Title:
LID HAVING A RECLOSABLE SPOUT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lid having a reclosable spout for providing a reclosable drink-through opening therewithin, for use with disposable drinking cups. The lid comprises a reclosable tab, an integral hinge and a sealing edge wherein the reclosable tab may be moved about the integral hinge to an open position by pulling the reclosable tab away from the sealing edge; or to a closed position by pushing the reclosable tab against the sealing edge. The reclosable tab, in its open position, defines a drink-through opening in the lid through which a user can consume a beverage from the drinking-cup without removing the lid. In its closed position, the reclosable tab is adapted to close the drink-through opening in a leak-resistant manner. The reclosable spout of the present invention can be employed on a variety of lids and containers for facilitating drinking, dispensing, or pouring therefrom.



Inventors:
Evans, Michael G. (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/549154
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
10/13/2006
Assignee:
WADDINGTON NORTH AMERICA, INC. (Chelmsford, MA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/713, 220/780, 229/404, 229/906.1
International Classes:
B65D51/04; A47G19/22; B65D41/18
View Patent Images:
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20030230578Closed containerDecember, 2003Noguchi
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20030085226Flat pack water buttMay, 2003Manning
20070090122Textured vinyl pull capApril, 2007Zeypang
20090114649FOOD AND CONDIMENT CONTAINERMay, 2009Fraser et al.
20050045633Lid with sealing foil comprising retaining meansMarch, 2005Roeterdink et al.
20080290098BAMBOO CONTAINER SUITABLE FOR MASS PRODUCTIONNovember, 2008Wang
20050211660Colorant containerSeptember, 2005Galownia et al.



Primary Examiner:
POOS, MADISON LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Maine Cernota & Rardin (Nashua, NH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A plastic lid for a drink cup comprising: a peripheral rim adapted for engaging with said drink cup; a reclosable tab adapted for alternating between an open position and a closed position through an integral hinge; and wherein said reclosable tab is adapted to define a drink-through opening in said open position and to close said drink-through opening in said closed position.

2. The plastic lid according to claim 1, wherein said reclosable tab is substantially upright and can be closed by a user, from said open position to said closed position, by moving said reclosable tab against a depending surface.

3. The plastic lid according to claim 2, wherein said reclosable tab can be pulled open by said user, from said closed position to said open position, by moving said reclosable tab away from said depending surface.

4. The plastic lid according to claim 2, wherein said depending surface is arcuate.

5. The plastic lid according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said reclosable tab and said integral hinge is arcuate.

6. The plastic lid according to claim 1, wherein said reclosable tab in said closed position renders said plastic lid substantially leak resistant.

7. The plastic lid according to claim 1, wherein said plastic lid is injection molded with said reclosable tab in one of said open position and said closed position.

8. The plastic lid according to claim 1, wherein said plastic lid contains Polypropylene.

9. A plastic lid for a drink cup comprising: a peripheral recess about said lid for engaging with said drink cup; a reclosable spout on said lid comprising a moveable tab, an integral hinge and a sealing surface wherein said movable tab is able to alternate between an open position and a closed position about said integral hinge, wherien said moveable tab in said open position creates a drink-through opening for allowing a user to drink from said drink cup without removing said plastic lid from said drink cup; and wherein said moveable tab in said closed position rests against said sealing surface and closes said drink-through opening.

10. The plastic lid according to claim 9, wherein said reclosable spout in said closed position is substantially leak resistant.

11. A plastic lid comprising: a peripheral mounting portion for engaging with the upper rim of a drinking cup; a raised frontal portion extending upwardly from said peripheral mounting portion; a central body portion having a central wall; said raised frontal portion having a reclosable tab, an integral hinge and a sealing edge; wherein said reclosable tab is moveable between a first position and a second position; said first position being defined by said reclosable tab being disposed away from said sealing edge and said second position being defined by said reclosable tab being disposed against said sealing edge; and wherein, said reclosable tab and said sealing edge cooperatively define a drink-through opening in said first position; said drink-through opening being substantially closed in said second position.

12. The lid according to claim 11, wherein said reclosable tab is arcuate and flares radially outwardly from said central body portion in said first position.

13. The lid according to claim 11, wherein said reclosable tab is arcuate and bends radially inwardly towards said central body portion in said second position.

