Title:
Carton With Hand-Receiving Tear Initiation Feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A package includes a plurality of upright bottles arranged in at least one row, and a carton for enclosing the bottles. The carton includes a top wall disposed over tops of the bottles and at least one cushioning flap hingedly connected to the top wall along a fold line. A portion of the cushioning flap is defined at least in part by a tear line such that the cushioning flap is separable from the top wall along the tear line and is inwardly foldable along the fold line so as to provide in the top wall an aperture for receiving fingers of a user's hand and a cushioned edge that can be gripped for engaging the carton. The cushioning flap is concavely contoured along the tear line such that the cushioning flap can be folded inwardly with a portion of the cushioning flap passing over at least one of the bottles without being obstructed by said at least one bottle and with extended distal ends of the cushioning flap passing on either side of said at least one bottle.



Inventors:
Walling, Bradford J. (Raleigh, NC, US)
Bates, Aaron (Raleigh, NC, US)
Schemmel, Garett K. (Savannah, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/863201
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
09/27/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D17/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100059400Consumer packageMarch, 2010Blazicek
20030045414Overwrap carton and machine for applying to containersMarch, 2003Cooper et al.
20080029588Process and an arrangement for producing a cupFebruary, 2008Messerschmid et al.
20060022025Article withdrawal deviceFebruary, 2006Beasley
20070194092DISPOSABLE CARRY-OUT FOOD CONTAINERAugust, 2007Donnelly
20020175206Dry goods containerNovember, 2002Nance
20050199690Method and system for storing and dispensing rolled paper productsSeptember, 2005Peterson
20030024970Document containerFebruary, 2003Lonergan
20080078824BEVERAGE CUP SLEEVING SYSTEM AND METHODApril, 2008Spriegel et al.
20060086778Postcard for guided fastening of photographsApril, 2006Willson
20030006273Interlocking storage cartonJanuary, 2003Tsern et al.



Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTROCK COMPANY (Richmond, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carton for enclosing a plurality of articles disposed in a plurality of rows, the carton comprising: a detachable portion that is at least partially detachable from the carton to define an opening for exposing articles in the carton, the detachable portion being defined by a substantially continuous severance line, wherein the detachable portion is separable along the severance line to define a substantially continuous edge of the carton; and a tear initiation feature, comprising a cushioning flap that is hingedly connected to the detachable portion along a fold line, a portion of the cushioning flap being defined at least in part by a segment of the severance line such that the cushioning flap is separable from the carton along the segment of the severance line, the cushioning flap being inwardly foldable along the fold line so as to provide a hand-receiving aperture and to provide a cushioned edge that can be gripped for engaging the detachable portion; wherein the segment of the severance line is contoured so as to define extended distal ends of the cushioning flap for extending between the necks of adjacent articles in one of said rows of articles.

2. The carton of claim 1, wherein the at least one cushioning flap is further defined by at least one severance line.

3. The carton of claim 1, wherein the fold line that defines the cushioning flap is offset from the segment of the severance line.

4. The carton of claim 3, wherein the cushioning flap is further defined by a pair of severance lines each extending between the fold line and the segment of the severance line.

5. The carton of claim 3, wherein the carton includes multiple cushioning flaps that are each defined by a plurality of severance lines each extending between the fold line and the segment of the severance line.

6. The carton of claim 1, wherein the carton includes a plurality of detachable portions that can be separated from the carton along severance lines to provide a strap handle, wherein at least one of the segments of the severance lines are contoured so as to at least partially define a handle flap.

7. The carton of claim 6, wherein the handle flap is further defined by a fold line, the handle flap being foldable along the fold line so as to provide a cushioned edge for the strap handle.

8. The carton of claim 1, wherein the at least one cushioning flap is dimensioned and positioned relative to an arrangement of articles that can be enclosed in the carton such that the at least one cushioning flap can be folded along the fold line so as to be disposed in a space defined by adjacent ones of the arrangement of the articles.

9. The carton of claim 1, wherein the width of the cushioned edge is not substantially less than the width of a user's hand.

