Title:
Viscous product tube protector and dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A combination tube container protector and dispenser device includes a base, a cover, an open track in the cover, a ram paddle in the track, ratchet mechanism(s) to permit only forward travel of the ram paddle when in the operative mode, and a latching mechanism for opening and closing the device. Guide tracks for paddle stability and movement may be included.



Inventors:
Kafcsak, Ronald J. (Crystal River, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/200588
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/10/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D35/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NICHOLS II, ROBERT K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth P. Glynn (Flemington, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, which comprises: (a) an elongated main housing base having a recessed area adapted to receive and nest a viscous product container, said main housing base having a substantially solid bottom and opposing elongated side walls, and having a front end and a back end, said front end having a shoulder and a viscous product neck and cap opening for a viscous product container neck and cap to extend therethrough; (b) an elongated main housing cover being hingedly connected to said base, and having an inside and an outside and having a footprint shape consistent with said base to permit closure of said cover with said base, and having an elongated open track adapted to receive an arm of a ram paddle, and having at least one set of one way ratchet ramps located on said inside of said cover adjacent said open track to permit movement of said ram paddle form said back end to said front end of said base when said ram paddle is in an operational position and to prevent movement of said ram paddle form said front end to said back end when said ram paddle is in said operational position; (c) a ram paddle adapted to fit into and slide along said open track, said ram paddle being positioned in said open track and having an arm extending through said open track, and having a slider button located on said outside of said cover and having a viscous product container ram located on said inside of said cover, said ram paddle having an operational position and a reset position such that, when said device has a viscous product container nested therein and said cover is closed, said ram paddle is in its operational position and may only be moved from said base back end to said front end and not vice versa, and when said cover is open, said ram paddle is in its reset position and may be moved in both forward and back directions; (d) latching means connected to at least one of said base and said cover for opening and for maintaining said cover in a closed position to said base when desired wherein, a user may set said ram paddle toward said back end, place a viscous product container in said base with said neck in said neck and cap opening and with said cap outside said device, close said cover, open the viscous product container cap, and slide said slider button from said back end toward said front end to dispense viscous product from its container, with out backsliding.

2. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said main housing base and said main housing cover have a closed position end view shape selected from the group consisting of a square, a rectangle, a circle and an oval, being flat, to be used as a standing upright aid on vanities.

3. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 2 wherein said closed end view shape is a circle.

4. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser of claim 1 wherein said open track is an elongated linear opening having a length of at least 80% of a maximum length of said base.

5. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein there are two sets of one way ratchets, each of said two sets being opposite one another and separated by said open track.

6. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 4 wherein there are two sets of one way ratchets, each of said two sets being opposite one another and separated by said open track.

7. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said device is at least partially transparent plastic.

8. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said main housing base and said main housing cover are hingedly connected to one another with at least one living hinge.

9. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said device has only two separate parts, the first being a unistructural combination base, cover and hinge, and the second being said ram paddle.

10. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said device further includes: (e) said viscous product container with said neck and said cap.

11. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said device further includes at least one guide track having a complimentary male track member and female track member, wherein said cover has one of said male and said female track member and said ram paddle has the other of said male and said female track member.

12. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 11 wherein there are two sets of one way ratchets, each of said two sets being opposite one another and separated by said open track.

13. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 11 wherein there are two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members.

14. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 11 wherein said guide track has an inverted U-shaped guide track female member.

15. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 14 wherein there are two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members.

16. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 11 wherein said guide track has a continuous loop-shaped guide track female member.

17. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 16 wherein there are two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members.

18. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein at least one of said main housing base and said main housing cover is a protective cage component.

19. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein at least one of said main housing base and said main housing cover is a fully enclosed solid component.

20. The combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device of claim 1 wherein said main housing base and said main housing cover are both fully enclosed solid components.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to toothpaste and other viscous product dispensing, and more particularly to a supplementary product that performs both to protect an original container of such product and to provide dispensing means to more steadily, efficiently and economically dispense the product from its original container. Hence, a tube of toothpaste or similar container is placed in the present invention device and is both protected from piercing, crushing or accidental squeezing, and is kept neatly in the present invention device for dispensing product therefrom. The present invention viscous product container protector and dispenser in easily fabricated with minimal number of parts from metal, plastic, other materials or combinations thereof.

