Title:
CONTAINER ARRANGEMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container assembly that includes a first container having a body with an opening at the top side of the first container and a connection extension at the bottom side of the first container; a second container having a body with a respective opening at the top side of the second container and a respective connection extension at the bottom side of the second container; and a connection band having a top side and a bottom side, and at each side, a connector mechanism for releasably holding at least one of said first and second containers and the connection band being further configured to enable releasably holding said containers in a bottom to bottom configuration. Preferably, the connection band has an outer peripheral circumscribing vertical wall surrounding an interior space which contains flanges that engages the connection extensions of the containers.



Inventors:
Bochner, Glenn Perry (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Greenberg, Russell Jon (Long Island City, NY, US)
Hong, Minchul (Long Island City, NY, US)
Mirzoeff, Adam Seth (Lawrence, NY, US)
Application Number:
14/479933
Publication Date:
03/10/2016
Filing Date:
09/08/2014
Assignee:
BOCHNER GLENN PERRY
GREENBERG RUSSELL JON
HONG MINCHUL
MIRZOEFF ADAM SETH
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/503, 206/508
International Classes:
B65D21/02; B65D43/02
View Patent Images:
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20050040053DISPENSING AID FOR ADMINISTERING MEDICATIONS TO INFANTSFebruary, 2005Peterson et al.
20100270191Cable PackageOctober, 2010Bub et al.
20060124491Separator for and medication dosage containerJune, 2006Logan
20080287829COLLECTION MEANS AND A METHOD FOR COLLECTING CORD BLOODNovember, 2008Moore et al.
20040232027Method and apparatus for displaying information on recycling and refuse containersNovember, 2004Miller
20130292276GIFT BASKET ASSEMBLY HAVING A PREFORMED INSERT INCLUDING A PLURALITY OF INDIVIDUALLY PACKAGED PRODUCTSNovember, 2013Thompson
20080302691BOTTLE SHIPPING SYSTEM WITH MULTIPURPOSE INSERTDecember, 2008Olson et al.



Primary Examiner:
CASTRIOTTA, JENNIFER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container assembly, comprising: a first container having a body with an opening at the top side of the first container and a connection extension at the bottom side of the first container; a second container having a body with a respective opening at the top side of the second container and a respective connection extension at the bottom side of the second container; and a connection band having a top side and a bottom side, and at each side, a connector mechanism for releasably holding at least one of said first and second containers and the connection band being further configured to enable releasably holding said containers in a bottom to bottom configuration.

2. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein the connection band has an outer peripheral circumscribing vertical wall surrounding an interior space.

3. The container assembly of claim 2, the connection band including a top flange adjacent a top edge of said peripheral wall and a bottom flange located adjacent a bottom edge of the peripheral wall.

4. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein the shape of the peripheral wall of the connection band matches the shape of a respective outer wall associated with the first and second containers.

5. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein the connector extension is annularly shaped and defines a recess shaped to snappily engage either the top flange or the bottom flange of the connection band in a releasable manner which enables separating the first and second containers from the connection band by a hand force.

6. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein each of the top and bottom sides of the connection band is configured to hold more than one container thereat.

7. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein at least one of the connection extensions on the containers and the flanges on the connection band is constructed of a resilient deformable material, to enable creating a snap fit arrangement between the containers and the connection band.

8. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein said connection band has an outer peripheral shape that is one of circular, square, rectangular, rectangular with rounded corners and a bow shape.

9. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein within each of the top side and bottoms sides of the connection band is configured to receive at least two of said containers.

10. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein within each of the top side and bottoms sides of the connection band is configured to receive at least four of said containers.

11. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second containers has a respective open top with a cap fittable to the open top.

12. The container assembly of claim 11, wherein the cap is replaceable.

13. The container assembly of claim 11, wherein the cap has a flat surface that enables resting a dual container arrangement on the flat surface.

14. The container assembly of claim 11, wherein the cap is configured to seal the open top of the containers.

15. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein said first and second containers have respective facing side walls and further including container-to-container snap arrangements on the facing side walls to enable the facing walls to be releasably connected to each other.

16. The container assembly of claim 15, wherein the connector-to-connector snap arrangements include a facing pair of a projection and a recess.

17. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein the first and second connectors are threadily connectable to the connection band.

18. The connector assembly of claim 1, including a window in the first and second containers to show an ingredient level in each container.

19. The connector assembly of claim 1, wherein the connection band is disk shaped and invisibly mounted between the first and second containers.

20. A container kit configured to enable assembling a plurality of containers, the kit comprising: a plurality of containers; and at least one connection band for connecting at least one container to one side of the connection band and at least one second container to an opposed side of the connection band, the containers are releasably mounted to each other in a bottom to bottom configuration, via the connection band.

21. The container kit of claim 20, comprising: at least two, differently shaped connection bands and at least two containers matingly and releasably connected to a first one of the connection bands; and at least two containers matingly connected to a second one of said connection bands.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally directed to container arrangements and to multi-container constructions that enhance the utility, versatility, ease of use and aesthetic presentation of the containers.

Our lives revolve around containers, particularly when it comes to the foods that we eat. Virtually all ingredients that end up as the food that we consume, whether it be flour, salt, sugar, spices, garnishments, appetizers, sliced fruits, vegetables, etc. are invariably packaged in one form or another in containers. Foods are shipped in containers and containers play a key role in people's kitchens, where these various food and ingredients containers need to be stored and organized for easy retrieval and use in food preparation and consumption.

Kitchen cabinets are stacked with these types of containers. A food preparer oftentimes must select from among many dozens of containers to find the desired spices, flavorings or ingredient containers. There would be an advantage if these containers can be rendered in a more modularized form, and permitted to be stacked and bound together, particularly as it relates to certain food items, in a manner which would enhance and render easier the handling of these items in our daily lives.

In the prior art, there is no standardization and container storing and stacking is usually done ad hoc, with individual cans or containers being mounted one on top of each other, in purely personal ways without thought having been given to ease the burden of selecting and using these containers.

Representative of the prior art are U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,279,841; 6,971,521; 7,571,829; and 5,422,129. In the U.S. Pat. No. 5,279,841 patent, two individual cans are united via a connection ring that essentially bonds the cans to one another. The connection ring is not configured to allow easy assembly and disassembly of the cans. In the U.S. Pat. No. 6,971,521 patent, the cans are stacked one atop another, rather than in a back to back configuration. In other words, cans are not available for selective use of one or the other of the cans. Similar remarks apply to the other mentioned patent documents. The contents of said patents are incorporated by reference herein, including to the extent needed to elucidate the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide modularized containers that can be joined with each other.

It is another object of the invention to provide a selection of containers that are part of a large kit of containers that can be detachably interconnected with one another.

It is a still further object of the invention to provide dual containers that can be simultaneously held and used, by being joined bottom-to-bottom, so that both containers can be held at once and used selectively, simply by flipping the orientation of the dual container package.

It is also an object of the invention to provide these standardized containers in stacks that can hold more than two containers, for example, three, four, and even eight containers.

It is still a further object of the invention to provide a kit of these containers together with universally usable and modular container connectors, i.e., connection bands, that allow instant joining or unjoining of the containers in an easy and versatile manner.

The foregoing and other features of the present invention can be realized by a container assembly that includes a first container having a body with an opening at the top side of the first container and a connection extension at the bottom side of the first container; a second container having a body with a respective opening at the top side of the second container and a respective connection extension at the bottom side of the second container; and a connection band having a top side and a bottom side, and at each side, a connector mechanism for releasably holding at least one of said first and second containers and the connection band being further configured to enable releasably holding said containers in a bottom to bottom configuration. Preferably, the connection band has an outer peripheral circumscribing vertical wall surrounding an interior space which contains flanges that engages the connection extensions of the containers.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention which refers to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective of an embodiment of the invention showing a dual container arrangement, in a bottom-to-bottom configuration.

FIG. 2 shows one of the containers of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows a connection band for the container arrangement of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3a is a vertical cross-section of the connection band of FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 is a vertical cross-section through FIG. 1.

FIG. 4a shows a detail of FIG. 4.

FIG. 5a shows a shaped connection band for a different container shape.

FIG. 5b shows a shaped connection band for a different container shape.

FIG. 5c shows a shaped connection band for a different container shape.

FIG. 5d shows a shaped connection band for a different container shape.

FIG. 5e shows a shaped connection band for a different container shape.

FIGS. 6a and 6c show different connection bands, each configured for holding multiple containers of a particular style, on each side of the connection band.

FIG. 6b shows a container style for the connection band of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 6d is a cross-section through lines 6d-6d in FIG. 6c.

FIGS. 6e and 6f show another type of connection band that is invisibly mounted.

FIG. 7 shows plural containers assembled together with the connection band of FIG. 6c.

FIG. 8 (comprising FIGS. 8a, 8b) shows two (of four) container/bottle shapes that can be mounted to the connection band shape in FIG. 5b using the structure of FIG. 6c.

FIG. 9 shows a labeling scheme for the container arrangements of the present invention.

FIGS. 10a through 10c show different cap configurations for the modular containers of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a dual-container arrangement 1, which comprises an upright modular container 10 with an opening (not shown) that is closed by a cap 12, which cap 12 has a flat resting surface 13. The body 15 of the container 10 is generally cylindrical, with a tapered neck 16.

The identical container designated 10′ with its own cap 12′ and cap resting surface 13′ is shown in FIG. 1, in upside down orientation. The two containers 10 and 10′ are physically secured to each other via the connection band 30, in a manner that allows holding the dual container package 1, by grasping only the upside oriented container 10. Alternatively, the container package 1 can rest on the surface 13, so that the container 10′ stands upright.

As shown in FIG. 2, each of the bottles/containers 10 or 10′ has its own coupling extension 14 comprising a recessed extension 14a, which defines a C-shaped recess that is further defined by a surrounding lip 14b, that has a radially distal peripheral surface that is inclined radially inwardly, as shown at 14c, to facilitate pushing into the connection band 30.

Referring to FIG. 3, the cylindrical connection band 30 is ring shaped with a peripheral wall 32 that bends inwardly at the top and bottom edges to form an upper flange 33 and a bottom flange 34. The thicknesses 33a of either one of these flanges 33, 34 is sized to fit snugly in the recessed channel 14a of the bottles 10 and 10′.

The material of the lip 14 of the bottle is preferably resilient, whereby, with modest hand force, simply placing the container 10 and pressing on the connection ring 30 will deform the lip 14 and provide an immediate and tightly holding mechanical snap coupling. By turning the connection ring 30 upside down, the second container 10′ can be similarly connected, producing or obtaining the dual container 1 of FIG. 1, that allows the containers to be snapped together or separated from each other quite readily. The connection band 30 is intended to be a modular piece which accommodates bottles of many different cross-sectional shapes and contour features. At the same time, the connection band can be provided with many different optional features and selected by a user from kit of such connection bands as more fully described below.

For example, the connection band can have a diameter and outer shape that substantially matches the corresponding structure and outer shape of the container as shown in FIG. 1. In such embodiments, the outer surface of the connection band is flush/even with the outer surfaces of the container, which makes it appear as though there is only a single container with openings at opposed ends.

The cross-sectional FIG. 3a provides further detail, including showing the lips 33 and 34, the surrounding peripheral wall 32 and the size of the thickness of the lips “d” (indicated by spaced arrows). Additionally, if desired, the lip 14 of the container 10 may have an undercut 19 (shown in dotted lines) and the connection band may have projections 21a, 21b at the top and bottom, respectively, that register with the cutout 19 to provide a fixed rotation orientation between the connection band and the containers 10, 10′.

In general, the bottles, caps, and the waistband style connection rings or bands can be made of the same or similar material for ease of recycling and also to keep the assembly dishwasher and microwave safe. The invention can be realized by constructing it using extrusion blow-molding processes to manufacture the bottles. HDPE, rubber, silicon, metal and other materials are suitable for the purposes of construction of the present invention. Injection molding, thermal forming and other manufacturing processes are also suitable for this purpose. The waistband coupling hardware can also have identifying insignia 35 printed on it, as indicated in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view through FIG. 1, with FIG. 4a showing a detail of the connection band. FIG. 4a also illustrates an alternative embodiment wherein the connection band 30 has a longitudinally directed upper and lower extensions 36a, 36b, which define an interior diameter that closely matches the outer diameter of the containers, providing a sturdier hold on the containers as well as a slightly different aesthetic appearance.

The invention lends itself to many variations. Thus, referring to FIG. 5a, the connection band 530 is circular and the snap holding flanges/lips can be provided in several quarterly sections 37a, 37b, 37c and 37d. In FIG. 5b, the connection band 532 is oval-shaped to fit similarly shaped bottles, or several bottles/containers that can be interconnected and mounted at each side of the connection band.

In FIG. 5c, the connection band 534 is square shaped, while FIG. 5d shows the band 536 to be rectangular with rounded corners. In FIG. 5e, the shape of the band 538 is similar to FIG. 5b, but with an inwardly indented center. Regardless, any shape, even non-geometric shapes, can be provided, including, for example, polygonal shapes, etc.

In FIG. 5a, providing the holding flange in sections enables configuring the container in the form of an extension that has threads formed on it and the bottle is threaded into the connection band.

Reference is now made to FIGS. 6a and 6c, which show connection bands of two styles, a circular connection band 40 (FIG. 6a) and a rectangular connection band 50 (FIG. 6c) that can accommodate at each side of the connector band, several containers. For example, in FIG. 6a, four containers 610 (FIG. 6b), each of which represents a one-quarter section of a circle or cylinder, can be accommodated in each side of the connection band 40.

More specifically, the container 610 (FIG. 6b) has first and second flat sides 612, 614 at right angles to one another and an arcuate peripheral side 16 that matches the curvature of the connection band 40 (FIG. 6a). The container 610 has a lid 613 which is hinged at 613a and can be opened by grasping the knob 613b. At the bottom of the container 610 are three downwardly depending and undercut snaps 618a and 618b and 618c, which are similar to the extension 14 in FIG. 2 (except for being discontinuous, i.e., in three sections). These snaps 618a, 618b and 618c are made to snap into and be tightly held by the corresponding flanges 44a, 44b and 44c in the connection band 40 (FIG. 6a). Indeed, the containers 610 can be snap fitted into any one of the four quadrant locations in the connection ring 40, obtaining a four-container arrangement that can accommodate therein different spices; for example: cinnamon, thyme, etc. For completeness, it is noted that the second quadrant of the band 40 has flanges 41a, 41b, 41c, whereas the third quadrant has flanges 42a, 42b, 42c and the fourth quadrant has catching flanges 43a, 43b and 43c. On the flat walls 612 and 614 can be provided snap connectors, so that the four containers 610 can be snap fitted to each other, as described more fully further on.

The connection band 50 (FIG. 6c) similarly has four quadrants defining locations for four rectangularly shaped containers (FIG. 7). FIG. 6d is a cross-section through FIG. 6c, along the lines 6d-6d. In FIG. 6c, the flanges in the first quadrant are formed by sub-flanges 51a, 51b, 51c, 51d. The second quadrant has catching flanges 52a, 52b, 52c and 52d. Similarly, the flanges 53a, 53b, 53c, 53d are in the third quadrant and the flanges 54a, 54b, 54c and 54d are in the fourth quadrant.

FIG. 6d, which is a cross-section on lines 6d-6d (FIG. 6c) (which FIG. 6d is drawn exaggerated in the height dimension) shows the connection band 50 having a central dividing base wall 55 on which rests a wall 57 that supports the flanges 51b and 54b, another upright wall 58 which supports the flanges 53c and left and right side walls 56a and 56b, which support, respectively, the flanges 52d and 53c. The structure below the wall 55 is the mirror image of the structure above. The connection band 50 can thus support four rectangular containers 710a, 710b, 710c and 710d, as shown in FIG. 7.

Note that the same connection band can optionally support at each side only a single container which has the same outer periphery as the connection band 50, if desired. Still further, and as shown in FIG. 7, two containers can be fitted to the bottom side of the same connection band 50, while four containers are mounted to the top side thereof. Thus, the invention provides a great deal of versatility in providing, for example, two containers at one side and four on the other side, etc.

In effect, the invention provides a modular container arranging construction optionally in a kit form that provides differently shaped containers and differently shaped connection rings that can be assembled by the user to suit their own preferences and needs. Manufacturers can sell arrangements of spices in a single container arrangement and when the contents of one container become exhausted, it can be replaced with a fresh, full container. The containers can be see-through, indicating the level of fullness of each product, or may have a vertical window 17 for this purpose.

Turning to FIGS. 6e and 6f, in another embodiment, the connection band 60 is formed as a disk 60 with a web 61 at the center and an annular section 63 with a top flange 63a and a bottom flange 63b. The entire connection band 60 is invisibly located in a space between two containers, as shown. These flanges 63a and 63b located between two containers 66 and 66′, inter-engage extensions 614 defining a channel 614a and a resilient snap 614b where the protrusion 614b is snagged or held under the flange 63a or 63b, as shown in the partially broken away dual container arrangement of FIG. 6e. Here, the containers have a peripherally downwardly depending skirt 661, whereby, viewed from the outside, the connection band 60 is entirely concealed between the two containers.

Referring to FIG. 7, the four container arrangement at the top is designated by reference numeral 710, as previously described, whereas the two larger sized containers set 720, comprising the containers 720a and 720b are at the bottom. A similar connection ring can be provided generally in the shape of the connection ring shown in FIG. 5b, to accommodate either a single or dual or quad containers.

Two one-quarter containers 810a, 810b are depicted in FIGS. 8a and 8b, respectively. The container 810a has a lid 822, while the container 810b has a lid 824. The container 810a has a projecting catch 812 and a catch receiver 814. Complementarily, the container 810 has a facing projection that fits inside the catch receiver 814 and a recess 816. When these two containers 810a and 810b are forced together, they become joined at 814/818. When the same pair of containers 810a and 810b are mated with another pair, they become joined at their facing sides, where their projection 812 and recess 816 are located.

FIG. 9 illustrates another feature of the invention, whereby these standardized containers include labels that accommodate the fact that they are intended to be connected back to back. For example, the container 910a has a first label 912a that has the designation “COFFEE” facing upright, and a second label 914a with the words “COFFEE” written upside down. The label 912a may also be located on the opposed side. Another container 910b has the label 912a with word “SUGAR” on the front face and another label 914b, in an opposite orientation. Thus, regardless of whether the dual container is held in one orientation or the other, one can instantly read the labels to discern the contents.

The caps can be provided in different shapes and configuration. For example, they can be provided to be flush with an outer circumferential shape matching that of the containers. They can be made somewhat wider, to assure good stability, even when the bottom container is substantially empty, while the upper container is still full and the center of gravity is located higher. The caps can also be the hinge style caps for the multi containers of FIG. 6a, whereby the hinge is located at the straight edge of the container, so it can be easily opened. Also, caps can be provided with different configurations, depending on the type of ingredient, whether a total opening is needed, or only an opening that provides holes for granular materials such a sugar, salt, spices and the like.

FIGS. 10a-10c depict various caps or tops that can be provided for these containers. Referring to FIG. 10a, the cap 1210 has a skirt 1211 that can be hermetically fixed to the underlying container with a center top wall 1212 that defines an arcuate opening 1216 and a plurality of circular openings 1214. The tab 1218 enables the lid 1212 to be rotated and thereby cover the openings 514 and the arcuate large opening 1216.

In FIG. 10b, the cap 1220 has a similar skirt 1222 that enables it to be tightly applied to a top opening of the containers of the present invention with a series of circular openings 1224, a large opening 1226 and hingedly closeable top closures 1228 and 1230.

In FIG. 10c, the cap 1240 also has a skirt 1242 that enables its attachment to the container. An opening 1246 is provided at one corner region and that opening 1246 can be closed by hingedly connected and complementarily shaped top 1248. The common denominator of all of the caps is that they define a flat resting surface, whereby the container may rest upside down, stablely supporting the container combination.

The advantages of the invention are many. Thus, four spice containers can be accommodated on one side and the opposed side may comprise just a single container, or optionally several containers. One selects from a kit of different containers to construct the total container assembly. The containers themselves may have snap connections at their straight walls, so they can be connected to one another.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.