Title:
Drinking Cup Attachable to a Beverage Container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A drinking cup that is selectably attachable to a beverage container. A generally annular body of the drinking cup has a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end. A recessed connector portion is formed in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container. The drinking cup is capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.



Inventors:
Berglund, David N. (Marvin, NC, US)
Berglund, Charles E. (Richardson, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/136860
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/11/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D43/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VOLZ, ELIZABETH J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE ELEY LAW FIRM (Worthington, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drinking cup selectably attachable to a beverage container, comprising: a generally annular body having a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end; and a recessed connector portion formed in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container, the drinking cup being capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.

2. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the connector portion is generally annular in shape and includes a rim formed therein, the rim being generally oriented at a predetermined acute angle with respect to a plane surface of the closed end, and wherein the connector further includes a recessed surface oriented generally parallel to the plane surface, the recessed surface and plane surface being spaced apart by the rim.

3. The drinking cup of claim 2 wherein the rim is contiguous with the plane surface and the recessed surface.

4. The drinking cup of claim 2 wherein the rim further comprises at least one protuberance.

5. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the drinking cup is formed from at least one of plastic, polyethylene, polycarbonate, nylon, corn starch, paper and polystyrene material.

6. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the material thickness of the drinking cup is selected to provide a predetermined gripping force between the connector and the beverage container.

7. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the drinking cup forms at least a partial lid seal for the beverage container when coupled thereto.

8. The drinking cup of claim 1, further comprising a cover configured to selectably close off the open end of the drinking cup.

9. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the drinking cup is sized for a maximum capacity of one of 9, 12, 16, 20 and 24 fluid ounces.

10. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the beverage container is a beverage can.

11. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the beverage container is a bottle.

12. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the closed end comprises a plurality of connector portions.

13. The drinking cup of claim 1 wherein the connector portion of the drinking cup provides a snap-fit to the top portion of the beverage container.

14. A drinking cup selectably attachable to a beverage container, comprising: a generally annular body having a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end; and a generally annular recessed connector portion formed in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container, the connector portion including a rim formed therein, the rim being generally contiguous with a plane surface of the closed end and oriented at a predetermined acute angle with respect to the plane surface, and wherein the connector further includes a recessed surface contiguous with the rim and oriented generally parallel to the plane surface, the recessed surface and plane surface being spaced apart by the rim, the drinking cup being capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.

15. The drinking cup of claim 14 wherein the rim further comprises at least one protuberance.

16. The drinking cup of claim 14 wherein the drinking cup is formed from at least one of plastic, polyethylene, polycarbonate, nylon, corn starch, paper and polystyrene.

17. The drinking cup of claim 14 wherein the material thickness of the drinking cup is selected to provide a predetermined gripping force between the connector and the beverage container.

18. The drinking cup of claim 14 wherein the drinking cup forms at least a partial lid seal for the beverage container when coupled thereto.

19. A method for selectably attaching a drinking cup to a beverage container, comprising the steps of: forming a generally annular body having a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end; forming a recessed connector portion in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container; and selectably urging the connector portion against the top portion of the beverage container to attach the drinking cup to the beverage container, and urging the connector portion away from the top portion of the beverage container to detach the drinking cup from the beverage container, the drinking cup being capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of forming the connector portion in a generally annular shape with a rim and a recessed surface formed therein, the rim being generally oriented at a predetermined acute angle with respect to a plane surface of the closed end and the recessed surface being oriented generally parallel to the plane surface, the recessed surface and plane surface being spaced apart by the rim.

21. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of selecting at least one of plastic, polyethylene, polycarbonate, nylon, corn starch, paper and polystyrene material for the drinking cup.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/933,925, filed Jun. 11, 2007, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD

The present invention relates generally to drinking cups, in particular to drinking cups configured to be detachably coupled to a beverage container.

BACKGROUND

Many consumers of canned beverages prefer to dispense the contents of the can into a cup, rather than drinking directly from the container. A drinking cup is particularly desirable when filled with ice to chill the beverage. In addition, ice may be used to dilute a strong or highly carbonated beverage, making the beverage more palatable.

One drawback of using a drinking cup with a beverage container is that it can be unwieldy for a user to hold both the cup and the container while moving about. Furthermore, there are certain inefficiencies associated with separately serving a beverage container and a drinking cup. One example is when refreshments are dispensed to airline passengers by flight attendants, wherein a beverage container and a cup containing ice are typically separately provided to each passenger. Serving the beverage container and the cup in this manner takes more time than serving a single container. While not significant when serving a small number of passengers, the cumulative extra time to separately serve a beverage container and a drinking cup becomes substantial when considering large flights with hundreds of passengers.

SUMMARY

A drinking cup is disclosed according to an embodiment of the present invention. A connector portion is formed in a bottom portion of the cup and is configured to be detachably coupled to a top portion of a beverage container. The container and cup may then be served as a single unit. Once served, a user may urge the drinking cup away from the beverage container to detach the cup from the container. The contents of the beverage container may then be dispensed into the cup by the user. The drinking cup is easily attachable to, and detachable from, the beverage container, allowing the cup to be filled with ice before serving with little risk of spilling the ice from the cup.