2. Information Disclosure Statement

The following patents represent the state of the art of prior toothpaste and related dispensers:

U.S. Pat. No. 6,851,577 describes a dispenser configured to receive a collapsible container and provided with a slider linearly guided along the collapsible container to uniformly press thereagainst to advance a substance contained in the collapsible towards and discharge in through the container's outlet port at a uniform rate.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,789,701 describes a dispenser that includes a base into which the open end of a conventional tube of toothpaste is threaded, a manually operated pump in the base to draw paste from the tube and discharge the paste onto a toothbrush, a perforated tube positioned in the tube of toothpaste to prevent prematurely collapsing of the walls and resulting flow restriction as paste is drawn from the tube, and a cover that hinges to the top of the base to conceal the tube and that provides presentation area for advertising, logos and other graphic or written information.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,454,133 describes an apparatus to provide discharging toothpaste from a toothpaste tube under control of a user. The apparatus includes a tube holder and a tube receptacle disposed within a first end of the tube holder and adapted to accept a cap end of the toothpaste tube. The apparatus further includes a set of nip rolls adapted to engage a body of the toothpaste tube and to urge toothpaste from a distal end of the toothpaste tube towards the cap end and a wheeled trolley coupled to the nip rolls on a first end and engaging a guide channel of the tube holder on a second end and adapted to maintain an alignment of the nip rolls with respect to a centerline of the tooth paste tube as the nip rolls travel along a longitudinal axis of the toothpaste tube from the distal end to the cap end.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,884,812 describes an economical and ergonomical three-part tube squeezer for collapsible tubes containing viscous fluids, the squeezer including an elliptically shaped housing, a shaft rotatably mounted in the housing and having a longitudinal slot therethrough to receive the end of a tube and wind the tube therearound, a key outside the housing on an end of the shaft, for winding the shaft, and a removable (friction-fit or threaded) locking piece on the other end of the shaft, outside the housing, for holding the structure in assembly. The tube squeezer is self-standing and operated while in the standing position or held in one's hand. The tube squeezer rolls up the collapsible tube by the key to dispense the viscous fluid contents upwardly when in the standing position. The tube squeezer can be disposed when the collapsible tube or reused with another tube.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,813 describes a wall mountable toothpaste dispenser operated by electrical power from the bathroom outlet or batteries. A sliding horizontal cylindrical wedge presses a toothpaste tube against a fixed vertical planar wedge with an inclined surface for squeezing a dose onto a toothbrush. The cylindrical wedge is moved by a line and pulley system driven by a motor and spur gearing. The dispenser is made from inexpensive materials and any mechanical part can be repaired by the user. Other viscous liquid products can be dispensed by this device.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,305,922 describes a dispenser that is disclosed herein having a paste container removably mounted in a stationary base with a dispensing nozzle for discharging paste therethrough. In one version, the paste container is pressurized by use of a removable air pump while in another version, a mechanical pump extracts paste into and through the nozzle. In either version, a brush-operated lever actuates a mechanism coupled to the nozzle for selectively releasing the pressurized paste.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,805,805 describes a tube dispenser that utilizes a ratchet actuated pusher for squeezing the contents from a tube. In a first embodiment, a tube is supported on a support plate with a nozzle of the tube extending through an aperture formed in an end wall connected to the support plate. A handle, mounted on an opposite end wall, has an attached ratchet actuation lever. A toothed rod extends through an aperture in the end wall adjacent the handle. A pair of frame rods extend between the end walls. By squeezing the ratchet actuation lever, the pusher is caused to advance along the support plate, squeezing the tube walls between the pusher and the support plate. Three different configurations of the pusher are disclosed. The pusher may be formed as a cylindrical bar, a right angle channel, or as a plurality of rotatable rollers. In a second embodiment, the tube is supported within a receptacle, with a nozzle of the tube extending through an aperture in an end wall of the receptacle. A plurality of rotatable rollers are mounted in a triangular configuration for sliding movement along a partition floor of the receptacle. A squeezing slot is formed between the rollers. A toothed bar in conjunction with a ratchet lever are utilized to advance the rollers along the partition floor of the receptacle, thus dispensing the tube contents.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,570,829 describes a toothpaste dispenser that is constructed in the form of a wall unit simulating a toothbrush with an elongate upper compartment for receiving an inverted toothpaste tube and constituting the toothbrush handle portion, and a lower compartment constituting the bristle portion of the toothbrush and containing a dispenser mechanism. The dispenser mechanism comprises a resilient dispensing duct which receives toothpaste from the inverted tube, and a lever-operated plunger for pumping paste through the tube and discharging same through an outlet nozzle. A metered quantity of paste is dispensed with each forward stroke of the lever.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,548,337 describes a dispenser apparatus for dispensing a portion of the contents from compressible tubular containers such as those used for toothpaste that includes a plastic housing member having one portion designed for the receipt of an air pressure pump and associated linkage, and a second outward portion in communication with the air pressure pump but otherwise sealed, and a front panel portion hinged to the remainder of the housing for selectively opening and closing the second outward portion so as to define a sealed chamber. A tubular container such as a toothpaste tube is placed in the sealed chamber. The bottom surface or wall of the housing includes an internally threaded outlet which is rigidly secured to the housing and which is suitably designed to receive the threaded end of the tubular container such that when one tube is empty, it may be unscrewed and a new tube screwed into this outlet. A mechanical linkage connects the air pressure pump to an exterior pushbutton control and the connecting linkage also cooperates with a pulley arrangement to selectively open and close a slide valve disposed over the outlet such that as the air pressure pump is activated the valve is opened and when the air pressure pump is deactivated, the valve closes.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,418,840 describes an invention that is directed to a dispenser for housing and dispensing on demand a predetermined amount of the semi-fluid contents of a compressible tube container, such as a toothpaste tube. The dispenser for automatically dispensing a semi-fluid material that can be caused to flow slowly from a compressible tube comprises: (a) a structure for holding the tube in a position such that the opening in the tube extends downwardly; (b) an arrangement for slidably closing the end of the opening in the tube; (c) a device for agitating upon manual command the tube and semi-fluid contents such that the contents are induced to flow; (d) the above recited arrangement withdrawing the slidable closure from the opening upon manual command to thereby permit the material to flow gradually out of the tube.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,331,265 describes a dispenser that progressively empties a tube from one end by applying pressure to the other end. The dispenser comprises a support on which the tube rests. A handle is pivotally mounted on the support and has a range of reciprocating movement between first and second pre-determined points for applying an increment of pressure to one end of the tube. A ratchet is connected to the handle and permits the roller to move incrementally forward against the tube exerting pressure thereon during each reciprocation. As the handle moves between the first and second pre-determined points, it moves to an intermediate point defined relative to the point where the handle is pivotally mounted on the support and beyond the point to an over-center position where the roller releases sufficient pressure on the contents of the tube to prevent residual emptying or dripping.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,303,110 describes a dispenser for drawing toothpaste from a squeeze-tube container and applying it to the top of a toothbrush with a vacuum pump of piston-cylinder construction which is so operated that the pump draws the toothpaste out of the squeeze-tube container when the toothbrush is pushed into the dispenser and discharges the same when the toothbrush is withdrawn. The toothbrush is pumped through a passage which is provided with an inlet valve which operates in cooperation with an elastic adapter used for mounting and sealing the neck portion of the squeeze-tube container, an outlet valve which operates in cooperation with a port formed in the cylinder, and an elastic discharge nozzle which opens when the toothpaste is being pumped and closes by its own resiliency when the toothpaste is being drawn out of the squeeze-tube container. The amount of toothpaste supplied each time by the dispenser can be adjustably predetermined as desired.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,258,864 describes an automatic toothpaste dispenser that employs a roller-type squeeze device that is driven along the toothpaste tube simultaneously with the opening of a gate that permits the toothpaste to flow. After the desired amount of toothpaste has been dispensed, the roller is automatically retracted and the gate is simultaneously closed. However, the retraction of the gate only continues until the gate is closed, which results in a ratchet-like effect, the roller being retracted a smaller distance than that by which it is advanced.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,946,904 describes a dispenser for paste or viscous liquid in tubes, which may be either counter or wall mounted. A pair of cooperating rollers having a set of central meshing teeth are adapted to receive a tube. The rollers are mounted in a supporting bracket adapted to slide within a case. The case comprises two identically configured portions which are hinged together, and are provided with locking means to contain the bracket, and tube in position therewithin. Rotation of a projecting knob causes the contents of the tube to be dispensed. The provision of projecting teeth on the cooperating rollers ensures the elimination of any possibility of slippage or jamming of the tube.

