Title:
Magnetic beverage holder with cluster magnets and biasing tabs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A beverage holder having a molded polymeric outer shell; a molded polymeric liner disposed inside the shell, a cluster of closely spaced magnets disposed on one side of the holder between the shell and the liner, the magnets cooperating with the shell to present a substantially flat, outwardly facing surface, and the liner having a biasing member exerting a force radially inward. The magnet cluster causes the holder to be attachable to a substantially vertical ferrous-metal-containing surface with sufficient attractive force to support the weight of a full beverage container disposed inside the holder. A beverage holder having magnets disposed in both the side and bottom walls, and a docking disk assembly useful in supporting the beverage holder on non-ferrous mounting surfaces is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Gary, Lonnie F. (Ransom Canyon, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/944111
Publication Date:
03/17/2005
Filing Date:
09/15/2004
Assignee:
GARY LONNIE F.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G19/22; A47G23/02; B65D25/22; B65D25/24; B65D81/38; (IPC1-7): B65D25/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GROSSO, HARRY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Locke Lord LLP (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:
1. A holder for a single-serving beverage container, the holder comprising a substantially cylindrical, flexible polymeric shell having a substantially continuous bottom and an open top; an injection molded, substantially cylindrical polymeric liner disposed inside the shell, the liner also having a substantially continuous bottom and an open top; and a cluster of closely spaced magnets disposed between the shell and liner to define a substantially flat magnetic attraction surface on a side of the shell, the magnets collectively exerting an attraction force sufficient to support the holder and a beverage container disposed inside the holder against a substantially vertical ferrous-metal-containing surface without relative movement between the holder and the ferrous-metal-containing surface; wherein the liner further comprises at least one biasing member exerting a force radially inward against a surface of the beverage container disposed inside the holder.

2. The holder of claim 1, further comprising at least one magnet disposed between the bottom of the liner and the bottom of the shell.

3. The holder of claim 1 wherein the magnets are disposed in recesses formed in a sidewall of the shell.

4. The holder of claim 1 wherein the cluster comprises four disk-shaped magnets.

5. The holder of claim 1 wherein the magnets are round and have a diameter of about 15 mm.

6. The holder of claim 1 wherein the magnets have a thickness of about 3 mm.

7. The holder of claim 1 wherein the magnet are permanent magnets.

8. The holder of claim 7 wherein the magnets are made of a material selected from the group consisting of neodymium iron boron, barium ferrite and strontium ferrite.

9. The holder of claim 1, further comprising a backing member disposed between the magnets and the liner.

10. The holder of claim 1 wherein the liner further comprises at least one biasing member exerting a force directed radially inward.

11. The holder of claim 10 wherein the liner comprises a plurality of circumferentially spaced biasing members, each of which exerts a force directed radially inward.

12. The holder of claim 1 wherein the shell is applied to the liner by dip molding.

13. The holder of claim 1 wherein the shell is attached to the liner using an adhesive.

14. The holder of claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the polymeric shell is foamed.

15. The holder of claim 1 wherein the sidewall and bottom are unitarily formed.

16. The holder of claim 1 wherein the polymeric liner is more rigid than the shell.

17. The holder of claim 1 wherein the liner comprises a plurality of circumferentially spaced slots.

18. The holder of claim 1 wherein an aperture extends through both the bottom of the shell and the bottom of the liner.

19. The holder of claim 1 wherein the liner has an annular lip disposed around the open top.

20. The holder of claim 1 wherein there is at least one air gap between the shell and the liner.

21. The holder of claim 1 wherein the liner further comprises a plurality of longitudinally extending ribs.

22. The holder of claim 21 wherein the reinforcing ribs are circumferentially spaced and are contacted by the beverage container when the beverage container is inserted into the beverage holder.

23. The holder of claim 1 wherein the shell comprises flexible polyvinyl chloride.

24. The holder of claim 1 in combination with a docking disk assembly comprising a ferrous-metal disk, the assembly being attachable to a mounting surface lacking sufficient ferrous metal to produce an attraction force adequate to releasably support the holder and a beverage container disposed in the holder in a substantially fixed position relative to the mounting surface.

