Title:
System and envelope for mailing and return of an object through the post
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foliaceous pre-cut blank has a rectangular back part and, joined thereto, at least one side flap, a bottom flap and a closing flap. A first fold line is located at the transition from the back part to the closing flap. The closing flap is divided into first and second sections by a second fold line running in parallel to the first fold line, the first section being located between the first and second fold lines. The blank is conveniently assembled into an envelope. A first adhesive strip seals the envelope for a first mailing, and a second adhesive strip can be used to seal the envelope for a return mailing.



Inventors:
Taute, Hans-georg (Bad Hersfeld, DE)
Application Number:
11/262504
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
10/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D27/06; B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. An envelope for mailing through the post at least twice, comprising a foliaceous pre-cut blank having: a rectangular back part; at least one side flap joined to a first lateral side of the back part; a bottom flap joined to a bottom side of the back part; and a closing flap joined to a top side of the back part, said top side being opposite the bottom side, wherein a first fold line is located at the transition between the back part and the closing flap, the closing flap being divided into a first section and a second section by a second fold line running parallel to the first fold line, the first section being located between the first and second fold lines; and the envelope further comprising an adhesive strip for sealing the envelope for a first mailing such that the first section comes to lie upon the second section and the second section comes to lie upon the bottom flap.

2. The envelope of claim 1, wherein the second fold line divides the closing flap approximately at a ratio of about 1:1 so that the height of the first section measured from the first fold line is approximately the same as the height of the second section measured from the second fold line.

3. The envelope of claim 1, wherein, when the second section is reversed toward the first section along the second fold line, and the following is provided for simultaneous imprinting: an area for imprinting an address field for the first mailing on the bottom flap; and an area for imprinting a return address field for a second mailing on the second section.

4. The envelope of claim 3, further comprising a second adhesive strip on the second section for sealing the envelope for a second mailing such that both the first and the second sections come to lie upon the bottom flap, substantial coplanar, and the area of the address field is completely covered by the second section.

5. The envelope of claim 4, wherein, when the envelope is sealed by means of the second adhesive strip, the closing flap extends almost over the entire height of the bottom flap.

6. The envelope of claim 3, further comprising a second adhesive strip on the second section for fixing the closing flap on the open envelope such that the first section comes to lie upon the second section and the second section comes to lie upon the back part.

7. The envelope of claim 3, wherein, when the second section is reversed toward the first section along the second fold line, there is further provided for the simultaneous imprinting at least one area for imprinting at least one data field on the bottom flap, and wherein the data field contains information on the envelope content to be mailed.

8. An envelope for mailing through the post at least twice, comprising a foliaceous precut blank having: a rectangular back part having first and second opposite lateral sides, a bottom side, and a top side; a rectangular bottom flap joined to the bottom side of the back part and foldable therealong to substantially overlie the back part; means for joining opposite lateral margins of the back part and closing flap to form a pocket open at the top and closed at the bottom and the opposite lateral sides; a rectangular closing flap joined to the top side of the back part opposite the bottom side; a first fold line at the transition between the back part and the closing flap for folding of the closing flap therealong to a first mailing configuration in which the closing flap overlies and substantially completely covers the bottom flap which, in turn, overlies the back part; a second fold line running parallel to the first fold line approximately midway between the top and bottom of the closing flap and dividing the closing flap into a first section between the first and second fold lines and a second section between the second fold line and a top free edge of the closing flap, for folding of the closing flap along the second fold line and along the first fold line to a second mailing configuration with the first and second sections overlying an upper portion of the bottom flap which, in turn, overlies the back part but leaving a bottom portion of the bottom flap exposed; and means for sealing the blank in one of the mailing configurations for a first mailing thereof to a first adressee and in the other of the mailing configurations for a subsequent mailing thereof to a second addressee.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an envelope for postal dispatch and particularly to the design and use of an envelope for mailing through the post at least twice.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

With the increasing application of the Internet and the superseding of the conventional video tape by the DVD, the field of business of online video stores has established in Internet trade. The operators of such an online video store (“lenders”) usually provide a Web portal through which they offer CDs or DVDs on a loan basis. The CDs or DVDs are usually dispatched to the customers by post and are later sent back by the customers to the lender. Usually, the lenders provide pre-addressed and prepaid envelopes for this purpose.

