|Publication number||US20040099719 A1|
|Application number||US 10/305,685|
|Publication date||May 27, 2004|
|Filing date||Nov 26, 2002|
|Priority date||Nov 26, 2002|
|Also published as||US7306138, US20050082356, WO2004048212A2, WO2004048212A3|
|Publication number||10305685, 305685, US 2004/0099719 A1, US 2004/099719 A1, US 20040099719 A1, US 20040099719A1, US 2004099719 A1, US 2004099719A1, US-A1-20040099719, US-A1-2004099719, US2004/0099719A1, US2004/099719A1, US20040099719 A1, US20040099719A1, US2004099719 A1, US2004099719A1|
|Original Assignee||Shadrach William S.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (38), Referenced by (9), Classifications (18)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 This invention relates to product dispensing devices. More particularly, this invention relates to product dispensing devices with movable panels to selectively dispense one or more items held inside of the dispensing device.
 Dispensing containers of all types have existed for many years. Dispensing devices may comprise anything from completely open containers to enclosed containers with movable panels or parts for opening the container. Dispensing containers come in all different sizes and shapes, and may serve various purposes.
 Products of all different types need to be dispensed, depending on the particular environment, in an appropriate manner. Products such as drink containers (e.g., beer cans, soda cans, juice boxes, etc.), toothbrushes, packages of crayons, medical devices (e.g., needles), food products, candy, treats, pens and pencils, golf tees, mints and toothpicks at a restaurant, and many other potential products need to first be transported securely, and subsequently need to be dispensed in a proper manner.
 One particular time of year when dispensing containers are particularly useful is Halloween. During Halloween, most homes and other locations pass out candy and treats using a trick-or-treat theme. The candy is typically passed out in containers. Children are fascinated by the trick-or-treat atmosphere. Candy and other treats are passed out at each home or other location. Each new door or stopping point brings a new type of surprise.
 The vast majority of Halloween trick-or-treat candy dispensing containers are comprised of bowls or other similar open-ended containers. The open end allows for easy access to the inside of the containers, but does not provide additional excitement, intrigue, or security with respect to the trick-or-treat experience.
 There is a need, therefore, to provide a novel dispensing device for beverage containers, candy, treats, or other products. There is also a need for a novel dispensing device for Halloween candy, in particular, and other treats.
 The present invention relates to a product dispensing device for all types of products, such as candies, cookies, snacks, treats, drinks, beverage containers, medical or dental products, and other products. More specifically, the present invention relates to a container for selectively dispensing any type of dispensable product by providing one or more movable panels such that each panel can be positioned to close an opening or dispensing area in the container. Alternatively, each panel can be positioned to allow access to the dispensing area where the products are held. In one embodiment, the container is a Halloween box. The movable panels may include indicia, such as facial features, themes of any kind (including but not limited to Halloween images), or any other indicia to provide additional allure, excitement, and fun for the persons utilizing the product dispensing apparatus.
 The foregoing and other features, utilities, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a product dispensing apparatus according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the product dispensing apparatus of FIG. 1 with the top panel shown in an open position and one of the movable panels shown in an open position to provide access to dispensing area of the interior of the container;
FIG. 3 is a top view of the product dispensing apparatus of FIG. 1 in a flat, unfolded position showing all of the panels associated with the container and the fold lines required to assemble the container, including the two separated movable panels;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a product dispensing apparatus according to the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the product dispensing apparatus of FIG. 4 showing a safety tab removed and an extension of a movable panel shown in a raised, ready-to-dispense position; and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the product dispensing apparatus of FIG. 4 with the movable panel shown in a raised position to allow access to the dispensing area of the interior of the product dispensing apparatus, specifically for dispensing beverage containers.
 As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the present invention comprises a product dispensing apparatus 10 having a main structure in the form of a body or housing 12 comprising solid or stationary panels and one or more slidable, positionable, or otherwise moveable panels 14, 16. The various panels may be separate or integral, and may be preferably folded relative to one another to form the dispensing device 10. Alternatively, it is to be understood that the panels could be individually manufactured and assembled using fasteners or other connectors to secure the panels together to form a container. The dispensing device 10 may thus be made from a single sheet of material with the appropriate cuts and fold lines being created in the sheet of material. In one embodiment, the material used to manufacture the product dispensing apparatus 10 is cardboard, although it will be understood by those in the art that other suitable materials may be used without departing from the scope of the present invention.
 The product dispensing apparatus may be used for virtually any suitable type of products. Specifically, the dispensing device may hold or contain for dispensing purposes, without limitation, candies, cookies, snacks, beverage containers, drinks, medical or dental products for use by consumers, or any other types of products that lend themselves to dispensing.
 The product dispensing apparatus 10 comprises a container defined by a first movable or slidable panel 14 and a second movable or slidable panel 16. The movable panels are incorporated into or slidably attached to the main housing 12 to allow up-and-down, sliding movements of the panels relative to the other stationary portions of the container or housing 12. The movable panels are held in position and enveloped by specific side panels that are folded to form, in part, the main body or housing 12. The panels each include top extension tabs or extension portions 18, 20, respectively. Each extension tab 18, 20 comprises, in turn, apertures 22, 24, respectively, which may be utilized by the user to move one of the panels between open and closed positions.
 When the dispensing apparatus 10 is to be closed to prevent dispensing, slidable panels 14, 16 are moved downward to closed positions to block openings or dispensing locations 58, 60 (discussed below). Extension tabs 18, 20 can be folded down and maintained in a down position by lid 42 (which will secure the container in a closed position). Alternatively, the tabs 18, 20 can be left extending above the lid 42 to allow the dispensing locations 58, 60 to be selectively accessed. Because product tampering can be a problem with respect to the distribution of certain products, extension tabs 18, 20 can be secured in a down position (and thereby rendered inaccessible) by lid 42. Further, anti-tampering tape or other product safety mechanisms or anti-tampering systems can be employed to deter product tampering. If anti-tampering tape is used, for example, the panels 14, 16 could not be moved or otherwise opened until the box has been unsealed (by cutting or removing the tape) and opened for the first time.
 The panels 14, 16 may further comprise indicia on their respective outside or exterior-facing surfaces such that the indicia will be exposed during use of the product dispensing apparatus 10. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, each panel 14, 16 includes a first set of indicia 26, 28, and a second set of indicia 30, 32, respectively. When the slidable, movable panels 14, 16 are in their closed positions, the indicia 26, 28, respectively, are exposed through circular “eye” or differently configured openings 56 (discussed below) formed in the main portion of the container or housing 12. When the slidable panels 14, 16 are raised to their open positions, indicia 30, 32, respectively, are exposed through the eye or similar openings and access is allowed to the dispensing areas 58, 60 of container formed by the main housing or container body 12. Access into dispensing areas 58, 60 is provided at the discretion of the user of the product dispensing apparatus 10.
 As shown in FIG. 3, and as mentioned, the product dispensing apparatus 10 may comprise a single sheet of cardboard (or any other suitable material) that is cut as shown in FIG. 3 and formed with fold lines (shown as dashed lines in FIG. 3), such that the entire main housing portion 12 can be formed into a container unit with a dispensing ability, with the movable panels 14, 16 being slidably disposed inside two of the opposite end walls. In this manner, the panels 14, 16 are incorporated into the overall dispensing apparatus 10.
 Panel 40 comprises the bottom wall of the container. Panel 42 comprises the top wall of the container. Panel 42 includes a flap 44 which serves to lock the lid in position. When the lid 42 is in a closed position (with movable panel extensions 18, 20 in either upright positions or folded-down positions), the flap 44 is inserted on the inside of panel 18. Locking tab 49, integrally extending from panel 48, is inserted into a slot 45 formed inside of top panel to securely hold the lid 42 in a closed position. Slots 43 (FIG. 3) formed in lid 42 allow top extensions 18, 20 of panels 14, 16 to slide up and down relative to lid 42.
 Panels 46, 48 are solid panels with no central openings. Panels 46, 48 form upstanding side walls in the box or container 10. Although the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3 show that movable panels 14, 16 are incorporated into side walls 50, 52, those skilled in the art will understand that movable side panels may similarly be incorporated into side walls 46, 48 to dispense products without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
 Referring still to FIG. 3, side panels 50, 52 are side panels in which eye apertures 54, 56 (which may be configured in any desired manner without departing from the scope of the invention), respectively, are formed as well as access apertures or dispensing locations 58, 60, respectively. Panels 46 and 48 include longitudinal apertures 47 (on panel 46) and longitudinal apertures 49 (on panel 48) to receive locking tabs 71 (formed on panel 70) and locking tabs 73 (formed on panel 72). Locking tabs 71, 73 further serve to hold the folded dispensing unit 10 together as a whole in a solid, rigid container configuration. Partial panels 62, 64 are formed adjacent side wall panel 48 and include their own respective eye openings 66, 68, which, when the entire box or container is folded, correspond with eye apertures 54, 56, respectively. Partial panels 62, 64 provide additional side support for the dispensing apparatus 10.
 Fold-down panels 70, 72 are provided to fold down around movable panels 14, 16, respectively. These panels further serve to reinforce the main body or container 12 of the product dispensing apparatus 10 to provide protection for the products held inside the dispensing apparatus 10. Panels 70, 72 also include top slots 75, 77, which allow extensions 18, 20 of panels 14, 16 to slide up and down relative to the other portions of the product dispensing apparatus 10. Still further, bottom wall panels 74, 76 are further provided to reinforce the bottom surface of the main housing or body 12.
 When producing the product dispensing apparatus 10, the container formed by apparatus 10, as shown in FIG. 3, may be manufactured from a single piece of corrugated cardboard, plastic, or other suitable material. Alternatively, the dispensing apparatus 10 may be made using several different pieces without departing from the scope of the present invention. Still further, although movable panels 14 and 16 are shown as separate panels, these panels could also be incorporated into a unitary body such that the entire product dispensing apparatus 10 could be manufactured from a single piece of material.
 In operation, after the movable panels 14, 16 are separated, the main housing or body 12 is assembled by folding along the dotted lines (shown in FIG. 3) with the movable panels 14, 16 positioned between panels 50 and 70 (on the one side) and 52, 72 (on the other side). The resulting structure appears as shown in FIG. 2. With the top panel 42 in an open position, the interior compartment 80 of the housing 12 is filled with one of any number of different types of treats 90 or other suitable dispensed product.
 For example, without limitation, the product to be dispensed from apparatus 10 could be candies, cookies, or any other type of treat or other product. It should be understood that various other types of products may be dispensed utilizing the product dispensing apparatus 10 according to the present invention. For example, again without limitation, the product dispensing apparatus could be used to dispense beverage-containing cans (i.e., a multi-pack of beer or soda) for placement in the refrigerator. When the user of the device 10 wants to access a product or beverage container, one of the movable panels is raised to access the interior of the product dispensing apparatus. Thereafter, the movable panel can be moved into a closed position to prevent other cans from rolling out of the dispensing device. Other possible examples where a product dispensing apparatus according to the present invention may be useful include, still again without limitation, any size or type of can that forms a multi-pack case, any round or oval shaped package, toothbrushes, crayons (e.g., crayons passed out at a restaurant), medical products (e.g., packaged needles distributed at a needle exchange), packaged dog treats for distribution at a veterinarian's office, wrapped treats for in-home use, treats and rewards for distributing at school, pens and pencils for distributing to students at school, packages of golf tees (or golf tees in bulk), mints and toothpicks at a restaurant, etc.
 After products have been introduced into the interior compartment of housing 12, the top panel 42 is closed and the flap 44 is folded down and retaining flap 49 is slid into an aperture 45 formed in top panel 42 to hold the entire product dispensing apparatus together. The movable panels 14, 16 may alternatively be put into open positions (an open position is shown with respect to panel 14 in FIG. 2) or, alternatively, closed positions (a closed position is shown with respect to movable panel 14 in FIG. 1).
 In a Halloween context, for example, when a person answers the door to handle a trick-or-treat call during Halloween, the display box can be shown as set forth in FIG. 1 with the panel 14 in a closed position. Upon answering to the Halloween “trick-or-treat” challenge, the panel 14 can be raised so that the interior contents or treats 90 (FIG. 2) can be accessed by the trick-or-treater. The indicia which comprises portions of faces will look different depending on the position of the panels 14, 16. Additionally, the panels 14 and 16 can have a non-seasonal look and made with or without indicia for other requests for self-dispensed products.
 An alternative embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 4-6. It is to be understood that the manufacture and assembly of the embodiment of FIGS. 4-6 may be substantially similar to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3. A product dispensing apparatus 100 includes a top panel 102, side panels 104 (only one shown), a front panel 106, and a movable panel 108. The rear panel and bottom panels are not shown, but are substantially the same as the rear and bottom panels shown in connection with the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3.
 One embodiment of an anti-tampering system 110 is shown with respect to the apparatus 100 of FIG. 4. The anti-tampering apparatus 110 more specifically includes a removable section 112 of the apparatus 100. The small removable panel 112 includes perforations 114 (FIG. 4) to facilitate its removal from the device 100. The purchaser of the dispensing apparatus 100 can have confidence that the contents held inside of the product dispensing apparatus 100 have not been tampered with if the panel 112 remains in position with the perforations 114 remaining intact. The safety system 110 is similar to anti-tampering seals placed around bottles and the like which, if broken, suggest that tampering has taken place.
 After the portion 112 of top panel 102 is removed, an extension tab 120 can be raised so that an aperture 122 in the extension 120 is exposed and a user can insert his or her finger into aperture 120 to raise and lower the panel 108. FIG. 5 shows the panel 108 in a closed position. FIG. 6 shows panel 108 in a raised position so that access into the interior or dispensing area 130 of the product dispensing apparatus 100 can be achieved. In the embodiment of FIGS. 4-6, a plurality of beverage containers 140 (only one shown) can be held inside the dispensing apparatus 100. Thus, the dispensing apparatus 100 may function as a 12-pack container, a 24-pack container, or a container holding any reasonable number of beverage containers 140 depending on the particular application. Those skilled in the art will understand that any given number of products, and any particular types or configurations of products, can be utilized without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.
 After the desired product 140 is removed from the inside 130 of dispensing apparatus 100, the panel 108 can be moved to a closed position, as shown in FIG. 5, for future dispensing on an as-needed basis.
 While this invention has been described with reference to certain specific embodiments and examples, it will be recognized by those skilled in the art that many variations are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of this invention. The invention, as defined by the claims, is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the invention which do not depart from the spirit of the invention. The words “including” and “having,” as used in the specification, including the claims, shall have the same meaning as the word “comprising.”
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|U.S. Classification||229/116.1, 229/122.1, 229/125.12|
|International Classification||B65D5/66, B65D5/18, B65D5/72, B65D5/42, B65D5/54|
|Cooperative Classification||B65D5/6685, B65D5/18, B65D5/4237, B65D5/723, B65D5/548|
|European Classification||B65D5/42E2B, B65D5/72B2, B65D5/66E, B65D5/54F, B65D5/18|