Title:
Dispensing capsule
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispensing capsule and venting system for dispensing materials into a container. The dispensing capsule has a capsule body with a sidewall having at least one vent, and a bottom wall which is partially detachably attached to the capsule body. A cap portion is provided that has a closed top end and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap portion being placed in the capsule body to define a material containing cavity. An activation device is provide for partially separating the bottom wall from the capsule body. Vents are provided to insure no residual fluid collects within the dispensing capsule, that the user can fully extract all fluid of the from the holding container and that pressure can be equalized between the internal pressure of the bottle with the ambient outside pressure. A method of using the dispensing capsule is also provided.



Inventors:
Harilela, David (Tsim Sha Tsui, HK)
Zimmerman, Harry (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Presser, Mark A. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/857061
Publication Date:
12/01/2005
Filing Date:
05/28/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/222, 206/219
International Classes:
B05B11/00; B65D25/08; B65D47/24; B65D47/32; B65D51/16; B65D81/32; (IPC1-7): B65D25/08
View Patent Images:
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20090277807Used oil containerNovember, 2009Sawyer et al.



Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP (Glendale, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein, comprising: a capsule body having a sidewall, the sidewall having at least one sidewall vent formed therethrough, and a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body; a cap portion having a closed top end and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap portion being adapted to be placed in the capsule body to define a material containing space; and an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by activating the activation device, the bottom wall of the capsule body is at least partially detached from the capsule body, and wherein the top end of the cap will be positioned at a level of the at least one sidewall vent when the activation device is activated.

2. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the activation device comprises a rod in contact with the bottom wall of the capsule body and which extends upwardly so as to be contactable with the cap portion.

3. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the bottom wall of the capsule body is partially frangibly attached to capsule body.

4. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the sidewall of the capsule body has an upper sealing engagement, and the cap portion has a seal which interacts with the upper sealing engagement prior to material in the materials containing space being released to maintain the quality of the material contained in the material containing space.

5. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the upper sealing engagement comprises one of a groove and a bead, and the seal comprises the other of a groove and a bead.

6. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the sidewall of the capsule body includes a lower sealing engagement, with which the seal of the cap portion engages when the material in the materials containing space is released.

7. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the sidewall of the capsule body has an upper sealing engagement below the at least one sidewall vent, and the cap portion has a complementary sealing engagement which interacts with the upper sealing engagement prior to material in the materials containing space being released.

8. The dispensing capsule of claim 4, wherein the capsule body has a lower sealing engagement which the sealing engagement of the cap portion interacts with when the cap portion is in its activated position.

9. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the at least one sidewall vent is sized and positioned on the sidewall of the dispenser body such that liquid may pass therethrough whether or not the dispensing capsule is in an unactivated state or its activated state.

10. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the at least one sidewall vent is sized and positioned on the sidewall of the dispenser body such that liquid will drain off of the cap portion and back through the vent when the dispensing capsule is in its activated state.

11. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the at least one sidewall vent comprises a plurality of upper vents and a plurality of lower vents.

12. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the capsule body has a lip extending from a top edge, which lip is adapted to seat on a mouth of a container.

13. The dispensing capsule of claim 12, further comprising spacing tabs located under the lip.

14. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, further comprising an engagement for securing the dispensing capsule within a mouth of a container.

15. The dispensing capsule of claim 11, wherein the engagement comprises a threaded sleeve.

16. The dispensing capsule of claim 11, further comprising an upper end for engagement with a bottle cap.

17. The dispensing capsule of claim 16, wherein the upper end of the dispensing portion is sized to receive a bottle cap that is used to seal off the bottle.

18. The dispensing capsule of claim 1, wherein the capsule body has an open top and the cap portion is placed in the capsule body through the open top.

19. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein and adapted for positioning within an open mouth of a container, comprising: a capsule body having an open top, a sidewall and a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body; a cap portion having a closed top end and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap portion being adapted to be placed in the capsule body through the open top to define a material containing space; a vent for venting gas and liquid from the container though the dispensing capsule; and an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by activating the activation device, the bottom wall of the capsule body is at least partially detached from the capsule body to release material into the container.

20. The dispensing capsule of claim 19, wherein the vent is located on one of the closed top end of the cap portion and a sidewall of the capsule body.

21. The dispensing capsule of claim 18, wherein the vent comprises a passageway from the closed top end of the cap portion through the bottom of the capsule body.

22. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein, comprising: a capsule body having a sidewall and a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body; a cap portion that is moveably positioned within the capsule body, the cap having a closed top end and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap being placed in the capsule body; a vent that opens up between the capsule body and the cap when dispensing capsule is moved to an activated position; and an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by activating the activation device, the bottom wall of the capsule body is at least partially detached from the capsule body, and wherein the top end of the cap will be positioned at a level of the at least one sidewall vent when the activation device is activated.

23. The dispensing capsule of claim 22, further comprising a prong located on an inside wall of the capsule body, and wherein the vent is located on the closed top end is frangibly openable when the cap portion is pushed down such that the prong pushes the vent open.

24. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein, comprising: a capsule body having a sidewall, a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body, and an upwardly extending tube; a cap that engages within the capsule body, the cap having a closed top end with a walled passageway extending therethrough, and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap being placed in the capsule body such that the walled passageway slides on the upwardly extending tube; and an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by activating the activation device, the bottom wall of the capsule body is at least partially detached from the capsule body, and wherein the top end of the cap will be positioned at a level of the at least one sidewall vent when the activation device is activated.

