Title:
Container for shipping a plurality of articles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container is provided for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, such as computer system components (for example, computer keyboards), wherein the plurality of articles are packaged within the container efficiently so as to keep the individual articles in spaced relation to one another. A container according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a main body portion and at least one partition removably received by an interior space of the main body portion such that the partition remains in a fixed location within the interior space of the main body portion until removed therefrom. The partition is formed from a blank and is shaped so as to at least partially surround the article, thereby protecting same from damage during shipping and/or storage.



Inventors:
De Nola, Robert Carl (Atherton, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/503858
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/14/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/320, 206/521
International Classes:
B65D85/00; B65D81/02; B65D85/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, KAUSHIKKUMAR A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY (Memphis, TN, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A container for shipping items, comprising: a main body portion having an interior space defined by a plurality of sidewalls; at least one partition removably positionable within said interior space of said main body portion, said at least one partition being adapted to engage at least one sidewall of said main body portion to positively position said partition within said interior space; wherein said partition defines at least two compartments within said interior space of said main body portion.

2. The container according to claim 1, said plurality of sidewalls including a first sidewall defined by a first sidewall panel and a first interior endwall panel, and wherein said partition is adapted to engage said first interior endwall panel of said first sidewall.

3. The container according to claim 2, said first interior endwall panel having at least one slot for receiving a portion of said partition therein.

4. The container according to claim 3, said partition having at least one slot for receiving said a portion of said first interior endwall therein, said at least one slot of said partition mating with said at least one slot of said first interior endwall panel to positively locate an end of said partition within said interior space of said main body portion.

5. The container according to claim 3, said first interior endwall panel having a plurality of slots spaced therealong.

6. The container according to claim 5, wherein said plurality of slots are spaced equidistantly along said first interior endwall panel.

7. The container according to claim 5, wherein said at least one partition includes a plurality of partitions, and wherein each of said plurality of slots in said first interior endwall panel is adapted to receive one of said plurality of partitions.

8. The container according to claim 7, wherein each partition includes a plurality of divider panels, and wherein each divider panel of each partition is adapted to be received by one of said plurality of slots in said first interior endwall.

9. The container according to claim 5, wherein said partition includes a first divider panel and a second divider panel, and wherein said plurality of slots in said first interior endwall panel includes a first slot adapted to receive said first divider panel and a second slot adapted to receive said second divider panel.

10. The container according to claim 9, wherein said first divider panel is attached to said second divider panel by a shelf portion.

11. The container according to claim 10, wherein said second divider panel includes a first popout extension flap.

12. The container according to claim 11, wherein said first popout extension flap extends from said shelf portion of said second divider panel.

13. The container according to claim 11, wherein said first divider panel includes a second popout extension flap.

14. The container according to claim 2, said partition having at least one slot for receiving said a portion of said first interior endwall therein.

15. The container according to claim 2, wherein said first interior endwall panel is attached to said first sidewall panel by a bridge segment.

16. The container according to claim 2, said plurality of sidewalls further including a second sidewall defined by a second sidewall panel and a second interior endwall panel, and wherein said partition is adapted to engage both said first interior endwall panel of said first sidewall and said second interior endwall panel of said second sidewall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/707,582, filed 12 Aug. 2005, the specification of which is hereby incorporated hereinto by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to containers for shipping and storing a plurality of articles such as computer peripherals, for example, computer keyboards and their associated hardware. More particularly, the present invention relates to a container for shipping and storing a plurality of articles such as computer peripherals, wherein the articles are held in spaced relation to one another by a plurality of foldable partitions.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

Consumer desktop computers typically are sold to end-users as pre-bundled systems, comprising all the components necessary for an ordinary user to perform most home computing tasks. Computer manufacturers typically offer such consumer computer systems in a variety of configurations, but each configuration ordinarily includes a computer “tower” (in which the computer motherboard, hard drive, optical drives and memory are installed), a keyboard, a mouse, speakers, software media and documentation pre-packaged and shipped within a single container, such as a corrugated box. It is desirable, therefore, to provide a container suitable for shipping and/or storing articles, such as, for example, computer system components.

Computer manufacturers, however, typically do not manufacturer each of the system components for themselves; rather, a typical computer manufacturer merely designs the system, outsources the manufacturing of the individual components, assembles the components and packages them into a single container for shipping to the end-user as a complete system.

The individual components, such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives and keyboards, are manufactured by third parties and supplied to the computer manufacturer in bulk for the computer system manufacturer to incorporate into pre-bundled computer systems. Because the components are being delivered to the computer manufacturer in bulk, it is preferable to minimize the amount of packaging used to ship the bulk components from the component manufacturer to the computer system manufacturer. Also, because the computer system manufacturer will remove the components from the packaging that is used to ship the components in bulk and then re-package the components into the overall system packaging, it is unnecessary for the components to be individually packaged in, for example, display ready packaging. Rather, it is sufficient for the several of the components to be shipped in a common, plain package, from which the components can be removed easily. It is desirable, therefore, to provide a container for shipping and/or storing articles, such as, for example, computer system components, wherein the container is adapted to ship bulk quantities of such articles in a manner that is compatible with current computer systems manufacturing practices.

For instance, a computer keyboard manufacturer will typically ship several computer keyboards together in a single package. The computer system manufacturer will remove the individual keyboards from the single package and bundle individual ones of them with the remaining computer system components for delivery to the end-user as a complete system. As is oftentimes the case, the keyboard will come with its own documentation and software installation media. It is sometimes desirable for such items to remain associated with the keyboard, so as to not become confused with similar items associated with other components of the computer system. As such, it is desirable to provide a container for shipping a plurality of articles, wherein each of the plurality of articles is packaged in a manner that allows for items associated therewith, such as, for example, documentation and/or software installation media, to remain associated therewith.

It also is desirable to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein each of the plurality of articles (together with their associated items) is packaged within the container in such a manner so as to provide adequate protection from damage, etc., since computer system components typically are delicate and sensitive to water, shock and rough handling.

It is common, therefore, to pre-package the individual keyboards along with their associated documentation and/or software installation media, for instance, in a plain corrugated box. Not only do such boxes provide adequate protection from damage, but they allow for the documentation and software installation media to remain associated with the keyboards. It has been observed, however, that boxes of this type typically are stronger than they need to be, since these boxes are themselves shipped within a larger container. Because these boxes are larger than they need to be, the result is that unnecessary material is used in the construction of these boxes, thereby increasing the expense of manufacturing and handling articles shipped in them. Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a container for shipping and/or storing articles, wherein the individual articles are packaged in a manner so as to minimize the amount of material necessary to protect them during shipping and/or storage. It is desirable also to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein the container is formed from a minimum of parts.

It also is desirable to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein each of the articles are packaged in a manner so as to remain in spaced relation to all the other articles within the container.

It is desirable further to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein individual ones of the plurality of articles can be removed from the container easily. It is desirable further still to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein items associated with individual ones of the plurality of articles can be removed easily from the container along with the articles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention, a container is provided for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, such as computer system components (for example, computer keyboards), wherein the plurality of articles are packaged within the container efficiently so as to keep the individual articles in spaced relation to one another. A container according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a main body portion and at least one partition removably received by an interior space of the main body portion such that the partition remains in a fixed location within the interior space of the main body portion until removed therefrom. The partition is formed from a blank and is shaped so as to at least partially surround the article, thereby protecting same from damage during shipping and/or storage.

The main body portion of the container provides orthogonal exterior sidewalls and opposing interior slotted endwalls, each endwall having one or more slots therein for at least partially receiving one of the at least one partition therein. The slots cooperate with slots provided in the partition so as to positively locate the partition within the interior space of the main body portion of the container. Slots are spaced along the interior endwalls of the main body portion so as to permit a plurality of partitions to be positively located within the interior space of the main body portion in spaced relation to one another, thereby providing a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein the articles are maintained in a spaced relation to one another while positioned within the container.

Several variations of the container are provided, wherein the main body portion and/or partitions are modified so as to provide additional functionality for the container, while remaining within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, cutouts may be provided in one or more sidewalls of the main body portion so as to define handles for increasing the ease with which the container may be handled. Further, finger holes may be provided at various locations within the partition blank so as to facilitate easy erection of the blank into a functional partition. These, and other variations which may become obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the within description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention, will be seen to be within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

According to one aspect of the present invention, a container for shipping items is provided, comprising a main body portion having an interior space defined by a plurality of sidewalls; at least one partition removably positionable within the interior space of the main body portion, at least one partition being adapted to engage at least one sidewall of the main body portion to positively position the partition within the interior space; wherein the partition defines at least two compartments within the interior space of the main body portion.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a container suitable for shipping and/or storing articles, such as, for example, computer system components.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing articles, such as, for example, computer system components, wherein the container is adapted to ship bulk quantities of such articles in a manner that is compatible with current computer systems manufacturing practices.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping a plurality of articles, wherein each of the plurality of articles is packaged in a manner that allows for items associated therewith, such as, for example, documentation and/or software installation media, to remain associated therewith.

It also is an object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein each of the plurality of articles (together with their associated items) is packaged within the container in such a manner so as to provide adequate protection from damage, etc., since computer system components typically are delicate and sensitive to water, shock and rough handling.

It is still yet another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing articles, wherein the individual articles are packaged in a manner so as to minimize the amount of material necessary to protect them during shipping and/or storage.

It is an even further object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein the container is formed from a minimum of parts.

It is still yet another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein each of the articles are packaged in a manner so as to remain in spaced relation to all the other articles within the container.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein individual ones of the plurality of articles can be removed from the container easily.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a container for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles, wherein items associated with individual ones of the plurality of articles can be removed easily from the container along with the articles.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from the description which follows, and may be realized by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out therein, as well as by those instrumentalities, combinations and improvements thereof which are not described expressly therein, but which would be obvious to those of ordinary and reasonable skill in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the invention will be had upon reference to the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals represent like parts, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a container according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, showing one of a plurality of partitions in spaced relation to a main body portion;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a blank used to form the main body portion of the container shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the blank shown in FIG. 1 in a partially-folded configuration such that interior slotted endwalls of the container shown in FIG. 1 have not yet been formed;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the blank shown in FIG. 1 in a further partially-folded configuration such that interior slotted endwalls of the container shown in FIG. 1 each are partially formed;

FIG. 5 is a partial section view of one interior slotted endwall of the container shown in FIG. 1, taken along section line 5-5 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a blank used to form the partition shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the blank shown in FIG. 6 in a partially-folded configuration such that a spacer portion of the partition shown in FIG. 1 is shown extending therefrom;

FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the container shown in FIG. 1, wherein a plurality of partitions are shown such that each one of the partitions is shown partially received by the interior slotted endwalls of the container;

FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view of the container shown in FIG. 1, wherein a plurality of partitions are shown such that all of the partitions are shown fully received by the interior slotted endwalls of the container;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the container shown in FIG. 1, wherein the container has been inverted after a plurality of partitions have been inserted into the interior space thereof, thereby defining a plurality of compartments within the interior space of the container; and,

FIG. 11 is a partial plan view of a central region of a blank used to form a partition according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIG. 1, a container 1 for shipping and/or storing a plurality of articles (not shown) comprises a main body portion 10 and at least one partition 30 that is removably received within an interior space 2 defined by the main body portion 10. More particularly, main body portion 10 comprises a plurality of orthogonal sidewalls formed from sidewall-forming panels 12a-12d, a bottom wall formed from overlapping bottom wall-forming flaps 14a-14d (FIG. 2) and a topwall formed from overlapping topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c. At least one interior slotted endwall xx, xx is provided in spaced relation to one of the sidewalls 12 and includes a plurality of slots xx therein, the function and use of which will be described in greater detail below.

Individual articles (not shown), such as computer keyboards and the like, together with associated items, such as, for example, documentation and software installation media, are attached to or otherwise associated with one of the partitions 30. For example, a computer keyboard (not shown) may be attached to one of the partitions 30 using, for example, straps, elastic bands or stretch-wrap material. Each partition 30, then, together with the article and items associated therewith, form a unitary item that may be inserted into (and removed from) the interior space 2 of the container 1 main body portion 10 with relative ease-of-handling.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a blank B1 for forming the main body portion 10 of the container 1 is constructed from any suitable foldable material, such as corrugated paperboard, heavy-weight paper or the like, and is die-cut to form a generally rectangular configuration, when in an unfolded state, as shown in FIG. 2. The blank B1 includes a plurality of score lines, fold lines, cut lines and slots which divide the blank B1 into sidewall-forming panels 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d; bottom wall-forming flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d; and, topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c. More particularly, first and second longitudinal fold lines 11a, 11b extend along the length of the blank B1 and first, second and third transverse fold lines 13a, 13b, 13c extend along the width of the blank B1 and cooperate with the longitudinal fold lines 11a, 11b to define sidewall-forming panels 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d.

Topside cut lines 15a, 15b, 15c extend along transverse fold lines 13a, 13b, 13c, respectively, towards a topside edge B1a of the blank B1 and define topwall-forming panels 16a, 16b. Bottomside cut lines 17a, 17b, 17c extend along transverse fold lines 13a, 13b, 13c, respectively, towards a bottomside edge B1b of the blank B1 and define bottom wall-forming flaps 14a, 14b, 14rc, 14d. As can be seen from FIG. 2, first topside cut line 15a, first transverse fold line 13a and first bottomside cut line 17a are collinear with one another. Similarly, second topside cut line 15b, second transverse fold line 13b and second bottomside cut line 17b are collinear with one another, and third topside cut line 15c, third transverse fold line 13c and third bottomside cut line 17c are collinear with one another. Fold lines 13, 13b, 13c and cut lines 15a, 15b, 15c, 17a, 17b, 17c each are perpendicular to longitudinal fold lines 11a, 11b, respectively, although they may be oriented to form an angle therewith.

Glue flap 19 extends from a first side edge B1c of the blank B1 and is foldable relative to first sidewall panel 12a along a tab fold line 13d. Those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that glue flap 19 allows first sidewall panel 12a to be secured to fourth sidewall panel 12d, such as, by adhesive, when blank B1 is folded about each transverse fold line 13a, 13b, 13c to form a generally tubular orthogonal sidewall structure, which is the first step in forming a main body portion 10 of the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Cut lines 15a, 15b also define first endwall panel 20b positioned between first and second topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c and includes first and second fold lines 21a, 21b which divide first endwall panel 20a into first bridge segment 22a, first interior endwall 23a and first hold-down flap 24a, arranged in sequence extending from second sidewall panel 12b. One or more slots 26a are formed in the first endwall panel 20b, spaced longitudinally therealong between first and second cut lines 15a, 15b, and extending from second longitudinal fold line 11b, through first bridge segment 22a and at least partways into first interior endwall 23a.

