Title:
Self-contained wine bottle foil and cork remover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-opening sealed container comprises: (i) a bottle having a tapered, hollowed neck; (ii) a compressed stopper-type closure (such as a cork) inserted within the neck of the bottle; (iii) a wrapper (typically made of foil) overlaying the stopper-type closure and extending along the outside of the bottle neck; and (iv) an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure, underlying the wrapper, and extending beyond the wrapper on the outside of the bottle. Additionally, the end of the elongated tab can include some type of gripping means for a user to easily manipulate the present invention. Moreover, in order to prevent mischief and damage during shipment and the placement on store shelves, the gripping means on the end of the elongated tab can be sealed against the bottle itself behind an overlaying plastic wrap. The present invention permits for the use of a suitable, standard-sized cork; however, in order to facilitate the pulling of the cork from the neck of the bottle, the cork can be cross-sectionally split in one or more locations to decrease the force required by the user in removing the cork by pulling on the end of the elongated tab.



Inventors:
Wang, Zenghua (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/930232
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
08/31/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/355, 215/251
International Classes:
B65D51/00; B65D41/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHN ROBERT MUGNO (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A sealed container having an integral opener comprising: a bottle having a tapered, hollowed neck; a compressed, stopper-type closure inserted within said bottle neck; a wrapper overlaying said stopper-type closure and extending along the outside surface of said bottle neck; and an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure, underlying said wrapper, and having an end extending beyond said wrapper on the outside of said bottle.

2. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said bottle is comprised of glass.

3. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said bottle is comprised of plastic.

4. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said stopper-type closure is a natural cork.

5. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said stopper-type closure is comprised of synthetic materials.

6. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein the wrapper is comprised of a metal foil.

7. The sealed container of claim wherein said elongated tab is a cord.

8. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said elongated tab is comprised of a flexible metal wire.

9. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said stopper-type closure comprises at least one partial cross-sectional cut, while remaining an integral component.

10. The sealed container of claim 1 wherein said end of said elongated tab comprises user gripper means.

11. The sealed container of claim 10 wherein said gripping means is a tied loop for finger insertion.

12. The sealed container of claim 10 wherein said gripping means is a tied knot.

13. The sealed container of claim 12 further comprising a plastic extender hanging from said tied knot.

14. The sealed container of claim 1 further comprising a transparent overlaying cover to compress said end of said elongated tab against the outside of said bottle.

15. A self-contained opener for a wine bottle comprising: a compressed, stopper-type closure inserted within the neck of said wine bottle wherein said stopper-type closure comprises at least one partial cross-sectional cut while remaining an integral component; and an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure and extending to the outside of said wine bottle.

16. The self-contained opener of claim 15 wherein said elongated tab is a cord.

17. The self-contained opener of claim 15 wherein said elongated tab is comprised of a flexible metal wire.

18. The self-contained opener of claim 15 wherein said end of elongated tab comprises user gripping means.

19. A method for removing a stopper-type closure from the neck of a bottle wherein said stopper-type closure comprises at least one partial cross-sectional cut while remaining an integral component and further comprising an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure with a first end extending to the outside of said bottle, wherein the method comprises the steps of: pulling said end of elongated tab in a direction away from the opening of said bottleneck.

20. A method for removing a wrapper overlaying the outside of the neck of a bottle wherein said bottle utilizes a stopper-type closure with at least one partial cross-sectional cut while remaining an integral component and an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure, underlying said wrapper, and having an end extending beyond said wrapper on the outside of said bottle, wherein the method comprises the steps of: pulling said end of elongated tab in a direction upward and outward from said wrapper.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is generally directed to a self-opening, sealed container having a stopper-type closure, such as a cork, which does not require the need for external cork openers, pulls and the like to be opened. More specifically, the apparatus and method of the present invention provides an easy to use means for removing a cork with little or no added expense, while significantly reducing the risk of injuries.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The packaging of beverages, particular wine, has been performed for centuries. One of the challenges presented in such packaging included the conflicting restraints of sufficiently and completely sealing the liquid contents to avoid spillage, spoilage or contamination, while, at the same time, permitting the ultimate consumer to remove the closure means (e.g., the cork) when the product is ready for consumption.

