US 3850324 A
The embodiment of the invention disclosed herein is directed to a threaded combination lock safety cap for containers and the like that are particularly designated for receiving materials, such as drugs or chemicals, which are detrimental to human life such that it is essential that such drugs and chemicals be prevented from getting into the hands of small children not realizing the potency of the same. The threaded combination lock safety cap is of a particular arrangement as to allow only the particular person knowing the arrangement or combination of the components of the safety cap to open the container which utilizes such cap. The container which receives the locking cap of this invention includes a neck portion formed on the container to function as an access opening for filling and removing material from the container. The neck portion is partially threaded starting at its outermost rim with a spiral screw type thread extending part way down the neck portion, the threaded portion being in the form of a spiral ridge disposed about the neck circumference adjacent the outermost neck edge. A closure assembly is fashioned to fit over the neck portion and includes a plurality of rotatable lock rings held in position between a cap portion and a retaining ring disposed adjacent the edge of the cap with the locking rings being freely rotatable within the cap. Each of the locking rings is located radially inwardly of an integral peripheral depending flange portion associated with the cap and projecting circumferally downwardly from the top surface of the cap in a manner to surround the neck portion of the container, with each locking ring including a radially outwardly directed tab which fits through a slot formed in the flange portion for access exteriorly of the flange portion. When all of the radially outwardly directed tab portions of the locking rings are placed in alignment, or placed in predetermined locations with respect to indicia formed about the flange portion of the cap, a corresponding spiral thread formed interiorly of each of the individual locking rings are aligned and adapted to be placed in threaded registration with the thread on the container neck portion to allow the caps to be unthreaded from the neck portion and removed therefrom to provide access to the container. When such threads of the locking rings are misaligned then the cap is locked onto the neck portion and cannot be removed therefrom until such threads are aligned by alignment of the tab portions.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Ute States Meyer Nov. 2a, 1974 Ave., Apt. 27, Cocoa Beach, Fla. 32931  Filed: Nov. 29, 1973  Appl. No.: 420,281
 U.S. Cl. 215/206, 215/221  Int. Cl. B6511 55/02, B65d 85/56, A6lj 1/00  Field of Search 215/206, 221, 9; 70/232  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS lO/l968 MilliS 215/206 8/1972 Leopoldi et al 215/206 Primary ExaminerGeorge T. Hall  ABSTRACT The embodiment of the invention disclosed herein is directed to a threaded combination lock safety cap for containers and the like that are particularly designated for receiving materials, such as drugs or chemicals, which are detrimental to human life such that it is essential that such drugs and chemicals be prevented from getting into the hands of small children not realizing the potency of the same. The threaded combination lock safety cap is of a particular arrangement as to allow only the particular person knowing the arrangement or combination of the components of the safety cap to open the container which utilizes such cap. The container which receives the locking cap of this invention includes a neck portion formed on the container to function as an access opening for filling and removing material from the container. The neck portion is partially threaded starting at its outermost rim with a spiral screw type thread extending part way down the neck portion, the threaded portion being in the form of a spiral ridge disposed about the neck circumference adjacent the outermost neck edge. A closure assembly is fashioned to fit over the neck portion and includes a plurality of rotatable lock rings held in position between a cap portion and a retaining ring disposed adjacent the edge of the cap with the locking rings being freely rotatable within the cap. Each of the locking rings is located radially inwardly of an integral peripheral depending flange portion associated with the cap and projecting circumferally downwardly from the top surface of the cap in a manner to surround the neck portion of the container, with each locking ring including a radially outwardly directed tab which fits through a slot formed in the flange portion for access exteriorly of the flange portion. When all of the radially outwardly directed tab portions of the locking rings are placed in alignment, or placed in predetermined locations with respect to indicia formed about the flange portion of the cap, a corresponding spiral thread formed interiorly of each of the individual locking rings are aligned and adapted to be placed in threaded registration with the thread on the container neck portion to allow the caps to be unthreaded from the neck portion and removed therefrom to provide access to the container. When such threads of the locking rings are misaligned then the cap is locked onto the neck portion and cannot be removed therefrom until such threads are aligned by alignment of the tab portions.
6 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures THREADED COMBINATION LOCK SAFETY CAP BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to safety closures for containers and more particularly to a novel and improved threaded combination lock safety cap for use on containers where the contents may be drugs or chemicals and where it is desired to prevent children from removing the caps to prevent the removal of such drugs or chemicals from their containers. The device is of such construction and arrangement as only one with relative adult knowledge can manipulate the components of the device to remove the closure cap from the container to gain access to the drugs or chemicals within the container.
