Title:
Bottle cap assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bottle cap assembly includes a stopper and an over-cap removably coupled to a bottle. The stopper includes a cork fitted to a stopper cap with a snap-in retention ring so as to avoid the need to use any glue. The over-cap includes downwardly extending prongs, each having medial tab that releasably locks the over-cap to the stopper cap and bottle. The prongs releasably catch a ledge defined by the stopper. An inner sleeve of the over-cap conforms to an outer surface of a top portion of the bottle.



Inventors:
Condon, Christopher T. (Laguna Beach, CA, US)
Esker, James H. (San Diego, CA, US)
Morrison, Timothy (Oceanside, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/512463
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
08/30/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/256.1, 220/801
International Classes:
B65D39/00; B65D43/04; B65D51/18
View Patent Images:
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20080179275Cap for an NMR sample tube with inner sealing lipJuly, 2008Himmelsbach et al.
20050056608Bottle insert for storing and dispensing baby formulaMarch, 2005Nesin
20070068894Plastic bottlesMarch, 2007Iwashita et al.
20020063103Nipple for nursing bottleMay, 2002Kiernan
20090308778CONSTRUCTION DEVICE AND METHODDecember, 2009Petyhyrycz



Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Myers Dawes Andras & Sherman LLP (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bottle assembly, comprising: a stopper including a stopper cap, a cork and a retention ring coupling the cork to the stopper cap; and an over-cap removably coupled to the stopper, the over-cap comprising a prong that releasably engages the stopper.

2. The assembly of claim 1, wherein: the stopper cap defines a recess; the cork includes a cylindrical body with a first diameter and an annular top portion with a second diameter greater than the first diameter, the annular top portion being disposed in the recess; and the retention ring is disposed beneath the annular top portion.

3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein: the stopper includes a bottom annular ledge; and the prong releasably catches the bottom annular ledge.

4. The assembly of claim 3, wherein the prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge.

5. The assembly of claim 3, wherein: the over-cap comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface; and the prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap.

6. The assembly of claim 1, further comprising a bottle including a top opening and a top outer surface.

7. The assembly of claim 6, wherein the over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle.

8. The assembly of claim 6, wherein: the stopper is removably coupled to the bottle, the cork being removably disposed at least in part in the opening of the bottle; and the over-cap is removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle.

9. A bottle assembly, comprising: a bottle including a bottle opening and a top outer surface; a stopper removably coupled to the bottle, the stopper including a stopper cap, a cork and a retention ring coupling the cork to the stopper cap; an over-cap removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle, the over-cap comprising a prong that releasably engages the stopper.

10. The assembly of claim 9, wherein: the stopper cap defines a recess; the cork includes a cylindrical body with a first diameter and an annular top portion with a second diameter greater than the first diameter, the annular top portion being disposed in the recess; and the retention ring is disposed beneath the annular top portion.

11. The assembly of claim 9, wherein: the stopper includes a bottom annular ledge; and the prong releasably catches the bottom annular ledge.

12. The assembly of claim 11, wherein the prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge.

13. The assembly of claim 11, wherein: the over-cap comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface; and the prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap.

14. The assembly of claim 9, wherein the over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle.

15. A bottle assembly, comprising: a stopper; and an over-cap removably coupled to the stopper, the over-cap comprising a prong that releasably engages the stopper.

16. The assembly of claim 15, wherein: the stopper includes a bottom annular ledge; and the prong releasably catches the bottom annular ledge.

17. The assembly of claim 16, wherein the prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge.

18. The assembly of claim 17, wherein: the over-cap comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface; and the prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap.

19. The assembly of claim 15, further comprising a bottle including a top opening and a top outer surface.

20. The assembly of claim 19, wherein the over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle.

21. The assembly of claim 20, wherein: the stopper is removably coupled to the bottle, the cork being removably disposed at least in part in the opening of the bottle; and the over-cap is removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to bottles and bottle cap assemblies, and more specifically to cap assemblies for bottles holding beverages.

2. Description of Prior Art and Related Information

Alcoholic beverages are typically stored in transparent or translucent bottles in order to reveal the contents therein. Wines, hard liquor and a variety of other alcoholic beverages often come packaged in glass bottles topped, for examples, with corks. Conventional liquor bottle caps include a cork and a variety of other components, such as seals and so forth, which are glued together.