Similarly, cut lines 15b, 15c define second endwall panel 20d positioned adjacent the second topwall-forming flap 16c opposite the first endwall panel 20b. Second endwall panel 20d includes first and second fold lines 21c, 21d which divide second endwall panel 20d into second bridge segment 22b, second interior endwall 23b and second hold-down flap 24b, arranged in sequence extending from fourth sidewall panel 12d. One or more slots 26b are formed in the second endwall panel 20d, spaced longitudinally therealong between second and third cut lines 15b, 15c, and extending from second longitudinal fold line 11b, through second bridge segment 22b and at least partways into second interior endwall 23b.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the main body portion 10 of the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is formed by first folding the blank B1 along each of the transverse fold lines 13a, 13b, 13c to form a generally tubular orthogonal sidewall structure and thereafter affixing glue tab 19 to the fourth sidewall panel 12d, for example, using adhesive, clips or staples. Bottom wall flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d are then each folded about fold line 11a in an overlapping arrangement and secured to one another, such as, with adhesive, to enclose the bottom end of the sidewall structure, thereby cooperating with the sidewall panels 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d to define the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10.

With reference now also to FIG. 4, the main body portion 10 of the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is further formed by folding first and second hold-down flaps 24a, 24b inwardly about second fold lines 21b, 21d, respectively, relative to first and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively, until first and second hold-down panels 24a, 24b are generally perpendicular to first and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively. First and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, then, are folded downwardly into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 by simultaneously folding each interior endwall 23a, 23b about first fold lines 21a, 21c, respectively, relative to first and second bridge segments 22a, 22b, respectively, while at the same time folding bridge segments 22a, 22b about second longitudinal fold line 11b, relative to second and fourth sidewall panels 12b, 12d, respectively.

Once interior endwalls 23a, 23b have been folded completely within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10, hold-down flaps 24a, 24b will lie against the topmost bottom wall flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d and can be secured thereto, such as, with adhesive. Although hold-down flaps 24a, 24b are shown as being folded outwardly (towards second and fourth sidewall panels 12b, 12d, respectively, it will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the within description that hold-down flaps 24a, 24b may instead be folded in an opposite direction so as to project towards one another along the bottom wall flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d and further into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10. One arrangement of bottom wall flap 14d, fourth sidewall panel 12d, second bridge segment 22b, second interior endwall 23b and second hold-down flap 24b is shown in FIG. 5.

Also, while in this configuration, interior endwalls 23a, 23b lie in a generally vertical plane parallel to second and fourth sidewall panels 12b, 12d, respectively, and spaced therefrom by a distance corresponding to the width of bridge segments 22a, 22b. Bridge segments 22a, 22b, in turn, lie in a generally horizontal plane extending and spanning the distance between upper ends of the sidewall panels 12b, 12d and the interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a blank B2 used to form one of the at least one partitions 30 of the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown. Preferably, two or more blanks B2 are provided, in which case, two or more identical partitions 30 will be used in connection with the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Blank B2 is constructed from any suitable foldable material, such as corrugated paperboard, heavy-weight paper or the like, and is die-cut to form a generally rectangular configuration, when in an unfolded state, as shown in FIG. 6.

Blank B2 is divided by first and second transverse fold lines 33a, 33b into first and second divider panels 31a, 31b connected at respective upper ends thereof by shelf portion 32. Second divider panel 31b includes a centrally-positioned cut line 35a spaced from second transverse fold line 33b and generally parallel thereto. A pair of edgewise cut lines 35b, 35c extend from distal ends of the centrally-positioned cut line 35a towards second transverse fold line 33b and end thereat to define a generally rectangular popout extension flap 34, that will be described in greater detail below. According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, second transverse fold line 33b is interrupted between edgewise cut lines 35b, 35c, although second transverse fold line 33b may alternatively span continuously across the entire width of blank B2.

First and second slots 36a, 36b extend into first divider panel 31a towards first transverse fold line 33a, spaced therefrom by a distance, thereby defining first and second shoulders 37a, 37b of first divider panel 31a adjacent shelf portion 32. Slots 36a, 36b are sufficiently wide so as to permit a conventional sheet of corrugated paperboard to fit snugly therein, as will be described in greater detail below. Shoulders 37a, 37b extend away from shelf portion 32, each terminating in an outwardly-reaching arm 38a, 38b. Preferably, outwardly-reaching arms 38a, 38b terminate short of an outermost edge 39a of first divider panel 31a.