2. Description of the Prior Art Prior to the present invention those devices of such construction which provided relative difficulty for the entering or gaining access to containers wherein dangerous drugs or chemicals were confined also provided relative difficulty to persons who are authorized or intended to gain access to such containers but found great difficulty in being able to manipulatesuch devices to gain the required access. These prior art containers are relatively difficult to operate in that they either require substantial amounts of force to be exerted upon the closure cap structure, such force being designed to be greater than that normally available by a child and yet readily available to a healthy adult. Alternatively, such devices may require significant amounts of dexterity or ingenuity on the part of the user to figure out the particular combination required to remove the closure cap structure from the container.
Among the prior art devices it has been generally accepted that a safety closure device is required to prevent children from gaining access to containers having harmful material therein, but such devices have failed to appreciate the difficulty encountered by elderly persons or persons of ill health or of physical disability in that the devices many times successfully prevent such individuals from gaining access to the drugs in the containers which are urgently required for self administration of medicines which may be prescribed by physicians. Thus, such prior art devices not only successfully keep children from obtaining access to the containers, but may also successfully keep those requiring and authorized to have such access from gaining such access due to failure of being able to operate the closure cap assembly.
Heretofore, such prior art safety closures have been so complicated and difficult to operate so as to preclude persons, particularly those in the senior citizen class, from opening the closure to gain access to the required medication in the container.
For example, one prior art type of safety locking closure provides a cylindrical neck having an annular rim adjacent the base thereof and wherein radially outwardly directed flanges are required to be pressed or manipulated as the cap was turned to facilitate removal thereof. This required a relative amount of physical strength for depressing of the outwardly directed flanges and therefore provides an inefficient type of closure for the elderly and extremely weak and sickly person who may not have the amount of physical strength required for the operation of the safety closure.
Another type of combination locking closure for medical or chemical containers included a plurality of rings associated with the cap, each of the rings including a plurality of radially inwardly directed tab portions to be aligned with a single elongated notch or slot formed along a plurality of grooves in the neck portion of the container. Each of the rings may be provided with a plurality of members or letters about the periphery thereof, withalignment of these rings allowing the user to open the container. However, this type of closure required that the person clearly observe the relative position of the rings, and furthermore these rings are relatively difficult to manipulate in that they have substantially the same diameter as the exterior portion of the cap associated therewith.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention recognizes the need for a combination lock safety cap suitable for operation by those having adult knowledge and not requiring any type of excessive strength or the like, and yet being difficult enough to prevent the operation thereof by younger children who should not have access to the contents of such container. Accordingly, the present invention provides a novel solution thereto which remedies and overcomes all of the deficiencies and disadvantages of presently available safety closures in that it provides an improved combination lock safety cap structure which enables the user thereof to quickly and easily remove the cap closure structure from the container without need for special dexterity or visual observation of the relative position of a plurality of locking rings.
It is a feature of the present invention to provide a locking cap closure having a plurality of rotatable locking rings each having a radially outwardly directed tab portion adapted to be manually manipulated by the user thereof in a manner to align the tab portions exteriorly of the cap closure structure in a manner to align associated internal threads disposed interiorly of each of the locking rings in a manner to enable removal of the closure cap structure from the associated container.
Briefly, the principle on which the cap structure of the present invention is based calls for the alignment of a set of internal screw type spiral threads in a predetermined pattern so that the partially threaded neck portion of the container can be unthreaded through the aligned threads in an obstructed manner. This is accomplished through the use of at least three individual locking rings, with each of these locking rings being equipped with a single spiral screw thread disposed along an interior surface thereof. These rings are incorporated into the cap. The position of these rings can be varied by movement of a protruding tab section of which ring is provided. When the locking cap is in its normal locked position on the container the threads of the locking rings are misaligned with the thread on the container so that the cap may not be unthreaded from the container neck portion because the threads do not align with the threads on the container, thus the container is effectively locked. It can be opened only if the proper alignment of the three individual screw threads of the three locking rings are aligned such that the thread of the neck portion may pass through the aligned threads of the locking rings to remove the cap from the neck portion of the container. In order to facilitate this thread alignment process, a set of numbers is imprinted on the flange of the cap portion with the appropriate position for unlocking the closure structure being printed or otherwise indicated in code or the like on the cap structure so as to be readily readable by those having adult knowledge and yet not understandable to children. In this manner only persons who can read or understand code indicia bearing information can intelligently understand the number designations on the cap and align the exterior tabs of the locking rings to effect removal of the cap from the container. In this manner, once the numerical combination corresponding to the appropriate thread alignment position is known, the cap can be quickly and easily removed from the container. Because it allows for a level of safety not formerly obtainable in prior art structures, the threaded combination lock safety cap of the present invention may well be adapted for use on many different types of containers wherein tamper proof characteristics for children are required.
