Title:
LID FOR TOBACCO CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved lid for a tobacco container is provided. The lid includes a top and a circumferential sidewall transverse thereto. The sidewall is unitarily formed with the top and depends downwardly therefrom. The sidewall includes a strengthening feature. In an embodiment, the strengthening feature allows the lid to be interlocked to a tobacco container. In a further embodiment, the strengthening feature permits a thin walled sheet metal to be utilized to manufacture of the lid.



Inventors:
Hoffman, Gregg (Rockford, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/476405
Publication Date:
01/21/2010
Filing Date:
06/02/2009
Assignee:
J.L. CLARK, INC. (Rockford, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
72/370.1, 206/242
International Classes:
B65D85/10; B21D41/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050133387Nighttime locatable dispenserJune, 2005Cohen et al.
20010027931Transport packing for fragile goodsOctober, 2001Sollbohmer et al.
20040173488Disposal device for sampling materialsSeptember, 2004Griffin et al.
20100016821Male Incontinence Product and Package ThereforJanuary, 2010Bjerregaard
20060006082Golf bag with self actuating standJanuary, 2006Fair et al.
20060108243Do-it-yourself golf bag and assembly method thereofMay, 2006Tan
20080264811CONSTRUCTION KIT FOR A MANIPULATING SYSTEMOctober, 2008Dirschbacher
20040055905Container package with carrier and surrounding sleeveMarch, 2004Marco et al.
20050072703Tool receiving deviceApril, 2005Hu
20090045091Carrying case for personal articlesFebruary, 2009O' et al.
20090145799Package Comprising DetergentJune, 2009Lamb et al.



Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REINHART BOERNER VAN DEUREN P.C. (ROCKFORD, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A metal lid for a tobacco container comprising: a sheet metal body having a thickness of less than 0.007 inches, the sheet metal body being formed into a lid for a tobacco container and having an annular periphery of between about two and about four inches with a sidewall depending downward and having a strengthening feature formed thereon to accommodate the reduced gauge thickness.

2. The metal lid of claim 1 wherein the sidewall maintains a constant radial distance from a center of the lid while depending downward from the upper wall.

3. The metal lid of claim 1 wherein the sheet metal body is formed of a double reduced sheet steel having a reduced gauge of less than sixty five pounds to provide a thickness of less than 0.007 inches.

4. The metal lid of claim 1 wherein the sidewall depends downward a distance of between about 1/16 to about 1 inch.

5. The metal lid of claim 1 wherein the strengthening feature is a curl, having a first curved section extending radially inward from an outer annular wall segment of the sidewall to a radially innermost radial apogee, a second curved section beginning at the radial apogee and transitioning from extending radially inward to radially outward, and a third curved section extending radially inward and terminating proximate the outer annular wall segment, wherein the first, second, and third curved sections define an annular channel such that the radial apogee is radially inward of the outer annular wall segment a distance greater than a thickness of the sheet metal body.

6. The metal lid of claim 5 wherein the curl is partially flattened to include top and bottom curved segments and a flattened extension segment joining the two, the flattened extension being flatter relative to the top and bottom curved segments.

7. The tobacco container of claim 1 wherein the lid has an outer diameter of between about 2 and 5½ inches.

8. The tobacco container of claim 1 wherein the lid is formed from a single unitary piece of sheet metal.

9. The tobacco container of claim 5 wherein the outer annular wall segment and the curl form a hook shaped profile.

10. A method for manufacturing a metal lid for a tobacco container comprising the steps of: selecting a sheet metal that is less than sixty five pound double reduced steel sheet material; forming a lid having a circular periphery and a sidewall from the sheet steel; and curling a distal end of the sidewall.

11. The method of claim 10 further including the step of folding a portion of the sidewall radially inward displacing the curl therewith.

12. The method of claim 10 wherein the step of folding a portion of the sidewall radially inward is accomplished by using a single tool.

13. The method of claim 10 wherein the step of folding a portion of the sidewall radially inward is accomplished by using a plurality of tooling, said plurality progressively decreasing an angle between the folded portion of the sidewall.

14. The method of claim 10 wherein the steps of forming a sheet metal body and forming a curl are done using a single tool.

15. A tobacco container comprising: a sheet metal body formed into a lid for the tobacco container, said lid having an upper wall with a radius of between about 1 to about 3 inches, an annular sidewall depending downward from the upper wall and having a terminating end, wherein a radially inward extending curl is formed by the terminating end.

16. The tobacco container of claim 15 wherein the curl has a first curved section extending radially inward from an outer annular wall segment of the sidewall to a radially innermost radial apogee of the curl, the radial apogee is radially inward of the outer annular wall segment a distance greater than a thickness of the annular sheet metal body, a second curved section beginning at the radial apogee and extending to an axial apogee, and a third curved section extending radially inward from the axial apogee and terminating proximate the outer annular wall segment, wherein the first, second, and third curved sections define an annular channel such that the radial apogee is radially inward of the outer annular wall segment a distance greater than a thickness of the sheet metal body.

17. The tobacco container of claim 15 wherein the curl is partially flattened and includes top and bottom curved segments and a flattened extension segment joining the two, the flattened extension being generally parallel to and radially inward of an outer wall segment of the sidewall, the bottom curved segment connects the curl to an outer wall segment of the annular sidewall.

18. The tobacco container of claim 16 wherein the third curved section of the curl contacts an inner surface of the outer annular wall segment.

19. The tobacco container of claim 15 further comprising a container bottom comprising: a bottom wall; an annular sidewall depending axially upward from the bottom wall; and a bead located on the annular sidewall of the container bottom and adapted to interlock with the curl to secure the lid to the container bottom.

20. The tobacco container of claim 19 wherein the curl releasably interlocks with the bead.

21. The tobacco container of claim 20 wherein the lid sidewall forms a cylindrical outer surface when the lid is interlocked with container bottom.

22. The tobacco container of claim 19 wherein the container bottom is formed from a material selected from the group consisting of cardboard, plastic, and metal.

23. The tobacco container of claim 16 wherein the lid sidewall forms a cylindrical outer surface having a constant diameter.

24. The tobacco container of claim 16 further including an inner annular wall segment extending generally parallel to the outer annular segment, the inner annular wall segment coupled to the outer annular wall segment by a fold, the inner annular wall segment axially positioning the curl between the fold and the upper wall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/081,925, filed Jul. 18, 2008, the disclosure and teachings of which are incorporated herein, in their entireties, by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to lids for containers and, more particularly, to a lid for a tobacco container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Loose tobacco and related tobacco products are typically packaged and sold in disc-shaped containers. In many cases, the containers comprise a metal lid seated upon either a metal, plastic or cardboard container bottom. Often, a band-type label is adhesively secured over the seam between the lid and container to securely fasten the lid and the container. The band type label also typically will positively impact the freshness of the product. The label also typically includes print, images, and information regarding the tobacco product for a potential customer.

Conventionally, the lid includes a relatively flat top cover portion and a surrounding sidewall. The sidewall terminates in a cut edge. Considering that lids are often formed from metal (plastic lids are also common), a metal edge has the potential to be relatively sharp. If the sharp edges are not properly made smooth, a purchaser of the container may potentially risk suffering a laceration in one of their fingers when prying the lid from the container using the edges.

The interface between the container and the lid typically will have a snap fit to facilitate removal and attachment of the lid and the container. The interface between the lid and the container affects breathability and therefore freshness of the tobacco product contained therein. Thus, the interface between the lid and the container includes multiple configurations.

Further, the lid must be sufficiently strong to prevent flexure that can compromise the connection of the lid to the bottom. Typically, the strength of the lid is provided by using sheet metal material having a thickness of greater than or equal to 0.007 inches.

The present invention is directed towards improvements over the state of the art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An improved lid for a tobacco container is provided. The lid includes a strengthening feature that allows for a thin gauge sheet metal to be utilized. In an embodiment, the strengthening feature may be configured to be used to additionally interlock the lid to the container bottom.

In a further preferred embodiment, the metal lid has a sheet metal body having a reduced gauge thickness of less than 0.007 inches. In a further embodiment, the sheet metal is double reduced sheet steel. The sheet metal body is formed into a lid for a tobacco container and has a circular periphery of between about two and about four inches with a sidewall depending downward therefrom. The sidewall has a strengthening feature formed thereon to accommodate the reduced gauge thickness. The strengthening feature may be located at any height along the sidewall, from a distal end of the sidewall to any appropriate height to accommodate interlocking the lid to the container bottom.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a method for manufacturing a metal lid for a tobacco container comprising the steps of first selecting a sheet metal that is less than sixty five pound double reduced sheet steel material. A lid having a circular periphery is then formed from the sheet steel material, the lid having an upper wall and a sidewall with a distal end. The distal end of the sidewall is then curled radially inward. A further subsidiary step of this method may include folding a portion of the sidewall radially inward thereby displacing the curl therewith.

