Title:
Two way double-fold business form mailer and method of transmitting information from a first user to an end user
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A business form intermediate is provided that can be prepared into a two-way mailer. The intermediate contains pre-printed, non-varying information including, e.g., return address information. The form user prints variable information specific to particular recipients on the front face of the intermediate using a simplex printer. The intermediate is then double-folded about three substantially parallel fold lines, which divide the intermediate into four sections. Segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive material are disposed on front and rear faces of the intermediate for sealing open outer edges of the intermediate after it has been folded to form a sealed mailer. The intermediate also includes pressure-sensitive adhesive for simultaneously constructing a return envelope within the mailer. A recipient of the mailer can open the mailer, view information therein, and separate the return envelope from it. The recipient can use the return envelope to mail an item (e.g., a payment check) to the original sender. Remoist glue is provided on the return envelope for sealing thereof by the recipient.



Inventors:
Abercrombie, James Harold (Little Elm, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/138907
Publication Date:
09/12/2002
Filing Date:
05/03/2002
Assignee:
Laser Compositions, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/305
International Classes:
B65D27/06; (IPC1-7): B65D27/06
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jason W. Cook, Esq. (Dallas, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A double-fold business form mailer comprising a sheet having: opposite front and rear faces; opposite first and second edges; opposite third and fourth edges joining said first and second edges; a first line of weakness extending substantially parallel to and proximate said first edge, said first line of weakness and said first edge defining a first tear-away strip therebetween; a second line of weakness extending substantially parallel to and proximate said second edge, said second line of weakness and said second edge defining a second tear-away strip therebetween; first, second and third fold lines about which said sheet may be folded, said fold lines extending across said sheet substantially perpendicular to said first and second edges, said fold lines dividing said sheet into first, second, third and fourth sections, wherein said first section is between said third edge and said first fold line, said second section is between said first and second fold lines, said third section is between said second and third fold lines, and said fourth section is between said third fold line and said fourth edge, wherein each section has a front face and a rear face corresponding to said front and rear faces of said sheet, and wherein when said sheet is folded about said second fold line in a first folding, said first and third fold lines are substantially aligned; third and fourth lines of weakness extending along said first and third fold lines, respectively; adhesive material disposed on said first and second tear-away strips of said rear face of said sheet for joining the front faces of said first and fourth sections and for joining the front faces of said second and third sections when said sheet is folded about said second fold line in the first folding; adhesive material disposed on the front faces of at least one of said first and second sections on said first and second tear-strips for joining said front faces of said first and second sections when said sheet is folded about said first and third fold lines in the second folding; and adhesive material for forming a pre-constructed return envelope disposed on said rear faces of at least one of said second and third sections for joining at least some of an outer area of said rear faces of said second and third sections when said sheet is folded about said second fold line in the first folding.

2. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, wherein said outer area is bounded by said first, second, third and fourth lines of weakness.

3. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1 further comprising adhesive material disposed on at least one of said rear face of the fourth section and the front face of said second section for joining said fourth section to said second section proximate said second fold line when said sheet is folded about said first and third fold lines in the second folding.

4. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 3, wherein a portion of said rear face of said fourth section proximate said fourth edge is exposed when said sheet is folded about said second fold line, and wherein adhesive material is disposed on said portion for adhering said fourth section to said second section when said sheet is folded about said first and third fold lines.

5. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, wherein said adhesive material for constructing a return envelope is disposed on said second and third sections proximate said first line of weakness opposite said first tear-away strip, said adhesive material is also disposed on said second section proximate said first fold line opposite said first section, and said adhesive material is also disposed on said third section proximate said third fold line opposite said fourth section.

6. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, wherein said adhesive material disposed on said first and second tear-away strips, and said adhesive material for forming a pre-constructed return envelope comprises pressure-sensitive adhesive.

7. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, further comprising a portion on one of said second and third sections from which a fold-over flap can be formed.

8. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 7, further comprising remoistenable adhesive on said fold-over flap.

9. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, wherein said lines of weakness comprise lines of perforation.

10. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, further comprising pre-printed information on the front face of said second section.

11. The double-fold mailer of claim 10, wherein said pre-printed information includes address information of an addressee of the return envelope.

12. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, further comprising pre-printed instructions on said sheet for opening a sealed mailer formed from said sheet.

13. The double-fold business form mailer of claim 1, further comprising pre-printed instructions on said sheet for separating the return envelope.

14. A two-way double-fold mailer intermediate comprising a sheet having: opposite front and rear faces; opposite first and second edges; opposite third and fourth edges joining said first and second edges; first, second and third fold lines about which said sheet may be folded, said fold lines being spaced-apart and extending across said sheet substantially parallel to said third and fourth edges, said fold lines dividing said sheet into first, second, third and fourth sections, wherein said first section is between said third edge and said first fold line, said second section is between said first and second fold lines, said third section is between said second and third fold lines, and said fourth section is between said third fold line and said fourth edge, wherein each section has a front face and a rear face corresponding to said front and rear faces of said sheet, and wherein when said sheet is folded about said second fold line, said first and third fold lines are substantially aligned; means for forming a return envelope from said second and third sections when said sheet is folded about said second fold line; and means for adhering said fourth section to said second section when said sheet is subsequently folded about said first and third fold lines to form a sealed mailer.

15. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 14, wherein said means for forming a return envelope comprise adhesive disposed on at least one of said second and third sections for affixing outer portions of said rear faces of said second and third sections.

16. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 15, wherein said adhesive comprises segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive.

17. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 14, wherein one of said second and third sections includes a portion from which a fold-over flap can be formed.

18. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 17, further comprising remoistenable adhesive on said fold-over flap.

19. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 14, further comprising pre-printed return address information on the front face of said second section.

20. The two-way double-fold mailer intermediate of claim 14, further comprising tear-away strips at outer edges of said sheet to facilitate opening of a mailer formed from said intermediate.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Technical Field

[0002] The present invention relates generally to business form mailers and, more particularly, to a two-way, double-fold business form mailer.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] Business form mailers are commonly used for mass mailing a variety of materials. These materials typically include documents having variable information, e.g., invoices and academic grade reports. Many of these mailers are two-way forms, i.e., they can be constructed into a pre-addressed return envelope, which the recipient can mail back to the original sender. For example, in the case of invoices, the recipient can use the return envelope to mail a payment check to the original sender.

[0005] A common type of such a two-way business mailer is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,201,464 and 5,290,225. These mailers comprise a single sheet pre-printed with non-variable information including the original sender's name and address. The original sender or form user prints variable information on the sheet using a printer. The variable information can include the recipient's name and address and other information specific to that recipient. The form user then machine-folds the printed form to create the mailer. As the form is folded and passed between pressure rollers, pressure-sensitive adhesive on the form causes the form edges to be sealed and the return envelope formed simultaneously in the mailer.

[0006] One significant drawback to this type of mailer is that for effective use of printable space, both sides of the sheet are printed. Therefore, if a simplex printer is used for printing the variable information, the form is first fed through the printer for printing on one side, turned 180°, and then fed through the printer again for printing the other side. This significantly lengthens the time needed to prepare the forms and adds further steps in the procedure. Alternatively, a user can use a duplex printer, which allows both faces of the form to be printed in a single feeding. Duplex printing, however, require substantially twice the processing time as simplex printing. In addition, duplex printers cause significantly greater paper curl. Duplex printers are also more complex and expensive than simplex printers and may not be readily available for all users.

[0007] Thus, a need exists for a business form intermediate that is designed to be printed on a single side and that can be quickly and easily prepared as a mailer with a built-in preconstructed return envelope.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] A primary object of the invention is to provide a two-way business form mailer designed to effectively use printable space on one side of the form such that the form can be printed with variable information using a simplex printer in a single feeding.

[0009] Another object of the invention is to provide a double-fold mailer containing a pre-constructed return envelope.

[0010] A further object of the invention is to provide a two-way business form mailer that can quickly and easily be prepared for mailing.

[0011] Yet a further object of the invention is to provide a two-way business form mailer that can quickly and easily be opened by a recipient.

[0012] Another object of the invention is to provide a two-way business form mailer from which a pre-constructed return envelope can quickly and easily be removed by a recipient for use.

[0013] These and other objects are accomplished by a double-fold business form mailer in accordance with the invention. The mailer comprises a single rectangular sheet having opposite first and second edges, and opposite third and fourth edges. First and second perforation lines extend substantially parallel to and proximate the first and second edges, respectively, defining two tear-away strips.

[0014] The sheet includes first, second and third fold lines about which said sheet may be folded. The fold lines extend across said sheet substantially perpendicular to the first and second edges, and they divide the sheet into first, second, third and fourth sections. The first and third fold lines are substantially aligned when the sheet is folded about the second fold line. Third and fourth perforation lines extend along said first and third fold lines, respectively.

[0015] The sheet includes segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive material disposed on the first and second tear-away strips on the rear face of the sheet for joining the front faces of said first and fourth sections and for joining the front faces of the second and third sections when the sheet is folded about the second fold line.

[0016] The sheet also includes pressure-sensitive adhesive material on the first and second tear-strips for joining the front faces of the first and second sections when the sheet is subsequently folded about the first and third fold lines.

[0017] In addition, the sheet includes pressure-sensitive adhesive material for forming a pre-constructed return envelope. The adhesive seals at least some of an outer area of the rear faces of the second and third sections when the sheet is folded about the second fold line.

[0018] The business form in accordance with the invention can be quickly and easily prepared for use. It is printed with variable information on one side using a simplex printer in a single feeding. It can quickly be folded and sealed for mailing. The addressee or recipient can easily open the mailer to view its contents and to remove a return envelope from it.

[0019] The foregoing has outlined some of the more pertinent objects of the present invention. These objects should be construed to be merely illustrative of some of the more prominent features and applications of the invention. Many other beneficial results can be attained by applying the disclosed invention in a different manner or modifying the invention as will be described. Accordingly, other objects and a fuller understanding of the invention may be had by referring to the following Detailed Description of the preferred embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] For a more complete understanding of the present invention and the advantages thereof, reference should be made to the following Detailed Description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a front view of an unfolded business form mailer in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;

[0022] FIG. 2 is a rear view of the unfolded mailer;

[0023] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the mailer being folded;

[0024] FIG. 4 is a front view of a folded and sealed mailer;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a front view of the sealed mailer being opened;

[0026] FIG. 6 is a front view of an opened mailer;

[0027] FIG. 7 is a front view of a sealed return envelope.

[0028] FIG. 8 is a front view of an unfolded business form mailer in accordance with another embodiment of the invention; and

[0029] FIG. 9 is a rear view of the FIG. 8 mailer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0030] FIGS. 1 and 2 are front and rear views, respectively, of an unfolded two-way business form mailer 10 in accordance with the first embodiment of the invention. (The business form 10 can also be described as a business form intermediate since further steps of printing variable information and folding and sealing the form have not yet been performed.)

[0031] The business form 10 comprises a single sheet having opposite first and second faces 12, 14 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, respectively. (The first and second faces 12, 14 are also referred to herein as front and rear faces 12, 14, respectively.) The form 10 is preferably rectangular having a first edge 16, a second edge 18, a third edge 20, and a fourth edge 22.

[0032] Though a variety of sizes are possible, the form 10 is preferably of standard sheet size such as, e.g., 8½×14 inches to facilitate easy feeding in standard laser printers.

[0033] The form 10 is preferably a paper product, and it is of suitable weight and thickness to enable the mailer and a return envelope formed therefrom to meet postal regulations.

[0034] The form 10 includes lines of weakness (preferably lines of perforation) for forming tear-away strips. The tear-away strips facilitate opening the mailer after it has been sealed. A first line of weakness 24 extends along the length of the form substantially parallel to and proximate the first edge 16. The first line of weakness 24 and the first edge 16 define a first tear-away strip 26 therebetween. The form 10 also includes a second line of weakness 28 extending substantially parallel to and proximate the second edge 18. The second line of weakness 28 and the second edge 18 define a second tear-away strip 30 therebetween.

[0035] The form 10 also includes three fold lines 32, 34, 36, about which the form 10 is folded when forming the mailer. The first, second and third fold lines 32, 34, 36 extend across the width of the form 10 substantially perpendicular to the first and second edges 16, 18. The first, second and third fold lines 32, 34, 36 divide the form 10 into first, second, third and fourth sections 38, 40, 42, 44. The first section 38 is located between the third edge and the first fold line 32. The second section 40 is located between the first and second fold lines 32, 34. The third section 42 is located between the second and third fold lines 34, 36. The fourth section 44 is located between the third fold line 36 and the fourth edge 22.

[0036] The second, third and fourth sections 40, 42, 44 are preferably generally equally sized. The first section 38 preferably has a slightly smaller width than the other sections such that when the form 10 is folded about the second fold line 34, a portion 46 at the edge of the fourth section 44 is exposed (shown in FIG. 2). The exposed portion 46 facilitates attachment of the fourth section 44 to the second section 40 when the form 10 is folded about the first fold line 32 as will be described further below.

[0037] The form 10 also includes substantially parallel third and fourth lines of weakness 48, 50 extending along the first and third fold lines 32, 36, respectively.

[0038] In addition, the form 10 includes a fifth line of weakness 52 in the third section 42 proximate the second line of weakness 28 opposite from the second tear-away strip 30. A further sixth line of weakness 54 extends along the second fold line 34 perpendicular to and in between the second nd fifth lines of weakness 28, 52. The second, fourth, fifth and sixth lines of weakness 28, 50, 52, 54 define a third tear-away strip (or removable stub) 56 therebetween in the third panel. This tear-away strip 56 is removed before sealing a return envelope 58 (shown in FIG. 7) as will be described further below.

[0039] A fourth fold line 60 extends in said second section 40 extending colinearly with said fifth line of weakness 52. The fourth fold line 60 and the second line of weakness 28 define a fold-over flap 62 therebetween in the second panel for sealing a return envelope 58 as will also be described further below.

[0040] The form 10 also includes segments of adhesive material, preferably some type of machine-activated adhesive (e.g., pressure-sensitive adhesive), disposed on both the front and rear faces 12, 14 to enable the mailer to be sealed for mailing. Segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive material 64, 66 are disposed on the first and second tear-away strips 26, 30, respectively, on the rear face 14 of the form 10 for enabling the first and fourth sections 38, 44 to be joined together and for enabling the second and third sections 40, 42 to be joined together along their outer edges when the form 10 is folded about the second fold line 34.

[0041] The form 10 further includes segments of pressure sensitive adhesive 68, 70 for constructing a return envelope when the mailer is folded. The adhesive segments 68, 70 are arranged about the periphery of the rear faces of the second and third sections 40, 42. Specifically, adhesive segments 70 are disposed on the rear faces of the second and third sections 40, 42 proximate the first line of weakness 24 opposite the first tear-away strip 26. The adhesive segments 68 are disposed on the second section 40 proximate the first fold line 32 opposite the first section 38. The adhesive segments 68 are also disposed on the third section 42 proximate the third fold line 36 opposite the fourth section 44.

[0042] The adhesive segments 68, 70 permit most of the outer area of the second and third sections 40, 42 to be adhered together to form the open return envelope 58 when the form 10 is folded about the second fold line 34. The return envelope 58 thus formed is configured for receiving some type of enclosure placed therein by the recipient of the mailer.

[0043] Additional segments of pressure sensitive adhesive 72, 74 are disposed on the front faces of the first and second sections 38, 40 on the tear-away strips 26, 30 as shown in FIG. 1. The first and second sections 38, 40 are thereby joined when the form 10 is folded about the first fold line 32 in creating the mailer as will be described below.

[0044] In addition, the exposed edge portion 46 on the rear face of the fourth section 44 contains segments of pressure sensitive adhesive 76. These segments of adhesive 76 bond with corresponding segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive 76 on the front face of the second section 40 proximate the second fold line 34 when the form 10 is folded about the first fold line 32.

[0045] The return envelope fold-over flap 62 includes user-activated adhesive, preferably a segment of remoistenable adhesive 78 as shown in FIG. 2. This adhesive 78 allows the return envelope to be sealed to secure its contents for mailing.

[0046] The front face of the fourth section 44 on the form 10 (shown in FIG. 1) comprises the outgoing mailer face and includes a central area, at which variable information namely the original recipient's name and address information 80, is printed by the form user. The fourth section 44 also includes an area at the upper left corner, on which non-variable information, e.g., as shown, the user's name, address and optional graphics 82, is preprinted. However, pre-printing is not required as the information 82 can be printed by the user at the same time the variable recipient address information 80 is printed. The fourth section 44 also includes an area at the upper right comer containing pre-printed information 84 on payment of postal fees.

[0047] The front face of the first section 38 of the form 10 includes space 86 at which the information to be conveyed to the user is included. The information can comprise both variable and pre-printed indicia. For example, as shown in the drawings, this space may contain a statement. As will be described below, the recipient of the mailer will remove the first section 38 to keep for his or her records.

[0048] While not shown, the first section 38 may also include a detachable remittance portion that the recipient of the mailer can return to the original sender in the return envelope.

[0049] Also, the front face of the second section 40 of the form 10 comprises the return envelope face and generally includes primarily preprinted, non-variable information. A central portion of the second section 40 includes name and address information 88 of the addressee of the return envelope. While the addressee shown in the drawings is the original sender, the form 10 may be pre-printed with any desired address information. The upper left comer of the second section 40 preferably includes blank lines 90, on which the sender of the return envelope can fill in a return address. However, it should be noted that since the rear face 14 of the form 10 is the face that is simplex printed, the return envelope sender's address can be printed at 90 when the form 10 is printed by the user. In addition, the area 90 can include the return envelope sender's account number or other information specific to him or her. Pre-printing such information makes the form substantially more convenient for the recipient, who does not have to handwrite anything on the envelope. The upper right corner preferably includes information 92 indicating where postage stamps should be placed for postal delivery. (Though not shown, it may alternatively indicate prepaid postal information.)

