Title:
Drinking cup identification method and system comprising individal identifying indicia associated with each cup in a group of identical cups so as to facilitate visual discrimation of one cup form another
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
According to the invention, an identification system for disposable drinking cups is provided, which system comprises an identification system for a plurality of disposable drinking cups, said drinking cups being made from plastic, plastic composites, bio-based materials, fiber-based materials or other configurable materials, each of the drinking cups being provided with a unique identifying indicia by way of selection from a plurality of indicia, said indicia being a plurality of distinct areas associated with said cup, each area being configurable from an original condition to a visibly different condition, wherein said plurality of distinct areas are depressible dimples, blisters, or other raised surfaces, and wherein depressing said distinct area configures said area to said visibly different condition and whereas each area provides a unique identifier.



Inventors:
Doeden, Daniel L. (Glenview, IL, US)
Kiel, Mark D. (Bensenville, IL, US)
Coon, Robert (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/072216
Publication Date:
09/11/2008
Filing Date:
02/26/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/72
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel Doeden (Glenview, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

8. An identification system for a disposable drinking cup, comprising: a disposable drinking cup; said cup being made from plastic, plastic composites, bio-based materials, fiber-based materials or other configurable materials.

9. A system according to claim 1, wherein said cup comprises a cylindrical side wall portion.

10. A system according to claim 2, wherein said plurality of distinct areas is formed in said side wall portion, either on the exterior side wall or on the interior side wall.

11. A system according to claim 3, wherein said distinct areas are configurable from an original condition to a visibly different condition, wherein said distinct areas are depressible blisters, dimples, or other raised surfaces, and wherein depressing said distinct area configures said area to said visibly different condition and whereas each distinct area provides a unique identifier.

12. A system according to claim 4, wherein said plurality of distinct areas comprise a plurality of differentiable areas.

13. A system according to claim 4, wherein said plurality of differentiable areas are areas bearing different identifying indicia.

14. A system according to claim 4, wherein said plurality of differentiable areas each have a different shape.

Description:

An identification method and system for disposable drinking cups comprising individual identifying indicia associated with each cup in a group of identical cups so as to facilitate visual discrimination of one cup from another, said indicia including a visually discernible identifying symbol integrated into each cup, said identifying symbol being individually selectable from a plurality of identifying symbols, each symbol in the plurality being different from other symbols in the plurality on said cup, so as to distinguish the cups in said group from one another. The unique identifying indicia can be any indicia, including numbers, shapes, alphabet letters, icons, and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a personal identification method and system for improving personal hygiene in which provision is made for distinguishing one disposable drinking cup from another within a plurality of like drinking cups, whereby said cup will be identified with a particular person so that another person does not inadvertently access the identified cup unintentionally.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents

3392468July, 1968Wolf206/459.
3974916August, 1976Bartolucci206/459.
4630733December, 1986Fear206/459.
4858766August, 1989Tsai229/242.
5191979March, 1993Nemeroff206/217
5301802Apr. 12, 1994Nemeroff206/459
5492077February, 1996Rose116/307.
6244456June, 2001Hanlon215/230.
6834763December, 2004Shrader206/459.1

At social gatherings, people are often served the same or similar types of beverages. These beverages are typically served in disposable drinking cups which are typically purchased in bulk, and typically all of the cups in a given package are similar, if not identical, in appearance. As a result, the cup of one individual user cannot be distinguished from the cup of another individual user. This leads to situations in which an individual may set his cup down amid a number of other individuals' cups and consequently not be able to identify which among the identical cups is his. The results are at the least unsanitary and at worst may cause the spread of disease.

Prior inventions have tried to solve this problem by providing identification systems affixed to the drinking cups (i.e. tags, labels, caps, lids, stickers and other identification devices) (Nemeroff U.S. Pat. No. 5,301,802), however such systems have significant drawbacks in that they add cost to the manufacturer, inconvenience to the user, and additional material waste to the environment.

Still other inventions have tried to solve the problem by providing identification systems integral to the container in which the beverage was originally purchased, (i.e. using a system of selectable dimples integrated into the container itself) (Hanlon U.S. Pat. No. 6,244,456), however such methods are inherently flawed by their failure to address the problem of how to distinguish the beverage of one user from that of another user after the beverage has been transferred from the original container.

As is commonly the case at social gatherings, the beverage is typically transferred from the original container into a disposable drinking cup, which makes the identification system associated with the original beverage container useless because the problem of distinguishing one container from another has now shifted from the original container to a disposable drinking cup separate from the original container.

It is therefore the object of the present invention to improve upon prior methods by providing a personal identification method and system for distinguishing one disposable drinking cup from another within a plurality of like disposable drinking cups that is: (1) simple to use, cost-effective to manufacture, and does not add additional material waste to the environment; and (2) is independent of any original beverage container, making it universally useful for any type of beverage regardless of its original container.

In view of the limitations now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new and useful identification system for disposable drinking cups which is simpler in construction, more universally usable, more cost-effective to manufacture, and more environmentally-friendly than known apparatus of this kind.

According to the invention, an identification system for disposable drinking cups is provided, which system comprises an identification system for a plurality of disposable drinking cups, said drinking cups being made from plastic, plastic composites, bio-based materials, fiber-based materials or other configurable materials, each of the drinking cups being provided with a unique identifying indicia by way of selection from a plurality of indicia, said indicia being a plurality of distinct areas associated with said cup, each area being configurable from an original condition to a visibly different condition, wherein said plurality of distinct areas are depressible dimples, blisters, or other raised surfaces, and wherein depressing said distinct area configures said area to said visibly different condition and whereas each area provides a unique identifier.