An object of the present invention is a drinking cup that is selectably attachable to a beverage container. A generally annular body of the drinking cup has a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end. A recessed connector portion is formed in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container. The drinking cup is capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.

Another object of the invention is a drinking cup that is selectably attachable to a beverage container according to another embodiment. The drinking cup comprises a generally annular body having a sidewall, an open end and an opposing closed end. A generally annular recessed connector portion is formed in the closed end, the connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple the drinking cup to a top portion of the beverage container. The connector portion includes a rim formed therein, the rim being generally contiguous with a plane surface of the closed end and oriented at a predetermined acute angle with respect to the plane surface. The connector further includes a recessed surface that is contiguous with the rim and is oriented generally parallel to the plane surface, the recessed surface and plane surface being spaced apart by the rim. The drinking cup is capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to the beverage container, while attached to the beverage container, and after being detached from the beverage container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features of the inventive embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the embodiments relate from reading the specification and claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows the general arrangement of a drinking cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an elevational view of the drinking cup of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an elevational view in section of the drinking cup of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the drinking cup of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the drinking cup of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view, partly in section, showing details of a connector portion of the drinking cup of FIG. 2 being coupled to a beverage container;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view, partly in section, showing the drinking cup of FIG. 2 attached to a beverage container;

FIG. 8 is a view in section of a connector portion of a drinking cup according to another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a view in section of a connector portion of a drinking cup according to yet another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the discussion that follows, like reference numerals are used to depict like structures in the various figures.

The general arrangement of a drinking cup 10 is shown in FIGS. 1-6 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The body of drinking cup 10 is generally annular in shape, having a sidewall 12 and a contiguous bottom portion 14. Bottom portion 14 further includes a connector portion 16.

Further details of connector portion 16 may be seen with particular reference to FIGS. 4-6. Connector portion 16 is generally annular in shape and is recessed in bottom portion 14, extending into the interior of drinking cup 10. Connector portion 16 further includes a rim 18 formed therein, the rim being generally oriented at a predetermined acute angle “A” with respect to a plane surface 20 of bottom portion 14. A recessed surface 22 is oriented generally parallel to plane surface 20, the recessed surface and plane surface being spaced apart by rim 18. It should be noted that connector portion 16 is closed off to prevent the transfer of fluid between the interior of drinking cup 10 and beverage container 24. In other words, rim 18, plane surface 20 and recessed surface 22 are contiguous and together close off bottom portion 14.

Drinking cup 10 may be formed in any convenient manner, such as by molding or machining, and made be made from any convenient material. Suitable materials may include, without limitation, one or more of plastics such as polystyrene, polyethylene, nylon, polycarbonate or any other material available in the art that is suitable for use as drinking cups. For example, biodegradable materials such as paper and corn starch may also be selected. The material thickness of drinking cup 10 may be uniform, or may vary as desired. For example, the thickness of drinking cup 10 and/or the various elements of connector portion 16 may be selected to provide a desirable amount of rigidity and, in turn, a desirable amount of gripping force of the connector portion when drinking cup 10 is attached to (or detached from) a beverage container 24, as generally shown in FIG. 6. In some embodiments the gripping force of connector portion 16 may be in the form of an interference fit or press-fit between the connector portion and a top portion 26 of a beverage container 24 so that the connector portion provides a “snap-fit” to the top portion of the beverage container. That is, drinking cup 10 snaps onto top portion 26 of beverage container 24 when attached thereto, and snaps off the top portion of the beverage container when detached therefrom.

With reference to FIG. 6, in use, drinking cup 10 may be attached to a beverage container 24 by placing the drinking cup proximate top portion 26 of the beverage container such that connector portion 16 of the drinking cup is generally over the top portion. Drinking cup 10 is then urged against beverage container 24, causing connector portion 16 to engage top portion 26, thereby coupling the drinking cup to the beverage container as generally shown in FIG. 7. If desired, drinking cup 10 may be filled with ice 28 through an opening 30 either before or after coupling the drinking cup to beverage container 24. The assembly of drinking cup 10 and beverage container 24 may then be easily and simultaneously served as a unit.

With continued reference to FIGS. 6 and 7, when the contents of beverage container 24 is to be consumed a user urges drinking cup 10 away from the beverage container, thereby causing connector portion 16 to detach from top portion 26 and allowing the drinking cup to be moved away from the beverage container. The contents of beverage container 24 may then be poured into drinking cup 10 through an opening 30 (FIG. 2). Drinking cup 10 may optionally be re-attached to beverage container 24 in the manner previously described, if desired.

As can be seen from the foregoing, drinking cup 10 is capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice before being attached to beverage container 24. Likewise, drinking cup 10 is capable of containing at least one of fluids and ice while attached to beverage container 24 and after being detached from the beverage container.

