Title:
Carton with features for pouring
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carton includes selectively-deployable features for use in pouring contents from the carton. The features may include an opening, one or more features for obstructing and being moved away from the opening, and features for forming a spout adjacent to the opening.



Inventors:
Jones, Edward W. (Marietta, GA, US)
Ho Fung, Charles F. (Woodstock, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/824309
Publication Date:
01/03/2008
Filing Date:
06/29/2007
Assignee:
Graphic Packaging International, Inc. (Marietta, GA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/215
International Classes:
B65D5/72
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060273144Foldable collection boxDecember, 2006Chen
20050156019Closable containerJuly, 2005Collingham
20070131751Dual use packagingJune, 2007Rutledge
20060191983Carton with integral detachable funnelAugust, 2006Cargile Jr.
20090152153Bound EnvelopesJune, 2009Bettinger
20060231600CARTON WITH COMPOSITE WALL AND EXPANSION PANELSOctober, 2006Holley Jr.
20060213789Container and foldable blank for forming the container itselfSeptember, 2006Ghini et al.
20080280742THERMALLY INSULATING PAPERBOARD ARTICLE WITH HEAT-FOAMABLE COATINGNovember, 2008Cerasani
20100038414Reusable mailers and methodsFebruary, 2010Delavergne
20030183681Paper food containerOctober, 2003Liou
20030111522Method of forming a canister with paper and plastic layers and a plastic lid for containing a particulate-type product, such as a ready-to eat cerealJune, 2003Deering et al.



Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON (US) LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carton from which contents may be poured, the carton comprising: a plurality of panels that extends around and defines an interior of the carton; a first end flap foldably connected to a first panel of the plurality of panels; and a second end flap foldably connected to a second panel of the plurality of panels, wherein the first and second end flaps are in an overlapping relationship with respect to one another and thereby at least partially form an end panel that at least partially closes an end of the carton, the end panel cooperates with at least one of the plurality of panels to at least partially form a corner of the carton, the first end flap at least partially defines an opening that substantially extends to the corner of the carton and is adapted for use in pouring contents from the carton, the second end flap comprises an obstructing portion that at least indirectly obstructs the opening, and the second end flap is adapted so that at least the obstructing portion can be moved away from the opening.

2. The carton according to claim 1, wherein the opening extends to an outer edge of the first end flap.

3. The carton according to claim 1, wherein the obstructing portion is at least partially defined by at least one line of disruption formed in the second end flap.

4. The carton according to claim 3, wherein the line of disruption comprises a tear line.

5. The carton according to claim 4, wherein the obstructing portion comprises a tear-away portion that is at least partially defined by the tear line.

6. The carton according to claim 1, further comprising a third end flap foldably connected to a third panel of the plurality of panels, wherein: the third end flap is part of the end panel, the third end flap comprises an obstructing portion that at least indirectly obstructs the opening, and the third end flap is adapted so that at least the obstructing portion of the third end flap can be moved away from the opening.

7. The carton according to claim 6, wherein the third end flap is positioned between the first and second end flaps.

8. The carton according to claim 1, wherein: a first panel of the plurality of panels includes an elongate line of disruption that substantially extends to the corner of the carton, the elongate line of disruption extends from proximate the corner at least partially across the first panel, and at least a portion of the elongate line of disruption is positioned between fold lines by which the first panel is respectively foldably connected to second and third panels of the plurality of panels.

9. The carton according to claim 8, wherein: each of the elongate line of disruption and the fold lines extend in a longitudinal direction, whereby the elongate line of disruption is a longitudinal line of disruption, the first panel includes an oblique line of disruption that extends from proximate the longitudinal line of disruption to proximate a fold line of the fold lines, and the oblique line of disruption extends obliquely with respect to the longitudinal line of disruption.

10. The carton according to claim 9, wherein: the oblique line of disruption is a first oblique line of disruption; the fold line is a first fold line; a second oblique line of disruption extends (a) from proximate both the longitudinal line of disruption and an end of the first oblique line of disruption (b) to proximate a second fold line of the fold lines.

