Title:
BUTTON ACTUATED SPILL-PROOF LID FOR TRAVEL MUG
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lid assembly for a travel mug, comprising a top shell portion having a top drink aperture and top drink passage extending downwardly therefrom; a bottom member engaged with a bottom portion of the top shell portion, the bottom member having a wall that receives the top drink passage on a top end, and having a bottom drink aperture through a bottom end; a valve member having a portion that normally closes the bottom drink aperture; and an actuator assembly comprising a camming member that biases the valve member away from the bottom drink aperture to open the bottom drink aperture.



Inventors:
Rohe, Jeffrey T. (Lake Mary, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/115377
Publication Date:
11/06/2008
Filing Date:
05/05/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/714, 220/367.1
International Classes:
A47G19/22; B65D51/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, KAUSHIKKUMAR A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAHN LOESER & PARKS, LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A lid assembly for a travel mug, comprising: a top shell portion having a top drink aperture and top drink passage extending downwardly therefrom; a bottom member engaged with a bottom portion of the top shell portion, the bottom member having a wall that receives the top drink passage on a top end, and having a bottom drink aperture through a bottom end; a valve member having a portion that normally biases against the bottom drink aperture to a closed position; and an actuator assembly comprising a camming member that biases the valve member away from the bottom drink aperture to an open position.

2. The lid assembly of claim 1, wherein the actuator assembly further comprises a push button.

3. The lid assembly of claim 2, wherein the push button is located on a sidewall of the lid assembly.

4. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein when the push button is fully pressed and released a first time, the valve member is biased to and remains in the open position.

5. The lid assembly of claim 4, wherein when the push button is fully pressed and released a second time, the valve member returns to the closed position biased against the bottom drink aperture.

6. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein the valve member comprises a central shaft that extends upward and contacts the camming member.

7. The lid assembly of claim 6, wherein the central shaft terminates in a bulbous camming surface.

8. The lid assembly of claim 7, wherein the camming member has a camming surface that contacts the bulbous camming surface of the central shaft, the camming member camming surface having a notch therein to provide an intermediate position for the bulbous camming surface between the open position and the closed position.

9. The lid assembly of claim 6, wherein the valve member further comprises a bottom drink aperture plug.

10. The lid assembly of claim 6, wherein the bottom member further comprises a vent aperture through the bottom end.

11. The lid assembly of claim 10, wherein the valve member further comprises a vent aperture plug.

12. The lid assembly of claim 11, wherein the valve member further comprises a bottom drink aperture plug.

13. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein the valve member comprises a plurality of base flow passages.

14. The lid assembly of claim 13, wherein the plurality of base flow passages comprises at least four passages.

15. The lid assembly of claim 3, further comprising an indicator visible from an outer portion of the lid assembly that indicates whether the valve is open or closed.

16. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein the actuator assembly further comprises, a retaining collar, a spinner, a multi-shafted hub, and a biasing member.

17. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein when the push button is pressed and released a first time, the valve member is biased away from the bottom drink aperture.

18. The lid assembly of claim 3, wherein the push button is round.

19. A method of operating a lid assembly attached to a travel mug at least partially filled with liquid, comprising the steps of: providing a lid assembly attached to a travel mug, the lid assembly comprising a drink aperture through which liquid can selectively flow, and a push button on an outer sidewall of the lid assembly, the push button actuating a valve that opens and closes the drink aperture; pressing and releasing the push button a first time to open the valve; dispensing at least some of the liquid in the travel mug through the drink aperture; and pressing and releasing the push button a second time to close the valve.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the lid assembly comprises: a top shell portion having a top drink aperture and top drink passage extending downwardly therefrom; a bottom member engaged with a bottom portion of the top shell portion, the bottom member having a wall that receives the top drink passage on a top end, and having a bottom drink aperture through a bottom end; a valve member having a portion that normally closes the bottom drink aperture; and an actuator assembly comprising a camming member that biases the valve member away from the bottom drink aperture to open the bottom drink aperture.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application 60/915,860, filed May 3, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to lids for beverage containers, and more specifically, in one embodiment, to a lid for a travel mug.