In yet another embodiment, a tobacco container is provided. The tobacco container comprises a sheet metal body formed into a lid for a tobacco container. The lid has an upper wall with a radius of between about 1 inch to about 2¾ inches and annular sidewall depending downward from the upper wall, and having a terminating end. A curl is formed on the terminating end, a curl is then formed on the terminating end. A further subsidiary feature of this embodiment may include a container bottom having a bottom wall and an annular sidewall having a bead located on the sidewall that is adapted to interlock with the lid. The curl may be partially flattened to include top and bottom curved segments and a flattened extension segment joining the two, the flattened extension being flatter relative to the top and bottom curved segments.

In one implementation, the curl functions as a strengthening feature allowing for a sheet metal with a gauge thickness of less than 0.007 inches to be used. In another implementation, the curl also functions as a connecting portion for cooperating with a corresponding connecting feature of the container bottom. In an even more preferred implementation, the strengthening feature is generally hook shaped in cross-section, having an arcuate head portion. More particularly, the hook shape of the illustrated embodiment is a circular hook shape.

Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a top and front perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a tobacco container including a lid accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross section view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the lid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged partial sectional view of the lid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the lid of the container of FIG. 1 further illustrating the lid installed on a container bottom;

FIG. 7 is a cross-section view of the lid of FIG. 1 illustrating an alternative embodiment of the lid; and

FIG. 8 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the lid of FIG. 7.

While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a container 10 is illustrated. The container 10 is typically employed to house chewing tobacco or other goods suitable for retail purchase by a consumer. In that regard, the container 10 has an overall size that allows a consumer to comfortably hold the container within the palm of a hand and to store the container within a shirt pocket or in the rear pocket of a pair of blue jeans. Typically the size for facilitating these tobacco container functions is approximately 2½ inches in diameter and approximately 1 inch in axial thickness. However, the container could be larger or smaller such as between 1½ and inches in diameter and between ½ and 1½ inches in axial thickness.

The tobacco container 10 may include features that make the container more aesthetically pleasing such as, for example, color, images or prints, labels, embossing, and the like. The container 10 may also be secured together by, for example, a band-type adhesive label (not shown) during a packaging process. After the label has been broken, the container 10 may be repeatedly opened and closed such that the consumer may access, as often as desired, a chosen amount of the contents stored in the container 10.

As shown in FIG. 1, the container 10 is formed when a generally cylindrical container bottom 12 receives a generally cylindrical lid 14 (a.k.a., cover). The container bottom 12 may be suitably formed from a variety of different materials, or combinations thereof, such as metal, plastic, cardboard, and the like. In the illustrated embodiment, the container bottom 12 is formed from a plastic material. The plastic of the container bottom 12 may be either transparent, translucent, or opaque depending on the desired use of the container 10 and whether the contents, or lack of contents, within the container are to be externally viewable.

Now referring to FIG. 2, the container bottom 12 is illustrated as generally cylindrical, having a bottom 94 and a sidewall 90 generally transverse to the bottom 94. The sidewall 90 has an inner and an outer face 91, 92. As will be described in more detail below, the container bottom 12 is adapted to receive and interlock with the lid 14.

Still referring to FIG. 2, in the illustrated embodiment the lid 14 is formed from a relatively thin piece of metal (e.g., sheet metal). Preferably, the lid is manufactured from a double reduced sheet steel that has a reduced gauge of less than sixty five pounds, thereby allowing the lid 14 to have a thickness of approximately no greater than 0.007 inches. However, due to the configuration of features of the lid 14 that are more fully described below, other metals such as, by way of non-limiting example only, aluminum or other steel materials may be used to produce the lid 14.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the lid 14 includes an upper wall 16 and a skirt in the form of a cylindrical sidewall 20. The juncture of the sidewall 20 and the upper wall 16 defines a shoulder 18 that may provide an optional upper annular recessed pocket for receiving an upper end of the container bottom 12. In the illustrated embodiment, the upper wall 16, shoulder 18, and sidewall 20 form a one piece construction, i.e. formed from a continuous single blank of material not from an assembly of parts. However, the upper wall 16 and sidewall 20 may be mechanically joined by welding, brazing, or other similar methods forming shoulder 18 such that the lid is an assembly of parts. As shown in FIG. 2, when the lid 14 is positioned or seated upon the container, an enclosed storage cavity 24 is defined within the container 10. The storage cavity 24 is where the tobacco products are held until removed by the consumer.