25. The dispensing capsule of claim 24, wherein the upwardly extending tube is hollow and functions as a vent opening through the dispensing capsule.

26. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein, comprising: a capsule body having a sidewall, a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body, and a upwardly extending tube; a cap portion that engages within the capsule body, the cap having a top end with a walled passageway extending therethrough, and a sidewall extending below the top end, the cap being placed in the capsule body such that the walled passageway slides on the upwardly extending tube; and an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by activating the activation device, the bottom wall of the capsule body is at least partially detached from the capsule body.

27. The dispensing capsule of claim 26, wherein the top end of the slant inwardly from a perimeter region where the top end joins with the sidewall towards the walled passageway.

28. The dispensing capsule of claim 26, wherein the bottom wall comprises two hingedly attached portions which are frangibly attached to the capsule body.

29. The dispensing capsule of claim 26, wherein the sidewall of the capsule body has an upper sealing engagement, and the cap portion has a seal which interacts with the upper sealing engagement prior to material in the materials containing space being released to maintain the quality of the material contained in the material containing space.

30. The dispensing capsule of claim 29, wherein the sidewall of the capsule body includes a lower sealing engagement, with which the seal of the cap portion engages when the material in the materials containing space is released.

31. The dispensing capsule of claim 26, wherein the capsule body has a lip extending from a top edge, which lip is adapted to seat on a mouth of a container.

32. The dispensing capsule of claim 26, further comprising an engagement for securing the dispensing capsule within a mouth of a container.

33. The dispensing capsule of claim 32, wherein the engagement comprises a threaded sleeve.

34. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein, comprising: a capsule body having an at least partially threaded sidewall, a bottom wall which is at least partially detachably attached to the capsule body, and a upwardly extending tube; a threaded cap portion that engages within the capsule body; an activation device for at least partially separating the bottom wall of the capsule body from the capsule body; wherein by turning the cap portion in the capsule body, the threaded cap portion will activate the activation device, and at least partially detach the bottom wall from the capsule body.

35. The dispensing capsule of claim 34, wherein the capsule at least one vent is formed through the sidewall of the capsule body, such that when the threaded cap portion is in an unactivated position, any fluid that may collect above the threaded cap portion will pass through the at least one vent and out of the dispensing capsule.

36. The dispensing capsule of claim 34, wherein the capsule at least one vent is formed through the sidewall of the capsule body, such that when the threaded cap portion is in an activated position, any fluid that may collect above the threaded cap portion will pass through the at least one vent and out of the dispensing capsule.

37. A dispensing capsule for containing and dispensing materials contained therein and adapted for positioning within an open mouth of a container, comprising: a capsule body having an upper chamber with an aperture formed in an upper wall therein and a lower material containment chamber, the upper and lower chambers being separated by a dividing wall having a shaft aperture formed therethrough, the lower material containment chamber having a lower aperture, with at least one vent formed through the upper chamber; a shaft have a lower portion with a seating end and a hollow upper portion with a vent formed therein; and a spigot connected to the shaft, the spigot adapted to permit fluid to flow through the vent and out the hollow upper portion of the shaft and out the spigot when the spigot is in an open position; wherein in an unactivated state, the seating end of the shaft will block the lower aperture of the lower material containment chamber, and a region of the shaft above the narrowed neck region will closely engage with the shaft aperture of the dividing wall, and in an activated state, the spigot will be raised, thereby withdrawing the seating end of the shaft from the lower aperture of the lower material containment chamber to release material therefrom.

38. The dispensing capsule of claim 37, wherein the dividing wall is stationary and unmovable.

39. The dispensing capsule of claim 37, wherein the shaft has a narrowed neck region above the seating end, and in the activated state, the narrowed neck region will be aligned with the shaft aperture of the dividing wall and thereby permit fluid to flow from the lower material containment chamber to the upper chamber through a space between the narrowed neck region and the shaft aperture.

40. The dispensing capsule of claim 37, wherein the at least one vent formed through the upper chamber is formed through a side wall of the upper chamber positioned above the dividing wall.

41. A venting system for a dispensing capsule, comprising: a body portion having a sidewall and an openable bottom; at least one vent for venting fluid through the dispensing capsule; and a mechanism for opening the openable bottom of the body portion.

42. The venting system of claim 41, further comprising a cap portion that engages with the body portion, wherein the vent is formed through the body portion.

43. The venting system of claim 41, wherein the mechanism for opening the openable bottom of the body portion comprises a rod for pushing or pulling a bottom wall of the body portion open.

44. The venting system of claim 41, wherein the mechanism for opening the openable bottom comprises a shaft which is withdrawn from an aperture in the openable bottom.

45. The venting system of claim 42, wherein the at least one vent comprises an upper aperture formed through the sidewall of the body portion such that fluid is adapted to flow through the upper aperture and out through the body portion before the bottom of the openable bottom of the body portion is opened.

46. The venting system of claim 42, wherein the at least one vent comprises a lower aperture formed through the sidewall of the body portion such that fluid is adapted to flow through the lower aperture and out through the body portion after the bottom of the openable bottom of the body portion is opened.

47. The venting system of claim 42, wherein the cap portion movably engages with the body portion and the vent comprises an aperture formed through cap portion and through the body portion.

48. A venting system for a dispensing capsule, comprising: a body portion having a sidewall and an openable bottom; at least one vent for venting fluid through the dispensing capsule; a cap portion that fits in the bottom portion, the space between the body portion and the cap portion defining a cavity for containment of a material; and a mechanism for opening the openable bottom of the body portion.

49. The venting system of claim 48, wherein the mechanism for opening the openable bottom of the body portion comprises a rod for one of pushing and pulling an bottom wall of the body portion open.

50. The venting system of claim 48, wherein the mechanism for opening the openable bottom comprises a shaft which is withdrawn from an aperture in the openable bottom.

51. The venting system of claim 48, wherein the at least one vent comprises at least one of an upper aperture formed through the sidewall of the body portion such that fluid is adapted to flow through the at least one vent and out through the body portion before the bottom of the openable bottom of the body portion is opened, and a lower aperture formed through the sidewall of the body portion such that fluid is adapted to flow through the at least one vent and out through the body portion after the bottom of the openable bottom of the body portion is opened.

52. The venting system of claim 48, wherein the cap portion movably engages with the body portion and the vent comprises an aperture formed through cap portion and through the body portion.

53. A method of dispensing a material into a container containing a fluid, comprising the steps of: inserting a material containing dispensing capsule into a container; activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid in the container; mixing the material into the fluid in the container; and placing the container upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container.

54. The method of claim 53, wherein the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule can consist of actions of one of pushing, pulling, turning and twisting, and combinations thereof.

55. The method of claim 53, wherein during the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule, a noise can be generated to communicate to the user that the material containing dispensing capsule has been activated.

56. A method of dispensing a material into a bottle containing a fluid, comprising the steps of: providing a material containing dispensing capsule that is inserted into a container containing fluid; activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid of container; mixing the material into the fluid in the bottle; and placing the bottle upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container.

57. The method of claim 56, wherein the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule can consist of actions of one of pushing, pulling, turning and twisting, and combinations thereof.

58. The method of claim 56, wherein during the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule, a noise can be generated to communicate to the user that the material containing dispensing capsule has been activated

59. A method of dispensing a material into a bottle containing a fluid, comprising the steps of: providing a material containing dispensing capsule with at least one vent that is inserted into a container containing fluid, the material; activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid of container; mixing the material into the fluid in the bottle; discharging fluid mixed with the material from the bottle; and placing the bottle upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container through the at least one vent.

60. The method of claim 59, wherein the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule can consist of actions of one of pushing, pulling, turning and twisting, and combinations thereof.

61. The method of claim 59, wherein during the step of activating the material containing the dispensing capsule, a noise will be generated to communicate to the user that the material containing dispensing capsule has been activated

62. The method of claim 59, further comprising a method of engaging the material containing dispensing capsule with a bottle cap of the container by twisting the bottle cap down onto the material containing dispensing capsule such that threads on the bottle cap will engage the material containing dispensing capsule, to permit its easy removal from the bottle.

63. The method of claim 59, wherein the method further comprises providing venting between the material containing dispensing capsule and the container, wherein the venting permits gas and fluid to travel through the dispensing capsule whether the device is activated or unactivated.

64. A method for using a dispensing capsule with a container with fluid, comprising the steps of: screwing onto the top of a container a dispensing capsule by utilizing the existing threads of the container to fasten the dispensing capsule to the container; activating the dispensing capsule to release material from the dispensing capsule into the container; mixing the material into the fluid in the container; and standing the container upright to drain fluid back into the container.

65. The venting system of claim 45, wherein the at least one vent comprises a lower aperture formed through the sidewall of the body portion such that fluid is adapted to flow through the lower aperture and out through the body portion after the bottom of the openable bottom of the body portion is opened.

Description:

SUMMARY

This invention relates to a dispensing capsule that will hold material(s) such as liquids, dry ingredients, pastes, gels, etc. until these materials are dispensed into a container into which the capsule is engaged and then activated. For example, the dispensing capsule can be inserted into the neck, throat or opening of a bottle, jar, bag, etc. filled with another material, such as water, carbonated water, a solvent, a solution, beverages, foods, chemical solutions, and other materials contained or containable in the container. The material(s) stored in the dispensing capsule can then be rapidly dispensed into the container when desired and mixed into the contents of the container. Vents can be provided to insure the users ability to empty the fluid from the container, drain any residual fluid from the capsule and insure pressure equalization between the inside pressure of the container with ambient pressure outside the container. The dispensing capsule may be built integral with the existing bottle cap, the dispensing capsule may be pre-mounted in the container at the factory after the container itself is filled with material, and/or the dispensing capsule can be used with existing containers and inserted by a user. A conventional bottle or other container cap or closure can used to seal the container's contents, including the dispensing capsule, or a specialized cap design can be provided.

BACKGROUND

Many foods, beverages, nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals, drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals such as adhesives, polishes, cleansers, pesticides, dyes and other substances are often supplied in liquid, powder, paste or other form, and have active ingredients mixed with inactive ingredients, carriers and solvents. Often times, these mixtures (and/or their active ingredients) do not retain their flavor, appearance, stability, strength, effectiveness or other important properties for long periods of time after their various ingredients have been mixed together. For example, while sugar and other ingredients in beverages can remain stable and resist spoilage for very long periods of time, once mixed with water, flavorings, other ingredients, a much shorter shelf life typically begins. Certain compounds, like amino acids will remain fairly stable in a dry form, but once exposed to water, will quickly break down, thus giving some mixed solutions a relatively short shelf life. Indeed, the commonplace incompatibility after mixing of ingredients can mandate that certain products be used relatively soon after the mixing process to prevent deterioration, discoloration, interactions and the like.

