Title:
Container cap holding mechanism, a container employing such mechanism, and a product employing such a container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mechanism for removably and repeatedly attaching a cap of a container with a removable cap to its container, formed into, attached to, or attachable to a surface of the container other than the end of the container upon which the container is designed to stand and other than on the container's opening. The container portion of the mechanism is configured to detachably attach to a cap portion of the mechanism. The cap portion of the mechanism is positioned on, mountable on to, or formed into the container's cap. The two portions of the mechanism are configured so that they can be attached to and separated from one another a plurality of times. The invention also relates to a container employing such a mechanism, and a product employing such a container.



Inventors:
Stuart, Michael Charles (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/919861
Publication Date:
01/20/2005
Filing Date:
08/17/2004
Assignee:
STUART MICHAEL CHARLES
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/295
International Classes:
B65D23/12; (IPC1-7): B65B43/40
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL C. STUART (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A mechanism for attaching a cap of a container to its container, comprising: a container portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to a container at a position of the container other than an opening of the container through which contents of the container is removed during normal use of the container, the position being other than a surface of the container upon which the container is designed to stand during normal use of the container; and a cap portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to a cap of the container, the cap being capable of being completely removed from the opening of the container during normal use of the cap and container, the cap portion being configured to be removably attachable to the container portion.

2. A resealable container, comprising: a container having an opening through which contents of the container is removed during normal use of the container; a cap configured to be removably attached to the opening of the container to seal the opening of the container, the cap being capable of being completely removed from the opening of the container during normal use of the cap and container; a container portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to the container at a position of the container other than the opening of the container, the position being other than a surface of the container upon which the container is designed to stand during normal use of the container; and a cap portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to the cap of the container, the cap portion being configured to be removably attachable to the container portion.

3. A product comprising: a container having an opening through which contents of the container is removed during normal use of the container; a cap configured to be removably attached to the opening of the container to seal the opening of the container, the cap being capable of being completely removed from the opening of the container during normal use of the cap and container; a container portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to the container at a position of the container other than the opening of the container, the position being other than a surface of the container upon which the container is designed to stand during normal use of the container; a cap portion formed into, attached to, or attachable to the cap of the container, the cap portion being configured to be removably attachable to the container portion; a item filling at least a portion of the container, the item capable of flowing through the opening of the container.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to reclosable containers, such as bottles, for various types of products, including, for example, soft drinks, condiments, paints, glues, etc.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many products are available or sold to consumers in bottles or other kinds of containers that can be resealed with a cap or container top once they have been opened so that, if the entirety of the bottle or container is not consumed or used when the container is first opened, the container can be reclosed enabling the contents of the container to be consumed or used at a later time. During the intervening time interval when the container has been reclosed or resealed, the opening of the container remains protected and the contents of the container remain substantially fresh and/or uncontaminated. An example of such a product is a soft drink sold in a bottle with a top or cap that can be screwed off by the consumer. When the consumer wants to consume some of the soft drink, the consumer screws off the top of the bottle and pours out a sufficient amount of the soft drink into a glass for immediate consumption. Alternatively, the consumer may consume the soft drink directly from the bottle by putting the open end of the bottle to the consumer's mouth. If the entirety of the soft drink is not immediately consumed, to retain the carbonation and freshness of the soft drink, to prevent various contaminants from entering the bottle, and to prevent the soft drink from spilling out of the bottle unintentionally, the consumer reseals and recloses the bottle by screwing the top back on to the bottle's opening. The bottle can then be refrigerated or otherwise stored until its next opening and use by the consumer. However, a problem exists during the time when the screw top of the bottle is not attached to the bottle while the consumer is emptying some of the soft drink out of the bottle. While the screw top is not attached to the bottle, the screw top may be held in the hand of the consumer or placed on a nearby surface. However, during this time, the screw top may get lost or may become contaminated should it fall to the floor or contact a contaminant. Obviously, if the screw top of the bottle is lost, the bottle cannot be reclosed using the same screw top, with the result being that the freshness of soft drink will become compromised if it is not consumed shortly after the bottle has first been opened. Additionally, the bottle cannot be resealed to prevent leakage. Although a replacement bottle top can be used under these circumstances, such a replacement bottle top must be available to the consumer when needed, which is not the typical situation. Even if the original screw top of the bottle is not lost, if it becomes contaminated, such as by falling to the floor or contacting an unclean surface or material, it may not be desirable to use the original screw top to reclose the bottle because reclosing the bottle with the contaminated screw top will, in turn, contaminate the soft drink remaining in the bottle. Although the contaminated original screw top can be cleaned, a means for cleaning the original screw top may not be available when needed. As a result, under both of these circumstances when the original screw top of the bottle is not available to reclose the bottle, either the soft drink remaining in the bottle has to be consumed immediately, the freshness of the soft drink will be subject to compromise before its next consumption, the remaining soft drink will have to be discarded, or the remaining soft drink may leak out of the bottle unintentionally at an inopportune time or location. This problem is particularly of concern if, prior to loss or contamination of the bottle top, the consumer had wanted to reclose the bottle and place it someplace mobile, such as in a bag, a purse, a backpack, or on a bicycle, for later consumption.

