US 20030116582 A1
This invention is a dispenser for moist towelettes. The dispenser surrounds and secures a commercial container of moist towelettes. The dispenser has an orifice on one end which preferably corresponds and cooperates with an orifice in the top of the commercial container for dispensing the towelettes. The dispenser itself is secured to a wall or counter top, preferably permanently or semi-permanently, and in its one embodiment the dispenser is a shell which has a closed bottom which transitions into an integral securement means. The integral securement means in one embodiment is a flat, vertical rectangular bracket which connects at its bottom to the bottom of the cylindrical shell by a span or web. In another embodiment, the securement means is a horizontal base affixed to a counter top which receives and secures the dispenser shell.
1. A moist towelette dispenser comprising a combination of a first container for containing moist towelettes and a second container for holding the first container, wherein: the first container has an opening on one end for dispensing the towelettes contained therein; and the second container surrounds the first container, the second container having an orifice which generally corresponds in location to and cooperates with the opening on one end of the first container, and wherein the second container secures the first container to a wall or counter top at least semi-permanently.
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 This application claims priority of prior, pending Provisional Application Serial No. 60/291,515 filed May 15, 2001, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference.
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates generally to paper or tissue towelette containers and dispensers. More particularly, this invention relates to a convenient dispenser for moist towelettes.
 2. Related Art
 There are many different styles of containers and dispensers for moist towelettes, including for example:
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,004,687 (Boone) discloses a suspended frame for hanging a container of wet towelettes from a roll-type toilet-tissue holder.
 U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,106,617 (Boone) and 4,235,333 (Boone) disclose a bathroom fixture for supporting both a roll-type toilet-tissue holder and a wet towelette container.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,978,095 (Philips) discloses a harness for suspending a container of wet towelettes from the spindle of a roll-type toilet-tissue holder.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,803,249 (Harsanyi et al.) discloses a self-standing medical clean-up kit for dispensing both wet and dry towelettes.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,189,730 B1 (McClymonds) discloses a wall-hanging dispenser for both wet and dry towelettes.
 U.S. Design Pat. Nos. 322,215 (Hunt), 322,931 (Hunt), 322,932 (Hunt), U.S. Design Pat. No. 344,830 (Carter et al.) and U.S. Design Pat. No. 417,351 (Scavuzzo) all disclose ornamental designs for containers for wet towelettes.
 This invention is a convenient dispenser for moist towelettes. The dispenser surrounds and secures a commercial container of moist towelettes. The dispenser of this invention may also support the commercial container. The dispenser has an orifice on one end for dispensing the towelettes. Preferably, the dispenser orifice corresponds and cooperates with an orifice in the top of the commercial container. Preferably, in the orifice of the dispenser is a plastic or rubber restrictor which acts to seal the orifice during non-use to limit evaporation, and permit dispensing of only one towelette at a time during use. The dispenser itself is secured to a wall or counter top, preferably permanently or semi-permanently.
 In a preferred embodiment, the dispenser is a cylindrical shell with an orifice and a restrictor in its top end, which top end is removably securable to the top of the cylindrical shell. In this preferred embodiment the cylindrical shell has a closed bottom which transitions into an integral securement means. The integral securement means in one embodiment is a flat, vertical, rectangular bracket which connects at its bottom to the bottom of the cylindrical shell by a horizontal span. In another embodiment, the securement means is a horizontal cylindrical base fixed onto a counter top which receives and secures the cylindrical shell.
FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a first wall-mount embodiment of the invention, showing a perforated roll of towelettes inside.
FIG. 2 is a side, partly exploded view of a first counter top-mount embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 3 is a side view of a second, slide-on wall-mount embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 4 is a side view of a third, recessed tip-out wall-mount embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 5 is a side view of a second counter top-mount embodiment of the invention for a stack of interleaved folded sheets of towelettes.
FIG. 6 is a side perspective view of another alternative embodiment of the invention wherein the dispenser has a relatively loose-fitting, plate-like lid.
FIGS. 7A and 7B are, respectively, top and partial side views of another alternative embodiment of the invention wherein the dispenser has a relatively loose-fitting lid, like a shallow, inverted cup.
 Still, consumers are looking for a convenient dispenser for moist towelettes. In those cases wherein the towelettes are joined together, whether by perforated boundaries on a long roll or by interleaved edges or sides of separate sheets, the dispenser of this invention will satisfy the consumer's desires.
 Referring to the Figures, there are depicted several, but not all, embodiments of the present invention. In FIG. 1 is depicted a perspective view of a first wall-mount version of the invention. Dispenser 10 has cylindrical shell 12 with a top end 14 and a bottom end 16. Top end 14 is removable, in this case, by twisting counter-clockwise to disengage lugs 18 out from detents 19 which are shown in FIG. 2. Also shown in FIG. 2 are lugs 18′ in bottom end 16 for releasably securing bottom end 16 to detents 19′ in cylindrical shell 12.
 Near the center of top end 14 is orifice 20 for dispensing the towelettes. Preferably, orifice 20 is fitted with plastic or rubber restrictor 22 which reduces the orifice 20 to a thin slit. This way, restrictor 22 acts to seal orifice 20 during non-use, and to assist in dispensing just one towelette at a time from it during use.
 In one preferred embodiment, securement means 26 for connecting dispenser 10 to a wall is integral with bottom end 16. In this case, securement means 26 is a flat, vertical rectangular bracket 26 which connects at its bottom end to the bottom end 16 of cylindrical shell 12 by span or web 28. In bracket 26 are reinforcement ribs 30 and screws 32 for assisting with securing dispenser 10 to a wall.
 In another preferred embodiment as depicted in FIG. 2, securement means 34 for connecting dispenser 10 to a counter top is also integral with bottom end 16. In this case, securement means 34 is a horizontal cylindrical base which has several screw holes through bottom end 16 for receiving screws for being screwed into the counter top.
 In another preferred embodiment as depicted in FIG. 3, other securement means 36 for connecting dispenser 10 to a wall may be integral with a side wall of cylindrical shell 12. In this case, securement means 36 is two (2) tabs 38 on vertical wall bracket 36 which fit snugly into groove 40 in the side of cylindrical shell 12.
 Other securement means, including means 26 and 36 for wall-mount as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 3, respectively, and means 34 for counter top-mount as depicted in FIG. 2, are within the scope of this invention. For example, glue, tape (single or double-sided), magnets, hook-and loop fasteners, tongue and groove combinations, snap fits, or even relatively heavy weights (greater than about 1 pound) may be used to secure dispenser 10 to a wall or to a counter top, as the case may be.
 In another preferred embodiment as depicted in FIG. 4, other securement means 44 for connecting dispenser 10 into a wall may also be integral with bottom end 16. In this case a recess 46 is constructed in wall 48, and a hinge pin 50 is inserted into wall 48 so that the pin 50 extends slightly into recess 46 at both the lower front corners thereof. This way, spring and pivot 44, which is built into the lower front corners of dispenser 10, may be installed to cooperate with hinge pin 50. Dispenser 10, then, will pivot at its top end 14 out away from recess 46 and wall 48, in order to make orifice 20 with towelettes 52 available to the user. For added convenience, a handle, or as in the case illustrated, a finger depression 54, may be installed in or near the top end 14 of dispenser 10 in order to facilitate the tipping out of it for use. When use of dispenser 10 is completed, then spring and pivot 44 will automatically return the dispenser into recess 46.
 In another preferred embodiment as depicted in FIG. 5, dispenser 10 has a generally rectangular, tub-like shell 56, and generally rectangular top end 58 and bottom end 60. In top end 58 is orifice 62 with rubber or plastic restrictor 64. In bottom end 60 is securement means 66, in the case illustrated, 4 (four) screws, for securing dispenser 10 to a counter top.
 For all embodiments of the invention, there may be provided a relatively loose-fitting lid for the dispenser 10. One version of this lid is depicted in FIG. 6. In this case, the top end of dispenser 10 has a lower hinge portion 70. A thin, plate-like lid 72 is provided which fits relatively loosely inside the raised perimeter 74 of the top end of dispenser 10. The bottom surface of lid 72 has its own upper hinge portion 76. Pin 78 cooperates with both lower hinge portion 70 and upper hinge portion 76, coupling them together and providing a pivot capability for lid 72.
FIG. 7A depicts the bottom surface 80 of an alternative loosely-fitting, shallow inverted cup-like lid 82 with its upper hinge portion 84. FIG. 7B depicts a partial side view of lid 82 and its loosely-fitting relationship with the top of dispenser 10. The relatively loose fit between lid 72, 82 and the top of dispenser 10 is enough to slow evaporation of any liquid used to make the towelettes in the dispenser 10 wet or moist. In this case, just a “gravity-fit” from the weight of the lid 72, 82 against the top end of the dispenser is enough. A more restrictive friction-fit between the outer edge of lid 72 and the inner surface of the raised perimeter 74 of the top end of dispenser 10 is not required, but may, however, be provided.
 In all embodiments of the invention, dispenser 10 is adapted to receive within its shell the commercially available container or package for the towelettes. This is true whether the container is an upright tube for enclosing a long wet roll with perforations, or a more horizontal tub of stacked, interleaved separate wet sheets. In all cases, before the commercially available container is placed within dispenser 10, it is first opened so its contents are available to start through restrictor 22 and orifice 20. In a preferred embodiment then, when the commercially available container is a minimal-packaging single plastic bag, the top of the bag is opened, and the opened bag, with its towelette contents is simply placed to rest within dispenser 10.
 Also, for dispenser 10, no additional structure besides the shell is required within the shell 12 to hold or support or secure the commercially available container. For example, in contrast to the tub containment prong 35, 135 and 235 disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,189,730 B1 (McClymonds) FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, and at col. 5, lines 26 and 51, col. 6, line 11, col. 7, line 42, and at col. 8, lines 17 and 67, the present invention requires no such prong.
 Also, in top end 14 of dispenser 10, only a single orifice 20 is required. No second orifice is required, for example, to permit the lid of the commercially available container to pass through. In contrast, U.S. Pat. No. 6,189,730 B1 discloses a wet towelette dispenser with two (2) orifices in its top end, one (e.g. 29, 129 and 229) strap slot, and one (e.g., 32, 132 and 232) towelette aperture—see FIGS. 1, 1A, 3 and 5, and at col. 5, lines 21, 24, 48 and 49, col. 6, lines 7 and 9, col. 7, lines 23 and 28, and col. 8, lines 6, 8, 61 and 63. The dispenser of the present invention does not require these two (2) orifices.
 The dispenser of the present invention may be made from conventional materials by conventional methods. For example, molded units in one of several types of plastic, e.g., Nylon™, Delrin™, etc., are expected to be preferred. Also, units may also be made of thin metal that is stamped or cut and fastened to shape.
 In all embodiments of the invention, the dispenser (second container) “surrounds” the commercially available package (first container) of moist towelettes. By “surrounds,” I mean encircles and covers in order to prevent undue evaporation of the liquid which makes the towelettes moist. Also, in all embodiments, the dispenser “secures” the commercially available package. By “secures,” I mean to fix or fasten so as not to give way, and permit one-handed removal of a towelette from both the first and second containers. This way, the dispenser may be conveniently operated with just one hand. This affixing or fastening may be achieved with screws or nails, with adhesive or friction fit, or hook and loop fastening materials, for example. Also, a weight of about one pound or more may be enough to “secure” the dispenser to a counter top, for example, and still achieve one-handed operation.
 The affixing or fastening may be semi-permanent or permanent. By “semi-permanent,” I mean permanently enough for the one-hand operation described above.
 In some embodiments of the invention, the top end of the dispenser (second container) may be “removably securable” to the bottom end of the dispenser. This way, the user may obtain easy access to the interior of the dispenser for filling and emptying the dispenser of its contents, namely the commercially available package (first container) of moist towelettes. This “removably securable” state may be achieved with a slightly threaded connection as described relating to FIG. 2, above, or, this state may be achieved with a friction fit, also.
 In some embodiments of the invention, the bottom of the dispenser “transitions” into an “integral” securement means. By “transitions,” I mean the state of changing from one component part to another. For example, relating to FIG. 1, the bottom end 16 of the dispenser 10 “transitions” via span or web 28 into bracket 26. If these different component parts are made together in one piece, for example, by molding plastic material, or by welding metal material, then the different pieces are also “integral.”
 When the teachings of this invention are followed, a compact and convenient moist towelette dispenser may be obtained. For example, the interior of the dispenser will enclose wet towelettes so that excess moisture will not be lost from them. Also, the securement means will enable one-hand operation of the device.
 Although this invention has been described above with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these disclosed particulars, but extends instead to all equivalents within the scope of the following claims.