Title:
Cup-holder napkin
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a cup and cup-holder for heated beverages, and in particular, to a cup-holder having an absorbent portion for cleaning up spillage.



Inventors:
Taylor, Paul (Alberta, CA)
Application Number:
09/896180
Publication Date:
01/03/2002
Filing Date:
06/28/2001
Assignee:
TAYLOR PAUL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/403
International Classes:
A47G11/00; A47G23/02; (IPC1-7): B65D3/00; B65D25/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul Taylor (Calgary, AB, CA)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A cup-holder sleeve for use with a beverage container having a base and an upstanding sidewall attached to the base, said base and upstanding sidewall forming a liquid containing vessel for liquid beverages, the sleeve comprising: an inner portion that closely follows a portion of the upstanding sidewall of the container, said inner portion having a surface for fixedly securing the sleeve to the upstanding sidewall of the container; and an outer portion attached to the inner portion, wherein at least a portion of one of said inner and outer portions includes a liquid absorbent material.

2. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 1, wherein the inner portion is comprised of a liquid absorbent material.

3. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 1, wherein the outer portion is comprised of a liquid absorbent material.

4. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 1, wherein both the inner and outer portions are comprised of a liquid absorbent material.

5. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 1, wherein the surface of the inner portion includes at least one cup engagement member, said cup engagement member engaging a surface on the upstanding sidewall.

6. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 5, wherein the at least one cup engagement member brings the inner surface and upstanding sidewall into a spaced relationship with each other.

7. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 6, wherein the surface of the inner portion includes a plurality of individual nubbins, said nubbins providing a space between the inner portion of the sleeve and the upstanding sidewall of the container.

8. A cup-holder sleeve as claimed in claim 6, wherein the surface of the inner portion includes a plurality of substantially vertical strips, said strips providing a space between the inner portion of the sleeve and the upstanding sidewall of the container.

9. A method of producing a liquid absorbent cup-holder sleeve used in combination with a cup having a base and an upstanding sidewall attached to the base, said base and upstanding sidewall forming a liquid containing vessel for liquid beverages, comprising: (a) forming a sleeve having both an inner and outer portion, at least a portion of one of said inner and outer portions including a liquid absorbent material; (b) attaching the sleeve to the cup such that the cup-holder supports the weight of the cup when the cup-holder is engaged by the hand of a user.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein forming a sleeve includes: (a) forming a strip from the liquid absorbent material having first and second ends; (b) attaching the first and second ends together to form the sleeve.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein forming a strip includes: (a) cutting a predetermined length of strip material such that the strip when formed has a diameter less than the diameter of the cup, said strip engaging a portion of the upstanding sidewall of the container for securing the sleeve to the cup.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein attaching the first and second ends of the sleeve together includes: (a) forming a slit on the first end of the strip; (b) forming a groove on the second end of the strip; and (c) inserting the groove of the second end into the slit of the first end to form the sleeve.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein attaching the first and second ends of the sleeve together includes using an adhesive to secure the first and second ends together to form the sleeve.

14. The method of claim 10, wherein the strip is substantially rectangular.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein when the first and second ends of the strip are fastened together the sleeve is substantially cylindrical.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the diameter of the cylindrical sleeve is less than the diameter of the outer wall of the cup, wherein the inner portion of the sleeve engages a portion of the outer wall of the cup when used in combination with the cup.

17. A cup-holder sleeve in combination with a beverage container having a base and an upstanding sidewall attached to the base, said base and upstanding sidewall forming a liquid containing vessel for liquid beverages, the sleeve comprising: an inner portion that closely follows a portion of the upstanding sidewall of the container, said inner portion having a surface for fixedly securing the sleeve to the upstanding sidewall of the container; and an outer portion attached to the inner portion, wherein at least a portion of one of said inner and outer portions includes a liquid absorbent material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a cup and cup-holder for beverages, and in particular, to a cup-holder having an absorbent portion for cleaning up spillage.

[0002] It is common in the Food and Beverage Industry when serving heated beverages to provide a cup with a cup-holder portion for insulating the hand of the user when holding the cup containing the heated beverage. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,205,473 (hereinafter, “the '473 Pat.”) issued to Design By Us Company describes a typical embodiment in the Art for a cup and cup-holder provided in combination.

