Title:
Decoration means for collapsible tube and bag retainers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A decoration means (22) for retainers of collapsible tubes and bags. A user of a toothpaste or similar tube will normally progressively coil, lap or fold the bottom end of the tube as the contents of the tube is used. The user of a plastic or other collapsible bag will normally progressive coil, lap or fold the open end of the bag as the contents is used. The retainer device is attached to the coils, laps or folds of the tube or bag, holding them firmly in place, thereby preventing any uncoiling, un-lapping, or unfolding. The current invention provides a means (22) to add decoration (100) to the retaining device and, in some cases, change the decoration (135) and (137).



Inventors:
Esch, John W. (Burnsville, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/177711
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
07/08/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/92
International Classes:
B65D35/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHOI, HYEA JUNG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John W. Esch (Burnsville, MN, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A decoration means comprising a. a means of retaining collapsible tubes and bags in their lapped, folded, or rolled state, b. a means for decoration, and c. said means of decoration made part of said means of retaining.

2. A decoration means comprising a. a retainer for collapsible tubes and bags, b. a member for decoration, and c. said member is attached to said retainer, whereby decoration can be added to said member.

3. The decoration means of claim 2 where in said member is a ridged surface extending beyond the surfaces of said retainer.

4. The decoration means of claim 3 wherein said surface is flexible.

5. The decoration means of claim 3 wherein said surface is of different shape.

6. The decoration means of claim 3 wherein a plurality of said surfaces are attached to different parts of said retainer.

7. The decoration means of claim 2 wherein said member is an integral part of said retainer.

8. The decoration means of claim 2 wherein said member is made of a different material.

9. The decoration means of claim 2 wherein said member is a clear laminated material already containing the decoration.

10. The decoration means of claim 2 wherein said member is a clip by which decoration can be added.

11. The clip of claim 10 wherein said clip is a clear spring sleeve into which decoration can be added.

12. The decoration means of claim 2 wherein said member is a clear flexible pouch with an opening through which decoration can be added.

13. The decoration means of claim 12 wherein said opening is a zip lock.

14. A decoration means comprising a. a jawed end clip retainer for collapsible tubes and bags comprising i. first and second clip members, each having a jaw, handle extending from the jaw, and fulcrum between the jaw and handle, ii. a spring, iii. the spring in pivotal engagement about the fulcrums of the opposing clip members so that, as the handles are squeezed toward each other, the jaws open, b. a ridged surface for decoration, c. said surface attached to the handle of the first member of said jawed end clip retainer, and d. said surface extending beyond said handle, whereby decoration can be added to said surface.

15. The decoration means of claim 14 wherein said surface is an integral part of said jawed end clip first member handle.

16. The decoration means of claim 14 wherein a second said surface is made part of said jawed end clip second member handle.

17. The decoration means of claim 14 wherein said surface is made of a clear laminated material already containing the decoration.

18. The decoration means of claim 14 wherein said surface is made of a thin clear spring sleeve into which decoration can be added.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to collapsible tubes and bags, specifically to providing a means of decorating retainers or clips that hold the lapped, folded, or rolled end of the tube or bag.

2. Priori Art

There is a wide range of products that come in tubes. These include toothpaste, glue, medicine, caulk, ointments, lotions, oils, salves, soaps, and creams. Almost any liquid, cream, or paste substance can be delivered in a tube. There is a similarly wide range of products that come in bags. These include food, hardware, and many kinds of small item merchandise.

Many of them, like toothpaste, glues, medicines, and food, deteriorate when exposed to air. Many tubes and bags “remember” their completely filled shape and naturally return to it if left open, drawing air into the tube or bag. Consequently, when stored till its next use, the tube or bag has air inside it contributing to the deterioration of the contents.

Other deformable tubes, instead of returning to their original shape, retain that into which they've been squeezed, resulting in an uneven, distorted tube out of which it is difficult to squeeze the last portion of the contents. This leads to consumer aggravation and product waste. For some tubes that don't crease, it is possible to smooth them out and the last contents gotten out by rolling the tube up. However, having to flatten the tube and to squeegee the remaining contents up to the end with the opening takes time and is aggravating to the consumer, especially if the tube doesn't stay rolled up and the consumer has to go through the same process each time.

Tube and bag retainers help by keeping a tube or bag rolled up. This prevents unwanted air from deteriorating or drying out the contents. In the case of tubes, it also makes it easy to squeeze out the next portion, and allows the consumer to use the entire contents of the tube.

Each retainer typically provides a small area or small handle for human grasping. None of them provide a good means for decoration such as a flat area containing a scene, picture, logo, or advertising.

