Title:
CONTAINER BASE AND LID WITH PLANAR AREA FOR FLAT APPLICATION OF ADHESIVE MEMBRANE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a container (40) of the type to hold fresh food or produce. Container (40) has a base (42) and a lid (44) moveable with respect to the base (42) between an open position and a closed position. The lid (44) has a first planar area (54). The base has a second planar area (56). In the closed position, the first planar area (54) and the second planar area (56) include a substantially flat area suitable for receipt of an adhesive membrane, such as a self-adhesive label. The substantially flat area includes an edge (55) of the first planar area (54) and at least part of the second planar area (56).



Inventors:
Tabone, Maurice Joseph Paul (Tahmoor, AU)
Application Number:
12/449556
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
02/12/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/459.5, 220/359.1, 220/745, 206/1.5
International Classes:
B65D43/00; B65D1/26; B65D53/08; B65D55/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20040099665Easy-opening can end and a conversion press and tools for producing the sameMay, 2004Mceldowney et al.
20050230401Drinking cupOctober, 2005Hanson
20040163972Key hiding deviceAugust, 2004Buckley
20100018964CONTAINER WITH INTERIOR ENCLOSURE OF COMPOSITE MATERIAL HAVING EMBEDDED SECURITY ELEMENTJanuary, 2010Smith
20090223981SANITARY BARRIER FOR BEVERAGE CONTAINER LIDSeptember, 2009Levey
20080170388Cooler with a lid which contains a light that is activated as the lid is openedJuly, 2008Greil
20040134917Paint tray linerJuly, 2004Carnegie
20050092760Beverage bottle convertible to stemmed drinking glassMay, 2005Westerhold



Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Niro McAndrews, LLP (Ogden Dunes, IN, US)
Claims:
1. A container having an internal volume, a base and a lid moveable with respect to the base between an open position and a closed position, the base having a rim, the lid having a first planar area and the base having a second planar area located on an extension of the rim, wherein, in the closed position, the first and second planar areas include a substantially flat area suitable for receipt of an adhesive membrane, the substantially flat area including an edge of the first planar area and at least part of the second planar area and wherein at least part of the first planar area of the lid is within a footprint of the internal volume.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein the base includes a floor and upwardly extending side walls, at least one of which has the rim.

3. (canceled)

4. The container of claim 1 which is square or rectangular in cross section.

5. The container of claim 1 wherein the lid is hinged to the base.

6. The container of claim 1 wherein the lid is separate from the base.

7. The container of claim 1 wherein the lid is in two or more parts, each of which is hinged to the base.

8. The container of claim 7 wherein the or each hinge is located on one edge of the lid or of each lid and the substantially flat area does not include that edge.

9. The container of claim 1 wherein the lid and/or the base includes means for mechanical locking.

10. The container of claim 1 which includes one or more ventilation holes, ribs, depressions or recesses.

11. (canceled)

12. The container of claim 1 wherein the adhesive membrane is a self-adhesive label.

13. The container of claim 1 which has a plurality of first planar areas and a plurality of second planar areas.

14. (canceled)

15. A container having a base and a lid moveable with respect to the base between an open position and a closed position, the lid having a first planar area and the base having a second planar area, wherein in the closed position, the first and second planar areas include a substantially flat area suitable for receipt of an adhesive membrane, the substantially flat area including an edge of the first planar area and at least part of the second planar area, and wherein the first planar area is disposed at an oblique angle to some or all of the lid and wherein the base includes a floor and upwardly extending side walls at least one of which has a rim, and the second planar area is inclined at an angle to the rim.

16. The container of claim 15 wherein the lid is hinged to the base.

17. The container of claim 15 wherein the lid is separate from the base.

18. The container of claim 15 wherein the lid and/or the base includes means for mechanical locking.

19. The container of claim 15 which includes one or more ventilation holes, ribs, depressions or recesses.

20. The container of claim 15 which has a plurality of first planar areas and a plurality of second planar areas.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to containers. In particular, this invention relates to containers intended to hold fresh food or produce, although the scope of the invention is not limited to this area. The invention is especially concerned with containers in a form which can facilitate application of labels, such as tamper evident labels.

Priority is claimed of Australian Patent Application Nos 2007900654 and 2007902246, the contents of the specifications of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Thermoformed containers suitable for holding fresh food or produce are in common use. Traditionally, these have consisted of a base with a lid, the lid being hinged to the base or separate therefrom. In order to secure the lid to the base, these known containers require one or more labels to be adhered to both the lid and the base in a “wrap around” fashion. In high output operations, there is a problem in applying a “wrap around” (non-flat) label because automated equipment is generally designed for flat label application.