14. The lid according to claim 11, wherein said lid is produced primarily from a polypropylene resin.

15. The lid according to claim 11, wherein said sealing edge is made from an elastomeric material.

16. A reclosable spout, comprising: a moveable tab, a depending surface, and an integral hinge, wherein said moveable tab is adapted for moving about said integral hinge between a first position and a second position; and wherein said moveable tab, in said first position, is positioned away from said depending surface and defines an opening; and said moveable tab, in said second position, is positioned against said depending surface to close said opening.

17. The reclosable spout according to claim 16, wherein said reclosable spout is integrally incorporated into a lid for use with a drinking cup, and wherein said opening is adapted for drinking from said cup.

18. The reclosable spout according to claim 16, wherein said moveable tab is oriented in a generally upright direction in said first position.

19. The reclosable spout according to claim 16, wherein said integral hinge is arcuate.

20. The reclosable spout according to claim 16, wherein said integral hinge is a living hinge and wherein said living hinge is made primarily from a polypropylene resin.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Applications No. 60/727,140, filed Oct. 14, 2005, which is herein incorporated in its entirety by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to a reclosable spout that can be employed on a variety of lids, closures and containers for facilitating drinking, dispensing, or pouring therefrom. More particularly, this invention in one embodiment relates to a drinking-cup lid having a reclosable spout for providing a reclosable drink-through opening within the lid.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Disposable drinking cups and lids are well known in the art and find wide-spread use in restaurants, diners, cafeterias and households. Almost all lids designed for use with drinking cups have a provision for a drink-through opening which allows a user to consume the beverage contained in the drinking cup without removing the lid therefrom. A drink-through opening is particularly desirable while consuming hot beverages such as tea or coffee.

Categorically, a general feature on most common lid designs is a drink-through opening created by tearing away a small section of the lid in the form of a tab or flap. The torn flap section is permanently severed from the cup to reveal the drink-through opening in some designs; while in other designs, the torn flap section is folded back and secured within a tab-retaining or locking feature provided on the surface of the lid. Numerous prior teachings describe lids featuring a removable and/or a tear-back and/or a fold-back type tab for creating a drink-through opening in the lid, including for instance U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,615,459; 4,753,365; 5,392,949; 5,490,609; 5,613,619; 5,699,927; 5,839,601; 5,947,323; 6,089,397; and 6,260,727.

Another category of lid designs features a drink-through opening by merely providing a small unobstructed aperture or hole within the lid so that the customer does not have to tear-off, remove, fold or lock anything to access the beverage.

Still another lid design, sold by Dart Container Corporation, comprises a two-piece lid assembly wherein the main lid body includes a secondary piece assembled thereto. The secondary piece has a closure tab which is adapted to cover and seal the drink-through opening provided in the main lid body.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,644,490 teaches yet another lid design which includes an aperture and a flexible tab having a closure thereon that is connected to the main body of the lid; the closure can be bent over the main body of the lid and engage with the aperture so as to seal it.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,874,649; 6,889,860 and 6,929,143 teach a projecting tab that can be partially separated from the rest of the lid along a fault line and pivoted about a hinge and folded back.

One of the disadvantages of prior lids equipped with a tear-back flap is that they require the user to tear off a section of the lid, which is not always a pleasant activity for the user as oftentimes the tear-back flap does not always tear back along the intended fault lines and does require certain skill and precision on the part of the user. In addition, tearing off the flap section requires a user to use both of his/her hands, typically by pushing downwardly on the lidded cup with one hand, while lifting and pulling the flap section to tear it along the designated fault lines with the other hand. As frequently happens, the downwardly push on the lidded cup results in a small quantity of the beverage contained in the cup to escape through the vent-hole in the lid, and overflow onto the top of the lid. In such instances, the beverage overflow onto the lid top has to be cleaned-up, prior to use, for preventing further spills. Another disadvantage of tear-back flap type lid configurations is that they are either not reclosable or only partially reclosable and therefore not sufficiently leak resistant after the tear-back flap has been deployed.

Other lid designs wherein the aperture is capable of being blocked with a press-fit tab or closure attached to a flexible tab are often difficult to operate and again may require considerable effort on the part of the user.

