Title:
PLASTIC COFFEE CONTAINER WITH HORIZONTAL HANDLE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plastic container for a particulate product such as coffee includes a base and a surrounding wall member upstanding therefrom. A top connects to the surrounding wall member and in a preferred embodiment includes a large opening sufficient to receive about a 5 inch cylinder therethrough. The surrounding wall member has a handle. In one embodiment, the handle includes a longitudinal pocket formed in the surrounding wall member adjacent the top. The longitudinal pocket extends parallel to the top and has a depth and shape for receipt of fingers of a user. Preferably, the surrounding wall member also includes a thumb receiving concavity above the pocket. For added strength, the pocket can include a central vertical brace. In another embodiment, the handle includes a pass-though opening in which the fingers of the user pass so as to substantially surround the handle.



Inventors:
Scarola, Leonard S. (Basking Ridge, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/616344
Publication Date:
07/03/2008
Filing Date:
12/27/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/771
International Classes:
B65D25/28
View Patent Images:
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20050017003Removal mountJanuary, 2005Sullivan et al.
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20010002020Laundry basket deviceMay, 2001Spero et al.
20090095752TAB AND CAN END EMPLOYING THE SAMEApril, 2009Mceldowney et al.



Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STITES & HARBISON PLLC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A plastic container for a particulate product, comprising: a base, a surrounding wall member upstanding from said base, and a top formed at an upper end of said wall member; and a horizontally extending handle formed in a portion of said surrounding wall member, said handle having a size and shape for gripping by a user's fingers so as to support an entire weight of the container while minimizing a moment on a user's wrist.

2. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said handle includes a longitudinal horizontally extending pocket formed in the portion of said surrounding wall member, said pocket having a bottom depth for receipt of the user's fingers.

3. A plastic container as claimed in claim 2, wherein said surrounding wall member also includes a thumb receiving concavity above said pocket.

4. A plastic container as claimed in claim 2, wherein said pocket extends substantially parallel to a plane of said top opening and has an inverted hook shaped lateral cross section such that the tips of the fingers are trapped behind a tip of the hook shape when the user carries the plastic container.

5. A plastic container as claimed in claim 2, wherein said pocket includes a central vertical brace.

6. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said handle is formed by a pass-through opening formed in the portion of said surrounding wall member, said opening receiving the user's fingers therein.

7. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein said surrounding wall member is rectangular in cross section.

8. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is generally curved in cross section.

9. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is generally straight in cross section.

10. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is a corner.

11. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, wherein the particulate product is coffee.

12. A plastic container as claimed in claim 11, and further including an enlarged top opening formed in said top.

13. A plastic container as claimed in claim 1, further including a basic footprint, and wherein said handle is located within said footprint.

14. A plastic container for a particulate coffee product, said container comprising: a base and a surrounding wall member which is upstanding from said base, said base and said surrounding wall member generally defining a main interior volume; a top which connects with said surrounding wall member; and a horizontally extending handle integrally formed in said surrounding wall member, said handle being shaped to receive fingers of a user to grip for carrying of the container.

15. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein said handle includes a longitudinal horizontally extending pocket formed in the portion of said surrounding wall member, said pocket having a bottom depth for receipt of the user's fingers.

16. A plastic container as claimed in claim 15, wherein said surrounding wall member also includes a thumb receiving concavity above said pocket.

17. A plastic container as claimed in claim 15, wherein said pocket extends substantially parallel to a plane of said top opening and has an inverted hook shaped lateral cross section such that the tips of the fingers are trapped behind a tip of the hook shape when the user carries the plastic container.

18. A plastic container as claimed in claim 15, wherein said pocket includes a central vertical brace.

19. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein said handle is formed by a pass-through opening formed in the portion of said surrounding wall member, said opening receiving the user's fingers therein to substantially surround said handle.

20. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein said surrounding wall member is rectangular in cross section.

21. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is generally curved in cross section.

22. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is generally straight in cross section.

23. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein a portion of said surrounding wall member including said pocket is a corner.

24. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, wherein said top includes an opening therein at least sufficient for a 5 inch diameter cylinder to fit therethrough.

25. A plastic container as claimed in claim 14, further including a basic footprint, and wherein said handle is located within said footprint.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Containers for particulate (roast or ground) coffee have many unique requirements which need not be considered for other containers. For example, coffee particulates give off gases while being stored, and are deleteriously affected by air. Thus, coffee particulate containers must prevent the ingress of air and hence be air-tight; but such containers must also be suitably robust to withstand a build-up of pressure, or alternatively, the container must vent the built up gases before the pressure thereof damages (miss-shapes or breaks) the container.

