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Carry container that converts into a protective mat

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Carry container that converts into a protective mat


A carry container is interchangeable between a closed position and an open position, wherein the container converts into a protective mat, such as a placemat, and becomes a barrier against germs. In one embodiment, the carry container includes an outer shell including a bottom panel and four side panels extending from the bottom panel and being configured to releasably attach to each of the two neighboring side panels using a fastener to form a container for carrying one or more items, such as food items. An inner lining formed by a generally square sheet is attached to an inner facing side of the outer shell and defines the protective mat when the outer shell is in an open position and flat on a surface. The container can be easily converted between the closed position (lunch box) and open position (protective mat).


USPTO Applicaton #: #20130319903 - Class: 206546 (USPTO) - 12/05/13 - Class 206 
Special Receptacle Or Package > Combined Or Convertible >Packaged Assemblage Or Kit >Camp Or Lunch Type >Knockdown, Or Nested, Mess Gear Type

Inventors: Rita Floyd-vester, Csaba Vester

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130319903, Carry container that converts into a protective mat.

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BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This patent application is based on provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/652,418 filed on May 29, 2012.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to food carrying containers and, more particularly, a carry container that converts into a placemat for forming a barrier between the surface upon which the container is resting and the user while eating.

DISCUSSION OF THE RELATED ART

Studies have shown that the most prevalent area for germs in a school setting is the cafeteria table. Some bacteria are capable of causing infections and tend to collect on frequently touched surfaces, particularly in areas where there is a lot of hand-to-mouth contact like the cafeteria table. When children touch the contaminated surface, the germs are transmitted to their hands, and if they subsequently touch their eyes, nose or lips, it is likely that they have infected themselves. The best way to avoid the spreading of germs is to never touch infected surfaces.

Lunch boxes have long been known and widely used by children all over the world. The majority of lunch boxes used today are not washable and, therefore, cannot be properly sanitized. The combination of the unclean lunch boxes and germ-infested cafeteria tables provides an ideal scenario for spreading germs.

Therefore, there is a particular need to overcome the problems discussed above by reducing the amount of germs a child comes into contact with while having a meal away from home, such as having lunch at a school cafeteria table. However, the present invention is neither limited to use by children, nor is limited to use as a placemat in a school cafeteria.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a carry container that is interchangeable between a closed position and an open position, wherein the container opens into a protective mat, such as a placemat, and becomes a barrier against germs. In one embodiment, the container includes an outer shell including a bottom panel and four side panels extending from the bottom panel and being configured to releasably attach to each of the two neighboring side panels using a fastener. The container can be easily converted between the closed position (lunch box) and open position (placemat).

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

Considering the foregoing, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a container that converts into a protective mat for limiting exposure of the user to germs.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a container that converts into a protective mat that is machine washable.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a washable container that converts into a protective mat is easily converted between a closed position for food items and an open position for eating the food items.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention are more readily apparent with reference to the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature of the present invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in the closed position;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in a partially opened position, wherein one side panel is open;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in the closed position;

FIG. 4 is a top view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in the closed position;

FIG. 5 is a front side view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in the closed position;

FIG. 6 is a side profile view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat in the closed position;

FIG. 7 is a top view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat according to one embodiment in the open position;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat according to the embodiment in FIG. 7 in the open position;

FIG. 9 is a top view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat according to one embodiment in the open position; and

FIG. 10 is a bottom view illustrating the food carrying container that converts into a protective mat according to the embodiment in FIG. 9 in the open position.

Like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF INVENTION

Referring to the several views of the drawings, the washable container that converts into a protective mat is shown and is generally indicated as 10.

Referring initially to FIGS. 1 and 2, the convertible and washable container 10 includes an outer shell 12 including an integrally formed bottom panel 14 and side panels 16. A plurality of fasteners 18 on each of the side panels 16 are configured to secure the panels 16 together. In a preferred embodiment, the fasteners 18 are zipper fasteners and include zipper pull tabs 19 for manually fastening and unfastening the side panels 16, as shown in the drawings. Other embodiments of the fasteners 16 include hook and loop fasteners, clips, or any other suitable closure mechanisms.

The washable food carrying container 10 is interchangeable between a closed position and an open position. The closed position, wherein the fasteners 18 are securing the side panels 16 together, represents a container having an interior cavity suitable for storing food items and other items. In a preferred embodiment, the side panels 16 and fasteners 18 are configured such that the container 10 is dome-shaped when in the closed position. In one embodiment, handle members 20A and 20B are included on opposite facing side panels 18 for forming a handle 22 when the container 10 is in the closed position. Each handle member 20A and 20B may include a handle opening 23 sized for receiving a portion of a user\'s hand. Alternatively, the handle 22 and opening 23 may be formed from cutouts on opposing side panels 14.

Referring to FIGS. 3-6, two different embodiments of the food container 10 are shown. FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate a first embodiment of the handle 22, wherein handle members 20A and 20B are sewn onto opposite facing side panels 16. FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the handle 22, wherein handle members 20A and 20B are formed as part of the outer shell 12 at opposite facing side panels 16.

Referring to FIGS. 7-10, the container 10 is shown in the open position, wherein the fasteners 18 are undone and the side panels 16 are separated from each other. The open position represents a protective mat configuration for forming a barrier between the surface upon which the container 10 is resting and the user. An inner lining 24 serves as the protective mat, such as a placemat, when the container 10 is in the open position. The inner lining 24 is attached to the inner facing side of the outer shell 12, forming webs 25 in between each side panel 16. In one embodiment, the inner lining 24 is attached to the inner facing side of the outer shell by stitching 27, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 9. Other suitable means of attaching the inner lining to the outer shell may be used as well.

The open position decreases the likelihood that a user\'s hands or food items will come into contact with the table surface, thereby reducing the spread of bacteria, viruses and fungi. FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate the embodiment of the container 10 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, wherein the handle members 20A and 20B are sewn onto opposite facing side panels 16. FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate the embodiment of the container 10 shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, wherein the handle members 20A and 20B are formed as part of the outer shell 12 at opposite facing side panels 16.

In order to store foods items in the container 10, it is preferable for the container 10 to be partially opened, such that the fasteners 18 are partially separated to allow the upper portions of the side panels 16 to be separated for easy loading of the container 10. Alternatively, the container 10 could be loaded in the open position (i.e. protective mat configuration) and then fastened or, alternatively, with one or two side panels 16 in the open position.

In a preferred embodiment, the outer shell 12, inner lining 24 and fasteners 18 are each made from a machine washable material. In one embodiment, the outer shell 12 is made from a heat resistant material, such as neoprene fabric. The outer shell 12 may be made from one layer of material. Other embodiments of the outer shell 12 include multiple layers of different materials having varying thicknesses. For example, the outer shell 12 can be made from a heat resistant material and the inner lining 24 (i.e. eating surface) of the container 10 can be made from a washable nylon or neoprene fabric. The different layers of materials may be attached together by conventional methods, such as, but not limited to, one or more of the following: adhesives, sewing, stitching, welding, glues, and tapes.

Although the present invention has been shown and described as being suitable for carrying food items, it is not limited to such, and may be used to carry other objects at the discretion of the user.

While the present invention has been shown and described in accordance with several preferred and practical embodiments thereof, it is recognized that departures from the instant disclosure are fully contemplated within the spirit and scope of the invention.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20130319903 A1
Publish Date
12/05/2013
Document #
13904708
File Date
05/29/2013
USPTO Class
206546
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
45C11/20
Drawings
8




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