BACKGROUND

Many types of beverage containers and travel mugs are known in the art. A typical travel mug may comprise an insulated beverage container and an attachable lid. The lid is particularly useful in travel mugs to prevent spillage of the contents while the user is traveling.

Many travel mug lids include a drinking aperture, latch, or valve that can be opened or closed. When the aperture, latch, or valve is open, the liquid in the container can be drunk by the user. When the aperture, latch, or valve is closed, liquid ideally will not escape from the container. The user presumably closes the aperture until he or she is ready to drink from the mug, and then opens the aperture when he or she is ready to drink. However, these apertures or latch mechanisms also include one or more disadvantages. For example, the latches are typically located on the top of the lid, which makes one-handed operation of the mug difficult. Additionally, the latch or valve mechanism may be of the type that is open so long as the user is actuating the mechanism, and closes when the user disengages his or her hand from the mechanism. In an effort to overcome one or more limitations of the prior art, one or more embodiments of the present invention are hereby presented.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A lid assembly for a travel mug, comprising a top shell portion having a top drink aperture and top drink passage extending downwardly therefrom; a bottom member engaged with a bottom portion of the top shell portion, the bottom member having a wall that receives the top drink passage on a top end, and having a bottom drink aperture through a bottom end; a valve member having a portion that normally closes the bottom drink aperture; and an actuator assembly comprising a camming member that biases the valve member away from the bottom drink aperture to open the bottom drink aperture. The actuator assembly may further comprises a push button that located on a sidewall of the lid assembly. When the push button is pressed and released a first time, the valve member may be biased to an open position away from the bottom drink aperture. When the push button is pressed and released a second time, the valve member may return to a closed position against the bottom drink aperture.

In another embodiment, a method of operating a lid assembly attached to a travel mug at least partially filled with liquid is disclosed that comprises the steps of providing a lid assembly attached to a travel mug, the lid assembly comprising a drink aperture through which liquid can selectively flow, and a push button on an outer sidewall of the lid assembly, the push button actuating a valve that opens and closes the drink aperture; pressing and releasing the push button a first time to open the valve; dispensing at least some of the liquid in the travel mug through the drink aperture; and pressing and releasing the push button a second time to close the valve.

Another embodiment of a lid for a beverage container may comprise an upper and/or outer shell that receives a lid bottom that houses a valve. The outer shell may comprise an actuator assembly that operates the valve that opens and closes a drinking aperture. The valve assembly may be located on a radially outward side of the lid. In one embodiment, the actuator assembly operates similarly to a ball point pen mechanism. For example, the actuator assembly may comprise a button whereby the button is pressed and released a first time to open the valve. When the user wishes to close the valve to provide, for example, a spill-proof container, the button is again pressed and released to close the valve. Any such mechanism as is known in the art is contemplated for use as the actuator assembly. One embodiment of an actuator assembly will be described in more detail in the Detailed Description section.

The valve assembly may comprise a disk member having a sealing surface that engages a drink aperture. The disk may normally be biased toward the drink aperture during a resting state to close the aperture, and may be forced downward to disengage from the drink aperture by the actuator assembly.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a mug lid assembly attached to a mug, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the mug lid assembly illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of an actuator assembly.

FIG. 3A is a cross-sectional view of the biasing slider of the actuator assembly.

FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the retainer collar of the actuator assembly.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the mug lid assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of the bottom surface of the upper shell.

FIG. 5B is a magnified perspective view of the bottom surface of the upper shell.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the bottom surface of the mug lid bottom.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a lid assembly.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a second embodiment of a biasing slider of the actuator assembly.

FIG. 9 is a bottom view of a second embodiment of a valve assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

An exemplary embodiment of a mug lid assembly, hereinafter referred to as a mug lid, generally identified by reference numeral 10, is illustrated in the Figures. The mug lid 10 may comprise a top shell 20, a bottom member 50, an actuator assembly 70, and a valve assembly 100.

As shown in FIGS. 2-4, the bottom 50 may include an outer cylindrical wall 52 having an outer thread 53, closed at one end by a bottom wall 54, and an upper flange 55 extending from open end of the outer cylindrical wall 52. A flexible gasket 57 may be deformably mounted over a lip 58 extending from the bottom wall 54, which forms a water-tight seal when engaged with an appropriate mug. An intermediate cylindrical wall 60 and an inner cylindrical wall 62 joined to the bottom wall 54 encircle a valve shaft aperture 64 located in the central region of the bottom wall 54. An oval wall 66 spaced between the intermediate cylindrical wall 60 and the outer cylindrical wall 52 defines a drink passage seat 68, upon which an oval gasket 69 may be located. A bottom drink aperture 21 may be formed through the bottom wall 54 within the perimeter of the oval wall 66. A vent aperture 23 may be also formed through the bottom wall 54 at a position spaced between the intermediate cylindrical wall 60 and the outer cylindrical wall 52.

The top shell 20 may typically comprise an integral or monolithic plastic construction having a cylindrical sidewall 22 having a flat upper edge 24 joined to an upper wall 26 comprising a flat central portion 27 and a curved outer portion 28. A top drink aperture 30 may be formed through the upper wall 26 at the junction of the flat central portion 27 and curved outer portion 28, the top drink aperture in communication with an oval drink passage 32 shaped to be received by the oval wall 66 and engaged with the oval gasket 69 located on the drink passage seat 68 of the lid bottom 50. An indicator aperture 34 may be disposed through the flat central portion 27 and through a securing mechanism 29 extending from the bottom of the flat central portion 27 at a location spaced from the upper drink aperture 30. Located at a position in the sidewall 22 one hundred eighty (180) degrees opposite the upper drink aperture 30 is a button recess 36, through which a button aperture 38 is formed.

The top shell 20 and the bottom 50 are assembled by aligning the drink passage 32 with the oval wall 66 and inserting the bottom 50 inside the cylindrical sidewall 22 until the upper flange 55 snaps into locking engagement with a sidewall groove 40 about the inner surface of top shell 20, forming a unitary lid 10.

The valve assembly 100 may comprise a circular base 102, with a central shaft 104, a vent aperture plug 106, and a bottom drink aperture plug 108 extending upward therefrom. A flexible gasket 110 may be disposed around either or both the vent aperture plug 106 and the drink aperture plug 108 to ensure a tight seal with the vent aperture 23 and the bottom drink aperture 21, respectively, when the valve assembly 100 is in the closed position. The central shaft 104 terminates at the end opposite the circular base 102 with a bulbous camming surface 112. In assembly, the central shaft 104 is inserted through the bottom of the valve shaft aperture 64. A coiled spring 120 may be seated on the bottom wall 54 at a location spaced between the intermediate cylindrical wall 60 and the inner cylindrical wall 62. A retaining cap 130 having four semi-rigid tabs 132 may snap fit over the bulbous camming surface 112, and in combination with the bottom wall 54 and intermediate cylindrical wall 60, retain the coiled spring 120.

The actuator assembly 70 may comprise a push button 72, a retaining collar 74, a spinner 76, a multi-shafted hub 78, a camming member 80, and a biasing member 82. In the assembled state, the push button 72 is inserted into button recess 36. The spinner ball 76a is inserted partially through the retaining collar 74 and the button aperture 38 and received by the push button socket 72a. The multi-shafted hub 78 comprises a first diameter shaft 78a, which is received by the spinner recess 76b, and a second diameter shaft 78b, which is at least partially inserted into the first recess 80a of the camming indicator 80. The securing member 29 extending below the flat central portion 27 of the upper wall 26 comprises a longitudinal groove 29a having extended flange voids 29b and demonstrating a T-shaped cross-section, into which the flanged raised portion 80b of the camming member 80, also having a T-shaped cross-section, is inserted. Additionally, a first end 82a of the biasing member 82 is received by a bias aperture in the camming member. The biasing member 82 is provided in such a shape that the second end 82b of the biasing member is tensionally engaged with the oval drink passage 32. After assembly of the actuator mechanism 70, the retaining collar 74 is secured to the top shell 20 by two screws 74a, which are inserted through the screw apertures 74b extending from the retaining collar 74 and threadingly engaged in the fastener apertures 29c extending downwardly from the upper wall 26.