11. A carton from which contents may be poured, the carton comprising: a plurality of panels that extends around and defines an interior of the carton, wherein a first panel of the plurality of panels is foldably connected to second and third panels of the plurality of panels by respective fold lines; and an end panel that at least partially closes an end of the carton and cooperates with at least the first panel to at least partially form a corner of the carton, wherein the end panel is adapted for at least partially defining an opening proximate the corner of the carton, the carton is adapted so that the first panel is for being deformed to at least partially form a spout that is proximate the opening for at least partially facilitating pouring from the opening, and the carton being adapted comprises (a) the first panel comprising an elongate line of disruption that is for having the first panel deform therealong, with the elongate line of disruption extending from proximate the corner at least partially across the first panel, and at least a portion of the elongate line of disruption being positioned between the fold lines, which respectively foldably connect the first panel to the second and third panels, and (b) the end panel being adapted for bracing the second and third panels apart from one another while the spout is formed.

12. The carton according to claim 11, wherein the elongate line of disruption is a first elongate line of disruption, the end panel includes a plurality of end flaps, an end flap of the plurality of end flaps is foldably connected to the first panel, the end flap comprises a second elongate line of disruption that is for having the end flap deform therealong, the second elongate line of disruption extends from proximate the corner at least partially across the end flap, and at least a portion of the second elongate line of disruption is positioned between opposite edges of the end flap.

13. The carton according to claim 11, wherein: each of the elongate line of disruption and the fold lines extend in a longitudinal direction, whereby the elongate line of disruption is a longitudinal line of disruption, and an oblique line of disruption extends obliquely with respect to the longitudinal line of disruption, from proximate the longitudinal line of disruption to proximate a fold line of the fold lines.

14. The carton according to claim 13, wherein: the oblique line of disruption is a first oblique line of disruption; the fold line is a first fold line; a second oblique line of disruption extends (a) from proximate both the longitudinal line of disruption and an end of the first oblique line of disruption (b) to proximate a second fold line of the fold lines.

15. A method of pouring contents from a carton, comprising: partially opening at least an end panel of the carton so that the carton has an opening through which contents may be poured from the carton, wherein the partially opening comprises leaving a predetermined portion of the end panel substantially intact, so that the predetermined portion of the end panel closes a substantial portion of an end of the carton; squeezing a predetermined portion of the carton, wherein (a) the carton is adapted so that at least one portion of the carton deforms, in response to the squeezing of the predetermined portion of the carton, to substantially form a spout that is proximate the opening, and (b) the carton being adapted comprises the predetermined portion of the end panel bracing panels of the carton apart from one another in a manner that restricts the spout from collapsing; and pouring contents from the carton by way of the opening and the spout while the substantially intact, predetermined portion of the end panel closes the substantial portion of the end of the carton.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the opening is positioned in a corner of the carton.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising ceasing the squeezing, so that the spout automatically substantially ceases to be formed in response to the ceasing of the squeezing.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein: the opening exists prior to the partially opening; the preexisting opening is obstructed prior to the partially opening; and the partially opening comprises exposing the preexisting opening.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein the squeezing of the predetermined portion of the carton comprises squeezing opposite sides of the carton so that one or more portions of the carton bow outwardly to form the spout.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the carton is adapted so that at least a portion of a panel of the carton bows outwardly in response to the squeezing of the opposite sides of the carton.

21. The method of claim 19, wherein the carton is adapted so that at least a portion of an end flap bows outwardly in response to the squeezing of the opposite sides of the carton.

22. The method of claim 15, wherein: the predetermined portion of the end panel is a first predetermined portion of the end panel, and the partially opening comprises at least partially dismantling a second predetermined portion of the end panel of the carton.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein the dismantling of the second predetermined portion of the end panel of the carton comprises: outwardly folding an end flap that is part of the end panel.

24. The method of claim 22, wherein the dismantling of the second predetermined portion of the end panel of the carton comprises: tearing along a tear line that at least partially defines a tear-away portion of an end flap that is part of the end panel.

25. The method of claim 22, wherein: the dismantling of the second predetermined portion of the end panel of the carton comprises (a) at least further exposing a first end flap that is part of the end panel, wherein the at least further exposing of the first end flap comprises moving at least a portion of a second end flap, which is part of the end panel and overlaps the first end flap, away from the first end flap, and (b) then at least further exposing a third end flap that is part of the end panel, wherein the at least further exposing of the third end flap comprises moving at least a portion of the first end flap, which overlaps the third end flap, away from the third end flap, and the third end flap at least partially defines the opening.

26. The method of claim 25, further comprising at least partially closing the opening after the pouring of the contents, wherein the at least partially closing of the opening comprises obstructing the opening with the first end flap.

27. A carton blank comprising: a first panel, a second panel, and a third panel, wherein the third panel includes opposite first and second edges that are respectively foldably connected to the first and second panels; a first end flap having a first edge foldably connected to the first panel at a first fold line; and a second end flap having a first edge foldably connected to the second panel at a second fold line that is substantially aligned with the first fold line, wherein the first end flap includes opposite second and third edges, the first end flap defines a hole that is at least partially defined by the second edge of the first end flap, the second end flap includes opposite second and third edges, the second end flap comprises a line of disruption that is proximate the second edge of the second end flap, the line of disruption at least partially defines a portion of the second end flap that is movable relative to a remainder of the second end flap, and the movable portion of the second end flap includes at least a portion of the second edge of the second end flap.

28. The blank of claim 27, wherein the second edge of the first end flap is positioned between the second end flap and the third edge of the first end flap, and the second edge of the second end flap is positioned between the first end flap and the third edge of the second end flap.

29. The blank of claim 27, further comprising a third end flap having a first edge foldably connected to the third panel at a third fold line, wherein the third fold line is substantially aligned with the first and second fold lines, the third end flap comprising an elongate line of disruption, and at least a portion of the elongate line of disruption is positioned between opposite second and third edges of the third end flap.

30. The blank of claim 29, wherein the elongate line of disruption comprises a crease line.

31. The blank of claim 29, wherein the elongate line of disruption divides the third end flap.

32. The blank of claim 27, wherein the line of disruption comprises a tear line.

33. The blank of claim 32, wherein the movable portion of the second end flap comprises a tear-away portion that is at least partially defined by the tear line.

34. The blank of claim 27, wherein: the third panel comprising an elongate line of disruption, and at least a portion of the elongate line of disruption is positioned between, and extends substantially parallel to, the first and second edges of the third panel.

35. The blank of claim 34, wherein the elongate line of disruption comprises a crease line.

36. The blank of claim 34, wherein: the elongate line of disruption extends in a longitudinal direction, whereby the elongate line of disruption is a longitudinal line of disruption, and an oblique line of disruption extends obliquely with respect to the longitudinal line of disruption from proximate the longitudinal line of disruption to proximate the first edge of the third panel.

37. The blank of claim 36, wherein: the oblique line of disruption is a first oblique line of disruption; and a second oblique line of disruption extends (a) from proximate both the longitudinal line of disruption and an end of the first oblique line of disruption (b) to proximate the second edge of the third panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/818,357, which is entitled “Carton With Pour Feature” and was filed on Jun. 30, 2006. The entire disclosure of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/818,357, which is entitled “Carton With Pour Feature” and was filed on Jun. 30, 2006, is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention generally relates to cartons and, more particularly, to cartons used for containing and dispensing (e.g., pouring) contents, such as foodstuffs or other dispensable products. Although a variety of such cartons are known, there is always a desire for a carton that provides a new balance of properties.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF SOME ASPECTS OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is the provision of a carton from which contents may be poured. The carton may include a plurality of panels that extends around and defines an interior of the carton, a first end flap foldably connected to a first panel of the plurality of panels, and a second end flap foldably connected to a second panel of the plurality of panels. The first and second end flaps may be in an overlapping relationship with respect to one another so that they at least partially form an end panel that typically closes an end of the carton. The end panel may cooperate with at least one of the plurality of panels to form a corner of the carton. The first end flap may define an opening that substantially extends to the corner of the carton and is adapted for use in pouring contents from the carton. The second end flap may include an obstructing portion that at least indirectly obstructs the opening. The second end flap may be adapted so that at least the obstructing portion can be moved away from the opening. The obstructing portion of the second end flap may be a tear-away portion (e.g., tear strip) of the second end flap.

The carton may further include a third end flap connected to a third panel of the plurality of panels, with the third end flap being part of the end panel. The third end flap may include an obstructing portion that at least indirectly obstructs the opening. The third end flap may be adapted so that at least the obstructing portion of the third end flap can be moved away from the opening. The third end flap may be positioned between the first and second end flaps while the carton is closed. The third end flap may be deformed to form a spout that is adjacent to the opening while the carton is open and its contents are being poured.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a carton may include a plurality of panels that extends around and defines an interior of the carton, with a first panel of the plurality of panels being foldably connected to second and third panels of the plurality of panels by respective fold lines. An end panel of the carton typically closes an end of the carton and cooperates with at least the first panel to form a corner of the carton. The end panel is adapted for at least partially defining an opening proximate the corner of the carton. The carton is adapted so that the first panel and/or an associated end flap is for being deformed to at least partially form a pour spout that is proximate the opening. One or more lines of disruption (e.g., crease lines) may be provided for aiding in the formation of the spout. In accordance with one embodiment, at least a portion of the end panel may be adapted for bracing the second and third panels apart from one another while the spout is formed, with the bracing seeking to keep the spout from collapsing.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a method of pouring contents from a carton includes partially opening at least an end panel of the carton so that the carton has an opening through which contents may be poured from the carton. A predetermined portion of the end panel remains substantially intact, so that the predetermined portion of the end panel closes a substantial portion of an end of the carton. The method further includes squeezing a predetermined portion of the carton. The carton may be adapted so that at least one portion of the carton deforms, in response to the squeezing, to form a spout that is proximate the opening. The carton being adapted may further comprise the predetermined portion of the end panel bracing panels of the carton apart from one another in a manner that restricts the spout from collapsing. The method further includes pouring contents from the carton by way of the opening and the spout. Optionally, the spout may automatically cease to be formed and the opening may be closed after the pouring.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a carton blank includes a first panel, a second panel, a third panel, a first end flap having a first edge foldably connected to the first panel at a first fold line, and a second end flap having a first edge foldably connected to second panel at a second fold line that is substantially aligned with the first fold line. The third panel includes opposite first and second edges that are respectively foldably connected to the first and second panels. The first end flap includes opposite second and third edges. The first end flap may define a hole that is at least partially defined by the second edge of the first end flap. The second end flap includes opposite second and third edges. The second end flap may include a line of disruption that is proximate the second edge of the second end flap. The line of disruption at least partially defines a portion (e.g., tear strip) of the second end flap that is movable relative to a remainder of the second end flap, and the movable portion of the second end flap may include at least a portion of the second edge of the second end flap.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having described some aspects of the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a blank used to form a carton having a feature for pouring according to a first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A schematically illustrates a portion of a process by which the blank of FIG. 1 may be formed into the carton according to the first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2B further illustrates the blank of FIG. 1 being formed into the carton according to the first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2C further illustrates the blank of FIG. 1 being formed into the carton according to the first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates the erected carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 4 illustrates an initial step of opening the carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 5 further illustrates opening the carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 6 further illustrates opening the carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 7 illustrates the carton in an open configuration according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 8 schematically illustrates a feature for pouring (e.g., an opening and associated pour spout) formed in the carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 9 schematically illustrates material being poured from the carton according to the first embodiment.

FIG. 10 illustrates the carton being closed according to the first embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Referring now in greater detail to the drawings, in which like numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views, it will be understood that an aspect of a first embodiment of the present invention generally relates to features for facilitating dispensing (e.g., pouring) from a carton. Features of the present invention can be used, for example, in cartons that contain articles or other products that are suitable for being poured. For example and not limitation, the articles can be particulate products such as rice, beans, sugar, and other pourable solid products, such as soaps and detergents.

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first, exterior side of a blank 8 used to form a carton 130 (illustrated in FIG. 3) having a feature for pouring 100 according to a first embodiment of the invention. FIGS. 2A, 2B, and 2C depict the blank 8 in partially erected configurations. Referring to FIG. 1, the blank 8 defines a longitudinal axis L, which extends in a longitudinal direction, and a transverse axis T, which extends in a traverse direction. The blank 8 includes a first side panel 10 foldably connected to a first end panel 20 at a first longitudinal fold line 21, a second side panel 30 foldably connected to the first end panel 20 at a second longitudinal fold line 31, and a second end panel 40 foldably connected to the second side panel 30 at a third longitudinal fold line 41. In the illustrated embodiment, the longitudinal fold lines 21, 31, 41 are generally parallel to longitudinal axis L. An adhesive flap 50 may be foldably connected to the first side panel 10 at a fourth longitudinal fold line 51 that is also generally parallel to longitudinal axis L.

For ease of understanding in this specification, the relative terms “bottom” and “top” may indicate orientations determined in relation to fully erected cartons. The first side panel 10 is foldably connected to a first side top flap 12 and a first side bottom flap 14. The first end panel 20 is also preferably foldably connected to a first end top flap 22 and a first end bottom flap 24, just as the second side panel 30 and the second end panel 40 may be foldably connected to their respective top flaps 32, 42 and their respective bottom flaps 34, 44.

The top flaps 12, 22, 32, 42 may extend along a first marginal area of the blank 8, and may be foldably connected to their respective panels along a first transverse fold line 62 extending generally parallel to transverse axis T. The bottom flaps 14, 24, 34, 44 may extend along a second or bottom marginal area of the blank 8, and may also be foldably connected to their respective panels along a second transverse fold line 64 also extending generally parallel to transverse axis T. The transverse fold lines 62, 64 may be straight or substantially straight fold lines, or may be offset at one or more locations to account for, for example, blank thickness. Each of the transverse fold lines 62, 64 may be characterized as being a plurality of fold lines that will typically be at least somewhat colinear while the blank 8 is in its flat configuration shown in FIG. 1.

According to one aspect of the first embodiment of the present invention, the carton blank 8 includes a feature for pouring 100 that typically includes an opening 102 (e.g., a hole adapted for having contents poured through) formed in the first side top flap 12, and the feature for pouring 100 optionally further includes a crease pattern 104 formed in first end panel 20 and/or the first end top flap 22. In accordance with the first embodiment, the opening 102 is a hole that extends through the first side top flap 12 and is substantially larger than a slit; and the opening 102 is centered along an edge of the first side top flap 12, and that edge can be characterized as defining the opening 102.

In accordance with the first embodiment, a portion (e.g., a movable obstructing portion) of the second side top flap 32 indirectly obstructs the opening 102, and the obstructing portion of the second side flap is a tear-away feature that may more specifically be in the form of a tear strip 110. The tear strip 110 is defined by a first line of disruption 112 (e.g., tear line) and a second line of disruption 114 (e.g., tear line) formed in the second side top flap 32. More specifically, the second tear line/second line of disruption 114 extends along, or more specifically is colinearly formed on, a portion of the transverse fold line 62. Differently configured obstructing portions (e.g., tear strips 110) of the second side flap 32 are also within the scope of the present invention. For example, the tear strip 110 may be modified so as to remain foldably attached, such that it is a flap that is foldably attached to the remainder of the second side top flap 32 (e.g., the line of disruption 112 may be a fold line rather than a tear line). Also, the tear strip 110 can have other than a strip-like shape, such that it can be more generally referred to as a tear-away portion, although it is not required that the tear strip 110 or other tear-away portion be tom completely away from the carton 130.

In the illustrated embodiment, the top flap 22 does not extend as far outwardly as the top flaps 12 and 32. Accordingly and while the blank 8 is in its flat configuration shown in FIG. 1, a portion of the top flap 12 (i.e., a portion of its edge that defines the opening 102) is in opposing face-to-face relation with a portion of the top flap 32 (i.e., a portion of its edge that is included in the tear strip 110 and extends parallel to the tear line/line of disruption 112.

In the illustrated embodiment, the crease pattern 104 includes an elongate line of disruption 106 (e.g., a crease line and/or score line) extending in the first side end panel 20 and the first end top flap 22 from an edge of the first end top flap 22 down to an end point 107. In accordance with the first embodiment, the line of disruption 106 is substantially colinear with the center of both the first side end panel 20 and the first end top flap 22. The line of disruption 106 can be characterized as being two separate, substantially colinear lines of disruption respectively in the first end panel 20 and the first end top flap 22. The first side end panel 20 further includes an inverted V-shaped line of disruption 108 (e.g., crease line and/or score line), which has two legs 109a, 109b, that is positioned with its vertex coincident with the end point 107 of the elongate line of disruption 106. The legs 109a, 109b terminate at their respective intersections with the first and second longitudinal fold lines 21, 31. The crease pattern 104 or any portion thereof may be omitted.

The first and second lines of disruption 112, 114 (e.g., tear lines) of the tear strip 110 may be continuous or substantially continuous breachable lines of disruption formed from, for example, scores, creases, cuts, gaps, perforations, offset cuts, or any combinations thereof. If cuts are used to form the first and second lines of disruption 112, 114, the cuts may be, for example, interrupted by breachable nicks. The elongate and V-shaped lines of disruption 106 and 108 (e.g., crease lines) may be any type of continuous or substantially continuous lines of disruption that will facilitate bending along the lines of disruption, such as scores, creases, offset cuts, perforations or combinations thereof.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2A and very generally described, the carton 130 (FIG. 3) may be erected from the blank 8 by respectively folding the blank and gluing or otherwise adhering or attaching the adhesive flap 50 to the inner side (not shown) of the second end panel 40, so that the first side panel 10, first end panel 20, second side panel 30, and second end panel 40 form a generally tubular construct with open ends. Referring now to FIG. 2B, the partially assembled carton 130 has an open top end 132 and an open bottom end 134. The bottom end 134 may be closed, for example, by folding the bottom flaps 24 and 44 inward. The bottom flap 14 may then be folded inward and adhered to both of the bottom flaps 24 and 44. The bottom end 134 may then be completely secured by folding the bottom flap 34 inwardly and adhering the flaps 14 and 34 together. In this way, the bottom flaps 14, 24, 34, 44 together form the carton's bottom panel (not shown).

Turning now to FIG. 2C, the top end 132 of the carton 130 may be closed, for example, beginning with folding the flaps 12 and 42 inward, with the flap 42 typically being folded in first. Typically the inwardly folded flaps 12 and 42 are adhered to each other. The top flap 22 is then folded inward toward the top flap 12 so that the flap 22 covers (e.g., obstructs) the opening 102 (FIG. 1). That is and in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention, a portion (e.g., an obstructing portion) of the first end top flap 22 obstructs the opening 102. In accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention, the obstructing portion of the first end top flap 22 is that portion that overlies the opening 102. Preferably, the flap 22 is not adhered to the flap 12; although the flap 22 may be releasably adhered to the flap 12 in an alternative embodiment. Finally, the top flap 32 is folded inwardly so that it covers the other top flaps 12, 22, 42 and so that the removable tear strip 110 covers the top flap 22 and indirectly obstructs the opening 102. The top flap 32 is adhered to the flap 12 (except that the tear strip 110 is typically not adhered, although the tear strip may be releasably adhered in an alternative embodiment), thereby completing formation of the carton's top end panel. That is and in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention, when the carton 130 is closed as shown in FIG. 3, its top end panel is formed by the overlapping top end flaps 12, 22, 32, 42. The tear strip 110 can be characterized as an obstructing portion of the top flap 32 because the tear strip obstructs access to the flap 22 and the opening 102, as will be discussed in greater detail below.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the fully erected carton 130 formed from the blank 8 (illustrated in FIG. 1). When fully erected, the carton 130 of the first embodiment is a parallelepiped, but the blank 8 may be configured such that the resulting carton has another geometric shape, such as, for example, a triangular, hexagonal or octagonal prism. It should be understood that either the carton's top end 132 or the carton's bottom end 134 may be assembled first, leaving the other end open so that the contents of the carton 130 may be introduced into the container. Once fully filled, the open end may be assembled/closed, and the carton 130 will typically securely hold its contents until the opening 102 is uncovered to dispense the contents as described in further detail below in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention. That is, an acceptable method of preparing for and subsequently pouring contents from the carton 130 is described in the following, in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention.

