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Cup assembly

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20140103041 patent thumbnailZoom

Cup assembly


A cup is provided having a lid with a spout defined by walls tapered towards a distal end of the spout. The lid has handles extending therefrom that are preferably formed of a first and second material having different Shore A hardnesses to define a rigid portion and a gripping portion.


Browse recent Eveready Battery Company, Inc. patents - St. Louis, MO, US
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140103041 - Class: 2202125 (USPTO) -
Receptacles > Closures >Combined Or Convertible >With Handle



Inventors: Ross S. Randolph, Joseph P. Sejnowski

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140103041, Cup assembly.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of prior application Ser. No. 12/456,298, filed Jun. 15, 2009, which is a continuation of prior application Ser. No. 10/404,919, filed Apr. 1, 2003, which is a continuation-in-part of prior U.S. Design application Ser. No. 29/168,356, filed Oct. 1, 2002, and a continuation-in-part of prior U.S. application Ser. No. 09/908,099, filed Jul. 18, 2001, which is a continuation-in-part of prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/645,975 filed on Feb. 4, 2000 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,415, which is a continuation of prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/019,765 filed on Feb. 6, 1998 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,445. The disclosures of application Ser. No. 12/456,298, filed Jun. 15, 2009, application Ser. No. 10/404,918, filed Apr. 1, 2003, U.S. Design application Ser. No. 29/168,356, filed Oct. 1, 2002, U.S. application Ser. No. 09/908,099, filed Jul. 18, 2001, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/645,975 filed on Feb. 4, 2000 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,415, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/019,765 filed on Feb. 6, 1998 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,445 are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to cups. More particularly, the present invention relates to infant cup assemblies.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Cups designed especially for use by infants or children are known. Such cups are intended to facilitate the gripping of the cup by the infant. Contemporary devices often employ gripping structures that are formed on the surface of the bottle.

A baby bottle with an outer surface that has been adapted to provide handles intended to allow infants and children to better grip the bottle, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,215,203 to Malcolm. The bottle has at least two sets of handles that are formed integrally with the bottle by a plurality of recesses extending vertically along a substantial length of the bottle. The recesses have either side walls that converge towards each other as they extend towards a central longitudinal axis of the bottle or side walls that are parallel to each other. The lobe shaped handles resulting from the converging side walls and the rectangular shaped handles resulting from the parallel side walls, allow an infant or child to partially grasp or hold the handles. The bottles provide limited assistance to infants or children because they do not allow for a complete or nearly complete closure of the infants hands around the handles.

Other cups designed especially for use by infants or children include orifices that are intended to reduce spillage of fluid from the cup. Such cups have drinking orifices and separate air vents, which allow the user to drink from the orifice without creating excessive vacuum in the cup. However, drinking orifices and air vents are liable to leak liquid stored in the cup between feedings, or if dropped during use. Drinking orifices and the surrounding lid structure through which the orifices are disposed, have a lasting effect on the child's lip placement which can impact the child's ability to feed and swallow.

Certain cups have been developed that use valving mechanisms at the orifice and at the air vent. These valves respond to suction generated during feeding to open and allow liquid to pass through the orifice and to allow air to enter the air vent when a vacuum is developed in the interior of the cup. Patents disclosing such valves include U.S. Pat. No. 5,079,013 to Belanger, U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,415 to Manganiello, U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,445 to Manganiello and U.S. Pat. No. RE 37,016 to Morano, which are commonly assigned or licensed to the assignee of the present application. Applicant hereby incorporates the disclosure of these patents by reference.

Accordingly, there is a need for cups having handles, which facilitate gripping and grasping by infants, and motivate infants to use such handles. There is also a need for handles on cups having sufficient strength to withstand use by children. There is a further need for cups having lids and orifices that facilitate use by children, including promoting proper lip closure around the orifice.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a cup assembly that assists infants and children in holding the cup assembly.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that promotes better hand-to-mouth coordination.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that promotes independent cup drinking in the child.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that reduces or eliminates leakage and spillage.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that facilitates use of the spout.

It is another further object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that facilitates generation of a suction force and promotes improved flow-rate through the orifice.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide such a cup that promotes proper lip closure.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide such a cup assembly that promotes better lip approximation.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention are provided by a lid for a cup comprising a lid body removably securable to the cup; an orifice; and a handle having a rigid portion and a gripping portion. The rigid portion is formed from a first material, the gripping portion is formed from a second material, and the first material has a higher Shore A hardness than the second material. The lid body can have a spout with the orifice formed therethrough. The handle can have an upper surface and a lower surface with the gripping portion at least partially covering the upper surface and substantially covering the lower surface.

