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Publication numberUS20100018974 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/179,103
Publication dateJan 28, 2010
Filing dateJul 24, 2008
Priority dateJul 24, 2008
Also published asCA2671664A1, CN101962104A, CN101962104B, CN103231856A, EP2147868A1, EP2147868B1, EP2457845A1, EP2460739A1, EP2460739B1, EP2481686A1, US20130270268
Publication number12179103, 179103, US 2010/0018974 A1, US 2010/018974 A1, US 20100018974 A1, US 20100018974A1, US 2010018974 A1, US 2010018974A1, US-A1-20100018974, US-A1-2010018974, US2010/0018974A1, US2010/018974A1, US20100018974 A1, US20100018974A1, US2010018974 A1, US2010018974A1
InventorsDeborah Lyzenga, Jeffrey Thomas Weber, Scott William Huffer, Benjamin Michael Davis
Original AssigneeDeborah Lyzenga, Jeffrey Thomas Weber, Scott William Huffer, Benjamin Michael Davis
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Package integrity indicating closure
US 20100018974 A1
Abstract
A resealable closure for a container in which package integrity is indicated by a structure which connects the closure to a remaining portion of the container which must be broken in order to gain access to the contents of the container for a first time. The package integrity feature, in one form, includes a structure associated with the closure, wherein upon opening the closure for a first time, the structure stretches, increasing a length of the structure until the structure eventually breaks, leaving one or both residual ends of the broken structure rippled or curved upward from the remainder of the container. In one alternative form, the structure is associated with a pull tab of the sealing panel, which comprises the closure, whereby either the structure must be broken first, prior to pulling back the sealing panel, or while pulling back the sealing panel for a first time, the structure breaks, prior to gaining access to the contents therein. Advantageously, the package integrity feature is integrally formed with the closure and a remaining portion of the container. Integrity of the package is indicated by visually observing an intact breakable structure.
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Claims(59)
1. A package integrity feature comprising:
a closure covering an opening into a container; and
at least one structure associated with a closure, connecting the closure to a remaining portion of the container,
wherein, upon opening the closure for a first time, the structure stretches, increasing a length of the structure until the structure eventually breaks, leaving one or both residual ends of the broken structure rippled or curved upward from the remaining portion of the container.
2. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the at least one structure comprises at least two structures, each on opposite sides of a location on the closure from where one grasps a portion of the closure when opening the container.
3. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the location where one grasps the closure comprises a pull tab.
4. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the structure is a strip extending between the closure and an adjacent portion the container.
5. The package integrity feature of claim 4, wherein the strip includes a weakened portion.
6. The package integrity feature of claim 5, wherein the weakened portion is in the form of a narrowing of a portion of the strip.
7. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the structure comprises a curved strip.
8. The package integrity feature of claim 7, wherein the curve has the shape of an arc.
9. The package integrity feature of claim 7, wherein the curve has a concave segment and a convex segment.
10. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the closure comprises a sealing panel adhesively sealed to the remaining portion of the container around the opening thereof, and the structure is integrally formed with the sealing panel on one end and the remaining portion of the container on another end,
wherein the sealing panel is releasable from the remaining portion of the container by pulling back in a peeling direction, thereby stretching the at least one structure associated with the sealing panel, and eventually breaking the structure, to gain access to the contents inside, and the sealing panel is reclosable against the remaining portion of the container to seal the opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the remaining portion of the container.
11. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the structure is integrally formed from a material which comprises a surface surrounding the closure.
12. The package integrity feature of claim 1, wherein the at least structure comprises at least two structures, each on an opposing side of the sealing layer.
13. A package integrity feature comprising:
at least one structure associated with a sealing panel of a resealable closure of a container, the structure integrally formed with the sealing panel on one end and a remainder of the container on another end,
wherein the structure is constructed to break its connection between the sealing panel and the remainder of the container, when the sealing panel is pulled back from the remainder of the container for a first time, thereby leaving the sealing panel free of its attachment to the container through the structure.
14. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the sealing panel further comprises a pull tab graspable by a user for withdrawing the sealing panel from the remainder of the top of the container, wherein grasping the pull tab and withdrawing the sealing panel from the remainder of the top of the container for a first time results in the structure breaking.
15. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure breaks prior to one being able to remove any of the contents of the container.
16. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure is a strip extending between the sealing panel and an adjacent portion of the container.
17. The package integrity feature of claim 16, wherein the strip includes a weakened portion.
18. The package integrity feature of claim 17, wherein the weakened portion is in the form of a narrowing of a portion of the strip.
19. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein upon opening the closure for a first time, the structure stretches and eventually breaks, leaving one or both residual ends of the structure extending up from the remainder of the top of the container.
20. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein, upon opening the closure for a first time, the structure stretches and eventually breaks, leaving one or both residual ends of the structure rippled or curved upward from the remainder of the top of the container.
21. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure comprises a narrow strip end attached to the sealing panel and a relatively wide band end attached to the remainder of the top of the container strip.
22. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure comprises a relatively wide band end attached to the sealing panel and a narrow strip end attached to the remainder of the top of the container.
23. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure comprises two narrow strip ends with a wider section in between the two narrow strip ends, one of the narrow strip ends attached to the sealing panel and the second one of the narrow strip ends attached to the remainder of the top of the container.
24. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the structure comprises a curved strip.
25. The package integrity feature of claim 24, wherein the curve has the shape of an arc.
26. The package integrity feature of claim 24, wherein the curve has a concave segment and a convex segment.
27. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the at least structure comprises at least two structures, one on opposing sides of the sealing layer.
28. The package integrity feature of claim 13, wherein the at least structure comprises at least an even number of structures, with an equal number of the structures on opposing sides of the sealing layer.
29. An integrity indicating closure for a container, the closure comprising:
an at least two-ply material comprising an inner layer adhesively joined to an outer layer and forming a top of the container, the inner layer having an inner layer panel and the outer layer having a sealing panel, the sealing panel completely covering the inner layer panel;
at least one strip integrally, formed from the material which comprises the outer layer and connecting the sealing panel to a remaining portion of the outer layer;
the inner layer panel and the sealing panel being permanently joined to each other to provide an access opening into the container; and
a releasable adhesive provided around a perimeter of the sealing panel for adhering the sealing panel to the inner layer,
wherein the sealing panel is releasable from the inner layer by pulling back the sealing panel in a peeling direction and is reclosable against the top to seal the opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the top.
30. The integrity indicating closure of claim 29, wherein when the sealing panel is released from the inner layer for a first time, pulling the sealing panel back in a peeling direction, stretches and eventually breaks the at least on strip integrally joining the sealing panel to the remainder of the outer layer.
31. The integrity indicating closure of claim 29, wherein, after the at least on structure breaks, one or both residual ends of the structure are rippled or curved upward from the top of the container.
32. The integrity indicating closure of claim 29, wherein the at least one strip extends from an end of the sealing panel the remaining portion of the outer layer.
33. A package integrity indicating closure, said closure comprising:
an at least two-ply material comprising a first film layer adhesively joined to a second film layer;
a first tear line formed into the first film layer defining a first layer panel for providing an access opening through the first film layer when separated from the first film layer along the first tear line; and
a second film layer having a second layer tear line defining a sealing panel having one end terminating at a breakable structure, the sealing panel completely covering the first layer panel, the second film layer including a releasable adhesive layer for releasably adhering the sealing panel to the first film layer,
wherein the sealing panel is separable from the first film layer to expose the access opening and gain access to the contents therein only after the breakable structure has been broken.
34. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 33, wherein the breakable structure is a strip extending between an end of the sealing panel which forms a tab portion of the closure and an adjacent portion of the second film layer.
35. The package integrity feature of claim 34, wherein the strip includes a weakened portion.
36. The package integrity feature of claim 35, wherein the weakened portion is in the form of a narrowing of a portion of the strip.
37. The package integrity feature of claim 33, wherein the structure is raised from the first film layer, thereby defining a gap therebetween.
38. The package integrity feature of claim 33, wherein an intact breakable structure indicates that the closure has not been opened for a first time.
39. A package integrity feature comprising:
a structure associated with an end portion of a resealable closure of a container, the structure breakably attached to the end portion on one end and permanently attached to a remainder of the container, wherein the breakable structure is constructed such that it can be grasped from below with one's fingers and broken to thereby break its connection between the end portion and the remainder of the container, thereby leaving the end portion free of its attachment to the container through the structure.
40. The package integrity feature of claim 39, wherein the structure is a strip extending between the end portion of the closure and an adjacent portion of the container.
41. The package integrity feature of claim 40, wherein the strip includes a weakened portion.
42. The package integrity feature of claim 41, wherein the weakened portion is in the form of a narrowing of a portion of the strip.
43. The package integrity feature of claim 39, wherein the structure is raised from a top surface of the container.
44. The package integrity feature of claim 40, wherein the structure is integrally formed from a material which comprises a surface surrounding the closure.
45. The package integrity feature of claim 40, further comprising a container with top which incorporates the resealable closure, the resealable closure comprising a sealing panel which covers an access opening into the container and sealingly engages the top around the access opening so as to originally seal the closure and then, after having been opened a first time, reseals against the top, the structure associated with the sealing panel and the top, the structure breakably attached to the sealing panel on one end and permanently attached to a remainder of the top at another end.
46. The package of claim 39, wherein the structure is a strip extending between a tab portion of the sealing panel which is not adhesively sealed to the top and the remainder of the top.
47. The package of claim 39, wherein the end portion comprises a tab portion of the resealable closure.
48. A package integrity indicating closure, the closure comprising:
a film layer forming a top of a container, the film layer having a flap defining an access opening to gain access to the contents of the container;
a sealing panel completely covering the flap of the film layer, the sealing panel comprising a pull tab with a strip extending therefrom which is permanently affixed to the top, the pull tab and the strip defining a gap between the top surface of the container and the pull tab and strip; and
releasable adhesive provided on either or both the sealing panel or the film layer for adhering the sealing panel to the film layer,
wherein the sealing panel is releasable from the film layer after the strip joining the sealing panel to a portion of the top has been broken by pulling the sealing panel back in a peeling direction and is reclosable against the top to seal the access opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the top.
49. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 48, wherein the strip comprises a weakened portion.
50. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 48, wherein the sealing panel and the strip are integrally formed with each other.
51. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 48, wherein the sealing panel and the strip are die cut from a material which forms the top surface of the container and which is disposed on the film layer.
52. A package integrity indicating closure, said closure comprising:
a structure associated with an end portion of a resealable closure of a container, both the end portion of the resealable closure and the structure being non-adhered to an adjacent top surface of the container, the structure being breakably attached to the end portion of the resealable closure and permanently attached to a remainder of the container, wherein the structure must be separated between the end portion of the resealable closure and the remainder of the container, in order to open the resealable closure.
53. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 52, wherein the breakable structure is integrally formed with a material which forms the top surface of the container.
54. The package integrity closure of claim 52, wherein the structure is a strip extending between the end portion of the closure and an adjacent portion of the container.
55. The package integrity closure of claim 54, wherein the strip includes a weakened portion.
56. The package integrity closure of claim 55, wherein the weakened portion is in the form of a narrowing of a portion of the strip.
57. The package integrity closure of claim 54, wherein the end portion of the closure comprises a pull tab.
58. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 52, further comprising food items disposed in the container, said food items selected from the group consisting of cookies, crackers, peanuts, cheese, sliced meats and semi-solid foods.
59. The package integrity indicating closure of claim 52, wherein the end portion of the resealable closure and the structure are raised from a top surface of the container.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a resealable closure for packages storing articles and, more particularly, packages with resealable closures having a package integrity indicator.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some containers for food products, such as cookies and other snacks, typically include an outer wrapper. In one type of container, the wrapper surrounds a frame which acts as a tray to hold the food product and to protect the food product from damage. Other food products come packaged in plastic trays, such as thermoform trays, which are sealed on the top using some type of lidding material. One recent advancement in the art of food container closures includes a resealable closure disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,918,532 (hereinafter “the '532 patent”), herein incorporated by reference, which discloses a wrapper which forms a top of the container, which top has an access opening covered by a resealable sealing panel.

