Title:
Spill-proof cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spill-proof cover comprising two or more sectored layers that snap fit or are integral to the rim of covers so as to allow access to snacks and similar food materials in a cup, bowl or any container without any spillage of the snacks or material when the cup, bowl or container is jostled or accidentally falls on the floor, sofa or anywhere. The triangularly sectored layers are off-set from the center and one is rotated a hundred and eighty degrees with respect and thereby provides the spill-proof nature of this invention; more than two layers and geometric shapes other than triangular sectors are also envisaged in this invention.



Inventors:
Iyer, Ramanathan Krishna (Plant City, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/906214
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
10/01/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D51/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RAMANATHAN K. IYER (PLANT CITY, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A planar or curvilinear (dome and other geometric profiles) spill-proof cover that consists of two or more layers that are suitably sectored, symmetrically and asymmetrically, that are attached via a ball and socket and other similar attaching systems, or are integrally attached to a single circumferential lid that has beading and grooves that are of conventional design to securely fasten on to containers of various sizes and shapes, the material of the cover having properties between that of low density polyethylene and cellophane, and covers that are circular as well as square, rectangular and other geometric shapes as dictated by the containers in general to hold and access without spilling food materials such as popcorn, cereals, cookies, peanuts and so on for use by toddlers, children and even adults.

2. A spill-proof cover of claim 1 wherein the spill-proof cover has one layer with triangular sectors off-set from the center and a second layer with triangular sectors off-set from the center and this second layer is rotated one hundred and eighty degrees with respect to the first layer so as to not have sector opening focal point coincide and thereby providing for a more leak proof configuration of the two layers.

3. A spill-proof cover of claim 2 wherein the sector cuts of the two layers have a clearance from the cover circumferential periphery to provide for enhances strength of the sectors

4. A spill-proof cover of claim 3 wherein the edges of the sector cuts are buffed or beaded to minimize any abrading effect on the fingers of portions of the hand when the snack, food or other material from the container is obtained by the child, teenager or adult.

5. A spill-proof cover of claim 4 wherein the spill-proof cover is made of plastic material having the transparency, pliability and properties between that of low density polyethylene and cellophane.

6. A spill-proof cover of claim 5 wherein the spill-proof cover is made with the outermost circumferential ring with an indented annulus to tightly engage with the hardened rim of pop-corn tubs and similar containers used in cinema theaters and other sporting concession stands and venues.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/848,873 filed Oct. 3, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are presently available a number of covers, lids and caps that appear to address the prevention of liquids spilling from cups and containers in general when used and when inadvertently jostled or knocked over or dropped. All these involve ducting and orifices to allow flow black with annular containment provisions or entail multiple-piece valve assemblies and so on and are examples of prior art described in U.S. patents such as U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,542,670; 5,607,073 and 5,890,621 to name a few. Not too many of these address the issue of preventing the spillage of non-liquid food such as cereals, potato chips, cheese biscuits and the like that children consume and that can be spilled onto family room carpets and floors in general when consumed. With the present day proliferation of snacks that are available, from Pepperidge Farms' Goldfish series of cheesy snacks to Frito-Lays' Cheetos and the like, the potential mess that can be created by toddlers, teenagers and even adults snacking while watching TV is really quite considerable and can entail annoying cleanup times and frayed nerves that results when living quarters and bedrooms get messy. There is thus a need for a good spill-proof cover or lid that can be used with most containers, bowls and the like that people use to hold their chips, cookies, cereals and snacks to much on while watching TV or doing any other things around the house. It is fair to say that these entire prior art mostly address the prevention of spillage of liquids and are complicated and costly in design. U.S. Pat. No. 6,656,514 describes a spill-proof lid for a container with a frustoconical flange extending inwardly from the top end of the rim and having an annular bottom end spaced radially from the rim to provide an opening through which the item in the container are accessed. This prior art describes flaps that close the opening after the items have been removed and so on. This prior art does not affectively prevent spillage and the frustoconical flange nature of the device could prove to be complicated and expensive to fabricate and manufacture.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The spill-proof cover that is shown in FIGS. 1 thru 9 consists of layers of sectored plastic attached to a circumferential lid ring that can then be used to cover containers so that the contents of the container can be taken out and at the same time the sectored design substantially prevents the contents from spilling out when the container is tilted sideways or even held inverted in an upside down position. The spill-proof cover can be used with all types of containers holding food materials such as popcorn, cereals, peanuts, grapes, snack crackers and so on for toddlers, children and even adults to consume. Further objectives and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a careful reading of the detailed description provided hereinbelow, with appropriate references to the accompanying drawings.

ADVANTAGES OF THIS INVENTION

The main advantage of this invention is that it provides for a truly functional spill-proof cover that can be fabricated to fit the various standard container sizes that have conventional simply closing lids that do not allow one to access the food or other items contained in the container. This invention thus provides a dual functioning cover that serves to contain the food or other items in a container while at the same time allowing easy access to it. While it is admitted and is apparent that the two layers elaborated will provide adequate spill-proof function, more layers than be used to increase the spill-proof functionality if so desired or if necessary. This invention can also be used for larger bowls and other general types of containers. It can even be used with liquids such as gravies, soups and so on to provide some degree of spill-proof function while the liquids can be accessed via use of soup spoons and other types of general spoons or even forks if materials such as salads are to be contained and accessed.

The alternative ways for this invention to achieve its spill-proof results would be in the different and various ways the profile of the cover can be fabricated for different specific uses. The planar and domed versions have been illustrated in the foregoing paragraphs and other types of profiles, such as an acute angled gable like profile, a three sectioned Mansard roof like profile or any other general geometric profile to suit a particular purpose is envisaged by this invention. Another avenue for alternative ways in the fabrication of this invention is in the use of materials for the layers. In the foregoing paragraphs it has been mentioned that the material would have plastic properties that would be between low density polyethylene plastic and cellophane. The alternative ways would be to use a variety of such material that would be specific to the types of food or items in the containers to allow optimal use of the dual or multi-layered spill-proof cover design to achieve the spill-proof results and at the same time allow for the most comfortable use of such a spill-proof cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a preferred spill-proof cover according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional elevation view of the spill-proof cover showing the two sectored layers.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional elevation view of the spill-proof cover showing two layers with the cut gap off-center.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the first (top) layer with triangular sectors off-set from the center.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the second (bottom) layer with triangular sectors off-set from the center and rotated 180 degrees relative to the first (top) layer.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional edge elevation view showing the first (top) and second (bottom) layers integral to the cover and the conventional beading that provides the tight closure.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional edge elevation view showing the first (top) layer as integral to the cover and the second (bottom) layer as detachable with a ball and socket type of optional arrangement.

FIG. 8 is a top plan view showing clearance of the sector cuts from the periphery to provide for better strength of the sectors.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional elevation view showing a domed version of the spill-proof cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed to a spill-proof cover in which multiple layers of suitably sectored plastic that are attached to a single circumferential lid ring of size and shape to allow it to be used to cover cylindrical containers, bowls, cups or other food containers.

The basic idea is, as shown in plan view in FIG. 1 and in elevation in FIG. 2, to use multiple layers of suitably sectored, completely transparent, pliable plastic material that has properties in between low density polypropylene and cellophane that attach to a single circumferential lid that goes on top of a cylindrical plastic container that holds the food material, be it popcorn or dry breakfast cereals, small crackers etc. The container will of course have its own additional closure lid made out of harder, stronger material that is low density polypropylene or other materials, even metal lids. It would be important that the pliable plastic material is completely transparent and clear, as it would be desirable that the toddler or child easily sees the food that is kept in the container. Equiangular triangular sectors are shown in the drawings as they appear to serve the purpose of allowing fairly easy access and provide for adequate overlap cover to minimize any food falling out of the container.

Two or three layers of the sectored pliable plastic sheets would probably be sufficient to accomplish the spill proof effect but I have said multiple layers to account for the general case.

The sectored layers need to off set by an angle to allow effective cover of the cut edges and minimize or obviate food falling out of the container when it is turned upside down or thrown about.

The shape of the sectors can be simple triangular or more complicated ying-yang serpentine type configurations. Other geometric shapes of the sectors can also be used with suitable offsets relative to the center point of the layers to minimize leakage of the food material.

The off set of the sectors can be radial as mentioned in item 3 and can also be off set in terms of being unequal in areas and off set from the center of the circle described by the circumference of the cover. This is shown in FIG. 3 in side views. FIGS. 4 and 5 show plan views of the equiangular triangle sectors off set from the center. This type is actually the preferred design as it affords better leak prevention.

The edges of the sectors should be beaded round to minimize or obviate any abrasiveness as it would then be more conducive to use by toddlers, children and even adults. No one wants to be scoured when taking popcorn or other food from a container. It is again stressed that the sectored layers be made of pliable, soft material with smooth edges and the material would have properties that lie between that of low density polyethylene and cellophane.

The round beading of the sector edges will also provide some degree of interlocking of the different layers, which is an additional desired property.

While I say that the pliable plastic material should be completely transparent, the concept of imprinting motives that relate to any corporate logo or themes is not ruled out as it could be done in a manner that does not totally occlude the food material in the container and also conveys an image or message at the same time.

FIGS. 2 and 3 show the outer and inner rims of the circumferential edge of the cover in a simple manner as the detailed, existing manner of effecting tight closures of lids in not the purpose of this invention. The conventional manner of effecting tight closures on the edge of the cover is referred to as conventional beading in FIGS. 6 and 7. FIG. 7 also illustrates the concept of having a detachable second (bottom) layer that is attached to the cover inner rim via a ball and socket type of arrangement. This is simply for the case of having such an arrangement to allow better cleaning of the spill-proof cover by having the flexibility to detach them and thus allow better and through cleaning in a dishwasher or via hand cleaning with a brush. For the multi-layered case, it is thus envisaged that all or some can be of this ball and socket arrangement to suit the needs of the situation in terms of the container size and food or other items to be used in the container. It is also envisages that the two or multiple layers be integral to the container rim by manufacturing it as a integral injection molded unit to provide for the manufacturing advantages afforded by such an approach as well as to have a single integral spill-proof cover.

While a circular form of this cover has been discussed and detailed, it is also envisaged that the same types of sectored layers can be used for square and other geometric forms to accommodate other containers with non circular openings.

It is also envisaged by this invention that the sector cuts have a clearance from the circumference of the cover to afford better use as it will it will serve to act against any breaking off of the sectors as would be the case if it is cut right to the circumferential edge itself. This is shown in FIG. 8.

While this invention has been shown to be a cover that is planar, it is also envisaged to be domed to provide for additional void space for ease of use as it would then allow the container to be filled to the brim and this embodiment of the invention is shown in elevation in FIG. 9. The domed version shown is the kind that is off-set from the center as illustrated for the planar version in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5.

Again, while the planar and dome types of this invention have been elaborated upon in the foregoing paragraphs, this invention also envisages other three dimensional profiles such as an acute angle gable roof type of profile or a three segmented Mansard roof like profile and also spill-proof covers based on the foregoing descriptions for square, rectangular and any geometric shapes that the container may exist in.

While this invention has been described in the foregoing paragraphs as attaching to the rim of existing container covers and lids, it is also envisaged that it can be used to be attached to the hard rims of pop-corn tubs and similar containers via having an indented annulus in the rim, thereby snap fitting the spill-proof cover to pop-corn tubs in theaters and sports concession stands and other similar fare venues.