While particulate coffee containers were previously generally made of metal formed into a cylinder with a top and a bottom (which was thus easily made robust and air-tight), new cylindrical and other shaped plastic containers, particularly with layered walls, have now been found to be suitable for containing particulate coffee. However, while such plastic containers have sufficient size to store a desired volume of particulate coffee, typically in the range of 2-4 pounds and having diameters of about 5-7 inches, such containers have been difficult to carry. Thus, ease of use by the user of such plastic containers at home has also been a problem.

Cylindrical plastic coffee containers which are sized as discussed above have been known with vertical pinch handles to provide for easier handling and holding. However, such pinch handles require significant friction to be generated by the thumb/fingers of the user to prevent slippage, which friction is the result of the force with which the thumb/fingers engage the pinch handle. Thus, such pinch handles are difficult for the user to grasp and then to hold with the required force for a sufficient time due to tiring of the thumb/finger muscles, so that the overall container weight which a user is able to hold effectively is limited. In addition, such containers may be hard to hold in view of the moment exerted on the wrist of the user due to the distance from the wrist to the center of gravity of the container.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a plastic container for a particulate product such as coffee is provided which is easy to grip and hold. The container includes a base, a surrounding wall member upstanding from the base, and a top formed at an upper end of the wall member which preferably is an enlarged top opening. A horizontally extending handle is formed in a portion of said surrounding wall member, with the handle having a size and shape for gripping by a user's fingers so as to support an entire weight of the container while minimizing a moment on a wrist of the user when the user carries the plastic container with an arm substantially straight down.

In one preferred embodiment, the handle includes a longitudinally extending pocket formed in the portion of the surrounding wall member. This pocket has a bottom depth for receipt of the user's fingers. In this embodiment, the surrounding wall member also preferably includes a thumb receiving concavity above the pocket. In addition, the pocket extends substantially parallel to a plane of said top opening and has an inverted hook shaped lateral cross section such that the tips of the fingers can engage behind a tip of the hook shape when the user carries the plastic container. For added strength, the pocket can include a central vertical brace located at the mid-point of the pocket.

In another preferred embodiment, the handle is formed by a pass-through opening formed in the portion of said surrounding wall member. This opening receives the user's fingers therein.

In accordance with different embodiments of the container having different footprints, the pocket or pass-through opening can be provided in: one straight side of a rectangular surrounding wall member; a peaked side of a square surrounding wall member; a curved side of a cylindrical or other shaped surrounding wall member; a straight portion of the surrounding wall member where other portions are not straight; or in a corner portion of the surrounding wall member. Also in accordance with the preferred embodiment, the handle is provided with the basic footprint of the container.

It is an advantage of the present invention that a plastic container containing a particulate product, portions of which the user periodically withdraws therefrom, includes a longitudinal pocket which is easily engaged and held.

It is also an advantage of the present invention that the handle formed by a pocket includes a thumb receiving cavity or rest located above the pocket, making the container easier to grip and hold.

It is a further advantage that the use of a horizontal handle provides additional label space if desired or necessary.

Other features and advantages of the present invention are stated in or apparent from detailed descriptions of presently preferred embodiments of the invention as discussed in greater detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top, back and right side perspective view of a square coffee container according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a left side view of the container depicted in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a back view of the container depicted in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side view of a portion of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a schematic bottom view of another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic bottom view of another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic bottom view of another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic bottom view of another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a partial back view of another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a schematic profile view of an alternative embodiment of a pocket.

FIG. 11 is a schematic profile view of another alternative embodiment of a pocket.

FIG. 12 is a schematic profile view of another alternative embodiment of a pocket.

FIG. 13 is a top and back side perspective view of another alternative embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a schematic cross sectional view of the horizontal handle portion taken along section line 14-14 in FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a schematic cross section view of the horizontal handle portion taken along line 15-15 in FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a back view of still another embodiment of a container according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference now to the drawings in which like numerals represent like elements in the views, a plastic particulate coffee container 10 according to a one embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1-4. It will be appreciated that container 10 is depicted as being rectangular (and in fact square) in cross section, i.e., as having a basic rectangular (square) footprint, as shown best in FIG. 1. However, container 10 could also be of different cross sectional shapes as discussed hereinafter and as disclosed in Ser. Nos. 11/353,091, 11/353,092, and 11/353,093 filed Feb. 14, 2006 by GRUSKIN et al. (and assigned to the same assignee) which are hereby incorporated by reference; and container 10 is also preferably similar (except for the use of a horizontal handle instead of a pass through handle) to any one of the containers described those serial numbers.

