Title:
Shielded retail packaging for transponder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A retail package for an activated transponder that prevents the transponder from receiving or responding to interrogation signals from a reader as the packaged transponder is shipped to retail outlets or while the packaged transponder in the possession of a retail purchaser but prior to the purchaser's intended use. The retail packaging includes shielding material to attenuate RF transmission sufficiently to prevent the accidental occurrence of a transaction, such as a electronic vehicle toll transaction. Once the transponder is removed from the packaging it may function normally.



Inventors:
Bianchini, Joe (Toronto, CA)
Moretti, Rino (Vaughan, CA)
Manuel, Paul (North York, CA)
Ho, Thua Van (Mississauga, CA)
Application Number:
11/150739
Publication Date:
12/14/2006
Filing Date:
06/10/2005
Assignee:
MARK IV INDUSTRIES CORP.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/461, 206/471
International Classes:
B65D73/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050269340Locking device for a toolboxDecember, 2005Chuan
20080073232System and method for reclaiming waste from diaper manufacture for the production of medical waste containersMarch, 2008Reshamwala et al.
20050178695Case with automatic openingAugust, 2005Petit
20080127456APPLIANCE INSTALLATION SYSTEM AND METHODJune, 2008Maunsell et al.
20080230432Blister PacksSeptember, 2008Bobbett et al.
20100043306Small memo boardFebruary, 2010Wajda
20080177240Pyrogen-Free Neurosurgical SpongesJuly, 2008Kemnitzer II et al.
20100024403High Density Storage of AmmoniaFebruary, 2010Johannessen et al.
20040134816Tooth brush sanitizer and rinsing cup holderJuly, 2004Smargisso
20100012536Accommodation Device For An Electronic Apparatus With a MonitorJanuary, 2010Winsche
20080073071Cableless air conditioner control system and methodMarch, 2008Zwicker



Primary Examiner:
REYNOLDS, STEVEN ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David M. Mundt (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A retail package for a radio frequency (RF) transponder comprising: a plastic package including a front half and a back half connected by an integral hinge along one side, the front half including a product bubble for containing the transponder; and a shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the transponder, wherein the shielding material attenuates RF signals to prevent the transponder from communicating with remote readers.

2. The retail package claimed in claim 1, wherein said shielding material comprises front shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the product bubble and back shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the back half of the plastic package.

3. The retail package claimed in claim 2, wherein said product bubble includes forward extending walls and a front face and wherein said front shielding material is disposed to cover said front face.

4. The retail package claimed in claim 3, wherein said front shielding material includes a cutout portion to expose a portion of said front face.

5. The retail package claimed in claim 2, wherein the transponder includes a front face and wherein said front shielding material comprises a metalized material formed as a cap to fit over said front face.

6. The retail package claimed in claim 2, wherein the retail package further includes a product information card disposed between the front half and the back half, said product information card including said back shielding material.

7. The retail package claimed in claim 1, wherein said shielding material comprises a metal alloy.

8. The retail package claimed in claim 7, wherein said metal alloy comprises an aluminum alloy.

9. The retail package claimed in claim 7, wherein said shielding material further comprises a substrate.

10. The retail package claimed in claim 9, wherein said substrate comprises paper.

11. The retail package claimed in claim 9, wherein said metal alloy is laminated on said substrate.

12. The retail package claimed in claim 1, wherein said shielding material includes an adhesive and wherein said shielding material is applied to said plastic package.

13. The retail package claimed in claim 12, wherein said shielding material is applied to the exterior of said product bubble.

14. The retail package claimed in claim 1, wherein the front half of said plastic package further includes at least one rib proximate a side of the product bubble, said rib projecting towards said back half when said plastic package is in a closed configuration, and whereby said at least one inward rib prevents a product insert from sliding out of the product bubble.

15. The retail package claimed in claim 14, wherein the product bubble includes a top side wall and a bottom side wall, and wherein said at least one rib comprises an upper rib disposed proximate said top side wall and a bottom rib disposed proximate said bottom side wall.