25. The holder of claim 24 wherein the docking disk assembly comprises a steel disk having one side releasably attachable to the holder and another side having an adhesive pad attachable to a mounting surface.

26. The holder of claim 25 wherein the adhesive pad comprises urethane foam and an acrylic adhesive.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/662,582, filed Sep. 15, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a beverage holder of the type commonly used for holding a single-serving, canned or bottled beverage and for keeping it cool during consumption. Such holders, sometimes referred to as “coozies,” are typically made, at least in part, of a thermally insulative polymeric material.

2. Description of Related Art

Polymeric beverage holders useful with single cans or bottles are well known. Ordinarily, such beverage holders are made with a sidewall that is substantially cylindrical and a bottom that is unitarily formed or separately made. If separately made, the bottom is typically attached to the lower end of the sidewall around the circumference of the holder using an adhesive, by sonic welding, or by other similarly effective means. Alternatively, the sidewalls of conventional beverage holders are sometimes made so that at least the outwardly facing surface is curvilinear in both the vertical and circumferential directions to provide an outside profile that is distinctive in appearance and is more easily gripped by a user. Processes such as dip molding and injection molding are often used to make the subject articles. Materials known for use in making conventional beverage holders can include, for example and without limitation, foamed or unfoamed, moldable polymeric resins, elastomers or combinations thereof. Examples of such polymers include polyurethane, polyalkenes, neoprene, polyurea, polystyrene, polyamides and polyisocyanates. Outer layers or coatings of a dissimilar material, such as a synthetic fabric, are sometimes provided to facilitate the application of printing or other graphics to the outside surface, or to achieve other benefits or effects in appearance and/or function. In some cases, an aperture is provided in the side or bottom wall to facilitate the ingress or egress of air during removal or insertion, respectively, of a can or bottle from a snugly fitting inside wall.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,510,665, for example, discloses a container insulation apparatus having a wider diameter base than sidewall created by wrapping unicellular foam around a round disk that serves at the bottom and applying a vinyl coating to the sidewall to taper the sidewall sleeve above the round bottom. A hole is cut through the sidewall sleeve near the base end to function as a vacuum breaker during removal of a beverage container from the sleeve.

Other beverage holders have previously been disclosed that employ magnets to impart a magnetic field to the contained beverage. Such fields are taught, for example, by U.S. Pat. No. 6,390,319 and other references cited therein to promote preservation and purification of the contained liquids, or to provide other perceived therapeutic benefits. FIG. 3 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,390,319 discloses the use of an axial ring magnet in the sidewall of an insulating beverage overlayer made of blown polymeric foam for such purposes. The use of a flexible magnet having ferromagnetic particles embedded in an elastically deformable sheet, or a plurality of bar magnets disposed around the circumference of a foam cylinder to impart a magnetic field to the beverage, is also disclosed.

Other beverage holders have previously been disclosed that employ magnets to stabilize a beverage container on an underlying support surface. U.S. Pat. No. 3,610,459 discloses the use of permanent magnets to retain dishes on a tray when transporting the tray to a table. U.S. Pat. No. 5,186,350 discloses an insulated beverage container holder having a recess in its bottom surface to receive a disk-shaped magnet that is attachable to the bottom for the purpose of maintaining the beverage container on an underlying support surface. U.S. Pat. No. 6,065,632 discloses another container for beverages having a magnetic base that stabilizes the container when placed on underlying metallic surfaces. In that device, the magnet is preferably of the ceramic type or else made by pouring a ferrous-metal-impregnated plastic into the base of the outer wall section and allowed to solidify while exposed to a magnetic field. The resulting magnet rests on the outer floor portion and is integral with the container so that its weight serves as ballast while the magnetic field clamps the container to an underlying metallic surface.

The use of magnets in beverage holders as disclosed in the prior art does not, however, function satisfactorily for the purpose of firmly supporting a full can or bottle of beverage in an upright orientation on a substantially vertical, ferrous-metal-containing support surface, such as the side of a motor vehicle, steel beam, wall, filing cabinet, or the like. The use of a ring magnet or a plurality of magnets spaced around the periphery of the sidewall of a cylindrical beverage holder has been found to provide insufficient contact with a substantially planar and vertical support surface to hold a beverage firmly in one position. Such beverage holders tend to detach, slide down the vertical surface, or “roll” sideways over the metal surface under the influence of the magnetic field.

