Title:
Bottled products storage, transportation and display apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device and method for storing, transporting and displaying bottled products in a generally inverted position. Bottled products are placed within a device which either totally inverts or substantially inverts a bottled product in a holder. The bottled product holder can be used for storing bottled products, for the transportation of bottled products in a generally inverted manner, or for the display a of bottled products at the point of sale. Various embodiments made from an assortment of materials comprise stands and holders which capture the top and neck portion of bottled products to hold the products in a generally inverted position.



Inventors:
Gangloff, Rodney W. (Joshua, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/405152
Publication Date:
05/13/2004
Filing Date:
04/02/2003
Assignee:
GANGLOFF RODNEY W.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/311.3
International Classes:
A47B73/00; A47F7/28; (IPC1-7): A47B73/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
THOMPSON, HUGH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:

What I claim is:



1. A bottled product holder comprising a base having a plurality of openings sized, shaped, and located to hold a plurality of bottled products in a generally inverted position.

2. The bottled product holder of claim 1 wherein the base comprises an upper surface and the plurality of openings are located in the upper surface.

3. The bottled product holder of claim 2 wherein the plurality of openings are generally cylindrical.

4. The bottled product holder of claim 3 wherein the plurality of openings retain the bottled product in a generally vertical position through contact of an interior surface of the plurality of openings with a neck portion of the bottled product.

5. The bottled product holder of claim 4 wherein the plurality of openings retain the bottled products at an angle of from about 30 degrees to about 90 degrees to the upper surface.

6. The bottled product holder of claim 1 wherein the base further comprises a plurality of neck tubes to support the bottled products in a generally inverted position.

7. The bottled product holder of claim 6 wherein the plurality of neck tubes retain the bottled products at an angle of from about 30 degrees to about 90 degrees to the upper surface.

8. The bottled product holder of claim 1 wherein the base further comprises a plurality of rings located within the plurality of openings.

9. The bottled product holder of claim 1 wherein the base further comprises a plurality of retention devices located within the plurality of openings, the retention devices being made from an elastometric material which will allow a top of the bottled product to be inserted into each of the plurality of openings while still being capable of retaining the bottled product in a generally inverted position.

10. The bottled product holder of claim 9 wherein the retention devices are held within the plurality of openings by an adhesive.

11. The bottled product holder of claim 10 wherein the plurality of openings include a slot for insertion of the retention devices.

12. The bottled product holder of claim 1 wherein the base is made from a deformable material, and wherein the plurality of openings are sized and shaped to accept a neck of a bottled product and some portion of a main body of the bottled product.

13. The bottled product holder of claim 12 wherein the base is made from a plastic material and the plurality of openings are formed into the plastic material.

14. The bottled product holder of claim 13 wherein the bottled product is supported in a generally inverted manner by surface contact between an inner surface of the plurality of openings in the base and portions of the bottled product.

15. The bottled product holder of claim 12 wherein the base is made from a polystyrene-like material and the plurality of openings are formed into the polystyrene-like material.

16. A bottled product holder comprising: a base having an upper surface; a plurality of openings in the upper surface of the base, wherein the plurality of openings are sized, shaped, and located to hold a plurality of bottled products in a generally inverted position; and means for attaching the base to a mounting surface.

17. The bottled product holder of claim 16 wherein the means for attaching the base to a mounting surface includes at least one opening in the base into which a fastener is placed and wherein the fastener connects to the mounting surface to captivate the base between the fastener and the mounting surface.

18. The bottled product holder of claim 16 wherein the means for attaching the base to a mounting surface includes an adhesive to attach the base to the mounting surface.

19. A bottled product holder comprising: a plurality of bases, each base having an upper surface; an opening in the upper surface of each of the plurality of bases; a neck tube located in the opening in each of the plurality of bases wherein the neck tubes are sized and shaped to retain a bottled product in a generally inverted position; and a hold down device for capturing the plurality of bases between the hold down device and a mounting surface.

20. The bottled product holder of claim 19 wherein the hold down device allows the plurality of bases to slide between the hold down device and the mounting surface.

21. The bottled product holder of claim 20 wherein the hold down device includes two parallel bars attached to the mounting surface such that the plurality of bases are capable of sliding on the mounting surface und beneath the two parallel bars.