10. A package, comprising: a plurality of articles arranged in at least one row; and a carton for enclosing the articles, the carton comprising: a detachable portion for being at least partially detachable from the carton to define an opening for exposing articles in the carton; a substantially continuous severance line defining the at least partially detachable portion wherein the detachable portion is separable along the severance line to define a substantially continuous edge of the carton; and a tear initiation feature, comprising at least one cushioning flap hingedly connected to the detachable portion along a fold line, a portion of the cushioning flap being defined at least in part by a segment of the severance line such that the cushioning flap is separable from the carton along the segment of the severance line and is inwardly foldable along the fold line so as to provide an aperture for receiving fingers of a user's hand and a cushioned edge that can be gripped for engaging the detachable portion; wherein the cushioning flap is concavely contoured along the segment such that the cushioning flap can be folded inwardly with a portion of the cushioning flap passing over at least one of the articles without being obstructed by said at least one article and with extended distal ends of the cushioning flap passing on either side of said at least one article.

11. The package of claim 10, wherein the concavely contoured portion of the segment of the severance line diverges from a point that is disposed above a space between first and second rows of bottles to points disposed above a space between adjacent bottles in one of the first and second rows of bottles.

12. A package, comprising: a plurality of bottles disposed upright and arranged in at least one row; and a carton for enclosing the bottles, the carton comprising: a top wall disposed over tops of the bottles; and at least one cushioning flap hingedly connected to the top wall along a fold line, a portion of the cushioning flap being defined at least in part by a tear line such that the cushioning flap is separable from the top wall along the tear line and is inwardly foldable along the fold line so as to provide in the top wail an aperture for receiving fingers of a user's hand and a cushioned edge that can be gripped for engaging the carton; wherein the cushioning flap is concavely contoured along the tear line such that the cushioning flap can be folded inwardly with a portion of the cushioning flap passing over at least one of the bottles without being obstructed by said at least one bottle and with extended distal ends of the cushioning flap passing on either side of said at least one bottle.

13. The package of claim 12, wherein the carton further comprises a strap handle formed at least in part from the top wall, the strap handle being defined by a pair of severance lines disposed in the top wall, wherein the tear line of the cushioning flap is provided at least in part by one of the severance lines.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/827,197, filed Sep. 27, 2006, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to cartons and, more specifically, to cartons having an improved tear initiation feature.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A tool box style carton typically includes two detachable portions which are separable to define a strap handle for carrying the carton. The detachable portions are relatively large in order to expose all or most of the articles in the carton, while preserving the ability to transport the articles in the opened carton by means of the strap handle. Because the detachable portions are so large, the severance lines that define the detachable portions typically should not be easily breakable in order to prevent the tool box carton from being inadvertently opened. Thus, it would be desirable for the tool box style carton to include a tear initiation feature to facilitate separation of the detachable portions from the tool box carton.

One problem with the known tear initiation features is that they are difficult to operate and do not allow a user to get a firm grip of the detachable portion to steer and control the tearing of the severance lines. The tear initiation features are otherwise uncomfortable or difficult to use to remove the detachable portions.

Since the tool box style carton is commonly used to carry a full load of glass bottles after the detachable portions have been removed, it is important that the strap which is defined by removing the detachable portions from the tool box carton be strong and comfortable for a user to grasp as well. Thus, it is also desirable to cushion the user's hand from the raw edges that remain after formation of the strap handle.

Therefore, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the industry to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies. What is needed is a tear initiation feature that is ergonomically designed to be engaged by a user's hand to facilitate controlled separation of a detachable portion. Further, it is desired that removal of the detachable portion defines an ergonomic strap handle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The various embodiments of the present invention overcome the shortcomings of the prior art by providing a carton for enclosing and transporting a plurality of articles that are arranged in rows, such as glass or plastic bottles having elongated necks. The carton includes an improved tear initiation feature for controlling the separation of one or more large detachable portions of the carton. Each of the detachable portions is defined by a substantially continuous severance line. The detachable portion can be separated from the carton along the severance line to define an opening for exposing articles in the carton.

The tear initiation feature includes a cushioning flap that is hingedly connected to the detachable portion of the carton along a fold line. The cushioning flap is further defined by a segment of the severance line that defines the detachable portion and by severance lines that extend between the segment of the severance line and the fold line. Thereby, the cushioning flap is separable along the severance lines and foldable along the fold line to provide an aperture for receiving the fingers of a user's hand and a cushioned edge that can be gripped or engaged to control separation of the detachable portion.