It can also be important that admixtures of various ingredients be carried out in a clean and sterile environment and with careful measurement of the various components to guarantee that proper results are obtained. In many cases, it is beneficial to avoid contact with a user's hands to avoid possible contamination and also possible contact of the user's skin with the material. It is also important that attention be paid to preventing any residual fluid being left either in the capsule or the container to aid in the prevention of bacterial and mildew types of growth.

The use of conventional liquid containers such as glass and plastic bottles for carrying water, punches, juice mixes, milk, formulas, hydrating formulas, power drinks and other beverages is well-known. There are numerous active and non-active substances including activated oxygen, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, nutrients, colorants and flavorants that would be desirable to add to liquids such as water, milk, juices or other beverages to give the consumer added benefits, particularly those useful for the health of the consumer. Many of these substances, however, have short shelf lives, discolor, interact or degrade quickly when combined with liquids or other substances. Therefore, many beverages are currently sold either without the added beneficial ingredients, or have otherwise shortened shelf lives.

It is known in the art to provide dispensers containing a concentrate of soluble materials to a fixed quantity of solute, usually water, for dispensing. Thus, the prior art teaches containers for beverages wherein the interior of the container is divided into a compartment having a basic ingredient (e.g., a diluent) and a compartment which can be ruptured so as to mix, within the container, the basic ingredient and some form of a modifier. This style of container permits for mixing action at the time of consumption since prior mixing would be less desirable.

It is also known to provide a dispensing capsule that fits into the mouth of a bottle, which dispensing capsule can be activated to dispense the materials into the bottle. However, prior designs can have problems in that they do not provide for adequate drainage of liquid out of the dispensing capsule and in many cases leave mixed fluid trapped in the container. In both cases the net result is the accumulation of a small reservoir of fluid, which is susceptible to bacterial growth and mildew.

It would be desirable to have a dispensing capsule that could be conveniently activated and used with a container with or without removal, and in a highly sanitary manner by allowing the user to operate the capsule through a mechanical means without requiring the user to actually touch the capsule and or allowing for the removal of the capsule without the user having to pull the capsule out of the bottle by hand.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is described in greater detail with respect to the following drawings.

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a first exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded, cross-sectional view of the first exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partially exposed detail showing the upper end of an exemplary bottle with a liquid therein for which the dispensing capsule can be used.

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the capsule body of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a detail showing the push rod extending upwardly from the capsule bottom wall near the frangible area.

FIG. 6A is a cross-sectional side view showing the dispensing capsule in the bottle of FIG. 3 in its unactivated position, with fluid 88 from the bottle being poured from the bottle.

FIG. 6B is a cross-sectional view showing the exemplary dispensing capsule of FIG. 2 in the bottle of FIG. 3, with the dispensing capsule in its unactivated position and the bottle upright.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional side view showing the dispensing capsule in the bottle of FIG. 3 being activated as the bottom wall of the capsule body is started to be opened to release material stored therein into the bottle.

FIG. 8A is a cross-sectional side view showing the dispensing capsule in the bottle of FIG. 5 but showing the dispensing capsule after it is activated and all of the material stored therein has been released into the bottle.

FIG. 8B is a cross-sectional side view showing the activated dispensing capsule of FIG. 8A with the material containing liquid pouring out.

FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the dispensing capsule showing spacers tabs on the dispensing capsule to permit fluid to escape around the dispensing capsule and the bottle.

FIG. 10 is a bottom plan view showing a plurality of tabs on the underside of the rim of the capsule body.

FIG. 11 is a partially exposed cross-sectional view showing how the rim of the capsule body can be snapped or screwed into a bottle cap and thereby be captured there to be removed the dispensing capsule from the bottle.

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a second exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention.

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view of a second exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention for use with spray bottle applications.

FIG. 14 is a cross-section view showing the dispensing capsule of FIG. 13 in its activated state.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an exemplary spray bottle which can be used with the dispensing capsule of FIG. 13.

FIG. 16 is a cross-section view showing another exemplary embodiment of a spray bottle engagable dispensing capsule in its activated state.

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view showing an embodiment of the dispensing capsule that screws onto a bottle and which can be used with the bottle's cap.

FIG. 18 shows a cap portion of another exemplary embodiment of dispensing capsule of the invention with a vent which opens when the dispensing capsule is in its activated state.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view showing the cap portion of FIG. 18 in a capsule body, in its unactivated state.

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view showing the cap portion of FIG. 19 in a capsules body, but in the activated state to open the vent.

FIG. 21 is a screw open embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention in partially activated state.

FIG. 22 is a twist and push embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention in its unactivated state.

FIG. 23 is a twist and push embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention of FIG. 22 but in its unactivated state.

FIG. 24 is a screw-cut embodiment of the dispensing capsule of the invention in its unactivated state.

FIG. 25 is a screw-cut embodiment of the dispensing capsule of the invention of FIG. 24, but in its activated state.

FIG. 26A is an embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention for dispensing thick materials such as pastes, shown in its partially activated state.

FIG. 26B is an embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention for dispensing thick materials such as pastes, shown in its fully activated state.

