Title:
Decoding systems for multi-part messages and related methods of decoding messages
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Multi-part message decoding systems and methods are disclosed herein. In one embodiment, a decoding system comprises a container having an openable orifice on a portion of the container. In addition, the system comprises a cover piece removeably coupled over the orifice, where the cover piece has a first portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof. The decoding system still further comprises a message component having a second portion of a message, where the cover piece is affixable to the message component to combine the first and second portions to complete the message.



Inventors:
Mcclintock, Kenneth (Dallas, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/455225
Publication Date:
06/10/2004
Filing Date:
06/04/2003
Assignee:
Advercan, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/459.5
International Classes:
G09F3/02; G09F23/00; (IPC1-7): B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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20080308442WATER BOTTLE WITH MEANS FOR PERSONALIZINGDecember, 2008Spigelman et al.
20080000942Magazine for Screws, and a Method and Material for Producing the MagazineJanuary, 2008Sundstrom
20060151351Wet and dry wipes with packagingJuly, 2006Hughes
20040251158Printed packagingDecember, 2004Boundy et al.
20020014420Wearable support apparatus for portable diagnostic ultrasound systemsFebruary, 2002Schultz et al.
20060201831Disk caseSeptember, 2006Hu



Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KENNETH MCCLINTOCK (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A multi-part message decoding system, comprising: a container having an openable orifice on a portion of the container; a cover piece removeably coupled over the orifice, the cover piece having a first portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof; and a message component having a second portion of a message, the cover piece affixable to the message component to combine the first and second portions to complete the message.

2. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the container is an aluminum soft-drink can and the orifice is an openable lid of the can.

3. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the message component is located on a side of the container.

4. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the message component is located on a side of a second container.

5. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the cover piece further comprises promotional material on an exposed side thereof.

6. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the message component is selected from the group consisting of: a cinema ticket; a leaflet; a computer display; a lottery ticket; an airline ticket; an advertising sign; and food packaging.

7. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the message is selected from the group consisting of: a universal product code barcode; an image of a prize; a promotional coupon; an Internet site address; a text message; and instructions.

8. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the cover piece is opaque.

9. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the cover piece further comprises an edge overlapping at least one side of the container adjacent the orifice, the edge having promotional text on an exposed surface thereof.

10. A message decoding system according to claim 1, further comprising a second cover piece removeably coupled over an openable orifice on a portion of a second container, the second cover piece having a third portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof, the first and second cover pieces affixable to the message component to combine the first, second and third portions to complete the message.

11. A message decoding system according to claim 1, wherein the message component is a first message component, and the system further comprises a second message component associated with the first message component, the second message component having a third portion of the message, the first, second and third portions combinable to complete the message.

12. A message decoding system according to claim 11, wherein the second message component is removeably affixed to the container, and the first message component is removeably affixed to the first message component.

13. A method of decoding messages, comprising: providing a container having an openable orifice on a portion of the container; removeably coupling a cover piece over the orifice, the cover piece having a first portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof; providing a message component having a second portion of a message; and affixing the cover piece to the message component to combine the first and second portions to complete the message.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein providing a container comprises providing an aluminum soft-drink can having an openable lid.

15. A method according to claim 13, wherein providing a message component comprises providing a message component located on a side of the container.

16. A method according to claim 14, wherein providing a message component comprises providing a message component located on a side of a second container.

17. A method according to claim 13, wherein removeably coupling a cover piece comprises removeably coupling a cover piece having promotional material on an exposed side thereof.

18. A method according to claim 13, wherein providing a message component comprises providing a message component selected from the group consisting of: a cinema ticket; a leaflet; a computer display; a lottery ticket; an airline ticket; an advertising sign; and food packaging.

19. A method according to claim 13, wherein the message is selected from the group consisting of: a universal product code barcode; an image of a prize; a promotional coupon; an Internet site address; a text message; and instructions.

20. A method according to claim 13, wherein removeably coupling a cover piece comprises removeably coupling an opaque cover piece.

21. A method according to claim 13, wherein removeably coupling a cover piece comprises removeably coupling a cover piece having an edge overlapping at least one side of the container adjacent the orifice, the edge including promotional text on an exposed surface thereof.

22. A method according to claim 13, further comprising removeably coupling a second cover piece over an openable orifice on a portion of a second container, the second cover piece having a third portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof, and further comprising affixing the first and second cover pieces to the message component to combine the first, second and third portions to complete the message.

