Title:
Infestation resistant reclosable seal
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container has a reclosable zipper seal. The zipper comprises a pair of interlocking sections attached to respective portions of the container. The interlocking sections are secured to portions of the container by an adhesive. No sewing is used to secure the interlocking sections to the sides of the container. The adhesive may provide a significant resistance to permeation by organisms or other contaminants. The adhesive sealing of the interlocking sections to the container may thus provide a significant resistance of the container to exogenous infestation. Alternatively, the interlocking sections may comprise a plastic material such that upon the interlocking sections being sewn to the container, the container may be appreciably resistant to exogenous infestation. Where a gusseted bag is used, portions of the gussets may be adhesively sealed, such as through external application of an adhesive or by applying heat to a heat-sealable outer ply of the bag.



Inventors:
Eads, Claude Alan (Maineville, OH, US)
Garger, Rainer M. (Weln, AT)
O'connor, Thomas P. (Shelbyville, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/231502
Publication Date:
03/22/2007
Filing Date:
09/21/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/64, 383/109
International Classes:
B65D33/16; B65D30/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060008186Reclosable child resistant packageJanuary, 2006Kusz
20010000480Plastic film packaging with tearable tape stripApril, 2001Stagg et al.
20020103067Bags with gussets, method and machine for manufacturing themAugust, 2002Bois
20060072855Foldable blank for use with a paper based evidence holding bag enclosureApril, 2006Shaw
20070237431User inflated breachable container, and methodOctober, 2007Perell
20080277308Gusseted T-Shirt Bag and Bagging RackNovember, 2008Simhaee
20070102460Expandable wallet bagMay, 2007Lottman
20070272705Container for Infusion LiquidsNovember, 2007Beine et al.
20090297070ZIP SEALED FLEXIBLE POUCHDecember, 2009Berman
20060280390BULK BAG LINERS FOR RECEIVING, TRANSPORTING, AND DISCHARGING MEAT AND MEAT PRODUCTSDecember, 2006Richardson Jr. et al.
20060228052Convertible laptop bagOctober, 2006Hess



Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FROST BROWN TODD LLC (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A container system, comprising: (a) a container, comprising an opening defined by a first side wall and a second side wall, wherein the first side wall and the second side wall each have an inner surface and an outer surface, wherein the container comprises a paper material; (b) a zipper positioned at the container opening, the zipper comprising: (i) a first interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, and (ii) a second interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, wherein the zipper is operable to selectively open and close a seal of the container opening upon engagement between the one or more teeth of the first interlocking section and the one or more teeth of the second interlocking section, wherein the first interlocking section is secured to the first side wall with an adhesive, wherein the second interlocking section is secured to the second side wall with an adhesive.

2. The container system of claim 1, wherein the outer surface of the first side wall of the container is secured to the inner surface of the first interlocking section, wherein the outer surface of the second side wall of the container is secured to the inner surface of the second interlocking section.

3. The container system of claim 1, wherein the first interlocking section is not secured to the first side wall with sewing, wherein the second interlocking section is not secured to the second side wall with sewing.

4. The container system of claim 1, further comprising a slider configured to engage and disengage the teeth of the first interlocking section and the teeth of the second interlocking section.

5. The container system of claim 1, wherein the first and second interlocking sections each comprise a plastic material.

6. The container system of claim 1, wherein the container comprises a bag.

7. The container system of claim 1, wherein the container comprises multiple layers of material, wherein at least one of the layers comprises a heat-sealable material.

8. The container system of claim 7, wherein the first and second interlocking sections are each secured to a paper layer of the container.

9. The container system of claim 7, wherein the outermost layer of the container comprises a paper material.

10. The container system of claim 1, wherein the adhesive is heat activated.

11. A container system, comprising: (a) a container, comprising an opening defined by a first side wall and a second side wall, wherein the first side wall and the second side wall each have an inner surface and an outer surface, wherein the container comprises a paper material; (b) a zipper secured to the container, the zipper comprising: (i) a first interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, and a flange region, and (ii) a second interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, and a flange region, wherein the one or more teeth of the first interlocking section are configured to engage with the one or more teeth of the second interlocking section; and (c) a securing means for securing the first interlocking section to the first side wall and the second interlocking section to the second side wall, wherein the securing means is configured to prevent exogenous infestation of the container between the interlocking sections and the respective side walls.