Notwithstanding the prior art, the present invention is neither taught nor rendered obvious thereby.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device that is used to carry and protect a tube of toothpaste or other similar container and subsequently to dispense toothpaste or similar matter from its container without removing from the present invention device. The present invention device further provides for an effective and efficient means for removing the paste or other viscous product from its container so that little or none is wasted, and does so neatly.

The present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device includes an elongated main housing base having a recessed area adapted to receive and nest a viscous product container, especially a tube of toothpaste or other viscous gel or paste. The main housing base has a substantially solid bottom and opposing elongated side walls, and has a front end and a back end, the front end having a shoulder and a viscous product neck and cap opening for a viscous product container neck and cap to extend therethrough.

The present invention device also includes an elongated main housing cover being hingedly connected to the base, and having an inside and an outside and having a footprint shape consistent with the base to permit closure of the cover with the base. The cover has an elongated open track adapted to receive an arm of a ram paddle, and has at least one set of one way ratchet ramps located on the inside of the cover adjacent the open track to permit movement of the ram paddle from the back end to the front end of the base when the ram paddle is in an operational position and to prevent movement of the ram paddle from the front end to the back end when the ram paddle is in the operational position.

The present invention device ram paddle is adapted to fit into and slide along the open track, the ram paddle being positioned in the open track and having an arm extending through the open track. The ram paddle also has a slider button located on the outside of the cover and has a viscous product container ram located on the inside of the cover. The ram paddle has an operational position and a reset position such that, when the device has a viscous product container nested therein and the cover is closed, the ram paddle is in its operational position and may only be moved from the base back end to the front end and not vice versa, and when the cover is open, the ram paddle is in its reset position and may be moved in both forward and back directions.

The present invention device has latching means connected to at least one of the base and the cover for opening and for maintaining the cover in a closed position to the base when desired. This latching means may be merely a force fit edge so that the cover tightly fits onto the base, or it may be any known means to temporarily secure the cover and base together that will permit convenient opening and closing thereof. For example, instead of a force fit connecting edge, a snap latch and latching ramp could be used. Others include buttons, straps, hook and loop, peg and orifice, etc.

The present invention device is arranged so that a user may set the ram paddle toward the back end, place a viscous product container in the base with the neck in the neck and cap opening and with the cap outside the device, close the cover, open the viscous product container cap, and slide the slider button from the back end toward the front end to dispense viscous product from its container, typically, a toothpaste, paste or gel tube. Besides toothpaste, any viscous product that is in a collapsible squeezable container that is normally dispensed by hand squeezing the container could be used in the present invention device. These could include tub caulking, face cream, body cream, sex lubricants, medications (like zinc oxide or neosporin) in metal collapsible tubes, as well as other such products.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, the main housing base and the main housing cover have a closed position end view shape selected from the group consisting of a square, a rectangle, a circle and an oval. One preferred embodiment is wherein the closed end view shape is a circle.

In some embodiments, the main housing base and the main housing cover are hingedly connected to one another with at least one living hinge. Thus the combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device has only two separate parts, the first being a unistructural combination base, cover and hinge, and the second being the ram paddle. This enables the entire device except for the ram paddle to be molded in a single piece, a huge cost and manufacturing advantage over prior art devices with many pieces, and an environmentally advantageous arrangement due to the low energy and materials consumption.

The present invention open track is an elongated linear opening and may have a length of at least 80% of a maximum length of the base to permit optimal effectiveness of the ram paddle.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, there are two sets of one way ratchets, each of the two sets being opposite one another and separated by the open track. Preferably, each of the two sets being opposite one another and separated by the open track.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, the device is at least partially transparent plastic. This is and aide to the user for two reasons: it shows the product contained in the device, and it makes security inspection passage easier because the contents are seen without opening the device. This is a second travel advantage of the present invention device, the first being identified above, namely, a hard device with sufficient strength to protect the tube therein, i.e., to prevent its inadvertent squeezing and lost, messy product spilled in a travel case or suitcase.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, the device further includes at least one guide track having a complimentary male track member and female track member, wherein the cover has one of the male and the female track member and the ram paddle has the other of the male and the female track member. Preferably, there are two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members. The guide track may have an inverted U-shaped guide track female member, or a double track with an inverted U-shaped guide track female member. There may be two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members.

Alternatively, the guide track may have a continuous loop-shaped guide track female member or two such members, the first having a single male peg or roller and the second having two such pegs or rollers for increased stability of the ram paddle. Thus, there may be two sets of male members and two sets of corresponding female members or even four sets, two for each of opposing double loop tracks.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, at least one of the main housing base and the main housing cover is a protective cage component. Alternatively or in combination, at least one of the main housing base and the main housing cover is a fully enclosed solid component. In some cases, the main housing base and the main housing cover are both fully enclosed solid components.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention combination viscous product container protector and dispenser device, the device further includes: (e) the viscous product container with the neck and the cap.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should be more fully understood when the specification herein is taken in conjunction with the drawings appended hereto wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates an oblique view of a present invention viscous product tube protector and dispenser device;

FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the present invention dispenser device shown in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 illustrate empty, end views of alternative embodiment present invention devices;

FIG. 8 illustrates a side cut view of a present invention device showing a one-way ratchet set and a ram paddle guide track;

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a side view and a front view, respectively, of a present invention device ram paddle

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate two side cut views of different present invention device covers showing a one-way ratchet set and a ram paddle guide track, one showing a closed loop track and the other showing a double inverted U-shaped track; and,

FIG. 13 illustrates an alternative embodiment open spread bottom view of another present invention device with the ram paddle removed; and,

FIGS. 14 and 15 illustrate an alternative present invention ram paddle and cover fittage arrangement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates an oblique view of a present invention viscous product tube protector and dispenser device 1, having a top elongated main housing cover 3 and an elongated main housing base 5. Both the cover 3 and the base 5 in this embodiment are solid plastic. Base 5 has a front end 7, a back end 9 and a bottom 11. Base 5 is in the end view shape of a half ellipse and hence its bottom 11 curves upwardly to establish side walls as shown. There is a cut-out 13 for nesting and allowing protrusion of the container (37 in FIG. 2 below) at its neck 31 and cap 33. Cover 3 has a front end 21 and a back end (unnumbered), with its own corresponding front end cut-out 35, as shown. The front end cut-outs provide sufficient expose of the cap 33 to enable a user to remove and close cap 33 and to obtain product without the need to remove the container from present invention device 1 to do so. Cover 3 also includes an open, elongated track 15 adapted to receive an arm of a ram paddle (FIG. 2 below) as shown partially as ram paddle push button 25. Closure means (snap tabs) 17 and 19 are shown for snap locking and unlocking the cover 3 from the base 5. A hinge (not shown) on the opposite side from the closure means keeps the cover 3 and base 5 from being separated when opened.

FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the present invention tube protector and dispenser device 1 shown in FIG. 1. Identical elements to FIG. 1 are identically numbered in FIG. 2. Additionally, in FIG. 2 the toothpaste tube container 37 is shown in outline, as is ram paddle 39. The device is used as described above in the summary. By removing cap 33 and sliding button 25 forward, a user dispenses the desired strip of paste or gel without removing the container 37 (tube) from the device 1. The device 1 acts as a dispenser, a holding case for the container and as a protector to prevent or reduce the likelihood of accidental pressing or squeezing to the tube.

FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 illustrate empty, end views of alternative embodiment present invention devices 51, 71, 91, 111 and 131, respectively. These design changes are not to be taken as limiting the shape or size of the present invention devices, but rather to show diverse and interesting possibilities and to lead the artisan to conceive alternative designs not specifically illustrated herein. The FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 deives operate essentially in the same fashion as the FIGS. 1 and 2 device, and will be described in parts table format, as follows:

FIG. 3 Parts Table
Item NumberItem Description
51Hexagonal-shaped Device
53Main Housing Base
55Main Housing Base Front End
57Base Container Neck & Cap Opening
59Main Housing Cover
61Cover Front End
63Cover Neck & Cap Opening
65Ram Paddle Push Button
67Ram Paddle

FIG. 4 Parts Table
Item NumberItem Description
71Oval-shaped Device
73Main Housing Base
75Main Housing Base Front End
77Base Container Neck & Cap Opening
79Main Housing Cover
81Cover Front End
83Cover Neck & Cap Opening
85Ram Paddle Push Button
87Ram Paddle
89Ram Paddle Arm

FIG. 5 Parts Table
Item NumberItem Description
91Circular-shaped Device
93Main Housing Base
95Main Housing Base Front End
97Base Container Neck & Cap Opening
99Main Housing Cover
101Cover Front End
103Cover Neck & Cap Opening
105Ram Paddle Push Button
107Ram Paddle

FIG. 6 Parts Table
Item NumberItem Description
111Rectangular-shaped Device
113Main Housing Base
115Main Housing Base Front End
117Base Container Neck & Cap Opening
119Main Housing Cover
121Cover Front End
123Cover Neck & Cap Opening
125Ram Paddle Push Button
127Ram Paddle

FIG. 7 Parts Table
Item NumberItem Description
131Square-shaped Device
133Main Housing Base
135Main Housing Base Front End
137Base Container Neck & Cap Opening
139Main Housing Cover
141Cover Front End
143Cover Neck & Cap Opening
145Ram Paddle Push Button
147Ram Paddle
149Hinges
151Clasp

FIG. 8 illustrates a side cut view of a present invention device cover 3 from FIG. 1, but now showing a one-way ratchet set 29 and a ram paddle guide track female member 27 under open elongated track 15. The one-way ratchet set assures that the ram paddle can only be advanced forwardly (toward the front end) and cannot be slid or accidentally slip back when in the operative position, i.e., when its male track member (e.g., a peg, roller or other protrusion) is in the horizontal portion closest to the top) of guide track female member 27. A second half of the cover would have mirror image components of those shown in this Figure.

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a side view and a front view, respectively, of a present invention device ram paddle 201 that could be used in the cover arrangement of FIG. 8 immediately above. Paddle 201 has a push button 25 at its topmost portion, paddle base 203 at the bottom and an arm 205 therebetween. There are opposite pegs 207 and 209 that fit into the female members such as guide track female member 27 of FIG. 8. Slanted shoulders 211 and 213 slide along and log in front of the individual ratchets such as ratchets 29 of FIG. 8, permitting forward but not reverse movement, as the paddle base 203 pushes viscous product such as toothpaste out of a container as push button 25 is slid toward the front end of the device.

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate two partial side cut views of different present invention device covers 230 and 260 respectively, each Figure showing a one-way ratchet set and a ram paddle guide track, one showing a closed loop track and the other showing a double inverted U-shaped track.

In FIG. 11, cover 230 includes an inside wall 231, an open track 233, a closed loop guide track female member 235. Member 235 has a front arc 237 and a mirror image back arc 243, and a bottom segment 239. When a ram paddle is in its operative position and the device has a tube container therein, and the cover is closed, peg 241 (and its paddle) can only travel forward along the upper segment of member 235, and only forward due to the ratchet action. When the paddle peg (male track member) 241 has moved to the frontmost position and move no further, the container has been emptied. A user opens the device, removes the spent container and lowers peg 241 down arc 237. This separates the ratchets from the shoulder engaging part of the paddle and now allows the paddle to be reset by being moved back to the back end along segment 239. The peg can be moved up arc 231 to reengage the ratchet action, and the device refilled and closed for repeat use with a new tube container.

