Title:
Container refilling system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A refilling system for reducing messiness during use includes a container and a refilling container. The container includes a hollow bottle, a pouring spout, and a cap which covers the pouring spout. The pouring spout has an interior surface. The refilling container includes a hollow body a refilling spout and contains a composition therein. The refilling spout has an exterior surface. In the refilling system, the interior surface and the exterior surface are coordinated such that the exterior surface may fit within the interior surface during use.



Inventors:
Furukawa, Shizuka (Nishinomiya, JP)
Mimura, Nobuo (Takatsuki, JP)
Murakami, Rie (Nada-Ku Kobe, JP)
Tomishima, Ryoichi (Nishinomiya, JP)
Lin, Michael Ming-jae (Ashiya, JP)
Application Number:
10/891541
Publication Date:
03/31/2005
Filing Date:
07/15/2004
Assignee:
The Procter & Gamble Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B1/04; B65D75/58; (IPC1-7): B65B1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040182469Apparatus for filling bags with loose material and automatic machine equipped with said apparatusSeptember, 2004Concetti
20090056831FUEL DISPENSING NOZZLE INHIBITORMarch, 2009Journee
20060151055Equipment for filling containersJuly, 2006Pasquali et al.
20080308176AUTOMATED LIQUID DISPENSING SYSTEMDecember, 2008Weems
20060180232Intermodal container for shipping and storage of roofing granulesAugust, 2006Glewwe et al.
20030106722Weighline collectorJune, 2003Brown
20050155666Baby formula defoaming deviceJuly, 2005Wilson
20080072995TIPLESS CAN FILLING VALVEMarch, 2008Jenne
20100084066PERFLUOROCARBON GAS INSUFFLATIONApril, 2010Shaffer et al.
20070221290TANK TAG SYSTEM AND METHODSeptember, 2007Gorman
20100071807System for filling a tankMarch, 2010Runarvot et al.



Primary Examiner:
DOUGLAS, STEVEN O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A refilling system for reducing messiness during use comprising: A. a container comprising a hollow bottle, a pouring spout and a cap which covers the pouring spout, the pouring spout having an interior surface; and B. a refilling container comprising a hollow body, a refilling spout and a composition therein, the refilling spout having an exterior surface, wherein the interior surface and the exterior surface are coordinated such that the exterior surface may fit within the interior surface during use.

2. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein when the exterior surface is fit within the interior surface, the refilling container stably rests upon the pouring spout.

3. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein the container further comprises a securing mechanism.

4. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein the refilling spout further comprises a tube therein.

5. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein the refilling container comprises a material selected from the group consisting of a film, a laminate, a plastic, a polymer, a resin, paper, a metal, and a mixture thereof

6. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein the refilling container is selected from the group consisting of a pouch, a bag, a pocket, a box, a bottle and a combination thereof.

7. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein, when ready to use for refilling, the refilling spout is cut at an acute angle.

8. The refilling system of claim 1, wherein the refilling spout comprises a hand-tear line.

9. The refilling system of claim 1, further comprising an instruction set comprising a recommendation to insert the exterior surface into the interior surface during the refilling process.

10. A refilling system for reducing messiness during use comprising: A. a container comprising a hollow bottle, a pouring spout and a cap which covers the pouring spout, the pouring spout having an interior surface; and B. a refilling container comprising a hollow body, a refilling spout comprising a tube and a composition therein, the refilling spout having an exterior surface and a hand-tear portion, wherein the refilling container is a pouch, wherein, when ready to use for refilling, the refilling spout is cut at an acute angle, wherein the interior surface and the exterior surface are coordinated such that the exterior surface may fit within the interior surface during use, and wherein when the exterior surface is fit within the interior surface, the refilling container stably rests upon the pouring spout.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/487,366, filed Jul. 15, 2003, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to containers and refill packages for compositions. More specifically, the present invention relates to containers and refill packages for liquid and granular compositions.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Containers for holding and dispensing granular and/or liquid compositions, such as laundry detergents fabric softeners, etc., are well known in the art. Containers for granular compositions are often paperboard boxes, but can also be bottle-type containers such as are typically used for liquid compositions. These bottle-type containers typically contain a hollow bottle, a pouring spout, and a cap to prevent spillage. These containers, or parts thereof are usually formed from plastics, polymers, resins, paper, and/or laminates. While such containers are typically disposable and/or recyclable, some consumers and companies prefer that these containers be refillable, so as to reduce product cost, generation of garbage waste, etc. Accordingly, light weight disposable and/or recyclable refilling containers such as refill pouches have been developed. Once the container is empty, the composition in the refill pouch are then typically poured into the container to refill it. Typically, the cap and/or the pouring spout are removed to facilitate such refilling.

