Title:
Spill Prevention Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spill prevention device is formed of a desk top/table top cup and/or mug holding device that comprises a base having one or more apertures therein, at least one of said apertures being adapted to receive a beverage container, wherein the width, length and height of the base is such that it stably retains said beverage container placed therein preventing the beverage container from tipping or spilling.



Inventors:
Lammers, Anthony J. (Gates Mills, OH, US)
Brown, Patrick (Mantua, OH, US)
Wikstrom, Todd S. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/626758
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
01/24/2007
Assignee:
INNODESK BUSINESS TOOLS, INC. (Beachwood, OH, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050263652Writing aidDecember, 2005Stair
20090039227HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT DEVICE WITH FINE TUNING FOR AN IMAGE SYSTEMFebruary, 2009Li
20090173854Adjustable Height Toggle FootJuly, 2009Ryan
20050279908Wall hanger positionerDecember, 2005Haje
20100025547Clip for fastening an article to a panel having a self-expanding clip headFebruary, 2010Smutny et al.
20080028647SELF-ABSORBENT BEVERAGE HOLDER COASTERFebruary, 2008Fratianne
20050156085Magnetic paint brush holderJuly, 2005Radovan
20020040955Distribution and collecting unit for forms and the use thereofApril, 2002Pajusuo
20090121109Display stand for action figureMay, 2009Kinmont et al.
20100032997FITTING FOR CHILD SAFETY SEATFebruary, 2010Gold et al.
20070145208Apparatus for visual display of greeting cardsJune, 2007Beaver



Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEEVICAN WEISS & BAUERLE LLC (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A spill prevention device comprising a base, said base having one or more apertures therein, at least one of said apertures being adapted to receive a beverage container, wherein the width, length and height of said base is such that it stably retains said beverage container placed therein preventing said beverage container from tipping or spilling.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the aperture is a tapered cavity.

3. The device of claim 1 where in the aperture includes a tier.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the aperture is a tapered cavity and includes a tier.

5. The device of claim 1 further comprising a front edge, wherein said front edge includes a flattened portion.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein said flattened portion is affixed with screen printing, engraving, paint, plaques or other material.

7. The device of claim 1 further comprising a heating mechanism to heat a beverage.

8. The device of claim 1 further comprising a cooling mechanism to cool a beverage.

10. The device of claim 1 further comprising both a heating and a cooling mechanism.

11. The device of claim 10 wherein said device is powered by a power supply source selected from the group consisting of batteries, direct current electricity, alternating current electricity, solar power and/or combinations thereof.

12. The device of claim 1 wherein said the side walls and bottom of the aperture are integrally formed with the base.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein said side walls and bottom of the aperture are not integrally formed with said base and are therefore removable from said base.

14. The device of claim 1 wherein a plurality of such devices may be nested or stably stacked upon each other.

15. The device of claim 1 further comprising along the walls of said aperture forming said cavity, a friction increasing surface.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein said friction increasing surface is rubber.

17. The device of claim 1 further comprising along the walls of said aperture forming said cavity, a friction reducing agent.

18. The device of claim 1 wherein it is includes a pair of apertures.

19. The device of claim 18 wherein at least one of said apertures includes one or more elongate sections that will accommodate the handle of a mug.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/762,557 filed Jan. 26, 2006 entitled “Spill Prevention Device” filed in the name of Todd S. Wikstrom.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a spill prevention device, and more particularly to a desk top/table top cup and/or mug holding device.

2. Description of the Current Technology

Spill prevention devices for holding containers such as beverage containers like cups, mugs, etc., are known in the art. However, by far, the majority of these devices are used in vehicles such as automobiles, trucks and the like to hold beverages for the convenience of the driver and/or passengers of the vehicles.

Devices directed to holding such beverage containers on a desk or table top are not as common, and when they are found, they are generally in the form of a coaster. Coasters are primarily flat or nearly flat pads, trays or similar devices that function not so much to keep the container from spilling as to prevent any moisture on the bottom of the beverage container from marring or leaving a ring or stain on the surface on which the container is resting, such as a desk top or table top. A few coasters have insulating capability to reduce heat transfer to the desk or table top, but none have been found which function to prevent the beverage container from spilling.

Table top heating devices are known which function to heat a beverage container, such as a coffee mug, but again, such devices function primarily to transfer heat to the mug to keep the coffer or other beverage inside hot. They do not function primarily to stabilize the beverage container and prevent it from tipping or spilling.

Therefore, it would be useful to provide a desk top or table top spill prevention device capable of reducing or eliminating the tendency for a beverage container to tip and/or spill.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a novel spill prevention device that can be used on a desk top or table top or similar flat surface to hold a beverage container which reduces or eliminates the tendency for the beverage container to tip or spill. The novel spill prevention device of the present invention can accommodate a plurality of different beverage container designs due to its novel mechanism for holding the beverage container. It is easy to move and protects the surface of the desk top or table top from marks and stains. Because of its tapered beverage holder and wide base design, it provides great stability for the beverage containers it holds. Also, due to its unique design, multiple spill prevention devices according to the present invention can be stacked upon one another in a nested fashion for, among other purposes, ease of shipment, display and/or storage. The novel spill prevention device of the present invention also includes one or more exterior portions adapted to be easily imprinted or labeled, allowing the novel spill prevention device of the present invention to imprinted with art and/or graphics for any number of relevant purposes.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be described in the description of the preferred embodiments in which like reference numerals represent like elements throughout.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective elevational view of a spill prevention device according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a back perspective elevation view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective elevation view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a cross section view along the line VII-VII of FIG. 6 of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the spill prevention device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a front plan view illustrating the nesting of two of the spill prevention devices of FIG. 1 of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a side elevation section view illustrating the nesting of two of the spill prevention devices of FIG. 1 of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of a spill prevention device of the present invention, illustrating an aperture having two ear-like projections and one additional aperture.

FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 11, illustrating a generally triangular shape for the spill prevention device with two coffee mugs shown in phantom.

FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of a further alternative embodiment of a spill prevention device of the present invention, illustrating a generally rectangular shape for the spill prevention device, with two coffee mugs shown in phantom.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As used herein, all numbers, such as but not limited to dimensions, physical characteristics, processing parameters, quantities of ingredients, reaction conditions, and the like, used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term “about”. Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical values set forth in the following specification and claims may vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by the present invention. At the very least, and not as an attempt to limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents to the scope of the claims, each numerical value should at least be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. Moreover, all ranges disclosed herein are to be understood to encompass the beginning and ending range values and any and all subranges subsumed therein. For example, a stated range of “1 to 10” should be considered to include any and all subranges between (and inclusive of) the minimum value of 1 and the maximum value of 10; that is, all subranges beginning with a minimum value of 1 or more and ending with a maximum value of 10 or less, e.g., 1 to 3.5, 5.5 to 10, 2.3 to 7.3, etc. All references and publications referred to herein, such as but not limited to U.S. patents and published applications, are to be understood as being herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.

The present invention is directed to a spill prevention device. While one of its primary purposes is to prevent the spilling or tipping of beverages on tabletops, desktops and the like, it is not so limited, and may in fact be used to prevent many items, e.g. food items, glasses, sunglasses etc., from spilling or tipping. However, for convenience, in the following discussion reference will be made to a beverage container, but as may be appreciated, the invention is certainly not so limited.

Referring now all the figures, but particularly to FIGS. 1, 2, 6 and 7, there is illustrated the spill prevention device 1 of the present invention. As may be seen in FIG. 1, which is a front perspective elevation view of the spill prevention device 1 of the present invention, it includes a base 2 having an aperture 4 therein which aperture may also be described as a tapered cavity, which aperture 4 is adapted to receive a beverage container, not shown. In a preferred embodiment, the aperture 4 is generally cylindrical in shape as are most beverage containers, but it is preferred if the aperture 4 is tiered as shown by tier 6. One advantage of such a tiered design is that it can accommodate beverage containers of different diameters, with the beverage containers of smaller diameter resting on the bottom 8 of the aperture 4. FIG. 2 is a back perspective elevational view of the spill prevention device of the present invention where bottom 8 may be easily seen.

Also illustrated in FIG. 2 are a series of projections 10 which may be used to provide strength to the base and hold a beverage container up off the bottom 8. Ten such projections may be seen in FIG. 6 which is a top plan view, but as may be appreciated, ten are shown only for example. The present invention is not limited to ten such projections, and any number may be used, and they may extend further or lesser toward the center point of the bottom 8.

FIG. 3 provides is a bottom perspective elevation view of the present invention, where ridges 12 are illustrated. Again four are illustrated for example only, and more or less such ridges are envisioned as within the scope of the present invention. The outside of tier 6 may be seen in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the spill prevention device of the present invention where ridges 12 are shown. The outside of bottom 8 is also clearly visible in FIG. 4.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view. The front edge 14 is illustrated in FIG. 5 as having a relatively vertical face. While the precise angle is not limiting to the present invention, one advantage of the spill prevention device of the present invention is that this front edge 14 may be easily imprinted, silk screened, painted, labeled or provided as in any way will known in the art, with writing, pictures or other designs to personalize and/or render the spill prevention device of the present invention more appealing. The front edge 14 may also be used to carry advertising and/or informational text, pictures or combinations thereof.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view. The bottom 8 of the aperture 4 is clearly visible as are the projections 10 and tier 6. Front edge 14 is also illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 is a cross section elevation view along the line VII-VII of FIG. 6. FIG. 7 both well illustrates the tier 6, but also illustrates the tapering of the sides 16 and 18 toward each other at the bottom 8 of the aperture 4. The present invention is not required to be tapered, but in a preferred embodiment it is. Such a taper grips more surely the sides of the a beverage container when it is placed in the aperture 4.

Although not illustrated in the figures, the aperture 4 and/or its bottom 8 may be lined with material that either increases the coefficient of friction with the beverage container or reduces it. In one embodiment, friction increasing linings may be used such as rubber and the like. In an alternative design, the lining may have a waxy or other friction reducing surface to enable a beverage container to be more easily withdrawn from the aperture 4.

FIG. 8 is a front plan view illustrating the front edge 14 of the spill prevention device of the present invention which front edge 14 is easily adapted to the printing, labeling etc described above.

FIG. 9 is a front elevation view illustrating the nesting of two of the spill prevention devices of the present invention. FIG. 10 provides a elevational crossectional view illustrating the nesting of two of the spill prevention devices of the present invention.

Illustrated in FIG. 11 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of the spill prevention device of the present invention illustrating a main aperture 20, having rabbit ear like projections 22 and 24. These projections can be used to hold the handle for example, of the common coffee mug. And there is also included a second aperture 26 which preferably includes the taper and tier described above.

FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 11, illustrating a generally triangular shape 28 for the spill prevention device with two coffee mugs shown in phantom.

FIG. 13 is a side elevation view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 11, illustrating a generally rectangular shape 30 for the spill prevention device, with two coffee mugs shown in phantom.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, not shown, the spill prevention device 1 may be outfitted with a heating device and/or a cooling device to warm or cool the beverage container and in turn the beverage held therein. For the heating operation, the heating unit may be any of those known in the art, with a resistance heater being preferred. The heating unit may be powered by batteries, electricity or a combination thereof. Also in a preferred embodiment, the heating unit may be turned off and on by a regulating device which could be a common on/off switch. For the cooling operation, mechanical and/or chemical cooling means may be employed, and this too may be controlled with a regulating device, such as the common on/off switch. The spill prevention device may also be outfitted with a settable, programmable or otherwise controllable thermostat or similar temperature measuring device which can automatically turn or the cooling and/or heating operations to maintain the beverage at a desired temperature.

The spill prevention device of the present invention may be provided with one or more weights not shown, to provide additional stability to the device. It may also be provided with one or more cushioning surfaces interposed between the base 2 and the tabletop or desktop upon which it sits, such as, but not limited to rubber or other cushioning feet, pads, rails or similar cushioning materials.

The side and bottom walls of the aperture 4 may be made integral with the base 2, or in an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the aperture 4 may be removable for repair or cleaning. This would be particularly advantageous, for example, where the spill prevention device 1 included a heating element that was powered by an electric cord.

The tapered cavity of aperture 4, whether integral or not with the base, may be made of ceramic or other material.

As may be appreciated, the spill prevention device 1 of the present invention provides a very stable holder for beverage containers. The overall dimensions of the spill prevention device are not limiting, nor are the precise dimensions or angles associated with the exterior surfaces of the base 2, provide however that the base 2 has sufficient “footprint” to provide a stable holder for a beverage container is an important aspect of the present invention.

The spill prevention device 1 of the present invention can be used to hold cups, glassware, Styrofoam cups, coffee mugs, hot chocolate mugs (cocoa), tea cups, ceramic mugs, bottled water or soda, canned beverages, juice, milk containers and the like while drinking hot or cold liquids and preventing one from knocking containers over and spilling liquids onto tabletops, desktops and all other surfaces.

It may be made large enough to hold one or more drinking containers at a time. Small enough to be non obtrusive yet accommodating on normal desktops/tabletops. Base acts as a built in coaster which can hold snack, sandwich, bagel, doughnut, cookies and the like. Top surface holds drink containers in place with apertures which supports and prevents containers from tipping over and spilling liquids caused by accidental bumping, for example. Ends may be open and act as built in handles. Top surface can be level or raked/angled.

The spill prevention device may be made of microwavable plastic or non microwavable plastic, of disposable cardboard, paper and the like, or wood or metal or stone and the like and combinations thereof. Sizes shapes and colors may vary. In one aspect of the present invention the device may be made entirely of a thermally insulating and/or high heat capacity material such as stone or ceramic or the like. Alternatively such high heat capacity and/or thermally insulating material may only be formed in or as part of the aperture (e.g. an insulating liner). The high heat capacity materials will, because of thermal insulating properties, help to maintain the temperature above or below ambient conditions of a drink contained within the cup in the aperture (i.e. hot things are maintained hot and cold things cold for an extended period of time). Further, high heat capacity materials will act as a temperature radiating heat (or cold) source for an extended period of time, whereby if placed in a microwave oven (for certain materials), oven at elevated temperatures, freezer or refrigerator and then removed, the material can serve to warm or cool a drink in a cup within the device. This is opposed to high heat conductive materials such as metal that quickly reach equilibrium with the ambient conditions. The mass and surface area of the device will also effect the particular heat sink/source characteristics as known in the thermodynamic fields. Finally there are materials, such as expanded foams, that have high insulating value and less heat conductive values. These materials are suitable where only insulating properties and not radiating properties are desired.

One aspect of the present invention is that the device form a part of a modular desk set. Other desk top items that may be part of the modular desk set include but are not limited to letter trays, pencil holders and the like.

The spill prevention device of the present invention can be made reversible with apertures on one or both sides and can also be produced to accommodate plates, bowls, frozen food containers and the like.

Benefits include that it is easy to use, easy to produce, made of long lasting materials or disposable materials. It can be durable and inexpensive to produce. It will fit any desktop or tabletop or flat surface. It prevents drinking containers from tipping over and spilling liquid. It eliminates the need for additional coaster(s) as the base acts like a built in coaster.

Although the invention has been described in detail in the foregoing for the purpose of illustration, it is to be understood that such detail is solely for that purpose and that variations can be made therein by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention except as it may be limited by the claims. The scope of the present invention is defined in the appended claims and equivalents thereto.