Title:
Wipes Dispenser Apparatus and Method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wipes dispenser apparatus has a body for containing a wipes box. The body has an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap. The first folding flap terminates at a first edge, while the second folding flap terminates at a second edge. In addition, the apparatus also has a fastener on the first folding flap, and a flexible member on the second folding flap. The flexible member is couplable with the fastener so that the first edge and second edge form a space for exposing the interior of the body.



Inventors:
Klein, Kathleen (Brookline, MA, US)
Gans, Sharon (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/934560
Publication Date:
05/22/2008
Filing Date:
11/02/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/45
International Classes:
A47K10/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RANDALL, JR., KELVIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sunstein LLP (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wipes dispenser apparatus comprising: a body for containing a wipes box, the body having an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap, the first folding flap terminating at a first edge, the second folding flap terminating at a second edge; a fastener on the first folding flap; a flexible member on the second folding flap, the flexible member being couplable with the fastener so that the first edge and second edge form a space for exposing the interior of the body.

2. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the interior is sized to accept one of a set of wipes boxes, the set of wipes boxes having varying sizes, the flexible member varying the size of the space as a function of the size of the wipes box within the interior.

3. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the fastener is a button.

4. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the flexible member comprises elastic cording.

5. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the body comprises fabric.

6. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the body comprises leather.

7. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 further comprising a wipes box within the interior, the wipes box having a size that causes the fasteners to be in a stretched state.

8. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the first folding flap and second folding flap are generally parallel with the same plane.

9. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 wherein the wipes comprise tissues.

10. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 1 comprising a third folding flap and a fourth folding flap, the third and forth folding flaps being folded under the first and second folding flaps, the third folding flap having a third edge that is generally perpendicular to the first edge.

11. A wipes dispenser apparatus comprising: a body for containing a wipes box, the body having an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap, the first folding flap terminating at a first edge, the second folding flap terminating at a second edge; and means for removably connecting the first and second folding flaps, the removably connecting means being configured so that the first edge and second edge form a space for exposing the interior of the body.

12. The wipes dispenser apparatus as defined by claim 11 further comprising a wipes box within the body interior, the removably connecting means being flexible to vary the size of the space as a function of the wipes box.

13. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 11 wherein the body comprises fabric.

14. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 11 wherein the body comprises leather.

15. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 11 wherein the first folding flap and second folding flap are generally parallel with the same plane.

16. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 11 wherein the body has a height, a length, and a width, the length being greater than the height.

17. The wipes dispenser as defined by claim 11 wherein the body has a height, a length, and a width, the height being greater than the length.

18. A method comprising: providing a box covering having a body with an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap, the first folding flap terminating at a first edge, the second folding flap terminating at a second edge, the body also having a fastener on the first folding flap and a flexible member on the second folding flap; moving the first folding flap and second folding flap to expose the interior; placing a wipes box within the exposed interior; folding the first folding flap toward the wipes box; folding the second folding flap toward the wipes box; and coupling the fastener on the first folding flap with the flexible member on the second folding flap, the first edge and second edge forming a space.

19. The method as defined by claim 18 wherein the box covering comprises a third folding flap and a fourth folding flap, the method comprising folding the third folding flap and the fourth folding flap toward the box before folding the first and second folding flaps.

20. The method as defined by claim 18 wherein the first folding flap and second folding flap contact the wipes box.

21. The method as defined by claim 18 wherein the flexible member is removably coupled with the fastener.

22. The method as defined by claim 21 wherein the flexible member is in a stretched state.

23. The method as defined by claim 19 further comprising: positioning a wipe within the wipes box through the space.

24. The method as defined by claim 19 wherein the body comprises an outer layer and an inner layer.

Description:

PRIORITY

This application claims priority from the U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/866,783 filed on Nov. 21, 2006 and which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to dispensers and, more particularly, the invention relates to systems for dispensing wipes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Wipes typically are dispensed from a container, such as a rectangularly shaped cardboard box. For example, facial wipes, such as tissues, most commonly are packaged in a cardboard box having an opening in its top surface. A person normally pulls a tissue through the opening in the top surface to retrieve it from the box.