After the carton 130 has been fully closed as discussed above, an acceptable process of preparing to pour contents from the carton 130 may begin with partially opening (e.g., partially dismantling) the top end 132 of the carton. For example and referring to FIG. 4, a user 2 may open the feature for pouring 100 by grasping an end 111 of the tear strip 110 located proximate to the first side panel 10. The user 2 may then pull on the tear strip 110 in the direction of arrow A so that the tear strip separates from the remainder of the top flap 32 along the first line of disruption 112. Referring to FIG. 5, the user 2 may fully remove tear strip 110 from the top flap 32 by tearing along the second line of disruption 114. The removed tear strip 110 no longer obstructs access to top flap 22 and opening 102 (FIG. 1), and the user 2 may manipulate the top flap 22 as described in detail below.

Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, the user 2 may grasp and unfold the obstructing top flap 22 away from the top flap 12 in the direction of arrow B, thereby exposing the opening 102 (FIG. 7). In the illustrated embodiment, opposite side edges of the top flap 22 taper toward one another in a manner that facilitates the manually grasping of the opposite side edges of the top flap 22. As shown in FIG. 7, the remaining portion of the top end panel is substantially intact, with this substantially intact, remaining portion of the top panel including the remaining portion of the second side top flap 32, the first side top flap 12 and the top flap 42 (FIG. 1).

Turning now to FIG. 8, once top flap 22 is unfolded away from top flap 12, the user optionally may squeeze the carton 130 along the first and second longitudinal fold lines 21 and 31 as indicated by arrows C and D, so that the top flap 22 and first end panel 20 (FIG. 9) deform (e.g., bow outwardly) generally along the crease pattern 104 (FIG. 1) in the direction of arrow E. With particular reference to FIG. 9, deformation along the elongate line of disruption 106 and the V-shaped line of disruption 108 (FIG. 3) allows the top flap 22 and/or the first end panel 20 to act as a spout 162 that assists the user 2 in minimizing the risk of spillage when pouring the contents 4 out of the carton 130. In accordance with the first embodiment, the spout 162 is substantially formed from predetermined portion(s) of the fully erected blank 8, without requiring the addition of additional plies, layers, patches or the like to the blank 8. FIG. 9 is schematic because the contents 4 hidden from view in the carton 130 are schematically shown. As the user deforms the carton 130 along the crease pattern 104 in the direction of arrow E, the effective area of opening 102 expands and allows the carton's contents to pour out more easily.

In the first embodiment, the spout 162 may be most helpful when the opening 102 is positioned such that it extends substantially to a corner of the carton 130. In accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention and as best understood with reference to FIGS. 4, 5 and 7, the corner of the carton 130 that the opening 102 extends substantially to is defined where the first end panel 20 meets the top end panel. In the configuration of FIG. 4, the top end panel is made up of the combination of the closed top flaps 12, 22, 32, 42 (FIG. 1), although the top end panel can be configured differently (e.g., see FIG. 7). As shown in FIG. 7 and in accordance with the first embodiment, the opening 102 is located at the subject corner.