As depicted in FIG. 3, because the lid 14 and the container bottom 12 are both generally circular in shape, they define and share a common center point 26. The upper wall 16 of the lid 14 generally extends radially outwardly from the center point 26 between about ½ inch and about 2 inches. Therefore, the lid has a diameter 47 of between about one inch and about 4 inches. However, the diameter may be larger or smaller in other embodiments. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 2, the diameter 47 of the lid 14 is about 2.3 inches. Although a generally circular shape is illustrated, in other embodiments, the lid 14 and the container bottom 12 may be provided in other shapes.

Referring back to FIG. 2, the upper wall 16 includes both a bottom and a top surface 15, 17 (i.e., interior and exterior surface) facing in opposing directions. As the lid 14 is formed from sheet metal, the bottom and top surfaces 15, 17 are parallel to each other such that the upper wall 16 may be considered generally planar or flat. Although not shown, the upper wall 16 may include embossed letters, numbers, images, and the like (collectively “characters”). The embossed characters may project upwardly away from the container or project downwardly into the storage cavity 24. In that regard, the embossed characters either have a height or depth of about 0.015 of an inch or less.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, any embossed characters formed on the upper wall 16 are situated radially inward of an embossing limit 32 (represented by a dashed line) and within an embossing portion 34 of the upper wall 16. As shown, the embossing limit 32 generally extends radially outwardly from the center point 26 of the upper wall 16 about half an inch to about one inch. Therefore, a diameter 49 of the embossing limit 32 is about one inch to about two inches. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the diameter 49 of the embossing limit 32 is 1.85 inches.

Still referring to FIG. 3, in the illustrated embodiment, an annular non-embossed flat portion 36 of the upper wall 16 separates the shoulder 18 and the embossing portion 34. The purpose of this flat non-embossed portion 36 is to facilitate proper bending and folding operations (a.k.a. hemming operations) of the lid 14 sidewall 20 within tight tolerances during metal forming operations for proper interface, snap-fit and freshness functions. The inside diameter of the annular flat portion 36 is spaced apart from the center point 26 of the upper wall 16 between about ¾ inch and about 1¼ inches.

Moving to FIG. 4, as illustrated, the shoulder 18 is unitarily formed with the upper wall 16 and the sidewall 20. The shoulder 18 extends radially between about 0.05 of an inch and about 0.3 of an inch, and upwardly from the upper wall about 0.01 of an inch and about 0.2 inches. Alternatively, when there is no optional recessed section, the shoulder will not extend upwardly from the upper wall 16 at all and will merge directly into the upper wall 16.

Although illustrated in FIG. 5 as including the shoulder 18 having a radius 100 and a ramped portion 102 causing a recess to be formed in the upper wall 16, the upper wall 16 and sidewall 20 may form a juncture at the radius 100 and not incorporate a ramped portion 102. See for example FIGS. 7 and 8. In such an embodiment, the upper wall 16 is generally planar from the center of the lid 14 to its circular periphery. Further, as illustrated in FIG. 4, a flat may be formed between the radius and the ramped portion.

Returning to FIG. 5, an enlarged, partial cross-section of the lid 14 is illustrated. In the illustrated embodiment, the shoulder 18 includes the ramped segment 102 and the radius 100 that facilitates the transition from the upper wall 16 to sidewall 20. Extending circumferentially about the center 26 (See FIG. 3) and downwardly from the shoulder 18 is the sidewall 20. The sidewall 20 includes an outer annular wall segment 54, a fold 40, an inner annular wall segment 52, a transitional segment 112, and a curl 114, all of which also extend circumferentially about the center 26, forming generally annular features. As used herein annular may encompass more than circular and can include, for example, oblong, oval, elliptical, etc.

The inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 radially overlap and are joined by the fold 40. The outer annular wall segment 54 extends axially straight and away from the upper wall 16 and terminates at the fold 40. The inner annular wall segment 52 extends axially straight and toward the upper wall 16 starting from the fold 40 and terminating at the transitional segment 112. In a preferred embodiment, the inner annular wall segment 52 is generally parallel to the outer annular wall segment 54, albeit radially spaced inward therefrom. The inner annular wall segment 52 may extend axially upward a distance that may be varied in different embodiments in order to adjust the strength and rigidity of the lid, as well as accommodate interlocking with various configurations of container bottom 12. Further, the inner annular wall segment 52 may be entirely omitted, as will be discussed in more detail below.

Interposed between the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 is an annular gap 110, due to the wall segments 52, 54 being generally parallel to one another and radially overlapping. However, in alternative embodiments the gap 110 could be eliminated such that wall segments 52, 54 radially contact and/or the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 be skewed and not parallel. Further, wall segments 52, 54 may extend at slight angles relative to one another.

The transitional segment 112 extends radially inward of and away from the inner annular wall segment 52, and terminates at the curl 114. Once in its folded configuration described above, lid 14 has an overall height extending from the shoulder 18 to the fold 40 of between about 0.1 to about 0.5 inches, and more preferably about 0.25 inches.

Fold 40 provides a periphery that is rounded and smooth. Therefore, because the sidewall 20 incorporates the fold 40, it need not be smoothed, ground, buffed, or otherwise machined to eliminate a sharp edge. The fold 40 may therefore serve as a safety at the bottom of the lid 14. Also, the fold 40 allows the lid 14 to be more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively fabricated since there is no additional machining required to remove a sharp edge.

Still referring to FIG. 5, the curl 114, as illustrated, is hook shaped and includes a first curl segment 118, a radial apogee 120, a second curl segment 122, and a third curl segment 124. In the illustrated embodiment, the curl 114 is formed by a terminating end of sidewall 20. The curl 114 acts as a strengthening feature as well as a connecting feature for connecting the lid 14 to container bottom 12 as will be more fully described.

The first curl segment 118 is arcuate generally and extends generally radially inward. The first curl segment 118 begins at the transitional segment 112 and terminating at the radially inward radial apogee 120. The second curl segment 122 is arcuate generally and begins at the radial apogee 120 and extends radially outward to an axial apogee, closest to shoulder 18.

The third curl segment 124 begins at the axial apogee and bends axially back towards fold 40 and axially away from shoulder 18. The third curl segment 124 includes a portion that is generally tangent to an inner surface 126 of the outer annular wall segment 54. In one embodiment, the third curl segment 124 maintains engagement with the inner surface 126 of the outer annular wall segment 54. However, in other embodiments, third curl segment 124 need not contact sidewall 54. The first, second, and third curl segments 118, 122, 124 together define an annular channel 116.

While, as illustrated, curl 114 generally has a hook shape, it may be formed into a variety of other configurations. Typically, the radial apogee 120 of the curl 114 is radially inward from the inner surface 126 a distance of about 0.015 to about 0.15 inches, but is preferably about 0.025 inches. The curl 114 is typically interposed between the upper wall 16 and the transitional segment 112.

Further, the hook shape formed by the curl 114 and inner annular wall segment 52 radially inwardly offsets the radially inner apogee 120 of curl 114 inward from an inner surface of the inner annular wall segment 52. Thus, the hook shape, in cross-section, forms a generally “?” profile. These hook shapes are only when viewed in cross-section, and are actually annular structures.

The sidewall 20 and particularly the inclusion of the strengthening feature in the illustrated form of curl 114 provide a sufficient amount of strength and rigidity to allow the lid 14 to have a reduced wall thickness t than that of typical lids, preferably less than 0.007 inches thick.

Further, as the curl 114 is formed from a distal end portion of the inner annular wall segment 52, rather than a bead formed in the outer annular wall segment 54, the outer annular wall segment 54 has an outer surface that is substantially cylindrical (i.e. excluding the portions of the shoulder 18 and fold 40) with a constant radius at all axial locations along the outer annular wall segment 54. Thus, the container 10, when assembled, can form a substantially cylindrical container (i.e. excluding the shoulder 18, fold 40 and any gaps formed between the container lid 14 and container bottom 12).

The lid 14 is typically manufactured by forming the lid 14 in stages using a plurality of progressive tooling, such as progressive dies, rollers and the like. These stages may also be referred to as hemming.

After forming a generally cup-shaped member, a first tool is typically used to form the curl 114. A second tool may then be used to form fold 40 thereby defining the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 such that they are in an angular relationship and generally transverse and typically perpendicular to one another. A third tool may then be used to orient the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 such that they are generally parallel to one another. A fourth tool may be used to form the transitional segment 112 and place the inner annular wall segment 52 proximate to the inner surface 126 of the outer annular wall segment 54 and the third curled segment 124 against and in engageable contact with the inner surface 126.