FIG. 27 is an embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention which is activated by pulling, in its unactivated state.

FIG. 28 is an embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention of FIG. 27, but in its activated state.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown an exploded perspective view and a cross-sectional view of a first exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule 10 for containing and dispensing materials contained therein of the invention. The dispensing capsule includes a capsule body 12 and cap portion 14. The capsule body 12 has a sidewall 16 with an inner surface 18 and an outer surface 20. The sidewall 16 has sidewall vents 24 and 28 formed therethrough. Both vents need not be provided in every embodiment. For example, there might be a situation where exact proportions of materials are desirable and prevention of use prior to activation is not desirable. In this case only a bottom vent would be appropriate, or in the alternative the material being dispensed may be a solid in which case only the top vent may be desirable for pressure equalization. In FIG. 1, upper vents 24 are formed nearer to top rim 26 of the capsule body, and lower vents 28 are formed lower down on the sidewall 16 nearer to a bottom edge 30. Portions 32 of the sidewall uninterrupted by vents can be located between the upper vents 24 of sidewall and portions 34 of the sidewall uninterrupted by vents can be located between the lower vents 28 of sidewall. An upper, inner engagement 36 (e.g., a groove) is preferably formed on the inner surface 18 of the sidewall. Optionally, a lower, inner engagement 38 (e.g., a groove) is preferably formed on the inner surface 18 of the sidewall. Spacer tabs 40 can optionally be formed under the lip and on the upper end of the sidewall 16, as is better shown in FIG. 9. The capsule body 12 has an open top 42 into which the cap portion will fit, as best shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 3 is a partially exposed detail showing the upper end of an exemplary bottle 80 having an opening 82, with a male threaded top end 84 with a top rim 86, with a liquid 88 contained therein. The opening 82 has an inner surface 90. The opening 82 has an inner dimension “D”, into which the dispensing capsule 10 will fit.

Although the capsule body 12 and the cap portion 14 are shown as having generally cylindrical shapes, they can be made to have other shapes.

Turning back to FIGS. 1 and 2, in the vicinity of the bottom edge 30, there is at least partially attached a capsule bottom wall 50, which can be engaged to the vicinity of the bottom edge 30 of the sidewall 18. The engagement between the capsule bottom wall 50 and the vicinity of the bottom edge 30 can comprise a frangible perimeter area where the material between at least part of a perimeter of the capsule bottom wall 50 and the vicinity of the bottom edge 30 can be made thinner or weaker than in other areas. Alternately, a tight (e.g., interference) fit can be designed between the capsule bottom wall 50 and the vicinity of the bottom edge 30, or other known separatable connections can be established. An activation device 52 for at least partially separating the capsule bottom wall 50 from the capsule body (e.g. in the form of a push rod) can be attached or formed together with the capsule bottom wall and extend upwardly therefrom. Alternately, the push rod can extend downwardly from the bottom of cap portion 14 (not shown).

Turning to FIG. 4, there is shown a bottom view of the capsule body 12, which shows in dashed lines a frangible perimeter area 44 where the material between part of a perimeter of the capsule bottom wall 50 and the vicinity of the bottom edge 30 is made thinner and thus weaker than in another unweakened tab area 46, which will act as a hinge. Generally opposite the unthinned tab area 46, a push rod 52 extends upwardly therefrom. The push rod 52 can be located close to the frangible perimeter area 44 so that pressure applied downwardly thereon will tear through the frangible area, and thus cause the capsule bottom wall 50 to tear away from the bottom edge 30 of the capsule body 12.

FIG. 5 is a detail showing the push rod 52 extending upwardly from the capsule bottom wall 50 near the thinned area 44.

Turning again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the cap portion 14 has a top surface 54, a sidewall 56 with an outer surface 58, and an engagement 60 (e.g., a bead) that goes around the sidewall 56. The cap portion 14 is sized to snuggly fit within the opening 40 in the capsule body. In its unactivated position shown in FIG. 6A, the bead 60 of the cap portion 14 will rest in the upper groove 36 and thereby provide a tight seal to supplement the seal provided by the tight fit between the cap and the interior sidewall of the capsule body. The sidewall 58 has a length “L” from the top surface 54 to a bottom perimeter that is at least as long as the height “H” of the lower vent 28. This is so that when the cap portion 14 is inserted in the capsule portion 12 in its unactivated position, the cap portion sidewall 56 will completely cover the lower vent 28 so that the material 70 (e.g. a powder, liquid, past, pills, etc.) contained in the space 72 defined between the capsule body 12 and the cap portion 14 will remain sealed inside. The material 70 in the space will remain out of contact with the liquid 88 of the bottle 80. As can be seen, the top surface 54 of the cap portion 14 can be convex or otherwise slanted so that any liquid on top will tend to flow downwardly and towards vents 24 where the liquid can pass through back into the bottle in the space 100 between the outside of sidewall 16 of the capsule body 12 and the inner surface 90 of the bottle 80. This drainage feature will help prevent any liquid from accumulating on top of the cap portion, where it could heat up. In the case of products such as milk, formula, sweetened beverages, or even water, a small volume of liquid can heat up rapidly, which may not only be unpleasant, but could lead to accelerated spoilage of the beverage. In addition, having a vent toward the top of the capsule area allows the user to extract all the fluid contained in the container which otherwise would be trapped within the container by virtue of the capsule body sidewalls otherwise acting as a standpipe preventing the fluid from being removed.