[0003] The cup-holder described in the '473 Pat. is comprised of both an inner portion and an outer portion. The outer portion is typically comprised of a surface that engages a surface on the cup for securing the cup-holder to the cup. The inner portion is typically formed with a small air-gap between the inner portion and the surface of the cup to insulate the hand of the user from the heated beverage contained within the cup.

[0004] The cup-holder is typically made from a corrugated medium, a web of paperboard, or virgin kraft or similar easily recyclable cellulosic material. Typically, the cup-holder may also be made from a wax-covered paper product, or polystyrene. Generally, by nature these products are designed to withstand temperature and moisture from the beverage which may degrade or interfere with the utility of the cup-holder. These products generally provide poor liquid-absorptive qualities for the cup-holder due to the utility mentioned previously.

[0005] Up to the present, the cup and cup-holder was intended for generally the purpose mentioned above. The cup and cup-holder represent a major source of waste since they are generally discarded after use. Notwithstanding the associated waste of these products, the amount of waste created by these products are compounded by using disposable napkins for cleaning-up spillage. Therefore, a need exists for a cup and cup-holder that may be used in combination and which may be used to replace the traditional use of disposable napkins.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] In accordance with the present invention, in an apparatus form, an absorbent cup-holder sleeve is provided in combination with a beverage cup for containing heated beverages. Generally, the cup-holder sleeve includes in one embodiment:

[0007] an inner portion having a heat insulating section to protect the hand of the user from heat conduction across the cup between the heated beverage and the hand of the user; and

[0008] an outer portion having a liquid-absorbent portion for cleaning up spillage of liquid beverage contained therein.

[0009] According to the present invention a method is also provided for producing a liquid cup-holder sleeve. Generally, the method includes:

[0010] forming a sleeve from a liquid-absorbent material, said sleeve having an outer portion formed from the liquid-absorbent material; and

[0011] attaching the cup-holder to the cup such that the cup-holder supports the weight of the cup when held by the hand of the user.

[0012] Reference to the remaining portions of the specification, including the drawings and claims, will realize other features and advantages of the present invention. Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with respect to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 illustrates a cup-holder sleeve having an inner portion and an outer portion;

[0014] FIG. 2 is a first embodiment of the cup engagement member for the inner portion;

[0015] FIG. 3 is a second embodiment of the cup engagement member for the inner portion;

[0016] FIG. 4 is a first embodiment of the outer portion showing the fibrous liquid-absorbent material;

[0017] FIG. 5 is a second embodiment of the outer portion showing the sponge-like liquid-absorbent material;

[0018] FIG. 6 illustrates the cup-holder used in combination with a cup;

[0019] FIG. 7 illustrates the cup-holder removed from the cup and used to clean-up spillage from a surface;

[0020] FIG. 8 shows a cup-holder discarded within the cup;

[0021] FIG. 9 illustrates a cup-holder with two free ends and; and

[0022] FIG. 10 illustrates a cup-holder with a slit on free end which is intended to be mated with a groove on the other free end to form the cup-holder.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0023] As shown in FIG. 1, a cup-holder 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes an inner portion 5 and an outer portion 10.

[0024] As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the inner portion 5 has an inner wall 6 having a plurality of cup engagement members 7. In one embodiment, the cup engagement members 7 include nubbins 8 as shown in FIG. 2. In a second embodiment, the cup engagement members 7 include ribbed members 9, as shown in FIG. 3. The invention contemplates any shape, or any combination of cup engagement members 7, as long as the cup 20 is located in a spaced relationship with the cup-holder 1. The spaced relationship between the cup 20 and cup-holder 1 is used to form an air-gap between the cup 20 and cup-holder 1 which limits the conduction of heat between the heated beverage and the hand of the user.

[0025] Preferably, the cup-holder includes a cup engagement member 7 as mentioned previously, although this feature is not essential if the cup-holder 1 is made from a material which is sufficiently limiting in terms of heat conduction between the heated beverage and the hand of the user.

[0026] Having reference to FIG. 1, an outer portion 10 of the cup-holder 1 is shown. The outer portion 10 is comprised of a liquid-absorbent material, such as recycled paper product of the variety commonly used as napkins. Preferably, the outer portion 10 is made from the same material as the napkin material mentioned previously, however, any liquid-absorbent material may be used.

[0027] Preferably, the outer portion is made of a liquid-absorbent material, however, both the inner portion 5 and the outer portion 10 may be made from a liquid-absorbent material, or either the inner portion 5 or the outer portion 10, or a portion of either or both inner and outer portions may be made from a liquid absorbent material, so long as at least a portion of the cup holder includes a liquid-absorbent material for providing a liquid absorbent surface.

[0028] In FIG. 4, a first embodiment of the outer portion 10 is shown. The outer portion 10 is comprised of a fibrous recycled paper product 12 such as the variety commonly used as napkins, although other materials may be used. The outer portion 10 may be individually fixedly attached to the inner portion 5 to form the cup-holder portion. Alternatively, the outer portion 10 and the inner portion 5 comprise an integral one-piece design.

[0029] In FIG. 5, a second embodiment of the outer portion 10 is shown. The outer portion 10 is comprised of a sponge-like liquid-absorbent material 13. The outer portion 10 may be individually fixedly attached to the inner portion 5 to form the cup-holder portion. Alternatively, the outer portion 10 and the inner portion 5 comprise an integral one-piece design. The sponge-like material is preferably sufficiently constructed so as to resist tearing or splaying when inserted over the cup, while still maintaining sufficient insulating qualities.

[0030] The inner and outer portions of the cup holder may be separately or integrally constructed. What is important is that a rigid one-piece cup-holder is achieved that may be securely fastened to the cup 20 for insulating the cup. As shown in FIG. 7, the cup-holder 1 may be torn away from the cup prior to disposal of the cup and used to clean spillage or condensate 22 from the surface 23 such as a tabletop, for example. Alternatively, the cup-holder 1 may be left on the cup 20 and used as a liquid-absorbent substrate for wiping-up liquid condensate 22, e.g., from the hand 25 of a user, as shown in FIG. 6. Having reference to FIG. 8, the cup-holder 1 may then be disposed of inside the cup 1, thereby eliminating the need for separate individual napkins.

[0031] Although, the aforementioned cup 20 and cup-holder 1 is intended primarily for use in conjunction with heated beverages, the present invention is useful with unheated beverages. In this case, the inner portion 5 and the outer portion 10, or the inner portion 5 or outer portion 10 need not be comprised of a heat insulative material.

[0032] Preferably, for unheated beverages, both the inner portion 5 and outer portion 10 are comprised of the same material, however, the inner portion 5 and outer portion 10 may be comprised of different materials.

[0033] According to one embodiment, a process is provided for producing a liquid absorbent cup-holder for a cup and cup-holder in combination. In one embodiment, for example, the process of producing the cup-holder includes:

[0034] forming a sleeve from a liquid-absorbent material, which sleeve is comprised of an outer portion formed from the liquid-absorbent material; and

[0035] attaching the cup-holder to the cup such that the cup-holder supports the weight of the cup when the cup is held in the hand of the user.

[0036] In a first embodiment, forming a sleeve involves forming a strip from a liquid absorbent material. Preferably, as shown in FIG. 9, the strip 30 is rectangular to encompass the distance around the entire circumference of the cup. Also, the free ends 35 and 36 of the rectangular strip 30 are fastened together, using an adhesive substance as one example. Any adhesive that secures the free ends of the strip 30 together may be used. Preferably, however, the adhesive used should not degrade or interfere with the absorptive qualities of the cup-holder nor degrade the cup itself. Also, preferably, the adhesive used to secure the cup-holder together is biodegradable with the environment.

[0037] In a second embodiment, forming a sleeve includes producing a rectangular strip 30 which includes a slit 31 on one free end 35 that is engaged by a groove 32 on the other free end 36. The groove 32 engages into the slit 31 for holding the sleeve together.

[0038] Attaching the cup-holder to the cup includes sliding the sleeve over the upstanding sidewall of the cup. Alternatively, attaching the cup-holder to the cup 20 includes inserting the groove 31 into the slit 32 directly on the cup 20, in accordance with the embodiments of the invention.

[0039] It should be apparent to one skilled in the art that other methods for securing the free-ends 35 and 36 are within the scope of the present invention.

[0040] While the invention has been described by way of example and in terms of specific embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. To the contrary, it is intended to cover various modifications and similar arrangements as would be apparent to one skilled in the art. Therefore, the scope of the appended claims should be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and similar arrangements.