Among the further features and advantages of the present invention is the provision of a threaded combination lock safety cap which is relatively simple in its construction and which therefore may be readily manufactured at a relatively low cost and by simple manufacturing methods; one which is possessed of few parts and which therefore is unlikely to get out of order; one which is of a rugged and durable construction and which therefore may be guaranteed by the manufacturer to withstand the intended usage thereof, and one which is easy to use and reliable and efficient in operation.
Other features and advantages of this invention will be apparent during the course of the following description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings forming a part of this specification, and in which like reference characters are employed to designate like parts throughout the same:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container closure cap and neck portion of a container illustrating the cap of the present invention detachably attached thereto;
FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the closure cap on the neck portion of a container;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along Line 33 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary front elevational view illustrating the single spiral screw thread on the neck portion of the container;
FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the closure cap illustrating some of the different positions of the locking ring tab portions;
FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the locking rings and retaining ring relative to the neck portion of the container;
FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic perspective view of the unlocked position of the locking rings where the spiral thread portions thereof are disposed in alignment with each other;
FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic perspective view similar to FIG. 7 but with the threads of the locking rings in misalignment such that the locking position of the cap is being illustrated; and
FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a modified form of the invention partially broken away to illustrate a seal formed concentric with the cap and projecting downwardly from the bottom surface of the cap in a manner to engage the interior side wall surfaces of the container neck portion.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings in detail and in particular to FIGS. 1 to 8 inclusive, a preferred form of a closure structure constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention and designated generally in its entirety by the reference numeral 10. The closure structure 10 is intended for use with a container 11 having a neck portion 12 formed thereon and projecting upwardly therefrom, the neck portion including a top edge 13 and circumferal side walls 14 with a single spiral screw type thread 15 in the form of an outwardly projecting ridge beginning at the top edge 13 and spiraling about the circumference of the side walls 14 from point 16 adjacent the top edge to a terminal point 17 spaced downwardly from the top neck edge. In the preferred embodiment only a single spiral thread 15 is provided, with it being understood that such thread may be ofa greater or lesser length along the neck portion within the principles of the present invention.
The closure structure 10 includes a closure assembly 20 fashioned to firmly fit the neck portion 12 of the container 11 and prevent the drug or chemical material from being removed from the container by small children or other persons not intended to or capable of manipulating the combination of the closure structure. The closure assembly includes a cap portion 21 to fit over the neck portion and form a seal about the top edge 13 defining the mouth of the neck portion 12. This is best illustrated in FIG. 3 which shows the mouth or top edge 13 firmly abutting the undersurface of the cap 21 to form the seal mentioned.
An integral peripheral depending circumferal flange portion 22 is associated with the cap 21 and has a diameter and configuration freely to fit over the side walls 14 associated with the neck portion 12. This allows the closure assembly 20 freely to be threaded onto and unthreaded from the neck portion of the container by authorized personnel. A retaining ring 23 is secured interiorly of the bottom edge 24 of the integral peripheral cirumferal depending flange portion 20 and provides a top surface shoulder forming portion 25. In the illustrated embodiment the retaining ring 23 is secured to the flange portion 20 by means of a snap ridge and recess combination designated generally by reference numeral 26 with the ridge being provided on the outer circumferal surface of the retaining ring and an annular groove being provided in the flange portion to receive the ridge. However, it will be understood that other suitable conventional connection means may be incorporated for retaining the retaining ring to the flange portion, as for example, suitable adhesives, set screws, or the like. Furthermore, it will be understood that the retaining ring 23 may be threaded into a threaded receptacle portion of the depending flange 20 to retain the same therein if so desired.
The shoulder 25 of retaining ring 23 cooperates with a confronting annular shoulder 27 formed in flange 22 in a manner to retain freely rotatable therebetween a plurality of axially displaced and aligned locking rings 30, 32 and 34, each of the locking rings including associated spiral thread groove means referred to by associated reference numerals 30A, 32A and 34A respectively each disposed in an interior circular side wall of each locking ring. The threads 30A, 32A and 34A associated with the rotatable locking rings 30, 32 and 34 respectively, are oriented arcuately about the inner periphery of the closure assembly 20 in a manner to be placed in alignment with each other so that placed in alignment the thread 15 of the neck portion 12 may be engaged therein with the closure structure being removed from the container to provide access thereinto, this aligned position of the threads being as diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 7.