In the packaging art, different structures have been used to indicate whether a package has been previously opened or whether the integrity of the package has been compromised, which structures are often referred to in the art as “tamper-evident” or “package integrity.” For example, one recent package integrity indicating closure is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/500,497 (hereinafter “the '497 application”), herein incorporated by reference, shows a closure comprising a two-ply material having an inner film layer and an outer film layer forming a top of a container. The outer film layer has a sealing panel covering a portion of the inner film layer which, with the sealing panel, forms an opening. The package integrity feature comprises a panel of the inner film layer which separates from the sealing panel to indicate that the closure has been previously opened.

One recent advancement in the art of food containers having a package integrity feature is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/693,751 (hereinafter “the '751 application”), herein incorporated by reference. The '751 application discloses a resealable closure having a package integrity indicator provided by a structure which breaks and/or produces an audible sound when the resealable closure is opened for a first time. The package integrity feature includes at least one strip initially affixed to two portions which comprise the resealable closure so that upon opening the resealable closure for a first time, at least one of the strips breaks, thereby indicating that the package has previously been opened. Package integrity is also provided by a movable panel or removable die-cut tab portions which are misaligned upon resealing of the closure, thus indicating that the package has previously been opened.

In the packaging art of non-food items, different methods have been used to indicate whether a package has previously been opened or whether the integrity of the package has been compromised, including the methods disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,589,622; 6,767,604; and 4,679,693. U.S. Pat. No. 6,589,622 discloses a tamper-evident feature in the form of a label flap having a series of perforations which form a tamper indicating tab, such that when the label flap is initially removed from the package, the tamper indicating tab separates from the label flap along the perforations to indicate that the package has been opened. Similarly, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,767,604, package integrity is indicated by a label with pull tab having a pull tab perforation or other weakened portion which divides the tab into a pull portion and an end portion. U.S. Pat. No. 4,679,693 discloses a main pull tab adhesively sealed to a top surface of a package with an auxiliary pull tab which is completely removed from the main tab prior to opening the container.

There is a need in the art for a resealable container, preferably suitable for containing food items, which includes a new and improved package integrity indicator.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a resealable closure for a container in which package integrity is indicated by a structure which has to be broken prior to gaining access to the contents in the container. Accordingly, an intact structure indicates package integrity, thereby providing an indication that the package has not previously been opened.

The present package integrity feature can be used by itself to indicate package integrity or it can complement the package integrity features disclosed in the '751 application. When used with the package integrity features of the '751 application, the present new package integrity feature further ensures that the closure cannot be even initially partially opened for a first time without the present integrity feature having first been broken, and thus visible by observing the exterior of the container.

The present invention, in one form, relates to a package integrity feature comprising a closure, covering an opening into a container, and at least one structure associated with the closure, connecting the closure to a remaining portion of the container. Upon opening the closure for a first time, the structure stretches, increasing a length of the structure until the structure eventually breaks, leaving one or both residual ends of the broken structure rippled or curved upward from the remaining portion of the container. In various alternative further embodiments, the structure may comprise a strip extending from a tab portion of the closure to the remaining portion of the container. In yet a further alternative embodiment, there may be at least two structures associated with the closure, one on either side of a tab portion of the closure.

Advantageously, the structure is integrally formed with the closure and the remaining portion of the container, and the closure is in the form of a sealing panel, wherein the sealing panel is releasable from the remaining portion of the container by pulling back in a peeling direction, thereby stretching the structure associated with the sealing panel and eventually breaking the structure to gain access to the contents inside. The sealing panel is reclosable against the remaining portion of the container to seal the opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the remaining portion of the container.

The present invention, in another form thereof, relates to a package integrity feature comprising at least one structure associated with the sealing panel of a resealable closure of a container. The structure is integrally formed with the sealing panel on one end and a remainder of the container on the other end. The structure is constructed to break its connection between the sealing panel and the remainder of the container when the sealing panel is pulled back from the remainder of the container for a first time, thereby leaving the sealing panel free of its attachment to the container through the structure.

In various further alternative forms, the breakable structure comprises a curved strip, such as a strip in the shape of an arc or a wavy shape having a concave segment and a convex segment, a structure having one or more narrowing segments followed with one or more broader or wider segments, whereby the structure stretches along the narrow portion and eventually breaks.