In accordance with the first embodiment and as shown in FIG. 9, the remaining portion of the top end panel which is substantially intact (which in FIG. 9 includes the remaining portion of the second side top flap 32, the first side top flap 12 and the top flap 42(FIG. 1)) braces the first and second side panels 10, 30 apart from one another in a manner that aids in formation of the spout 162 by seeking to keep the spout from collapsing as may occur if the first and second side panels 10, 30 were to come into opposing face-to-face contact with one another. As shown in FIG. 9, the substantially intact, remaining portion of the top panel also closes a substantial portion of the top end of the carton 130 so as to limit the amount of contents 4 that can be simultaneously poured from the carton.

Referring now to FIG. 10, the feature for pouring 100 may be closed once the user 2 is finished dispensing the contents 4 (FIG. 9) from the carton 130, as will be described below in accordance with the first embodiment. After dispensing some of the contents 4 from the carton 130, the user releases any manually-applied “squeezing” pressure exerted on the first longitudinal fold line 21 (FIGS. 1 and 2C) and second longitudinal fold line 31 and allows the material along the crease pattern 104 (FIG. 3) to substantially return to its normal, un-deformed configuration (e.g., the spout 162 substantially ceases to be formed). That is and in accordance with the first embodiment, the carton 130 has sufficient resilience so that the spout 162 automatically substantially ceases to be formed in response to the ceasing of the squeezing (e.g., the carton 130 automatically substantially returns to the configuration shown in FIG. 7). The user 2 may then fold the first end top flap 22 inward in the direction of arrow F so that the flap 22 (e.g., an obstructing portion of the flap 22) covers or obstructs the opening 102 in a manner that seeks to prevent the contents 4 (FIG. 9) from spilling out of the carton 130. The user may releasably close the opening 102 by tucking an edge of the first end top flap 22 under the second side top flap 32 at the remaining portion of the first line of disruption 112 so that the previously “free” end of the first end top flap 22 is snuggly positioned between the first side top flap 12 and the second side top flap 32 as shown in FIG. 5, thus closing the carton until the next time the user desires to dispense the carton's contents.

It should be understood that the blank 8 can be, for example, formed from coated paperboard and similar materials. For example, the interior and/or exterior sides of the blank can be coated with a clay coating. The clay coating may then be printed over with product, advertising, price coding, and other information or images. The blank may then be coated with a varnish to protect any information printed on the blank. The blank may also be coated with, for example, a moisture barrier, on either or both sides of the blank. In accordance with the above-described embodiments, the blank may be constructed of paperboard of a caliper such that it is heavier and more rigid than ordinary paper. The blank can also be constructed of other materials, such as cardboard, hard paper, or any other material having properties suitable for enabling the carton to function at least generally as described above. The blank can also be laminated to or coated with one or more sheet-like materials at selected panels or panel sections.

In accordance with the above-described embodiments of the present invention, a fold line and a crease line can be any substantially linear, although not necessarily straight, line of disruption or other form of weakening that facilitates folding or deformation therealong, respectively. More specifically, but not for the purpose of narrowing the scope of the present invention, fold lines and crease lines may comprise: a score line, such as lines formed with a blunt scoring knife, or the like, which creates a crushed portion in the material along the desired line of weakness; a cut that extends partially into a material along the desired line of weakness, and/or a series of cuts that extend partially into and/or completely through the material along the desired line of weakness; or various combinations of these features. In situations where cutting is used to create a fold line or a crease line, typically the cutting will not be overly extensive in a manner that might cause a reasonable user to incorrectly consider the line to be a tear line.

In the present specification, a “panel” or “flap” need not be flat or otherwise planar. A “panel” or “flap” can, for example, comprise a plurality of interconnected generally flat or planar sections.

In the foregoing, panels and/or flaps are described as being respectively adhered, and this may be done with an adhesive material such as glue. The term “glue” is intended to encompass all manner of adhesives commonly used to secure carton panels in place. Also, adhesive connections can be replaced by or supplemented with other suitable connections.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that while the present invention has been discussed above with reference to exemplary embodiments, various additions, modifications and changes can be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.