Title:
Flexible bottle mouth insert
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An insert for placing in a bottle mouth for providing an improved interface for a person drinking a liquid from the bottle. According to one aspect, the insert has a flexible and resilient outer perimeter dimensioned so that the insert is an interference fit with the mouth of the bottle. The resilient and flexible characteristics allow a user to force the insert into the bottle mouth, thereby accommodating a range of bottle mouth sizes. A preferred insert material has a durometer in the range of 60-80. The insert is configured so that when installed in the bottle mouth, a first opening is provided for drinking that is smaller than the bottle mouth. The insert also provides for air intake into the bottle by way of either a second opening or an extension of the first opening.



Inventors:
Guyot, Joshua Numa (Palo Alto, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/173807
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
06/30/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/367.1, 220/713, 215/387
International Classes:
A47G19/22; B65D41/18; B65D51/16; B65D83/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRIS A. CASEIRO (PORTLAND, ME, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An insert for a bottle comprising: an insert for installing in a mouth of a bottle, wherein said insert includes material that is resilient and flexible, and said insert is configured so as to seal a substantial portion of said mouth upon installation in said mouth, said insert providing upon installation in a bottle mouth at least one first opening for passage of liquid from said bottle.

2. An insert as recited in claim 1 wherein said insert is configured to provide upon installation at least one second opening for air to flow into said bottle while a person is drinking from said bottle having said insert installed.

3. An insert as recited in claim 2 further including a wall defining a perimeter of said insert, wherein a portion of said wall is configured for an interference fit with said mouth of said bottle, requiring a user to push said insert into said mouth to facilitate said installation.

4. An insert as recited in claim 3 further including a base, and wherein said wall extends from said base.

5. An insert as recited in claim 4 wherein said wall extends from said base at an oblique angle.

6. An insert as recited in claim 4 wherein said wall includes a first inwardly bending portion, and said first opening is a space between said first inwardly bending portion and a rim of said mouth when said insert is installed in a bottle.

7. An insert as recited in claim 4 wherein said second opening is a hole having a first portion extending into a portion of said wall and a second portion into said base.

8. An insert as recited in claim 4 wherein said base slopes from a more upper portion of said wall to a lower portion of said wall.

9. An insert as recited in claim 1 wherein said first opening is a hole in said insert that substantially extends from a perimeter of said insert substantially toward a center of said insert, thereby providing for air passage into said bottle at a portion of said opening near said center of said insert.

10. An insert as recited in claim 6 wherein said wall includes a second inwardly bending portion and said second opening is a space between said second inwardly bending portion and a rim of said mouth when said insert is installed in a bottle.

11. An insert as recited in claim 6 wherein said second opening is a hole having a portion in said base and a portion in said wall.

12. An insert as recited in claim 1 further including a first wall defining a perimeter of said insert, wherein a portion of said first wall is configured for an interference fit with said mouth of said bottle, requiring a user to push said insert into said mouth to facilitate said installing.

13. An insert as recited in claim 12 further including a base wherein said first wall extends from said base.

14. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein said wall extends from said base at an oblique angle.

15. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein said wall includes a first inwardly bending portion, and said first opening is a space between said first inwardly bending portion and a rim of said mouth when said insert is installed in a bottle.

16. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein said insert is configured to provide upon installation at least one second opening for air to flow into said bottle while a person is drinking from said bottle having said insert installed.

17. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein said wall includes a first inwardly bending portion, and said first opening is a space between said first inwardly bending portion and a rim of said mouth when said insert is installed in a bottle.

18. An insert as recited in claim 17 wherein said wall includes a second inwardly bending portion and said second opening is a space between said second inwardly bending portion and a rim of said mouth when said insert is installed in a bottle.

19. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein said base slopes from a more upper portion of said wall to a lower portion of said wall.

20. An insert as recited in claim 16 wherein said second opening is a hole having a first portion extending into a portion of said wall and a second portion into said base.

21. An insert as recited in claim 13 wherein a perimeter of said first opening is surrounded in part by a portion of said first wall, and in part by a second wall extending from said base.

