Title:
Unitary sippy container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is disclosed a child resistant sippy container of single piece construction and a process of preventing spills. The sippy container may comprise a singular body and lid. The lid may be detachable from a rim of the body. The process comprise the steps of providing a single piece sippy container; when folding a hinge of the sippy container, a lid of the sippy container may attach to a body of the sippy container, and a bottom of the lip of the lid may be positioned flush with a flange of the body; when a force is applied to a spout of the lid, the lid may resist detaching from the body based on the proximity of the spout to the hinge.



Inventors:
Bohman, Eric (Oxnard, CA, US)
Pressel, Walter (Oak View, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/889991
Publication Date:
01/12/2006
Filing Date:
07/12/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/839
International Classes:
A47G19/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SoCAL IP LAW GROUP LLP (WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, US)
Claims:
It is claimed:

1. A sippy container comprising a one-piece body and lid, the lid detachable from a rim of the body.

2. The sippy container of claim 1, wherein the lid comprises a spout.

3. The sippy container of claim 2, wherein the spout comprises a membrane, the membrane comprises a tab, the membrane defines a slit, the tab is flexible.

4. The sippy container of claim 2, further comprising a hinge, the hinge integral with the body and the lid, the hinge disposed between the body and the lid, the spout disposed near the hinge.

5. The sippy container of claim 4, wherein the body comprises a flange, when a lip of lid attaches to the rim, the lip is flush with the flange.

6. The sippy container of claim 5, wherein the sippy container is constructed of a rigid plastic.

7. The sippy container of claim 6, wherein the spout has a smooth surface.

8. The sippy container of claim 7, wherein the hard plastic is heat resistant.

9. A process of preventing spills comprising the steps: providing a single piece sippy container, when an adult squeezes a body of the sippy container, the body deforms and a lip of a lid of the sippy container partially separates from a flange of the body, when a moment is applied to a bottom of the lip about a hinge of the sippy container, the lid detaches from the body and the lid pivots relative to the body about the hinge, when folding the hinge, the lip attaches to a rim of the body, and a bottom of the lip is positioned flush with the flange, when a force is applied to a spout of the lid, the lid resists detaching from the body based on the proximity of the spout to the hinge.

10. The process of preventing spills of claim 9, wherein when a force is applied to a spout of the lid, the lid resists detaching from the body based on the proximity of the spout to the hinge and a friction fit between the lid and the body.

11. The process of preventing spills of claim 9, further comprising the step: when a child applies a force to the body, the body maintains a rigid form.

12. The process of preventing spills of claim 11, further comprising the step: when a child bites the spout, a smooth surface of the spout slides.

13. The process of preventing spills of claim 12, further comprising the step: bending the tab into the spout.

14. A process of preventing spills comprising the steps: providing a single piece sippy container, when folding a hinge of the sippy container, a lid of the sippy container attaches to a body of the sippy container, and a bottom of the lip of the lid is positioned flush with a flange of the body, when a force is applied to a spout of the lid, the lid resists detaching from the body based on the proximity of the spout to the hinge.

15. The process of preventing spills of claim 14, wherein when a force is applied to the spout of the lid, the lid resists detaching from the body based on the proximity of the spout to the hinge and a friction fit between the lid and the body.

16. The process of preventing spills of claim 14, further comprising the step: when a child applies a force to the body, the body maintains a rigid form.

17. The process of preventing spills of claim 16, further comprising the step: when a child bites the spout, a smooth surface of the spout slides.

18. The process of preventing spills of claim 17, further comprising the step: bending the tab into the spout.

Description:

NOTICE OF COPYRIGHTS AND TRADE DRESS

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. This patent document may show and/or describe matter which is or may become trade dress of the owner. The copyright and trade dress owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any one of the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright and trade dress rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to sippy containers.

2. Description of the Related Art

Children spill drinks. Their manual dexterity is not honed as that of most adults. In response to spills, parents and guardians generally have the onus of cleaning up. A child is medically defined based on physical and mental development. Typically, the term child refers to an individual who is no longer an infant and is pre-pubescent. An infant is medically defined based on physical and mental development, though age may be indicative. Generally, infants have an age up to approximately 18 months of age. Typically, boys up to approximately age 10 and girls up to approximately age 8 are pre-pubescent. The term adult refers to people that are no longer children. In general, children have less physical strength than adults.

Modernly, parents and guardians minimize the impact of spills by allowing children to drink from sippy cups. A sippy cup is a spill resistant container which allows fluid or mixtures to flow out at a sipping rate when the sippy cup is tilted and/or sucked on. Sippy cups are widely used. Sippy cups typically include a plastic cup, a plastic lid which engages the cup, a spout which protrudes from the lid, and an opening in the spout for fluid to flow through. Some sippy cups have a hole for a straw or incorporate a straw. Some sippy cups have a valve to allow for flow when there is suction, and to seal when there is not suction on the cup. Sippy cups and similar containers may also be used by adults, and even animals (e.g. pets, or in zoos). Sippy cups are generally easy for a child to handle.

Children are curious. Many goods, marketed with child resistant packaging, include features which tend to be difficult for adults to master, yet easy for the child to circumvent.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a closed sippy container.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the sippy container in an open position.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the sippy container in an open position.

FIG. 4 is an elevation view of a membrane.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the sippy container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Throughout this description, the embodiments and examples shown should be considered as exemplars, rather than limitations on the apparatus and methods of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a top perspective view of a closed sippy container 100. The term sippy container refers to a sippy cup manufactured as a single piece apparatus. The sippy container 100 includes a body 110, a hinge 170, a lid 120, and a spout 130. The lid 120, with respect to the body 110, may be open, closed, sealed, or partially open, closed, or sealed.

The body 110 may define a cavity 125 for holding a fluid or a mixture. The fluid may be a common child's drink such as water, apple juice, orange juice, milk, or a smoothie. The geometry of the body 110 may be selected from a variety of shapes, such as a tapered cylinder, an elongate triangle, a hemisphere, a figurine, or a model car. For example purposes, the body 110 may take the form of a tapered cylinder having a height of approximately 3¾″, a diameter of approximately 1¾″ at a bottom 135 of the body 110, a diameter of approximately 2¼″ at a top 145 of the body 110, and a wall thickness of approximately ⅛″. Bottom of the body refers to the portion of the sippy container which may rest on a surface such as a table, a desk, a floor, or a play pen when the sippy container is set down. Top of the body refers to the upper most portion of the sippy container to where fluid may be filled to when the lid is not engaged to the body.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a top perspective view of the sippy container 100 in an open position or state. The body 110 may include a rim 185. The rim 185 may define an opening for the cavity 125. The rim 185, for ease of manufacturing, may have a geometry of an elongate circle, an isosceles triangle, or a square. The rim 185, for aesthetic purposes, may have a geometry such as a monster's tooth. The rim 185 may include a protrusion (not shown) that extends out from a circumference of the body 110. The protrusion (not shown) may aid in closing or sealing the sippy container 100. The protrusion may have a thickness of approximately 3/16″ and a height of approximately ⅛″.

The body 110 may include a flange 180. The flange 180 may protrude out from a circumference of the body 110. For example purposes, the flange 180 may protrude approximately ⅛″ in diameter from the body 110.

The lid 120 may include a lip 190. The lip 190 may protrude down from the main portion of the lid 120 from an outer edge 205 of the lid 120. The lip 190 may be shaped based on the shape of the rim 185. For example, the lip 190 may be an elongate circle having a diameter of approximately 2 5/16 and a thickness of ⅛″. The lip 190 may have a height based on the distance of the flange 180 to the top 145 of the body 110. For example purposes, the height of the lip 190 may be 3/16″.

The hinge 170 may be integral with the sippy container 100. The term integral refers to being formed as a single unit. The term hinge refers to a singular mold which folds or pivots upon itself. The term singular refers to a single continuous piece of material. The hinge 170 may fold along a crease 175. The hinge 170 may be integral to the body 110. The hinge 170 may be flush with the flange 180. The hinge 170 may be integral to the lip 190. The hinge 170 may be flush with a bottom 215 of the lip 190. The body 110 and the lid 120 may pivot about the crease 175. For example purposes, the hinge 170 may include two symmetric portions, each having dimensions of approximately ¼″ in length, approximately ⅝″ in width and approximately 1/16″ in thickness.

Referring again to FIG. 1, when the hinge 170 is folded about the crease 175, the lid 120 may be brought in contact with the body 110. When the lip 190 is attached to the rim (not shown), the hinge 170 may be disposed flush with both the flange 180 and the lip 190. When the lip 190 is disposed in a position surrounding the rim (not shown), the lip 190 may create a friction fit between the lid 120 and the body 110. The lip 190 may curl under and snap to the rim 185.

When the lip 190 surrounds the rim (not shown), the lid 120 may attach to the body 110 and the seal the cavity 125. When the lip 190 surrounds the rim (not shown), the bottom 215 of the lip 190 may be flush with the flange 180. When the lip 190 surrounds the rim (not shown), the bottom of the lip 190 may fit tightly and precisely to the flange 180 such that a fingernail cannot be inserted between the bottom of the lip 190 and the flange 180. When the lip 190 is flush with the flange 180, a child will not be able to push up on the lid 120 from the bottom of the lip 190 because the flange 180 will render the bottom of the lip 120 inaccessible. Because the sippy container 100 may resist a child's attempt at detaching the lid 120 from the body 110, a leak and a spill are less likely.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown a bottom view of the sippy container 100 in the open position. The lid 120 may include a spout 130. The spout 130 may include a membrane 140. The lid 120 may be selected from a variety of shapes. For example, the lid 120 may be shaped as a flat disk, a doll's head, a movie character, a robot, or other.

The spout 130 may be integral to the lid 120. The spout 130 may be shaped to fit comfortably in a child's mouth. For example purposes, the spout 130 is shown to be symmetric about an axis which is perpendicular to the lid 120.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown an elevation view of the membrane 140. The membrane 140 may include a tab 150 or a plurality of tabs 150. For example purposes, three tabs 150 are shown. The membrane 140 may define a slit 160 or a plurality of slits 160. The slit 160 may have the geometry of an arc of approximately 320 degrees and approximately 1/64″ in width. Fluid may flow through the slit 160. The membrane may include a thickness of approximately 1/64″. The tab 150 may have a semicircle shape or other. The tab 150 may be flexible. When a child sucks on the spout 130, the tab 150 may flex towards the child. When the tab 150 flexes, the slit 160 may enlarge. When the slit 160 enlarges, fluid may flow more easily through the slit 160.

The sippy container 100 may be used by individuals of varying ages. An 18 month old, a three year old, and a five year old may drink at different rates. The tab 150 may be bent into the spout 130 with a pin. When the tab 150 has been bent into the spout 130, greater fluid flow may be achieved through the spout 130. Furthermore, the tab 150 may be removed entirely. Also, the membrane 140 is thin enough that the slits 160 may be enlarged, for example by an ink pen or a bar tooth-pick. Therefore, individuals who drink at a faster rate may enjoy the sippy container 100 as much as individuals who drink at a slower rate.

The sippy container 100 may be formed as a singular piece of plastic. The sippy container 100 may be manufactured via a variety of methods. Common manufacturing processes for plastics include injection molding, compression molding, machining, and combinations therein. Injection molding may be performed at high speed, high volume and low cost. Injection molding may be an appropriate manufacturing method when supplying a market which requires a low cost, disposable sippy container.

Sippy cups are commonly sold in a variety of sizes, including 3 oz, 6 oz, 9 oz, and other. Many parents and guardians stockpile numerous sippy cups of varying shapes, colors, and sizes. Often, parents and guardians experience difficulty finding the matching lid for a specific sippy cup. Because the sippy container 100 is of a singular design, the lid 120 will never be misplaced from the body 110. Therefore, the sippy container 100 will not cause a parent or guardian frustration in matching a lid to a sippy cup.

Common plastic materials include Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP), or other mixed resins (OTHER). PETE is commonly used in soft drinks, juice, and cough syrup containers and microwave trays. HDPE is commonly used in milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles. LDPE is commonly used in newspaper and grocery bags and butter cups lids. PP is commonly used in yogurt containers and deli trays. OTHER is commonly used in mixed plastic containers or plastic products.

If the sippy container 100 is composed of a single piece of material, the lid 120 and the body 110 will have common physical properties, including coefficient of thermal expansion. As temperature increases, materials expand. As temperature decreases, materials constrict. Because the lid 120 and the body 110 will have the same coefficient of thermal expansion, the lip 190 and the rim 185 will have the same geometry relative to one another independent of temperature. Some sippy cups where the lids and the cups are manufactured of different materials will inherently leak. This is a result of unequal expansion of the lid relative to the cup.

The plastic material may be selected to provide heat resistance. It is common that sippy containers are transported to a variety of climates and stored in non-climate conditioned warehouses. Moreover, sterility is of great concern to some parents and guardians of children. Some parents and guardians may use the sippy container 100 as a disposable unit. When the sippy container 100 is used as a disposable unit, concerns with mold, bacteria, and germs may be alleviated. Moreover, cleaning and storing the sippy container 100 may be avoided if it is treated as a disposable unit.

However, some parents and guardians will put the sippy container 100 through a dishwasher's hot cycle. These adults desire to eliminate all germs and bacteria from the sippy container 100 prior to allowing the child to drink from the sippy container 100. Dishwashers typically have heating elements disposed in their bottom. Because the sippy container 100 may fall to the bottom of a dishwasher, the sippy container 100 may come in contact with a heating element of the dishwasher. In order to prevent the sippy container 100 from melting or deforming, the sippy container 100 may be constructed of a heat resistant plastic.