Wine and related types of beverages have traditionally been packaged in glass bottles, and then sealed with a compressed cork made of natural fiber. The bottler would typically cover the cork and, at least a portion of the bottle neck, with a metal foil that would also often include the name and location of the bottler. More recently, due to the escalating costs and availability of natural cork, bottlers have begun using synthetic, plastic stopper-type closures to seal wine bottles and the like. Moreover, the overlaying foil wrapper is sometimes replaced with a wax seal over the cork. On lower quality wines, glass bottles have even been substituted with plastics, cardboard boxes and other inexpensive materials. Regardless of the types of bottles, corks, wrappers and the like utilized by various bottlers, there always remains the basic requirement to open the bottle prior to consumption. Some manufacturers of lower quality wine have incorporated the use of “twist-off” caps or “flip tops.” However, most of the wine industry continues to use some type of corking technique.

No matter what materials are utilized for a stopper-type closure, some type of external pull or corkscrew is necessary. Simply stated, unless the consumer has some type of remover readily available, the beverage cannot be consumed. Moreover, many types of cork removers are difficult to utilize, expensive to purchase, and pose a significant risk of injury when implemented, due to sharp edges and blades. In fact, most standard types of corkscrews do not incorporate any means to easily remove the foil wrapper, which may be placed over the neck of a wine bottle. Users will typically attempt to use a knife, their fingernails, or the sharp edge of the corkscrew to first remove the foil wrapper to access the cork itself. Numerous types of corkscrews and stopper-type closure removers exist in the prior art. Most are mechanical in nature, but some even require carbon dioxide canisters and other external means. Besides lower quality wines that incorporate the use of twist-off caps and flip-top boxes, no wines are presently sold that incorporate an effective self-contained foil and cork remover.

When utilizing a standard corkscrew, a consumer must usually first remove the overlaying foil wrapper over the cork. Sometimes, a separate circular foil-cutting blade is utilized. After the foil wrapper has been removed, the consumer must carefully center the corkscrew before twisting it. If not carefully centered, the cork could fray within the liquid contents of the bottle, yet the cork could partially remain in place. After sufficient twisting of the corkscrew, the user must exert significant upward pressure to remove the cork from the bottle neck. Often when the cork is released, the upward pressure results in spillage if the bottle is not tightly held. The user must also then twist the cork back off the corkscrew to discard the cork.

It is therefore a primary object of the present invention to provide a new and improved self-opening liquid container and a method of utilizing the same.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a new and improved self-opening container and a method of utilizing the same that includes means to remove both the stopper-type closure and the overlaying foil wrapper.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a new and improved self-opening container and a method of utilizing the same that is inexpensive and minimizes the risk of injury to the consumer.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a new and improved self-opening container and a method of utilizing the same that can be utilized with any quality wine and regardless of the type of cork that is implemented.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the specification and the drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated and in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, an apparatus and method for providing a novel self-opening container having a stopper-type closure is described. The self-opening sealed container comprises: (i) a bottle having a tapered, hollowed neck; (ii) a compressed stopper-type closure (such as a cork) inserted within the neck of the bottle; (iii) a wrapper (typically made of foil) overlaying the stopper-type closure and extending along the outside of the bottle neck; and (iv) an elongated tab threaded through said stopper-type closure, underlying the wrapper, and extending beyond the wrapper on the outside of the bottle. Additionally, the end of the elongated tab can include some type of gripping means for a user to easily manipulate the present invention. Moreover, in order to prevent mischief and damage during shipment of the product and the placement on store shelves, the gripping means on the end of the elongated tab can be sealed against the bottle itself by an overlaying plastic wrap.

The present invention permits for the use of a suitable, standard-sized cork; however, in order to facilitate the pulling of the cork from the neck of the bottle, the cork can be cross-sectionally split in one or more locations to decrease the force required by the user in removing the cork by pulling on the end of the elongated tab.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention herein, it is believed that the present invention will be more readily understood upon consideration of the description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a self-contained wine bottle cork and foil remover, in its closed form, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the neck portion of the self-contained wine bottle cork and foil remover, in its closed form, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of the neck portion of the self-contained wine bottle cork and foil remover, in a form wherein a user has begun to remove the foil wrapper, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of the neck portion of the self-contained wine bottle cork and foil remover, in a form wherein the foil wrapper has been removed and the cork is beginning to be removed, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of the neck portion of the self-contained wine bottle cork and foil remover, in a form wherein the cork has been removed, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the cork of FIG. 5 taken along cross-sectional line 7.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring first to FIG. 1, a self-opening wine bottle assembly, generally designated 10, is shown that represents the preferred embodiment of the present invention. Wine bottle assembly 10 includes a bottle 12 having a tapered and hollowed neck 14. A foil wrapper 16 overlays bottle neck 14 and also overlays a substantial portion of an elongated cord 18. Elongated cord 18 extends, on the outside of bottle 12, and concludes on one end in an optional gripping means 20, which is illustrated as a tied loop for finger insertion (as shown in FIGS. 3-5). FIG. 2 also illustrates bottle 12, neck 14, foil wrapper 16, elongated cord 18, and gripping means 20. The bottom of bottle 12 is cut off to demonstrate that the bottle shape can take any desirable form. Moreover, although non-visible in FIG. 2, it is understood that a stopper-type closure, such as a cork, is contained within the hollowed portion of bottle neck 14 to seal in the liquid contents of bottle 12.

Referring now to FIG. 3, fingers 22 of a user are inserted within gripping means 20, and a force is applied (by the user) in a direction illustrated by directional arrow 24. As a slight force is asserted in an upward and outward direction, elongated cord 18 begins to tear foil wrapper 16. Eventually, as sufficient upward and outward force is applied, the foil will be completely torn and can be easily removed from bottle neck 14.

After foil wrapper 16 has been removed, the user can continue to utilize elongated cord 18 and gripping means 20 to remove cork 26 as shown in FIG. 4. As sufficient upward force, as reflected by directional arrow 28, is applied, cork 26 will begin to become extracted from bottle neck 14. FIG. 4 is reflective of cork 26 being partially removed from bottle neck 14.

Turning to FIG. 5, the continuing upward pressure has resulted in the total removal of cork 26 from bottle neck 14. Cork 26 could be a standard composite cork. However, through experimentation, the inventor of the present invention has determined that it is preferred that the cork be partially split in a cross-sectional direction. Cork 26 of FIG. 5 includes two such partial cuts. The partial cuts in cork 26 permit the user to exert less upward force when removing cork 26. The less force required in removing cork 26, the less likely there is for injury to the user or spillage of the contents of wine bottle 12. Elongated Cord 18 is threaded through cork 26 in a manner to ensure that cork 26 does not break apart. FIG. 6 represents the preferred embodiment of the threading of cord 18 through cork 26.

The aforementioned FIGURES have illustrated the most common utilization of the present invention. However, numerous variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art and will be presented in the following claims. For instance, referring back to FIG. 1, shipment and display of self-opening wine assembly 10 could cause concern amongst shippers and retailers based on the possibility of accidental pressure being applied to gripping means 20, thereby slightly tearing foil wrapper 16. Consumers would be reluctant to buy wine that they could believe had been tampered with or contaminated. Gripping means 20 can include shrink-wrapped plastic to press gripping means against bottle 12 to avoid this potential problem. Moreover, the preferred embodiment has been described wherein gripping means 20 is shown as a tied loop. It will become obvious to those skilled in the art that numerous other possible designs exist. For instance, a simple knot can be provided for the user to grip. In a more detailed version, a plastic extender, such as those utilized in standard blinds, could be hung from the knot to provide even easier gripping by a user.

The use of elongated cord 18 threaded through cork 26 can be implemented, and prove useful, even if the particular bottle does not utilize a foil wrapper. As long as elongated cord 18 extends through the top of cork 26 and outward from bottle 12, a user can utilize it to remove cork 26 and enjoy the contents of bottle 12. Conversely, there may be situations wherein elongated cord 18 is only utilized to remove overlaying foil wrapper 16.

It will be apparent from the foregoing description that the present invention provides a new and improved self-opening, sealed container and method for using the same. While a specific and effective preferred embodiment has been described, numerous alternatives exist, and the apparatus and method of the present invention can be utilized in various circumstances. For instance, the present invention can be utilized regardless of the composition of cork, regardless of whether or not a foil wrapper is incorporated, etc.

While there has been shown and described what is presently considered to be the preferred embodiment of this invention, it will become obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the broader aspects of this invention. For instance, while the description and FIGURES relate to a glass wine bottle, the present invention can be utilized with any sealed container utilizing a compressed, stopper-type closure inserted within a tapered, hollowed neck. The bottle itself can be made of plastic or any other material. Moreover, elongated cord 18 can be made of natural or synthetic fibers, or be comprised of a flexible metal wire. Moreover, the present invention is also useful in situations wherein cork is sealed by a way top.

It is, therefore, aimed in the appended claims to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true scope and spirit of the invention