23. A method according to claim 13, wherein providing a message component comprises providing a first message component, the method further comprising providing a second message component associated with the first message component, the second message component having a third portion of the message, and further comprising affixing the cover piece to the first message component to combine the first, second and third portions to complete the message.

24. A message decoding system according to claim 23, wherein the second message component is removeably affixed to the container, and the first message component is removeably affixed to the first message component.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This Utility Patent Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/430,938, filed on Dec. 05, 2002, and entitled “Can Top Message Decoder”, and U.S. Provisional Application Serial No._________, filed on Apr. 24, 2003, and entitled “Under Can Top Cover and Aside the Can Surface”, both commonly owned with the present application and incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] Disclosed embodiments herein relate generally to advertisements and promotional messages, and more particularly to systems for decoding multi-part messages and related methods for decoding messages.

BACKGROUND

[0003] The world of advertising has continued to increase over the years. As evidence, advertisers expend millions of dollars each year for product and service promotions and advertisements. In many marketing campaigns, seemingly unrelated products are employed as advertising billboards for the promotion of another product or service. In other campaigns, the actual products of a manufacturer or distributor are employed to advertise contests or other promotions in an effort to boost sales of their products. Of course, while many costly marketing campaigns are successful in their purpose, many are also a failure and result only in the expenditure of more financial resources. Thus, a key to marketing and advertising success is the exposure of advertisements to as many consumers as possible, as well as drawing their attention by engaging consumers through an interactive and innovative technique.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0004] The above-discussed deficiencies of the prior art are overcome by the multi-part message decoding systems and methods disclosed herein. In one embodiment, a decoding system comprises a container having an openable orifice on a portion of the container. In addition, the system comprises a cover piece removeably coupled over the orifice, where the cover piece has a first portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof. The decoding system still further comprises a message component having a second portion of a message, where the cover piece is affixable to the message component to combine the first and second portions to complete the message.

[0005] In another aspect, the methods for decoding multi-part messages are disclosed. In one embodiment, a method comprises providing a container having an openable orifice on a portion of the container. In this embodiment, the method also comprises removeably coupling a cover piece over the orifice, where the cover piece has a first portion of a message on an unexposed side thereof. In addition, the method includes providing a message component having a second portion of a message, and affixing the cover piece to the message component to combine the first and second portions to complete the message.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] Reference is now made to the following detailed description of preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is emphasized that various features may not be drawn to scale. In fact, the dimensions of various features may be arbitrarily increased or reduced for clarity of discussion. In addition, it is emphasized that some components may not be illustrated for clarity of discussion. Reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0007] FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate one embodiment of a decoding system for decoding multi-part messages;

[0008] FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system associated with an Internet website and a code word for use on that website;

[0009] FIG. 3 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system associated with magazines and other types of publications;

[0010] FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system associated with a computer display screen;

[0011] FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system employing two cover pieces for affixing to a single soft-drink can;

[0012] FIG. 6 illustrates several other embodiments of decoding systems associated with in-store promotional retail items;

[0013] FIG. 7 illustrates two other embodiments of decoding systems associated with tickets for selected events;

[0014] FIG. 8 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system having multiple cover pieces for use with small billboards;

[0015] FIG. 9 illustrates two other embodiments of decoding systems associated with small display screens or point-of-sale (POS) terminals;

[0016] FIG. 10 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system associated with a temporary tattoo on the arm of a consumer;

[0017] FIG. 11 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system associated with a soft-drink can;

[0018] FIG. 12 illustrates two other embodiments of decoding systems associated with food packages;

[0019] FIG. 13 illustrates yet another embodiment of a decoding system employing two separate soft-drink cans for decoding messages;

[0020] FIG. 14 illustrates another embodiment of a decoding system for decoding multi-part messages, and a related process for decoding multi-part messages;

[0021] FIGS. 15A-15B illustrated yet another embodiment of a decoding system for decoding multi-part messages, and a related process for decoding multi-part messages.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0022] Referring initially to FIG. 1A-1C, illustrated is one embodiment of a decoding system 100 for decoding multi-part messages incorporating the principles disclosed herein. FIGS. 1A-1C also illustrate the system 100 during a process for decoding multi-part messages. Looking first at FIG. 1A, a container 110 in the form of an aluminum soft-drink can is shown. Although shown as a beverage can, the container 110 may be any type of consumer container capable of holding any item.

[0023] Also illustrated in FIG. 1A is a cover piece 120 removeably coupled to a top of the container 110. The cover piece 120 may be removable with respect to the container 110 by coupling it thereto using a non-permanent adhesive. A pull tab 130 located on an edge of the cover piece 120 may be employed to remove the cover piece 120 from the container 110, as needed. The cover piece 120 also includes a first portion 140 of a message on an exposed surface thereof. Although the first portion 140 is exposed in the illustrated embodiment, the first portion 140 may also be located on an unexposed side of the cover piece 120. In such embodiments, the exposed side of the cover piece 120 may then include promotional material, perhaps in the form of text, or may simply be left blank to provide a clean, sanitary appearance. In yet another embodiment, the cover piece 120 may be formed of transparent or translucent material, rather than the opaque material illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1C. Furthermore, the cover piece 120 may further include an edge overlapping at least one side of the container adjacent the orifice, as illustrated. In such an embodiment, the edge may also have promotional text on an exposed surface thereof, such as the advertisement “VISIT ADVERCAN.COM” shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, and discussed below in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 14A-14D.

[0024] Also located on the container 110 is a message component 150. Specifically, the message component 150 is located on the side of the container 110, but various embodiments of the invention are not so limited. As shown, the message component 150 includes a second portion 160 of a message, which may be combinable with the first portion 140 mentioned above to create a complete message. Alternatively, if the system 100 is employed in a contest where less than all participants win, then the first and second portions 140, 150 properly combine to make a complete message on only certain containers 110.

[0025] In the embodiment of FIG. 1A, the second portion 160 is shown as a portion of a universal product code (UPC) barcode, as well as only part of a text message. If the first portion 140 is properly combinable with the second portion 160, for example, then the remaining part of UPC barcode on the cover piece 120 completes the entire UPC to provide a functional barcode for identifying or claiming a prize. In addition, any partial text on the message component 150 is completed to reveal a full text message that displays instructions for a consumer to follow, or perhaps simply displays a short message, such as “You win!”, to indicate that the cover piece 120 and the message component 150 are properly combinable. In further embodiments, the complete message may also be employed to provide games, game pieces, coupon redemption, religious notices, government messages, taste and aroma promotions, product dating, general advertisements, brand impressions, fan club collections, or multi-level marketing, however, the present invention is not limited to any particular use.

[0026] Turning now to FIG. 1B, illustrated is the decoding system 100 during another stage of a process for decoding multi-part messages. As in FIG. 1A, the cover piece 120 having the first portion 140 of the message, as well as the container 110 having the second portion 160 of the message, are both shown. FIG. 1B more clearly illustrates that the first portion 140 of the message is a part of the UPC barcode mentioned above. This view also shows the cover piece 120 removed from the container 110. More specifically, the cover piece 120 may be removed from the container 110 using the pull tab 130 to reveal an openable orifice 170 on a portion of the container 110. In the exemplary embodiment, the openable orifice 170 is simply an aluminum can lid, located at the top of the container 110 and openable by using the typical pull tab provided. In other embodiments, the orifice 170 may be any portion of a container capable of being opened, such as a folding side of cardboard box.

[0027] In addition to being part of the decoding system 100, the cover piece 120 also provides a significant advantage by providing protection for the lid from contaminants. For example, in embodiments where the container 110 is a soft-drink can, such cans often sit in warehouses for prolonged periods of time while exposed to the environment. During this exposure, contaminants, ranging, for example, from rodents or bugs to dirt or mildew, may easily contaminate the lid. By being affixed over the entire lid, the cover piece 120 may provide protection from such contaminants, which makes drinking from or handling the lid of the container 110 more sanitary and worry-free.

[0028] Looking now at FIG. 1C, illustrated is the decoding system 100 discussed above during a final stage of a process for decoding multi-part messages according to the principles disclosed herein. As shown, the cover piece 120, having the first portion of a complete message 180, and the message component 150, having the second portion of the complete message 180, have been joined together on the side of the container 110. Since the cover piece 120 and message component 150 are intended to be matched together, the complete message 180 creates a functional UPC barcode, as well as some message text. The consumer may then take the matched pieces on the container 110 to an appropriate location, such as a grocery store or a bank, so that the barcode may be scanned for the benefit of the consumer. In a related embodiment, any complete text revealed by an appropriate match between the cover piece 120 and the message component 150 may even provide the instructions or directions on how or where the consumer may claim his prize.