Like the containers described in the above serial numbers, container 10 is designed for containing ground or roast (particulate) coffee 11 or a similar flowable particulate product. Similarly, container 10 is also made of a suitable blow-molded plastic such as high density polyethylene (HDPE), preferably by an extrusion blow molding rotary process or other like process. One preferred layered material of a plastic coffee container includes an EVOH layer and is disclosed in Ser. No. 11/498,140 filed Aug. 3, 2006 by Scarola (and assigned to the same assignee) which is hereby also incorporated by reference.

In accordance with the present invention, container 10 includes a generally square (or rectangular) base 12 with an integrally formed surrounding wall member 14 extending upwardly therefrom. For this square embodiment, container 10 thus includes a front wall 16a, a back wall 16b, a right side wall 16c and a left side wall 16d. In order to allow easy withdrawal of coffee from a main interior volume thereof defined by base 12 and surrounding wall 14, it will be appreciated that container 10 preferably has a large top opening 18. Top opening 18 is preferably round and has a diameter only slightly less than the length of the walls (or the smaller of the walls if the cross section of surrounding wall member 14 is rectangular), and preferably top opening 18 is at least five inches in diameter or, if not circular, has a size sufficient for a five inch cylinder to fit therethrough. As known in the art, front wall 16a, right side wall 16c and left side wall 16d can be provided with slightly indented label receiving portions to receive a label or labels or the like.

As noted above, one problem with prior art containers is that they can be hard to engage and hold. It will thus be appreciated that container 10 includes a handle 20 formed from a longitudinal pocket 22 which is designed to make container 10 easier to engage and hold. Pocket 22 is generally designed for a container having a rectangular (including square) base (or equivalently wall dimensions) of between about 5-7 inches (and hence an opening sufficient to fit about a five inch cylinder therethrough), and particularly for a container having about a six inch square base 12. Pocket 22 is located adjacent top opening 18 but below a shoulder 24 which connects round top opening 18 to surrounding wall member 14, so that pocket 22 is formed in surrounding wall member 14 and extends from right side wall 16c to left side wall 16d as shown. If desired or necessary for reinforcement of back wall 16b, a vertical brace or linking wall 26 is integrally provided at the longitudinal mid-point of pocket 22. Brace 26 should be fairly thin in lateral dimension so as to not interfere when fingers of the user are inserted into pocket 22. Brace 26 is also preferably used for increased comfort of the user when holding container 10. In particular, brace 26 acts so that the user's fingers do not accidentally travel along pocket 22, but instead two adjacent fingers have brace 26 therebetween and thus in contact with respective sides of brace 26.

The cross sectional shape of pocket 22 is depicted in FIG. 4. As shown, pocket 22 has an inverted hook shape, with an uppermost tip 28 beneath or behind which the fingers of a user are designed to be easily placed or retained. This design of tip 28 is for a full container 10 in the position where a user has their four finger tips located behind tip 28 and with their arm substantially straight down, a position in which full container 10 is thus most easily carried. In particular, with the arm straight down, the center of gravity of the container 10 and the fulcrum of the wrist are on the same line, so that there is thus no moment on the wrist. The weight is thereby supported almost totally by the arm and not the wrist. This is particularly beneficial for people with weak wrists.

For further comfort and ease of carrying, handle 20 also preferably includes respective thumb receiving concavities or thumb rests 30a and 30b in the portion of back wall 16b located above pocket 22. Thumb rest 30a is provided adjacent right side wall 16c, for engagement by a thumb of a user when the left hand is used to hold container 10; while thumb rest 30b is provided adjacent left side wall 16d, for engagement by a thumb of a user when the right hand is used to hold container 10. By positioning the thumb in the thumb rest, it is easier to maintain the tips of the fingers underneath of tip 28. Similarly, finger indentations 32 can be provided along tip 28 if desired or for esthetic reasons.

Depicted in FIG. 5 is another embodiment of a plastic particulate coffee container 40 according to the present invention. It will be appreciated that container 40 is a cylindrical container and thus has a round base 42 as shown with a cylindrical surrounding wall member (not shown) extending upwardly therefrom. Other than a round footprint, container 40 is thus similar to container 10, and could include the same variations thereof as discussed above. Of note, however, container 40 includes a pocket 44 formed in the surrounding wall which extends like a chord between two portions of the surrounding wall.

Depicted in FIG. 6 is another embodiment of a plastic particulate coffee container 50 according to the present invention. It will be appreciated that container 50 has an oval base 52 as shown with an identical oval surrounding wall member (not shown) extending upwardly therefrom. Other than an oval footprint, container 50 is thus similar to container 10 (or 40), and could include the same variations thereof as discussed above. Of note, however, container 50 includes a pocket 54 or 56 formed in the surrounding wall which extends like a chord between two portions of the surrounding wall. Either pocket 54 or 56 (or both) could be used, depending on whether the handle is desired to be along the major or minor axis (or both), or even in between.

