Title:
Tamper-resistant container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a container having a lid hingedly connected thereto and so configured that the hinged elements cannot be separated from one another whereby the lid cannot be opened or removed from the body of the container to allow access to the contents of the container.



Inventors:
Lessard, Claude (Levis, CA)
Normand, Pascal (Levis, CA)
Application Number:
10/818772
Publication Date:
09/23/2004
Filing Date:
04/05/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/833
International Classes:
B65D51/04; (IPC1-7): B65D51/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DARBY & DARBY P.C. (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A tamper-resistant container comprising: two opposite side walls; two opposite end walls; a bottom surface interconnecting said side and end walls; and a lid; wherein a) one of said side walls includes first hinge elements; b) said lid includes second hinge elements cooperating with said first hinge elements for hingedly connecting said lid to said side wall; c) one of said one side wall and of said lid includes at least one projection; d) the other of said one side wall and of said lid includes at least one aperture corresponding to said one projection; and e) said one projection and said one aperture are so configured that, when said lid is hingedly moved to a closed position, said one projection enters said one aperture and provides resistance to forceful opening of the lid from the container at said hinge elements.

2. The tamper-resistant container of claim 1, wherein said lid includes two lid members.

3. The tamper-resistant container of claim 2, wherein each said side wall defines an upper edge, said first hinge elements including hinge pins mounted to said side walls; each said lid member including generally C-shaped hinge members configured to cooperate with said hinge pins on said upper edge of each side wall.

4. The tamper-resistant lid according to claim 3, wherein said hinge pins are integrally molded with said side walls and wherein said generally C-shaped hinge members are integrally molded with said lid members.

5. A tamper-resistant lid according to claim 3, wherein said C-shaped hinge element are horizontally spaced from one another along an edge of said lid; said projection being located in each spaces between said C-shaped hinge elements.

6. A tamper-resistant lid according to claim 3, wherein said hinge pins are horizontally spaced from one another along said upper edge of said side walls; said aperture being located in each space between said hinge pins.

7. A tamper-resistant lid according to claim 5, wherein each corner along said edge of said lid is free of a C-shaped element; each said corner displaying a male hinge engaging a recessed area in each opposite corner of said upper edge of said side wall to provide resistance to tampering in each corner of said container.

8. A tamper-resistant lid according to claim 3, wherein said C-shaped hinge elements are horizontally spaced from one another along an edge of said lid; said projection being located in spaces between said C-shaped hinge elements except in a central area of said edge; said upper edge of said side wall including, in a central area of said edge of said lid, rib means to provide resistance to tampering in said areas.

9. A tamper-resistant lid for a container provided with a side wall, said lid being so hingedly mounted to said side wall via cooperating hinge elements as to pivot between open and closed positions, said side wall including at least one aperture and said lid including at least one projection corresponding to said at least one aperture whereby, when said lid is moved to the closed position, said one projection enters said one aperture to provide resistance to tampering via said hinge elements.

10. A tamper-resistant lid for a container provided with first and second side walls each having an edge provided with first hinge elements and with at least one aperture, said lid comprising: a first lid member having an outer edge provided with second hinge elements configured to cooperate with said first hinge elements; said first lid member being so mounted to said first side wall via said cooperating hinge elements as to be pivotable between open and closed positions; said first lid member including at least one projection; a second lid member having an outer edge provided with second hinge elements configured to cooperate with said first hinge elements; said second lid member being so mounted to said second side wall via said cooperating hinge elements as to be pivotable between open and closed positions; said second lid member including at least one projection; wherein a) when said first lid member is moved to the closed position, said at least one projection of said first lid member enters said at least one aperture of the first side wall to provide resistance to tampering; and b) when said second lid member is moved to the closed position, said at least one projection of said second lid member enters said at least one aperture of the second side wall to provide resistance to tampering.

11. The tamper-resistant lid according to claim 10, wherein said first lid member further has an inner edge provided with a lap portion and a recessed portion, and said second lid member has an inner edge provided with a lap portion opposite said recessed portion of the first lid member and a recessed portion opposite said lap portion of the first lid member, so that said first and second lid members are complementarily secured together by an overlapping of said respective inner edges.

