Title:
Convertible envelope
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A convertible envelope including a front panel and a back panel joined to the front panel at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween. The cavity has a mouth and the envelope has a pair of opposed outer edges defining a transverse dimension therebetween. The envelope further includes a closure flap pivotally coupled to the back panel along a closure flap pivot line to selectively cover the mouth. The closure flap has a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line. The back panel has a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line. One of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line extends across the entire transverse dimension and the other one of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension. The envelope further includes a connecting tear guide line extending from the closure flap pivot line to at least one of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line.



Inventors:
Garbarino, Michael J. (Binghamton, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/034523
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
01/12/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/67.1, 229/75
International Classes:
B65D27/34; B65D27/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090179068File folder with individual holding unitsJuly, 2009Gong
20030173397Self-open envelopeSeptember, 2003Kourakov
20020033395Containers having spout and process for producing sameMarch, 2002Iwano et al.
20050133577Calico boxJune, 2005Bowman
20060243781Postcard with integral photo frame and method for making the postcardNovember, 2006Simpson-jones
20030140015Counter-terror envelopeJuly, 2003Applebaum
20080067222PACKING CASEMarch, 2008Kleiner
20060169756Convertible boxAugust, 2006Sexton et al.
20080035718Mail saverFebruary, 2008Beazley
20090321502SIMULATED COMMERCIAL ENVELOPES AND METHODS OF MAKING THE SAMEDecember, 2009Brown
20030197052Combination bakery carton and a method of constructing a combination bakery cartonOctober, 2003Miess



Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARK P LEVY (DAYTON, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A convertible envelope comprising: a front panel; a back panel joined to said front panel at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween, said cavity having a mouth, said envelope having a pair of opposed outer edges defining a transverse dimension therebetween; a closure flap pivotally coupled to said back panel along a closure flap pivot line to selectively cover said mouth, said closure flap having a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, said back panel having a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, wherein one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line extends across the entire transverse dimension and the other one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension; and a connecting tear guide line extending from said closure flap pivot line to at least one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line.

2. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said connecting tear guide line extends between said closure flap pivot line and said one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line which extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension.

3. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line which extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension extends from an outer edge only to said connecting tear guide line.

4. The envelope of claim 1 wherein a label tab is located adjacent to said one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line which extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension such that when said back panel tear guide line, said closure flap tear guide line, and said connecting tear guide line are torn therealong said label tab protrudes upwardly from said mouth.

5. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said connecting tear guide line extends from said closure flap tear guide line to said closure flap pivot line, and from said closure flap pivot line to said back panel tear guide line.

6. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said front panel and said back panel are both generally flat and rectangular having four outer edges, and are directly joined together at least partially along three edges thereof and wherein said mouth is located along a fourth outer edge.

7. The envelope of claim 6 wherein said front panel and said back panel are fixedly coupled together at least partially along about said three outer edges thereof and said envelope lacks any outer tear guide lines which can be torn such that upon tearing said outer tear guide lines said front and back panels are not coupled at least partially along said three outer edges.

8. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said closure flap tear guide line extends across the entire transverse dimension and wherein said back panel tear guide line extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension such that a label tab is located adjacent to said back panel tear guide line.

9. The envelope of claim 8 wherein said closure flap pivot line and said back panel tear guide line define a first removable portion therebetween and wherein said closure flap pivot line and said closure flap tear guide line define a second removable portion therebetween such that when said back panel tear guide line, said closure flap tear guide line, and said connecting tear guide line are torn therealong said label tab protrudes upwardly from said mouth.

10. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said closure flap pivot line is a tear guide line.

11. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said back panel tear guide line and said closure flap tear guide line are located equal distances away from said closure flap pivot line such that said back panel tear guide line and said closure flap tear guide line are aligned.

12. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said back panel tear guide line, said closure flap tear guide line and said connecting tear guide line are configured such that a user can grip a portion of said envelope located between said closure flap tear guide line and said back panel tear guide line and pull said gripped portion across said transverse distance to thereby tear a single ply of said envelope during portions of said pulling motion and tear a double ply of said envelope during the other portions of the same pulling motion to thereby define a protruding label tab after said gripped portion is pulled and separated from said envelope.

13. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said closure flap includes an adhesive such that said closure flap can be adhered to said front panel.

14. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said connecting tear guide line is spaced away from ends of said back panel tear guide line and from the ends of said closure flap tear guide line.

15. The envelope of claim 1 wherein said closure flap pivot line extends across the entire transverse distance.

16. A convertible envelope comprising: a front panel; a back panel joined to said front panel at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween, said cavity having a mouth, one of said front or back panels having a pair of opposed outer edges defining a transverse dimension therebetween; a closure flap pivotally coupled to said back panel along a closure flap pivot line to selectively cover said mouth, said closure flap having a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, said back panel having a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, wherein one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line has a lesser length than the other one; and a connecting tear guide line extending between said closure flap pivot line and said one of said closure flap tear guide line or said back panel tear guide line having a lesser length.

17. A blank for forming a convertible envelope comprising: a front panel; a back panel pivotally coupled to said front panel; a closure flap pivotally coupled to said back panel along a closure flap pivot line, said closure flap having a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, said back panel having a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, wherein one of said back panel tear guide line or said front tear guide line has a length less than the other one, and wherein said back panel tear guide line and said front tear guide line are spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line by equal distances; and a connecting tear guide line extending between said closure flap pivot line and said one of said closure flap tear guide line or said back panel tear guide line having a lesser length.

18. A method for forming an envelope comprising the steps of: providing a blank having a front panel, a back panel pivotally coupled to said front panel along a main fold line, a closure flap pivotally coupled to said back panel along a closure flap pivot line, said closure flap having a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, said back panel having a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, wherein one of said back panel tear guide line or said front tear guide line has a length less than the other one, and wherein said back panel tear guide line and said front tear guide line are spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line by equal distances, said blank further including a connecting tear guide line extending between said closure flap pivot line and said one of said closure flap tear guide line or said back panel tear guide line having a lesser length; folding at least one of said front or back panel about said main fold line; and coupling said front and back panel together at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween.

19. A method for manipulating an envelope comprising: providing an envelope having a front panel, a back panel joined to said front panel at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween, said cavity having a mouth, said envelope having a pair of opposed outer edges defining a transverse dimension therebetween, said envelope including a closure flap coupled to said back panel along a closure flap pivot line and being coupled to said front panel to cover said mouth, said closure flap having a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, said back panel having a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from said closure flap pivot line, wherein one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line extends across the entire transverse dimension and the other one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension, said envelope including a connecting tear guide line extending from said closure flap pivot line to at least one of said back panel tear guide line or said closure flap tear guide line; and tearing said envelope at least partially along said closure flap pivot line, said closure flap tear guide line and said back panel tear guide line to provide access to said cavity and to define a label tab protruding generally upwardly from said cavity.

Description:

The present invention is directed to a convertible envelope, and more particularly, to an envelope which can be converted into a file folder.

BACKGROUND

Envelopes are widely used to send documents via a postal service delivery, intra-office delivery, private delivery service or to store documents and the like. Most envelopes are torn open by the recipient and then discarded.

File folders are widely used as a mechanism for storing documents, loose papers, and the like. Accordingly, there is a need for an envelope which has a use after the envelope is opened, and more particularly, for an envelope which can be converted to and utilized as a file folder.

