Title:
Tamper indicating closure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tamper indicating closure for a container wherein the closure has a skirt with tamper indicating tabs positioned in windows and the tabs have lips for abutting a bead on the container so as to break the tabs from the closure when the closure is removed from the container. Each tab being joined to a skirt of the closure by one or more side connectors and not being connected or joined in anyway to the skirt by an upper surface of the tab so as to resist reseating of the tab in its original position when the closure is replaced on the container.



Inventors:
Pehr, Harold T. (Shawnee Mission, KS, US)
Application Number:
10/153019
Publication Date:
11/27/2003
Filing Date:
05/21/2002
Assignee:
PEHR HAROLD T.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D41/34; (IPC1-7): B65D41/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John C. McMahon (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is as follows:



1. A tamper indicating cap for use with a container wherein said cap is adapted to close a mouth to an interior of the container and wherein the container has container threads in close proximity to the mouth thereof; said cap comprising: a) a top wall with a skirt extending substantially perpendicularly from said top wall and having mating threads thereon adapted to threadedly mate with said container threads; b) said cap being adapted for sealing engagement with said container mouth; and c) at least one tamper indicating tab initially integrally joined with said skirt by at least one frangible side connector that operably breaks and allows said tab move away from the original position of such tab relative to the skirt, when said cap is removed from the container; each of said tabs having an upper edge and being free of connection with said skirt entirely along said upper edge.

2. The cap according to claim 1, wherein: a) each of said tabs is positioned at the base of said skirt.

3. The cap according to claim 2, wherein: a) each of said tabs includes a lower lip that projects radially inward and is sized and shaped for substantially non-flexible engagement with a portion of the container so as to bias such a tab away from said skirt when said cap is removed from the closure.

4. The cap according in claim 2, wherein: a) said tabs are originally joined to said skirt by first and second breakable connectors located on opposite sides of such a tab.

5. The cap according to claim 4 wherein for each said tab: a) said first connector is comparatively stronger than said second connector, such that said second connector preferentially breaks first upon said cap being removed from the container and such that an associated tab first rotates outward about a generally vertical hinge formed by said first connector, when said cap is removed from the container.

6. The cap according to claim 1 in combination with the container and wherein: a) said container includes a seating bead positioned to engage each tab lip when said cap is positioned fully on said container in a mouth closing orientation.

7. A tamper indicating apparatus including: a) a container having an internal cavity that is closed except at a mouth thereof; said container including an external container thread in close proximity to said mouth and a seating bead; b) a cap having a top wall with an under surface sized and shaped to seal said mouth when said cap is fully received on said container and a skirt depending from said top wall; said skirt having an internal mating thread that is sized, shaped and positioned to mate with said container thread and operably advance said cap onto said container and secure the cap relative to said container; c) said skirt having at least one lower window located therein; and d) said skirt also having at least one tamper indicating tab that is sized and shaped to initially fit into a respective window; each of said tabs having first and second opposed and frangible side connectors; each as said first and second side connectors breakably joining a respective tab to said skirt; each of said tabs having an upper surface that is free of connection to said skirt along an entire length thereof; each of said tabs also having a radially inward projecting lip that is sized and shaped to engage said seating bead when said cap is fully received on said container, such that when said cap is thereafter removed from said container, said lip hooks on said bead and biases an associated tab away from said skirt so as to break at least one of said first and second connectors and urge said tab out of a respective window.

8. The apparatus according to claim 7 wherein: a) each of said first connectors is sized and shaped to preferentially break first before an associated second connector.

9. In a closure cap for a container having a tamper indicating tab; the improvement comprising: a) said tamper tab being joined to a remainder of said cap by at least one side connector and having an upper surface that is completely free of and unjoined to the remainder of said cap so as to prevent said tab from being hinged to a remainder of said cap by said upper surface.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a tamper indicating mechanism for a container closure or cap and, in particular, to tamper indicating tabs that are separated from a remainder of the cap when the cap is first opened so as to indicate to subsequent potential users that the associated container has been previously opened and perhaps tampered with.

[0002] Screw on type caps are used for containers and bottles dispensing a wide variety of liquids, such as carbonated beverages, medicants and water. With growing concerns associated with tampering, it has become important to be able to easily determine whether the cap has been previously removed, so as to warn a potential user that the product in the container may have been the subject of tampering.