12. The tamper-resistant lid according to claim 10, wherein the first hinge elements of the container include hinge pins and wherein said second hinge elements of said first and second lid members include generally C-shaped hinge members.

13. The tamper-resistant lid according to claim 12, wherein said hinge pins are integrally molded with said side walls and wherein said generally C-shaped hinge members are integrally molded with said lid members.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to containers. More specifically, the present invention is concerned with a tamper-resistant container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Containers are widely used for packaging and transporting goods. It is usually important that such containers be delivered to a destination thereof with their content being unaltered.

[0003] There have been an increasing concern of protecting the contents of the containers from unauthorized access, in order to ensure the integrity of the delivered merchandise. A number of tamper-resistant and of tamper-evidencing containers are currently available. While the former relate to containers that are designed so as to be extremely difficult to open, the later are so designed as to not be possibly opened without evidence of the attempt being left, by providing a tearable seal for example.

[0004] Not surprisingly, the current trend is to provide containers that are simultaneously tamper-resistant and tamper-evidencing making them difficult to open and, at the same time, in case tampering is successful, providing evidencing thereof.

[0005] It has been observed that tampering may occur by forcing separation of the lid from the container at their hinging connection. Although in some cases, complete separation is not achieved, some separation is available by providing sufficient distancing of the lid from the container to enable manual insertion into the container.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0006] An object of the present invention is therefore to provide a tamper-resistant container which overcomes the above described problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] More specifically, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a tamper-resistant container comprising:

[0008] two opposite side walls;

[0009] two opposite end walls;

[0010] a bottom surface interconnecting the side and end walls; and

[0011] a lid;

[0012] wherein a) one of the side walls includes first hinge elements; b) the lid includes second hinge elements cooperating with the first hinge elements for hingedly connecting the lid to the side wall; c) one of the one side wall and of the lid includes at least one projection; d) the other of the one side wall and of the lid includes at least one aperture corresponding to one projection; and e) the one projection and the one aperture are so configured that, when the lid is hingedly moved to a closed position, the one projection enters the one aperture and provides resistance to forceful opening of the lid from the container at the hinge elements.

[0013] Other objects, advantages and features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reading of the following non-restrictive description of specific embodiments thereof, given by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] In the appended drawings:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container according to an embodiment of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 2 is an end elevational view of the container of FIG. 1;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a lid for the container of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of a portion of the lid of FIG. 3 half way inserted into a wall of the container of FIGS. 1;

[0019] FIG. 5 is an enlarged view similar to FIG. 4 illustrating the lid completely locked in to a wall of the container of FIGS. 1;

[0020] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a container according to another embodiment of the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a lid for the container of FIG. 6;

[0022] FIG. 8 is an enlarged side view of a corner of the assembled container and lid of FIGS. 6 and 7; and

[0023] FIG. 9 is an enlarged perspective view of the central area of the assembled container and lid of FIGS. 6 and 7.

DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

[0024] Generally stated, the present invention provides a tamper-resistant lid for a container allowing the container to be closed by the lid in such a way that it cannot be opened by forcing upwardly the lid at its hinge connection with the container.

[0025] More precisely, the present invention provides a container having side walls fitting in such a way with edges of a lid therefor that cannot be forcingly removed.

[0026] Turning now to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the appended drawings, a container 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention will be generally described.

[0027] The container 10 comprises a body including two opposite side walls 14 and 16; two opposite end walls 18 and 20; and a bottom wall 22 (better seen in FIG. 2). As will be described hereinbelow, the container 10 also includes a lid hingedly mounted to the body via hinge elements provided on both the body and the lid.

[0028] The container 10 may be one-piece molded in a plastic material and the walls 14-20 may be rugged straight walls. A straight-wall, collapsible container may even be contemplated.