[0029] However, if the two had not been a match, the resulting barcode would have been nonfunctional, indicating to the consumer attempting to match the two that they are not a winner of any ongoing contest or promotion. In other embodiments, the cover piece 120 may be removed from the container 110 and affixed to another message component on a second container (not illustrated) in another attempt to find a match. Such an embodiment is discussed in greater detail below. Of course, the rules of any such contest or promotion may be altered or set to allow or prevent any number of matching attempts, with any number of containers and cover pieces, as each organizer sees fit.

[0030] Referring now to FIGS. 2-13, illustrated are several exemplary embodiments of decoding system for multi-part messages. Each of the illustrated decoding systems, as well as the process by which each system decodes multi-part messages, are constructed and conducted according to the principles disclosed herein. Moreover, although several embodiments are illustrated in the following figures, covered embodiments of the invention are not intended to be limited to those illustrated. Furthermore, providing advertising and promotional campaigns by incorporating the principles of the message decoding systems and methods of the embodiments illustrated and discussed below, as well as the embodiments discussed with respect to FIGS. 1A-1C, beneficially permits advertisers to extend their campaigns to any products and packages capable of holding a cover piece or providing a message component, as set forth herein.

[0031] Looking to FIG. 2, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 200 according to the principles disclosed herein. This embodiment of the system 200 includes a cover piece 210, similar to the cover piece 120 discussed above. The cover piece 210 is removed from a container (not illustrated) and placed on a message component 220 to reveal a complete message. In this example, the first portion of the message is an Internet website (“cantopwinner.com”), while the second portion of the message is a code word (“SMILE”) for use on that website.

[0032] Turning to FIG. 3, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 300 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, a cover piece 310 is removed from a container (not illustrated) and affixed to a message component 320 shown in the form of a magazine, collectors' album, or any other type of publication. In such embodiments, the cover piece 310 includes a first portion of a message, for example, a partial text message or one of several unique graphics, all of which are collected in order to win a prize. The magazine or other publication 320 includes either the remainder of the message or unique locations where only certain cover pieces 310 may be affixed to win the prize.

[0033] Turning now to FIG. 4, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 400 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, a cover piece 410 is placed against a message component 420 shown in the form of a computer display screen. In such an embodiment, the cover piece 410 and display screen 420 then combine to reveal a complete message. In an exemplary embodiment, the display screen 420 displays a specific message, but that message is camouflaged until a colored translucent film located on the cover piece 410 is placed over the screen 420 to reveal the message.

[0034] Looking at FIG. 5, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 500 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, a first cover piece 510 includes a first portion of a complete message, while a second cover piece 520 includes a second portion of the complete message. In this situation, the first and second cover pieces 510, 520 are combined together and affixed to a message component 530 having a third portion of the complete message in order to reveal that message. As illustrated, the message component 530 may be in the form of a soft-drink can to which the cover pieces 510, 520 are affixed, but the invention is not so limited.

[0035] Referring now to FIG. 6, illustrated are several other embodiments of decoding systems 600a, 600b, 600c, 600d according to the principles disclosed herein, for use with in-store promotional retail items. In the first decoding system 600a, a cover piece 610 is affixed to a message component 620 shown in the form of an in-store promotional football display. If the first portion of a message on the cover piece 610 properly matches with the second portion of the message on the display, then the consumer may win a prize, such as a trip to the Super Bowl®. In the second decoding system 600b, a cover piece 630 is affixed to a message component 640 in the form of an in-store retail computer system. If the first portion of a message on the cover piece 630 properly matches with the second portion of the message on the computer system, then the consumer may win a prize, such as a new computer.

[0036] In the third decoding system 600c, a cover piece 650 is affixed to a message component 660 shown in the form of a garment belt. If the first portion of a message on the cover piece 650 properly matches with the second portion of the message on the belt, then the consumer may win a prize, such as a new wardrobe, or perhaps only those garments that properly match his cover piece 650. In the fourth decoding system 600d illustrated in FIG. 6, a cover piece 670 is affixed to a message component 680 in the form of an automobile. If the first portion of a message on the cover piece 670 properly matches with the second portion of the message on the automobile, then the consumer may win a prize, such as a sports car or a lifetime worth of free gasoline.

