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Publication numberUS20070228047 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/391,663
Publication dateOct 4, 2007
Filing dateMar 28, 2006
Priority dateMar 28, 2006
Publication number11391663, 391663, US 2007/0228047 A1, US 2007/228047 A1, US 20070228047 A1, US 20070228047A1, US 2007228047 A1, US 2007228047A1, US-A1-20070228047, US-A1-2007228047, US2007/0228047A1, US2007/228047A1, US20070228047 A1, US20070228047A1, US2007228047 A1, US2007228047A1
InventorsHarold Pehr, Janice Bramen
Original AssigneePehr Harold T, Bramen Janice B
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Closure system
US 20070228047 A1
Abstract
A latching mechanism for containers includes a catch member having a tongue on a container lid, for engaging an aligned nub on a container. The catch member includes a relaxation area, formed of an opening, proximate to the tongue. The relaxation area allows the catch member to retain its original shape, inhibiting it from softening or wearing out, and proving it with long life, such that the catch member is able to maintain the frictional engagement over numerous uses and for long time periods.
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Claims(18)
1. A container apparatus comprising:
a body including at least one compartment and oppositely disposed first and second ends;
a closure lid for the at least one compartment, for moving between closed and open positions, the closure lid including oppositely disposed first and second ends, the first end being hingedly attached to the first end of the body, and the second end including a flange extending from the second end of the closure lid, and a tongue protruding from the flange, the flange including at least one opening intermediate the tongue and the second end of the closure lid; and
a nub extending from second end of the body, the nub for frictionally contacting the tongue when the closure lid is being moved to the closed position and for frictionally engaging and retaining the tongue when at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub, such that the closure lid is in the closed position.
2. The container apparatus of claim 1, wherein at the tongue protrudes from the flange, such that at least a portion of the tongue is at least substantially perpendicular to a plane defined by the flange.
3. The container apparatus of claim 2, wherein the opening extends at least along the width of the tongue.
4. The container apparatus of claim 3, wherein the tongue includes a curved portion for frictionally engaging and retaining the tongue when the tongue has moved beyond the nub, such that the closure lid is in the closed position.
5. The container apparatus of claim 4, wherein the nub includes a portion of a rounded cross-section.
6. The container apparatus of claim 5, wherein the tongue and the nub are aligned such that the tongue extends along at least substantially all of the nub.
7. The container apparatus of claim 4, wherein the body and closure lid are of a resilient material.
8. The container apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one opening includes one opening and the opening is rectangular in shape.
9. The container apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body, closure lid and nub are an integral member.
10. A closure for a container comprising:
a catch member for attachment to a first support, the catch member including an outwardly extending flange having oppositely disposed first and second ends, the flange including an opening extending from an edge of the first end toward the second end, and, a tongue protruding from the second end beyond the opening; and,
a nub for receiving the catch member by engaging the tongue in a frictional engagement, the nub for attachment to a second support.
11. The closure of claim 10, wherein the tongue protrudes from the flange, such that at least a portion of the tongue is at least substantially perpendicular to a plane defined by the flange.
12. The closure of claim 11, wherein the opening extends at least along the width of the tongue.
13. The closure of claim 12, wherein the tongue includes a curved portion for frictionally engaging and retaining the tongue when the tongue has moved beyond the nub.
14. The closure of claim 13, wherein the nub includes a portion of a rounded cross-section.
15. The closure of claim 14, wherein the tongue and the nub are aligned such that the tongue extends along at least substantially all of the nub.
16. The closure of claim 15, wherein the catch member is of a resilient material.
17. The closure of claim 10, wherein the open area includes one opening and the opening is rectangular in shape.
18. A method for storing an item in a container comprising:
providing a container apparatus comprising:
a body including at least one compartment and oppositely disposed first and second ends;
a closure lid for the at least one compartment, for moving between closed and open positions, the closure lid including oppositely disposed first and second ends, the first end being hingedly attached to the first end of the body, and the second end including a flange extending from the second end of the closure lid, and a tongue protruding from the flange, the flange including at least one opening intermediate the tongue and the second end of the closure lid; and
a nub extending from second end of the body, the nub for frictionally contacting the tongue when the closure lid is being moved to the closed position and for frictionally engaging and retaining the tongue when at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub, such that the closure lid is in the closed position;
moving the closure lid to the open position;
placing at least one object into the compartment with the closure lid in the open position; and,
moving the closure lid into the closed position, such that at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed to closure systems for container apparatus. In particular, the present invention is directed to closure systems with lids or caps that cover containers, compartments of containers, and the like, and keep these structures closed as a portion of the lid remains frictionally engaged to a portion of the container, compartment or the like.

BACKGROUND

Latch closures are used in devices such as pill dispensers, that normally have multiple compartments, each compartment typically corresponding to a day of the week. These closures are typically associated with lids, that are hinged at one end of the body of the dispenser, to cover and enclose each compartment in a frictional engagement. The frictional engagement is such that a nub, on the side of the compartment, is engaged by a nub fastener. The nub fastener is normally on the lid of the compartment.

The lid and compartment are made of a resilient material, such as plastic. As the nub fastener moves over the nub, it snaps back to its original position once it has completed its movement over the nub. The nub fastener has now moved over the nub, with a portion of the nub fastener frictionally engaging the nub, whereby the lid is closed over the compartment.

This latch closure of the contemporary art exhibits drawbacks, for over the course of repeated lid openings and closings, the nub fastener wears by becoming soft, bending and stretching out of shape, typically away from the lid, to which it is attached. The softening, with its resultant bending and stretching, may also lead to tearing, such that the compartment can not be properly closed, and the pill dispenser is rendered useless.

Specifically, the portion of the nub fastener, that frictionally engages the nub on the container, is moved outward, whereby it is unable to maintain the aforementioned frictional engagement with the nub. As a result, the lid can not close completely, causing air, moisture, and light to enter the compartment, damaging the contents therein.

SUMMARY

The present invention improves on the contemporary art by providing a catch member having a tongue, for engaging an aligned nub on a container, with the catch member including a relaxation area, formed by an opening, proximate to the tongue. The relaxation area allows the catch member to elastically relax and recover after each engagement or disengagement between the tongue of the catch member and the nub. The catch member, and in particular, the tongue, retains its original shape and resiliency. The relaxation area also allows the catch member to relax and recover, inhibiting it from softening or wearing out. This structure for the catch member renders it extremely durable, with a long usable life, allowing the catch member to maintain the frictional engagement, and its spring-like behavior, over numerous uses and for long time periods. As a result, the compartments remain closed over longer time periods, only openable by manually applied force, when compared to closures on other contemporary compartmentalized containers.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a container apparatus. The container apparatus may be, for example, for pills and the like, and has a body including at least one compartment and oppositely disposed first and second ends, a closure lid for the at least one compartment, and a nub. The closure lid is designed for moving between closed and open positions, and includes oppositely disposed first and second ends, the first end being hingedly attached to the first end of the body, and the second end including a flange extending from the second end of the closure lid. There is also a tongue protruding from the flange, with the flange including at least one opening intermediate the tongue and the second end of the closure lid. The nub extends from the second end of the body, and is for frictionally contacting the tongue when the closure lid is being moved to the closed position. The nub also frictionally engages and retains the tongue when at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub, such that the closure lid is in the closed position.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a closure for a container. The closure includes a catch member that engages a nub. The catch member is for attachment to a first support, and includes an outwardly extending flange having oppositely disposed first and second ends. The flange includes an opening extending from an edge of the first end toward the second end, and a tongue protruding from the second end beyond the opening. The nub receives the catch member by engaging the tongue in a frictional engagement, with the nub designed for attachment to a second support.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a method for storing an item in a container. The method includes, providing a container apparatus. The container apparatus has a body, with at least one compartment and oppositely disposed first and second ends; a closure lid for the at least one compartment, for moving between closed and open positions, the closure lid including oppositely disposed first and second ends, the first end being hingedly attached to the first end of the body, and the second end including a flange extending from the second end of the closure lid, and a tongue protruding from the flange, the flange including at least one opening intermediate the tongue and the second end of the closure lid; and, a nub. The nub extends from second end of the body, and is for frictionally contacting the tongue when the closure lid is being moved to the closed position, and is also for frictionally engaging and retaining the tongue when at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub, such that the closure lid is in the closed position. The closure lid is moved to the open position, and at least one object, for example, a pill, is placed into the compartment, with the closure lid in the open position. The closure lid is then moved into the closed position, such that at least a portion of the tongue has moved beyond the nub. A pill or the like may also be removed from the pill dispenser, for example, one or more compartments thereof, by a similar procedure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Attention is now directed to the drawing figures, where like numerals or characters indicate corresponding or like components. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pill dispenser that supports an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view of a compartment in the pill dispenser showing an embodiment of the invention with the closure cap in the open position;

FIG. 3 is a view of a compartment in the pill dispenser showing an embodiment of the invention with the closure cap in the closed position;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of FIG. 3, taken along line 4′-4′;

FIG. 5 is a detailed view of the closure system taken along line 4′-4′; and,

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the pill dispenser taken along line 6′-6′ of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed to a latching mechanism for containers, with a catch member having a tongue on a container lid, for engaging an aligned nub on a container. The catch member includes a relaxation area, formed of an opening, proximate to the tongue. The relaxation area allows the catch member to recover after each engagement or disengagement with the nub, to retain its original shape, preventing the catch member from softening or wearing out. The relaxation area provides the catch member with a long usable life, such that it is able to maintain frictional engagements over numerous uses and for long time periods. As a result, the compartments remain closed over longer time periods, only openable by manually applied force.

Throughout this document, references to directions, such as upward, downward, upper, lower, up, down, top, bottom, and the like, are made. These directional references are to typical orientations for the pill dispenser 1 and/or components thereof. They are exemplary only, and not limiting in any way, as they are for description and explanation purposes.

FIGS. 1-3 show the closure system 100 of the invention in an exemplary application on a pill dispenser 1. The pill dispenser 1 includes a body or tray 5 having a plurality of pill receiving cavities or compartments 6, a dispenser closure lid 7 having a hinge 8, and a latch mechanism 9. The closure lid 7 can have its inner side 7 a configured to accommodate and retain inserts, such as papers and the like.

The tray 5 is elongate and as shown, for example, includes seven compartments 6, in a side by side relationship to each other. These compartments 6 typically correspond to each day of the week, in order to hold the user's medication for that particular day. The tray 5 has a bottom 10, a pair of parallel side walls, 11 a (first), 11 b (second), and end walls 13, 14. Dividing walls 15 are between the compartments 6. A ring 18 encircles the tray 5, about halfway between the top and bottom of the tray 5, except in the region of the latch mechanism 9 and hinge 8. The ring 18 provides strength to the tray 5. It serves as a limit of travel and a resting area for the closure lid 7.

Each of the compartments 6, has a floor 20 and encircling side walls 21, that terminate in an upper rim 21 a. The dividing walls 15 form a portion of the sidewalls 21. The floor 20 and sidewalls 21, when coupled with a closure cap 23, that sits on the rim 21 a, form a completely enclosed chamber, for holding pills and the like. Adjacent closure caps 23 sit partially on the dividing walls 15, that are between the respective compartments 6. Although the compartments 6 having a generally rectangular shape are shown, the compartments 6 may have a square, ovular, circular or other shape.

The closure cap 23 includes indicia 24, for example, in letter and number characters as well Braille, typically protruding from the outer side 23 a (the surface thereof) of the closure cap 23. The closure cap 23 also includes a catch member 102 attached to it at a wall 23 b (on the outer side 23 a), for frictionally engaging a nub 104 in an aligned position, on the first sidewall 11 a of the tray 5. The catch member 102 and cooperatingly aligned nub 104 define the closure system 100 of the invention, detailed below. The closure cap 23 is hinged to a portion of the ring 18, by a hinge 25, proximate to the second tray wall 11 b. The second tray wall 11 b is oppositely disposed from the first tray wall 11 a.

The remainder of the tray 5, closure lid 7, hinge 8, and latch mechanism 9, are detailed in commonly owned and assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,631,805 to Bramen. U.S. Pat. No. 6,631,805, is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein.

The latch mechanism 9, as discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,631,805, is useful in “child proofing” the dispenser 1. In a first position, where the tongue 68 (of the latch mechanism 9) is at an angle at least substantially parallel to the vertical, it is within the bar 85 and the body of the closure lid 7, the pill dispenser 1 is locked in a “child proof” manner. In a second position, where the tongue 68 is at an angle at least substantially parallel to the horizontal (moved counterclockwise, in accordance with the arrow Q), and is not within the bar 85 and the opening 85 a, formed between the bar 85 and the body of the closure lid 7, the dispenser is closed, but not locked in a “child proof” manner. With the latch mechanism 9, outside of the opening 85 a of the lid 7, the pill dispenser 1 is easy to manipulate or “senior friendly”, as defined above.

Turning also to FIGS. 4-6, the closure system 100 of the invention is shown in detail. The closure system 100 includes a catch member 102, for attachment to a first support, for example, a wall 23 b on the outer side 23 a of the closure cap 23, a portion of which engages a nub 104, for attachment to a second support, for example, the first tray wall 11 a. The catch member 102, and nub 104 are spring like in their behavior, as they are made, for example, of a resilient plastic material, as detailed below. This resilient material allows the catch member 102 to move over the nub 104 and then return (spring back) to its original orientation, when moved into and out of a frictional engagement, when the closure cap 23 is being moved to a closed position (into the frictional engagement), and when the closure cap 23 is being moved to an open position (out of the frictional engagement), detailed further below.

The catch member 102 includes a flange 110, that protrudes outward from the closure cap 23, and a tongue 112, extending downward from the flange 110. The flange 110 is typically parallel to the plane formed by the horizontal. The tongue 112 joins to the flange 110 proximate its midpoint, at least at an approximately right angle. As shown in FIG. 5, the flange 110 includes an opening or open area 120, typically extending from the wall 23 b into the interior of the flange 110, terminating at approximately the middle of the flange 110. The opening 120 is bounded by the flange 110 on three sides, such that the flange 110 is, for example, “C” shaped, and the closure cap wall 23 b on the fourth side. Lateral sides 110 a of the flange 110 are the attachment points of the flange 110 to the closure cap wall 23 b.

The opening 120 is typically rectangular in shape, to provide relaxation for the catch member 102 (flange 110 and tongue 112), upon the engagement and disengagement of the tongue 112 and nub 104, for example, during opening and closing of the closure cap 23. While a rectangular opening 120 is shown, other shaped openings such as, for example, circular or ovular openings are also suitable, provided that they provide the relaxation for the catch member 102 upon opening and closing of the closure cap 23.

The tongue 112, is typically “J” shaped, as it is formed by a substantially straight portion 112 a and a curved portion 112 b. The straight portion 112 a attaches to the flange 110, typically at, or just beyond the edge 120 a of the opening 120. The curved portion 112 b is curved, such that the end 112 c, terminating in an edge 112 e, sits beneath the nub 104, when the closure cap 23 is in the closed position, as its edge 112 e has moved beyond the nub 104, and the curved portion 112 b is in a frictional engagement with the nub 104, as shown in FIGS. 3-5. The curvature of the curved portion 112 b is designed to frictionally engage the nub 104, whereby when in this frictional engagement, the closure cap 23 remains in the closed position.

Other shapes and/or configurations are also possible for the tongue 112, provided they frictionally engage the nub 104, whereby when in this frictional engagement, the closure cap 23 remains in the closed position.

The nub 104 typically protrudes from, and attaches to, the first tray wall 11 a, typically at a point proximate to the rim 21 a of the sidewalls 21. The nub 104 is formed of a rounded surface 104 a, that terminates in a flat surface 104 b. The rounded surface 104 a allows for the edge 112 e of the tongue 112 to slide over the rounded surface 104 a, while the closure cap 23 is being moved to the closed position, until the edge 112 e reaches the end of the rounded surface 104 a. The edge 112 e then snaps over the flat surface 104 b, to form a frictional engagement of the end 112 c of the tongue 112 with the flat surface 104 b of the nub 104, keeping the closure cap 23 in a closed position.

The nub 104 extends laterally and is aligned with the tongue 112. In this manner, there is sufficient area of both the nub 104 and the tongue 112 for frictional engagement, necessary for the closure cap 23 to remain in the closed position during the aforementioned frictional engagement. The nub 104 may extend beyond the width of the tongue 112, and conversely, the tongue 112 may be of a width that extends beyond the nub 104, provided that there is sufficient area in frictional contact to maintain the aforementioned frictional engagement.

The catch member 102 also includes one or more ribs, with a single rib 124 shown, between the flange 110 and the tongue 112 (FIG. 5). The ribs provide support for the flange 110 and tongue 112.

The closure cap 23, at its inner side 23 d, includes a shoulder 130 formed of edge surfaces 132 a, 132 b. The shoulder 130 is dimensioned to be of a tolerance such that it engages the rim 21 a of the sidewalls 21 of the compartment 6 in a frictional engagement, to prevent the closure cap 23 from coming open absent force from a user (manual force), yet allow for the opening of the closure cap 23 with minimal manual force.

The shoulder 130 is such that the closure caps 23 are flush with the respective sidewalls 11 a, 11 b. The closure caps 23 at the ends of the pill dispenser 1 are flush with the respective end walls 13, 14. The portions of the shoulder 130 that sit over the end walls 13, 14 and tray walls 11 a, 11 b are of a greater width than the portions of the shoulder 130 that sit on the dividing wall 15, when the adjacent closure caps 23 are in the closed position, as shown in FIG. 6.

The flange 110 also protrudes from the outer side 23 a, for example, from the sidewall 23 b, of the closure cap 23, a sufficient distance, that allows for ease in gripping by fingers. Coupled with the frictional fit of the closure cap 23 against the rim 21 a of the respective compartment, the respective closure cap 23 is easily opened for access to the respective compartment 6.

The tray 5, that includes the compartments 6 and closure caps 23 and closure system 100, is typically a one-piece integral member formed of a resilient material such as plastic or the like. The resilient material is typically translucent, but could also be transparent, to allow the contents of the compartments 6 to be viewed. If desired, the tray 5 may be also opaque, to prevent any light penetration. The tray 5 is typically formed by molding techniques such as injection molding, and the like.

The lid 7 is typically opaque and also a one-piece integral member formed of a resilient material such as plastic or the like. However, the lid 7 may also be transparent or translucent. The lid 7 is typically formed by molding techniques such as injection molding, and the like. In other embodiments, the lid 7 is a separate member that is hingedly connected to the compartment 6.

While the closure system 100 has been shown on a pill dispenser 1, this is exemplary only. The closure system 100 may be employed on numerous types of containers such as lunch boxes, first aid boxes, medication containers, fishing tackle boxes, and the like.

While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described, so as to enable one of skill in the art to practice the present invention, the preceding description is intended to be exemplary only. It should not be used to limit the scope of the invention, which should be determined by reference to the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7980409 *Mar 3, 2008Jul 19, 2011Nissan North America, Inc.Console lid dual latch differentiation
US8297089 *Apr 13, 2010Oct 30, 2012Johnny Edward WalkerTheft deterrent enclosure
US20110101016 *Sep 27, 2010May 5, 2011Edge Medical Properties, LlcLow vision patient compliant medication management system and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/524
International ClassificationB65D25/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65D2251/0084, A61J7/04, A61J7/0069, B65D2251/0021, B65D2251/105, B65D83/0445, B65D51/18
European ClassificationB65D51/18, B65D83/04C