|Publication number||US3874115 A|
|Publication date||Apr 1, 1975|
|Filing date||Feb 11, 1974|
|Priority date||Feb 11, 1974|
|Publication number||US 3874115 A, US 3874115A, US-A-3874115, US3874115 A, US3874115A|
|Inventors||London Herbert S, Seay William Jackson|
|Original Assignee||London Herbert S, Seay William Jackson|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Referenced by (14), Classifications (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent [1 1 London et a1.
1 1 NONSPILL FLEXIBLE PACKAGE FOR SHIPPING AND STORING CUT FLOWERS OR THE LIKE  Inventors: Herbert S. London, 1730 Merton Rd., N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30306; William Jackson Seay, 330 Woodward Way, N.W.. Atlanta, Ga. 30305  Filed: Feb. 11, 1974  Appl. No.: 441,034
 U.S. Cl 47/34.ll, 47/41, 206/423, 220/904, ISO/DIG. l,
 Int. Cl B65d 37/00  Field of Search 128/275, 295; 220/904; 4/110; l12;283; 177,150/5, 1. DIG. l, 44, 48; 47/41, 4l.1l.34.1 1; 43/55  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,148,283 7/1915 Berger 4/283 1,402,904 l/1922 Skidmorc........ 47/41.11 1,427,123 8/1922 Pulig ISO/DIG, 1 1,624,407 4/1927 Hamilton 47/4l.|1
2,505,845 5/1950 Alvarez 4/177 2,623,368 12/1952 220/904 111] 3,874,115 145] Apr. 1, 1975 3.158.188 11/1964 Esty 150/48 3,559,651 2/1971 Moss 128/295 3,742,994 7/1973 Pensak 150/1 Primary E.\'aminer-Robert E. Bagwill Attorney, Agent, or Firmlones, Thomas & Askew  ABSTRACT stored in an upright position, the spaced-apart position of the open end relative to the side of the bag prevents liquid spillage if the bag becomes upset or overturned. The system also includes a container box for receiving and shipping a number of flower-containing bags. The box is convertible to display the flower-containing bags.
4 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures ATENTEB APR v 1 9 5 SEILEY 2 BF 2 I NUNSPILL FLEXIBLE PACKAGE FOR SHIPPING AND STORING CI'T FLOWERS OR THE LIKE This invention relates in general to the storage and shipment of perishable commodities such as flowers. and in particular to a container for cat flowers or the like. as well as a box for such containers.
The shipment of plants such as cut flowers and the like presents numerous difficulties arising from the need to maintain and preserve the freshness and gencral overall appearance of the flow ers during shipment. Although some varieties of flowers can be shipped dryf that is. without providing a supply of water for the flowers. many \arieties ofcut flowers simply cannot withstand withdrawal from water for any substantial extent of time without becoming wilted and generally unattractive in appearance. Flowers that cannot withstand dry shipment may be available in many locations only during the growing season for the particular type of flower. since the flowers cannot be economically and satisfactorily shipped substantial distances from locations which have an extensive growing season.
arious types of plant shipping containers have been proposed in the prior art. including containers which attempt to maintain cut flowers in a moist environment. Such prior-art expedients include the provision of a flo\\crrecei\ing box which is made water-proof by coating or impregnation with a suitable waterimpervious material. Such containers are waterproof. how e\cr. only while remaining in a normal upright poslllttfl'. the water immediately escapes from a box which becomes o\erturned or upset. conditions which are likely to occur during movement and handling during sltlpltlclti of the flowers. Another prior-art expedient suggested for the presctwahle shipment of cut flowers requires a moisture retaining element such as a spongy or cellular material which is impregnated with water or another pre crvathc liquid. The w titer-retaining material is positioned adiacent or in surrounding relation with the stems of the cut flowers. and is received within a suitable waterproof container. Such containers are ne\ertheless not truly spillproof. since an overturned or upset container still permits water to flow from the cel lular material and escape from the container.
Prior-art attempts to provide a suitable shipping container which preseiwes cut flowers have. accordingly. not been truly spillproof under conditions incurred in shipment and handling. Many such containers have the additional disadwintage of being prohibitively expensive for large-\olume utilization. since the cost of the flower-shipping container may reach or even exceed the cost of the flowers to be shipped therein.
It will be apparent that a commercially successful container for shipping and preserving cut flowers must not only maintain the flower stems in a moist environment without allowing liquid to escape if the container is upset or overturned. but must also be inexpensive to manufacture and easy to use.
Accordingly. it is an object of the present invention to provide improved container apparatus for flowers.
It is another object of the present invention to PTO ride nonspill container apparatus for maintaining cut flowers or the like in liquid.
It is still another object of the present invention to pro\ ide a flower shipping system which allows wet shipment of flowers and which is sufficiently inexpensive for commercial utilization.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a flower shipping system which provides wet shipment of flowers and which also provides a display for the flowers.
Other objects and advantages of the present inverttion will become readily apparent from the following description of the disclosed illustrative embodiment thereof. including the drawings in which:
FIG. I is a pictorial view showing an example of a flower container apparatus according to a disclosed embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a section view taken along line 22 of FIG. I. showing the container apparatus to be upset and lying on one side;
FIG. 3 is a section view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. I. also showing the container upset and lying on a side;
FIG. 4 is a partially broken-away pictorial view of an example of a box for shipping and displaying flower containers or the like, according to the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a partially broken-away pictorial view of the box shown in FIG. 4, with the hos configured for dis play: and
FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the box in FIGS. 4 and Stated in general terms. the present in\ention co|nprises a container in the nature of a bag having a closed end and an open end re'entcring the bag to face gencr ally toward the closed end. The inwardly directed open end ofthe bag is maintained in spaced-apart relation to at least a portion of the contiguous bag walls which sur round the open end. The stems of a quantity of cut flowers may be inserted through the open end to be received within the bag. and a quantity of water or another liquid can be added to the bag for presening or maintaining the freshness of the flowers. So long as the quantity of liquid added to the bag does not exceed a certain predetermined amount. the spacer.l-apart rela tion of the open end with respect to the sides of the bag prevents liquid from escaping through the open end of a bag which is overturned or upset. A number of the flower'receiving bags can he received in a box for shipping in a compact arrangement. The box can be reconfigured for display of the flower-receiving bags.
Stated more particularly and with reference to a disclosed embodiment offlower container apparatus illustrating the present invention. there is seen in FIG. 1 a nonspill container indicated generally at I0 and includ ing a bag 11 having a closed end 12 and an open end 13 which is folded into the bag to face toward the closed end. The bag 11 is preferably flexible or pliant in nature. and may be made of any suitable flexible and liquid-impermeable material such as vinyl plastic. waterproof paper. or the like. The use of a flexible material made ofa suitable plastic which can be heatsealed is particularly useful to the inexpensive fabrication of the bag. and the use ofa transparent or translucent material permits the liquid contents of the bag to be readily ascertained. The bag 11 may be fabricated from separate sheets ofmaterial 19a and 19]) which are heatsealed along the closed end 12 and the two edges 14 and 15. with the sheets of material being folded along fold lines I611 and 16b to turn into and re-enter the bag and return on the interior portions [7 and 18 (FIG. 2) to terminate at the spacing structure 22 surrounding the open end 13.
The spacing structure 22 at the inwardly-facing open end 13 of the bag must maintain the open end of the bag in spaced-apart relation with adjacent surrounding portions of the material 19a and 19h which define the adjacent surrounding portions of the bag. for a purpose discussed below. The disclosed embodiment of the spacing structure 22 is provided by an inflatable cuff which is disposed within the bag and which completely surrounds the open end 13 of the bag. The inflatable cuff is fabricated. in the disclosed embodiment. with a first wall 23:! conveniently formed by an extension of the inwardly-folded interior portion 18, extending back in a generally parallel relation with the inwardly-folded interior portion 18. again folded at 24 to terminate at a location 25 which may be defined by heat-sealing onto the interior portion 18. The first wall portion 23a is preferably formed of sufficient width to wrap around the wall portion l7u and 18:: leading to the open end 13 to provide the second wall 23h, on the upper side of the opening 13 as shown in FlGS. 2 and 3. The second wall 23/1 extends along the sheet 190 in a direction to ward the fold lines [611 and 16b. folds inwardly at 26 in a direction toward the interior portion 17, and is attached to the first wall portion 23a along the line 27. lt can be seen that the inflatable cuff of the disclosed embodiment is iulvantageously formed from a single extension of wall portion 18a material long enough for folding forwardly from the open end l3 for contact and scaling at the lines 25 and 27, and which has sufficient breadth to provide a cuff structure which substantially entirely wraps around the two wall portions 17a and [8a. The aforementioned construction of the cuff ad vantageously enables the bag as thus far described to be fabricated from no more than two pieces [90 and 19/) of material It will be understood. however. that the cuff may be provided by alternative modes of fabrication For example. the cuff can be separately fabricated and subsequently secured to the open end 13.
Attached to tie spacing structure 22 provided by the inflatable cuff is a tongue 28 which extends through an edge 15 of the bag to terminate at an end 29 outside of the bag. The tongue 28 may conveniently be fabricated by a pair of aligned plastic members which are heat sealed together around their peripheries The tongue 28. however constructed. provides a fluid communication conduit extending from the inflatable cuff through the edge 15 of the bag to the end 29 of the tongue.
(onsidering the application and use of the invention as set forth in the above-described embodiment. the bag 11 as described is preferably manufactured with the cuff spacing structure 22 provided in unintlated. or at least merely partially inflated. configuration. The stems 3 of a quantity of cut flowers. schematically rep resented by the lines 36 in FIG. 1. are readily insertable into the bag ll through the interior portions 17 and 18. the wall portions 17:: and 18a. and through the open end l3 to be received adjacent the closed end 12 of the bag. A quantity of water or another suitable liquid 37 may also be admitted to the bag in the same manner. either before or after the cut flowers are inserted. It will be seen that the funnel configuration defined by the fold lines 1611 and 16b readily permit liquid to be supplied into the bag. The maximum quantity of liquid 26 in the bag is critical for reasons set forth below.
After the liquid 37 and the flowers have been disposed in the bag. the cuff is inflated by connecting the end 29 of the tongue 28 to a suitable source of pressurltl ized air. Any appropriate structure. such as the hollow injection needle 38 fitted to an end of an air hose. may be used to accomplish the necessary inflation. Once the cuff is suitably inflated, the end 29 of the tongue 28 is suitably sealed to maintain cuff inflation.
The bag 11. along with a contained quantity of cut flowers and the liquid 37, is normally stored and shipped in approximately an upright position. as depicted in H0. 1, and a number of such bags and associated flowers might conveniently be received in a suitable receptacle. such as the box described below. having means which conveniently hold the bags ll in approximately upright position. If a bag 11 should become overturned. however. the liquid 37 within the bag will flow to occupy the position 37' as shown in FIG. 2. The open end 13 of the bag is maintained by the spacing structure 22 in a spaced-apart relation above the surface of the liquid 37'. and so none of the liquid is able to enter the open end 13 and escape from the bag. It will be apparent. as aforementioned. that the maximum quantity of liquid 37 supplied to the bag must not exceed that quantity. considering the overall configuration of the bag and the lateral extent of the inflated cuff. which would place the surface level of the liquid 37' above the open end 13 of the bag while lying on its side as in FIG. 2.
lfthe bag 11 becomes completely upset to occupy an upside-down position from the normal position shown in FIG. 1, the liquid 37 is collected within the interior region 39 adjacent the fold lines 16a and 16b of the bag; the open end 13 is spaced a sufficient distance from the fold lines 16d. [6b to be above the level of liquid in a completely overturned bag. It will be understood. accordingly. that the liquid cannot escape from the bag ll even though the bag becomes upset or complctely overturned. Once an overturned or upset bag is righted to reassume the upright position. the liquid 37 returns to the normal position surrounding the ends 36 of the flower stems. The liquid in the bags thus cannot escape and cause damage to other cargo being shipped with the flowers. unless the bag 11 is subjected to forces which utterly destroy the bag.
