Title:
Resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bowl-in-pouch arrangement is provided from at least two flexible front and rear panels forming a void there between. A bowl is formed from a third panel and is disposed in the void between the front and rear panels. The bowl is sealed to the inner faces of the front and rear panels and the bowl defines a lower reservoir area and an upper bowl area. Gaps are formed in the seal between the bowl and the inner faces of the front and rear panels to permit fluid, under pressure, to travel from the reservoir into the bowl. An opening is formed in the upper edge of the front and rear panels to permit reclosable access to the fluid in the bowl.



Inventors:
Tyska, Susan (Kensington, CT, US)
Tropea, Anthony (Kensington, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/801509
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
05/10/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/9, 383/41, 383/63, 383/66, 383/116, 383/203, 383/204
International Classes:
B65D30/22; B65D30/08; B65D33/00; B65D33/10; B65D33/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAINBRIDGE, ANDREW PHILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DANIEL R. GROPPER, P.C. (VIENNA, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement comprising: (a) a front panel, said front panel having an inner face and an outer face and an edge; (b) a rear panel, said rear panel having an inner face and an outer face and an edge; (c) wherein said edge of said front panel is connected to said edge of said rear panel so as to create a void area between said front and said rear panels; (d) a bowl means disposed in said void area between said front and rear panels, said bowl means having a top face and a bottom face and an edge, wherein said edge of said bowl means is attached by means of a seal to said inner faces of said front and rear panels thereby defining an upper bowl area and a lower reservoir area within said void; (e) wherein gaps are formed in said seal between said bowl bottom face and said inner faces of said front and rear panels to permit fluid disposed in said reservoir to travel through said gaps into said bowl upon external pressure being applied to said outer faces of said front and rear panels; and (f) an opening disposed between said top face of said bowl and said edge of said panels opposite said top face of said bowl.

2. The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein the bowl arrangement wherein said opening is reclosable.

2. The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein the bowl arrangement further comprising reclosable means wherein said opening is reclosable.

3. The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein the bowl arrangement further comprising a tear tab to close said opening.

4. The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein the bowl arrangement further comprising a tear tab to close said opening and further comprising reclosable means wherein said opening is reclosable.

5. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1, further comprising an opening along said edge of said front and rear panels for inserting fluid into said reservoir area, wherein said opening is sealed after said fluid has been inserted in said reservoir area.

6. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 having a substantially rectangular shape.

7. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 3 further comprising a top tearable seal disposed within said front and rear panels and further disposed between said opening and said tear tab to facilitate removing said tear tab from said panels.

8. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 7 further comprising notches formed in said front and rear panels, said notches aligned with said tearable seal to facilitate removing said tear tab from said panels.

9. A bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein said front and rear opposed panels are comprised of metallized polyester/polyolefin laminate film.

10. A bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 10 wherein said front and rear opposed panels are heat sealed to one another.

11. A bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 2 wherein said reclosable means is comprised of opposing and mating ridges.

12. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a bottom panel, said bottom panel having an inner and outer face, said bottom panel being disposed between and attached to said inner faces of said front and said rear panels whereby said inner faces of said front and rear panels and said inner face of said bottom panel define said reservoir area.

13. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 12 further comprising at least two stability wings formed in said front and rear panels wherein the lower edge of each of said stability wings is on the same plane as the lower edge of said front and rear panels.

14. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a sealable fill port disposed in the bottom edge of said front and rear panels.

15. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a sealable fill port disposed in a side edge of said front and rear panels.

16. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a hang hole formed in said top edge of said front and rear panels.

17. A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a tab aperture formed in said top edge of said front and rear panels.

18. A method of making a bowl-in-pouch arrangement, the method comprising: a. constructing an opposed panel arrangement that includes front and rear opposed panels, wherein each of said front and rear opposed panels each have edges; b. securing said front and rear opposed panels to one another along said edges in a manner to form an internal void between said opposing front and rear panels; c. securing said front and rear panels to a third internal panel to form a bowl arrangement within said void by means of a seal, wherein said bowl defines an upper bowl area and a lower reservoir area, and wherein gaps are formed in said seal so as to permit fluid from said reservoir area communicate with said bowl area through said gaps while external pressure is applied to said front and rear panels and wherein said bowl communicates with an opening in the opposing edge of said front and rear panels; d. securing a resealing means to the panel arrangement around the inside opening of the pouch in a manner to allow the pouch to be resealed; and e. constructing a tab arrangement at said opening to create a sealable tabbed opening.

19. A method of making a liquid available to an organism, comprising a. Applying pressure to the front and rear panels, wherein said front and rear panels form an internal void, to cause liquid disposed in a lower reservoir within said void to flow upwardly to a bowl formed from another panel disposed within said void, through gaps in a seal between said bowl and said inner faces of said front and rear panels, wherein an opening in an edge opposing said bowl has been opened; and b. Placing the liquid within said opening in proximity of said animal so that said animal can access said liquid in said bowl through said opening.