[0029] The side walls 14 and 16 are provided with respective apertures 24 and 26 molded on edges 15 and 17. The apertures 24 and 26 may be pocket-shaped openings, indentations or windows for example. The female parts 24 and 26 are designed in relation to a lid allowing tamper-resistant closure of the container 10, as will be further explained in detail hereinbelow.

[0030] The edges 15 and 17 are also provided with respective hinge pins 25 and 27 configured and sized to receive hinge members of the lid members as will be described below.

[0031] Interestingly, top surfaces 29 and 31, respectively provided below the hinge pins 25 and 27 are outwardly tapered and may include apertures in order to direct liquids out of the inside of the container 10.

[0032] As mentioned hereinabove, in order to offer an increased protection of its content, the container 10 is provided with a lid comprising a first lid member 30, illustrated on its own in FIG. 3; and a second identical lid member (not shown). Since the first and second lid members forming the cover are identical, only the lid member 30 will be described herein, for concision purpose.

[0033] The lid member 30 has a length defined between opposite side edges 32 and 34 corresponding to a length of the container 10 between the second opposite side walls 18 and 20 thereof (see FIG. 1), and a width between an outer edge 38 and an inner edge 36.

[0034] The inner edge 36 of the first lid member 30 is so designed as to allow a tight closure of the container 10 when the second identical lid member (not shown) is mounted with an outer edge thereof connected along the edge 15 or 17 of the wall 14 or 16 respectively of the container 10 (see FIG. 1). In the example illustrated in FIG. 3, the inner edge 36 of the lid member 30 is provided with a lap portion 46 having a bottom surface (not shown) bearing ribs, and a recessed portion 48 bearing ribs 50 on a top surface thereof. People in the art will easily understand that a corresponding inner ledge of the second lid member (not shown) is provided with a lap portion in a region opposite the recessed portion 48 and a recessed portion in a region opposite the lap portion 46, so that the first and second lid members are complementarily secured together by an overlapping of their respective inner edges. Of course, other designs of interconnection between the two lid members are possible.

[0035] The side edges 32 and 34 engage fittingly with edges 19 and 21 of the opposite end walls 18 and 20 of the container 10 (see FIG. 1), in a manner that is believed to be well known in the art. For example, in cases when tightness is sought because the container 10 is intended for protection of valuable contents against contaminants such as liquids or dusts, skirt portions 33, 35 on the side edges 32 and 34 may be provided that come in wrapping contact with the edges 19 and 21 of the side walls 18 and 20 of the container 10. Alternatively, the side edges 32 and 34 of the lid member 30 may be plain surfaces setting on the edges 19 and 21.

[0036] The outer edge 38 of the lid member 30 is provided with hinge elements in the form of generally C-shaped hinge members 41 configured and sized to cooperate with the hinge pins 25 or 27 of the body of the container 10 so as to allow the lid member 30 to be pivoted between open and closed positions.

[0037] The hinge members 41 alternate with shoulder portions 39 bearing projections 40. The projections 40 are located opposite the apertures 24 and 26 molded on the edges 15 and 17 of the side walls 14 and 16 when the lid member 30 is mounted to the container 10 via the hinge pins of the container and the hinge members of the lid members.

[0038] When in a generally horizontal position towards the center of the container 10, the first and second lid members 30 meet lengthwise along inner edges 36 thereof into a generally closed position, thereby forming a cover for the container 10. Such a cover may be opened by allowing one (or both) of the first and second lid members 30 to pivot back outwardly so that the projections 40 are freed from the apertures 24 and 26 as will be described hereinbelow.

[0039] In the generally closed position of the cover where the first and second lid members 30 meet lengthwise along the inner edges 36 thereof, the edges 32, 34 of the lid member 30 may be further fastened to the side walls 18 and 20 of the container 10 by lengths of tie wrap (not shown), insertable in apertures of the cover and edges of the container.

[0040] The lid members 30 may be molded in a plastic material as is known in the art.

[0041] Turning now more specifically to FIGS. 4-5, the operation of the tamper-resistant features of the container 10 will be described.