A portion of the segment of the severance line is contoured and the cushioning flap is dimensioned and positioned in accordance with the relative positions of an arrangement of articles. In the exemplary embodiment, the cushioning flap is dimensioned and positioned to fold inwardly into the carton so as to be disposed in the space defined by the sides or necks of articles between a first row and a second row. The contoured portion of the segment of the severance line forks from a proximal point that is located substantially between two centermost bottles in adjacent rows to distal points that are located between bottles in the second row, for example, on either side of the center bottle in the second row. Thereby, the bottles in the second row do not obstruct the cushioning flaps as it is folded inwardly. Further, in certain embodiments that include multiple detachable portions that define a strap handle, the contoured portion of the segment of the severance line for each detachable portion defines a handle flap to provide a cushioned edge for the strap handle.

The foregoing has broadly outlined some of the aspects and features of the present invention, which should be construed to be merely illustrative of various potential applications of the invention. Other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by combining various aspects of the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a blank incorporating an exemplary embodiment of a tear initiation feature according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a carton formed from the blank of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 3-5 are perspective views of the carton of FIG. 2 illustrating steps in an exemplary method of removing a detachable portion from the carton.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the carton of FIG. 2 illustrating the relationship between a tear initiation feature and an arrangement of articles in the carton.

FIG. 7 is a partial plan view showing an alternative embodiment of a tear initiation feature according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It must be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms, and combinations thereof. As used herein, the word “exemplary” is used expansively to refer to embodiments that serve as illustrations, specimens, models, or patterns. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. In other instances, well-known components, systems, materials, or methods have not been described in detail in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, the drawings illustrate certain of the various aspects of exemplary embodiments of a carton. Generally described, the carton includes a substantially continuous severance line that defines a detachable portion of the carton and a tear initiation feature that facilitates separating the detachable portion of the carton from the rest of the carton along the severance line, as described in further detail below.

Referring to the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-6, a carton 200 (shown in FIG. 2) is formed from a blank 100 (the inside surface of which is shown in FIG. 1). The blank is preferably a single sheet of suitable substrate. It is to be understood that, as used herein, the term “suitable substrate” includes all manner of foldable sheet material such as paperboard, corrugated board, cardboard, plastic, combinations thereof, and the like. In the exemplary embodiment, the blank is dimensioned for packaging an arrangement of bottles. It is envisaged that other articles and/or different arrangements of articles may be contained within the carton and that the blank and carton can be sized accordingly.

As used herein, the terms “fold line” and “severance line” refer to all manner of printed lines indicating optimal fold or cut locations, frangible or otherwise weakened lines, perforations, a line of perforations, a line of short slits, a line of half-cuts, a single half-cut, a cut line, scored lines, slits, any combination thereof, and the like.

Referring to FIG. 1, the blank 100 includes a series of primary panels which define the walls of a tubular structure portion of the carton 200. Specifically, the blank 100 includes a first side panel 110, a top panel 112, a second side panel 114, and a bottom panel 116. The primary panels are hingedly connected one to the next along fold lines. First side panel 110 is hingedly connected to the top panel 112 along fold line 120, the top panel 112 is hingedly connected to the second side panel 114 along fold line 122, and the second side panel 114 is hingedly connected to the bottom panel 116 along fold line 124. In addition, an edge flap 118 is hingedly connected to the bottom panel 116 along fold line 126.

The blank 100 includes end flaps that are hingedly connected to opposite ends of each primary panel along fold lines. The end flaps can be folded and secured to form end closure structures at respective open ends of the tubular structure portion of the carton 200 and thereby to define the end walls of the carton 200. The blank 100 is substantially symmetric such that the end flaps that are hingedly connected to opposite ends of each primary panel are substantially similar. In addition, certain other elements of the blank 100 are substantially similar. Accordingly, the end closure structures of the carton 200 are substantially identical and like references have been used with a suffix “a” or “b” affixed to distinguish one end of the carton from the other. Thus, the description of an element or group of elements having a suffix “a” is suitable for a like-numbered element or group of elements having a suffix “b”. In certain instances, for clarity, only one of the like elements is described unless a description of the other or both of the like elements is useful for understanding the invention.

A first side end flap 130a is hingedly connected to first side panel 110 along fold line 140a, a top end flap 132a is hingedly connected to top panel 112 along fold line 142a, a second side end flap 134a is hingedly connected to second side panel 114 along fold line 144a, and a bottom end flap 136a is hingedly connected to bottom panel 116 along fold line 146a.

The blank 100 further includes substantially continuous severance lines 150a, 150b. The severance line 150a extends from the distal end of the first side end flap 130a across the first side end flap 130a to the fold line 140a, from the fold line 140a across the first side panel 110 to the fold line 120, from the fold line 120 transversely across the top panel 112 to the fold line 122, from the fold line 122 across the second side panel 114 to the fold line 144a, and from the fold line 144a across the second side end flap 134a to the distal end of the second side end flap 134a.

A segment 152a of the severance line 150a extends partially across the top panel 112 to partially define a tear initiation feature T that facilitates breaking the severance line 150a. In the exemplary embodiment, the tear initiation feature T includes a cushioning flap 160a that is defined along its distal edge by the segment 152a and along its proximal edge by a fold line 154a that is offset from the severance line 150a. The fold line 154a hingedly connects the cushioning flap 160 to a detachable portion 250a, as will be described in detail below. The cushioning flap 160a is further defined by severance lines 156a, 158a that extend between the segment 152a of the severance line 150a and the fold line 154a. Further, in the exemplary embodiment, the cushioning flap 160a includes an extensively weakened or precut slit 166a that extends from the segment 152a of the severance line 150a toward the fold line 154a.

The segment 152a of the severance line 150a is contoured or curved to at least partially define extended distal ends 162a, 164a of the cushioning flap 160a and to at least partially define a handle flap 170a to cushion the edge of a strap handle 230 of the carton 200, as described in further detail below. In the embodiment shown, the handle flap 170a is substantially semicircular such that the segment 152a includes a section that is concave from the perspective of the handle. The handle flap 170a is further defined by a fold line 172a. In the exemplary embodiment, the fold line 172a is aligned with a substantially linear portion of the severance line 150a that extends across the top panel 112. The ends of the fold line 172a intersect the ends of the contoured portion of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a.

Referring momentarily to FIG. 6, the dimensions and position of the tear initiation feature T is further described. The fold line 154a has a length L1 that is substantially equal to the width of a user's hand. The fold line 154a is offset from the fold line 172a by a distance L2 which, in the exemplary embodiment, defines the maximum length of the cushion flap 160a. The maximum distance L3 between the segment 152a of the severance line 150a and the fold line 172a defines the length of the handle flap 170a. The fold line 172a has a length L4 that is ideally substantially equal to the width of a typical user's hand. In the exemplary embodiment, the fold line 172a defines the maximum width of the handle flap 170a. The cushioning flaps 160a, 160b are positioned and dimensioned relative to an arrangement of articles that are enclosed in the carton 200, as described in further detail below.

Referring to FIG. 1, the side end flaps 130a, 134a include a portion of a handle opening such as cutouts 180a, 182a that combine to define a handle opening as the end closure structure is formed. The top end flap 132a includes an endless edged handle opening 184a. The cutouts 180a, 182a are dimensioned and positioned to be in registry with the handle opening 184a as the end closure structure is formed.

Erecting the carton 200 from the blank 100 may be accomplished with the folding operations as described herein. The operations can be performed by automatic erecting machinery and/or manually. The erecting process is not limited to the exemplary method described herein. Particularly, the order of the steps can be altered according to manufacturing requirements, steps may be added or omitted, and the means for securing components to one another may vary. The surfaces of sheet material may be secured together by suitable means for securing including tape, staples, interlocking folds, VELCRO®, glue or other adhesives, mechanical fasteners, chemical bonding, combinations thereof, and the like.

The blank 100 is folded along the fold line 124 such that the inside surface of the bottom panel 116 is in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the second side panel 114. Glue or other adhesive is applied to the outside surface of the edge flap 118 and blank is folded along the fold line 120 such that the inside surface of the first side panel 110 is in a face contacting relationship with the inside surface of the top panel 112. Thereby, the inside surface of the first side panel 110 overlaps and is secured to the edge flap 118 and the blank 100 forms a collapsed tubular structure. For clarity, it should be noted that the outside surface of the blank 100 is shown in FIG. 1.

The collapsed tubular structure (not shown) can be erected to form the tubular structure portion of the carton 200 by pulling the panels that are in a face contacting arrangement away from one another. Articles can be easily loaded through one or both open ends (not shown) of tubular structure portion of the carton 200. It should be understood that the exemplary carton 200 is adapted to hold a group of similarly dimensioned, preferably cylindrical articles such as bottles B.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the end closure structures of the carton 200 are formed by folding the end flaps as described herein. First and second side end flaps 130a, 134a are folded toward the open end of the tubular structure portion of the carton 200 along fold lines 140a, 144a so as to be substantially coplanar with one another and such that the ends of the severance line 150a are abutting or overlapping and are substantially aligned. The top and bottom end flaps 132a, 136a are folded toward and secured to the side end flaps 130a, 134a. Thereby, the end closure structures of the carton 200 are formed, as shown in FIG. 2, and the carton 200 is fully erected. As the carton 200 is erected, the primary panels and the end closure structures define the walls of the carton 200. The top panel 112 defines a top wail 212, the side panels 110, 114 define side walls 210, 214, the bottom panel 116 defines a bottom wall 216, and the end closure structures define end walls 218, 220, respectively.

Referring to FIG. 2, the top wall 212 of the carton 200 includes elements of the tear initiation features that facilitate separation of severance line 150a to detach each of the detachable portions 250a, 250b of the carton 200. The top wall 212 includes the cushioning flap 160a that facilitates removing the detachable portion 250a by breaking the severance line 150a. The severance line 150a extends substantially transversely across the top wall 212, substantially diagonally across each of the side walls 210, 214, and transversely across the end wall 218 such that the detachable portion 250a includes at least a portion of the top wall 212, the side walls 210, 214, and the end wall 218.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 3, and 6, the exemplary carton 200 includes an arrangement of bottles B, although any compatible article or group of articles can be accommodated. In the exemplary embodiment, the bottles B include tapered necks and are arranged in a matrix configuration or otherwise in several rows R with multiple bottles B in each row. For clarity, certain of the rows R are numbered in the figures beginning with the endmost row R1, the second endmost row R2, and so on. In the exemplary embodiment, the carton 200 is dimensioned to enclose four rows of three bottles B. However, in alternative embodiments, the carton can be configured to enclose a different number of articles and/or to enclose articles that are arranged in a different configuration.

Referring again to FIG. 6, the tear initiation feature T is further described as it relates to the arrangement of bottles B. The fold line 154a is disposed between adjacent first and second rows R1, R2 of bottles B. Specifically, the fold line 154a is aligned with and disposed above the space between a centermost bottle B in the first row R1 and a centermost bottle B in the second row R2. The ends of the fold line 172a intersect the contoured portion of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a at points P1 and the slit 166a intersects the contoured portion of the segment 152a at a point P2 such that the slit 166a substantially bisects the contoured portion of the segment 152a. The point P2 is disposed between the centermost bottles B in the first and second rows R1, R2 and the points P1 are disposed substantially between two adjacent bottles B in the second row R2.

The contoured portion Q of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a extends between the linear portions D of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a but curves or otherwise diverts to avoid being disposed over the cap C of the centermost bottle B in the second row R2. More specifically, the contoured portion Q of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a extends from the point P2 that lies above the space between the first and second rows R1, R2 of bottles B to points P1 that each lie above the spaces between two adjacent bottles B in the second row R2. In other words, the segment 152a of the severance line 150a curvingly or directly diverges or otherwise extends in different directions from the slit 166a, or from the point P1, to the points P2 that are on opposite sides of the centermost bottle B in the second row R2.

In the exemplary embodiment, the points P1 are disposed on opposite sides of the centermost bottle B in the second row R2. The points P1 are adjacent to the innermost side of the necks of bottles B in the row R2 and the point P2 is adjacent to the outermost side of the neck of the center bottle B in the row R2. Further, the contoured portion Q of the segment 152a curves or arcs toward the fold line 154a such that the fold line 172a and the contoured portion Q of the segment 152a are disposed on opposite sides of the centermost bottle B in the second row R2. In this manner, the ends of the contoured portion Q of the segment 152a extend to the strap handle 230 and the middle of the contoured portion Q of the segment bends around the cap C of the center bottle B, so that the cushioning flap defines handle flap 170a while being contoured so as to clear the cap C of the centermost bottle B as the carton 200 is opened.

The severance lines 156a, 158a extend from ends of the fold line 154a and substantially above spaces between the caps C of bottles B in the row R2 to intersect the severance line 150a at points P3. Substantially linear portions D of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a are substantially aligned with the fold line 172a so as to be disposed above the spaces between two adjacent bottles B in the second row R2. Each of the linear portions D of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a extends between points P1, P3 and defines a distal edge of the cushioning flap 160a.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5, the tear initiation feature T facilitates removing the detachable portion 250a or otherwise at least partially separating the detachable portion 250a from the main portion of the carton 200 along the severance line 150a. The slit 166a is provided to initiate the separation of the cushioning flap 160a from the carton 200 along the segment 152a of the severance line 150a. In an exemplary method of removing the detachable portion 250a, pressure is applied to the area of the carton 200 where the slit 166a intersects the segment 152a of the severance line 150a such the segment 152a of the severance line 150a is broken and is then torn until it is intersected by the severance lines 156a, 158a. The severance lines 156a, 158a are then broken such that the cushioning flap 160a can be folded along the fold line 154a so as to be disposed in the carton 200 to provide an aperture A for receiving at least some of the fingers of a user's hand, and convenient hand hold area along a cushioned edge E1 for grasping the detachable portion 250a to continue tearing the severance line 150a. The hand hold area is cushioned as the cushioning flap 160a covers the raw edges of the detachable portion 250a.

The cushioning flap 160a can be folded along the fold line 154a to be substantially perpendicular to the top wall 212 of the carton 200, as shown in FIG. 2. Thereby, the distal ends 162a, 164a of the cushioning flap 160a are disposed in open spaces between the sides of adjacent bottles B and the central portion of the cushioning flap 160a is disposed in the space between the necks of the center bottles in the rows R1, R2. In alternative embodiments, or depending on the relative configuration of the neck and shoulder of each bottle B, the cushioning flap 160a can be folded into the carton 200 along the fold line 154a to be in a face contacting arrangement with the inside surface of the top wall 212. In such embodiments, the cushioning flap 160a is dimensioned and positioned such that, as the cushioning flap 160a folded, the cushioning flap 160a is not obstructed by the bottles B.

The distance L2 between the distal ends 162a, 164a of the cushioning flap 160a and the fold line 154a relates to the length of the necks of the bottles B such that, as the cushioning flap 160a is folded, the distal ends 162a, 164a avoid the base portions of the bottles B. The curved portion of the segment 152a of the severance line 150a defines the central portion of the cushioning flap 160a such that, as the cushioning flap 160a is folded along the fold line 154a, central portion of the cushioning flap 160a avoids or is otherwise not obstructed by the upper end and neck of the center bottle B in the row R2. Further described, the segment 152a of the severance line 150a is curved so as not to extend across the upper end of the center bottle B in the row R2.

As the cushioning flap 160a is folded into the carton 200, the fold line 154a provides a cushioned edge H that can be engaged by a user to pull the detachable portion 250a from the carton. The cushioned edge H is engaged and pulled to break the severance line 150a such that the detachable portion 250a can be at least partially separated from the carton 200 to provide an opening O that is defined by a substantially continuous edge E. A portion of certain of the bottles B is thereby exposed and can be dispensed through the opening O. It should be understood that the cushioned edge H is easily grasped such that the user can better control tearing of the severance line 150a to remove the detachable portion 250a.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the carton 200 includes two detachable portions 250a, 250b each of which can be removed to form an opening O that exposes the bottles B, to define the tool box shape of the carton 200, and to define the strap handle 230 that can be used to carry the carton 200. The strap handle 230 is defined by the severance lines 150a, 150b and includes the handle flaps 170a, 170b which are defined by the segments 152a, 152b of the severance lines 150a, 150b. The handle flaps 170a, 170b can be folded along the fold lines 172a, 172b as the strap handle 230 is grasped to provide a cushioned edge E2 of the strap handle 230. The cushioned edge E2 is particularly advantageous for carrying heavier loads, such as a full complement of glass bottles.

In an alternative embodiment of the tear initiation feature T, shown in FIG. 7, a severance line that extends between the segment 152a of the severance line 150a and the fold line 154a is substituted for the slit 166a so as to define two separate cushioning flaps. In other embodiments where a severance line is substituted for the slit 166a, a severance line is substituted for the fold line 154a and fold lines are substituted for the severance lines 156a, 158a to provide an alternative arrangement of cushioning flaps.

The above-described embodiments are merely exemplary illustrations of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Variations, modifications, and combinations may be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the claims. All such variations, modifications, and combinations are included herein by the scope of this disclosure and the following claims.





 
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