FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to labels and structural features thereof and more particularly to labels having game pieces, coupons, or promotional materials therein and which retain their integrity notwithstanding immersion in liquid nor exposure to detrimental external environments for extended periods.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
U.S. Pat. No. 4,846,504 to MacGregor, et al., incorporated herein in its entirety by this reference, discloses various “secure on-pack promotional coupons.” Such coupons include concealed promotional materials and may be secured to packaging of consumer products. In one embodiment of the assemblies described in the MacGregor, et al. patent, the coupons consist of a set or series of labels, each label formed of a base portion, an intermediate (promotional) portion, and an outer portion.
Repeatedly emphasized in the MacGregor, et al. patent is the requirement that the promotional coupon be
secured to a product by water soluble adhesive, so that the purchaser of the product must run water over the label or coupon in order to expose the coupon . . . and remove it from the product.
See MacGregor, col. 1, lines 56-60; see also id., col. 2, lines 20-23; col. 4, line 67 through col. 5, line 6. According to the MacGregor, et al. patent, this requirement purportedly deters “persons from removing or tampering with the labels prior to purchasing the products.” See id., col. 1, lines 63-65. It is, moreover, based on the assumption that water (or other liquid) is of only “limited availability . . . in stores.” See id., line 61.
While not necessarily erroneous, the assumption made in the MacGregor, et al. patent is inconsistent with certain present-day practices. For example, grocery and convenience stores (among others) now often include freestanding displays in which plastic beverage bottles are wholly or partially immersed in ice water. Conventional coolers and other containers similarly surround bottles with ice water in many cases. In each of these instances, promotional coupons of the type disclosed in the MacGregor, et al. patent may lose their integrity through immersion in or contact with water. As the water contacts the promotional coupons, the effectiveness of the water-soluble adhesive is diminished, resulting in premature separation of the outer portion from the remainder of the assembly and undesired exposure of the intermediate (promotional) portion.
Moreover, some types of plastic and other bottles are cleansed with hot water after all labeling is affixed. This cleansing is also likely to disturb the water-soluble adhesive used in the promotional coupons of the MacGregor, et al. patent and precipitate loss of integrity of the overall label assembly. Again, the result is premature separation of the outer portion and exposure of the promotional material.
Among initial attempts to solve this problem associated with water baths was utilizing a film to attach a paper game piece to a bottle. The larger film, to which adhesive was applied to the perimeter of its underside, effectively sandwiched the game piece against the outer surface of the bottle. Any defect in applying the film to the bottle permitted water to seep beneath the film into contact with the paper game piece, however, diminishing its viability as a solution to the problem.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
By contrast, the present invention avoids problems associated with, among other things, these water baths by providing a multi-ply label structure in which a game piece is sealed from the ambient environment before affixation to a bottle. Because developed for purposes different than the promotional coupons of the MacGregor, et al. patent, moreover, the label structures of the present invention do not utilize water-soluble adhesive to attach components to a bottle. Instead, the innovative labels described herein are designed especially to retain their integrity notwithstanding immersion in either hot or cold water (or other liquid) for extended periods.
A label according to one embodiment of the invention includes three plies. In this embodiment, a base ply is a filmic material, such as polypropylene, or other substrate whose underside is adherable to, among other things, a plastic bottle. Positioned atop the base ply, and typically (although not necessarily) of lesser length and width, is a middle ply or layer formed of, for instance, a paper or filmic material. The middle ply or layer is not limited to a single ply or material but, alternatively, may be a game piece or premium construction that includes, but is not limited to, labels, scratch off coatings, reactive coatings, redeemable materials, currency and the like. The underside of the middle ply may in some cases be temporarily adhered to the upper surface of the base ply, thereby forming a laminated structure.
Adhered to the base ply along the perimeter of its upper surface is a second ply, which is a polypropylene or other filmic material. This second ply constitutes the top of the multi-ply structure, and together with the base ply forms a pouch in whose central area the middle ply, which may be a game piece, coupon, or other material resides. The base and second plies and an adhesive attaching them are selected so as to be water-impervious, thereby sealing the game piece from any water that might contact the label. Thus, neither immersion in water of a bottle containing such a label nor defective affixation of the label to the bottle is likely to destroy the integrity of the multi-ply assembly or the contents of the game piece contained therein.
As noted above, if desired, the underside of the middle ply may contain an adhesive to prevent the game piece from changing position within the pouch. The multi-ply assembly additionally may be manufactured on a backing tape or web for easy storage and transport in rolls. Such web, as is conventional, would have an upper surface coated with a release layer to facilitate removal of the assembly for affixing to a bottle or other suitable substrate. Because the game piece is protected from moisture while within the assembly, furthermore, it may include inks, scratch-off coverings, holograms, labels, premiums, involvement devices, currency and other features that it otherwise could not successfully have.
Certain other embodiments of the invention utilize solely water-impervious or insoluble materials to form multi-ply label structures. Containing two or more plies, such labels may include a base ply whose underside is adapted to be adhered to a substrate. Like base plies of embodiments of the invention discussed earlier, these base plies may be formed of filmic materials other than paper, including plastics such as (but not necessarily limited to) polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene, and polyester.
Positioned over each base ply is an upper, non-paper ply similarly typically, although not necessarily, formed of polypropylene or other material. In certain embodiments of the invention, no plies other than the base ply and upper ply are incorporated into the water-impervious label although additional upper plies may be desirable. The base ply and upper ply, therefore, contain all of the promotional or game-playing indicia present on the label.
To accomplish this result, the indicia, and any scratch-off coverings, are printed directly onto either or both of the base ply and upper ply. The upper surface of the base ply is especially suited for receiving this printed indicia, as either a removable covering printed onto the upper surface of the base ply over the indicia, or an opaque covering printed on either surface of the upper ply, may obscure the printed indicia from view. Alternatively, the indicia (and perhaps a scratch-off covering) may be placed on the underside of the upper ply, with the top surface of the upper ply containing an opaque, water-insoluble ink designed to prevent premature viewing of the contents of the underside of the ply. In similar embodiments containing three or more plies, water-insoluble inks are not necessary for use on the top surface of the upper ply if other plies protect the inks from the likely ambient environment. Yet another alternative is to print the indicia onto an opaque “lilly pad” of ink printed directly onto the underside of the upper ply. Alternatively, gaming or other premium indicia may be printed or imaged similarly as previously mentioned while absent of specific opacifying materials. Such indicia or coatings would require only resistance properties to survive immersion or moisture exposure.
These two-ply versions of the present invention usually are designed so that only peripheral portions of the base ply and upper ply are adhered to each other. If perforations on the upper ply delineate the peripheral boundaries of the ply adhered to the base ply, the central portion of the upper ply may be made to be removable simply by tearing it along the perforations. Doing so exposes both the underside of the upper ply and the upper surface of the base ply as well as any indicia or scratch-off coverings printed thereon.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a label structure that includes a game piece, coupon, or other promotional material.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a label structure which retains its integrity notwithstanding immersion in liquid or other exposure to moisture for extended periods.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a label structure in which the game piece forming part of the assembly is sealed from the ambient environment before being affixed to, e.g., a bottle or other packaging vessel.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a label structure avoiding use of a water-soluble adhesive to attach any portion of the structure to a bottle or other surface.
It is also an object of the present invention to provide a three-ply label including a layer of film and a base layer positioned intermediate the film layer and a substrate such as a bottle.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a label utilizing solely water-impervious or insoluble materials.
It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a label that utilizes adhesive that are recyclable or repulpable.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent with reference to the remainder of the text and the drawings of this application.