US 20060071008 A1
A lid with a raised drink-through spout (24) has a hinged flap valve (28) covering a drink opening (26′) formed in the surface of the spout. The user opens the valve by pushing the top of a post (28P) on the flap (28F) down. A hinge (28H) holding the flap urges the flap to return to its closed and horizontal orientation, but the top edge of the post will catch under a catch edge of the opening opposite the hinge. This holds the flap open. The user can then drink from the spout. To re-close the valve, the user applies inward force to the outer sidewall (16) below the catch edge. This causes the wall to deflect inwardly and the catch edge to distort outwardly, widening the hole. This releases the post, allowing it to move upwardly so that the flap can spring back to its horizontal and closed position.
24. For a beverage container, a lid that enables a user to drink a beverage from said cup through a hole in said lid, comprising:
a lid arranged to substantially cover an entire open upper end of a beverage container of a predetermined size,
said lid containing an attachment portion for sealingly attaching said lid to an upper rim of said beverage container,
said lid having a spout or drinking portion that extends up from the rest of said lid,
said spout having a top surface with a valve formed therein,
said valve comprising a flap having a hinge side connected to a portion of said spout along a hinge and a cut side opposite said hinge,
said flap positioned with its cut side adjacent said top surface of said spout,
said flap also arranged to expose a drink hole in said top surface when said flap is rotated downward along said hinge so that said valve is in an open position,
said flap containing a protrusion projecting therefrom, said protrusion being sized and positioned on said flap so that when said flap is rotated downward from said top surface, and said hinge urges said flap back to a coplanar orientation with said top surface, said protrusion will catch on a portion of said upper surface adjacent said drink hole so that said open position of said valve is stable.
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33. A lid for a beverage container wherein said lid has a drink-through hole that can be selectively opened, comprising:
a lid shaped and sized to seal an open top of a drinking cup of a predetermined size,
said drink-through hole being positioned in said lid so that a user can drink a beverage in said cup through said drink-through hole,
said drink-through hole being formed in a surface of said lid, said drink-through hole having a hinge side and a catch side,
a sealing flap attached to said hinge side of said drink-through hole by a hinge, said sealing flap having a hinge edge and a cut edge and being arranged to seal said drink-through hole when said sealing flap is in a closed condition adjacent said surface of said lid, said hinge arranged to urge said flap to said closed condition,
said sealing flap containing holding means arranged to hold said sealing flap in an open condition against said catch edge when said flap extends at a downward angle to said surface,
whereby said sealing flap can be stably positioned in said open condition.
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44. A method of sealing a beverage container, comprising:
providing a cup-sealing lid with a drinking hole that can be selectively opened, said lid shaped and sized to seal an open top of a drinking cup of a predetermined size, said drinking hole being arranged so that a user can drink a beverage in said cup through said drinking hole, said drinking hole being formed in a surface of said lid, said drinking hole having a hinge side and a catch side,
providing said lid with a sealing flap attached to said hinge side of said drink-through opening by a hinge, said sealing flap having a free edge and being arranged to seal said drink-through opening when said sealing flap is in a closed condition with said free edge adjacent said catch side of said lid, said hinge arranged to urge said flap to said closed condition, said sealing flap containing holding means arranged to hold said sealing flap in an open condition against said catch side when said flap extends at a downward angle to said surface,
attaching said lid to a drinking cup with said sealing flap in said closed condition, and
opening said sealing flap by pushing said sealing flap to an open condition where said holding means holds said sealing flap in said open condition against said catch edge,
whereby said sealing flap can be stably positioned in said open condition.
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This patent issued from an application that is a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/944,387, filed 2004 Sep. 17, now abandoned.
1. Field of Invention
This invention relates generally to drinking containers, specifically to valved lids for such containers.
2. Prior Art
Fast food restaurants, beverage shops, and other food-service establishments serve hot beverages in disposable cups with lids or covers. The lids keep the cup's contents hot and prevent the liquid from spilling. Many lids have openings so the user can drink the beverage from the cup below without removing the lid. Some lids have raised drink-through spouts that allow the user to place both lips around the spout to more easily and safely sip the beverage.
