Title:
Floating beverage container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A beverage container, such as a beverage can, having a floatation device enclosed therein to provide the beverage container with positive buoyancy so that the container will float when discarded into a body of water. In one arrangement, the floatation device is a gas-filled element enclosed within the beverage container. Preferably, the floatation device is larger than the opening of the container so that the device is prevented from exiting the container after the container has been opened.



Inventors:
Luther, Ronald B. (Newport Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/200806
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/10/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D88/78
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A beverage can, comprising: a cylindrical can base having an open upper end and defining an interior space configured to receive a beverage; a lid configured to close said open upper end, said lid including a region defined by a score line and configured to be folded relative to the remainder of said lid to define an opening to permit a beverage within said can to be dispensed from said interior space; a floatation element including at least one wall defining a sealed, gas-filled chamber sized to provide a positive buoyancy force, when said can is placed into a body of liquid, such that said can floats in said liquid; wherein said opening is sized to prevent said floatation element from passing through said opening.

2. The beverage can of claim 1, wherein said floatation element is loosely received within said can.

3. The beverage can of claim 1, additionally comprising an indicia on an external surface of said can to indicate the presence of said floatation element within said can.

4. A beverage container, comprising: a container body defining an interior space configured to contain a beverage, said body defining an opening to permit said beverage to be dispensed from said container body; a floatation element within said interior space of said container body and sized such that said floatation element is prevented from escaping said container body through said opening; wherein, when said container is placed into a body of water, said floatation element is configured to produce a positive buoyancy force sufficient to prevent said container from sinking to the bottom of said body of water.

5. The beverage container of claim 1, wherein said floatation element comprises a least one wall defining a sealed, gas-filled chamber.

6. The beverage container of claim 5, wherein said chamber of said floatation element is filled with air.

7. The beverage container of claim 5, wherein said floatation element comprises a hollow sphere.

8. The beverage container of claim 1, wherein said floatation element is loosely received within said container body such that said floatation element is movable within said interior space.

9. The beverage container of claim 1, wherein said container comprises a can, said can including a base and a lid closing an open end of said base, said opening defined in said lid and being smaller than said open end of said base.

10. The beverage container of claim 1, additionally comprising an indicia on an external surface of said container which indicates, prior to opening of said container, that said container includes said floatation element.

11. A method of producing a beverage in a container, comprising: providing a container base defining an interior space configured to accept a quantity of a beverage; providing a floatation element configured to, when said floatation element is within said container and said container is placed within a body of water, produce a positive buoyancy force configured to prevent said container from sinking to the bottom of said body of water; placing said floatation element within said interior space; introducing said quantity of said beverage into said interior space; and closing an open end of said container base with a lid.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein said placing of said floatation element within said interior space occurs prior to said introduction of said beverage into said interior space.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein said providing said floatation element comprises providing an element including a gas-filled, sealed chamber, which provides at least a significant portion of said positive buoyancy force.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein said providing of said floatation element comprises selecting a floatation element sized to be loosely received in said interior space so as to be movable within said container.

15. The method of claim 11, additionally comprising placing an indicia on an outer surface of said container to indicate the presence of said floatation element within said container.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein said providing a container base comprises providing a cylindrical can.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said closing said open end of said container base with said lid comprises securing permanently securing said lid to said can, said lid including a region defined by a score line, said region being foldable relative to the remainder of said lid to define an opening to permit said beverage to be dispensed from said can.

18. The method of claim 17, additionally comprising sizing said opening to prevent said floatation element from passing through said opening.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to beverage containers. More specifically, the present invention relates to a beverage container configured to float if discarded into a body of water.

2. Description of the Related Art

The deliberate or inadvertent disposal of beverage containers into natural bodies of water presents a significant problem. Beverage containers that find their way into a natural body of water, if they have been opened, may fill with water and sink to the bottom of the body of water.

Cleanup of beverage containers that have sunk to the bottom of a body of water, such as a lake or a river, is difficult due to a number of factors, such as the uneven nature of the bottom of the body of water or the depth of the body of water. Presently, no economically viable process exists for the removal of beverage containers that have been disposed into, and sunk to the bottom of, a natural body of water. As a result, our natural bodies of water remain littered with trash, a significant portion of which are beverage containers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An aspect of the present inventions involves the realization that economical collection of discarded beverage containers would be possible if the discarded containers did not sink to the bottom of the body of water. Accordingly, preferred embodiments of the present invention involve a beverage container, such as a beverage can, having a floatation device enclosed therein to provide the beverage container with positive buoyancy. As a result, the beverage container will float when discarded into a body of water. Preferably, the floatation device is configured to permit the beverage container to float whether it is opened or remains sealed with the contents inside. In one arrangement, the floatation device is a gas-filled element enclosed within the beverage container. Preferably, the floatation device is larger than the opening of the container so that the device is prevented from exiting the container after the container has been opened. Preferred methods involve the construction of such a container.

A preferred embodiment is a beverage can, including a cylindrical can base having an open upper end and defining an interior space configured to receive a beverage. A lid is configured to close the open upper end. The lid includes a region defined by a score line and configured to be folded relative to the remainder of the lid to define an opening to permit a beverage within the can to be dispensed from the interior space. A floatation element includes at least one wall defining a sealed, gas-filled chamber sized to provide a positive buoyancy force, when the can is placed into a body of liquid, such that the can floats in the liquid. The opening is sized to prevent the floatation element from passing through the opening.

Another preferred embodiment is a beverage container including a container body defining an interior space configured to contain a beverage. The body defines an opening to permit the beverage to be dispensed from the container body. A floatation element is disposed within the interior space of the container body and sized such that the floatation element is prevented from escaping the container body through the opening, wherein, when the container is placed into a body of water, the floatation element is configured to produce a positive buoyancy force sufficient to prevent the container from sinking to the bottom of the body of water.

A preferred method of producing a beverage in a container includes providing a container base defining an interior space configured to accept a quantity of a beverage. The method further includes providing a floatation element configured to, when the floatation element is within the container and the container is placed within a body of water, produce a positive buoyancy force configured to prevent the container from sinking to the bottom of the body of water. The method further includes placing the floatation element within the interior space and introducing the quantity of the beverage into the interior space. The method includes closing an open end of the container base with a lid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention are described below with reference to drawings of a preferred embodiment, which is intended to illustrate, but not to limit, the present invention. The drawings contain four figures.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a beverage container having certain features, aspects and advantages of the present invention. The illustrated beverage container is a beverage can including a floatation device enclosed therein.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the beverage container of FIG. 1 taken along view line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the beverage container of FIG. 1 in an open condition and illustrating the liquid contents of the container being dispensed.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the beverage container of FIG. 1, once emptied, disposed within a body of water. As illustrated, the floatation device causes the beverage container to float within the body of water for ease of removal.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a beverage container 10 having certain features, aspects and advantages of the present invention. As described above, the beverage container 10 preferably includes a floatation device 12, or floatation member, which is configured to provide positive buoyancy to the container 10 when the container 10 is immersed in a body of water, or other liquid. In the illustrated arrangement, the beverage container 10 is a beverage can, preferably made from a metal material, such as aluminum. Such cans are commonly used to hold soda or beer, for example. However, it is contemplated that the floatation device 12 may be adapted for use with other types of containers, such as glass or plastic bottles, for example. Furthermore, the present invention is not limited to beverage containers, but may be applied to other types of containers or objects, such as food containers, for example.

The illustrated beverage can 10 has a body preferably including a generally cylindrical base portion 14, which is closed at its upper end by a lid 16. Typically, the base 14 is of a unitary construction and defines the bottom wall and side walls of the container 10. The lid 16 is a separate member from the base 14 and preferably is secured to the base 14 after the container 10 has been filled with a desired product, such as beverage 18.

Preferably, the lid 16 includes a self-contained opening arrangement 20, which includes a flap 22 defined by a score line 24 in the lid 16. The flap 22 is configured to be folded away from the remainder of the lid 16 along the score line 24. A tab 26 is configured to apply a force to the flap 22 to sever the lid 16 at the score line 24 and fold the flap 22, thereby creating an opening 28 within the lid 16 to permit the contents 18 of the can 10 to be dispensed (FIG. 3). Such an arrangement is well-known in the art.