22. The process of providing a bottled product holder comprising the steps of: providing a base with an upper surface; and providing means for retaining bottled products in a generally vertical position in relation to the upper surface.

23. The process of claim 22 wherein the means for retaining bottled products in a generally vertical position in relation to the upper surface includes providing a plurality of openings in the upper surface.

24. The process of claim 23 wherein the base is made from a plastic material into which the plurality of openings have been formed.

25. A bottled product holder comprising: a base made from plastic material and having an upper surface and a lower surface; a plurality of openings located in the upper surface, each of the plurality of openings being sized, shaped, and located to generally match the shape of a bottle and being capable of holding the bottle in an inverted position within each of the plurality of openings.

26. The bottled product holder of claim 25 wherein the plurality of openings are formed into the plastic material by a vacuum forming process.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of provisional application Serial No. 60/368,939 filed Apr. 2, 2002.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] 1. Field of the Invention

[0004] This invention relates in general to wine bottle handling, and, more particularly, to an apparatus and method for the storage, transportation, and display of bottled products in a generally inverted position.

[0005] 2. Description of Related Art

[0006] A wide range of products are currently packaged and sold in various styles and shapes of bottled containers. Although carbonated beverages and wine are perhaps the most prevalent items packaged in bottles, other items such as condiments and automotive supplies are also packaged in bottles. Despite this wide range of products, there is a common need to store, transport, and display each of these bottled products.

[0007] Certain types of products have unique problems associated with their storage, transportation, and display. This is particularly true of wine bottles. The integrity of the taste of a wine is almost always dependant upon the ability of the wine to ferment and cure properly within its bottle. A large majority of these wine bottles use a cork to seal the top of the bottle after the wine has been placed within the bottle. While cork seals are generally good for sealing wine bottle, the ability of the cork seal to remain operable depends in great part upon the moisture content of the cork seal. For example, if a wine bottle with a cork seal is stored for extended periods in an upright position with the cork seal at the top of the bottle and the bottom of the bottle resting on flat surface, the cork seal will dry out after a certain period of time. Once the cork seal becomes dry, the sealing ability of the cork seal may be compromised resulting in wine becoming less tasteful and in some cases completely unpalatable. Wine connoisseurs are well aware of this effect and take care to buy wine in bottles that appear to have maintained their sealed condition.

[0008] There are a number of variations on the style of wine racks which have been developed and invented. U.S. Pat. No. 5,826,731 issued to Dardashti discloses one type of wine rack which acknowledges the need to place bottles in a position to keep the cork seal moist. That invention consists of a wine rack made from a wire frame that can be shipped to an end user in a disassembled state. However, the wine rack is unable to be used for transportation of wine bottles and is generally unsuitable for display of wine at a point of sale location.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,219,072 issued to Sauer also discloses a wine storage device in which the wine bottles are transported in an inverted position. However, this invention has very limited capacity and is able to transport only two bottles of wine. Additionally, the device is unsuitable for either long term storage or display of wine at the point of sale.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 5,025,936 issued to Lamoureaux discloses a wine rack for use in storing or displaying wine bottles. However, the invention does not incorporate the ability to store or display the wine bottles in a manner which would ensure the cork seal will be kept moist by remaining in contact with the contents of the wine bottle. The invention has no capability for transportation of the wine bottles. As a result, the invention is not suitable for storing or transportation of wine bottles or other bottled products.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 5,439,110 issued to Regan shows a shipping with the ability of holding two tier of necked bottles. The lower tier is placed in an upright position, while the upper tier is placed in an inverted position. While the invention may be suitable for shipping and possibly storing bottled products, the device has no capability to display the bottled products.

[0012] Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 4,971,209 issued to Todd discloses a device to hold bottles in an inverted position to allow the remnants of bottle's contents to move toward the top of the bottle. The invention requires an adjustment mechanism to allow for the storage of various bottle shapes and sizes. However, the device is unsuitable for either shipping or display of large numbers of bottled products at retail points of sale.

