Title:
MULTI-PURPOSE CAP FOR DRINK CONTAINERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a multi-purpose cap for drink containers to facilitate mixing an additive with a liquid such as water. The cap includes a chamber for housing the additive and a mouthpiece from which the liquid can be consumed. The cap is preferably configured to mate with the mouth of a standard water bottle. In some examples of the invention, twisting a mouthpiece in a first direction urges a plunger downward and against a seal, breaking the seal to spill the contents of the chamber into the water. Openings in a housing forming the chamber allow water to flow through the mouthpiece even while the additive remains sealed within the chamber.



Inventors:
Winn, Brian J. (Mill Creek, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/770548
Publication Date:
05/01/2008
Filing Date:
06/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D1/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADEN, SHAWN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOWE GRAHAM JONES, PLLC (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A cap for a container holding a liquid, the cap comprising: a screw cap having internal threads and configured to mate with corresponding external threads provided on the container; a mouthpiece formed on the screw cap, the mouthpiece having an opening in fluid communication with the liquid within the container; a stopper coupled to the opening in the mouthpiece and adapted to selectively block or open the opening in the mouthpiece; a housing extending downward from the screw cap, the housing forming a chamber containing an additive to be combined with the liquid, the chamber having an opening and a seal covering the opening such that the chamber is enclosed to prevent liquid from entering the chamber, the housing further having at least one passage formed on the housing to provide a path of fluid travel in which the liquid within the container may travel through the passage and out the opening in the mouthpiece; and a plunger attached to the cap and configured within the housing, the plunger being operable by a user to open the seal, whereby the chamber and the container are in fluid communication such that the additive and the liquid may be mixed.

2. The cap of claim 1, wherein the plunger further comprises an upper seal defining an upper end of the chamber and a tongue extending downward from the upper seal and into the chamber.

3. The cap of claim 2, further comprising a screw attached to the cap and a stem secured between the screw and the upper seal, whereby rotation of the screw causes the stem and tongue to move in a direction toward the seal.

4. The cap of claim 3, wherein the mouthpiece is rotatably attached to the screw cap such that rotation of the mouthpiece in a first direction causes the screw to rotate and rotation of the mouthpiece in a second direction causes the stopper to open the opening in the mouthpiece.

5. The cap of claim 1, wherein the seal is formed from a metal foil.

6. The cap of claim 1, wherein the seal is adhered to an opening in the housing.

7. The cap of claim 1, wherein the additive is a powdered supplement and the liquid is water.

8. A covering for a container holding a liquid, the covering comprising: a cap configured to mate with an opening on the container in order to provide a water-tight seal over the opening; a mouthpiece attached to the cap, the mouthpiece having an opening in fluid communication with the liquid within the container; a stopper positioned in a fluid path between an interior of the container and the opening in the mouthpiece and adapted to selectively block or allow the flow of liquid through the opening in the mouthpiece; a housing extending downward from the covering, the housing forming a chamber containing an additive to be combined with the liquid, the chamber having an opening and a seal covering the opening such that the chamber is enclosed to prevent liquid from entering the chamber, the housing further being attached to the covering such that, external to the chamber, there is at least one path of fluid travel from the interior of the container through the opening in the mouthpiece; and a piston attached to the covering and extending downward, the piston being operable by a user to open the seal, whereby the chamber and the container are in fluid communication such that the additive and the liquid may be mixed.

9. The cap of claim 8, wherein the plunger further comprises an upper seal defining an upper end of the chamber and a tongue extending downward from the upper seal and into the chamber.

10. The cap of claim 9, further comprising a screw attached to the cap and a stem secured between the screw and the upper seal, whereby rotation of the screw causes the stem and tongue to move in a direction toward the seal.

11. The cap of claim 10, wherein the mouthpiece is rotatably attached to the screw cap such that rotation of the mouthpiece in a first direction causes the screw to rotate and rotation of the mouthpiece in a second direction causes the stopper to open the opening in the mouthpiece.

12. The cap of claim 8, wherein the seal is formed from a metal foil.

13. The cap of claim 8, wherein the seal is adhered to an opening in the housing.

14. The cap of claim 8, wherein the additive is a powdered supplement and the liquid is water.

15. The cap of claim 8, wherein the additive is a nutritional supplement and the liquid is water.

16. The cap of claim 8, wherein the additive is a flavoring and the liquid is water.

17. The cap of claim 8, wherein the additive is a tablet and the liquid is water.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims the benefit of provisional application Ser. No. 60/855,706, filed Jul. 1, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a multi-purpose cap for drink containers, including caps configured to dispense powdered or other supplements.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are many additives and supplements that can be mixed with water to form a beverage. Some such additives are powdered and, for example, combine with water to form a fruit-flavored punch or other drink. Other powdered additives are more in the nature of nutritional supplements and contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, or other nutritional components in addition to flavorings. Still other additives may be in liquid form and can be combined with water without needing to be dissolved, or may take the form of gels, capsules, or tablets.

In some cases the additive is mixed with water in a pitcher or similar container. In other cases, the additive is provided in a volume that allows it to be readily mixed with a standard water bottle such as a 12 ounce, 16 ounce, or other standard volume. It can sometimes be difficult to pour the powdered additive into the narrow mouth of the water bottle, sometimes leading to spilled powder or other messes. Likewise, if the additive includes a component that produces effervescence such as from carbonation, mixing the additive with the water may sometimes cause it to overflow and spill from the bottle.

The prior art does not contain a satisfactory system for mixing additives with a liquid in such a manner to avoid spillage and to enable a mixture of an additive and water to be consumed directly from a water bottle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a multi-purpose cap for drink containers to facilitate mixing a supplement with a liquid such as water. The cap includes a chamber for housing the additive and a mouthpiece from which the liquid can be consumed. In addition, the cap is preferably configured to mate with the mouth of a standard water bottle.

In some examples of the invention, the chamber includes a seal that can be pierced or broken to release the additive into the water within the bottle. The seal is pierced, for example, by a piston, plunger, or drive screw operated by the user. In one example, twisting the mouthpiece in a first direction causes a drive screw to rotate and urge a plunger downward and against the seal, breaking the seal to spill the contents of the chamber into the water.

In accordance with some examples of the invention, the chamber includes an upper portion having one or more passages providing fluid communication between the interior of the water bottle (and therefore the liquid it contains) and an opening formed in the mouthpiece. The passages are formed in a location on an upper portion of the component forming the chamber and do not provide fluid communication with the chamber itself. Accordingly, water alone may flow from the bottle, through the passages, and out the opening within the mouthpiece such that unaltered water may be consumed without piercing the seal and mixing the additive. Likewise, after the additive is mixed with the water, the mixed beverage flows through the passages and mouthpiece in the same fashion.

In some embodiments, the chamber may contain a powdered additive such as a water flavoring. In other embodiments, the chamber may contain a gel, a liquid, a capsule, a tablet, or other form of additive. Likewise, the additive may include vitamins, minerals, medicines, or other ingredients other than or in addition to flavorings.

In the various embodiments, the invention may provide one or more advantages, such as maintaining the additive in a dry, sterile, and protected environment until ready for use, facilitating mixture of the additive without spilling, allowing a more precise mixture to water ratio, and allowing water to be consumed from the bottle before mixing and while the chamber containing the additive is within the bottle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred and alternative embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the following drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary cap;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cap of FIG. 1, shown with the seal pierced

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the cap of FIG. 1, with the mouthpiece oriented to allow liquid to flow through the mouthpiece;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the cap of FIG. 1, taken along lines A-A from FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the cap of FIG. 2, taken along lines B-B from FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the cap of FIG. 3, taken along lines C-C of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a cap attached to a bottle, with the cap shown in the configuration of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a cap attached to a bottle, with the cap shown in the configuration of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a cap attached to a bottle, with the cap shown in the configuration of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A preferred form of a multipurpose cap is shown in FIG. 1. In the form of the invention as shown, the cap 10 includes a mouthpiece 20 attached to a screw cap 30. The mouthpiece is rotatably secured to the screw cap 30 as best seen in FIGS. 4-6 and described below. The mouthpiece may also be moved axially with respect to a common central axis of the screw cap. The screw cap 30 may take any size or shape, but in one form of the invention it is configured to universally attach to a standard commercial water bottle such as a 12 ounce or 16 ounce bottle. The screw cap 30 preferably includes internal threads that mate with similarly configured external threads provided on the mouth of a bottle (such as the bottles shown in FIGS. 7-9). While a threaded attachment mechanism is preferred, other mating mechanisms such as snap-fittings and frictional fittings are also possible within the scope of the invention.

A housing 40 is attached to an inner lower surface of the screw cap 30. As shown, housing is generally cylindrical in shape and is attached to the screw cap such that a central axis of the screw cap 30 and that of the housing are common to one another. In other examples of the invention, the housing may be radially offset or may be formed to have a square or other cross-section other than circular. The housing may be integrally formed with the screw cap, or may be adhered, press-fit, or otherwise attached.

The housing 40 includes a lower portion that defines an internal chamber 41 configured to hold an additive. As described above, the additive may comprise flavorings, vitamins, minerals, or other components. Likewise, the additive may be in powdered, gel, tablet, capsule, liquid, or other forms. In one preferred example of the invention, the additive is a powdered nutritional supplement containing flavorings, vitamins, and minerals.

A seal 50 is secured to a lower portion of the housing to define an end of the chamber. In one form, the seal comprises a thin aluminum or other metallic foil that is sufficiently strong to hold the additive within the chamber but can also be readily pierced or separated to open the chamber and allow the additive to enter the bottle. In this form, the seal is adhered to the housing a suitable food-grade adhesive that creates a water-tight seal. In alternative forms, the seal can be formed from plastic, thicker metals, or other materials. For example, the seal may be relatively rigid and secured somewhat more securely at on location about its perimeter such that a force applied generally at the center of the seal causes it to separate from the chamber about its perimeter except at the location where it is more securely attached. Consequently, the seal, when force is applied, will pivotally extend downward from the housing while remaining attached.

Within the housing is a plunger having an upper seal 61 and a tongue 62 extending downward. The upper seal is formed in a shape to mate with the inner diameter of the chamber and is snugly and sealingly received within the housing. The upper seal may be formed from plastic or other materials, and may optionally be formed, in whole or part, from rubber, silicone, or other deformable materials to better facilitate a seal between an external perimeter of the upper seal and the interior of the chamber. Consequently, the chamber remains water-tight even though water may be present above the upper seal.

As seen in FIG. 2, the upper seal is integrally formed with or secured to a stem 63 that is configured to allow the seal and tongue to be driven downward from its position as shown in FIG. 1 to that shown in FIG. 2. As will be described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 4-6, the stem includes an internally-threaded bore that receives a screw 64 such that rotation of the mouthpiece 20 causes the screw to rotate, thereby urging the stem, upper seal, and tongue downward.

As the upper seal moves downward, it pushes the additive contained within the chamber downward as well. Depending on the length of the tongue, the plunger or tongue may initially bear directly on the seal, rather than forcing the additive toward the seal. The downward force of the additive may break the seal, or the further force of the tongue pressing against the seal may cause it to break or separate from the end of the housing. Once the seal is separated or broken the contents of the chamber are exposed to the water contained in the bottle (see FIGS. 7-9), thereby mixing the additive with the water.

While the preferred form of the invention incorporates a screw-driven piston to pierce or otherwise break a seal over a chamber containing an additive, other configurations are also possible. Thus, for example, the tongue and upper seal need not be screw-driven, but may be operated by manually pressing downward on an upper portion of the stem that extends through the screw cap. As another example, either the upper or lower seal may be moved or broken via an upward movement of the stem or other component, opening the chamber to water from the bottle by either pulling the lower seal upward or moving the upward seal farther upward such that an opening into the chamber is created. As yet another example, one or more seals enclosing the chamber may be placed on a sidewall of the chamber, rather than at the top or bottom, such that the seals may be broken to allow water flow. Regardless of the configuration, in each case the chamber is water-tight until the user operates a component to break a seal or open the chamber to allow communication between the chamber and the water.

As seen generally in FIGS. 1-3, when the mouthpiece 20 is turned in a first direction it causes the screw 64 to rotate and the stem 63 to move downward. Turning the mouthpiece 20 in the first direction (counter-clockwise in the example as shown) does not open a flow path through the mouthpiece and therefore water does not flow through it. As seen in FIG. 4, a stopper 70 extends upwardly through an opening in the mouthpiece, thereby blocking water flow through the opening. Turning the mouthpiece in the first direction does not move the mouthpiece vertically with respect to the stopper (or, alternately stated, does not move the stopper axially with respect to the opening). Consequently, the water or beverage remains sealed within the bottle.

The operation of the plunger and the flow of liquid through the mouthpiece are best seen with reference to FIGS. 4-6. The mouthpiece 20 includes an upper surface having a plurality of downwardly-depending teeth or ledges 22. The ledges are sized and configured to engage corresponding teeth or shoulders 72 formed on the stopper 70, such that rotation of the mouthpiece 20 in a counter-clockwise direction causes rotation of the stopper 70 (and therefore the screw 64) in the same direction. As shown, the shoulders 72 include a first generally vertical side and an opposing slanted side. In this configuration, rotation of the mouthpiece in the first direction causes rotation of the stem but rotation of the mouthpiece in the opposite direction urges the mouthpiece upward along the slanted side, separating the mouthpiece axially from the screw cap and the stopper 70. Thus, rotation of the mouthpiece in the second direction opens a flow path for liquid to be consumed through the mouthpiece. Alternatively, the mouthpiece may be simply pulled upward and away from the screw cap to separate the mouthpiece from the stopper 70 and thereby open a flow path.

The screw cap 30 includes an integrally formed spout 32 extending upward and away from the direction of the housing. As seen in FIG. 4, the inner diameter of the spout 32 is less than the outer diameter of the stem 63, thereby providing a fluid flow path between the spout and the stem. In addition, an upper surface of the spout includes a slotted channel (not visible in FIGS. 4-6 because the slotted channel is parallel to the direction of the cross-sectional view) to allow liquid to flow through the spout. Accordingly, water or other liquid in a bottle (such as in FIG. 7) may flow through the openings 43 in the housing, between the space defined between the spout 32 and the stem 63, through the slotted channel, and out the opening in the mouthpiece 20. Note that fluid can flow through this path, as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 6, even when the seal 50 has not yet been pierced. As such, a user can consume water directly from the bottle without mixing the additive, and can later choose to mix the additive with the water or other liquid and consume it in the same way.

The screw 64 terminates in a short axle leading to the stopper 70. A pair of annular flanges 74, 75 is provided just below the stopper 70 on the short axle. The flanges are separated by a distance sufficient to receive the upper surface of the spout, thereby allowing rotation of the stopper and screw but preventing vertical or axial movement of the screw with respect to the spout. Consequently, rotation of the mouthpiece as described above causes rotation of the screw when the mouthpiece is in the position of FIGS. 4 and 5. In turn, the rotation of the mouthpiece and screw 64 urges the plunger (including the stem 63, upper seal 61, and tongue 62) downward because of the threaded engagement of the screw and internally-threaded bore within the stem 63. Once the mouthpiece has been turned a sufficient number of times, the plunger breaks or separates the seal, as shown in FIG. 5.

Thereafter, the mouthpiece may be axially separated from the screw cap, as shown in FIG. 6, allowing the user to consume the mixed liquid which travels through the cap in the direction of the arrows provided in FIG. 6.

The spout as shown further includes one or more flanges 33 externally located and extending radially outward to mate with an internal sidewall of the mouthpiece and seal the liquid within the mouthpiece so that it can flow only through the upper opening.

As shown in FIG. 7 and described above, the chamber 41 may include an additive such as a powdered flavoring or nutritional supplement. When the cap 10 is attached to a bottle 90, the additive is sealed within the chamber so that water or other liquid within the bottle does not mix with the additive. Rotation of the mouthpiece in the fashion described above causes the seal to separate so that the additive 100 spills into the liquid within the bottle 90, as illustrated in FIG. 8. Once the additive has been mixed with the water or other liquid, it may be consumed in this mixed form by opening the mouthpiece, as shown in FIG. 9.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, as noted above, many changes can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is not limited by the disclosure of the preferred embodiment. Instead, the invention should be determined entirely by reference to the claims that follow.