BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a moldable closure for a container and more particularly to a moldable threaded closure that is configured to receive a common household item in order to facilitate untightening and retightening of the closure, the closure being formed in a configuration that is relatively sturdy and easy to mold and enables containers to be stacked on top of each other while reducing the risk of personal injury heretofore associated with closures.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Various types of closures are known for closing threaded containers. Such closures are known to be made primarily from molded plastic and include an annular side wall threaded on one end and a top surface closing an opposing end of the annular sidewall. In order to prevent leakage or spoilage of the contents of the container during storage, shipping and handling, such closures are normally tightened very tightly to form an air tight seal. To obtain a satisfactory seal, pressure is exerted on the rim of the threaded portion by the closure. This pressure creates friction between the closure and the container, which makes removal of the closure relatively difficult.
Such closures may be made as a conventional simple one piece threaded closure or, fitted with a tamper evident ring, or formed as a two-piece child resistant cap. Closures of this type are generally intended to be removed by gripping the closure and rotating it in a counter-clockwise direction relative to the container. Persons with reduced hand strength and dexterity, due to, for example, an arthritic condition, sickness, age, or an injury, often have difficulty untightening such closures. In particular, persons with such afflictions often do not have sufficient strength to grip the container and turn the closure to break the air tight seal formed during the closing process, allowing removal of the closure.
Some closures are even difficult to untighten for persons considered to have normal hand strength. For example, closures fitted with tamper evident rings, used on a large number of food and non-food products, require significant gripping and rotational force to break the seal with the container. Child resistant closures are also known to present challenges for persons with limited use of their hands or reduced strength. Once opened, such closures are seldom, if ever, replaced in a tight, sealed condition, thereby allowing containers with food items to spoil, prescription medications to lose their effectiveness and reducing their shelf life, or defeating the purpose of child resistant closures.
Deep profile threaded closures, typically used for liquid laundry products, are relatively large in size. The large size of such closures allows the cap to be attached in a very tightly, creating a good seal to prevent leakage while at the same time making it difficult for even a person with normal hand strength to open.
Opening closures used for vacuum packaged items are also very difficult for a person with normal hand strength to open because of the tight seal formed during the closing process to maintain the vacuum during storage and, having to overcome the suction from the vacuum acting to hold the cap tight to the container.
In the past, persons experiencing problems untightening closures have used hand tools, special devices, or sought the assistance of another person to untighten closures from containers. In an attempt to solve these problems, various systems have been developed. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,094,567 and 2,804,225 disclose closures that are configured to enable common household objects to be used to facilitate untightening of the closure. In particular, the '567 patent discloses a closure that is configured to receive a knife as lever device to facilitate un-tightening of the closure. There are several problems with the use of a knife to untighten such a closure. First, the knife could slip out of engagement with the formation in the closure and cause personal injury. Secondly, the knife could be damaged. Thirdly, such closures are formed with upwardly projecting annular walls making such closures difficult to mold the annular walls with sufficient strength. Fourth, the upwardly projecting annular walls make stacking of containers with such closures on each other on store shelves difficult, if not impossible. Fifth, the upwardly extending annular walls are discontinuous and contain slots for receiving special tools. These slots create sharp edges which can also cause personal injury.
U.S. Pat. No. 2,804,225 discloses a closure that is configured to be struck with a blunt object to break the seal to facilitate un-tightening of the closure. There are several drawbacks with such a configuration as well. In particular, striking the closure with a blunt instrument may result in serious personal injury as well as to deform the closure thereby preventing it from being re-used.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,932,147; 2,408,233; 2,921,705; and 4,156,491 attempt to solve the problems mentioned above by providing closures that require the use of special tools to assist in opening the closure. Although the special tools are configured to prevent personal injury and damage to the closure, the tools may easily be lost or misplaced and can only be used on those closures especially made for that tool.
In order to overcome the necessity for special tools U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,433,380 and 4,469,235 disclose closures which include projections integrally formed with the closures. Although the projections provide relatively better gripping surfaces on the closures, there several problems with such a configuration. For example, the projections may not provide sufficient leverage for some users to untighten the closure. The projections may also cause problems associated with high speed automated machines for placing the closure on the container and tightening it. Such projections also make it difficult if not impossible to stack containers with such closures on top of each other on store shelves.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,731,512 also discloses a closure with several projections extending from the top. The projections are spaced apart so that a portion of the closure between the projections can be placed against a stationary item, such as an edge of a tabletop. Such a configuration allows the container to be gripped and rotated while the closure is prevented from rotating. Unfortunately, such a configuration will have the same problems as discussed above with closures formed with upwardly extending projections and may additionally cause damage to the table.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The patents disclosed above all disclose closure systems that are designed to facilitate un-tightening of closures. However as discussed above, there are various problems with each of the various types. Thus, there is a need for a closure system which facilitates un-tightening of a closure without the problems discussed above.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Briefly, the present invention relates to moldable threaded closure system which includes a moldable closure formed with an annular sidewall forming a cylindrical member, threaded on one end and closed with a top surface on an opposing end. A receptacle, such as a recessed notch or slot, is formed so as to not extend beyond the plane of the top surface. The receptacle is configured to receive a common household item, such as a pencil, that acts as a lever to facilitate untightening and retightening of the closure relative to the container. The closure and the receptacle are easily moldable and allow containers with such closures to be stacked one on top of the other. In another embodiment of the invention, the receptacle is incorporated with a raised tab used to hang containers from a peg board type store display with one or more stops. In yet another embodiment of the invention, the receptacle is incorporated into the container. All such embodiments facilitate untightening and retightening of such closures without the problems associated with the prior art.
These and other advantages of the present invention will be readily understood with reference to the following specifications and attached drawings wherein:
FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a closure in accordance with the present invention formed with a receptacle configured as a recessed diagonal notch across the top surface of the closure, shown with a pencil in the notch and extending radially outwardly therefrom.
FIG. 1B is a side elevational view of the closure illustrated in FIG. 1A, illustrating the configuration of the notch.
FIGS. 2A, 2B and 2C illustrate an alternate embodiment of the invention which illustrates a receptacle and one or more stops are incorporated with a raised tab for use with peg-board type store displays used for hanging containers.
FIG. 3 is an alternate embodiment of the receptacle illustrated in FIG. 1A
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the invention illustrating a container with an exemplary receptacle formed across the bottom of the container, shown with a closure with an optional recessed receptacle.
The present invention relates to a closure system which facilitates untightening and retightening of threaded closures used to close threaded containers. In accordance with an important aspect of the invention, the closure is formed with a receptacle that does not extend beyond the plane of a top surface of the closure. The receptacle is configured to receive common household items, such as pencils for leverage. Various embodiments of the invention are contemplated. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1A 1B and 3, a receptacle is formed in the top surface of the closure. Since the receptacle does not extend beyond the plane of the top surface of the closure, containers closed with such closures can be stacked on top of each other on store shelves. Also, such receptacles will not cause any problems with known automated capping machines used to automatically place caps on containers and tighten them. FIG. 4 illustrates another alternate embodiment in which the receptacle is located on the container. This embodiment can be implemented with a standard closure with no receptacle or optionally with a closure having a receptacle as shown. Finally, FIGS. 2A, 2B and 2C illustrate an embodiment in which a receptacle and one or more stops are incorporated with a raised tab for use with peg-board type store displays used for hanging containers.
FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a first embodiment of a closure in accordance with the invention, generally identified with the reference numeral 20. The closure 20 is typical of type of closures normally used for liquid laundry products. The closure 20 is formed a first annular sidewall portion 22 forming a hollow cylindrical member closed on one end with a top surface 24. The closure 20 may also have a second reduced diameter annular sidewall portion 26 which defines a shoulder 28 relative to the first annular sidewall portion 22. Threads (not shown) are provided on the interior of the second annular sidewall portion 26. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a receptacle, configured as a diagonal notch 30 (FIG. 1B) is formed in the top surface 24 of the closure 20. The notch 30 is recessed from the top surface 24 of the closure 20 which enables containers with such closures to be easily stacked one on top of the other. An additional benefit of such a configuration is that the closure is easily moldable and the notch 30 will not interfere with automated equipment used to place the closures on the containers and tighten them.
As shown in FIG. 1A, the notch 30 is sized to receive an item commonly found around any household, such as a pencil 32. The notch 30 is formed with a U-shaped configuration with opposing vertical sides 34 and 36, connected together by a bight portion 38. The vertical sides 34 and 36 provide a bearing surface for a pencil 32 or similar common household item that may be used as a lever to assist in untightening and retightening the closure 20 to form a positive seal. The configuration of the vertical sides 34 and 36 also prevents the pencil 32 from camming up and out of the notch 30 when the pencil 32 is subjected to a rotational force.
FIG. 3 is an alternate embodiment of the closure illustrated in FIG. 1A and is generally identified with the reference numeral 40. The closure 40 is also formed as a hollow cylindrical member with an annular sidewall 44 closed on one end by a top surface 42. Threads (not shown) are formed on an open end of the cylindrical member. Such closures 40 are typically used on containers for food products, vitamins and various over the counter type medicines. A receptacle 46, such as a slot, is formed in the top surface and is configured to receive a common household item, such as a coin, for example a 50 cent piece. Since the slot 46 is flush with the top surface 42 of the closure 40, containers closed with such closures 40 can be stacked on top of each other. Also such closures 40 will not interfere with any automated equipment used to place the closures 40 on containers or to tighten such closures 40 and are easily moldable.
FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the invention in which the receptacle is formed in the container, generally identified with the reference numeral 48. The container 48 is formed as a cylindrical type member with a annular sidewall 50, a bottom surface 52 open on one end 54. The opened end 54 is formed with threads (not shown) for engaging complementary threads of a mating closure 56. In this embodiment, a receptacle, such as a diagonal notch 58, may be formed on the bottom surface 52 of the container 48. The diagonal notch 58 may be configured as generally illustrated in FIG. 1B in order to receive a common household item, such as a pencil 60.
The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4 enables the container 48 to be securely constrained while the closure 54 is being untightened or retightened. The container 48 may be used with a standard closure with no receptacle or alternatively with a closure having a receptacle as illustrated in FIG. 1A or 3.
FIGS. 2A, 2B and 2C illustrate an alternate embodiment of the invention in which a closure is formed with a receptacle and one or more stops which are incorporated with a raised tab for use with peg-board type store displays used for hanging containers. The closure, generally identified with the reference numeral 62, includes an annular sidewall 64 forming a cylindrical member closed on one end by a top surface 66. Threads (not shown) are formed on an opposing end of said cylindrical member. In this embodiment, an extending tab 68 is formed to project upwardly and generally perpendicular to the top surface 66 of the closure 62. An aperture 70 is formed in the tab 68 in order to enable the container (not shown) and closure to be hung from a peg board type store display. One or more stops 70, 72 are formed adjacent the tab 68. After the closure 62 is removed from the store display, the aperture 70 acts as a receptacle for receiving a common household item, such as a pencil 76. The stops 72 and 74 provide bearing surfaces for the pencil 76. The stops 72 and 74 may be located anywhere on the top surface 66 of the closure 62 and are optionally illustrated as being adjacent to the aperture 70. In operation, when a common household item, such as the pencil 76 is received in the aperture, rotation of the pencil 76 will cause it to contact the stops 72, 74. Continued rotation of the pencil 76 will cause the closure 62 to be untightened.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. Thus, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described above.