In a preferred arrangement, the container 10 may be provided with a marking, seal or other indicia 30 indicating that the particular container 10 includes a floatation device 12 therein. Preferably, the indicia 30 is provided on an exterior surface of the can 10 so that retailers and consumers can identify containers 10 which include a floatation device 12. In one arrangement, the indicia 30 is an insignia printed on the exterior of the can 10. In addition, other methods to indicate the presence of a floatation device 12 to consumers, or others, may also be used.

Preferably, the floatation device 12, as described above, is a hollow, gas-filled member. In the illustrated arrangement, the floatation device 12 is generally spherical in shape and filled with air. However, other suitable shapes may also be used. In addition, other suitable buoyancy producing substances may be provided within the floatation device 12 suitable to provide a positive buoyancy to the container 10 when empty and, preferably, even in an unopened state.

The floatation device 12 may be constructed of any suitable material by any suitable process, as will be appreciated by one of skill in the art. For example, the floatation device 12 may be constructed from a plastic or polymeric material and may have a thin-walled construction. The floatation device 12 may be filled with a gas during its manufacturing process, such as by blow molding, for example. Alternatively, the device 12 may be fabricated and subsequently filled with a gas and permanently or reversibly sealed.

Preferably the floatation device 12 is sized to contain a sufficient amount of a gas, such as air, to render the container 10 buoyant in water or other liquids. Preferably, the floatation device 12 is configured to provide buoyancy to the container 10 whether the container has been opened and partially or completely filled with the liquid in which the container 10 is floating. Desirably, the container 10, including the floatation device 12 is also buoyant in its unopened state and filled with its original contents 18.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, preferably the floatation device 12 is larger than the opening 28 of the container 10 such that the floatation device 12 is inhibited from passing through the opening 28 and, consequently, is retained within the container 10. However, other methods may also be used to maintain the floatation device 12 within the container 10. For example, the floatation device 12 may be secured to the container 10 mechanically, such as a press fit, or with adhesives, for example. In some preferred arrangements, the floatation device 12 may be secured to an exterior surface of the container 10. In certain arrangements, material forming some or all of the floatation device 12 may also form a portion of the container 10.

As illustrated in FIG. 4, once the container 10 has been opened and its contents 18 dispensed, the container 10 may find its way into a body of water. In such a situation, the floatation device 12 provides buoyancy to the container 10 such that the container floats at or near the surface of the body of water 32. Thus, the container 10 may be easily retrieved from the body of water 32 manually or by automatic filtering or sifting devices, thus reducing pollution in our natural bodies of water. Advantageously, beverages sold near bodies of water may be provided with a floatation device 12, as described herein, to simplify the removal of containers that may be deliberately or inadvertently discarded into the water. In fact, government regulations may be created to require any beverages sold within a designated region surrounding a natural body of water to include floatation features, such as the presently preferred embodiment, or its equivalent.

The illustrated floatation device 12 advantageously may be incorporated into existing beverage production systems. For example, the floatation device 12 as contemplated herein is relatively inexpensive and may be added to the base 14 of the container 10 during the filling process. The floatation device 12 may be introduced to the base 14 before or after the contents 18 are provided. Preferably, the floatation device 12 is inserted prior to the lid 16 being secured to the base 14. However, when used with other types of container, such as bottles, or other containers having relatively small openings, the floatation device may be introduced through such an opening in a deflated state and then inflated with a gas and sealed once inside the container. Thus, containers that are filled through a relatively small opening may also employ the floatation device 12.

Although this invention has been disclosed in the context of a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiment to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the invention and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. In particular, while the present floating beverage container has been described in the context of a particularly preferred embodiment, the skilled artisan will appreciate, in view of the present disclosure, that certain advantages, features and aspects of this system may be realized in a variety of other applications, many of which have been noted above. Additionally, it is contemplated that various aspects and features of the invention described can be practiced separately, combined together, or substituted for one another, and that a variety of combination and subcombinations of the features and aspects can be made and still fall within the scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiment described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims.