Title:
Tamper evident closure with recess
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A closure that is designed to make it easier to activate a locking mechanism that holds the closure on a container is provided. The closure includes a lid that is adapted to cover an open end of the container. A skirt is coupled with the lid and has an interior surface with a recess formed therein. The skirt is adapted to fit around the rim when the lid is applied to the container. A detachable lock ring is hingedly coupled with the skirt along a weakened tear line. The lock ring is adapted to be folded inwardly and placed in the recess of the skirt when the lock ring is placed in contact with the lip of the container. The lock ring is adapted to engage the lip of the container rim to lock the lid on the container.



Inventors:
Smith, Ernest L. (Kansas City, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/051423
Publication Date:
07/24/2003
Filing Date:
01/18/2002
Assignee:
SMITH ERNEST L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/256
International Classes:
B65D43/02; (IPC1-7): B65D41/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William B. Kircher (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A closure for an open end of a container, the container having a rim presenting a lip thereon, said closure comprising: a lid, wherein the lid is adapted to cover the open end of the container; a skirt coupled with the lid and having an interior surface, wherein the interior surface is adapted to fit around the rim of the container when the lid is applied to the container, and wherein the interior surface of the skirt has a recess formed therein; and a detachable lock ring hingedly coupled with the skirt along a weakened tear line, wherein the lock ring is adapted to be folded inwardly and placed in the recess of the skirt when the lock ring is placed in contact with the lip of the container, and wherein the lock ring is adapted to engage the lip of the container rim to lock the lid on the container whereby removal of the lid requires the lock ring to be torn away from the skirt along the tear line.

2. The closure as recited in claim 1, wherein the lock ring and the interior surface of the skirt are generally flush with one another when the lock ring is folded inwardly and placed in the recess.

3. The closure as recited in claim 1, wherein the skirt has a cutout formed therein that provides access to the lock ring to facilitate tearing of the lock ring away from the skirt.

4. The closure as recited in claim 1, further comprising: a shoulder on the interior surface of the skirt, wherein the shoulder is adapted to interact with the lip of the container to releasably hold the lid on the container after the lock ring has been torn away from the skirt.

5. A package for food comprising: a container having a bottom wall coupled with a side wall, the side wall having a rim presenting a lip thereon defining an open end; a lid adapted to cover the open end of the container, the lid having an outer periphery; a skirt coupled with the outer periphery of the lid and adapted to extend around the rim of the container when placed therein, wherein the skirt has an interior surface with a recess formed therein; and a detachable lock ring hingedly coupled with the skirt along a tear away line, wherein the lock ring includes a free edge and is adapted to be folded inwardly so that the lock ring fits within the recess in the skirt when the lock ring is placed in contact with the lip of the container, and wherein the lid is securely coupled with the container when the lid is received on the open end of the container and the free edge of the lock ring is positioned underneath the rim of the container, whereby the lock ring is detachable from the skirt about the tear line to permit removal of the lid from the container.

6. The package as recited in claim 5, wherein the lock ring and the interior surface of the skirt are flush with one another when the lock ring is folded inwardly and received in the recess.

7. The package as recited in claim 5, wherein the skirt has a cutout formed therein that provides access to the lock ring to facilitate tearing of the lock ring away from the skirt.

8. The package as recited in claim 5, further comprising: a shoulder on the interior surface of the skirt, wherein the shoulder is adapted to interact with the lip of the container to releasably hold the lid on the container after the lock ring has been torn away from the skirt.

9. A package for food comprising: a cylindrical container having a bottom wall coupled with a side wall, the side wall having a rim presenting a lip thereon defining an open end; a discoidal lid having a circular periphery adapted to cover the open end of the container; a skirt having an interior surface with a recess formed therein, the skirt being coupled with the outer periphery of the lid and adapted to extend around the rim of the container when the lid is placed on the container; a detachable lock ring hingedly coupled with the skirt along a tear away line, wherein the lock ring includes a free edge, wherein the lock ring is adapted to be folded inwardly so that the lock ring fits within the recess and is flush with the interior surface of the skirt when the lock ring is placed in contact with the lip of the container, and wherein the lid is securely coupled with the container when the lid is placed on the container and the free edge of the lock ring is positioned underneath the rim of the container whereby the lock ring is detachable from the skirt about the tear line to permit removal of the lid from the container; a cutout formed in the skirt that provides access to the lock ring to facilitate tearing of the lock ring away from the skirt; and a shoulder formed on the interior surface of the skirt and adapted to interact with the lip of the container to releasably hold the lid on the container after the lock ring is torn away from the skirt.

10. A method for making a closure for a container having a rim defining an open end of the container, said method comprising: providing a discoidal lid adapted to cover the open end of the container; providing a skirt having a interior surface adapted to fit around the rim of the container; forming a recess in the interior surface of the skirt; coupling the lid and the skirt; forming a lock ring from the skirt along a weakened tear line; and adapting the lock ring to fit within the recess in the interior surface of the skirt, wherein the lock ring is adapted to fold inwardly toward the interior surface and fit in the recess as the skirt is fit around the rim of the container, and wherein the lid is securely coupled with the container when the lid is received on the container and the free edge of the lock ring is positioned underneath the rim of the container, whereby the lock ring is detachable from the skirt about the tear line to permit removal of the lid from the container.

11. The method as recited in claim 10, further comprising: allowing access to the lock ring to facilitate tearing of the lock ring away from the skirt.

12. The method as recited in claim 10, further comprising: forming a shoulder on the interior surface of the skirt to interact with the rim of the container to releasably hold the lid on container after the lock ring has been torn away from the skirt.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein the recess is formed so that the lock ring and the interior surface of the skirt are generally flush with one another when the lock ring is placed within the recess.

14. A closure for an open end of a container having a rim presenting a lip thereon, said closure comprising: a lid adapted to cover the open end of the container; a skirt coupled with the lid and having an interior surface adapted to fit around the rim when the lid is applied to the container, the interior surface of the skirt having a recess formed therein; a detachable lock ring hingedly coupled with the skirt along a weakened tear line, wherein the lock ring is adapted to be folded inwardly when the skirt is placed around the lip, and wherein the lock ring is adapted to engage the lip of the rim of the container to lock the lid on the container, whereby removal of the lid requires the lock ring to be torn away from the skirt along the tear line; and means for allowing the lock ring to be generally flush with the interior surface of the skirt when the lock ring is folded inwardly and the skirt is placed around the lid.

Description:

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0001] Not Applicable.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0002] Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention relates to a tamper evident closure for a container. More particularly, this invention relates to a tamper evident closure having a recess that is designed to makes it easier to lock the closure on the container.

[0004] Ice cream, butter, yogurt and similar food products are typically packaged in relatively inexpensive disposable containers having removable lids. The lid covers the open end of the container to seal the contents therein. One disadvantage to conventional containers of this type is that the lid may be easily removed and the contents within the container may be tampered with while still on the shelf.

[0005] There have been various attempts in the past to provide taper evident enclosures, as exemplified by U.S. Pat. No. 4,493,432 to Smith. This arrangement includes a tear away lock ring coupled with the lid to provide visual evidence when the enclosure has been tampered with or opened. Specifically, the lid is manufactured with the lock ring in a fully extended position. After the product is placed in the container, the lid is placed over the open end of the container. Typically, an additional machine or process is used to fold the lock ring inwardly to lock the lid on the container and hold the food contents therein. The lid is then removably coupled with the rim to hold the food contents within the container. The use of an additional piece of equipment to activate the locking mechanism after the contents have been placed in the container is a time consuming and expensive process.

[0006] Accordingly, there remains a need for a tamper evident closure that may be easily and inexpensively locked onto the open end of a container. The present invention fills these needs as well as various other needs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In order to overcome the above-stated problems and limitations, and to achieve the noted objects, there is provided a tamper evident closure that may be easily and inexpensively locked onto the open end of a container.

[0008] In general, a package for food is provided which includes a closure that is coupled with an open end of a container having a rim presenting a lip thereon. The container further includes a bottom wall coupled at its periphery with an upstanding side wall. The side wall terminates at its upper edge in an outwardly curled rim. The rim defines the open end of the container.

[0009] The closure includes a lid, a skirt and a detachable lock ring. The lid is adapted to cover the open end of the container. The skirt is coupled with the lid in a downwardly depending arrangement and has an interior surface adapted to fit around the rim when the lid is applied to the container. The interior surface has a recess formed therein. The detachable lock ring is hingedly coupled with the skirt along a weakened tear line. The lock ring is adapted to be folded inwardly and is placed in the recess of the skirt when the lock ring is placed in contact with the lip of the container. The lock ring is also adapted to engage the lip of the container rim to lock the lid on the container when placed thereon, whereby removal of the lid requires the lock ring to be torn away from the skirt along the tear line.

[0010] Additionally, the closure may also include a cutout and a shoulder. The cutout is formed in the skirt and provides access to the lock ring to facilitate the tearing of the lock ring away from the skirt. The shoulder is formed on the interior surface of the skirt and is adapted to interlock with the lip of the container to releasably hold the lid on the container after the lock ring is torn away from the skirt.

[0011] A method for making the closure for the container includes providing a generally discoidal lid adapted to cover the open end of the container, providing a skirt having a interior surface adapted to fit around the rim of the container, forming a recess in the interior surface of the skirt, coupling the lid and the skirt, forming a lock ring from the skirt along a weakened tear line, adapting the lock ring to fit within the recess in the interior surface of the skirt. The lock ring is adapted to fold inwardly toward the interior surface and fit in the recess as the skirt is fit around the rim of the container. The lid is removably coupled with the container when the lock ring is positioned underneath the rim of the container whereby the lock ring is detachable from the skirt about the tear line to permit removal of the lid from the container.

[0012] Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

[0013] In the accompanying drawings which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith and in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like parts in the various views:

[0014] FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a closure constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of the closure taken generally along the line 2-2 in FIG. 1;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a lock ring of the closure being partially torn away to facilitate initial removal of the lid from the container;

[0017] FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of the closure taken generally along line 4-4 in FIG. 3;

[0018] FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 4, but illustrating the lock ring being received in a recess formed in an interior surface of a skirt of the closure when the closure is initially placed on the container; and

[0019] FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of two closures of the present invention stacked on top of each other for storage or shipment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0020] Referring now to the drawing in detail, and initially to FIG. 1, numeral 10 generally designates a closure constructed in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the present invention. Closure 10 is generally used as a lid for covering a container 12 that is adapted to hold various types of foods, such as ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt and similar perishable products. As best seen in FIG. 3, container 12 may be a cylindrical or frustoconical coated paperboard that includes a bottom wall, not shown, that is coupled to a side wall 14.

[0021] As best seen in FIG. 5, a top portion of the side wall 14 is rolled outwardly to provide a curved rim 16 that extends around an open end of container 12. Rim 16 is generally circular in nature and its outwardly rolled configuration enhances the rigidity of container 12. An outside surface of the rim 16 is folded underneath itself and abuts an outer portion of the side wall 14. A lower edge of the rim 16 extends downwardly to form a lip 18 that is used to retain the closure 10 in place when placed over the open end of the container 12.

[0022] As best seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, the closure 10 is preferably a single piece construction formed by injection molding or other type of molding process. The closure 10 is preferably formed of any thermoplastic material such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene or other similar polymeric material. The closure 10 is generally discoidal or disc shaped and is designed to cover the open end of the container 12 through the use of a lid body 20, a rib 22 and a skirt 24. The body 20 has an outer periphery that is generally circular to match the shape of the generally circular open end of the container 12. The body 20 serves as a barrier between the contents contained within container 12 and the external environment. The skirt 24 extends downwardly from the peripheral edge of the body 20 and is used to removably couple the body to the container 12. The rib 22 facilitates the coupling of the body 20 with the skirt 24 and provides improved rigidity to the closure 10.

[0023] As best seen in FIG. 2, the skirt 24 includes an upper interior surface 26 and a lower interior surface 28. The upper interior surface 26 is adapted to interact with the rim 16 of the container 12. Specifically, the upper interior surface 26 includes three shoulders 30 that extend inwardly towards the center of the closure 10 provide for the closure 10 to be snapped on to the rim 16 to hold the contents in the container 12. It will be understood and appreciated that it is within the scope of the present invention to include more or less than three shoulders on the skirt 24 to releasably hold the closure 10 on the container 12. The lower interior surface 28 is offset from upper surface 26 to form a recess 32. More specifically, the diameter of the lower interior surface 28 is greater than the diameter of the upper interior surface 26. This difference in diameter provides for the recess 32 in the skirt 24. The recess 32 is provided to enable a lock ring 34 to fit therein, as described in more detail below. Further, and as best seen in FIG. 1, a cutout 36 is formed in the skirt 24 to provide access to the lock ring 34 to facilitate tearing the lock ring 34 away from skirt 24. It is within the scope of this invention to include more than one cutout to allow for the tearing away of the lock ring 34 from the skirt 24.

