Title:
Drinking vessel sanitary device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sanitary shield is provided for use with drinking vessels having a rim configured for contact with the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel, with the rim located between the interior of the vessel and the exterior of the vessel. The shield includes a disposable, flexible member having a size and shape adapted and constructed to cover the rim of the vessel, a portion of the interior of the vessel, and a portion of the exterior of the vessel. The flexible member is fabricated from a material that is self-adherent to the vessel. The shield prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel from coming into contact with any portion of the exterior surface of the vessel during normal drinking activity.



Inventors:
Buzgau, Aurelia (Chicago, IL, US)
Kandu, James (Lincolnwood, IL, US)
Kandu, Jenna (Lincolnwood, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/004371
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
12/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALLEN, JEFFREY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AURELIA BUZGAU (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels having a rim configured for contact with the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel, with the rim located between the interior of the vessel and the exterior of the vessel, the shield comprising the following: a disposable, flexible member having a size and shape adapted and constructed to cover the rim of the vessel, a portion of the interior of the vessel, and a portion of the exterior of the vessel, the flexible member being fabricated from a material that is self-adherent to the vessel; whereby the shield prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel from coming into contact with any portion of the surface of the vessel during normal drinking activity.

2. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 1 wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a plastic material.

3. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 2, wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a static-adherent plastic.

4. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 2, wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a laminate having at least one layer of low modulus cling elastomer.

5. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 1, wherein the flexible member is generally oval shaped.

6. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 1, wherein the flexible member comprises the following: a flexible member interior portion adapted and constructed for contact with the interior of the drinking vessel; a flexible member exterior portion adapted and constructed for contact with the exterior of the drinking vessel; and a flexible member rim portion connecting the flexible member interior portion to the flexible member exterior portion.

7. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 6, wherein each of the interior portion and exterior portion is generally oval-shaped.

8. A sanitary shield for drinking vessels in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a disposable, selectively openable sealed container surrounding the flexible member.

9. A sanitary shield in accordance with claim 8, wherein the sealed container comprises a sealed pouch.

10. A sanitary shield in accordance with claim 9, wherein the sealed pouch comprises a sanitary paper pouch.

11. A method of providing sanitary shields for drinking vessels in a public restaurant, each of the vessels having a rim configured for contact with the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel, with the rim located between the interior of the vessel and the exterior of the vessel, the method comprising the following steps: providing a plurality of disposable, flexible members having a size and shape adapted and constructed to cover the rim of the vessel, a portion of the interior of the vessel, and a portion of the exterior of the vessel, the flexible member being fabricated from a material that is self-adherent to the vessel, each of the flexible members being enclosed within a selectively openable sealed container; placing the plurality of disposable, flexible members in proximity to an individual dining at the restaurant; whereby the diners select one of the shields, remove the shield from the container, and apply the shield to a drinking vessel such that the shield prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel from coming into contact with any portion of the surface of the vessel during normal drinking activity.

12. A method in accordance with claim 11, wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a plastic material.

13. A method in accordance with claim 12, wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a static-adherent plastic.

14. A method in accordance with claim 12, wherein the flexible member is fabricated from a laminate having at least one layer of low modulus cling elastomer.

15. A method in accordance with claim 11, wherein the flexible member is generally oval shaped.

16. A method in accordance with claim 11, wherein the flexible member comprises the following: a flexible member interior portion adapted and constructed for contact with the interior of the drinking vessel; a flexible member interior portion adapted and constructed for contact with the exterior of the drinking vessel; and a flexible member rim portion connecting the flexible member interior portion to the flexible member exterior portion.

17. A method in accordance with claim 16, wherein each of the flexible member interior portion and the flexible member exterior portion is generally oval-shaped.

18. A method in accordance with claim 11, wherein each of the flexible members is enclosed within a disposable, selectively openable sealed container surrounding the flexible member.

19. A method in accordance with claim 18, wherein each of the flexible members is enclosed within a sealed pouch.

20. A method in accordance with claim 19, wherein each of the flexible members is enclosed within a sanitary paper pouch.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None

STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

None

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to sanitary devices for drinking vessels, and specifically to flexible shields for use with drinking glasses.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

Drinking vessels can be traced back in history to the crude leather tankards of the Neolithic age. Glass was developed in Mesopotamia around 2500 B.C., and the Egyptians were making glass bowls and vessels around 1500 BC. During the Roman Empire craftsmen working as non-citizens developed many new techniques for the creation of glass. Through conquest and trade, the use of glass objects and the techniques used for producing them were spread as far as Scandinavia, the British Isles and China.

Around 1688, a process for casting glass was developed, which led to its becoming a much more commonly used material. The invention of the glass pressing machine in 1827 allowed the mass production of inexpensive glass products. Further advances in manufacturing processes have resulted in making drinking glasses inexpensive and sturdy enough to become virtually ubiquitous.

One of the main uses of drinking glasses and similar vessels is in the hospitality industry. Restaurants, bars, hotels, cruise ships, resorts, and other public accommodations are routinely among the highest-volume users of drinking vessels. Although some establishments use disposable cups, the vast majority keep a stock of drinkware on hand, which is used, washed, and re-used. The sanitation and cleaning of reusable drinking vessels is regulated by myriad governmental agencies in an attempt to ensure public health. Unfortunately, the mandated measures are frequently not sufficiently carried out, and even in those instances in which the most rigorous procedures are followed, the possibility of contamination still exists. Dirt and disease-bearing bacteria and viruses can be transferred to drinking vessel surfaces during storage after cleaning, or in handling by food preparers, bartenders, or waitstaff. The instances of disease caused by contaminated drinking vessels in restaurants, bars, and on cruise ships is well-documented.

Various attempts have been made to shield the users of drinking vessels from germs and other contaminants, and these developments are reflected in the patent literature. Reference should be made to the following patents which are pertinent. U.S. Pat. No. 6,443,323 to lonides discloses a protective seal for beverage cans, etc. that completely covers and seals the mouth contact area of the can, thereby protecting that area from contamination. The seal comprises a thin, durable, impervious sheet applied to the top of the can surrounding the opening area, extending down the upper side of the can adjacent the top opening area for a short distance to cover the mouth contact area of the can. The seal is peripherally sealed to the can surface by a narrow strip of food grade adhesive. The tab attachment extension of the seal may include bushings, washers, etc. to provide clearance for the majority of the seal to pivot between the pop tab lever and can top, and/or may include a circumferential weakening line about the pop tab rivet to allow the majority of the seal to shear circumferentially to pivot about the captured rivet attachment portion thereof.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,001,441 to Polizzano discloses a sanitary strip for drinking vessels which can be attached or affixed to the lip area of a drinking vessel to prevent the transfer of germs, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants to the user of the drinking vessel. The sanitary strip is contained in a unitary, composite article having two peelably removable plys that overlay and are coextensive with the sanitary strip so that the sanitary strip is sandwiched by and between the peelably removable plies.

Further, U.S. Pat. No. 3,690,509 to Kinoian teaches a container which has a dispensing opening, the immediate adjacent areas of which are often placed in contact with a human consumer's mouth, said container having a cover over said area of contact, said cover being hygienically bonded to said container to protect the area of contact from being contaminated, said cover having sufficient tear-strength to overcome said bond so that the cover can be integrally removed by breaking the bond, e.g., by manually pulling the cover away from the container. If the particular container is metal it is often desirable to provide the container with a plastic layer which is located between the cover and the area where the user's mouth would contact the metal in order to prevent the sometimes objectionable metallic taste.

Additionally, see U.S. Pat. No. 2,693,685 to Stafford directed to a sanitary drinking attachment for cans.

Moreover, see U.S. Pat. No. 1,344,179 to Lopez, which shows a lip guard attachment for a glass or cup.

Additionally, see U.S. Pat. No. 1,217,661 to Strohmeyer for a lip guard for drinking vessels.

U.S. Pat. No. 939,698 to Jancey is directed to a labial protecting means for drinking glasses, bowls, cups, spoons, and the like.

U.S. Pat. No. 343,170 to Hammer-Pergstall deals with a lip protector.

Although known devices afford some degree of protection, they nonetheless present some drawbacks as well. For example, many known devices are reusable, and are themselves subject to recontamination in handling. Further, known devices are inadequate to shield the entire potential contact surface of a drinking vessel. It can be seen from the foregoing that the need exists for a simple, inexpensive, effective, versatile, and easily employed sanitary shield for drinking vessels.

SUMMARY

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a sanitary shield is provided for use with drinking vessels having a rim configured for contact with the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel, with the rim located between the interior of the vessel and the exterior of the vessel. The shield includes a disposable, flexible member having a size and shape adapted and constructed to cover the rim of the vessel, a portion of the interior of the vessel, and a portion of the exterior of the vessel. The flexible member is fabricated from a material that is self-adherent to the vessel. The shield prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel from coming into contact with any portion of the exterior surface of the vessel during normal drinking activity.

The invention itself, however, both as to organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may be best understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a sanitary shield mounted in place on a drinking vessel, in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional view taken generally along lines II-II of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates a plan view of an embodiment of a sanitary shield.

FIG. 4 illustrates a plan view of another embodiment of a sanitary shield.

FIG. 5 illustrates a plan view of a sanitary shield in a sealed container.

FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of a plurality of sanitary shields in a sealed containers placed for use on a dining table.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings, and will herein be described in detail, exemplary embodiments, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as illustrative of the principles of the invention and not intended to limit the invention to the exemplary embodiments shown and described.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a sanitary shield 10 mounted in place on a drinking vessel 12, in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The sanitary shield 10 covers the areas of the drinking vessel 12 likely to come into potential contact with the mouth of a user of the drinking vessel 12, covering areas of the exterior 14, rim 16, and interior 18 of the drinking vessel 12. Although the drinking vessel 12 is illustrated as a drinking glass in the form of a tumbler, it is to be understood that the term as used herein encompasses any drinking vessel made from any material, including but not limited to drinking glasses, wine glasses, coffee cups, and the like.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional view taken generally along lines II-II of FIG. 1. The sanitary shield 10 includes a flexible member interior portion 20 adapted and constructed for contact with the interior wall 14 of the drinking vessel 12. A flexible member exterior portion 22 is adapted and constructed for contact with the exterior wall 16 of the drinking vessel 12. A flexible member rim portion 24 connects the flexible member interior portion 20 to the flexible member exterior portion 22, and covers the rim 16 of the drinking vessel 12. The sanitary shield 10 thereby prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the drinking vessel 12 from coming into contact with any portion of the surface of the drinking vessel 12 during normal drinking activity.

FIG. 3 illustrates a plan view of an embodiment of the sanitary shield 10. The shield 10 is generally oval-shaped, and fabricated from a flexible material. It is contemplated that particular advantages may be realized in fabricating the shield 10 from a flexible plastic material that is capable of self-adherence to the surfaces of standard drinking vessels, such as by static adherence. One example of such a material is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,756,153 to Plourde, the entirety of which is incorporated by reference herein. Materials such as those in the Plourde patent are typically multilayered cling materials intended for use as signage sheets. The Plourde material is specifically intended for use in conventional printers, including laser printers. The sheet includes a first layer to provide structural integrity to the sheet. A second print receptive layer is adhered to one side of the first layer. A third layer which is a low modulus cling elastomer is adhered to the other side of the first layer. The cling elastomer is characterized in that it will releasably adhere to a substantially flat surface. In the present invention, a cling material will provide continuous contact with the drinking vessel over the entire area of the shield on the relevant interior and exterior portions of the vessel, eliminating the gaps and unprotected areas inherent with known devices.

FIG. 4 illustrates a plan view of another embodiment of a sanitary shield 30. The sanitary shield 30 includes a generally oval-shaped flexible member interior portion 32 adapted and constructed for contact with the interior wall 14 of the drinking vessel 12. A generally oval-shaped flexible member exterior portion 34 is adapted and constructed for contact with the exterior wall 16 of the drinking vessel 12. A flexible member rim portion 36 connects the flexible member interior portion 20 to the flexible member exterior portion 22, and covers the rim 16 of the drinking vessel 12.

FIG. 5 illustrates a plan view of a sanitary shield 10 in a sealed container 40. The sealed container 40 is advantageously fabricated from a material that is sufficiently hermetically sealed so as to maintain the sanitary condition of the shield 10, but still remain easily selectively openable. Examples of such materials include sanitary paper, foil, and plastic.

FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of a plurality of sanitary shields 10 in sealed containers 40 placed for use on a dining table 42, for example, in proximity to an individual dining and drinking at a restaurant, or in other environments wherein multiple individuals may handle drinking vessels 44. The users select one of the shields 10, remove the shield 10 from the container 40, and apply the shield 10 to a drinking vessel 44. Once in place, the shield 10 prevents the mouth of an individual drinking from the vessel 44 from coming into contact with any portion of the exterior surface of the vessel 44 during normal drinking activity.

The sanitary shield of the present invention can be fabricated in a size sufficient to provide a barrier in the potential contact area of a user's mouth with the exterior of a drinking vessel, and to cover the potential contact and contamination areas on the inside of the vessel. It is contemplated that a sanitary shield having interior and exterior portions of approximately 2½ inches to 3 inches in width and ¾ inches to 1½ inches in height would be suitable.

It can be seen from the foregoing that the present invention provides advantages in a wide range of applications. For example, the sanitary shield 10 can be provided with decorative patterns, advertising indicia, and the like, whether printed on the surface or interior laminate of the sanitary shield 10. While details of the invention are discussed herein with reference to some specific examples to which the principles of the present invention can be applied, the applicability of the invention to other devices and equivalent components thereof will become readily apparent to those of skill in the art. Accordingly, it is intended that all such alternatives, modifications, permutations, and variations to the exemplary embodiments can be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.