US 20100012657 A1
A lid for beverage containers includes vertical or upward protrusions above the area of the lid on which consumers place their mouths (the drinking area), creating a raised plane that forms a platform that allows the lid to be placed upside down on a table or other surface and protects the drinking area from becoming contaminated. This is particularly applicable for lids accompanying containers for coffee or other hot beverages. The protrusions creating the platform also provide surfaces or guides for users to press down onto and apply the lid to a container without directly touching the area proximate to the drinking hole. The beverage container lid with raised sanitary platform ultimately protects the area of the lid on which consumers place their mouths from coming into contact with other surfaces that may be unsanitary (e.g., a table or a server's hands or fingers). The present invention may also be incorporated into the design and manufacture of beverage lids already existing in the marketplace or created in the future.
1. A lid adapted for removable attachment to a container having a rim, said lid comprising:
a generally circular top surface defining a plane,
an annular side wall contiguous to the periphery of said top surface and extending substantially downward from said top surface,
an aperture formed through said top surface, through which a flowable substance held by said container may be dispensed when the lid is attached to said container,
at least one protrusion extending upward from said top surface and along a periphery thereof, said at least one protrusion being sufficient to define a plane that is at least in part higher than said plane formed by said top surface,
such that, when said lid is removed from said container and placed upside down on a planar surface, said aperture is spaced away from said planar surface.
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11. A lid adapted for removable attachment to a container having a rim, said lid comprising:
a generally circular top surface, said top surface defining a plane,
an annular side wall extending substantially downward from said top surface and contiguous with the periphery of said top surface,
a drinking region on top surface, said drinking region being defined by the area of said top surface that a user's lips are likely to touch when drinking from said lid,
at least one protrusion extending upward from said top surface and along a periphery thereof, said at least one protrusion not being within said drinking region, said at least one protrusion being sufficient to define a resting plane that is at least in part higher than said top surface plane,
such that, when said lid is removed from said container and placed upside down on a planar surface, said drinking region is spaced away from said planar surface.
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This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Applications No. 61/135,414, filed Jul. 21, 2008, and No. 61/188,333, filed Aug. 8, 2008.
This invention relates generally to lids used with beverage containers, and particularly to beverage container lids having a preformed drinking hole that protects the area of the lids on which consumers place their mouths from touching an unsanitary surface or otherwise becoming contaminated.
It is widely believed that the surfaces on which beverage container lids are placed are unsanitary. For example, in coffee shops, fast food restaurants, gas stations and other establishments where consumers add to or modify their beverages, it may be necessary to place beverage lids on a public table, countertop or other surface that may be unsanitary while modifying their beverages. Many of the beverage container lids have an exposed drinking aperture, which, on most, if not all, lids, is at the highest vertical plane or point of the lid. Often, when these lids are turned over and placed upside down on a countertop or other flat surface, the place where consumers will put their mouths is in direct contact with such a dirty or unsanitary surface.
To avoid this problem, consumers may place a napkin on such a surface to provide a barrier between the lid and the surface or may try to hold the lid in their hands while modifying their beverage. Alternatively, consumers will position the lid on the surface so that the portion where they put their mouths is not in contact with the surface, e.g., by placing such portion over the edge of such surface, or by positioning the lid face up on the surface. However, it is not desirable to place over the edge of such surface the portion of the lid where the consumer applies his mouth, as this may lead to the lid falling off the surface. Similarly, it is not desirable to place the lid face up on such a surface, as the heat and moisture inside the lid may attract bacteria and other media on the table into the lid, which will then be transferred to the beverage contents. While the methods described above may be satisfactory to some, they are a clear indication that consumers are interested in a solution to this problem.
Another problem presented by lids currently in the marketplace is that servers of the beverages must place their hands on the entire beverage container lid in order to secure it to the container rim. Often, these servers are also handling money and are not observing sanitary food service practices. Even consumers themselves may have to place the lid on the beverage container themselves, or, once they have been served the beverage, they must remove and replace the lid. To do so, they have to touch the drinking area of the lid to secure it on the container with their own hands, which may not be clean at such a time (e.g., from opening doors, handling other condiments touched by many people and handling money, etc.).
There are many beverage lids in the marketplace, and some have attempted to solve this sanitation problem. For example, U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0173434 to O'Neal teaches a beverage lid with notches on the perimeter of the mounting portion of the lid, which notches allow the user to hang the lid off the rim of the cup on which it is placed. Unlike the present invention, this product requires a consumer to carefully balance the lid on the side of the container while modifying the beverage in the container, and such lid may be knocked off by the consumer, another person or another object, rendering the lid unsanitary and unusable. Moreover, the notches on such a lid weaken the strength of the lid's sidewall.
It is desirable to provide a beverage container lid that allows consumers to modify their beverage while ensuring that the area of the lid on which they will subsequently place their mouths is not becoming contaminated during the modification process.
It is also desirable to provide a beverage container lid that provides visual guides to prompt servers or consumers to place their fingers on or near such guides when handling the lid and applying it to a container in order to prevent them from touching the drinking area of the lid.
It is further desirable to reduce or eliminate consumer requests for an extra lid, which often occurs when consumers want to ensure that the lid from which they will drink has not been contaminated by a server or has not touched a table surface that is, or is perceived to be, unsanitary. Dispensing extra beverage lids significantly increases costs to the companies that use these lids, and therefore the present invention is a cost-effective solution.
It is still further desirable to provide a higher quality product (the beverage, container and lid) by assuring beverage consumers that they are receiving a clean lid that they can confidently place upside down on a table or other surface without being concerned that doing so will contaminate the drinking area on which they are about to place their mouths.
It is one object of the present invention to reduce or eliminate the potential spread of germs and other communicable diseases by giving consumers confidence that the beverage lid from which they are or will be drinking has not been contaminated by placing it on a table or other surface to modify the beverage.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a method for applying the lid securely to a container by application of pressure, to effectively reduce or eliminate the potential spread of germs and other communicable diseases spread by human hands.
It is a further object of the present invention to teach a new beverage lid that allows a consumer to place the beverage lid upside down on a surface while adding to the beverage or allowing it to cool off, knowing that the drinking area of such lid has not been contaminated by such surface.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a beverage lid that allows servers or consumers of such lids to press down and apply the lid securely to a container without having to touch the drinking area.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a cost-effective modification to beverage container lids currently in the market, which may be improved by incorporating the new sanitary platform into their designs.
The present invention solves the sanitation problems described above by providing a beverage container lid that may be applied to the container without touching of the drinking area and that may be placed on a surface without contamination of the drinking area. In certain embodiments, a beverage container lid has a raised sanitary platform or other vertical protrusions that create a plane higher than the one on which the drinking area exists. Such raised platform provides sanitary protection for the area of the lid on which a consumer places his or her mouth (the drinking area) by creating a higher plane that contacts the surface onto which the lid is rested and that prevents contact between that surface and the drinking area. The raised sanitary platform may be accomplished in a number of ways, some of which are described herein. The platform may be made by any one or more protrusions from the top surface of the beverage lid, which protrusions are vertically high enough to create a plane that is higher than the drinking hole or plane where consumers place their mouths.
The raised vertical platform on the beverage container lid protects the surface on which consumers places their mouths from coming into contact with unsanitary surfaces (e.g., a table used to add sugar, milk, honey and the like) and therefore acts as a hygienic and sanitary barrier on such lid. None of the known prior art references discloses, suggests or teaches a novel beverage lid with a raised vertical sanitary platform as described in the present invention, which is a simple, effective and cost-effective solution to preventing contamination of beverage lids at the point of applying lids to containers or while removing them to modify the beverages.
By raising the highest vertical plane of the beverage lid above that of the drinking area, the present invention provides a solution to the above mentioned sanitary problems. Instead of touching the area where consumers place their mouths, servers will touch the highest vertical plane on the lid and press down to secure the lid to the container. Instead of setting the lid upside down on an unsanitary countertop, thereby putting the area where consumers place their mouths (the drinking area) in direct contact with an unsanitary surface, consumers can place the lid upside down on the surface and the drinking area will not be in contact with such surface at all. Only certain parts of the lid, none of which touches a consumer's face or mouth, will contact such surface.
The present invention provides a barrier between other media that may come in contact with the beverage container lid prior to the consumption of the beverage (e.g., a server's bare hands, a contaminated glove, the user's own hands, and a table or other surface on which the lid is placed). Thus, an advantage of the present invention is that it gives the consumer the ability to place a beverage container lid upside down on a table or other surface without contaminating the lid by exposing the drinking area of the lid to dirt, bacteria, germs or other material while doing so.
This invention will dramatically reduce the potential spread of “germs” and will give consumers confidence that the lid will not be contaminated if the consumer places it upside down on a public countertop, table or other surface, and that anyone who handled the lid would be much less likely to have contaminated the drinking area in the process of serving it.
The present invention relates to the lid only and not to the entire container and it is not intended to provide protection against tampering at the point of manufacture or other stage.
The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which the reference characters refer to like parts throughout and in which:
While the present invention is capable and susceptible of embodiment in myriad forms, designs and configurations, the drawings and descriptions herein are understood to illustrate the principles of the invention and are not intended to limit the invention to the embodiments so illustrated.
The main difference of this beverage lid as compared to other beverage lids on the market is that many of the lids commonly referred to in the industry as “dome lids” have a drinking hole that exists at the apex of the lid, meaning that when the lid is applied to a container, the drinking hole is at the farthest, or highest, vertical place away from the rim of the container on which the lid is placed. Such drinking hole is typically preformed and the hole, along with the area around it, is typically exposed and uncovered. The present invention teaches beverage container lids that, in various embodiments, have features that create a plane that is higher than the one on which the drinking hole is situated, or in other words, vertically farther away from the rim of the container on which the lid is placed. In certain embodiments, the distance between the plane created by such features and the one on which the drinking hole exists is at least 0.4 cm near the drinking hole. However, to be effective, the distance may vary in different embodiments. It should be understood that the general configuration of the beverage container lid with raised sanitary platform may be modified to fit any and all beverage containers, and no description herein is intended to limit the shape, design, dimensions, angles, materials or application of the invention.
According to one embodiment of the invention, beverage container lid 10 is shown in
Drinking hole or aperture 60 typically exists on the same plane as top rim 40, although in embodiments where the plane of top rim is not constant, it will be understood that the description refers to the drinking area, where the hole is on the same plane as the top rim. The area of the beverage lid 10 surrounding the drinking hole 60 onto which consumers place their mouths, as shown in
In certain embodiments, lid 10 is provided with at least one upward protrusion that creates a plane that is higher than that of the drinking hole 60 and top rim 40 and onto which lid 10 can be placed upside down on a surface without fear of contamination from direct contact of the drinking area 100 with such surface. In one embodiment, as shown in
In the embodiment shown in
As shown in
In one embodiment, front left edge 22 and front right edge 23 of raised platform 21 preferably have rounded corners or soft edges to prevent any potential injury to a user by a sharp edge thereof, even though they are positioned on the lid so that they will not touch the face of a user who is drinking from lid 10. In one embodiment, front left edge 22 and front right edge 23 have the same width as top rim 40 but may in other embodiments extend upward from the inner or outer edge of top rim 40. In one embodiment, front left edge 22 and front right edge 23 have soft or rounded corners on the left and right sides thereof, creating a bulbous shape to the front of the raised platform.
In one embodiment, shown in
Alternatively, the raised sanitary platform may not be angled, as shown in
As shown in
In this embodiment, protrusions 11,13 each begin to extend vertically from top rim 40 at approximately 4 cm from the drinking hole 60 along the circumference of the top rim 40 on either side of the lid, opposite each other, and extend for approximately another 4 cm toward the back of top rim 40. It is contemplated that such protrusions may be further extended toward the back or front of top rim 40, and the length of the protrusions is not limited to the description herein. Such protrusions may be wider or narrower (i.e., may cover a wider or narrower portion along the circumferential axis of the lid) than is shown here and may be of varying lengths, although they should be large enough so that the lid may be able to rest on them securely when inverted and placed on a flat surface. Such protrusions may also have media, advertisements or other messages printed on them (e.g., “press here”).
As shown in
All of these embodiments are intended to accommodate easy manufacturing, such as by thermoforming in the same manner in which most lids are currently manufactured. Notwithstanding the above, the raised sanitary platform may be manufactured as a separate piece, or separate pieces from the lid and may be attached with a variety of means, such as a strong adhesive or a notch and tab mechanism, although the preferred embodiment is manufactured, as described herein, as a one-piece article. In other embodiments of the present invention (not shown here), the protrusions may be dome shaped or other shapes, which need not be limited in size although they must be sturdy enough to support the weight of the lid when supported by such protrusions. The protrusions may extend from a number of places on the lid, such as elsewhere on the outer top rim, the side wall or the top surface of the lid generally but not from the drinking area 100. Such protrusions may be of varying number, width, shape and height. In all cases, the protrusions are designed to allow for easy stacking of lids when manufacturing and shipping, such that they will fit together vertically when stacked on top of each other and the underside of a protrusion on one lid shall fit over the top of a protrusion on another lid stacked underneath it.
Where the top surface 45 of the beverage lid is angled from front to back or in any other manner, the height of the protrusions extending vertically from such lid may be different from each other, as shown in
The protrusions shown in
The shapes and lengths of the protrusions and platforms of the present invention may vary in degree and in shape to be an improvement to various existing lids in the marketplace.
One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the described embodiments, which are presented for purposes of illustration and not limitation. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.