Title:
Scratchcard Scraper
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hand held device for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard, the device comprising a generally u-shaped body having a closed end and an open end formed of first and second opposable elements, where the first opposable element comprises a scraping edge facing the second opposable element, and where the scraping edge has a width of less than about ½ inch. The device of the invention where the scraping edge is less than about ⅓ inch.



Inventors:
Taylor, Bernard M. (Oroville, CA, US)
Traub, John P. (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/393585
Publication Date:
08/27/2009
Filing Date:
02/26/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L17/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SPISICH, MARK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BULLIVANT HOUSER BAILEY PC (Portland, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A hand held device for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard, the device comprising a generally u-shaped body having a closed end and an open end formed of first and second opposable elements, wherein said first opposable element comprises a scraping edge facing said second opposable element, and wherein said scraping edge has a width of less than about ½ inch.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said scraping edge is less than about ⅓ inch.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said scraping edge is less than about ¼.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein said closed end further comprises a key-ring hole.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein said first and second opposable elements are flexible whereby said scraping edge can be moved towards said second opposable element.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein said first and second opposable elements are substantially parallel.

7. The device of claim 1 wherein said first and second opposable elements converge.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein the device is produced of metal.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein the device is produced of steel.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein the device is produced of plastic.

11. The device of claim 10 wherein the device is extruded plastic.

12. A method for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard, the method comprising using a device comprising a generally u-shaped body having a closed end and an open end formed of first and second opposable elements, wherein said first opposable element comprises a scraping edge facing said second opposable element, and wherein said scraping edge has a width of less than about ½ inch, said method comprising the steps of a) placing a scratchcard between said first and second opposable elements, b) moving said first opposable element towards the upper surface of said scratchcard, thereby causing said scraping edge to engage said scratchcard at said upper surface, and c) moving said device to cause the scraping edge to remove a width of film from said upper surface.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein said scraping edge is less than about ⅓ inch.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein said scraping edge is less than about ¼.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein said closed end further comprises a key-ring hole.

16. The method of claim 12 wherein said first and second opposable elements are flexible whereby said scraping edge can be moved towards said second opposable element.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein said first and second opposable elements are substantially parallel.

18. The method of claim 12 wherein said first and second opposable elements converge at respective distal ends.

19. The method of claim 12 wherein the device is produced of metal.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the device is produced of steel.

21. The method of claim 12 wherein the device is produced of plastic.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein the device is extruded plastic.

23. The method of claim 12 wherein in step b) said second opposable element engages said scratchcard at its lower surface, thereby providing a platform against the action of said scraping edge.

24. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of d) repeating step c) until a sufficient amount of film is removed to expose at least one game indicia printed on said upper surface of said scratchcard.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/031,661, filed Feb. 26, 2008, the complete disclosure of which is incorporated herein, in the entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention describes a hand held device for removing surface material, such as scratching film from the surface of a lottery ticket.

2. Description of Related Art

Various forms of scratch coupons or game cards are well known and are utilized by both private and public parties. Merchants produce game cards as a form of rewarding or enticing shoppers with cash or other prizes, and numerous state or national entities produce scratch card type tickets as part of their lottery organizations.

Typically the cards or coupons will provide some indicia on the surface, such as a combination of winning symbols or numbers printed in a specific area on the card or coupon, and covered with a thin film of waxy material. The holder of the card or coupon is left to remove the film and expose the covered portions to determine if there is a winning combination.

For instance, an instant lottery ticket is typically provided as a cardboard or similar material substrate with a game-playing surface that is covered by a scrapable protective concealment film. The devices most often used to remove the film are coins, fingernails, or other sharp objects. Unfortunately, such devices can damage the surface of the ticket, potentially affecting the ability to discern the outcome, or damaging the chances of redeeming the ticket for a prize.

Because of the popularity of scratch tickets, various implements have been proposed for assisting in removing the film coating. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,470,574, and 4,881,291, provide hand held devices with scraping surfaces for removing film from a card.

Patents such as U.S. Pat. No. 6,782,998, are also known, having broad scraping surfaces for rapidly removing the entire coating of film from a card.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,646,382, describes a lottery ticket scraper with a similar broad scraping surface, plus means for supporting the lottery ticket being scraped.

In other approaches aimed at making the process of film removal faster, the ticket can be passed through a device to remove the film in a single pass, such as U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,793,061, and 5,419,004. The perceived advantages are a more rapid removal of the film, however, it is often the case that a card can have uneven results from such a single pass, such that some areas can have remaining film, or other areas become damaged.

Even more complicated devices have been produced, such as in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,355,543, and 5,402,549, which include moving elements for removing the film coating of scratchcards that have been affixed in the device.

Problems remain with many of the more complicated devices, however, and the stability and ease they provide for removing the film quickly and broadly is only provided at the expense of uneven film removal which can lead to repeated passes and, possibly, cause damage to the ticket, even damage to the printed indicia invalidating the result.

None of the prior approaches have been able to provide, then, for a simple hand held device that can precisely and stably remove only those portions of the ticket revealing the printed combination of symbols.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a hand held device for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard, the device comprising a generally u-shaped body having a closed end and an open end formed of first and second opposable elements, where the first opposable element comprises a scraping edge facing the second opposable element, and where the scraping edge has a width of less than about ½ inch.

In a further preferred device the scraping edge is less than about ⅓ inch.

In a still preferred device of the invention the scraping edge is less than about ¼.

In a different preferred device the closed end further comprises a key-ring hole.

In another preferred device the first and second opposable elements are flexible whereby the scraping edge can be moved towards the second opposable element.

In a further preferred device the first and second opposable elements are substantially parallel, although in an alternative preferred device the first and second opposable elements converge.

In one aspect of the invention the device is produced of metal.

In one preferred such aspect the device is produced of steel.

In a different aspect the device is produced of plastic, for instance extruded plastic.

A method for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard using the device is also taught herein. The method comprises the steps of a) placing a scratchcard between the first and second opposable elements, b) moving the first opposable element towards the upper surface of the scratchcard, thereby causing the scraping edge to engage the scratchcard at the upper surface, and c) moving the device to cause the scraping edge to remove a width of film from the upper surface.

In a further preferred method in step b) the second opposable element engages the scratchcard at its lower surface, thereby providing a platform against the action of the scraping edge.

In a still further preferred method step of d) comprises repeating step c) until a sufficient amount of film is removed to expose at least one game indicia printed on the upper surface of the scratchcard.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a side view of a device of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the device of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of an alternative device, with a detachable scraping edge.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing assembly of the scraping edge for the device shown in FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The products and methods of the present invention provide a method for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard. The device described allows easy and precise removal of a film covering to reveal the symbols or numbers, which typically reveals to the user the results or outcome of a game.

For purposes of this description, the term scratchcard refers to various film coated coupons, cards and tickets, such as a scratch off, scratch ticket, scratcher, scratchie, scratch-it, scratch game, scratch-and-win, instant game, lottery game scratch ticket, lottery scratcher, or sweepstakes ticket.

In this description, the term scratchcard can also be identified as a coupon, card, or ticket where one or more areas contain concealed information covered by an opaque substance that cannot be seen through but can be scratched off.

In reference now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, there is provided a convenient hand-held device 10 for removal of the film that conceals the symbols or numbers of a scratchcard. The device comprising a generally u-shaped body 12 having a closed end 14 and an open end 16 formed of a first opposable element 18 and a second opposable element 20. First and second opposable elements 18 and 20 have facing inner surfaces 22 and 24, respectively.

The first opposable element 18 ends in a scraping edge 22 facing the second opposable element 20. Further, the first and second opposable elements 18 and 20 can be resilient, or flexible, so that a user can apply force to the opposable element 18 and 20 whereby the scraping edge 30 is moved towards the second opposable element 20, to engage with the second opposable element inner surface 24.

By this method, then, a scratchcard is first placed between the first and second opposable elements 18 and 20, and the first opposable element is depressed towards the second opposable element surface 24 of the scratchcard, thereby causing the scraping edge 30 to engage the scratchcard at the opposable element surface 24. By merely then moving the device 10 relative to the scratchcard, the scraping edge will remove a width of film from the upper surface 24 that is equal in width to the width of the scraping edge 30.

For the reason of precise control of film removal, the scraping edge 30 will have a width of less than about ½ inch. The device 10 can be produced to have scraping edge 30 of less than about ⅓ inch, or even less than about ¼.

In the method the second opposable element 20 is used to stabilize the scratchcard, by engaging and holding the scratchcard at its upper surface 24. The harder the user depresses the opposable arms 18 and 20 toward each other, the more stable the platform for the scratchcard against the action of the scraping edge 30. This will also increase the pressure applied to remove the scratchcard film.

Repeated movement of the device 10 relative to a scratchcard can also be used to remove a sufficient amount of film to expose the game indicia printed on the upper surface of the scratchcard. By game indicia is meant the concealed symbols, letters, numbers or the like that reveal a winning ticket, through the presence or combination of elements of the game indicia.

The invention can be manufactured in various configurations. For instance, it may include a hole 32 drilled in one end to accommodate a chain or key ring to make it convenient to be carried on a key chain, pull ring or attached to a wallet or purse.

Again in reference to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, it will be seen that the first and second opposable elements 18 and 20 are substantially parallel. It is contemplated that in alternative production designs for the device 10, the shape of the first and second opposable elements 18 and 20 may take other forms, or may even converge toward each other.

The device 10 may be machined or otherwise produced of various metals, such as aluminum, brass or stainless steel. Choices of materials, widths and lengths of the components to achieve the desired flexibility are well within the skill of the art.

The device could also be molded, extruded or machined of plastic. Various plastic materials are known to the art for producing the necessary flexion of the opposable arms 18 and 20.

In reference now to FIGS. 4 and 5, an alternative device 10 is shown. Particularly when produced of plastic, it may be desirable to include a separate scraping element 40 for removing film from the surface of a scratchcard. The attached scraping element 40 may be a plastic, metal or composite element. In the device 10 shown, the attached scraping element 40 comprises a scraping blade 42 and rivets 44 and 46 for securing the blade 42 to the end of the first opposable element 18.

The device 10 works to precisely reveal those areas of the concealment film from scratchcards. As will be apparent from the drawings, the device comprises a u-shape body where the elements of the u-shaped body are substantially parallel. However, when the elements are depressed, they converge at respective distal ends. When the depressed upper element and lower element of the body are pulled parallel to the planar surface of a scratchcard, the removing element.

This articulated tool is unique, in that it has a tweezer like appearance that is slipped over the ticket, squeezed shut, then pulled to the side, thus scraping the surface of the ticket.

One advantage of this invention is that it allows the ticket to be scraped without having to find a solid surface to rest the ticket on. The articulated tool scraper is self-sustaining in that the back part of the articulated tool acts as a solid backing that facilitates the removal of the concealment film without supporting the lottery, game or sweepstakes scratch tickets in any way.

While this invention has been described in conjunction with the specific embodiments outlined above, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the preferred embodiments of the invention, as set forth above, are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.