One solution to this problem is to design the container with a resealable closure that is integral to the bottle. Examples of such resealable container closures are container caps that are hingedly attached to the top of the container and can be pivoted between two positions, one in which the top of the container is closed, and one in which the top of the container is opened. Such hingedly attached container tops have been used on containers for ketchup and mustard, for example.

Another solution to this problem is to have a resealable valve-type closure that can slide or rotate from a closed position to an open position. Such valve-type closures have been used on containers for soft drinks, waters, mustards, and white glue. However, since the tops of these valve-type closures for some products are placed into the mouth of a consumer, they are usually sold to the consumer with a safety cap which is removably attached to the valve-type closure to protect the valve-type closure from contamination during shipment and when not in the consumer's mouth. Again, this safety cap can be lost or can become contaminated when it is not mounted to the valve-type closure.

The use of an attached resealable cap for the container may not be a viable option for various particular products for various reasons. Such reasons include, for example, increased manufacturing cost, incompatibility of the cap design to the product in the container, or consumer preference for a cap that may be completely removed. For example, a hinged bottle top would not be practical for a carbonated soft drink bottle because the carbonation in the soft drink would cause the hinged bottle top to leak. A valve-type closure for a soft drink bottle may not be acceptable to consumers because it may be too restrictive or slow in allowing the soft drink to be extracted from the bottle.

Another solution to this problem is to shape the container and its cap so that when the cap is removed from the opening or mouth of the container the cap may be stored on the bottom end of the container. This configuration has been used, for example, with aerosol containers or cans of spray paint and the like. A problem with this solution is that if the consumer wants to be able to stand the container on its bottom end when the cap is stored on the bottom end, the cap must be sized and shaped so as to permit the container to stand reliably bottom end down. In addition, the cap must be sized sufficiently large to fit onto the bottom of the container. This solution is not viable for containers that have an opening smaller than the bottom of the container since it would be difficult for the container to stand upright with the cap attached to its bottom end.

Yet another solution to this problem is to have a cap that remains attached to the container by a mechanism after the cap has been removed from the mouth or opening of the container. One example of such a mechanism, often used for water bottles, tethers the cap to the container by one or more strands of material. Another example of such a mechanism includes a wired hinge arrangement which allows the cap to swing away from the mouth of the container and also allows the cap to be securely locked onto the mouth of the container. Such a mechanism has been used for beer and soft drink bottles in Europe and for containers for preserves and dry food goods. However, such mechanisms may result in the cap of the container interfering with the consumer's access to the contents of the container. In addition, pouring the contents of the container is awkward and requires that the container be oriented in a particular way so that the cap of the container does not swing unintentionally to restrict the emptying of the container's contents.

There is therefore a need for a mechanism for storing a cap of a resealable container when the container is opened so that the cap when completely removed from the container does not become misplaced or contaminated, but which also allows the cap to be completely and easily removed from and replaced on to the container.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, the cap of a container with a removable cap is stored, when it is not used to seal the container, on a surface of the container other than the bottom of the container. To accomplish this attachment, a container portion of a mechanism is formed into, attached to, or attachable to, an outer surface of a container or a label attached to the container. The container portion of the mechanism is positioned on, or mountable on to, or formed into the container at a storage position other than the end of the container upon which the container is designed to stand so that the opening of the container can be used without obstruction and so that the container can easily stand without interference by the reattached container cap. The container portion of the mechanism is configured to detachably attach to a cap portion of the mechanism. The cap portion of the mechanism is positioned on, mountable on to, or formed into the container's cap. The two portions of the mechanism are configured so that they can be attached to and separated from one another a plurality of times.

The mechanism allows the cap of the container to be completely removed from the container's opening for easy, unrestricted access to the contents of the container while the cap is conveniently and securely stored on the container's surface for future use. As a result, the possibility of losing or contaminating the cap of the container while it is not used to seal the container is minimized.

The invention also comprises a container and cap with the mechanism, and a product in such a container.

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are intended solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a cross-sectional side view of an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The mechanism of the present invention comprises two parts, a container portion and a cap portion. In one embodiment, the container portion of the mechanism is formed as part of the material comprising the container. In accordance with this embodiment, at the time that the container is made, a portion of its outer surface, other than on the surface upon which the container is designed to stand, is fabricated to form the container portion of the mechanism. This embodiment is particularly applicable when the container is made of a plastic material and the container is made through use of a mold. Alternatively, the container portion of the mechanism may be formed separate from forming the container and then attached to the container by an adhesive or by welding.

