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Publication numberUS20060266808 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/441,535
Publication dateNov 30, 2006
Filing dateMay 26, 2006
Priority dateMay 26, 2005
Publication number11441535, 441535, US 2006/0266808 A1, US 2006/266808 A1, US 20060266808 A1, US 20060266808A1, US 2006266808 A1, US 2006266808A1, US-A1-20060266808, US-A1-2006266808, US2006/0266808A1, US2006/266808A1, US20060266808 A1, US20060266808A1, US2006266808 A1, US2006266808A1
InventorsCarol DeLaVergne
Original AssigneeEcoenvelopes, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Envelope structures and methods
US 20060266808 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides envelope structures that can be used for delivering correspondence from a sender to a recipient in a way that easily and efficiently allows the recipient to return at least a portion of the correspondence to the sender. An exemplary envelope structure in accordance with the present invention comprises a first envelope having a body portion and a flap portion and a second envelope separably integrated with the first envelope. The envelope structure is designed so that a body portion of the second envelope is separable from the body portion of the first envelope and a flap portion of the second envelope is separable from the flap portion of the first envelope.
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Claims(26)
1. An envelope structure comprising:
a first envelope comprising an envelope body and a closure flap, the envelope body comprising first and second oppositely facing body panels, the closure flap comprising a first flap portion separable from a second flap portion, the first flap portion foldably attached to the first body panel, the second flap portion comprising an adhesive region allowing the second flap portion to sealingly mate with a surface of the second body panel of the envelope body to close the envelope body; and
a second envelope comprising an envelope body and a closure flap, the envelope body of the second envelope separable from the first body panel of the first envelope body, the closure flap of the second envelope separable from the first flap portion of the closure flap of the first envelope and comprising an adhesive region allowing the closure flap of the second envelope to sealingly mate with a surface of the envelope body of the second envelope to close the second envelope.
2. The envelope structure of claim 1, wherein the first and second flap portions of the closure flap of the first envelope body are separable from each other along at least one line of weakness.
3. The envelope structure of claim 2, wherein the at least one line of weakness for separating the first and second flap portions from each other comprises a perforation.
4. The envelope structure of claim 2, wherein the at least one line of weakness for separating the first and second flap portions from each other comprises a tear strip.
5. The envelope structure of claim 1, wherein a first body panel of the second envelope comprises a portion of the first body panel of the envelope body of the first envelope.
6. The envelope structure of claim 5, wherein the area of the body panel of the second envelope is smaller than the area of first body panel of the envelope of the first envelope.
7. The envelope structure of claim 5, wherein the body panel of the second envelope is separable from the first body panel of the envelope body of the first envelope by a line of weakness.
8. The envelope structure of claim 7, wherein the line of weakness comprises a perforation.
9. The envelope structure of claim 5, wherein a second body panel of the second envelope comprises a panel distinct from the first body panel of the first envelope.
10. The envelope structure of claim 1, wherein the closure flap of the second envelope comprises a portion of the first flap portion of the closure flap of the first envelope.
11. The envelope structure of claim 10, wherein the closure flap of the second envelope is separable from the first flap portion of the closure flap of the first envelope by a line of weakness.
12. The envelope structure of claim 11, wherein the line of weakness comprises a perforation.
13. An envelope structure comprising a first envelope having a second envelope removably integrated with the first envelope wherein a body portion of the second envelope is separable from a panel of a body portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness and a flap portion of the second envelope is separable from a flap portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness.
14. The envelope structure of claim 13, wherein the flap portion of the first envelope comprises a first flap portion foldably attached to the panel of the body portion of the first envelope and a second flap portion separably attached to the first flap portion.
15. The envelope structure of claim 14, wherein the first flap portion is separable from the second flap portion by a line of weakness.
16. The envelope structure of claim 15, wherein the line of weakness comprises a perforation.
17. The envelope structure of claim 15, wherein the line of weakness comprises a tear strip.
18. The envelope structure of claim 14, wherein the flap portion of the second envelope is defined by a portion of and separable from the first flap portion of the first envelope.
19. The envelope structure of claim 13, wherein the line of weakness by which the body portion of the second envelope is separable from the panel of the body portion of the first envelope comprises a perforation.
20. The envelope structure of claim 13, wherein the line of weakness by which the flap portion of the second envelope is separable from the flap portion of the first envelope comprises a perforation.
21. A method for delivering correspondence from a sender to a recipient in a way that allows the recipient to return at least a portion of the correspondence to the sender, the method comprising the steps of:
providing an envelope structure comprising a first envelope having a second envelope removably integrated with the first envelope wherein a body portion of the second envelope is separable from a panel of a body portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness and a flap portion of the second envelope is separable from a flap portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness;
providing correspondence within the first envelope and closing the first envelope with the flap portion of the first envelope; and
causing the first envelope to be delivered to a recipient.
22. The method of claim 21, further comprising opening the first envelope and removing the correspondence.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising separating the second envelope from first envelope.
24. The method of claim 23, further comprising placing correspondence in the second envelope and closing the second envelope with the flap portion of the second envelope.
25. The method of claim 23, further comprising delivering the second envelope to the sender.
26. A method of making an envelope structure comprising first and second envelopes, wherein the second envelope is functionally separable from the first envelope, the method comprising the steps of:
providing a first envelope;
defining a body panel of a body portion of a second envelope with a line of weakness in a body panel of the first envelope; and
defining a flap portion of the second envelope with a line of weakness in a flap portion of the second envelope that extends from the body panel of the first envelope.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application having Serial No. 60/685,696, filed May 26, 2005, entitled “ENVELOPE STRUCTURES AND METHODS,” which application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed to envelope structures. More particularly, the present invention is directed to envelope structures that are capable of delivering correspondence from a sender to a recipient in a way that allows the recipient to return at least a portion of the correspondence to the sender such as for business reply purposes and the like.