[0050] The form 10 includes pre-printed opening instructions 94 on the front face of the form. It also includes pre-printed instructions 96 for sealing the return envelope on both the front and rear faces 12, 14.

Operation

[0051] A plurality of business forms 10 containing pre-printed, non-varying information are provided by a form manufacturer to the form user. The form user prints or otherwise images variable information on only the front face 12 of the form 10. All of the variable information can be printed on the form 10 in a single feeding through a simplex printer since only one face 12 to of the form 10 is printed. A variety of such printers can be used including impact printers and non-impact printers (e.g., laser printers).

[0052] Thereafter, the form 10 is folded in the manner shown in FIG. 3. Specifically, the form 10 is first folded about the second fold line 34, bringing the rear faces of the first and second sections 38, 40 into contact with the rear faces of the third and fourth sections 42, 44, respectively. The form 10 is then folded about the first and third fold lines 32, 36, which at this point are in alignment, bringing the front faces of the first and second sections 38, 40 together. Pressure applied to the form 10 during the folding and sealing process will cause the form to be sealed along the segments of pressure-sensitive adhesive 64, 66, 72, 74, 76. At the same time, the return envelope is formed by the sealing of adhesive segments 68, 70. The resulting folded and sealed mailer 98 (illustrated in FIG. 4) is now ready for delivery to the designated addressee.

[0053] After the sealed mailer 98 has been received by the recipient or addressee, it can be opened as shown in FIG. 5. The perforated first and second tear-strips 26, 30 are first removed. Next, the recipient slides a finger under the exposed edge portion 46 of the fourth section 44 to lift and separate the first and fourth sections 38, 44 from the front face of the second section 40.

[0054] Thereafter, the mailer will appear as shown in FIG. 6. The recipient then tears off the first and fourth sections 38, 44 from the second and third sections 40, 42 along the first and third perforation lines 48, 50, which are aligned. The recipient can keep the first section 38, which contains, e.g., a statement or other information, for his or her records.

[0055] The second and third sections 40, 42 form the pre-constructed return envelope 58, which has been previously sealed along three sides by adhesive segments 68, 70. An enclosure such as, e.g., a payment check can then be placed inside the return envelope 58 through the open side. The detachable stub 56 is then detached along perforation line 52. The envelope flap 62 containing remoistenable adhesive 78 is then moistened and folded about the flap fold line 60 to seal the open side of the return envelope 58. The sealed return envelope 58 is shown in FIG. 7. The sender's return address can be filled in (if needed) at 90 and a postage stamp (if needed) may be affixed at 92 to prepare the return envelope 58 for postal delivery. As previously noted, the envelope 58 is pre-addressed at 88.

[0056] The business form 10 thus can be quickly prepared for use. It can be printed with variable information using a simplex printer in a single feeding. It can also be easily folded and sealed for mailing. The addressee can conveniently separate a pre-constructed return envelope from the mailer.

Second Embodiment

[0057] FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a business mailer intermediate 100 in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention. FIG. 8 shows the front face 112 and FIG. 9 shows the rear face 114 of the form 100. The form 100 can be folded into a mailer with a pre-constructed return envelope having a top fold-over flap 162 and designed particularly for use with large forms. For instance, the form 100 may have dimensions of 11×17 inches. (Of course, this size is merely exemplary and can be varied as needed.) Accordingly, the return envelope will be able to hold larger enclosures which may be needed for certain uses. The top flap 162 design facilitates insertion of the larger enclosures.

[0058] The form 100 has substantially the same design as the form 10 with the exception of the size of the form and location of the fold-over flap 162 and removable stub 156. In the form 100, the fold-over flap 162 extends across the width of the top of the second section 140. Also, the removable stub 156 extends across the width of the bottom of the third section 142.

[0059] The form 100 is accordingly used in substantially the same manner as the form 10. The only significant difference is that the fold-over flap 162 is folded over the top of the return envelope as opposed to the side of the return envelope as in form 10.

[0060] All of the advantages of the form 10 are thus applicable to the form 100.

[0061] Having thus described my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is set forth in the following claims.





 
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