FIG. 6A shows the unactivated dispensing capsule 10 in a bottle 80 being tilted and shows that the liquid 88 in the bottle can exit the bottle even while the dispensing capsule 10 is used since the liquid may flow from the bottle, through the space 100, in through the vents 24, and out above the top surface 54 of the cap 14 (shown diagrammatically as arrows 102.

FIG. 6B is a cross section view showing the unactivated dispensing capsule 10 in bottle 80 in an upright position. Any liquid that may have remained above the top surface 54 of the cap portion 14 will drain downwardly through the upper vents 24 and back down into the bottle 80 through the spaces 100.

Turning to FIG. 7, there is shown a cross-sectional view showing the dispensing capsule 10 in a bottle 80 in a mid-activation position, where the cap portion 14 has been depressed, which thereby pushes the push rod 52 downwardly, tearing the frangible areas between the capsule bottom wall and the vicinity of the bottom edge, causing the capsule bottom wall 50 to swing out and release the material 70 into the bottle 80 where it can mix with the liquid 88 contained therein.

FIG. 8A is a cross-sectional view showing the dispensing capsule 10 in a bottle 80 in its completely activated position, where the cap portion 14 has been depressed such that the cap portion's bead 56 will be in engagement with the lower groove 38, and the capsule bottom wall 50 is fully swung out and the material is released into the bottle 80. In this state, the mixed liquid 104 in the bottle (containing the material 70) can pass through the space 100 and through lower vents 28 and upper vents 24 when the bottle is tiled, as shown in FIG. 8B. Mixed liquid 104 is also show diagrammatically as arrows. In use, as the bead 60 moves out of the upper groove and into the lower groove 38, a noise (e.g., a popping) can be generated to communicate to a user that the dispensing capsule 10 has been activated.

FIG. 9 is a detail showing the spacers tabs 40 on the underside of the rim 26 of the capsule body 16 and sidewall 20 that permit fluid to pass through the space 100 around the dispensing capsule and the bottle.

FIG. 10 is a bottom plan view showing a plurality of the spacing tabs 50 on the underside of the rim 26 of the capsule body. A portion of the threaded bottle's rim 84 is also shown.

FIG. 11 is a detail showing how the rim 26 of the capsule body 12 can be snapped or screwed into the inside of a bottle cap 110 and thereby be captured there to be removed the dispensing capsule from the bottle. This can be made possible by sizing the rim 26 such that it extends beyond an upper edge of a bottle's mouth and snaps or screws into the threads 112 on the inside of the bottle cap 110.

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a second exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule 120 of the invention. It can have the same features as the first embodiment of the dispensing capsule of FIGS. 1-11, except that instead of having upper vents and lower vents on its capsule body 122, single vents 122 are provided. In use, the single vents 122 will permit fluid unmixed with the material to exit the bottle through an upper end of the single vents 122 when the dispensing capsule 120 is unactivated, and will permit mixed fluid to exit through the single vents 122 more extensively, when the dispensing capsule 120 is activated. In other respects, this embodiment can be similar to the first embodiment of the dispensing capsule 10.

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view of a third exemplary embodiment of a dispensing capsule 130 of the invention, designed for use with spray bottle applications. In this embodiment a cap portion 132 has a passageway 134 with an inner diameter “ID” and has walls 136, which go from a top surface 138 down to the bottom 139 of the cap portion. The cap portion has an outer wall 140. A capsule body 150 has an open top 152 into which the cap portion 132 will slideably fit. The capsule body 152 has a perimeter sidewall 154 and extends to a bottom edge 156. A bottom wall 158 is at least partially connected to the vicinity of the bottom edge 156. A hollow tube 160 with an outer diameter “OD” extends upwardly from the two bottom wall sections 158. The outer diameter “OD” is sized to slideably fit into the central passageway 134 of the cap portion 132. Extending upwardly from the bottom wall sections 158 are push rods 162. The bottom wall sections 158 are detachably attached in areas to the rest of the capsule body, e.g. by frangible areas 164. A bridge area 166 supports the hollow tube 160 and the bottom wall sections 158 are hingeably attached thereto along hinge areas 168.

FIG. 14 is a cross-section view showing the dispensing capsule of FIG. 13 in its activated state, in which the cap portion 132 is pushed down, thereby pushing on the push rods 164, which breaks the frangible areas 164, swings down the bottom walls 158, and opens up the capsule body. As can be seen, the top surface 138 of the cap portion can preferably be slanted inwardly towards the passageway 134, so that any liquid will drain through the passageway 134 and down through the hollow tube 160 back into the bottle.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an exemplary spray bottle 190 which has a spray head 192 on a bottle 194. The spray head 192 has a suction tube (not shown). The spray head 192 can be used with the dispensing capsule of FIGS. 13 and 14, with the suction tube (not shown) being loosely passing through the passageway 134 of the dispensing capsule.

FIG. 16 is a cross-section view of another exemplary dispensing capsule 200 in its activated state, which is adapted for use with a spray bottle. In this embodiment, when a cap portion 202 is pushed down, this pushes on push rods 204, which breaks frangible areas attaching bottom wall-portions 206, allowing the bottom wall portions 206 to swing downwardly. In this exemplary embodiment, the bottom wall portions 206 swinging down towards the center. A portion of the spray bottle suction straw 208 is shown.