16. The retail package claimed in claim 14, wherein said at least one rib comprises a projection having an arcuate shape.

17. A packaged transponder for use in electronic payment transactions, comprising: a transponder for engaging in RF communications with remote readers to conduct electronic payment transactions; a plastic package including a front half and a back half connected by an integral hinge along one side, the front half including a product bubble for containing said transponder; and a shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of said transponder, wherein the shielding material attenuates RF signals to prevent said transponder from communicating with said remote readers.

18. The packaged transponder claimed in claim 17, wherein said shielding material comprises front shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the product bubble and back shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the back half of the plastic package.

19. The packaged transponder claimed in claim 18, wherein said transponder includes a front face and wherein said front shielding material comprises a metalized material formed as a cap to fit over said front face.

20. The packaged transponder claimed in claim 17, wherein said shielding material comprises a metal alloy and a substrate material.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to retail packaging for a transponder and, in particular, to shielded retail packaging that attenuates RF communications so as to prevent the transponder from communicating with a reader.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many toll roads offer the convenience of conducting toll transactions electronically with a vehicle-mounted transponder. Such an electronic toll collection (ETC) system provides for roadside readers at toll plazas or toll collection points in the roadway. A roadside reader communicates with a transponder in a passing vehicle using RF transmissions. The reader and transponder negotiate a toll transaction, often debiting a toll charge from an account associated with the transponder owner.

Such transponders are also useful in other applications besides electronic toll collection. Other applications may include automated parking transactions, automated drive-through payment, customs duties or charges, and a range of other applications.

Transponders for electronic payments, like ETC, are typically sold or distributed through retail kiosks or outlets. The transponders may be sold or distributed by the toll road authority or may be sold or distributed by third parties, such as convenience stores and gas stations.

In many cases, the transponders are sold in an activated state. Often, for promotional reasons, a transponder may be sold in an active state with a pre-authorized cash value stored in an associated account. For example, the transponder may be offered for sale having $20.00 of stored value to encourage purchasers.

A problem that arises with the retail distribution of activated transponders, or in the shipping or distribution of activated transponders from a manufacturer to retail locations, is that the transponder(s) may pass through a communication zone of a reader. As a result, the transponder may respond to a reader interrogation signal and the transponder and reader may conduct a undesired transaction.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a retail package for an activated transponder that prevents the transponder from receiving or responding to interrogation signals from a reader as the packaged transponder is shipped to retail outlets or while the packaged transponder in the possession of a retail purchaser but prior to the purchaser's intended use. The retail packaging includes shielding material to attenuate RF transmission sufficiently to prevent the accidental occurrence of a transaction, such as an electronic toll collection transaction. Once the transponder is removed from the packaging it may function normally. The packaging, or a portion thereof, may be retained by the retail purchaser in order to selectively attenuate signal to or from the transponder so as to prevent the occurrence of transactions.

In one aspect, the present invention provides a retail package for a radio frequency (RF) transponder. The retail package includes a plastic package having a front half and a back half connected by an integral hinge along one side, the front half including a product bubble for containing the transponder. The retail package also includes a shielding material disposed to cover at least a portion of the transponder, wherein the shielding material attenuates RF signals to prevent the transponder from communicating with remote readers.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from a review of the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying drawings which show an embodiment of the present invention, and in which:

FIGS. 1 to 3 show an embodiment of a retail package in closed configuration from various perspective views;

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of the retail package in an open configuration;

FIG. 5 shows a front view of the retail package in an open configuration;

FIG. 6 shows a sectional view of the retail package from FIG. 5 along the line A-A;

FIG. 7 shows a front view of an embodiment of the shielded retail package;

FIG. 8 shows a sectional view of the shielded retail package of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 shows a sectional exploded view of an embodiment of the shielded retail package;

FIGS. 10a and 10b diagrammatically show a perspective view of an embodiment of a shielding sleeve;

FIG. 11 shows a sectional exploded view of an embodiment of the retail package including the shielding sleeve of FIGS. 10a and 10b;

FIG. 12 shows a sectional exploded view of a further embodiment of the retail package;

FIG. 13 shows the electric field patterns of the transponder of FIG. 12 with and without the retail package of FIG. 12; and

FIG. 14 shows the magnetic field patterns corresponding to the electric field patterns from FIG. 13.

Similar reference numerals are used in different figures to denote similar components.

DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

Reference is first made to FIGS. 1 to 3, which show a retail package 10 in closed configuration from various perspective views. The retail package 10 includes a front half 12 and a back half 14 connected by a hinge 16. The front half 12 includes a product bubble, designated generally as 18. This configuration may sometimes be referred to as a “clamshell” package.

The retail package 10 may be created from a clear plastic so as to allow for visual inspection of the contents of the package and any product display information contained therein. In some embodiments, the retail package 10 may be formed from polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyvinylchloride. In one embodiment, the retail package 10 may be thermoformed using extruded plastic. In another embodiment, the retail package 10 may be created using an injection molding process. Those of ordinary skill in the art will be familiar with the creation of plastic clamshell retail packaging and the selection of appropriate materials and manufacturing processes.

Reference is now also made to FIGS. 4, 5, and 6. FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of the retail package 10 in an open configuration. FIG. 5 shows a front view of the retail package 10 in an open configuration. FIG. 6 shows a sectional view of the retail package 10 from FIG. 5 along the line A-A.

To assemble the retail package 10 for shipment and sale, the product, i.e. the transponder, is placed within the product bubble 18 and the back half 14 and front half 12 are hingedly brought together into a closed relationship. The walls of the product bubble 18 and the back half 14 hold the transponder in place within the retail package 10.

The front half 12 and back half 14 of the retail package 10 may be fixed in the closed position. In one embodiment, the front half 12 and back half 14 maintain a closed position by way of a friction fit. In another embodiment, the front half 12 includes front side edges 20 and a front top edge 22, and the back half 14 includes back side edges 24 and a back top edge 26, and the corresponding side edges 20, 24 and top edges 22, 26 are affixed to each other in the closed position. For example, the edges 20, 22, 24, 26 may be bonded using adhesive or may be welded together. Other mechanisms for affixing the front half 12 and back half 14 in a closed position will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art.

In one embodiment, the front half 12 includes a front planar portion 30 defining the front side edges 20 and the top edge 22 and a dished-out portion 32 for containing a product card, pamphlet, or other generally flat material. The back half 14 comprises an outer back planar portion 34 defining the back side edges 24 and the back top edge 26, an interior back planar portion 36, and a raised back ridge 37 encircling the interior back planar portion 36. The raised back ridge 37 fits within the dished-out portion 32 of the front half 12 when the retail package 10 is in the closed position. In one embodiment, the raised back ridge 37 may be sized to friction fit into the dished-out portion 32 to provide for a friction fit between the front half 12 and back half 14 while in the closed position.

The front planar portion 30 may be provided with an aperture 38 sized to allow for hanging of the retail package 10 on a rod or hook for retail display. A corresponding aperture 39 may be provided in the outer back planar portion 34.

Reference is now made to FIG. 7, which shows a front view of an embodiment of the shielded retail package 10, and to FIG. 8, which shows a sectional view of the shielded retail package 10 of FIG. 7.

The retail package 10 includes shielding material (shown individually as 40a and 40b). The shielding material 40 comprises a metalized material for blocking or attenuating RF signals. In one embodiment, the shielding material 40 comprises aluminum or an aluminum alloy. Other metals or metal alloys may also be used provided they have the property of attenuating RF signals.

The shielding material 40 may include a substrate material and the metal alloy. For example, the substrate may include a fabric (e.g. polyester) or paper material (e.g. cardboard). The metal alloy is laminated or applied to the substrate material to form the shielding material 40. In one embodiment, the shielding material 40 includes a cardboard product information card having an aluminum alloy laminated onto its back surface and displaying product information on its front surface. Such a product information card may be contained in the retail package 10, for example between the dished-out portion 32 and the interior back planar portion 36. Other substrates and methods of application, such as lamination, impregnation, etc., will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art. The method of application may be selected on the basis of the type of metal alloy, the type of substrate material, and the intended application.