Similarly, third and fourth slots 36c, 36d extend into second divider panel 31b towards second transverse fold line 33b, spaced therefrom by a distance, thereby defining third and fourth shoulders 37c, 37d of second divider panel 31b adjacent shelf portion 32. Slots 36c, 36d are sufficiently wide so as to permit a conventional sheet of corrugated paperboard to fit snugly therein, as will be described in greater detail below. Shoulders 37c, 37d extend away from shelf portion 32, each terminating in an outwardly-reaching arm 38c, 38d. Preferably, outwardly-reaching arms 38c, 38d terminate short of an outermost edge 39b of second divider panel 31b.

Except for the popout extension flap 34 defined by cut lines 35a, 35b, 35c, first and second divider panels 31a, 31b can be seen to be oppositely-facing mirror images of one another, reflected about and extending from shelf portion 32. Cutouts 32a, 32b may be provided at opposite ends of the shelf portion 32, which such cutouts 32a, 32b may span the entire distance between first and second fold lines 33a, 33b, or alternatively, may span only partways therebetween, in which case, cutouts 32a, 32b may be spaced from either or both fold lines 33a, 33b. As shown, cutouts 32a, 32b extend entirely between first and second fold lines 33a, 33b and are provided to facilitate inserting the partition 30 into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 of the container 1.

With reference now also to FIG. 7, partition 30 is formed from blank B2 by folding second divider panel 31b about second transverse fold line 33b until it stands generally perpendicularly to shelf portion 32. As second divider panel 31b folds about second transverse fold line 33b, cut lines 35a, 35b, 35c cause popout extension flap 34 to remain generally in the same plane as shelf portion 32, thereby defining a protrusion extending from second divider panel 31b. Referring back now also to FIG. 1, first divider panel 31a is then folded about first transverse fold line 33a until it stands generally perpendicularly to shelf portion 32, parallel to second divider panel 31b and spaced therefrom by a distance represented by the distance between first and second transverse fold lines 33a, 33b.

Thus configured, partition 30 forms a space between first and second divider panels 31a, 31b into which an article, such as, for example, a computer keyboard with associated items, such as, for example, documentation and installation software media, may be placed for safe storage and shipping, protected by divider panels 31a, 31b and shelf portion 34. Because divider panels 31a, 31b and shelf portion 34 do not completely surround an article or item(s) positioned therein, it may be necessary to secure such article and/or item(s) to one or both divider panels 31a, 31b, such as, for example, using stretch wrapping, strapping or elastic members. It should be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, however, that securing the article and/or item(s) to either or both divider panels 31a, 31b, though, is not required in order to stay within either the spirit or the scope of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, one or more partitions 30 are removably insertable into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 to define a plurality of discrete chambers into each of which an article, such as, for example, a computer keyboard with associated items, such as, for example, documentation and installation software media, may be placed for safe storage and shipping. As mentioned above, article(s) and/or item(s) associated therewith may be secured to individual ones of the partitions 30, such as, for example, with stretch wrapping, strapping or elastic members, to prevent their becoming disassociated therewith during shipping and/or storage. In FIG. 8, a first partition 30′ is shown nearly fully inserted into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 of the container 1, whereas a second partition 30″ is shown only partially inserted into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 of the container 1. In FIG. 9, both partitions 30′, 30″ are shown fully inserted into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 of the container 1 such that topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c can be folded into closed positions (not shown), thereby fully enclosing partitions 30′, 30″ and any article(s) and/or item(s) stored therein.

With reference specifically to FIG. 8, it can be seen that a plurality of slots 26a, 26b are formed in the first and second bridge segments 22a, 22b and extend down first and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively. In the embodiment shown, four slots 26a(i), 26a(ii), 26a(iii), 26a(iv) are provided in the first interior endwall 23a and four slots 26b(i), 26b(ii), 26b(iii), 26b(iv) are provided in the second interior endwall 23b. Slots 26a(i), 26b(i) lie generally in the same vertical plane; slots 26a(ii), 26b(ii) lie generally in the same vertical plane; slots 26a(iii), 26b(iii) lie generally in the same vertical plane; and, slots 26a(iv), 26b(iv) lie generally in the same vertical plane.

Although slots 26a(i), 26a(ii), 26a(iii), 26a(iv) and slots 26b(i), 26b(ii), 26b(iii), 26b(iv) are shown spaced equidistantly along first and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively, adjacent slots 26a(i), 26a(ii), 26a(iii), 26a(iv) and adjacent slots 26b(i), 26b(ii), 26b(iii), 26b(iv) may be spaced along first and second interior endwalls 23a, 23b, respectively, at increasing, decreasing or varying distances from one another.

By way of example, first and second slots 26a(i), 26a(ii) formed in the first interior endwall 23a and first and second slots 26b(i), 26b(ii) formed in the second interior endwall 23b each are spaced from one another a distance corresponding to the width of the shelf portion 32 of the partition 30, which also corresponds to the distance through which the first and second divider panels 31a, 31b are spaced from one another. Thus configured, second partition 30″ formed as described herein may be received by the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 such that first divider panel 31a slides at least partways into, for example, slots 26a(i), 26b(i) while at the same time second divider panel 31b slides at least partways into, for example, slots 26a(ii), 26b(ii). In this manner, divider panels 31a, 31b are positively located within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 so as to prevent shifting around thereof within the interior space 2, for example, while in transit or during handling and storage operations.

Similarly, a first partition 30′ formed as described herein may be received by the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 adjacent second partition 30″ such that first divider panel 31a slides at least partways into, for example, slots 26a(iii), 26b(iii) while at the same time second divider panel 31b slides at least partways into, for example, slots 26a(iv), 26b(iv). In this manner, divider panels 31a, 31b are positively located within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 so as to prevent shifting around thereof within the interior space 2, for example, while in transit or during handling and storage operations. Article(s) and/or item(s) packaged within either partition 30′, 30″, or in a space therebetween (i.e., in a space defined between second divider panel 31b of second partition 30″ and first divider panel 30′ of first partition 30′), are held securely in place and with a reduced risk of damage thereto which may be caused due to rough handling of the container 1.

Popout extension flap 34 of second partition 30″ may be sized to span the distance between slots 26a(ii), 26b(ii) and slots 26a(iii), slots 26b(iii), respectively, thereby maintaining the distance between first and second partitions 30′, 30″ and providing a back stop against which movement of first partition 30′ can be inhibited. Similarly, popout extension flap 34 of first partition 30″ spans the distance to third sidewall panel 12c, thereby maintaining the distance between first partition 30′ and third sidewall panel 12c. Besides providing positive positioning and support for partitions 3030″, popout extension flaps 34 further provide a partial enclosure for any article(s) and/or item(s) which may be stored between partitions 30′, 30″, thereby inhibiting their tendency to fall out from the container 1.

Referring back to FIG. 1, slots 26a, 26b of main body portion 10 cooperate with slots 36a, 36b, 36c, 36d of partition 30 to receive one of the plurality of arms 38a, 38b, 38c, 38d of one partition 30 within the space between interior endwall 23a, 23b and its respective sidewall 12b, 12d. Slots 26a, 26b extend down interior endwalls 23a, 23b a sufficient distance so as to allow any partition(s) 30 received within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 to sit fully within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10, thereby permitting closing of the topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c. The slot-in-a-slot arrangement will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art as providing an efficient means to positively locate partitions 30 relative to, and within, main body portion 10.

Referring now to FIG. 10, use of the container 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described. After the main body portion 10 has been erected as described above, except that hold-down flaps 24a, 24b are not secured to any of the bottom wall-forming flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d. Rather, partitions 30′, 30″ (FIGS. 8 and 9) are inserted into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10 and interlocking slots ensure that interior endwalls 23a, 23b and divider panels 31a, 31b remain in generally vertical planes. As soon as all partitions 30′, 30″ are fully inserted into the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10, topwall-forming flaps 16a, 16c are folded to enclose partitions 30′, 30″ therein and are secured in such a closed position, such as, for example, using packing tape, adhesive or other fastening techniques. Flaps 16a, 16c may overlap or may meet at the center of the main body portion 10.

Container 1, then, is inverted such that container 1 is made to rest on the inwardly-folded and secured flaps 16a, 16b. Flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d are now opened to expose the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10. Partitions 30′, 30″, and in particular, divider panels 31a, 31b thereof, divide interior space 2 into a plurality of open-top compartments into which article(s) and/or item(s) may be inserted, with or without packing material, for shipping and storage. Once each of the compartments are filled with article(s) and/or item(s), flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d are again closed, thereby fully enclosing the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10, and more particularly, fully enclosing each of the compartments defined within the interior space 2 of the main body portion 10. Flaps 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d, then, may be secured to one another, such as, with packing tape, adhesive, strapping, stretch wrapping or the like, to prevent unintentional opening of the container 1 during shipping and storage.

It will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, upon reading the within description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention, that a container 1 according to the present invention may include modifications thereto without departing from either the spirit or the scope of the present invention. For instance, partition 30 may include any number of cutout sections (not shown), for example, in one or both of the divider panels 31a, 31b extending inwardly from the outer edge 39a, 39b thereof for the purpose of reducing the amount of material used to form partition 30.

Referring to FIG. 11, a blank B2′ used to form a partition according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention is shown and includes many of the features described above with respect to the blank B2 (FIG. 6) used to form the partition 30 according to a preferred embodiment hereof and like reference numerals are intended to represent like features. However, with respect to the present embodiment, blank B2′ includes a second popout extension flap 134 formed in the first divider panel 31a by cut lines 135a, 135b, 135c. The purpose of second popout extension flap 134 is to allow a partition formed from blank B2′ to maintain a spaced relationship to an adjacent partition (or main body portion sidewall) on either side of the partition, rather than on only one side, as provided by a blank B2 according to the preferred embodiment hereof.

Even further, either blank B2 according to the preferred embodiment hereof or blank B2′ according to the present embodiment may be provided with a circular cutout 140 located along either or both cut lines 35a, 135a, preferably central thereto, the purpose of which being to assist a user in removing the popout extension flap 34, 134 from the plane of the divider panel 31b, 31a, respectively, when the partition is formed, as shown in FIG. 7.

Even further still, cut lines 35a, 135a may be provided with interruptions in the form of frangible nicks 142 (also referred to as tethers, straps or bridging elements), the purpose of which being to hold popout extension flaps 34, 134 within the plane of the divider panels 31b, 31a, respectively, until such time as the end user chooses to tear the nicks, thereby permitting the popout extension flaps 34, 134 to extend from its respective divider panel 31b, 31a as shown above. Such an arrangement allows for the end user to have popout extension flap extend from either or both divider panel, thereby providing a single partition blank adaptable for multiple configurations. In such arrangements, fold lines 33a, 33b may be continuous across the entire width of the blank B2′ such that a portion 133a, 133b of each fold line 33a, 33b, respectively, spans the distance between cut lines 135b, 35b and cut lines 135c, 35c, respectively.

While the invention has been described and illustrated with reference to one or more preferred embodiments thereof, it is not the intention of the applicants that the invention be restricted to such detail. Rather, it is the intention of the applicants that the invention be defined by all equivalents, both suggested hereby and known to those of ordinary skill in the art, of the preferred embodiments falling within the scope hereof.