As previously indicated, the prior method of serving a beverage container 24 and a drinking cup 10 is to either use one hand to pass the container and the other hand to pass the cup, or to first pass the container and then pass the cup (or vice versa) with the same hand. The former is cumbersome if one or both hands are needed for other tasks. The latter requires two actions. Both methods represent a risk of spillage. The present invention allows a beverage container 24 and a drinking cup 10 to be joined together to form a single unit. This increases the efficiency and safety of passing or transporting both the drinking cup 10 and the beverage container 24. The present invention also allows a user to efficiently perform the task of passing a beverage container 24 and a drinking cup 10 as a unit and in less time than serving them separately, with reduced risk of spillage from an open container, even when the user is performing unrelated tasks with their other hand.

When a beverage container 24 is opened and not fully consumed it poses a short term storage problem with a risk of spillage. There is a risk that, in the time between opening and fully emptying the container, it will be shaken or tipped in such a manner that its contents will spill. Drinking cup 10, when attached to a beverage container 24 in the manner previously described (see FIG. 7), forms at least a partial lid seal on the top portion 26 of the beverage container which protects the user from accidental spillage of beverage. The seal between connector portion 16 of drinking cup 10 and an open carbonated type of beverage container 24 may also function as a pressure barrier to maintain a higher carbonation level in the container for a greater period of time than may be achieved with a beverage container that is simply left open.

In addition, many beverages have high sugar content, which tends to attract insects. Insects have been known to contaminate such beverages when stored in open beverage containers 24. For example, bees and wasps often enter containers and subsequently sting users when they attempt to dispense the remaining beverage from the container. Drinking cup 10, when attached to a beverage container 24 in the manner previously described (see FIG. 7), forms at least a partial lid seal on top portion 26 of the beverage container to deter the entrance of insects.

It should also be noted that the present invention allows drinking cup 10 to be stored securely to top portion 26 of beverage container 24 when not in use. This maximizes the available space on small tables by reducing the footprint of the two drinking containers to just that of the beverage container.

The present invention may be used to advantage in a number of situations where drinks are served in beverage containers along with drinking cups. Examples include, without limitation, airline flights, boat rides, car rides, parties, sporting events and picnics.

As described, drinking cup 10 has a generally annular body having a sidewall 12, an open end 30 and an opposing closed end (i.e., bottom 14). The drinking cup 10 of this configuration may be altered in size and/or shape to fit the top portion of any size of beverage container 24 now known or later conceived, such as metal soft drink and alcoholic beverage cans of various fluid capacities. Non-limiting examples of drinking cup 10 include standard 9, 12, 16, and 24 ounce maximum fluid capacities. In addition, connector portion 16 (FIG. 6) may be altered in size and/or shape to fit the top portion of any size of glass or plastic bottle now known or later conceived, the top portion of the bottle being similar in structure to top portion 26 of beverage container 24 (FIG. 6).

A drinking cup 100 is shown in FIG. 8 according to another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment rim 18 of connector portion 16 may include one or more protuberances 32 that are sized and shaped to affect in a predetermined manner the gripping force of the connector portion when drinking cup 100 is coupled to a beverage container 24 in the manner shown in FIG. 6. For example, in some embodiments protuberances 32 may be sized and shaped to increase the gripping force of connector portion 16 when drinking cup 100 is attached to a top portion 26 of a beverage container 24 by increasing the amount of interference between the connector portion and the beverage container top portion. In some embodiments a single protuberance 32 in the general shape of a lip or ring may extend about rim 18. In other embodiments rim 18 may include a plurality or series of protuberances having shapes such as, without limitation, rectangular prisms, cones, spheres, cubes, pyramids, cylinders, ellipsoids and other three-dimensional geometric shapes as desired. Drinking cup 100 is otherwise similar to drinking cup 10 and thus will not be elaborated further here.

The general arrangement of a drinking cup 200 is shown in FIG. 9 according to yet another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment bottom portion 14 of drinking cup 200 includes a pair of connector portions enumerated 16A and 16B, each connector portion being sized and shaped to detachably couple to a predetermined size and/or type of top portion 26 of a suitable beverage container, the connector portions having corresponding rims 18A, 18B, plane surfaces 20A, 20B and recessed surfaces 22A, 22B. In this way drinking cup 200 may be attached to a plurality of sizes and/or types of beverage containers, providing flexibility in the combinations of drinking cups and beverage containers that may be used together in the manner previously described. Although two connector portions 16A, 16B are described here, various embodiments of drinking cup 200 may have a greater number of connector portions if desired. Drinking cup 200 is otherwise similar to drinking cup 10 and thus will not be elaborated further here.

In some embodiments of the present invention a removable cover 34 (FIG. 7) may be attached to drinking cup 10, 100, 200 to selectably to close off opening 30. Cover 34 functions to deter spillage of fluids and/or ice from the drinking cup, as well as to increase sanitation by deterring contamination of the contents therein. In addition, drinking cup 10, 100, 200 may be pre-filled with fluids and/or ice 28, then attached to beverage container 24 in the manner previously described. The assembled drinking cup 10, 100, 200 and beverage container 24 may also be stored prior to use with cover 34 in place, such as in refrigerated storage. Cover 34 may also include one or more slits, apertures or openings 36 for sipping and/or to receive a straw inserted therethrough.

While this invention has been shown and described with respect to a detailed embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that changes in form and detail thereof may be made without departing from the scope of the claims of the invention.