[0013] There is thus a need for a device and method which can be used to store or display inverted bottled products.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] This invention is a device for storing, shipping, and displaying bottled products, including wine and carbonated beverages, in an inverted position. The invention generally comprises a base portion with a number of openings designed to captivate the top and upper neck portion of bottles. Other components of the invention assist the base in retaining the bottles in either a perpendicular inverted position or in an angled position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a side view of the first embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a side view of the second embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a section view of a third embodiment of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 5A is a partial top view of the third embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 6 is a section view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of one type of installation of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 8 is a second perspective view showing one type of installation of the present invention.

[0024] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of one type of manufacturing style for making the base of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 10 is a section view of one type of manufacturing style for making the base of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 11 is a section view of a fifth embodiment of the present invention.

[0027] FIG. 12 is a top view of a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

[0028] FIG. 13 is a section view of the sixth embodiment of the present invention.

[0029] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

[0030] FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a seventh embodiment of the present invention shown without the bottled products.

[0031] FIG. 16 is a section view of the present invention wherein the base is made from a polystyrene product.

[0032] FIG. 17 is a section view of the present invention wherein the base is made from a formed plastic product.

[0033] FIG. 18 is a section view of the present invention showing possible sizes and shapes of the plurality of openings.

[0034] Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0035] Referring now to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the present invention is shown. A bottled product holder A comprises a base 1 having a top surface 2 and a bottom surface 3. A plurality of openings 4 are generally cylindrical and are located in the base such that the openings are in the top surface 3 of the base 1. In one embodiment of the present invention, all of the plurality of openings 4 are the same size and there is an equal distance between the axes of any two adjacent openings. The horizontal distance between each of the plurality of openings is adjusted to allow for the inverted placement of a bottle in the hole and is adjusted to match the diameter and shape of the bottle to be placed into the plurality of openings. The axes of all of the plurality of openings is perpendicular to the top surface 2 of the base 1.

[0036] The base 1 may be made of any material as long as the material is capable of supporting a bottle in an inverted position. Examples of suitable materials would be wood, solid plastic, plastic which has been formed by injection molding or thermal vacuum forming, or any rigid metal. Additionally, the base 1 may be hollow or solid as long as the base has the ability to retain the bottles in an inverted position.

[0037] In operation, a plurality of bottles 5 are placed into the plurality of openings 4 in the top surface 3 of the base 1. Although FIG. 1 shows all of the bottles being the same size and shape, it will be understood that the plurality of openings 4 may be adjusted in diameter and location to accommodate a variety of different sizes and shapes of bottles.

[0038] In an alternative embodiment, the base 1 may have the ability for attachment to a shelf or other supporting means. For example, FIG. 1 shows a base 1 having a proximal end 6 and a distal end 7, with a mounting slots 8 located near the proximal end 6 and the distal ends 7 of the base 1. The slots 8 allow for the attachment of the base 1 to another flat surface to prevent the tipping or sliding of the base in relation to the flat surface. In other embodiments, the base 1 may be attached to the flat surface with adhesives or fastening devices.

[0039] FIG. 2 shows another embodiment of the present invention. This embodiment is identical to the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 with the exception that that the plurality of openings 10 are not perpendicular to the top surface 11 of the base 12, but are instead at an angle θ other than ninety degrees to the top surface 11. The angle θ is dependent upon the size and shape of the bottle 9 to be placed within the plurality of openings 10. In most cases, the angle θ will be between 30 degrees and 90 degrees.

[0040] FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of the present invention. The embodiment shown in FIG. 3 is the same in all respects as the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 except for the design of the base 13 in FIG. 3. The base 13 is thinner than the base 1 in FIG. 1 and the base 12 in FIG. 2. While the bottles are still inverted, the plurality of openings 14 in the base 13 do not act to completely support the bottles in an inverted position. Instead, a plurality of neck tubes 15 are installed into each of the plurality of openings 14 and the upper rim 16 of the neck tubes 15 contact the neck of the bottle to support the bottle in the inverted position. As shown in FIG. 4, the neck tubes 15 may be installed to the base 13 at an angle between 30 degrees and 90 degrees to the base similar to the embodiment in FIG. 2.

[0041] FIG. 5 and FIG. 5A show another embodiment of the present invention. This embodiment is the same as the embodiment shown FIG. 3 with the exception of the difference in the number of openings and the manner of attachment of the base 16 to a flat surface 19. In this embodiment, each of a plurality of bases 16 have a neck tube 24 and the bases 16 are held in a sliding arrangement between a hold down device 18 and a flat surface 19. Each of the bases have the ability to slide to various locations beneath the hold down device 18.