BACKGROUND

Many companies and private entities use business reply mail to solicit information and responses from the recipients of the business reply mail. As such, business reply mail has a wide variety of uses and is often customized depending upon the needs of the sender. A few examples of the uses for business reply mail are subscription solicitations, information request responses, proxy statement responses, remittance documents (invoices for payment due) and the like. Oftentimes, the business reply mail is provided to recipients as part of a direct mail campaign, an invoice or as a detachable insert in a periodical magazine or newsletter.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides envelope structures that can be used for delivering correspondence from a sender to a recipient in a way that easily and efficiently allows the recipient to return at least a portion of the correspondence to the sender. Such envelope structures can be used for business reply functions, for example. An exemplary envelope structure in accordance with the present invention comprises a first envelope having a body portion and a flap portion and a second envelope separably integrated with the first envelope. The envelope structure is designed so that a body portion of the second envelope is separable from the body portion of the first envelope and a flap portion of the second envelope is separable from the flap portion of the first envelope. In use, correspondence can be sent to a recipient with the first envelope. When received, the first envelope can be opened to remove the correspondence and the second envelope can be separated from the first envelope. Any desired portion of the correspondence can then be returned to the sender with the second envelope.

Accordingly, in one aspect of the present invention an envelope structure comprising first and second envelopes is provided. The first envelope comprises an envelope body and a closure flap. The envelope body comprises first and second oppositely facing body panels. The closure flap comprises a first flap portion separable from a second flap portion. The first flap portion is foldably attached to the first body panel. The second flap portion comprises an adhesive region that allows the second flap portion to sealingly mate with a surface of the second body panel of the envelope body to close the envelope body. The second envelope comprises an envelope body and a closure flap. The envelope body of the second envelope is designed to be separable from the first body panel of the first envelope body. The closure flap of the second envelope is designed to be separable from the first flap portion of the closure flap of the first envelope and comprises an adhesive region that allows the closure flap of the second envelope to sealingly mate with a surface of the envelope body of the second envelope to close the second envelope.

In another aspect of the present invention an envelope structure comprising a first envelope having a second envelope removably integrated with the first envelope is provided. A body portion of the second envelope is separable from a panel of a body portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness such as a perforation or the like. A flap portion of the second envelope is separable from a flap portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness such as a perforation or the like.

In another aspect of the present invention, a method for delivering correspondence from a sender to a recipient in a way that allows the recipient to return at least a portion of the correspondence to the sender is provided. The method comprises providing an envelope structure. The envelope structure comprises a first envelope having a second envelope removably integrated with the first envelope. A body portion of the second envelope is separable from a panel of a body portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness such as a perforation or the like. A flap portion of the second envelope is separable from a flap portion of the first envelope by at least one line of weakness such as a perforation or the like. The method also comprises providing correspondence within the first envelope, closing the first envelope with the flap portion of the first envelope, and causing the first envelope to be delivered to a recipient.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a method of making an envelope structure comprising first and second envelopes is provided. In this envelope structure, the second envelope is functionally separable from the first envelope. The method comprises providing a first envelope, defining a body panel of a body portion of a second envelope with a line of weakness in a body panel of the first envelope, and defining a flap portion of the second envelope with a line of weakness in a flap portion of the second envelope that extends from the body panel of the first envelope.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate several aspects of the invention and together with the description of the embodiments serve to explain the principles of the invention. A brief description of the drawings is as follows:

FIG. 1 is a front view of an exemplary envelope structure comprising first and second functional envelopes wherein a portion of a body panel of the first envelope provides a body panel of the second envelope in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the envelope structure of FIG. 1, showing a closure flap of the first envelope as comprising first and second flap portions separable from each other by a tear strip wherein the second flap portion of the first envelope comprises a closure flap of the second envelope;

FIG. 3 is a view of the envelope structure of FIG. 2 in use as the first envelope, wherein the first envelope is closed with the closure flap of the first envelope;

FIG. 4 is a view of the envelope of FIG. 3 shown partially open by the tear strip;

FIG. 5 is a view of the envelope of FIG. 4 shown fully opened; and

FIG. 6 is a view of the envelope of FIG. 5, wherein the second envelope is shown partially removed from the first envelope.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a front view and FIG. 2 shows a rear view of an exemplary envelope structure 10 in accordance with the present invention. The envelope structure 10 comprises first and second envelopes, 12 and 14. In accordance with the present invention, the second envelope 14 is removably integrated with or otherwise separable from the first envelope 12.

The envelope structure 10 provides a first envelope 12 comprising an envelope body 16 and a closure flap 18. The envelope body 16 comprises first and second oppositely facing body panels, 20 and 22, that define an interior space 24 of the first envelope 12. The closure flap 18 comprises first and second flap portions, 26 and 28. The first flap portion 26 comprises an adhesive region 27 that can be used to close the envelope body 16 in use and as described in further detail below. The closure flap 18 is designed so that the first flap portion 26 is separable from the second flap portion 28, preferably by a tear strip 30, as shown. Anything that can at least help to cause or at least partially guide a tear for separating the first flap portion 26 from the second flap portion 28 can be used. For example, one or more perforation or otherwise weakened lines or the like can be used. As shown, an end 29 of the tear strip 30 is preferably spaced from an edge 31 of the closure flap 18 thereby creating a bridge portion 33. The tear strip 30 can, however, extend all the way to the edge 31, as a bridge portion is not required. If desired, a similar bridge portion can be used at the opposite side of the tear strip 30. Envelope flaps having bridge portions and the advantages thereof are described in Applicant's co-pending Non-Provisional U.S. Patent Application filed on Feb. 24, 2005 having Serial No. 11/064,791 and entitled “Environmentally Friendly Reusable Envelope Structures.” The disclosure of U.S. patent application having Ser. No. 11/064,791 is fully incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.

The envelope structure 10 also includes a second envelope 14 that comprises an envelope body 32 and a closure flap 34. The envelope body 32 of the second envelope 14 comprises first and second oppositely facing body panels 36 and 38. The first body panel 36 is preferably part of at least a portion of the first body panel 20 of the first envelope 12, as shown, and is separable from the first body panel 20 of the first envelope 14 as described below. The second body panel 38 is preferably attached or integrated with the first body panel 36 at edges, 37 and 39, of the envelope body 32 of the second envelope 14 as shown in FIG. 2. If desired, the envelope structure 10 can be designed so that the second body panel 38 is part of at least a portion of the first body panel 20 of the first envelope 14. Also, as illustrated, the closure flap 34 of the second envelope 14 is part of at least a portion of the second flap portion 28 of the closure flap 18 of the first envelope 12 and is separable therefrom as described below. As shown, the closure flap 34 preferably comprises an adhesive region 35 that can be used to close the second envelope 14 in accordance with the present invention.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the envelope body 32 of the second envelope is separable from the envelope body 16 of the first envelope 12 by lines of weakness 40, 42, and 44, as illustrated. Preferably, lines of weakness 40, 42, and 44 comprise perforations or the like. The closure flap 34 of the second envelope 14 is separable from the second flap portion 28 of the closure flap 18 of the first envelope 12 as defined by lines of weakness 46 and 48 as well as the tear strip 30. In this way, the entire second envelope 14 can be separated from the first envelope 12 as described below.

In FIG. 3, the envelope structure 10 is shown with the first flap portion 26 sealingly attached to the first body panel 20 to close the first envelope 12. Any desired contents can be enclosed in the first envelope and envelope structures in accordance with the present invention are particularly well suited for business reply mail applications such as subscription solicitations, information request responses, proxy statement responses, remittance documents, and the like.

In FIG. 4, the first envelope 12 is shown as partially opened by the tear strip 30. In opening the first envelope 12, the end 29 of the tear strip 30 can be grasped and pulled to remove the tear strip 30. This separates the first and second flap portions, 26 and 28, of the flap 18 except for the bridge 33, which can be torn to fully separate the first and second flap portions, 26 and 28, from each other. In this way, the first envelope 12 can be opened as shown in FIG. 5. As shown, the first flap portion 26 remains attached to the first body panel 20.

Referring to FIG. 6, the second envelope 14 is shown partially removed from the first envelope 12. To separate the second envelope 14 from the first envelope 12, the closure flap 34 is preferably separated from the second flap portion 28 of the closure flap 18 by the lines of weakness, 46 and 48. The first body panel 36 of the second envelope 14 can then be separated from the first body panel 20 of the first envelope 12 by the lines of weakness, 40, 42, and 44, thus separating the second envelope 14 from the first envelope 12 in accordance with the present invention. Alternatively, the second envelope 14 can be separated from the first envelope 12 starting with a lower portion of the second envelope 14. For example, separation of the second envelope 14 from the first envelope 12 can be initiated at the line of weakness 42 such as by using a tab or grasping portion (not shown).

After the second envelope 14 is separated from the first envelope 12, the second envelope 12 can be used to return a portion of the first envelope 12 to the sender. In this way the first and second envelopes, 12 and 14, can function in business reply applications. In this regard, the second envelope 14 may be preaddressed and/or prepaid (postage or the like) for a return trip to the sender.

Reusable envelopes features and methods such as those relating to closure flaps may be used in accordance with the present invention and are disclosed in Applicant's co-pending Non-Provisional U.S. Patent Application filed on Jul. 31, 2003 having Serial No. 10/632,489 and entitled “Environmentally Friendly Reusable Envelope Structures,” Applicant's co-pending Non-Provisional U.S. Patent Application filed on Feb. 24, 2005 having Serial No. 11/064,791 and entitled “Environmentally Friendly Reusable Envelope Structures,” and applicant's pending Provisional U.S. Patent Application filed on Apr. 5, 2005 having Serial No. 60/668,662 and entitled “Reusable Envelope Structures and Methods.” The disclosure of U.S. patent applications having Ser. Nos. 10/632,489, 11/064,791 and 60/668,662 are each fully incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.

The present invention has now been described with reference to several embodiments thereof. The entire disclosure of any patent or patent application identified herein is hereby incorporated by reference. The foregoing detailed description and examples have been given for clarity of understanding only. No unnecessary limitations are to be understood therefrom. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that many changes can be made in the embodiments described without departing from the scope of the invention. Thus, the scope of the present invention should not be limited to the structures described herein, but only by the structures described by the language of the claims and the equivalents of those structures.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8714437 *Mar 29, 2010May 6, 2014Gary Glenn EmmottSeparable or opening portions for printable sheet material
US20100230481 *Mar 29, 2010Sep 16, 2010Gary Glenn EmmottSeparable or opening portions for printable sheet material
US20120097737 *Oct 21, 2010Apr 26, 2012Brufsky Alexander IIntegrated Envelope Assembly Including Original and Return Envelope Components
Classifications
U.S. Classification229/72, 229/313, 229/301, 229/300
International ClassificationB65D27/34, B65D27/08, B65D27/06
Cooperative ClassificationB65D27/06
European ClassificationB65D27/06
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 26, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: ECOENVELOPES, LLC, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:DELAVERGNE, CAROL A.;REEL/FRAME:017939/0686
Effective date: 20060526