Title:
Artificial nail kit and fluid dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A kit of preformed artificial nails or tips is disclosed comprising a plurality of artificial nails or tips, a dispenser comprising a container containing fluid and a brush assembly comprising a brush extending from a base, the brush assembly being adapted to be coupled to the container with the brush extending outward therefrom. The base comprises at least one opening therethrough wherein the at least one opening is adapted to allow the fluid to flow across the brush when the brush assembly is coupled to the container and the container is open to permit the flow of fluid. The container is provided with a cover that seals the fluid inside of the container until such time as the integrity of the cover is disturbed by puncturing, removal, or the like. The kit further comprises a package containing the artificial nails, the dispenser, and the applicator cap.



Inventors:
Robinson, Kenneth D. (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/390646
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
03/28/2006
Assignee:
Pacific World Corporation (Lake Forest, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D29/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060272665Ultrasonic hair treatment deviceDecember, 2006Yamamoto et al.
20080006288Combined hair clasp and necklaceJanuary, 2008Graham
20050205107Dental floss head device with a flavor delivery meansSeptember, 2005Ochs
20080223397Dental floss and tape dispenserSeptember, 2008Yates
20060144413Double-faced adhesive tape and wing with the sameJuly, 2006Yoneda et al.
20050199260Cosmetic packaging, typically a compact, with magnetic closerSeptember, 2005Petit
20080099036HAIR RETENTION DEVICE AND METHOD OF USING SAMEMay, 2008Crowley et al.
20050161058Spider silk dental flossJuly, 2005Yerushalmy
20090260647Manicure and pedicure stationOctober, 2009Ionis et al.
20100018544CONVERTIBLE HAIRCLIPJanuary, 2010Hsu
20040074510Sideburn haircutting guideApril, 2004Gutierrez



Primary Examiner:
DOAN, ROBYN KIEU
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEYDIG VOIT & MAYER, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim as our invention:

1. A kit of preformed artificial nails comprising: a package containing a plurality of artificial nails and/or tips; a dispenser comprising a container containing a fluid; a seal sealing said fluid in said container, said container adapted to permit the flow of said fluid from said container when the seal is disturbed; a brush assembly comprising a base portion and a brush protruding therefrom, said base portion comprising at least one opening therethrough proximate to the brush, and a coupling structure for coupling the brush assembly to the container with the brush extending outward from the container, whereby fluid from said container flows from said container through said at least one opening and along the brush when the brush is coupled to the container with the brush extending outward from the container and the seal is disturbed.

2. The kit of claim 1 wherein the fluid comprises at least one of an adhesive, an acrylic fluid, a gel forming fluid, a gel activator.

3. The kit of claim 1 wherein the seal comprises a removable covering.

4. The kit of claim 3 wherein the removable covering comprises at least one of the following: a cap, a tearaway seal, a film, a disc covering, a pryable covering, a severable covering.

5. The kit of claim 1 wherein the container comprises a container opening, and the seal comprises a puncturable covering sealing the container opening, said covering preventing flow of said fluid through the container opening when intact, and permitting the flow of said fluid when punctured.

6. The kit of claim 5 further comprising a protrusion, said protrusion being adapted to puncture said covering.

7. The kit of claim 6 wherein at least one of the brush assembly and the coupling structure comprises said protrusion, said protrusion being adapted to puncture the covering upon coupling of the brush assembly to the container to allow the adhesive to flow through the at least one opening and across the brush.

8. The kit of claim 1 wherein said coupling structure comprises at least one of the following: a separate coupling structure, threads, an interference fit, a snap-fit, friction fit, interlocks.

9. The kit of claim 1 wherein the dispenser is a single use dispenser.

10. The kit of claim 1 further comprising at least one of the following: a roughening surface, a stick, a towelette, an application tool, acrylic powder, acrylic liquid, gel overly, gel activator.