This refilling experience has now been found to cause frustration with many consumers, as the process is time consuming, especially for viscous compositions which do not pour very quickly. In addition, the refilling process can be messy as the composition drips or overflows part of the pouring spout and/or container. Finally, due to the above difficulties, refilling can be inconvenient as the process requires continuous concentration and attention, as the user tries to minimize messiness and keep the product flowing into the container.

Accordingly, the need exists for a refilling system which is less messy, which is easier and more convenient to use, relatively stress-free, which refills quickly, and/or which refills faster. The need also exists for a refilling system for liquid compositions which meets the above objectives, in a cost-effective manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a refilling system for reducing messiness during use includes a container and a refilling container. The container includes a hollow bottle, a pouring spout, and a cap which covers the pouring spout. The pouring spout has an interior surface. The refilling container includes a hollow body a refilling spout and contains a composition therein. The refilling spout has an exterior surface. In the refilling system, the interior surface and the exterior surface are coordinated such that the exterior surface may fit within the interior surface during use.

It has now been found that by carefully coordinating the size and/or shape of the exterior surface of the refilling spout with the interior surface of the pouring spout, the overall refilling experience can be significantly enhanced. Moreover, messiness and dripping can be minimized or even eliminated, while speed of refilling can be significantly enhanced. As less time is spent in the refilling process, the overall consumer experience is made more satisfying and less stressful. Also significantly less consumer concentration is required when using the refilling system herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the invention, it is believed that the invention will be better understood from the following description of the accompanying figures in which like reference numerals identify like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a partial side view of an embodiment of the refilling system of the present invention, during use; and

FIG. 2 is a side view of an embodiment of the refilling container of the present invention.

The figures herein are not necessarily drawn to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

All temperatures are in degrees Celsius (° C.) unless otherwise specified.

As used herein, the term “comprising” means that other steps, ingredients, elements, etc. which do not affect the end result can be added. This term encompasses the terms “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of”.

As used herein, the term “during use” means during refilling of the hollow bottle with the refilling container.

FIG. 1 shows a partial side view of an embodiment of the refilling system, 10, of the present invention, during use. The refilling system, 10, includes a container, 12, which is formed of a hollow bottle, 14. The hollow bottle, 14, has a pouring spout, 16, and a cap, 18. The pouring spout, 16, may be either integral with the hollow bottle, 14, or may be connected thereto by mechanical, electrical and/or chemical means. The composition, preferably a granular or liquid composition, and more preferably a liquid composition, may be poured from the pouring spout, 16, when the cap, 18, is removed. Such a container, and/or portion thereof is typically formed of plastic, glass, paper and/or metal, preferably a polymer or resin such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polystyrene, ethyl vinyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, thermoplastic elastomer, and combinations thereof, although other materials known in the art may also be used. Such containers typically hold from about 100 mL to about 6 L, preferably from about 150 mL to about 4 L, more preferably from about 200 mL to about 2 L, and even more preferably from about 500 mL to about 1.5 L of liquid or granular composition, and are well known for holding such products. Such containers are widely available from many packaging suppliers.

Preferred examples of the container, and/or portions thereof useful herein include GB Design Patent Application No. 3010528 and 3010529, both to Isono, filed on Jan. 30, 2003. Textured surfaces may also be employed so as to enhance gripping, if desired. Preferred production processes include blow molding, injection molding, injection blow molding, vacuum forming, thermoforming, pulp molding and combinations thereof. For a pulp paper container, preferred processes include those described in JP Patent No. 3072088 B1 to Kumamoto, and JP Patent No. 3072104 B1 to Tsura, both published on Jul. 31, 2000.