The need to glue parts together for conventional bottle cap assemblies leads to complicated and expensive manufacturing procedures.

Furthermore, such glued assemblies in the prior art are typically not re-usable. For example, wine bottles are typically capped with a cork which is topped by an aluminum seal which can be torn off. Once torn, only the cork remains for re-sealing an opened bottle. This can be unsightly, particularly when the beverage is rather expensive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides structures and methods which overcome the deficiencies in the prior art.

In one aspect, a bottle assembly comprises a stopper and an over-cap removably coupled to the stopper. The stopper includes a stopper cap, a cork and a retention ring coupling the cork to the stopper cap. The over-cap comprises a prong that releasably engages the stopper. The stopper cap defines a recess. The cork includes a cylindrical body with a first diameter and an annular top portion with a second diameter greater than the first diameter. The annular top portion is disposed in the recess while the retention ring is disposed beneath the annular top portion.

The stopper includes a bottom annular ledge. One or more prongs releasably catch the bottom annular ledge so as to releasably lock the over-cap to the stopper. Each prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge. The over-cap preferably comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface. Each prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap.

The assembly may further comprise a bottle including a top opening and a top outer surface. The over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle. The stopper is removably coupled to the bottle with the cork being removably disposed at least in part in the opening of the bottle. The over-cap is removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle.

In another aspect, a bottle assembly comprises a bottle, a stopper and an over-cap. The bottle includes a bottle opening and a top outer surface. The stopper is removably coupled to the bottle. The stopper includes a stopper cap, a cork and a retention ring coupling the cork to the stopper cap. The over-cap is removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle. The over-cap comprises at least one prong that releasably engages the stopper.

The stopper cap defines a recess. The cork includes a cylindrical body with a first diameter and an annular top portion with a second diameter greater than the first diameter. The annular top portion is disposed in the recess while the retention ring is disposed beneath the annular top portion.

The stopper includes a bottom annular ledge. Each prong releasably catches the bottom annular ledge. Each prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge. The over-cap comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface. Each prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap. The over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle.

In a further aspect, a bottle assembly comprises a stopper and an over-cap removably coupled to the stopper. The over-cap comprises prongs that releasably engage the stopper. The stopper includes a bottom annular ledge. Each prong releasably catches the bottom annular ledge. Each prong comprises a bottom tab that extends medially to releasably catch the bottom annular ledge.

The over-cap comprises a planar top portion having a top surface and a bottom surface. Each prong extends downwardly from the bottom surface of the planar top portion of the over-cap.

The assembly further comprises a bottle including a top opening and a top outer surface. The over-cap comprises an inner sleeve that substantially conforms to the top outer surface of the bottle. The stopper is removably coupled to the bottle with the cork being removably disposed at least in part in the opening of the bottle. The over-cap is removably coupled to the stopper and the bottle.

In summary, a bottle cap assembly includes a stopper and an over-cap removably coupled to a bottle. The stopper includes a cork fitted to a stopper cap with a snap-in retention ring so as to avoid the need to use any glue. The over-cap includes downwardly extending prongs, each having medial tab that releasably locks the over-cap to the stopper cap and bottle. The prongs releasably catch a ledge defined by the stopper. An inner sleeve of the over-cap conforms to an outer surface of a top portion of the bottle.

The invention, now having been briefly summarized, may be better appreciated by the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a preferred embodiment of a bottle apparatus having a preferred bottle and cap assembly;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the preferred embodiment of the bottle apparatus;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a preferred stopper;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the preferred stopper;

FIG. 5 is a bottom perspective view of the preferred over-cap;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the bottle with the preferred cap assembly installed; and

FIG. 7 illustrates a preferred method of bottling and storing a beverage product.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention and its various embodiments can now be better understood by turning to the following detailed description wherein illustrated embodiments are described. It is to be expressly understood that the illustrated embodiments are set forth as examples and not by way of limitations on the invention as ultimately defined in the claims.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a preferred embodiment of a bottle apparatus, or product, 10 including a bottle 12 and a preferred cap assembly 20 according to the invention. The bottle 12 includes a top bottle portion 14 with a top outer surface 16. The top bottle portion 14 defines a bottle opening 18 through which fluid enters and exists the bottle 12.

A stopper 22 is configured to removably plug the bottle opening 18. The cap assembly 20 also comprises an over-cap 24 configured to be removably coupled to the stopper 22 and the bottle 12. When assembled as shown in FIG. 1, the over-cap 24 preferably covers the stopper 22 entirely and a majority of the top outer surface 16 of the bottle 12.

In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the over-cap 24 comprises a cross-sectional profile that preferably conforms to the profile of the bottle 12. Accordingly, where the bottle 12 has a rectangular profile, the over-cap 24 similarly comprises a rectangular profile, as shown more noticeably in FIG. 5, so as to give the overall product 10 a uniform profile from top to bottom. It is to be expressly understood that the bottle 12 and over-cap 24 may comprise any other geometric profile, such as circular or triangular, for example. Furthermore, the over-cap 24 may comprise a profile that is different from the profile of the bottle 12.

In FIG. 3, the preferred stopper 22 comprises a cork 30 that is coupled to a stopper cap 32 by a snap-in retention ring 34. The cork 30 includes a cylindrical main body 36 that is configured to snugly plug the bottle opening 18, as shown in FIG. 6. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 6, the cylindrical main body 36 is configured with an outer diameter 38 that is substantially equivalent to the inner diameter 41 of the bottle opening 18. The cork 30 may be composed of a compressible material and configured with an outer diameter 38 of the cylindrical main body 36 that is slightly larger than the inner diameter 41 so as to form a snug watertight fit when inserted into the opening 18.

In FIGS. 3 and 4, the cork 30 preferably comprises an enlarged top cork portion 43 that forms a shoulder 45. As an example and not by way of limitation, the enlarged top cork portion 43 may have a height in the preferred range of 0.1 inch to 0.75 inch, and a diameter in the preferred range of 0.5 inch to 2.0 inches. The stopper cap 32 defines a void, or space, 47 for receiving the top cork portion 43 and the retention ring 34. A top inner side wall 49 of the stopper cap 32 includes vertical ribs 52 to facilitate a tighter fit with an outer sidewall 54 of the enlarged top cork portion 43 received therein. As assembled, the top cork portion 43 is disposed in the void 47 with a top cork surface 56 abutting a bottom inner surface 58 of the stopper cap 32. The retention ring 34 is then snapped in place in the void 47 beneath the top cork portion 43. When disposed in the void 47, the retention ring 34 forms a press fit with a lower sidewall 60 of the stopper cap 32 and abuts the shoulder 45 of the top cork portion 43 to secure the cork 30 in place. Accordingly, the retention ring 34 comprises an outer diameter that causes a snug press fit with the lower sidewall 60 of the stopper cap 32.

The tightness of the press fit retention ring is sufficient to prevent the cork 30 from being dislodged from the stopper cap 32. The stopper As an example and not by way of limitation, the retention ring 34 may have an outer diameter in the preferred range of 0.5 to 2.0 inches.

In FIG. 3, the stopper cap 32 comprises an annular outer surface 33 that may be plated with an attractive metallic coating such as gold or silver.

It will be appreciated that the stopper 22 comprises components 30, 32, 34 that may be simply snap fit together without need for any glues or other adhesive materials. This simplifies manufacturing both in terms of producing the individual components 30, 32, 34 as well as assembling them together to form the stopper 32. When assembled, the stopper 22 operates as a unitary structure to plug the bottle opening 18.

In FIGS. 5 and 6, the stopper 22 removably plugs the bottle opening 18 when the cylinder main body 36 is fully inserted into the opening 18 such that the retention ring 34 abuts a top end 62 of the bottle opening 18. The stopper cap 32 and retention ring 34 collectively form an annular ledge 64 that is preferably wider than the top end 62 of the bottle opening 18 so as to protrude laterally, at least slightly, beyond the width or diameter of the bottle top end 62. By abutting the bottle top end 62, the ledge 64 forms a crevice, or gap, 66 therebetween.

In FIGS. 5 and 6, the over-cap 24 is configured to be removably coupled to the stopper 22 and bottle 12 when the stopper 22 is plugged into the bottle opening 18. The over-cap 24 comprises a planar top portion 68 that includes a planar top surface 71 and a bottom surface 73. A plurality of prongs 75 extend downwardly from the bottom surface 73, each terminating at a medially protruding tab 77. The prongs 75 are arranged in a border configuration so as to surround the periphery of the stopper 22, particularly, the stopper cap 32. Accordingly, where the stopper cap 32 is circular, the prongs 75 are arranged in a radial configuration to border the stopper cap 32. The prongs 75 are also spaced apart from each other to form vertical slots, or gaps, 79 therebetween. These slots 79 facilitate more easy flexing of each individual prong 75. As an example and not by way of limitation, the prongs 75 may have a length in the preferred range of 0.2 inch to 1.5 inch.

When assembled onto the stopper 22 as shown in FIG. 6, the prongs 75 wrap around the stopper cap 32. Each prong 75 is configured with an equal, precise length ā€œLā€ such that the bottom tabs 77 releasably engage the bottom ledge 64 of the stopper cap 32. In particular, the tabs 77 releasably catch the crevice 66 so as to form a tight, yet removable fit between the over-cap 24 and the stopper 22. As assembled, the over-cap 24 forms a protective cover over the stopper 22 and presents an attractive appearance particularly when the bottle assembly 10 is to be re-used or displayed after being opened. A user simply needs to twist the over-cap 24 to remove the over-cap 24 from the stopper 22 and bottle 12.

When assembled, it will be appreciated that the over-cap 24 hides the stopper 22 from view. This unique feature can be noticeably distinguished from conventional wine and liquor bottles which consist of merely a foil wrapped over a cork. Once the foil is torn and discarded, the only structure that remains to plug a conventional bottle is the cork, thereby resulting in an unsightly appearance. Furthermore, the user has no motivation to retain or re-use the conventional wine or liquor bottle since no permanent mechanism is provided for closing the bottle.

The preferred bottle assembly 10 according to the invention is not only adapted to store liquor, wine and other beverages, but also to provide a permanent liquid storage solution with an attractive, re-usable permanent cap assembly 20.

FIG. 7 illustrates a preferred method 100 of bottling and storing a beverage product, such an alcoholic beverage. In particular, the method 100 comprises re-using a beverage container and storing the liquid contents in a manner that is not available in the prior art. In particular, the method 100 comprises the step 110 of filling a bottle with a beverage or any type of liquid.

Step 120 includes plugging an opening of the bottle with a cap assembly including a cork and a stopper cap. Step 120 also comprises providing the cap assembly that a cork that is coupled to the stopper cap with a retention ring without the use of any adhesives.

Step 130 comprises providing an over-cap with an outer profile that conforms to the profile of the glass bottle. For example, if the bottle is configured with a rectangular profile, step 130 comprises forming the over-cap with a rectangular profile with equal dimensions of the bottle so as to form a uniform appearance when the over-cap is coupled to the bottle.

Step 140 comprises removably coupling the over-cap to the cap assembly that plugs the bottle opening. This step 140 also comprises concealing the cap assembly from view.

In step 150, the over-cap may be removed from the cap assembly. This step 150 may also include unplugging the cap assembly from the bottle so as to access the contents of the bottle.

Step 160 comprises installing the cap assembly back onto the bottle to plug, or actually re-plug the bottle opening, and then installing the over-cap back onto the cap assembly to shield the cap assembly. It will thus be appreciated that the method 100 enables a user to store unused contents in the same bottle with an attractive cap assembly and over-cap that may be removed and installed back thereon multiple times.

Many alterations and modifications may be made by those having ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it must be understood that the illustrated embodiments have been set forth only for the purposes of examples and that they should not be taken as limiting the invention as defined by the following claims. For example, notwithstanding the fact that the elements of a claim are set forth below in a certain combination, it must be expressly understood that the invention includes other combinations of fewer, more or different elements, which are disclosed in above even when not initially claimed in such combinations.

The words used in this specification to describe the invention and its various embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification the generic structure, material or acts of which they represent a single species.

The definitions of the words or elements of the following claims are, therefore, defined in this specification to not only include the combination of elements which are literally set forth. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements in the claims below or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim. Although elements may be described above as acting in certain combinations and even initially claimed as such, it is to be expressly understood that one or more elements from a claimed combination can in some cases be excised from the combination and that the claimed combination may be directed to a subcombination or variation of a subcombination.

Insubstantial changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalently within the scope of the claims. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements.

The claims are thus to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptionally equivalent, what can be obviously substituted and also what incorporates the essential idea of the invention.