US 3858767 A
A container for storing and dispensing liquids comprising a disposable plastic cup and lid. The cup has an upper edge which terminates in vertically extending shoulders contiguous with opposite ends of an uninterrupted upper edge of a spout. The spout extends outwardly from a sidewall of the cup with the upper edge of the spout lying in a plane below the upper edge of the cup. The lid covers an open top of the cup, supports a flat flexible and resilient flap, and includes an open-bottom channel for receiving in a fluid-tight seal the upper edge and shoulders of the sidewall of the cup to releasably hold the lid on the cup. The flap is contiguous with a lid and cantilevers outwardly therefrom to normally rest on the upper edge of and seal the spout and to automatically rise from the spout as liquid in the cup presses on an underside thereof with a tipping of the cup to permit a dispensing of liquid through the spout.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Borin 1 CUP WITH SELF-SEALING SPOUT  Inventor: Harlan F. Borin, P.O. Box 607,
Cedar Glen, Calif.
 Filed: Dec. 10, 1973  Appl. No.: 423,407
 US. Cl 222/494, 222/517, 222/572, 229/1.5 B
 Int. Cl 865d 25/42  Field of Search 222/494, 491, 517, 556,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,365,145 1/1921 Baron 222/517 2,022,342 11/1935 Drood ZZZ/572 X 2,041,185 5/1936 Jacobs 222/517 X 2,540,842 2/1951 Stanley et al. 222/494 X 2,764,199 9/1956 Tupper 222/556 UX 2,937,794 5/1960 Quandt 222/494 X 3,726,436 4/1973 Despain et a1. 222/494 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,241,583 8/1960 France 222/494 7,075 6/1885 Great Britain 222/491 ,lian.7,l1975 Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves Assistant ExaminerCharles A. Marmon Attorney, Agent, or FirmHarris, Kern, Wallen & Tinsley  ABSTRACT A container for storing and dispensing liquids comprising a disposable plastic cup and lid. The cup has an upper edge which terminates in vertically extending shoulders contiguous with opposite ends of an uninterrupted upper edge of a spout. The spout extends outwardly from a sidewall of the cup with the upper edge of the spout lying in a plane below the upper edge of the cup. The lid covers an open top of the cup, sup ports a flat flexible and resilient flap, and includes an open-bottom channel for receiving in a fluid-tight seal the upper edge and shoulders of the sidewall of the cup to releasably hold the lid on the cup. The flap is contiguous with a lid and cantilevers outwardly therefrom to normally rest on the upper edge of and seal the spout and to automatically rise from the spout as liquid in the cup presses on an underside thereof with a tipping of the cup to permit a dispensing of liquid through the spout.
2 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENTED JAN 7 i975 SHEET .1 OF 2 CUP WITH SELF-SEALING SPOUT The present invention relates to liquid dispensing containers and more particularly to a disposable container with a self-sealing spout especially suitable for use in hospitals and other institutions.
In hospitals today it is becoming common practice to serve patients coffee and other hot beverages in foamtype plastic containers sealed with a plastic snap-on lid. Such containers are inexpensive and may be disposed of after a single use, thereby eliminating the need for expensive sterilization. Further, the foam-type plastic container insulates the coffee against heat loss and maintains it hot from the time it leaves the hospital kitchen until it reaches the patient.
Before coffee is delivered in such a container to a patient, the container is usually placed on a serving tray and a separate drinking cup provided into which it is intended that the patient pour the coffee. This requires the patient upon receiving the sealed container to remove the lid to pour from thecontainer into the cup. It is often difficult, particularly for bedridden patients to remove the lid without deforming the container and spilling a portion of the hot coffee onto the tray, bedding, or themselves. Also, patients during the opening of the container will sometimes knock the container over and spill its entire contents, or will tip over the container after the lid has been removed therefrom spilling the balance of the contents over the serving tray.
While the foregoing manner of serving coffee and other hot beverages to hospital patients simulates to some extent the manner in which such beverages would be served at home, serious problems are presented by such serving techniques, particularly for weakened hospital patients, resulting in accidental tipping and spilling of hot beverages over trays, bedding and patients.
In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved disposable lightweight plastic container for coffee and other hot beverages from which the beverage may be dispensed without manually removing the lid which normally seals the open top of the container.
Another objective of the present invention is to provide a disposable container of the foregoing character which is simple in design, and so inexpensive that it may be disposed of after a single use by a hospital patient.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a container of the foregoing character having a selfsealing spout such that if the container is tipped over it will permit only a minimal leakage of the beverage therefrom.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a container of the foregoing character including a cup having a spout extending from a sidewall thereof below an open top of the cup in combination with a top sealing lid and flexible flap for normally resting on and sealing the spout.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide a container of the foregoing character further including an open-bottom channel in the lid thereof for receiving in a fluid tight seal upper marginal edge portions of the cup contiguous with the spout.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention may be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered with the drawings, which by way of example only, illustrate one form of a self-sealing container embodying the features of the present invention.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a side view of the cup included in the container of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a front view of the cup of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a sectional side view of the cup taken along the line 33 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a top view of the cup of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a partial sectional view taken along the line 5-5 in FIG. 4 showing the top edge of the cup;
FIG. 6 is a side view of the container of the present invention comprising the cup of FIG. 1, and a lid in combination;
FIG. 7 is a top view of the container of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the lid included in the container of FIG. 6;
FIG. 9 is a sectional side view of the container taken along the line 9-9 in FIG. 7;
FIG. 10 is a partial sectional side view of the container in a tipped position to reveal the automatic lifting of a flap portion of the lid from a spout of the cup;
FIG. 11 is an enlarged fragmentary section view taken along the line 11l1 in FIG. 7; and
FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 12-12 in FIG. 7.
In brief, the container of the present invention is represented in the drawings by the numeral 10 and comprises the combination ofa generally cylindrical cup 12 having a spout 14, a lid 16., and a flap 20. The lid 16 covers and seals a top opening 18 of the cup while the flap 20 cantilevers outwardly from a forward portion of the lid 16 to cover and normally seal the spout 14. In this regard, the flap 20 normally bears upon a top edge 22 of the spout 14 to seal the spout and to lift automatically therefrom as liquid in the cup presses thereagainst, as during tipping of the cup to dispense liquid from the container through the spout.
The lid 16 is releasably connected to the cup 12 by closure means 24 including an open bottom channel 26 formed in and extending vertically from the lid 16, and by upper edge and sidewall portions of the cup which extend upwardly into the channel. The closure means 24 further includes a lip 28 extending outwardly from the upper and outer sidewall portion of the cup 12 to engage an inwardly facing head 30 formed in an outermost sidewall of the channel 26. The lip 28 and bead 30 securely, but releasably, retain the lid 116 in position on the cup 12.
Preferably, both the cup 12, and the lid 16 and flap 20, comprise single-piece molded plastic articles. The cup is formed of a light weight foam-type plastic material having good heat insulation characteristics, such as Styrofoam, while the lid 16 and flap 20 are of a flexible and resilient thin-wall construction. Because of their unitary constructions, the cup and lid may be rapidly and inexpensively mass produced, their low cost making more economical their disposal after use than sterilization for reuse.
More particularly, and is best shown in FIGS. 3 and 9, the cup 12 includes a generally flat bottom 32 for supporting the cup in an upright position. A sidewall 34 of the cup 12 extends upwardly and outwardly from the bottom 32 at an angle of about 7 from the vertical. Such an angulation of the sidewall 34 permits a plurality of like cups to be compactly stacked with the bottoms of all but the lowermost cup nesting securely within a top portion of an immediately adjacent cup.
As most clearly shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the sidewall 34 includes an uppermost edge 36 which terminates in downwardly extending vertical shoulders 38A and 388. The shoulders also define terminal ends of the upper edge 22 of the spout 14. The upper edges 36 and 22 of the sidewall and of the spout respectively, are generally flat and lie in parallel horizontal planes spaced apart by a distance corresponding to the vertical height of the shoulders 38A and 38B.
As best shown in FIG. 4, the sidewall upper edge 36 is circular and concentric relative to a vertical axis of concentricity 39 of the cup 12. As is also shown in FIG. 4, an outwardmost portion 40 of the upper edge 22 of the spout 14 is also defined by a radius approximately equal to the radius of curvature of the upper sidewall edge 36 and centered at a point 41 offset from the axis 39. The spout edge 22 further includes terminal end portions 42A and 423 which are nearly straight line segments and serve as transitions between the curvatures of the cup sidewall and spout. In this regard, and as most clearly shown in FIG. 2, the spout l4 intersects the cup sidewall 34 an acute angle of approximately 20 to the outside surface of the cup. The line of intersection or junction between the spout and the sidewall is identified by an arcuate and concave line 44. A similar arcuate line of intersection 46 is defined on the inside surface of the cup and is most clearly shown in FIG. 4. Thus formed, the spout includes an upwardly facing open end and a substantially flat upper edge thereby forming a lip of the spout which is preferably parallel with the upper edge 36 of the cup sidewall 34.
As previously indicated, the top openings of the cup 12 and spout 14 are normally sealed by the lid 16 and flap 20. This prevents a total loss of the liquid contents of the container in the event of an accidental tipping over of the container. Additionally, the flow rate of liquid from the cup 12 is retarded by the flap during a normal beverage dispensing to prevent any unexpected out-rushing and possible spillage of the beverage such as is often experienced during use of ordinary open-top tumblers or cups. In accomplishing these features, it is important that the lid 16 and flap 20 have contours closely following the shape of the top and uppermost edges of both the sidewall 34 and the spout 14. Additionally, it is desirable that the curved inner and outer upper sidewall surfaces 48 and 50 of the cup close match the curvature of the open-bottom channel 26 formed in the lid 16. Such closely matching curvatures form the closure means 24 which further includes the previously mentioned peripheral lip 28 and mating bead 30 which when engaged releasably lock the lid in position on the cup.
As best shown in FIGS. 6-12, the lid 16 preferably comprises a flat and horizontally extending main body 52 and the semi-circular raised open-bottom channel 26. The flap 20 is continuous with the main body 52, is cantilevered outwardly therefrom, and when displaced away from the uppermost edge of the spout, as when dispensing a beverage, bends generally along a line 54 extending between the terminal ends of the open-bottom channel 26 (see FIG. 8).
In cross-section and as installed on the cup (FIG. 12), the channel 26 has the shape an inverted letter U. An inner peripheral curved sidewall 56 of the channel extends upwardly and slightly outwardly from the horizontal main body 52. Preferably the angle of incline of the sidewall 56 is approximately 7 from vertical, that being the same as the angle of incline of the cup sidewall 34. At its uppermost region the channel side wall 56 bends horizontally outward and then vertically downward forming a top portion 58 and an outer peripheral curved sidewall portion 60 respectively. The lower edge portion of the outer sidewall 60 is contiguous with the inwardly extending bead 30.
In cross-section the bead 30 resembles a straight sided C wherein the sides of the C are generally horizontal and open outwardly from the main body of the lid. An upper and generally horizontal sidewall 62 of the bead joins the lower edge portion of the outer sidewall 60 of the channel 26 and extends inwardly toward the horizontal main body 52 of the lid. The upper sidewall 62 of the bead then joins a downwardly extending wall 64 which parallels the inner peripheral wall 56 of the channel. The downwardly extending wall 64 is joined to a second and lower horizontal wall 66 of the bead which is parallel to the upper bead wall 62. It is to be noted that the lower wall 66 of the bead is in the same horizontal plane as the main flat body 52 of the lid, a feature of some importance as concerns a manufacturing simplicity to be described in more detail. The lower wall portion 66 of the bead 30 may extend outwardly by an amount sufficient to facilitate a finger tip gripping of the bead and thereby a flexing of the channel 26 during installation of the lid on the cup.
In FIGS. 12 and 8, it is shown that starting with the lower wall 66 of the bead 30 the bead is contiguous with the outer sidewall 60 of the channel 26. The chan nel extends over the upper edge 36 of the cup and merges into the flat main body 52 of the lid. FIG. 11 shows this in additional detail and also shows the shoulder 38A which terminates the upper sidewall edge 36. Corresponding to the shoulder and sidewall edge of the cup, the top horizontal portion 58 and sidewalls 56 and 60 of the channel are joined by vertical end walls 68A and 68B. The end walls 68A and 68B extend downwardly to the flat surfaces of the main body 52 of the lid and of the flap 20 at junctions which define regions of bending between the flap and main body of the lid. Parallel relationships between the end walls 68A-B of the lid and the shoulders 38AB of the cup are provided to enable a somewhat stretched fit of the lid on the cup to thereby produce a sealing contact between the shoulders and the ends of the channel. In this regard, the horizontal head 30 is also in continuous mutual contact with the outer periphery of the upper sidewall 50 immediately below the lip 28.
With regard to the structure of the flap 20 illustrated in FIGS. 6l0, it is to be noted that during molding, the flap may be formed at a downward angle of about 5 from the plane of the main body 52 as measured along the previously mentioned hinge line 54. Thus, when the lid is affixed to the cup 12, the flap 20 is urged upwardly from its 5 downward slope as molded. This means that the flap continuously exerts a downward force toward the upper edge of the spout. When the flap is in contact with the upper edge of the spout, the downwardly directed force exerted by the resilient nature of the single piece molded plastic lid and flap in combination, produces a fluid seal between the flap and upper edge of the spout. As the flap 20 is raised from the edge of the spout in response to liquid pressing upon the underside of the flap, as during a tipping of the container in the direction of the spout 14, the flap continues to exert a downward force and effectively rides on the top of the stream of liquid flowing from the container. Because the flap rides on the liquid stream, it controls the flow of the dispensed liquid. Then, as the cup is returned to its upright position, the flap automatically lowers to the top edge of the spout in response to its inherent and downwardly directed force to again seal the spout 14.
So complete is the fluid tight seal between the flap and the spout and between the lid and the cup that a vent to the atmosphere is required to permit efficient pouring of the beverage from the cup. The vent is illustrated most clearly in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 and comprises a slot 70 formed in the upper edge and sidewall of the cup. The slot extends through the sidewall of the cup and extends downwardly from the upper edge 36 to terminate below the lower horizontal edge of the lip 28 and below the lower horizontal sidewall 66 of the head 30 when the cup and lid are in sealed assembly. Such an arrangement permits air at atmospheric pressure to displace the beverage as it is poured from the container.
I As previously stated the uppermost sidewall portion of the cup including the lip 28 are closely fitted to the corresponding open bottom channel 26 and bead 30 of the lid. The installation of the lid on the cup, however, requires only small forces to accomplish a full engagement and a complete fluid tight seal. To install the lid, the shoulders 38A and 38B of the cup are initially fitted into contact with the channel end walls 64A and 648 respectively. Then by lightly pressing downward near the center of the lid and at the same time pulling upward and outward on the lower bead wall 66, the lid is sufficiently deformed to enable the bead 30 to pass over the lip 28 and engage the horizontal underside surface of the lip 28 thereby releasably locking the lid and flap on the cup.
Typically, in the manufacture of plastic articles such as the preferred one piece molded lid and flap combination 16 and 18, a trimming operation is required after releasing the molded articles from the mold. As concerns the flap 20, it is desirable that it be trimmed as well as the outwardly extending lower wall 66 of the bead 30. The present invention makes it possible to perform such trimming in a single-step operation by placement of the flap 20 and the lower horizontal wall 66 in the same horizontal plane.
From the foregoing detailed description, it is to be understood that the liquid storing and dispensing container of the present invention is an improved disposable lightweight plastic container particularly useful in serving hot beverages to hospital patients. The foamtype plastic cup and simply installed plastic lid provide a sealed container which enables the dispensing of a hot beverage stored within the container by merely tipping the container so as to cause the beverage to bear against the underside of a flexible flap which normally seals a pouring spout formed in the cup. This most sim ple of procedures for dispensing a beverage precludes the necessity of removing the lid from the cup and eliminates the hazards of spilling the contents of the container. Even in the event of an accidental tipping over the container the flow from the container is minimized because the lid remains in place and the loss of contents is retarded by the self-sealing flap which covers and seals the spout.
While a particular form of container has been described in some detail herein, changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention. It is therefore intended that the invention be limited in scope only by the terms of the following claims.
1. A liquid storing and dispensing container comprisa cup including a vertically extending sidewall having an upper edge defining an open top for said cup,
a spout extending outwardly from said sidewall below said top and including an upwardly facing open end having an upper edge in a plane lower than said upper edge of said cup, and said upper edge of said cup terminating at vertically extending shoulders in said sidewall adjacent and contiguous with opposite ends of said upper edge of said spout;
a lid of plastic material for covering said open top of said cup substantially in a plane of said upper edge of said spout and including an open bottom channel extending upwardly from a top of said lid for receiving and tightly sealing against an upper portion of said cup between said shoulders, said open bottom channel including opposing sidewalls for engaging in fluid tight seal inner and outer sidewall portions of said cup adjacent said upper edge of said cup and ends for engaging said shoulders in a fluid tight seal; and
a flat flexible and resilient flap of plastic material continuous and substantially coplaner with and cantilevered outwardly from said lid along a substantially straight line between ends of said channel for normally resting on and sealing against said upper edge of said spout and for bearing tightly on said upper edge of said spout at junctions with said channel ends to maintain a fluid tight seal with said cup at said junctions and for rising from said spout at all but said junctions as liquid in said cup presses thereagainst with a tipping of said cup to permit a dispensing of liquid through said spout to automatically return to sealing engagement with said spout as said cup is returned to an upright position.
2. The container of 1 wherein:
said cup further includes a lip projecting outwardly from said upper edge of said cup; and
an outermost one of said opposing sidewalls of said channel includes an inwardly facing head for snapping under and sealing against said lip and having a lower horizontal wall in the plane of said lid and