The present invention, in another form thereof, relates to an integrity indicating closure for a container, the closure comprising an at least two-ply material comprising an inner layer adhesively joined to an outer layer and forming a top of the container. The inner layer has an inner layer panel and the outer layer has a sealing panel. The sealing panel completely covers the inner layer panel. At least one strip is integrally formed from the material which comprises the outer layer and connects the sealing panel to a remaining portion of the outer layer. The inner layer panel and the sealing panel are permanently joined to each other to provide an access opening into the container. Releasable adhesive is provided around a perimeter of the sealing panel for adhering the sealing panel to the inner panel. The sealing panel is releasable from the inner layer by pulling back the sealing panel in a peeling direction and resealable against the top to seal the opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the top.

Advantageously, after the structure breaks, one or both residual ends of the broken structure are rippled or curved upward from the top of the container.

The present invention, in one form, relates to a package integrity feature comprising a structure associated with an end portion of a resealable closure of a container. The structure is breakably attached to the end portion on one end of the structure and permanently attached to a remainder of the container at a second end of the structure, wherein the breakable structure is constructed such that it can be grasped from below with one's fingers and broken to thereby break its connection between the tab portion and the remainder of the container, thereby leaving the end portion free of its attachment to the container through the structure.

In various further specific forms, the structure comprises a strip extending between a tab portion of the closure, which comprises the end portion of the closure, and an adjacent portion of the container, and the strip includes a weakened portion. Further, advantageously, the structure is preferably raised from a top surface of the container which allows one to easily grasp the breakable structure from below with one's fingers.

The present invention, in yet another form thereof, relates to a package integrity indicating feature comprising a film layer forming a top of the container and having a flap defining an access opening to gain access to the contents of the container. A sealing panel completely covers the flap of the film layer. The sealing layer comprises a pull tab with a strip which is permanently affixed to the top. The pull tab and the strip define a gap between the top of the container and the pull tab and strip. A releasable adhesive is provided on either or both the sealing panel or the film layer adhering the sealing panel to the film layer. The sealing panel is releasable from the film layer, after the strip joining the sealing panel to a portion of the top has been broken, by pulling the sealing panel back in a peeling direction and is reclosable against the top to seal the access opening when the sealing panel is moved back against the top.

The present invention, in another form thereof, concerns a package integrity indicating feature comprising a structure associated with an end portion of a resealable closure of a container. Both the end portion and the structure are non-adhered to an adjacent top surface of the container. The structure is breakably attached to the end portion and permanently attached to a remainder of the container, wherein the structure must be separated between the end portion of the resealable closure and the remainder of the container in order to open the resealable closure.

The present invention, in another form thereof, relates to a package integrity indicating feature comprising an at least two-ply material comprising a first film layer adhesively joined to a second film layer. A first tear line is formed in the first film layer defining a first layer panel for providing an access opening through the first film layer when separated from the first film layer along the first tear line. The second film layer has a second layer tear line defining a sealing panel having one end terminating at a breakable structure. The sealing panel completely covers the first layer panel. The second film layer includes a releasable adhesive layer for releasably adhering the sealing panel to the first film layer, wherein the second film layer can be pulled back and separated from the first film layer to expose the access opening and gain access to the contents therein only after the breakable structure is broken. Food items disposed in the container may include, but are not limited to, cookies, crackers, peanuts, cheese, sliced meats and semi-solid foods.

Other features and advantages of the present invention are stated in or apparent from detailed descriptions of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention which follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a package, including an exemplary closure prior to an initial opening, according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows the package of FIG. 1 in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 3 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 1, as viewed from below, in its initial condition prior to being opened for a first time;

FIG. 4 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 1, after an initial opening and resealing;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another package, in accordance with the present invention, including a closure that has been opened;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another package, in accordance with the present invention, with the package integrity feature, shown in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another package, in accordance with the present invention, including a closure that has not been opened;

FIG. 8 shows the package of FIG. 7, shown in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 9 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 7, as viewed from below, in its initial condition prior to being opened for a first time;

FIG. 10 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 7, after the package has been previously opened and resealed;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of another package, prior to an initial opening, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another package, including a package integrity feature, shown in its initial unopened condition;

FIG. 13 a shows the package of FIG. 12 in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 13 b shows the package of FIG. 12, after it has been opened and resealed;

FIG. 14 shows another package, in accordance with the present invention, with package integrity feature shown in its initial unopened condition;

FIG. 15 a shows the package of FIG. 14 in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 15 b shows the package of FIG. 14, after the package has been opened and resealed;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of another package according to the present invention, in its initial unopened condition;

FIG. 17 shows the package of FIG. 16 in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of another package prior to an initial opening, according to the present invention;

FIG. 19 a shows the package of FIG. 18 in a first partially opened condition;

FIG. 19 b shows the package of FIG. 18 in a further partially opened condition;

FIG. 20 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 18, as viewed from below, in its initial condition, prior to being opened for a first time;

FIG. 21 a is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 18, just after a package integrity feature, in the form of a breakable structure, has been broken;

FIG. 21 b is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 18, after an initial opening and resealing;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of another package, in accordance with the present invention, including a closure that has been opened;

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of another package, in accordance with the present invention, with package integrity feature shown in a partially opened condition;

FIG. 24 is a partial plan view of the closure of FIG. 23, after an initial opening and resealing; and

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of another package, prior to an initial opening, in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The package integrity feature of the present invention is, in one form, an improvement of the package shown in the '751 application, which, for convenience, is described in further detail therein. The present new package integrity feature can be used to complement the package integrity features of the '751 application, as shown in FIGS. 1-10 and 12-24, or by itself, as shown in FIGS. 11 and 25.

Referring to the figures and, in particular, FIGS. 1-4, there is shown package 10 with closure 11 which incorporates a package integrity feature. Package 10 includes a two-ply wrapper comprising a first, inner film layer 12 and a second, outer film layer 13 forming a top or upper surface 14, sides 16, lower surface (not shown), and crimped ends 18, 19. The inner film layer 12 and outer film layer 13 are formed from a polymeric film or other flexible material that has been cut, folded or otherwise pressed to define an inner space or receptacle for receiving the desired product, such as food items, to be provided within the package 10. Package 10 can be used to store and distribute food items 58 such as cookies, crackers, candy or other items. The outer film layer 13 may include graphics or other indicia to identify the contents of the package 10.

Advantageously, the inner film layer 12 is coextensively formed and adhesively joined to the outer film layer 13. During the manufacturing of the package 10, the inner film layer 12 is die cut on its side via tear line 20, which includes all of the dashed lines in FIG. 1. The outer film layer 13 is die cut on its side via a second layer tear line 21. The creation of tear lines 20, 21 are disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 2005/0276525, herein incorporated by reference.

Tear line 20 is formed as a continuous tear line to define inner panel 22. Tear line 20 also defines strip 52. Tear line 21 defines sealing panel 26 of the outer film layer 13 and package integrity structure 40. Advantageously, package 10 includes a pair of package integrity structures 40, one on opposite sides of pull tab 30. It is preferable to have an even number of structures 40 with an equal number on opposite sides of the sealing panel 26. Although the figures show two structures 40, any even number is preferable when opening closure 11 for a first time, as described below.

The sealing panel 26 extends beyond the periphery of the tear line 20 so that the sealing panel 26 completely covers and extends beyond the perimeter of the inner panel 22 and strip 52. As a result, the sealing panel 26 completely covers the inner panel 22 and strip 52.

The package integrity structure 40 of the present invention comprises a curved elongated portion extending from a remaining portion of the sealing panel 26 at 40 a and terminates at a structure end 40 e in the shape of parallel “U's,” defined by die cut 21, which helps ensure that the outer film layer 13 will not tear proximate the end 40 e and ensures end 40 e will remain permanently and integrally part of the outer film layer 13 when a user opens package 10, closure 11 for a first time. Structure 40 is integrally formed with the sealing panel 26 and a remainder of the outer film layer 13, due to die cut 21 forming structure 40 from the outer film layer 13.

The outer film layer 13 is adhesively joined to the inner film layer 12. The inner panel 22 can be separated from the remainder of the inner film layer 12 to expose opening 24, whereby access to the contents 58 of the package 10 may be gained. As the inner panel 22 is withdrawn, as shown in the '751 application, structures 40 will initially stretch due to the elasticity of the material which comprises the outer film layer 13. As structures 40 stretch, their length will increase and their width will narrow. Eventually, the structures 40 will be stretched beyond their limits and snap or break, forming complementary broken ends 40 c and define the resulting broken structures portions 40 b, 40 d. Due to the material of outer film layer 13, the resulting structures 40 b, 40 d will have a random or variable shape and form. Further, the structure 40 can break at any portion along the length of structure 40; however, typically, structure 40 will break somewhere near the middle between the sealing panel 26 and the remaining portion of the top 14, i.e. between end 40 a and end 40 e. Regardless of where along the length of structure 40 the break occurs, the resulting portions 40 b, 40 d will be rippled and/or curved upward from the remainder of the package 10 (FIG. 2).

A benefit of having an equal number of structures 40 on either side of tab 30, ensures that an even, approximately balanced force can be applied to sealing panel 26 when pulling back sealing panel 26 for a first time to break structures 40. If there were an unequal number of structures 40 on either side of tab 30, more force would have to be applied to the side having more structures 40.

Further, as the inner panel 22 is withdrawn, as shown in the '751 application, strip 52 will break, as shown in FIG. 2. Strip 52 is integrally formed and remains attached to the remaining portion of the inner film layer 12 which comprises the top 14 at strip portions 50 a, respectively. An end portion 52 d remains integrally attached to the first panel 22 and end portion 52 b remains integrally attached to the inner film layer 12. Strip 52 has a weakened portion defined by a narrowing of the width of the strip at portion 52 c. Advantageously, the die cut of tear line 20 forms the strip end 52 e in the shape of parallel “U's” which help ensure that strip 52 will not tear at end 52 e and will remain integrally joined to the inner panel 22 and allow the strip 52 to break at the weakened narrow strip portion 52.

The side of the sealing panel 26 which faces the inner film layer 12 is coated with a resealable adhesive 28 (see FIG. 2), so that the sealing panel 26 may be resealably secured to the inner film layer 12 at the portion adjacent the inner panel 22. The sealing panel 26 includes the tab 30 or other pullable feature which is not coated with adhesive 28 so that the sealing panel 26 may be peeled back from the inner film layer 12 to open the package 10.

Alternatively, or along with releasable adhesive 28, releasable adhesive can be coated on the inner film layer 12 along the outside perimeter of the inner panel 22. The releasable adhesive can be any pressure sensitive adhesive which allows resealing and includes, but is not limited to, the adhesives disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,350,688, herein incorporated by reference.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 1, package 10 is opened by first grasping the tab 30 which allows one to pull the sealing panel 26 back for a first time, resulting in structures 40 and 52 stretching. Structure ends 40 a and strip portion 52 a remain integrally attached to the remaining portion of the outer film layer 13 and inner film layer 12, respectively (FIG. 2).

