Title:
Apparatus For Cutting And Storing A Cigarette
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to an apparatus for cutting away a portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette. In one embodiment, the apparatus has a housing having a first interior compartment for storing a cigarette and a second interior compartment that is separate and sealed off from the first interior compartment. The housing has a first end that defines openings to the first and second interior compartments and a second end that defines an opening only to the second interior compartment. The housing has an exterior wall that is a part of the second interior compartment. The exterior wall has first and second openings that are located between the first and second ends of the housing. The second opening in the exterior wall is adjacent to the second end of the housing and is sized to receive a portion of a cigarette. The apparatus includes a cutting device movably positioned within the second interior compartment. The cutting device can move in a first direction toward the first end of the housing or in an opposite second direction toward the second end of the housing. The cutting device has a portion accessible through the first opening in the external wall of the housing so as to enable a user to move the cutting device either in the first direction or second direction. The cutting device includes a cutting blade. When a user inserts a portion of a cigarette into the second opening in the exterior wall of the housing and moves the cutting device in the second direction, the cutting blade cuts off a portion of the cigarette.



Inventors:
Bardelli, Anthony J. (Derby, CT, US)
Norboe Jr., George A. (Wallingford, CT, US)
Application Number:
13/579930
Publication Date:
10/17/2013
Filing Date:
02/23/2011
Assignee:
BARDELLI ANTHONY J.
NORBOE, JR. GEORGE A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A24F23/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
YAARY, ERIC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF RAYMOND A. NUZZO, LLC (EAST HAVEN, CT, US)
Claims:
1. 1-10. (canceled)

11. An apparatus for cutting away a used portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette, comprising: a housing having a first interior compartment for storing a cigarette and a second interior compartment that is separate and sealed off from the first interior compartment, the housing having a first end that defines openings to the first and second interior compartments and a second end that defines an opening only to the second interior compartment, the housing having an exterior wall that is a part of the second interior compartment, the exterior wall having first and second openings that are located between the first and second ends of the housing, wherein the second opening in the exterior wall is adjacent to the second end of the housing and is sized to receive a portion of a cigarette; and a cutting device movably positioned within the second interior compartment, wherein the cutting device can move in a first direction toward the first end of the housing or in an opposite second direction toward the second end of the housing, the cutting device having a portion accessible through the first opening in the external wall of the housing so as to enable a user to move the cutting device either in the first direction or second direction, the cutting device having a cutting blade, wherein when a user inserts a portion of a cigarette into the second opening in the exterior wall of the housing and moves the cutting device in the second direction, the cutting blade cuts off a portion of the cigarette.

12. The apparatus according to claim 11 wherein the first and second interior compartments are in juxtaposition.

13. The apparatus according to claim 11 further comprising a cap removably attached to the first end of the housing to close off the openings to the first and second interior compartments.

14. The apparatus according to claim 11 further comprising a cap removably attached to the second end of the housing to close off the opening to the second interior compartment.

15. The apparatus according to claim 11 further comprising a cover movably attached to the housing, the cover being movable between a closed position which covers the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing and an opened position which exposes the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing.

16. The apparatus according to claim 15 wherein the cover comprises side portions that frictionally contact the housing when the cover is in the closed position.

17. The apparatus according to claim 11 wherein the cutting device comprises a blade holder and a blade attached to the blade holder.

18. An apparatus for cutting away a used portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette, comprising: a housing having a first interior compartment for storing a cigarette and a second interior compartment that is separate and sealed off from the first interior compartment, the housing having a first end that defines openings to the first and second interior compartments and a second end that defines an opening only to the second interior compartment, the housing having an exterior wall that is a part of the second interior compartment, the exterior wall having first and second openings that are located between the first and second ends of the housing, wherein the second opening in the exterior wall is adjacent to the second end of the housing and is sized to receive a portion of a cigarette; and a first cap removably attached to the first end of the housing to close off the openings to the first and second interior compartments; a second cap removably attached to the second end of the housing to close off the opening to the second interior compartment; a cutting device movably positioned within the second interior compartment, wherein the cutting device can move in a first direction toward the first end of the housing or in an opposite second direction toward the second end of the housing, the cutting device comprising a blade holder and a cutting blade attached to the blade holder, the blade holder having a portion accessible through the first opening in the external wall of the housing so as to enable a user to move the cutting device either in the first direction or second direction, wherein when a user inserts a portion of a cigarette into the second opening in the exterior wall of the housing and moves the cutting device in the second direction, the cutting blade cuts off a portion of the cigarette; and a cover movably attached to the housing, the cover being movable between a closed position which covers the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing and an opened position which exposes the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing, the cover comprising side portions that frictionally contact the housing when the cover is in the closed position.