The refilling system, 10, also includes a refilling container, 20, which has a hollow body, 22, containing a refilling spout, 24, and a composition, 26, inside of the hollow body, 22. The refilling spout, 24, has an exterior surface, 28, which is coordinated with an interior surface, 30, of the pouring spout, 16. The exterior surface, 28, is coordinated with the interior surface, 30, in a manner such that the exterior surface, 28, fits into the interior surface, 30, preferably, the exterior surface, 28, removably attaches to the interior surface, 30, for example by securing, locking and/or fitting together so as to reduce spillage and messiness. Therefore, it is highly preferred that either at least a portion of the interior surface, 30, be formed of a flexible, collapsible, and/or bendable material, and/or that at least a portion of the interior surface, 30, have a greater circumference than at least a portion of the exterior surface, 28, so that the exterior surface, 28, may be fitted into the interior surface, 30. A preferred refilling container is formed of a material which includes a film, a laminate, a plastic, a polymer, a resin, a metal, and/or paper, more preferably polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, nylon, aluminum and a combination thereof. Such refilling containers may also be coextruded, or formed via other methods known in the art, such as described above.

In FIG. 1, the cap, 18, is preferably transparent and/or translucent, and contains at least one measuring indicator, 32. Such a preferred measuring indicator may be, for example, integrally molded into the cap, and or may be added later, such as via a printing process. The measuring indicator, 32, may be on any surface of the cap, and is preferably in the inside. The cap is preferably removable, but may also be affixed to the hollow bottle, 14, as desired by a hinge, a flexible strip of plastic, a string, and/or other appropriate attachment mechanism.

The refilling container, 20, is typically selected from a pouch, a bag, a pocket, and/or a box, bottle, preferably a pouch. The refilling container, 20, is usually formed of a bendable material, and in FIG. 1, it can be seen that the refilling container, 20, may be flattened, rolled and/or folded during the refilling process, so as to reduce wasted composition, spillage, and/or messiness. Simultaneously flattening, rolling and/or folding the refilling container during the refilling process also tends to squeeze the composition out of the container, thereby may also significantly reducing the time needed to drain substantially all of the composition out of the refilling container. Once rolled and/or folded, the refilling container may be held is such a compacted state via a securing mechanism such as a piece of tape, 34. Preferred securing mechanisms useful herein include a piece of tape, a snap, a button, a hook-and-loop system (e.g., VELCRO™), and/or an adhesive, more preferably a tape. It is especially preferred that such a securing system be easy and cost-effective to apply and/or form with the refilling container, 20, and also be prevented from unintentionally securing to other containers, and/or surfaces during filling, manufacture, shipping, etc. The, preferred tape herein is typically self-adhesive, folded over itself, and is well-known for securing and holding closed used diapers, and may be provided on the refilling container, 20, or may be provided separately. Such a preferred tape is described in detail in, for example, JP Patent No. 3222871 B2, to Hayase, et al., published on Oct. 29, 2001.

In FIG. 2, is shown of an embodiment of the refilling container, 20, of the present invention, which is a pouch formed of a transparent film which is sealed after the composition, 26, is added. The seal, 36, may be formed by methods well-known in the art, such as via heat-sealing, ultrasonic sealing, pressure sealing, employing adhesives, etc. The refilling container, 20, contains a composition, 26, and an optional pouch hole, 38. The pouch hole, 38, allows easy carrying, holding, pouring, and storage (e.g., via hanging) of the refilling container, 20. Furthermore, the refilling spout, 24, contains a tube, 40, therein which is a hollow passageway which allows easy pouring and draining of the composition, 26, during use. The tube, 40, may also be affixed to the pouring spout, 24, in any manner known in the art, as described above, or may be formed with the refilling container itself. The tube, 40, is typically formed from plastic, rubber, metal, or a mixture thereof.

