Title:
Cup Lid Having a Sliding Stopper
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A resealable cup lid comprising a base cup lid having a drink-through opening formed therein in a planar top portion thereof, and a sliding stopper associated therewith so as to selectively provide a sealed and unsealed relationship between said drink-through opening and said sliding stopper. The sliding stopper is a planar and rigid element preferably having a pair of posts upstanding therefrom near the ends thereof, and having an opening therein so that, when aligned with said drink-through opening, a liquid passage through said opening in said sliding stopper and through said drink-through opening formed in the base cup lid, is provided. The sliding stopper can be moved to a closed position wherein the opening in the sliding stopper and the drink-through opening in the base cup lid, are not aligned. The pair of posts on said sliding stopper limit movement of the sliding stopper by being placed in a pair of arcuate openings on the planar top portion of the base cup lid. An easily operated resealable cup lid is provided.



Inventors:
Durdon, Terrance N. (Guelph, CA)
Sharma, Sumit (Brampton, CA)
Lubbe, Pieter W. (Mississauga, CA)
Application Number:
11/457625
Publication Date:
01/18/2007
Filing Date:
07/14/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/254.4, 220/713, 220/714, 220/719, 229/404, 229/906.1
International Classes:
B65D51/18; A47G19/22; B65D3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ridout & Maybee LLP (Burlington, ON, CA)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A resealable cup lid comprising a base cup lid having a drink-through opening formed therein in a planar top portion thereof, and a sliding stopper associated therewith so as to selectively provide a sealed and unsealed relationship between said drink-through opening and said sliding stopper; wherein said sliding stopper is a substantially planar and rigid element, and having at least one post upstanding therefrom, and having an opening therein so that, when aligned with said drink-through opening, a liquid passage through said opening in said sliding stopper and through said drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid, is provided; wherein at least one arcuate opening is formed through said planar top portion of said base cup lid and arcuately spaced from said drink-through opening; wherein said at least one arcuate opening has a predetermined length and width; wherein the length of said arcuate opening is greater than the length of said drink-through opening; wherein said at least one post has a cross-sectional thickness which can pass through and be accommodated by the width of said arcuate opening, and wherein said post has an upper head formed thereon having at least a width which is greater than the predetermined width of said arcuate opening; whereby when said sliding stopper is in a first position, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are aligned so as to provide a liquid passage therethrough; and when said sliding stopper is in a second position, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are no longer aligned and the planar rigid element of said sliding stopper provides a seal against said drink-through opening.

2. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 comprising at least 2 posts, and having a corresponding number of arcuate openings

3. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 comprising a pair of posts and a pair of arcuate openings.

4. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said sliding stopper has an arcuate form.

5. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein when said sliding stopper is in said first position, said pair of posts are each at a first end of said pair of arcuate openings, and when said sliding stopper is in said second portion, said pair of posts are each at a second end of said pair of arcuate openings.

6. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said sliding stopper is fitted to the underside of said base cup lid.

7. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said opening in said sliding stopper is at least the same size as the drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid.

8. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said opening in said sliding stopper is a baffle.

9. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said sliding stopper is manufactured by injection molding.

10. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said base cup lid and/or said sliding stopper is thermoformed from an extruded plastic sheet material.

11. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 1 wherein said base cup lid and/or said sliding stopper are manufactured from, or are covered with, temperature indicating materials or coatings.

12. A resealable cup lid as claimed in claim 11 wherein said temperature indicating materials or coatings comprise a thermochromatic material.

