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Publication numberUS20020164088 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/136,122
Publication dateNov 7, 2002
Filing dateMay 1, 2002
Priority dateMay 7, 2001
Publication number10136122, 136122, US 2002/0164088 A1, US 2002/164088 A1, US 20020164088 A1, US 20020164088A1, US 2002164088 A1, US 2002164088A1, US-A1-20020164088, US-A1-2002164088, US2002/0164088A1, US2002/164088A1, US20020164088 A1, US20020164088A1, US2002164088 A1, US2002164088A1
InventorsRobert Collins
Original AssigneeCollins Robert W.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-functional bag/envelope
US 20020164088 A1
Abstract
A multi-functional bag/envelope for carrying and/or mailing an item is provided. The bag/envelope includes a front panel, a back panel, a seal flap and a pair of side flaps that couple the front panel with the back panel. The front panel includes a first weakened portion that is at least partially overlapped with a second weakened portion that is defined in the seal flap. A third weakened portion is defined in the back panel and overlaps with said first and second weakened portions. The weakened portions may be broken to form a handle assembly that is hingedly coupled to the front panel, back panel and the seal flap. Breaking the weakened portions allow a user to carry the bag/envelope. Further, the punch flaps are capable of being resealed to the front panel, back panel and seal flap to hold the item within the bag/envelope during mailing.
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Claims(29)
What is claimed is:
1. A multi-functional bag/envelope for carrying and/or mailing an item, said bag/envelope comprising:
a pouch defined by front and back panels, said pouch including an opening, and said front panel having a first weakened portion defined therein; and
a seal flap extending from the front panel, said seal flap being foldable about a fold line from an open position in which opening is accessible and to a closed position in which said seal flap blocks said opening and overlies a portion of said back panel, and said seal flap including a second weakened portion defined therein where at least a portion of said second weakened portion overlaps said first weakened portion,
wherein said first and second weakened portions are capable of being selectively broken to form a first punch flap that is hingedly coupled to said front panel and a second punch flap that is hingedly coupled to said seal flap to form a handle assembly.
2. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said first punch flap is capable of being resealed to said front panel, and wherein said second punch flap is capable of being resealed to said seal flap.
3. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said back panel includes an aperture that is adapted to be at least partially aligned with said first and second weakened portions.
4. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said back panel has a third weakened portion defined therein, wherein a third punch flap is formed when said third weakened portion is broken.
5. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 4, wherein said third punch flap is capable of being resealed to said back panel.
6. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 4, wherein said third weakened portion is perforations.
7. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, further comprising side flaps coupling said front and back panel.
8. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 7, wherein said side flaps are gusseted.
9. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 7, wherein said side flaps include upper and lower pieces that are coupled to one another by an adhesive.
10. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said seal flap is removably coupled with said back panel.
11. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said first and second weakened portions are perforations.
12. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 1, wherein said seal flap includes at least one aperture covered by an adhesive assembly.
13. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 12, further comprising a receiving member coupled to said back panel and positioned to accept said adhesive assembly when said seal flap is in a closed position.
14. A multi-functional bag/envelope for carrying and/or mailing an item, said bag/envelope comprising:
a front panel having a first weakened portion defined therein;
a seal flap coupled with said front panel, said seal flap having a second weakened portion defined therein that is adapted to be aligned with said first weakened portion;
a back panel coupled to said front panel,
wherein said first and second weakened portions are capable of being broken to form a first punch flap that is hingedly coupled to said front panel and a second punch flap that is hingedly coupled to said seal flap to form a handle, and wherein said first punch flap is capable of being resealed to said front panel and said second punch flap is capable of being resealed to said seal flap to hold the item within the bag/envelope during mailing.
15. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 14, wherein said back panel comprises an aperture aligned with said first and second weakened portions.
16. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 14, wherein said back panel has a third weakened portion defined therein, wherein a third punch flap is formed when said third weakened portion is broken.
17. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 16, wherein said third punch flap is capable of being resealed to said back panel.
18. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 16, wherein said third weakened portion is perforations.
19. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 14, further comprising a pair of side flaps coupling said front panel with said back panel.
20. A combination bag/envelope used to carry and/or mail an item that is placed therein, said bag/envelope comprising:
a front panel;
a first punch flap;
means for hingedly coupling said first punch flap with said front panel;
a back panel coupled with said front panel;
a seal flap coupled with said front panel;
a second punch flap;
means for hingedly coupling said second punch flap with said seal flap, said second punch flap at least partially aligned with said first punch flap so that the bag/envelope may be carried; and
means for resealing said first and second punch flaps to said front panel and said seal flap so that the bag/envelope may be mailed.
21. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 20, further comprising means for removably coupling said seal flap with said front panel.
22. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 20, further comprising:
a third punch flap; and
means for hingedly coupling said third punch flap with said back panel, said third punch flap at least partially aligned with said first and second punch flaps.
23. The bag/envelope as recited in claim 22, further comprising means for resealing said third punch flap to said back panel.
24. A method for manufacturing a combination bag and envelope that is capable of being carried and/or mailed, said method comprising:
providing a front panel;
defining a first weakened portion in said front panel;
providing a back panel coupled to said front panel to form a pouch with an opening;
providing a seal flap coupled to said front panel to allow for the opening and closing of the opening;
defining a second weakened portion in said seal flap; and
wherein a handle assembly is selectively formed by breaking first and second weakened portions to form a first punch flap and a second punch flap, said first and second punch flaps being hingedly coupled to said front panel and said seal flap to permit a user to hold onto the bag/envelope during transport.
25. The method as recited in claim 24, further comprising:
resealing said first punch flap to said front panel; and
resealing said second punch flap to said seal flap to hold the items contained within the bag/envelope during mailing.
26. The method as recited in claim 24, further comprising:
providing a pair of side flaps; and
coupling said front panel and said back panel with said side flaps.
27. The method as recited in claim 24, further comprising:
removably adhering said seal flap to said front panel.
28. The method as recited in claim 24, wherein a third weakened portion is defined in said back panel, wherein said third weakened portion may be selectively broken to form a third punch flap.
29. The method as recited in claim 28, wherein said third punch flap is hingedly coupled to said back panel.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/289,175 filed on May 7, 2001.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention relates to a multi-functional bag/envelope. More specifically, the present invention relates to a combination bag/envelope that includes a punch flap assembly which reinforces the handle section and is capable of being resealed suitable for mailing.

