Title:
Removable Breathable Covers for Beverage Containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Covers for containers and specifically, beverage containers are disclosed herein. According to one embodiment of the invention, a cover has a breathable membrane and a peripheral rim. The membrane is substantially planar in shape and has a length and width to substantially cover a top opening of a beverage container. A plurality of orifices extend through a top surface toward and through a bottom surface of the breathable membrane, and are sized and shaped to allow air to pass therethrough, but are sufficiently small to prevent external contaminants such as leaves and insects, for example, from passing through the membrane. The peripheral rim is sized and shaped to receive an upper portion of a rim of the container, and be releasably attached thereto. Thus, the cover provides means for enjoying beverages such as wines requiring breathing prior to consummation, carbonated drinks, and other beverage, in the outdoors.



Inventors:
Guptil, Ruth (Taunton, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/959114
Publication Date:
06/18/2009
Filing Date:
12/18/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/376
International Classes:
B65D51/16; B65D51/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Foreign References:
DE317411C
Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIELSON LAW OFFICE (QUINCY, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cover for a container, the cover comprising: a membrane having a shape and size as to be disposed over a top opening of a container, the membrane substantially planar having width and length to substantially cover the top opening of the container when disposed thereon, the membrane adapted to allow air to flow therethrough but restrict external contaminants from passing therethrough; and a peripheral rim disposed along a bottom side of the membrane, the peripheral rim sized and shaped to releasably secure the membrane to the container.

2. The cover of claim 1, wherein the membrane further comprises a one or more orifices disposed in the membrane and extending through a top-surface to the bottom-surface, the orifices allowing air to flow between the top-surface and the bottom-surface.

3. The cover of claim 2, wherein the orifices are grouped to create a design.

4. The cover of claim 1, wherein the membrane is manufactured of any of the group consisting of plastic, wood, rattan, rubber and metal.

5. The cover of claim 4, wherein the membrane is comprised of woven-wood weave, the weave adapted to allow air to flow bi-directionally through the membrane.

6. The cover of claim 1, wherein the peripheral rim comprises an elastic material, the peripheral rim sized and shaped to contact a surface of the container and releasable secure the cover to the container.

7. The cover of claim 6, further comprising a plurality of peripheral rims, each peripheral rim disposed along the bottom side of the membrane and each sized and shaped to secure the cover to a container having a size and shape corresponding to at least one of the peripheral rims.

8. A breathable cover for a beverage container, the cover comprising: a membrane having a shape and size as to be disposed over a top opening of a beverage container, the membrane substantially planar having width and length to substantially cover the top opening of the container when disposed thereon, the membrane adapted to allow air to flow therethrough; a peripheral rim disposed along a bottom side of the membrane, the peripheral rim sized and shaped to releasably secure the membrane to the container; and a design area disposed the top side of the membrane, the design area having a design thereon.

9. The cover of claim 8, further comprising orifices disposed in the membrane, the orifices extending from the top side to the bottom side of the membrane and sized to allow air to flow therethrough.

10. The cover of claim 9, wherein the orifices are disposed in the design area and arranged to portray the design thereon.

11. The cover of claim 10, where the design is any of the group consisting of insignias, words, messages and trademarks.

12. The cover of claim 9, wherein the orifices are sized to substantially prevent contaminants from passing through the membrane.

13. The cover of claim 12, wherein contaminants are any of the group consisting of leaves, insects, and unwanted biological agents in the form of pills and tablets.

14. A method for using a breathable cover for a beverage container, the method comprising the steps of: (i) obtaining a beverage container, the container having a top-opening though which the beverage can be consumed; (ii) disposing a beverage in the container; (iii) disposing a cover over the top-opening, the cover having a breathable membrane and a peripheral rim, the peripheral rim disposed along a bottom-side of the membrane and having a size and shape to releasably seal along a surface of the container in proximity to the top opening; (iv) applying a downward pressure to the cover, the pressure causing a surface of the peripheral rim to releasably seal along a surface of the beverage container; (v) applying an upward pressure to the cover, the pressure causing the cover to release from the container; (vi) consuming a portion of the beverage; (vii) repeating steps (iii) through (vi) until the beverage is consumed or discarded.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein step (iv) of applying a downward pressure to the cover further comprises: maintaining the seal thereby preventing outside contaminants from entering the beverage container.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein step (v) of removing the cover from the beverage container and consuming at least a portion of the beverage further comprises: applying a pressure in an upward direction on the breathable membrane using a single hand, the pressure releasing the seal between the peripheral rim and the surface of the beverage container.

Description:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present invention generally relates to container covers. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to consumer beverage container covers.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

Many types of consumer beverage containers have been used in a variety of settings, and some containers have been used outdoors, whether adapted for outdoors or not. But outdoor environments, and indeed some indoor environments, where beverages are consumed, have certain characteristics that make it desirable to utilize a beverage container cover. Falling leaves and/or other debris, insects, and other types of containments can easily enter an open beverage container. In some indoor environments such as dimly lit night-clubs, dangerous substances can easily be disposed in a beverage by criminals, for example. Some beverages also have certain characteristics that make it desirable to leave a beverage container open to allow the beverage to breathe or off-gas. Wines, for example, should be allowed to breath, and carbonated drinks must be at least somewhat open to the atmosphere to allow carbonization to dissipate. It is desirable, then, to have beverage container covers that can protect against external contaminants while allowing beverages to breath and/or off-gas.

Container covers capable of covering containers of various shapes and sizes have been in use for many years. One class of covers includes flexible and/or stretchable covers constructed of plastic sheeting or films, e.g., polyethylene. The film can be disposed over a top opening of the container employing surface tension or elastic bands to secure the film to exterior sides of the container. An advantage of film type covers is the ability to seal the contents of the container, e.g., a consumer beverage, from leaking or from unwanted detriment from entering the container.

Yet film covers can be time consuming to remove and are rarely re-usable. Further, many film-type covers typically do not adhere to Styrofoam or other types of common containers. They do not allow for breathability of liquids, such as would be desirable for wine and/or carbonated beverages, and may not have the strength to protect against external contaminants.

There is a need for reusable, yet disposable, and preferably inexpensive container covers for use with beverage containers in outdoor and some indoor areas. There is a need for covers that are sufficiently sturdy to withstand mild or even moderate wind. And for covers that can provide a consumer a remedy against criminals placing illegal (or even legal) substances into an unsuspecting consumer's drink.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Those and other objects are provided by the present invention that provides, according to one aspect, a cover for a beverage container. The cover can have a membrane having a shape and size as to be disposed over a top opening of a container. The membrane is substantially planar having a width and length to substantially cover the top opening of the container when disposed thereon. It can be adapted to allow air to flow therethrough, via for example, a plurality of orifices disposed through the membrane extending from a top surface through a bottom surface of the membrane. The orifices can be sized to allow air to flow through the membrane, and simultaneously, to prevent external contaminants such as leaves and insects from passing through the membrane.

The cover can have one or more peripheral rims disposed along the bottom side of the membrane, each sized and shaped to releasably seal along a surface of the container. The peripheral rim can be constructed of a elastic material creating the seal, and thus, a surface of the peripheral rim will contact with and releasably seal to a surface of the container, generally near the top opening of the container.

A display area can be disposed along the top surface of the membrane. Alternatively or in combination therewith, the orifices can be arranged to create a pattern such as an insignia, message, trademark or the like. In any event, the display area can provide advertisement, artistic enjoyment, a message, or other design. It can be removable to be replaced with alternate messages, for example, to describe the beverage in the container.

The invention can provide, according to a further aspect, methods for using a cover for a beverage container. A consumer or other person can obtain a beverage container, the container having a top-opening though which the beverage can be consumed. A beverage can be disposed in the container, whereupon the cover can be disposed over the top-opening of the container. A pressure in a downward direction can be applied to the cover, causing one or more peripheral rims to releasably seal along one or more surfaces of the container. The container can be transported to a location, such as a place of outdoor dining or a nightclub. There, the cover can be removed by applying a pressure in an upward direction to the cover. The pressure can be applied using one or both hands. A portion or the beverage can be consumed, and the cover can be re-sealed as described above.

The covers and methods disclosed herein can have a wide variety of applications, including not only consumable beverages, but any liquid or substances that can be transported in a container and used in a location susceptible to external contaminants such as leaves, insects and the like.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description accompanied with the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of a beverage container cover having a peripheral rim, a breathable membrane and a decorative display;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a cover such as the one illustrated in FIG. 1, and has a plurality of peripheral rims sized and shaped to accommodate beverage containers of various sizes;

FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of a beverage container having a non-contiguous peripheral rim; and

FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of a beverage container cover having orifices disposed in a display pattern.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