There are many related patents for systems to automatically squeeze toothpaste or similar tubes, but these don't apply to the present invention because retainers are generally not used to squeeze out the contents but, rather, are used to hold the tube or bag in a lapped, folded or rolled up state. There are also many patents for such retainers, but none of them include decoration. The most relevant could be used to make the present invention by adding the decoration means.

The priori art for such retainers for collapsible tubes and bags is a very crowded field. There are some distinct basic ways of retaining the used-up state of a collapsible tube or bag. There are retainers that fit over the end of the lapped, folded, or rolled end of the tube or bag. These include 1) Jawed End Clips, where the user squeezes handles to open the jaws and place them over that end, 2) Slip-on End Clips that are typically made of one continuous, shaped piece of material, where the user slides the clip over that end, and 3) Side Clip retainers that fit through the middle of the tube or bag's lapped, folded or rolled end, around its side, and onto the unused side of the tube or bag. Another category of retainers is Windup Keys or other turning mechanisms that attach to or clamp onto the end of the tube or bag, help roll it up, and have a clip or other piece to help it stay rolled up. Other categories retain the flattened state of a tube or bag. These include Slide Retainers that have one or more slots through which the flattened portion is advanced to retain that state, and Clamp Retainers that have some mechanical or spring mechanism to clamp the flattened portion in the desired state. Some clamps for tubes also have a means to help dispense additional contents while advancing the flattened portion. Another category are Tab Retainers that attach to and stick sideways out from the closed end of the tube or open end of the bag and, after the tube or bag is lapped, folded or rolled, those tabs are folded over the back of the tube or bag to retain that lapped, folded or rolled state. Lastly, there are Housing Retainers that completely contain the tube or bag and have some internal mechanism to retain the flattened, folded or rolled state.

FIG. 1 shows examples of each of these categories of retainers as follows:

20 Jawed End Clip, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,677 to Dorman (1998),

30 Slip-on End Clip, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,549,221 to Conlee (1996),

40 Side Clip, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 6,749,087 to Robinson (2004),

50 Windup Keys, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,480,065 to Powers (1996),

60 Slide, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,071,036 to Kelly (1991),

70 Clamp, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,743,434 to Light (1998),

80 Tab, typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,732,854 to Ruben (1998), and

90 Housing, typified by U.S. Pat. No D315,842 to Tallman (1991).

The important point is that none of the retaining devices in any of these categories provides an explicit means of decoration. In FIG. 1, the handle of 20 and the other Jawed End Clips are not large enough for decorations like a scenes or pictures, the surfaces of 30 and other Slide-on Clips are not large enough for most decorations, the surfaces of 40 and other Side Clips are not large enough for most decorations, the retaining arms of 50 and other Windup Key Retainers are not large enough for most decoration, the edge of 60 and other Slide Clips probably can't be decorated at all, the backs of 70 and other Clamp Retainers are not large enough for most decorations, the tabs of 80 and other Tab Retainers are not large enough for most decorations, and the backs of 90 and other Housing Retainers can accommodate some decoration, but are not large enough for many kinds of decoration like scenes and pictures.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the present invention are that a simple attachment or extension of an existing retaining device can provide a means of decoration. Such lengthening and or broadening a surface by adding an extension part to an existing retainer's surface has the unexpected result of providing a means of decoration. This solves the unrecognized means of decoration problem that none of the many priori art patents anticipated and claimed. This is a crowed art with many retaining device patents. Adding an extension part for decoration is a significant difference from all of them. Such an addition to provide decoration has not been suggested by any of the patents examined and this adding a surface provides the decoration means advantage which wasn't appreciated. Toothpaste and other collapsible tubes and bags have been around a long time and yet retaining devices with decoration are still not in use. Those of ordinary skill in the art of retainer design, manufacture, or sales will appreciate from reading the present disclosure that the various embodiments described are new and novel.