[0042] FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate an allowed movement of the lid member 30 in relation to the container 10. In FIG. 4, the lid member 30 is shown half way inserted into the edge 17 of the wall 16, by sealingly engagement of the projection 40 in the aperture 26.

[0043] As seen in FIG. 4, the projection 40 is not flat but has a slope and a rounded end to allow a pivot movement (see arrow 42) of the lid member 30 with respect to the container 10.

[0044] FIG. 5 illustrates the lid member 30 in a fully closed position where the projection 40 completely enters the aperture 26.

[0045] People in the art will appreciate that such a design also helps to direct liquids outside of the container 10.

[0046] Once so closed, the container 10 may be opened, by an authorized person, by removing lengths of tie wrap, or other closing means such as a padlock, provided to secure both lid members 30 forming the cover together prior to pivot the lid members 30 towards their open position (see double arrow 42 in FIG. 4).

[0047] The container 10, once closed, cannot be open without either first cutting the lengths of tie wrap and allowing the lid members 30 to pivot, or by forcing the projection 40 out of the apertures 24 and 26.

[0048] Indeed, the configuration of the hinge and of the projection/aperture combination makes it impossible to break either the hinge element 41 or the projection 40.

[0049] In FIG. 5, the direction of arrow 52 indicates how a force would be exerted to remove (or slightly lift) the lid from the container at their hinge elements. The goal of this force is to remove the hinge member 41 from the hinge pin 25. However, movement in this direction is prevented by the projection 40 engaged in aperture 26.

[0050] Turning now to FIG. 6 of the appended drawings, a container 110 according to another embodiment of the present invention will be generally described.

[0051] The container 110 comprises a body including two opposite side walls 114 and 116; two opposite end walls 118 and 120; and a bottom wall 122. As will be described hereinbelow, the container 110 also includes a lid hingedly mounted to the body via hinge elements provided on both the body and the lid.

[0052] The container 110 may be one-piece molded in a plastic material and the walls 114-120 may be rugged straight walls. A straight-wall, collapsible container may even be contemplated.

[0053] The side walls 114 and 116 are provided with respective apertures 124 and 126 molded on edges 115 and 117. The apertures 124 and 126 may be pocket-shaped openings, indentations or windows for example. The female parts 124 and 126 are designed in relation to a lid allowing tamper-resistant closure of the container 110, as will be further explained in detail hereinbelow.

[0054] The edges 115 and 117 are also provided with respective hinge pins 125 and 127 configured and sized to receive hinge members of the lid members as will be described below.

[0055] Interestingly, top surfaces 129 and 131, respectively provided below the hinge pins 125 and 127 are outwardly tapered and may include apertures in order to direct liquids out of the inside of the container 110.

[0056] The container 110 differs from container 10 described above with respect to FIGS. 1-5 in that each corner of the side walls displays a T-shaped opening, two being shown as 101 and 103 on side wall 116 and two being shown as 105 and 107 on side wall 114 (see also FIG. 8). Also, the central area of each side wall of the container displays a gap 109, 111 and on the facing hinge surfaces 173, 175, two ribs 177 and 179 (see FIG. 9) are provided to cooperate with the lid to prevent forceful opening of the lid via said central gap area.

[0057] As mentioned hereinabove, in order to offer an increased protection of its content, the container 110 is provided with a lid comprising a first lid member 130, illustrated on its own in FIG. 7; and a second identical lid member (not shown). Since the first and second lid members forming the cover are identical, only the lid member 130 will be described herein, for concision purpose.

[0058] The lid member 130 has a length defined between opposite side edges 132 and 134 corresponding to a length of the container 110 between the second opposite side walls 118 and 120 thereof (see FIG. 6), and a width between an outer edge 138 and an inner edge 136.