[0042] The base 16 has a single opening 17 rather than the FIG. 1 embodiment which shows a plurality of openings 4. The base 16 is attached to a flat surface by a hold down device 18. The hold down device 18 comprises two parallel bars 20 and two end bars 21. The spacing between the two parallel bars 20 is adjusted and determined by the size and shape of the bottle to be placed in the base 16. The two end bars 21 attach to the flat surface 19 by installing fasteners 22 through the mounting holes 23 in each of the two end bars 21. It will be understood while FIG. 5 shows screw type fasteners 22 to attach the hold down device 18 to the flat surface 19, other fastening means such as rivets, adhesives, and hold down clips may also be used to attach the hold down device 18 to the flat surface 19. It will also be understood that while FIG. 5 shows only three bases 16, any number of bases 16 may be located beneath the hold down device 18.

[0043] As shown in FIG. 6, the neck tubes 24 may be installed at an angle to the base, similar to the neck tubes 15 shown in FIG. 4. In most cases, the angle θ will again be between 30 degrees and 90 degrees.

[0044] FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 show one manner of grouping a number of bottled product holders A onto a shelf 26 to display a number of bottled products in an inverted position. In this application, each of the bottled product holders A are placed side by side and are attached to the shelf 26. As previously indicated, bolts screws, rivets, or adhesives may be used to attach the bottled product holders A to the shelf 26. While the bottled product holders A are shown mounted perpendicular to the longitudinal length of the shelf 26, it will be appreciated that the bottled product holders may also be mounted parallel to the longitudinal length of the shelf 26 or in any combination of both perpendicular or parallel arrangement.

[0045] In each of the above embodiments, the base of the bottled product holder A is configured to retain a bottle in an inverted position. It is important to note that the manner of manufacturing the base may be varied in anyway so long as the characteristics described in the previous embodiments are retained. For example, FIG. 9 and FIG. 10 show how the base 27 may be manufactured using a plastic injection process. The base 27 is generally hollow and has four sides 28 which attach to a top surface 29. The top surface 29 has a plurality of openings 30 which have been formed into the top surface 29. The diameter, depth, spacing, and shape of the plurality of openings 30 are adjusted as needed to match the size and shape of the bottle to be inserted into the plurality of openings 30. The base 27 may be attached to a flat surface by screws, bolts, rivets, latches, clips, connectors, or adhesive. The base 27 may also be manufactured using a thermal vacuum process and is generally similar in all other respects to the base 27 in FIG. 9.

[0046] In each of the above embodiments which do not use neck tubes, the plurality of openings in the base do not require that an insert be placed into the plurality of openings into which the top and neck of the bottle is placed. However, in some circumstances, it may be desirable to protect the surface of the bottle with a soft material which reduces the chance that the bottle surface may be damaged or scratched. In that situation, a soft plastic ring 33 as shown in FIG. 11 may be inserted into each of the plurality of openings 34 in the base 35. When the bottle is inserted into one of the openings 34, the top rim 36 of the bottle and the neck 37 of the bottle contact the soft plastic ring 33.

[0047] In the alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 12 and FIG. 13, at least three retention devices 38 are inserted into the plurality of openings 39 in the base 40. The retention pads 38 are made from a soft material such as rubber and protrude into one of the plurality of openings 39. The amount of protrusion of the retaining pads 38 into the opening is such that the top of the bottle 41 to be placed into the opening will be able to slip past the retention pads 38 when installing the bottle 41 into the opening 39, but will nevertheless be gripped by the retention pads 38 once the top of the bottle 41 reaches the bottom 42 of the opening 39. The gap G between the bottom of the retention pads 38 and the bottom 42 of the opening 39 is sized to be just enough to hold the top rim 43 of the bottle 41 between the bottom of the retention pad 38 and the bottom 42 of the opening 39. The retention pads 38 may be attached to the base 40 by adhesives alone or by placing slots 44 at intervals within the opening 39 which allow the retention pad 38 to slide into the slot 44. Adhesives may or may not be used to keep the retention pad within the slot 44.