Applicant has previously disclosed a beverage holder having a single, large-diameter, disk-shaped magnet disposed in the sidewall as being necessary for providing a flat surface of sufficient area and a holding force strong enough to support the subject beverage holder and an associated beverage container in a stationary position on a vertical, ferrous-metal-containing wall. However, such large magnets are comparatively expensive for the holding force achieved and contribute to an undesirably high cost of manufacture for the subject beverage holder.

Another difficulty that has been encountered with the beverage holder previously disclosed relates to the diameter of the beverage container with which the holder is used. Because some canned single-serving beverages that are now popular have diameters slightly smaller than the diameter of a conventional soft drink or beer can, a can supported in the beverage holder can slide downwardly out of the holder when the bottom of the holder is tipped upwardly during consumption of the beverage. This is particularly likely where the beverage holder comprises a liner having a relatively slick inside surface. A beverage holder is needed that can accommodate cans or bottles of different diameters and exert a frictional holding force against a smaller-diameter beverage container to prevent axial slippage between the container and the holder, thereby preventing accidental spillage or possible injury to the user.

An improved beverage holder is therefore needed that has a side which can be attached firmly to a substantially vertical, ferrous-metal-containing support surface, even when supporting a full beverage container, that can be manufactured economically, and that will exert a frictional holding force against containers of various diameters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A beverage holder that is inexpensive but will firmly support a full beverage can or bottle in an upright position firmly against a substantially vertical, ferrous-metal-containing surface is disclosed herein. The beverage holder of the invention can be conveniently used, for example, to support a beverage in an upright position on the side of a parked motor vehicle during tailgate parties, or on the face of a filing cabinet within easy reach of an individual working at a desk, without fear of inadvertent tipping or spillage. The beverage holder of the invention can similarly be used to support a beverage in an upright position on the sides of structural members of buildings, or on machinery or heavy equipment where there is no readily available horizontal surface on which to rest a beverage holder, or where vibrations might otherwise cause a conventional beverage holder to slide off a support surface.

According to one preferred embodiment of the invention, a thermally insulative, polymeric beverage holder is provided that has an outer shell made of a flexible polymer such as polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”), a molded polymeric liner that is harder and more rigid than the outer shell and is slidably insertable into the outer shell, a cluster of closely-spaced magnets disposed in an array located on one side of the beverage holder in a predetermined position between the shell and the liner, and at least one magnet disposed between the bottom of the liner and the bottom of the shell. The outer shell and liner preferably each comprise a substantially cylindrical sidewall and a bottom, but are open at the top to receive a single-serving beverage container. The liner sidewall preferably further comprises a plurality of circumferentially spaced, axially extending slots and at least one biasing member positioned so as to maintain frictional contact with an outside surface portion of a beverage container having a diameter slightly smaller than the diameters of conventional single-serving beverage cans. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, one biasing member is aligned with each circumferentially spaced slot in the liner sidewall.

The cluster of closely spaced magnets most preferably comprises a cluster of four circular, disk-shaped magnets, each of which is disposed in a cooperatively shaped recess in the inside wall of the outer shell. According to one particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the four magnets are supported on a plastic backing plate that is also disposed between the outer shell and the liner. The liner most preferably further comprises a plurality of circumferentially spaced, axially extending ribs projecting slightly inward from the liner sidewall to increase the rigidity of the sidewall and to reduce the contacting surface area between the liner sidewall and the sidewall of a beverage container, thereby reducing friction between the two and making the container more easily insertable into the beverage holder and more easily removable from the beverage holder following consumption of the beverage.

According to other, alternative embodiments of the invention, the magnets comprising the closely spaced magnet cluster can be completely embedded in the sidewall of the shell during manufacture or can be inserted later into one or more slits made between two sidewall sections of the beverage holder. When installed as disclosed herein, the magnets are not visible externally and will not scratch or mar the surface of any ferrous-metal-containing support member to which the beverage holder is releasably secured.