11. A dispenser for dispensing adhesive in connection with application of artificial nails, said dispenser comprising a container containing said adhesive and comprising a collar, a container opening proximate the collar, and a puncturable covering sealing the container opening, said covering adapted to prevent the flow of said adhesive through the container opening when intact and to permit the flow of said adhesive through the container opening when the covering is punctured, the dispenser further comprising a brush assembly, said brush assembly comprising a base, a brush protruding from the base, and at least one opening through the base proximate to the brush, said brush assembly being adapted to be coupled to the collar, said dispenser further comprising a coupling structure for coupling the brush assembly to the collar with the brush extending outward from the container whereby the adhesive contained within the container flows outward from the container through the at least one opening and across the brush when the brush assembly is coupled to the container with the brush extending outward from the container and the puncturable covering is punctured.

12. The dispenser of claim 11 further comprising a protrusion.

13. The dispenser of claim 12 further comprising an applicator cap, said applicator cap comprising said brush assembly and said protrusion, said protrusion being adapted to puncture the puncturable covering upon coupling of the applicator cap to the dispenser through the coupling structure to allow the adhesive to flow through the at least one opening.

14. The dispenser of claim 11 wherein said coupling structure comprises at least one of the following: a separate coupling structure, threads, an interference fit, a snap-fit, a friction fit, interlocks.

15. The dispenser of claim 11 wherein the dispenser is flexible.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to human nail decorations, and more specifically the invention pertains to a kit of preformed artificial nails and an adhesive dispenser for adherence of preformed artificial nails to human nails.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Well manicured hands and feet present a polished, professional appearance. A major factor in such a manicured appearance is the presentation of one's nails. Many individuals are unable or unwilling, however, to grow or maintain healthy nails of a desired length or uniformity. Alternately, they may not have the time, skill, or financial wherewithal to maintain or obtain a more finished appearance that may result from well manicured and/or polished nails. As a result, entire industries have developed around the artificial supplementation and enhancement of natural nails.

Such enhancements may range from manicuring and polishing of natural fingernails to individually building artificial nails on the natural nail and nail form from an acrylic powder and liquid which chemically bond to the nail surface as the artificial nail is built. Prior to application of an acrylic nail, a bonding agent or primer is applied directly to the natural nail. Typically, a form is placed subjacent the free edge of the user's finger nail or a tip portion is applied to the finger nail when the user desires a lengthening of the natural nail. Acrylic nails are built up and formed directly on the user's own finger nail and the form and/or tip from a mixture of an acrylic liquid (typically methacrylate ester) and an acrylic powder (typically methacrylate copolymer). The operator then dips an applicator brush in the liquid and then the powder, which are mixed together to provide a flowable acrylic resin that is repeatedly brushed over the length of the nail and tip and/or form to develop an acrylic nail. The acrylic literally bonds with the user's own fingernail. Although kits are available for home fabrication of such acrylic nails, acrylic nails are typically formed in salons. While such acrylic nails are relatively durable, the process of fabricating acrylic nails is time consuming and can be expensive. The use of acrylic nails also requires regular maintenance as the user's natural nails grow out. Finally, because the acrylic bonds to the nail surface, removal of such acrylic nails from the user's natural nails requires particular chemicals or mechanically prying the developed acrylic nail from the natural nail surface, and can still result in damage to the natural nail.

So-called gel tips are similarly built up directly on the user's natural nail, generally following the placement of a tip. The tip itself may be adhered to the natural nail using an adhesive or a fluid gel overlay, typically an ethyl cyanoacrylate, strengthening the line between the natural nail and artificial tip if desired. The fluid gel overlay is then brushed over the entire nail and tip, if utilized. Optionally, the wet nail is then dipped into a powder substance (typically an ethyl methacrylate), and this process repeated. Finally, a gel activator, typically an ethyl acetate, is then applied, generally by brush or spray, to set the gel overlay. The finished nail is then buffed smooth.

Between these two extremes (of time-consuming manicures and the creation of acrylic or gel nails directly on the user's natural nail), are preformed, artificial nails that are glued or otherwise bonded to a person's own naturally occurring fingernails. Such nails are readily available to a wide range of users through drug and department stores. Such preformed artificial nails may be clear or opaque, and/or prepolished and/or decorated to provide the desired appearance. Preformed artificial nails provide users with a relatively quick and economical means by which to provide a polished, manicured appearance.