SUMMARY

Accordingly, one embodiment of the present invention is an envelope which can be converted to a file folder. In particular, in one embodiment the invention is a convertible envelope including a front panel and a back panel joined to the front panel at least partially about an outer periphery thereof to define a cavity therebetween. The cavity has a mouth and the envelope has a pair of opposed outer edges defining a transverse dimension therebetween. The envelope further includes a closure flap pivotally coupled to the back panel along a closure flap pivot line to selectively cover the mouth. The closure flap has a closure flap tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line. The back panel has a back panel tear guide line extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line. One of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line extends across the entire transverse dimension and the other one of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line extends a distance less than the entire transverse dimension. The envelope further includes a connecting tear guide line extending from the closure flap pivot line to at least one of the back panel tear guide line or the closure flap tear guide line.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top view of a blank which may be used to form one embodiment of the convertible envelope of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the blank of FIG. 1, with the blank being partially folded;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a convertible envelope formed from the blank of FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 3, shown receiving a sheet of paper therein;

FIG. 6 is a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 5, with the closure flap moved to a closed position;

FIG. 7 is a rear view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 6, with the pull tab partially torn;

FIG. 9 is a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 8, with the pull tab torn to the connecting tear guide line;

FIG. 10 is a front view of the envelope of FIG. 9, with the pull tab being further torn;

FIG. 11 is a rear view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 10, with the pull tab being completely torn and removed;

FIG. 13 is a rear view of the envelope of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is a front view of a blank which may be used to form another embodiment of the convertible envelope of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a front view of a convertible envelope formed from the blank of FIG. 14, with the pull tab being partially torn; and

FIG. 16 is a front view of the convertible envelope of FIG. 15, with the pull tab being completely torn and removed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a blank 10 utilized for forming one embodiment of the convertible envelope of the present invention. The blank 10 includes a front panel 12 and a back panel 14 separated by a main fold line 16. The blank 10 includes a pair of side panels 18, 20 coupled to opposite sides of the back panel 14, with the side panels 18, 20 being separated from the back panel 14 by a pair of side panel fold lines 22, 24. The blank 10 further includes a closure flap 26 pivotally coupled to the back panel 14 along a closure flap pivot line 28. The closure flap pivot line 28 may be a fold or pivot line but may also include perforations or the like fully or partially extending therealong to form a tear guide line such that the closure flap pivot line 28 can be torn therealong. The closure flap 26 may include an adhesive 30 located thereon.

The closure flap 26 includes a closure flap tear guide line 32 extending across the entire width of the closure flap 26, and generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line 28. The closure flap tear guide line 32 can be a fold line, a perforated line, a score line, a cut line, a score-slit line, an area of weakness or the like. It should be understood that all of the tear guide lines disclosed and discussed herein, including the closure flap pivot line 28 and closure flap tear guide line 32 discussed above, as well as other tear guide lines disclosed and discussed below, can be or include the fold lines, perforated lines, score lines, cut lines, score-slit lines, or areas of weakness or the like mentioned above.

The back panel 14 includes a back panel tear guide line 34 extending generally parallel to and spaced apart from the closure flap pivot line 28. In the illustrated embodiment, the back panel tear guide line 34 does not extend the entire width of the blank/envelope 10, and also extends only part of the length of the closure flap tear guide line 28. In the illustrated embodiment, the closure flap tear guide line 32 and back panel tear guide line 34 are both spaced apart by equal distances from the closure flap pivot line 28.

The blank 10 includes a transverse or connecting tear guide line 36 extending from the closure flap tear guide line 32 to the back panel tear guide line 34. The connecting tear guide line 36 includes an upper portion 36a extending from the closure flap tear guide line 32 to the closure flap pivot line 28, and a lower portion 36b extending from the closure flap pivot line 28 to the back panel tear guide line 34. The upper portion 36a and lower portion 36b may be symmetrical with respect to the closure flap pivot line 28. As will be discussed in greater detail below, the upper portion 36a of the connecting tear guide line 36a may be excluded if desired.

The connecting tear guide line 36 includes a pair of central curved portions 38 to form smooth transitions with and to the closure flap pivot line 28. The connecting tear guide line 36 also includes a pair of outer curved portions 40 to form smooth transitions with the closure flap tear guide line 32 and back panel tear guide line 34, respectively. The curved portions 38, 40 may be shaped and contoured as desired to smoothly guide tearing in the desired direction.

The various tear guide lines form or define a label tab 42 located below the closure flap pivot line 28 and to the left of the connecting tear guide line 36. The tear guidelines 28, 34, 36 define a first removable portion 46 located between the closure flap pivot line 28 and the back panel tear guide line 34, and to the right of the connecting tear guide line 36. The tear guidelines 28, 32 define a pull tab or second removable portion 44 located between the closure flap pivot line 28 and closure flap tear guide line 32. Accordingly, in the illustrated embodiment the back panel 14 includes the label tab 42 located to the left of the lower portion 36b of the connecting tear guide line 36 and the removable portion 46 is located to the right of the lower portion 36b of the connecting tear guide line 36. Of course, the label tab 42 could be located on the right hand side of the back panel 14 or in various other locations.

In order to form an envelope from the blank 10 of FIG. 1, the side panels 18, 20 are folded inwardly about the side panel fold lines 22, 24 until they face and are located over the back panel 14, as shown in FIG. 2. Next, the front panel 12 is folded inwardly about the main fold line 16 until the front panel 12 faces and is located over the side panels 18, 20 and the back panel 14. The front panel 12 is then adhered to the side panels 18, 20 to form an envelope 50, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The envelope 50 has a central cavity 52 having a mouth 54, a pair of opposed side edges 56, a top edge 58 and a bottom edge 60. The envelope 50 defines or has a transverse dimension extending between the opposed side edges or outer edges 56. The connecting tear guide line 36 may be spaced away from the side edges 56 of the envelope 50, or from the ends of the closure flap tear guide line 32 and/or from the outer end of the back panel tear guide line 34. The closure flap 26 is pivotally coupled to the back panel 14 such that the closure flap 26 can selectively cover the mouth 54.

After assembly, the envelope 50 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, may be shipped to users or customers (senders) who can store the envelope 50 until it is desired to send, ship or deliver documents or the like in the envelope 50. When it is desired to utilize the envelope 50 of FIGS. 3 and 4 for sending, shipping or delivery, a paper 62 or loose article to be shipped is inserted into the cavity 52 of the envelope 50 by the sender as shown in FIG. 5. The adhesive 30 of the closure flap 26 is then activated, and the closure flap 26 is folded about the closure flap pivot line 28 and adhered to the front panel 12, as shown in FIG. 6.

The envelope 50 of FIGS. 6 and 7 may then be labeled with addressee and addressor information, postage can be attached, and the envelope 50 can be deposited into a delivery system (i.e., a postal service, an intra-office delivery system, private delivery service or the like) and delivered to the recipient. As can be seen in a comparison between FIGS. 6 and 7, when the closure flap 26 is folded about the closure flap pivot line 28, due to the equal spacing of the closure flap tear guide line 32 and back panel tear guide line 34 from the pivot line 28, the closure flap tear guide line 32 and back panel tear guide line 34 are aligned and lie adjacent to each other. In addition, both portions 36a, 36b of the connecting tear guide line 36 are aligned and lie adjacent to each other.

Upon receipt, the recipient grips and pulls the pull tab 44 defined between the closure flap tear guide line 32 and the closure flap pivot line 28. The envelope 50 may include text or indicia (not shown) instructing the user to pull the pull tab 44 at the indicated location and appropriate direction. As the user tears the pull tab 44 (i.e., in a left-to-right direction in the configuration shown in FIG. 8), the pull tab 44 is torn along the closure flap pivot line 28 and closure flap tear guide line 32. In this manner, a single-ply portion of the envelope (i.e., the pull tab 44) is pulled away from the main body of the envelope 50, as shown in FIG. 8.