According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, a thermally insulative beverage holder is provided that comprises an outer shell having a substantially cylindrical sidewall, the sidewall providing support to a cluster of closely-spaced magnets disposed in a side-by-side array located on one side of the beverage holder in such manner that a portion of the outside surface of the outer sidewall of the shell is caused by the magnets to assume an substantially flat, outside surface that can be placed in contact with an abutting flat surface of a substantially vertical, ferrous-metal-containing structural member and will remain in stationary contact with the structural member to support the beverage holder in a substantially upright position until separated from the structural member by the user.

The beverage holder of the invention can optionally comprise, in addition to a cluster of closely spaced sidewall magnets as described herein, a bottom wall portion having at least one additional magnet for use in stabilizing the beverage holder on an inclined ferrous-metal surface on which it might slide without benefit of the holding power of the magnet or magnets in the bottom. When configured with magnets as disclosed herein disposed in both the bottom and sidewalls, the user is provided with the option of selectively placing the subject beverage holder on either a substantially vertical or an inclined ferrous-metal surface without risk of tipping, rolling or sliding, and associated spillage.

The magnets used in the sidewall of the subject beverage holder are desirably permanent magnets and will collectively impart to a vertical wall comprising a ferrous-metal a magnetic attractive force that is sufficiently strong and is applied over a sufficiently large area that the weight of a full beverage container disposed inside the holder is supported in an upright position against the wall without relative motion between the beverage holder and the wall, and without attendant risk of resultant tipping or spillage absent the intervention of another external force.

A further aspect of the invention is that the flat surface section imparted to the sidewall of a beverage holder by the cluster of closely spaced magnets provides a convenient mounting surface by which the subject beverage holders can be attached to metal shelving for display purposes at the point of sale. Thus, for example, the subject beverage holders can be releasably attached to the metal walls, shelves or doors of display cases in which refrigerated beverages are sold. While there is no inherent limit in the size of the beverage holders that can be made as disclosed herein, beverage holders suitable for use with single serving beverage containers containing up to about 20 fluid ounces are particularly preferred.

According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, a docking disk assembly comprising a ferrous metal docking disk is disclosed for use in releasably attaching the magnetic beverage holder of the invention to mounting surfaces that do not comprise a ferrous metal. A particularly preferred docking disk for use in the invention comprises an adhesive pad on one side of the disk that is applied to a non-ferrous mounting surface by removing a peel-off paper backing and pressuring the disk against the mounting surface. The level of adhesion between the adhesive pad and the mounting surface is desirably sufficient to support a magnetic beverage holder as disclosed above while holding a full single-serving beverage container without detaching from the mounting surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The apparatus of the invention is further described and explained in relation to the following figures of the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the magnetic beverage holder of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the magnetic beverage holder of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the magnetic beverage holder of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view showing the magnetic beverage holder of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional elevation view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional detail elevation view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of the magnetic beverage holder of FIG. 1, but having a plurality of spaced apart bottom magnets;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the magnetic beverage holder of the invention with a beverage container inserted into the holder and being supported in a vertical position on a ferrous-metal-containing wall;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional elevation view of the magnetic beverage holder of the invention, which is shown supported on an inclined supporting surface; and

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a self-adhesive, ferrous metal docking disk suitable for use with the magnetic beverage holder of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The structure and configuration of a preferred beverage holder 10 of the invention are further described and explained below in relation to FIGS. 1 through 6 of the drawings. Referring to FIG. 4, beverage holder 10 preferably comprises a thermally insulative, flexible, polymeric shell 12 that optionally comprises a foamed or elastomeric component; a molded polymeric liner 14 that is desirably more rigid than shell 12; a cluster of closely spaced, disk-shaped magnets 46; and a magnet backing plate 44 that is also most preferably made of molded plastic. Both shell 12 and liner 14 of beverage holder 10 preferably comprise a substantially cylindrical sidewall, and a bottom having at least one aperture. The height and internal diameter of beverage holder 10 are preferably suitable for use with the external dimensions of a conventional single-serving beverage container, typically a soft drink, juice or beer can. A further advantage of beverage holder 10 disclosed herein over prior art beverage holders is the presence of at least one biasing member such as circumferentially spaced biasing tabs 24 that desirably apply frictional pressure against the sidewall of the beverage container to resist unintended axial slippage between beverage holder 10 and a beverage container during use.