As seen in FIG. 8, the threads 30A, 32A and 34A of locking rings 30, 32, and 34 respectively are illustrated in an orientation wherein the threads are not in alignment such that the threads are referred to as being misaligned, this preventing the engagement of neck portion thread with aligned slots thus retaining the closure structure 10 secured in a locked position on the container neck portion.
To facilitate ease of alignment of the three locking rings 30, 32 and 34 there is provided radially outwardly directed positioning tab portions 40, 42, and 44 respectively associated with the locking rings 30, 32 and 34. The tab positioning devices can be located in any one of a plurality of different arcuately displaced arrangements to afford the desired amount of difficulty to open the container, some of the different arcuate displacements being as seen in FIG. 5. For example, indicia bearing means 46 may be located about the periphery of the depending flange 22 and placed above a corresponding circumferally extending arcuate slot 48 through which the tab positioning means 40, 42 and 44 extend. By aligning the tabs one with the other, and with one ofthe desired indicia bearing characters about the slot, the spiral grooves of the locking rings can be placed in alignment to facilitate removal of the closure assembly from the container. Furthermore, the invention as disclosed herein incorporates means formed on the flange 22 above the slot 48, such as the numerals 1" through 6 to give an indication to the user as to where to locate the tabs 40, 42, and 44 of the individual locking rings with respect to the indicia bearing information about the slot when the combination for the closure structure 10 provides that such tabs are not to be aligned with one another. An example of the great variety of combinations available is made apparent upon considering that upon using at least three locking rings, such as in the preferred embodiment, and with each locking ring having six possible positions, there are a total of 216 possible combinations of positions of the locking rings such that a childs chance of randomly positioning the locking rings in a manner to solve the combination is one chance in 216 possible chances, this being substantially infinitesimal and quite unlikely to occur.
As seen in FIG. 3 the portion of the neck 12 having the spiral thread 15 thereabout is restricted to the very top portion of the neck adjacent the mouth 13 of the container with such portion falling within an interior portion 50 of the flange portion 22 which is provided with a spiral projection 51 about the interior surface thereof and adapted to engage thread 15 in a manner to retain the mouth of the neck portion snugly sealed against the cap undersurface.
In operation, and as aforementioned, when locking rings 30, 32 and 34 are rotated about their axis to place threads 30A, 32A and 34A respectively in alignment, closure assembly 20 may be readily unscrewed from neck portion 12 for gaining access to the contents of the container 11. On the other hand, when the threads 30A, 32A and 34A of the locking rings 30, 32 and 34 respectively are in misalignment, this prohibits the removal of the closure structure 10 from the container 1] thus preventing access to the contents of the container.
Referring now to the modified embodiment of FIG. 9, this is substantially identical to the aforedescribed embodiment with the only difference being the addition of a resilient truncated conical shaped sealing member formed integrally with the undersurface 71 of the cap 21 and which has diverging side walls terminating at terminal edge 72 in a manner to frictionally engage the interior surfaces 73 of the neck portion 12, the depth of the seal 70 extending approximately equal to the thickness of two of the lock rings, namely locking rings 30 and 32, such that should the closure assembly 20 be partially removed from the mouth 13 of the neck portion 12, such as if the thread 15 had passed through the grooves 30A and 32A but that the locking ring 34 was in misalignment such that groove 34A was misaligned from the other grooves, then the contents of the container would still be sealed. Due to the similarity between parts of the two forms of the invention, and in order to avoid needless repetition of description, similar reference numerals but having a single prime mark applied thereto have been used to identify the corresponding parts as between the disclosure of FIG. 9 and the disclosure of FIGS. 1-8.
lt is to be understood that the form of this invention herewith shown and described is to be taken as a preferred example of the same, and that this invention is not to be limited to the exact arrangement of parts shown in the accompanying drawings or described in this specification as various changes in the details of construction as to shape, size, and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit of the invention, the scope of the novel concepts thereof, or the scope of the sub-joined claims.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed l. A container closure structure and container used in conjunction therewith, comprising:
a hollow container for receiving a given quantity of material to be restricted from use by small children;
a neck portion formed on said container to function as an access opening for filling said container and for removing said material therethrough, said neck portion having cylindrical side walls terminating at a mouth edge of said neck portion;
a spiral screw thread disposed about said topmost portion of said neck portion and extending from said mouth edge at least substantially one complete time spirally about the circumference of said neck portion, said spiral screw thread having an initiating point adjacent said mouth edge and a terminating point spaced downwardly from said mouth edge;
a closure assembly fashioned to firmly fit said neck portion to seal the container and prevent said material from being removed from said container, said closure assembly comprising:
a cap to fit over said neck portion and form a seal about the mouth edge of said neck portion;
an integral peripheral circumferally depending flange portion associated with the circumferal edges of said cap and depending downwardly therefrom, said flange portions having a dimension and configuration to freely fit over said neck portion, said flange portion having a terminal edge about the bottom thereof; said cap portion having formed interiorly thereof a spiral projecting ridge adapted to engage said threaded neck portion to retain said neck portion mouth edge in sealing engagement with said cap undersurface; an annular recess formed interior of said flange por tion and opening out of said terminal edge thereof and defining a top annular shoulder portion thereabout; a retaining ring formed about the inner peripheral terminal edge portion of said flange portion and projecting inwardly thereof a distance to underlie said top shoulder portion, the top surface of said retaining means defining a bottom shoulder portion in confronting relationship with said top shoulder portion; plurality of substantially flat circular locking rings axially displaced and aligned with each other and disposed for free rotative movement in said annular recess intermediate said top and bottom shoulder portions;
a spiral screw formed integrally with an interior surface of each of said locking rings, said locking rings movable about their axes between positions where said grooves are misaligned so as to prevent threaded engagement of said neck portion screw thread therewith, and to a position where said grooves are in alignment to define a continuous spiral groove therethrough adapted to receive said neck portion spiral thread'therein in a manner to permit said closure assembly to be unthreaded from said neck portion to provide access to said contents of said container; and
positioning tab means associated with each of said locking rings to enable manual relative movement of said locking means with respect to said retaining means and said cap means to allow for alignment of said spiral grooves in accord with preselected positioning of said positioning means exteriorly of said flange portion for easy application and removal of said closure assembly from said neck portion and whereby misalignment of said spiral grooves prevents inadvertent and unauthorized removal of said closure assembly from said neck portion.
2. The container closure structure and container as set forth in claim 1 further comprising a circumferally extending slot defined in said flange portion and extending therethrough, said slot having an arcuate extent about the periphery of said flange portion to limit the arcuate travel of said positioning means associated with said plurality of locking ring means; and said positioning means including separate radially outwardly directed tab portions affixed to each of said locking rings and projecting radially outwardly through said slot, said tab portions adapted to be oriented relative to one another to provide a visual indication exterior of said closure structure as to the interior placement of said spiral grooves in each of said locking rings whereby proper positioning of said tab portions provides for the alignment of said spiral grooves to permit removal of the closure assembly from said container.
3. The container closure structure and container as set forth in claim 2 further comprising indicia bearing portions associated with said slot disposed about the periphery of said flange portion so as to enable the user of said container closure structure and container to visually align said radially outwardly directed tab portions of said locking ring means, and then position said aligned radially outwardly directed tab portions in registry with respective ones of said indicia bearing means so as to provide alignment of the said spiral grooves of said locking rings upon orienting of the tab portions in accord with a predetermined locking combination in a manner to facilitate removal of said closure structure from said neck portion when said tabs are disposed in proper orientation for said predetermined combination to permit neck portion thread to be unthreaded through aligned spiral grooves to remove the closure assembly from the container.
4. The container closure structure and container as set forth in claim 3 wherein said retainer ring is provided with an outwardly extending ridge disposed annularly about the circumference thereof, and wherein said interior surface of said recess adjacent said flange portion terminal edge is provided with an annular groove thereabout of a size and configuration adapted to receive said annular projection whereby said retainer ring may be snap fitted into said flange portion to be retained therein.
5. The container closure structure and container as set forth in claim 4 further comprising a seal member formed integrally with said cap and depending downwardly from the undersurface thereof in a position to engage the neck portion of said container, said seal member being in the form of a truncated conical member with conical side walls diverging downwardly from said cap undersurface and terminating at a bottom edge adapted to frictionally engage the interior wall surfaces of said neck portion, the sealing member being manufactured of a resilient material.
6. The container closure structure and container as set forth in claim 5 further comprising at least three separate locking rings being provided in vertically aligned adjacent juxtaposition, said locking rings being rotatably movable relative to each other, each of said locking rings provided with atleast six separate possible angular positions for said positioning tab portion thereof; and wherein said sealing member extends downwardly from said cap undersurface a depth approximately equal to the thickness of at least the top two locking ring members whereby should said neck portion spiral thread be engaged in the top two locking rings and not in the last locking ring said sealing member will still retain the contents of said container in a sealed manner.