13. A resealable cup lid comprising a base cup lid having a drink-through opening formed therein in a planar top portion thereof, and a sliding stopper associated therewith so as to selectively provide a sealed and unsealed relationship between said drink-through opening and said sliding stopper; wherein said sliding stopper is a planar and rigid element having an arcuate form, and having a pair of posts upstanding therefrom near the ends thereof, and having an opening which is at least the same size as the drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid so that, when aligned therewith, a liquid passage through said opening in said sliding stopper and through said drink-through opening in said base cup lid is provided; wherein a pair of arcuate openings are formed through said planar top portion of said base cup lid and arcuately spaced from said drink-through opening at each side thereof; wherein each of said pair of arcuate openings has a predetermined length and width; wherein the length of each of said pair of arcuate openings is greater than the length of said drink-through opening; wherein each of said pair of posts has a cross-sectional thickness which can pass through and be accommodated by the width of said arcuate openings, and wherein each of said pair of posts has an upper head formed thereon having at least a width which is greater than the predetermined width of said pair of arcuate openings; whereby when said sliding stopper is in a first position, so that said pair of posts are each at a first end of said pair of arcuate openings, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are aligned so as to provide a liquid passage therethrough; and when said sliding stopper is in a second position, so that said pair of posts are each at a second end of said pair of arcuate openings, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are no longer aligned and the planar rigid element of said sliding stopper provides a seal against said drink-through opening.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/699,395 filed on Jul. 15, 2005, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to cup lids, and particularly relates to cup lids which have two independent parts, which parts cooperate one with the other to provide a resealable drink-through opening formed in the cup lid.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Beverages have been dispensed for many years in disposable cups, and typically each disposable cup is provided with a disposable lid. Very often, after the beverage has been obtained from the vendor or dispenser, and has been covered with the lid, it is carried by the consumer to another place where the beverage will be consumed. At that time, the consumer may choose to remove and dispose of the lid, or retain it for future replacement over the cup, or a portion of the lid may be folded back from the rim of the cup to provide an opening through which the beverage maybe consumed. Other lids are provided, particularly of the dome lid variety which are used to cover hot beverages such as coffee or cappuccino, and which extend above the rim of the cup. Often, those dome lids have a drink-through opening which is punched into a planar portion of the cup lid above the plane of the rim of the cup. Consequently, the drink-through opening is permanently open.

In many circumstances, such as in sports stadia and the like, where there are likely to be crowds in the area where beverages are being dispensed, and where very often a consumer will obtain more than one beverage at a time for himself and/or his companions, and where there is risk of spillage of the beverage should the cup lid be removed from the cup, it is desirable for there to be a drink-through opening in the cup lid which can be resealed at times when the beverage is not being consumed. This has several advantages, including reducing the risk of spillage as a consequence of being jostled or the like, and in the case where the beverage is a hot beverage, cooling of the beverage is retarded if the cup lid has been resealed.

Indeed, it is particularly for the reason that there is a risk of spillage of a hot beverage through the drink-through opening that the present invention seeks to provide a cup lid having a drink-through opening that can be selectively sealed and resealed at will. This feature is particularly advantageous in the many instances where cups of a hot beverage are dispensed through a sales or delivery window to a waiting driver in a vehicle who is making his/her purchase at a so-called drive-through window. There may be a significant difference in elevation between the service window and that of the vehicle, or there may be inclement or windy weather, or other reasons including inattention, carelessness, or accident, where hot beverage might spill over the hands of either the service person or the customer through an unsealed drink-through opening in a cup lid covering the beverage.

For that purpose, the present invention provides a cup lid which can be unsealed so as to provide free access to the drink-through opening, but which can be resealed so as to provide a liquid seal to preclude spillage, as well as to retard cooling of the beverage in the event that it is a hot beverage.

The prior art which is known to the Applicant herein, which has to do with cup lids having drink-through openings and sealing or cover arrangements therefore, but which is not believed otherwise to be relevant to the present invention, is as follows, U.S. Pat. No. 4,795,052; U.S. Pat. No. 6,644,490; U.S. Design Pat. No. D478006; U.S. Design Pat. No. D480968; Published United States Patent Application 2002/0170912; Published United States Patent Application 2003/0024929 (and its Continuation 2003/0197012 and its Division 2004/0035868); Published United States Patent Application 2003/0024930; Published United States Patent Application 2003/0089713; Published United States Patent Application 2003/0089714; Published United States Patent Application 2006/0027588, Published United States Patent Application 2004/0094549, and Published United States Patent Application 2006/0096983.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is a principal objective of the present invention to provide a simple, cost effective method to temporarily close the drink-through opening of a cup lid. It is a further objective of the present invention to provide a cup closure system that can easily added or removed from a conventional cup lid.