The pull tab 44 is continued to be pulled in a left-to-right direction and thereby torn away from the envelope 50 until the removed portions of the pull tab 44 reach the connecting tear guide line 36 (FIG. 9). As the pull tab 44 is continued to be pulled in a left-to-right direction, the lower portion 36b of the connecting tear guide line 36 is torn to separate the removable portion 46 from the label tab 42. Thus, continued tearing of the pull tab (FIGS. 10 and 11) removes the pull tab 44, as well as the removable portion 46 of the back panel 14 such that the portion of the envelope 50 being removed has a two-ply thickness.

As can be seen, when removing the pull tab 44 and removable portion 46, only those portions of the closure flap pivot line 28 to the left of the connecting tear guide line 36 (when viewed in front view) are torn. Accordingly, the portions of the closure flap pivot line 28 to the right of the connecting tear guide line 36 may not be perforated or necessarily form a tear guide line, if desired. However, it may be desired for the entire closure flap pivot line 28 to be perforated so that the pull tab 44 and removable portion 46 can be removed into two separate steps. In addition, because the upper portion 36a of the connecting tear guide line 36 is not necessarily torn, if desired, the upper portion 36a may be omitted.

Once the pull tab 44 and removable portion 46 are torn completely to the right edge 22 of the envelope 50, the pull tab 44 and removable portion 46 are then completely removed and separated from the envelope 50 and discarded (FIG. 12). However, it should be understood that the envelope 50 can be torn in various other manners besides those shown in the drawings. For example, the pull tab 44 can be pulled in a right-to-left direction, if desired. In addition, the upper portion 36a of connecting tear guide line 36 may be torn to separate the pull tab 44 into two separate pieces.

After the pull tab 44 and removable portion 46 are removed, the upper portions of the envelope 50 have been removed to provide access to the cavity 52 so that the shipped contents of the envelope 50 can be accessed and removed. In addition, the label tab portion 42 of the back panel 14 remains and protrudes above the upper edge of the converted envelope 70 to provide a surface upon which text can be written, stickers can be located, etc. in the manner of a standard label tab of a file folder. The envelope 50 is thus converted to a file folder 70 which can be used in the manner of a standard file folder.

In the illustrated embodiment, the side edges 56 and bottom edge 60 of the file folder are and remain coupled together, and the front 12 and back 14 panels lack any tear guide lines which would allow the front 12 and back 14 panels to be separated and to pivot relative to each other. However, if desired, perforations or tear guide line or the like may be utilized such that the front 12 and back 14 panels can be separated along the side edges 56 to pivot about main fold line 16.

The configurations with respect to the label tab and tear guide lines on the front and back panels shown in FIGS. 1-12 can be reversed. In particular, in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 14-16, the back panel tear guide line 34′ may be configured that it extends the entire width of the envelope 50 or back panel 14. The closure flap tear guide line 32′ may be configured such that it extends only a partial distance of the width of the envelope 50 or of the closure flap 26. In this configuration, the label tab 42 is located above the closure flap pivot line 28, and to the left of the upper portion 36a of the connecting tear guide line 36. The pull tab 44 is located between the closure flap pivot line 28 and the back panel tear guide line 34′. The removable portion 46 is bound by the closure flap tear guide line 32′, the closure flap pivot line 28, and the upper portion 36a of the connecting tear guide line 36.

As shown in FIG. 15, the envelope 50′ formed by the blank 10′ of FIG. 14 can be torn by tearing the removable portion 46 and pull tab 44 along the aligned tear guide lines 32′, 34′. Once the removed or torn portions 44, 46 reach the upper portion 36a of the connecting tear guide line 36, the remaining portions of the pull tab 44 located behind the label tab 42 are removed, thereby resulting in the file folder 70′ shown in FIG. 16. In this case, the label tab 42 is located on the closure flap 26. Although FIG. 15 illustrates a tearing in a right-to-left direction for ease of illustration, it should be understood that the envelope 50′ may also be torn in a left-to-right direction.

Having described the invention in detail and by reference to the preferred embodiments, it will be apparent that modifications and variations thereof are possible without departing from the scope of the invention.