In the illustrated embodiment, the valve assembly 100 and the actuator assembly 70 cooperate to open and close the lid. The actuator assembly 70 is a toggle mechanism similar to that of a ball point pen. When a user presses the push button 72, the spinner 76, the multi-shafted hub 78, and the camming member 80 slide linearly toward the drink passage 32, compressing the biasing member 82. The spinner 76 and the multi-shafted hub 78 extend beyond the grooves 74c inside the stationary retaining collar 74, whereupon the camming engagement of the camming surfaces 78c of the hub 78 and the camming surfaces 76c of the spinner rotates the hub 78 60°, so that when the button 72 is released, the arms 78d of the hub 78 are out of alignment with the grooves 74c and the biasing member 82 cannot return the hub 78 and the camming member 80 to their initial positions. In this open position, the camming surface 80c of the camming member 80 engages the bulbous camming surface 112, thereby driving the valve assembly 100 downward, compressing the coiled spring 120 and spacing the drink aperture plug 108 and corresponding gasket 100 apart from the bottom drink aperture 21, creating a pathway for liquid to flow through the lid 10 and into a user's mouth. At all times, the upper surface 81 of the camming member 80 is visible through the indicator aperture 34.

When a user desires to close the lid, the push button 72 is again depressed, the spinner 76 slides linearly toward the drink passage 32, compressing the biasing member 82. The spinner 76 extends beyond the grooves 74c inside the stationary retaining collar 74, whereupon the camming engagement of the camming surfaces 78c of the hub 78 and the camming surfaces 76c of the spinner rotates the hub 78 60°, so that when the button 72 is released, the arms 78d of the hub 78 are again in alignment with the grooves 74c and the biasing member 82 biases the hub 78 and the camming member 80 to their initial positions. Furthermore, the camming surface 80c of the camming member 80 disengages the bulbous camming surface 112, and the coiled spring 120 biases the valve assembly 100 upward, thereby closing the valve.

Furthermore, the proximal half 81a of the upper surface 81 may be colored red, so that when the actuator mechanism 70 is in the closed position, the user sees the color red through the indicator aperture 34, indicating the lid is closed. Conversely, the distal half 81b of the upper surface 81 is colored green, so that when the actuator mechanism 70 is in the open position, the user sees the color green through the indicator aperture 34, indicating the lid 10 is open and the user may drink therefrom.

In a further embodiment, it is envisioned that the mug lid 110 may comprise a round push button 172, as shown in FIG. 7.

In another embodiment, it is envisioned that camming member 180 may comprise a first recess 180a, a flanged raised portion 180b, a camming surface 180c, and a camming surface notch 180d, as shown in FIG. 8. As such, when a user presses the push button 72, the bulbous camming surface 112 is temporarily engaged in camming surface notch 180d, whereby steam may escape from the mug lid 10 through the drink passage 32 without burning the user. A subsequent increase in force upon the push button 72 may cause the bulbous camming surface 112 to disengage the camming surface notch 180d, thereby creating a pathway for liquid to flow through the lid 10 and into a user's mouth.

In still another embodiment, shown in FIG. 9, it is envisioned that valve assembly 1100 may comprise a base 1102, a central shaft 1104, vent aperture plug 106 (not shown), drink aperture plug 108 (not shown), and a plurality of base flow apertures or passages 1114. In such an embodiment, liquid may flow through base flow passages 1114 and subsequently through drink passage 32, thereby increasing liquid flow rate, as liquid does not have to flow around base 1100 in order to enter drink passage 32. Furthermore, it should be noted that base 1100 is elongated rather than round or circular, eliminating extra material and allowing liquid to flow around the base 1100 more efficiently than the base 100.

In use, the user would fill the container with liquid and screw or otherwise attach the lid to the container. When the user wishes to drink a portion of the liquid, the user depresses and releases button 72. When the user has at least temporarily finished drinking, the user may press and release the button 72 again to close the container such that it is spill resistant or spill proof.

Other embodiments of a lid for are contemplated. For example, any shape of lid may be used in conjunction with embodiments of the present invention. Other actuators as are known in the art could also be used.

While the invention has been described with reference to certain embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from its scope. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed.





 
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