Such preformed artificial nails are traditionally made of plastic materials such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyethylene or polypropylene and are secured to the user's nail with an adhesive. The preformed nails may be removed using commonly available acetone nail polish remover, which dissolves the adhesive to separate the preformed nail from the natural nail. Preformed artificial nails may either be polished or decorated once applied, or the preformed nail may include color and/or other decoration prior to application. For the purposes of this disclosure, the term “preformed artificial nail” shall mean an artificial nail that is molded, by injection molding or other method of fabrication, into a complete, discrete nail that may then be secured to the user's natural nail, rather than a nail that is formed directly on the user's nail, as with the acrylics described above.

Preformed artificial nails are provided in a variety of lengths to extend the free edge of the user's nail from a relatively short, sportier amount to relatively long, glamorous lengths. Moreover, the free edge of such artificial nails is provided in a variety of shapes to meet the user's preference as to how one might file one's own nails.

Preformed artificial nails are traditionally supplied in either a full nail form or a nail tip form. As indicated by the name, full nails simulate a complete nail, including nail bed and free edge and are adhered thereto, covering the entire nail, including the nail bed and free edge of the nail. The proximate edge is shaped to be disposed substantially adjacent or abut against the cuticle of the finger. In contrast, nail tips do not simulate the complete nail, but, rather, only the free edge and, typically, a small extended portion to cover only a portion of the nail bed in order to facilitate attachment to the nail. In use, nail tips are secured to the edge of the nail bed adjacent the free edge and the tip only.

The distal free edge may have any of various lengths and shapes, such as oval, square, or flared, depending upon the desired look. Additionally, to further simulate a natural fingernail, the artificial nail is typically formed with a curvature between a first side edge and a second side and a curvature between the proximate and distal edges. Preferably, the artificial nail is sufficiently durable and rigid to withstand the hazards inherent in its use.

Manufacturers typically provide users with a range of nail sizes, e.g., identified by size numbers 0-9, to accommodate most nail sizes. Generally, artificial nails are packaged together in sets including a range of different sizes so that the purchaser receives different artificial nails for their different fingers, which will most closely approximate the natural nail sizes. In addition to the set of different sized artificial nails, the package may also include liquid adhesive and/or peel-off adhesive pads for bonding the artificial nails to the purchaser's natural fingernails.

In placement of the artificial nail on a user's natural nail, the adhesive is typically applied either directly to the user's natural nail bed or to the nail bed portion of the artificial nail. The artificial nail is then placed on the user's natural nail bed with the proximal end of the artificial nail disposed at or near the user's cuticle, and pressure applied to ensure the desired adhesion of the artificial nail to the user's natural nail. When the pressure is applied, excess amounts of glue or adhesive may be squeezed from under the artificial nail and onto the outside surface of the artificial nail or onto the user's finger. The excess amounts of glue or adhesive squeezed from under the artificial nail may negatively impact the overall cosmetic appearance of the artificial nail, as well as the user's comfort.

Quality of the bond between the artificial nail and the natural nail may affect the integrity of the attachment to the nail, the comfort to the wearer, and the aesthetic appeal of the nail when secured to the natural nail. The best bond, however, is obtained from a thin layer of adhesive between adjacently disposed artificial and natural nail surfaces. A greater amount of adhesive may result in the formation of air pockets within the volume of adhesive, weakening the bond. Consequently, the use of a greater amount of adhesive may actually result in a less durable bond between the artificial and natural nails, and shorten wear time. Therefore, a controlled flow of glue or adhesive during the nail application process will facilitate the creation of an optimal layer of adhesive between the artificial and natural nail surfaces and will create a more durable bond. Furthermore, a controlled flow of adhesive will also prolong the wear time and result in increased user comfort and enhanced aesthetic appeal.

Brush applicators selectively located inside the adhesive container have been used to apply the adhesive to the user's natural nail bed or to the nail bed portion of the artificial nail in a manner similar to the application of nail polish. Such applicators make it difficult to control the amount of adhesive on the applicator, however, and, therefore, make it difficult to ensure an optimal layer of adhesive between the artificial and natural nail surfaces because the user must dip the brush applicator into the adhesive dispenser. Hence, the amount of adhesive on such an applicator may depend on the amount of adhesive in the dispenser, as well as on the insertion depth and on the amount of time the applicator was held inside the dispenser. For example, a brush inserted completely into the adhesive will typically contain more adhesive than the same brush if only the brush tip in inserted into the adhesive. Similarly, if the entire brush, as well as a portion of the shaft from which the brush extends is inserted into the adhesive, even more adhesive will be retained on and flow down toward the applicator brush. While a user may attempt to modify the amount of adhesive carried by the brush by wiping the brush or the shaft from which the brush extends along the edge of the bottle, it is difficult to develop the skill to control adhesive application when the casual user typically only applies a set of ten nails on an occasional basis. Moreover, the reinsertion of the brush into the adhesive dispenser after application to the nail surface increases the risk of contamination of the adhesive contained therein.

Drop bottle adhesive dispensers have similar shortcomings. Drop dispensers similarly do not provide the user sufficient control over the amount of nail adhesive applied between the user's natural nail and a nail bed portion of a preformed artificial nail. Further, such drop dispensers limit the user's ability to evenly distribute the adhesive over the entire nail surface.

Furthermore, reusable nail adhesive dispensers provide an inherently unstable packaging system. Inasmuch as such dispensers are typically inexpensively formed containers, the adhesive eventually dries out after the initial seal has been broken.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a kit comprising a plurality of preformed artificial nails or nail tips (collectively referred to as “preformed artificial nails” in the specification and in the claims), and/or acrylic nail forming materials, and a dispenser that includes a container containing adhesive, an acrylic liquid, or a gel forming liquid, the kit further comprising a brush assembly adapted to protrude from the container, the brush assembly comprising a base portion and a brush protruding from the base portion. The kit further comprises a seal for sealing the fluid in the container. The brush assembly comprises at least one opening through the base and proximate to the brush, although it may include a plurality of such openings. When the brush assembly is coupled to the container and the seal is disturbed, the fluid flows from the container through the at least one opening and along the brush to allow the user to efficiently and accurately apply fluid to the nail or other product. The kit further comprises a package for housing the artificial nails and the dispenser. The kit may also comprise other materials, such as a roughening surface, like an emery board for roughening the surface of the natural nail, a towelette, an application tool, acrylic powder, acrylic liquid, gel overly, gel activator, or a grooming stick, such a rosewood stick. The kit may alternately or additionally comprise acrylic powder or gel-forming powder and gel activator, and one or more nail forms.

The container and the brush assembly are preferably provided as separate structures, the container being sealed when provided to the user. The user then opens the container and couples the brush assembly through a coupling structure to the container, with the brush extending outward from the container to allow the flow of fluid. The container may be sealed by any appropriate structure, such as a removable or puncturable seal or film, or it may be sealed by a removable cap or the like. An opening into the container may be provided either by removing the cap or other covering, or by puncturing the container, i.e., the seal, film, or other portion of the container. Such a puncture may be provided by a separate protrusion or a protrusion that is integral to the coupling structure or to the brush assembly itself. The brush assembly preferably comprises an applicator cap with a protrusion along the inside of the cap itself, extending in a generally axial direction along the inside of the cap. In this way, the protrusion punctures the dispenser upon coupling of the applicator cap thereto to allow the fluid to flow through the at least one opening in the brush assembly and across the brush.

The dispenser further comprises a coupling structure for coupling the brush assembly to the container. At least one of the container and the applicator cap may comprise the coupling structure, or the kit may comprise a separate coupling structure for coupling the brush assembly to the container. In one embodiment, a separate coupling structure comprises a protrusion adapted to puncture the seal upon coupling to the container.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the following summary and detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partially exploded perspective view of a preformed artificial nail kit constructed in accordance with teachings of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a container and the applicator cap constructed in accordance with teachings of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the container of FIG. 2 showing the puncturable covering and a broken-away perspective view from the bottom of the applicator cap of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of the applicator cap showing a plurality of openings.

FIGS. 5-7 are fragmentary top plan views of embodiments of applicator caps constructed in accordance with teachings of the invention and having the bristles removed.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a container constructed according to teachings of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a container constructed according to teachings of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a container constructed according to teachings of the invention.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a container and brush assembly constructed according to teachings of the invention.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a protrusion for puncturing the puncturable covering of the container constructed in accordance with teachings of the invention.

FIG. 13 is perspective view of an external coupling structure and a perspective view of an alternate applicator cap, both broken away.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, wherein like reference numbers refer to like elements, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a nail kit 18 comprising a package 20 containing a plurality of preformed artificial nails 22. Each artificial nail 22 includes a nail body having a generally convex upper surface and a generally concave lower surface. Each nail 22 further comprises a proximal end 30, adapted to be placed generally adjacent the user's cuticle, and a distal end 32 that is generally disposed at or beyond the end of the user's natural nail when properly placed. The areas between the proximal and distal ends 30, 32 of the artificial nail 22 generally define the nail bed portion 34 and the free edge 36, the nail bed portion 34 being adapted to be placed adjacent the user's natural nail bed and the free edge portion 36 being adapted to extend beyond the end of the user's finger.

The nail kit package 20 typically includes an outer covering 40, here in the form of a box, having at least one transparent portion 41 for viewing the contents of the package 20. The package 20 generally further includes an inner support housing 42 that generally retains the contents of the package 20 in position within the package 20. The inner support housing 42 is typically formed of a polymeric material, often transparent, although such an inner support housing, when included could alternately be of any appropriate material, including, for example, cardstock or cardboard. The inner support housing 42 generally includes a plurality of recessed areas 44, 46, 47, and additional contents of the package 20 may be retained in a rear open portion 48 of the inner support housing 42. In the illustrated embodiment, a plurality of such recessed areas 44 display a plurality of preformed artificial nails 22 in a plan view, while the recessed areas 46 and 47 retain the components of a fluid dispenser 50 for applying the fluid to a preformed artificial nail 22 or a natural nail during an artificial nail application process. The fluid may be any appropriate adhesive, such as, for example, cyanoacrylate, or an acrylic fluid or gel utilized in the formation of acrylic or gel nails. While the package 20 has be described in connection with the exemplary embodiment illustrated, it will be appreciated that the package 20 may be of any appropriate design that serves to contain the contents of the nail kit 18.

In accordance with the invention, the package 20 includes a generally single use dispenser 50 that provides for easy application of fluid to the nail, powder, or other element. More specifically, as shown in FIG. 2, the dispenser 50 comprises a container 61, which defines a chamber that contains the fluid, and a brush 54 that extends outward relative to the container 61, and over which the fluid flows from the container 61 for application of the same to the nail, powder, or other substance. As shown in the various embodiments illustrated in FIG. 2 and in FIGS. 4-7, the brush 54 is preferably provided as part of an applicator cap 52, the brush 54 protruding from the cap. While the bristles 80 of the brush 54 are illustrated in FIG. 4 as a plurality of single bristles 80 for illustrative simplicity, it will be appreciated that the brush 54 may include a plurality of bristles 80 where the single bristles 80 are illustrated. To allow the flow of fluid past and/or along the brush 54, the base 84 of the brush 54, here, in the applicator cap 52, is provided with at least one opening 56, 82 proximate to the brush 54. In this embodiment, the brush 54 is disposed at the end of a hollow elongated cap portion 94, opening 92 being disposed at the end of the elongated cap portion 94 opposite the brush 54 (see FIGS. 2, 3). In this way, upon properly coupling the container 61 and the brush 54, the at least one opening 56, 82 allows the fluid 57 to flow across the brush 54 extending outward relative to the container 61.

The at least one opening 56, 82 may be provided at any appropriate location so long as such opening(s) provide adequate flow along at least a portion of the bristles 80 of the brush 54. By way of example only, various possible locations and numbers of such openings 56, 82 are illustrated in FIGS. 5-7, which depict top plan views of the brush 54 with the bristles 80 removed for clarity. FIG. 5 illustrates the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, that is, wherein an opening 82 is provided generally in the center of the surface 84, i.e., in the middle of the bristles 80 of the brush 54, with a plurality of openings 56 generally of like size disposed about the outer perimeter of the bristles 80. (For ease of understanding, the elements in FIGS. 6 and 7 are identified by the same reference numbers along with a letter designator.) In order to allow greater flow outward through the center of the brush 54a, as shown in FIG. 6, the opening 82a through the center of surface 84a may be of different diameter from the openings 56a on the outside perimeter, or a single opening 82b may be provided in the center portion of the brush 54b, as shown in FIG. 7. It will thus be appreciated that these openings 56, 82, 92 and brush 54 configurations are provided by way of example only, and alternate configurations are within the scope of the invention.

Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 3, it will be appreciated that the container 61 may be of any appropriate design and formed of any appropriate material. In the illustrated design, the container 61 is in the form of an elongated tube having a crimped or rolled end with the dispensing end, or top portion 59, opposite. The container 61 may be collapsible and, for example, be formed of a flexible material, such as aluminum. Use of aluminum in container 61 creates a stable package, which will keep the fluid 57 fresh until the user desires to use the dispenser 50. The user may discard the dispenser 50 after the first use if the dispenser 50 is a single use type dispenser. Alternatively, a resealable covering may be provided for future use of dispenser 50. In the case of a reusable dispenser 50, for example, the kit 18 may include a cap to seal the container 61 when the brush 54 is removed; multiple brushes 54 may be provided, or the brush 54 may be cleaned or inverted for storage in the container 61.

In order to couple the container 61 to the brush 54, the top portion 59 of the container 61 may comprise a collar 51 or other coupling structure, as will be explained in more detail below. To facilitate dispensing of the fluid from the container 61, the dispensing end, or top portion 59, further comprises a dispenser opening 58 through which the fluid may be expelled.

In order to maintain the fluid in a fresh condition until use, the container 61 is provided to the user in a sealed condition. The dispensing end 59 of the container 61 may be maintained in a sealed condition by any appropriate structure. For example, the top portion 59 may include a removable cap 60c, removable covering in the form of a disc or film 60a, 60b, or a puncturable covering 60 in the form of a film or the like (see FIGS. 8-11 and 2-3). The container 61 may be opened by either removing or puncturing the covering 60 to permit the flow of fluid 57 through the dispenser opening 58.

The covering may be sealed to the container 61, or otherwise coupled in a sealing relationship with the container 61. In the case of a removable covering, by way of example only, the covering may be in the form of a removable film or disc 60a (see FIG. 8) and 60d (see FIG. 11), a detachable or severable covering 60b (see FIG. 9), or a removable lid 60c (see FIG. 10), as will be understood by those of skill in the art. For example, the covering 60a, 60b may be sealed to the container 61 and include a pull strip or separator 86 (see FIG. 9) which may be pulled to sever the covering from the container 61b, or a ridge or protrusion 88 which allows the seal 60a to be pried from the container 61a. In an alternate example, a covering 60d in the form of a disc or the like may be held to the container 61d by a coupling collar 90. In use, the coupling collar 90 may be removed, the disc covering 60d removed. The coupling collar 90 may then be utilized to couple a brush 54d to the container 61d. In arrangements wherein the covering is removed, detached, or severed, a brush may be coupled to the container by way of a lid 52c, as shown, for example in FIG. 10.

In the case of a puncturable covering 60, the covering may be affirmatively punctured with a probe 62, 62a, 66 or the like. The probe 62, 62a, 66 may be provided as a separate structure 62a (see FIG. 12), or as part of the brush 54, the applicator cap 52 (see FIG. 3), or a separate coupling structure 64 (see FIG. 13). It will thus be appreciated that the covering 60 seals the opening 58 to prevent the flow of fluid 57 when the covering 60 is intact and to permit the flow of fluid 57 through dispenser opening 58 when the covering 60 is punctured or otherwise removed.

As shown in FIG. 3, in a currently preferred embodiment, the applicator cap 52 automatically punctures the covering 60 as the applicator cap 52 is coupled to the container 61. In order to allow such puncturing, the applicator cap 52 includes a protrusion 62 that extends generally axially from the inside of the cap 52. In this embodiment, the protrusion 62 may be of any suitable shape, size, and location, so long as it is adapted to puncture the puncturable covering 60 upon coupling of the applicator cap 52 to the container 61 and allow passage of the fluid into the cap 52. By way of example only, the protrusion 62 illustrated has a generally arcuate shape, and is disposed about the opening 92 in the cap 52 (see FIG. 3). It will be appreciated, however, that the protrusion 62 may alternately have a linear shape, or comprise a mere shaft or the like, so long as the protrusion adequately punctures the puncturable covering 60 as the cap 52 is coupled to the container 61, here by axially advancing the cap 52 onto the container 61. Once the covering 60 is punctured, the fluid 57 may flow through the opening 58 in the container 61, through the opening 92 in the cap 52, through the one or more openings 56, 82 and across the brush 54.

The brush 54 may be coupled to the container 61 by any appropriate coupling structure or arrangement. Thus, the brush 54 may be part of the cap 52 that couples directly to the container 61, or the brush 54d may be a separate structure that, in conjunction with a collar 90 or the like, effectively forms a cap 52a (see, e.g., FIG. 11). In the embodiment of FIGS. 2-3, the brush 54 is a part of the applicator cap 52, and the collar 51 of the container 61 and the cap 52 each contain mating threads 53, 55. In this way, the applicator cap 52 may be screwed onto the container 61, puncturing the puncturable covering 60 on the container 61. Those of skill in the art will appreciate, however, that the coupling structure may be other than as illustrated. For example, there may be a snap fit between the components, an interference or friction fit, or any other appropriate coupling structure. Thus, at least one of the collar 51 of container 61 and the applicator cap 52 may comprise a coupling structure to directly couple the container 61 of dispenser 50 to applicator cap 52.

In other embodiments, shown in FIGS. 11 and 13, the brush 54d, 67 may be coupled to the container 61d, 61 by means of a separate or intervening coupling structure 90, 64 that includes an internal passage therethrough. The brush 54d, 67 may be coupled to the coupling structure 90, 64 by any appropriate arrangement. For example, as shown in FIG. 11, the coupling structure 90 may include a bore through which the brush 54d extends, the bore being slightly smaller than at least a portion 52a of the brush 54d structure, such that an interference occurs. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 13, the separate coupling structure 64 includes two sets of threads 65, 69 to threadably couple the coupling structure 64 to the collar 51 of container 61 and to threads 71 of the brush 67, respectively. It should be understood that other types of couplings may be used, such as, by way of example only, friction, snap fit, or interference coupling. As with the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3, the separate coupling structure 64 may likewise comprise a protrusion 66 which is adapted to puncture the puncturable covering 60 of the container 61 upon coupling of the coupling structure 64 to the container 61. Similarly, the brush 67 may include a protrusion that extends at least partially through the coupling structure 64 to puncture the covering 60. Alternately, a separate structure may be provided to puncture the covering 60, or, where such covering is otherwise removable, no such protrusion need be provided.

In summary, the user is provided with a sealed container 61 containing fluid, and a brush 54. The user then unseals the container 61, and couples the brush 54 to the container 61 such that the fluid is permitted to flow from the container 61 through and/or along the brush 54 to dispense the fluid. In alternate embodiments, the container 61 may be unsealed as the brush 54 is coupled to the container 61, as by causing a puncturing of a puncturable covering 60 on the container 61. Alternately, the container may be separately unsealed, as, for example, by removing the covering 60. In use, the fluid 57 flows through the at least one opening 56, 82, and through the brush 54 so that the fluid 57 may be applied between the nail bed portion 34 of an artificial nail 22 and the user's natural nail.

It will be appreciated that the preformed artificial nails utilized in the nail kit 18 may be of any appropriate design, and may include full nails, and/or nail tips. Moreover, the nail kit may include additional items, such as, by way of example only, a roughening or emery type surface 68 for buffing the natural nail prior to placement of the artificial nail, a towelette including an acetone or other substance to clean the nail prior to placement, a rosewood stick 70, an application tool for assistance during installation of the artificial nail onto the natural nail surface (such a tool is disclosed, for example, in U.S. Provisional Application 60/634068), acrylic powder, acrylic liquid, gel overly, and/or gel activator.

While this invention has been described with an emphasis upon preferred embodiments, variations of the preferred embodiments can be used, and it is intended that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.

All of the references cited herein, including patents, patent applications, and publications, are hereby incorporated in their entireties by reference.