In other embodiments, a single tool may be used to form the curl 114 and fold the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 such that they are generally transverse and typically perpendicular to one another. Also in other embodiments, and as opposed to using a progressive tooling process for locating the curl 114 in its final position, a single tool may be used to orient the inner and outer annular wall segments 52, 54 such that they are parallel and the third curl segment 124 is located in contact with the inner surface 126 of the outer annular wall segment 54, thus removing the need for the third tool as described above.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 2, the inner surface 15 of the upper wall 16, interior surface 126 of the outer annular wall segment 54, the inner annular wall segment 52, and the curl 114 are coated with a gold phenolic finish. Even so, in other embodiments other types of coatings or finishes may be applied to, or formed on, these interior surfaces.

Referring now to FIG. 6, the lid 14 is illustrated installed on the container bottom 12. An outer surface 92 of the container bottom 12 contains a circumferential bead 78. As such, when the lid 14 is installed and interlocked on the container 12, the curl 114 and the bead 78 are in direct contact and engaged with one another. As such, the curl 114 of the illustrated embodiment acts as both a strengthening feature as indicated above as well as a connector (a.k.a. a connecting feature) for securing the lid 14 to the container bottom 12. Once installed, there is an annular gap 56 radially between the inner annular wall segment and the outer surface 92 of the container 12. The annular gap 56 is typically between about 0.005 and about 0.050 of an inch.

The gap 56 aids in guiding the lid 14 onto the container 12. As illustrated, the lid 14 and the container bottom 12 may be telescopically coupled together to form the container 10 and hold the product. In addition, the gap 56 enables the consumer to better grasp or grab the lid 14, particularly the fold 40, with their fingers when separating the lid 14 from the container 12. To secure the lid 14 to the container, the lid 14 is biased axially downward until the curl 114 slips over the bead 78 forming an axial snap fit and/or interference fit therebetween.

An inner surface 93 of the shoulder 18 is in contact with a distal end 19 of the container sidewall 90, preventing the lid 14 from further downward axial movement. However, as described above, the lid 14 may also be supplied in a configuration that does not incorporate a shoulder 18 as illustrated. When supplied as such, the bottom surface 15 of the upper wall 16 may be in contact with the distal end 19 when the lid 14 is installed upon the container bottom 12. This contact provides a seal between the container bottom 12 and the lid 14.

To separate the lid 14 from the container bottom 12, the lid is biased axially upward until the curl 114 again slips over the bead 78. Once the curl 114 is vertically above the bead 78, the lid 14 may be freely lifted clearly of the container bottom 12 without further interference. The process of securing and removing the lid 14 to and from the container 12 may be repeated as often as access to the contents of the storage cavity 24 is desired. The bead 78 may be defined by a single continuous rib, projection or shoulder extending circumferentially about the container sidewall 90 or alternatively by a plurality of angularly spaced intermittent ribs, shoulders or projections.

Turning now to FIGS. 7 and 8, an alternative embodiment of the lid 214 is illustrated. A terminating end of the sidewall 220 is curled radially inward at fold 240 forming curl 252. In this embodiment, the upper wall 216 of lid 214 does not incorporate a recess. In this embodiment as illustrated, the upper wall 216 of the lid 214 meet at a junction defined by a shoulder 153.

Referring particularly to FIG. 8, a more detailed view of the curl 252 is illustrated. In the illustrated embodiment, the curl 252 has been mechanically flattened. As such, curl 252 includes fold 240 (a.k.a. a bottom curved segment), a flattened extension segment 258, and a top curved segment 260. The flattened extension segment 258 is thereby radially inward of the outer annular wall segment 254 a distance greater than at least the thickness of the sidewall 220. As illustrated, top curved segment 260 of the sidewall 220 does not engage the outer annular wall segment 254, thereby creating a radial gap 253 between a distal end of top curved segment 260 and the outer annular wall segment 254. The distal end of the top curved segment radially faces the inner surface of outer annular wall segment 254. However, the curl 252 may also be formed such that the top curved segment 260 engages the outer annular wall segment 254. The fold 240, the flattened extension segment 258, and the top curved segment 260 together define an annular channel 262 having a width greater than the thickness of the sidewall 20.

Still referring to FIG. 8, although illustrated as a flattened curl 252, the curl may also remain in an unflattened state, as shown in FIG. 6, i.e. by not flattening extension segment 258.

From the foregoing, those skilled in the art will recognize that the lid for the tobacco container has an improved strengthening feature, the curl, that allows for the lid to be machined from a sheet metal having wall thickness less then 0.007 inches, thus reducing overall material cost.

All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein container be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.