[0024] As best seen in FIGS. 2, 4 and 5, the lock ring 34 is used as a locking mechanism and includes an outer surface 38 and a free edge 40. the lock ring 34 is hingedly coupled with the skirt 24 along a weakened tear line 42. The lock ring 34 is to be folded inwardly along tear line 42 and will then be received in recess 32. In particular, when the lock ring 34 is placed in the recess 32, the outer surface 38 of the lock ring 34 is generally flush with the upper interior surface 26 of the skirt 24. It will be understood and appreciated that it is within the scope of the present invention to alter the depth of the recess 32, or the thickness of the lock ring 34, so that the outside surface 38 of the lock ring 34 has a larger diameter relative to the diameter of the upper interior surface 26 of the skirt 24 when the lock ring 34 is positioned in the recess 32 to enable the skirt 24 to be placed around the rim 16 without interference from the lock ring 34. Therefore, the lock ring 34 may be folded inwardly toward the lower interior surface 28 prior to placing the closure 10 around the open end of the container 12 without interference from the lock ring 34. Thus, the existence of the recess 32 eliminates the need for an additional machine or process to fold the lock ring 34 inwardly after the closure 10 has been placed over the open end of the container 12. As best seen in FIG. 3, the tear line 42 in turn allows the lock ring 34 to be detached or removed from the skirt 24 to permit the closure 10 to be removed from container 12.

[0025] In use, the closure 10 is initially in the form shown in FIG. 2 with the lock ring 34 extending downwardly from the skirt 24. As best seen in FIG. 6, the lock ring 34 is then bent or folded inwardly along the tear line 42 to form a V-shape with the lower interior surface 28 of the skirt 24. Two or more closures 10 may be stacked on top of each other to facilitate the storage and shipping of the closures 10. Contents, such as ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt and the like, are then placed in the container 12. As best seen in FIG. 5, the closure 10 is then slid over the open end of the container 12 in the direction of arrow 44. In particular, as the closure 10 is placed over the open end of the container 12, the outer surface 38 of the lock ring 34 comes into contact with the rim 16 of the container 12 and the lock ring 34 is pushed into the recess 32. At this point, the outer surface 38 of the lock ring 34 and the upper interior surface 26 of the skirt 24 are generally flush or level with one another.

[0026] As best seen in FIG. 4, the closure 10 is then pushed down to a point where the shoulders 30 are in contact with the rim 16 and the closure 10 is seated on the rim 16. The lock ring 34 then extends or springs toward the side wall 14 of the container 12 so that the free edge 40 of the lock ring 34 is positioned beneath the lip 18 of the container 12. Once the lock ring 34 is positioned beneath the lip 18, the lock ring 34 operates as a locking mechanism to secure the closure 10 to the rim 16 until the lock ring 34 is torn away from the skirt 24. In the present invention, the lock ring 34 may be folded inwardly along the tear line 42 prior to being slid over the rim 16 of the container 12. This eliminates the need for an additional machine or process to activate the locking mechanism by folding the lock ring 34 inwardly after the skirt 24 is placed around the rim 16. The prior art disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,493,432 to Smith did not, because of its lack of a recess 32, permit the lock ring 34 to be folded inwardly prior to assembly of the lid container.

[0027] To remove the lock ring 34 from the closure 10, the lock ring 34 may be grasped through the cutout 36 of the skirt 24 by a user and pulled in the direction of arrow 46 in FIG. 3. This motion breaks the lock ring 34 away from the skirt 24 along the weakened tear line 42. The severed lock ring 34 may then be discarded. After the lock ring 34 has been removed, the shoulders 30 help the closure 10 on the open end of the container 12 through the use of friction, thread and groove or other like configurations that would allow the closure 10 to be removably coupled to the container 12. The closure 10 may then be removed from the container 12 by pulling upwardly on the skirt 24 until the shoulders 30 are no longer able to hold the closure 10 on the rim 16 of the container 12. Once the closure 10 is removed, a user may access the contents of the container 12. After the lock ring 34 is torn away from the skirt 24, the closure 10 may be then re-coupled with the rim 16 of the container 10. Specifically, the shoulders 30 are placed in contact with the rim 16 and operate hold the closure 10 on the container 12 through the use of friction, thread and groove or other lid fastening means.

[0028] The condition of the lock ring 34 provides notice as to whether the contents within the container 12 may have disturbed, tampered with or exposed to the external environment. If the lock ring 34 is still present and the tear line 42 has not been broken, then the closure 12 has not been removed from the container 12 and the contents within the container 12 have not been exposed to the external environment. However, if the lock ring 34 is not present or the tear line 42 has been broken, then the closure 10 has potentially been removed from the container 10 and the contents within the container 12 may have been tampered with or exposed to the external environment.

[0029] From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure. It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the invention.

[0030] Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative of applications of the principles of this invention, and not in a limiting sense.