Further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a means to decorate collapsible tube and bag retainer devices. It is a distinctly novel idea because it adds decoration means to a retainer device and no existing retaining device possesses such means.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a decoration means for all eight of the retainer categories listed above, Jawed End Clips, Slip-on End Clips, Side Clip, Windup Keys, Slide Retainers, Clamp Retainers, Tab Retainers, and Housing Retainers. Embodiments of the present invention also provide several distinct construction methods including extension instead of attachment, and surface, sleeve, or pocket. Other embodiments show a variety of sizes and shapes, such as rectangles, polygons, circles, and ovals.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIG. 1—Existing Retainer Mechanisms

FIG. 2—Preferred Embodiment, Jawed End Clip with Decoration Means

FIG. 3—Slip-on End Clip with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 4—Side Clip with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 5—Key Retainer with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 6—Slide Retainer with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 7—Retaining Clamp with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 8—Tab Retainer with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 9—Housing Retainer with Decoration Means Embodiment

FIG. 10—Various Proportions of Underlying Retainers

FIG. 11—Various Constructions of Decoration Means Embodiments

FIG. 12—Various Sizes of Decoration Means Embodiments

FIG. 13—Various Shapes of Decoration Means Embodiments

FIG. 14—Various Shapes of Decoration Means Embodiments, cont

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

20 Example Jawed End Clip retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,677

21 Jawed End Clip retainer handle.

22 Decoration Means for Jawed End Clip

24 Decoration Means as attachment to Jawed End Clip

26 Jawed End Clip retainer with Modified Proportions

30 Example Slip-on End Clip, U.S. Pat. No. 5,549,221

32 Decoration Means for Slip-on End Clip

34 Decoration Means as attachment to Slip-on End Clip

36 Slip-on End Clip retainer with Modified Proportions

40 Example Side Clip Retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 6,749,087

42 Decoration Means for Side Clip Retainer

44 Decoration Means as attachment to Side Clip

50 Example of windup key retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,480,065

52 Decoration Means for Windup Key Retainer

54 Decoration Means as attachment to Windup Key Retainer

60 Example Slide Retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,071,036

62 Decoration Means for Slide Retainer

64 Decoration Means as attachment to Slide Retainer

70 Example Clamp Retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,743,434

72 Decoration Means for Clamp Retainer

74 Decoration Means as attachment to Clamp Retainer

80 Example Tab Retainer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,732,854

82 Decoration Means for Tab Retainer

84 Decoration Means as attachment to Tab Retainer

90 Example Housing Retainer, U.S. Pat. No. D315,842

92 Clamp for over end of collapsible tube

94 Mechanism to control/advance collapsing of tube

96 Decoration Means for Housing Retainer

98 Decoration Means as attachment to Housing Retainer

100 Example Decoration

102 Example Decoration on back side

110 Example collapsible tube

112 Lapped, folded, or coiled part of collapsible tube

114 Different Example collapsible tube

115 Another Example collapsible tube

116 Example of partial collapsible tube

117 Another Example of a partial collapsible tube

118 Collapsed and flattened part of collapsible tube

120 Example collapsible bag

122 Lapped, folded or rolled part of bag

124 Collapsed and flattened part of bag

130 Decoration Means for Any Underlying Retainer

132 Decoration Means as Integral Part of Underlying Retainer

134 Decoration Means as Attached Part to Underlying Retainer

135 Decoration Means as Clear Spring Sleeve

136 Decoration Means with Clear Cover or Pocket

137 Zip-lock or Similar Means of Opening & Re-closing Pocket

138 Additional Decoration Means where Underlying Retainer allows it

140 Decoration Means as Previously shown, 32

142 Means of Decoration made longer

144 Means of Decoration made wider

146 Means of Decoration made smaller

150 Means of Decoration as square

151 Means of Decoration as rectangle

152 Means of Decoration as triangle

153 Means of Decoration as diamond

155 Means of Decoration as octagon

156 Means of Decoration as hexagon or other polygon

157 Means of Decoration as circle

158 Means of Decoration as oval/ellipse

DETAILED DESCRIPTION—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT—FIG. 2

FIG. 2 shows the preferred embodiment, a Jawed End Clip with decoration means embodiment. Jawed End Clips are comprised of two clip members that each have a jaw, handle extending from the jaw, and fulcrum between the jaw and handle. In addition to these two clip members, they are comprised of a spring mechanism, where the spring mechanism is in pivotal engagement about the fulcrums of the opposing clip members so that, as the handles are squeezed toward each other, the jaws open and, as the handles are released, the jaws close because of the spring. The spring mechanism can be a coiled spring, leaf spring, other elastic material, or even a rubber band.

The upper left portion of FIG. 2 shows an example collapsible tube 110 with collapsible end lapped, folded, or coiled 112 where the reference Jawed End Clip 20 has been applied. The upper center portion shows a perspective view of an example decoration means surface 22 with decoration added 100. The upper right portion of FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the preferred embodiment 22 attached to the handle 21 of reference retainer 20 which has been applied to the same collapsible tube 110. Note that the means of decoration 22 extends beyond the handle 21 of the retainer 20.