In FIG. 2, both the refilling spout, 24, and the tube, 40, are cut by a highly preferred hand-tear line, 42, which separates the tear-off portion, 44 with the refill spout, 42 and the tube, 40. The hand-tear line, 42, is preferably formed by at least one, preferably multiple, and more preferably from about 2 to 15 score lines cut or formed by a laser, or other implement. The cut from the hand-tear line, 42, and the edge of the refilling spout, 24, form an acute angle, α, which makes it easier to insert the refilling spout, 24, into the pouring spout, (see FIG. 1 at 16), and is especially useful to reduce dripping and spillage during the initial refilling stage when the refilling spout, 24, is first inserted into the pouring spout (see FIG. 1, at 16). Without intending to be limited by theory, it is believed that having a solid plastic piece such as the tube, 40, in the spout, 24, makes the otherwise bendable spout, 24, more stable during use, so that the exterior surface, 28, can more easily be put into the interior surface, 30. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 2, the edges of the tube, 40 and the refilling spout, 24, are not parallel. However, if the edges of the tube and the refilling spout are parallel, then a similar acute angle is formed by the hand-tear line and the edge of the tube, 24. While it is preferred that the tube also be cut at an acute angle, such a feature may increase manufacturing cost, and therefore other cuts such as right angle-cut tubes are also envisioned herein.

As suggested by the name, the hand-tear line, 42, may be easily torn from the refilling container so as to open the refilling container for use. However, alternative methods for opening the refilling container are also useful herein, such as having a reclosable seal and/or cap on the refilling spout, having an indication that the refilling spout should be cut with a knife and/or scissors, etc.

If during use the refilling container is to be flattened, rolled, folded, etc., this process should begin at the bottom end, 46, which is distal from the refilling spout, 24, and proceed towards the refilling spout, 24.

In a preferred embodiment, the refilling system allows hands-free, stable refilling of the hollow bottle as the refilling container drains. Such a preferred refilling system may be provided by designing the refilling container, the container, and/or parts thereof such as the pouring spout and the refilling spout such that they stably and removably lock, screw, and/or snap together. Alternatively, the refilling container, container, and/or parts thereof may be designed such that during use, the refilling container stably rests upon the pouring spout in a balanced manner. By designing the refilling container to stably rest upon the pouring spout, and to remain balanced thereupon as the composition therein drains, the consumer refilling experience is remarkably improved. This preferred embodiment allows such hands-free, stable refilling without requiring that the consumer actually hold the refilling container during the entire draining process. As it may take 5 minutes or more for a truly viscous composition in the refilling container to completely drain into the container, such freeing up of the consumer's hands and concentration is especially desirable. Such a preferred embodiment may also allow a consumer to simply start the refilling process by opening the refilling container and the container, affixing the refilling spout of the refilling container to the pouring spout of the container, placing the refilling system on a stable, flat surface, and then leaving the refilling system until draining is complete. This will ensure almost total emptying of the composition from the refilling container into the container's hollow bottle. This in turn reduces that amount of composition wasted due to the impatience of certain consumers during the refilling process.

In a preferred embodiment, the tube and or the refilling spout is flexible and/or extendable so as to more easily allow for refilling of the hollow bottle. Such an embodiment may also make the refilling container more stable during use.

All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.

EXAMPLE 1

A refilling system as in FIG. 1 is provided, employing the refilling container of FIG. 2. The container is formed from blow molded polypropylene, and the refilling container is formed of a 155μ thick laminated film containing nylon (25μ)/linear low density polyethylene (130μ). A semi-rigid polyethylene tube is present in the refilling spout. The refilling container contains a clear fabric softening composition.

The refilling spout has an exterior surface which is generally an oval having a minimum diameter of about 9 mm and a maximum diameter of about 12 mm. The interior surface of the pouring spout is also generally an oval having a minimum diameter of about 12 mm, and a maximum diameter of about 18 mm. Thus, the refilling spout and even the seal edges of the refilling spout fit easily into the pouring spout during use of the refilling system to pour the composition into the container, and the hollow bottle.

An instruction set is provided on the back of the refilling bottle which provides written and graphical step-by-step instructions to tear off the tear-off portion in order to open the refilling container, to insert the refilling spout into the pouring spout of a relatively empty container, to invert the refilling container while keeping the refilling spout inserted in the pouring spout, to begin flattening, squeezing, rolling and/or folding refilling container from the bottom end towards the pouring spout, and then to tape the flattened/squeezed/rolled/folded container closed when the refilling process is complete. When used as instructed, the refilling system provides quick and easy refilling of the container while also minimizing dripping and waste.

All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.