20. The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to claim 1 wherein the gaps are formed at a 45 degree angle with respect to the base plane of said bowl and wherein said gaps are 0.5 inches in length.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION INFORMATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/800,908 which was filed on May 16, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally concerns resealable, flexible pouch and bowl-in-pouch arrangements. In particular, the invention concerns an arrangement that in operation can be sealed about an object, objects or fluid contained within the structure; can be readily torn open for access to the enclosed item(s); and, can then be readily closed or resealed thereafter. While in the open position, a user can access the object or fluid redistributed to an internal flexible bowl area within the pouch.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A variety of liquids and objects are marketed enclosed within flexible pouch constructions. Among other things, such constructions can generally operate to: protect and preserver the freshness of the enclosed item(s); retain the objects or fluids within the container; facilitate storage and handling of the objects within the pouch; facilitate access to a single stored unit of the material from a plurality of units; and/or to inhibit contamination of the object stored within the pouch. A variety of pouch designs have been used, for such purposes.

One frequently used construction comprises first and second opposed panels of materials, oriented in juxtaposed-relation to one another, and sealed along an outer peripheral area to one another, enclosing an object therebetween. In general, for such arrangements a partially constructed pouch is generated from the first and second opposed panels, by sealing them to one another along all but one side, to form an open pouch. Object(s) are inserted through the open side or end of the pouch, and the last, open, edge is then sealed, enclosing the item(s). Sometimes such arrangements are formed from first and second opposed panels that are substantially rectangular, whereby the pouch will have four side edges that are sealed about a contained object or contained objects or fluid.

For some applications, it is desirable that the pouch construction be reclosable after it has been initially opened. It is desirable that the arrangement be such that it can be readily reclosed after it has been opened for access to enclosed objects. In many applications it is further desirable that the pouch be readily reopenable after such a resealing to allow repeated access to enclosed objects. Such might be the case, for example, when it is intended that the pouch be used to enclose a liquid, not necessarily to be removed from the pouch for use all at the same time. It is thus apparent that in some applications it is desirable to provide a reclosable or resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement.

In general, if the pouch arrangement comprises first and second opposed panels sealed to one another along juxtaposed outer peripheries, disrupting the peripheral seal; i.e. tearing the pouch open, generally opens the pouch. Such arrangements are not generally readily resealable, i.e., they are generally not resealable without the use of special equipment, adhesives and/or similar means of closure.

Resealable arrangements have been developed. In general, these have involved a mechanism oriented along an end or side of the pouch that can be closed in a zipper-like fashion. One such arrangement comprises a mechanism involving an elongate rib that can be selectively received within an associated channel or trough, formed between two flexible members or lips. Such arrangements are generally referred to herein as rib and trough closure arrangements. One such arrangement is available, for example, under the trademark Ziploc® from Dow Chemical Co.

The conventional zipper-like arrangements are not, in general, desirable for use in situations in which objects and fluids, as sold and/or distributed, are to be completely enclosed within a sealed pouch. A reason for this is that closure arrangements such as the zipper-type arrangement are not readily sealed (during automated packaging) using mechanical or mass manufacturing techniques. Further, generating a lasting and secure seal along end portions of such arrangements can, in some instances, be difficult to accomplish. In general, zipper-like seals are better suited for short-term use than they are as long-term package seals.

Pouch arrangements have been developed that, during the manufacturing process, are sealed such as by heating seals along the outer periphery, to enclose an object or objects therein, during manufacture and packaging; and that include therein resealing means comprising a rib and trough closure arrangement, oriented so that the rib and trough closure arrangement is actually enclosed within the initially sealed pouch. During use, tearing can provide initial access to an enclosed item or items or cutting open an appropriate heat sealed seam or edge seal, and opening the internal closure arrangement. The internal closure arrangement (i.e. the rib and trough resealing means) can then be used to reclose the pouch, with allowance for later access.

A typical pouch arrangement is made of first and second opposite panel members in juxtaposed relation to one another, and sealed to one another along an outer periphery. In a typical application, panel members are formed from a plastic film, such as a heat sealable polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, plastic film or the like, and the seals along edges are conventional heat seals. Conventional heat seals found around the outer periphery of the arrangement are usually about 0.2-0.3 inches wide.

A pouch construction is generally rectangular in shape; that is, each of the panels is substantially rectangular. During a typical packaging operation, the panel members are sealed to one another along three adjacent edges, with the remaining edges left not secured to one another, so that an object can be inserted into the pouch. After the object or objects to be enclosed are positioned within the interior of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement, the open edges are sealed to one another, enclosing the object or objects.

Pouch construction includes an enclosed resealable mechanism. The resealable mechanism is an enclosed zipper-type closure (i.e. rib and trough closure arrangement) comprising a first elongated rib member adhered to a trough member operatively associated with an opposite trough member. Sealing, again, operates by engagement of the rib member with the trough member, for example in the manner of engagement of the well-known Ziploc® arrangement.

The resealable mechanism extends between opposite sides so that the panels are not adhered to one another. The mechanism is secured to opposing panels. In a typical conventional arrangement the closing region would be about 0.4 to 0.5 inches wide, the width being the distance between the seal and a seam that mounts mechanism.

The arrangement is initially opened, for access to an enclosed object or objects, by removing an end from the construction, along a cut line extending through top region. The opposing panels are not adhered to one another in the top region and define a central open area that surrounds the objects or fluids.

It is also noted that initially a tear through sealed outer periphery is necessary. The tear is often initiated through use of a scissors or sharp edge such as a razor. Alternatively, the outer periphery may be notched adjacent to, and aligned with, the top region. Some users will generate a tear along a straight edge such as a table or desk edge, or a ruler. In any event, in typical operation edge is stripped from the pouch.

Once the edge has been stripped from the pouch, it will be understood that the portions of panels can be spread apart along the top region, allowing access to the interior of the pouch area between the panels. When desired, the pouch can then be reclosed. Thus, the arrangement does provide a construction that is sealed (for example by heat seals along all edges) during the manufacturing or packing operation; that can be opened by stripping one of the seams or seals away from the arrangement; and that can be readily reclosed.

A score line and notches can facilitate removal of a tab from a pouch assembly, permitting access to an interior of the envelope. The score line directs the cut in a relatively straight path between notches. The notches weaken the relatively thick tab portion to facilitate its removal from the arrangement. An undesired cut is unlikely, since the score line, again, directs the cut completely between notches. It is desirable, in many instances, to use a thinner, more lightweight and flexible, material for packaging panels. A score line provides a weakening in the material from which the arrangement is constructed.

One such pouch arrangement comprises a pouch that can be fully sealed along all sides thereof to enclose an article or articles but which can be readily opened by hand, without the need for special tools and/or equipment, and which can then be readily resealed due to the presence therein of a resealable mechanism.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided a bowl-in-pouch arrangement for transporting water or other liquid and for making the water or other liquid available in a flexible, recloseable, pouch arrangement with the internal area of the pouch configured into a lower reservoir area which is in fluid communication with an upper bowl area. The upper bowl area is in communication with the opening at the top end of the pouch arrangement.

This bowl-in-pouch arrangement has utility for making water available to a pet and/or user when water is otherwise not conveniently available. For example during an outing on a hot a day a pet dog will get thirsty. Drinking water might not be readily available. The present invention provides a convenient means for making water available to the dog by placing the bowl and water together in the same container.

In one embodiment of the present invention a resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement is provided which comprises a panel arrangement including at least a front panel, a rear panel and a bottom panel. Each front, read and bottom panel has an inner face and an outer face. Each panel has an outer periphery. A collapsible bowl is connected to, and disposed between, the inner faces of the front and rear panels. The front and rear panels are connected to one another along the peripheries of their edges. The lower end of the front and rear panels are connected to the periphery of the bottom panel, thereby forming a contained reservoir area consisting of the internal space defined by the lower end of the front and rear panels, the inner face of the bottom panel, and the bottom face of the bowl suspended between the front and the rear panels.

A resealing means extends along the inner faces of the front and rear panels, which is disposed between the end of the front and rear panels and the collapsible bowl area. The resealing means may be a rib and trough closure arrangement formed integrally on opposing inner faces of the front and rear panels. A removable seal is formed on the end of the front and rear panels opposite from the location of the bottom panel.

Means are provided to load fluid into the reservoir area before the removable seal is finally sealed for shipment. Alternatively, fluid may be loaded into the reservoir though a sealable aperture disposed in the bottom panel.

In another embodiment of the present invention the bowl means is a single sheet of material positioned to divide the internal pouch region into lower reservoir and upper bowl area.

In one embodiment of the present invention the bowl means is a flexible bowl shaped material that occupies an upper portion of the internal pouch region. In either embodiment, the bowl means can be secured to the first and second opposed panels by the same securing means as the opposing front, rear and bottom panels are sealed with each other.

In one embodiment, the bottom panel may be replaced by sealing the ends of the inner faces of the front and rear panels to each other.

The seal between the periphery of the bowl section to the inside faces of the front and rear panel have gaps between sections of the seal wherein applying pressure to a contents of the reservoir region causes the contents of the reservoir to flow into the bowl arrangement.

In another embodiment of the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention the bowl arrangement is perforated at its base so as to permit the fluid in the bowl to automatically slowly drain back into the reservoir if not used in a timely manner.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention is substantially rectangular.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention is substantially square.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention is substantially an oval.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention is substantially round.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention has an expandable base.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention has an arrangement to facilitate tearing the pouch open along its upper periphery to provide access to the bowl arrangement.