In addition, labels applied to containers of this type often carry a barcode, usually along with other information. There can be problems in scanning barcodes on non-flat labels. Consequently, from this point of view, a flat label would be preferred.

It is an object of the present invention, at least in some embodiments, to provide a container configuration which permits flat application of labels.

More recently, a dual hinged lid container has been devised. Reference is made to Australian patent No 2003234951. The specification of this patent discloses a container having a lid provided in two parts, each part being hinged to the base. When both lids are closed, there is available a generally flat area across the lid edges in the centre of the container top to permit a flat label to be applied. The flat label so applied can act as a tamper evident seal.

While this prior art dual hinged lidded container can work admirably in many applications, there are instances where it is undesirable to apply a label across a join in the centre of a container lid in this manner. For example, the label may obstruct a consumer's view of contents of the container, especially where there is a relatively high label-to-lid area ratio. As another example, on larger containers, a regular sized label may prove inadequate to give a tamper evident seal. If the size of the label were to be increased, this would add to label cost and may prove uneconomical. In other instances, it may be desirable to provide a container with increased security.

It is an object of the present invention, at least in some embodiments, to alleviate some or all of these concerns or, at the least, to provide a useful alternative which is appropriate for containers of different shapes and sizes.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention provides a container having a base and a lid moveable with respect to the base between an open position and a closed position, the lid having a first planar area and the base having a second planar area, wherein, in the closed position, the first and second planar areas include a substantially flat area suitable for receipt of an adhesive membrane, the substantially flat area including an edge of the first planar area and at least part of the second planar area.

The container of the invention may be made of any suitable material but preferably is a thermoformed, relatively thin plastic material, as is presently known in the art. Examples of suitable thermoformable plastic material are polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyactide (PLA) and biaxially oriented polystyrene (BOPS). The container may be of any desirable shape. Currently, most popular containers of this type are square or rectangular in cross section and these are encompassed by the present invention, along with other shapes.

The base preferably includes a floor and upwardly extending side walls. Preferably, all or at least one of the side walls end at a rim which, in some embodiments, may include the second planar area. If desired, the rim may include means for supporting the container during the selling process. For example, the rim may include a hang sell hole for “off-shelf” display.

The lid or the base may include ventilation holes, ribs or arches or any other modifications suited to intended contents and/or conditions of sale.

The base and upstanding side walls may define an opening which, in use, is horizontal. However, other variations are possible. For example, the base may define an opening which, in use, is vertical and intended to be closed by a lid in a vertical orientation in use.

The lid is moveable with respect to the base between an open position and a closed position. The lid may be hinged or otherwise attached to the base in any suitable manner. Alternately, the lid may be separate from the base, in which case it may be desirable to have two or more first planar areas on the lid and correspondingly two or more second planar areas on the base if tamper evidence is required.

The lid may be generally flat or it may include shaped portions (such as one or more domes, ribs or arches) in addition to the first planar area. Optionally, the lid may include one or more recessed portions which may be useful for storing items which a consumer may require once the container has been opened. Such items may include cutlery, dressings and condiments.

The lid may be of known type, for example an “inside fitting” or an “outside fitting” lid in relation to the base when closed.

The lid may be a single lid or may be a multi-part lid. For example, the invention is applicable to the type of dual-lidded container in Australian patent No. 2003234951. An embodiment is shown in the drawings, below. The lid may have more than two parts.

The lid and/or the base may include any suitable mechanical locking mechanisms, such as one or more projections, each receivable in a recess with an interference-type fit. These may be located on surfaces which, in use, are horizontal or vertical, for example. Another example of a locking mechanism is a channel style lock.

The first planar area is on the lid and preferably is greater than 5 cm2. The first planar area is preferably located adjacent an edge of the lid since, when a label or other adhesive membrane is applied, at least part of the purpose is to secure the lid to the base. In a preferred embodiment, the first planar area is located opposite a hinged edge of the lid, when the lid is hinged to be base. However, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to this. The first planar area may be located adjacent any edge of the lid or in any other desired location. For example, the first planar area may be located on a side of the lid (approximately vertical in use.)

The first planar area may be generally parallel to a floor in the base. However, other configurations are possible. For example, the first planar area may be disposed at an angle to some or all of the remainder of the lid. An example is illustrated in the drawings, below.

The second planar area is on the base. This may take any suitable form and many variations are possible. By way of example, the second planar area may be located on a rim for the base or on an extension thereof, optionally inclined at an angle to the rim. The lid may be contoured for a snug fit with the second planar area.

The substantially flat area suitable for receipt of an adhesive membrane includes an edge of the first planar area and at least part of the second planar area. It is intended, or course, that the adhesive membrane (preferably an adhesive label) may be applied to the substantially flat area, connecting the lid and the base in the area of the edge of the first planar area included in the substantially flat area. The first and second planar areas may be adjacent or they may partially overlap. In one view, they may be regarded as generally coplanar, although, strictly speaking, where there is a simple overlap there will be a small step from the first planar area to the second planar area.

The edge of the first planar area may simply abut at least part of the second planar area. In another embodiment, the edge of the first planar area may form a chamfered abutment with at least part of the second planar area. In yet another embodiment, an edge of the first planar area surrounds the second planar area.

The substantially flat area is preferably located at an opposite side of the container to the hinge, or opposite each hinge when there is more than one. However, the invention is not limited to this configuration.

It will be appreciated that when the lid is in the closed position, the substantially flat area is preferably suitable for application of an adhesive membrane, such as a self adhesive label applied by an automated applicator in a generally flat fashion.

While the adhesive membrane is preferably a self adhesive label, it may also take other forms. For example, it may be a heat sealable lidding film of plastic, foil or other sheet material.

If desired, the adhesive membrane may have a perforation or other area of weakness locatable at or adjacent the edge of the first planar area within the substantially flat area. The purpose of this is to simplify opening of the container by the consumer.

If there are two or more first planar areas and second planar areas, the adhesive membrane may be applied to all of these, or some of these, or to one first planar area and one second planar area only.

If desired, the container of the invention may be designed so as to be nestable or stackable with identical or similar containers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be described in relation to certain non-limiting examples thereof in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first embodiment of container according to the invention, showing a lid, hinged to the base in the open position;

FIG. 2 corresponds to the embodiment in FIG. 1, but showing the lid in the closed position;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation of the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, with the lid in the closed position;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of container according to the invention, having a lid separate from the base;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the embodiment in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a detail of the circled portion of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation of the embodiment of FIG. 4;

FIG. 9 is a side elevation of the embodiment of FIG. 4;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a further embodiment in the open position;

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, showing the lid in the closed position;

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a further embodiment in the open position;

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 12 in the closed position;

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of a further embodiment in the open position;

FIG. 15 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 14 in the closed position;

FIG. 16 is a top plan view of a further embodiment in the open position;

FIG. 17 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 16 in the closed position;

FIG. 18 is a side elevation of a further embodiment, where the first and second planar areas are at an angle to the base and lid, the lid being in the open position in this Figure;

FIG. 19 shows the embodiment of FIG. 18, with the lid in the closed position;

FIG. 20 is a side elevation of a further embodiment where the first and second planar areas are at an angle to the lid and base, showing the open position;

FIG. 21 shows the embodiment in FIG. 20 in the closed position;

FIG. 22 is a top plan view of a further embodiment wherein the lid is in more than one part, showing the lid parts in the open position;

FIG. 23 shows the FIG. 22 embodiment with the lid parts in the closed position;

FIG. 24 is a top plan view of a further embodiment, showing the open position;

FIG. 25 shows the FIG. 24 embodiment in the closed position;

FIG. 26 shows yet a further embodiment, being a top plan view in the open position; and

FIG. 27 shows the FIG. 26 embodiment in the closed position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring first to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, the first embodiment of the container of the invention, designated generally as 10, has a base 12 and a lid 14, hinged to base 12 at hinge 16. Rims 15 have ramp portions 17.

Base 12 has upwardly extending sidewalls 18 defining an opening 20 through which products are inserted into container 10 before lid 14 is closed. At the top end of walls 18 of base 12 are rims 22 (refer FIG. 1), each of which has a ramp portion 23.

Lid 14 in this embodiment has a first planar area 24 which, in this embodiment, comprises virtually the whole of lid 14. The second planar area is formed by rim portion 26 which, as can be seen in FIG. 1, is wider than rims 22. Ramp portion 23 is inclined upwardly from rim 22 to rim 26.

In the closed position, illustrated in FIG. 2, first planar area 24 has mated with second planar area—rim 26—to form a substantially flat area in which edge 28 of lid 14 has mated with rim 26 of base 12, chamfer 30 being formed between them, using ramp portion 23. Adhesive label 32 is shown in place in FIG. 2.

As can be seen in FIG. 1, sidewalls 18 of base 12 are tapered towards floor 34, corners 36 being rounded as illustrated.

Margin 15 on lid 14 can include locking means to lock lid 14 to base 12 via rims 22.

Turning now to the second embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 4 to 9, the container of the invention, designated generally as 40, has a base 42 and a separate lid 44, with upwardly extending side walls 48 defining an opening 50 through which product may be inserted before lid 44 is closed. Base 42 has a rim 52 with a pair of enlarged portions 56, comprising in this embodiment second planar areas.

Lid 44 has a first planar area 54 defined by ribs 38 and edges 55.

A single label (not shown) can extend over the whole of first planar area 54 and both second planar areas 56. Alternately, two separate labels may be used, the first covering part of first planar area 54 and one of the adjacent second planar areas 56, while the over covers part of first planar area 54 and the adjacent second planar area 56, leaving free central portion 46 of lid 44.

As shown in FIG. 6, each of second planar areas 56 may include an aperture or recess 58. A sharp object may be inserted through a label (not shown) covering first planar area 54, second planar area 56 and aperture 58, to tear the label through aperture 58, to assist in removing lid 44 from base 42.

In this embodiment, lid 44 also includes removal tabs 62, to assist in removing lid 44 from base 42.

Container 40 may include vents (not shown) and depression 64 in floor 66 of base 42, as desired (refer FIG. 8). Container 40 may also include one or more recessed portions in lid 44. These may be included in central portion 46 or in another desired location. It is preferred that any such recessed portion is sealed by a label.

A third embodiment is shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, where container 70 has base 72 hinged to lid 74 at 16. Lid 74 is cut away at 76 and base 72 has flat portions 78. As can be seen in FIG. 11, when lid 74 is closed on base 72, cut aways 76 leave flat portions 78 exposed. When a label 60, shown in dotted outline in FIG. 11, is placed over first planar area 68 of lid 74 and over flat portion 78 (second planar areas) of base 72, lid 74 is effectively sealed to base 72. Flat portions 78 stand proud of rim 22, so that when exposed by cut-outs 76 of lid 74, first planar area 68 is substantially co-planar with flat portions 78.

The next embodiment in FIGS. 12 and 13 is similar to that in FIGS. 10 and 11 and the same numbers have been used to indicate the same or similar parts, with the addition of the letter “a”. Whereas in the FIGS. 10 and 11 embodiment the cut-away portions 76 on lid 74 were centred in an edge of lid 74, in the FIGS. 12 and 13 embodiment cut-away portions 76a are located in two opposite corners of lid 74a.

Similarly, flat portions 78a are located at corners of base 72a.

As was the case with the previous embodiment, when lid 74a is closed on base 72a, flat portions 78a are substantially co-planar with first planar area 68a.

The next embodiment shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 shows container 80 having base 82 and lid 84. Base 82 has narrow rims 22 and expanded rim 86. Expanded rim 86 includes further portion 88 with hang sell hole 90, to enable container 80 to be displayed on a hanger.

Expanded rim 86 is designed so that, when lid 84 is closed on container 82, expanded rim 86 is substantially co-planar with lid 84, which in this embodiment comprises the first planar area.

As can be seen in FIG. 15, label 60 can be affixed to cover the right hand side of lid 84 and expanded rim 86.

The embodiment in FIGS. 16 and 17 is similar to that shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 and 12 and 13. The same labels will be used to designate the same or similar parts, with the addition of the letter “b”.

Container 70b has base 72b and lid 74b, hinged at 16. Cut-away 76b on lid 74b is designed to expose flat portion 78b on base 72b in the closed position (FIG. 17). Flat portion 78b stands proud of rim 22 so that first planar area 68b is substantially co-planar with flat portion 78b.

This embodiment includes lock lugs 92 designed for a friction fit into lock recesses 94 on base 72b. As can be seen from FIG. 17, when label 60 is affixed, it covers not only first planar area 68b and flat portion 78b but also lock lugs 92.

The embodiments in FIGS. 18 to 21 illustrate how the first and second planar areas may be disposed at an angle to the lid and to a rim on the base.