Due to the high customer transparency of the Internet, there is generally a high price pressure in Internet trade and specifically in the field of online video stores. To reduce costs it is therefore advantageous if the envelopes or dispatch units used can be prepaid at the lowest postage possible and the manufacture and use thereof can be made as cost-effective as possible. Thereby, the use of one and the same envelope for dispatch and return has proven to be especially suitable.

Accordingly, DE 203 10 755 U1 proposes an envelope as shown in FIG. 1. This envelope is formed of a foliaceous pre-cut blank with a back part and, adjacent thereto, side flaps 103L and 103R, a bottom flap 102 and a closing flap 107. In the areas 104L and 104R, the bottom flap 102 is glued to the back part through the side flaps 103L and 103R. Thus, a pocket 105 is generated between the portions 104L and 104R, wherein the CD or DVD 114 to be dispatched can be accommodated.

A perforation 108 extends transversely over the closing flap 107, such perforation dividing the closing flap into an upper section 107O and a lower section 107U. A franking imprint 112 (used in Germany) is located on the outer side of the upper section 107O, and the customer's address 111H for dispatch to the customer is printed on the outer side of the lower section 107U. A further franking imprint and the return address 111R of the lender is located on the respective positions on the bottom flap 102.

For dispatch to the customer, the closing flap 107 is folded along a fold line 106 and is attached on the bottom flap 102 by means of an adhesive strip 109U. For return dispatch, the customer tears the lower section 107U along the perforation 108 off the opened envelope, folds again the upper section 107O along the fold line 106 in the direction towards the bottom flap and attaches it on the bottom flap by means of a further adhesive strip 109O.

During outgoing dispatch and return dispatch, the Deutsche Post (German Postal Service) usually applies a bar code onto the envelope, underneath the address field 111H or 111R, respectively. It turned out that if the closing flap 107 is so short that during dispatch, the bar code is not printed onto the closing flap 107 but onto the bottom flap 102, confusions and corresponding unnecessary long dispatch times are caused. The bar code is then not removed by tearing off the lower section 107U along the perforation and remains visible on the bottom flap 102 also during return dispatch.

To solve the problem described above, DE 20 2004 010 844 U1 presents an envelope as shown in FIG. 2. Similar to the envelope of FIG. 1, this envelope is also formed of a foliaceous pre-cut blank with a back part 201, a side flap 203R, a bottom flap 202 and a closing flap 207. By gluing the bottom flap 202 to the back part 201 in the area 204L and by gluing the bottom flap 202 to the side flap 203R, a pocket 205 is formed again into which the CD or DVD to be dispatched can be inserted.

Also analogously to the envelope of FIG. 1, the closing flap 207 is divided by a transverse perforation 208 into an upper section 207O and a lower section 207U on which adhesive strips 2090 and 209U are located, which are covered by pull-off strips 210O, 210U. The height of the composite closing flap 207 substantially corresponds to the height of the back part 201, so that when the envelope is closed for dispatch, the entire or essentially the entire bottom flap 202 is covered by the closing flap 207. Thereby, the bar code of the Deutsche Post is printed during dispatch on the lower section 207U of the closing flap 207, and when the lower section 207 is torn off along the perforation 208, the bar code is removed as well. However, it is to be mentioned that the possibility that the closing flap 107, 207 extends over nearly the entire height of the envelope was already mentioned in the above document referring to FIG. 1.

