Title:
STORAGE CONTAINER WITH REMOVABLE LOCKING TABS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A merchandise storage container has a holder that moves into and out of an outer sleeve. At least one locking tab portion is used to secure the holder inside the sleeve. The locking tab portion may be removed to unlock the tray and allow the user to access the contents of the tray.



Inventors:
Wynalda Jr., Robert M. (Comstock Park, MI, US)
Rajter Jr., Robert G. (Rockford, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/422352
Publication Date:
10/22/2009
Filing Date:
04/13/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FRED ZOLLINGER III (NORTH CANTON, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A merchandise storage container comprising: an outer paperboard sleeve having an outer surface; a merchandise holder carried by the outer paperboard sleeve; the merchandise holder being movable between retracted and extended positions; the merchandise holder being disposed inside the outer paperboard sleeve when the merchandise holder is in the retracted position; and at least one locking tab securing the merchandise holder in the retracted position; the locking tab having a first paperboard locking tab portion integrally connected to the outer paperboard sleeve and a second locking tab portion connected to the merchandise holder; the first and second locking tab portions being connected together.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the locking tab is adhered to the outer surface of the outer paperboard sleeve with a releasable adhesive.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein the locking tab portions are adhered together.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the locking tab defines perforations adjacent the outer paperboard sleeve that allow the locking tab to be torn away from the sleeve.

5. A merchandise storage container comprising: an outer sleeve having an outer surface; a merchandise holder carried by the outer sleeve; the merchandise holder being movable between retracted and extended positions; the merchandise holder being disposed inside the outer sleeve when the merchandise holder is in the retracted position; and at least one locking tab securing the holder in the retracted position; the locking tab including first and second locking tab portions that are connected together; the first locking tab portion extending from the sleeve and the second locking tab portion extending from the holder.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking tab portions are connected together with an adhesive.

7. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking tab is adhered to the outer surface of the sleeve with a releasable adhesive.

8. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking tab defines perforations that allow the locking tab to be torn away from the sleeve.

9. The container of claim 5, wherein one of the sleeve and holder are formed from paperboard.

10. The container of claim 5, wherein the holder is fabricated from plastic.

11. The container of claim 10, wherein the second locking tab portion is fabricated from plastic.

12. The container of claim 5, wherein the holder is fabricated from one of a metal, a plastic, a molded paper pulp product, and a paper material.

13. The container of claim 5, wherein the sleeve is fabricated from one of a metal, a plastic, a molded paper pulp product, and a paper material.

14. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking tab portions are connected together with a mechanical connector.

15. The container of claim 5, wherein the locking tab portions are connected together with a one-way snap fit connector.

16. The container of claim 5, wherein the holder defines a nest and a cover for the nest; the cover including a projection sized to overlie a portion of the nest when the cover is closed.

17. The container of claim 5, wherein the cover of the holder moves between open and closed positions about a cover hinge; the projection being hinged to the cover close to the cover hinge.

18. A merchandise storage container comprising: an outer sleeve having an outer surface; a merchandise holder movably carried by the outer sleeve between retracted and extended positions; the merchandise holder being disposed inside the outer sleeve when the merchandise holder is in the retracted position; at least one locking tab portion connected to the merchandise holder; and the locking tab portion being anchored to the outer sleeve; the locking tab portion securing the merchandise holder in the retracted position.

19. The container of claim 18, wherein the outer sleeve is fabricated from paperboard.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent applications 61/044,117 filed Apr. 11, 2008 and 61/045,909 filed Apr. 17, 2008; the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention generally relates to storage containers and, more particularly, to tamper-evident merchandise storage containers. Specifically, the invention relates to a merchandise storage container having a storage tray and a sleeve wherein the tray is initially secured inside the sleeve by at least one removable locking tab.

2. Background Information

Various merchandise storage containers are known in the art. Some of the most common merchandise storage containers for recorded media are book-like containers having a lid connected to a base with a hinge. Some of these containers include latches designed to keep the lid closed with respect to the base until the latches are moved to an unlatched configuration. Another type of merchandise storage container includes a merchandise holder disposed within an outer sleeve. The holder slides out of the sleeve to provide access to the merchandise. Those who use this container configuration desire a device that prevents the tray from being slid out of the sleeve and functions to indicate if the container has ever been opened.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a storage container having a merchandise holder that moves into and out of an outer sleeve. At least one locking tab portion is used to secure the holder inside the sleeve. The locking tab portion may be removed from the sleeve to unlock the holder and allow the user to access the contents of the holder.

In one configuration of the merchandise storage container, a merchandise holder is held within a sleeve by at least one locking tab. The merchandise holder is provided in a configuration designed to receive the item of merchandise to be received in the container. For example, the holder may be a tray, a sleeve, a box, an envelope, or a combination of structures. Each of the holder and sleeve includes a locking tab portion. The locking tab portions may be integral to the holder or sleeve or connected to the holder and sleeve after the holder or sleeve is formed. The locking tab portions are disposed adjacent to each other when the holder is disposed within the sleeve. The locking tab portions are connected together to secure the holder in place within the sleeve. When the user wants access to the holder, the user tears or breaks the joined locking tab portions away from the container to unlock the tray.

Another configuration of the invention provides a releasable adhesive that releasably holds the joined locking tab portions against the outer surface of the sleeve until the user is ready to tear the locking tab away from the container.

Another configuration of the invention uses a line of severance or perforations formed between the container and the locking tab.

In one exemplary configuration, the sleeve and the holder are fabricated from paperboard with the locking tab portions being integrally formed from the same paperboard blanks. A permanent adhesive secures the locking tab portions together to form a locking tab. A releasable adhesive is used to hold the locking tab to an outer portion of the sleeve. The releasable adhesive does not damage the surface of the container to which the locking tab is attached so that the removal of the locking tab from the container does not leave a visible blemish on the container.

These configurations and features are provided individually and in combination with one another to form additional configurations. Examples of the invention are described below. The invention is defined by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a first configuration for a merchandise storage container in the closed configuration with the locking tabs held against the sleeve.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the first configuration with the locking tabs peeled away from the surfaces of the sleeve.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of one of the locking tabs of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are schematic views of locking tab portions connected together with mechanical connectors.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the locking tab of FIG. 3 showing the perforations between the locking tab and the container.

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of the first configuration with the locking tabs removed and the holder partially slid out to an extended position.

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of the first configuration with the locking tabs removed and the holder slid out to an extended position.

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the base of the holder showing the relationship between the locking flange of the holder and the storage nest for a media disc.

FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 3 showing the locking tab portions individually.

FIG. 9 is a layout view of a blank that may be used to form the sleeve.

FIG. 10 is a layout view of a blank that may be used to form the holder.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an alternative configuration of the merchandise holder having a hold-down projection disposed against a portion of a media disc while the cover is being opened.

FIG. 12 is a layout view of a blank used to form the configuration of the merchandise holder of FIG. 11.

Similar numbers refer to similar, but not necessarily identical, parts throughout the specification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A first configuration of the storage container is indicated generally by the numeral 2 in the accompanying drawings. The first configuration of container 2 includes an outer sleeve 4 and an internal merchandise holder 6 that moves between retracted (FIGS. 1 and 2) and extended (FIG. 6) positions. Merchandise holder 6 may be configured to hold any of a variety of merchandise items. In the exemplary configuration depicted in the drawings, holder 6 is configured to hold at least one disc-shaped item of recorded media such as a DVD or a CD. In other configurations, holder 6 may be configured to hold a tape, a cartridge, a UMD, a memory card or memory chip, or other types of media. Holder 6 also may be configured to hold items of merchandise such as gift cards, bank cards, hearing aids, media players, jewelry, watches, and small batteries. The thickness of holder 6 may be increased so that container 2 may be used with thicker merchandise such as razor blades, batteries, mobile phones, personal health care items, small consumer electronic devices, and the like. When a media disc is held by holder 6, holder 6 may hold the media disc in any of a variety of manners such as a snap hub that engages the central opening of item or a partially covered nest as depicted in FIGS. 6 and 11. Container 2 is used to provide a plurality of interactive graphic display areas which may be used to display information related to the item stored within container 2.

The holder may be fabricated by injection molding, a thermo or vacuum forming, pressing, metal forming, folding, and the like. The holder may be made from a plastic, an acrylic, a polycarbonate, a polypropylene, a recycled material such as a plastic, a paper or a molded paper-pulp product, a metal, a paperboard, a foam, and the like.

In the exemplary configuration depicted in the drawings and described below, the entire container 2 is manufactured from a paper-based product such as a paperboard. When container 2 is to be discarded, the entire container may be recycled. In the exemplary configuration, sleeve 4 is a five-sided sleeve defining an opening along one of its long walls. In other configurations, sleeve 4 may define its opening along a short wall. Outer sleeve 4 may define a finger access cutout 12 in its front and rear panels that allow the user to grasp and pull on internal merchandise holder 6. As shown in FIG. 9, cutout 12 is also defined by a locking flange 18 and an entrance flange 19. FIG. 9 depicts the blank used to form outer sleeve 4. The blank may be cut or punched from material stock, folded along the lines depicted in FIG. 9, and glued to form sleeve 4.

Flange 18 may include tapered ends 30 and an indented central portion 32. The tapered portion of flange 18 reduces binding between the two locking flanges 18 and 20 when holder 6 is inside sleeve 4. The tapered portion of flange 18 also prevents flange 18 from binding against the inner surfaces of the side walls of sleeve 4. Indented central portion 32 reduces binding between flange 18 and flange 20. Entrance flange 19 is folded inwardly and secured inside sleeve 4. Folding flanges 18 and 19 inwardly provides smooth edges to the opening of sleeve 4 as depicted in FIG. 4. The smooth edges are formed by bending the outer layer of the paperboard material without slitting or perforating. Bending provides a smooth surface for the insertion of holder 6 and an appealing appearance to container 2.

Flanges 18 and 20 interact to prevent internal holder 6 from being completely pulled from sleeve 4 during normal use. Flanges 18 and 20 may be sized to stop holder 6 from being pulled out of sleeve 4 immediately after the merchandise held by holder 6 is exposed to the user for removal.

FIG. 10 shows the use of multiple layers of material to form a nest on holder 6. As shown in FIG. 10, the material used to form holder 6 is thicker than the material used to form sleeve 4. The thicker material provides rigidity to container 2. The material also allows the nest to be built up to be thicker than the thickness of the media disc with only an inner nest page 40 and an outer nest page 42. When assembled, inner nest page 40 is folded over at a fold line 43 to be disposed directed against backing page 44. Backing page 44 may include a disc hub if desired. Outer nest page 42 is folded over about a fold line 45 on top of inner nest page 40 to form a nest. Backing page 44 is connected to a spine 79 that is connected to an optional cover 46. Cover 46 is defined by a pair of cover panels that are folded against each other and held with an adhesive. Cover 46 may be used to cover a portion of the merchandise held by holder 6 and may be used to help retain holder 6 within sleeve 4 after locking tabs 70 are removed. Spine 79 is exposed when holder 6 is disposed within sleeve 4 as shown in FIGS. 1-4.

Opposite spine 79, flange 20 is connected to page 44 by a pair of spaced living hinges 50 that allow flange 20 to fold over pages 40, 42, 44, and 54 as shown in FIG. 7. Flange 20 is formed from a portion of page 40. Flange 20 defines a central notch 51 that is aligned with opening 12. Flange 20 also defines a pair of notches 52 that increase the portion of the circumference of the nest that is formed from page 40. Notches 52 also prevent flange 20 from overlapping the nest as shown in FIG. 7. In the exemplary configuration, page 54 defines an overlap lip 56 that may an embossed portion of page 54. Lip 56 extends over a portion of a media disc disposed in the nest to prevent the disc from immediately falling out of the nest.

Container 2 is used to provide a plurality of interactive graphic display areas and panels which may be used to display information related to the item of recorded media stored within container 2.

Container 2 includes at least one locking tab 70 that is used to secure holder 6 within sleeve 4 until the user wishes to use container 2. In the exemplary configuration, container 2 uses a pair of locking tabs 70 to secure holder 6 within sleeve 4. Locking tabs 70 may be disposed on opposite ends of holder 6 as shown in the drawings. Locking tabs 70 also may be disposed at opposite sides (as indicated by dashed lines 72 in FIG. 1) of holder 6.

Each locking tab 70 is formed by joining locking tab portions 74 and 76 from sleeve 4 and holder 6. Locking tab portions 74 are integrally formed with end walls 78 of sleeve 4 as shown in FIG. 9. Locking tab portions 76 are integrally formed with a spine 79 of holder 6 as shown in FIG. 10.

When holder 6 is initially slid inside sleeve 4, locking tab portions 74 and 76 are connected together. Portions 74 and 76 may be connected with a mechanical connector such as a staple or a rivet. They also may be configured to be welded, woven or locked together mechanically. For example, one locking tab portion may include a protuberance with a catch designed for a one-way snap fit connection that snaps into an opening defined by the other locking tab portion. In the exemplary configuration, portions 74 and 76 are connected with an adhesive. The adhesive may be an adhesive designed to strong bond with the material of portions 74 and 76 to provide a “permanent” bond between portions 74 and 76. Such a bond would likely result in the tearing of one of portions 74 or 76 or at least the damaging of a surface if one were to force portions 74 and 76 apart. During or after formation, each locking tab 70 may be folded down against an outer surface of sleeve 4 so that locking tabs 70 do not protrude from container 2. This position is shown in FIG. 1. Tabs 70 may be held down with a “low-tack” pressure sensitive adhesive strong enough to hold tabs 70 down against sleeve 4 but not strong enough to blemish the outer surface coating or surface finish of sleeve 4 when tabs 70 are peeled away from sleeve. Such an adhesive is referred to as a releasable adhesive. Mechanical snap connectors also may be used to hold tabs 70 in this position. In the exemplary configuration, tabs 70 are adhesively secured to the end walls 78 of sleeve 4.

When the user wishes to remove holder 6 from sleeve 4, the user peels tabs 70 away from sleeve 4 as depicted in FIG. 2. The user may then tear tabs 70 away from container 2 as shown in FIG. 5. To facilitate the tearing, perforations 80 may be defined by tabs 70. Once tabs 70 are torn away, holder 6 may be slid (in the exemplary configuration) or rotated/pivoted (in other examples) out of sleeve 4.

An alternative configuration uses only at least one tab portion 76 that is anchored to sleeve 4 to prevent opening of the holder or to show that the holder has been opened. Tab portion 76 may be secured with a releasable low tack adhesive, a permanent adhesive, or a mechanical connection (such as a staple, cooperating snap fit connector elements, a rivet). In this configuration, the user may unlock holder 6 by breaking or severing tab portion 76 or by peeling portion 76 away from sleeve 4.

FIGS. 11 and 12 depict an alternative configuration for holder 6 wherein a hold-down projection 90 is used to help keep a media disc seated within the nest of holder 6. This configuration of holder 6 may be used as a part of container 2 when it is formed to have locking tab portions 76 as described above. In FIGS. 11 and 12, holder 6 is shown without locking tab portions 76. This configuration may be used with a sleeve 2 without locking tab portions to provide another configuration of a container.

Hold-down projection 90 is connected to the inner portion of cover 46 as shown in FIG. 12. Projection 90 is hinged to the end of the inner cover 46A so that the projection 90 pivots about an axis parallel to the pivot axis of cover 46. When cover is formed, the hinge for projection 90 is disposed next to the hinge connecting spine 79 to cover 46.

In use, projection 90 is folded back against the inner surface of cover 46 (the inner surface being the one that faces the nest when cover 46 is closed) so that it is trapped between the inner surface of cover 46 and the outer surface of panel 54. Projection 90 is sized to cover a portion of the media disc when cover 46 is closed. Projection 90 thus provides an additional thickness of material between the bottom of the nest and the inner surface of cover 46. This thickness helps maintain the media disc in the nest when holder 6 is closed. Projection 90 is folded about a living hinge that retains a degree of memory so that projection 90 will tend to be urged outwardly from the inner surface of cover 46 as cover 46 is opened as depicted in FIG. 11. Projection 90 thus helps keep the media disc from falling out of the nest when cover 46 is being opened. Projection 90 thus cooperates with lip 56 to maintain the media disc in the nest.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.

Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.