Beverage containers useful with beverage holder 10 of the invention can be made of plastic, metal or glass. From the preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 1, 4 and 5, it is apparent that shell 12, although substantially cylindrical, can also comprise other structural and surface features, including convex curved sections, ribbed sections, and the like. Such structural and surface features may assist in gripping beverage holder 10, and may contribute to strength and resistance to collapse. Part of the outwardly facing portion of shell 12 can also serve as a display surface for labeling, logos, ads, or the like. Significantly, one side of the outwardly facing surface of shell 12 desirably comprises a substantially flat attachment surface 20 that overlies a cluster of relatively small, closely spaced magnets as discussed in greater detail below.

The sidewall of shell 12 preferably further comprises outside and inside surfaces, and has a top edge 16 that most preferably fits totally or partially beneath outwardly curving top lip 18 of liner 14. Shell 12 preferably comprises a moldable polymeric material, most preferably flexible PVC or a similarly effective polymeric material. Alternatively, a foamed and/or elastomeric polymer material can be used to make shell 12. The outside and inside surfaces of shell 12 most preferably have a smooth polymeric skin, and can have an overlying coating or cladding material of the same or a dissimilar material. The use of a pliable polymeric material as shell 12 of beverage holder 10 is preferred to facilitate manual gripping of the holder. Vinyl plastisol coatings are particularly preferred, especially where beverage holder 10 is dip molded. It should also be appreciated that, while the sidewall of shell 12 is, in its simplest form, substantially cylindrical, other internal and external geometries including curves, annular ribs, and the like, can also be molded or formed into the sidewall, especially near the top and bottom. Such features can contribute to the aesthetic appeal of beverage holder 10, can facilitate gripping by the user, and can also provide additional strength and resistance to collapse during insertion of liner 14. Another feature of the invention is a substantially flat, outwardly facing, sidewall surface portion 20 of shell 12 that is provided for use in attaching beverage holder 10 in an upright position to a substantially vertical support surface or member. Shell 12 also helps protect the support surface from scratching that might otherwise occur if the surface were directly contacted by one or more magnets 46.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 5, bottom 36 of shell 12 can be made of the same or a different material, and can be made unitarily with the sidewall section or can be separately formed and then attached to the lower portion of the sidewall by any suitable means. Most preferably, bottom 36 is formed together with the sidewall section of beverage holder 10 by dip molding or injection molding, or by another manufacturing method that is similarly effective for producing the desired structure. Bottom 36 desirably comprises at least one aperture 26 that permits the egress and ingress of air during insertion and removal of a beverage container from beverage holder 10. Referring to FIG. 5, bottom 36 of preferably further comprises two upwardly facing, radially spaced annular rings that receive a cooperatively aligned annular boss protruding downwardly from bottom 28 of liner 14.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 5, liner 14 is preferably injection molded from a rubber-modified polymeric material such as impact polystyrene that is more rigid than the material used for shell 12 but has good resistance to brittle failure at low temperatures as might be encountered when contacting an ice-cold beverage container. Liner 14 desirably has sufficient rigidity to permit it to be inserted into shell 12 during manufacture unless shell 12 is to be formed over liner 14 by dipping. Liner 14 preferably further comprises a sidewall 38 having an outwardly curved lip 18 at the top, a plurality of circumferentially spaced, longitudinally extending slots 34, and a plurality of circumferentially spaced, inwardly projecting, longitudinally extending ribs 22 disposed on the inside of sidewall 38. Ribs 22 help stiffen sidewall 38 of liner 14 and reduce the contact area and the force required to overcome friction between sidewall 38 and a full-diameter beverage container being inserted into or withdrawn from beverage holder 10. At least one, and preferably a plurality of resilient biasing members such as circumferentially spaced, inwardly projecting tabs 24 are provided in liner 14 to reduce the effective inside diameter of liner 14 and provide frictional contact with the outside surface of smaller-diameter beverage containers that may be used with beverage holder 10. When full-diameter containers are used with beverage holder 10, projecting tabs 24 are desirably resilient enough and are configured in such manner that a full-diameter, conventional beverage container can be inserted into liner 14 without meeting strong resistance. Liner 14 can be fixed to shell 12 using adhesive if desired.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 4-6, a closely spaced cluster of four round, disk-shaped magnets 46 is preferably recessed inside a side portion of shell 12 of beverage holder 10. When configured in this manner, magnets 46 are well protected so that they will not scratch a ferrous-metal-containing surface in juxtaposition to outwardly facing, substantially flat attachment surface 20 but can still exert a magnetic field of sufficient strength to hold beverage holder 10 in fixed relation to the ferrous-metal-containing surface. Because there is no need or intention to create a magnetic flux inside the liquid disposed inside a beverage container, proximity of magnets 46 to a beverage container disposed in beverage holder 10 is not important and the positioning of magnets 46 on only one side of beverage holder 10 is preferred.

The upwardly facing surface of bottom 28 of liner 14 preferably comprises a plurality of spaced-apart radially extending ribs 30 and at least one circular boss that opens downwardly to form at least one recess 32 for at least one magnet 42 disposed beneath bottom 28. The radial ribs and boss are preferably the same height to provide level support to a beverage container inserted into liner 14. A hole in bottom 28 of liner 14 is preferably aligned with a hole in bottom 36 of shell 12 to form aperture 26 through the bottom of beverage holder 10. FIG. 7 discloses an alternate embodiment wherein beverage holder 50 comprises liner 58 having a bottom 56 wherein a plurality of circumferentially spaced bosses 52 each defines a downwardly facing recess containing a disk magnet 54.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, magnets 46 are preferably disposed in recesses 48, and are most preferably supported in that position by backing member 44, preferably made of injection molded plastic, that is attachable with adhesive to the inwardly facing surfaces of magnets 46 and to the web of polymeric material defining recesses 48 behind attachment surface 20. Backing member 44 most preferably spans one of the slots 34 in liner 14 beneath biasing member 24. If shell 12 is to be formed over the exterior of liner 14 by dipping, slots 34 can be omitted and backing member 44 can be attached directly to liner 14 prior to dipping. Magnets 46 can be made of any material generally characterized as a “permanent magnet” that is shaped to impart a substantially flat, outwardly facing surface to shell 12 of beverage holder 10 once magnets 46 are in place, and that are capable of being magnetized sufficiently to support beverage holder 10 containing a full beverage container in fixed juxtaposition to a substantially vertical, ferrous-metal-containing surface with which the flat, outwardly facing surface is placed in contact during use. Such magnets are commonly referred to as “disk magnets” and are commercially available.

I have now discovered that by using a plurality of smaller magnets disposed in a closely spaced array presenting a combined outwardly facing surface area comparable to that of a single, larger-diameter disk magnet, it is possible to generate an equivalent or greater holding force at substantially lower cost. Most preferably, magnets 46 are pressed neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets having a diameter of about 15 mm and a thickness of about 3 to 4 mm, said magnets being magnetized sufficiently so that in combination, they can support beverage holder 10 and a plastic or aluminum container holding up to about 20 fluid ounces in fixed relation to a vertical, ferrous-metal object having a smooth, painted surface. It will be appreciated, however, upon reading this disclosure, that magnets 46 suitable for use in beverage holders 10 but having other dimensions and made of other materials can likewise be used in the invention provided that magnet 28 can be closely grouped into a cluster presenting an outwardly facing, substantially flat surface on one side of beverage holder 10 having sufficient area, magnetic attraction and resistance to rolling that beverage holder 10 will remain in place in an upright position against a substantially vertical support surface until removed by the user or acted upon by another external, non-gravitational force. Non-limiting examples of other materials that can be used as magnets in the present invention include barium ferrite magnets and strontium ferrite magnets.

Referring to FIG. 8, beverage holder 10 of the invention having beverage container 60 supported inside it is shown in juxtaposition to a substantially vertical wall 62 to which beverage holder 10 is releasably attached. At least the portion of wall 62 to which beverage holder 10 is releasably attached is understood to comprise a ferrous metal that is attracted to the magnetic field of a cluster of closely spaced magnets 46 disposed inside the sidewall of beverage holder 10 as discussed above. The magnitude of the attractive force between wall 62 and the magnets disposed inside the sidewall of beverage holder 10, when coupled with the normal frictional force present at the interface between wall 62 and the adjacent outside surface 20 of beverage holder 10, is desirably sufficient to resist the gravitational force exerted on beverage holder 10 and to hold beverage holder 10 in a desired, substantially upright position relative to wall 62, even when a full beverage container 60 is present inside the beverage holder. Also, while beverage holder 10 is depicted for illustrative purposes as being supported by its sidewall in a substantially upright position against wall 62, it will be appreciated upon reading this disclosure that beverage holder 10, when made in accordance with the present invention, can likewise be used to hold a beverage container in juxtaposition to many other types of ferrous-metal-containing structures having substantially vertical surfaces. Such structures can include, for example, pick-up and SUV sidewalls and tailgates, metal walls, braces, I-beams, equipment, tools, furniture, fixtures, filing cabinets and the like. FIG. 9 similarly depicts beverage holder 10 held by a magnetic field against an inclined, underlying, ferrous-metal-containing surface 64. In this instance, beverage holder 10 is being held in static relation to surface 64 62 by the magnet 42 described above in relation to FIGS. 4 and 5.

Referring to FIG. 10, docking disk assembly 66 can optionally be provided for use in releasably attaching magnetic beverage holder 10 as described above to a mounting surface that does not comprise sufficient ferrous metal to generate sufficient attractive force between the mounting surface and magnetic beverage holder to support the beverage holder in releasable but substantially fixed relation to the mounting surface. Docking disk assembly 66 is particularly preferred, for example, for use on non-ferrous mounting surfaces made of aluminum or fiberglass, which are often encountered on vehicles with plastic or fiberglass body panels, recreational vehicles, boats, motor homes, SUV's, and the like. Although docking disk assembly 66 can be made in many varying configurations using various commercially available adhesive products, it preferably comprises a coated ferrous-metal disk 68 having sufficient mass and surface area to support the weight of a magnetic beverage holder 10 (FIG. 1) when placed in contact with substantially flat attraction surface 20 of beverage holder 10. One side of metal disk 68 is preferably backed with an adhesive pad 70 having a surface not in contact with ferrous metal disk 68 that comprises a peel-away release paper 72 that can be removed immediately prior to applying disk 68 to a mounting surface.

According to a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, metal disk 68 is a 9 gauge, plain steel disk about two inches in diameter, about 0.15 inches thick, and has polished chrome plating with a logo stamped on the outwardly facing surface. Adhesive pad 70 is preferably about 1.9 inches in diameter, about 0.05 inches thick, and comprises urethane foam impregnated or coated with an acrylic adhesive. The holding force between ferrous metal disk 68 and adhesive pad 70, and between adhesive pad 70 and the mounting surface, is preferably sufficient to support a magnetic beverage holder 10 (FIG. 1) containing a full single-serving beverage without accidental slippage or spillage.

While the use of a docking disk assembly 66 as described above is preferred, it will be appreciated that other similarly effective coatings and holding devices for metal disk 68 can likewise be used within the scope of the invention. Thus, for example, metal disk 68 can be coated with paint or a suitable polymeric coating to prevent rust, allow for color coordination with beverage holder 10, or the like. Metal disk 68 can be releasably or permanently secured to a non-ferrous mounting surface, provided that the holding power is sufficient to provide support to magnetic beverage holder 10 during use. Other similarly effective attachment devices useful for attaching metal disk 68 to a non-ferrous mounting surface can include, for example, selectively releasable adhesive pads such as those marketed under the Command trademark by 3M Corporation; Velcro brand fasteners; mechanical interlocks, or the like.

Other alterations and modifications of the invention will likewise become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the present disclosure, and it is intended that the scope of the invention disclosed herein be limited only by the broadest interpretation of the appended claims to which the inventor is legally entitled.