In another aspect of the invention, a cup assembly for an infant is provided comprising a cup defining an inner volume; a lid having an orifice in fluid communication with the inner volume and the lid being removably securable to the cup; and a handle having a rigid portion and a gripping portion. The rigid portion is formed from a first material, the gripping portion is formed from a second material, and the first and second materials are integrally molded. The first material has a higher Shore A hardness than the second material.

In another aspect of the invention, a cup assembly for an infant is provided comprising a cup defining an inner volume; a lid having an orifice in fluid communication with the inner volume and the lid being removably securable to the cup; and a handle comprising a rigid portion and a gripping portion and having a proximal end and a distal end. The rigid portion is formed from a first material and the gripping portion is formed from a second material. The first material has a higher Shore A hardness than the second material. The proximal end is secured to the lid and the distal end is separated from the cup by a first distance when the lid is secured to the cup. The first distance is large enough to allow a hand of the infant to pass between the cup and the distal end of the handle.

In another aspect of the invention, a cup assembly is provided which comprises a cup defining an inner volume, and a lid having a spout, an orifice and a handle. The orifice is disposed through the spout. The handle has a rigid portion and a gripping portion. The rigid portion has a channel. The rigid portion is formed from at least a first material and the gripping portion is formed from at least a second material. The first material has a higher Shore A Hardness than the second material. A first portion of the second material is disposed in the channel and a second portion of the second material is disposed adjacent to the channel.

In another aspect of the invention, a method of making a handle for a cup assembly is provided. The method comprises molding a rigid portion of the handle from a first material, with the rigid portion having at least one channel formed therein. The method further comprises molding a gripping portion of the handle from a second material, with the gripping portion having at least a first portion disposed in the channel. The first material has a higher Shore A Hardness than the second material.

In another aspect of the invention, a method of making a lid is provided. The method comprises molding a rigid portion of the lid from a first material, with the rigid portion having a lid body, a spout, and a handle. The handle has at least one channel formed therein. The method further comprises molding a gripping portion of the lid from a second material, with the gripping portion having at least a first portion disposed in the channel. The first material has a higher Shore A Hardness than the second material.

The rigid portion can have a channel formed therein, with at least a portion of the second material disposed in the channel. The channel can be first and second channels disposed at least partially along the rigid portion. The rigid portion can have first, second and third walls integrally formed with each other and defining the first and second channels. The first and second walls can be substantially orthogonal to the third wall. The handle can have an upper surface and a lower surface with the first wall of the rigid portion at least partially defining the upper surface, and with the gripping portion at least partially defining the lower surface.

The rigid portion can have a rib disposed along at least one of the first and second channels, and the rib can be substantially parallel with the first and second walls. The rib can be disposed in proximity to the proximal end of the handle. The first wall can have a wave-like shape, with the gripping portion having a corresponding wave-like shape adjacent to the first wall, and substantially defining the lower surface. The third wall can have a projection formed therein, and the second material can be molded over the projection to form a gripping abutment. The gripping abutment can be disposed in proximity to the distal end of the handle.

The first material can be a polypropylene and the second material can be a thermoplastic elastomer. The lid can have a spout and the orifice can be formed in the spout. The lid can have a vent hole formed therein. There can also be a flow control valve in fluid communication with the orifice, the vent hole and the inner volume, wherein the valve limits flow from the inner volume through the orifice. The handle can be a pair of handles extending from the lid and diametrically opposed along the lid. The spout can have an ellipsoidal cross-sectional area. The spout can have a distal end, and can be inwardly tapered toward the distal end. The spout can have a top wall, with the orifice being disposed through the top wall, and with the top wall having an upwardly arcuate or dome-like shape.

The molding of the gripping portion can include disposing a second portion of the second material adjacent to the channel. The molding of the rigid portion can include integrally forming a first wall, a second wall and a third wall, with the third wall connecting the first and second walls. The molding of the rigid portion can include forming a substantially planar bottom surface along the channel.

