Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20020008135 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/963,271
Publication dateJan 24, 2002
Filing dateSep 25, 2001
Priority dateJun 9, 2000
Also published asUS6343736, US20020030093, US20020079360, US20030062407, US20030075591, WO2001094220A1, WO2003059765A1
Publication number09963271, 963271, US 2002/0008135 A1, US 2002/008135 A1, US 20020008135 A1, US 20020008135A1, US 2002008135 A1, US 2002008135A1, US-A1-20020008135, US-A1-2002008135, US2002/0008135A1, US2002/008135A1, US20020008135 A1, US20020008135A1, US2002008135 A1, US2002008135A1
InventorsMyun Kim
Original AssigneeKim Myun Ho
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Reusable envelope
US 20020008135 A1
Abstract
A reusable envelope includes first, second and third panels, the first panel being joined to the second panel along a definition line and the second panel being joined to the third panel along a fold line. The second panel has a first tear line spaced from the fold line by a predetermined distance to define a first area and the third panel has a second tear line spaced from the fold line by the predetermined distance to define a second area. The first and second panels are folded along the definition line, and the second and third panels are folded along the fold line such that the first and second tear lines are collinear, the first area being sealed to the second area to define a tear strip that is removable along the collinear tear lines to at least partially create a second envelope for remailing.
Images(12)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(30)
I claim:
1. A reusable envelope comprising:
a plurality of panels including at least a first flap panel, a front panel and a rear panel, each being generally rectangular and at least the first flap panel and the front panel being similar in size, the first flap panel being joined to the front panel along a transverse definition line and the rear panel being joined to the front panel along a transverse first fold line;
a generally rectangular second flap panel joined to the rear panel along a transverse second fold line, the second flap panel having a transverse first edge;
the first flap panel having a transverse second edge and a transverse first weakened tear line spaced from the second edge;
the rear panel having a transverse second weakened tear line spaced from the first fold line by a first distance, the first tear line on the first flap panel being spaced from the second edge by no more than the first distance;
the front panel having a transverse third weakened tear line spaced from the first fold line by the first distance,
wherein the rear panel is folded with respect to the front panel along the first fold line, and the first flap panel is folded with respect to the front panel along the definition line, such that the first, second and third tear lines are collinear to form the reusable envelope for a first mailing, and
wherein a tear strip is formed of at least three areas including an area on the first flap panel between the second edge and the first tear line, an area on the front panel between the third tear line and the first fold line, and an area on the rear panel between the first fold line and the second tear line;
a first adhesive area separate from the tear strip for sealing the front panel to the rear panel to form an envelope pocket within the reusable envelope; and
a second adhesive area,
wherein after the tear strip has been removed along the collinear tear lines, the envelope pocket has an open top at the second fold line, and the second flap panel is sealable to the front panel by the second adhesive area for closing the top of the envelope pocket to form a second envelope for a second mailing.
2. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the first adhesive area is filled entirely with an adhesive.
3. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the second adhesive area is filled entirely with an adhesive.
4. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the first flap panel and the front panel are equal in a lengthwise direction and the first tear line on the first flap panel is spaced from the second edge by the first distance.
5. The reusable envelope of claim 1, where the first flap panel is shorter in a lengthwise direction than the first flap panel by less than the first distance and the first tear line on the first flap panel is spaced from the second edge by less than the first distance.
6. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the area on the first flap panel forming part of the tear strip bears an adhesive for sealing the reusable envelope for the first mailing.
7. The reusable envelope of claim 6, wherein the area on the first flap panel forming part of the tear strip is filled entirely with the adhesive.
8. The reusable envelope of claim 6, wherein the adhesive is a remoistenable adhesive.
9. The reusable envelope of claim 1, further comprising:
opposed left and right lateral definition lines extending from the second edge of the first flap panel to the first edge of the second flap panel, the left lateral definition line being spaced from left lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by a second distance, and the right lateral definition line being spaced from right lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by the second distance,
wherein a second tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective left lateral edges and the left lateral definition line,
wherein a third tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective right lateral edges and the right lateral definition line, and
wherein at least the first flap and rear panels are joined along their lateral edges to form the reusable envelope.
10. The reusable envelope of claim 9, wherein each of the left and right lateral definition lines is a weakened tear line.
11. The reusable envelope of claim 9, wherein the rear panel includes first and second left transverse cut lines each extending from the left lateral edge to the left lateral definition line and first and second right transverse cut lines each extending from the right lateral edge to the right lateral definition line,
wherein each of the left and right lateral definition lines is respectively formed of a first weakened tear line portion from the second edge to the respective first cut line, a second weakened tear portion from the respective second cut line to the first edge and a fold line portion from the respective first cut line to the respective second cut line,
wherein an area from the left lateral edge to the left fold line portion and from the first left cut line to the second left cut line forms a left side flap separate from the second tear strip, and
wherein an area from the right lateral edge to the right fold line portion and from the first right cut line to the second right cut line forms a right side flap separate from the third tear strip,
the left and right side flaps being folded in the reusable envelope along the respective fold line portions to close the sides of the reusable envelope.
12. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the tear lines are formed by perforations.
13. The reusable envelope of claim 12, wherein the perforations are slit perforations.
14. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the first edge of the second flap panel is a fourth weakened tear line, the reusable envelope further comprising at least one contents panel including a first contents panel having opposed transverse third and fourth edges, the first contents panel being joined at its third edge to the first edge of the second flap panel, the first contents panel being within the reusable envelope.
15. The reusable envelope of claim 14, further comprising:
opposed left and right lateral definition lines extending from the second edge of the first flap panel to the fourth edge of the contents panel, the left lateral definition line being spaced from left lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by a second distance, and the right lateral definition line being spaced from right lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by the second distance,
wherein a second tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective left lateral edges and the left lateral definition line,
wherein a third tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective right lateral edges and the right lateral definition line, and
wherein at least the first flap and rear panels are joined along their lateral edges to form the reusable envelope.
16. The reusable envelope of claim 14, wherein the at least one contents panel further includes an additional contents panel joined to the first contents panel along the fourth edge, the additional contents panel being within the reusable envelope.
17. The reusable envelope of claim 1, further comprising at least one contents panel including a first contents panel having opposed transverse third and fourth edges, the first contents panel being joined at its third edge to the second edge of the first flap panel, the first contents panel being within the reusable envelope.
18. The reusable envelope of claim 17, further comprising:
opposed left and right lateral definition lines extending from the fourth edge of the contents panel to the first edge of the second flap panel, the left lateral definition line being spaced from left lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by a second distance, and the right lateral definition line being spaced from right lateral edges of at least the first flap and rear panels by the second distance,
wherein a second tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective left lateral edges and the left lateral definition line,
wherein a third tear strip is formed of at least areas on the first flap and rear panels between the respective right lateral edges and the right lateral definition line, and
wherein at least the first flap and rear panels are joined along their lateral edges to form the reusable envelope.
19. The reusable envelope of claim 17, the at least one contents panel further including an additional contents panel joined to the first contents panel along the fourth edge, the additional contents panel being within the reusable envelope.
20. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the definition line is a fourth transverse weakened tear line, the first flap panel being separable from the front panel along the fourth tear line.
21. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the definition line is a third transverse fold line,
the first flap panel having a fourth transverse weakened tear line spaced from the third fold line by the first distance,
the front panel having a fifth transverse weakened tear line spaced from the third fold line by the first distance, and
the tear strip further being formed of an area on the first flap panel between the third fold line and the fourth tear line and an area on the front panel between the fifth tear line and the third fold line.
22. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the rear panel is similar in size to the first flap panel.
23. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the rear panel is similar in size to the first flap panel in its transverse direction and is shorter than the first flap panel in its lengthwise direction by at least the first distance.
24. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the second adhesive area bears a remoistenable adhesive.
25. The reusable envelope of claim 1, wherein the first adhesive area is a Ushaped area having a top at the top of the envelope pocket.
26. A reusable envelope comprising:
a plurality of panels including first, second and third panels each being generally rectangular and at least the second and third panels being similar in size,
the first panel being joined to the second panel along a transverse definition line and the second panel being joined to the third panel along a transverse fold line,
the second panel having a first transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the second panel and spaced from the fold line by a predetermined distance to define a first area between the first tear line and the fold line, and
the third panel having a second transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the third panel and spaced from the fold line by the predetermined distance to define a second area between the second tear line and the fold line,
wherein the first panel is folded with respect to the second panel along the definition line, and
wherein the second panel is folded with respect to the third panel along the fold line such that the first and second tear lines are collinear, the first area being sealed to the second area to define a tear strip that is removable along the collinear tear lines to at least partially create a second envelope for remailing.
27. The reusable envelope of claim 26, wherein the second panel has a third transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the second panel and spaced from the first tear line in a direction away from the fold line by a second predetermined distance to define a third area between the first tear line and the third tear line, and the third panel has a fourth transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the third panel and spaced from the second tear line in a direction away from the fold line by the second predetermined distance to define a fourth area between the second tear line and the fourth tear line, the third and fourth tear lines being collinear, and the fourth area being sealed to the third area to define a second tear strip that is removable along the collinear third and fourth tear lines to open the second envelope.
28. The reusable envelope of claim 26, wherein the definition line is a third weakened tear line.
29. The reusable envelope of claim 26, wherein the first panel has a transverse edge opposed to the definition line and a third transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the first panel and spaced from the edge by the predetermined distance to define a third area between the edge and the third tear line, the third tear line being collinear with the first and second tear lines and the third area forming part of the tear strip.
30. The reusable envelope of claim 29, wherein the second panel has a fourth transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the second panel and spaced from the first tear line in a direction away from the fold line by a second predetermined distance to define a fourth area from the first tear line to the fourth tear line, and the third panel has a fifth transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the third panel and spaced from the second tear line in a direction away from the fold line by the second predetermined distance to define a fifth area from the second tear line to the fifth tear line, the fourth and fifth tear lines being collinear, and the fourth area being sealed to the fifth area to define a second tear strip that is removable along the collinear fourth and fifth tear lines to open the second envelope.
Description
RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/590,802, filed Jun. 9, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a remailable or two-way envelope adapted to be used after its first mailing to return an enclosure, such as a payment or the like, to the original sender.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Remailable envelopes are well known in the art and numerous patents describe many different variations of remailable envelopes. Some examples of paten ts showing this type of envelope include U.S. Pat. No. 4,730,768 to Gendron, U.S. Pat. No. 5,251,810 to Kim and U.S. Pat. No. 5,875,964 to Pham.