Referring first to FIGS. 18 and 19, container 100 has lid 104 hinged to base 102 at 16. Lid 104 includes extension 106 which, in use, is inclined upwardly at an obtuse angle from lid 104.

Base 102 has rim 22 which has extension 108, in use inclined at an obtuse angle from rim 22.

In the closed position, extension 106 is designed to mate with extension 108. Extension 106 has one or more cut-outs, similar to those already illustrated in FIGS. 10 to 13 or 16 and 17, so that a flat label 60 applied to extension 106 will bind extension 106 to extension 108, exposed by the cut-out or cut-outs.

The embodiment in FIGS. 20 and 21 is a variation of that in FIGS. 18 and 19 and the same labels will be used, with the addition of the letter “a”. In this embodiment, lid 104a ends in flat portion 106a. Rim 22 on base 102a has a downwardly extending extension 108a.

In the closed position, extension 106a mates with extension 108a along margin 98 to provide a substantially co-planar surface 96 on which a label 60 (not shown) may be placed to seal lid 104a to base 102a.

It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the embodiments in FIGS. 18 to 21 may be adapted to containers with separate lids. In that case, it is preferred that there are two extensions 106 (or 106a) and two extensions 108 (or 108a).

Reference is now made to the embodiment in FIGS. 22 and 23. In this embodiment, container 110 has base 112 as shown in FIG. 22. However, the lid is in two parts, 114a and 114b. Lid part 114a is hinged to base 112 at 16a while lid part 114b is hinged to base 112 at hinge 16b.

Each of lid parts 114a and 114b has a pair of cut-aways, 116a and 116b. When lid parts 114a and 114b are in the closed position as shown in FIG. 23, cut-aways 116a and 116b expose flat portions 118 on base 112. Lid parts 114a and 114b may meet or overlap in known manner, for example as described in Australian patent specification No 2003234951, the contents of which are encorporated herein by reference. Nevertheless, each of lid parts 114a and 114b provide a first planar area which is substantially co-planar with flat portion 118 on base 112. In this way, when lid parts 114a and 114b are in the closed position, label 60 can be applied on the substantially flat area so provided.

Referring now the embodiment in FIGS. 24 and 25, container 130 has base 122 hinged to lid 124 at hinge 16. Lid 124 has diecut holes 126. Lid 124 is generally flat to provide the first planar area.

Base 122 has formed sections 128, the top, flat part of which comprise the second planar areas. As can be seen by FIG. 25, in the closed position formed sections 128 mate with diecut holes 126 to form a substantially flat surface. A label (not shown) may be applied to cover both formed sections 128 and the intervening part of lid 124. Alternately, separate labels may be applied.

The embodiment in FIGS. 26 to 27 is similar to that in FIGS. 24 to 25; however, in container 140 in FIGS. 26 to 27, base 132 is separate from lid 134. In addition, there are four diecut holes 136 and correspondingly four formed sections 138. Like the embodiment in FIGS. 24 and 25, when lid 134 which is of the “outside fitting” type, is placed on base 132, sections 138 protrude into diecut holes 136 to provide a substantially flat area for label application.

It will be appreciated from the various embodiments described above that the container of the invention can be produced in a wide number of forms and that, in addition, a single form may be suitable for application of different types of labels. Lids may be hinged or separate.

Lids may be substantially flat or they may be shaped, with ridges, ribs, domes as non-limiting examples of shaping. Especially in the case of substantially flat lids, these may be designed to mate with the base so that the second planar area or areas can appear on, for example, opposing sides of the lid, opposing corners of the lid or on one side of the lid, opposite the hinge. In the case of a lid which is a dual lid, with two hinges, the second planar areas may be on two opposing sides (viewing the closed lid in plan view), or on four corners, for example.

In the case of a separate lid, once again viewing the container in plan view in the closed position, the second planar areas may be in each of four corners, on two opposing sides, on two diagonal corners, around all four sides or separately on each of four sides. These are a selection only of possible combinations. Others will be apparent to one skilled in the art.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The container of the invention can be adapted to any currently known container design, whether having a single lid or a multi-part lid. The invention allows for manual or high speed automatic closure and flat, self adhesive label application providing tamper evidence, while at the same time employing a minimum number of moving parts.

The container of the invention can offer important tamper evidence capabilities while maintaining minimal obstruction of vision through the container lid. For certain applications, the container of the invention will also allow alternate graphic methods to be successfully used, such as pre-printing, branding and nutritional information onto the lid area, thus reducing label requirements to a smaller, basic tamper evident label only.