Depicted in FIG. 7 is another embodiment of a plastic particulate coffee container 60 according to the present invention. It will be appreciated that container 60 has a semicircular base 62 as shown with an identical semicircular surrounding wall member (not shown) extending upwardly therefrom. Other than a semicircular footprint, container 60 is thus similar to container 10 (or 40 and 50), and could include the same variations thereof as discussed above. Of note, however, container 60 includes a pocket 64 or 66 formed in the surrounding wall which extends like a chord between two portions of the surrounding wall. Either pocket 64 or 66 (or both) could be used, depending on whether the handle is desired to be along the flat side or the curved side (or both), or even in between.

Depicted in FIG. 8 is another embodiment of a plastic particulate coffee container 70 according to the present invention. It will be appreciated that container 70 has a square base 72 as shown with an identical square surrounding wall member (not shown) extending upwardly therefrom. Container 70 is thus similar to container 10 (or basically similar to containers 40, 50 and 60), and could include the same variations thereof as discussed above. Of note, however, container 70 includes a pocket 74 formed in a corner thereof.

While longitudinal pocket 22 has been depicted in FIGS. 1-4 as being substantially straight, with a substantially constant lateral depth as pocket 22 extends from side walls 16c and 16d to brace 26, other configurations are possible. For example, pocket 22 could be bowed somewhat (i.e., have a curved longitudinal axis) with the ends thereof thus somewhat lower than the center as depicted in FIG. 9 by pocket 122 of container 110. With such a configuration, thumb rests 130a and 130b would be somewhat non-horizontal as shown.

In addition, it will be appreciated that if desired, pocket 22 could be provided with a greater inside upwards height near brace 26 to better engage the fingers located thereat, such as shown by pocket 222 in FIG. 10. The furthest extent of this greater height is portion 223 thereof shown by the phantom line adjacent central brace 226, and this greater height portion 223 thus tapers therefrom back to the end portion of pocket 222 depicted by the solid line adjacent to greater height portion 223.

Further, while the portion of pocket 22 adjacent tip 28 is also depicted as relatively straight in the horizontal direction, it could also be bowed upwards somewhat on either side of a central brace 326 as shown by pocket 322 depicted in FIG. 11. The furthest extent of this bowed upward portion 323 is shown by the phantom line adjacent central brace 326, and this bowed upward portion thus tapers therefrom back to the end portion of pocket 322 depicted by the solid line. Such a configuration would likewise better hold the longer center fingers of a user in place in pocket 322.

Although the preferred embodiments of the containers have been depicted with pockets which have inside walls that are generally C shaped in lateral cross section (that is, that portion of the general hook shape between the hook tip and shank), other shapes such as three straight portions forming a pocket 422 as shown schematically in FIG. 12 and/or including more pronounced finger recesses would be possible.

It will also be appreciated that rather than a single opening type of handle as described in the above embodiments, the handle could also be of the pass-through variety as described in applicant's prior applications noted above and with the various features thereof. For example, a cylindrical container 490 as shown in FIG. 13 could be provided with a pass-through handle 492. Pass-through handle 492 is formed in surrounding side wall member 494 by a cup shaped pass-through opening 496 surrounding horizontally extending handle 492. As shown in FIG. 14, handle 492 includes finger recesses 498 on the inside. As with container 10, container 490 could also have various cross sections of surrounding wall member 494 (or footprints) such as described above for container 10 and for the containers noted in applicant's other prior applications noted above.

It will further be appreciated that the handle need not extend fully from one side of container 10 to the other as shown in FIG. 1. Instead, as shown in FIG. 16, the longitudinal extent of handle 520 in container 510 need only be that which is comfortable for the fingers of the user to enter. Hence for a larger container, or if desired for a container of the size of container 10, handle 520 is located only in side 516b and does not extend between the two opposed sides 516c and 516d. In addition, for this embodiment or for the other embodiments as desired, a single central thumb rest 530, similar to thumb rests 30a or 30b as described above, is located above central brace 526 as shown in FIG. 16.

While the handles described above have been depicted as being totally within the basic footprint of the container (in FIG. 1, the basic footprint is a square), and in particular as having an outermost portion co-extensive with a side wall of the container extending vertically upwards from the base, constructions where the handle extends somewhat or slightly from the side wall would be possible so long as the basic overall footprint of the container is roughly the same. By roughly the same, it is meant that when storage of a number of the containers is made on a shelf or the like (such as in a store), the outermost portion of the handles do not interfere significantly with arranging the containers in a compact configuration as determined by the basic container footprint.

While the present invention has been described with respect to exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that variations and modifications can be effected within the scope and spirit of the invention.