It is common that a child may squeeze the sippy container 100. It is also common that a child may strike objects such as a car seat or a bed post with the sippy container 100. Thus, the child may apply forces to the sippy container 100. When such forces are applied to common sippy cups, sippy cups deform, resulting in a leak or spill. Moreover, common lids detach from sippy cups, resulting in spills.

The lip 190, the flange 180, and the rim 185 should be rigid. Rigid refers to resistance to deformation due to a child's or other target individual's application of force. A variety of factors may either on their own, or in combination, contribute to the rigidity of the sippy container 100. Rigidity may be based on the shape and thickness of the sippy container 100. Rigidity may be based on the mold cure time and the cure rate. The plastic material may be selected to provide rigidity. For example, PP may be sufficiently rigid such that a child will be unable to deform the sippy container 100.

If the lip 190, the flange 180, and the rim 185 are rigid, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to deform the sippy container 100. If the sippy container 100 is not deformed, leaks and spills may be reduced. Moreover, if the sippy container 100 is not deformed, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for a child to detach the lid 190 from the body 110.

Children often grip, push, pull, twist, and bend spouts of common sippy cups. With a typical sippy cup, the spout may deform. Because the spout 130 is rigid, it will be difficult for the child to deform. Some sippy cups include snap-on lids where the structure is rigid. Children often use the spout as a lever, applying a moment to the spout, which may, in turn, detach a lid from a sippy cup. The term moment refers to a force which tends to rotate, turn, twist, or bend a rigid body about an axis or pivot point.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown a perspective view of the sippy container 100. A friction fit between the lip 190 and the rim 185 may secure the lid 120 to the body 110. A moment may be applied to the lid 120 at a section far from the hinge 170. The moment may tend to bend the lid 120 about the hinge 170, thereby detaching the lid 120 from the body 110. The moment, which may detach the lid 120 from the body 110 may be applied when an adult: first, squeezes the body 110 with enough force to slightly deform the body 110; second, wedges a fingernail between the flange 180 and the lip 190; and third, applies a moment to the lip 190, at a first section 500 far from and about the hinge 170. Far from the hinge 170 refers to a position on the lid 120 not between the center 520 of the lid 120 and the hinge 170.

The spout 130 may be disposed at a second section 510 of the lid 120 which is near the hinge 170. Near the hinge 170 refers to any position between the center 520 of the lid 120 and the hinge 170. If a moment is applied to the lid via the spout 130, because of the proximity of the spout 130 to the hinge 170, the hinge 170 will counteract the moment applied via the spout 130. The location of the hinge 170 therefore prevents the lid 120 from detaching from the body 110 when the child twists, bends, pulls, or pushes the spout 130. This may result in fewer and less intense leaking and spills.

The surface smoothness of the sippy cup 100 may be determined by the manufacturing process. For example, the tooling in an injection mold process may be machined to provide a selected surface smoothness. A selected surface smoothness may be achieved via sandblasting. Surface smoothness may differ between the body 110, the lid 120, and the spout 130. The body 120 may be rougher than the spout 130. The surface smoothness of the body 120 may be selected such that a child may easily grip and hold the sippy container 100.

The surface smoothness of the spout 130 may be smooth such that the child's mouth is unlikely to receive lacerations. Moreover, if the spout 130 has a smooth surface, it will be difficult for the child to bite into the spout 130, as the spout 130 will slide along the child's teeth. Because the spout 130 may slide, it will be difficult for the child to detach the lid 120 from the body 110 by pulling, pushing, twisting or bending the spout 130 with their teeth.

Although each of the following factors may prevent the lid 120 from detaching from the body 110, in combination, spills will be very unlikely because the lid 120 should not separate from the body 110 based on an individual's actions: the friction fit of the lid 120 and the body 110; the bottom 215 of the lip 190 being flush with the flange 180 when the lid 120 is attached to the body 110; the geometry of the slits 160 as defined by the membrane 140; the flexibility of the tabs 150; the lip 190, the rim 185, and the flange 180 being composed of a homogeneous material; the rigidity of the sippy container 100; the proximity of the spout 130 to the hinge 170; and the surface smoothness of the spout 130. Other factors may also impact detachability of the lid 120 from the body 110.

Although exemplary embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art that a number of changes, modifications, or alterations to the invention as described herein may be made, none of which depart from the spirit of the present invention. All such changes, modifications and alterations should therefore be seen as within the scope of the present invention.





 
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