Title:
Self-closing lid for beverage cups and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Lid for a beverage cup or the like having a top wall with an opening through which a beverage can be drunk, a valve seat surrounding the opening, a resilient arm beneath the top wall, a valve member urged toward sealing engagement with the valve seat by the resilient arm. The arm is deflected in a downward direction by the lip of a person drinking through the opening to move the valve member away from its seat. In one disclosed embodiment, a portion of the arm extends in proximity to a deformable side wall and is deflected by the lower lip of the person. In other embodiments, the valve member extends through the opening and is depressed by the upper lip, and in one of those the lid is incorporated into a beverage can.



Inventors:
Kim, Seong Soo (Richmond, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/655676
Publication Date:
03/10/2005
Filing Date:
09/05/2003
Assignee:
S2 and Family, L. L. C.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/254.5, 220/714
International Classes:
A47G19/22; (IPC1-7): A47G19/22; B65D51/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Edward S. Wright (Menlo Park, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A lid for a beverage cup or the like, comprising a top wall with an opening through which a person can drink, a valve seat surrounding the opening, a resiliently deformable side wall engagable by the lower lip of a person drinking through the opening, a resilient arm affixed at one end beneath the top wall, a valve member urged toward sealing engagement with the valve seat by the resilient arm, and means operable by the lip of a person engaging the side wall for deflecting the resilient arm in a downward direction to move the valve member away from the opening.

2. The lid of claim 1 wherein the one end of the resilient arm is affixed to the under side of the top wall.

3. The lid of claim 1 wherein the top wall and side wall and the valve member and resilient arm are unitary structures.

4. The lid of claim 3 wherein the resilient arm is affixed to the wall structure in a manner which permits the valve member and arm structure to be kept separately and attached to the wall structure just prior to use.

5. The lid of claim 4 wherein the configuration of the wall structure is such that a plurality of such structures can be nested together for shipment and storage.

6. The lid of claim 4 wherein the configuration of the valve member and arm structure is such that a plurality of such structures can be nested together for shipment and storage.

7. The lid of claim 1 wherein the means for deflecting the lid comprises a portion of the arm positioned in proximity to the side wall.

8. The lid of claim 1 wherein the top wall includes a raised area in which the opening is located and a recessed area for collecting spillage from the opening.

9. The lid of claim 1 wherein the valve seat comprises a downwardly facing bead on the under side of the top wall.

10. The lid of claim 9 wherein the valve member includes a peripheral groove in which the valve seat bead is received.

11. A lid for a beverage cup or the like, comprising a top wall with an opening through which a person can drink, a side wall engagable by the lower lip of a person drinking through the opening, a mounting post on the under side of the top wall, a resilient arm having an inner end portion which is affixed to the mounting post and an outer end portion which can be deflected in a downward direction by the lip of a person engaging the side wall, and a valve member carried by the resilient arm for movement into and out of sealing engagement with the valve seat.

12. The lid of claim 11 wherein the inner end portion of the resilient arm is pressed onto the mounting post.

13. The lid of claim 11 wherein the top wall and side wall and the valve member and resilient arm are unitary structures.

14. The lid of claim 13 wherein the configuration of the wall structure is such that a plurality of such structures can be nested together for shipment and storage.

15. The lid of claim 13 wherein the configuration of the valve member and arm structure is such that a plurality of such structures can be nested together for shipment and storage.

16. The lid of claim 11 wherein the top wall includes a raised area in which the opening is located and a recessed area for collecting spillage from the opening.

17. The lid of claim 1 1 wherein the valve seat comprises a downwardly facing bead on the under side of the top wall.

18. The lid of claim 17 wherein the valve member includes a peripheral groove in which the valve seat bead is received.

19. A lid for a beverage cup or the like, comprising a top wall with an opening through which a person can drink, a valve seat surrounding the opening, a resilient arm having one end secured in a fixed position beneath the top wall, and a valve member urged toward sealing engagement with the valve seat by the resilient arm, with a portion of the valve member extending through the opening and being engagable by the upper lip of a person drinking through the opening to hold the valve member away from the seat.

20. The lid of claim 19 wherein the valve member and arm are a unitary structure.

21. The lid of claim 20 wherein the resilient arm is affixed to the top wall in a manner which permits the valve member and arm structure to be kept separately and attached to the top wall just prior to use.

22. The lid of claim 21 wherein the configuration of the valve member and arm structure is such that a plurality of such structures can be nested together for shipment and storage.

23. The lid of claim 19 wherein the top wall includes a raised area in which the opening is located and a recessed area for collecting spillage from the opening.

24. The lid of claim 19 wherein the valve seat comprises a downwardly facing groove, and the valve member includes an upwardly projecting peripheral bead which is received in the groove.