Generally speaking, in prior lid designs, the drink-through opening is—either not reclosable; or partially reclosable; or reclosable only with difficulty; or requires a two-piece assembly. Thus, there is a need for a lid that—overcomes the disadvantages associated with the tear-back flap or tab type lid designs; does not require any tearing-off of lid-sections; features a reclosable drink-through opening that can be operated with ease without requiring considerable effort, skill or precision on the part of the user; has a unitary or single-piece structure; and offers improved leak-resistance. These needs are further accentuated by today's busy life style and user-demands for carrying, take-out and use convenience. These and other needs as shall hereinafter appear are met by the lid of the present invention.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the present invention is to overcome the disadvantages of prior lids and to provide a lid which obviates the need for having a tear-back flap or tab and does not require subjecting the lid to any “tearing along a fault line.”

Still another aspect of the invention is to obviate any flap-retaining features that are usually provided in lids having tear-back flaps and does not require “tucking away the torn-off flap into a retaining feature on the lid”.

Accordingly, it is an embodiment of the present invention to provide a lid having a reclosable drink-through opening that can be opened for drinking therethrough without removing the lid from the cup; or closed for preventing spills, splashes or leaks.

Another feature of the present invention is to provide a lid having a reclosable spout which is adapted for forming a drink-through opening in its open position and closing off the drink-through opening in its closed position.

Still another feature of the present invention is to provide a lid with a reclosable spout that is integral to the lid and is not a separate piece or assembly.

Yet another feature of the invention is to provide a lid with a novel reclosable spout that can be comfortably operated or opened and closed with one hand.

One embodiment of the present invention is to provide a drinking-cup lid having a reclosable tab which can be alternated between an open position and a closed position by a user; wherein the reclosable tab in its open position is adapted for creating a drink-through opening in the lid, and in its closed position is adapted for closing the drink-through opening.

Still another aspect of the present invention is to provide a drinking-cup lid having a reclosable tab and an integral hinge; wherein the reclosable tab is adapted for alternating between an open position and a closed position about the integral hinge; and wherein the reclosable tab in its open position is adapted for creating a drink-through opening in the lid, and in its closed position is adapted for closing the drink-through opening.

Yet another feature according to one of the embodiments of the present invention is to provide an injection-molded polypropylene lid that features a reclosable spout that is adapted for forming a drink-through opening in its open position and closing the drink-through opening in its closed position.

To achieve the foregoing and other embodiments of the invention, a drinking-cup lid having a reclosable tab, an integral hinge and a sealing edge is provided. The reclosable tab can be moved about the integral hinge to an open position by pulling the removable tab away from the sealing edge; or to a closed position by pushing the reclosable tab against the sealing edge. The reclosable tab, in its open position, is adapted to define a drink-through opening in the lid through which a user can consume a beverage from the drinking-cup without removing the lid. In its closed position, the reclosable tab is adapted to close the drink-through opening in a leak-resistant manner.

Still other embodiment, features and advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in this art from the following detailed description, wherein we have shown and described only a few embodiments of the invention, simply by way of illustration. The features and advantages described herein are not all-inclusive and, in particular, many additional features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the drawings, specification, and examples of claims. As will also be realized, the invention is capable of other and different embodiments, and its several details are capable of modifications in various obvious respects, all without departing from the invention. Furthermore, it should be noted that the language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and not to limit the scope of the inventive subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be better understood upon reading the following Detailed Description in conjunction with the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of lid 10 and drinking cup 20 showing reclosable tab 80 in its open position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional side view of lid 10 and drinking cup 20 through reclosable tab 80 shown in its open position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a cutaway perspective view of lid 10 through reclosable tab 80 shown in its open position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a top view of lid 10 showing reclosable tab 80 in its open position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of lid 10 and drinking cup 20 showing reclosable tab 80 in its closed position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a cutaway perspective view of the lid 10 through reclosable tab 80 shown in its closed position according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a top view of lid 10 showing reclosable tab 80 in its closed position according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

According to one embodiment, the present invention provides a plastic lid with an integral reclosable tab which can be alternated to an open position or a closed position by a user for respectively providing a drink-through opening or closing off the drink-through opening. A particular advantage of the lid made according to an embodiment of the present invention is the ability to create a drink-through opening by pulling-out the reclosable tab; and closing off the drink-through opening by pushing-in the reclosable tab against a sealing edge or a depending surface. The reclosable tab of the present invention allows a user to create a drink-through opening in the lid, without requiring the user to tear-off a tab away from the body of the lid and without requiring the tab to be folded-back or locked into a recessed area within the lid.

It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill that terms such as “reclosable tab”; “reclosable flap”; “integral reclosable tab”; “reclosable spout”; “sealable spout”; are used interchangeably to describe the novel means of the present invention to effect a “reclosable drink-through opening”. It will be also recognized that the drink-through opening in the lid of the present invention is in fact created by the “reclosable tab” and is oftentimes referred to as “reclosable drink-through opening”.

The present invention is generally directed towards a lid that engages with a drinking cup and is leak resistant. The lid of the present invention finds particular application in disposable drinking cups typically used for holding cold and hot beverages which are generally constructed from paper, plastic or foam materials. The following description, of one or more embodiments, in conjunction with the accompanying drawings is offered as illustrative of the invention but not restrictive of the scope of the invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 7, there is shown a lid 10 according to one embodiment of the present invention wherein like reference numerals represent like parts. Lid 10 is adapted to rest and fit onto a drinking cup 20 and engage with the cup lip 22 as particularly shown in FIG. 2. Lid 10 has an outer side 30 and an underside 40. The outer side 30 of lid 10 is intended to be on the outside when lid 10 is placed on drinking cup 20 in the intended manner shown typically in FIGS. 1 and 2. Underside 40 of lid 10 is the side that faces the cup 20 when lid 10 is placed on the cup 20 in the intended manner, again typically shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Lid 10 comprises an outer peripheral portion 50, an interim annular portion 60 lying above outer peripheral portion 50, and a central body portion 70.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, outer peripheral portion 50 of lid 10 is adapted for engaging with drinking cup 20, and underside 40 has an underside peripheral channel 54 which typically has a C-shaped or U-shaped cross-section and which is adapted to grip and receive the cup lip 22 therein, and thereby form a leak-tight seal between the respective perimeters of lid 10 and drinking cup 20. Cup lip 22 may comprise a rolled-lip configuration as shown in FIG. 2. Alternately, cup lip 22 may be in the form of a bead or a turned-down lip or other similar configuration as is well know to those skilled in the art.

Outer peripheral portion 50 of lid 10 also has a peripheral skirt 52 which extends downwardly from the underside peripheral channel 54 and flares outwardly therefrom. Peripheral skirt 52 facilitates a good lid-fit by centering and guiding cup lip 22 within peripheral channel 54 when lid 10 is pushed downwardly against cup lip 22.

Interim annular portion 60 comprises an outer sidewall 61, a top wall 62 and an inner sidewall 63. Underside peripheral channel 54 is connected to outer sidewall 61 and defines a peripheral recess 56 therebetween; peripheral recess 56 is disposed on the outer side 30 of lid 10. Interim annular portion 60 extends upwardly from the inward edge of peripheral recess 56 along outer sidewall 61, including a top wall portion 62 about the frontal section 65, and slopes downwardly along inner sidewall 63 and circumscribes central body portion 70 of lid 10. Outer sidewall 61, top wall 62 and inner sidewall 63 cooperate to form a raised frontal section 65 and ramp down on either side of the raised frontal section 65 to form a relatively shallow section 67.

According to one embodiment, raised frontal section 65 includes a reclosable tab 80. Reclosable tab 80 has a tab front wall 82 and an arcuate hinge 81 which integrally connects tab front wall 82 to the outer sidewall 61. Tab front wall 82 of reclosable tab 80 has an arcuate tab end 83. Reclosable tab 80 can be alternated between an open position and a closed position by respectively pulling or pushing on tab front wall 82 proximate to arcuate tab end 83 and thereby causing tab front wall 82 to flex about arcuate hinge 81. Arcuate hinge 81 is shown to have a general parabolic shape although other curved profiles are within the scope of the invention.

In FIGS. 1 through 4, reclosable tab 80 is shown in its open position; and, in FIGS. 5 through 7, reclosable tab 80 is shown in its closed position. In the embodiment shown herein, reclosable tab 80 is integral to the lid and arcuate hinge 81 integrally connects tab front wall 82 to the outer side wall 61. In an embodiment of the invention, the lid 20 is constructed of suitable materials that inherently have a living hinge property. It will be realized that tab front wall 82 is characterized by being flexible enough to allow a user to open and close tab 80 with relative ease. Although various hinge constructions can be utilized to effectively achieve the objects of the invention, the integral hinge construction may comprise a thin membrane junction between the lid body and the reclosable tab which imparts certain flex characteristics to the reclosable tab thereby allowing its movement about the integral hinge.