12. The container system of claim 11, wherein the outer surface of the first side wall of the container is secured to the inner surface of the first interlocking section, wherein the outer surface of the second side wall of the container is secured to the inner surface of the second interlocking section.

13. The container system of claim 11, wherein the container comprises a bag.

14. A method of making a container system, comprising: (a) providing a bag, wherein the bag comprises an opening defined by a first side wall and a second side wall, wherein the bag further comprises a paper material; (b) providing a first interlocking section and a second interlocking section, wherein the first interlocking section has an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, wherein the second interlocking section has an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface; (c) securing the first interlocking section to the first side wall; (d) securing the second interlocking section to the second side wall; and (e) prohibiting exogenous infestation of the bag through permeation between the interlocking sections and the respective side walls.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the result of prohibiting exogenous infestation of the bag is obtained by performing a step of applying an adhesive between the interlocking sections and respective side walls.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the adhesive is used to secure the interlocking sections to the respective side walls.

17. A container system, comprising: (a) a container, comprising an opening defined by a first side wall and a second side wall, wherein the first side wall and the second side wall each have an inner surface and an outer surface; (b) a zipper positioned at the container opening, the zipper comprising: (i) a first interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, and (ii) a second interlocking section having an inner surface, an outer surface, and one or more teeth adjacent the inner surface, wherein the zipper is operable to selectively open and close a seal of the container opening upon engagement between the one or more teeth of the first interlocking section and the one or more teeth of the second interlocking section, wherein the first interlocking section is secured to the first side wall with sewing, wherein the second interlocking section is secured to the second side wall with sewing, wherein the zipper comprises a plastic material.

18. The container system of claim 17, wherein the container has a heat-sealable ply, wherein heat is applied to at least a portion of the heat-sealable ply of the container.

19. The container system of claim 17, further comprising: (a) adding an adhesive between the first interlocking section and the first side wall; and (b) adding an adhesive between the second interlocking section and the second side wall.

20. The container system of claim 17, wherein the container comprises a gusseted bag, the method further comprising sealing portions of the gussets of the bag.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Reclosable seals are used in a variety of applications, one example being for sealing the opening of a bag. A variety of reclosable seals currently exist, but no one prior to the inventors has created or used the invention described in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims that particularly point out and distinctly claim the invention, it is believed the present invention will be better understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify the same elements. The drawings and detailed description which follow are intended to be merely illustrative and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of a bag having a reclosable seal.

FIG. 2 depicts a transverse cross-sectional view of a tamper evident reclosable seal.

FIG. 3 depicts perspective view of a bag having an alternative tamper evident reclosable seal.

FIG. 4 depicts a transverse cross-sectional view of an alternative tamper evident reclosable seal.

FIG. 5 depicts a transverse cross-sectional view of an alternative tamper evident reclosable seal.

FIG. 6 depicts a transverse cross-sectional view of the tamper evident reclosable seal of FIG. 5 after subsequent processing.

FIG. 7 depicts a transverse cross-sectional view of an alternative tamper evident reclosable seal.

FIG. 8 depicts a partial view of a slider and zipper interlocking sections having a tamper evidence device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description should not be used to limit the scope of the present invention. Other examples, features, aspects, embodiments, and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description, which includes by way of illustration, one of the best modes contemplated for carrying out the invention. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other different and obvious aspects, all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions should be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive. It should therefore be understood that the inventors contemplate a variety of embodiments that are not explicitly disclosed herein.

FIG. 1 depicts a bag (30) having a reclosable seal in the form of a zipper (10). Bag (30) has a right side (32) and a left side (34). Similarly, zipper (10) has a right interlocking section (12) and a left interlocking section (14). Right interlocking section (12) of zipper (10) is secured to right side (32) of bag (30), while left interlocking section (14) of zipper (10) is secured to left side (34) of bag (30). In one embodiment, interlocking sections (12, 14) comprise a pair of profiles. Other suitable interlocking sections (12, 14) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, including but not limited to zippers with metal teeth.