For example U.S. Pat. No. 4,589,569 to Clements (1986) discloses a dome lid with a raised and wide drink-through spout. An open drink hole is cut out of the top of the spout.
Pat. Des 417,845 to Sadlier (the present inventor) et al. (1999) also discloses a dome lid with a wide raised drink-through spout having an open drink hole in the top of the spout.
Both of the above lids have been commercially accepted in the market—many millions are sold each week. Despite their success, one disadvantage is that the drink hole is always open. This is problematic to people that want to purchase a beverage and then take it somewhere else, such as their office, to be consumed. The beverage can splash out from the open drink hole while the cup is carried. Additionally, heat readily escapes from the open drink hole before the user is ready to consume their drink. As a result, some beverage shop owners have resorted to placing a piece of tape over the hole so that beverage and heat do not escape until the user is ready to enjoy their drink. This solution is time consuming, messy, and unsanitary.
In order to address this problem inventors have come up with solutions such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,899,902 to DeMars (1990) and U.S. Pat. No. 6,644,490 to Clarke (2003). These patents disclose lids with raised drink-through spouts having open drink holes. The lids further include a flexible arm portion connected to the lid with a closure plug at the end of the arm. When a user or vendor wants to close the drink opening, they insert the plug-end of the arm into the open drink hole. When they want to open the lid again, they remove the plug from the drink hole. While an improvement over non-closable raised drink spout lids, these lids have not gained widespread use because the attached flexible arm is awkward and can interfere with the user when they attempt to drink from the cup. After the plug is removed from the drink hole it is often wet with the beverage, which tends to drip from the plug onto the user's clothing. Also, this type of lid uses more material and lid more difficult to make than a standard raised drink-through spout lid. The operation of opening and closing the hole is cumbersome and requires two hands. The lids are produced and boxed with the hole initially open; therefore the server must manually insert the plug into the lid at the time the beverage is served to the consumer. This takes more labor time at the service counter. Because of these deficiencies, these types of lid have not gained widespread commercial acceptance or use.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,732,875 to Smith et al. (2004) and published patent application 2002/0,011,494 to Lukacevic show other two-piece reclosable lids with raised drink-through spouts. These lids have two parts: an external cover having the raised drink through spout with an open drink hole, and an internal rotatable disk having a drink-hole-closing member. The movable disk also has a post that extends up through a slot in the external cover. By moving the post from one side of the slot to the other, the disk can be rotated to open and close the drink hole. While a functional improvement over the lids mentioned above, the two-piece construction is expensive to make. Additional plastic material is required to form both the external cover and the internal movable disk, and additional machinery processing is required to fasten the two parts together. Thus these lids have a significant cost disadvantage over the other prior-art lids discussed above.
Herbst, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,925,051 (1990), and Albert, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,186,842 (1980), shows a normally closed lid in which access slits are formed by downward force.
Zoellick, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,081,103 (1978), Schaefer, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,814 (1998), and Warden et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 5,398,843 (1995), show a lids with a normally closed flap that can be depressed for drinking.
Schutz, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,860,162 (1975), shows a lid with a slit that is sealed by a normally closed valve that can be opened by a user's upper lip.
Yamazaki, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,113,135 (1978), Galloway et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 4,345,695 (1982), Boller, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,911,331 (1999), and Amberg et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 4,184,604 (1980), show lids with drinking-hole-sealing flaps that can also be opened by a user's lip.
Montemerano, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,333,583 (1982), and Ryan et al., in published patent application 2004/0,094,549, show lids with a spout that has a cover that can be opened for drinking.
Coy, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,782,975 (1988), shows a lid with a spout with a valve in the spout. The valve can be opened by lip pressure.
Kick, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,894,950 (1999), and Van Melle, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,089,397 (2000), show lids with a flap with a frangible attachment so that it can be broken away from the rest of the lid to open it to allow drinking.
Bruce et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 6,419,105 (2002), shows a lid with a partial spout or funnel (of a non-drink through variety) and a cylindrical portion below the spout that can be deformed to open or close it in a bistable manner. The operation of this lid does not allow for a drink-through type drink spout popular with consumers and food-service operators alike.
Hundley et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 6,612,456 (2003), and Schmidtner et al., in published patent application 2003/0,218,017, show lids with a drinking hole and a hinged valve comprising a hollow raised tab that can be depressed to open the hole.
These lids all have one or more disadvantages, including complexity, unreliability, costliness, difficulty of use, awkwardness, high cost, etc.
Thus, all present lids with raised drink-through spouts have various disadvantages: the beverage can to splash out and lose heat, tape is awkward to use and is not resealable, sealing plugs interfere with the user's drinking, drip the beverage within when opened, use a relatively large amount of material, and require excess time and labor to use, two-part lids are expensive to make and require excess material, and other lids are complex, unreliable, expensive, difficult to use, and awkward.
Therefore several advantages of the present invention are to provide a drinking cup lid with a drinking orifice that (1) improves upon prior-art lids, (2) does not require the use of tape to close the drink hole, (3) is resealable, (4) does not interfere or hinder with the user's drinking, (5) does not have any part that drips when opened, (6) uses a relatively small amount of material, (7) requires little time, materials, and labor to use, (8) is simple, reliable, economical, and facile to use.
Other advantages are to provide a lid with a closure member that (9) covers the drink opening completely until it is opened by the user, (10) once opened remains in a stable open position until closed by the user, (11) can be re-closed by the user, (12) is made from a single piece of material, (13) can be opened and closed with a one-hand operation, (14) is sanitary, (15) is integrated into a standard style of lid with a raised drink through spout configuration, (16) the user can more easily use for drinking through the lid, and (17) is more resistant to splashing when the drink hole is open.
Further advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.
According to the invention, a new and improved lid has a raised drink-through spout with a valved drink opening. The lid is formed from one piece of material. The lid has a mounting portion at its base which includes a resilient annular gripping groove configured to grip the bead on the top of the cup. An annular outer sidewall or turret, preferably frusto-conical in shape, extends upward and inward from the mounting portion and has an annular top surface or rim having a generally circular periphery at the top of the outer sidewall. The turret has a central recess portion which forms a center panel of the lid. The rim is higher and wider at one side, thereby forming a raised drinking spout.
The drink-through valve in the drinking spout comprises a rectangular flap in the top surface or ridge of the rim. The flap has an integrally formed upward protrusion or post. The flap is defined by a cut line along the front edge, a curved cut line on each side edge, and a hinge along the back edge. The hinge line preferably is a “living” or integral hinge at the inner edge of the top wall.
The user opens the valve applying downward force to the top of the post, forcing the flap to bend downwardly along the hinge line so that the flap extends downwardly at an angle from the ridge or surface of the rim. The hinge of the flap has a spring action that urges the flap to return to its closed and horizontal orientation. However, when the top edge of the post is pushed past the cut front or catch edge of the top wall, it will catch under this edge and lock the flap in an open position. This will preventing the flap from returning and hold the flap—and hence the valve—in an open position to create a drink-through opening. The user can then simply drink from the lid as normal by placing their lips around the raised drink spout.
To re-close the valve, the user applies inward force to a point on the outer sidewall below the cut front edge. When such force is applied at this release point, it causes the front wall to deflect inwardly and the cut front edge of the drink hole to distort outwardly, widening the hole. This releases the top edge of the post, allowing it to move upwardly so that the flap can spring back to its horizontal and closed position.
As stated, the lid of
As also stated, valved lids are known that prevent splashing and reduce heat loss, but these have many disadvantages, including interference with the user's drinking, dripping of the beverage within when the valve is opened, use of a relatively large amount of material, excess time and labor to use, high expense to make, a large amount of material to fabricate, complexity, unreliability, difficulty and awkwardness to use, and an inability to stay in an open configuration until closed by a user.
The lid of
As will be shown, valve 28 improves upon prior-art lids since, inter alia, it is easily resealable, does not interfere or hinder with the user's drinking, prevents the beverage in the cup from splashing out, and keeps the beverage warmer.
FIGS. 2B and 2C—Top and Side-Sectional Views
Valve Closed: The inventive lids are supplied with their valves 28 in the closed state (
A cup (not shown) is filled with a beverage, either at a beverage store, a home, a vendor, etc. and the lid is snapped down over the rim of the cup. The user or drinker carries the lidded cup away, e.g., to a place of employment, a vehicle, a work site, etc. Since the valve is closed, the lid is substantially entirely closed so that the beverage within will not splash out, despite rough handling. Also, the escape of heat (or the entrance of heat if the beverage is chilled) will be reduced.
Valve Opening: To drink the beverage, the user merely pushes post 28P down with a finger or thumb (not shown), causing flap 28F to rotate downwardly on hinge 28H. When the flap rotates far enough, the tip of post 28P will snap past the front or catch edge of hole 26′ as shown in
As an added benefit, the valve provides splash resistance even when the drink hole is open. When the valve is open, as shown in
Valve Closing: if the user wishes to interrupt their drinking before consuming all of the beverage in the cup, they can close valve 28 as follows: As shown in
I presently believe the following explanation is correct, but do not wish to be bound by it. I believe that the upper part of wall 16 and front and catch edge of hole 26′ distort outwardly when the user pushes inwardly at the lower part of wall 16 because wall 16 acts as a lever whose fulcrum is between the point where force is applied and the top of the wall. The fulcrum is created by the stiffness of the lid due to its circular shape.
There are other ways to close hinged flap 28F, in addition to the method described above. Drink spout 24 can be squeezed or rolled between a finger and thumb. This will distort this portion of the lid and thereby release the post from the catch edge and allow the flap to close. Alternatively the user can remove the lid from the cup and push the underside of the flap up with a finger to close the flap. The user can then reattach the lid to the cup.
Valve Re-Opening When the user desires to drink again, they push post 28P down to open the flap again. Post 28P will again be locked under the catch edge of hole 26′ since the hole has returned to its original conformation.
As stated, the lids may be formed with valve flap 28F coplanar with its seat as shown in
When the lids are supplied with the flap in this position (
Accordingly the reader will see that, according to the invention, I have provided a drinking cup lid with a drinking orifice that (1) improves upon prior-art lids, (2) does not require the use of tape to close the drink hole, (3) is easily resealable, (4) does not interfere or hinder with the user's drinking, (5) does not have any part that drips when opened, (6) uses a relatively small amount of material, (7) requires little time, materials, and labor to use, (8) is simple, reliable, economical, and facile to use, (9) covers the drink opening completely until it is opened by the user, (10) once opened will remain in a stable open position until closed by the user, (11) can be re-closed by the user, (12) is made from a single piece of material, (13) can be opened and closed with a one-hand operation, (14) is sanitary, (15) is integrated into a standard style of lid with a raised drink through spout configuration, (16) the user can more easily use for drinking through the lid, and (17) is more resistant to splashing when the drink hole is open.
While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but as exemplifications of the presently preferred embodiments thereof. Many other ramifications and variations are possible within the teachings of the invention. For example, the material, size, and plastic forming method can be changed. The valve need not be on the top surface of the spout, but instead can be on a side surface. The post can be glued on, rather than being stamped from the flap. In lieu of the post, a nubbin, mound, or other protrusion can be used. The shape of the flap can be changed to oval, circular, triangular, rectangular, etc. The flap can be hinged to the outer edge of the hole, or a side edge, rather than the inner edge. In this case the release point would be on the inside or side surface of the spout. The flap can be larger than the drink-through opening so that when closed it will lie adjacent, either slightly above or below the top surface of the spout, but not coplanar with the top surface. The arrangement for attaching the lid to the cup can be changed to, e.g., screw-on, glue-on, etc. A recess in the lid need not be provided; instead the top of the lid can be flat with an upstanding valved spout. The lid can have shapes other than circular, such as oval, rectangular, triangular, polygonal, etc. The lid can be used for cold beverages and for containers for substances other than beverages, i.e., containers for non-potable liquid and particulate products. Embossed lettering, such as the word(s) “push” or “push down” can be embossed or debossed into the surface of the raised drink spout on either side of the valve to instruct the user on how to open the lid. Similarly embossed lettering such as the word(s) “push”, “push here” or “push here to close” can be embossed or debossed into the front surface of the lid along wall 16 just below the value to educate the users on how to reclose the lid. In addition an embossed button, semi sphere, or bump can be formed at this location on wall 16 to facilitate closing of the flap more easily.
Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, and not by the examples given.