19. The apparatus according to claim 18 wherein the first and second interior compartments are in juxtaposition.

20. The apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the housing has an interior wall separating the first interior compartment from the second interior compartment.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. application Ser. No. 12/660,308, filed Feb. 24, 2010. The entire disclosure of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/660,308 is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to an apparatus for cutting and storing cigarettes.

BACKGROUND ART

The present invention concerns a portable cigarette cutter and container. A number of cigarette or cigar containers are known in the art. For example, Nielander U.S. Pat. No. 5,345,952 is directed to a portable cigarette cutter, extinguisher and conveyance apparatus. A cigarette is inserted into an aperture located co-axially in a comparatively large, round cylindrical container having a lower reservoir 14 and upper enclosure and receiver assembly 16. The Nielander device is significantly larger than the size of a cigarette. Next, the user pushes a member 18 which moves a blade traversely through the cigarette to slice off part of it. The sliced-off part of the cigarette is moved into the reservoir and deprived of air, causing it to extinguish. Nielander discloses that the device described therein has a convenient size to be readily portable and that it is a conveyance apparatus. However, Nielander does not contemplate transporting the remaining, unused portion of the cigarette in the Nielander apparatus. Nielander discloses, in column 8, lines 21-24, that the cigarette smoker retains the remaining, unused portion of the cigarette 12 (i.e. without the severed portion 158) and stores that remaining, unused portion of the cigarette in a cigarette pack for further usage. Nielander does not disclose a combination cigarette-cutter and transport case for the unused portion of the severed cigarette. The Nielander device is significantly larger than a single cigarette and is therefore not suitable for carrying in a shirt or pants pocket.

Numerous other patents are directed to cigarette extinguishers, cigar extinguishers, cigarette storage devices and cigar storage devices. Sieggen et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,177 discloses a device that is roughly shaped like a fountain pen for extinguishing and storing a cigarette. Taylor U.S. Pat. No. 5,345,953 describes a cylindrical-shaped cigarette snuffer. Taylor discloses that the snuffer may be placed in a cigarette pack. However, Taylor does not disclose a cutting device. Musick U.S. Pat. No. 3,978,981 discloses a cylindrical device for a lighted cigar holder that is also applicable to cigarettes. This permits the user to carry a lighted cigar or cigarette on his or her person. Musetti U.S. Pat. No. 4,809,715 discloses a pocket ashtray in which a cigarette or cigar is extinguished. The Musetti device is a cylindrically-shaped, pen-sized device.

Related devices are disclosed in Irvin U.S. Pat. No. 2,371,445, Field U.S. Pat. No. 2,715,961, Johnson U.S. Pat. No. 2,120,027, Chiang U.S. Pat. No. 5,002,073, and Mauldin U.S. Pat. No. 7,409,955. Chiang U.S. Pat. No. 5,002,073 discloses the combination of a writing tool with a cigarette extinguisher. Mauldin U.S. Pat. No. 7,409,955 discloses a device that allows clipping or severing the used part of a cigarette and the insertion of the remaining unused portion into a compact carrying case for storage and subsequent use. However, this patent does not teach or disclose a device with a vertical and sealable pop-up lid or the ability to place the device in a box of cigarettes. Furthermore, Mauldin does not disclose the use of fire-resistant material for the storage device.

Other devices used with cigarettes and cigars are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,660,575, 5,345,952, 5,752,528, 5,791,051, 5,888,061, 5,913,676, 6,151,781 and 6,527,545, and in U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2009/0165807 and 2007/0000502.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

Many cigarette smokers encounter certain times when they cannot or do not want to finish an entire cigarette. Typically, a smoker chooses to throw away the unused, extinguished cigarette because of the foul odor from the unfinished cigarette and because such unfinished cigarette will taint the fresh cigarettes still in the cigarette pack. The present invention solves these problems. The present invention is directed to an apparatus for cutting away a used portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining, unused portion of the cigarette. Thus, the present invention is configured to enable a smoker to cleanly cut off the used (or burnt portion) of a cigarette that has not been completely finished. Specifically, the smoker extinguishes the lit end of the cigarette and inserts that end of the cigarette it into the bored-out hole in the apparatus of the present invention. The smoker then operates a cutting mechanism, which is part of the apparatus of the present invention, to cleanly cut off the used or burnt end of the cigarette. The apparatus has a sealed storage compartment with a vertical pop-up lid that stores the cut cigarette without tainting the rest of the pack. In accordance with the invention, the apparatus is designed, shaped and sized so that it can fit within a pack of cigarettes. The present invention provides a user with the ability to save an unfinished cigarette for use at a later time and save money.

Therefore, one object of this invention is to provide a method for storing a partially smoked cigarette within or outside of a box of cigarettes using the apparatus of the present invention which contains a cutting mechanism and a sealed storage compartment with a vertical pop-up lid. A smoker can simply cut an unfinished cigarette or smoking material with the cutting means and place it in the sealed storage compartment for later use. A smoker who uses the apparatus and method of the present invention can save up to three quarters of an unfinished cigarette to smoke later. Due to ever-increasing costs and taxes on cigarettes, a smoker's costs will be reduced using the present invention. Smokers may also cut down on the amount of cigarettes smoked.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a method of cutting and storing a cigarette comprising inserting an extinguished cigarette into a bored-out hole, applying pressure to the bottom portion of the cutting mechanism to cleanly cut off the burnt end of the cigarette, forcing the blade through the center of the bored-out hole, and placing the cigarette into a sealed storage compartment with a pop-up lid. The sealed storage compartment may then be inserted into a standard size or larger box or pack of cigarettes or cigars.

Thus, in one aspect, the present invention is directed to an apparatus for storing a cigarette comprising a storage container having an interior compartment for storing a cigarette. The storage container has a first end defining an opening in communication with the interior compartment and a second end that is closed and which is opposite the first end. The apparatus has a lid pivotally attached to the storage container at the open end. The lid is pivotal between a first position that covers the opening in the first end and a second position that exposes the opening in the first end. The lid has an exterior side and an opposite interior side. The opposite side has a raised portion that is sized to frictionally fit into the opening in the first end of the storage container when the lid is completely closed. The lid includes a tab to enable a user to pop open the lid. In one embodiment, the storage container is substantially cylindrical in shape and the lid is substantially circular in shape.

In a related aspect, the present invention is directed to an apparatus for cutting away a used portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette. The apparatus comprises a storage container having an interior compartment for storing a cigarette. The storage container has a first end defining an opening in communication with the interior compartment and a second end that is closed and which is opposite the first end. The apparatus further comprises a lid pivotally attached to the storage container at the first end. The lid is pivotal between a first position that covers the opening in the first end and a second position that exposes the opening in the first end. The lid has an exterior side and an opposite interior side. The opposite side has a raised portion that is sized to frictionally fit into the opening in the first end of the storage container when the lid is completely closed. The lid includes a tab to enable a user to pop open the lid. In one embodiment, the storage container is substantially cylindrical in shape and the lid is substantially circular in shape. The apparatus further comprises a cutting device attached to the second end of the storage container. The cutting device comprises a cutting blade and a region for receiving a portion of cigarette that is to be cut with the cutting blade. In a preferred embodiment, the cutting device is removably attached to the second end. In one embodiment, the second end of the storage container comprises a portion that defines threads and the cutting device has a portion thereof that defines complementary threads. In such an embodiment, the cutting device is threadedly attached to the second end of storage container.