Other and further objects, advantages and features of the present invention will be understood by reference to the following.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a cup assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the cup assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the cup assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the flow control valve for the cup assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of the cup of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a front view of the lid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the lid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a bottom perspective view of the lid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of the lid of FIG. 8 without a gripping portion;

FIG. 10 is a front view of the lid of FIG. 9 without the gripping portion;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the lid of FIG. 9 without the gripping portion;

FIG. 12 is a bottom view of the lid of FIG. 9 without the gripping portion;

FIG. 13 is a front view of an alternative embodiment of the lid of FIG. 8 without a gripping portion;

FIG. 14 is a bottom perspective view of another alternative embodiment of the lid of FIG. 8 without a gripping portion;

FIG. 15 is a front view of a prior art PLAYTEX® conventional lid;

FIG. 16 is a side view of the prior art PLAYTEX® conventional lid of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a top view of the prior art PLAYTEX® conventional lid of FIG. 15;

FIG. 18 is a front view of a prior art GERBER® conventional lid;

FIG. 19 is a side view of the prior art GERBER® conventional lid of FIG. 18; and

FIG. 20 is a top view of the prior art GERBER® conventional lid of FIG. 18.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, FIGS. 1 through 4, there is shown a preferred embodiment of a cup assembly of the present invention, generally represented by reference numeral 10. Cup assembly 10 has a cup or container 100, a cap or lid 200, a spout 300 extending from the lid, and a valve or flow control element 700 (FIG. 4).

Referring to FIG. 5, cup 100 has a substantially cylindrical shape defining an inner volume 105. Cup 100 has a top portion 110 having an open end 115, a middle portion 140 and a bottom portion 160. Middle portion 140 can have a diameter that is smaller than the diameter of top portion 110 or bottom portion 160 to provide an hour-glass like shape. Alternative shapes can also be used for cup 100, such as, for example, tapered.

Top portion 110 has an outer surface 120 with threads 125 formed thereon. The preferred embodiment has threads 125 for removably engaging lid 200 with cup 100. However, alternative engagement structures or methods can also be used to engage lid 200 with cup 100, such as, for example, a snap fit. Cup 100 is preferably transparent or semi-transparent, which provides for visual indication of the contents and amount within the cup, and also can encourage or promote use by a child through visual stimulation. Cup 100 can also be opaque.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 8, lid 200 has a center member or lid body 210, an annular flange 250, spout 300 (which will be described later in greater detail), an air vent 345 and handles 400. Center member 210 has an upper surface 220 and a lower surface 230. Preferably, center member 210 has a circular shape. More preferably, center member 210 has an upwardly convex or dome-like shape. However, alternative shapes can also be used for center member 210, such as, for example, flat or concave. Annular flange 250 extends downwardly from the outer circumference of center member 210 to provide a sealing or mating surface between lid 200 and cup 100.

Annular flange 250 has an outer surface 260 and an inner surface 270. Outer surface 260 preferably has gripping structures 265 secured thereto. In the preferred embodiment, gripping structures 265 are a number or series of tear-drop shaped projections formed integrally with outer surface 260 of flange 250. Preferably, gripping structures 265 are equi-distantly spaced apart. Alternative shapes, designs and/or patterns for gripping structures 265 can also be used to facilitate removable engagement of lid 200 with cup 100, such as, for example, bubbles or wave-like grooves or ridges. Inner surface 270 has threads 275 secured thereto. Threads 275 mate with threads 125 of cup 100 to removably engage the cup with the lid 200. However, as described above, alternative engagement structures or methods can be used.

Lower surface 230 of center member 210 has a liquid mating surface 235 and a vent mating surface 240. Mating surfaces 235, 240, are preferably adjacent to, or incorporated into, spout 300 and air vent 345, so as to frictionally engage flow control valve 700 and place the valve in fluid communication with the spout and air vent. In the preferred embodiment, mating surfaces 235, 240 are cylindrical channels integrally molded with center member 210 below spout 300 and below air vent 345, respectively. Cylindrical channels 235, 240 have a size and shape to mate with flow control valve 700. Preferably, cylindrical channels 235, 240 have an inner size and shape to engage with flow control valve 700. Lower surface 230 can also have a valve securing member 245, which engages with a corresponding structure on flow control valve 700 to orientate and/or assist in holding the valve in position. In the preferred embodiment, valve securing member 245 is a substantially planar, arcuate member extending orthogonally from lower surface 230 of lid 200.

Flow control element or valve mechanism 700 has first valve portion or stack 730 and second valve portion or stack 732 connected together by substrate 738. Each valve portion 730, 732 has a lower portion 726, an upper portion 728 and valve faces 736 bearing slits. Each valve portion 730, 732 is configured to frictionally engage cylindrical channels 235, 240, respectively, and place flow control valve 700 in fluid communication with spout 300 and air vent 345, respectively.

Flow control element 700 preferably has a concave shaped valve face 736 of valve portions 730 and 732, and, in conjunction with the attendant curved shape of slits, provides superior fluid flow rate through the slit over existing valve configurations. U.S. Pat. No. 5,079,013 to Belanger, U.S. Pat. No. RE 37,016 to Morano, U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,445 to Manganiello and U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,415 to Manganiello depict examples of valves that are usable with the present invention. Additionally, alternative flow control mechanisms and valves can also be placed in fluid communication with spout 300 and/or air vent 345 to provide a resistance to flow or an inhibitor to spillage and shakeout, absent a sucking force, including a separate pair of stack valves that individually mate with cylindrical mating surfaces 235, 240.

Handles 400 are preferably a pair of handles that extend curvingly downward from annular flange 250 toward bottom portion 160 of cup 100. Preferably, handles 400 extend substantially down in proximity to bottom portion 160 of cup 100. Handles 400 are preferably diametrically opposed along annular flange 250. Handles 400 have a proximal end 450 where the handle is connected to flange 250, and a distal end 455. Handles 400 have a length and width that allow an infant or child to fully grasp the handles and preferably allow closure of the entire hand around the handles. Handles 400 preferably extend at least half way down cup 100. Handles 400 have a curvature and shape that provides for sufficient space between the handles and cup 100 for the hand of the infant or child when holding the handles. Preferably, handles 400 are separated from cup 100 at distal end 455 a sufficient distance to allow the infant or child\'s hand to pass between the distal end and the cup. The size, shape and positioning of handles 400 promote better hand-to-mouth coordination for the child or infant.

Handles 400 have a rigid portion 420, a gripping portion 460 and a gripping abutment 480. Gripping portion 460 is an area or portion of handle 400 that is more flexible, resilient and/or softer than rigid portion 420, to facilitate grasping and holding of the handle by the infant or child. In the preferred embodiment, gripping portion 460 is molded from a different material than rigid portion 420 to provide for the difference in flexibility, resiliency and softness. The different materials have different levels of hardness or Shore A Hardness. Preferably, rigid portion 420 and the remaining parts of lid 200, i.e., center member 210, annular flange 250 and spout 300, are made of the same material and more preferably are integrally molded with each other.

Rigid portion 420 is preferably molded from a rigid material, such as, for example, a polypropylene. Preferably, gripping portion 460 is molded from a flexible, resilient and/or softer material, such as, for example, a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). The TPE of gripping portion 460 preferably has a lower hardness or Shore A Hardness than the hardness or Shore A Hardness of rigid portion 420. While the preferred embodiment has rigid portion 420 made of a first material and gripping portion 460 made of a second material, the present disclosure contemplates more than two materials, such as, for example, the rigid portion being a plurality of materials and/or the gripping portion being a plurality of materials.

Handle 400 has an upper or over-surface 402 and a lower or under-surface 404. Gripping portion 460 is preferably formed along under-surface 404 and substantially covers the under-surface. More preferably, gripping portion 460 substantially covers under-surface 404 and wraps around sides 405 of handles 400 to partially cover the over-surface 402. In the preferred embodiment, gripping portion 460 partially wraps around over-surface 402 and has ends 406, 407 with a wave-like shape, which facilitates grasping of the handles 400. The wave-like shape of ends 406, 407 further accommodates varying sizes of hands and varying positioning of hands on handles 400. Gripping abutment 480 is formed along the under-surface 404 of handle 400 near distal end 455 and further facilitates grasping of the handle. Preferably, gripping abutment 480 is a circular or semi-spherical projection.

Gripping portion 460 provides an infant or child with a different texture or feel, as compared to rigid portion 420. This provides textural stimulus for the use of handles 400. Preferably, gripping portion 460 has a different color than the color of rigid portion 420 to provide a visual stimulus for the use of handles 400. Other visual and textural stimuli can also be further provided on handles 400 to further motivate the child to utilize the handles, such as, for example, decorations or embossments. In the preferred embodiment, rigid portion 420 and gripping portion 460 are opaque. However, either or both of rigid portion 420 and gripping portion 460 can be transparent or semi-transparent. The transparency or semi-transparency of lid 100 provides for visual indication of the contents and amount within the cup, and also can encourage or promote use by a child through visual stimulation.

Referring to FIGS. 6 through 12, preferably a first material is molded, and more preferably injection molded, to form rigid portion 420 of handles 400, as well as center member 210, annular flange 250 and spout 300 of lid 200. To provide for a flow path for a second material which is more flexible, resilient and/or softer (with a lower hardness or Shore A Hardness) and to facilitate bonding of the first material of rigid portion 420 with the second material, the rigid portion preferably has an outer or first wall 425, an inner or second wall 430 and a center or third wall 435.

Outer wall 425 and inner wall 430 are substantially equidistantly spaced apart and connected by center wall 435. Preferably, center wall 435 is substantially perpendicular or orthogonal to outer and inner walls 425, 430 to define a generally U-shaped channel 440. Channels 440 are preferably formed by outer, inner and center walls 425, 430, 435 along opposing sides of rigid portion 420. The molding process for lid 200 and handles 400 is preferably a two-shot injection molding technique using a first material, such as polypropylene, for rigid portion 420, and a second material, such as TPE, for gripping portion 460.

Preferably, there is at least one rib 445 formed in channel 440. More preferably, there are two ribs 445 in each channel 440. Ribs 445 provide additional strength and integrity to handles 400. Ribs 445 are preferably formed in channels 440 in proximity to proximal end 450 of handles 400. Preferably, ribs 445 are generally parallel to outer and inner walls 425, 430 and have a shape or curvature that is similar to the shape or curvature of channel 440. The shape, size and positioning of ribs 445 preferably reduce flow resistance and further facilitate flow of the second material into and along or through the channel 440. Ribs 445 increase the surface contact area between the first and second materials, and improve the bonding between the first and second materials of rigid portion 420 and gripping portion 460.

In the preferred embodiment, outer wall 425 of rigid portion 420 has a wave-like shape so that gripping portion 460 has a corresponding wave-like shape along handles 400. To form gripping abutment 480, a semi-circular projection 485 is formed in center wall 435 along distal end 455 of the rigid portion 420. The second material is molded over the projection 485 to form gripping abutment 480. Rigid portion 420 has an end wall 490 formed in distal end 455, which provides further rigidity to handle 400, improves the bonding between the rigid portion and the gripping portion 460, and provides a terminus for the flow of the second material of the gripping portion. Preferably, end wall 490 is substantially perpendicular to outer and center walls 425, 435.

In the preferred embodiment, inner wall 430 extends only partially along handle 400. However, alternatively, inner wall 430 can fully extend along handle 400. Also, in the preferred embodiment, channels 440 are disposed on opposing sides of rigid portion 420 and run partially along the rigid portion. However, the present disclosure contemplates any number of channels 400, which may be disposed in various orientations and positions along rigid portion 420.

Referring to FIGS. 13 and 14, alternative embodiments of lid 200 with rigid portions 1320, 1420, respectively, are shown. Features of FIGS. 13 and 14 similar to the features of the preferred embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 12, have the same reference numerals. The rigid portion 1320 of FIG. 13 has channel 440 formed by outer, inner and center walls 425, 430, 435. But the channels 440 do not have ribs disposed at proximal end 450, compared to the preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 9 through 12.

The rigid portion 1420 of FIG. 14 has outer wall 425 formed orthogonally with a center wall 1435. But rigid portion 1420 does not have an inner wall secured to center wall 1435 and does not form a channel along rigid portion 1420, such as in the preferred embodiment. Rigid portion 1420 also does not have an end wall at distal end 455, such as in the preferred embodiment. Rigid portion 1420 has a number or series of apertures or holes 1450 formed through center wall 1435. In contrast, the center wall 435 of rigid portion 420 of the preferred embodiment, does not have apertures, and provides a generally planar solid bottom surface of channel 440 along the flow path of the second material of gripping portion 460. Apertures 1450 of rigid portion 1420 create orthogonal contact surfaces along center wall 1435 between the rigid portion and the gripping portion 460, and the second material of the gripping portion flows through the apertures.