FIG. 17 is a cross sectional view showing an embodiment of the dispensing capsule 220 that screws onto the male threaded end 84 of a bottle 80 and which can be fastened to the existing container and optionally can be used with the bottle's existing cap 222. The dispensing capsule can be similar to that of the first embodiment, but will has a female threaded region 224 which is adapted to screw onto the male threaded end 84 of the bottle, and, at the discretion of the user, with the male threaded a male threaded region 226 which can be used with the bottle's existing cap 222. The embodiment of FIG. 17 also depicts how the top of the cap portion 228 can, in its unactivated state, be situated above the female threaded region 224 and, when pushed down to fully activate the dispensing capsule, have its upper end above or flush with the level of the female threaded region 224. This feature will prevent the accumulating of any liquid above the cap. This features can be incorporated with other embodiments of the invention if desired.

FIG. 18 shows a cap portion 240 of another embodiment of a dispensing capsule with a vent 242 on a top surface 244 which opens when the dispensing capsule is in its activated state, as shown in FIG. 20. The cap portion 240 has a slot 246 formed on its sidewall 248. The vent 242 will pop open when pushed up from below, as will be further described in FIG. 20.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view showing the cap portion 240 of FIG. 18 in a capsule body 260, in the unactivated state. The capsule body 260 has a prong 262 extending inwardly from the inside of a sidewall 264. A bottom wall 266 is detachably attached to the lower end of the capsule body 260, and has a push rod 268 extending upwardly.

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view showing the cap portion 240 in a capsule body 260, but pushed down in the activated state to open the vent 242. This accomplished by the prong 262 driving the vent 242 upwardly.

FIG. 21 is a screw open embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention 280 in a partially activated state. In this embodiment, the capsule body 282 has an upper threaded end 284 and a lower unthreaded end 286. A screw activator 288 threadably fits into the threaded end 282. A push rod 300 is connected to a bottom, swinging wall 302, which can be detachably attached to the bottom end of the capsule body 282 as described with previous embodiments. Upper vents 304 and lower vents 306 can be formed through a sidewall 308 of the capsule body 282, and will aid in draining liquid in the bottle, draining fluid from the dispensing capsule, as well as equalizing pressure between the ambient pressure with that inside the container when the capsule is activated by mechanical means from outside the sealed cap, as described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-11. Single, continuous vents can also be provided (not shown). When a user turns the screw activator 288, this pushes downwardly on the push rod 300 and pushes open the bottom wall 302, thereby allowing any material contained therein (not shown) to fall out.

FIG. 22 is a twist and push embodiment of a dispensing capsule 310 of the invention in its unactivated state. In this embodiment, a drinking spigot 312 is threadably engaged with a threaded shaft 314 that extends upwardly from a cap 316 that has threads 318 for attachment to a bottle 80. A plunger carousel 320 has an upper end 322 which contacts with an underside of the drinking spigot 312 when the drinking spigot 312 is screwed (or pushed) down. The plunger carousel 320 has arms 324 passes through apertures 338 in a top wall 326 of the cap 316 and has a lower portion 328 that is positioned above a cap portion 328. As shown in FIG. 23, the drinking spigot 312 can be twisted down slightly (see phantom lines) above solid lines of drinking spigot 312, which will open up the drinking spigot 312 to permit fluid to flow therethrough even before the dispensing capsule is activated. By twisting, or pushing down the drinking spigot 312 further, the plunger carousel 320 will push down on a cap portion 330, which pushes on a plunger 332 that swings down a bottom wall 334, which thus activate the dispensing capsule and releases the material into the bottle.

FIG. 24 is a screw-cut embodiment of the dispensing capsule of the invention 360 in its unactivated orientation attached to the threaded end 84 of the bottle 80. In this embodiment, a spigot 362 is mounted on a shaft 364 that has an upper hollow portion 366 and a lower portion 368. An opening 370 extends into the upper hollow portion 366. The lower portion 368 optionally has a narrowed neck region 372, and has a seating end 374. A capsule body 380 has an upper chamber 382 and a lower material containment chamber 384 with a seating aperture 386. A shaft aperture 388 is formed in a non-movable dividing wall 390 formed between the upper chamber 382 and the lower chamber 384. A top cap 392 has a shaft opening 394 into which the hollow portion 366 of the shaft 364 will slideably move. Vents 396A (and optionally 396B) pass into the upper chamber 382 of the capsule body 280. In its closed orientation, the spigot 362 and its connected shaft 364 is pushed down such that the seating end 374 blocks the seating aperture 386, preventing material 398 in the lower material containment chamber 384 from being released. In this state, an unnarrowed portion 400 the lower portion of the shaft 368 will also block the shaft aperture 388. While the material 398 is keep dry, any fluid in the bottle will be free to pass through the vents 396A and optionally 396B, into the upper chamber 382, through the opening 370 in the upper hollow portion 366 of the shaft, and out through the spigot 362. Although not shown, the spigot can optionally be opened simply by turning to permit fluid to exit, yet without activating the dispensing capsule to release the material 398. In a closed position, the passage of liquid from the bottle out through the spigot will not occur as the openings 370 will be blocked and not pass through an opening 402 in the spigot. Threads 404 can be formed on the top cap for engagement with a threaded top 84 of a bottle 80.