In FIG. 12, cover 260 includes an inside wall 261, an open track 263, a closed double, inverted U-shaped guide track female member 269. Member 269 has double front vertical exit tracks 267 and 271 and double back vertical entrance tracks 273 and 275, and a top horizontal segment 291 and a bottom horizontal segment 293. Ram paddle 270 has a push button 297, a center portion with two upper pegs 281 and 283, and two lower pegs 285 and 287. The upper pegs and lower pegs each form a set of what could also be designated as front pegs and back pegs. Ram paddle 270 also has a flexible ratchet-engaging member 289 that permits forward motion but prevents backward motion when engaged with the ratchets 277. Thus, when ram paddle 270 is in its operative position and the device has a tube container therein, and the cover 260 is closed, pegs 281 and 283 in the top horizontal segment 291 and pegs 285 and 287 in bottom horizontal segment 293 (and its paddle 270) can only travel forward along the upper segment of member 235, and only forward due to the ratchet action. When the paddle peg (male track member) 241 has moved to the frontmost position and move no further, the container has been emptied. A user opens the device, removes the spent container and simultaneously lowers the front pegs down exit track 267 and the back pegs down exit track 271. This separates the ratchets from the shoulder engaging part of the paddle and now allows the paddle to be reset by being moved back to the back end and up entrance tracks 273 and 275. The peg can be moved accordingly to reengage the ratchet action, and the device refilled and closed for repeat use with a new tube container.

FIG. 13 illustrates an alternative embodiment open spread bottom view of another present invention device with the ram paddle removed. This device 301 has a main housing 303 and cover 305. Base 303 is a cage-like component with openings in the body, such as cut-outs or orifices 313 and 315. Cover 305 is a solid plastic component with no non-functional cut-outs. Both base 303 and cover 305 are transparent plastic, but could be metal or other material, such as glass fiber. The remaining components should now be easily understood from the preceding discussion and are as follows: base back end 307; base front end 309; base neck opening 311; base first wall 317; base second wall 319; thinned living hinge 321; cover back end 331; cover front end 333; cover neck opening 335; cover first wall 337; cover second wall 339; ratchet sets 341 and 343; elongated open track 345; guide track exits 347 and 349; guide track entrances 351 and 353; snap tabs 357 and 361 and tab receivers 359 and 363. Note that the entire device 301 sans paddle, is made from a single piece of plastic.

FIG. 14 illustrates a perspective view of the present invention device ram paddle 400. FIG. 15 illustrates a front view of the present invention viscous product tube protector and dispenser device cover 450 with the FIG. 14 ram paddle 400 in place. These two figures are discussed together wherein identical parts are identically numbered.

Ram paddle 400 has a push slide button 403 at its topmost portion, a plate 401, and a button arm 409 therebetween. When cover 450 is attached to a base and a toothpaste tube is contained therein, ratchet sets 413 and 415 slide along mating ratchet sets 457 and 459 in FIG. 15, permitting forward but not reverse movement towards front surface 411, as paddle base 407 pushes viscous product such as toothpaste out of container as push button 403 and the ram paddle device 400 is slid toward the front end of the device.

Ram paddle 400 has a push button 403 at its topmost portion. Plate 401 and arm 409 therebetween secures ram paddle 400 and rides inside of shelf 455 of main housing cover 453. Ratchet sets 413 and 415 slide along mating ratchets 457 and 459 of shelf 455 permitting forward but not reverse movement towards front surface 411, as paddle base 407 pushes viscous product such as toothpaste out of container as push button 403 and the ram paddle device 400 is slid toward the front end of the device. When the viscous product tube is removed, ram paddle 400 drops down and then may easily be slid back for a fresh start position.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.