Tissue boxes often have some visual indicia on their outside surfaces. For example, among other things, such indicia may include stylized lettering, one or more solid colors, or the name of the company distributing the tissues. Alternatively, the outside surfaces may be blank (e.g., solid white). Accordingly, the aesthetic appeal of the tissue box is dictated by the appearance of its outside surface.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a wipes dispenser apparatus has a reusable body for maintaining a consistent and desirable aesthetic appearance across a variety of different wipes boxes. To that end, the wipes dispenser apparatus has a body for containing a wipes box. The body has an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap. The first folding flap terminates at a first edge, while the second folding flap terminates at a second edge. In addition, the apparatus also has a fastener on the first folding flap, and a flexible member on the second folding flap. The flexible member is couplable with the fastener so that the first edge and second edge form a space for exposing the interior of the body.

The interior illustratively is sized to accept one of a set of wipes boxes. The boxes in the set may have varying sizes. Accordingly, the flexible member varies the size of the space as a function of the size of the wipes box within the interior. In illustrative embodiments, the fastener is a button, while the flexible member comprises elastic cording.

The body may be formed from a number of different materials. For example, the body may be formed from fabric, leather, or a combination of the two. The wipes box may be within the interior, where the wipes box has a size that, when pressing against walls of the interior of the body, stretches the fasteners. In illustrative embodiments, the wipes box is not within the interior until use. The first folding flap and second folding flap may be generally parallel with the same plane when the wipes box is within the interior.

Among other things, the wipes may be facial wipes, such as tissues. In addition, the body also may have a third folding flap and a fourth folding flap. The third and fourth folding flaps are folded under the first and second folding flaps when the wipes box is within the interior. The third folding flap has a third edge that is generally perpendicular to the first edge.

The body has a height, a length, and a width. To accommodate a longer wipes box, the length of the body may be greater than the height. To accommodate a taller wipes box, the height of the body may be greater than the length.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a method provides a box covering having a body with an interior, a first folding flap and a second folding flap. The first folding flap terminates at a first edge, while the second folding flap terminates at a second edge. The body also has a fastener on the first folding flap and a flexible member on the second folding flap. The method moves the first folding flap and second folding flap to expose the interior. Next, the method places a wipes box within the exposed interior, and folds the first and second folding flaps toward the wipes box. The method then couples the fastener on the first folding flap with the flexible member on the second folding flap. When coupled, the first edge and second edge form a space. The method then may position a wipe within the wipes box through the space.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Those skilled in the art should more fully appreciate advantages of various embodiments of the invention from the following “Description of Illustrative Embodiments,” discussed with reference to the drawings summarized immediately below.

FIG. 1 schematically shows a perspective view of a wipes dispenser configured in accordance with illustrative embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2 schematically shows a top view of the wipes dispenser shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 schematically shows a perspective view of a conventional box of tissues.

FIG. 4 shows a process of assembling the wipes dispensing apparatus of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

In illustrative embodiments, a wipes dispenser apparatus has a reusable and aesthetically pleasing outer body that can be used with a plurality of different sized wipes boxes. For example, the body initially may contain a first box of wipes. After all of the wipes in the first box have been used, the box may be removed, and a different box may be placed within the body. In fact, the body still should be able to accept the second box even though such second box may have a size that is somewhat different from that of the first box. Accordingly, a user is not constrained to the aesthetic appearance of mass marketed boxes of wipes. As a result, the user has more control of the aesthetic appearance of the wipes box. Details of illustrative embodiments are discussed below.

FIG. 1 schematically shows a perspective, partially cut away view of a wipes dispensing apparatus 10 configured in accordance with illustrative embodiments of the invention. FIG. 2 schematically shows a top view of the same wipes dispensing apparatus 10.

The wipes dispensing apparatus 10 may dispense any of a variety of different kinds of wipes known the art. For example, among other things, the wipes be tissues, moist towels (e.g., so called “baby wipes”), paper towels, or some other material (e.g., cotton). For convenience, however, various embodiments discuss use of tissue boxes as a part of the apparatus 10. It nevertheless should be noted that discussion of tissues and tissue boxes is for illustration only. Accordingly, various embodiments apply to other types of wipes and wipes boxes.

In accordance with illustrative embodiments of the invention, the wipes dispensing apparatus 10 has a conventional box of tissues (shown in FIG. 3 and identified by reference number 12) and an outer body 14 generally covering much of the outside surface of the box 12. Specifically, the tissue box 12 may be formed from conventional materials, such as cardboard or plastic, and be filled with a plurality of tissues 17. The tissue box 12 may come in any of a number of variety of different shapes and sizes.

