with liquid contents are poured into a glass, cup, or other container, becomes contaminated, the bottle contents may become contaminated as well.
As Murphy's Law seems to govern such situations, it at least appears that bottle caps generally land with the bottle-contacting surface facing down. It would, therefore, be desirable to provide a bottle cap configured to ensure that, when falling, the cap always lands with the bottle-contacting portion of the cap facing upward so as to avoid contamination thereof.
Several structures may be found in the prior art at cursory glance may appear to resemble the present invention. However, none of these prior art structures are designed to align a bottle cap in an upward-facing orientation when the cap is dropped onto the ground.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 372,892 for BOTTLE STOPOPOER COVER, issued Nov. 8, 1887 to Thomas C. Bunting provides a cover for securing a stopper in the neck of a bottle.
U.S. Pat. No. 1,168,410 for BOTTLE CAP AND STOPPER, issued Jan. 18, 1916 to Arthur C, Nothstine discloses a stopper for the necks of laboratory reagent bottle, the stopper also having a hemispherical cap that protects the lip of the reagent bottle from dust or other contamination. When contents are poured from the reagent bottle, the lip thereof is free from contamination.
U.S. Pat. No. 1,650,517 for SANITARY BOTTLE CAP, issued Nov. 22, 1927 to Clifford G. Hughes teaches a bottle that remains attached to a bottle when the top opening of the bottle is exposed for removing contents therefrom. The cap is thereby prevented from falling.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,601,275 for CAPSULE FOR BOTTLES, issued Aug. 24, 1971 to Rene Lorieux shows a top or crown for covering the cork of a sparkling wine or champagne bottle. The cover has an orientation feature to allow orientation of the crown relative to printed matter on the bottle.
None of the patents and published patent applications, taken singly, or in any combination are seen to teach or suggest the novel self-righting bottle cap of the present invention.
In accordance with the present invention there is provided a bottle cap having internal threads compatibly engageable with external threads on soda or similar bottles. Lightweight, down-hanging thin strips formed from plastic or another suitable material depend from a lower edge of the cap structure. These plastic strips, in cooperation with an optional weight in the upper portion of the cap, cause a dropped cap to orient itself in an upward-facing direction. Such an orientation keeps the bottle engaging surfaces of the cap from contacting the floor or other surface upon which the cap may land.
In alternate embodiments, the cap may be provided as a slip-on configuration for placing over an existing bottle cap to provide the same self-righting benefit to the existing bottle cap.
It is, therefore, an object of the invention to provide a bottle cap having a self-righting feature to ensure the bottle cap lands in a predetermined orientation when dropped.
It is another object of the invention to provide a bottle cap having a self-righting feature that has a plurality of depending, down hanging strips attached to a lower edge thereof.
It is an additional object of the invention to provide a bottle cap having a self-righting feature having a weight embedded in an upper region of the cap.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a bottle cap having a self-righting feature that may be installed on bottles at a bottling facility.
It is a still further object of the invention to provide a bottle cap having a self-righting feature that maybe provided in a slid-on configuration for addition to an existing bottle cap.
Various objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective of a self-righting bottle cap in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the bottle cap of FIG. 1 in place on a bottle;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the bottle cap of FIG. 1 designed to slide over an existing bottle cap; and
FIGS. 4a-4c are bottom plan views of three possible embodiments of the slide on cap adapter of FIG. 3.
The present invention provides a self-righting bottle cap designed to ensure that a dropped bottle cap lands in a predetermined orientation.
Referring first to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective, schematic view of the bottle cap of the present invention, generally at reference number 100. Bottle cap 100 has a substantially cylindrical body portion 102 having a top surface 104 and internal threads, not shown, adapted and configured to screwably engage external threads, not shown on a bottle 106 (FIG. 2). It should be noted that bottle 106 forms no part of the present invention and is shown only to illustrate the novel self-righting bottle cap 100 in its intended operating environment.
The body of bottle cap 100 is substantially the same as any known bottle cap of the prior art and may incorporate any combination of known,features or designs therein. The body of bottle cap 100 may be manufactured using any material and process known and used for the manufacture of similar bottle caps of the prior art.
Peculiar to novel bottle cap 100, however, is an optional weight 108 that may be embedded within-body 102 of bottle cap 100, preferably near top surface 104. Weight 108 may be a small metal disk or other convenient shape. Weight 108 is optional and may be included to improve the self-righting performance of bottle cap 100.
Depending circumferentially from a lower edge 110 of body 102 is a plurality of thin strips 112. Strips 112 are typically formed from a lightweight polymer and may either be molded with body 102 or may be affixed to body 102 after the formation thereof. Strips 112 may be attached to body using the any known technique and material including, but not limited to adhesives and ultrasonic welding. The technique for attaching strips 112 to body 102 when strips 112 are not integrally molded forms no part of the invention. Consequently, any attachment method is included therein. While strips 112 are shown only on a portion of caps 100 and 304, it will be recognized that strips 112 may be disposed completely around the circumference of caps 100 and 304. Consequently, the invention covers any number and distribution of strips 112 around the circumference of caps 100 and 304.
In a first method of use, bottle cap 100 may be provided as the original cap applied to a bottle at a bottling facility. When so used, the operational advantages of the novel, self-righting cap of the present invention is inherent in the bottle cap as it comes from the bottling plant. A bottle 106 bearing bottle cap 100 is shown in FIG. 2.
In an alternate method of use, novel bottle cap 100 may be sold separately from a bottle 106. A user may, if he or she then chooses, replace the original bottle cap with the novel bottle cap 100 of the invention after the bottle is opened for use.
Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown an alternate embodiment of the self-righting bottle cap of the invention, generally at reference number 300. A standard bottle 106 carries a prior art bottle cap 302. An alternate embodiment of the novel self-righting bottle cap, cap adapter 304 of the invention is positioned above standard bottle cap 302. Cap adapter 304 is configured to slide over and engage an outside surface 306 of bottle cap 302. Bottle cap adapter 304 is reusable and may be used to impart the self-righting functionality of the invention to a succession of standard bottle caps 302.
Referring now also to FIGS. 4a, 4b, and 4c, there are shown bottom plan views of three embodiments of self-righting bottle cap adapters 304a, 304b, 304c, respectively. In FIG. 4a, self-righting bottle cap adapter 304a has a durable outer vertical wall 308 and top 310. Optional weight 108 is shown embedded in top 310.
Thin strips 112 depend from a lower edge of vertical wall 308.
A series of fingers 312 project inwardly from an inside surface of outer vertical wall 308.
In operation, cap adapter 304a may be pressed over bottle cap 302, preferably with a twisting motion. Fingers 312 may then engage an outer surface 306 of bottle cap 302, thereby frictionally retaining cap adapter 304a in place thereupon. When no longer required on bottle cap 302, cap adapter 304a may readily be removed therefrom and stored until needed again.
FIG. 4b shows an alternate embodiment 304b of self-righting cap adapter 304. Self-righting bottle cap adapter 304b also has a durable outer vertical wall 308 and top 310. Optional weight 108 is shown embedded in top 310. A series of saw tooth projections 314 project inwardly from an inside surface of outer vertical wall 308.
In operation, cap adapter 304b may be pressed over bottle cap 302, preferably without any twisting motion. Saw tooth projections 314 may then engage a knurled outer surface 306 of bottle cap 302 thereby frictionally retaining cap adapter 304b in place thereupon. When it is desired to remove bottle cap 302 from bottle 106, knurled projections 314 engage a compatible knurled outer surface 306 of bottle cap 302, thereby preventing slippage of adapter 304a on bottle cap 302. When no longer required-on bottle cap 302, cap adapter 304b may readily be removed therefrom and stored until needed again.
FIG. 4c shows another alternate embodiment of self-righting bottle cap adapter 304. Cap adapter 304c is formed completely from a resilient material, for example, silicone rubber, and has a substantially smooth inner surface on vertical wall 308. Weight 108 may be embedded in resilient top 310.
In operation, cap adapter 304c may be pressed over bottle cap 302. The resilient material from which cap adapter 304c is formed must be stiff enough to allow slipping cap adapter 304c over bottle cap 302 while being resilient enough to engage outer surface 306 of bottle cap 302. Compression of vertical wall 308 against outer surface 306 allows bottle cap 302 to be screwed onto and off of bottle 106. When no longer required on bottle cap 302, cap adapter 304b may readily be removed therefrom and stored until needed again.
Since other modifications and changes varied to fit particular operating requirements and environments will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention is not considered limited to the example chosen for purposes of disclosure, and covers all changes and modifications which do not constitute departures from the true spirit and scope of this invention.
Having thus described the invention, what is desired to be protected by Letters Patent is presented in the subsequently appended claims.