[0037] Turning now to FIG. 7, illustrated are two other embodiments of decoding systems 700a, 700b according to the principles disclosed herein. In the first embodiment, a cover piece 710 is removed from a container (not illustrated) and affixed to a message component 720 shown in the form of a music concert ticket. In such embodiments, the cover piece 710 includes a first portion of a complete message, while the concert ticket includes the remainder of the message. If the cover piece 710 and concert ticket are properly combinable to reveal the correct complete message, the consumer may win a prize, such as back stage passes to the concert. In the second decoder system 700b, a cover piece 730 having a first portion of a complete message is similarly affixed to a movie/cinema ticket 740. Likewise, if the cover piece 730 and movie ticket 740 are properly combinable to reveal the correct complete message, the consumer may win a prize, such as a trip to Hollywood. In other embodiments, the message components 720, 740 to which cover pieces 710, 730 may be affixed may also include leaflets/flyers, direct mail pieces, vouchers, airline tickets, and lottery tickets.

[0038] Looking now at FIG. 8, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 800 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, first, second and third cover pieces 810, 820, 830 are removed from various containers (not illustrated) and affixed to a message component 840 shown in the form of a small billboard or bulletin board, such as may be found in fast food restaurants, sports facilities, and amusement parks. In such embodiments, the cover pieces 810, 820, 830 each include portions of a complete message, for example, each having a partial text or graphics message. The billboard or similar message component 840 includes either the remainder of the message or unique locations where only certain cover pieces 810, 820, 830 may be affixed to complete a message and win a prize, such as a free gift or even a trip.

[0039] Turning to FIG. 9, illustrated are two other embodiments of decoding systems 900a, 900b according to the principles disclosed herein. In these embodiments, cover pieces 910, 930 may be affixed to message components 920, 940 shown in the form of small display screens or point-of-sale (POS) terminals, such as charge card machines, associated with cash registers in locations such as grocery stores and gift shops. In such embodiments, the cover pieces 910, 930 may be affixed to the screens or terminals to reveal complete message, where the consumer may win a prize, such as discounts or free items.

[0040] Referring now to FIG. 10, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 1000 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, a cover piece 1010 having a portion of a message is placed against a message component 1020 shown in the form of a temporary tattoo, having a matching portion of the message, on the arm of a consumer. In such an embodiment, the cover piece 1010 and tattoo 1020 are combined to reveal the complete message. Such embodiments may be employed in areas associated with children, for example, at theme parks, such as Disneyland®, where all children get a temporary tattoo and attempt to complete the message in order to win a prize by using cover pieces 1010 removed from purchased food and beverage containers.

[0041] Looking to FIG. 11, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 1100 similar to the embodiment described with reference to FIGS 1A-1C. As illustrated, a cover piece 1110 is removed from the lid 1120 of a container in the form of a soft-drink can. In this embodiment, the cover piece 1110 contains a first portion of a complete message in the form of a full sentence, but missing one word or phrase. The soft-drink can, which also serves as the message component 1130 in this embodiment, then contains a specific word or phrase that may or may not match with the sentence on the cover piece 1110. Depending on a match between the two, the consumer would win whatever the completed sentence reveals once the cover piece 1110 is affixed to the can 1130. In a specific embodiment, the portion of the message on the cover piece 1110 may be located on the unexposed side when the cover piece 1110 is still affixed to the lid 1120. In this manner, consumers could not see the portion printed on the cover piece 1110 in an attempt to locate and purchase only winning soft-drink cans or containers.

[0042] Turning now to FIG. 12, illustrated are two other embodiments of decoding systems 1200a, 1200b according to the principles disclosed herein. In the first system 1200a, a cover piece 1210 is removed from a container (not illustrated) and affixed to a message component 1220 shown in the form of a food package, such as a cereal box. In such embodiments, the cover piece 1210 includes a first portion of a complete message, while the cereal box includes the remainder of the message. If the cover piece 1210 and cereal box 1220 are properly combinable, the consumer may win a prize, such as free cereal. In the second decoder system 1200b, a cover piece 1230 having a first portion of a complete message is similarly affixed to the top of a tuna can 1240. This cover piece 1230 may also be removed and affixed to related food package items 1250, such as cracker that are typically eaten with the tuna, in an attempt to match the two to form a complete message. As with the first system 1200a, if the cover piece 1230 and cracker package 1240 are properly combinable to reveal the correct complete message, the consumer may win other food products. Of course, in other embodiments, the source for the cover pieces 1230, as well as the packages providing the message components 1250, may be located on any related food products typically purchased together, such as corn chips and various flavored dips or even peanut butter and jelly containers.

[0043] Looking next at FIG. 13, illustrated is yet another embodiment of a decoding system 1300 according to the principles disclosed herein. In this embodiment, a cover piece 1310 is removed from the lid of a container in the form of a first soft-drink can. As shown, the cover piece 1310 contains a first portion 1330 of a complete message, by only having some parts of a word or phrase. A second soft-drink can 1340, which serves as the message component, then contains different parts of a word or phrase that may or may not match with the parts on the cover piece 1310. If the two parts are from the same word or phrase, when the cover piece 1310 and the second can 1340 are joined the complete word or phrase is revealed and the consumer would win a prize. In other related embodiments, many words or phrase may be available through various combinations of cover pieces 1310 and cans 1340, with each individual match winning a different prize. Such embodiments would provide the ability to have numerous winners within a single contest.

[0044] Turning to FIGS. 14A-14D, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 1400 for decoding multi-part messages, and a related process for decoding multi-part messages. Looking first at FIG. 14A, a container 1410, again in the form of an aluminum soft-drink can, is shown. As before, the container 1410 may be any type of consumer container capable of holding any item, and is not limited to a soft-drink can.

[0045] Also illustrated in FIG. 14A is a cover piece 1420 removeably coupled to a top of the container 1410. The cover piece 1420 may be removable with respect to the container 1410 by coupling it thereto using a non-permanent adhesive. As discussed above, a pull tab located on an edge of the cover piece 1420 may be employed to remove the cover piece 1420 from the container 1410, as needed. The cover piece 1420 also includes a first portion 1440 of a message on an exposed surface thereof. Located on the side of the container 1410 is a message component 1450, although other embodiments are not so limited. As shown, the message component 1450 includes a second portion 1460 of a message, which may be combinable with the first portion 1440 mentioned above to create a complete message, but perhaps only for a limited number of containers 1410. In the specific embodiment of FIG. 14A, the second portion 1460 is shown as a portion of a text message.

[0046] Turning now to FIGS. 14B and 14C, illustrated is the decoding system 1400 during another stage of a process for decoding multi-part messages. FIG. 14B shows the cover piece 1420 removed from the container 1410. More specifically, the cover piece 1420 is removed from the container 1410 to reveal an openable orifice 470, in the form of an aluminum can lid, at the top of the container 1410. As discussed with reference to FIGS. 1A-1C, the cover piece 1420 also provides a significant advantage by providing protection for the lid from any number of contaminants that may contaminate the lid.

[0047] While the first portion 1440 of the complete message mentioned above is located on the exposed side of the cover piece 1420, a second message 1430 may be located on an unexposed side of the cover piece 1420, as illustrated. In such embodiments, the second message 1430 may include promotional material, perhaps in the form of text or illustrations. For example, in one specific embodiment, the second message 1430 may include a phrase or picture indicating to the consumer that they have successfully chosen a soft-drink can with a winning combination. In other embodiments, the second message 1430 may include instructions on how to claim any prizes won by properly matching the cover piece 1420 and container 1410. In yet other embodiments, the second message 1430 may simply be advertising for another, perhaps related, product.

[0048] As shown in FIG. 14C, the cover piece 1420 may further include an edge 1480 that overlaps at least one side of the container 1410 adjacent the orifice 1470 when the cover piece 1420 is attached to the container 1410. In such an embodiment, the edge 1480 may include crucial parts of the first portion 1440 of the complete message, such as only portions of a specific text message. In the illustrated embodiment, only upper or lower portions of a complete text message are included in the first portion 1440 on the cover piece 1420.

[0049] Looking now at FIG. 14D, illustrated is the decoding system 1400 discussed above during a final stage of a process for decoding multi-part messages according to the principles disclosed herein. As shown, the cover piece 1420, having the first portion 1440 of a complete message 1490, and the message component 1450, having the second portion 1460 of the complete message 1490, have been joined together on the side of the container 1410. If the first portion 1440 of the complete message 1490 is properly combinable with the second portion 1460, then the entire complete message 1490 is revealed when the two portions are brought together. In the illustrated embodiment, since the cover piece 1420 and message component 1450 are intended to be matched together, the complete text message 1490 is revealed, indicating the consumer is a winner, by the joining of the two parts. In other embodiments, as mentioned above, the complete message 1490 may be divided into three or more portions, requiring the matching of more components before the consumer wins a prize.

[0050] Looking finally at FIGS. 15A and 15B, illustrated is another embodiment of a decoding system 1500 for decoding multi-part messages, and a related process for decoding multi-part messages. Looking first at FIG. 15A, a container 1510, again in the form of an aluminum soft-drink can, is shown. Also illustrated is a cover piece 1520 removeably coupled to the top of the container 1510. As in all the previsous embodiments, the cover piece 1520 may be removable with respect to the container 1510 by coupling it thereto using a non-permanent adhesive.

[0051] The cover piece 1520 also includes a first portion 1530 of a message on an exposed surface thereof. Located on the side of the container 1510 is a first message component 1540. As shown, the first message component 1540 includes a second portion 1550 of a message, which may be combinable with the first portion 1530 to create a complete message. In the specific embodiment of FIG. 15A, the second portion 1550 is shown as having both text and graphic portions of the complete message. To create the complete message, the cover piece 1520 may be removed from the top of the container 1510 and affixed to the first message component 1540, as illustrated in FIG. 15A. Of course, depending on the application, the first and second portions 1530, 1550, may only be properly matched on less than all of the containers 1510. In other embodiments, the cover piece 1520 may be intended to be matched to other containers, rather than its own container 1510, if desired.

[0052] Turning now to FIG. 15B, illustrated is the decoding system 1500 discussed above during another stage of a process for decoding multi-part messages. In this embodiment, once the cover piece 1520 has been matched to the message component 1540, thus matching the first and second portions 1530, 1550Of the message, the first message component 1540 may then also be removed from the container 1510 to reveal a second message component 1560. As illustrated, the second message component 1560 may include a second complete message, perhaps only for the winners successfully matching the cover piece 1520 and the first message component 1540. In an alternative embodiment, the second message component 1560 may include a third portion 1570 of a single complete message, corresponding to the first and second portions 1530, 1550 discussed above. In such an embodiment, only when the first, second, and third portions 1530, 1550, 1570 are brought together is the complete message revealed to the consumer.

[0053] Of course, any number of further message components may also be includes, resulting in three, four, or even more layers of messages, or portions of a single message, on the same container 1510. Moreover, any removeable message layers, such as the first message component 1540, may be manufactured from any appropriate material capable of being adhered to, and later removed from, a container. In a specific embodiment, the multiple layers may be constructed from ordinary paper, waxed or otherwise protected paper, or even various types of adhering plastic. In a related embodiment, the plastic is transparent or only semi-translucent, partially revealing the underlying remaining portion of the message. By being constructed of adhering materials, such as those just described, the present system 1500 beneficially allows such message components to be affixed to the container 1510 after the container 1510 is manufactured. As such, the manufacturing process of the container 1510 is not interrupted or otherwise slowed in an attempt to add the desired message components to the container 1510. Likewise, the message components may beneficially be added by persons other than the manufacturer of the container 1510.

[0054] While various embodiments of decoding systems for use in decoding multi-part messages, as well as related methods of decoding messages, have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of the invention(s) should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents. Moreover, the above advantages and features are effected in described embodiments, but shall not limit the application of the claims to processes and structures accomplishing any or all of the above advantages.

[0055] Additionally, the section headings herein are provided for consistency with the suggestions under 37 CFR 1.77 or otherwise to provide organizational cues. These headings shall not limit or characterize the invention(s) set out in any claims that may issue from this disclosure. Specifically and by way of example, although the headings refer to a “Technical Field,” the claims should not be limited by the language chosen under this heading to describe the so-called technical field. Further, a description of a technology in the “Background” is not to be construed as an admission that technology is prior art to any invention(s) in this disclosure. Neither is the “Brief Summary” to be considered as a characterization of the invention(s) set forth in the claims found herein. Furthermore, any reference in this disclosure to “invention” in the singular should not be used to argue that there is only a single point of novelty claimed in this disclosure. Multiple inventions may be set forth according to the limitations of the multiple claims associated with this disclosure, and the claims accordingly define the invention(s), and their equivalents, that are protected thereby. In all instances, the scope of the claims shall be considered on their own merits in light of the specification, but should not be constrained by the headings set forth herein.