Raised frontal section 65 also includes a sealing edge 64 provided in the top wall 62. In the depicted embodiment, sealing edge 64 has an arcuate periphery which is curved inwardly towards the center of lid 10 and is of opposite curvature compared to the outer sidewall 61; in other words sealing edge 64 is concave while outer sidewall 61 is convex. Other sealing configurations and profiles are within the scope of the invention.

In the open position of reclosable tab 80, tab front wall 82 flares outwardly (or convexly) and is spaced away from sealing edge 64 thereby creating a drink-through opening 90 defined by the ‘eye-shaped’ gap between sealing edge 64 and tab front wall 82 as shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. Drink-through opening 90 is defined by a stationary or fixed side provided by sealing edge 64 and a reclosable or adjustable boundary provided by the tab front wall 82 in its convex (or open) position. Drink-through opening 90 allows a user to drink therethrough, wherein the shape and size of the opening 90 depends upon the dimensions of the tab 80.

Drink-through opening 90 can be closed by pushing tab front wall 82 towards sealing edge 64. In the closed position of reclosable tab 80, tab front wall 82 curves inwardly (or concavely) and seals against sealing edge 64 as best shown in FIG. 6. It will be realized by those of ordinary skill that the sealing edge surface may be further modified to include a smooth bead or depending skirt for facilitating sealing. Arcuate tab end 83 projects slightly above sealing edge 64 as shown in FIG. 6, for allowing accessibility thereto so that a user can comfortably pull tab front wall 82 and reopen reclosable tab 80. Sealing edge 64 is adapted to provide a sealing or depending surface against which reclosable tab 80 can be pushed closed. In its closed position reclosable tab 80 closes drink-through opening 90 as shown in FIGS. 5 through 7.

The raised frontal section 65 and reclosable tab 80 are adapted and dimensioned for positioning them between user's lips for comfortably drinking therethrough. Reclosable tab 80 is adapted for allowing a user to open or close drink-through opening 90 by respectively pulling or pushing tab front wall 82 away from or against sealing edge 64. Tab front wall 82 and arcuate tab end 83 are also suitably dimensioned to allow a user to manipulate them with his/her thumb or finger. A feature of the reclosable tab 80 is that it is flexible enough to allows a user to close the drink-through opening 90 by pushing on tab front wall 82; yet it is resilient enough to prevent a user from accidentally or inadvertently closing it while the user is drinking therethrough. The height of the tab 80 in one embodiment extends slightly above the height of the raised front section 65 thereby allowing the user to easily manipulate the tab 80.

The inner sidewall 63 of the interim annual portion 60 is connected to the central body portion 70 of lid 10 via mid wall 72. Mid wall 72 may also include a centrally located vent hole 74. Vent hole 74 is adapted for maintaining pressure equilibrium between the interior of the lidded cup and the surroundings to allow the user to comfortably drink from the cup. Vent hole 74 may further serve as a drain hole for any excess beverage that accidentally overflows on the top of central body portion 70.

Accordingly, in one embodiment of the invention, lid 10 is made by the process of injection molding. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that lid 10 can be adapted for manufacture by other known methods of processing plastics. Preferably, lid 10 is made of a suitable thermoplastic material which can be processed by common polymer processing methods known in the art. The choice of a thermoplastic resin is typically governed by a variety of factors including cost, resin processability and other functional requirements of the plastic part. In one embodiment of the invention, lid 10 is made from a suitable grade of polypropylene resin that features living-hinge properties for optimal functioning and sustained operation of the integral reclosable tab 80.

Numerous other embodiments are possible and within the scope of the invention. For example, although various general functional elements of lid 10 and particularly reclosable tab 80 have been described herein in conjunction with FIGS. 1 through 7, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that numerous shape, appearance and design modifications can be made to lid 10 and reclosable tab 80 in accordance with user and market preferences. Furthermore, the utility of the reclosable spout integrated within lid 10 is not necessarily limited to a drinking-cup lid and can be implemented into other container structures such as a closure for a bottle, a pour spout for a bottle or a carton or a cup. These and other such changes, modifications, adaptations and alterations in the specifically described embodiments can be carried out without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the drawing and description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive.