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Publication numberUS20090200306 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/118,772
Publication dateAug 13, 2009
Filing dateMay 12, 2008
Priority dateFeb 12, 2008
Also published asWO2009102793A1
Publication number118772, 12118772, US 2009/0200306 A1, US 2009/200306 A1, US 20090200306 A1, US 20090200306A1, US 2009200306 A1, US 2009200306A1, US-A1-20090200306, US-A1-2009200306, US2009/0200306A1, US2009/200306A1, US20090200306 A1, US20090200306A1, US2009200306 A1, US2009200306A1
InventorsBrian Breunig
Original AssigneeBrian Breunig
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Easy-open pull tab container lid
US 20090200306 A1
Abstract
Disclosed is a lid having a perimeter, a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel, and a pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid. The pull tab is rotatable between a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid. In the opening position, the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and is configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted.
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Claims(19)
1. A container lid comprising:
a lid having a perimeter, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
a pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and
an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted.
2. The container lid of claim 1, wherein the pull tab is substantially planar.
3. The container lid of claim 1, wherein the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position.
4. The container lid of claim 1, wherein the lid and the pull tab comprise aluminum.
5. The container lid of any one of claims 1 through 4, wherein the lid is circular.
6. The container lid of any one of claims 1 through 4, wherein the lid is non-circular.
7. A container lid comprising:
an aluminum lid having a perimeter, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
a substantially planar, aluminum pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and
an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted.
8. The container lid of claim 7, wherein the lid is circular.
9. The container lid of claim 7, wherein the lid is non-circular.
10. A container lid comprising:
an aluminum lid having a perimeter, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
an aluminum pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and
an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted; and
wherein the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position.
11. The container lid of claim 10, wherein the lid is circular.
12. The container lid of claim 10, wherein the lid is non-circular.
13. A container lid comprising:
a circular, aluminum lid having a perimeter dimensioned and configured to engage a container, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
a substantially planar, aluminum pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and
an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted.
14. A container lid comprising:
a circular, aluminum lid having a perimeter dimensioned and configured to engage a container, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
an aluminum pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and
an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted; and
wherein the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position.
15. A container lid comprising:
a lid having a perimeter, a maximum width, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel;
a pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piercing portion;
wherein the pull tab is rotatable between:
a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and the handle portion is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel, and
an opening position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted; and further wherein
a ratio of the length of the pull tab to the maximum width of the lid is greater than about 0.50.
16. The container lid of claim 15, wherein the ratio of the length of the pull tab to the maximum width of the lid is greater than about 0.50.
17. The container lid of claim 15, wherein the ratio of the length of the pull tab to the maximum width of the lid is greater than about 0.75.
18. The container lid of claim 15, wherein the pull tab is substantially planar.
19. The container lid of claim 15, wherein the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Priority is hereby claimed to co-pending provisional application Ser. No. 61/027,979, filed Feb. 12, 2008, which is incorporated herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to easy-open pull tab containers in general, and easy-open beer/beverage

BACKGROUND

Aluminum cans are an ubiquitous part of worldwide commerce. In the United States alone, approximately 100 billion 12-ounce aluminum cans were fabricated and sold in 2006. More than half of those aluminum beer/beverage cans were recycled (Container Recycling Institute, Aluminum Association, U.S. Department of Commerce).

Over the course of the last 40 years, the design of beer/beverage containers has changed significantly. Prior to the early 1960's, beer/beverage containers were constructed of steel cores, typically coated with tin. The top and bottoms of the cans were flat. The can was opened using a can piercer, a device resembling a bottle opener, but with a sharp point. (In many parts of the United States, the can piercer was humorously referred to as a church key, because it was used to let the spirits (i.e., the beer) out of the container.) The can was opened by punching two triangular holes in the lida large hole for drinking, and a small hole to admit air into the can.

The first pull tab cans, in which the pull tab was separated completely from the can (also known as rimple or ring pull cans), are described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,349,949, issued Oct. 31, 1967, to O. L. Brown and D. B. Peters. For roughly 20 years, from the mid-1960's until the mid-1980's, the ring pull can design dominated the worldwide marketplace. The pull tabs, however, were a common form of litter. The tabs themselves, once removed, had sharp edges. The tabs were either discarded outright, or often dropped into the opened can itself. This led to many incidents of consumers swallowing the sharp-edged pull tab accidentally.

The now-conventional stay tab pull tab design was first disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,967,752, issued Jul. 6, 1976, to D. F. Cudzik. Here, the lid contains a rupturable score line which is opened by operating a pull tab having one end (a can-piercing end) adapted to press against the panel at a position spaced from the score line. The other end of the tab (the handle) is liftable to open the panel and is returnable directly to its original position next to the wall. Both the tab and the ruptured panel remain secured to the wall after the panel has been moved to its open position. By roughly the mid-1980's, the stay tab container design largely replaced the ring-tab design, worldwide.

One drawback of the stay tab design is that the pull tab is tightly riveted to the lid to prevent the pull tab from being separated from the lid. This makes it difficult for a significant proportion of consumers to open the container easily. The stay tab opening mechanism requires the user to employ a fingertip and/or fingernail to urge the handle portion of the pull tab upward to initiate the opening process. For people with manicured fingernails and/or fingernail extensions, opening stay tab design cans is difficult or impossible without inflicting damage upon the user's well-manicured nails. For businesswomen in particular, well-coifed fingernails are a must for presenting a professional appearance. The fingernail-damaging aspect of the stay tab design is greatly amplified among persons who must open a large number of such containers as part of their work: most notably flight attendants and bartenders.

As a result, a number of U.S. patents describe devices for opening the conventional stay tab can without damaging the fingernails. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,257,566, issued Nov. 2, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 5,029,495, issued Jul. 9, 1991; U.S. Pat. No. 4,765,208, issued Aug. 23, 1988; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,667,544, issued May 26, 1987, all of which describe devices for opening stay tab-type beer/beverage containers.

The solution to the problem, however, lies not in designing a suitable tool for opening the stay tab can, but in designing a better container lid to replace the conventional stay tab design. The present invention is such a container lid.

SUMMARY

Thus, the invention is directed to a container lid comprising a lid having a perimeter, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel. A pull tab is rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion. The pull tab is rotatable between a closed position in which the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid, and an opening position in which the handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid. When in the opening position, the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel and configured to pierce the rupturable tear panel when the handle portion of the pull tab is lifted.

In one version of the invention, the pull tab is substantially planar. In another version of the invention, the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position. In the preferred version of the invention, the lid and the pull tab comprise aluminum. The lid may be circular or non-circular.

Thus, in one of the preferred versions, the invention comprises a circular, aluminum lid having a perimeter dimensioned and configured to engage a container, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel. A substantially planar, aluminum pull tab is rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion. Again, the pull tab is rotatable between a closed position and an opening position, as described earlier.

In another preferred version, the invention a circular, aluminum lid having a perimeter dimensioned and configured to engage a container, and further comprising a pre-scored line that defines a rupturable tear panel, as well as an aluminum pull tab rotatably and pivotally attached to the lid, wherein the pull tab comprises a length, a handle portion, and a lid-piecing portion. The pull tab is rotatable between a closed position and an opening position, as described earlier. In this version of the invention, the pull tab comprises a shoulder that offsets the handle portion of the pull tab so that the handle portion of the pull tab does not contact the lid when the pull tab is in the first closed position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a top plan view of a container lid according to the present invention with the pull tab 12 in the closed position.

FIG. 1B is a front elevation view of the container lid as shown in FIG. 1A attached to the top of a container. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position.

FIG. 2A is a top plan view of a container lid according to the present invention, as shown in FIG. 1A, but with the pull tab 12 in the opening position.

FIG. 2B is a front elevation view of the container lid as shown in FIG. 2A attached to the top of a container. The pull tab 12 is in the opening position.

FIG. 3A is a front elevation view of a removable, reusable seal top 30 that is dimensioned and configured to frictionally engage the container lid as shown in FIG. 1A

FIG. 3B is a front elevation view of the removable, reusable seal top as shown in FIG. 3A, frictionally engaged to the container lid as shown in FIG. 1A. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position.

FIG. 4A is a top plan view of another version of the container lid wherein the container to which the lid is attached has two (or more) shoulders.

FIG. 4B is a front elevation view of the lid shown in FIG. 4A, having a removable, reusable seal top 40 frictionally engaged to the container lid and the container itself.

FIG. 5A is a front elevation view of another version of the lid wherein the pull tab includes a shoulder 13 to offset the handle portion 18 of the pull tab from the top of the lid. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position.

FIG. 5B is a front elevation view of the lid as shown in FIG. 5A. The pull tab 12 is in the opening position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As noted earlier, a fundamental flaw in the stay tab design container lid is that the pull tab is riveted to the lid so tightly that it is difficult to leverage the tab up to open the perforated lid without damaging the fingernails. This problem is compounded in container designs wherein the lid surface is recessed relative to the rim of the can, thus leaving only a small space in which to insert a finger tip to lift up the pull tab. The present design comprises a stay tab-type lid design having a pull tab that is riveted to the lid. The lid includes a pre-scored panel that defines an opening through the lid. The pull tab can rotate around the rivet that secures it to the lid. The pull tab is rotatable between a closed position, wherein the entire length of the pull tab is contained within the perimeter of the lid (the circumference in the case of a circular lid), and an opening position, wherein a handle portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter of the lid and the lid-piercing portion of the pull tab is juxtaposed with the pre-scored panel. The pull tab may be planar or have an offset so that the handle portion easily clears the perimeter of the lid when the pull tab is rotated into the opening position. In this fashion, containers bearing the inventive lid allow extremely easy opening without damaging users' fingertips or fingernails.

An added feature of the invention is that the lid can be made to have a very small major width (or diameter in the case of a circular lid). Thus, the design is very economical and saves on the amount of metal (typically aluminum) or other material needed to fabricate the lid.

Regarding materials, it is much preferred that the lid and pull tab be fabricated from aluminum. Any other suitably stiff material, such as steel or other alloys, tin, plastic, or a combination of these materials, may be used to fabricate the lid.

Reference is now made to the attached drawings. The same reference numerals are used throughout the drawings to identify the same or similar elements throughout all of the views. Note that in all of the drawings, the lid 10 is depicted as being circular, and thus has a diameter D and a radius R. See FIG. 2B. This is for brevity only. The lid may be in any geometry, without limitation (circular, oval, triangle, square, or any other regular or irregular polygon), so long as the handle portion 18 of pull tab 12 extends over the perimeter 22 of the lid when the pull tab is in the opening position and is contained entirely within the perimeter of the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position.

Referring specifically now to FIGS. 1A and 1B, FIG. 1A is a top plan view of a first version of a container lid according to the present invention. The lid 10 includes a pre-scored panel 20 which defines an opening through the lid, and a perimeter 22. A lever pull tab 12 is rotatably and pivotably attached to the lid by any suitable fastener 14 now known or developed in the future. The preferred fastener 14 is a rivet. The pull tab 12 includes two ends or portions: a handle portion 18 and a lid-piercing portion 16. As shown in FIG. 1A, the pull tab 12 is disposed such that the handle portion 18 is juxtaposed above the pre-scored panel 20, and the lid-piercing portion 17 is adjacent to the perimeter 22 of the lid.

FIG. 1B is a front elevation view of the container lid as shown in FIG. 1A, with the lid attached to the top of a container. The container includes an outside surface 100 and an inside surface 110. The container itself is not critical to the operation of the lid of the present invention, and thus will not be described in any detail. The container may be made of any suitable material, including the same metals, alloys and/or plastics from which the lid is made. The container may also be made of glass or flexible plastics. The lid 10 is attached to the container by any suitable attachment now known or developed in the future, such as by crimping (as is shown in FIG. 1B) or via mating threads, or by welding or gluing the lid 10 to the container. Pull tab 12 and the fastener 14 that attaches it to the lid 10 are shown.

In FIGS. 1A and 1B, the pull tab 12 is shown in the closed position. Of critical importance is that in the closed position, the entire pull tab fits within the perimeter 22 of the lid 10. No portion of the pull tab extends beyond the perimeter 22 of the lid when the pull tab is in the closed position. As shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, when the pull tab is in the closed position, the handle portion 18 of the pull tab is situated above the pre-scored panel 20, and the lid-piercing portion 16 of the pull tab is adjacent to the perimeter 22. The pull tab, however, can be rotated from the closed position as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B to the opening position, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

In FIGS. 2A and 2B, the pull tab 12 has been rotated to the opening position. FIG. 2A is a top plan view of the lid 10, while FIG. 2B is a front elevation view of the lid 10 attached to a container having an outer surface 100 and an inner surface 110. As shown in these two figures, the handle portion 18 of the pull tab 12 extends beyond the perimeter 22 of the lid.

FIG. 2B provides illustrative and preferred dimensions of the lid 10. These dimensions are for illustration only. The lid and pull tab can be of any desired dimensions so long as the pull tab 12 can be rotated between an opening and closed position as described herein. As shown in FIG. 2B, the lid 10 is circular and has a diameter D and a radius R. The center of the lid is designated by C. The fastener 14 is positioned at an offset distance O from the center C of the lid. The position of the fastener 14 plays a critical role in the operation of the lid because the pull tab 12 rotates about the fastener 14, thereby placing the lid-piercing portion 18 at the appropriate point above the pre-scored panel 20 to pierce the lid when the handle portion 16 is lifted. As shown in FIG. 2B, the diameter D of the lid is 1.25 inches, the radius R is 0.625 inches, and the fastener offset distance O is 0.231 from the center C of the lid.

FIGS. 3A and 3B show an added feature of the invention. The lid 10 as depicted in FIG. 3B is the same as that shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position. FIG. 3A depicts a front elevation view of a removable, reusable seal top 30 that is dimensioned and configured to frictionally engage the perimeter 22 of the container lid. The seal top includes a peripheral groove 32 and shoulder 34 that are dimensioned and configured to frictionally engage the perimeter 22 of the lid 10.

FIG. 3B is a front elevation view of the removable, reusable seal top as shown in FIG. 3A, frictionally engaged to the container lid 10. Again, the pull tab 12 is in the closed position. The groove 32 and shoulder 34 of the seal top (see FIG. 3A) frictionally engage the perimeter 22 of the lid. A ring 36 is optionally integrated into the seal top 30 to allow the seal top to be easily removed from the lid 10. The seal top allows the lid to be opened and the contents of the container accessed, yet can also be used to reseal the container to save any contents remaining in the container.

Another version of a removable, reusable top 40 is depicted in FIG. 4B. This type of top is suitable for use in a container that has two more shoulders that taper the container to fit to the lid 10. FIG. 4A is a top plan view of the lid attached to a container that has two shoulders 50 and 52. The lid 10 as depicted in FIGS. 4A and 4B is the same as that shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position.

FIG. 4B is a front elevation view of the lid shown in FIG. 4A, having a removable, reusable seal top 40 frictionally engaged to the container lid and the container itself. In the version of the top 40 shown in FIG. 4B, the top 40 makes contact at two points: once at the perimeter 22 of the lid 10, and once again at the portion of the container between shoulders 50 and 52. The lid 40 thus includes a seal 42 for creating a fluid-tight seal between the perimeter 22 and the lid 40. The lid 40 also includes circumferential flange 46 that is dimensioned and configured to frictionally engage the container about its outer surface 100, at a point between shoulders 50 and 52.

As shown in all of the prior figures, the pull tab 12 was substantially planar, with the handle portion 18 and the lid-piercing portion 16 being in the same plane. The pull tab 12, however, may include an offset so that the handle portion 18 is elevated from the upper surface of the lid 10, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B. FIG. 5A is a front elevation view of this second version of the lid. Here, the pull tab 12′ includes a shoulder 13 to offset the handle portion 18 of the pull tab from the top of the lid 10. The pull tab 12 is in the closed position in FIG. 5A.

FIG. 5B is a front elevation view of the lid as shown in FIG. 5A. The pull tab 12 is in the opening position. As shown in FIG. 5B, the upper surface of the lid 10 is depressed slightly relative to the perimeter 22. The handle portion 18 of the pull tab 12 is offset a distance H from the level of the lid-piercing portion 16. In FIG. 5B, the pull tab is depicted in the opening position. The handle portion 18 extends beyond the perimeter 22 and the lid-piercing portion 16 is positioned above the pre-scored panel (not shown in FIG. 5B).

In operation, containers bearing the inventive lid are formed and filled in conventional fashion, with the pull tab in the closed position. When the container is to be opened, the user rotates the pull tab 12 from the closed position to the opening position, so that the handle portion 18 hangs over the perimeter 22 of the lid. The user then simply applies upward force on the handle portion 18, using any suitable part of the hands or fingers.

One aspect of the invention that renders it particularly advantageous in the aluminum beer/beverage can industry is that the diameter D of the lid (or maximum width in the case of a non-circular lid) can be made quite small relative to the length L of the pull tab 12. See for example, FIG. 1A. Here, the diameter D of the lid 10 is depicted, as is the length L of the pull tab 12. As shown in FIG. 1A, the ratio of the length of the pull tab 12 to the diameter of the lid 10 (i.e. L/D) is approximately 0.75. The ability of the pull tab to be rotated from a closed position, as shown in FIG. 1A, to an opening position, as shown in FIG. 1B, allows the lid 10 to be made very small, thus yielding considerable savings in the amount of material (typically aluminum) required to fabricate the lid. At the same time, the relatively long length of the pull tab 12 allows the container to be opened easily because the pull tab affords a sufficient amount of leverage when placed into the opening position to pierce the panel 20 with minimal effort on the part of the user. Thus, in the present invention, it is preferred that the ratio of the length of the pull tab 12 to the diameter of the lid 10 (or the major width of the lid in the case of a non-circular lid) (i.e. L/D) greater than about 0.50, and more preferably greater than about 0.60, and most preferably greater than about 0.75. The trade-off in this ratio is that a shorter pull tab and a smaller lid saves material costs, but the shorter pull tab requires more force to be applied by the user to open the container. A smaller lid, but a relatively longer pull tab also saves material cost, but also yields a container that is easy for a user to open.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2011136860A1 *Jan 19, 2011Nov 3, 2011Coors Brewing CompanyBeverage container lid with mouth opening and separate push in vent
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/270
International ClassificationB65D17/34
Cooperative ClassificationB65D2517/5091, B65D17/165, B65D2517/0098, B65D2517/5075, B65D2517/0016
European ClassificationB65D17/16B2