The lower left portion of FIG. 2 shows an example bag 120 with collapsible end lapped, folded, or coiled 122 where the reference Jawed End Clip 20 has been applied. The lower right portion of FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the preferred embodiment 22 attached to reference retainer 20 and applied to the same bag 120.

The preferred embodiment 22, shown in both the upper and lower right portions of FIG. 2, consists of a thin, rigid or stiff rounded, rectangular piece of plastic. The preferred construction is to attach the decoration means to the handle of an existing Jawed End Clip as 24 depicts. Manufacturer or consumer preferred decoration is then applied to the decoration means as depicted by 100. A variation of the preferred embodiment is for the decoration to be laminated to the decoration means surface.

OPERATION—PREFERRED EMBODIMENT—FIG. 2

The manner of using a Jawed End Clip retainer 20 with preferred decoration embodiment 22 is the same as that for using the retainer without the decoration embodiment. In particular, the handle parts of the Jawed End Clip are squeezed between the thumb and fingers, the retainer removed, the tube or bag lapped, folded, or rolled further, and the clip replaced.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION—ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS—FIGS. 3-13

Alternative embodiments of the present invention include application to each of the other retainer categories and variations in construction, size, and shape. The description of each is similar to that of the preferred embodiment, but abbreviated.

FIG. 3 shows a Slip-on End Clip with decoration means embodiment. The upper left portion shows an example tube 110, collapsed end 112, and reference Slip-on End Clip 30. The upper right portion shows the embodiment 32 attached to the reference retainer 30 and applied to tube 110. The lower left shows an example bag 120, collapsed end 122, and reference retainer 30. The lower right shows the embodiment 32 attached to reference retainer 30 and applied to the bag 120. The embodiments 32, shown on the right, consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 34 depicts and decorated as 100 depicts.

FIG. 4 shows a Side Clip with decoration means embodiment. The upper left portion shows a different example tube 114, collapsed end 112, and reference Side Clip 40. The upper right portion shows the embodiment 42 attached to the reference retainer 40 and applied to tube 114. The lower left shows an example bag 120, collapsed end 122, and reference retainer 40. The lower right shows the embodiment 42 attached to reference retainer 40 and applied to the bag 120. The embodiments 42, shown on the right, consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 44 depicts and decorated as 100 depicts.

FIG. 5 shows a Windup Key retainer with decoration means embodiment. The left portion shows an example tube 114, collapsed end 112, and reference Windup Key retainer 50. The right portion shows the embodiment 52 attached to the reference retainer 50 and applied to tube 114. The embodiment 52 consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 54 depicts and decorated as 100 depicts.

FIG. 6 shows a Slide retainer with decoration means embodiment. The upper left portion shows a partial tube 116, collapsed portion 118, and two views of the reference Slide retainer 60. The upper right portion shows the embodiment 62 attached to the reference retainer 60 and applied to tube 116. The lower left shows an example bag 120, flattened end 124, and reference retainer 60. The lower right shows the embodiment 62 attached to reference retainer 60 and applied to the bag 120. The embodiments 62, shown on the right, consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 64 depicts and decorated as 100 depicts.

FIG. 7 shows a Clamp retainer with decoration means embodiment. The left portion shows another example tube 115, collapsed end 118, and reference Clamp retainer 70. The right portion shows the embodiment 72 attached to the reference retainer 70 and applied to tube 115. The embodiment 72 consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 74 depicts and decorated on the back side as 102 depicts.

FIG. 8 shows a Tab retainer with decoration means embodiment. The upper left portion shows a partial tube 117, collapsed portion 112, and the reference Tab retainer 80. The upper right portion shows the embodiment 82 attached to the reference retainer 80 and applied to tube 117. The lower left shows an example bag 120, flattened end 122, and reference retainer 80. The lower right shows the embodiment 82 attached to reference retainer 80 and applied to the bag 120. The embodiments 82, shown on the right, consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 84 depicts and decorated as 100 depicts.

FIG. 9 shows a Housing retainer with decoration means embodiment. The left portion shows a Housing retainer 90 with clamp 92 for over a collapsible tube (not shown) and mechanism 94 for control of collapsing a tube. The right portion shows the embodiment 96 attached to the reference retainer 90. The embodiment 96 consists of the same piece of plastic attached to an existing retainer as 98 depicts and decorated on the back side as 102 depicts.

FIGS. 2 through 9 have shown the decoration means embodiments for a reference example of each of the eight categories of retainers. Importantly, these embodiments are not limited to the reference example for each category, but apply to all priori art of that category. Additionally, such embodiments also apply to other categories or other kinds of retainers not mentioned here for which such decoration means could be added. Furthermore, variations like those described in the following paragraphs also apply.

FIG. 10 show variations of the underlying retainer. In the upper half of FIG. 10 are shown example collapsible tube 110, example collapsed part of that tube 112, and decoration means for any underlying retainer 130. The upper left shows the reference Jawed End Clip 20 while the upper right shows a variation of it 26 where the jaws have been modified to be the same width as the handles.

The bottom part of FIG. 10 shows example bag 120, example collapsed part of the bag 122, and the same decoration means for any underlying retainer 130. The lower left shows the reference Slip-on Clip 30 while the lower right shows a variation of it 36 where the width of the clip has been widened to match the proportions of a bag as opposed to a tube.

The variations shown in FIG. 10 are intended to be examples of many different kinds of variations, such as scale, proportions, dimensions, materials, color, etc., that are possible 1) in the underlying retainers shown, 2) in all retainers in each of the eight retainer categories, and 3) in other categories or other kinds of retainers not mentioned here for which such decoration means could be added to those modified retainers.

FIG. 11 show variations of the means of construction relative to the preferred embodiment of the means of decoration 30 with attachment construction 34 that are shown in the upper right part of FIG. 3. Each quadrant of FIG. 11 shows additional different means of decoration construction and application to a collapsible tube 110. The upper left shows the means of decoration 130 as an integral part of the underlying retainer's construction 134. The upper right shows the means of decoration 135 as a thin clear spring sleeve into which decoration can be slipped and subsequently changed as desired, rather than permanently affixed. The clear spring sleeve is a variation of a Slip-on or Side Clip retainer. Alternatively, the means of decoration could also be a variation of a Jawed End Clip retainer.

The lower left part of FIG. 11 shows the means of decoration 130 augmented with zip-lock 137 like clear cover or bag 136 into which decoration can be added or changed as desired, rather than permanently affixed. The orientation of the zip-lock can be anywhere on the front or back of the bag 136. And the lower right shows the means of decoration 130 augmented by a second means of decoration 138 where the underlying retainer allows it, such as Jawed End Clips which have two handles.

In addition to different construction techniques, different construction materials are possible, such as plastic, metal, cardboard, glass, wood, or a combination of them. Furthermore, the decoration surface may be ridged, semi-ridged, or flexible. Also possible are laminated versions of these that include the decoration.

The variations shown in FIG. 11 are intended to be examples of many different kinds of construction that are possible relative 1) to the underlying retainers shown, 2) to all retainers in each of the eight retainer categories, and 3) to other categories or other kinds of retainers not mentioned here for which such decoration means could be added to those retainers.

FIG. 12 show variations of the size of the decoration means. Each quadrant shows a different means of decoration construction and application to a collapsible tube 110 or bag 120. The upper left shows the means of decoration 140 as was shown in previous figures. The upper right shows the means of decoration 142 made longer. The lower left shows the means of decoration 144 made wider. And the lower right shows the means of decoration 146 made smaller.

The variations shown in FIG. 12 are intended to be examples of many different sizes that are possible relative 1) to the underlying retainers shown, 2) to all retainers in each of the eight retainer categories, and 3) to other categories or other kinds of retainers not mentioned here for which such decoration means could be added to those retainers.

FIGS. 13 and 14 show variations of the shape of the decoration means. In FIG. 13, the upper left shows the means of decoration as a square 150, the upper right shows it as a rectangle 151, the lower left shows it as a triangle 152, and the lower right shows it as a diamond 153. In FIG. 14, the upper left shows the means of decoration as a octagon 155, the upper right shows it as a hexagon 156, the lower left shows it as a circle 157, and the lower right shows it as an oval 158.

The variations shown in FIGS. 13 and 14 are intended to be examples of many different shapes that are possible relative 1) to the underlying retainers shown, 2) to all retainers in each of the eight retainer categories, and 3) to other categories or other kinds of retainers not mentioned here for which such decoration means could be added to those retainers.

CONCLUSIONS, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE

The reader will see that, according to the description of the invention, I have provided a new and heretofore un-described means of decorating all categories of collapsible tube and bag retainers, irrespective of dimension-like variations of those underlying retainers. I have provided a description of various means of construction, like attachment, integration, clear covers, and/or dual decorations, and of different sizes and shapes, none of which are mentioned in the priori art.

While the above description contains many specifications, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the present invention, but as exemplifications of the presently preferred embodiments thereof. Many other ramifications and variations are possible within the teachings of the invention. Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, and not by the examples given.