Package integrity is indicated by closure 11 through several features incorporated into the closure 11. Initially, package integrity is indicated visually by observing intact package integrity structures 40, as noted. If the closure 11 has been previously opened, structures 40 will no longer be intact and no longer adhere to the top surface of the package 10. In fact, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, once closure 11 has been opened for a first time, structure 40 will be broken, resulting in structure portions 40 b, 40 d which are rippled, curved and raised from a top surface of the package 10.

Further, package integrity is indicated by observing intact integrally joined strip 52, which advantageously breaks upon opening the closure 11 a sufficient amount prior to allowing one to remove the contents therein. In addition, package integrity is indicated by an audible sound produced when structures 40 and strip 52 break upon opening the package for a first time. Additionally, since the sealing panel 26 does not generally return to its exact position but, instead, is slightly misaligned relative to its original position, package integrity is indicated by misalignment of the sealing panel 26 with the remaining portion of the outer film layer 13 of top 14 (FIG. 4).

Referring to FIG. 5, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 100. Package 110 comprises a thermal formed tray 60 which forms the sides 116 and ends 61, 62. A two-ply film material comprising an inner film layer 112 and an outer film layer 113 are sealed to flange 63 of the thermal formed tray 60. As with package 10, package integrity is indicated by the presence of an intact structures 140 being integrally formed with the sealing panel 126 and a remainder of outer film layer 113, which forms the top of the package 110. Further, as with package 10, pulling back on tab 130 separates the sealing panel 126 from the outer film layer 113 and separates the inner panel 122 from the inner film layer 112 and structures 140 and portions of strip 152. After package 110 has been opened for a first time, the package integrity structures 140 will break at 140 c, forming portions 140 b, 140 d, and strip 152 will break at narrow strip portions 152 c, providing visual indication of package integrity status which show that the package has previously been opened, as shown in FIG. 5.

Package 110 can be used for various food items, such as cheese, sliced meats and the like. In addition, package 110 can be used for semi-solid items, such as pudding and yogurt. Although package 110 is depicted as having a rectangular shape, the package 110 can have any shape, including cylindrical and irregular.

The inner and outer film layers 112,113 may be formed of the same material as layers 12,13, which includes polypropylene, polyethylene, cellophane or any other polymeric material suitable for forming a package enclosure.

Referring now to FIG. 6, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 300. Package 310 is designed to accommodate a single row of food items, such as cookies 358. When opening package 310 for a first time, structures 340 will break, separating the sealing panel 326 from the remaining portion of the outer film layer 313, thereby allowing one to pull back sealing panel 326 from the top of the package 310. Package integrity is indicated by broken structures 340, as well as by observing the status of strip 352.

Referring now to FIGS. 7-10, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 400. Package 410 has a package integrity structure 440 in the shape of a wavy strip, rather than the curved strip 40 of package 10. The wavy shape of structure 440 has a concave segment 440 b and a convex segment 440 d. Package 410 indicates package integrity in a similar manner to that of package 10, in that in an initial condition, prior to the sealing panel 426 being peeled back for a first time, package integrity is indicated by observing intact structures 440. Upon withdrawing sealing panel 426 for a first time, structures 440 will initially stretch and increase in length, and eventually break, resulting in broken ends 440 c and segments 440 b and 440 c being rippled, curved and/or raised from a top surface of the remaining portion of the top 414 of package 410 (FIGS. 8 and 10). Likewise, as with package 10, withdrawing sealing panel 426 for a first time, first stretches and then eventually breaks strip 452.

As noted above, the package integrity feature of the present invention can be used by itself instead of as a complement to the package integrity feature of the '751 application. FIG. 11 is representative of any package wherein the package integrity feature of the present invention is the sole package integrity feature. Referring now to FIG. 11, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 500. Package 510 includes package integrity structure 540, which joins sealing panel 526 to the remaining portion of the outer film layer 513, as the sole package integrity feature.

Package integrity is indicated in package 510 by an intact structure 540 attached to sealing panel 526 and a perimeter of the outer film layer 513. A user opens closure 511 by pulling back on tab 530 to withdraw sealing panel 526 from the top of package 510, thereby separating the inner panel 522 from the inner film layer 512 to gain access to the contents contained within package 510. Pulling back on tab 530 for a first time results in structures 540 stretching and eventually breaking, as described above with regard to structures 40 of package 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 12-13 b, like elements to those of FIGS. 1-4 have been increased by 600. Package 610 is identical to package 10, except that structure 640 has a narrow portion 640 f connected to a broader band portion 640 d. When sealing panel 626 is pulled back for a first time, by grasping tab 630, the structure 640 initially stretches and then breaks at the narrow portion 640 f, resulting in broken ends 640 c (FIG. 13 a). Likewise, as in package 10, pulling back sealing panel 626 for a first time results in strip 652 breaking. When the sealing panel 626 is returned flat on the top of the package 610, indication that the package 610 has been previously opened is visible by the broken structures 640, the slight misalignment of portions 640 b, 640 d with the remainder of the material forming the outer layer 613, and possible misalignment of the sealing panel 626 with the remainder of the outer layer 613 (FIG. 13 b). In addition, structures 640 b, 640 d may be slightly raised from the top surface 614 of package 610.