Turning to FIG. 25, there is shown the screw-cut embodiment of the dispensing capsule of FIG. 24, but in its activated orientation. When the spigot is opened and pulled up, this withdraws the seating end 374 from the seating aperture 386, and permits material to wall into the bottle. Also, in this position, the optional narrowed neck region 372 of the shaft will positioned in the area of the shaft aperture 388, and thus allow any liquid that might have collected in the upper portion 382 of the capsule body to pass therethrough and down through the seating aperture 386. The optionally narrowed neck region 372 can be eliminated if it is not desired that fluid flow between the lower chamer and the upper chamber.

FIGS. 26A and 26B are cross-sectional views of an embodiment of a dispensing capsule 420 of the invention for dispensing thick materials such as pastes, shown in its activated position. This embodiment can be similar to other embodiments, but its cap 420 has a sealed bottom 422. When the cap is fully activated and pushed down completely, material 424 will be ejected out through a bottom wall 426 which is forced open by virtue of an activator mechanism, such as a push rod 428. Since the material will be naturally pressurized during the process of pushing the cap portion down, the push rod 428 can be left out. Other activation mechanisms can also be used. FIG. 26A shows a partially activated state and FIG. 26B shows the fully activated state where the level enclosed bottom of the cap will be level with the interior cavity of the dispensing capsule, insuring that all material will be displaced into the container.

FIGS. 27 and 28 shown an embodiment of a dispensing capsule of the invention 440, which is activated by pulling an activation handle 442, which causes a bottom wall 444 to flip open to thereby permit the release of any material contained therein.

The dispensing capsule can be conveniently be made from materials such as plastics. Also, while the bottom walls in the embodiment are shown as being partially frangibly attached to the dispensing body, other detachable attachment mechanisms, such as mechanical connections, can be used.

While a threaded cap is shown in the embodiments of FIGS. 17, 22 &23, and 24 &25, it is possible for other embodiments of the dispensing capsule to be provided with threaded cap for securing to a bottle.

Although the embodiments depict the dispensing capsule attached to a bottle, the container can comprise jars, wide mouth bottles, containers with apertures, hard and soft plastic containers and bags (e.g. for containing solutions, such as medical solutions for drip infusion, etc.), cans, or other containers.

With regards to all of the above described embodiments that include vents, the vents will permit venting and pressure equalization between the contents of the bottle (or other container) and the outside atmosphere. If one simply squeezes a bottle of water on hot day it becomes readily recognizable that the internal pressure inside the bottle leaves very little room for displacement. In the case of dispensing capsule without vents, it can be difficult to activate the dispensing capsule by pushing down on a cap since there can be substantial back pressure in the can which will prevent this from occurring. On the other hand, if a vent is provided, this will help relieve back pressure by permitting pressure in the container to equalize with the ambient pressure before the dispensing capsule is activated.

As explained above, the vents can further permit a user to drink liquid either liquid that is unmixed with the material in the dispensing capsule, or liquid with the material mixed in, in either case without having to remove the dispensing capsule beforehand. This can be very convenient because it gives a user a choice of drink fluid with, or without the material mixed in. For example, a user may start out with pure water, and later decide to mix in the material, or mix the material in from the beginning, and then later use the bottle with plain water. In addition, the vents allow the user to extract all the fluid material in the container which otherwise would be trapped by virtue of the capsule blocking its exit in a similar manner to a standpipe trapping fluid within a reservoir.

Now that embodiments of the dispensing capsules have been described, some of the methods of use of the device are described.

In a first method, there is provided a method of dispensing a material into a container containing a fluid, comprising the steps of:

    • inserting a material containing dispensing capsule into a container;
    • activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid in the container;
    • mixing the material into the fluid in the container; and
    • placing the container upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container.

In another method, there is provided a method of dispensing a material into a bottle containing a fluid, comprising the steps of:

    • providing a material containing dispensing capsule that is inserted into a container containing fluid;
    • activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid of container;
    • mixing the material into the fluid in the bottle; and
    • placing the bottle upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container.

In yet another method, there is provided a method of dispensing a material into a bottle containing a fluid, comprising the steps of:

    • providing a material containing dispensing capsule with at least one vent that is inserted into a container containing fluid, the material
    • activating the material containing dispensing capsule to release the material into the fluid of container;
    • mixing the material into the fluid in the bottle;
    • discharging fluid mixed with the material from the bottle; and
    • placing the bottle upright to permit the fluid containing the material to drain back into the container through the at least one vent.

In another method, there is provided a method for using a dispensing capsule with a container with fluid, comprising the steps of:

    • screwing onto the top of a container a dispensing capsule by utilizing the existing threads of the container to fasten the dispensing capsule to the container;
    • activating the dispensing capsule to release material from the dispensing capsule into the container;
    • mixing the material into the fluid in the container;
    • and standing the container upright to drain fluid back into the container.

In these methods, the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule can comprise actions of pushing, pulling, turning and twisting, and combinations thereof.

During the step of activating the material containing dispensing capsule, a noise can be generated to communicate to the user that the material containing dispensing capsule has been activated.

The method also provides a way to engage the material containing dispensing capsule with a bottle cap by twisting the bottle cap down onto the material containing dispensing capsule such that threads on the bottle cap will engage the material containing dispensing capsule, to permit its easy removal from the bottle.

The material containing dispensing capsule that is inserted into a container containing fluid can comprise a cap portion and a capsule body with vents, wherein the vents permit venting of gas and fluid when the device is activated.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the above disclosures are exemplary only and that various other alternatives, adaptations and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.