The invention provides, in one embodiment, a cover for beverage containers such as drinking glasses including wine glasses, soda glasses or any other container capable of having liquid disposed therein (hereinafter, collectively “container” or “containers”). The cover can be constructed of a planar-shaped structure sized and shaped to be disposed upon the glass, preferably substantially covering a top opening in the container. The cover can be breathable to allow air to flow into and out of the container, and at the same time, adapted to prevent external contaminants such as leaves and insects from entering therein. One or more peripheral rims can be disposed along a bottom side of the cover, the rim sized and shaped to receive a rim of the container defining the top opening of the container, and releasably sealing to one or more surfaces near the top opening of that container, e.g., an interior surface, exterior surface or both surfaces. A display area can be secured, temporarily or permanently, to a top surface of the cover, or alternatively, can be incorporated into the cover using a wide variety of means. Preferably such covers are suited for outdoor dining where beverages can be allowed to breathe or off-gas (such as wines or carbonated beverages), and also be protected from external contaminants such as leaves and insects.

Thus, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that covers such as those disclosed herein can be suited for outdoor dining, and can also be used in other environments where beverages are consumed and where at least some protection from external contaminants is desired. Preferably, the covers can be light-weight yet somewhat resistant to movement by light winds and/or normal walking with the beverage container. They are preferably inexpensive to manufacture, and can be re-usable yet disposable. They can have a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including artistic type designs and lettering and/or identifying logos imprinted and/or fastened thereto.

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a cover 100 according to the invention having a peripheral rim 102, a breathable structure or membrane 104, and a decorative display area 106. The peripheral rim 102 can be substantially rigid thereby maintaining the breathable membrane 104 in a planar shape, and at the same time, adding rigidity to the structure allowing it to be disposed atop and substantially covering a top opening of the container such as a drinking glass, wine glass and the like. In one embodiment the peripheral rim can be constructed of an elastic material that can releasably seal to a surface. Decorative display 106 can be included and can be of a wide variety of designs, shapes and sizes; indeed, it can be virtually any type of design with decorations, lettering, and the like; in one embodiment it can be incorporated into the membrane, and in another embodiments, it can be releasably secured and/or replaceable.

Peripheral rim 102 can have a variety of shapes and sizes, but preferably is adapted to provide rigidity to the cover 100 when membrane 104 is of non-rigid construction, as well as provide means for releasably securing the membrane 104 to the beverage container. Peripheral rim 102 can be rounded, square, oval or virtually any other shape or combination thereof. Peripheral rim 102 can have virtually any color or design applied thereto, or incorporated within the membrane 104, and can have such color or design for providing functional use such as identifying the type of beverage, or it can be purely aesthetic in nature, or any combination thereof. Illustrated, peripheral rim 102 completely surrounds membrane 104, however, in other embodiments it can be of a non-contiguous design, piece-wise contiguous, and even absent in embodiments where breathable membrane 104 requires no support structure to maintain a planar position atop a drinking glass and can releasably be secured to a container without use of such peripheral rim.

Breathable membrane 104 can be substantially planar and can have a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Illustrated, breathable membrane 104 is shown as substantially oval in shape, but it can be square, round, triangular or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, membrane 104 has a substantially planar bottom surface while have a three-dimensional top surface. Of course, the size and shape of the breathable membrane 104 should correspond to the size and shape of the top opening of the container, that is, it is larger than the top opening of the container. Thus, breathable membrane 104 is illustrated as having a width w and a length l, and preferably, membrane 104 can be used with a beverage container having a top opening with a width and length that is less than those of the membrane 104. In any event, breathable membrane 104 is preferably sized and shaped to substantially cover a top opening in the beverage container, thereby restricting external contaminants from entering into the drinking glass.

Breathable membrane 104 can be constructed of a wide variety of materials, and preferably, has a breathable characteristic to freely allow air to pass bi-directionally through the membrane into and out of the beverage container. Illustrated, breathable membrane 104 has a number of orifices (FIG. 2) disposed therein, each orifice extending through a top surface in a direction toward and through the a bottom surface of the membrane 104 allowing air to flow therethrough but preventing external contaminants such as leaves and insects from passing therethrough. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the orifices can be sized sufficiently large to allow air and other gases to flow therethrough, but sized sufficiently small to restrict contaminants from entering the beverage container. In one embodiment, breathable membrane 104 can be a perforated film such as a polyethylene, however, it can also be a rigid structure constructed of nylon strands, for example, or may be a woven design constructed of wood, rattan, wicker or the like. It can be made of rubber or metal or both. Care should be taken to ensure that the membrane 104 is suitable for contact with consumable products, as it is likely that the beverage may come into contact with the breathable membrane 104, especially in embodiments where the membrane is painted, varnished, colored or otherwise decorated and/or preserved. Thus, only consumer approved materials, coatings, paints, dye and the like should be used, as non-approved materials can be hazardous to consumers.

Thus, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that although the term “membrane” is used herein, it can refer to virtually any breathable material such as woven woods, plastics, metals, rubber, rattan and the like, and can include thin-films such as plastic wraps, sheets, and fabrics. Preferably, as described above, membrane 104 should be breathable, non-toxic, and compatible with the beverage within the container. It can be washable and durable, or it can be intended for a single-use and then disposed.

Decorative display 106 can be of virtually any shape and size, and have virtually any color and design. Illustrated, decorative display 106 is a plate or plaque that is affixed or otherwise secured to the top surface of breathable membrane 104. In one embodiment, however, decorative display 106 is incorporated into or onto breathable membrane 104, or indeed, need not be present at all. Decorative display 106 can be designed using the orifices disposed in membrane 104, and such is illustrated in FIG. 4 as will be seen and understood. Preferably, decorative display 106 is sized having smaller dimensions than breathable membrane 104 so as to not substantially interfere or restrict the ability of air to flow through membrane 104 into and out-of the beverage container.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of one embodiment of a cover 200, and is illustrated as disposed on a beverage container 206, shown for illustrative purposes as a wine glass having an amount of liquid 208 therein. The cover 200 has a peripheral rim 202 disposed along a bottom side 212 of a substantially planar breathable membrane 204 having a height h. Orifices such as orifice 210 are disposed within the breathable membrane 204 allowing air to pass bi-directionally into and out-of the container 206.

A first peripheral rim 202 is shown disposed on the bottom side 212 of the cover 200 illustrating that it is adapted to secure the cover 200 over the container 206. First peripheral rim 202 extends around an exterior surface of the container 206, here illustrated circular in shape. It will be thus appreciated by those skilled in the art that first peripheral rim 202 is disposed along the bottom surface of the cover 200 in a generally circular form having a diameter that is slightly less that a diameter of the external surface of the container 206 where the first peripheral rim 202 contacts the container 206 in proximity to its upper opening. Thereby, first peripheral rim 202 secures the breathable membrane 204 to the container 206 in an easily removable fashion. Of course, a peripheral rim can be sized slightly smaller than the upper rim of the beverage container and thereby releasably securing to an interior surface of the beverage container.

As already noted, peripheral rim 202 can be rigid or pliable incorporating an elastic property depending on whether the breathable membrane 204 is rigid or pliable. For example, in an embodiment having a rigid breathable membrane 204 constructed of, for example, wood, the first peripheral rim 202 need not also be rigid but rather, can be constructed of a soft elastic material such as the one illustrated in FIG. 2. Indeed, a rigid breathable membrane need not even have a peripheral rim but may rather be grooved or rabbited to receive an upper rim of the beverage container. However, in embodiments where membrane such as 204 is constructed of a thin film, such as plastic wraps, peripheral rim is preferably constructed of a ridged material sufficiently rigid to maintain the shape and size of the membrane with disposed atop a beverage container. Thus, design consideration should be given to the materials so that a peripheral rim is selected in accord with the breathable membrane, and visa a versa, and such will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. Further, a peripheral rim can be constructed of multiple materials and/or composites that provide a rigid structure for supporting the membrane, and have an elastic material coupled thereto or incorporated therewith that is adapted to releasable seal to a portion of the container.

A cover such as the one illustrated in FIG. 2 can have multiple peripheral rims 202, 214, 216, each having a differing diameter or indeed, a differing shape corresponding to a beverage container having a corresponding size and shape. For example, a peripheral rim may be oval, square or otherwise shaped to receive a beverage container of approximately the same shape. Advantageously, such an arrangement allows a single cover 200 to be used with multiple beverage containers of varying size and/or shape increasing the utility of a single cover. Each of the peripheral rims 202, 214, 216 can be spaced along the bottom side 212 of the breathable membrane 204 such that the cover 200 can be secured atop commonly sized beverage containers, e.g., 206. Further, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that a peripheral rim need not be in contact with an exterior surface of the beverage container, but rather, can be sized and/or adapted to contact along an inner surface of the beverage container, preferably in proximity to a rim or upper edge of the container. Further still, peripheral rims 202, 214, 216 need not be constructed of the same material, but instead, one or more can be constructed of a rigid material, and one or more can be constructed of a pliable elastic material.

FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of a beverage container cover 300 having a breathable membrane 302 that is substantially square in shape, and a peripheral rim 304 that is non-contiguous, illustrated here as having two piece-wise sections 304A, 304B, however it can have virtually any number of piece-wise sections. The peripheral rim 304 is attached to a bottom side of the breathable membrane 302, and in general, is permanently secured thereto, however in one embodiment, a peripheral rim can be releasably attached and can even be resized, or replaced with a different shaped and sized peripheral rim via, for example, hook and loop fasteners, snaps, and the like.

Peripheral rim 304, as noted above, can be of rigid or elastic material, and is sized and shaped to substantially releasably attach along a top-opening of a beverage container, also as noted above. Advantageously, piece-wise peripheral rim segments such as those illustrated can serve functionally to releasably secure the cover 300 to the beverage container, and reduce the amount of materials and hence, manufacturing costs, associated with the cover 300.

As also noted above, cover 300 can have multiple peripheral rims, all or some can be contiguous (as in FIG. 1) or all or some can be piece-wise sections (as in FIG. 3), or any combination thereof.

FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a beverage container cover 400 having a breathable membrane 402, a peripheral rim 404 and a plurality of orifices 408 extending from a top surface to a bottom surface, disposed along the membrane so portray or otherwise depict a design or message, here illustrated as the English word, “wine”.

Breathable membrane 402 is illustrated having the shape of a multi-pointed star, although as stated above, it can have virtually any shape and size as long as it is sized and shaped to substantially cover a top opening of a beverage container.

Orifices 408 are disposed along the breathable membrane so as to create a design yet still allow air to flow therethrough. Illustrated, orifices 408 spell the word, “wine,” however, they can portray virtually any message or word(s), and indeed, need not portray any message but rather, can be an artistic design including a trademark, restaurant name and the like. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that design care must be taken to size orifices 408 to allow air flow to pass therethrough, and simultaneously, ensuring that constructional integrity of the breathable membrane is not significantly reduced. Further, such design can be constructed using differing color materials in the membrane, such as designs woven using differing color woods, differing materials and the like.

As will now be appreciated by those skilled in the art, covers such as the ones described herein are advantageous for use in outdoor dining where external contaminants can and often do, absent such a cover, enter the container and the beverage therein. Such contaminants include leaves, insects, bugs, spiders, sand, and virtually any other vegetation or biological contaminant. Further, such covers are useful in other locations such as night-clubs where protection is sought against criminals placing illegal or unwanted substances into beverages.

Thus, in practice, methods for using the covers disclosed herein can include the steps of:

(i) obtaining a beverage container, the container having a top-opening though which the beverage can be consumed. The container can be a wine glass, soda glass, or virtually any other container capable of holding a beverage and having a top-opening through which the beverage can be consumed;

(ii) disposing a beverage in the container. The beverage can be virtually any consumable beverage, and the covers disclosed herein are particularly useful for beverages that are commonly allowed to breathe such as wines, and also those beverages that may require off-gassing such as carbonated drinks and/or hot steaming drinks such as coffees and/or teas. Of course, the covers are also useful with beverage that need not breathe such as bottled waters and the like.

(iii) disposing a cover over the top-opening, the cover having a breathable membrane and a peripheral rim, the peripheral rim disposed along a bottom-side of the membrane and having a size and shape slightly larger or slightly smaller than a size and shape of the top-opening of the beverage container. In embodiments where there are multiple peripheral rims disposed along the bottom side of the membrane, this step also includes selecting one of the peripheral rims, and disposing it over the top-opening of the beverage container.

(iv) applying a downward pressure to the cover, the pressure causing a surface of the peripheral rim to releasably seal along a surface of the beverage container. The sealing releasably attaches the cover to the beverage container, and is sufficiently strong to withstand ordinary walking and moderate winds such as those not exceeding 10 miles per hour. Thus, external contaminants as described herein and others, are prevented from entering the beverage container, and advantageously, the beverage within the beverage container can breathe, release gases such as carbonation, and the like.

(v) optionally transporting the beverage container with the cover disposed thereon and releasably sealed thereon to a location. The location can be an outdoor dining area, a back-yard, or virtually any place the beverage can be consumed whether inside or outdoor, and including locations such as nightclubs.

(vi) removing the cover from the beverage container and consuming at least a portion of the beverage. Preferably, the cover can be removed using a single hand, and as such, by applying a pressure to the cover in an upward direction, the cover is easily removed from the beverage container. It can be disposed on a table, for example, or held in a single hand. The beverage can be consumed, observed and/or tasted.

(vii) repeating steps (iii) through (vi) above until the beverage is either consumed or disgarded.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the embodiments illustrated herein are but examples, and accordingly, the invention is not to be limited by what has been particularly shown and described, except as indicated by the appended claims.