In one embodiment, the shielding material 40 includes an adhesive applied to one side of the substrate. The shielding material 40 may therefore be adhesively affixed to the retail package 10. For example, in one embodiment, the shielding material 40 may be adhesively attached to the product bubble 18 and/or to the interior back planar portion 36, thereby shielding the contents of the product bubble 18 from incoming RF signals and attenuating outgoing RF signals. In one embodiment, the adhesive shielding material 40 may be applied to the exterior of the retail package 10. For example, the shielding material 40 may be affixed to the front exterior of the product bubble 18. In such an example, the shielding material 40 may be applied in the form of a removable label.

In some embodiments, the shielding material 40 may include more than one piece of shielding material 40, such as front shielding material 40a and back shielding material 40b, so as to shield more than one side of a transponder from RF signals. The front shielding material 40a may be disposed over a substantial portion of the front of the product bubble 18. The back shielding material 40b may be disposed over a substantial portion of the interior back planar portion 36. In one embodiment, the back shielding material 40b may be disposed over a part of the interior back planar portion 36 corresponding to the location of the product bubble 18 when in the closed position.

The front shielding material 40a may include one or more cutout portions 40c to allow for a user or customer to view a portion of the transponder contained within the retail package 10. The cutout portion 40c may be located so as to expose a barcode, serial number, or other product identifying or tracking feature. The location of the cutout portion 40c is selected so as to expose a desired view of the transponder, but to prevent substantial leakage of RF signals into or out of the retail package 10. Accordingly, the location of the cutout portion 40c is selected keeping in mind the location and orientation of the antenna within the transponder.

In one embodiment, the back shielding material 40b is applied to a product information card disposed within the retail package 10 in the region of the interior back planar portion 36. The product information card may be visible through the retail package 10 and may contain design logos, product trade-marks, pricing information, and other marketing or product information, especially in the upper front region visible through the surface of the dished-out portion 32 of the front half 12. If the back surface of the product information card does not feature any text or graphics, then the back shielding material 40b may be applied to a substantial part of the back surface. If the back surface is required for text or graphics, then the back shielding material 40b may be laminated between a front and back layer of paper or cardboard upon which the text or graphics may be printed.

Whether or not multi-sided shielding is necessary to prevent communications between a transponder and remote readers depends, in part, upon the layout and configuration of the transponder and, in particular, the location and configuration of its antenna. A transponder having a directional sensitivity of a particular orientation may only need shielding on one side in some embodiments. In many embodiments, shielding of the transponder on at least two sides may be advisable to prevent communications with remote readers. In some embodiments, placing shielding material 40 on three or more sides may be desirable. For example, shielding material 40 may be located on the sides of the product bubble 18.

Reference is now made to FIG. 9 in conjunctions with FIGS. 1 through 8. FIG. 9 shows a sectional exploded view of an embodiment of the retail package 10. The retail package 10 includes the front half 12, the back half 14, the shielding material 40. A transponder 50 is also shown. It will be seen that the transponder 50 features an exterior having a shape corresponding to the shape of the interior of the product bubble 18.

The shielding material 40 includes front shielding material 40a′ and back shielding material 40b. The back shielding material 40b includes a product information card 42 upon which a metal alloy 44, such as aluminum, is laminated. The front shielding material 40a′ is formed or shaped as a cap to fit over the front surface of the transponder 50 and within the interior surface of the product bubble 18.

The front shielding material 40a′ in a cap form may be sized so as to friction fit or snap fit over the face of the transponder 50. Advantageously, this permits the user to later use the front shielding material 40a′ to selectively shield the transponder 50 from communications once the remainder of the retail package 10 has been discarded.

The retail package 10 may further include a product insert 46 such as a booklet, owner's manual, warranty information, or other printed material. The product insert 46 may be placed in the retail package 10 under the transponder 50 so as to hide it from view while in the retail package 10.

To assemble an embodiment of the packaged product for shipping or retail, the front shielding material 40a′, the transponder 50, and the product insert 46 are placed in the product bubble 18, as shown in FIG. 9. The back shielding material 40b is placed either within the interior back planar portion 36 or within the dished-out portion 32 and the back half 14 is pivoted into the closed position and sealed.

Referring still to FIGS. 1 to 9, it will be appreciated that the product information card 42 may be constructed to have dimensions corresponding to the area of the interior back planar portion 36. In other words, when the retail package 10 is in the closed position, the product information card 42 is maintained in its position in the interior space defined by the surrounding raised back ridge 37, the interior back planar surface 36 and the dished-out portion 32. Thus, the text and graphics printed on the front surface remains visible through the upper front half 12 irrespective of the orientation of the retail package 10.

It will also be appreciated that the product insert 46 placed under the transponder 50 may slide out from under the transponder 50 if the retail package 10 is moved or shaken, such as in the course of transportation. The product insert 46 may then obscure a portion of the product information card 42 that is intended to be seen by consumers. Accordingly, in one embodiment, the retail package 10 includes downwardly depending retention ribs 52. Referring to FIGS. 4 through 9, the front half 12 may define a top rib 52a formed adjacent the upper wall of the product bubble 18 and a bottom rib 52b formed adjacent the bottom wall of the product bubble 18. It will be appreciated that the retail package 10 may, in some embodiment, include ribs 52 located at the sides of the product bubble 18 as well. In some embodiments, the transponder 50 itself features downwardly depending protrusions or features which serve as ribs at the sides of the product bubble 18.

The ribs 52 may, in one embodiment, be arcuate, although it will be appreciated that other shapes are also possible. The ribs 52 extend approximately the depth of the dished-out portion 32 such that, when the retail package 10 is in the closed position, the ribs 52 press the product information card 42 against the back half 14, leaving little or no space for the product insert 46 to slide upward or downwards in the retail package 10.

Reference is now made to FIGS. 10 and 11 which depict an embodiment wherein the shielding material 40 is employed in a sleeve-type configuration. FIGS. 10a and 10b show a perspective view of a shielding sleeve 140 for preventing RF communications with a transponder in a retail package. FIG. 11 shows a sectional exploded view of an embodiment of the retail package 10 including the shielding sleeve 140 of FIGS. 10a and 10b.

The shielding sleeve 140 is sized so as to slide over an end of the transponder 50. In particular, the sleeve 140 is intended to fit over an end of the transponder 50 in which the antenna 150 is disposed. The sleeve 140 thereby surrounds the antenna 150 location on five sides, nearly enclosing the antenna 150.

In one embodiment, the sleeve 140 includes an upper portion 142 and an extended back portion 144. The extended back portion 144 is intended to cover the underside of the transponder 50, whereas the upper portion 142 is intended to cover a portion of the top of the transponder 50, but leave a part of the transponder 50 exposed.

Reference is now made to FIG. 12, which shows a sectional exploded view of a further embodiment of the retail package 10. In this embodiment, the retail package 10 includes a shielding sleeve 240 adapted to slide onto an end of the transponder 50. In particular, the shielding sleeve 240 is adapted to slide onto the end of the transponder 50 containing the antenna 150. The retail package 10 further includes the back shielding material 40b.

The antenna 150 of the transponder 50 may be a mono-pole type antenna having sensitivity to metal and metal alloys in close proximity. In operation, the back shielding material 40b provides a relatively infinite grounding effect vis-á-vis the antenna 150. The shielding sleeve 240 provides additional RF attenuation. In particular, the shielding sleeve 240 serves to prevent multi-paths resulting from reflection and diffraction of RF signal paths.

By way of example, reference is now made to FIGS. 13 and 14. FIG. 13 shows the electric field patterns of the transponder 50 of FIG. 12 with and without the retail package 10 of FIG. 12. FIG. 14 shows the magnetic field patterns corresponding to the electric field patterns from FIG. 13.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. Certain adaptations and modifications of the invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the above discussed embodiments are considered to be illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.