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Publication numberUS20040060840 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/261,363
Publication dateApr 1, 2004
Filing dateSep 30, 2002
Priority dateSep 30, 2002
Publication number10261363, 261363, US 2004/0060840 A1, US 2004/060840 A1, US 20040060840 A1, US 20040060840A1, US 2004060840 A1, US 2004060840A1, US-A1-20040060840, US-A1-2004060840, US2004/0060840A1, US2004/060840A1, US20040060840 A1, US20040060840A1, US2004060840 A1, US2004060840A1
InventorsDon Williams, Michael Monmouth
Original AssigneeWilliams Don C., Michael Monmouth
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Container identification system
US 20040060840 A1
Abstract
Multiple containers (e.g. cups 10/20/30/40) for liquid or solid materials each having along it top, peripheral edge (17/27/37) at least one series of peripherally extended, spaced, intelligent indica (13/23/33), four embodiments being illustrated (FIGS. 1-4). The indicia can be a series of letters (e.g., the alphabet “A-Z” 11/12/31), or numeric sequence (21/22/32, “0-9”) with special value indicia (e.g., “100,” “200”). The user selects desired ones of the indicia for identification purposes from the one or more series and high-lights the selected ones by, for example, crushing a plastic bubble, pulling a tab, scratching of a covering or physically marking them with a writing instrument, etc. For example, using two alphabetic series of indicia, a user can mark his/her cup with his/her basic initials (FIG. 1) or, for further example, using two numeric series of indicia and special quantum indicia a number between 0-299 could be used to identify the container (FIG. 2).
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. A method of identifying a hand-holdable, rounded, container for goods by at least one user who has two hands, and distinguishing that container from other, like containers, each of which containers has an open, rounded top with a curved upper edge and a rounded, interior surface and a rounded, exterior surface, comprising the following steps:
a) using a series of containers each of a size and weight to be easily held in the adult human hand and each having at least one series of intelligent indicia including a series of juxtaposed indicia elements permanently presented on at least its exterior surface at least near its upper edge;
b) selecting for identification purposes some of the indicia elements on at least a first one container of said series of containers, and high-lighting the selected indicia elements using at least one hand of a user and thereby identifying that container in a relatively unique way with the high-lighted, selected indicia elements; and
c) selecting some different indicia elements on at least another container from said series of containers and high-lighting the different selected indicia elements, again using at least one hand of a user, and thereby identify that other container in a different, relatively unique way with the high-lighted different, selected indicia elements and thereby distinguishing the other container from the first container.
2. The container identification method of claim 1, wherein each indicia element has an outer surface; and wherein in the high-lighting aspects of step “b” and in step “c” there is further included in each the steps of:
bc-1) holding the container in one hand while high-lighting the selected indicia elements; and
bc-2) using the other hand to cause the high-lighting of the selected indicia elements to occur.
3. The container identification method of claim 2, wherein in step “a” there is included the step of:
a-1) using for the at least one series of intelligent indicia a series located circumferentially along and juxtaposed to the container's upper edge and using indicia elements which are each subject to a change in external appearance state when pressure is applied to its outer surface; and
wherein in sub-steps “bc-1” & “bc-2” there is included in each the step of:
bc1-2) separately applying pressure on each selected indicia between the user's thumb and the ball of another finger in a pincer movement, thereby high-lighting the selected, pressured indicia elements.
4. The container identification method of claim 3, wherein each of said indicia element's outer surface includes a crushable bubble; and wherein there is further included in connection with step “bc1-2” the step of:
crushing the crushable bubble of each selected indicia element between the user's fingers, changing the selected indicia's external appearance.
5. The container identification method of claim 2, wherein in step “a” there is included the step of:
a-1) using indicia elements which each have an associated tab positioned initially flat at least substantially in line with the exterior surface of the container and a back tab wall against which the tab initially lies; and
wherein in sub-steps “bc-1” & “bc-2” there is included in each the step of:
bc1-2) separately pulling the tab between the user's thumb and the ball of another finger and moving the initial edge of the tab at least about ninety (90°) degrees, thereby high-lighting the selected indicia elements with the moved tabs.
6. The container identification method of claim 5, wherein each indicia element has its indicia located on the back tab wall; and wherein, in connection with step “bc1-2,” there is included the step of:
exposing the selected indicia on the back tab wall in pulling their associated tabs, thereby high-lighting the selected indicia.
7. The container identification method of claim 2, wherein the containers are all drinking cups; and wherein, in association with step “a,” there is further included the step of:
a-1) using at least two, separate, but adjacent series of intelligent indicia each of which includes the letters of the alphabet; and
wherein in sub-steps “b” & “c” there is separately included the steps of:
bc1-2) separately selecting a letter from each of the two series of indicia based on the initials of the respective user of the respective drinking cup.
8. The container identification method of claim 2, wherein, in association with step “a,” there is further included the step of:
a-1) using at least two, separate, but adjacent series of intelligent indicia each of which includes the numeric series of zero through nine (0-9); and
wherein in sub-steps “b” & “c” there is separately included the steps of:
bc1) separately selecting a number from each of the two series of indicia based on at least a double digit number to be assigned to the respective container.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein, in association with step “a,” there is further included the step of:
a-1) including in association with the series of numeric indicia at least one special quantum indicia element signifying the numeric quantum “100”; and
wherein in steps “b” and “c” there separately is included the step of:
bc1) high-lighting the special quantum indicia element when it is desired to identify the container with a number higher than ninety-nine (99).
10. The container identification method of claim 2, wherein, in association with step “a,” there is further included the step of:
a-1) using at least two, separate, but adjacent series of intelligent indicia one of which includes a series of a first type of indicia and the other of which includes a series of a second, different type of indicia; and
wherein in steps “b” & “c” there is separately included the steps of:
bc1) separately selecting a different indicia element from each of the two series of indicia based on identifying the nature of the goods contained in the container.
11. A container identification system for separately identifying a hand-holdable, rounded, containers for goods by at least one user who has two hands, and distinguishing that container from other, like containers, each of which containers has an open, rounded top with a curved upper edge and a rounded, interior surface and a rounded, exterior surface, comprising:
a series of containers each of a size and weight to be easily held in the adult human hand and each having at least two series of intelligent indicia each including a series of juxtaposed indicia elements permanently presented on at least its exterior surface, both of which series of intelligent series are circumferentially extended in parallel, side-by-side paths along and adjacent to its respective container's upper edge;
at least a first container of said series of containers having at least one selected, high-lighted, identification, indicia element in at least one of said series of intelligent indicia, identifying that container in a relatively unique way with the highlighted, selected indicia element(s); and
at least a second container of said series of containers having at least one selected, high-lighted, identification, indicia element in at least one of said series of intelligent indicia, the selected, highlighted indicia being different than the selected, high-lighted indicia of said first container, identifying said second container in a relatively unique way with said different high-lighted, selected indicia element(s), distinguishing said second container from said first container and from the other containers of said series of containers.
12. The container identification system of claim 11, wherein:
each of said containers of said series of containers is of a size and configuration allowing it to be held in one hand of a human adult; and
wherein:
the size, container location and type of each of said indicia elements allowing said indicia elements to be high-lighted by the user using the other hand of the user while holding the container in the user's other hand.
13. The container identification system of claim 12, wherein:
each of said indicia elements has an outer surface and are individually subject to a change in external appearance state, high-lighting the selected indicia, when pressure is applied to said outer surface, the pressure level to achieve said highlighting change in external appearance being that which can be applied by pressing the adult human thumb and another finger on one hand together in a pincer movement.
14. The container identification system of claim 13, wherein:
each of said indicia element's outer surface includes a crushable bubble, curshable under the user's fingers' pincer movement, said selected, high-lighted indicia having crushed bubbles, causing said selected, high-lighted indicia being distinguishable from the non-selected, non-high-lighted indicia due to said highlighted indicia's appearance.
15. The container identification system of claim 12, wherein:
each of said indicia elements on each of said first and said second and said other containers has an associated tab positioned initially flat at least substantially in line with the exterior surface and a back tab wall against which the tab can initially lie, and be separately pulled by the user's thumb and the ball of another finger on the same hand of the user and being capable of movement at least about ninety (90°) degrees, the selected indicia being so high-lighted with their respective moved tabs.
16. The container identification system of claim 15, wherein:
each indicia element has its indicia located on the back tab wall, said selected, high-lighted indicia being exposed on the back tab wall due to their associated tabs being pulled away.
17. The container identification system of claim 12, wherein:
said containers are all drinking cups; both of said series of intelligent indicia include the letters of the alphabet; and
wherein:
said selected, high-lighted indicia of said first and said second containers include a letter from each of the two series of indicia based on the initials of the respective user of the respective drinking cup.
18. The container identification system of claim 12, wherein:
said two series of intelligent indicia each include the numeric series of zero through nine (0-9); and
wherein:
said first and said second container each separately have a number from each of the two series of indicia selected and high-lighted based on at least a double digit number, different for each container, assigned to the respective container.
19. The container identification system of claim 18, wherein there is further included:
in association with the series of numeric indicia at least one special quantum indicia element signifying the numeric quantum “100”; said quantum indicia being high-lighting when it is desired to identify the respective container with a number higher than ninety-nine (99).
20. The container identification method of claim 12, wherein:
one of said two separate series of intelligent indicia includes a series of a first type of indicia and the other includes a series of a second, different type of indicia, the selected, high-lighted indicia being based on the nature of the goods contained in the respective container.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to multiple, related containers (e.g. cups), for liquid or solid materials, each having some intelligent, separately high-lightable, selectable indicia which allows one container to be separately identified differently from another container or all other containers of the multiple containers, some exemplary intelligent indicia being the alphabet (e.g., A-Z), a numerical series (e.g., 0-9), dates, symbols, special value cells, and a combination of the foregoing, etc.

BACKGROUND ART

[0002] It is known, for example, to mark items with, for example, initials or numbers, to distinguish one item from another.

[0003] In association with some liquid containers, such as cups, it is known at, for example, some fast food establishments to identify, for example, one cup of coffee from another purchased, for example, by a single customer, by providing tops with the cups, each of which has a series of spaced, crushable dimples on the top surface of the top, some associated with identifying letters to indicate, for example, whether the coffee in a particular cup is decaffeinated (“D”) or has sugar (“S”) and/or cream (“C”) added to that coffee, etc.

[0004] However, this prior art system is very limited in the number of indicia that can be used and, once the top is removed, no identification information remains with the cup.

[0005] There is a need in many different situations to be able to tell one container from another one, particularly where the containers are substantially identical to one another in their basic physical structure and color.

[0006] For example, at a party, many identical cups or other containers are used for liquid refreshment. However, often a number of users will put down their containers, with the liquid content only partially consumed, with the intent to later pick up their containers to finish consuming their beverages or other drinks. However, with others doing the same thing, the containers can become confused and one user often will not know which container is his/hers. As a result, the containers become mixed and often are left unconsumed, with the users then going back for additional drinks due to the inability of telling their containers from other users' containers.

[0007] For another example, scientists, researchers, medical workers, etc., use containers to store specimens and need to be able to distinguish one specimen from another by differently marking the containers, with respect to, for example, the container's contents and/or the date of the container's specimen and/or the identity of the user or the location source of the specimen, etc.

[0008] For still another example, vendors of goods are dispensed or distributed to their customers in containers holding the goods in, for example, liquid of solid form, of different types, often to the same customer. It is desirable to, for example, identify the contents of each container so that the customer/user accurately can distinguish the contents of one container from the other or the final intended user for that container.

[0009] There are, of course, many other possible applications for the inventive concepts of the present invention.

GENERAL SUMMARY DISCUSSION OF INVENTION

[0010] The present invention relates to multiple, related containers (e.g. cups) for liquid and/or solid materials, each container having some intelligent, separately markable, selectable indicia which allows one cup to be separately identified differently from another cup or all other cups of the multiple containers, some exemplary indicia being the alphabet (e.g., A-Z), a numerical series (e.g., 0-9, with which, for example, special quantum value cells allow with two series a selection of 0-299), dates (month, year, day), symbols, including, for example, commercial logos, or a combination of the foregoing, etc.

[0011] The intelligent indicia preferably are included on the exterior of each of the containers, preferably, at least in part, along the upper, peripheral edge of the container or else where on the container's exterior surface, in one or more rows, in which selected one(s) of the indicia can be highlighted or otherwise visually set apart from most, if not all, of the other indicia. Examples of the many possible variations include a single or double, side-by-side series of the letters of the alphabet, by which a selected one in each series of letters can be selected and highlighted to indicate the user's initials or the container's contents, etc. Another example is the use of two series of a numeric sequence(s), with special indicia indicating a special quantum. A still further example is the use of a series of indicia for indicating a date (including, for example, day, month & year of the date, or at least one of them). A final example is the use of a series of symbols or letter sets to indicate, for example, a location. Of course, there are many variation or combination possible of these exemplary series of intelligent indicia.

[0012] There are also many ways in which the particular, selected indicia can be “high-lighted” or differentiated from the other, non-selected indicia in a series. For example, a depressable, plastic bubble can be placed over each one of the selectable, indicia elements which when selected by the user can be crushed or otherwise deformed to show the user's selected indicia elements from all of the other non-selected indicia. For further example, each indicia elements is placed on a separate tab, each of which can be individually folded down or ripped down or actually removed to show the user's selected indicia elements from all of the other non-selected indicia. Alternatively, although currently not as preferred, separate marking instruments, such as a pen, pencil or high-lighter felt pen, etc., could be used to, for example, encircle or color-over or otherwise high-light the selected indicia. A still further example is the use of “scratch-off” coverings, which, when scratched off by, for example, the user's fingernail(s) expose the selected indicia beneath them. There, are, of course, many other “high-lighting” techniques or approaches available.

[0013] The placement of the intelligent indicia and the number of series of indicia or special indicia on the container is also subject to great variation, although the placement of at least one series of intelligent indicia along the peripheral edge of the container's lip on at least the exterior surface of the cup is particularly preferred. For, further examples, the series can be placed side-by-side circumferentially in one or more spaced locations on the container's exterior surface and/or in “vertical” line(s) or other paths.

[0014] Some exemplary, preferred applications for the exemplary containers of the system of the present invention, include the following:

[0015] 1. At a party, many identical cups or other containers are used for liquid refreshment. However, often a number of users will put down their containers, with the liquid content only partially consumed, with the intent to later pick up their containers to finish consuming their beverages or other drinks. However, with others doing the same thing, the containers can become confused and one user often will not know which container is his/hers. As a result, the containers become mixed and often are left unconsumed, with the users then going back for additional drinks due to the inability of telling their containers from other users' containers. In accordance with some of the principles of the present invention, the container can include intelligent indicia including, for example, two, separate rows of the letters of the alphabet, whereby a user or the purveyor can selectively choose the user's two initials to correlate and visually associate that container to that particular user.

[0016] 2. Scientists, researchers, medical workers, etc., use containers to store specimens and need to be able to distinguish one specimen from another by differently marking and correlating or identifying the containers, with respect to, for example, the container's contents and/or the date of the container's specimen and/or the identity of the user or the location source of the specimen, etc. In accordance with some of the principles of the present invention, the container can include intelligent indicia including, for example, two, separate rows of the letters of the alphabet, whereby a user can selectively choose the user's or the user's associate's two initials to correlate and visually associate that container to that particular user in similar fashion to that used in application “1” above. Additionally, supplemental or alternative, intelligent indicia could include a series of the twelve months, along with, for example, one or more years, and two separate rows of numeric series for indicating up to “31” the day of the month, etc. Further, supplemental or alternative, intelligent indicia could include a series of location identifiers to symbolize the location of the specimen.

[0017] 3. Goods are dispensed or distributed by a vendor to the vendor's customers in containers holding the goods in, for example, liquid of solid form, of different types, often to the same customer. It is desirable to, for example, identify the contents of each container so that the customer/user accurately can distinguish the contents of one container from another or the final intended user for that container. In accordance with some of the principles of the present invention, the container can include intelligent indicia including, for example, two, separate rows of the letters of the alphabet, whereby a user or the purveyor can selectively choose the user's two initials to correlate and visually associate that container to that particular end user. Additionally, supplemental or alternative, intelligent indicia could include a series of other letters or symbols or logos to identify the container's contents.

[0018] The exemplary methodology of identifying of the container identification system of the present invention includes the use of a hand-holdable, rounded, container for goods by at least one user who has two hands, and distinguishing that container from other, like containers, each of which containers has an open, rounded top with a curved upper edge and a rounded, interior surface and a rounded, exterior surface, comprising the steps of:

[0019] a) using a series of containers each of a size and weight to be easily held in the adult human hand and each having at least one series of intelligent indicia including a series of juxtaposed indicia elements permanently presented on at least its exterior surface at least near its upper edge;

[0020] b) while holding the container in one hand, selecting for identification purposes some of the indicia elements on at least a first one container of said series of containers, and high-lighting the selected indicia elements using the other hand of a user and thereby identifying that container in a relatively unique way with the highlighted, selected indicia elements; and

[0021] c) again while holding the container in one hand, selecting some different indicia elements on at least another container from said series of containers and high-lighting the different selected indicia elements, again using at least one hand of a user, and thereby identify that other container in a different, relatively unique way with the high-lighted different, selected indicia elements and thereby distinguishing the other container from the first container;

[0022] with the “high-lighting” step using one or more of the techniques of finger-depressable bubbles, foldable or removeable tabs, “scratch-off” coatings, etc., with at least some of the indicia preferably located along the upper edge of the lip of the container, with one or more series of indicia being used, including, for example, letters of the alpha bet, numbers, symbols, logos, etc.

[0023] There are, of course, many other possible applications, methods, structures and variations for the inventive concepts of the present invention, but the foregoing, particular ones are currently believed to be especially efficacious and innovative ones, except as noted.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0024] For a further understanding of the nature and objects of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0025]FIG. 1 is a perspective, top view of a first, exemplary, currently preferred embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention, holding, for example, a drinkable liquid, illustrating a double, side-by-side, peripheral lines of intelligent indicia spaced along the top peripheral edge of the exemplary cup container including two, adjacent series of the full alphabet (A-Z) as might be used, for example, in identifying the two initials of a person's name.

[0026]FIG. 2 is a perspective, top view of a second, exemplary embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention illustrating two, peripheral lines of intelligent indicia spaced along the top peripheral edge of the exemplary cup including two, side-by-side, numeric sequences, along with a special quantum indicator, allowing the container to be marked by any number from, for example, zero to two hundred and ninety-nine (0-299).

[0027]FIG. 3 is a perspective, top view of a third, exemplary embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention illustrating a peripheral line of intelligent indicia spaced along the top peripheral edge of the exemplary cup container and a second or alternative series of intelligent indicia located in a “vertical” direction.

[0028]FIG. 4 is a partial, close-up detail view of an alternative version of the embodiment of FIG. 3, in which the intelligent indicia is included on the container's tab wall and the moveable or removable tabs do not have the intelligent indicia on their exterior surfaces.

EXEMPLARY MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION Listing of Reference Numbers

[0029] For ease of reference to the drawings, the drawing reference numbers are listed below.

[0030]FIG. 1—

[0031]10 exemplary container in cup form

[0032]11 first series of intelligent indica in the form of letters

[0033]12 second series of intelligent indica in the form of letters

[0034]13 individual indicia element

[0035]14 individual depressable bubble

[0036]15 body of cup

[0037]16 bottom of cup

[0038]17 peripheral, upper edge of cup

[0039]18 “vertical” line separating one indica element from an adjacent indicia element

[0040]19 circumferential line separating one series of intelligent indicia from an adjacent, side-by-side series of intelligent indicia

[0041]FIG. 2—

[0042]20 exemplary container in cup form

[0043]21 first series of intelligent indica in the form of numbers

[0044]22 second series of intelligent indica in the form of numbers

[0045]23 individual indicia element

[0046]24 individual depressable bubble

[0047]25 body of cup

[0048]26 bottom of cup

[0049]27 peripheral, upper edge of cup

[0050]28 “vertical” line separating one indica element from an adjacent indicia element

[0051]29 circumferential line separating one series of intelligent indicia from an adjacent, side-by-side series of intelligent indicia

[0052]FIG. 3—

[0053]30 exemplary container in cup form

[0054]31 first, circumferential series of intelligent indica in the form of alphabet letters

[0055]32 second, “vertical” series of intelligent indica in the form of numbers

[0056]33 individual indicia element

[0057]34 peripheral, fold-over tab

[0058]34A peripheral wall from which tab can be folded down

[0059]35 body of cup

[0060]36 bottom of cup

[0061]37 peripheral, upper edge of cup

[0062]38 “vertical” line separating one indica element from an adjacent indicia element

[0063]39 circumferential line separating one series of intelligent indicia from the at least in part, adjacent series of intelligent indicia

[0064]FIG. 4—

[0065]40 exemplary container in cup form

[0066]41 first, circumferential series of intelligent indica in the form of alphabet letters

[0067]43 individual indicia element

[0068]44 peripheral, fold-over tab

[0069]44A peripheral wall from which tab can be folded down

[0070]45 body of cup

[0071]47 peripheral, upper edge of cup

[0072]48 “vertical” line separating one indica element from an adjacent indicia element

[0073]49 circumferential line separating the first series of intelligent indicia from any other adjacent series of intelligent indicia

Embodiment of FIG. 1

[0074] As can be seen in FIG. 1, the first, preferred, exemplary embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention includes an exemplary container in the form of a typical, relatively inexpensive, generally cylindrical or near cylindrical, drinking cup 10 usually made of plastic or Styrofoam and having a basic body 15, a bottom 16 and a top, peripheral edge or lip 17.

[0075] Along the top, peripheral edge 17 is a set of two, side-by-side, parallel series 11 & 12, separated by the circumferential line 19, of intelligent indicia 13 in the form of the letters of the alphabet, including in each series the letters “A-Z,” it being noted that the letter “A” cannot be directly seen but is located in the left-most indica placement in the figure.

[0076] A depressable, plastic bubble 14 is positioned over each indicia element 13 between the “vertical” lines 18. When it is desired to “high-light” or mark selected indicia, the user merely depresses the bubbles over the selected indicia, using for example, pressure force generated by closing the thumb against the ball of the adjacent finger, causing the pressured bubble to collapse or be at least indented or otherwise crushed. If the intelligent indicia 13 are printed or impressed on both sides of the cup edge 17, as illustrated in FIG. 1, both, opposed bubbles are depressed, highlighting the indicia on both sides of the cup edge and upper areas. This allows the marked indicia to be viewed from either side of the cup.

[0077] Bubbles which collapse or are crushed under pressure are just one, possible form of marking the selected indicia. Other approaches are, of course, also possible, including, for further example, the use of indicia structures which change color under significant pressure, etc.

[0078] When it is desired to identify the cup 10 with, for example, the basic initials of the user, the end user or provider user merely crushes the appropriate bubbles 14 located over the letters being selected and to be high-lighted, for example, the letter “D” from the first series 11 for the first initial of the name and the letter “W” from the second series of alphabet indicia for the second initial of the name to identify the cup with, for example, “Don Williams” as the end user (note darkened indicia elements in FIG. 1). Thus, for example, when Dr. Williams places his cup down and comes back later to pick it up, he can specifically and definitely identify his so-identified, “DM” cup as his own, although he may, for example, be with many other people at a party using substantively identical cups 10.

[0079] Of course, adding a third series of the alphabet letters, substantively identical to series 11 & 12, would allow the use of three (3) initials. Also, adding special value cells or indicia, “I,” “II” and “III” or “Jr.” and “Sr.” would allow differentiating between such members of the same family.

Embodiment of FIG. 2

[0080] As can be seen in FIG. 2, the second, exemplary embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention includes an exemplary container likewise in the form of a typical, relatively inexpensive, generally cylindrical or near cylindrical, drinking cup 20 usually made of plastic or Styrofoam and having a basic body 25, a bottom 26 and a top, peripheral edge or lip 27.

[0081] Along the top, peripheral edge 27 is a set of two, side-by-side, parallel series 21 & 22, separated by the circumferential line 29, of intelligent indicia 23 in the form of two, numeric sequences, including in each series the numbers “0-9,” it being noted that the number zero (“0”) cannot be directly seen but is located in the left-most, toward-the-rear indica placement in the figure. Special quantum value cells or indicia for “100” and “200” are included in the two series, respectively, allowing the selection of any number for uniquely identifying each cup 20 in a series between zero and two hundred and ninety-nine (0-299).

[0082] Thus, the exemplary, special, quantum value indicia included, namely, “100” in the top series 21 and “200” in the next, lower series 22, in combination with the two numeric series zero to nine (0-9) allow the selection of any desired identifying number from zero or one to two hundred and ninety-nine (0/1-299). Thus, if the user wishes to mark the container 20 illustrated with the number “275”, the user would select the “200” indicia element from the second series 22 and the “7” and “5” indicia elements from the first and second, numeric series 21 & 22, respectively.

[0083] A depressable, plastic bubble 24 is positioned over each indicia element 23 between the “vertical” lines 28. When it is desired to “high-light” or mark selected indicia, the user, as in the embodiment of FIG. 1, merely depresses the bubbles over the selected indicia, using for example, pressure force generated by closing the thumb against the ball of the adjacent finger, causing the pressured bubble to collapse or be at least indented or otherwise crushed. If the intelligent indicia 23 are printed or impressed on both sides of the cup edge 27, as illustrated in FIG. 2, both, opposed bubbles are concurrently depressed, highlighting the indicia on both sides of the cup edge and upper areas. This allows the marked indicia to be viewed from either side of the cup.

[0084] As before, bubbles which collapse or are crushed under pressure are just one, possible form of marking the selected indicia. Other approaches are, of course, also possible, including, for further example, the use of indicia structures which change color under significant pressure, marking devices, etc.

[0085] For further example, when it is desired to identify the cup 20 with, for example, the number “38,” the end user or provider user merely crushes the appropriate bubbles 24 located over the numbers being selected and to be high-lighted, for example, the number “3” from the first series 21 and the number “4” from the second series 22 of numeric indicia to identify the cup with, for example, “34” (note darkened indicia elements in FIG. 2). Thus, for example, when the end user places his/her cup down and comes back later to pick it up, he/she can specifically and definitely identify his/her so-identified, “34” cup as his own, although he may, for example, be with many other people at a party using substantively identical cups. Besides arbitrarily assigning numbers, the numbers could at least generally be based on the user's age or, if four numeric series zero to nine (0-9) are present, the day and month of the user's birthday, for example, “0704” for July 4th could be selected. An assigned number, however selected, could also be used in connection with a number to be arbitrarily determined in, for example, a numerically based, party raffle, etc.

[0086] As a further, exemplary alternative, if one wished to increase the range of the numbers that could be selected, a third row, substantively identical to rows 21 & 22, could be added and the special quantum value cells changed to “1,000” & “2,000” with “3,000” added in the third row, would allow a selection of zero to three thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine (“0-3,999”).

Embodiment of FIG. 3

[0087] As can be seen in FIG. 3, the third, exemplary embodiment of the container identification system of the present invention includes an exemplary container in the form again of a typical, relatively inexpensive, generally cylindrical or near cylindrical, drinking cup 30 usually made of plastic or Styrofoam and having a basic body 35, a bottom 36 and a top, peripheral edge or lip 37.

[0088] Along or at least partially near the top, peripheral edge 37 is a set of two, series 31 & 32, one circumferentially located and the other “vertically” located, separated in part by the circumferential line 39, of intelligent indicia 33. As can be seen, the indicia are in the form of the letters of the alphabet, including in each series the letters “A-Z” (only “A” and “B” being shown in the second series 32 for simplicity purposes).

[0089] A pull-down, indicia marked tab 34 each carries an indicia element 33 between the “vertical” lines 38. When it is desired to “high-light” or mark selected indicia, the user merely pulls the selected tab 34, pulling it down away from the associated, peripheral wall element 34A for the selected indicia, using for example, using the fingers and/or finger nails. If the intelligent indicia 33 are printed or impressed on both sides of the cup edge 37, as illustrated in FIG. 3, both, opposed tabs can be pulled down, highlighting the indicia on both sides of the cup edge 37. This allows the marked indicia to be viewed, at least in part, from either side of the cup 30.

[0090] The circumferential line 39 and the “vertical” lines 38 can be scored or perforated to assist in the pulling down and possible removal of the individual tabs 34.

[0091] When it is desired to identify the cup 30 with, for example, the initials of the user, the end user or provider user merely pulls down the tabs 34 located for the letters being selected and to be high-lighted, for example, the letter “H” from the first series 32 for the first initial of the name and a letter from the second series 32 of alphabet indicia for the second initial of the name to identify the cup. Thus, for example, when the user places his/her cup down and comes back later to pick it up, he/she can specifically and definitely identify his/her so-identified cup as his/her own, although he/she may, for example, be with many other people at a party using substantively identical cups.

Embodiment of FIG. 4

[0092] Alternatively, with reference to FIG. 4, the indicia elements 43 could be placed on the tab wall 44A in the form of letters (or numbers or other symbols or special values) which appear on the interior side but, for example, is covered over by the tab 44 on the exterior side of the cup 40. By viewing the letters (numbers, symbols, etc.) on the interior side, the user could see which tab 44 is covering over the desired letter (or numbers or other symbols or special values) and then pull it down or off, exposing the selected letter indicia, for example, “H.” In folding or removing the tab 44, each selected tab is preferably grabbed between the user's thumb and the ball of another finger and moving the initial edge of the tab at least about ninety (90°) degrees, thereby high-lighting the selected indicia elements with the moved tabs. Preferably the selected intelligent indicia are translucent or transparent, while the tabs 44 are opaque, causing the selected letters (numbers, symbols, etc.) to standout and be more clearly viewable and indeed be emphasized by the ambient light.

[0093] An alternative “high-lighting” approach would be to use “scratch-off” coatings or covering, which, with, for example, the user's fingernail(s) or a coin or the like, can be scratched off, exposing the intelligent indicia underneath the selected coverings or coatings. This “scratch-off” approach is often used in “scratch-off” cards used in games of chance and the like and are well known in that art.

[0094] In conclusion, it should be noted in FIG. 2 (FIG. 3) that the intelligent indicia 23 (33) appear on both sides of the upper cup area 27 (37), with the indicia on the interior side being “reversed” or a mirror image of the indicia. This is caused when the indicia 23 (33) is, for example, embossed or die pressed from one side, causing a depression on one side and a surface extension on the other side of the cup 10 (30). Likewise, it should be noted in FIG. 2 that the intelligent indicia 23 appear on both sides of the upper cup area 27, with the indicia on the interior and exterior sides each being right facing. This is caused when the indicia 23 is, for example, separately imprinted on the interior and exterior surfaces.

[0095] Additionally, it should be understood that in addition to alphabet series (13/33), numeric series (23/32), and special quantum value indicia (“100,” “200,”. . . ), other special value, intelligent indicia series or individual indicia could be used, including the use of some symbols (e.g., commercial logos for designating the container's contents), etc. For example, the special indicia monthly series of “January” (“Ja” or “1”), “February” (“Fb” or “2”), “March” (“Mr” or “3”), “April” (“Ap” or “4”), “May” (“My” or “5”), “June” (“Jn” or “6”), “July” (“Ju” or “7”), . . . , etc.; or a limited series of years, for example, “2002”, “2003”, “2004”, etc.; or a series of product description values, for example, in a first product sequence, for example, “coffee” (or “C”), tea (or “T”), etc., and a second series of types or additives, for example, “D” (decaffeinated), “C” (cream added), “M” (milk added), “H” (“half-and-half” added), “S1” (one sugar added), “S2” (two sugar added), etc., or series of locations, for example, “N” (New York plant), “C” (Chicago plant), etc., and so on.

[0096] Finally, the container can have many different configurations and sizes and have a top or be top-less, etc., although a hand-held container, cup or “drinking glasslike” or cup configuration are particularly preferred, efficacious embodiments. It is noted that an exemplary, plastic party has a height of about four (4″) inches and a top diameter of about three (3″) inches and a bottom diameter of about two (2″) inches, although there are other sizes of drinking cups that would likewise work well with the present invention. With this exemplary cup and the different dimensions between the top and the bottom diameters, the side wall of the cup has an upward, outward inclination, and this shape in the context of this patent specification is referred to as “substantially cylindrical,” while a line on the side wall surface lying in a plane through the center-line of the cup is considered in the context of this patent specification to be “vertical.”

[0097] With such containers, each container is easily held in one hand of an adult user, while the other hand can be used to select and high-light the selected indicia elements. Thus, for example, in the embodiment of FIG. 3 (or FIG. 4), while holding the container 30 (40) in one hand, the user can use his/her thumb and the adjacent fore-finger or other finger of the other hand in a pincer movement to separately grab and pull down the tabs 34 (44) of the selected indicia, which tabs should be moveable at least ninety (90°) or one hundred and eighty (180°) degrees, if not completely removable, high-lighting their respective indicia. Likewise, in the embodiments of FIGS. 1 & 2, the bubbles 14/24 can be crushed between the thumb and the fore-finger or other finger of the other hand in a squeezing, pincer movement, with the outer surfaces of the bubbles being designed to be crushed under such pressure.

[0098] It also should be understood that the foregoing variations and alternatives, etc., described above are merely exemplary and many other changes to the exemplary embodiments are possible within the teachings of the present invention.

[0099] Thus, the embodiments of the present invention described herein in detail for exemplary purposes are of course subject to many different variations in structure, design, application, materials and methodology. Because many varying and different embodiments may be made within the scope of the inventive concept(s) herein taught, and because many modifications may be made in the embodiments herein detailed in accordance with the descriptive requirements of the law, it is to be understood that the details herein generally are to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7243795 *Mar 30, 2004Jul 17, 2007Robert GoldIdentification system for individual containers
US7651005 *Mar 22, 2007Jan 26, 20102N CorporationEducational drinking device
CN102152912A *Mar 7, 2011Aug 17, 2011郭一民Beverage bottle/can
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/459.5, 206/459.1
International ClassificationB65D25/20, G09F3/00, A47G19/22
Cooperative ClassificationB65D25/20, G09F3/00, B65D2203/00, A47G19/2227
European ClassificationA47G19/22B6, B65D25/20, G09F3/00