For dispatch in the envelope of FIG. 2, the CD or DVD 214 is inserted into a protective cover 215 which is then inserted into the pocket 205 of the envelope. The protective cover 215 is also used for storing the CD or DVD 214 at the lender. This is supported by printing information on the CD or DVD in the data fields 216 onto the protective cover 215.

Both described envelopes of FIGS. 1 and 2 suffer from the disadvantage that the closing flap 107, 207 must be perforated. This increases the manufacturing complexity and therefore also the manufacturing costs. Besides that, the perforation 108, 208 holds the risk to be torn off too easily or too difficultly.

In the first case of a perforation 108, 208 that can be torn off too easily, the lower section 107U, 207U could be torn off already when imprinting or equipping the envelope. The envelope would then have to be replaced, which increases the manufacturing costs. In the second case it would be possible that in the attempt by the customer of tearing off the lower section 107U, 207U, the closing flap 107, 207 does not properly rip along the perforation 108, 208. Parts of the lower section 107U, 207U could then remain on the closing flap so that imprints 111R, 112, 211R, 213 necessary for the return dispatch would be covered. Parts of the upper section 107O, 207O could also be torn off, which would lead to the effect that the envelope can no longer be entirely closed. In the worst case, the envelope becomes unemployable for the return dispatch.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an envelope for mailing through the post at least twice, which reduces manufacturing and handling costs and which increases convenience for the user.

In one embodiment, the envelope of the present invention does not have a perforation of the closing flap, which makes the manufacturing process more simple and therefore reduces manufacturing costs. Besides that, the above described problems caused by a perforation are avoided, which also lowers the handling costs and makes the envelope more convenient for the user. Furthermore, the claimed envelope is also suitable for storing the dispatch content, e.g. of CDs or DVDs of a video store, which further reduces the overall handling costs.

Other aspects of the invention include:

the division of the closing flap approximately at a ratio of 1:1, so that the envelope can be prepared for dispatch particularly easily;

the simultaneous imprint of a dispatch address field onto the bottom flap and of a return dispatch address field on the second section of the closing flap, further accelerating the dispatch handling process and increasing user convenience;

an adhesive strip on the second section of the closing flap that closes the envelope for return dispatch in a manner that both sections of the closing flap come to lie upon the bottom flap, which enables a simple and safe preparation of the envelope for return dispatch;

the selection of a closing flap length that almost reaches the entire height of the bottom flap, avoiding the simultaneous visibility of the bar code of the Deutsche Post for dispatch and return dispatch;

an adhesive strip on the second section of the closing flap that fixes the closing flap on the back part of the envelope, allowing a simple and safe use of the envelope for storing the CD or DVD at the lender; and

the imprint of a data field or data fields onto the bottom flap with information on the content of the envelope, facilitating the processes necessary for storage (an additional protective/storage cover for the CD or DVD thereby becomes dispensable).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be explained on the basis of the figure drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation of an envelope known from the prior art;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation of a further envelope known from the prior art;

FIG. 3 is a front elevation of an envelope according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 showing it partially folded for printing;

FIG. 5 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 after partial folding and printing;

FIG. 6 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 being prepared for dispatch;

FIG. 7 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 ready for dispatch;

FIG. 8 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 showing the opening of the envelope by the addressee;

FIG. 9 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 being prepared for return dispatch;

FIG. 10 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 ready for return dispatch;

FIG. 11 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 illustrating a first step of opening the envelope by the addressee of the return dispatch;

FIG. 12 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 illustrating a second step of opening the envelope by the addressee of the return dispatch;

FIG. 13 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 3 illustrating a third step of opening the envelope by the addressee of the return dispatch;

FIG. 14 is a front elevation of an envelope according to a second embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 15 is a corresponding front elevation of the envelope of FIG. 14 prepared for dispatch.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The envelope in accordance with the present invention shown in FIG. 3 is formed of a foliaceous pre-cut blank. The envelope blank has a rectangular back part 301 to whose two shorter sides are connected the side flaps 303L (at a first lateral side of the back part) and 303R (at an opposite, second lateral side of the back part). A rectangular bottom flap 302 is joined to the back part at a third bottom side thereof, and a rectangular top closing flap 307 is joined to the back part at a fourth, top side thereof. By reversing the side flaps 303L and 303R and the bottom flap 302 and gluing the bottom flap 302 to the side flaps 303L and 303R, a pocket is formed in which one or several pieces to be dispatched can be received. The pocket is closed at the bottom by the fold between the back part 301 and the bottom flap 302. The top of the pocket between the free edge of the bottom flap 302 and the back part 301 is open for insertion of an object into the pocket.

In the present embodiment, the envelope was designed for the dispatch of CDs or DVDs of an online video store. In order to prevent such round dispatch pieces from sliding back and forth in the envelope, a side margin 304L of the bottom flap 302 is glued to the back part 301. The dimensions of the back part 301 and of the gluing area 304L were chosen such that the pocket 305 has an almost square shape and its side lengths are only slightly larger than the diameter of the CD or DVD to be dispatched. This CD or DVD can therefore move in the pocket with small tolerance only.

This effect may as an alternative also be achieved by a narrower selection of the gluing area 304L and by a further gluing of the bottom flap 302 to the back part 301 in the area of the side flap 303R. In other embodiments, the bottom flap 302 may also be glued to the back part along spaced gluing lines. Furthermore, one or both side flaps 303L, 303R can be deleted and the side edge portions of the back part 301 and bottom flap 302 can be glued directly to each other, leaving a top opening pocket of a desired size between the glued portions. Alternatively, by the gluing of the bottom flap 302 to the side flaps 303L and 303R only (without section 304L), a pocket 305 would be produced whose dimensions correspond to those of the back part 301. Such an embodiment may particularly be used if it is not CDs or DVDs that are to be dispatched but, for instance, documents. Other designs of the pocket 305 are also possible.

In the embodiment shown, the dimensions of the back part 301 are adapted such that the envelope corresponds to the standards of the Deutsche Post for a standard letter, which contributes to minimizing the required postage. Particularly, the back part has a width of 17 cm and a height of 12.2 cm. The gluing area 304L in the present example has a width of 4.5 cm so that the pocket 305 formed has a width of 12.5 cm and a height of 12.2 cm. Other dimensions are, however, also conceivable. The envelope could, for instance, correspond to standard measures or have any other dimensions.

By the special design of the closing flap 307 according to the present embodiment, the use of the envelope for mailing through post at least twice, i.e. successively to two different addressees is enabled. Mailing on the first dispatch way will sometimes hereinafter be designated as “dispatch” and mailing on the second dispatch way will sometimes be designated as “return dispatch”. These designations only serve for simplification and do not necessarily mean that the addressee of the second dispatch must be identical with the sender of the first dispatch.

As may be seen from FIG. 3, the closing flap 307 is divided into two rectangular sections 307I and 307A. The section 307A which is the “outer section” in FIGS. 6 to 8 is attached to a fold line 306 located at the transition from the top side of the back part 301 to the closing flap 307. The “inner section” 307I hereinafter designates the remaining part of the closing flap 307.

The two sections 307A and 307I are separated from one another by a further fold line 317. The fold line 317 divides the closing flap 307 according to the embodiment shown approximately at a ratio of about 1:1, i.e., approximately equal heights, measured from the fold line 306 to fold line 317 (part 307A) and from fold line 317 to the free edge of flap 307 remote from that fold line (part 307I). However, different embodiments are also conceivable, in which the two sections 307I and 307A have different proportions. Preferably, the inner section 307I will be only slightly shorter than the outer section 307A.

It is to be noted that the closing flap 307 in the present embodiment is neither perforated along the folding line 317 nor at any other position.

For closing the envelope for return dispatch, described in more detail below, an adhesive strip 309 is located on the inner section 307I and is covered by a pull-off strip 310. A further adhesive strip 318, which is also covered by a pull-off strip 319, is located on the bottom flap 302. By adhesive strip 318 the envelope is closed for dispatch, as will be explained with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7.

The division of the closing flap 307 makes it possible that the envelope can be imprinted in a simple working step with all data necessary for dispatch and for return dispatch. For this purpose, the inner section 307I is reversed in the direction towards the bottom flap 302 along the fold line 317, as may be seen in FIG. 4. According to the embodiment, the longitudinal free edge of the inner section 307I will come to lie approximately upon the fold line 306. In FIG. 5, the accordingly folded envelope of the embodiment is shown.

As may be seen in FIG. 5, the envelope can have different imprints 311H, 311R and 316 according to the illustrated embodiment. Particularly, the address 311H for the dispatch is printed onto the bottom flap 302. The reversed side of the folded inner section 307I is printed with the address 311R for the return dispatch. One or both of the two address fields 311H and 311R does not only include the address of the respective addressee but also a postage line for franking according to the regulations of the Deutsche Post on the respective dispatch way, and both areas are exposed at the same side (referred to as the “front” side or face, i.e., facing the viewer) after folding of flap 307 to the condition of FIG. 5.

Moreover, data fields 316 are printed onto the bottom flap 302 according to the embodiment, which can contain information on the CD or DVD to be dispatched. This may for instance be the title of the CD or DVD, its movie rating or further information in the form of a bar code. Similar or different information (not shown) can also be imprinted on different locations, e.g., on the inner section 307I.

The division and folding of the closing flap 307 according to the present embodiment makes it possible to apply all imprints 311H, 311R and 316 onto the envelope in a single working step and at the same side (front side) such as by one or successive printing platens or other imprint mechanism at the same side of an envelope to be printed. In this manner, a quick and cost-effective dispatch handling is enabled, without the risk of parts of the envelope, particularly the closing flap 307, being damaged or torn off, and without requiring multiple printing steps or expensive or complicated printing equipment.

Further, it is enabled to attach the data necessary for dispatch, e.g., the address or franking imprints 311H, 311R on locations which, when the envelope is closed, comply with the standards of the Deutsche Post for automated mail dispatch.

During dispatch by the Deutsche Post, a bar code is imprinted below the dispatch address field 311H. The size and positioning of the address field 311H is therefore chosen such that by the imprint of the bar code by the Deutsche Post neither the readability of the information contained in the address field 311H nor the readability of the bar code is affected. The positioning of the return address field 311R analogously takes this into consideration.

FIG. 6 illustrates the preparation of the printed envelope for dispatch. For this purpose, the pull-off strip 319 is removed from the adhesive strip 318. Subsequently, the closing flap 307, reversed already once according to FIG. 4, is reversed along the fold line 306 in the direction toward the exposed outer surface of the bottom flap 302. Thereby, the inner section 307I comes to lie upon the bottom flap 302 and the outer section 307A in turn comes to lie upon the inner section 307I.

By the adhesive strip 318, the inner section 307I is fixed on the bottom flap 302, whereby the envelope is sealed. According to the present embodiment, the adhesive strip is located slightly above the center of the bottom flap 302. It thereby fixes the inner section 307I in the proximity of the fold line 317 and is still fully covered by the inner section 307I. In other embodiments, the adhesive strip 318 may also be localized at a different position.

According to the embodiment, in the closed condition of FIG. 7, the return address field (311R) located on the inner section 307I is no longer visible for the dispatch. Further, the information fields 316 on the bottom flap 302 are now covered by the closing flap 307. The dispatch address field 311H also located on the bottom flap, however, remains visible for mailing on the first dispatch way. Thus, during dispatch, only the outer section 307A and the part of the bottom flap 302 on which the dispatch address field 311H is located are visible, whereas the inner section 307I and the part of the bottom flap 302 on which the data fields 316 are printed as well as the adhesive strip 318 remain covered.

FIG. 8 illustrates opening of the envelope at the addressee of the first dispatch way. In the configuration shown in FIG. 8, the sealing by the adhesive strip 318 has already been opened. If the adhesive is suitably selected, this may for instance be implemented in that the closing flap 307 is separated from the bottom flap 302, starting from an end of the fold line 317. The closing flap 307 is now further opened along the fold line 306 so that the dispatch pieces located in the pocket 305, e.g. CDs or DVDs, may be taken out of the envelope.

If the envelope is to be used again at a later date for dispatch on the second dispatch way, it is closed as shown in FIG. 9 after reinserting the CD/DVD to be returned. For this purpose, the closing flap 307 is opened again such that the inner section 307I is bent away from the outer section 307A along the folding line 317 until the sections are approximately coplanar. Moreover, the pull-off strip 310 is torn off the adhesive strip 309 located on the inner section 307I so that the opened closing flap 307 can be adhered to the bottom flap 302.

FIG. 10 illustrates the result of this process. The opened closing flap 307 was reversed along the fold line 306 in the direction towards the bottom flap 302 and was attached thereon by means of the adhesive strip 309. Thereby, the envelope is fully closed in a manner ready for return dispatch. Contrary to the dispatch, the address 311H printed onto the bottom flap 302 is now no longer visible. It is covered by the inner section 307I. Instead, the inner section 307I with the return address 311R printed thereon and the outer section 307A are visible.

According to the present embodiment, the closing flap 307 is slightly smaller than the bottom flap 302, so that parts of the bottom flap 302 remain visible on the sides and on the bottom. The length of the closing flap 307 was chosen such that the bar code imprinted by the Deutsche Post during dispatch is fully covered. Specifically, the closing flap of the present example is 12 cm long and thus 2 mm shorter than the bottom flap that has a height of 12.2 cm.

The envelope according to the embodiment is designed such that it can be used by the addressee of the second dispatch way, i.e., by the lender, for storing the CD or DVD located therein. For this purpose, the envelope is opened as illustrated in FIGS. 11 to 13.

First of all, the closing flap 307 is reversed along the fold line 306 away from the bottom flap 302, as shown in FIG. 11. Thereby, the adhesive strip 309 comes off the bottom flap 302. Subsequently, the inner section 307I is reversed along the fold line 317 in the direction in which the return address field 311R comes to lie upon the outer section 307. This can be seen in FIG. 12.

The accordingly folded closing flap 307 is then further reversed, according to FIG. 13, along the fold line 306 from the bottom flap 302 until finally the inner section 307 comes to lie upon the back part 301. The adhesive strip 309 that remained on the inner section 307I thereby fixes the closing flap 307 on the back part 301.

In this manner the envelope now forms a pocket open at the top, in which the DVD or CD can be stored. Since the closing flap 307 is fixed on the back part 301, the CD or DVD can be removed from the envelope easily and quickly, and particularly automatically. Thereby and, e.g., when the envelope with the CD or DVD is sorted for storage purposes, no loose parts are flapping, especially not the closing flap 307, since it is fixedly connected to the back part 301. Furthermore, the information imprints 316 are now visible again so that the information on the CD or DVD contained therein can be used for sorting. In this manner the two-way mailer is an additional protective or storage cover for the CD or DVD, since the envelope itself can be used for storage at the lender.

FIG. 14 shows the initial state of the envelope according to an alternative embodiment. Contrary to the example shown in FIG. 3, the adhesive strip for closing the envelope on the dispatch way is not located on the bottom flap 302. Instead, as can be seen in FIG. 15, the envelope is closed by means of an adhesive tape 320 which extends along the fold line 317 over the outer section 307A and the bottom flap 302. Thereby, the envelope is folded and printed as explained with reference to FIGS. 4 to 7. In either embodiment, it is preferred that a reusable, releasable adhesive is used.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.