Although the flower container of the present invention is described above in the context of an inflatable cuff which maintains the open end of the container in spaced-apart relation from possible liquid levels within the container, it will be appreciated that the inflatable cuff is but one possible arrangement ofstructure which maintains the open end ofthe bag in a spaced-apart relation so as not to be immersed when the bag is over turned or inverted. An alternative construction of the present container invention. for example. can utilize a rigid spacing element substituted for the inflatable cuff. with the rigid spacing clement including an annular sleeve attached to the open end of the bag and further having stiff spacing members extending in a generally radial direction outwardly from the sleeve to maintain the necessary spacing between the open end of the bag and the liquid level in a turned-over bag. Other techniques and structures for maintaining desired spacing ofthe re-entrant open end 13 and surrounding portions of the bag will suggest themselves to those skilled in the art.
Although wet flower containers of the type made according to the present invention can be shipped in any container or box of appropriate size and configuration to maintain the containers in a normal upright position,
and to afford protection to the flower portions emerging from the containers. the flower-receiving bags of the present invention can be advantageously shipped and subsequently displayed in a box constructed according to the teachings ofthc present in vention. A disclosed embodiment of such a box is shown in FIG. 4-6, wherein the box is indicated generally at 60 and includes an outer box 6] which is preferably selectively separable into a main box portion 62 and a cover box portion 63 by manipulating a suitable parting device such as a conventional tear-tape 64 disposed around the periphery of the outer box 6] at a predetermined distance above the bottom 65 of the outer box.
Disposed within the outer box 6] is an inner box comprising four walls 66a. 66!). 66c. 66d interconnected to form a sheath designated as 67. The overall dimensions of the sheath 67 are slightly smaller than the overall inner dimensions of the main box portion 62, so that the sheath 67 is loosely received within the main box portion to be raised or lowered therein. Each of the walls Mia-66d are preferably slightly higher than the top of the main box portion 62 as defined by the location of the teartape 64.
The inner box has a false bottom 70 which, in the disclosed embodiment. is entirely severed from the four walls 66u-66rl defining the sheath 67. A pair of cords 71 and 72 extend in spaced-apart relation to each other. beneath the false bottom 70, with the cords resting on the inner surface of the main bottom 65 of the outer bo\. The cords extend upwardly between the vvalls 66a and 66. and the confronting walls of the outer box 61. to terminate at enlargements X which may be conveniently provided by knots in the cords. It is preferable that the box 60, in the shipping configuration depicted in FIG. 4. present a substantially flat inner floor for receiving the above-described [lower shipping bags. and so the cords 7| and 72 may be untensioned to allow the false bottom 7!) to rest on the main bottom 65, with the cords 7| and 72 interposed between bottoms. The ends of the cords pass through retainers such as the slots S in the upper edges of the sheath The overall dimensions of the false bottom 70 are preferably somewhat less than the corresponding di mensions of the sheath 67. The false bottom 70 has cutaway relief portions 730V 73!). 73v. 731/ extending approximately diagonally from each corner of the false bottom to terminate at a distance spaced inwardly of the corner. It can be seen in FlG. 6 that these cutaway relief portions define flaps 74a. 7412.741, and 74d. walls 66a and 66c. and are retained therein by the enlargements X; the line of joindcr of each such flap to the center portion of the false bottom 70 are preferably scored or otherwise weakened so that the flaps are readily bendable with respect to the center portion of the false bottom.
The use and operation of the box 60 is now described. With the box in the shipping configuration as depicted in FlG, 4. presenting a substantially flat false bottom 70. a number ofcontainers (or. in the alternative. any other package which may be desired to be disposed within the box) are positioned in a generally upright arrangement across one dimension of the box. The containers 10 are maintained in a row by a divider 75. which may simply be a stick having pointed ends that are embedded within the walls 650 and 65:2 It will be apparent that two or more rows of packages 10 can be disposed within the box 60, depending on the size of the box. with each row o packages separated and maintained upright with a corresponding divider. The cover box 63, which is at this time attached to the main box 62, is then closed and sealed in a conventional manner. and the box is ready for shipment. Although the exterior of the box 60 is preferably marked with shipping legends such as this end up or the like, indicating that the box should be maintained in an upright position as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the use of nonspill containers as described hereinabove prevent leakage of water and consequential weakening or destruction of the box if overturn or upset should occur.
When the box 60 has arrived at a destination where it is desired to display or remove the flowers shipped therein. the cover box 63 is separated from the main box 62, by way ofthe tear tape 64. The exposed sheath 67 is now grasped and lifted upwardly, relative to the main box 62, causing the cords 7] and 72 to engage the flaps 74a-74d formed in the false bottom 70. Referring now to FIG. 5, it is seen that elevating the sheath 66 causes the cords 71 and 72 to elevate the flaps 74(1-741/ of the false bottom to a position pivoted upwardly from the main bottom this upwardly pivoted arrangement ofthe flaps causes the bottom ends of the several containers 10 to be urged inwardly toward the center ofthe false bottom. and this inward movement provides a corresponding outward movement of the flowers received in the containers It). The enlargements X retain the cords 71 and 72 in the slits 5 during the step of elevating the sheath 67 to raise the false bottom flaps. After the llaps of the false bottom have been raised by a desired amount. the cord ends are withdrawn from the slits S in the sheath sides and are instead disposed in slits S located in the corresponding sides ofthe main box 62. It can be seen in FIG. 5 that the ends of the cord 7] and 72 are provided with additional enlarge ments Y. which may also advantageously be provided by knots in the cords. spaced inwardly from the firstmentioned obstructions X; the obstructions Y function to retain the cords in the slits S. so that the sheath 67 can be released and lowered back into the main box 62 while the false bottom remains suspended in elevated position by the cords 7] and 72.
It can be seen from the foregoing that there is described a box which is especially useful for shipping and for displaying flower containers such as described hereinabove. The nonspill flower container and the box of the present invention enable flowers to be shipped from a grower directly to a retail outlet, such as a supermarket or similar retail consumer location. whereupon the box is readily converted to a visually appealing display configuration simply by removing the cover box portion and elevating the false bottom to fan out the containerized flowers. A purchaser can easily select and remove one or several containers of flowers. with the container also functioning as a carrier until the flowers are removed for use.
It will be understood that the foregoing relates only to disclosed embodiments ofthe present invention. and that numerous alterations and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit or the scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.
What is claimed is:
Flexible package for receiving cut flowers or the like, comprising:
an elongate bag made of a pliant. liquid-impermeable material;
said elongate hag having sides ol substantially a flat configuration extending from a closed bottom end to atop end which is open to admit the stems of a bunch of cut flowers or the like;
an inflatable member secured within said elongate bag in annular surrounding relation vvith said open top end;
said inflatable member extending v ithin said elon gate bag along substantially less than the entire elongate length of said bag so that space remains betvveen said inflatable member and said closed bottom end to receive the cut ends of flovver stems and also to receive and retain a quantity of liquid;
said inflatable member when uninflated leaving said open top end substantially unobstructed to the entry of such flower stems or the like;
said inflatable member. when expanded by inflation. snugly surrounding and engaging such flower stems or the like v hich are euending through said open top end there being an area between the outer stirlace ol said inflatable member and the bag portion ad acent thereto for water passage therebetvveen when said package is upended; and
means in fluid flovv communication with said inflatable member to admit pressurized fluid to said inflatable member.
2. l he package as in claim 1. wherein said means for (ill admitting fluid to said inflatable member extends to a location outside of said bag.
3. The package as in claim I. wherein:
said inflatable member comprises an inflatable cuff secured within said bag and having a first end disposed at and attached to said open top end of said bag and a second end in spaced apart relation to said open top end; and
means providing a liquid impervious connection joining said first end of said cul'f to said open top end oi said bag, so that the space within said bag betvvcen the inflated call and the portions of said bag sides contiguous to said culf provides a reservoir volume to receive liquid which is normally at said closed bottom end of said bag unless said bag is upended.
4. The package as in claim 1, wherein:
said inflatable member. when expanded by inflation. is extended into contact with said flat sides of said bag adjacent said open top end to maintain said bag sides in mutual spaced apart relation: and
said open top end being maintained by said expanded inflatable member at a position intermediate of said mutually spaced apart flat sides so that said open end may be maintained above the surface of the liquid when said bag is disposed in a proximately horizontal position.
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|U.S. Classification||47/41.11, 220/719, 47/41.1, 206/423|