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Publication numberUS20040045856 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/236,088
Publication dateMar 11, 2004
Filing dateSep 6, 2002
Priority dateSep 6, 2002
Publication number10236088, 236088, US 2004/0045856 A1, US 2004/045856 A1, US 20040045856 A1, US 20040045856A1, US 2004045856 A1, US 2004045856A1, US-A1-20040045856, US-A1-2004045856, US2004/0045856A1, US2004/045856A1, US20040045856 A1, US20040045856A1, US2004045856 A1, US2004045856A1
InventorsDean Rhoades
Original AssigneeRhoades Dean L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Container with extractable and retractable instructions
US 20040045856 A1
Abstract
An apparatus and method for providing instructions to a person in regard to the contents of a container. In an embodiment, the apparatus includes a ribbon retractably coiled in a container or a container cap. The ribbon, which has instructions on how to use the contents of the container, may be extracted from the cap by a person.
Images(9)
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Claims(39)
What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus comprising:
a housing comprising a substantially cylindrical wall having dimensions suitable for enclosing a container as a cap, wherein the housing comprises a slot defining an aperture in the housing; and
an elongated member disposed within the housing, the elongated member substantially extractable and retractable through the aperture in the housing.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
means for biasing the elongated member to automatically retract into the housing after a portion of the elongated member has been extracted out of the housing through the aperture.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
a spring coupled with the elongated member to bias the elongated member to automatically retract into the housing after a portion of the elongated member has been extracted out of the housing through the aperture.
4. The apparatus of claim 1,
wherein the elongated member is a ribbon disposed in the housing, the ribbon to uncoil upon extraction of the ribbon, and the ribbon to coil up as the ribbon is retracted into the housing.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
means for preventing the proximal end of the ribbon from being completely extracted from the housing.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
means for preventing a distal end of the elongated member from being completely retracted through the aperture and into the housing.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the elongated member comprises information to be indicated to a person.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the elongated member comprises information relating to the use of the contents of the container.
9. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
means for attaching the cap to the container, wherein the means for attaching the cap to the container is coupled to the housing.
10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the elongate member comprises a mirror.
11. An apparatus comprising:
an inner cylindrical wall comprising an interior surface and an exterior surface;
an outer cylindrical wall comprising an interior surface and an exterior surface,
wherein the outer cylindrical wall encompasses the inner cylindrical wall,
wherein the exterior surface of the inner cylindrical wall and the interior surface of the outer cylindrical wall define an annular housing therebetween,
wherein the outer cylindrical wall comprises a slot defining an aperture in the annular housing; and
an elongated member disposed within the annular housing, the elongated member substantially extendable and retractable through the aperture in the outer cylindrical wall.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
means for biasing the elongated member to automatically retract into the annular housing after a portion of the elongated member has been extended through the aperture.
13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the interior surface of the inner cylindrical wall comprises means to engage a container;
14. The apparatus of claim 11,
wherein the elongated member is a ribbon disposed in the housing, the ribbon to uncoil upon extraction of the ribbon, and the ribbon to coil up as the ribbon is retracted into the housing.
15. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising means prevent the elongated member from being completely extracted from the annular housing.
16. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
means for preventing a distal end of the elongated member from being completely retracted through the aperture and into the housing.
17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the elongated member comprises information to be indicated to a person.
18. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the elongated member comprises information relating to the use of the contents of the container.
19. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the inner cylindrical wall forms a chamber for holding contents.
20. The apparatus of claim 19, further comprising a bottom to couple one of the inner cylindrical wall and the outer cylindrical wall to form the chamber for holding contents.
21. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the inner cylindrical wall forms a chamber of dimensions suitable to pills.
22. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising:
means for biasing the elongated member to automatically retract into the annular housing after a portion of the elongated member has been extended through the aperture.
23. The apparatus of claim 11,
wherein the elongated member is a ribbon disposed in the housing, the ribbon to uncoil upon extraction of the ribbon, and the ribbon to coil up as the ribbon is retracted into the housing.
24. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the elongate member comprises a mirror.
25. A method comprising:
pulling a portion of an elongated member through an aperture in one of a cap and a container to extract the portion of the ribbon therefrom.
26. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
reading information indicated on the elongated member.
27. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
releasing the ribbon to allow the elongated to retract back through the aperture and into the one of a cap and a container.
28. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
pushing a portion of the elongated back through the aperture in one of a cap and a container.
29. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
marking information on the elongated member related to the use of the contents of the container.
30. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
accessing a coupon on the elongated member related to the use of the contents of the container.
31. The method of claim 30, further comprising:
removing the coupon from the elongated member.
32. The method of claim 25, further comprising:
accessing a mirror on the elongated member.
33. A method comprising:
providing one of a container and a cap for a container, wherein the one of the cap and container houses an elongated member extractable therefrom by pulling a portion of the elongated member through an aperture in the one of a cap and a container.
34. The method of claim 33,
wherein the elongated member comprises information related to the contents of the container.
35. The method of claim 33, further comprising:
instructing a person to pull a portion of the elongated member through an aperture in the one the container and cap; and
36. The method of claim 34, further comprising:
instructing the person to read the information indicated on the ribbon.
37. The method of claim 33, wherein the elongated member comprises coupons.
38. The method of claim 33, wherein the elongated member comprises a mirror.
39. The method of claim 33, further comprising:
instructing a person to mark information on the elongated member.
Description
FIELD

[0001] Containers and closures or caps for containers, including caps for containers for pharmaceutical or nutritional products such as tablets, capsules, and medicinal syrups.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Bottles have long been used as containers for pharmaceutical products such as tablets, capsules, and medicinal syrups. The containers and caps (i.e., closures or tops) of such containers come in various forms, and many advances in container and cap technology have been developed over the last century. In particular, the pharmaceutical and packaging industries have developed many innovative containers and caps that are engineered to be tamper-proof. Such containers and caps are designed so that they can not be easily opened by mischievious children, to whom certain types of medicines may be fatal. Such containers and caps use various configurations of engaging members to form a capped container that is difficult for children to open.

[0003] Another aspect of safety that is related to containers of pharmaceutical products concerns instructions for using pills held in a container. Users of pills, tablets and medicinal syrups require detailed and clear instructions regarding dosage, indications, drug interactions, and other important aspects of usage. Without instructions, or with insufficient instructions, users may inadvertently overdose on pills, or may ingest pills that dangerously interact with other medications that the user is taking. For practical and economic reasons, pill bottles must be limited to certain sizes. Most pill bottles range in size from 2.5 centimeters (one inch) to ten centimeters (four inches) in height, and have a radial diameter of, in general, at most 7.5 centimeters (three inches). As such, the area on the outer surface of the bottle to provide printed instructions is limited. Additionally, for consistency reasons, it is desirable to provide the same quantity of directions regardless of whether a pill bottle is small (e.g., for holding 12 pills) or large (e.g., for holding 200 pills). Accordingly, because the area of a small pill bottle is quite limited, it is difficult for pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide all of the necessary instructions on a label attached to the outer surface of the bottle.

[0004] Additionally, instructions that are placed on labels on outside surfaces of containers often become smudged and illegible, due to moisture from the environment or from the hands of users. This is another aspect in which traditional apparatuses and methods of providing instructions for medicines have proven inadequate.

[0005] The aforementioned problem of insufficient space on containers for instructions is somewhat alleviated by the use of printed inserts in outer packaging (e.g., in a box that holds a pill bottle). Inserts can be folded up so that they can contain a great deal of product information. However, the use of inserts, by their very nature as loose pieces of paper, pose serious risks to medicine users. Specifically, the insert may get lost, and the user will be left with no instructions at all. Or, perhaps worse, the instructions of two different medicines may get mixed up, and the user may consume an improper dosage, which could lead to a fatal result.

[0006] What is need is a method and apparatus to provide users with detailed instructions regarding a medicine, in a manner that detailed, complete instructions can be provided, and such instructions have a reduced risk of being lost due to separation from the medicine container.

SUMMARY

[0007] An apparatus and a method for providing instructions to a person regarding the use of the contents of a container are disclosed. In an embodiment, the apparatus includes a ribbon housed inside a container. In another embodiment, a ribbon is housed in the container cap, top or closure. A person using the contents of the container may pull the ribbon from the container or cap to read information pertaining to the contents of the container. For example, in the case of a pill container, the ribbon could contain information regarding indications or dosage in respect of the pill. After reading the instructions, the ribbon can be pushed back into the container or cap.

[0008] One aspect of the apparatus is that the disclosed configuration reduces the possibility of the instructions getting separated from the container (or contents of the container). If the ribbon is housed in the container, it will remain with the contents held in the container. Additionally, in the case of embodiments where the ribbon is housed in the cap, it can be assumed that after a person uses a portion of the contents of the container, he or she will place the cap on the container to close the container. As such, the instructions will stay with the container, and can be conveniently read again by the user or by other subsequent users. Additionally, because the instructions are housed inside the container or cap, it is less likely that they will become smudged and rendered illegible. In some embodiments, the ribbon may be automatically retracted into the cap by a spring or by other means.

[0009] The apparatus provides a method whereby a great deal of information regarding the contents of the container may be stored with the container. The ribbon may be very long in some embodiments, ranging up to several feet in length, or longer. Additionally, users may also record information on the ribbon by marking the ribbon after it has been pulled from the cap. For example, users could mark the ribbon to keep track of when they ingested a pill, or when they began taking the pills, or other useful information.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The features, aspects, and advantages of the disclosed subject matter will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description and appended claims when taken in conjunction with accompanying illustrations in which:

[0011]FIG. 1 is an illustration of a perspective view of an embodiment of a container and cap with a retracted instruction ribbon housed in the container.

[0012]FIG. 2 is an illustration of a cut-away top view of a ribbon housed inside an annular chamber formed by outer and inner cylindrical walls of a container.

[0013]FIG. 3 is an illustration of a view of an embodiment of a container and cap with an instruction ribbon extracted from the container.

[0014]FIG. 4 is an illustration of a close-up view of an instruction ribbon.

[0015]FIG. 5 is an exploded view of an embodiment of a ribbon and container.

[0016]FIG. 6 is an illustration of a perspective view of an embodiment of a container and cap with a retracted instruction ribbon housed in the cap.

[0017]FIG. 7 is an illustration of a view of an embodiment of a container and cap with an instruction ribbon extracted from the cap.

[0018]FIG. 8 is an illustration of a top perspective view of an embodiment of a means for retracting an instruction ribbon into a cap.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0019] In the following description, for purposes of explanation and not limitation, specific details are set forth in order to provide an understanding of the disclosed subject matter. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the disclosed subject matter may be practiced in other embodiments that depart from these specific details. In some instances, detailed descriptions of well-known methods and devices are omitted so as not to obscure the description of the disclosed subject matter with unnecessary detail.

[0020] An apparatus and method for providing instructions to a person regarding the use of the contents of a container is disclosed. FIG. 1 is an illustration of an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of container 10 and cap 20, with retracted instruction ribbon 30 housed in container 10. Throughout this specification, when reference is made to container 10, or to specific applications concerning medicine, those skilled in the art will not construe such references as limiting the scope of the disclosed matter to containers form pharmaceutical products. Specifically, those skilled in the art will recognize that the disclosed matter covers embodiments of containers that are not used for pills or medicines, but which are used for housing other items or materials, such as nutritional supplements, food, beauty products, chemicals, or other items.

[0021] In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-2, container 10 comprises outer cylindrical wall 12. In embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 2, container 10 also includes inner cylindrical wall 16 that is encompassed by outer cylindrical wall 12. In such embodiments, inner cylindrical wall 16 forms chamber 13, and annular chamber 17 is formed between cylindrical wall 12 and inner cylindrical wall 16. Chamber 13 can hold a number of pills or other contents. In an embodiment, where container 10 is for containing pills and is large, chamber 13 can hold 500 pills or more. In other embodiments, where container 10 is small, chamber 13 may hold 12 pills, or less. It is appreciated that container 10 can be sized to accommodate the desired batch size of the contents. Representatively, with food or chemicals, chamber 13 may have a volume of 0.96 liters (32 ounces), 3.79 liters (1 gallon) or more.

[0022] Container 10 also includes threading 14 for attaching cap 20 onto container 10. Cap 20 comprises threading (not shown) that cooperates with threading 14 so that cap 20 may be screwed securely onto container 10 to close container 10. It is appreciated that other means may be used to secure cap 20 to container 10. For example, container 10 may include engageable members, which cooperate with engageable members of cap 20 so that cap 20 may be snapped on to container 10. Various other configurations for securing cap 20 to container 10 will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

[0023] In an embodiment, ribbon 30 is housed in annular chamber 17. Ribbon 30 may be extracted from annular chamber 17 through aperture 19 in outer cylindrical wall 12 of container 10. In order to access printed material on ribbon 30, a user may extract ribbon 30 from container 10 by pulling on tab 31, which is attached to the free end of ribbon 30. After the instructions have been read by the user, the user may push ribbon 30 back into container 10.

[0024] Tab 31 has a dimension larger than aperture 19, and serves as a means for abutting container 10 so as to prevent the free end of ribbon 30 from retracting entirely through aperture 19. Tab 31 also provides a means for allowing a user to easily hold ribbon 30. It is appreciated that various structures are adequate for tab 31, and are also covered by the subject matter disclosed herein.

[0025]FIG. 3 is an illustration of an embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 with ribbon 30 in an extracted position. After the instructions on ribbon 30 have been read, ribbon 30 can be pushed back into container 10. Information, such as instructions regarding how to use the contents of container 10 may be printed on ribbon 30. For example, ribbon 30 may contain instructions such as the indications, dosage and other information about a medicinal pill found in container 10. After the instructions on ribbon 30 have been read, ribbon 30 can be pushed back into container 10.

[0026]FIG. 4 is an illustration of a close-up view of ribbon 30, showing an example of the type of information that may be printed on ribbon 30. Examples of information include, but are not limited to, instructions for use of the contents of container 10, information about the contents of container 10, and coupons redeemable toward the purchase of additional containers or other items. In the case of coupons or other information that a consumer or user of container 10 may remove, the coupons or other information may be attached to ribbon 30 by an adhesive so that a consumer or user of container 10 may remove the coupon or other information while the length of ribbon 30 remains unchanged.

[0027] In an embodiment, tab 31 serves as a means for abutting cap 20 so as to prevent the free end of ribbon 30 from retracting entirely into ribbon housing 25. More specifically, in an embodiment, a dimension of tab 31 is larger than a dimension of aperture 28, and, therefore, tab 31, as well as a portion of ribbon 30 that is connected to tab 31, may not be retracted into ribbon housing 25. Those skilled in the art will recognize that other means may be used to abut cap 20 to prevent ribbon 30 from being completely retracted into ribbon housing 25. For example, a ring or an L-shaped piece having a dimension larger than a dimension of aperture 28 may be coupled to ribbon 30 to prevent ribbon 30 from fully retracting into ribbon housing 25.

[0028]FIG. 5 is an exploded view of an embodiment of a ribbon and container. Ribbon 30 includes flared barbs 34 and 35 and tapered end 37. The distance between the outermost edges of flared barb 34 and flared barb 35 defines a distance L1. Distance L1 is greater than a distance L2, which is defined by the vertical length of aperture 19. Accordingly, after tapered end 37 is inserted into aperture 19, flared barbs 33 and 35 will, on full extraction of ribbon 30, abut against an inner surface of outer cylindrical wall 12, therefore preventing ribbon 30 from being extracted entirely out of aperture 19. It is appreciated that various structures can achieve the purpose of flared barbs 34 and 35, and such structures also fall under the subject matter of this disclosure. In an embodiment, a dimension of annular chamber 17 will be of slightly larger than a dimension of ribbon 30, thus causing flared bars 34 and 35 to be bent inside of annular chamber 17, so that a frictional force results between ribbon 30 and an inner surface of annular chamber 17. This frictional force allows for a more controlled extraction of ribbon 30.

[0029] In an embodiment, ribbon 30 may be made out of a laminate material, so as to be flexible to bend and adhere to the circular shape of container 10 in the retracted position. It is appreciated that other materials, such as certain polymers (plastics), cloth or metals, will also be adequate for ribbon 30. In an embodiment, useful articles, such as a mirror or other reflective material, may be affixed to, or a part of, ribbon 30. In an embodiment, in which container 10 holds lipstick or other cosmetics, one side of ribbon 30 may contain product information, coupons or instructions, and the reverse side of ribbon 30 includes a mirror or other reflective material.

[0030]FIG. 6 is an illustration of a view of an embodiment of a container and cap with an instruction ribbon extracted from the cap. In an embodiment, container 10 comprises cylindrical wall 12, which defines chamber 13. Chamber 13 can hold a number of pills. In an embodiment, where container 10 is large, chamber 13 can hold 500 pills or more. In other embodiments, where container 10 is small, chamber 13 only holds 12 pills, or less. It is appreciated that container 10 can be sized to accommodate the desired batch size of the contents. Representatively, with food or chemicals, chamber 13 may have a volume of 0.96 liters (32 ounces), 3.79 liters (1 gallon) or more.

[0031] Container 10 also includes threading 14 for attaching cap 20 onto container 10. Cap 20 comprises threading (not shown) that cooperates with threading 14 so that cap 20 may be screwed securely onto container 10 to close container 10. It is appreciated that other means may be used to secure cap 20 to container 10. For example, container 10 may include engageable members, which cooperate with engageable members of cap 20 so that cap 20 may be snapped on to container 10. Various other configurations for securing cap 20 to container 10 will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

[0032] Cap 20 includes lower wall 22 and upper wall 24, which form, in this embodiment, cylindrical chambers. The inner surface of lower wall 22 includes threading (not shown) for attaching cap 20 to container 10. Cap 20 also includes ribbon housing 25, which forms a chamber to hold ribbon 30. Ribbon housing 25 is formed by upper wall 24, top surface 26 and bottom wall 27, which lies, generally, between lower wall 22 and upper wall 24. Ribbon housing 25 has an interior volume sized, in one embodiment, to house a length of ribbon (e.g., paper, plastic, or metal ribbon) with instructions or other information thereon regarding the contents of container. Representatively, the interior volume may have a height on the order of two centimeters (defined by the length of top surface 26) and diameter (in the case of a cylindrical cap) on the order of four to five centimeters for a pill container. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6, ribbon 30 is fully retracted and is coiled inside ribbon housing 24. Those skilled in the art will recognize that lower section 22 and ribbon housing 25 can be manufactured as separate pieces to be coupled, or, may be manufactured as a monolithic item having, generally, the features indicated herein. For example, in another embodiment, cap 20 includes only one outer wall 24, but does not include separate lower wall 22 and upper wall 24. In such an embodiment, cap 20 further comprises an inner wall encompassed by the outer wall. As such, similar to the embodiment described in FIGS. 1-3, the outer wall and the inner wall define an annular chamber for housing ribbon 30. In such an embodiment, an inner surface of the inner wall may contain threading for attaching cap 20 to container 10.

[0033] As stated above, ribbon 30 is disposed in ribbon housing 25. A portion of ribbon 30 extends through aperture 28 in ribbon housing 25. Cap 20, in embodiments, includes means for retracting ribbon 30 into ribbon housing 25. In an embodiment, spring means are used to retract ribbon 30 into ribbon housing 25, but those skilled in the will recognize that other means for retracting ribbon 30 into ribbon housing 25 may also be adequate, therefore, also fall under the subject matter disclosed herein. In other embodiments, ribbon 30 is pushed back into ribbon housing 25.

[0034] A user may extract a portion of ribbon 30 from cap 20 by pulling on ring 32 to withdraw ribbon 30 from ribbon housing 25. FIG. 7 is an illustration of a view of an embodiment of container 10 and cap 20 with extracted ribbon 30. Information, such as instructions regarding how to use the contents of container 10 may be printed on ribbon 30. For example, ribbon 30 may contain instructions such as the indications, dosage and other information about a medicinal pill found in container 10. In an embodiment, ring 30 serves as a means for abutting cap 20 so as to prevent the free end of ribbon 30 from retracting entirely into ribbon housing 25. More specifically, in an embodiment, a dimension of ring 32 is larger than a dimension of aperture 28, and, therefore, ring 32, as well as a portion of ribbon 30 that is connected to ring 32, may not be retracted into ribbon housing 25. Those skilled in the art will recognize that other means may be used to abut cap 20 to prevent ribbon 30 from being completely retracted into ribbon housing 25. For example, an L-shaped piece having a dimension larger than a dimension of aperture 28 may be coupled to ribbon 30 to prevent ribbon 30 from fully retracting into ribbon housing 25.

[0035]FIG. 8 is an illustration of a top perspective view of an embodiment of a means for retracting ribbon 30 into cap 20, that includes spring 36. As discussed above, those skilled in the art will recognize that various other means for retracting ribbon 30 into cap 20 may be used. Specifically, as described above, ribbon 30 is disposed within ribbon housing 25. A portion or ribbon 30 extends through aperture 28 in ribbon housing 25. By pulling on ring 32, a larger portion of ribbon 30 may be extracted from ribbon housing 25.

[0036] In the retracted position, ribbon 30 is coiled around revoluble shell 37 inside of ribbon housing 25. A distal end of spring 36 is coupled to revoluble shell 37, and a proximal end of spring 36 is coupled to divided stud 38. As ribbon 30 is extracted from ribbon housing 25, revoluble shell 37 will revolve in a first direction to increase tension on spring 36. Spring 36 is biased so that when ribbon 30 is released, revoluble shell 37 will revolve in an opposite direction as during extraction, and will automatically retract ribbon 30 into ribbon housing 25. Lock 40 may be deployed to prevent ribbon 30 from retracting into ribbon housing 25 after a portion of ribbon 30 has been extracted from ribbon housing 25. Additionally, lock 40 may also be used to apply a frictional force to ribbon 30, so as to allow the user to control extraction and retraction of ribbon 30, and, therefore, to carefully adjust the length of ribbon 30 that is extracted at any given moment. As stated above, those skilled in the art will recognize that various methods and apparatuses may be used to extract and retract ribbon 30, and that various methods and apparatuses may be used to lock the retraction means, or to adjust the length of ribbon that is extracted. In this regard, it is appreciated that in embodiments where ribbon 30 is housed inside of an annular chamber, as discussed above, means for retracting ribbon 30 may be located inside the annular chamber, or ribbon 30 may simply be pushed back inside of the annular chamber.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8056724 *Aug 14, 2008Nov 15, 2011Estep Brian JPharmacy bottles
US8104202 *Jan 8, 2007Jan 31, 2012Ehsan AlipourRetractable label
US8231000 *Apr 7, 2010Jul 31, 2012Miguel GonzalezContents indicators and container system
US8356434Sep 7, 2011Jan 22, 2013Ehsan AlipourRetractable label
US20090290928 *Jul 27, 2009Nov 26, 2009Samuelson Jacob DContainer with integrally formed recoil device
US20130006188 *Mar 26, 2010Jan 3, 2013Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbhDrug Delivery Device with Integrated Extendable/Retractable Information Display Element
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/459.5
International ClassificationB65D25/02, B65D25/20
Cooperative ClassificationB65D25/205, B65D25/02, B65D2203/02
European ClassificationB65D25/20B, B65D25/02