In yet another aspect, the present invention is directed to an apparatus for cutting away a used portion of a cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette. The apparatus comprises a storage container having an interior compartment for storing a cigarette. The storage container has a first end defining an opening in communication with the interior compartment and a second that is closed and which is opposite the first end. The apparatus further comprises a lid pivotally attached to the storage container at the first end. The lid is pivotal between a first position that covers the opening in the first end and a second position that exposes the opening in the first end. The lid has an exterior side and an opposite interior side. The opposite, interior side has a raised portion that is sized to frictionally fit into the opening in the first end of the storage container when the lid is completely closed. The lid further includes a tab to enable a user to pop open the lid. The apparatus further comprises means, removably attached to the second end of the storage container, for cutting away a portion of a cigarette.

In a further aspect, the present invention is directed to an apparatus for cutting away a used portion of the cigarette and storing the remaining portion of the cigarette. The apparatus comprises a housing having a first interior compartment for storing a cigarette and a second interior compartment that is separate and sealed off from the first interior compartment. The housing has a first end that defines openings to the first and second interior compartments and a second end that defines an opening only to the second interior compartment. The housing has an exterior wall that is a part of the second interior compartment. The exterior wall has first and second openings that are located between the first and second ends of the housing. The second opening in the exterior wall is adjacent to the second end of the housing and is sized to receive a portion of a cigarette. The apparatus further comprises a cutting device movably positioned within the second interior compartment. The cutting device can move in a first direction toward the first end of the housing or in an opposite second direction toward the second end of the housing. The cutting device has a portion accessible through the first opening in the external wall of the housing so as to enable a user to move the cutting device either in the first direction or second direction. The cutting device has a cutting blade. When a user inserts a portion of a cigarette into the second opening in the exterior wall of the housing and moves the cutting device in the second direction, the cutting blade cuts off a portion of the cigarette. The first and second interior compartments are positioned side-by-side or in juxtaposition. The apparatus further comprises a first cap removably attached to the first end of the housing to close off the openings to the first and second interior compartments, and a second cap removably attached to the second end of the housing to close off the opening to the second interior compartment. The apparatus further comprises a cover movably attached to the housing. The cover is movable between a closed position which covers the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing and an opened position which exposes the first and second openings in the exterior wall of the housing. The cover comprises side portions that frictionally contact the housing when the cover is in the closed position.

Other aspects of the present invention are described in detail in the ensuing description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features of the invention are believed to be novel. The figures are for illustration purposes only and are not drawn to scale. The invention itself, however, both as to organization and method of operation, may best be understood by reference to the detailed description which follows taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded, front view of an apparatus for cutting and storing a cigarette in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the view showing a sealed storage compartment and a two-section cutting mechanism;

FIG. 1A is an enlarged view of a portion of the view in FIG. 1;

FIG. 2 is a front view, in elevation, of the apparatus of FIG. 1 completely assembled;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a pop-up lid shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is front view, in perspective, of the sealed storage compartment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 5 is a front view, in perspective, of the cutting mechanism shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 6 is perspective view of the interior of the cutting mechanism, the view showing external tracks, internal tracks, springs, female threads and a bored-out hole;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a bottom section of the cutting mechanism, the view showing blade guide hooks, a steel cutting blade, and supporting hooks;

FIG. 8 is an exploded view, in perspective, showing the apparatus of FIG. 1 and a cigarette, the view showing how a cigarette can be inserted into the sealed storage compartment of the apparatus and how the burnt portion of a cigarette can be cleanly cut off;

FIG. 9 is an exploded view, in perspective, showing how the apparatus of FIG. 1 can be inserted into a pack of cigarettes;

FIG. 10 is an exploded view, in perspective, of an apparatus for cutting and storing a cigarette in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 11A and 11B are perspective views of a top cap of the apparatus of FIG. 10, the views showing the top side of the top cap;

FIGS. 11C and 11D are perspective views of the top cap of the apparatus of FIG. 10, the views showing the bottom side of the top cap;

FIG. 11E is a view of the bottom side of the top cap;

FIG. 11F is a plan view of the top side of the top cap;

FIG. 11G is a front view of the top cap;

FIGS. 12A, 12B, 12C and 12D are perspective views of a blade holder shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12E is a front view, in elevation, of the blade holder shown in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12F is a rear view, in elevation, of the blade holder shown in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12G is an end view of the blade holder shown in FIG. 12A, the view showing the blade holder right-side up;

FIG. 12H is an end view of the blade holder shown in FIG. 12A, the view showing the blade holder up-side down;

FIG. 12I is a side view, in elevation, of the blade holder shown in FIG. 12A;

FIGS. 13A, 13B, 13C and 13D are perspective views of a housing shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 13E is a side view, in elevation, of the housing shown in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13F is a front view, in elevation, of the housing shown in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13G is a rear view, in elevation, of the housing shown in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13H is a view taken along line 13H-13H of FIG. 13G;

FIG. 13I is a bottom view of the housing shown in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13J is a top view of the housing shown in FIG. 13A;

FIGS. 14A and 14B are perspective views of a bottom cap that is shown in FIG. 10, the views showing an exterior side of the bottom cap;

FIGS. 14C and 14D are perspective views of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A, the views showing the interior side of the bottom cap;

FIG. 14E is a plan view of the exterior side of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14F is a plan view of the interior side of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14G is a front end view of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14H is a rear end view of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14I is a side view of the bottom cap shown in FIG. 14A;

FIGS. 15A and 15B are perspective views of a cover shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 15C is a side view, in elevation, of the cover shown in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15D is a view, in elevation, of the interior side of the cover shown in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15E is a view, in elevation, of the exterior side of the cover shown in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15F is top view of the cover shown in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15G is bottom view of the cover shown in FIG. 15A;

FIGS. 16A, 16B, 16C and 16D are perspective views of a blade shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 16E is a front view of the blade shown in FIG. 16A;

FIG. 16F is a view taken along line 16F-16F in FIG. 16E;

FIG. 16G is a view taken along line 16G-16G in FIG. 16E;

FIG. 17A is a perspective view showing the blade of FIG. 16A attached to the blade holder of FIG. 12A, the view showing an inner side of the blade holder;

FIG. 17B is a view, in elevation, showing the blade of FIG. 16A attached to the blade holder of FIG. 12A, the view showing the inner side of the blade holder;

FIG. 17C is a perspective view showing the blade of FIG. 16A attached to the blade holder of FIG. 12A, the view showing the outer side of the blade holder;

FIG. 17D is a view, in elevation, showing the blade of FIG. 16A attached to the blade holder of FIG. 12A, the view showing the outer side of the blade holder; and

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view, in elevation, of the apparatus of FIG. 10 completely assembled.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

As used herein, the term “smoking material” shall mean an object or device such as a cigarette or cigar which is smoked by a smoker and includes, without being limited thereto, various sizes of plain and filtered cigarettes, non-filtered cigarettes, cigars, cheroots and the like. As used herein, the phrase “fire-resistant material” includes fire-retardant or intumescent materials.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4 and 5, the apparatus of the present invention generally comprises sealed storage compartment 1. The overall size of the sealed storage compartment 1 will vary depending on the type of cigarette 10 or smoking material it is intended to hold (see FIG. 8). A vertical pop-up lid 2 with a tab 3 for easy opening and closing is attached to the top of the sealed storage compartment 1 by two lid hooks 4 and a snap-on hinge 5. The two lid hooks 4 are injection molded on the vertical pop-up lid 2. The two lid hooks 4 connect to the snap-on hinge 5 which is injection molded on the top of the sealed storage compartment 1. An indent 6 is injection molded within the inner diameter of the vertical pop-up lid 2 to provide a seal when it is closed. Specifically, the formation of indent 6 creates raised portion 2A (see FIG. 3). Raised portion 2A is sized to frictionally fit within the opening of storage compartment 1 so as to create a seal. This seal protects the pack of unused cigarettes 17 from being tainted (see FIG. 9). Male threads 7 extend off the bottom of the sealed storage compartment (1). As shown in FIG. 5, the completely assembled cutting mechanism has female threads 8 inside the top portion which engage male threads 7.

Referring to FIGS. 5, 6 and 7, the completely assembled cutting mechanism comprises two parts. The first part is the top portion of the cutting mechanism which is shown in FIG. 6. The second part is the bottom portion of the cutting mechanism which is shown in FIG. 7. Hole or opening 9 is bored out of the top portion of the cutting mechanism so unfinished cigarette 10 (or smoking material) can be inserted through hole 9. The unfinished cigarette 10 or (smoking material) may be extinguished before it is inserted in hole 9 for the cut. Once the burnt portion of the cigarette is cleanly cut off, the unfinished cigarette 10 or smoking material can be placed in the sealed storage compartment 1 and closed shut by simply pressing down on the tab 3 and vertical pop-up lid 2 simultaneously. This process is shown in FIG. 8. The smoker may now place the apparatus of the present invention having the unfinished cigarette 10 stored therein back into the box of unused cigarettes 17. This process is shown in FIG. 9. The top portion of the cutting mechanism, shown in FIG. 6, has two interior tracks 11 and four exterior tracks 12. The two interior tracks 11 are in place so they can house two springs 13 and two guide hooks 15. The two springs 13 rest inside the two interior tracks 11. The two blade guide hooks 15 are located on each side of the steel blade 14 as shown in FIG. 7. The two blade guide hooks 15 are set inside the bottom end of the two interior tracks 11. The two blade guide hooks 15 push the two springs 13 up and down the inside of the two interior tracks 11. These two blade guide hooks 15 also allow the steel blade 14 to retract up and down through the center of the bored out hole 9. As shown in FIG. 7, the steel blade 14 is mounted at the base of the bottom portion of the cutting mechanism on the inside. Four supporting hooks 16 are injection molded into the bottom portion of the cutting mechanism. The four supporting hooks 16 are set inside the bottom of the four exterior tracks 12. The four supporting hooks 16 slide inside the four exterior tracks 12. These four supporting hooks 16 are used to add more strength when the bottom portion of the cutting mechanism (see FIG. 7) and the top portion of the cutting mechanism (see FIG. 6) are connected together. The four supporting hooks 16 also help guide the steel blade 14 up and down through the center of the bored out hole 9.

Sealed storage compartment 1 and vertical pop-up lid 2 may be configured to have any type of suitable shape, e.g. rounded, square, rectangular, triangular etc. In a preferred embodiment, vertical pop-up lid 2 has a substantially round shape and sealed storage compartment 1 has a substantially cylindrical shape.

Parts of the apparatus of the present invention may be made of various materials such as plastics and metals. Suitable plastics include polymeric and rubbery materials, polystyrenic materials, etc. Suitable metals include aluminum, copper, bronze, brass or mild steel. In a preferred embodiment, all the parts of the apparatus of the present, except for the blade 14 and the two springs 13, are injection molded. In a preferred embodiment, blade 14 and springs 13 are fabricated from stainless steel to help avoid tarnish, rust or stains.

Referring to FIG. 10, there is shown apparatus 50 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. Apparatus 50 is configured to cut and store a cigarette. In a preferred embodiment, apparatus 50 is sized to fit into a pack of cigarettes. Apparatus 50 generally comprises housing 52, cover 54, top cap 56, blade holder 58, blade 60 and bottom cap 62. Housing 52 has an interior compartment that is sized to receive cigarette 64. Cigarette 64 can be completely inserted into the interior compartment of housing 52. This feature will be described in detail in the ensuing description. Referring to FIGS. 11A-G, top cap 56 has top side 70 and bottom side 72. Bottom side 72 includes downwardly extending portion 74 and rib 76. Top cap 56 also has extending portion 77 which aids the user in removing top cap 56 from housing 52.

Referring to FIGS. 13A-J, housing 52 has interior compartment 78 that is sized to receive cigarette 64 (see FIG. 13H). The size of interior compartment 78 allows cigarette 64 to be completely inserted therein. Housing 52 has additional interior compartment 80 that is separated from interior compartment 78 by interior wall 82. Interior compartment 80 has a size that is relatively smaller than the size of interior compartment 78. As will be explained in the ensuing description, blade holder 58 and blade 60 are disposed within interior compartment 80. Housing 52 has top end 84 and bottom end 86. Housing 52 also has rounded portion 88 and side portions 90 and 92, and substantially flat portion 94. Housing 52 has openings 100 and 102 formed in substantially flat portion 94. Opening 100 extends longitudinally for a predetermined distance along substantially flat portion 94. Opening 102 is generally round in shape and is adjacent to bottom end 86. Openings 100 and 102 are in communication with interior compartment 80. Housing 52 includes opening 104 that is in top end 84 of housing 52 and is in communication with interior compartment 78. Housing 52 also includes slot or rectangular shaped opening 106. Referring to FIGS. 11C, 11D, 13A, 13B and 13J, portion 74 of top cap 56 is sized to frictionally fit into slot 106. Rib portion 76 of top cap 56 is sized to frictionally fit into opening 104 in housing 52. Housing 52 further includes openings 108 and 109 located at bottom end 86 of housing 52. Opening 108 is in communication with interior compartment 80. Opening 109 is not in communication with interior compartment 78 due to interior wall 110A. Interior walls 110A and 110B and the outer wall of housing 52 define an additional compartment 111. Referring to FIGS. 14A-I, bottom cap 62 has exterior side 112 and interior side 114. Bottom cap 62 includes guide structure 116 on interior side 114. Guide structure 116 is sized to frictionally fit into opening 108 of housing 52. Bottom cap 62 further includes extending member 118 on interior side 114. Extending member 118 has end portion 120. End portion 120 is sized to fit into opening 113 in interior wall 110B. Extending member 118 has a slight degree of resiliency and is positioned on interior side 114 at a predetermined position so that when extending member 118 is positioned within opening 109, end portion 120 frictionally contacts interior wall 110B and becomes disposed within opening 113 in interior wall 110B. Bottom cap 62 also includes a generally semi-circular rib 122 that is on interior side 114. Semi-circular rib 122 is sized to frictionally fit into opening 109. As shown in FIGS. 10, 13A-F and 13I, housing 52 includes notches 125 and 126 at end 86. The purpose of notches 125 and 126 is discussed in the ensuing description.

Referring to FIGS. 10, 15A-G and 18, cover 54 is hingedly or pivotally attached to housing 52. Cover 54 has general planar member 130, sides 132 and 134, and interior region 136. Cover 54 has top end 140 and bottom end 142. Cover 54 further includes tabs 144 and 146 that are located on the bottom end 142. Tabs 144 and 146 are sized to be press-fitted into notches 125 and 126, respectively, of housing 52. Tabs 144, 146 and notches 125,126 cooperate to function as hinges and enables cover 54 to be hingedly attached to housing 52. This allows cover 54 to be moved to a closed position or an opened position. When in the closed position, cover 54 covers openings 100 and 102. When cover 54 is in the opened position, openings 100 and 102 are exposed and accessible. As shown in FIGS. 15A, 15B, 15D, 15F and 15G, sides 132 and 134 include portions 150 and 152, respectively, which curve inward. As cover 54 is being moved to the closed position, portions 150 and 152 frictionally contact sides 90 and 92, respectively, of housing 52. When cover 54 is completely closed, portions 150 and 152 are in frictional contact with rounded portion 88 of housing 52, and a portion of housing 52 is within interior region 136 of cover 54. Thus, the frictional contact between portions 150, 152 and rounded portion 88 keeps cover 54 in the closed position until a user desires to open cover 54. A user opens cover 54 by using his or her finger to pry end 140 away from flat portion 94 of housing 52. The user needs to use a force that is sufficient to counteract the frictional contact between housing 52 and portions 150, 152 of cover 54.

Referring to FIGS. 10, and 12A-I, there is shown blade holder 58. Blade holder 58 has inner side 60, outer side 62 and wall sections 64, 66 and 68. Blade holder 58 also has end 70. Blade holder 58 further includes protrusions 170, 172 and 174, the purpose of which is discussed in the ensuing description. Blade holder 58 has a raised portion 176 that is located on outer side 62. Raised portion 176 functions as a knob as will be described in the ensuing description. Raised portion 176 has a shape that corresponds to the shape of opening 100 in housing 52. Raised portion 176 is configured to have a size that enables raised portion 176 to fit within opening 100 and move longitudinally within opening 100. Referring to FIGS. 16A-G, there is shown blade 60. Blade 60 has top edge 180 and cutting edge 182. Blade 60 includes openings 184 and 186. Referring to FIGS. 17A-D, the purpose of openings 184 and 186 is to receive protrusions 170 and 172, respectively, of blade holder 58. Protrusions 170 and 172 of blade holder 58 are sized to be frictionally inserted into openings 184 and 186, respectively, of blade 60. Edge 180 abuts protrusion 174 when protrusions 170 and 172 are completely inserted into openings 184 and 186, respectively. In one embodiment, blade 60 is attached to protrusions 170 and 172 by a heat staking process. In an alternate embodiment, heat staking is not used and blade 60 is encapsulated within a portion of blade holder 58 during the manufacturing process.

Referring to FIG. 18, there is shown a cross-sectional view of apparatus 50 completely assembled. Cover 54 is in the closed position. Blade holder 58 is movably positioned within interior compartment 80. Blade 60 is attached to blade holder 58. Blade holder 58, and thus blade 60, can move longitudinally a predetermined distance that is determined by the length of opening 100. Raised portion 176 is located within opening 100 in housing 52 and contacts the edges of opening 100. Since cover 54 is in the closed position, cover 54 conceals openings 100 and 102 in housing 52 and raised portion 176. When the user desires to cut off a burnt portion of an unfinished cigarette (i.e. the portion of the cigarette with the ashes), the user flips cover 54 into the opened position. A user, using one of his or her fingers, contacts raised portion 176 and slides blade holder 58, and hence blade 60, in the direction of top cap 56 in order to ensure that blade 60 will not block the insertion of the end of the unfinished cigarette into opening 102. Next, the user inserts the burnt end of the unfinished cigarette into opening 102. Next, the user then contacts raised portion 176 and slides blade holder 58 in the direction of bottom cap 62 so that blade 60 cuts off the burnt portion of the unfinished cigarette. The user then removes the unfinished cigarette from opening 102 and flips open top cap 56. The user then inserts the unfinished cigarette into the interior compartment 78. The user then re-attaches top cap 56 to housing 52. Since interior compartment 80 is isolated from interior compartment 78, none of the ashes or burnt portion of the cigarette enter interior compartment 78. In the event the user wishes to clean the ashes or debris from interior compartment 80, the user gently shakes apparatus 50 so that the ashes and burnt portion of the cigarette falls through opening 102. The user can then close cover 54 and insert apparatus 50 into a pack of cigarettes. Since interior compartments 78 and 80 are sealed when top cap 56 is closed, the unused portion of the cigarette in interior compartment 78 and any debris in interior compartment 80 can never taint or spoil the cigarettes in the pack of cigarettes.

In alternate embodiment, bottom cap 62 is removable from housing 52 so that the ashes and burnt portion of the cigarette can fall out from opening 108.

Apparatus 50 may be fabricated from a variety of suitable materials. For example, with the exception of blade 60, the components of apparatus 50 may be fabricated from plastic. If the components of apparatus 50 are to be fabricated from plastic, then it is preferable that injection molding be used.

The size of apparatus of the present invention may be varied so it may be used in a variety of applications. For example, apparatus 50 may be increased in size so that it could be used with cigars.

It is also to be understood that the invention is not limited to the illustrations described and shown herein, which are deemed to be merely illustrative of the best modes of carrying out the invention, and which are susceptible of modification of form, size, arrangement or position of parts, and details of operation. Rather, the invention is intended to encompass all such modifications which are within the spirit and scope as defined by the claims.