In another embodiment, the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention has an arrangement to facilitate tearing the pouch open along its upper periphery to provide access to the bowl arrangement.

In one such arrangement, to facilitate tearing open the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention by hand a reinforced tab region is incorporated immediately adjacent a tear region having a gap portion.

In one such arrangement, to facilitate tearing open the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention, the tear region has greater propensity to tear than the reinforced tab region.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the tab region is at least between about 0.7 and 1.5 inches.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the opposed panels are heat sealable and are formed from metallized polyester/polyolefin laminate film.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the opposed panels are heat sealable metallized polyester/polyolefin laminate film are heat sealed to one another along said outer periphery of said panel arrangement within said tab region and, within said tear region side edge portions.

In another bowl-in-pouch arrangement of the present invention the resealing means is a rib and trough closure arrangement.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method of making a liquid available in a bowl is presented, the method comprising applying pressure to the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement to cause the liquid within the internal pouch region to flow upwardly into the bowl arrangement thereby making the liquid from the reservoir available in the bowl.

In some embodiments of the present invention, a portion of the outer periphery may be open, for example to insert an item.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the low propensity to cross tear is provided by providing a relatively wide average width to the tab region, relative to other portions of the arrangement. The tab arrangement also includes a tear region, across which an opening tear is directed, thereby providing access to the interior of the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement.

The tab region preferably includes a gap portion and first and second opposite edge or side edge portions. In preferred embodiments, the side edge portions comprise part of an outer peripheral seal of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement; and, the gap portion extends therebetween. Generally, the gap portion also extends along the reinforced tab portion, immediately adjacent thereto. Within the gap portion, the first and second opposed panels are not secured to one another, and thus do not provide a reinforcing composite.

Preferably, means are provided to ensure a relative high propensity for tear across the gap portion, relative to the reinforced tab portion, to ensure that as one strips the tab arrangement from the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement, the tear will extend only across the tear region and not across the reinforced tab portion. In preferred arrangements, this is provided by having a gap portion of less width than the reinforced tab portion.

In more preferred embodiments, the average width of the gap portion is no greater than about 75% of the average width of the tab region, and preferably no greater than about 40% and about 5-25% of the average width of the tab region.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, tear notches are spaced from, but adjacent, opposite ends of the gap portion to facilitate opening the pouch to gain access to the bowl and to the liquid inside the pouch.

In a preferred embodiment the gap portion is characterized by the absence of a score line thereacross.

In preferred embodiments, both the tab region and the gap portion are generally rectangular in configuration.

A resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement according to the present invention includes resealing means extending across the panel arrangement immediately adjacent to the gap portion, and positioned on an opposite side thereof from the tab region. The resealing means include means for selective opening and resealing of an interior portion of the internal pouch region. Preferably, the resealing means comprises a rib and trough closure arrangement.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the average width of the tab region is at least about 0.7 inches, the width of the tab region generally being the dimension of the tab region along a line perpendicular to the intended tear line. More preferably, the average width of the tab region is between about 0.7 and 1.5 inches. Such a dimension facilitates a sufficiently reinforced tab region to provide the desired tear during operation. Such a region is considerably greater in width than a conventional heat seal that typically has a width of only about 0.2-0.3 inches.

In preferred embodiments, the average width of the gap portion is between about 0.05 and 0.25 inches, the width of the gap portion generally being a dimension perpendicular to the intended tear line. Such a relatively narrow gap portion facilitates a relatively straight tear during opening of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement. This arrangement includes means providing a substantially higher propensity for cross tear across the gap portion than the propensity for tear across the reinforced tab region; the propensity for tear across the gap region being sufficiently higher so that as a user tears (by hand) the reinforced tab region from the resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement. A tear line associated therewith extends through the gap portion and not the reinforced tab region.

In preferred embodiments, and to facilitate opening, tear notches are oriented on opposite ends of the gap portion. Such tear notches provide an initial starting point for directing a tear across the gap portion. Preferably, the tear notches are oriented such that they do not completely disrupt the outer peripheral seal of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement.

Preferred bowl-in-pouch constructions according to the present invention are generally rectangular, formed from first and second opposed rectangular first and second opposed panels or members. Preferably, the rectangular portions are formed from sheets of sealable films. Preferred materials include polyester laminated polyolefin films, more preferably metallized such films. Most preferably, each panel member is formed from such a film having a thickness of about 1.5-6.0 mil, i.e. 0.0015-0.006 inches. A preferred laminate is a polyester/polyethylene laminate. Most preferably, the material is 3-5 mils thick.

Preferably, the material from which the opposed first and second opposed panels are formed is a heat sealable material and, the outer peripheral seals, and the securement of the panels to one another in the tab region, is generally by means of heat sealing. The enclosed resealing means, in preferred embodiments the rib and trough closure mechanism, may be secured in place by a variety of means, including use of mounting flanges and adhesive and/or heat sealing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exterior plan view of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement. FIG. 1 shows the front panel, the periphery ends and edges to be sealed, the internal bowl, the gaps in the seal of the bowl to the inner face of the front panel, the re-sealable area, the tear off tab, the notches of the tear off tab and the opening gap to gain access to the bowl after the tab has been torn from the unit.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary, perspective view of the present invention. The drawing shows the front and rear panels being partially squeezed (large opposing arrows) which will result in the fluid in the lower reservoir being forced into the upper bowl area in the direction of the arrows, but the fluid will travel through the gaps in the seal between the bowl and the inner faces of the front and rear panels.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing an open bowl-in-pouch arrangement in three dimensions with the seal torn from the invention. The position of the resealing area is also shown.

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view showing the bowl-in-pouch arrangement in three dimensions.

FIG. 5 is an illustrative view of the present invention in use whereby the bowl-in-pouch arrangement is open and the panels are being squeezed by a user to fill the bowl with fluid from the reservoir.

FIG. 6 is a bottom elevational plan view of the invention showing the bottom panel and its connection to the front and rear panels at their lower ends and the bottom panel sealable fill port.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It is to be understood, however that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, the specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system or structure.

FIG. 1 is an exterior plan view of the invention. Front panel 2 is shown. Rear panel 4 is of the same size and shape as front panel 2 and is disposed behind and parallel to front panel 2. Front panel outer face 10 is shown and rear outer face is shown as 14. Front panel inner face 8 is parallel to and is disposed on the inside of front panel 2. Side edges of front 2 and rear 4 panels are shown by designators 50 and 50′. Top edge of front 2 and rear 4 panels is shown as designator 52 and bottom edge of front 2 and rear 4 panels is shown as designator 54.

Top tab region 38 is a wide section formed from a section of front 2 and rear 4 panels connected to one another. Optionally, a reinforcing panel may be inserted in this tab area between front 2 and rear 4 panels to stiffen this removable top tab region 38 from the main body of front 2 and rear 4 panel sections. The average width of the top tab region 38 is preferably between about 0.7 and 1.5 inches. The lower end of top tab portion 38 forms top tear seal 40, which is designated by a broken line. The top tear seal 40 may be scored to enhance the ease of mechanically tearing top tab region 38 from the remainder of front 2 and rear 4 panels. Side notches 42, 44 may be cut into front 2 and rear 4 panels, aligned with top tear seal 40 to further enhance the ease of which top tab region 38 may be manually torn from front 2 and rear 4 panels.

Front panels 2, 4 are sealed long end 54 and edges 50 and 50′ in a manner to form a void there-between thereby forming a number of discrete functional areas between front 2 and rear 4 panels. Lower area 28 is a reservoir for holding and containing liquids during transportation and storage of the invention.

A flexible, collapsible bowl 20 is formed in the mid section of the void between front 2 and rear 4 panels and is disposed between reservoir 28 and top tab region 38. Bowl 20 has top face 22 and bottom/outer face 24. A seal 34 is formed between the bottom/outer face 24 of bowl 20 and the inner faces 8, 12 of front 2 and rear 4 panels. Gaps 36 are formed in seal 34 between bottom/outer face 24 of bowl 20 and inner faces 8, 12 faces of front 2 and rear 4 panels.

These gaps 36 permit fluid contained in reservoir 28 to pass within each gap from reservoir 28, along the gap 36 between inner faces 8, 12 of front 2 and rear panels and bottom/outer face 24 of bowl 20 up and into bowl 20, with the fluid being retained on top face 22 within bowl 20. Gaps 36 are preferably 0.25 to 0.75 inches in length. Preferably, the gaps are on an approximate 45 degree angle from parallel which facilitates the movement of fluid from the reservoir area 28 into bowl 20 by moving the fluid through the gap on a virtual ‘ramp’, so the fluid cannot drop down easily into the reservoir from bowl 20. Additionally, the angled gaps promote the automatic reclosure of bowl outer face 24 against front 2 and rear 4 inner faces 8 and 12 to provide for the maximum sealing effect not using any mechanical closure mechanism. Bowl 20 preferably is designed from a material, such as polyethylene or polyester, so as to have sufficient rigidity as to prevent communication of fluids from reservoir 28 to bowl 20 until sufficient pressure is applied to front 10 and rear 14 outer faces of panels 2 and 4. Further, when top tear seal 40 is in place, air pressure will prevent liquids from moving from reservoir 28 into bowl 20.

A resealable area with mating ridges 46 and 48 is formed in the area of the invention between the top of bowl 20 and top tear seal 40. This resealable area can be formed in many commonly known manners. In a preferred embodiment, parallel, mating ridges 46, 48 can be formed in front 2 and rear 4 panels. Mating ridges 46 and 48 are preferably formed in a manner to securely, but removably, mate and unmate as suitable external force is applied to front 2 and rear 4 panels. Mating ridges 46, 48 make the invention reclosable as need by the user. Before top tear seal 40 is removed, mating ridges 46, 48 also act as an additional air barrier to prevent fluid from moving from reservoir 28 into bowl 20. After top tear seal 40 is removed, mating ridges 46 and 48 will also act as an air barrier to prevent such fluid movement when they are in the mated and closed position. Mating ridges The resealing are formed and operate in a manner similar to that discussed in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 4,986,673 to Bell Jan. 22, 1991.

A display hook hang-hole 56 may be formed in the top tear seal 40 to facilitate display and storage of the invention. Hook hang-hole 56 may be used to facilitate the transportation and use of the invention through use of commonly known cords and other connection devices.

Additionally, a tab 78 with an aperture 80 may be integrally formed in front 2 and rear 4 panels to provide a means for users to clip the invention to a hook, belt or backpack, in addition to, or instead of, using the hang-hole 56

Strengthening seal areas 58, 60 may be formed between front 2 and rear 4 panels to further lock in bottom panel 6 disposed there-between. Bottom panel 6 has inner face 16 and outer face 18.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the present invention shown with top tear seal 40 removed and opening 30, granting access to bowl 20, in the open position. When opening 30 is in the open position, a user of the invention has access to the bowl 20 area of the invention through opening 30, when additionally the resealing ridges 46 and 48 are in the open and unmated position.

In FIG. 2 top tear seal 40 has been removed, opening 30 is in the open position, and resealing ridges 46 and 48 are in the unmated position. External force has been applied to front 2 and rear panel 4 at locations shown by arrows 62 and 64. This has caused fluid located in reservoir 28 to be forced upwardly through gaps 36 in seal 34 between bowl 20 and front 8 and rear 12 inner faces of front 2 and rear 4 panels, which has permitted fluid to move from reservoir 28 into bowl 20 as is shown by arrows 66 and 68 through gaps 36 in seal 34.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing an open bowl-in-pouch arrangement in three dimensions. The top tear seal 40 is not present. Opening 30 and resealing ridges 46 and 48 are shown in the unmated position. Stability wings 70 and 72 are shown. The stability wings have multiple functions. They provide an area to securely attach bottom panel 8 to front 2 and rear 4 panels. Stability wings 70 and 72 provide an a secure location for strengthening seals 58 and 60, and stability wings 70 and 72 provides wide legs to support the invention so it can stand unsupported in a vertical position when placed on a horizontal surface. The stability wings are very important in making the invention act as a free standing vertical bowl when in active use as a bowl for animals to access water from bowl 20.

The seal 74 of bowl 20 to front 2 and rear panels 4 is shown as a pair of lines, with the understanding that this seal, with gaps, can be formed in any commercial manner.

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view showing the invention in a closed and filled condition. FIG. 4 shows outer panel 18 of base panel 6 in an extended position as the reservoir 28 is filled with fluid and top tear seal 40 is present and in the closed position, opening 30 is in the closed position, and resealing ridges 46 and 48 are shown in the mated and closed position.

FIG. 5 is an illustrative view of the present invention in use wherein opening 30 is in the open position and a dog is accessing the fluid in bowl 20 through opening 30. External force is shown being applied to front 2 and rear panel 4 at locations shown by arrows 62 and 64. This has caused fluid located in reservoir 28 to be forced upwardly through gaps 36 in seal 34 between bowl 20 and front 8 and rear 12 inner faces of front 2 and rear 4 panels to move from reservoir 28 into bowl 20.

FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement showing a sealable bottom fluid loading port 32 disposed in bottom panel 6 in one embodiment of the invention. In other embodiments of the invention, fluid loading port 32 is not a part of the invention, but instead the reservoir is filled from the top tear region 38 through gaps 36 into reservoir 28.

As will be described in greater detail below, the bowl-in-pouch arrangement includes internal means for resealing one opposed panels to another, such that after the bowl-in-pouch arrangement has been torn open, it can readily be securely resealed again. In the preferred embodiment, such means for resealing the bowl-in-pouch arrangement is such as allows the bowl-in-pouch arrangement to be opened and resealed a number of times.

The resealable bowl-in-pouch arrangement includes opposed front 2 and rear 4 panels wherein a first opposed panel 2 and a second opposed panel 4 are generally affixed to one another but leaving an opening 30 through which a fluid can be inserted within the void formed by front 2 and rear panels. In a preferred embodiment, the opposed front 2 and rear 4 panels are in a generally rectangular shape with each opposed panel's portion or opposed panels being of substantially similar dimensions. It should be understood that the present invention is not, however, limited to rectangular arrangements; nor is it limited to arrangements wherein the first opposed panels 2 and 4 have identical dimensions. Embodiments are envisioned wherein the opposed panel arrangement and/or the resulting bowl-in-pouch arrangement is not rectangular and are in fact shaped for convenient use, such as having a narrowed middle portion to accommodate easy hand operation, such as the squeezing action shown in FIG. 2 by arrows 62 and 64.

Further, embodiments are contemplated wherein one opposed panels is, for instance, larger than the second opposed panel. There is, of course, no requirement that the first and second opposed panels 2, 4 comprise independent sheets of material in order to obtain some advantage. A preferred arrangement is when front 2 and rear 4 panels are formed from two independent opposed panels 2 and 3 adhered to one another with a third bottom panel 6, to provide an expansion area for the filled reservoir 28 as is shown in FIGS. 4 and 6. The reservoir 28, when filled and expanded, is disposed between front 2 and rear 4 panels. The expanded reservoir 28 makes the bottom panel 6 form a stable base of the invention so that the invention can stand alone in a vertical position. Additionally, stability wings 70 and 72 can be formed in front 2 and rear 4 panels to provide additional vertical stabilization for the entire invention.

The front 2 and rear 4 panels and the bottom panel 6 are affixed or secured to one another at or along respective peripheral regions but are separable of one another over a substantial portion of their internal regions. Typically front 2 and rear 4 panels and the bottom panel 6 are secured to one another along three sides prior to filling the bowl-in-pouch arrangement.

A top end opening 30 between front 2 and rear 4 panels is left open to permit fluid to be inserted into the internal pouch region reservoir 28 through gaps 36 in seal 34 between bowl 20 and front 2 and rear 4 panels.

After the fluid has been inserted into the invention, as described above, the top tear region 38 is formed by sealing front 2 and rear 4 panels. The sealing may be accomplished by any means now known or developed in the future including, but not limited to, the application of heat, ultrasound, and adhesives. The seals need to be strong and must contain the fluid within the invention from fluid insertion through shipping and use. The seals may optimally be 0.2-0.3 inches wide.

Alternately fluid may be inserted into the invention, directly into the reservoir 28, directly through a sealable bottom fill port 32. After filling, this port can be sealed in any known manner, including through use of plugs and adhesives.

In greater detail, the top of the invention comprises four primary regions, a top tear tab region 38, a set of opposing resealable opposing mating ridges 46 and 48, a top tear seal 40, with side tear notches 42 and 44, which form opening 30 after top tear tab 38, has been removed from the invention.

The top tear tab region 38 is formed from the seal of front 2 and rear 4 panels. Additionally, an inner stiffener may be placed between front 2 and rear 4 panels to provide additional resiliency to provide for ease of tearing top tear region 38 from the invention. A hang hole 56 may be formed in top tear region 38 to facilitate store display and storage of the invention. At the lower end of top tab region 38 is formed top tearable seal 40. Top tearable seal 40 may be scored or otherwise prepared to easily and cleanly separate the top tear region 38 from the body of the invention. Additionally, side notches 42 and 44 may be formed at the sides of top tearable seal 40 to facilitate the easy separation of top tear region 38 from the invention.

Disposed below top tear seal 40 is a resealable mechanism that will reclose front 2 and rear 4 panels after top tear tab region 38 has been torn from the invention. In a preferred embodiment, the resealing means is a zipper-type rib and trough arrangement comprising opposing mateable ribs 46 and 48, which may be formed in front 2 and rear 4 panels. Alternatively, any water tight reclosable seal, now known or hereafter developed may be used in place of opposing mateable ribs 46 and 48.

In use, the user will open the bowl-in-pouch arrangement, generally at the top end, by tearing top tear region 38 along top tearable seal 40. More specifically, the user will typically grasp a corner of the top tab region 38 and tear across the width of the bowl-in-pouch arrangement to separate top tear tab 38 from the invention. Undesirable cross tears, or transverse tears, which would result in tear lines are not likely to occur since top tear tab 38 is stronger and has a significantly lower propensity to tear front 2 and rear 4 panels, and due to the existence of top tearable seal 40, which is aligned with side notches 42 and 44.

After top tear tab 38 is stripped away from the bowl-in-pouch arrangement, a pouch with a void remains that is sealed on three edge regions. The resealing means, namely ridges 46 and 48, are adapted to be opened and resealed, repeatedly, to alternately permit and deny access to the fluid in bowl 20 through opening 30 between panels 2 and 4 from the top end of the invention.

Bowl-in-pouch arrangements according to the present invention may be manufactured from a variety of materials. It is particularly advantageous, however that they be constructed from relatively thin, strong material such as polyester film, and particularly metallized polyester film. Preferred embodiments that are particularly useful, and include advantages according to the present invention, may be constructed wherein the front 2, rear 4 and bottom 6 panels comprise sheets of metallized polyester polyolefin laminate film each having a thickness within a range of about 1.5-6.0 mil more preferably about 3-5 mil. Preferably, heat sealable metallized polyester/polyolefin film is utilized so that the means of securing the panels to one another without the need for additional adhesive, but any method now know, or in developed in the future, can be used to seal the panels 2, 4, and 6 to one another. The seals need to be mechanically strong, air and water tight, reliable, and inexpensive to manufacture.

One preferred material for making the invention is metallized polyester film material utilizable to form bowl-in-pouch arrangement s according to the present invention is available from Flexicon, Inc. under the designation laminated metallized polyester. It comprises a 48 gauge ICI #443 metallized polyethylene material metallized to 2-4% light transmission. Another material that may be utilized is Heat Sealable Polyester Film #48, a non-metallized film available from 3M under the trademark SCOTCHPAK®. Such material has a tensile strength of about 9 pounds per inch width, 100% elongation, burst strength about 50 pounds per square inch, edge tear strength about 1,000 grams and an Elmendorf tear strength of 80+ grams. The suggested securing conditions for such an arrangement are about 300 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 0.2-2.0 seconds at 20-60 pounds per square inch.

While these materials are used for the front 2, rear 4 and bottom 6 panels, a clear, strong, resilient material should preferably be used to form the bowl 20. Preferably a strong, clear polyethylene material may be used to form bowl 20. Further, to provide ease in manufacturing, a complete polyethylene bag, having integral reclosable opposed mating ridges 46, 48 may be formed outside of the invention and be placed as a unit between front 2 and rear 4 panels to form bowl 20. Bowl 20 is affixed to front 2 and rear 4 panels by a seal 34 between the top external edges of bowl 20 and the inner faces of front 8 and rear 12 panels.

Gaps 36, to permit fluid disposed in the reservoir are 28, when under external pressure, to flow from the reservoir area 28, through gaps 36, into the bowl. Gravity tends to hold the fluid near the bottom of bowl 20, and hence the fluid does not flow upwardly back through the gaps 36 to the reservoir area 28. Additionally, a number of small drainage holes may be placed in the bottom of bowl 20 to permit fluid not immediately used to automatically return to the reservoir area 28 disposed directly below bowl 20. Further, upon the release of external pressure on front 2 and rear 4 panels, excess fluids will be siphoned back into reservoir area 28 through gaps 36. The bowl 20 material is optimally made of a clear material so the user can look into opening 30 and see both the amount and cleanliness of the fluid disposed in bowl 20 and in the reservoir area 28 disposed below bowl 20.

It will be understood that bowl-in-pouch arrangements according to the present invention may be provided with a variety of outer dimensions. The opposed panels could be any conceivably useful shape such as substantially round, oval, square or rectangular shape or any practical variation of these shapes that one might design.

An alternative method for filling the reservoir area 28 in the invention is through sealing the entire periphery of the invention, with the exception of a small fill port 76. A nozzle of any type now known or developed in the future is placed in fill port 76. Fill port 76 is in direct communication with reservoir area 28. Fluid is injected into reservoir area 28 through fill port 76. The nozzle is then withdrawn from fill port 76 and fill port 76 is sealed in the normal manners, as is described above.

A bag arrangement that incorporates a tab arrangement such as this invention contemplates is discussed in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 4,986,673 to Bell Jan. 22, 1991, incorporated herein by reference. The bag arrangement of Bell was designed to hold solid objects. It does not have an opening for allowing insertion of fluids. U.S. Pat. No. 5,174,658 discloses the details of using a tear region i.e. a line of weakness that extends laterally across both side edges in close proximity to but below top peripheral seal. The line of weakness may be formed by, for example, perforating or scoring with a laser or knife. One or both ends of line of weakness preferably terminate with a notch, which provides a stress concentration and aids in starting a tear along line of weakness when a consumer opens the pouch. U.S. Pat. No. 5,174,658 is incorporated herein by reference.

Another resealing means is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,944,425 to Forman incorporated herein by reference. The resealing means of Forman is referred to as a repeatably openable and resealable interlocking closure comprising inner and outer interlocking portions integral with the said package body and comprising multiple stacked and sealed together continuously connected layers of the packaging material, said closure being operative to open and close said package body to provide and present access to the package interior.

A preferred method of filling a bowl-in-pouch arrangement, comprising making a sealed bowl-in-pouch arrangement having an opening in one edge, inserting a tube into the opening, injecting a fluid into an internal pouch region of the sealed bowl-in-pouch arrangement, and irreversibly sealing the opening.

A preferred method of making a liquid available to an animal comprises applying pressure to the front 2 and rear 4 panels of the instant invention to cause liquid within the reservoir area 28 to flow upwardly through gaps 36 in seal 34 to arrive in bowl 20, and the invention with liquid in bowl 20 within proximity of an animal so that the animal can consume the liquid in bowl 20 through opening 30 after top tear region 38 had been torn from the invention and further placing the invention in a vertical position on the ground whereby the invention is supported by the weight of the fluid in the reservoir area 28 and is stabilized by external stabilizing wings 70, 72.

Any liquid can be used with this system, but a preferred use is for people or animal drinking water, which may have added nutrients.

It is to be understood that while certain embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it is not to be limited to the specific forms or arrangements herein described and shown.