The advantages set out hereinabove, as well as other objects and goals inherent thereto, are at least partially or fully provided by the cup lid and sliding stopper combination of the present invention, as set out herein below.

Accordingly, in one aspect, the present invention provides a resealable cup lid comprising a base cup lid having a drink-through opening formed therein in a planar top portion thereof, and a sliding stopper associated therewith so as to selectively provide a sealed and unsealed relationship between said drink-through opening and said sliding stopper;

wherein said sliding stopper is a substantially planar and rigid element, preferably having an arcuate form, and having at least one post upstanding therefrom, and having an opening which preferably is at least the same size as the drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid so that, when aligned with said drink-through opening, a liquid passage through said opening in said sliding stopper and through said drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid, is provided;

wherein at least one arcuate opening is formed through said planar top portion of said base cup lid and arcuately spaced from said drink-through opening;

wherein said at least one arcuate opening has a predetermined length and width;

wherein the length of said arcuate opening is greater than the length of said drink-through opening;

wherein said at least one post has a cross-sectional thickness which can pass through and be accommodated by the width of said arcuate opening, and wherein said post has an upper head formed thereon having at least a width which is greater than the predetermined width of said arcuate opening;

whereby when said sliding stopper is in a first position, preferably so that said at least one post is at a first end of said arcuate opening, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are aligned so as to provide a liquid passage therethrough; and when said sliding stopper is in a second position, preferably so that said at least one post is at a second end of said arcuate opening, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are no longer aligned and the planar rigid element of said sliding stopper provides a seal against said drink-through opening.

A particular feature of the present invention is that the sliding stopper element is manufactured separately from the base cup lid but is assembled thereto so as to provide a resealable cup lid where the resealing and/or unsealing motion of the sliding stopper is very easily achieved by relatively slight movement of a finger or thumb of the hand of the person holding a cup with a beverage contained therein and being covered by the resealable cup lid of the present invention.

The sliding stopper can be manufactured with only one post if the sliding stopper is sufficiently rigid, or the like, but preferably, the sliding stopper has 2 or more posts. The number of arcuate openings adapted to receive the posts, therefore preferably corresponds to the number of posts. As such, in a most preferred embodiment, there are a pair of posts upstanding from the sliding stopper and the posts are each located near the two ends of the sliding stopper. Consequently, there are a pair of arcuate openings which are formed through said planar top portion of the base cup lid and are arcuately spaced from the drink-through opening at each side thereof.

As such, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a resealable cup lid comprising a base cup lid having a drink-through opening formed therein in a planar top portion thereof, and a sliding stopper associated therewith so as to selectively provide a sealed and unsealed relationship between said drink-through opening and said sliding stopper;

wherein said sliding stopper is a planar and rigid element having an arcuate form, and having a pair of posts upstanding therefrom near the ends thereof, and having an opening which is at least the same size as the drink-through opening formed in said base cup lid so that, when aligned therewith, a liquid passage through said opening in said sliding stopper and through said drink-through opening in said base cup lid is provided;

wherein a pair of arcuate openings are formed through said planar top portion of said base cup lid and arcuately spaced from said drink-through opening at each side thereof;

wherein each of said pair of arcuate openings has a predetermined length and width;

wherein the length of each of said pair of arcuate openings is greater than the length of said drink-through opening;

wherein each of said pair of posts has a cross-sectional thickness which can pass through and be accommodated by the width of said arcuate openings, and wherein each of said pair of posts has an upper head formed thereon having at least a width which is greater than the predetermined width of said pair of arcuate openings;

whereby when said sliding stopper is in a first position, so that said pair of posts are each at a first end of said pair of arcuate openings, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are aligned so as to provide a liquid passage therethrough; and when said sliding stopper is in a second position, so that said pair of posts are each at a second end of said pair of arcuate openings, said opening in said sliding stopper and said drink-through opening in said base cup lid are no longer aligned and the planar rigid element of said sliding stopper provides a seal against said drink-through opening.

The present application is primarily directed to a resealable cup lid that is disposable, and is intended for use on a disposable cup. The liquid contents of the cup are essentially prevented from being removed from the cup once the resealable cup lid has sealed the cup. It is to be noted that the seal is provided by the sliding stopper which moves arcuately between an open and a closed position, which positions are preferably defined by the limits of travel for a pair of posts formed on the sliding stopper element and which slide arcuately within arcuate openings formed at each side of the drink-through opening in the base cup lid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of this invention will now be described byway of example only in association with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a resealable cup lid having a sliding stopper which has been moved to the open position;

FIG. 2 shows a resealable cup lid having a sliding stopper which has been moved to the closed position;

FIG. 3 shows the sliding stopper element, in more detail;

FIG. 4 is a cross-section showing a portion of the sliding stopper element and a portion of the base cup lid, and their relationship one to the other;

FIG. 5 is a cross-section showing a portion of an alternative embodiment of the sliding stopper element and base cup lid; and

FIG. 6 shows a further embodiment of the sliding stopper.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the present invention, as to its structure, organization, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following drawings in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example only. In the drawings, like reference numerals depict like elements.

It is expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, it will be seen that the sliding stopper element 12 (shown in outline) is fitted to the underside of a base cup section 11, to form a resealable cup lid 10, and in particular, a dome lid. Base cup lid 11 has a drink-through opening 20 formed in a planar portion 14 thereof. It will be understood the sliding stopper element 12 is substantially planar except for, in this embodiment, a pair of posts 16 which are formed near the ends thereof, and each of which has an upper head 18 formed thereon. While the number of posts can vary, the preferred embodiment of the present invention has two posts, and the remainder of this discussion will be related to sliding stopper elements 12 having a pair of posts.

Sliding stopper element 12 can be injection molded from a plastic material so as to have rigidity in a planar direction, and so as to have structural integrity between the planar portion of the sliding stopper element 12 and the pair of posts 16 which are formed at the ends thereof. Sliding stopper element 12 has an overall arcuate shape, which generally follows the shape of planar portion 14, as is seen in FIG. 3.

An opening 22 is formed through the thickness of the sliding stopper element 12. Its size is such that when it is aligned with the drink-through opening 20, it is preferably at least the same size as or slightly greater than the drink-through opening 20 so as to provide a liquid passage through the openings 22 and 20. However, it is also of such a size that when the opening 22 is not aligned with the drink-through opening 20, there is no liquid passage that is provided, and therefore the drink-through opening 20 is sealed. The opening 22 may be formed in the sliding stopper element 12 before it is assembled to the base cup lid 11; or alternatively, the sliding stopper element 12 and the base cup lid 11 may be assembled one to the other and then the openings 20 and 22 maybe punched at the same time.

In any event, the length of the drink-through opening 20 is less than the length of the pair of arcuate openings 24 in base cup lid 11, which are formed one at each side of the drink-through opening 20, and through which the posts 16 extend and over which the upper heads 18 of the posts overlie. As best seen in FIG. 4, it will be understood that the cross-sectional dimension of the posts 16 is less than the width of the arcuate openings 24 so that the posts may slide therein; whereas at least the widths of the upper heads 18 is greater than the width of the arcuate openings 24 so as to preclude disassembly of the sliding stopper element 12 from base cup lid 11 once they have been assembled together. That width is not so great, however, that a relatively minor amount of force against the bottom of the sliding stopper element 12 will permit passage of the upper heads 18 though the arcuate openings 24, taking advantage of the typically relative flimsiness and elasticity of material of the base cup lid 11, as well as the upwardly sloping configuration of the tops of the upper heads 18.

Sliding stopper element 12 in FIG. 4 is produced by injection molding. As a result, sliding stopper element 12 has sufficient rigidity, so that it is a simple matter to move it from the open position, as seen in FIG. 1, to the closed position, as seen in FIG. 2, by movement of the sliding stopper element 12 in the direction shown by arrows “O” in FIG. 1. Conversely, sliding stopper element 12 can be moved from the closed position, shown in FIG. 2, to the open position, shown in FIG. 1, by movement of sliding stopper element 12 in the direction shown by arrows “C” in FIG. 2. Moreover, because the lengths of the pair of arcuate openings 24 are greater than the length of the drink-through opening 20, movement of the sliding stopper element from a first open position to a second closed position so as to open and seal the drink-through opening 20, respectively, is easily affected by arcuately sliding the sliding stopper element 12 from the one limit to the other as defined by interference of the posts 16 with the respective first or second ends of the arcuate openings 24.

In FIG. 5, an alternative embodiment of the sliding stopper is shown wherein sliding stopper 12A is formed by being thermoformed. Sliding stopper 12A has a hollow post section 16A, and a hollow head section 18A, and while not as rigid as sliding stopper 12, it still has sufficient rigidity to be used as a sliding stopper, as described hereinabove.

In use, sliding stopper element 12 or 12A can be easily moved by pushing on either of heads 18 or 18A to move sliding stopper element 12 or 12A in one direction or the other.

In FIG. 6, a further embodiment of the sliding stopper 12B is shown. In this embodiment, opening 22 in sliding stopper element 12 has been replaced with a baffle section 130 at the edge of sliding stopper 12B. Baffle 130 can be built into sliding stopper 12B, or can be added as a separate piece which is attached to sliding stopper 12B by heat staking, ultrasonic welding, glue, or the like.

When assembled with base cup 11, and in an open position, baffle 130 is located below opening 20 in base cup lid 11. Liquid from the cup is allowed to pass around baffle section 130 and then out of opening 20. However, with baffle section 130, the flow rate of liquid out of opening 20 is reduced and is generally more controllable. This further limits the rate at which liquid can spill out of the cup should the cup inadvertently be knocked or knocked over while the resealable stopper 10 is in an open position.

When sliding stopper 12B is moved to a closed position, baffle 130 is no longer in alignment with opening 20, and therefore opening 20 is sealed. As such, in this embodiment, baffle 130 acts as an opening in sliding stopper 12B which can form a liquid passage through base cup lid 11, when baffle 130 is in alignment with drink-through opening 20.

Base cup lid 11, and optionally sliding stopper element 12A or 12B, are preferably constructed of a single sheet of plastic material suitable for forming such lids. Typically, these will be thermoformed from an extruded plastic sheet material. Also, since base cup lid 11 and sliding stopper element 12 (12A, 12B) of the present invention are intended to seal cups with hot beverages, the sliding stopper and base cup lid material must be capable of withstanding the typical serving temperatures of hot beverages such as coffee, tea, cappuccino, hot chocolate and the like. However, the resealable cup lid of the present invention can also be used for cold beverages and, therefore, can be formed of the types of plastic generally used for cold beverage lids.

Base cup lid 11 and/or sliding stopper 12 (12A, 12B) can also be manufactured from, or covered with, temperature indicating materials or coatings. These thermochromatic materials can provide indications of an elevated temperature of the liquid materials in the drinking cup.

Resealable cup lid 10 is, of course, intended to be placed over the open upper end of a drinking cup (not shown). Typically, such a drinking cup may be made from plastic or other coated paper, polystyrene, styrene, or otherwise. The drinking cup will have a substantially circular cup rim which lies substantially in a single plane, and therefore is adapted to receive resealable cup lid 10.

Sliding stopper 12 (12A, 12B) is shown as being located under base cup lid 11, and this is its preferred location. However, it should be noted that the design can be easily modified so that sliding stopper 12 (12A, 12B) is located above base cup lid 11.

Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the present invention, a cup lid which fully satisfies the goals, objects, and advantages set forth hereinbefore. Therefore, having described specific embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that alternatives, modifications and variations thereof may be suggested to those skilled in the art, and that it is intended that the present specification embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.

Additionally, for clarity and unless otherwise stated, the word “comprise” and variations of the word such as “comprising” and “comprises”, when used in the description and claims of the present specification, is not intended to exclude other additives, components, integers or steps.

Moreover, the words “substantially” or “essentially”, when used with an adjective or adverb is intended to enhance the scope of the particular characteristic; e.g., substantially planar is intended to mean planar, nearly planar and/or exhibiting characteristics associated with aplanar element.

Further, use of the terms “he”, “him”, or “his”, is not intended to be specifically directed to persons of the masculine gender, and could easily be read as “she”, “her”, or “hers”, respectively.

Also, while this discussion has addressed prior art known to the inventor, it is not an admission that all art discussed is citable against the present application.