[0059] The inner edge 136 of the first lid member 130 is so designed as to allow a tight closure of the container 110 when the second identical lid member (not shown) is mounted with an outer edge thereof connected along the edge 115 or 117 of the wall 114 or 116 respectively of the container 110 (see FIG. 6). In the example illustrated in FIG. 7, the inner edge 136 of the lid member 130 is provided with a lap portion 146 having a bottom surface (not shown) bearing ribs, and a recessed portion 148 bearing ribs 150 on a top surface thereof. People in the art will easily understand that a corresponding inner ledge of the second lid member (not shown) is provided with a lap portion in a region opposite the recessed portion 148 and a recessed portion in a region opposite the lap portion 146, so that the first and second lid members are complementarily secured together by an overlapping of their respective inner edges. Of course, other designs of interconnection between the two lid members are possible.

[0060] The lid 130 of FIG. 7 differs from the lid 30 of FIG. 3 by the presence of the cylindrically shaped hinge elements 181 and 183 at each opposite corner of the outer side edge of the lid. These elements are shaped to insert the openings 101, 103 (or 105,107) at each corner of the side walls of the container. The engagement of the hinge elements in their respective openings of the container further prevents forceful opening of the lids at the corner areas.

[0061] The side edges 132 and 134 engage fittingly with edges 119 and 121 of the opposite end walls 118 and 120 of the container 110 (see FIG. 6), in a manner that is believed to be well known in the art. For example, in cases when tightness is sought because the container 110 is intended for protection of valuable contents against contaminants such as liquids or dusts, skirt portions 133, 135 on the side edges 132 and 134 may be provided that come in wrapping contact with the edges 119 and 121 of the side walls 118 and 120 of the container 110. Alternatively, the side edges 132 and 134 of the lid member 130 may be plain surfaces setting on the edges 119 and 121.

[0062] The outer edge 138 of the lid member 130 is provided with hinge elements in the form of generally C-shaped hinge members 141 configured and sized to cooperate with the hinge pins 125 or 127 of the body of the container 110 so as to allow the lid member 130 to be pivoted between open and closed positions.

[0063] The hinge members 141 alternate with shoulder portions 139 bearing projections 140. The projections 140 are located opposite the apertures 124 and 126 molded on the edges 115 and 117 of the side walls 114 and 116 when the lid member 130 is mounted to the container 110 via the hinge pins of the container and the hinge members of the lid members.

[0064] When in a generally horizontal position towards the center of the container 110, the first and second lid members 130 meet lengthwise along inner edges 136 thereof into a generally closed position, thereby forming a cover for the container 110. Such a cover may be opened by allowing one (or both) of the first and second lid members 130 to pivot back outwardly so that the projections 140 are freed from the apertures 124 and 126 as will be described hereinbelow.

[0065] In the generally closed position of the cover where the first and second lid members 130 meet lengthwise along the inner edges 136 thereof, the edges 132, 134 of the lid member 130 may be further fastened to the side walls 118 and 120 of the container 110 by lengths of tie wrap (not shown), insertable in apertures of the cover and edges of the container.

[0066] The lid members 130 may be molded in a plastic material as is known in the art.

[0067] The operation of the tamper-resistant features of the container 110 will be not described since it is identical to the operation of container 10 described above and illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5.

[0068] From the foregoing, it should now be apparent that the present invention provides a tamper-resistant container, which combines strength for securing stacking, lid members combining interlocking features for a secure closure thereof as well as a rugged hinge mechanism.

[0069] As will also be apparent to one skilled in the art, to operate properly, it is advantageous to make the containers 10 and 110 in a proper material that is sufficiently stiff to prevent a sufficient resilient deformation of the lid members and side walls that would allow an unauthorized individual to open the container without evidence.

[0070] It will also be apparent to one skilled in the art that even though the lid of the container is shown herein as being made of two identical lid members, these lid members could be different as long as they provide an adequate closure of the container.

[0071] It will also be apparent that the projections 40 and 140 could be made of a breakable material so that to force upwardly the lid from the container could result in breaking the projection thus making the present container a tamper-evident container.

[0072] Although the present invention has been described hereinabove by way of specific embodiments thereof, it can be modified, without departing from the spirit and nature of the subject invention as defined in the appended claims.





 
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