[0048] The bottle 41 in FIG. 13 is shown placed in a vertically inverted position, however, as in the previous embodiments, the opening 39 may be at an angle to the top surface 41 of the base 40 such as to display the bottles 41 in an inverted position which is at an angle to the top surface 41 of the base 40 similar to FIG. 2.

[0049] In another embodiment as shown in FIG.'s 14, 15, 16, and 17, the plurality of openings 46 in the base 47 are not just cylindrical holes used to accept a top 49 of a bottle and a neck 50 of the bottle, but are instead sized and shaped to accept the top of the bottle 49, the neck of the bottle 50, any upper rim of the bottle, and at least some portion of the main body 52B of the bottle 51. In the previous embodiments, the bottle 51 was retained in its inverted position through contact of the top 49 of the bottle 51 and the neck 50 of the bottle 51 with the bottom of the opening, the side of the opening, and the upper edge of the opening in the base. In the present alternative embodiment, the bottle 51 is generally supported through surface contact between some portion of the main body 52B of the bottle 51 and the interior surface 53 of the openings 46 in the base 47. Because at least some of the shape of the openings 46 conforms to the upper portion of the main body 52B of the bottle 51, the bottle 51 is held in a generally inverted position within the openings 46. The bottom of the openings 46 may be either open or closed. Again, however, while FIG. 's 14, 15, 16, and 17 show the bottles 51 inverted in a perpendicular position, the openings 46 may be oriented such that the bottles 51 are displayed in a generally inverted position, but at some angle to the top surface 56 of the base 47. It is understood that in the present embodiment, the base 47 may be placed upon a shelf or upon a stand, and the bottled products are then displayed by placing the inverted bottles into the formed openings of the base 47.

[0050] It will be appreciated that the base 47 for this embodiment may be manufactured in a number of ways. For example, the shape of the neck of the bottle may be molded into a polystyrene-type material as shown in FIG. 16. Or, the base 47 may be made from molded plastic wherein the shape of the upper portion of the bottled product to be displayed is formed into the molded plastic as shown in FIG. 17. It is also appreciated that the design of the base 47 may be varied as long as the base 47 comprises an upper surface 57 and a plurality of openings 46 sized, shaped, and located in the upper surface 57 such that shape of the plurality of openings 46 are sufficient to hold the bottled products in a generally inverted manner.

[0051] While this embodiment shows how the bottled product holder A can be used for displaying bottles, the same concept is also applicable to the storing and transporting of bottled products. In that situation, the base 47 is placed within a shipping carton (not shown) and the bottled products are placed within the plurality of openings 46 in the base 47 in an inverted position. The shipping carton may then be sealed and shipped to its retail destination. Once at its destination, the retailer unseals the shipping carton and then displays the bottled products in the bottom remaining portion of the shipping carton.

[0052] When bottled products are displayed in the bottled product holder A, the manufacturer of the bottled product can invert the label or markings on the bottled product. In this manner, the purchasing customer will be able to read the label or markings on the bottle without removing the bottle from the bottled product holder A. The inversion of the labels on the bottled product may be used to enhance the fact that a wine producer is protecting the integrity of the wine in the bottle, or the inversion may be a unique marketing effect used to promote a particular aspect of other products such as carbonated beverages. The bottles shown in FIG. 18 show one example of placing inverted labels on bottles.

[0053] In each of the above inventions, information about the bottled product being displayed in the bottled product holder A may be provided by means of an information card 56 (FIG. 1 through FIG. 4) placed onto the base. The information included may be characteristics regarding the contents of the bottled product or may include other related information such as recipes, sales promotions, contest, coupons, or other types of sales incentives related to the bottled product being displayed. In all cases, the information card 56 may be either permanently attached to the base or may consist of a pad of multiple copies of the information card 56 which may be torn off and retained by the customer.

[0054] In all of the above embodiment, the plurality of openings in each base are of only one size and shape. Nevertheless, the scope of the present invention also includes a base wherein the size shape and location of each of the plurality of openings may be different as shown in FIG. 18.

[0055] While the above description describes various embodiments of the present invention, it will be clear that the present invention may be otherwise easily adapted to fit any configuration where a device for storing, shipping or displaying a bottled product in a generally inverted position may be utilized.

[0056] In view of the above, it will be seen that the several objects of the invention are achieved and other advantageous results attained. As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.





 
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