[0004] It is common to use a bag to transport one or more items to a desired location. For example, after an item is purchased, a customer is usually given a bag to bring an item home from the store. One type of bag provided to the customer typically has a flimsy exterior shell with a handle formed therein. The handle allows a person to easily carry the bag.

[0005] In some instances, such as during the holiday season, an individual may want to send a purchased item to another individual as a gift. In order to send the item through the mail, a separate mailing container is usually needed since the items could break through the exterior shell of the bag or be removed through the open end of the bag during shipment. Therefore, the individual has to take the item out of the shopping bag and place it in some type of mailing envelope, which is normally more rigid than the shopping bag and better able to withstand the repeated handling by the mail carrier without breaking. Also, the envelope is completely sealed so that nothing may be placed into or removed from the envelope.

[0006] The need to use both a shopping bag to carry an item and an envelope to mail the item presents a number of drawbacks and deficiencies. After purchasing an item and placing it in a shopping bag, the individual may have to go to a different store to find an adequately sized envelope to mail the item. Traveling from store to store to find an adequately sized envelope is inconvenient, increases the expense involved, and produces delays from the time the item is purchased to the time it is placed in the mail.

[0007] Certain types of combination bag/envelopes have been developed in an attempt to overcome these drawbacks and deficiencies. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 4,790,670 to Barbaro includes a bag/envelope having a handle that is formed by completely removing a portion of the front and back panels and the seal flap to create an aperture which enables a user to hold onto the bag/envelope. When a user is holding onto the handle, the front and rear panels have a tendency to spread apart to form an opening exposing the interior of the envelope. The opening formed between the front and rear panels allows for items to be placed into or removed from the interior of the bag. Therefore, the items contained within these types of bags do not adequately conceal the items during mailing.

[0008] Prior art combination bag/envelopes present additional drawbacks and deficiencies. For instance, the complete removal of a portion of the front and back panels and the seal flap to form the handle provides for a weak handle section. Therefore, the handle section in the bag/envelope is subject to ripping away from the front and back panels due to the weight of the contents within the bag/envelope. Further, a user may suffer from a paper cut after the handle is formed in the prior art bag/envelopes, especially when the bag/envelope is formed of a paper material. Specifically, the user may suffer from a paper cut when holding onto the handle due to the user's direct contact with the edge that forms the circumference of the handle.

[0009] Accordingly, there remains a need for a bag/envelope that allows for both the carrying and mailing of an item. In addition, there remains a need for bag/envelope that prevents the removal or addition of items contained within the bag/envelope during mailing. Further, there remains a need for a bag/envelope that provides a more rigid handle that is less likely to be torn away from the bag/envelope. Still further, there remains a need for a bag/envelope that reduces the likelihood of obtaining a paper cut while holding onto the bag/envelope. The present invention fills these needs as well as various other needs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] In order to overcome the above-stated problems and limitations, and to achieve the noted objects, there is provided a multi-functional bag/envelope that allows for the carrying and/or mailing of an item. In addition, the present invention is capable of preventing items from being added to or removed from the interior of the bag/envelope, provides for a more rigid handle and reduces the likelihood of obtaining a paper cut while holding onto the bag/envelope.

[0011] In general, the bag/envelope includes a front panel, a seal flap and a back panel. A pouch is defined by front and rear panels and includes an opening. The front panel has a first weakened portion formed therein. A seal flap extends from the front panel and is foldable about a fold line from an open position in which opening is accessible to a closed position in which the seal flap blocks the opening and overlies a portion of the back panel. The seal flap and back panel include second and third weakened portions formed therein where at least a portion of each is adapted to overlap the first weakened portion. The first, second and third weakened portions are capable of being selectively broken to form a first punch flap that is hingedly coupled to the front panel, a second punch flap that is hingedly coupled to the seal flap and a third punch flap that is hingedly coupled to the back panel to form a handle assembly.

[0012] A method for manufacturing a combination bag and envelope that is capable of being carried and/or mailed is also provided. The method comprises providing a front panel, forming a first weakened portion in the front panel, providing a back panel coupled to the front panel to form a pouch with an opening, providing a seal flap coupled to the front panel to allow for the opening and closing of the opening, and forming a second weakened portion in the seal flap. Furthermore, a third weakened portion is formed in the back panel. A handle assembly can be selectively formed by breaking first, second and third weakened portions to form a first, second and third punch flap. The first, second and third punch flaps are hingedly coupled to the front panel, seal flap and back panel respectively to permit a user to hold onto the bag/envelope.

[0013] Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] In the accompanying drawings which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith and in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like parts in the various views:

[0015]FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of an envelope of the present invention showing a handle assembly broken away from a seal flap, a front panel and a back panel to form a handle;

[0016]FIG. 2 is a plan view of a blank for the construction of the bag/envelope;

[0017]FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view of the bag/envelope of FIG. 2 showing side flaps that include an adhesive member coupled thereto;

[0018]FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1 showing the side flaps coupling the front panel with a back panel;

[0019]FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1 showing the handle assembly broken away from the seal flap, front panel and back panel;

[0020]FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary view of the present invention similar to that shown in FIG. 1, illustrating the seal flap in the opened position, an adhesive assembly being depicted through the aperture in the seal flap, and a receiving member coupled to the back panel;

[0021]FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view of the bag/envelope of FIG. 6 with a portion broken away to show the apertures of the adhesive assembly that is used to releasably couple the seal flap to the back panel, and the punch flap assembly being broken away from the seal flap, the front panel and the back panel to form a handle;

[0022]FIG. 8 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7 showing the adhesive member coupling the seal flap to the receiving member positioned on the back panel;

[0023]FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional fragmentary view of an alternative embodiment of a bag/envelope that illustrates a window mounted to the front panel;

[0024]FIG. 10 is a rear perspective view of an alternative envelope of the present invention showing the handle assembly broken away from the seal flap and the front panel to form a handle;

[0025]FIG. 11 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10 showing the front and back panels coupled to the side walls;

[0026]FIG. 12 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 12-12 of FIG. 10 showing the front and back panels coupled to a bottom flap; and

[0027]FIG. 13 is a plan view of a blank for the alternative construction of the bag/envelope of the present invention as shown in FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0028] Referring to the drawings in greater detail, and initially to FIGS. 1 and 2, a combination bag/envelope embodying the principles of this invention is broadly designated in the drawings by reference numeral 10. Bag/envelope 10 may be formed from a blank or web, and includes front and back panels 12, 14 that are coupled by a pair of side flaps 16. A seal flap 18 extends from front panel 12 at a fold line 19 and can be selectively coupled to back panel 14 to close bag/envelope 10. Seal flap 18, front panel 12 and back panel 14 each include a weakened portion 20, 21, 34 which may be broken to form a handle assembly 22 which includes a first, second and third punch flaps 23, 24, 32. Punch flaps 23, 24, 32 are pushed upwardly to rest essentially flush with seal flap 18. The aperture formed after weakened portions 20, 21, 34 are broken through creates a handle assembly 22 which allows the individual to hold bag/envelope 10 to carry various types of items within the bag/envelope 10 from one location to another. Punch flaps 23, 24, 32 may remain flush with seal flap 18, or may be resealed with seal flap 18, front panel 12 and back panel 14, respectively, along weakened portions 20, 21, 34 to prevent items from being removed from, or placed within, the interior of bag/envelope 10.

[0029] Front and back panels 12, 14 are preferably formed of a paper material, but it is understood that they may be formed of plastic, TyvecŪ or any other material that would be suitable for carrying or mailing items contained within bag/envelope 10. It is within the scope of this invention to print various types of designs on the outer surfaces of front and back panels 12, 14, which designs can be in celebration of different events that occur throughout the year such as, but not limited to, Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day and birthdays. The various types of designs and prints that may be printed on front and back panels 12, 14 eliminates the need to gift wrap the item contained within bag/envelope 10 prior to mailing or delivering the item to an individual.

[0030] As seen best seen in FIG. 1, bag/envelope 10 comprises a pouch 25 for receiving contents of the envelope, which can be any number of objects, such as sheets of paper, packing lists, greeting cards, or the like. The pouch 25 is defined by front and back panels 12, 14, as can be seen in FIG. 1 and in the envelope blank depicted in FIG. 2. The bottom edges of front and back panels 12, 14 are fixedly coupled to one another at a lower fold line 27. Fold line 27 forms the bottom edge of bag/envelope 10. Seal flap 18 extends from front panel 12 and is adapted to fold from an open position in which an opening 26 (FIG. 5) of pouch 25 is accessible and back panel 14 is uncovered, to a closed position in which seal flap 18 blocks the opening 26 of the pouch 25 and overlies a portion of the back panel 14. Side flaps 16 are adapted to be folded inwardly toward the front panel 12 to complete the formation of pouch 25. Front and back panels 12, 14 and side flaps 16 may be any suitable shape, and are not limited to the specific shapes depicted in FIG. 2.

[0031] The bag/envelope 10 described herein is one of a number of suitable envelopes, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. Bag/envelope 10 as depicted can, for example, be formed from a blank as in FIG. 2, which is folded to form the various portions of the envelope which are described herein, or can be formed from a differently shaped blank as in FIG. 13 which will be more fully described below. Any other suitable methods of manufacture may also be used to make envelopes in accordance with this invention.

[0032] As best seen in FIG. 2, weakened portion 21 in front panel 12 is located toward the middle of the top portion of front panel 12 and extends around the curved edges and along the bottom side of punch flap 24, which is capable of being partially punched out to form handle assembly 22 (FIG. 1). Punch flap 24 is oval shaped but may also be square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention. Punch flap 24 is hingedly coupled to front panel 12 along a fold line 28 that enables punch flap 24 to remain coupled to bag/envelope 10 even after weakened portion 21 is broken. The weakened portion 21 is preferably a series of perforations, but it should be understood that any type of means for allowing punch flap 24 to be broken away from front panel 12, while remaining coupled to front panel 12 along fold line 28, is within the scope of this invention. A circular aperture 30 can be formed in front panel 12 between fold line 19 and fold line 28.

[0033] Back panel 14 includes an punch flap 32 sized and positioned to be aligned with punch flap 24 when front and back panels 12, 14 are positioned on top of one another. Weakened portion 34 is located generally at the bottom portion of back panel 14 and extends around the curved edges and along the top side of punch flap 32. Punch flap 32 may be oval, square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention. Punch flaps 23, 24, 32 are generally the same size and positioned so that they are aligned when positioned on top of one another. Punch flap 32 is hingedly coupled to back panel 14 along a fold line 35, wherein punch flap 32 remains coupled to bag/envelope 10 after weakened portion 34 has been broken. Weakened portion 34 is preferably a series of perforations, but it should be understood that any type of means for allowing punch flap 32 to be broken away from back panel 14, while remaining coupled thereto along fold line 35, is within the scope of this invention. In addition, back panel 14 includes a circular aperture 33 positioned between punch flap 32 and the outer edge of back panel 14. Aperture 33 may be positioned and sized to be aligned with aperture 30. It will be appreciated that punch flap 32 need not be included in the present invention. Instead, an aperture would be formed in back panel 14 and at least partially aligned with punch flaps 23, 24.

[0034] As best seen in FIG. 2, side flaps 16 include upper and lower pieces 36, 37, which are generally rectangular with angled ends. Upper pieces 36 are fixedly coupled to the side edges of front panel 12 along a fold line 40. Lower pieces 37 are fixedly coupled to the side edges of back panel 14 along a fold line 38. Further, upper pieces 36 are approximately twice as wide as lower side pieces 37 and include a fold line 42 that extends along the centerline of the longitudinal axis of upper pieces 36. An adhesive 44 is fixedly coupled to an outer portion of each of upper pieces 36 and can extend along the length of upper pieces 36. It will be appreciated that adhesive 44 may be formed of glue, tape, heat sealant or any combination thereof. In addition, instead of adhesive 44, a mechanical fastener may also be used.

[0035] Seal flap 18 extends from the top edge of front panel 12 at fold line 19. Seal flap 18 is substantially rectangular with two of its comers being slightly angled, although it is understood that it can be of any suitable shape. Weakened portion 20 is located generally in the center of seal flap 18 and extends around the curved edges and along the top side of punch flap 23. Punch flap 23 may be oval, square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention. Punch flaps 23, 24, 32 are generally the same size and positioned so that they are at least partially aligned when positioned on top of one another. It is understood that punch flaps 23, 24, 32 can be of any suitable shape, as long as at least a portion of each correspond with one another and are able to form handle assembly 22, as described below. Punch flap 23 is hingedly coupled to seal flap 18 along a fold line 50, wherein punch flap 23 remains coupled to bag/envelope 10 after weakened portion 20 has been broken. Weakened portion 20 is preferably a series of perforations, but it should be understood that any type of means for allowing punch flap 23 to be broken away from seal flap 18, while remaining coupled thereto along fold line 50, is within the scope of this invention. A circular aperture 52 is formed in flap 18 and is located between fold line 50 and fold line 19 and is sized and positioned to correspond with apertures 30 and 33 when seal flap 18, front panel 12 and back panel 14 are placed over one another. Apertures 30, 33, 52 may be used to hang bag/envelope 10 on a store display rack. It is understood that these apertures may be any suitable size and shape, and are not limited to the round shape depicted in the drawings.

[0036] As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, bag/envelope 10 allows for the selective coupling of seal flap 18 to back panel 14. Specifically, an adhesive assembly 54 is fixedly coupled with and extends along the upper edge of flap 18. Adhesive assembly 54 is used to selectively adhere seal flap 18 with back panel 14 to close bag/envelope 10 and prevent the items within bag/envelope 10 from being tampered with or removed therefrom. A removable protective cover 56 releasably adheres to and covers adhesive 57 to prevent flap 18 from sticking to back panel 14 before sealing is desired. Both surfaces of protective cover 56 are formed with release-type materials such as silicone or other well known or suitable materials. It will be understood that adhesive assembly 54 might not be reusable once adhered to and removed from back panel 14. However, similar to the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 10-13 as will be discussed in more detail below, it is contemplated within the scope of the present invention to provide for adhesive assembly 54 to include resealable or reusable adhesive.

[0037] In another embodiment, as best seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, bag/envelope 10 allows for the closing of seal flap 18 through the use of a closing mechanism which is a resealable adhesive assembly. Specifically, flap 18 includes a pair of oval apertures 58, 60 positioned on both sides of flap 18. An adhesive member 62 is fixedly coupled to the back side of seal flap 18 and positioned over each of apertures 58, 60. As best seen in FIG. 6, adhesive member 62 is exposed through apertures 58, 60 when looking underneath seal flap 18. Receiving members 63 have a non-adhesive surface which is positioned on back panel 14 to correspond with and releasably receive adhesive member 62. As seen in FIG. 8, receiving member 63 provides a surface for adhesive member 62 and an adhesive 64 to releasably adhere to back panel 14 when seal flap 18 is closed. The surface of receiving member 63 is formed with release-type materials such as silicone or other well known or suitable materials. Therefore, bag/envelope 10 may be resealed and thus reused until adhesive member 62 loses its adhesive characteristics.

[0038] In the manufacture and assembly of bag/envelope 10, a blank may be formed to the shape of the envelope depicted in FIG. 2 including front and back panels 12, 14 and seal flap 18 . Front and back panels 12, 14 may be coupled to one another by side flaps 16, and seal flap 18 is coupled to front panel 12. The weakened portions 20, 21, 34 are formed in the front and back panels 12, 14 and seal flap 18 of the envelope blank. Further, apertures 30, 33, 52 are also formed if desired. Adhesive assembly 54 may also be placed on seal flap 18. As best seen in FIGS. 2-4, upper side pieces 36 are folded inwardly along fold line 40 toward the middle and on top of back panel 14. The outer portion of side pieces 36 with adhesive 44 attached thereto is then folded back along line 42 so that adhesive 44 is facing upward. Next, lower side pieces 37 are folded along line 38 inwardly toward the middle and on top of back panel 14. As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 6, back panel 14 is folded inwardly along fold line 27 and is positioned on top of front panel 12 so that the peripheral edges of punch flaps 24, 32, as well as apertures 30 and 33 are aligned with one another. Adhesive 44 fixedly couples the upper side piece 36 the lower side pieces 37 forming a gusset 66. Adhesive 44 can be of any suitable form, such as glue, tape, mechanical fasteners, heat sealing and the like. Gusset 66 allows for expansion of the bag/envelope if a large object is placed within bag/envelope 10. In addition, bag/envelope 10 provides for additional expansion adjacent to fold line 27, as fold lines 68, 70 allow the bottom portions of front and back panels 12, 14 to expand and thereby alleviate some of the stress on the front and back panels 12, 14 when large objects are placed in bag/envelope 10.

[0039] In operation, once items have been placed in the assembled bag/envelope 10, seal flap 18 is folded along fold line 19 and positioned over back panel 14. In particular, the peripheral edges of punch flap 23 match up with the peripheral edges formed by punch flaps 24, 32, and apertures 30, 33 and 52 are all aligned with one another. At this point, seal flap 18 may remain uncoupled with back panel 14, or in the alternative, adhesive assembly 54 or adhesive member 62 may be used to adhere seal flap 18 to the back panel 14 as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 8. The determination of whether to couple seal flap 18 to back panel 14 depends on factors such as, but not limited to, the type of adhesive that is used and the size, quantity and type of items contained within bag/envelope 10. For example, if the items contained within bag/envelope 10 are very small and likely to escape from bag/envelope 10, seal flap 18 would likely be sealed to keep those items in bag/envelope 10. In addition, if using resealable adhesive member 62, it might be advantageous to seal bag/envelope 10 to make sure the item stays contained in bag/envelope 10. On the other hand, if adhesive 54 is being used to seal the contents within bag/envelope 10, a user may want to be more selective in making a determination of whether to seal bag/envelope 10 since it may not be able to reseal again.

[0040] After seal flap 18 is folded over back panel 14, weakened portions 20, 21, 34 on seal flap 18, front panel 12 and back panel 14 may be broken and punch flaps 23, 24, 32 partially punched through, forming handle assembly 22 as best seen in FIGS. 1, 5 and 7. After being punched through, punch flaps 23, 24, 32 remain coupled to front panel 12, seal flap 18 and back panel 14 along fold lines 28, 50, 35 respectively. The user simply places his or her hand through the coextensive apertures formed in front panel 12, back panel 14 and seal flap 18. A user's hand operates to grasp the handle assembly 22 and push punch flaps 23, 24, 32 flush against the outer portion of seal flap 18. Specifically, as best seen in FIG. 5, punch flaps 23, 24, 32 are wrapped around the seal flap 18 and operated to draw the upper portions of front panel 12, back panel 14 and seal flap 18 closer together. Positioning front panel 12, back panel 14 and seal flap 18 against each other makes the handle assembly 22 of bag/envelope 10 thicker, more rigid and less likely to rip in the handle area. In addition, punch flap 24 operates to reduce the possibility of a user obtaining a paper cut when holding onto the handle section of bag/envelope. When punch flap 24 is punched through front panel 12, it is wrapped around and positioned flush with the front of bag/envelope 10 against seal flap 18. The folded or bent portion of punch flap 24 covers the potentially sharp edges in the handle portion and strengthens handle assembly 22. After handle assembly 22 is formed, an opening 26 is formed that exposes the contents contained within bag/envelope 10 to the external environment.

[0041] To mail the items contained within bag/envelope 10, adhesive member 62 or adhesive assembly 54 is adhered to back panel 14 if the user has not already done so. If the user has broken weakened portions 20, 21, 34, punch flaps 23, 24, 32 may be placed in their original position and sealed to prevent the items within bag/envelope 10 from being removed and prevent additional items from being placed within bag/envelope 10 prior to or after mailing. Specifically, punch flaps 23, 24, 32 are bent back to their original positions, preferably on the same plane as front panel 12, seal flap 18 and back panel 14 respectively. Punch flaps 23, 24, 32 can be resealed to front panel 12, seal flap 18 and back panel 14 with tape, glue or any other type of material that will allow punch flaps 23, 24, 32 to become integral with or flush with front panel 12, seal flap 18 and back panel 14 respectively, as if weakened portions 20, 21, 34 were never broken. The resealing of punch flap 23, 24, 32 closes opening 26 that was formed when punch flaps 23, 24, 32 were moved into the position shown in FIG. 5. Therefore, the contents within bag/envelope 10 may not be easily removed, nor can additional items be added to the bag/envelope 10 without breaking the seal around the peripheral edges of punch flaps 23, 24, 32 or adhesive member 62 or adhesive assembly 54 which couples seal flap 18 to front panel 12. The resealing of punch flaps 23, 24, 32 provides for a secure bag/envelope 10 for mailing. Alternatively, if the weakened portions 20, 21, 34 remain intact, the bag/envelope 10 may be mailed without the need to reseal punch flaps 23, 24, 32 prior to mailing.

[0042] Once the bag/envelope 10 has been sealed, the name and address of the recipient and sender of the bag/envelope 10 may be written on the front or back panel 12, 14 or seal flap 18, whichever is desired. Alternatively, as best seen in FIG. 9, the bag/envelope 10 may include a window feature 74 integral with front panel 12. A sender may write the name and address of a person on a separate sheet of paper and place it within the bag/envelope 10 before sealing seal flap 18 and punch flaps 23, 24, 32, allowing the address to be seen through a window feature 74 by the mail carrier or the like. Specifically, the window feature 74 is sized slightly larger than an aperture 76 formed in front panel 12. The window feature 74 is positioned on the interior wall of front panel 12 and completely covers aperture 76. The window feature 74 is coupled to the interior portion of front panel 12 by a covering piece 78.

[0043] After the mail carrier delivers bag/envelope 10, the recipient opens bag/envelope 10 by pulling on seal flap 18 and breaking the seal created between adhesive member 62 or adhesive assembly 54 and back panel 14. The contents can then be removed or kept within bag/envelope 10 depending on the recipient's preference. If adhesive member 62 and receiving member 63 were used, the recipient can carry the bag/envelope 10 or reuse it to mail an item back to the sender, or may use it for another purpose, since seal flap 18 can be resealed to back panel 12 to retain contents placed within bag/envelope 10.

[0044] As best seen in FIGS. 10 and 13, another embodiment of the present invention includes an open-ended style bag/envelope 80 formed from a blank or web that includes back panels 82, 84 that are coupled to a front panel 86 by a pair of side walls 88. A seal flap 90 extends from front panel 86 at fold line 130 and can be selectively coupled to back panels 82, 84 to close bag/envelope 80. Seal flap 90 and front panel 86 include weakened portions 92, 93 that may be broken to form a handle assembly 94 that includes first and second punch flaps 95, 96. The aperture formed after weakened portions 92, 93 are broken and flaps 95, 96 are folded to be flush with seal flap 90 forms handle assembly 94 which allows a user to grasp bag/envelope 80 to carry various types of items within the bag/envelope 80 from one location to another. Just as with bag/envelope 10, handle assembly 94 can be resealed to prevent the items from being removed from, or placed within, the interior of bag/envelope 80.

[0045] As best seen in FIG. 13, weakened portion 93 is located toward the middle of the top portion of front panel 86. Weakened portion 93 extends around the curved edges and along the bottom edge of punch flap 96 to allow punch flap 96 to be partially punched out when a user wants to create handle assembly 94 to hold onto bag/envelope 80. Punch flap 96 may alternatively be square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention. Punch flap 96 is fixedly coupled to front panel 86 along a fold line 102 that allows punch flap 96 to remain hingedly coupled to bag/envelope 80 even after weakened portion 93 is broken. A circular aperture 104 can be formed in front panel 86 and is located above punch flap 96 between fold line 102 and fold line 130. As described above, aperture 104 can be square, rectangular, oval, or any other suitable shape.

[0046] Bottom flap 106 extends from front panel 86 at fold line 108. Bottom flap 106 includes a fold line 110 that extends longitudinally between fold line 108 and the outer edge of flap 106. An adhesive assembly 112 is fixedly coupled to and extends along the lower portion of bottom flap 106. Sidewalls 88 extend from front panel 86 at fold lines 114. Side walls 88 include another fold line 116 that extends longitudinally between its outer edges. Further, side walls 88 are fixedly coupled to front panels 82, 84 along fold line 118.

[0047] As best seen in FIG. 13, back panels 82, 84 are generally rectangular-shaped and each are slightly greater than half the size of front panel 86. Although it is understood that they can be any size which allows them to be folded in and adhesively secured to form a back panel. An aperture 120 is formed in the upper left side of front panel 82 and is sized and shaped to match the left portion of punch flap 96. A receiving member 122 can be positioned on the outside of back panel 82 and to the right of aperture 120 as shown in hidden line in FIG. 13. A circular or other shaped aperture 124 is formed above aperture 120 and sized and positioned to correspond with aperture 104. Similarly, an aperture 126 is formed in the upper right side of back panel 84 and is sized and shaped to match the right side of punch flap 96. A circular or other shaped aperture 127 is formed above aperture 126 and sized and positioned to correspond with apertures 104, 124. Receiving member 122 can be positioned on the outside of back panel 84 and to the left of aperture 126 as seen in hidden lines in FIG. 13. In addition, an adhesive assembly 128 extends along the inside right edge portion of back panel 84.

[0048] Seal flap 90 extends from the top edge of front panel 86 at fold line 130. Seal flap 90 further includes weakened portion 92 that is located generally in the center of flap 90. Weakened portion 92 extends around the curved edges and along the lower edge of punch flap 95 and is capable of being partially punched out for use as a handle. Punch flap 95 may alternatively be square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention, and is generally the same size and shape as punch flap 96 so that they are aligned, or at least partially aligned, when positioned on top of one another. Punch flap 95 is fixedly coupled to seal flap 90 along a fold line 134 that allows punch flap 95 to remain coupled to bag/envelope 80 even after weakened portion 92 is broken. In addition, an aperture 136 is formed in seal flap 90 between fold line 134 and fold line 130. Aperture 136 may alternatively be square, rectangular, circular, or any suitable shape which functions in accordance with this invention, and is sized and positioned to correspond with apertures 104, 124 and 127 when seal flap 90 and back panels 82, 84 are placed on top of one another. The apertures 104, 124, 127 and 136 are optional and can be used to hang bag/envelope 80 on a display rack. As best seen in FIGS. 10 and 13, an adhesive assembly 138 is positioned over each aperture 140 on both sides of punch flap 95. Adhesive assembly 138 and aperture 140 are each aligned with a corresponding receiving member 122 when seal flap 90 is coupled to back panels 82, 84.

[0049] In the manufacture and assembly of bag/envelope 80, the blank may be formed to the shape of the envelope depicted in FIG. 13. The weakened portions 92, 93 are formed in the front panel 86 and seal flap 90 of envelope blank. Further, apertures 120, 126 are formed in back panels 82, 84 of bag/envelope 80, and apertures 104, 124, 127, 136 are also formed if desired. Adhesive assembly 112 is placed on bottom flap 106, and adhesive assembly 128 is placed on back panel 84. Further, adhesive assembly 138 may be placed over apertures 140 and receiving members 122 on back panels 82, 84. As best seen in FIG. 11, side walls 88 are folded inwardly along line 114 and then outwardly along line 116 forming a gusset 142 to allow for the expansion of side walls 88. As best seen in FIGS. 10 and 11, back panel 82 is folded inwardly along line 118 and on top of front panel 86. Then back panel 84 is folded inwardly along line 118 and on top of front panel 86, partially overlapping back panel 82. Adhesive assembly 128 fixedly coupled back panels 82, 84 to one another. As best seen in FIG. 12, bottom flap 106 is folded inwardly along lines 108, 110 and onto the outer portions of back panels 82, 84. Adhesive assembly 112 fixedly couples bottom flap 106 with the bottom edges of back panels 82, 84. It will be understood that back panel 84 may be folded over front panel 86, followed by back panel 82 being folded over front panel 86, partially overlapping back panel 84, in assembling bag/envelope 80. If this alternative construction is implemented, adhesive assembly 128 should be coupled to back panel 82 instead of back panel 84.

[0050] Even though bag/envelopes 10, 80 are constructed differently, the operation of the two are substantially the same. Specifically, seal flap 90 is used to selectively seal the contents within envelope 80 in the same manner as in the preferred embodiment. Similarly, the use of adhesive assemblies 138 and receiving members 122 allow for the reuse of bag/envelope 80 after it has been sealed. Further, the operation of punching punch flaps 95, 96 through seal flap 90 and front panel 86 to form handle assembly 94 is similar to that function in the preferred embodiment. In particular, handle assembly 94 operates to reinforce and strengthen the handle assembly 94 and prevent injury to the user when handling bag/envelope 80. In addition, punch flaps 95, 96 may be resealed to seal flap 90 and front panel 86 respectively to prevent items from being added to, or removed from, the bag/envelope 80 prior to or during mailing.

[0051] Therefore, it can be seen that the invention is one that is designed to overcome the drawbacks and deficiencies existing in the prior art. The invention provides a multi-functional structure that can be used either as a bag to carry items to a different location or an envelope to send items through the mail. Specifically, the present invention provides a combination bag/envelope that allows for partially punching out punch flaps to allow for easy and comfortable carrying. In addition, the present invention provides for a handle assembly which strengthens the bag/envelope. The present invention also provides for punch flaps that reduce the chance a user will obtain a paper cut when holding onto the bag/envelope. Further, the present invention provides for a more secure bag/envelope construction since punch flaps may be resealed before mailing so that items may not be easily removed from, or placed within, the interior of bag/envelope. Still further, the present invention provides for various types of prints to be placed on the outer surface of the bag/envelope in celebration of different events throughout the year to eliminate the need to gift wrap the item contained within the bag/envelope.

[0052] While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown, it will be understood, of course, that the invention is not limited thereto, since modifications may be made by those skilled in the art, particularly in light of the foregoing teachings. Reasonable variation and modification are possible within the scope of the foregoing disclosure of the invention without departing from the spirit of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6957766 *Jun 27, 2003Oct 25, 2005Pitney Bowes Inc.Envelope with enhanced opening capabilities and method therefor
US7426996 *May 13, 2005Sep 23, 2008Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.Mail distribution apparatus and method
US7487689 *Jan 7, 2004Feb 10, 2009Tracetrack Technology Ltd.Contaminant scanning system
US8142075Jan 31, 2008Mar 27, 2012Shaw Raymond RFoldable blank in use with a bag material for securing and retaining articles of evidence in tamper-evident fashion and including side configured evidence re-entry locations with additional tamper evident reclosure and recording features
US8142076 *Apr 2, 2009Mar 27, 2012Shaw Raymond RTamper evident retaining device for use with fluid impregnated clothing and fabrics
US8534535Nov 10, 2009Sep 17, 2013Victor Envelope Manufacturing CorporationEnvelope with sealed display rack hole
US8540426 *Jan 19, 2011Sep 24, 2013Elizabeth RaceCompostable natural-fiber food storage bag
US8544719 *Oct 1, 2010Oct 1, 2013Cenveo CorporationClear clasp reusable envelope
US20100051152 *Aug 13, 2009Mar 4, 2010Calva International, LLC DBA CleverWraps, LLCDisposable protector for electronic devices
US20100209019 *Jan 25, 2010Aug 19, 2010Confoy Robert EShipping package that converts into a backpack
US20110176749 *Jan 19, 2011Jul 21, 2011Elizabeth RaceCompostable Natural-Fiber Food Storage Bag
US20110249915 *Apr 13, 2010Oct 13, 2011Tai Chi-JungBag structure
US20120080509 *Oct 1, 2010Apr 5, 2012James Edward BettingerClear Clasp Reusable Envelope
US20130008939 *Mar 22, 2011Jan 10, 2013James GriffinSatchel system
WO2010132576A1 *May 12, 2010Nov 18, 2010Eggo HaschkeBag with liner
Classifications
U.S. Classification383/10, 229/68.1, 229/67.3, 229/80, 383/86, 229/80.5, 229/928, 229/71, 383/86.1
International ClassificationB65D33/08, B65D33/24
Cooperative ClassificationB65D33/243, B65D33/08
European ClassificationB65D33/08, B65D33/24B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 1, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: W+D MACHINERY CO., INC., KANSAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:COLLINS, ROBERT W.;REEL/FRAME:012857/0136
Effective date: 20020429