22. An insert as recited in claim 1 wherein said material has a durometer in the range of 60 to 80.

23. An insert as recited in claim 1 wherein said insert includes a tab for facilitating removal of said insert from a bottle mouth.

24. A drinking apparatus comprising: a) a bottle with a mouth b) a removable insert for installing in said mouth of said bottle, wherein said insert includes material that is resilient and flexible, and said insert is configured so as to seal a substantial portion of said mouth upon installation in said mouth, said insert providing upon installation in a bottle mouth at least one first opening for passage of liquid from said bottle.

25. A drinking apparatus as recited in claim 24, wherein a value of said resiliency and flexibility is selected so that said insert will be insertable with an interference fit in a first bottle mouth, and also a second bottle mouth that has an opening diameter about 96% of said first bottle mouth.

26. An insert as recited in claim 1, wherein a value of said resiliency and flexibility is selected so that said insert will be insertable with an interference fit in a first bottle mouth, and also a second bottle mouth that has an opening diameter about 96% of said first bottle mouth.

27. A drinking apparatus as recited in claim 25, wherein said value corresponds-to a durometer (Shore A scale) of between 60 and 80.

28. An insert as recited in claim 26, wherein said value corresponds to a durometer (Shore A scale) of between 60 and 80.

29. A drinking apparatus as recited in claim 25, wherein said value corresponds to a durometer (Shore A scale) of between 30 and 100.

30. An insert as recited in claim 26, wherein said value corresponds to a durometer (Shore A scale) of between 30 and 100.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed toward drinking bottles, and more particularly toward an insert for removable placement in a bottle mouth for facilitating drinking from the bottle, and wherein the insert is constructed of a flexible and resilient material and configured for accommodating a range of bottle mouth opening sizes.

BACKGROUND

Bottles of various sizes are made for use as drinking bottles or for other purposes. Those configured specifically for drinking often have a separate lid/cap or nozzle on the lid that can be opened and closed for allowing a person to drink from the bottle without removing the lid/cap. This is often inconvenient and unsanitary. No means is provided for keeping the cap portion clean that comes in contact with the user's lips. Also, there is generally no provision for return air into the bottle, and in addition the drinking opening in the lid or nozzle is necessarily small. Because of this, the rate that a person can drink from the bottle is limited, and often a frustration when the user is in a hurry, such as while peddling a bicycle. Generally, a user will stop, and remove the lid/cap from the bottle, exposing a fairly large bottle mouth. A relatively wide bottle mouth is highly desirable for providing access for cleaning the inside of the bottle, but it is not well suited for drinking. In the drinking process, some of the liquid can easily slip by the sides of the person's mouth. This is particularly true when the person is a small child, for example.

The present inventor's co-pending U.S. Application Ser. No. 10/409,699, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein, solved many of the above problems and dramatically advanced the state of the art by introducing a removable insert for use with such wide mouth bottles. When inserted into the mouth of such bottles, the insert allows splash-free drinking, and is adapted to frictionally fit within the mouth so as not to interfere with a separately provided cap. The prior invention has enjoyed commercial success and has greatly extended the use and enjoyment of wide mouth bottles.

The prior invention also contributed to an explosion in the popularity of wide-mouth bottles. Such bottles, typically made of a rigid and durable plastic material such as polycarbonate/LEXAN (PC), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), or polypropylene (PP), were initially popular with campers and hikers. However, this popularity has grown, thanks to the utility of the prior invention, to include various additional segments such as cyclists, fitness center members, and general consumers. Wide-mouth bottles are also being supplied by a growing number of vendors, including Nalgene®, GSI Outdoors, Outdoor Products, Pacific Cornetta, and others. Such bottles, though similar in material and overall design, can have various dimensions. This is a problem when inserts and/or bottles are lost or damaged, and when replacements are needed. Moreover, inserts that are initially sold and bundled together with bottles may be of inferior quality or utility, but replacement inserts sold by other vendors may not fit. It would be desirable if the advantages of the prior invention could be extended to a wider variety of bottles having various dimensions.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates to drinking bottles, and more particularly to an insert for placing in a bottle mouth for providing an improved interface for a person drinking a liquid from the bottle. According to one aspect, the insert has a flexible and resilient outer perimeter dimensioned so that the insert is an interference fit with the mouth of the bottle. The resilient and flexible characteristics allow a user to force the insert into the bottle mouth, thereby accommodating a range of bottle mouth sizes. A preferred insert material has a durometer (Shore A scale) in the range of 60-80, although 30-100 is possible. The insert is configured so that when installed in the bottle mouth, a first opening is provided for drinking that is smaller than the bottle mouth. The insert also provides for air intake into the bottle by way of either a second opening or an extension of the first opening.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 shows an insert of the present invention that has a wall, and a base having a single hole there-through.

FIG. 2 illustrates the insert of FIG. 1 installed in a mouth of a bottle.

FIG. 3 is a cut-away portion of a bottle for more clearly showing the installation of an insert with an insert base upwardly positioned.

FIG. 4A illustrates an insert wall tapering outward from a base.

FIG. 4B illustrates an insert wall tapering inwardly from a base.

FIG. 5 shows two holes in an insert base.

FIG. 6 illustrates an inwardly bending wall portion for forming an opening to a bottle.

FIG. 7 shows an insert with an inwardly bending wall portion and a hole having a portion in a base and a portion in a wall.

FIG. 8 shows an insert having two inwardly bending wall portions for forming two openings to a bottle.

FIG. 9 shows a wall completely surrounding a perimeter of a hole in a-base of an insert.

FIG. 10 illustrates a sloping base.

FIG. 11 shows an insert with a sloping base and an air intake hole that includes a portion of a wall and the base.

FIG. 12 shows an insert with a tab for facilitating removal of the insert from a bottle mouth.

FIG. 13 shown an alternate position for a tab.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the drawings, which are provided as illustrative examples of the invention so as to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Notably, the figures and examples below are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention to the embodiments described, but other embodiments are possible by way of interchange of some or all of the described or illustrated features. Moreover, where certain elements of the present invention can be partially or fully implemented using known methods, only those portions of the embodiments that are necessary for an understanding of the present invention will be described, and detailed descriptions of other portions will be omitted so as not to obscure the invention. Applicants do not intend for any term in the specification or claims to be ascribed an uncommon or special meaning unless explicitly set forth as such. Further, the present invention encompasses present and future known equivalents to the inserts referred to herein by way of illustration.

Generally, the present invention relates to bottle apparatus used for drinking liquids and more particularly to a flexible insert that can be placed in the mouth of a bottle for facilitating the drinking of the bottle's liquid content, and to a combination of a bottle and insert. One embodiment of an insert 10 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. The insert 10 has a flexible and resilient construction so as to enable a user to place or install the insert 10 into the mouth of a bottle having a range of diameters somewhat smaller than the corresponding mating surfaces of the insert. The embodiment of FIG. 1 accomplishes this objective with a structure in the shape of a circular pan having a side wall 12 and an integral base 14. The thickness of the wall 12 and base 14 and material that the insert is constructed of, are selected by design to be flexible and resilient, allowing the wall 12 and base 14 to compress and bend to allow the effective dimension “D” to constrict upon a user's forcing the insert 10 into a bottle mouth. A preferred materials for construction of the insert is silicone, although other food grade thermoplastic rubber materials are possible, especially if they demonstrate similar compression set properties as silicone. A range of possible material durometer (Shore A scale) values is from 30 to 100, though a range of 60 to 80 is preferred. In one example of the invention, an insert made of silicone has an outer diameter of 54 mm, a base 14 thickness of 2 mm and a wall 12 thickness of 2 mm and can be used with bottles having mouth sizes (i.e. the dimension “D”) ranging from about 51 mm to 53 mm.

The insert of the present invention provides a reduced area opening for passage of bottle liquid contents. The insert 10 of FIG. 1 is shown to have a hole 16 in the base 14, for allowing the passage of liquid. The hole 16 can be elongated axially across the diameter of the insert 10 in order to allow passage of liquid to the user in the area 18 near the wall 12. The area 20 near the opposite end of the hole 16 can serve as an intake for air to pass into the bottle as needed to replace the volume of liquid being removed. This is illustrated in FIG. 2 showing the insert 10 placed into a mouth of a bottle 22, and forming a drinking apparatus according to one example of the invention. Liquid in the bottle is shown at a level 24 being poured out 26. The hole 16 is shown elongated, having one end near the insert wall, and an opposite end approaching a center of the insert. This configuration allows air to enter the bottle 22 at the end 20 to replace the volume of liquid 26 leaving. Bottle 22 is preferably made of a rigid and durable plastic material such as polycarbonate/LEXAN (PC), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), or polypropylene (PP). For example, a 500 mL PC bottle from Nalgene® of Rochester, N.Y. that can form a drinking apparatus according to the invention has an inside mouth diameter of 52 mm. Similar bottles having the same or slightly different mouth diameters are available from Pacific Cometta, GSI Outdoors, Outdoor Products, American Recreation, Pro Spirit and PMI. One aspect of the invention is that a single insert 10 can accommodate most if not all of such wide-mouth bottles.

FIG. 2 shows an example wherein the insert 10 placed in a bottle mouth with base 14 downward into the bottle with the side wall 12 extending upward from the base 14. FIG. 3 shows an opposite installation of the insert 10 into a bottle mouth, with the base 14 upward and the wall 12 extending downward from the base 14 into the bottle 22. Generally, the bottle 22 will have threads 28 on the neck of the bottle for securing a cap 30 on the top of the bottle. The insert 10 of the present invention provides a sanitary interface for a user while drinking liquid. Prior art drinking bottles generally provide a hinged cap or sealable nozzle on top of the cap 30. In these prior art apparatuses, a user interfaces with the cap surfaces, which are exposed to the general environment and as a result are easily contaminated. The present invention solves these problems and others, and also allows the cap 30 to be secured in place while the insert is provided in the mouth, further keeping the drinking surface of the insert 10 clean and sanitary. Moreover, by being removable, the insert 10 can be cleaned apart from the bottle, which may not be dishwasher-safe. By being of flexible material, the insert 10 can also be used in a variety of bottles.

FIG. 4A is a side view of an insert 29 for description of an optional design feature of the insert wherein a wall 31 can be tapered at an oblique angle “A” from the base 39 for more easily fitting the insert 29 into a bottle's mouth. In one example, the angle “A” is approximately 2-3 degrees.

FIG. 4B shows an insert 33 with the wall 35 at an oblique angle “A” in the opposition direction as that of FIG. 4A, with the wall 35 directed inward upon extension from a base 37 which facilitates placing the insert in the bottle with the base upward, as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 illustrates an alternate embodiment of an insert 32, similar to the-insert 10 of FIG. 1, except having an additional hole 34 opposite a primary drinking hole 34, the hole 34 functioning as an air intake, or as an alternate opening for drinking the liquid from the bottle, in which case the hole 36 would serve as an air intake.

FIG. 6 is a further alternative insert 38 embodiment, similar to the insert 10 of FIG. 1 except the wall 40 bends inward at a position 42 preferably substantially opposite a hole 44. A user can drink liquid from either hole 44, or from the space/opening 46 provided between the inwardly bent wall and the bottle rim when the insert 38 is installed in a bottle mouth. For illustration, the dashed line 48 can represent a rim of a bottle's mouth. A useful feature of the inwardly bending portion 42 of the wall 40 is that it allows further flexibility and ease of compression of the maximum dimensions of the perimeter of the insert; i.e., for example, dimension “D.” As the insert is pressed into a bottle mouth, the inwardly bending wall portion 42 will move further inward, allowing the dimension “D” to decrease and accommodate a larger range of bottle opening dimensions.

FIG. 7 illustrates a further alternate embodiment. The insert 50 is similar to the insert 38 of FIG. 6 except that an inwardly bending wall portion 52 is larger, being configured as the primary drinking opening. A portion 54 of the wall 56 is configured to have a reduced strength for increasing the flexibility of the insert to more easily allow compression of the insert 50 to fit into a smaller diameter bottle mouth. The reduced strength portion 54 is achieved by cutting away part of the wall 56 forming a hole portion 58 through the wall 56 preferably opposite the inwardly bending wall portion 52, forming a rib 60 of reduced cross section and strength relative to the general area of the wall 56. The rib 60 can flex more easily than the more substantial wall portion that extends uninterrupted from the insert base 62. Alternatively, a second hole portion 64 can extend into the base 62 portion of the insert, providing for air intake to a bottle. As a further alternative embodiment, the hole 58 can be omitted leaving only the portion in the base, which can have a portion of the hole 64 perimeter coincident with the portion of the wall 56 for achieving a reduced strength portion 54, or the hole 64 can be non-adjacent. As a still further embodiment, the insert 50 of FIG. 7 can omit the inclusion of the hole portions 58 and/or 64.

FIG. 8 shows another insert 66 embodiment of the present invention, wherein the wall is inwardly bending at two places 68 and 70, preferably opposite each other. The dashed line 72 can, for example, represent an inner diameter of a bottle mouth. The use of the two inwardly bending portions 68 and 70 give the insert 66 greater flexibility, allowing it to be compressed so as to fit a larger range of bottle mouth diameters. The portions 68 and 70 provide openings 74 and 76 for either passage of liquid from the bottle, or for air intake to the bottle. The two portions 68 and 70 can be equal or different in size.

FIG. 9 shows a still further alternate embodiment of the present invention wherein an insert 78 is similar to the insert of FIG. 1 in having a base 80 and circular side wall 82. The insert 78.additionally surrounds the opening 84 with a portion 86 of wall 82, and an interior wall 88. The interior wall 88 may be of any height above the base 80, and of any configuration. The insert 78 may also as an alternative have a second hole 90 for air intake to a bottle.

FIG. 10 is another insert embodiment 92 that incorporates a combination of features described in reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, wherein the insert 10 can be inserted with the base either up or down. FIG. 10 has a first base portion 94 that is designed to be upward when the insert is installed in a bottle mouth. A second base portion 96 is positioned downward. The first portion 94 has a hole 98 for passage of liquid for drinking. The lower second base portion 96 has a hole 100 for intaking air into the bottle while a user is drinking, and also can serve to return liquid from hole 98 that spills over into base portion 96. The upper first base portion 94 has the advantage of providing a more smooth, comfortable interface with a user when drinking than the more abrupt edge of a bottle mouth rim and/or insert wall such as with the insert of FIG. 1 as installed in FIG. 2 with the base 14 downward.

FIG. 11 shows an insert 102, similar to insert 92 of FIG. 10, except for a larger hole 104 opposite the drinking hole 106. The hole 104 includes a portion 108 of the wall 110, and optionally also a portion 112 of the base 114. The reduced strength of the wall 110 provided by the hole portion 108 allows greater flexibility in the insert 102, and the hole portion 112 provides for an air intake to the bottle and for liquid spilled on base 114 to return to the bottle.

FIG. 12 illustrates a further embodiment of an insert 114 that includes a tab 116 protrusion from an upper portion of the insert wall 118. The protruding tab 116 is provided for a person to grip and pull the insert to remove it from a bottle mouth. FIG. 13 shows another insert 120 with a tab 122 configured as a protruding part of a rib 124; the rib 124 being formed by the placement of hole 126 in the wall 128. The tabs 116 and 122 of FIGS. 12 and 13 are given as examples. Other placements and configurations of tabs are also included in the spirit of the present invention.

Although the present invention has been particularly described with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, it should be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that changes and modifications in the form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Various embodiments of the present invention have been described, with each for demonstrating a particular element and its advantage. The present invention also includes any combinations of the features of one embodiment with another. For example, the tapered walls, as described in reference to FIGS. 4a and 4b, can be applied to any of the various embodiments disclosed. As a further example, the inwardly bending wall section as shown in various figures including FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 can be included in any of the other embodiments for any of the purposes described. Although the various insert embodiments are described as preferably constructed from resilient, compressible, flexible material with a durometer in the range of 60 to 80, other more or less resilient, compressible and flexible material can also be used. It is intended that the appended claims encompass such changes and modifications.





 
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