Title:
MODULAR CONTAINER SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular container system of nestable containers which includes a main container, stackable secondary containers that substantially occupy a uniform plan area and shape of the main container, and tertiary containers that substantially occupy a uniform plan area and shape of at least one secondary container. The main container has a carrying handle, and secondary containers that also have carrying handles can serve alternatively as main containers. Thus the system is highly versatile in that various combinations of the containers are nestable for use in a variety of situations. Also disclosed is a point-of-sale display including multiple sets or likenesses of the containers In different combinations thereof.



Inventors:
Randolph, Lindsay Bernays (Beverly Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/736332
Publication Date:
10/23/2008
Filing Date:
04/17/2007
Assignee:
MARKWINS BEAUTY PRODUCTS, INC. (Industry, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl (PASADENA, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular container comprising: (a) a main container comprising a generally planar main bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding main side wall member, the main side wall member being joined to the main bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the main bottom wall member to form a main storage cavity, the main storage cavity having a main plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the main bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the main storage cavity; (b) a plurality of secondary containers, the secondary containers being insertable into the main storage cavity in stacked layers, one or more of the secondary containers being formed to occupy substantially the entire plan area of the main container, the plurality of secondary containers, when stacked in the main storage cavity, substantially filling a volume portion of the main storage cavity extending from the bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the stacked secondary containers.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the shape of the main plan area is generally rectangular.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein the shape of the main plan area is generally hexagonal.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the shape of the main plan area is generally elliptical.

5. The container of claim 1, wherein the main container further comprises a closure flap structure movably connected to the main side wall for covering the storage cavity.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein the main plan shape is generally rectangular, the main side wall having opposite side portions and opposite end portions, the closure flap structure comprising a pair of first flap members respectively connected to the opposite end portions, the first flap members having a first fastener structure for securing same in a closed and overlapping condition.

7. The container of claim 6, wherein the first fastener structure comprises a mating pair of hook and loop members affixed to facing surfaces of the first flap members.

8. The container of claim 6, wherein the closure flap structure further comprises a pair of second flap members connected to the opposite side wall portions for closing the main storage cavity.

9. The container of claim 8, further comprising a second fastener structure for selectively connecting the second flap members, selectively with the second flap members being in overlapping relation to the first flap members when the first flap members are in the closed condition.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein the second closure structure extends along marginal edge portions of the second flap members opposite the side wall portions.

11. The container of claim 9, wherein the second closure structure comprises a mating pair of zipper members.

12. The container of claim 1, wherein the main container further comprises main carrying handle means having a pair of main carrying straps connected to respective main side wall members.

13. The container of claim 12, wherein each of the main carrying straps has spaced apart connections to the main side wall and forming a handle loop portion, the handle loop portions being adapted for being positioned in adjacency above the main side wall member to form a singular handle.

14. The container of claim 1, wherein at least one of the secondary containers is a pack container comprising a pack bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding pack side wall member, the pack side wall member being joined to the pack bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the pack bottom wall member to form a pack storage cavity, the pack storage cavity having a pack plan area that is substantially uniform from the pack bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the pack storage cavity.

15. The container of claim 14, the pack container comprises an openable pack top wall connected to the pack side wall along an edge portion thereof, and pack fastener means for selectively securing the pack top wall in a closed condition in generally parallel relation to the pack bottom wall.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the pack container further comprises a pack carrying strap connected to the pack top wall member.

17. The container of claim 15, wherein the pack container further comprises a pocket structure connected to an inside surface of the pack top wall and covering a portion thereof, the pocket structure forming a plurality of parallel-spaced pocket channels for holding respective handles of implements to be carried.

18. The container of claim 17, wherein the pack container further comprises a pack pocket flap connected to the pack top wall member in spaced relation to the pocket structure and having a storage position covering a portion of the pack packet structure for preventing contact between implements carried by the pocket structure and other contents of the pack container.

19. The container of claim 14, further comprising a set of tertiary containers associated with the pack container, each tertiary container comprising a tertiary bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding tertiary side wall member, the tertiary side wall member being joined to the tertiary bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the tertiary bottom wall member to form a tertiary storage cavity, the tertiary storage cavity having a plan area that is substantially uniform from the tertiary bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the storage cavity, the set of tertiary containers being insertable in laterally adjacent relation within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area.

20. The container of claim 1, wherein at least one of the secondary containers is a folio container comprising a folio panel member having front surface, a back surface forming a plurality of folio panel portions, the folio panel member having a generally flattened condition, and a folded condition wherein the panel portions are in generally facing relation, the folio container, when in the folded condition having a folio plan area and shape that is approximately the same as the main plan area and shape.

21. The container of claim 20, wherein the folio container further comprises at least one folio pocket structure being substantially co-extensive with one of the folio panel portions and having a folio pocket fastener for selectively securing the folio pocket in a closed condition.

22. The container of claim 21, wherein the folio pocket structure is removably connected to the corresponding folio panel member.

23. The container of claim 20, wherein the at least one folio pocket structure comprises a mesh wall portion for facilitating drying contents thereof, and the folio container further comprises a hook member movably connected proximate an edge margin of the front surface of the folio panel member for hanging the folio container in the flattened condition thereof from an external support.

24. The container of claim 20, wherein the folio container further comprises folio fastener means for releasably holding the folio container in the closed condition thereof.

25. The container of claim 1, wherein at least one of the secondary containers is a pocket container comprising: (a) a facing pair of main pocket member portions forming a main pocket having a plan area and shape that is approximately the same as the main plan area and shape, and a main pocket fastener for selectively securing the main pocket in a closed condition thereof; and (b) a secondary pocket member portion connected to one of the main pocket member portions in facing relation thereto for forming a secondary pocket, and a secondary pocket fastener for selectively securing the secondary pocket in a closed condition thereof.

26. The container of claim 25, wherein the pocket container further comprises a tertiary pocket member portion connected to the secondary pocket member portion in facing relation thereto for forming a tertiary pocket, and a tertiary pocket fastener for selectively securing the tertiary pocket in a closed condition thereof.

27. The container of claim 25, wherein at least one pocket member of the pocket container comprises a mesh material for facilitating drying of pocket contents of the pocket container.

28. A point-of-sale modular container system comprising: (a) a main container comprising a generally planar main bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding main side wall member, the main side wall member being joined to the main bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the main bottom wall member to form a main storage cavity, the main storage cavity having a main plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the main bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the main storage cavity; (b) a plurality of secondary containers, the secondary containers being insertable into the main storage cavity in stacked layers, one or more of the secondary containers being formed to occupy substantially the entire plan area of the main container, the plurality of secondary containers, when stacked in the main storage cavity, substantially filling a volume portion of the main storage cavity extending from the bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the stacked secondary containers, at least one of the secondary containers is a pack container comprising: (i) a pack bottom wall member; (ii) a generally cylindrical upstanding pack side wall member, the pack side wall member being joined to the pack bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the pack bottom wall member to form a pack storage cavity, the pack storage cavity having a pack plan area that is substantially uniform from the pack bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the pack storage cavity; and (iii) a handle structure; (c) a plurality of tertiary containers associated with the pack container, each tertiary container comprising a tertiary bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding tertiary side wall member, the tertiary side wall member being joined to the tertiary bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the tertiary bottom wall member to form a tertiary storage cavity, the tertiary storage cavity having a plan area that is substantially uniform from the tertiary bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the tertiary storage cavity, one or more of the tertiary containers being insertable within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area, a plurality of the tertiary containers substantially filling a volume portion of the pack storage cavity extending from the pack bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the tertiary containers.

29. The container system of claim 28, wherein at least some of the tertiary containers are insertable in laterally adjacent relation within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area.

30. The container system of claim 28, wherein at least one of the tertiary containers is insertable within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area.

31. The container system of claim 28, further comprising a rack for displaying at least some nestable container subsets of the system.

32. The container system of claim 28, further comprising a chart for identifying at least some nestable container subsets of the system.

33. A modular container comprising: (a) a main container comprising a generally planar main bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding main side wall member, the main side wall member being joined to the main bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the main bottom wall member to form a main storage cavity, the main storage cavity having a main plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the main bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the main storage cavity; (b) a plurality of secondary containers, the secondary containers being insertable into the main storage cavity in stacked layers, one or more of the secondary containers being formed to occupy substantially the entire plan area of the main container, the plurality of secondary containers, when stacked in the main storage cavity, substantially filling a volume portion of the main storage cavity extending from the bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the stacked secondary containers; (c) at least one of the secondary containers being a pack container comprising: (i) a pack bottom wall member; (ii) a generally cylindrical upstanding pack side wall member, the pack side wall member being joined to the pack bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the pack bottom wall member to form a pack storage cavity, the pack storage cavity having a pack plan area that is substantially uniform from the pack bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the pack storage cavity; and (iii) a handle structure; and (d) a plurality of tertiary containers associated with the pack container, each tertiary container comprising a tertiary bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding tertiary side wall member, the tertiary side wall member being joined to the tertiary bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the tertiary bottom wall member to form a tertiary storage cavity, the tertiary storage cavity having a plan area that is substantially uniform from the tertiary bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the tertiary storage cavity, one or more of the tertiary containers being insertable within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area, a plurality of the tertiary containers substantially filling a volume portion of the pack storage cavity extending from the pack bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the tertiary containers.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to portable containers such as garment bags, carrying cases, and the like having modular outer and inner components.

Containers having nested components of different dimensions are known, being disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,574,089 to Cochran, 3,861,504, to McGraw, 4,273,223 to Tomlinson, 4,973,674 to Landes, 5,894,975 to Holden et al., and 6,186,201 to Salz, and Application Publication 2005/0016808 by Sapyta. The various configurations disclosed in these documents include removable liners, attachable inside pockets, inserts, and interchangeable outside covers.

Modular containers of the prior art typically exhibit one or more of the following disadvantages:

1. They are difficult to use in that they require manipulation of internal fasteners;

2. They lack versatility in that they have few, if any, alternative storage configurations; and

3. They are expensive to manufacture in that they are excessively complicated, have excessively expensive components, and/or are difficult to assemble.

Thus there is a need for a container system that is easy to use, particularly versatile, and inexpensive to provide.

SUMMARY

The present invention meets this need by providing a modular container system having a multiplicity of selectable configurations and arrangements. In one aspect of the invention, the system includes a main container including a generally planar main bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding main side wall member, the main side wall member being joined to the main bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the main bottom wall member to form a main storage cavity that has a main plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the main bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the main storage cavity; a plurality of secondary containers that are insertable into the main storage cavity in stacked layers, one or more of the secondary containers being formed to occupy substantially the entire plan area of the main container. The plurality of secondary containers, when stacked in the main storage cavity, substantially fill a volume portion of the main storage cavity that extends from the bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the stacked secondary containers. The main container can further include a closure flap structure that is movably connected to the main side wall for covering the storage cavity.

The main plan shape can be generally rectangular, hexagonal, elliptical, or other shape. As used herein, elliptical includes circular and oval. In the case of the main plan shape being generally rectangular, the main side wall can have opposite side portions and opposite end portions, the closure flap structure including a pair of first flap members respectively connected to the opposite end portions and having a first fastener structure for securing same in a closed and overlapping condition. The first fastener structure can include a mating pair of hook and loop members affixed to facing surfaces of the first flap members. The closure flap structure can further include a pair of second flap members connected to the opposite side wall portions for closing the main storage cavity. Preferably a second fastener structure is provided for selectively connecting the second flap members, with the second flap members being in overlapping relation to the first flap members when the first flap members are in the closed condition. The second closure structure can extend along marginal edge portions of the second flap members opposite the side wall portions. The second closure structure can include a mating pair of zipper members.

Preferably the main container further includes main carrying handle means, which can include a pair of main carrying straps connected to respective main side wall members. Each of the main carrying straps can have spaced apart connections to the main side wall for forming a handle loop portion, the handle loop portions being adapted for being positioned in adjacency above the main side wall member to form a singular handle.

Preferably at least one of the secondary containers is a pack container including a pack bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding pack side wall member, the pack side wall member being joined to the pack bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the pack bottom wall member to form a pack storage cavity, for providing the pack storage cavity with a pack plan area that is substantially uniform from the pack bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the pack storage cavity. The pack container can include an openable pack top wall connected to the pack side wall along an edge portion thereof, and pack fastener means for selectively securing the pack top wall in a closed condition in generally parallel relation to the pack bottom wall. Preferably the pack container further includes a pack carrying strap connected to the pack top wall member for facilitating lifting of the pack container from the main container. The pack container can further include a pocket structure connected to an inside surface of the pack top wall and covering a portion thereof, the pocket structure forming a plurality of parallel-spaced pocket channels for holding respective handles of implements to be carried. Preferably the pack container further includes a pack pocket flap connected to the pack top wall member in spaced relation to the pocket structure and having a storage position covering a portion of the pack packet structure for preventing contact between implements carried by the pocket structure and other contents of the pack container.

An important optional feature of the present invention is a set of tertiary containers associated with the pack container, each tertiary container including a tertiary bottom wall member, and a generally cylindrical upstanding tertiary side wall member, the tertiary side wall member being joined to the tertiary bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity of the tertiary bottom wall member to form a tertiary storage cavity, the tertiary storage cavity having a plan area that is substantially uniform from the tertiary bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the storage cavity, the set of tertiary containers being insertable in laterally adjacent relation within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area. With this feature, the pack container can function as a main container, the tertiary containers functioning as secondary containers.

At least one of the secondary containers can be a folio container including a folio panel member having front surface, a back surface forming a plurality of folio panel portions, the folio panel member having a generally flattened condition, and a folded condition wherein the panel portions are in generally facing relation, the folio container, when in the folded condition having a folio plan area and shape that is approximately the same as the main plan area and shape. The folio container can further include at least one folio pocket structure being substantially co-extensive with one of the folio panel portions and having a folio pocket fastener for selectively securing the folio pocket in a closed condition. One or more pocket structure can be removably connected to the corresponding folio panel member, and one or more can include a mesh wall portion for facilitating drying contents thereof, the folio container further including a hook member movably connected proximate an edge margin of the front surface of the folio panel member for hanging the folio container in the flattened condition thereof from an external support. Preferably the folio container further includes folio fastener means for releasably holding the folio container in its closed condition.

At least one of the secondary containers can be a pocket container including a facing pair of main pocket members forming a main pocket having a plan area and shape that is approximately the same as the main plan area and shape, and a main pocket fastener for selectively securing the main pocket in a closed condition thereof; and a secondary pocket member connected to one of the main pocket members in facing relation thereto for forming a secondary pocket, and a secondary pocket fastener for selectively securing the secondary pocket in a closed condition thereof. The pocket container can further include a tertiary pocket member connected to the secondary pocket member in facing relation thereto for forming a tertiary pocket, and a tertiary pocket fastener for selectively securing the tertiary pocket in a closed condition thereof. Preferably at least one pocket member of the pocket container includes a mesh material for facilitating drying of pocket contents of the pocket container.

In another aspect of the invention, a modular container system includes the a main container; a plurality of the secondary containers, at least one of which is a pack container; and a plurality of the tertiary containers being associated with the pack container and insertable within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area, a plurality of the tertiary containers substantially filling a volume portion of the pack storage cavity extending from the pack bottom wall member to an upper surface of the uppermost of the tertiary containers. At least some of the tertiary containers are preferably insertable in laterally adjacent relation within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area. Also, or in the alternative, at least one of the tertiary containers is insertable within the pack storage cavity to occupy substantially all of the pack plan area. Preferably the container system further includes a rack for displaying or a chart for identifying at least some nestable container subsets of the system.

DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings, where:

FIG. 1 is an elevational perspective view of a set of nestable containers of a modular container system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional side elevational view of showing secondary containers of the container system of FIG. 1 stacked within a main container thereof;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing a pack container of the system of FIG. 1 in an open condition and exposing tertiary containers of the system;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing another pack container of the system of FIG. 1 in an open condition and exposing other tertiary containers;

FIG. 5 is a lateral sectional view of a pocket container of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a plan view showing a folio container of the system of FIG. 1 in an open condition;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the folio container of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8A is a partial elevational perspective view of a point-of-sale display incorporating plural combinations of containers of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8B is a partial elevational perspective view showing the remainder of the point-of-sale display of FIG. 8A;

FIG. 9 is an elevational perspective view showing an alternative configuration of the container system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is an elevational perspective view as in FIG. 4, showing another alternative configuration of the container system; and

FIG. 11 is an elevational perspective view showing a main container of FIG. 10 in an expanded condition.

DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed to a modular container system that is particularly versatile, having a variety of selectable configurations. With reference to FIGS. 1-11 of the drawings, a modular container 10 includes a main container 12, and a plurality of secondary containers 14, the secondary containers being stackable within the main container for occupying substantially an entire plan area of the main container. As shown in FIG. 1, the secondary containers 14 can include, for example, a pocket container 16, a folio container 18, and one or more pack containers 20, which may include a major pack container 20A and a minor pack container 20B.

In the configuration of FIG. 1, the main container 12 includes a generally planar main bottom wall member 22, and a generally cylindrical upstanding main side member 24 that is joined to the main bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity 25 of the main bottom wall member to form a main storage cavity 26. The main storage cavity has a main plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the main bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the main storage cavity, the main plan area being generally rectangular in the exemplary configuration of FIG. 1, so that the main side member includes opposite side wall portions 28 and opposite end wall portions 29. As further shown in FIG. 1, the main container 12 also includes a pair of first flap members 30 that are connected along respective upper extremities of the end wall portions 29, and a pair of second flap members 32 that are connected along respective extremities of the end wall portions 29. One of the first flap members, designated 30A, can have a generally rectangular flap pocket panel 34 fastened thereto proximally along three perimeter edge margins of the flap member, and a zip-type closure 35 installed along a fourth edge margin for forming a convenient storage pocket. As shown in FIG. 1 wherein the main container 12 is in an open condition, the pocket panel 34 is on an outwardly facing surface of the first flap member 30A, being on the underside of the flap member in the closed condition of the main container 12. Preferably the pocket panel 34 is formed of a net-type material for visual access to stored contents of the pocket. A suitable fastener, such as a hook-type fastener element 36, can be affixed opposite the pocket panel 34, and a mating fastener element 37 can be affixed on a corresponding surface of other first flap member, designated 30B, for releasably holding the first flap members 30 in overlapping relation in the closed condition of the main container 12. Further, a pair of elastic strips 38 can be fastened at spaced intervals and in parallel-spaced relation to the first flap member 30B opposite the mating fastener element for convenient storage of slender objects such as writing instruments (not shown).

The main container 12 also has a carrying handle structure, which can be in the form of a pair of handle loop elements 40, one such handle loop element being attached to the outside surface of one side wall portion 28 of the main side member 24 as shown in FIG. 1. A corresponding handle loop element (not shown in FIG. 1) is attached to the opposite side wall portion 28. Further and optional features of the main container 12 include an outside pocket 42 being formed by an outer pocket member that overlaps a lower portion of one end wall portion 29, and a series of inside pockets 44 that are formed by attachment of an inner pocket member 46 at spaced locations to the inside surface of the main side member 24.

FIG. 2 shows the modular container system 10 with the secondary containers 14 placed in stacked relation within the main container 12, the secondary containers including, for example, the major and minor pack containers 20A and 20B, the pocket container 16, and the folio container 18. It will be understood that the stacking can be in any order. Other orientations of some or all of the secondary containers are also possible, including either side or end edge portions thereof facing downwardly. In the case of side edge portions facing downwardly, it is preferred that the normal stacked height of a subset of the secondary containers be equal to or slightly less than the internal width of the main container 12. In the case of end edge portions facing downwardly, it is preferred that the length of the secondary containers be not greater than the internal height of the main container 12. In this case, the secondary containers can be oriented facing or parallel to either the end wall portions 29 or the side wall portions 28 of the main container 12 (in which case it is preferred that the normal stacked height of a subset of the secondary containers be equal to or slightly less than the internal width of the main container 12 as in the case of side edge portions facing downwardly, described above).

The pack containers 20 are configured for stacking within the main storage cavity 26 as indicated above, each having a generally planar pack bottom wall member 52, and a generally cylindrical upstanding pack side wall member 53 that is joined to the pack bottom wall member along a perimeter extremity 54 of the pack bottom wall member to form a pack storage cavity 55. The pack storage cavity has a pack plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the pack bottom wall member to an upper extremity of the pack storage cavity, the pack plan area being generally rectangular in the exemplary configuration of FIG. 1, and only slightly smaller than the main plan area of the main container 12. Thus each pack container 20 occupies substantially the entire main plan area when placed within the main container 12. As further shown in FIG. 1, each pack container 12 also includes an openable pack top wall member 56 that in its closed condition is generally planar and parallel to the bottom wall member 52, a zip-type pack fastener 57, and a carrying handle, designated pack handle 58, that is connected to the pack top wall member 56, the handle 58 facilitating lifting of the pack container 20 out of the main storage cavity 26. In the exemplary configuration of FIG. 1 and as further described below, one of the pack containers, designated major pack container 20A, is somewhat taller than the other, designated minor pack container 20B. Also, the pack handle 58 can be oriented laterally on the pack top wall member 56 as shown on the major pack container 20A, or longitudinally as shown on the minor pack container 20B.

Also shown in FIG. 1 are a plurality of tertiary containers 60 that are configured for being variously arranged within one or more of the secondary containers 20 and/or the main container 12. Exemplary tertiary containers shown in FIG. 1 are a plurality of core containers 61 including a pair of maxi-core containers 61A that are enclosed in adjacent relationship within the minor pack container 20B and occupying substantially the full plan area thereof. Another maxi-core container 61A is enclosed in the major pack container 20A. Also in the major pack container 20A is a mini-pack container 20C, the mini-pack container having components corresponding to the pack containers 20A and 20B, except that the mini-pack container 20C is of reduced length for sharing the pack plan area of the pack container 20A with the maxi-core container 61A, the containers 20C and 61 occupying substantially the entire pack plan area of the pack container 20A as also shown in FIG. 3. A pair of smaller tertiary containers, designated mini-core containers 61B, are enclosed side-by-side in the mini-pack container 20C and occupying substantially the full plan area thereof. The construction of the core containers 61 is similar to that of the pack containers 20, having counterparts of the pack bottom wall member, designated core bottom wall member 52′, the pack side wall member, designated core side wall member 53′, the pack top wall member, designated core top wall member 56′, and the pack fastener, designated core fastener 57′. In the exemplary configuration of FIG. 1, the core containers 61 are not provided with counterparts of the pack handle, although it will be understood that such handles can be provided within the scope of the present invention. Although the pack containers 20 as well as a main portion of the folio container 18 are typically formed of opaque materials, the core containers 62 are preferably formed mainly of transparent materials for convenient viewing of the contents thereof.

As yet further shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the major pack container 20A encloses another and intermediate container, designated packet container 62. The structure of the packet container 62 corresponds to that of the core containers 61 (having a packet bottom wall member 52″, a packet side wall member 53″, a packet top wall member 56″, and a packet fastener 57″), but having a plan outline that occupies substantially the entire plan area of the major pack container 20A. Also, the packet container 62 is located in stacked relation to the combination of the pack container 20C and the core container 61A that are included within the pack container 20A. It will be understood that the pack container 20A is of sufficient internal height to accommodate the above-described containers and, although there is no restriction on the relative heights of the pack container 20C (and the adjacent maxi-core container 61A), it is preferred that the internal height of the pack container 20A be greater than that of the minor pack container 20B by the additional height of the packet container 62. Also, the packet container 62 is preferably formed mainly of a mesh material for facilitating drying of its contents.

FIG. 4 shows the pack container 20B in an open condition, the maxi-core containers 62A occupying same being exposed to view. Also shown are optional features provided on the inside surface of the pack top wall member 56, being a retainer member 63 and a cover member 64. The retainer member 63 covers a significant portion of the top wall member 56, being fastened thereto at generally parallel-spaced intervals for forming a plurality of open storage channels 65.

It is desirable that the main structural components of the modular container system be somewhat flexible, both for accommodating contents of arbitrary size and shape and also for permitting the main container 12 to be located in variously confined spaces. Some degree of reinforcement is preferred in the main bottom wall member 22 and the second flap members 32, but little stiffness is preferred in most others of the structural components of the various containers. Accordingly in the exemplary configuration of FIGS. 1 and 3, each of the pack containers 20, the core containers 60, and the packet container 64, although being generally rectangular in plan, has somewhat rounded corners for conformance with the flexible main side member 24 of the main container 12.

With particular reference to FIGS. 1 and 5, the pocket container 16, which is preferably formed mainly of a mesh material for facilitating the drying wet or clamp contents, is generally rectangular in plan, having a main pocket 66 that is provided with a zip-type pocket fastener 67 that is located along a marginal extremity portion of the container 16. An additional layer of the mesh material is formed to provide a somewhat narrow second pocket 68 extending from an opposite marginal extremity portion of the container 16 to a counterpart of the pocket fastener, designated 67′, that is located approximately midway between the marginal extremity portions. A further layer of the mesh material underlies the second pocket 68 and extends to another counterpart of the pocket fastener, designated 67″, that is located between the other pocket fasteners to form a third pocket 69 of intermediate width. In an exemplary implementation of the above, an outer pocket panel 70 extends from one element of the pocket fastener 67, being folded and extending to an element of the pocket fastener 67′, as shown in FIG. 5. An inner pocket panel 71 extends from the other element of the pocket fastener 67 to an element of the pocket fastener 67″, the inner pocket panel 71 being fastened to the outer pocket panel 70 along a seam 72. The other elements of the pocket fasteners 67′ and 67″ are affixed to the inner pocket panel at appropriate locations as shown in the drawings. Suitable tape reinforcements 73 are used in a conventional manner for fastening the outer and inner pocket panels 70 and 71, and at side seams (not shown) of the respective pockets 66, 68, and 69 of the pocket container 14.

Preferably the plan dimensions of the pocket container 16 are approximately the same as those of the pack containers 20A and 20B for permitting placement within the main container 12 oriented generally parallel to the main bottom wall member 22 and occupying substantially all of the plan area thereof. It is recognized that the plan outline of the pocket container 16 can have a lesser degree of corner rounding than that of the pack containers 20, in which case the plan outline of the pocket container is preferably slightly reduced in length and width as compared with that of the pack containers 20A and 20B. Further, a slight reduction in the plan profile of the pocket container 16 advantageously permits storage thereof within either of the pack containers 20A and 20B, while still occupying substantially all of the plan area of the main container 12.

With particular reference to FIGS. 1, 6, and 7, the folio container 14 includes a folio panel member 74 having a main panel portion 75, an inside flap portion 76, and an outside flap portion 77 that overlaps the inside flap portion when the folio container is in a closed condition as shown in FIG. 1. A counterpart of the flap pocket panel, designated 34′, is fastened along three perimeter edge margins thereof to a front surface 78 of the folio panel member and having a counterpart of the pocket fastener 67 extending along the remaining edge margin thereof to form a flap pocket 79 on the outside flap portion 77, the front surface 78 forming an inside surface of the container 14 in the closed condition thereof as shown in FIG. 1. Another pocket panel, designated main pocket panel 80 is likewise fastened to the main panel portion 75 in combination with another pocket fastener 67 to form a main pocket 81 of the folio container 14. A tubular pocket member 82 having another counterpart of the pocket fastener 67 extending between opposite side extremities thereof forms a tubular pocket 83, the pocket member 82 being removably affixed to the main pocket member by counterparts of the hook and mating fastener elements 36 and 37. Further, a pouch container 85 that is formed by a pouch pocket member 86 and having a counterpart of the pocket fastener 67 is removably affixed to the front surface 78 within the inside flap portion 76 of the folio panel member 74 by further counterparts of the hook and mating fastener elements 36 and 37. As further shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the pouch pocket member 86, as well as the flap pocket panel 34′, is formed of mesh material for facilitating drying of contents thereof, and both the tubular pocket member 82 and the main pocket panel 80 are formed of a transparent material to permit viewing of contents thereof. Also shown in FIG. 7 is a hook member 87 for hanging the folio container from an external support (not shown). The hook member is pivotally connected to the folio panel member 74 proximate an edge extremity of the outside flap portion 77 by a loop-shaped anchor member 88, and is releasably held in a stowed position against the flap pocket panel 34′ by another loop-shaped member, designated retainer member 89, the retainer member 89 being preferably formed of an elastic material for facilitating engagement and disengagement of the hook member 87. Moreover, a pair of folio fasteners 90 are provided for holding the folio panel member 74 in the closed condition shown in FIG. 1, each folio fastener including a mating pair of fastener elements 90A and 90B, which can be of any suitable construction, a magnetic fastener configuration being shown in the drawings. Additionally, a counterpart of the pack handle, designated folio handle 92, is affixed to the folio panel member 74 opposite the front surface 78 and along a boundary of the main panel portion 75 and the outside flap portion 77, the folio handle facilitating carrying the folio container 18 as well as for lifting same from the main container 12.

Suitable materials for the bottom wall and side members 22 and 24, the first and second flap members 30 and 32, the outer pocket member 43, and the handle loop elements 40 of the main container 12 include 190 Denier Nylon® having a backing of vinyl or rubber, available from Kar King of Guangzhou, China. This material is also suitable for forming the bottom, side, and top wall members 51, 52, and 56 of the pack containers 20, as well as the folio panel member 74 of the folio container 18. A suitable lining for this material is 210 Denier Nylon, also available from Kar King. Suitable materials for the flap pocket panel 34 and the inner pocket member 46 of the main container 12 include Nylon netting having a diagonal pitch of approximately 4 mm. Materials for the core bottom, side, and top wall members 51″, 52″, and 56″ of the core containers 61, and the main and tubular pocket members 80 and 82 include transparent polyvinylchloride (PVC), which is available from a variety of sources. Suitable materials for the packet bottom, side, and top wall members 51″, 52″, and 55″ of the packet container 62, the outer and inner pocket panels 70 and 71 of the pocket container 16, and the flap pocket member 34′ and the pouch pocket member 86 of the pouch container 85 include woven Nylon mesh having a pitch of approximately 0.5 mm in both length and width directions, this material also being available from a variety of sources.

An important feature of the present invention is that each of the pack containers 20A, 20B, and 20C, can function as the main container 12, in that each has a plan area and shape that is substantially uniform from the bottom wall thereof to an upper extremity of the respective storage cavity. Further in the case of the major and minor pack containers 20A and 20B, plural counterparts of the packet container 62 can be stacked therein, substantially filling a volume portion of the pack storage cavity 55 from the bottom wall member 52 to the upper surface of the uppermost of the stacked packet containers. Moreover, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, a single packet container 62 forms one layer within the major pack container 20A, and the combination of the mini-pack container 20C and the maxi-core container 61A forms an additional layer of containers stacked therein to substantially fill the storage cavity 55 to the pack and core top wall members 56 and 56′ of the containers 20C and 61A. It will be understood that substantially the same condition is present in the case of both containers of the additional layer being maxi-core containers 61A. It will be further understood that one or more counterparts of the pocket container 16 can serve as secondary containers being stacked within either of the pack containers 20A and 20B.

Accordingly, and with further reference to FIG. 8, these and other advantageous combinations of containers according to the present invention are exhibited in a point-of-sale display 100. The point-of-sale display 100 includes a display rack 102 and a plurality of arrangements of the container system 10 as described herein. An exemplary embodiment of the display rack 102 includes a rack panel member 104 having a plurality of shelf members 106 projecting therefrom, each of the shelf members being adapted for separately supporting the individual containers of one or more of the container systems 10, particular examples thereof being designated container set 10A, 10B, 10C, 10D, 10E, 10F, 10G, 10H, 10I and 10J, in FIG. 8. Also, the display rack 102 is provided with indicia 108 for identifying particular containers of each arrangement and the location of each within the display, the indicia being located on front facing surfaces of the shelf members 106 in the exemplary configuration of FIG. 8. Preferably, each of the container sets of the display 100 includes a selection of containers such that the largest of the containers of that selection can hold all of the others to form a single unit having an exposed handle means, whether the handle loop elements of the main container 12, the pack handle 58 of one of the pack containers 20, or the folio handle 92 of the folio container 18. For example, the container set 10A corresponds to the container system 10 as shown in FIGS. 1-7, the other sets 10B-10J having different selections and/or quantities of the various containers. It will be understood that the container sets of the display 100 can be represented by three-dimensional, or even two-dimensional representations of the various containers. Further, the containers, and/or representations thereof, can be attached directly to the rack panel member 104. Moreover, the entire point-of-sale display can be provided in the form of a poster or chart.

In the exemplary configuration of the container system 10 shown in FIGS. 1-8, suitable length, width, and height dimensions for the various containers for providing the above-described nestable arrangements are set forth in Table 1. It will be understood that many other combinations of dimensions are also suitable.

TABLE 1
Exemplary Container Dimensions (cm)
XXX
BagXXLXLLMSXSSLIMSLIMSLIM
Length3128.528.518.2515.51327.525.524
Width2018.518.514.7127.515.51616
Height2512976.56.5532

As indicated above, further combinations of containers according to the present invention are advantageously nestable. Some of these are set forth in Table 2 below for main and secondary containers. It will be understood that combinations including the main container 12 (XXL) can further include as tertiary containers those listed as secondary containers for the pack containers 20A (XL), 20B (L), and 20C (M) that are chosen. The nominal capacity of the main container 12 (XXL) for secondary containers in the case of the exemplary dimensions of Table 1 is represented by the relation


25≦12N1+9N2+7N3+2N4+3N5+5N6

where:

    • N1=number of major pack containers 12A (XL);
    • N2=number of minor pack containers 12B (L);
    • N3=number of mini-pack containers 12C (M);
    • N4=number of pocket containers 14 (XX SLIM);
    • N5=number of packet containers 62 (X SLIM); and
    • N6=number of folio containers 18 (SLIM).

TABLE 2
Nestable Container Sets
MainSecondary
M+XS(2)
M+S
L+XS(4)+XXSLIM orXSLIM
L+XS(2)+S+XXSLIM orXSLIM
L+S(2)+XXSLIM orXSLIM
L+XXSLIM+XSLIM(2)
L+XXSLIM orXSLIM+SLIM
XL+XS(4)+XXSLIM+XSLIM
XL+XS(2)+S+XXSLIM+XSLIM
XL+S(2)+XXSLIM+XSLIM
XL+S+M+XXSLIM+XSLIM
XL+XXSLIM(2)+XSLIM(2)
XL+XXSLIM+XSLIM+SLIM
XXL+XL(N1)+L(N2)+M(2N3)+XXSLIM(N4)+SLIM(N5)+SLIM(N6)

With further reference to FIG. 9, and alternative configuration of the container system, designated 10′, is generally hexagonal in plan, having a main container 12′ and counterparts of the pack containers, designated major pack container 20A′, minor pack container 20B′, a pair of mini-pack containers 20C′, and three mini-pack containers 20D′, the pack containers shown in FIG. 9 having components corresponding to the pack containers 20 of FIGS. 1-8. The exemplary configuration of the main container 12′ as shown in FIG. 9 includes counterparts of the main side member, designated 24′, and the (zip-type) closure, designated 35′, with a lid 31 that includes a main top wall 33.

With further reference to FIGS. 10 and 11, another alternative configuration of the container system, designated 10″, is generally circular, elliptical (or oval) in plan, having a main container 12″ and counterparts of the pack containers, designated major pack container 20A″, minor pack container 20B″, a pair of mini-pack containers 20C″, and three mini-pack containers 20D″, the pack containers shown in FIG. 10 also having components corresponding to the pack containers 20 of FIGS. 1-8. The exemplary configuration of the main container 12″ as shown in FIG. 10 includes counterparts of the main side member, designated 24″, and the closure, designated 35″, with a lid 31′ that includes a main top wall 33′. An additional feature of the main container 12″ is a base portion 23 that is connected to the main side member 24″ by a zip-type expansion fastener 27, the container also having a flexible bellows wall member 39 connecting the base portion 23 to the main side member 24″ for providing an expanded condition of the container 12″ as shown in FIG. 11.

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. For example, the main container 12′ of FIG. 9 and/or the main container 12″ of FIGS. 10 and 11 can be provided with counterparts of the handle loop elements 40 of FIG. 1. Similarly, the pack containers 20A′, 20B′, 20C′, and/or 20D of FIG. 10, as well as the pack containers 20A″, 20B″, 20C″, and 20D″ of FIG. 10 can be provided with counterparts of the pack handle 58 of FIG. 1. Further, counterparts of the handle loop elements 40 can be substituted for the pack handle 58, and vice-versa. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not necessarily be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.





 
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