For example, the tissue box 12 may be rectangular and have a top face 16 with an opening 18 for accessing the tissues 17, and a bottom face 20 for normally resting on a support surface. Accordingly, as shown in FIGS. 1-3, the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 each are considered to have a length dimension (i.e., the longer dimension if the face is a rectangle) and a width dimension (i.e., the shorter dimension if the face is a rectangle). In some embodiments, such as that shown in FIGS. 1-3, the length of the top face 16 is substantially identical to the length of the bottom face 20. In a similar manner, the width of the top face 18 also may be substantially equal to the width of the bottom face 20. In other embodiments, however, the lengths of the two faces 16 and 20 may be different, and/or the widths of the two faces may be different. Alternatively, one or both of the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 may have a square shape.

As shown in FIG. 3, the tissue box 12 also has a height dimension, which is substantially orthogonal to the top and bottom faces 16 and 20. The height dimension can be greater than the length, or less than the length. In some embodiments, the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 have a generally square shape, while the height is greater than or equal to the length and width of each face.

Four walls 22 (shown in FIG. 3 and in the cut-away portion of the outer body 14 shown in of FIG. 1) extending generally orthogonally between the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 define the height of the box 12. When the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 have different sizes or shapes, however, the walls 22 may not be generally orthogonal to the top and bottom faces 16 and 20.

As noted above, discussion of a rectangular box 12 is for illustrative purposes only. Other embodiments may have boxes with other shapes. For example, the box 12 may be cylindrically shaped, frustoconically shaped, irregularly shaped, or some other shape capable of containing tissues 17. Accordingly, various embodiments of the invention should not be limited to the exact shape shown in FIGS. 1-3.

The walls 22 of the tissue box 12 may have graphical indicia, or a plain surface. For example, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the wall of the tissue box 12 shows the name of the company distributing the tissue box 12 and its trademark. Such an external appearance may not be pleasing, or simply may not be consistent with the look and feel of the room in which the box 12 is located.

Accordingly, in accordance with illustrative embodiments of the invention, the wipes dispensing apparatus 10 also includes the above noted outer body 14, which generally covers the substantial majority of the outside surface of the tissue box 12. The outer body 14 thus is considered to form an interior into which the tissue box 12 is positioned.

More specifically, the body 14 has top and bottom portions 24 and 26 generally corresponding to the top and bottom faces 16 and 20 of the box 12, respectively. In addition, the body 14 also has a plurality of walls 28 generally corresponding to the walls 22 of the box 12. The outer body 14 therefore is shaped in a generally similar manner to the shape of the box 12. Accordingly, in a manner similar to the tissue box 12, discussion of the outer body 14 as being rectangular is for illustrative purposes only and thus, can have other shapes. Discussion of a rectangular outer body 14 therefore should not limit various aspects and embodiments of the invention.

The outer body 14 may be formed from a single layer of some material. In preferred embodiments, however, the outer body 14 has an outer layer and an inner layer. Specifically, the outer layer may have an aesthetically appealing color and/or design, while the inner layer may act as a liner. Any number of materials may be used for the inner and outer layers. Among others, the outer layer may be formed from the fabric, suede, faux suede, satin, cut velvet, canvas, leather, plastic, or other material. In some embodiments, the outer layer is formed from a combination of materials.

To provide an aesthetically appealing effect, the outer layer has some predetermined visual appearance. For example, the outer layer shown in FIG. 1 has visual indicia on at least three of its walls 28. Of course, the visual indicia can be located across all of the walls 28 and the top and bottom portions 24 and 26, some selective combination of the walls 28 and portions 24 and 26, or only one portion/wall. In some embodiments, the visual indicia simply may be a specific color only. For example, a distributor may have a set of outer bodies that each are different colors, such as brown, pink, blue, and white. As another example, the outer layer also may have studs, diamonds, sequins, ribbons, or some other external decorative object. Some embodiments even form an opening 18 through the outer body 14 to expose a portion of the tissue box 12.

The inner layer may be coupled directly to the outer lining its entirety, or connected only about its general periphery. For example, the inner lining may be formed from silk or satin and sewn to the outer layer along its edges.

In illustrative embodiments, the outer body 14 has a plurality of foldable flaps 32 and 34 that cooperate to generally retain the box 12 within its interior. To that end, the outer body 14 has a pair of primary flaps 32 having a pair of fasteners, and a pair secondary flaps 34 that, when in use, are generally folded between the primary flaps 32 and the tissue box 12. More specifically, when the tissue box 12 is within the interior of the outer body 14, the primary flaps 32 and secondary flaps 34 form a variably sized space 36 through which tissues 17 from the tissue box 12 may pass. This space 36 may expose a portion of the top face 16 of the tissue box 12 and its opening 18.

The fasteners on the primary flaps 32 illustratively are configured to vary the size of the variable sized space 36. To that end, each of the fasteners may comprise a button 40 on one of the primary flaps 32, and a corresponding loop 42 on the second of the primary flaps 32. The buttons 40 may be any conventional button suitable for this purpose, while the loops 42 also may be formed from any material suitable for this purpose. To vary the size of the space 36, the loops 42 are formed from a flexible material and thus, stretch to accommodate boxes having different widths and shapes. For example, the loops 42 may be formed from elastic cording. Accordingly, if a box 12 having a relatively large width is placed within the interior of the outer body 14, the loops 42 may stretch to be in taut states (i.e., stretched states). Conversely, if a box 12 having a relatively small width is place within the interior of the outer body 14, the loops 42 may be loose.

Various embodiments contemplate other types of fasteners. For example, the loops 42 may be formed from a relatively inflexible material (e.g., string) that is adjustable to vary the size of the variably sized space 36. As another example, a Velcro system, a hook and eye system, a clip system, or other similar system may be used to provide the variable sized space 36. Moreover, different numbers and configurations of fasteners may be used. The specific number and configurations in FIGS. 1 and 2 therefore are shown for illustrative purposes only.

As noted above, because the space 36 may have different sizes, a single outer body 14 may receive tissue boxes having different sizes and somewhat different shapes. Specifically, the flexible nature of the loops 42 enable the space 36 to vary to accommodate different sizes and types of tissue boxes. This space 36 is considered to have a “connected minimum size” when the loops 42 are fully extended and taut, but not stretched. As noted, the outer body 14 may receive a tissue box 12 having a short height and/or width that does not cause the loops 42 to be stretched. In this case, the loops 42 may not even draw the primary flaps 32 closer than the noted connected minimum size. Despite this, the edges of the flaps 32 may decrease the size of the space 36, or even overlap, if the box 12 size is small enough. In that case, to remove a tissue 17, a user may need to move the flaps 32 out of the way to form the space 36. The loops 42 then are considered to form the space 36 in that case because their varying size nature causes the size of the space 36 to vary.

FIG. 4 shows a process of assembling the wipes dispensing apparatus 10 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The process begins at step 400, which moves the flaps 32 and 34 of the outer body 14 in a manner that permits the box 12 to be placed within the interior (step 402). To those ends, a user may rotate the flaps 32 and 34 away from the interior, or toward the interior. In fact, the user may move some of the flaps 32 and 34 away from the interior, while moving some of the other flaps 32 and 34 toward the interior. As discussed below, the flaps 32 and 34 moved toward the interior may be pulled out of the interior at a subsequent step to secure the tissue box 12 within the interior. Alternatively, the user may move the flaps 32 and 34 by simply folding or otherwise collapsing them upon themselves.

The process continues to step 404, which positions the flaps 32 and 34 in the desired manner. Specifically, the secondary flaps 34 are arranged to contact the top face 16 of the tissue box 12, and the primary flaps 34 are then arranged over the secondary flaps 34 and top face 16 of the box 12. Accordingly, when using the rectangular tissue box 12 shown in FIG. 3, the primary flaps 32 will be generally parallel with the same plane. In alternative embodiments, the secondary flaps 34 remain within the interior. And yet other embodiments, the outer body 14 does not have secondary flaps 34.

After the flaps 32 and 34 are positioned, the process couples the loops 42 around the buttons 40 (step 406). This forms the variably sized space 36 through which the user may retrieve tissues 17. Accordingly, if the box 12 is the type that normally has a tissue 17 extending from its opening 18, the user may position the tissue 17 through the space 36 (step 408). At this point, the wipes dispensing apparatus 10 is ready for use.

Accordingly, various embodiments of the invention enable a person to have more control over the aesthetic appearance of a wipes box 12. Moreover, distributors may carry a full line of outer bodies 14. For example, a distributor may have a line of different colored leather outer bodies 14, another line of different colored fabric outer bodies 14, and yet another line of other bodies 14 having designs or patterns. The variable nature of the fastener enables tissue boxes 12 from different manufacturers, or different box styles of the same manufacturer, to be used with a single outer body 14. Of course, a given outer body 14 is anticipated to have a limit as to the varying size and shape of tissue box 12 it can contain. Those in the art should understand that such a limit is controlled by a number of factors, including the type of fastener used, and the material and shape of the outer body 14.

Although the above discussion discloses various exemplary embodiments of the invention, it should be apparent that those skilled in the art can make various modifications that will achieve some of the advantages of the invention without departing from the true scope of the invention.





 
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