Title:
Beverage container holding device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lightweight and compactable beverage container holding device. The beverage container holding device may be made of a single piece or multiple pieces of material and is preferably foldable or otherwise collapsible into a reduced size for shipping or storage. The device preferable supports use on non-uniform surfaces, provides ample visible surface area for promotional marking and may have minimal points of contact with a beverage container. The device may be configured to accommodate different size beverage containers.



Inventors:
Waite, Ian (Portland, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/524039
Publication Date:
07/12/2007
Filing Date:
09/19/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/737
International Classes:
A47G23/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, TAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Steven J. Sullivan (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A beverage holding device, comprising: a single piece of material that is configured to provide a plurality of support members movable with respect to one another and adapted to receive and provide bottom support to a beverage container at three or more substantially distinct places; said single piece also being configure to provide a plurality of side wall members adapted to receive and provide support to the side of a beverage container placed on said three or more bottom support places; said device being moveable between a beverage supporting position and a flat, compressed position.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/718,494, filed Sep. 19, 2005, and having the same title and inventor(s) as above.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a beverage holding device and, more specifically, to such a device that is compact for storage, may be used on uneven surfaces and presents ample visible surface area for promotional marking, among other beneficial features.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many people enjoy outdoor environments for various group or individual activities, for example, picnics, receptions, athletic events or merely relaxing in the sun. The outside environment for these activities may include lawn, lawn alternatives, beach or other landscapes that have uneven or non-uniform surfaces. While consuming beverages in these environments, it is often challenging to find a stable, sufficiently flat location to rest one's beverage container, often resulting in precarious balancing of one's beverage and having it fall over. Even if one is successful in finding a sufficiently flat surface, the locations are often random and/or less stable increasing the likelihood that a beverage may be accidentally knocked over.

The prior art includes several beverage holding devices. These include devices disclosed in three representative U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,063,328 issued to Morcom; 5,028,023 issued to Allen; and 6,533,140 to Freeman.

The device of the '328 patent is disadvantageous for many reasons including that the compact or retracted configuration has an awkward shape that does not facilitate packing en masse and is easily damaged. Furthermore, it is configured for use only on flat, uniform surfaces and does not accommodate different sized beverage containers.

The device of the '023 patent is disadvantageous for many reasons including that the large flat bottom is not well-configured to accommodating non-uniform surfaces, essentially requiring a large flat surface on which to be placed. Furthermore, it does not appear to accommodate different sized containers, may actually attach to a container requiring the bulky holding device and container to be lifted to take a drink, and it does not present good surface visibility for promotional information.

The device of the '140 patent is disadvantageous for many reasons including that it is not compactible, does not accommodate different sized containers and does not present good visibility surface area for promotional information.

A need thus exists for a beverage holding device that may be stowed and transported in a compact configuration yet expand to securely hold beverage containers, particularly on uneven and/or non-uniform surfaces. A need further exists that presents ample visible surface area for promotional marking and/or accommodates different sized beverage containers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to overcome the shortcomings of prior art.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a beverage container holding device that is compact for storage when not in use; accommodates use on uneven, non-uniform surfaces; has ample visible surfaces for promotional marking; provides some adjustability for accommodating (securely holding) different sized containers and/or provides minimal contact points with a beverage container such that condensation from a beverage container does not cause the beverage container to stick to the holder or damage the holder.

These and related objects of the present invention are achieved by use of a beverage container holding device as described herein.

The attainment of the foregoing and related advantages and features of the invention should be more readily apparent to those skilled in the art, after review of the following more detailed description of the invention taken together with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a beverage holding device in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the beverage holding device of FIG. 1 holding a beverage container in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 3-6 is a series of drawings that illustrate fabrication of the device of FIG. 1 in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 7-8 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention utilizing three support members.

FIGS. 9-11 are a perspective, a side and a top view of another embodiment of a beverage container holding device in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a side end view of an alternative support member for use with a beverage container holding device in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 13-19 are a series of diagrams illustrating construction of a beverage holding device from a single piece of material in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a perspective view of a beverage holding device 10 in accordance with the present invention is shown. Device 10 may include four support members 15-18 that are movably mounted to one another. While the support members may be provided as individually coupled members in one embodiment, they are provided in the embodiment of FIG. 1 as pairs coupled by fastening member 52. For example, and as discussed in more detail below, cut piece 11 may be folded to provide support members 15 and 16 while cut piece 12 may be folded to provide support members 17 and 18. Piece 11 has folds at 6 and 7, while piece 12 has folds at 8 and 9. Support members 15-18 are preferably movable along their respective folds and about fastening mechanism 52.

A side wall structure 21,22 is preferably provided between each pair of support members 15-16 and 17-18 respectively. Each side wall preferably includes two sections 25,26 and 27,28 that are movable about their respective folds 8,9.

Each support member 15-18 is preferably configured 2% to support surfaces, a bottom support 31-34 and a lateral support 35-38. These surfaces 31-38 in addition to side wall sections 25-28 may contact a beverage container in use.

Since the support members are movable with respect to each other, different sized beverage containers may be supported by device 10. For example, bringing support members 15 and 17 and support members-16 and 18 toward each other, side walls 21-22 (and lateral supports 35-38) are brought closer together, enabling device 10 to securely hold a narrower beverage container. By moving support members 15-18 to their furthest away positions, the largest sized beverage container can be accommodated.

Support members 15-18 may be configured along their bottom edge with one or more portions removed. For example, in the embodiment of FIG. 1 arch portions 13 are removed from the bottom of each support member. The removal of these portions defines outer legs 14 and inner legs 19 in each support member. The provision of legs, whether added as supplemental members or defined by cutaway portions or other means, provides increased stability and ease-of-use on uneven or non-uniform surfaces such as lawns and the like. It should be recognized that other leg structures could be provided without departing from the present invention. Furthermore, while leg structures are shown in device 10 of FIG. 1, the bottom edge of support members 15-18 could be flat or legless; such an embodiment is well suited for use in sand and like substrates.

Referring to FIG. 2, a perspective view of beverage holding device 10 holding a beverage container 60 in accordance with the present invention is shown. FIG. 2 illustrates that a beverage container may be positioned in device 10 on the bottom support surfaces (only 31 and 33 are visible) and laterally by any combination of lateral support surfaces 35-38 and side wall sections 25-28. Note that a beverage container may rest wholly on bottom supports 31-34 without contacting the lateral support structure, though the latter is quite useful in guarding against accidental knock-over and use on uneven and/or sloped surfaces.

Referring to FIGS. 3-6, a series of drawings is presented that illustrate fabrication of device 10 in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of piece 11 or 12 that is preferably cut from a sheet of suitable material. Characteristics of suitable material include being lightweight, foldable and durable. In one preferred embodiment, the material is cardboard, which may be coated or laminated to avoid condensation absorption and provide promotional information, etc. There is also an inherent property in some cardboards to expand from a fold which may be used in the present invention to achieve a beverage holder that “spring” from a compressed position towards the position shown in FIG. 1.

Other materials include, but are not limited to, some plastics or rubberized plastics, etc., and more substantial hinged embodiments may also be configured, the hinges permitting use of materials that do not permit resilient folding.

The perimeter of piece 11,12 is preferably cut as shown and a additional cut 5 to separate the side wall 21,22 from the bottom support surfaces 31,34 is made. The piece is then folded as shown in FIG. 4 at folds 6,8 and 7,9. The two cut and folded pieces 11-12 are then positioned as shown in FIG. 5 and joined with fastening mechanism 52 to produce the device 10 as shown in FIG. 1. When joined and pressed flat (in the opposite sense of FIG. 3) device 10 will appear as shown in FIG. 6. When made of a suitable cardboard or the like, the inherent “spring” or resilience in the material causes the device stored in the position shown in FIG. 6 to spring open to a position as shown in FIG. 1.

Device 10 may be stored in the position shown in FIG. 6 or that shown in FIG. 3. It should also be recognized that device 10 is ready for use from its compact position and does not require any tearing along perforations or assembly as evident in prior art beverage holding devices.

FIGS. 7-8 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention utilizing three support members 115,117,118. This device 110 may be fabricated using a single piece 112, similar to piece 12 of FIGS. 1-5, and attaching it via fastener 152 to a “half-piece” or a single support member 115, similar to support member 15 of FIGS. 1-5. This effectively achieves a tripod beverage holding device preferably with one set of side walls 127,128. When piece 112 is folded towards compression and support section 115 is folded back onto compressed piece 112, then the side view appears as illustrated in FIG. 8. In this configuration, device 110 has a side view that is half the size of device 10, though it is thicker by one support member (115).

Referring to FIGS. 9-11, a perspective, side and top view of another embodiment of a beverage container holding device 210 in accordance with the present invention is shown. Device 210 illustrates substantially flat bottoms on support members 215-218. Substantially flat bottoms may function well on sandy substrates.

FIG. 12 illustrates a side end view of an alternative support member 315 for use with devices 10,110,210 or other. Support member 315 may have a bottom edge that is bent or otherwise shaped for form a fin or the like 319 that resists penetration into sandy surfaces, so that a beverage container holding device does not descend more than desired, perhaps obscuring the visible promotional surfaces.

Referring to FIGS. 13-19, a series of diagrams illustrating construction of a beverage holding device 410 from a single piece of material in accordance with the present invention is shown. The single piece of material 411 may be cardboard or any other suitable substance including paper-based and non-paper-based materials. Paper-based materials are advantageous in that they are readily recyclable and/or biodegradable. The single piece of material is cut to the shape shown to form or outline sections 401-408. Horizontal cuts 414 and 415 preferably extend into sections 402-403 and 406-407, respectively. Piece 411 is preferably scored above these horizontal cuts at 412 and 413 to enhance bending and demarcate side wall sections 425-428 (shown below). Tab 409 extends to the right of piece 411.

Piece 411 is folded substantially in half at point A. Sections 401-404 are then folded at points B,C and D, while sections 405-408 are folded at points E,F and G, to form the structure shown in FIG. 15. The inner most portion of section 405 is glued to the distal end of section 401 (opposite it) and tab 409 is also glued to the distal end of section 401. Corners 417 and 418 are pushed toward center 419 to form the intermediate structure shown in FIG. 16, and further until the corners 417 and 418 approach or contact each other at center 419 (as shown in FIG. 17). Folded in this manner, sections 401-408 create support members 415-418. Side wall sections 425-426 are shown pulled out in FIG. 17, while side wall sections 427-428 are not and thus appear flush with the remainder of sections 402-403.

FIG. 18 illustrates beverage holding device 410 with support members 415-418 folded out into more of an X shape and with both side wall pairs 425-426 and 427-428 folded out. The position of device 410 as shown in FIG. 18 is substantially that of device 10 of FIG. 1 as it would appear when viewed from above.

The paired sections 407-408, 405-406, 403-404 and 401-402 that respectively form legs 415-418 may be glued or otherwise fastened to each other or, as in one preferred embodiment, not be glued or otherwise fastened, except for the fastening provided at the distal end of section 401 as discussed with respect to FIG. 15. Reduced fastening reduces the number of fabrication steps.

FIG. 19 illustrates a side elevation view of device 410 in the position shown in FIG. 17.

While sections 401-408 are shown with a flat bottom is should be recognized that the bottom of the sections may be fastened to define legs such as those disclosed in device 10 of FIG. 1, etc.

While the invention has been described in connection with specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that it is capable of further modification, and this application is intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention following, in general, the principles of the invention and including such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which the invention pertains and as may be applied to the essential features hereinbefore set forth, and as fall within the scope of the invention and the limits of the appended claims.