US 20040026430 A1
A leak resistant foam hinged lid container includes a base and a lid joined by a hinge allowing the lid to be pivoted about the hinge onto the base to close the container. The lid includes a first uninterrupted sealing ring which engages a second uninterrupted sealing ring on the base when the container is closed providing an uninterrupted leak resistant seal between the first and second sealing rings.
1 A leak resistant hinged container, comprising:
a hinge on said base,
a lid hinged to said base by said hinge; said lid adapted to be pivoted about said hinge to engage said base upon closure of said container,
said lid including a first sealing ring,
said base including a second sealing ring, and
said first sealing ring sealingly engaging said second sealing ring upon closure of said container.
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9. A container, comprising:
a lid, and
said lid including a first continuous sealing ring extending around said lid,
said base including a second continuous sealing ring extending around said base in a location on said base to engage said first sealing ring upon closure of said lid on said base.
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13. A hinged, leak resistant foam container, comprising
a base, said base having a bottom wall, a first rim on said base encompassing said bottom wall, a continuous, uninterrupted first sealing ring on said base between said bottom wall and said first rim,
a lid, said lid including a top portion, a second rim on said lid encompassing said top portion, a continuous, uninterrupted second sealing ring on said lid between said top portion and said second rim, and
a hinge coupled with said first rim and said second rim.
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 The present invention relates generally to hinged containers. More particularly, the invention relates to foam hinged lid containers with improved leak resistance
 Foam containers having a hinged lid have a variety of uses. The most common use is for containing food, either to package food when purchased or to hold leftovers from a purchased meal. These containers have the advantage of having insulative properties that keep food hot or cold in the containers until the food can be properly stored.
 These containers have the disadvantage, however, of leaking liquids contained in the food. Leakage occurs at the location of a hinge for the lid of the container and at a slot in the container used to lock a lid of a container to a container base. The hinge is an interruption in a seal formed between the container lid and the base, and the slot is an opening in the base. Leakage can also occur around the rim of the container where there is an incomplete seal between the container lid and base. Consequently, movement or tilting of the container can result in leakage of liquids out of the container. It is desirable to provide a hinged foam container that can be handled without leakage of liquid
 The present invention is directed to a foam container having a base and a lid. The foam container includes a hinge connecting the lid to the base and an undercut closure for locking the lid to the base Although an undercut closure, is preferred, a tab and slot closure can also be used which is somewhat less resistant to leakage than an undercut closure. The base has a first, uninterrupted sealing ring around the circumference of the base. The lid has a second, uninterrupted sealing ring around the circumference of the lid When the lid is closed and locked onto the base, the first sealing ring engages the second sealing ring providing a leak resistant closure. The lid includes ribs and chamfered corners which improves the weight to strength performance of the container The base includes divider walls that are engaged by the lid to prevent spillage between compartments in the base defined by the divider walls. The divider walls also give the base additional strength when the container is in the closed position.
 Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings in which
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a leak resistant foam hinged container in an open configuration constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the container of the present invention in the closed configuration;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the container taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross-sectional view showing an undercut lock taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 2 of an undercut closure in the container of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 2; and
FIG. 6 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 6-6 in FIG. 2.
 Referring now to the drawings, there is illustrated a leak resistant container 10 formed of foam material. The container 10 includes a base 12 and a lid 14. The lid 14 is connected to the base 12 by a hinge 16 allowing the lid 14 to be pivoted about the hinge 16 between a container open position (FIG. 1) and a container closed position (FIG. 2) The lid 14 includes a raised portion 13 that allows stacking of the containers 10.
 The base 12 includes a bottom wall 18 and a side wall 20 around the periphery of the bottom wall 18 The bottom wall 18 includes an indentation 19 with an upper surface that extends above the remainder 21 of the bottom wall 18 (FIG. 3). The upper surface of the indentation 19 functions to hold food above the remainder 21 of the bottom wall 18 and away from liquids that collect in the remainder 21 of the bottom wall 18. In addition, when several containers 10 are stacked on each other, the raised portion 13 on the lid 14 of one container fits into the underside of the indentation 19 in a base 12 of another container. This fit tends to prevent stacked containers from sliding relative to each other.
 The base 12 is intended to hold objects such as food and may include divider walls 22 of any configuration desired for its intended use. The divider walls 22 define separate compartments in the base 12. Different food may be put in the separate compartments with the divider walls 22 preventing mixing of the different food and their juices. The divider walls 22 of this container 10 flare at their ends 22A to define a flat surface. A rim 24 is provided at the top or upper end of the side wall 20.
 The base 12 also includes a first uninterrupted sealing ring or surface 26 that extends around the entire periphery of the base 12. The first uninterrupted sealing ring 26 is a flat surface suitable for providing a seal. A sealing bead 27 is formed along the lower edge of the first uninterrupted sealing ring 26. The portion of the side wall 20 between the first sealing ring 26 and the rim 24 is designated by the reference numeral 28 and referred to as a secondary wall 28 (FIGS. 3-5). It is in this secondary wall 28 that a latch or lock is defined by forming undercuts 30 in the secondary wall 28. The undercuts 30 are, in the simplest terms, pushed in sections of the secondary wall 28 as opposed to slots or cut outs such that there is no opening in the secondary wall 28 that could allow leakage One method of forming the undercuts 30 is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,261,504 B1.
 The lid 14 includes a top wall 32 and a peripheral side wall 34 extending around the entire top wall 32. The side wall 34 can include ribs 36 and chamfered corners 38 that improve the strength to weight performance of the container 10. A peripheral rim 40 is provided on the lid 14. The hinge 16 is integral with a portion of the rim 40 on the lid 14 and the rim 24 on the base 12. In the closed container configuration (FIGS. 2-4), the lid 14 is locked onto the base 12 by the rim 40 of the lid 14 snapping under and held by the undercuts 30 in the base 12.
 A second uninterrupted sealing ring 42 is provided on the lid 14 between the side wall 34 and the rim 40 of the lid 14 in a location below the rim 40 (see FIGS. 4 and 5) and spaced from the hinge 16. The second uninterrupted sealing ring 42 is a flat surface suitable for providing a seal In the closed configuration, the second uninterrupted sealing ring 42 sealingly engages the first uninterrupted sealing ring 26 (FIGS. 3-5). The sealing bead 27 provides additional sealing by engaging a transition surface 44 at the lower end of the engaged first and second uninterrupted sealing rings 26, 42 Unlike prior art containers, this seal is uninterrupted by the undercuts 30 or the hinge 16 thereby providing improved leak resistance over that provided by prior art containers.
 The lid 14 also includes a transition surface 44 between the rim 40 and the second uninterrupted sealing ring 42. The transition surface 44 is flat, and in the closed container configuration the transition surface 44 sealingly engages the flat end surfaces 24A of the divider walls 22 (FIG. 6). This engagement adds physical strength to provide stacking and top crush strength when the container 10 is in the closed position The seal between these two surfaces 44, 22A limits leakage between the compartments defined by the divider walls 22. The lid 14 also includes indentations 46. A user may position a finger and thumb in the indentations 46 and by squeezing, the rim 40 is moved from the undercuts in effect unlocking the lid 14 from the base 12 to open the container 10.
 While particular embodiments and applications of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise construction and compositions disclosed herein and that various modifications, changes, and variations may be apparent from the foregoing descriptions without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.