In the preferred embodiment, handles 400 are a pair of handles integrally formed on opposing sides of lid 200 with a space provided at distal ends 455 of the handles. However, it is contemplated by the present disclosure for alternative numbers and positions of handles 400 to be used. It is further contemplated by the present disclosure for handles 400 to be integrally formed with cup 100 at bottom portion 160 of the cup to provide a separation or space from the cup in proximity to lid 100 or for the handles to be integrally formed with the cup at both the top and bottom portions 110, 160. It is also contemplated by the present disclosure for handles 400 to be a separate structure that is secured to cup 100 and/or lid 200, and/or removably secured, such as, for example, a handle ring having handles 400 extending therefrom. It is also contemplated by the present disclosure that gripping portion 460 is formed with, or secured to, rigid portion 420 in other ways, such as, for example, friction fit or adhesive.

During the molding process, an unexpected and significant result occurred with the use of ribs 445 disposed in channels 440, as compared to rigid portions 1320, and 1420 that did not have ribs. It was discovered that ribs 445 prevented sink marks from developing in gripping portion 460 when the second material was molded into and through channels 440. In rigid portions 1320, 1420, sink marks developed in the area of proximal end 450, which distorted the intended shape of gripping portion 460 and had a significant negative impact on the strength and integrity of handles 400.

Additionally, during the molding process, an unexpected and significant result occurred with the use of channels 440 and the generally planar bottom surface (center wall 435) along the flow path of the second material of gripping portion 460, as compared to rigid portion 1420, which has apertures 1450 formed through center wall 1435. It was discovered that channels 440 and the generally planar solid bottom surface of center wall 435 significantly improved the flow of the second material through channels 440, resulting in an improved bond between the rigid and gripping portions 420, 460, and further provided for a smoother outer surface of the gripping portion.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 6 through 12, spout 300 has a front wall 310, a rear wall 320, a first side wall 330, a second side wall 340 and a top wall 350. Top wall 350 has a number of holes 360 formed therethrough. Front wall 310, rear wall 320, first and second side walls 330, 340 and top wall 350 are integrally molded, and define a spout volume 305 that is in fluid communication with inner volume 105 of cup 100 (through flow control valve 700) and with holes 360. In this embodiment, two holes 360 are shown but other numbers of holes can also be used.

Top wall 350 has an upwardly convex or arcuate shape and forms chamfered edges with front and rear walls 310, 320 and first and second side walls 330, 340. Top wall 350 has a radius of curvature r1. Preferably, radius of curvature r1 is from about 0.25 inches to about 0.5 inches, more preferably from about 0.35 inches to about 0.40 inches, and most preferably about 0.38 inches.

Front wall 310 has an outwardly convex shape with a radius of curvature r2. Rear wall 320 has an outwardly convex shape, in the opposite direction of front wall 310, with a radius of curvature r3. Preferably, radius of curvature r2 is from about 3.0 inches to about 7.0 inches, more preferably from about 4.0 inches to about 6.0 inches, and most preferably about 5.0 inches. Preferably, radius of curvature r3 is from about 3.0 inches to about 7.0 inches, more preferably from about 4.0 inches to about 6.0 inches, and most preferably about 5.0 inches. Preferably, radius of curvature r2 and radius of curvature r3 are equal. The periphery of front wall 310 and the periphery of rear wall 320 have arcuate shapes and are preferably aligned so that first sidewall 330 and second sidewall 340 are essentially chamfered edges of spout 300. Preferably, front and rear walls 310, 320 define an ellipsoidal cross-sectional shape for spout 300.

Spout 300 has a distal end 370, a proximal end 380 and a height h1. Distal end 370 of spout 300 has a width w1 and a depth d1. Proximal end 380 of spout 300 has a width w2 and a depth d2. Preferably, height h1 is from about 0.80 inches to about 1.80 inches, more preferably from about 1.0 inches to about 1.40 inches, and most preferably about 1.20 inches. Preferably, width w1 is from about 0.50 inches to about 0.90 inches, more preferably from about 0.60 inches to about 0.70 inches, and most preferably about 0.69 inches. Preferably, width w2 is from about 0.80 inches to about 1.20 inches, more preferably from about 0.90 inches to about 1.10 inches, and most preferably about 0.97 inches. Preferably, depth d1 is from about 0.10 inches to about 0.25 inches, more preferably from about 0.15 inches to about 0.22 inches, and most preferably about 0.20 inches. Preferably, depth d2 is from about 0.25 inches to about 0.75 inches, more preferably from about 0.40 inches to about 0.60 inches, and most preferably about 0.56 inches.

Front and rear walls 310, 320 are inwardly tapered toward distal end 370. Preferably, front and rear walls 310, 320 are inwardly tapered along a substantially straight line or constant slope. Front wall 310 has an angle of taper α1. Rear wall 320 has an angle of taper α2. Preferably, taper angle α1 is from about 5° to about 15°, more preferably from about 10° to about 14°, and most preferably about 13.5°. Preferably, taper angle α2 is from about 5° to about 15°, more preferably from about 10° to about 14°, and most preferably about 13.5°. Taper angle α1 and taper angle α2 are preferably equal.

First and second side walls 330, 340 are inwardly tapered toward distal end 370. Preferably, first and second side walls 330, 340 are inwardly tapered along a straight line or constant slope. First side wall 330 has an angle of taper β1. Second side wall 340 has an angle of taper β2. Preferably, taper angle β1 is from about 5° to about 18°, more preferably from about 10° to about 15°, and most preferably about 12°. Preferably, taper angle β2 is from about 5° to about 18°, more preferably from about 10° to about 15°, and most preferably about 12°. Taper angle β1 and taper angle β2 are preferably equal.

During consumer testing of cup assembly 10, unexpected and significant results occurred from the use of spout 300, as compared to the contemporary spout designs for the PLAYTEX® and GERBER® spouts shown in FIGS. 15 through 20. It was discovered that spout 300 performed significantly better with marked improvement in consumer preference and ease of use by infants, compared to both the PLAYTEX® and GERBER® spouts.

The testing included infants between the ages of six (6) months and eighteen (18) months who were provided separate cups having spout 300, the PLAYTEX® spout and the GERBER® spout, for equal periods of times. Consumer preference was tested and the use of the cups and spouts was observed by the parent(s), including the ease with which the infants were able to use the cups and spouts, and the generation of preferred flow rates.

Spout 300 rated higher than the PLAYTEX® and GERBER® spouts at %80 confidence for being easier for the infant to use. Spout 300 rated higher than the PLAYTEX® spout at %80 confidence for preference of the flow-rate achieved by the infant. Cup assembly 10 rated higher than the PLAYTEX® spout at %95 confidence for ease of drinking. These results are of statistical and practical significance.

The embodiment of spout 300 tested had a change in widths w1, w2 of 0.97 inches−0.69 inches=0.28 inches over a height h1 of 1.20 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout width of 0.23. In contrast, the PLAYTEX® spout had a change in widths of 1.30 inches−0.75 inches=0.55 inches over a height of 0.875 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout width of 0.62. The GERBER® spout had a change in widths of 1.30 inches−0.75 inches=0.55 inches over a height of 0.90 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout width of 0.61.

It was discovered based on the consumer data that the parameter of rate of change of spout width, and, in particular, a lower rate of change of widths w1, w2 from distal end 370 to proximal end 380 of 0.23, as compared to the rate of change for the PLAYTEX® and GERBER® spouts of 0.62 and 0.61, respectively, was a contributing cause in facilitating the use of spout 300 by the infant. In particular, the lower rate of change of widths w1, w2 of spout 300 promoted lip closure by the infant and facilitated generation of a suction force for achieving a preferred flow-rate.

Based on the consumer data, it was determined that the rate of change of spout widths w1, w2 should preferably be between about 0.10 to about 0.60, more preferably between about 0.20 to about 0.30, and most preferably be about 0.23.

Additionally, it was further discovered from the consumer data that the arcuate shape of top wall 350 with chamfered edges along the transition areas between the top wall and the front and rear walls 310, 320 and first and second side walls 330, 340, further facilitated the movement of the infant\'s lips along spout 300, for proper lip approximation resulting in further promotion of lip closure. In contrast, the PLAYTEX® and GERBER® spouts had substantially flat top walls with sharper edges along the transition areas between the top wall and the adjoining walls.

The embodiment of spout 300 tested had a change in depths d1, d2 of 0.56 inches−0.20 inches=0.36 inches over a height h1 of 1.20 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout depth of 0.30. In contrast, the PLAYTEX® spout had a change in depths of 1.00 inches−0.30 inches=0.70 inches over a height of 0.875 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout depth of 0.80. The GERBER® spout had a change in depths of 0.90 inches−0.25 inches=0.65 inches over a height of 0.90 inches, resulting in a rate of change of spout depth of 0.72.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140103041 A1
Publish Date
04/17/2014
Document #
14133915
File Date
12/19/2013
USPTO Class
2202125
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
47G19/22
Drawings
17


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