[0004] It has been found that the remailable en velopes of the prior art have not received widespread commercial acceptance by manufacturers or approval by recipients. Therefore, the applicant has developed an improved reusable mailing envelope with tear-strip opening device, as disclosed in the above-mentioned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/590,802, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference. It is an object of the present invention to provide a further development of this reusable mailing envelope that may include one or more panels bearing printed information constituting contents of the envelope.

[0005] Thus, it is an object of the present invention to provide a reusable envelope that can be quickly and easily opened and provides a return envelope that is easy for the recipient to use.

[0006] It is another object of the present invention to provide a reusable envelope that can be quickly and easily opened to reveal at least one printed panel, and provides a return envelope that is easy for the recipient to use.

[0007] It is also an object of the present invention to provide a reusable envelope that is relatively simple in construction as compared to those of the prior art, that is inexpensive to manufacture on existing production machines, and that can be used both in the manufacture of direct mail articles to produce remailing envelopes into which enclosures are placed by the recipient.

[0008] It is a further purpose of the present invention to provide an easy-opening envelope that provides rapid access to the printed panels and to the enclosures without the possibility of damaging either the printed panels or the enclosures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, the improved reusable envelope includes a plurality of panels including at least a first flap panel, a front panel and a rear panel, each being generally rectangular and at least the first flap panel and the front panel being similar in size, the first flap panel being joined to the front panel along a first transverse definition line and the rear panel being joined to the front panel along a first transverse fold line.

[0010] A generally rectangular second flap panel is joined to the rear panel along a second transverse fold line, the second flap panel having a first transverse edge. The first flap panel has a second transverse edge opposed to the first definition line and a first transverse weakened tear line spaced from the second transverse edge, the rear panel has a second transverse weakened tear line spaced from the first transverse fold line by a first distance, and the front panel has a third transverse weakened tear line spaced from the first transverse fold line by the first distance. The first tear line on the first flap panel is spaced from the second edge by no more than the first distance.

[0011] The rear panel is folded with respect to the front panel along the first transverse fold line, and the first flap panel is folded with respect to the front panel along the first transverse definition line, such that the first, second and third tear lines are collinear to form the reusable envelope for a first mailing. A tear strip is formed of at least three areas consisting of an area on the first flap panel between the second transverse edge and the first transverse tear line, an area on the front panel between the third transverse tear line and the first transverse fold line, and an area on the rear panel between the first transverse fold line and the second transverse tear line.

[0012] A first adhesive area is provided separate from the tear strip for sealing the front panel to the rear panel to form an envelope pocket enclosed within the reusable envelope, and a second adhesive area is also provided, wherein after the tear strip has been removed along the collinear tear lines, the envelope pocket has an open top at the second transverse fold line, and the second flap panel is sealable to the rear panel by the second adhesive area for closing the top of the envelope pocket to form a second envelope for a second mailing.

[0013] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a reusable envelope includes a plurality of panels including first, second and third panels each being generally rectangular and at least the second and third panels being similar in size, the first panel being joined to the second panel along a transverse definition line and the second panel being joined to the third panel along a transverse fold line.

[0014] The second panel has a first transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the second panel and spaced from the fold line by a predetermined distance to define a first area from the first tear line to the fold line, and the third panel has a second transverse weakened tear line extending entirely across the third panel and spaced from the fold line by the predetermined distance to define a second area from the second tear line to the fold line.

[0015] The first panel is folded with respect to the second panel along the definition line, and the second panel is folded with respect to the third panel along the fold line such that the first and second transverse tear lines are collinear, the first area being sealed to the second area to define a tear strip that is removable along the collinear tear lines to at least partially create a second envelope for remailing.

[0016] In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, one or more contents panels may be joined at either the top or bottom edge of the reusable envelope before folding.

[0017] These and other objects, aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018]FIG. 1 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0019]FIG. 2 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0020]FIG. 3 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 1 after folding.

[0021]FIG. 4 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 2 after folding.

[0022]FIG. 5 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a third preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0023]FIG. 6 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a fourth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0024]FIG. 7 is a back view of the blank of FIG. 1.

[0025]FIG. 8 is a back view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 1 after folding.

[0026]FIG. 9 is a view of the folded configuration of FIG. 3.

[0027]FIG. 10 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 5.

[0028]FIG. 11 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 6.

[0029]FIG. 12 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a fifth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0030]FIG. 13 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a sixth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0031]FIG. 14 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 12 after folding.

[0032]FIG. 15 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 13 after folding.

[0033]FIG. 16 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a seventh preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0034]FIG. 17 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a eighth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0035]FIG. 18 is a back view of the blank of FIG. 12.

[0036]FIG. 19 is a back view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 12 after folding.

[0037]FIG. 20 is a view of the folded configuration of FIG. 15.

[0038]FIG. 21 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 16.

[0039]FIG. 22 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 17.

[0040]FIG. 23 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a ninth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0041]FIG. 24 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a tenth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0042]FIG. 25 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 23 after folding.

[0043]FIG. 26 is a front view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 24 after folding.

[0044]FIG. 27 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a eleventh preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0045]FIG. 28 is a back view of the blank of FIG. 23.

[0046]FIG. 29 is a back view of the reusable envelope of FIG. 23 after folding.

[0047]FIG. 30 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 23.

[0048]FIG. 31 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 27.

[0049]FIG. 32 is a front view of a blank of a reusable envelope in accordance with a twelfth preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0050]FIG. 33 is a view of a folded configuration of the envelope of FIG. 32.

[0051]FIG. 34 is an explanatory view of certain key features of one aspect of the present invention.

[0052]FIG. 35 is a view of a development of FIG. 34.

[0053]FIG. 36 is an explanatory view of certain key features of another aspect of the present invention.

[0054]FIG. 37 is a view of a development of FIG. 36.

[0055]FIG. 38 is a view of a folded configuration of a development of FIG. 33.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0056] A pre-cut blank 1 is used to construct the original reusable envelope 10 according to the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 7. As used herein, the letter A will refer to the exterior face and the letter B will refer to the interior face. The blank 1 is typically formed from a web or larger sheet of suitable envelope grade material in accordance with methods well-known in the art. The blank 1 includes an address or first flap panel 12, a rear panel 14 and a front panel 16. Panels 12 and 16 are integrally joined along a transverse definition line 18 which, in this embodiment, is a weakened parting line. In a preferred embodiment, parting line 18 is a line of perforations, being either slit or hole perforations. All other parting lines in the following description are also preferably lines of slit or hole perforations.

[0057] Panels 14 and 16 are integrally joined along a transverse fold line 20. In this embodiment, the panels 12, 14 and 16 are of a similar size and are generally rectangular in shape.

[0058] A second flap panel 22 is integrally joined to rear panel 16 along a fold line 24. The second flap panel 22 advantageously has the same width (transverse direction) as the other panels, but is shorter (lengthwise direction).

[0059] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 7, a plurality of other weakened parting lines divide the panels 12, 14, 16 and 22 into different functional portions. First flap panel 12 is provided with a transverse weakened parting line 26 parallel to its top edge 28 and spaced therefrom by a first distance. As used herein, the edge of a panel can mean either a free edge or a fold or parting line delimiting the panel.

[0060] Front panel 16 is provided with a transverse weakened parting line 30 parallel to fold line 20 and spaced therefrom by the first distance, and rear panel 14 is provided with a transverse weakened parting line 32 parallel to fold line 20 and spaced therefrom by the first distance.

[0061] As described below, the combination of fold line 20 with parting lines 30 and 32 at a central portion of the blank 1, rather than at an edge thereof, enables a novel and advantageous tear strip construction for opening the reusable envelope 10 to form the second envelope for remailing.

[0062] Running the entire length of the blank are left and right weakened parting lines 34 and 36. Left parting line 34 is parallel to the left edge 38 and is spaced therefrom by a second distance. Correspondingly, right parting line 36 is parallel to the right edge 40 and spaced therefrom by the second distance. Preferably, the first distance is equal to the second distance.

[0063] These lines define areas on the exterior side A of the blank 1, as shown in FIG. 1. Of particular relevance here, area 42 extends entirely across the width of first flap panel 12 from top edge 28 to parting line 26, area 44 extends entirely across the width of front panel 16 from parting line 30 to fold line 20, and area 46 extends entirely across the width of rear panel 14 from fold line 20 to parting line 32.

[0064] In addition, on the left side of the blank 1, area 48 extends from top to bottom between left edge 38 and left parting line 34, with area 50 being the lower portion thereof from fold line 24 to bottom edge 52.

[0065] These left side areas are mirror-imaged on the right side of the blank 1. Thus, area 54 extends from top to bottom between right edge 40 and right parting line 36, with area 56 being the lower portion thereof from fold line 24 to bottom edge 52.

[0066] As shown in FIG. 1, areas 50 and 56 are provided with a first adhesive 58 for sealing the reusable envelope 10. The first adhesive 58 in one or both areas can be of the type that is sealed when the reusable envelope 10 is manufactured. Alternatively, the first adhesive 58 can be a remoistenable adhesive, so that the reusable envelope 10 can be manufactured without being sealed shut, and can thereafter be sealed for the first mailing at the user's convenience.

[0067]FIG. 1 illustrates the first adhesive 58 as filling the entirety of the areas 50 and 56. However, it will be understood that this and any other adhesive employed in the present invention can fill less than all of the indicated area, or it may be used in a spot welding fashion as desired.

[0068]FIG. 7 illustrates the interior face B of the blank 1, opposite to the exterior face A illustrated in FIG. 1, and therefore the reference numerals appear reversed from left to right. Interior face B includes the transverse parting lines 18, 26 30 and 32 and the lengthwise parting lines 34 and 36.

[0069] The interior face B also includes, on the rear panel 14B, line 60 running the entire width parallel to bottom edge 52 and spaced therefrom by the first distance. Fold line 24 is parallel to line 60 and spaced therefrom by the first distance. Area 64 is from left to right between line 60 and bottom edge 52.

[0070] On the front panel 16B, side lines 66 and 68 and bottom line 70 are provided. These lines define a U-shaped area comprised of three areas that will form the side and bottom edges of a second envelope for the second mailing. Area 72 extends from left parting line 34 to left side line 66 and from parting line 18 to bottom line 70. Area 74 extends from right parting line 36 to right side line 68 and from parting line 18 to bottom line 70. Area 76 extends from left parting line 34 to right parting line 38 and from bottom line 70 to parting line 30.

[0071] In addition, area 78 extends from top edge 28 to fold line 20 and from left edge 38 to left parting line 34, while area 80 extends from top edge 28 to fold line 20 and from right edge 40 to right parting line 36.

[0072] As shown in FIG. 7, areas 42, 46, 78 and 80 are provided with the first adhesive 58 for sealing the reusable envelope 10, and areas 72, 74 and 76 are provided with the first adhesive 58 to create the second, smaller envelope for remailing.

[0073] Area 64 on the interior face B of the blank is provided with a remoistenable adhesive 82 so as to be used to seal the second envelope.

[0074] In the manufacture of the original reusable envelope 10 of the invention for its first mailing, the remoistenable adhesive 82 is applied to area 64, where it dries without bonding to other areas. Then the first adhesive 58 is applied to areas 50 and 56 on the exterior face A and areas 42, 46, 72, 74, 76, 78 and 80 on the interior face B. The blank is folded along fold line 24 so that the second flap panel 22 is folded with respect to the rear panel 14. As used herein, when one panel is described as being folded with respect to another panel, it means that the panels overlie each other in parallel. There may or may not be other panels between the two referenced panels, and the inner or outer surfaces of the two referenced panels may face each other. For example, in this embodiment the folding of the second flap panel 22 with respect to the rear panel may place second flap panel 22A on rear panel 14A.

[0075] The blank 1 is also folded along fold line 20 so that the rear panel 14 is folded with respect to the front panel 16, for example to place rear panel 14B on front panel 16B. In addition, the blank 1 is folded along fold line 18 so that the rear panel 14 is folded with respect to the first flap panel 12, for example to place rear panel 14A on first flap panel 12B.

[0076] A view of the front of the reusable envelope 10 at this stage of manufacture is shown in FIG. 3, and a view of its back is shown in FIG. 8. FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 3 showing how the panels may be arranged as folded.

[0077] While FIG. 9 illustrates second flap panel 22 between first flap panel 12 and rear panel 14, second flap panel 22 could alternatively be between rear panel 14 and front panel 16.

[0078] Moreover, since the rear panel 14 has substantially the same length as the first flap panel 22 and the front panel 16, the bottom fold includes all four panels in this embodiment. However, the rear panel 14 may be shorter in the lengthwise direction so that it and the second flap panel 22 are not in the fold.

[0079] The first flap panel 12 may also alternatively be somewhat shorter than the front panel 16, provided that it is long enough to have its area forming part of the first tear strip 84. That is, in FIG. 9, the first flap panel 12 would not extend upward all the way to be level with the fold line 20, but would extend above the dotted line.

[0080] Each tear strip may be formed of the entire area between the respective lines, or may be formed of only a portion of the entire area.

[0081] Following each folding step in the manufacturing process, or after some or all of the folding steps, the reusable envelope 10 is passed through perforating apparatus, e.g. a perforating wheel, to simultaneously form the parting lines as lines of perforation and to bond the areas bearing the first adhesive 58 to the respective opposing areas to seal the reusable envelope 10 in its closed form.

[0082] The result is the formation of three tear strips sealing the reusable envelope 10 closed for its first mailing. As shown in FIGS. 3, 8 and 9, top tear strip 84 is formed of, in order from the front face to the back face of the folded envelope, areas 42A, 42B, 46A, 46B, 44B and 44A. Left tear strip 86 is formed of area 48 running the entire length of the blank 1 and right tear strip 88 is formed of area 54 running the entire length of the blank 1.

[0083] As shown in FIG. 1, first flap panel 12A includes an address area, a return address area and a postage area, which appear on the front of the folded reusable envelope 10 in FIG. 3. Rear panel 14A includes a second address area, a second return address area and a second postage area, which are inside the folded reusable envelope 10 and therefore not visible during the first mailing.

[0084] To open the reusable envelope 10, the three tear strips 84, 86 and 88 are removed along the parting lines 26, 34 and 36. Upon removal of the three tear strips, the first flap panel 12 is detachable from the front panel 16 along parting line 18, and the smaller second envelope remains, extending from parting line 18 to parting line 26 and from left parting line 34 to right parting line 38. Because the first flap panel 12 has been removed, the exterior face of the rear panel 14A is now exposed, bearing the second address and postage areas. This second envelope is sealed along its lower edge by area 76, along its left edge by area 72 and along its right edge by area 74. The opening of the second envelope is where parting line 18 lies along fold line 24.

[0085] In order to use the second envelope for the second mailing, if materials are to be returned to the sender, the recipient inserts the materials into the second envelope. Then the adhesive 82 on the area 64 is moistened, and the second flap panel 22 is folded along fold line 24 to adhesively secure the second flap panel face 22B to the rear panel face 16A. The recipient completes the second return address area and attaches the proper postage.

[0086] Alternatively, the original sender can provide the recipient's return address by computer-directed printing means at the time that the envelope blank is printed, die-cut and assembled. Return postage indicia can also be preprinted on rear panel 14 by the originator.

[0087] As shown by the dotted line in FIG. 9, the top tear strip 84 includes the area 42 at the edge of first flap panel 12 and areas 44 and 46 at a central portion of the blank 1, i.e. between front panel 16 and rear panel 14 on either side of fold line 20. In prior envelopes, any tear strips have been formed only from edge portions of the blanks, not between panels of similar size and not between panels that will form a second envelope for remailing. In contrast, in accordance with the present invention, the tear strip structure can exist between the panels that will form the second envelope. By sealing the areas 44 and 46, the tear strip 84 is sturdier and easier to remove without ripping the remaining panels.

[0088]FIG. 2 illustrates another preferred embodiment of an envelope 110 in accordance with the present invention. In this embodiment, the rear panel 114 has four slit lines 101, 103, 105 and 107 defining the sides of the second envelope. Left fold line 109 between slit lines 101 and 103 and right fold line 111 between slit lines 105 and 107 are not perforated. Either the exterior or interior surface of area 113 between slit lines 101 and 103 and between left edge 38 and left fold line 109, and either the exterior or interior surface of area 115 between slit lines 105 and 107 and between right edge 40 and right fold line 111 are provided with the first adhesive 58, as are areas 50 and 56. However, what would otherwise be areas 72 and 74 on the interior face B are not provided with the first adhesive 58.

[0089] When the reusable envelope 110 in this embodiment is folded into its original form, as shown in FIG. 4, it appears to be identical to the first reusable envelope 10. However, in forming the reusable envelope 110, the areas 113 and 115 are first folded in, so that they form the sides of the second envelope.

[0090]FIGS. 5 and 6 show two other preferred embodiments wherein additional panels are provided to carry printed information, thereby eliminating the need for separate enclosures. As shown in FIG. 5, which shows the exterior face A of an envelope 210, the cut blank includes the same first flap panel 12, rear panel 14 and front panel 16. However, the second flap panel 222, with the same areas bearing the first adhesive 58 and the remoistenable adhesive 82 as second flap panel 22 in the first embodiment, does not end in a free edge. Instead, the lower edge is a definition line 219, here a parting line, to which one or more contents panels 217 a-d are provided in sequence. The contents panels 217 carry the information that other envelopes have required on separate enclosures, such as a letter to the customer on contents panels 217 a-c and a payment coupon on contents panel 217 d.

[0091] Each of the contents panels 217 has a length that is less than that of the first flap panel 12, so that the contents panels 217 will fit entirely within the envelope 210 when it is folded and sealed. The first contents panel 217 a is connected to the second flap panel 222 at the parting line 219, and the remaining contents panels 217 b-d can be connected in sequence at definition lines, which can be either fold lines or parting lines, depending on the type of information printed thereon. Side areas 221 on alternate ones of the contents panels 217 are provided with the first adhesive 58 to ensure that the envelope 210 is sealed closed when folded.

[0092] The contents panels 217 are accordion folded into the envelope 210 during the assembly process, using, for example, the folded configuration illustrated in crossection in FIG. 10. Upon the removal of the three tear strips, the contents panels 217 may remain connected to each other, but can be separated along any parting lines provided therebetween.

[0093] In order to reuse the reusable envelope 210, the same steps are taken as set forth above, except that here the enclosures may include, for example, a payment coupon printed on one of the information panels 217 d and detached along a parting line for insertion into the second envelope.

[0094]FIG. 6 illustrates a variation of the envelope of FIG. 5. The envelope 310 of FIG. 6 is similar to envelope 210 of FIG. 5, except that the contents panels 317 are connected to what would otherwise be the top edge 28 of the first flap panel 312 along a definition line 323, here a fold line. Parting lines 325 and 327 combine with the fold line 323 to form another of the advantageous tear strip configurations of the present invention. When the envelope 310 is folded, the parting line 325 is collinear with the parting line 30 and the parting line 327 is collinear with the parting line 32, so that the areas between parting lines 325 and 327 form part of the transverse first tear strip (84 in FIG. 3).

[0095] To ensure that the envelope 310 is sealed closed when folded, side areas 321 and an area 329 on the bottom of the first contents panel 317a are provided with the first adhesive 58.

[0096] The contents panels 317 are accordion folded into the envelope 310 during the assembly process, using, for example, the folded configuration illustrated in FIG. 11. Upon the removal of the three tear strips, the contents panels 317 may remain connected to each other, but can be separated along any parting lines provided therebetween.

[0097]FIGS. 12 and 18 illustrate the exterior face A and interior face B of a further development of the envelope 10 of FIGS. 1 and 4. Here, the envelope 410 is identical to envelope 10 except for the provision of two additional parting lines 431, 433 extending entirely across the width. Parting line 431 is on front panel 416A at the position of what otherwise would be bottom line 70 (see FIG. 7), and parting line 433 is on rear panel 414A parallel to parting line 32 and spaced therefrom by the first distance. The interior face B is shown in FIG. 18, and bears the first adhesive 58 in the same physical areas. The folded configuration of envelope 410 is shown in FIG. 20.

[0098] The front of the envelope 410 when folded is shown in FIG. 14, and appears identical to the front of envelope 10 in FIG. 3. However, as shown in FIG. 19, the back of the envelope 410 bears the additional parting line 431. The additional parting lines 431, 433 define a fourth tear strip 484 that enables the smaller envelope to be opened after the second mailing.

[0099] The embodiment of FIG. 13 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 12 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 2 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1, i.e. it is identical, with additional parting lines 431, 533, except the provision of the slit lines 103-109 and the change in the areas bearing the first adhesive 58. The front of the folded envelope 510 is shown in FIG. 15.

[0100] The embodiment of FIG. 16 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 12 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 5 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1. Specifically, the reusable envelope 610 of FIG. 16 contains the additional parting lines 431, 433 and the additional contents panels 217 connected to the second flap panel 22. The folded configuration of the envelope 610 is shown in FIG. 21.

[0101] The embodiment of FIG. 17 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 12 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 6 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1. Specifically, the reusable envelope 710 of FIG. 17 contains the additional parting lines 431, 433 and the additional contents panels 317 connected at the top to the front panel 312. The folded configuration of envelope 710 is shown in FIG. 22.

[0102]FIGS. 23 and 28 illustrate the exterior face A and interior face B of a another development of the envelope 10 of FIGS. 1 and 7. Here, the envelope 810 differs from envelope 10 in that the rear panel 814 with the attached second flap panel 822 is at the top of the blank, and the first flap panel 812 is at the bottom. To accommodate this structure, a tear strip configuration in accordance with the present invention is provided between panels 814 and 816, and another such tear strip configuration is provided between panels 816 and 812.

[0103] Thus, definition line 818 between first flap panel 812 and front panel 816 is a fold line, as opposed to FIG. 1's parting line 18 between first flap panel 12 and front panel 16. A parting line 835 extends across the width of front panel 816 parallel to the fold line 818 and spaced therefrom by the first distance, and parting line 837 extends across the width of first flap panel 812 parallel to the fold line 818 and spaced therefrom by the first distance.

[0104] As in the embodiment of FIG. 1, fold line 20 and parting lines 30, 32 define the tear strip configuration between rear panel 814 and front panel 816.

[0105] The first adhesive 58 is provided only in the interior face B, as shown in FIG. 28. As shown in FIG. 28 as compared with FIG. 7, an additional area 841 extending across the entire width between fold line 818 and parting line 835 also contains the first adhesive 58. On the other hand, the upper corner areas 843, 845 of the first flap panel 812B are not provided with the first adhesive 58.

[0106] The front of the reusable envelope 810 when folded is shown in FIG. 25, and the back is shown in FIG. 29. The folded configuration of envelope 810 is shown in FIG. 30. As shown in these drawings, the reusable envelope 810 includes a top tear strip 884, side tear strips 886, 888 and bottom tear strip 890. As shown by the lower dotted line in FIG. 30, the top tear strip 884 includes the area 842 at the edge of first flap panel 812 and areas 844 and 846 at a central portion of the blank, i.e. between front panel 816 and rear panel 814 on either side of fold line 20.

[0107] As shown by the upper dotted line in FIG. 30, the bottom tear strip 890 includes areas at another central portion of the blank, i.e. area 841 on the front panel 816 between parting line 835 and fold line 818, and an area 847 on first flap panel 812 between fold line 818 and parting line 837.

[0108] However, in accordance with an advantageous feature of this embodiment, the rear panel 814 is shorter than the first flap panel 812 and the front panel 816, so that no area of the rear panel 814 or the second flap panel 822 forms part of the bottom tear strip 890. Rather, these panels are completely enclosed in the reusable envelope 801, but are free within the enclosed pocket.

[0109] The embodiment of FIG. 24 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 23 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 2 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1, i.e. it contains the cut lines 101-107. FIG. 26 shows the front face of envelope 910, which differs from that of FIG. 25 in the formation of the side tear strips 986, 988 with the folding of the side areas along the cut lines 101-107.

[0110] The embodiment of FIG. 27 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 23 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 6 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1, i.e. it contains the additional contents panels 217 connected to the rear panel 814, here at the top. The folded configuration of envelope 1010 is shown in FIG. 31.

[0111] The embodiment of FIG. 32 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 23 in the same way as the embodiment of FIG. 5 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 1, i.e. it contains the additional contents panels 317 connected to the first flap panel 812, here at the bottom. The folded configuration of envelope 1110 is shown in FIG. 33.

[0112] Alternatively, FIG. 38 illustrates in cross-section the tear strips at the top and bottom of the reusable envelope if the contents panels have the same length as the other panels and are included in the tear strips.

[0113] In summary and using reference numerals from the drawings for ease of understanding, a reusable envelope (10;110;210;310;410;510;610;710;810;910;1010;1110) in accordance with the present invention includes:

[0114] a plurality of panels including at least a first flap panel (12;312;812), a front panel (16;416;816) and a rear panel (14;414;514;814), each being generally rectangular and at least the first flap panel (12;312;812) and the front panel (16;416;816) being similar in size, the first flap panel (12;312;812) being joined to the front panel (16;416;816) along a first transverse definition line (18;818) and the rear panel (14;414;514;814) being joined to the front panel (16;416;816) along a first transverse fold line (20);

[0115] a generally rectangular second flap panel (22;222;822;922) joined to the rear panel (14;414;514;814) along a second transverse fold line (24), the second flap panel (22;222;822;922) having a first transverse edge (52;219);

[0116] the first flap panel (12;312;812) having a second transverse edge (28,323) opposed to the first definition line (18;818) and a first transverse weakened tear line (26) spaced from the second transverse edge (28;323);

[0117] the rear panel (14;414;514;814) having a second transverse weakened tear line (32) spaced from the first transverse fold line (20) by a first distance, the first transverse weakened tear line (26) spaced from the second transverse edge (28;323) by no more than the first distance;

[0118] the front panel (16;416;816) having a third transverse weakened tear line (30) spaced from the first transverse fold line (20) by the first distance;

[0119] wherein the rear panel (14;414;514;814) is folded with respect to the front panel (16;416;816) along the first transverse fold line (20), and the first flap panel (12;312;812) is folded with respect to the front panel (16;416;816) along the first transverse definition line (18;818) such that the first, second and third tear lines are collinear to form the reusable envelope for a first mailing, and

[0120] wherein a tear strip (84;884) is formed of at least three areas consisting of an area (42;842) on the first flap panel (12;312;812) between the second transverse edge (28;323) and the first transverse tear line (26), an area (44;844) on the front panel (16;416;816) between the third transverse tear line (30) and the first transverse fold line (20), and an area (46;846) on the rear panel (14;414;514;814) between the first transverse fold line (20) and the second transverse tear line (32),

[0121] a first adhesive area (72, 74, 76) separate from the tear strip for sealing the front panel (16;416;816) to the rear panel (14;414;514;814) to form an envelope pocket enclosed within the reusable envelope; and

[0122] a second adhesive area (64),

[0123] wherein after the tear strip has been removed along the collinear tear lines, the envelope pocket has an open top at the second transverse fold line (24), and the second flap panel (22;222;822;922) is sealable to the front panel (16) by the second adhesive area (64) for closing the top of the envelope pocket to form a second envelope for a second mailing.

[0124] To further assist in understanding this aspect of the present invention, FIG. 34 identifies certain key elements of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, which are, from top to bottom, the second edge (SE), the first tear line (FTL), the first flap panel (FFP), the definition line (DL), the front panel (FP), the third tear line (TTL), the first fold line (FFL), the second tear line (STL), the rear panel (RP), the second fold line (SFL), the second flap panel (SFP) and the first edge (FE).

[0125]FIG. 35 illustrates a further development in which the definition line is a third fold line (TFL) between fourth and fifth tear lines (FoTL, FiTL) to form a tear strip between the first flap panel and the front panel.

[0126] In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, a reusable envelope (10; 110;210;310;410;510;610;710;810;910; 1010; 1110) includes:

[0127] a plurality of panels including first (12;312;812), second (16;416;816) and third (14;414;514;814) panels each being generally rectangular and at least the first (12;312;812) and second (16;416;816) panels being similar in size,

[0128] the first panel (12;312;812) being joined to the second panel (16;416;816) along a transverse definition line (18;818) and the second panel (16;416;816) being joined to the third panel (14;414;514;814) along a transverse fold line (20),

[0129] the second panel (16;416;816) having a first transverse weakened tear line (30) extending entirely across the second panel and spaced from the fold line (20) by a predetermined distance to define a first area (44;844) from the first tear line (30) to the fold line (20), and

[0130] the third panel (14;414;514;814) having a second transverse weakened tear line (32) extending entirely across the third panel and spaced from the fold line (20) by the predetermined distance to define a second area (46;846) from the second tear line (32) to the fold line (20),

[0131] wherein the first panel (12;312;812) is folded with respect to the second panel (16;416;816) along the definition line (18;818), and

[0132] wherein the second panel (16;416;816) is folded with respect to the third panel (14;414;514;814) along the fold line such that the first and second transverse tear lines (30, 32) are collinear, the first area (44;844) being sealed to the second area (46;846) to define a tear strip (84;844) that is removable along the collinear tear lines to at least partially create a second envelope for remailing.

[0133] To further assist in understanding this aspect of the present invention, FIG. 36 identifies certain key elements of the embodiment shown in FIG. 12, which are, from top to bottom, the edge (SE), the first panel (FP), the definition line (DL), the second panel (SP), the third tear line (TTL), the first tear line (FTL), the fold line (FL), the second tear line (STL), the fourth tear line (FOTL) and the third panel (TP).

[0134]FIG. 37 illustrates a further development in which the definition line is a fold line (FL) between additional tear lines (TL1, TL2) to form a tear strip between the first and second panels.

[0135] It will be noted that the various features of the different embodiments, e.g. the contents panels, the side cut lines, the tear strip configurations, the lengths of the panels, may be combined in any desired fashion or omitted to achieve a reusable envelope in a particular advantageous configuration in accordance with the present invention.

[0136] In the production of the envelopes in accordance with the present invention, it is preferable to form the perforations after the various panels have been glued and folded in superimposed position so that the perforations are aligned to thereby ensure an even and clean tear line.

[0137] While the fundamental novel features of the invention have been shown and described, it should be understood that various substitutions, modifications and variations may be made by those skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Accordingly, all such modifications or variations are included in the scope of the invention as defined by the claims that follow.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8544720 *Dec 18, 2009Oct 1, 2013Bell And Howell, LlcArticle of manufacture for usage as an integrated bidirectional mailpiece and method of manufacturing integrated bidirectional mailpieces
US20110121063 *Dec 18, 2009May 26, 2011Bowe Bell + Howell CompanyArticle of manufacture for usage as an integrated bidirectional mailpiece and method of manufacturing integrated bidirectional mailpieces
Classifications
U.S. Classification229/303, 229/92.1
International ClassificationB65D27/06
Cooperative ClassificationB65D27/06
European ClassificationB65D27/06