Title:
CLOSURE WITH TAMPER EVIDENT STRIP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates generally to a closure for a container, such as a bottle or the like, and more particularly, to a resealable, tamper evident closure for a container. The closure consists of a top section connected to a lower skirt portion. The closure is structured such that it would be evident if one were to attempt to remove the closure or tamper with the closure and that the contents of the container should not be consumed due to the risk of possible contamination.



Inventors:
Long Jr., Charles J. (New Castle, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/117418
Publication Date:
11/12/2009
Filing Date:
05/08/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/276
International Classes:
B65D17/40; B65D41/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060043057Lamb passion/ perfume bottleMarch, 2006Shawn
20080262466STORAGE CONTAINEROctober, 2008Smith et al.
20020063104Thread formation for closure structuresMay, 2002Randall et al.
20090184083Bottle capJuly, 2009Cho
20060226113Liquid vial closure with improved anti-evaporation featuresOctober, 2006Clark et al.
20060175277Lotion bottle with dynamic ornamentAugust, 2006Ho
20040011758Cinch capsJanuary, 2004Wallace
20140042118PLASTICS CONTAINERFebruary, 2014Glover
20030168462Replacement cap for vesselSeptember, 2003Kiyota
20080121606Dispensing container having improved torque response and closure sealingMay, 2008Stahl et al.
20130220963BOTTLE AND CLOSUREAugust, 2013Walker-smith



Primary Examiner:
WALKER, NED ANDREW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ECKERT SEAMANS CHERIN & MELLOTT LLC (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tamper evident closure for a container, comprising: a top section; and a lower skirt connected to said top section, said lower skirt including at least two vertical tear membranes defining therebetween a tamper evident strip, wherein upon tampering with said closure, said tamper evident strip may be at least partially separated along said vertical tear membranes to indicate tampering therewith.

2. The tamper evident closure of claim 1, wherein said tamper evident strip extends over an arc of less than 180°.

3. The tamper evident closure of claim 1, wherein said tamper evident strip extends over an arc of less than 90°.

4. The tamper evident closure of claim 1, wherein four vertical tear membranes are provided such that at least three tamper evident strips are defined.

5. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said vertical tear membranes are spaced equally around the circumference of the lower skirt.

6. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said vertical tear membrane comprises a web of material.

7. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said top section comprises an upper surface and an upper skirt each having a perimeter, said upper surface and said upper skirt being joined along said perimeters.

8. The tamper evident closure of claim 7 wherein said upper skirt is connected to said lower skirt by at least one vertical spoke extending vertically therebetween.

9. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 further comprising a tab coupled to said lower skirt.

10. The tamper evident closure of claim 7 wherein said upper skirt has an internal surface, the circumference of said internal surface further comprising at least one helical thread.

11. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said lower skirt has an internal surface, the circumference of said internal surface further comprising at least one ratchet.

12. The tamper evident closure of claim 7 wherein said upper skirt has an external surface, the circumference of said external surface further comprising a plurality of vertical indentations.

13. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said closure comprises a plastic material.

14. The tamper evident closure of claim 7 further comprising an internal skirt connected to an internal surface of said upper surface.

15. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said vertical tear membrane is a line of reduced thickness plastic.

16. The tamper evident closure of claim 1 wherein said upper skirt is connected to said lower skirt by a band of reduced thickness plastic.

17. A tamper evident closure for a container, comprising: a top section; and a lower skirt connected to said top section, extending downwardly from said top section, said lower skirt having a tamper evident strip and a tab; said tamper evident strip and tab being structured to allow said tamper evident strip to be at least partially separated from said top section when a pulling force is applied to said tab.

18. The tamper evident closure of claim 18 wherein said lower skirt further comprises at least one vertical tear membrane.

19. A combination of a container and a tamper evident closure, said closure comprising: a top section; and a lower skirt connected to said top section, said lower skirt including at least two vertical tear membranes defining therebetween a tamper evident strip, wherein upon tampering with said closure, said tamper evident strip may be at least partially separated along said vertical tear membranes to indicate tampering therewith.

20. The combination of claim 19 further comprising a tab coupled to said lower skirt.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to a closure for a container, and more particularly, to a resealable, tamper evident closure for a container.

2. Background Information

A closure is usually coupled to the neck of a container that has certain contents contained therein such as, for example, a bottle containing a liquid. The closure is used for closing an open end of the container that is typically placed in an upright position on a flat horizontal surface.

The use of tamper evident or indicating closures has become quite common, particularly in connection with the packaging of consumer products such as food and beverage products. The tamper evident nature of the closure provides a level of confidence to the consumer that the product they have purchased has not been previously opened or tampered with. Several tamper evident closure structures are known in the art. Certain prior art closures have a horizontal pilfer or tear band that is frangible. An individual can pry off the closure from a container with a screwdriver, mechanical object or the like without breaking the horizontal tear band. Once the closure has been pried off, contaminants may be placed within the container. With the contaminants introduced in the container, the closure is then replaced, e.g., snapped, onto the container.

Furthermore, with regard to prior art closures having a horizontal pilfer or tear band, if the container to which the closure is coupled is below specification at the outside diameter of a neck of the container, an individual could potentially rotatably disengage the threaded closure from the container without breaking the horizontal tear band. Once the closure has been disengaged from the container, contaminants may be placed within the container. With contaminants introduced in the container, the closure is then rotatably replaced, e.g., engaged, onto the container.

Accordingly, there is room for improvement in the field of resealable, tamper evident container closures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a tamper evident closure for a container. The closure includes a top section and a lower skirt. The lower skirt is connected to the top section and the lower skirt includes at least two vertical tear membranes. A tamper evident strip is defined between the two vertical tear membranes. Upon tampering with the closure, the tamper evident strip may be at least partially separated along the vertical tear membranes to indicate tampering therewith.

The present invention also relates to the tamper evident closure described above, further comprising a tab coupled to the lower skirt.

One object of the invention is to provide a closure with tamper evident strip(s) that would visually demonstrate that the closure had been tampered with and that the contents of the container should not be consumed due to the risk of possible contamination.

Another object of the invention is to provide a closure with tamper evident strip(s) and tab that would visually demonstrate that the closure had been tampered with and that the contents of the container should not be consumed due to the risk of possible contamination.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the invention can be gained from the following Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is top plan view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Similar numerals refer to similar parts throughout the specification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a closure 10, according to one embodiment of the present invention. The closure 10 is a tamper evident closure, preferably made of a plastic material or the like and, is capable of indicating that closure 10 has been removed from a container (not shown) or that closure 10 has been tampered with. In addition, closure 10 may be reattached to a container to reseal the container. The closure 10 is typically used for closing an open end of a container, such as but not limited to a bottle, that has certain contents contained therein, such as but not limited to a liquid.

As shown in FIG. 1, closure 10 includes a circular cover or top section 12. Top section 12 has a generally flat upper surface 8. Top section 12 also includes a circumferential skirt portion, upper skirt 6, integrally coupled to upper surface 8 and extending downwardly in an axial direction from upper surface 8. Upper skirt 6 is structured to fit around and engage an outside diameter of an open end of a neck (not shown) of a container. Closure 10 includes a second circumferential skirt, a lower skirt 14. Lower skirt 14 is connected to upper skirt 6 (and top section 12). Lower skirt 14 has at least two vertical tear membranes 18 formed therein. Between the vertical tear membranes 18 is defined a tamper evident strip 20. For example, when two vertical tear membranes 18 are provided in lower skirt 14, two tamper evident strips can be formed, or when four vertical tear membranes are provided, four tamper evident strips can be formed. The vertical tear membranes can be positioned such that the length of the vertical strip varies. In an embodiment, the vertical tear membranes 18 can be spaced around the circumference of lower skirt 14 such that the tamper evident strip extends over an arc of less than 180 degrees, or an arc of less than 90 degrees. In another embodiment, the vertical tear membranes 18 can be spaced equally around the circumference of the lower skirt 14 to define equivalent tamper evident strips 20.

The vertical tear membranes 18 can include a thin membrane of material formed within the lower skirt 14. The material used to form membranes 18 is typically the same material used to form the lower skirt 14, which is typically the same material used to form the top section 12. The material can be plastic (or the like) and, the plastic forming the vertical tear membranes 18 can be thinner than the plastic forming the lower skirt 14.

The tamper evident strip(s) 20 makes up at least a portion of, and can make up the entire, lower skirt 14. In other words, the tamper evident strip(s) 20 can extend along the entirety of the outer perimeter of the lower skirt 14.

If someone were to attempt to pry off closure 10 from the container by applying a force with a screwdriver, mechanical object or the like in an effort to introduce contaminants into the container, the tamper evident strip(s) 20 formed between the vertical tear membranes 18 would fracture and the strip(s) 20 would separate from the container due to the force applied to the lower skirt 14 from the mechanical object used to pry off closure 10. The separation of one or a number of the vertical strip(s) 20 from the closure 10 would visually demonstrate that the closure 10 had been tampered with and that the contents of the container should not be consumed due to the risk of possible contamination.

FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2, the internal surface of upper skirt 6 (of the top section 12) may be provided with a number of helical threads 20. Five helical threads 20 are provided in upper skirt 6, but it will be readily appreciated that a lesser or greater number of helical threads 20 could be provided in upper skirt 6. The number of helical threads 20 provided in upper skirt 6 is not to be considered a limitation of the invention.

The helical threads 20 are optionally provided along a portion of a circumference 22 of upper skirt 6. The helical threads 20 may be provided along about 60 degrees to about 120 degrees of the circumference 22 of upper skirt 6, but it will be readily appreciated that the helical threads 20 could be provided along a lesser portion or a greater portion of the circumference 22 of upper skirt 6. The radial distance that the helical threads 20 pass along the circumference 22 of upper skirt 6 is not to be considered a limitation of the invention. The helical threads 20 provided on an internal surface of upper skirt 6 are structured to threadedly engage the top section 12 with threads (not shown) provided on the outer diameter of the neck of the container in order to provide liquid tightness of the closure 10 with the container and maintain hygienic properties of the container. The helical threads 20 allow the closure 10 to be rotatably engaged or to be rotatably disengaged with the threads on the neck of the container.

As shown in FIG. 2, the internal surface of the tamper evident strip(s) 20 within the lower skirt 14 can have a ratchet 26 provided thereon. At least one, some, or all of the tamper evident strip(s) 20 have a ratchet 26 on its internal surface. The ratchet 26 has a general obtuse triangular appearance in a bottom plan view (FIG. 2) of the ratchet 26. Alternatively, the ratchet 26 could have a general acute triangular appearance (not shown) or a general right angle triangular appearance (not shown) in the bottom plan view of the ratchet 26. The ratchet 26 increases the engagement of lower skirt 14 with the neck of the container. In an embodiment, the ratchet 26 can extend along the entirety of the inner perimeter of lower skirt 14.

The ratchet 26 ensures that the lower skirt 14 is engaged with the outside diameter of the container and assists to compensate for those containers that are below specification at the outside diameter of the container. Such out of specification containers are susceptible to removal with a horizontal pilfer or tear band still intact by rotatably disengaging the closure from the container.

If someone were to attempt to rotatably disengage the closure 10 from the container in an effort to introduce contaminants into the container without damaging the lower skirt 14, the number of ratchets 26 would stop the rotatable disengagement of the vertical tear membrane(s) 18 between adjacent tamper evident strip(s) 20. The vertical tear membrane(s) 18 would fracture and the strip(s) 20 would separate from the container due to the rotatable force applied to the lower skirt 14 in the effort to rotatably disengage the closure 10. The separation of the strip(s) 20 from the container would visually demonstrate that the closure 10 had been tampered with and that the contents of the container should not be consumed due to the risk of possible contamination.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a closure according to another embodiment of the invention. In an aspect of the present invention, as shown in FIG. 3, the lower skirt 14 includes a removable tab 16 that is coupled thereto. The removable tab 16 can be positioned between two vertical tear membranes 18. When closure 10 is removed from the container for the first time, a user grips the tab 16 and applies a pulling force (e.g., horizontally) on the tab 16 which may result in removing the tamper evident strip(s) 20 and the lower skirt 14 partially or in its entirety, to facilitate removal of the closure 10 from the neck of the container.

In one aspect of the invention, the lower skirt 14 may include four vertical tear membranes 18. A removable tab 16 can be positioned between two of the vertical tear membranes. Further, three tamper evident strips 20 can be positioned between the four vertical tear membranes 18. The vertical tear membranes can be spaced apart such as to form equivalent tamper evident strips 20. The tab 16 and the three tamper evident strips 20 together extend over the entire circumference of the lower skirt 14.

In an embodiment, the tab 16 may be coupled to a frangible band (not shown) formed in the lower skirt 14. The frangible band would be structured to be broken by applying a pulling force on the tab 16 to facilitate removal of the closure 10 from the neck of the container.

Once the lower skirt 14, or at least a portion thereof, has been initially removed from the closure 10, the top section 12 may be disengaged by from the neck of a container, for example, by turning the upper skirt 6 in a counter clockwise direction. The closure 10 then can be completely removed from the container. The contents of the container can be dispensed and if any contents remain in the container, the closure 10 may be coupled to the container by replacing the top section 12 onto the open end of the container, for example, by turning the upper skirt 6 in a clockwise direction, to reseal the container.

As shown in FIG. 3, the external surface of upper skirt 6 can include a number of vertical indentations 7 to allow the user to more easily grip and rotate the top section 12 to open the closure 10 and securely close the closure 10 on the container. The number of vertical indentations can vary and is not considered to be a limitation of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the internal surface of the top section 12 may be provided with an annular skirt, inner skirt 18, that is integrally coupled to the top section 12 that extends downwardly in an axial direction from the top section 12 in a coaxial relationship with the upper skirt 6. Inner skirt 18 extends in the same direction as upper skirt 6. Inner skirt 18 is structured to engage an inner diameter of the open end of the neck of the container and upper skirt 6 is structured to engage an outer diameter of the open end of the neck of the container.

Inner skirt 18 extends downwardly from the cover 12 and terminates at a lower end in a generally tapered surface 28. A portion of a first wall 30 of upper skirt 6 is located in opposed relation to a second wall 32 of inner skirt 18. A recess 34 is defined between the opposed walls 30, 32. The recess 34 is structured to receive an open end of the container and seal the container in order to provide liquid tightness of closure 10 with the container and maintain hygienic properties of the container.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of a closure according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 5, external upper surface 8 of top section 12 of closure 10 may also be provided with a dimple 24 that is generally located in the center of flat upper surface 8 of top section 12.

In an aspect of the present invention, the upper skirt 6 and lower skirt 14 can be joined by band of minimum thickness that extends around the entire circumference of closure 10. In another aspect, upper skirt 6 can be connected to lower skirt 14 by one or more plastic spokes. The spoke(s) can extend vertically between the upper skirt 6 and the lower skirt 14. When a plurality of spokes are used, the spokes can be spaced apart, equally or unequally, around the entire circumference of closure 10. Upon disengaging or opening closure 10 by twisting or rotating closure 10, the thin band or the spoke(s) can be structured to tear away from the upper and/or lower skirts 6,14 such that the upper and lower skirts 6,14 are at least partially torn away from each other, to facilitate opening of closure 10.

The entire closure 10 including the top section 12, the various skirts 6, 14, 18, tab 16, and all the other elements that are components of such elements can be molded in one single piece, without having to add additional components by welding, gluing or other combination of pieces. The one-piece closure 10 mold also allows the closure 10 to be manufactured in any desired color, which is not practically possible when the closure 10 is made of several pieces of plastic material that must be assembled by welding, gluing or by any other means.

It is contemplated that the tamper evident closure can be combined with a wide variety of containers to provide indication of whether the contents of the container has been tampered with and/or contaminated.

While specific embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. Accordingly, the particular arrangements disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention.