CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application is a non-provisional application describing the same invention as a copending provisional application, Ser. No. 60/965,797, filed on Aug. 22, 2007, and which date priority is claimed therefrom. Said provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
- THE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT
- INCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Present Disclosure
This disclosure relates generally to lids for disposable beverage cups, and more particularly to such a cup lid with improved ergonomic features and a beneficial conformation that is a major departure with respect to the prior art.
2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98
Cuplike containers for coffee, soft drinks or other beverages often are provided with lids to cover the contents before and during use. Such lids may thermally insulate the contents and assist in excluding dust, hair, insects, leaves or other contaminants. Lids to cover such contents usually are flanged peripherally to fit down over the cup rim, which is often rolled or beaded to retain the lid securely but removably. Simple or multiple recessing of one or more regions of laminar lids is commonly practiced for structural reinforcement of what otherwise would be too flexible for the desired use.
DeDaro, U.S. Pat. No. 5,197,624, discloses a cup lid for use with a beverage cup comprising a peripheral flange to fit over a cup rim and a central portion containing a reclosable access closure flap selectively movable between an open and closed position having a pull tab formed on one end portion thereof and a hinge formed on the opposite end portion thereof and a first retainer element such that when the reclosable access closure flap is moved from the closed position to the open position the reclosable access closure flap engages the first retainer element to releasably retain the reclosable access closure flap in the open position.
Van Melle, U.S. Pat. No. 5,111,961, discloses a thin plastic disposable lid for use with a cup, typically a disposable plastic Styrofoam® or paper container. The lid includes a small foldback portion that is partially removed from the remainder of the lid by tearing it along tear lines that are coincident with the oriented fibers of the plastic material, thus creating an opening in the lid. No pre-formed score lines, slits or notches are required to facilitate proper tearing of the lid. Further, the foldback portion is hinged and retained in intimate engagement by the lid when it is fully open. A specific feature of the lid is that the foldback portion is easy to fold back and to engage. The foldback portion is also resealable over the opening in the lid.
Hament, U.S. Pat. No. 4,319,691, discloses a cup lid for fitting the lip of a cup. The lid comprises a first circular sealing flange that fits over an entire circumference of the lip and is effective to seal the cup against spillage, and a second circular sealing flange intersecting the first circular sealing flange and which may be fitted over the lip so as to form, together with the first circular sealing flange, a figure-8 outline. An opening in the cup lid outside the first circular sealing flange and inside the second circular sealing flange is effective to dispense material from the cup when the second circular flange is fitted over the lip.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The related art described above discloses several of the prior art cup lids. However, the prior art fails to disclose the configuration of the present invention and its advantages The present disclosure distinguishes over the prior art providing heretofore unknown advantages as described in the following summary.
The present invention is a cup lid for covering a disposable beverage cup. Such cup lids provide important advantages such as being disposable so as to enable a beverage to be taken from a point of purchase and consumed “on the go.” Take out beverages are typically either hot or iced. With respect to such beverages, a cup lid has the general advantages of keeping the beverage sanitary, of maintaining its temperature while being consumed, and of limiting spills.
The presently described cup lid has a near-vertical outer peripheral wall sealingly engaged with a cup lip of a typical disposable beverage cup. Concentric therewith is a near-vertical inner peripheral wall. The outer and inner peripheral walls are spaced apart and are mutually joined by a contiguous top rim which has an aperture through which liquids in the beverage cup may be drawn when the top rim is held between the lips and the cup tipped toward the aperture. A central well is defined by the inner peripheral wall and a horizontal panel contiguous with the inner peripheral wall. The top rim and horizontal panel are spaced apart by at least one-inch thereby establishing a sufficient space for a person's nose within the well when the beverage cup is raised into a position for draining a last of the liquid held therein.
Cup lids in the prior art are typically flat across the lip of the beverage cup, see U.S. Pat. No. 5,197,624 at FIG. 2, and therefore make it impossible to drain all of the liquid from the cup without rotating one's head backward so that the nose is directed upwardly. This is uncomfortable to the neck and it makes it likely to spill liquid on oneself while drinking since the cup is positioned over the front surface of the drinker's face and chest. The present invention, as described above, provides the advantage of creating a space, the well, for the nose to enter so that the cup can be drained without rotating the head backwardly and while maintaining the lip of the beverage cup forward of the chest.
Another problem with a flat lid is that it is nearly impossible to sample the temperature of the liquid in the cup because a sip from the surface of the liquid is essentially the same temperature as the bulk of the liquid. The present cup lid overcomes this problem because when the beverage cup is tilted toward the aperture a relatively small amount of the contained beverage is “sampled” by being partially isolated from the bulk of the beverage as it flows into the space between the outer and inner peripheral walls prior to reaching the aperture. This partially isolated portion of the beverage is a small volume and is spread out so that it cools relative to the bulk of the beverage. By sampling in this manner it is possible to judge the temperature of the beverage at large.
A still further problem with a flat lid is that it is too easy to splash hot liquid on oneself. This is because a typical disposable beverage cup is filled to near the lip of the cup. Some prior art lids tend to provide a drinking aperture that is positioned below the lip of the lid and may, indeed, be just above, or actually in contact with the surface of the beverage liquid. In such cases, any inadvertent tilting of the beverage cup will tend to force liquid to squirt upward out of the drinking aperture. When one attempts to tilt the cup to start drinking, the liquid may exit the cup at a faster then expected rate, a spill problem, and a scalding problem. Finally, during handling of the cup when the surface of the beverage is below the lid's inner surface, a surface wave is normally propagated on the beverage surface and may cause squirting of liquid from the aperture even when the cup is not intentionally tilted. Of course, the present invention overcomes all of these difficulties by placing the drinking aperture at least one-inch above the surface of the beverage. Also, the inner and outer peripheral walls prevent surface waves from forming below the drink aperture, a further safety effect, i.e., anti-splash feature. A still further anti-splash feature of the present invention is that the entire top rim is slightly slanted inwardly toward the well and the portion of the top rim that has the drink aperture is raised above the general level of the rest of the top rim and the drink aperture is therefore tilted toward the well. Liquid that might rush toward the drink aperture tends to emerge at an angle biased toward the well and not toward the drinker.
A yet further problem with the flat prior art drink cup lids is that they do not afford any stacking feature. In order to carry two prior art drink cups from point of purchase, it is generally necessary to carry one in each hand. This makes opening doors, handling car keys and other simple tasks difficult. The present invention, as stated, provides a central well and this well is sized to snuggly receive the lower end of a drink cup so that nesting one cup within the lid of another makes it quite easy to carry two full drink cups with one hand.
The present invention preferably has an embossment or an impression formed in the central well that is able to provide a commercial message such as a logo or other indicia and may be visually offset by small amounts of colored beverage that may be collected in the well through spillage or leakage during the drinking process.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the presently described apparatus and method of its use.
Illustrated in the accompanying drawing(s) is at least one of the best mode embodiments of the present invention In such drawing(s):
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the presently described beverage cup lid apparatus as mounted on a disposable drink cup that is shown with a typical insulating band;
FIG. 2 is a frontal perspective view of the cup lid thereof as seen from above;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view thereof taken along cutting plane line 3-3 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view thereof as inverted;
FIG. 5 is a side elevational view showing a first beverage cup mounted within the presently described beverage cup lid; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a use of the described beverage cup lid wherein a well in the cup lid is able to receive the nose of a drinker.
The above described drawing figures illustrate the described apparatus and its method of use in at least one of its preferred, best mode embodiment, which is further defined in detail in the following description. Those having ordinary skill in the art may be able to make alterations and modifications to what is described herein without departing from its spirit and scope. Therefore, it should be understood that what is illustrated is set forth only for the purposes of example and should not be taken as a limitation on the scope of the present apparatus and its method of use.
Described now, and as best shown in FIGS. 1-4 in detail, is a cup lid 10 for a disposable drink cup 20. The cup lid 10 is positioned in a horizontal attitude when it is placed onto the drink cup 20, and in that orientation, the cup lid 10 has a near-vertical outer peripheral wall 12, although a lower portion of the outer peripheral wall 12 is configured to fit onto a lip 22 of the drink cup 20 and is therefore not smoothly continuous downwardly as is clearly shown in FIG. 3. Concentric with the inner peripheral wall 12 is a near-vertical inner peripheral wall 14, the outer and inner peripheral walls 12, 14, being spaced apart and mutually joined by a contiguous top rim 16. This is best depicted in the sectional view of FIG. 3. A central well 18 is defined by the inner peripheral wall 14 and a central panel 11, where the panel 11 is contiguous with the inner peripheral wall 14. The central panel 11 is preferably oriented horizontally but may be otherwise oriented such as non-horizontal. The panel 11 is preferably circular and concentrically positioned relative to the inner and outer peripheral walls 12, 14, but may alternatively be non-circular and non-concentric as stated.
The top rim 16 and the central panel 11 are mutually spaced apart, see dimension “D” in FIG. 3, by between about three-fourths of an inch and an inch and one-quarters, and most preferably by one-inch, thereby establishing an adequate space for a person's nose within the central well 18 when the top rim 16 is positioned in the person's lips, and this enables the cup lid 10 to move to an essentially vertical orientation as shown in FIG. 6 without the person rotating his/her head rearwardly. It has been found that a spacing of less then about three-fourths of an inch is not adequate for many adults with rather protruding nose mass, and a spacing of greater than about one and three-fourths of an inch causes the cup lid 10 to be too tall when stacked for inventory storage, shipping and other necessary utilizations. Therefore, a spacing of about one-inch is a compromise that uniquely meets all use criteria as will be further described below.
Preferably, a rim portion 16A of the top rim 16 has a drink aperture 15 therein, the rim portion 16A and the drink aperture 15 being mutually tilted toward the central well 18, that is, preferably, with the cup lid 10 held in a horizontal posture, as for instance, when it is properly mounted on drink cup 20, with the drink cup 20 standing on a horizontal surface, the top rim 16 including the rim portion 16A are tilted, at least a few degrees, away from the horizontal and toward the central well 18. In this case liquids that arrive onto the top rim 16 naturally flow into the central well 18. In the foregoing, it is assumed, as is universally applied, that the cup lid 10 is made of a relatively thin sheet plastic material molded into the shapes as described herein. In this sense, when it is stated herein that a portion of the cup lid 15 is formed into a particular attitude, i.e., vertical, horizontal, and so on, the meaning applies to both the portion described as well as its two opposing surfaces.
Preferably, the outer peripheral wall 12 has a peripheral sealing surface 13 that is configured to mate with a circular rim 22 of the drink cup 20 as shown in FIG. 6. Thus, the cup lid 10 is easily pressed onto the drink cup 20 temporarily sealing it at its lip.
In use, with the cup lid 10 mounted on the drink cup 20, a beverage within the drink cup 20 is able to be received by a person, as shown in FIG. 6 by merely tilting the drink cup 20, as shown, so that the beverage is able to flow into the space between the inner and outer peripheral walls 12, 14 so as to gain access to the drink aperture 15 where the liquid may be disgorged. FIG. 5 shows that an upper drink cup 20 may be mounted onto a lower drink cup 20 by placing a lower portion 24 of the upper drink cup 20 within the central well 18 of the cup lid 10 on the lower drink cup 20. When the central well 18 of the cup lid 10 is a tight fit with the lower portion 24 of the drink cup 20 there is virtually no chance that the upper drink cup 20 will fall out of the central well 18 when the lower drink cup 20 is carried with care, assuming that the lower cup lid 10 is tightly fixed to the lip 22 of the lower drink cup 20.
In a preferred aspect of the present invention, the central panel 11 is preferably embossed or impressed with a logo or other design as shown in FIG. 1, the embossment 11A, and in FIG. 4, the impression 11B. When in use, the cup lid 10 is highly efficient for directing a beverage through the aperture 15 to a person drinking from the drink cup 20. However, leakage may occur in this process, and often does, so that the central panel 11 may receive a small amount of the beverage on its surface. When this occurs, the beverage visually offsets embossment 11A since embossment 11A is raised relative to the general surface of central panel 11. This is particularly striking when the beverage is a dark color as with coffee or tea, and the cup lid 10 is made of a white colored material, as is typical. Likewise, when the central panel 11 carries the impression 11B, it is visually offset when the impression fills with beverage liquid. The appearance of a logo in a cup lid is of value to the retail beverage purveyor, to coffee producers and to other commercial interests. Since the logo or other indicia, when offset by small amounts of colored beverage is quite visually striking, it attains, as referenced in the branding profession, an enhanced memory factor.
The enablements described in detail above are considered novel over the prior art of record and are considered critical to the operation of at least one aspect of the apparatus and its method of use and to the achievement of the above described objectives. The words used in this specification to describe the instant embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification: structure, material or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word or words describing the element.
The definitions of the words or drawing elements described herein are meant to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structure, material or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements described and its various embodiments or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim.
Changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalents within the scope intended and its various embodiments. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements. This disclosure is thus meant to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted, and also what incorporates the essential ideas.
The scope of this description is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that each named inventor believes that the claimed subject matter is what is intended to be patented.