Referring now to FIGS. 14-15 b, like elements to those of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 700. Package 710 is the same as package 610, except the location of the broad band portion 740 b is located closer to the sealing panel 626, rather than the remaining portion of the top 714 of the container. As a result, when package 710 is opened for a first time, and structure 740 breaks, forming ends 740 c, the break will be away from the sealing panel 726, relative to that in package 610, resulting in the broader band portion 740 b remaining attached to the sealing panel 726 (see FIG. 15 a). Conversely, in package 610, the broader band portion 640 d remains attached to the remaining portion of the outer layer 613 (see FIG. 13 a). Package integrity is indicated by broken structures 740, as well as misalignment of portions 740 b, 740 d with the remaining portion of the outer layer 713.

Referring now to FIGS. 16 and 17, like elements to those of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 800. Package 810 is identical to package 10, except that structure 840 comprises two narrow portions 840 f and 840 g with a wider section 840 b in the middle. When the sealing panel 826 is pulled back for a first time, the structure 840 will break at either portion 840 f or 840 g. For example, as shown in FIG. 17, the structure 840 is shown broken at portions 840 g.

Referring now to FIGS. 18-21 b, like elements to those of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 900. Package 910 has a package integrity feature structure 940, which integrally attaches sealing panel 926 to the remaining portion of the outer layer 913 at tab 930. Specifically, the package integrity structure 940 of the present invention comprises a narrow portion of strip 940 f, which is attached to pull tab 930 on one end and a wider portion 940 b on its other end, which is permanently attached to the remainder of the package. The structure 940 is integrally formed with the pull tab 930 of the sealing panel 926 and a remainder of the outer film layer 913 due to die cut 921 forming structure 940 from the outer film layer 913. The die cut 921 forms the structure end 940 e in the shape of parallel “U”'s, which help ensure that the outer film layer 913 will not tear proximate the end 940 e and that portion 940 b will remain permanently and integrally part of the outer film layer 913 when a user breaks the structure 940 prior to opening the closure 911 for a first time.

Advantageously, structure 940, along with pull tab 930, are raised from a remainder of the upper surface 914 which is formed by outer film layer 913, defining gap 942 between the inner film layer 912, the structure 940 and pull tab 930. The raised structure 940 enables one to easily grasp structure 940 from below with one's fingers and break or separate structure 940 from the pull tab 930. Alternatively, the structure 940 may lie essentially flat, but with no adhesive between it and the top surface of the package. As a result, one may, by slightly pushing in the package at that point, still grasp the structure 940 from below.

Die cuts 25 define a plurality of tab portions 27 in the sealing panel 926 which comprise one of the package integrity features of the '751 application. The sealing panel 926 extends beyond the periphery of the tear line 920 so that the sealing panel 926 completely covers and extends beyond the perimeters of the inner panel 922 and strips 50, 952, 54. As a result, the sealing panel 926 completely covers the inner panel 922 and strips 50, 952, 54.

The outer film layer 913 is adhesively joined to the inner film layer 912. After the breakable structure 940 has been broken, as discussed in detail below, the inner panel 922 can be separated from the remainder of the inner film layer 912 to expose an opening 924, whereby access to the contents of the package 910 may be gained. As the inner panel 922 is withdrawn, and as shown in the '751 application, strips 50, 952, 54 will break, as shown in FIGS. 19 a and 19 b. Each strip 50, 952, 54 is integrally joined and remains attached to the remaining portion of the inner film layer 912 which comprises the top 914 at strip portions 50 a, 952 a and 54 a, respectively. End portions of strips 50, 952, 54 remain integrally attached to the first panel 922 at strip portions 50 b, 952 b and 54 b, respectively. Each strip 50, 952, 54 has a weakened portion defined by a narrowing of the width of the strip at portions 50 c, 952 c and 54 c, respectively, and parallel “U” shaped ends 50 d, 952 d and 54 d.

The side of the sealing panel 926 which faces the inner film layer 912, including tab portions 27, is coated with a releasable adhesive 928 (see FIGS. 19 a and 19 b), so that the sealing panel 926 may be resealably secured to the inner film layer 912 at a portion adjacent the inner panel 922, and so that the tab portions 27 remain permanently affixed to the inner film layer 912. The sealing panel 926 includes the tab 930 or other gripping feature which is not coated with adhesive 928, so that the sealing panel 926 may be peeled back from the inner film layer 912 to open the package 910. In addition, structure 940 is not coated with an adhesive, so that a user can easily grasp the structure 940.

Referring now to FIGS. 18 and 21 a, package 10 is preferably opened by first grasping the main portion 940 b of the package integrity structure 940, which is preferably raised from the top surface of the package 910, with one's fingers and then pulling the main portion 940 b in a direction parallel to the top surface of the package or slightly up and away from the package to break the structure 940 at the narrow portion of strip 940 c (see FIG. 4 a). The polymeric or other flexible material, which comprises outer film layer 913 and thus forms structure 940, allows a user to easily tear the structure 940.

Although it is preferable to first break structure 940 as described above, alternatively, one can break structure 940 by grasping tab 940 and pulling back in a peeling direction 933, which will result in the structure 940 stretching at portion 940 f until structure 940 eventually breaks, forming ends 940 c.

Referring now to FIGS. 19 a, 19 b and 21 b, after structure 940 has been broken, the sealing panel 926 can be pulled back, resulting in the inner panel 922 being separated from the remainder of the inner film layer 912. Strip portions 50 a, 952 a, 54 a remain integrally attached to the remaining portion of the inner film layer 912 and strip portions 50 b, 952 b, 54 b remain integrally attached to the inner panel 922 (FIG. 20). In addition, tab portions 27 separate from the sealing panel 26 and remain attached to the inner film layer 12, due to adhesive 28, to thereby form holes 32 in the sealing panel 26 (FIGS. 19 and 21).