In another embodiment of the invention, the container portion of the mechanism is attached to labeling on the container.

The cap portion of the mechanism can similarly be formed as part of the material comprising the cap or attached to the cap.

If one or both of the container and cap portions of the mechanism are not formed as part of the container or cap, respectively, but instead are attached to the container or cap, respectively, one or both of these portions of the mechanism can be attached in their operating positions on the container and cap, respectively, either before or after the container is received by the ultimate consumer. If one or both of the container and cap portions of the mechanism is/are not attached to the container and/or cap in their operating positions when the ultimate consumer receives the container, the portion(s) is/are preferable removably attached to the container, cap, labeling or packaging for the container so that the consumer can remove the portion(s) when needed and attach them in their appropriate operating position(s). Alternatively, the portion(s) can be supplied to the consumer unattached to the container, cap, labeling or packaging for the container, either as part of a sale of the container to the consumer or separate from the sale of any container to the consumer.

The container portion of the mechanism and the cap portion of the mechanism can have any kind of configuration such that the two portions can be removably and repeatedly attached to one another when desired.

In one embodiment, the container portion is configured to grasp a portion of the cap portion. Such grasping can be accomplished by a resilient grasping, clamping or hooking means which grasps a textured, ridged portion or appropriately shaped portion of or a protrusion comprising the cap portion of the mechanism on the cap or attachable to the cap. Alternatively, the cap portion can be configured to screw onto the container portion, either on the threaded inner portion of the cap normally used to attach the cap to the container's mouth or another threaded section of the cap, such as, for example around or on the outer circumference of the cap. The cap's protrusion can be positioned on the end or top of the cap, or on or around the outer circumference of the cap. Alternatively, the container portion of the mechanism can have the protrusion and the cap can have the grasping or clamping means. Such a grasping means can also be formed by a plurality of hooks on one of the portions and a fabric or fabric-like material on the other of the portions of the mechanism, such as the pair of materials sold as Velcro®. In another embodiment, the two portions of the mechanism comprise two sections of double-stick tape which can be or applied to the container and cap. However, since the adherence of the two portions by the adhesive of the tape will diminish with use, this embodiment should preferably be used when a limited number of uses is anticipated. The double stick tape is supplied to the consumer with two backing tapes to protect the tacky surfaces of the double stick tape until use. To afford optimal adherence of the cap to the bottle in this embodiment, a portion of the container's outer surface is appropriately shaped so that the container's cap will have maximum surface contact with that portion of the container's outer surface. For example, if a flat top of a bottle top is to be attached to a bottle, a portion of the bottle's outer surface is configured to have a flat surface of a size substantially the same as the flat top of the bottle top.

In connection with the Velcro® and double-stick tape embodiments in particular, the two portions of the mechanism can be attached in the appropriate positions on the container and cap when the container is sold to the consumer, or, alternatively, the two portions can be attached in some way to the container, its labeling or packaging so that the consumer can attach the two mechanisms in the proper positions on the container and cap when needed by an adhesive tape or glue applied to the two portions prior to receipt of the container by the consumer. Alternatively, the two portions of the mechanism can be sold or supplied to the consumer separate from the container.

As shown in FIG. 1, after the cap 3 has been removed from the opening 2 of the container 1. The cap 3 has been attached to the container 1 at a position on the container 1 other than the bottom of the container 1. Attachment of the cap 3 to the container 1 is accomplished by the mechanism of the present invention which comprises a container portion 4 and a cap portion 5. As discussed above, the cap portion 5 and the container portion 4 are configured so that they can be removably attached to one another a plurality of times. The container 1 is at least partially filled with an item 6 which is capable of flowing out of the opening 2 of the container 1. The term “flowing” is being used in its broadest sense so that the item includes any one or more items that is or are capable of being removably stored in the container, including, for example, fluids, gases, gels, suspensions, powders, particles, and individual articles, such as for example, pharmaceutical products (such as pills and capsules), hardware (such as nails, bolts and screws), and small food items (such as raisins, candies, nuts, pepper corns). The container with the item or items therein is sold to a consumer as a single product, such as, for example, a soft drink sold in a bottle.

Although only a few ways are herein discussed in which the cap portion and the container portion of the mechanism of the present invention can be removably attached to one another, there are many ways known by those skilled in the art in which these two portions can be configured so that they can be releasably and repeatedly attached to one another.

Thus, while there have been shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the present invention as applied to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices described and illustrated, and in their operation, and of the methods described may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Substitutions of elements from one described embodiment to another are also fully intended and contemplated. It is also to be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale but that they are merely conceptual in nature. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.





 
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