25. The lid of claim 19 wherein the valve member has a plurality of steps for engagement with the lip of the person drinking through the opening.

26. The lid of claim 19 wherein the top wall is the top wall of a beverage can, and the valve member includes a gasket which is urged into sealing engagement with the under side of the top wall by the resilient arm.

27. A lid for a beverage can comprising a top wall having an upwardly projecting valve member formed therein, a score line surrounding the valve member, a pull tab attached to the top wall for depressing the valve member to sever the valve member from the remainder of the top wall, the pull tab having a long arm and a short arm and being mounted on the top wall in such manner that the short arm bears down upon the valve member when the long arm is pulled in an upward direction away from the top wall, a resilient arm having one end secured in a fixed position beneath the top wall and a second end connected to the valve member, and a gasket urged by the resilient arm into sealing engagement between the valve member and the under side of the top wall.

28. The lid of claim 27 wherein the gasket is affixed to the resilient arm, and the valve member is affixed to a central portion of the gasket, with an outer portion of the gasket surrounding the valve member and engaging the under side of the top wall.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention pertains generally to beverage containers and lids and, more particularly, to a disposable, spill-resistant lid having a self-closing opening through which a beverage can be drunk.

2. Related Art

Beverages such as coffee and soft drinks are often served in and drunk from disposable cups made of styrofoam, paper and/or other plastic materials. To prevent spillage, such cups are commonly provided with lids which fit tightly over the rims of the cups to form a seal. Some lids have openings through which the beverage can be drunk without removing the lid from the cup, and some of those have closures for sealing the openings. Examples of such lids are found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,015,411, 3,208,629, 3,338,467, 3,905,512, D476,566 and D477,233, and in published PCT application WO 03/013969.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, in general, an object of the invention to provide a new and improved lid for beverage cups and the like.

Another object of the invention is to provide a lid of the above character which overcomes the limitations and disadvantages of lids heretofore provided.

These and other objects are achieved in accordance with the invention by providing a lid for a beverage cup or the like having a top wall with an opening through which a person can drink, a valve seat surrounding the opening, a resilient arm beneath the top wall, a valve member urged toward sealing engagement with the valve seat by the resilient arm. The arm is deflected in a downward direction by the lip of a person drinking through the opening to move the valve member away from its seat. In one embodiment, a portion of the arm extends in proximity to a deformable side wall and is deflected by the lower lip of the person. In other embodiments, the valve member extends through the opening and is depressed by the upper lip, and in one of those the lid is incorporated into a beverage can.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one embodiment of a lid for a beverage cup or the like according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the valve member and arm structure in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of another embodiment of a lid for a beverage cup or the like according to the invention.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the embodiment of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the valve member and arm structure in the embodiment of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a lid according to the invention incorporated into a beverage can.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged centerline sectional view of the valve member in the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is an isometric view of the valve member arm structure in the embodiment of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, the lid has a body 11 which includes a top wall 12, a side wall 13, and a rim 14 at the lower edge of the side wall for sealing engagement with the rim of a cup (not shown) or other container from which a beverage is to be drunk. The body is fabricated as a relatively thin unitary structure of a material, such as polystyrene or a mixture of polystyrene and urethane, which is resiliently deformable. The lid is disposable in the sense that it is intended to be used once and then recycled or discarded.

The top wall has a raised area 17 toward one side and a recessed area or well 18 toward the other. An oval-shaped opening 19 through which a beverage can be drunk is formed in the raised area and surrounded by a valve seat 20. Communication through the opening is controlled by a valve member 21 which is movable between a closed position in sealing engagement with the valve seat and an open position away from the seat. In this embodiment, valve seat 20 is a downwardly convex bead of generally semicircular cross section which projects from the under side of the top wall and is received in a complementary recess or groove 22 at the periphery of the valve member. Alternatively, if desired, the bead can be formed on the valve member and the groove in the top wall.

The valve member is formed integrally with a resilient arm 23 which is affixed at one end to the under side of the top wall. As best seen in FIG. 1, the top wall is formed to include a depending post 24 near the opening, and the arm has a socket 26 which is pressed or snapped onto the post to secure the arm to the body. The arm is fabricated of a resilient material which urges the valve member toward its closed position in sealing engagement with the valve seat.

The outer portion 27 of the arm is downwardly inclined and extends beyond the opening in close proximity to side wall 13. The deformable nature of the side wall allows a person drinking from the cup to press his lower lip against the outer portion of the arm through the side wall to bend the arm in a downward direction and thereby move the valve member away from its seat so the beverage can pass through the opening. When the lip stops pressing against the side wall, the resiliency of the arm returns the valve member to the closed position against the valve seat, thereby resealing the opening. Any spillage which may occur is collected in recessed area or well 18.

Being relatively thin, both the valve structure and the body have complementary upper and lower surface configurations which permit them to be stacked or nested together separately for shipment and storage. At the time of use, the person serving the beverage simply presses or snaps the valve structure onto the post before placing the lid on the cup. Keeping the two parts separated in this manner, they occupy substantially less space than the assembled lids would require.

The embodiment of FIGS. 4-6 is similar to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, and like reference numerals designate corresponding elements in the two embodiments. The body is identical except for the shape of the opening and the surrounding valve seat. Rather than being oval-shaped as in the first embodiment, opening 31 and valve seat 32 have the shape of a rounded triangle in plan view, with one side of the triangle near the outer edge of the top wall. In this embodiment, the valve seat is a recess groove formed within an upwardly projecting bead of generally semicircular cross section surrounding the opening.

The valve structure once again comprises a valve member 33 and a resilient arm 34 which are formed as a unitary structure. It includes a socket 36 which snaps or presses onto post 24 to affix one end of the arm to the under side of top wall 12. Valve member 33 extends through the opening, with a portion projecting above the wall surrounding the opening for engagement by the upper lip of a person drinking through the opening. That portion is formed with a plurality of steps or ridges 37 which facilitate engagement with the lip. A raised bead 38 at the periphery of the valve member extends into the groove at the periphery of the opening to form a seal between the valve member and the valve seat. Alternatively, the bead can be formed on the top wall and the groove in the valve member.

Pressing of the lip against the valve member moves the valve member away from the valve seat and bends the resilient arm in a downward direction, thereby allowing the beverage to pass through the opening. When the lip stops pressing against the valve member, the resiliency of the arm returns the valve member to its closed position against the valve seat, thereby reclosing and sealing the opening.

As in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, the configurations of the valve structure and the body are such that they be stacked separately and kept apart until the time of use.

Although the invention has been described thus far with specific reference to a beverage cup, it can also be used on other containers including the cans in which soft drinks and other beverages are often packaged.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 7-9, the lid is incorporated into a beverage can 39, and valve member 41 is formed as an integral part of the top wall 42 of the can. The portion 43 of the top wall in which the valve member is formed is surrounded by a score line 44 and is thereby adapted to be separated from the remainder of the top wall to form the opening through which the beverage is drunk.

The valve member projects above the plane of the top wall and is depressed by the short arm 46 of a pull tab 47 to open the can. The pull tab also has a longer arm 48 which extends at an obtuse angle relative to the short arm, with gussets 49 extending between the side edges of the two arms to form a rigid structure. The pull tab is attached to the top wall by a rivet 51, with the longer arm normally resting against the top wall and the short arm near the valve member.

When severed from the top wall, valve member 41 is urged in an upward direction toward its closed position by a resilient arm 52 which is affixed to the under side of the top wall by rivet 51. A gasket 53 is affixed to the upper surface of the free end of the arm, and the valve member is cemented or otherwise attached to the central portion of the upper side of the gasket, with the outer portion of the gasket being urged into sealing engagement with the under side of the top wall around the opening. The gasket can be fabricated of any suitable material, with one which is relatively soft or spongy being particularly preferred.

Until the can is opened, the top wall remains in tact and is sealed along the score line like a conventional pop-top can. Pulling up on the long arm 46 of the pull tab causes the short arm 46 to press downwardly against valve member 41 and thereby sever the wall along the score line, thereby detaching the valve member from the top wall. Once the valve member is free, the pull tab is returned to its rest position, with the long arm flat against the top wall, and the short arm disengaged from the valve member.

With the valve member separated from the top wall, spring arm 52 urges the valve member and gasket 53 in an upward direction, with the gasket in sealing engagement with the under side of the top wall. A person can drink through the opening in the top wall by depressing the valve member with his upper lip, as in the embodiment of FIGS. 4-6. That deflects the free end of the spring arm in a downward direction, and opens the opening so the beverage can pass through it. When the lip is removed from the valve member the spring arm once again presses the gasket against the under side of the top wall, thereby sealing the opening.

The invention has a number of important features and advantages. It provides a spill-resistant lid having a self-closing opening through which a beverage can be drunk. Flow though the opening is controlled by a valve member which is normally held in a closed or sealing position and can be moved to an open position by the lip of a person drinking through the opening. The valve member and the body of the lid are separate structures which can be stacked together or nested until just prior to use, which results in a substantial saving of space. The lid can be manufactured inexpensively and is disposable in that it can be used once and then recycled or discarded.

It is apparent from the foregoing that a new and improved beverage lid has been provided. While only certain presently preferred embodiments have been described in detail, as will be apparent to those familiar with the art, certain changes and modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.