Initially, upon opening the closure 911, the strip portions 50 a, 952 a, 54 a separate from the sealing panel 926, while strip portions 50 b, 952 b, 54 b remain attached to the sealing panel 926, as shown in FIG. 19 a. At some point upon peeling the sealing panel 926 back, strip 952 breaks while strips 50 and 54 remain intact (FIG. 19 a). Pulling the sealing panel 926 further in the direction of arrow 933 further opens the closure 911 and eventually strips 50 and 54 break at narrowing strip portions 50 c and 54 c, respectively.

Package integrity is indicated by closure 911 through several features incorporated into the closure 911. Initially, package integrity is indicated visually by observing an intact package integrity structure 940 which must be broken in order for one to even begin to open the closure 911 by pulling back sealing panel 926. Further, package integrity is indicated by observing intact integrally joined strips 50, 952, 54 which advantageously break upon opening the closure 911 a sufficient amount prior to allowing one to remove the contents therein. In addition, package integrity is indicated by audible sounds produced when the strips break upon opening the package for a first time. Additionally, since the sealing panel 926 does not generally return to its exact original position but, instead, is slightly misaligned relative to its original position, package integrity is indicated by such misalignment of the sealing panel holes 32 with the tab portions 25, as the sealing panel has been opened and resealed (FIG. 21 b).

Referring now to FIG. 22, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 1000. Package 1010 comprises a thermoform tray 1060 which forms the sides 1016 and ends 1061, 1062. A two-ply film material comprising an inner film layer 1012 and an outer film layer 1013 is sealed to flange 1063 of the thermoform tray 1060. As with package 10, package integrity is indicated by the presence of an intact structure 1040 being integrally formed with the sealing panel 1026 and a remainder of the outer film layer 1013, which forms the top of the package 1010. Further, as with package 10, pulling back on table 1030 separates the sealing panel 1026 from the outer film layer 1013 and separates the inner panel 1022 from the inner film layer 1012 and portions of strips 1050, 1052 and 1054. After package 1010 has been opened for a first time, package integrity structure 1040 will be broken and strips 1050, 1052, 1054 will break at narrow strip portions 1050 c, 1052 c, 1054 c, providing visual indication of package integrity status, which shows that the package has previously been opened, as shown in FIG. 22.

Referring now to FIGS. 23 and 24, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 are increased by 1100. Package 1110 has a single strip 1152 located at a mid-portion of the opening 1124. Package 1110 is designed to accommodate a single row of food items, such as cookies 1158. In order to open package 1110 for a first time, breakable structure 1140 must be broken, separating package integrity structure main body 1140 b from the tab portion 1130, thereby allowing one to pull back sealing panel 1126 from the top of the package 1110. The breaking of structure 1140 can occur either by first detaching the structure from the remaining portion of the sealing panel 1126 or by pulling back on tab 1130, which will stretch and eventually break structure 1140 c. Package integrity is indicated by a broken structure 1140, as well as by observing the status of the strips 1152 and the alignment of tab portions 1125 with sealing panel holes 1132 (FIG. 24). As previously noted above, the package integrity feature of the present invention can be used by itself, instead of as a complement to the package integrity features of the '751 application. FIG. 25 is representative of any package, wherein the package integrity feature of the present invention is the sole package integrity feature.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 25, like elements to those of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4 increases by 1200. Package 1210 includes package integrity feature 1240, joined to tab 1230, as the sole package integrity feature. Package integrity is indicated in package 1210 by an intact structure 1240 attached to tab 1230. Prior to opening package 1210 for a first time, one either grasps the narrow portion of strip 1240 f and separates it from tab 1230, which subsequently allows a user to now be able to pull back on tab 1230 to withdraw sealing panel 1226 from the top of package 1210, thereby separating the inner panel 1222 from the inner film layer 1212 to gain access to the contents contained within the package 1210. Alternatively, a user may grasp tab 1230 and pull back in a peeling direction 1233, which will result in structure 1240 breaking at portion 1240 c, thereby allowing one to continue to pull back sealing panel 1226 to gain access to the contents therein.

As will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art, the present package integrity feature of the present closure offers benefits over prior tamper-evident or package integrity features.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20110163095 *Sep 2, 2009Jul 7, 2011Pour-All Technologies Ltd.Closable aperture for retrofitting to a container
US20130064934 *Nov 6, 2012Mar 14, 2013Carole A. VogtPackage Integrity Indicating Closure
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/214, 220/359.1
International ClassificationB65D43/02
Cooperative ClassificationB65D77/2096, B65D43/0235, B65D2577/2091, B65D77/206, B65D2101/0015, B65D2577/205, B65D2577/2033, B65D75/5838
European ClassificationB65D77/20E1B3B2A, B65D77/20E2D, B65D75/58E1A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 24, 2010ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LYZENGA, DEBORAH;WEBER, JEFFREY THOMAS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20091207 TO 20091217;REEL/FRAME:024880/0960
Owner name: KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL BRANDS LLC, ILLINOIS
Aug 4, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: SONOCO DEVELOPMENT, INC., SOUTH CAROLINA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HUFFER, SCOTT WILLIAM;DAVIS, BENJAMIN MICHAEL;REEL/FRAME:023048/0017
Effective date: 20090129
Feb 5, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: SONOCO DEVELOPMENT, INC., SOUTH CAROLINA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HUFFER, SCOTT WILLIAM;DAVIS, BENJAMIN MICHAEL;REEL/FRAME:022210/0576
Effective date: 20090129