BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application is related to and hereby incorporates by reference an issued U.S. Patent entitled “Screw Cap with Flip-Top Compartment”, U.S. Pat. No. 427,906, filed Jul. 26, 1999 and issued Jul. 11, 2000, and an issued U.S. Patent entitled “Spray Bottle Cap with Flip-Top Compartment”, U.S. Pat. No. 427,069, filed Jul. 26, 1999 and issued Jun. 27, 2000.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to caps and lids having internal storage compartments. More particularly, the invention relates to a cap adapted for use with a conventional container, such as a bottle, tube, or can, wherein the cap provides a flip-top storage compartment which is large enough to store one or small objects, such as, for example, aspirin tablets, in close association with the contents of the container.
2. Description of the Prior Art
It is often desirable to have small doses of a supplementary or secondary medication conveniently available for immediate use, possibly in conjunction with use of a primary medication. For example, arterial occlusion during a heart attack results from platelet aggregation or clumping in the blood. Aspirin alters this process by preventing further clotting within the heart during a heart attack, thereby substantially increasing survivability. Thus, the American Heart Association recommends taking aspirin at the first sign of a heart attack; and an estimated 10,000 lives could be saved annually if this recommendation were followed. Similarly, regular use of aspirin after a transient ischemic attack or minor stroke can reduce the occurrence of additional strokes; and it is estimated that thousands of strokes and 100,000 deaths worldwide could be prevented through daily, low-dose administration of aspirin.
Nevertheless, many heart and other patients carry their primary medications but do not carry aspirin. One reason for this may be the inconvenience of having to carry a separate bottle of aspirin in addition to one or more bottles of the patients' other medication(s). One solution is to carry only a few aspirin tablets, which may, for example, be wrapped in tissue. Unfortunately, though this results in less carrying inconvenience, the small tablets are easily misplaced or lost, for example, at the bottom of a purse. Furthermore, those that do regularly carry aspirin, in a bottle or otherwise, are forced, during the onset of a heart attack, to locate both their primary medication and the aspirin, open both child-proof containers, and administer both medications. It will be appreciated that successfully accomplishing this redundant process during the stress and strain of a heart attack is unlikely.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Due to these and other problems in the art, an improved mechanism is needed whereby small doses of secondary medications may be kept conveniently available for immediate use.
The present invention overcomes the above-described problems to provide a cap for use with a conventional container, such as a bottle, tube, or can, wherein the cap provides a flip-top storage compartment operable to store one or more small objects in close association with the container's contents. In one contemplated use, the cap is used to store small doses of secondary medications, such as aspirin, in close association with a primary medication (e.g., a heart medicine such as nitroglycerine), such that both are easily available for immediate use.
In a preferred embodiment, the cap broadly includes a cap body and a flip-top lid. The cap body is partitioned into a bottom portion and a top portion, wherein the bottom portion is threaded or otherwise operable to cover and secure to an opening of a container, and the top portion defines, in conjunction with the flip-top lid, the storage compartment. The flip-top lid is hingedly or similarly connected to the cap body and operable when closed to retain pills or other objects within the compartment.
In use, the cap replaces a conventional cap of an existing medicine bottle or other container, including, for example, containers for pills, pastes, and sprays for health-related concerns such as heart problems, asthma, arthritis, migraines, muscle pain, strokes, and diabetes. Thus, for example, aspirin, having a beneficial effect on these and other health-related concerns, may be conveniently carried in the storage compartment provided by the cap so as to be accessible for immediate use when needed, such as during the onset of a heart attack.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other important aspects of the present invention are more fully described in the section entitled DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT, below.
A preferred embodiment of the present invention is described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a first preferred embodiment of an exterior portion of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of an interior portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a second preferred embodiment of the present invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 4 is an isometric view showing an alternative lid configuration of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
Referring to FIG. 1, a cap 10 is shown constructed in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the present invention wherein the cap is adapted for use with conventional screw-top or similar containers, including, for example, common pill bottles. The cap 10 is operable to store one or more small objects in close association with the container's contents. In one contemplated use, for example, the cap 10 is used to store small doses of secondary medications, such as aspirin, in close association with a primary medication such that both are easily available for immediate use.
The preferred cap 10 broadly comprises a cap body 12 and a flip-top lid 14. The cap body 12 provides both a cap for the container (not shown) and a storage compartment 16 suitable for storing small objects. The cap body 12 is preferably an elongated cylinder, though the concept of the present invention is independent of any particular shape; thus, alternatively, the cap 10 may be square, pyramidal, or otherwise shaped, as desired.
A partition 28 or floor divides the elongated cylindrical cap body 12 into a bottom portion and a top portion 22. A bottom portion 20 is adapted to cover and secure to an opening in the container. To that end, for example, an exterior surface of the cap body 12 may provide knurls 24 for facilitating gripping or turning the cap 10, and, referring also to FIG. 2, an internal surface of the cap body 12 may present threads 26 for coupling with a threaded container opening. Alternatively, the cap 10 may be of the push-on-pull-off variety, wherein a stop or catch (not shown) replaces the internal threads. Additionally, conventional child-proof safety features may be incorporated into the bottle cap 10 to hinder or prevent removal of the cap 10 by a child.
The top portion 22 of the cap body 12 defines, in conjunction with the lid 14, the storage compartment 16. The dimensions of the compartment 16 depend largely upon the positioning of the partition 28 within the cap body 12, in that the partition 28 provides a floor of the compartment 16 and the top portion 22 of the cylindrical cap body 12 provides a side wall 30. The compartment 16 is preferably at least large enough to store one to three common aspirin tablets, with three such tablets requiring approximately one cubic centimeter of space.
Additionally, the top portion 22 of the cap body 12 preferably presents a small opening 32 forming a female portion of a catch mechanism for securing the lid 14 to the cap body 12. Adjacent the opening 32, the cap body 12 may present a bevel 34 to allow insertion of a fingernail or thumbnail underneath the secured flip-top lid 14 to aid in opening it.
The flip-top lid 14 is operable to cover the compartment 16, thereby securing its contents. The lid 14 is preferably connected to the cap body 12 by a hinge 36 or similarly moveable or flexible connection. The lid 14 presents a protrusion 38 corresponding to the opening 32 and thereby forming a male portion of the catch mechanism. Thus, when the lid 14 is closed over the compartment 16, the protrusion 38 is received within and engages the opening 32 so as to secure the lid 14. Furthermore, as desired, the lid 14 may present a textual or symbolic message indicating the existence of the compartment 16 or the nature of its contents.
Referring to FIG. 3, a second preferred embodiment of the cap 100 is shown adapted for use with spray bottles or spray cans, including, for example, asthma inhalers or sublingual nitroglycerine. In this embodiment, the cap body 112 is longer and the bottom portion 120 thereof is deeper in order to accommodate spray nozzles or similar mechanisms. The bottom portion 120 may not be threaded, as spray bottle caps are typically of the push-on-pull-off variety. The storage compartment 116 and lid 114 are substantially similar as in the first preferred embodiment, described above.
Referring to FIG. 4, the cap 200 is shown having an alternative lid configuration wherein the flip-top lid of previously described embodiments is replaced by a flip-up lid 214 which pivots in the compartment 216 to affect either a closed or open position. In the closed position, the flip-up lid 214 is flush with the top portion 222 of the cap body 212 and no access is provided to the compartment 216. In the open position, a pill opening 240 in the lid 214 is exposed through which pills may be added to or removed from the compartment 216.
In operation, a user replaces, as necessary, a container's existing conventional cap with the cap 10 of the present invention. The user may place tablets, pills, or other forms of medication or other small items in the storage compartment 16 and then closes the lid 14 until the protrusion 38 enters and engages the opening 32. Thereafter, the stored items are available for immediate use whenever and wherever the bottle is present. To access the stored items, the user inserts a fingernail or thumbnail under the lid 14 via the bevel 34 and applies upward force to separate the protrusion 38 from the opening 32 and flip open the lid 14.
For example, a person at high risk of a heart attack may replace the existing conventional cap of their heart medication bottle, tube, or spray can with the cap 10 of the present invention. One or more aspirin tablets or other medication may be placed within the storage compartment 16 and the lid closed 14. As mentioned, aspirin use upon onset of a heart attack improves survivability, carrying aspirin in a closely associated relationship with heart medication provides a distinct health advantage. When the user perceives the possible onset of a heart attack, he or she, having their heart medicine bottle immediately available, flips open the lid 14 and consumes the aspirin. Thus, the present invention provides the benefits and advantages of immediate aspirin availability while freeing the user from the inconvenience of carrying an aspirin bottle or the loss risk associated with carrying individual pills.
From the preceding description, it will be appreciated that the cap 10 of the present invention provides convenient storage for small doses of secondary medications, such as aspirin, in close association with a primary medication such that both are easily available for immediate use. Although the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiment illustrated in the attached drawings, it is noted that equivalents may be employed and substitutions made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as recited in the claims. Thus, applications are contemplated for the tool herein described that require only minor modifications to the tool as disclosed. For example, it will be appreciated that the cap storage concept of the present invention is easily adapted for use with containers of various sizes, shapes, and uses. Furthermore, various lid configurations may be used, alternative to the flip-top and flip-up lids herein described, without departing from the concept of the present invention.