As used herein, terms such as “right,” “left,” “above,” “below,” and the like are used simply to refer to the relative positioning of elements in the drawings, and are not intended to be limiting in any way. While the present example includes a bag (30), it will be appreciated that zipper (10) or any other reclosable seal may be used on any other type of container or receptacle, including but not limited to envelopes, pouches, sacks, and the like. As used herein, the terms “container” and “receptacle” shall be read to include anything configured to hold and contain an object or materials. To the extent that the container is a bag, it will be appreciated that any type of bag may be used, including but not limited to gusseted, non-gusseted, paper, plastic, multi-laminate, woven polypropylene bags, and the like. In one embodiment, the container comprises a bag (30) having a plurality of layers, with at least one of the layers being a paper material, and at least one other layer (e.g., the outer layer) being a heat-sealable material. Other suitable containers, materials, and configurations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

It will be appreciated that interlocking sections (12, 14) of zipper (10) may be secured to bag (30) in any suitable fashion. In one embodiment, interlocking sections (12, 14) are secured to bag (30) by a pre-applied, heat-activated adhesive. Such adhesive may be activated by hot air, by hot rolling, or by any other suitable method. In another embodiment, interlocking sections (12, 14) are secured to bag (30) by an epoxy bond. In this embodiment, a first compound is applied to each interlocking section (12, 14) and a second compound is applied to the portions of bag (30) that will ultimately come into contact with interlocking sections (12, 14). The first and second compounds are configured such that, when joined together, the compounds form a physical bond. Accordingly, a bond is formed when interlocking sections (12, 14) are placed in contact with the aforementioned portions of bag (30), thereby securing interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30). Alternatively, any other technique may be used to secure interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30), including but not limited to heat-sealing, stitching, adhesives, press-sealing, cold welding, pressure bonding, double-sided tape. Where interlocking sections (12, 14) are stitched to bag (30), it will be appreciated that such stitching may include, by way of example only, sewing or ultrasonic stitching. Still other suitable techniques for securing interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

It will be appreciated that the potential for infestation of bag (30) by insects, larvae, or other undesirable organisms or materials is an issue that may need to be addressed. In addition to the prospect of the mere presence of organisms and other contaminants in bag (30) being undesirable, such organisms or other contaminants may adversely affect the other contents of bag (30) (e.g., by eating the contents of bag (30)) or the bag (30) itself (e.g., by boring through bag (30)). Infestation may arise within bag (30) by organisms or contaminants that are introduced into bag (30), such as during filling (“endogenous infestation”). In addition, or alternatively, infestation may arise when organisms or contaminants penetrate bag (30), the interface between bag (30) and interlocking sections (12, 14), or elsewhere (“exogenous infestation”). For instance, with some bags (30) where interlocking sections (12, 14) are secured to bag (30) by mere sewing, it may be possible for organisms such as larvae to infest bag (30) by entering through the interface between interlocking sections (12, 14) and bag (30). That is, the sewing of interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30) may provide an insufficient seal at the interface of interlocking sections (12, 14) and bag (30), such that the interface provides undesirable permeability for exogenous infestation. Other features and components of bag (30), including features relating to interlocking sections (12, 14), which may provide permeability for exogenous infestation will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

In one embodiment, interlocking sections (12, 14) are secured to bag (30) with an adhesive to significantly reduce the likelihood of, if not prohibit, exogenous infestation at the interface between interlocking sections (12, 14) and bag (30). In addition, an adhesive is used to seal the portions of gussets of bag (30) that are proximate to interlocking sections (12, 14). In this embodiment, no sewing is used to secure interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30). For this embodiment, any type of adhesive may be used, including but not limited to an epoxy, a heat activated adhesive (e.g., as a heat sealable ply on bag (30)), a pressure sensitive adhesive, a liquid adhesive, or any other type of adhesive. It will be appreciated that the use of such adhesive, particularly where no sewing is used to secure interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30), may greatly reduce, if not eliminate altogether, the likelihood of exogenous infestation via the interface between interlocking sections (12, 14) and bag (30).

In another embodiment, interlocking sections (12, 14) comprise a plastic material, and are secured to bag (30) through sewing. For instance, each interlocking section (12, 14) may be sewn individually to bag (30). Alternatively, interlocking sections (12, 14) may both be sewn to bag simultaneously (e.g., with the same thread). Other ways of sewing interlocking sections (12, 14) to bag (30) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. It will be appreciated that, in this embodiment, the resilience of the plastic material surrounding the sewn stitching thread may provide appreciable exogenous infestation resistance, such as by creating a relatively snug fit of interlocking sections (12, 14) about the sewn thread. In other words, the plastic material of interlocking sections (12, 14) may provide better exogenous infestation resistance than a bag (30) where interlocking sections are made of a cloth or paper material. Of course, were interlocking sections (12, 14) are sewn or otherwise stitched or secured to bag, an additional adhesive may be applied between each interlocking section (12, 14) and the respective adjacent portions of bag (30). It will also be appreciated that, as in any other embodiment described herein, an adhesive may be used to seal the portions of the gussets of bag (30) that are proximate to interlocking sections (12, 14). For instance, and without limitation, an adhesive may be applied to the outside of the gussets to provide this seal. Alternatively, where bag (30) comprises a plurality of layers, with the outer layer being heat-sealable, heat may be applied to gussets to provide the seal. It will be appreciated that gusset portions may be sealed in a variety of alternative ways. It will also be appreciated that resistance to exogenous infestation may be provided in a variety of alternative ways, and to a variety of degrees.

In the present example, interlocking sections (12, 14) comprise an extruded plastic material. Of course, interlocking sections (12, 14) may be formed of any other suitable material, and by any other suitable process. Respective ends (18, 20) of interlocking sections (12, 14) may be secured together by any suitable technique, including but not limited to a hot knife, hot glue, other adhesives, heat sealing, stitching, cold welding, pressure bonding, hooks, tape, clamps, rivets, or any other suitable technique or device.

It will be appreciated that zipper (10) is operable to seal bag (30). In the present example, such sealing occurs upon closure of zipper (10) by engagement of right interlocking section (12) with left interlocking section (14). As used herein, the term “seal” and its variants shall be read to generally imply the prevention of at least a substantial portion material (e.g., solids, gases, and/or liquids) from escaping or entering the container. However, such a “seal” need not per se be perfectly “air tight” or “water tight” as those phrases are commonly used and understood.

As shown in FIG. 2, right interlocking section (12) and left interlocking section (14) each have a pair of complimentary teeth (22) extending the length of the respective interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, each interlocking section (12, 14) could have a single tooth (12), rather than a plurality of teeth (22). In the present example, closure of zipper (10) results from engagement of teeth (22), thereby effecting a seal of bag (30). In left interlocking section (14), a hinge (24) is located adjacent teeth (22). It will be appreciated that hinge (24) may prevent inadvertent disengagement of teeth (22), such as by outward separation of sides (32, 34) of bag (30) and/or interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, right interlocking section (12) may include a hinge (24) in addition to or as an alternative to left interlocking section (14) having hinge. Alternatively, any suitable alternative to hinge (24) may be used, including but not limited to no hinge (24) at all. Each interlocking section (12, 14) of the present example further comprises a flange region (11), which is adjacent teeth (22).

Engagement or disengagement of interlocking sections (12, 14) at teeth (22) may be effected or otherwise facilitated by a slider (16), which is shown in FIG. 1. Slider (16) is configured to slide longitudinally along zipper (10) to bring interlocking sections (12, 14) together into engagement or force interlocking sections (12, 14) apart for disengagement, depending upon which direction slider (16) is slid. Sliders (16) are well known in the art, and any type of slider (16) may be used. In one embodiment, slider (16) comprises a glider. In the present example, each interlocking section (12, 14) has a guide (13), with which slider (16) is engaged. Of course, slider (16) is optional, and any suitable alternative to slider (16) may be used, including but not limited to no slider (16) at all.

As is also shown in FIG. 2, the outer surface of the right side (32) of bag (30) is secured to the inner surface of right interlocking section (12) in flange region (11); while the outer surface of left side (34) of bag (30) is secured to the inner surface of left interlocking section (14) in flange region (11). In another embodiment, sides (32, 34) of bag (30) are secured to the outer surfaces of respective interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, sides (32, 34) may be secured to interlocking sections (12, 14) in any other configuration. In yet another embodiment, right side (32) of bag (30) and right interlocking section (12) are a homogenous continuum of material (e.g., a single piece); and left side (34) of bag (30) and left interlocking section (14) are a homogenous continuum of material. Still other suitable relative configurations of sides (32, 34) of bag (30) and interlocking sections (12, 14) of zipper (10) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that it may be desirable to provide some kind of assurance or indication as to whether a zipper (10) has been previously opened. In other words, it may be desirable to provide a device that is configured to show whether a zipper (10) and/or bag (30) has been tampered with. As used herein, the term “tamper evidence device,” including its variants, shall be read to include any feature, technique, and/or structure that is configured to provide evidence or indication that a bag (30) has been opened or otherwise tampered with. As used herein, the term “tamper” and its variants shall be read to include, but need not be limited to, an act of opening a bag (30) substantially or completely and/or gaining substantial or full access to its contents. Various exemplary devices for providing tamper evidence are shown in FIGS. 2-8. In these examples, the various tamper evidence devices include some type of seal that must be breached when the bag (30) is first opened completely (e.g., the first time complete access to the contents of bag (30) is gained). It will be appreciated, however, that the devices described hereafter are merely exemplary, and that tamper evidence may be provided by a variety of alternative devices. It will also be appreciated that the following examples and/or alternatives thereof may be used in isolation or in combination with one another. In addition, while tamper devices disclosed herein may provide tamper evidence, such devices may also provide other functionality and benefits not explicitly discussed herein.

In FIG. 2, a membrane (26) is positioned adjacent each interlocking section (12, 14). In the present example, membrane (26) comprises a strip of a plastic material. Alternatively, membrane (26) may comprise any other material or combination of materials, including but not limited to fabric, paper, foil, metal, and the like. In one embodiment, membrane (26) comprises a substantially transparent material, while each interlocking section (12, 14) comprises a substantially opaque material. Of course, membrane (26), right interlocking section (12), and/or left interlocking section (14) may have any other property, including but not limited to transparency, translucency, and/or opaqueness, color variations, including combinations thereof. In the present example, the wall thickness of membrane (26) is thinner than the wall thickness of interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, membrane (26) may alternatively be the same thickness as interlocking sections (12, 14) or thicker than interlocking sections (12, 14). Membrane (26) may be secured to interlocking sections (12, 14) or walls (32, 34) via any suitable technique, including but not limited to heat-sealing, stitching, adhesives, press-sealing, cold welding, pressure bonding, double-sided tape, and the like. In another embodiment, membrane (26) is extruded with interlocking sections (12, 14), such that membrane (26) and interlocking sections (12, 14) comprise a homogenous continuum of material. In yet another embodiment, instead of being secured to interlocking sections (12, 14), membrane (26) is secured to sides (32, 34) of bag (30). In still another embodiment, membrane (26) is secured to interlocking sections (12, 14), and sides (32, 34) are secured to membrane (26). Other suitable configurations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Membrane (26) of the present example is configured such that, when bag (30) is first opened, membrane (26) must be broken, torn, or otherwise breached in order to reach the contents of bag (30). Initial breach of membrane (26) may be facilitated by providing perforation (28) or other weakened feature in membrane (26). In one embodiment, membrane (26) includes a central, longitudinal perforation (28) along its length. In another embodiment, membrane (26) includes a longitudinal perforation along its junction each interlocking section (12, 14). In still another embodiment, membrane (26) includes a longitudinal perforation along its junction with side (32 and/or 34) of bag (30). In yet another embodiment, a string, tab, or the like may be pulled to rip membrane (26). Still other ways of facilitating breach of membrane (26) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3, interlocking sections (12, 14) include a plurality of intermittent spot seals (40). Spot seals (40) join right interlocking section (12) with left interlocking section (14). Spot seals (40) may be provided by any suitable technique, including but not limited to heat-sealing, ultrasonic stitching, adhesives, press-sealing, cold welding, pressure bonding, double-sided tape, and the like. As shown, spot seals (40) are positioned below teeth (22) (i.e. between teeth (22) and bag (30)). However, it will be appreciated that spot seals (40) may be positioned above teeth (22) (“external”) in addition to or as an alternative to being positioned below teeth (22) (“internal”). Similarly, spot seals (40) may be provided in bag (30). In the present example, when bag (30) is first opened, spot seals (40) must be breached in order to gain full access to the contents of bag (30). It will be appreciated that such breach may be accomplished simply by pulling interlocking sections (12, 14) apart with sufficient force to break spot seals (40). In one embodiment, the spot seals (40) break without compromising the wall integrity of interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, spot seals (40) need not comprise “spots” per se, and may comprise any suitable pattern, including but not limited to a continuous, longitudinal weld line along the length of interlocking sections (12, 14) and/or sides (32, 34) of bag (30).

In addition to or as an alternative to having interlocking sections (12, 14) comprising one or more tamper evidence devices, bag (30) may comprise a tamper evidence device. One such device is shown in FIG. 4, which shows bag (30) having a plurality of intermittent seals (50). In this example, seal (50) joins the inner wall of right side (32) of bag (30) with the inner wall of right side (34) of bag (30). In the present example, the inner walls of right side (32) and left side (34) comprise a plastic material, and seal (50) is provided by heating the plastic material. In another embodiment, seal (50) is provided by an adhesive, such as a glue. It will be appreciated that seal (50) may extend substantially the length of sides (32, 34). In yet another embodiment, seal (50) comprises a plurality of discrete spot seals (40). Thus, seal (50) may be considered a variation of spot seal (40), but the same is formed in bag (30) instead of the interlocking sections (12, 14). Still other ways of providing seal (50) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Seal (50) may be provided along at least a substantial portion of the length of bag (30), as a continuous line, as a pattern, as a broken line, or in any other suitable configuration. It will also be appreciated that, where sides (32, 34) of bag comprise a plurality of layers, seal (50) may join the innermost layers only, or the innermost layers in addition to other layers of the plurality. As with membrane (26) and spot seals (40) in interlocking sections (12, 14), seal (50) may be breached the first time full access to contents of bag (30) is gained by pulling interlocking sections (12, 14) and/or sides (32, 34) of bag (30) apart with sufficient force. One advantage of seal (50) may arise during the filling process. Bags (30) are often filled from the bottom after interlocking sections (12, 14) are affixed to the bag (30). The process of filling can introduce significant loads and could compromise a zipper (10) seal if the load is introduced directly. Intermediary seals (50) may absorb the filling load instead of zipper (10). While a few seals (50) may break, the rest of the seals (50) may remain intact. Of course, seals (50) may be formed after a bag (30) is filled.

Yet another embodiment of a tamper evidence device is shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. In this embodiment, prior to being secured to bag (30), flange regions (11) at the bottom of each interlocking section (12, 14) are joined together along the length of interlocking sections (12, 14), resulting in a tack (60) being provided at the bottom of a “V”-like configuration. Tack (60) may be effected by any suitable technique, including but not limited to heat sealing, spot welding, stitching (e.g., sewing, ultrasonic stitching, and the like), adhesives, or any other technique. When tack (60) has been provided, interlocking sections (12, 14) are then folded as shown in FIG. 6, such that tack (60) is moved upward, resulting flange regions (11) forming a “W”-like configuration. In this “W”-like configuration, upturned portion (62) of right interlocking section (12) is adjacent tack (60), as is upturned portion (64) of left interlocking section (14). Upturned portion (62) defines right valley (66) with the remainder of right interlocking section (12); while upturned portion (64) defines left valley (68) with the remainder of left interlocking section (14). In the present example, sides (32, 34) of bag are secured to upturned portions (62, 64) of interlocking sections (12, 14). Such securing may be accomplished by any of the aforementioned techniques, or any alternative technique. Of course, sides (32, 34) may be alternatively secured to the remainder of interlocking sections (12, 14) (e.g., to the outside of interlocking sections (12, 14)). In any event, tack (60) and/or upturned portions (62, 64) of the present example must be breached upon initial access to contents of bag (30), such that tack (60) and/or upturned portions (62, 64) provide a tamper evidence device. It will be appreciated that tack (60) and/or any part(s) of upturned portions (62, 64) may be perforated or otherwise weakened to facilitate such breach. It will also be appreciated that an adhesive, such as glue by way of example only, may be applied in valleys (66, 68). Where an adhesive is applied in valleys (66, 68), upturned portions (62, 64) may be adhered to respective, adjacent interlocking section (12, 14) walls. Still other suitable configurations for an embodiment having tack (60) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Alternatively, interlocking sections (12, 14) may be extruded as a single piece, either in the “V”-like configuration shown in FIG. 5, in the “W”-like configuration shown in FIG. 6, or in any other configuration. By way of example only, where interlocking sections (12, 14) are extruded as a single piece, the unified interlocking sections (12, 14) may be joined to bag (30) in a manner similar to that shown in FIG. 6. In the region analogous to that where tack (60) would be if interlocking sections (12, 14) were not extruded as a single piece, a perforation or other weakening feature may be present to facilitate separation of interlocking sections (12, 14). Of course, any other techniques, features, and configurations may be used.

In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 7, a tamper evidence device comprises a drape (70). Drape (70) is positioned externally over the tops of interlocking sections (12, 14). Alternatively, drape (70) may be positioned externally over slider (16) only. Drape (70) may longitudinally extend along the entire length of interlocking sections (12, 14), or one or more portions thereof. Drape (70) may longitudinally terminate adjacent to or proximate to slider (16), or may cover slider (16). Drape (70) may extend downwardly such that it terminates adjacent to interlocking sections (12, 14), such that it terminates adjacent to sides (32, 34) of bag (30), or combinations thereof. Drape (70) may be secured to interlocking sections (12, 14) and/or sides (32, 34) by any of the aforementioned securing techniques or any alternative techniques. Other suitable configurations for drape (70) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. By way of example only, drape (70) may comprise tape, film, paper, combinations thereof, or any other suitable material(s). In the present example, drape (70) must be breached on order to initially disengage teeth (22). Such breach may be facilitated by one or more perforated regions in drape (70), by a string or tab that may be pulled to rip the drape (70), or by any other suitable structure or technique.

In addition to or as an alternative to having interlocking sections (12, 14) and/or bag (30) comprise one or more tamper evidence devices, slider (16) may comprise a tamper evidence device. Such slider (16) devices may provide an initial resistance to movement of slider (16). As used herein, particularly when referring to slider (16), the phrase “initial resistance” shall be understood to include a resistance encountered when slider (16) is slid for the first time. Such initial resistance will be greater than the resistance encountered during subsequent movement of slider (16). In other words, an initial resistance may provide an individual with tactile feedback indicating whether the slider (16) has been initially moved. The amount of initial resistance may be great enough to prevent movement of slider (16) during general handling of the container, but small enough to be overcome without causing substantial damage to slider (16), interlocking sections (12, 14), and/or the container. In certain embodiments, a tamper evidence device may provide a relatively high resistance to initial movement of slider (16) (e.g., relative to resistance encountered during subsequent movement of slider (16)), while not substantially affecting subsequent movement of slider (16).

FIG. 8 depicts slider (16) having a transverse opening (80) formed therethrough. Opening (80) is also formed through interlocking sections (12, 14). In one embodiment, opening (80) is formed by the insertion of a hot needle-like structure through slider (16) and adjacent portions of interlocking sections (12, 14) after slider (16) has been mounted to interlocking sections (12, 14). In this embodiment, material adjacent opening (80) is slightly melted, resulting in slight deformation of the interlocking sections (12, 14) adjacent to opening (80). It will be appreciated that such melting and deformation may provide an initial resistance to movement of slider (16). In other words, the melting and deformation of material may provide a seal within opening (80), and the breaking of such a seal will be required to move slider (16) for the first time. The breaking of the seal will provide the initial resistance, thereby indicating that slider (16) is being moved for the first time. In the present example, subsequent movement of slider (16) will not be substantially affected by opening (80) or the melting/deformation resulting from the formation of opening (80).

In another embodiment, similar melting/deformation is obtained by a the use of a laser to form opening (80). Alternatively, any other source of focusable heat energy may be used to form opening (80) with melting-type deformation.

In another embodiment, opening (80) is formed by a member having a hook-like structure at its end being inserted through slider (16) and pulled back through opening (80). Accordingly, the hook-like structure will pass through adjacent portions of interlocking sections (12, 14) as well. It will be appreciated that, during withdrawal of the hook-like structure, the hook-like structure will pull material back through opening (80), which will result in deformation of the material. The presence of this deformed material within opening (80) will provide a seal within opening (80) similar to the seal provided by insertion of a hot needle-like structure through slider (16). Accordingly, the breaking of the seal will provide the above-described initial resistance, thereby indicating that slider (16) is being moved for the first time. Subsequent movement of slider (16) will not be substantially affected by opening (80) or the pull-through deformation resulting from the formation of opening (80). While a hook-like structure has been described for obtaining the pull-trough deformation, it will be appreciated that any other structure or technique may be used to effect pull-through and/or push-through deformation.

In yet another embodiment of the slider depicted in FIG. 8, a member is inserted into opening (80) to provide the initial resistance. In one embodiment, the inserted member is breakable, such that the inserted member is broken when slider (16) is first slid to disengage teeth (22). In this embodiment, this breaking will provide the initial resistance, while the member will not substantially affect subsequent movement of slider. In another embodiment, the inserted member is removable, such that the inserted member must be removed before slider (16) may be moved. In this embodiment, the inserted member and/or slider (16) may be configured such that once the inserted member is removed, it cannot be re-inserted. Other features and variations of an inserted member and/or opening (80) to provide a tamper evidence device will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

In still another embodiment, an adhesive is placed on slider (16) and/or on interlocking sections (12, 14) near slider (16). In this embodiment, the adhesive provides the initial resistance to movement of slider (16). The properties of the adhesive are such that, when slider (16) is moved with sufficient force to break the seal or bond provided by the adhesive, damage to slider (16) and/or interlocking sections (12, 14) will not result. For instance, the adhesive may comprise a rubbery glue-like material. Other suitable adhesives for this embodiment and variations thereof will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

In another embodiment, initial resistance to movement of slider (16) is provided by sealing at least a portion of teeth (22) together. For instance, a longitudinal membrane may be used to join the tops of interlocking sections (12, 14) in the vertical region between teeth (22) and slider (16). This membrane and slider (16) may be configured such that movement of slider (16) is required to break the membrane. Before and during this breaking movement of slider (16), however, the membrane provides resistance to movement of slider. In the present example, the membrane may be longitudinally perforated or otherwise weakened to facilitate breaking of the membrane by slider (16). Alternatively, an adhesive may be used to join interlocking sections (12, 14) together in the region between the teeth (22) slider (16). Such an adhesive may provide initial resistance, yet have no significant effect on performance of slider (16) and/or zipper (10) during subsequent use. Still other membrane-slider or adhesive features, variations, and combinations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

In still another embodiment, opening (80) is formed through interlocking sections (12, 14) proximate to slider (16), but not through slider (16). Such an opening (80) may be formed by any suitable technique, including but not limited to insertion of a hot needle-like structure, insertion of a hook-like structure, or any other technique. It will be appreciated that such an opening (80) formed through interlocking sections (12, 14) may provide features and advantages similar to those provided by having a similar opening (80) formed through slider (16). Of course, there may be additional advantages, which will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

While the foregoing tamper evidence devices have been described as providing a way in which tampering may be detected, it will be appreciated that such devices may provide other uses as well. By way of example only, it will be appreciated that during the normal course of handling of a given container, for instance from the time it is filled to the time it reaches a shelf in a retail setting, the handling may urge slider (16) to move, interlocking sections (12, 14) to separate, or lead to other potentially undesirable results. The foregoing tamper evidence devices may provide resistance to those and other results. For instance, and without limitation, an opening (80) formed through slider (16) and/or interlocking sections (12, 14) may prevent inadvertent movement of slider (16) during handling.

Of course, the foregoing examples are merely illustrative, and are not intended to be limiting in any way.

Having shown and described various embodiments and concepts of the invention, further adaptations of the methods and systems described herein can be accomplished by appropriate modifications by one of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention. Several of such potential alternatives, modifications, and variations have been mentioned, and others will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing teachings. Accordingly, the invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as may fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims and is understood not to be limited to the details of structure and operation shown and described in the specification and drawings.