The identifier portion may be a distinct shape or comprise text, graphics, raised lettering, color coding, or symbols, including: seasonal symbols, holiday symbols, symbols related to special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc., or a combination thereof. The identifier will be integrally formed with the configurable area by way of being drawn on, painted on, printed on, sprayed on, inserted into, extracted from, molded into, embossed, etched on, or permanently formed on the identifier portion; or a combination thereof.

The use of the indicia enables identifying said cup with a particular person and from other cups of the same type or set, so that another person does not inadvertently access the identified cup unintentionally.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly several advantages and objects of the present invention are:

A principal object of the present invention is to provide a system for improving personal hygiene that will overcome the deficiencies of the prior art devices, whereby provision is made for distinguishing one disposable drinking cup from another within a plurality of like drinking cups, whereby said cup will be identified with a particular person so that another person does not inadvertently access the identified cup unintentionally

Another object of the present invention is to integrate into the disposable drinking cup itself a plurality of distinct areas in the cup's side wall portion, wherein said distinct areas are depressible blisters, dimples, or other raised surfaces, and wherein depressing said distinct area configures said area to said visibly different condition and whereas each distinct area provides a unique identifier.

It is therefore the object of the present invention to improve upon prior methods by providing a personal identification method and system for distinguishing one disposable drinking cup from another within a plurality of like disposable drinking cups that is: (1) simple to use, cost-effective to manufacture, and does not add additional material waste to the environment; and (2) is independent of any original beverage container, making it universally useful for any type of beverage regardless of its original container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings further describe by illustration the advantages and objects of the present invention. Each drawing is referenced by corresponding figure reference characters within the “DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION” section to follow.

A detailed description of preferred embodiments of the present invention follows, with reference to the attached drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a disposable drinking cup including an identification system in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a disposable drinking cup with identification system in accordance with the present invention.

It is further intended that any other embodiments of the present invention that result from any changes in application or method of use or operation, method of manufacture, shape, size, or material which are not specified within the detailed written description or illustrations contained herein yet are considered apparent or obvious to one skilled in the art are within the scope of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An identification system for disposable drinking cups includes: a plurality of disposable drinking cups; and a plurality of distinct areas associated with each cup, each area being configurable from an original condition to a visibly different condition.

According to the invention, an identification system for disposable drinking cups is provided, which system comprises an identification system for a plurality of disposable drinking cups, said drinking cups being made from plastic, plastic composites, bio-based materials, fiber-based materials or other configurable materials, each of the drinking cups being provided with a unique identifying indicia by way of selection from a plurality of indicia, said indicia being a plurality of distinct areas associated with said cup, each area being configurable from an original condition to a visibly different condition, wherein said plurality of distinct areas are depressible blisters, dimples, or other raised surfaces, and wherein depressing said distinct area configures said area to said visibly different condition and whereas each area provides a unique identifier.

The identifier portion may be a distinct shape or comprise text, graphics, raised lettering, color coding, or symbols, including: seasonal symbols, holiday symbols, symbols related to special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc., or a combination thereof. The identifier will be integrally formed with the configurable area by way of being drawn on, painted on, printed on, sprayed on, inserted into, extracted from, molded into, embossed, etched on, or permanently formed on the identifier portion; or a combination thereof.

The use of the indicia enables identifying said cup with a particular person and from other cups of the same type or set, so that another person does not inadvertently access the identified cup unintentionally.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a disposable drinking cup 10 including an identification system 12 in accordance with the present invention. Identification system 12 includes a plurality of discrete raised areas 14, in this case positioned around the periphery of the side 16 of disposable drinking cup 10, which areas 14 can be configured, for example through depression, deformation, puncturing and the like, so as to alter an original appearance to a visibly different appearance or condition.

Areas 14 are also preferably differentiable so that one area 14a can be distinguished from another area 14b, and so on. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, areas 14 are differentiable due to consecutive alphabetical indicia associated with each area 14.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, areas 14 are depressible blisters which can be depressed and will retain a depressed shape, so that a user of disposable drinking cup 10 can depress one or more areas 14 so as to provide a visibly differentiated distinct indicia corresponding to the depressed area(s) which will serve to distinguish that disposable drinking cup 10 from the disposable drinking cups of other people. It is noted that the provision of a plurality of areas, wherein one or more can be depressed or otherwise configured to be visibly different, advantageously provides for a potentially large number of different identifying patterns of areas.

Areas 14 may be formed as blisters as discussed above and as shown in FIG. 1, or may be provided as any other suitable structure which can be configured from an original condition to a visibly different condition. For example, areas 14 can be any raised structure which can be crushed or ruptured by a user so as to provide a visibly different condition. Areas 14 could also be located in any orientation on either the exterior side wall or the interior sidewall. Of course, other configurations are also possible within the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a disposable drinking cup 10 including an alternate embodiment of identification system 12 in accordance with the present invention. System 12 of FIG. 2 operates in all other respects in a similar manner as the embodiment of FIG. 1.

It should readily be appreciated that areas 14 could be provided having different indicia for differentiating purposes, for example letters, numbers, icons, symbols, different colors or different shapes, and could also be provided having completely different structures than the blisters as discussed above.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the illustrations described and shown herein, which are merely illustrative of possible modes of carrying out the invention, and which are susceptible to modification of form, size, arrangement of parts and details of operation. The invention rather is intended to encompass all such modifications which are within its spirit and scope as defined by the claims.

It is intended that any other advantages and objects of the present invention that become apparent or obvious from the detailed description or illustrations contained herein are within the scope of the present invention.