US 20090294459 A1
A lid for a cup for reducing or preventing spills. The lid includes a top wall for covering the cup and a rim for securing the lid to the cup and providing a seal around the lip of the cup. A spout in the lid enables drinking without removal of the lid. Generally, the spout is raised above the top wall of the lid, and includes at least one sunken portion with a hole in a side of the sunken portion such that a beverage in the cup can enter the sunken portion through the hole.
1. A lid for a cup having a lip, the lid comprising:
a top wall for covering the cup;
a rim for securing the lid to the lip of the cup and for providing a seal around the lip; and
a spout for enabling drinking from the cup,
wherein the spout comprises:
a front surface extending upward relative to the rim, for receiving a bottom lip of a person drinking from the cup;
at least one opening at a top portion of the spout;
a flange extending downward from the at least one opening; and
a hole or slot in a side of the flange for allowing a beverage to flow from inside the cup through the hole into the flange and out the at least one opening.
2. The lid of
3. The lid of
4. The lid of
5. The lid of
6. The lid of
7. The lid of
8. The lid of
9. The lid of
10. The lid according to
11. A lid for a cup, comprising:
a seal around a periphery of the lid for generally sealing the lid to the cup;
a top wall for covering the cup;
a spout comprising a raised portion raised above the seal;
at least one sunken portion on the raised portion; and
a hole or slot in a side of the at least one sunken portion such that a beverage in the cup can enter the sunken portion through the hole.
12. The lid according to
13. The lid according to
14. The lid according to
(1) Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to lids for use with cups capable of reducing spills, and more particularly, inexpensive lids capable of reducing spills and allowing increased tilting angles during drinking, with improved comfort for a user.
(2) Description of Related Art
In general, a lid is a movable top or cover for closing an opening in a hollow container. In other cases, such as for pens, lids themselves might be hollow and the objects they cover might fit inside the lids. Lids can be separate parts, removable from the container, or they may be connected to the container with a hinge. When used in connection with a cup for a beverage, a lid improves the portability of the beverage by reducing or preventing spills.
A portable beverage cup including a lid for reducing or preventing spills has two primary modes of operation. First, and importantly, the lid should reduce spills during carrying or transport. Second, for the convenience of the user, drinking the beverage should be possible without removing the lid, and spills should be reduced or prevented during drinking. Additional concerns include the cost of manufacturing and shipping.
The most basic form of a lid for a cup includes a rim 2 and a top wall 4, as shown in
To provide for the second mode of operation, a lid should include a spout 10 to allow consumption of the beverage without removing the lid.
Further attempts to reduce spills in a lid for a cup can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,220,476 (Waller) and in U.S. Pat. App. No. 2005/0072787 (Morris et al.). However, each of these references suffers from one or more of the following disadvantages: increased cost, limited stackability, and inadequate prevention of spills.
Many lids are made by vacuum forming, a process well-known to those skilled in the art. In vacuum forming, a single sheet of plastic is heated, and placed onto a surface mold. The sheet of plastic is then formed into the shape of the lid by applying a vacuum between the mold and the sheet of plastic. Alternatively, injection molding is used for plastic items such as lids, also well-known in the art. To reduce cost, an end product is completed with a single piece. However, many spill-resistant lids known in the prior art, such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,702,145 (Malcolm), utilize multiple pieces, thus increasing the expense.
Further, close stacking of many lids is generally desired for distribution, storage, and dispensing of the lids. However, in several spill-resistant lids in the prior art, such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. App. No. 2005/0087539 (Waller), portions that reduce spills may obstruct such close stacking.
For at least the foregoing reasons, there is a need for a lid that can inexpensively reduce spills while still allowing efficient stacking.
To address these and other issues, a lid having features of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention includes a top wall for covering a cup, and a rim for securing the lid to the lip of the cup. The rim further provides a seal around the lip of the cup. A spout on the lid enables drinking from the cup without removing the lid. The spout includes a front surface extending upward relative to the rim for receiving a bottom lip of a person drinking from the cup. At least one opening at a top portion of the spout is where the beverage exits the cup. A flange extends downward from the at least one opening, and includes a hole in its side for allowing the beverage to flow from inside the cup, through the hole, into the flange and out the opening. The flange may have a generally cylindrical shape, or it may have a generally tapered shape. Various embodiments may have a flange with other shapes.
The top wall may further include a recessed portion for receiving a top lip of the person drinking from the cup. A second recessed portion on the top wall can accommodate the nose of the person drinking from the cup when the person tips the cup. Two more recessed portions on either side of the spout may receive the sides of the person's mouth, to further improve the user's comfort and to further reduce spills. The lid may be manufactured out of a thermoplastic material using a vacuum forming process or an injection molding process. The general shape of the lid allows formation such that efficient and compact stacking of a plurality of lids is possible.
The accompanying drawings, together with the specification, illustrate exemplary embodiments of the present invention, and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.
In the following detailed description, only certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention are shown and described, by way of illustration. As those skilled in the art would recognize, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as being limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Like reference numerals designate like elements throughout the specification.
A lid 100 according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in
According to this first embodiment, the lid 100 further includes a recessed portion 28 in the top wall 30, to accommodate a user's nose, which might otherwise contact the top wall 30 when the combination of the lid 100 and cup 16 was tipped at a large angle. Further, the spout 18 is shaped to generally conform to a user's mouth, including recessed portions 32 and an inside wall 34 for the user's upper lip.
In combination with the rim 12, the spout 18 of the lid 100 according to the first exemplary embodiment is adapted to allow consumption of the beverage substantially as well as a simple hole would, but to reduce spills of the beverage out of the spout during transport. That is, the spout includes three openings 22 where the beverage exits the cup, but the openings generally do not provide a direct vertical path from the surface of the beverage outside the cup. In alternate embodiments, one, two, or essentially any number of openings could be used.
In the first embodiment, the bottom surface 36 at the bottom of the opening 22 reduces or prevents spills during transport by directly blocking the path of a splashing beverage 38 out of the cup. According to this embodiment, as a splashing beverage 38 moves toward the opening 22, it is deflected back toward the inside of the cup 16 by the bottom surface 36.
However, it is not necessary that the flange 24 extending downward from the opening 22 have a flat bottom surface 36. Other embodiments may include concave or convex surfaces. In yet other embodiments, the flange 24 may not be cylindrically shaped, but may taper from the opening 22 downward, ending in a point (as illustrated in
Referring again to
During drinking, as the user tips the cup, the beverage flows toward the spout 18. When the beverage enters the spout, it enters the hole 26 in the flange 24, and exits out the opening 22, allowing consumption of the beverage. The top wall 30 of the lid 100 may have an air vent hole essentially anywhere on its surface to allow air to enter the cup to replace the volume of the beverage as it exits the cup during consumption.
To improve the comfort of the user while drinking the beverage, the lid can be shaped to accommodate the contours of the face. For example, as illustrated in
Further, the top wall 30 might include another recessed portion 28 to accommodate the user's nose when the cup is tipped. This recessed portion 28 would allow a greater tipping angle without needing to deflect one's head. The recessed portion 28 might extend from the inside wall 34 to a location where the user's nose might otherwise come into contact with the top wall 30. In another embodiment, as illustrated in
Various embodiments can be constructed using numerous kinds of plastics, such as thermoplastic, or a biodegradable material. The combination of lid and cup may be disposable, such that they are only intended for a single use. In this case, the lid can be made very thin and constructed of very inexpensive material. Otherwise, the lid may be intended for a repeated use, in which a more durable material may be used.
The lid may be formed using a process of vacuum forming, injection molding, or any other suitable process. Because processes for manufacturing goods such as lids for cups are well known in the art, a detailed description of these processes will be omitted. One skilled in the art will understand that various embodiments may be manufactured using other processes, and that the invention is generally not limited to any particular method of manufacture.
In various exemplary embodiments, the lids are shaped in such a way that a plurality of lids can be stacked on top of one another, in such a manner that the top of one lid substantially conforms to the shape of the bottom of a lid stacked on top of it. In this way, two stacked lids can occupy a much smaller volume than twice the volume occupied by a single lid. Therefore large quantities of lids can be shipped or stored using a smaller space, reducing shipping costs.
While the present invention has been described in connection with certain exemplary embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, but, on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims, and equivalents thereof.