[0003] Prior art caps have included tamper indicating tabs that hinge or hang from an upper connector and that have an inwardly directed flange or bead that engages the threads of the container as the cap is unscrewed, so as to push the lower end of each tab outwardly. In this way, the lower side of the tab protrudes outward as the cap is removed and this is intended to indicate that the cap has been previously removed. The problem with such devices has been that the tabs remain connected to the cap by an upper hinge that allows for easy repositioning of the tab when the closure is replaced on the container. Such tabs may even easily rotate on the top connector back to their original position due to gravity. Thus, a tamperer can remove the cap, tamper with the contents, replace the cap and then push the tabs back to their original position or the tabs may fall back to their original position. Even though the tabs may be broken loose on the sides, they simply fold back into place and are held by the upper hinge like connector in that position, so as to give the erroneous impression to the casual viewer that the cap has not been previously opened.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] A screw on closure or cap for a container has a depending skirt with at least one tamper indicating tab that is connected to the cap by breakaway or frangible side elements or connectors so that, when the cap is unscrewed from the container, the tabs break from the cap and cannot be easily returned to their original position. Where it is necessary for environmental reasons to retain the tabs with the closure, it is foreseen that one side connector can be made heavier or stronger, so the tab swings to the side of an opening therefore on the heavier connector when the lighter connector breaks, so that gravity does not cause it to reset when the cap is replaced on the container. Further, the heavier connector can be constructed to allow only a single flexure to the side and, so that even the heavier connector will break due to fatigue, if returned to an original window site for the tab.

[0005] Each tab includes a lower radially inward lip that is sized and positioned to engage a bead on the container, so that the tab is biased or pushed radially outward and downward relative to the skirt of the closure, when the closure is removed from the container. The outward movement of the tab breaks the side elements or connectors, so that the tab preferably fully separates from a remainder of the cap. Each tab is free of an upper hinge element or any connection of any kind along the entire upper surface thereof relative to the remainder of the cap, so that the tab does not remain connected by such a hinge element, so that the tab does not simply swing back down into a window therefor, if the cap is replaced.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0006] Therefore, the objects of the present invention are: to provide a closure for a container with a tamper indicating tab that is not subject to easy replacement in a window in which the tab is initially located, when the closure is replaced on the container, so as to visually indicate to a subsequent user that the closure has been previously opened; to provide such a closure wherein each tab is connected to the closure by a frangible or breakable connector element that is broken as the closure is opened; to provide such a closure wherein each tab is not connected by a top surface thereof to a remainder of the closure, but only by at least one side connector element along a side thereof; to provide such a closure wherein the tab has a lower lip or cam that engages a bead located on the container when the closure is opened so as to urge a lower end of the tab radially outward and break the frangible connector element connecting the tab to the closure; and to provide such a closure that is easy to manufacture, relatively inexpensive to produce and especially well suited for the intended purpose thereof.

[0007] Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein are set forth, by way of illustration and example, certain embodiments of this invention.

[0008] The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments of the present invention and illustrate various objects and features thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a bottle with a closure cap having tamper indicating tabs in accordance with the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 is an enlarged and fragmentary front elevational view of a portion of the cap and one of the tamper indicating tabs.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the cap and the tamper indicating tab shown in FIG. 2, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of the bottle showing installation of the cap.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of the bottle with the cap installed thereon.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the bottle and cap, taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of the bottle and cap similar to FIG. 6 except showing the tamper indicating tabs breaking away upon opening the cap.

[0016] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the cap showing one of the tamper indicating tabs broken therefrom.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0017] As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.

[0018] The reference numeral 1 generally indicates a tamper indicating cap or closure utilized in conjunction with a container or bottle 2.

[0019] The bottle 2 is especially adapted to hold food, beverage or medicinals for human consumption or intake, wherein it is desirable to ensure that the contents of the bottle 2 have not been subjected to tampering, either by addition of poison or some other dangerous substance or to ensure that the contents have not been depleted or at least partially removed and possibly replaced by something else resulting in less potency, especially with respect to medicine. The bottle 1 comprises a fully enclosed and sealed body 5 with an internal cavity 6 opening to the outside only through a mouth 7 at the distal end of a neck 8 of the bottle 1.

[0020] A seating bead 15 extends circumferentially about the bottle neck 8 in spaced relation to the mouth 7. Located between the bead 15 and the mouth 7 is a helically wound bead or threadform 16. The threadform 16 extends radially outward from the neck 8. The threadform 16 extends downward from near a top surface 18 of the bottle neck 8 to near the bead 15.

[0021] The closure 1 has a circular top wall 20 with a periphery 21 from which depends a generally cylindrically shaped ring or skirt 21. The illustrated skirt 21 has a plurality of vertically extending grooves 22 that provide additional traction or friction to a user trying to open or close the closure 1.

[0022] As is best seen in FIG. 6, the skirt 21 has an interior that has generally cylindrical shaped surface 25. Intermediately mounted on the skirt interior surface 25 is a mating bead or threadform 26 which is sized and shaped to matingly and threadedly engage the threadform 16 so as to advance the closure 1 onto the bottle 2 and secure the closure 1 on the bottle 2. The threadforms 16 and 26 allow the closure 1 to also be removed form the bottle 1 by counterclockwise unscrewing of the closure 1, as is shown in FIG. 7 and described further below.

[0023] When the closure 1 is fully screwed on the bottle neck 8, as is shown in FIG. 6, the bottle top surface 18 engages and seals against an inner and lower surface 29 of the closure top wall 20.

[0024] The illustrated embodiment includes two tamper indicating tabs 35 mounted along a lower edge 36 of the closure skirt 21 in spaced relationship to one another. While two such tabs 35 are shown in the illustrated embodiment, it is foreseen that one or more than two could be used in accordance with the invention.

[0025] Each of the tabs 35 are mounted in a respective window 37 at the lower end of the skirt 21. Each of the windows 37 is slightly larger than the respective tab 35 that goes into the window 37 so as to form a channel or gap 38 around opposite sides and the top of each tab 35. In particular, the gap 38 has a left segment 40 on a left side (as viewed in FIG. 2), a top segment 41 at the top of each tab 35 and a right segment 42 on a right side thereof. Each tab 35 is joined to the skirt 21 by a first break off element or connector 45 passing through the left gap segment 40 and a second break off element or connecter 40 passing through the right gap segment 42, although it is foreseen that only one could be used or more than one connector could be used on each side. Thus the gap 38 is discontinuous on the left and right, but continuous or non joining to the skirt 21 with respect to a top surface 47 of each tab 35. Preferably, one of the connecters 45 or 46, here connecter 45, is larger or wider than the other, so as to be stronger.

[0026] An inwardly projecting bead or lip 50 extends radially inward from near a bottom edge 51 of each tab 35. Each lip 50 has an angular radially inward surface 52 to facilitate placement of the closure 1 on the bottle 2 and a generally flat upper surface 53. Each lip 50 thus forms a hook like structure that is sized and shaped to grasp around and hook the bottle seating bead 15, as is shown in FIG. 6.

[0027] The closure 1 is initially normally installed on the bottle 2 by use of a commonly utilized caping machine 55 that is partially shown in FIG. 4 and that has a sleeve 56 that is sized to snugly hold and encircle the closure 1, as the closure 1 is screwed onto the bottle 2. This allows the inward lip surface 52 to somewhat elastically deform and slip over the bead 15 to the position shown in FIG. 6 without breaking the connectors 45 and 46. The sleeve 56 is then removed, as shown in FIG. 5.

[0028] When a user 60 thereafter attempts to remove the closure 1 from the bottle 2, as shown in FIG. 7, the user 60 starts to unscrew the closure 1 by counterclockwise rotation thereof. The lips 50 of the tabs 35 grasp or hook on the bead 15 and resist removal. This causes one or both of the connectors 45 and 46 to break due to tensile and radial forces that pull downward and outward on the tabs 35 relative to the skirt 21, as the closure 1 unscrews form the bottle 2. These forces act to break at least one of the frangible and breakable connectors 45 and 46.

[0029] Shown in FIG. 8 is a tab 35 broken form the skirt 21. A pair of tabs 35 are seen breaking form the skirt 21 in FIG. 7. As the tabs 35 are not connected in any way by the tab top surface 47, the tabs 35 do not hinge at the top relative to the skirt 21 and either break entirely from the skirt 21 or rotate to the side of a respective window 37, so that the tabs 35 do not later easily fall due to gravity or the like back into a respective window 37, when the closure 1 is returned to the bottle 2 by a user 60.

[0030] As was noted above, the connecter 45 may be larger than the connecter 46 so that the connecter 46 selectively breaks and the connecter 45 holds the tab 35 to the side of a respective window 37, where dispersal of such tabs 35 is environmentally unwanted or undesired. The tabs 35 thus swing sideways when they remain joined to the skirt 21 by the connecter 45 and do not fall back into place due to gravity or the like when the closure 1 is returned to bottle 2.

[0031] It is to be understood that while certain forms of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, it is not to be limited to the specific forms or arrangement of parts described and shown.