Patent application title: Container
Sal Cesario, Jr. (West Linn, OR, US)
See The Shoes LLC
IPC8 Class: AB65D8518FI
Class name: Special receptacle or package for apparel
Publication date: 2009-03-05
Patent application number: 20090057174
Patent application title: Container
Sal Cesario, JR.
PERKINS COIE LLP;PATENT-SEA
Origin: SEATTLE, WA US
IPC8 Class: AB65D8518FI
A container designed principally for footwear has a corrugated liner board
or fiberboard base and a thermoformed plastic lid that is securely
attached to the base. The lid is preferably clear so that the contents of
the container may be seen through the lid. The lid is attached to the
base with a series of tabs that engage cooperatively formed openings in
the base and the lid has side edges that engage the edges of the base.
The lid is secured in the closed position with tabs formed on the forward
edge of the lid that engage openings in the base. The inventive container
protects articles held therein during shipping and storage, and displays
the articles both before and after sale.
1. A container, comprising:a container base of fiberboard, said base
having a bottom panel, a rear panel, a front panel and opposed lateral
side panels;a container lid of clear plastic, said lid having a top
panel, a front panel and opposed lateral side panels, wherein the lid is
sized to matingly engage the container base in a closed position to
define an interior space for receiving an article, the container lid
further including plural container base-engaging members connected at a
rear portion of the lid top panel, wherein the base-engaging members
interconnect the lid to the base and define a hinge so that the lid may
be moved between an open position and a closed position.
2. The container according to claim 1 wherein each base-engaging member is further defined by a boss that engages an opening in the container base to thereby secure the lid to the base.
3. The container according to claim 2 wherein the rear panel of the base comprises at least two layers of fiberboard and the innermost layer defines openings for receiving the bosses.
4. The container according to claim 3 wherein the rear panel defines an upper edge and for each base-engaging member on the lid there is an elongate opening formed in the upper edge of the rear panel, said elongate opening defining a passageway between the innermost layer and the adjacent layer of the base into which the base-engaging member is received.
5. The container according to claim 4 wherein the lateral side panels of the lid slope angularly from the rear portion of the lid to the front panel and wherein when the lid is in the closed position the opposed lateral side panels of the lid mate with the lateral side panels of the base along a joint that extends diagonally across the lateral side panels from the hinge to the front panel.
6. The container according to claim 5 in which the lateral side panels of the lid further comprise U-shaped channel sections that engage the lateral side panels of the base to prevent relative movement between the base and the lid.
7. The container according to claim 1 wherein the front panel of the lid includes a lower edge and plural tabs extending outwardly relative to the interior space and the front panel of the base includes plural openings in locations to receive the tabs on the front panel of the lid, and wherein when the lid is in the closed position the lower edge of the lid rests on the bottom panel of the container base.
8. The container according to claim 7 wherein the plural tabs define closure means for securing the lid to the base in the closed position.
9. A container defining an interior space for containing an article, comprising:a fiberboard base comprising a base panel, a front panel and a rear panel that has a greater height than the front panel, and opposed side panels having upper edges that slope from an upper edge of the rear panel to an upper edge of the front panel;a thermoformed monolithic clear plastic lid comprising:a top panel;a front panel;opposed side panels, each side panel having an lower edge that slopes from a rear portion of the top panel to a lower portion of the front panel, and each lower edge defining a U-shaped channel, and at least two base-engaging members extending from a rear portion of the top panel and configured for attaching the lid to the base and for defining a hinge between the lid and the base; andwherein when the lid is in a closed position the U-shaped channel portions of the side panels of the lid engage the upper edges of the side panels of the base to stabilize the lid relative to the base.
10. The container according to claim 9 wherein the base-engaging members further each define a main panel that is connected to the lid at a living hinge, and a boss formed in the main panel such that the boss projects toward the interior space.
11. The container according to claim 10 wherein the rear panel of the base further comprises two layers of fiberboard and an upper edge, wherein an opening is formed in the upper edge to define a passageway through the upper edge into a space between the two layers of fiberboard and to receive each of the at least two base-engaging members in the space.
12. The container according to claim 11 wherein the two layers of fiberboard define an inner layer and an outer layer, and wherein the inner layer further includes boss openings configured to receiving each of the at least two bosses on the base-engaging members.
13. The container according to claim 12 wherein the lid is attached to the base with the base-engaging members received in the space with the bosses received in the boss openings.
14. The container according to claim 13 wherein the front panel of the lid includes an outwardly projecting tab along a lower edge portion thereof, and the front panel of the base includes an opening along an inner surface thereof in a position corresponding to the outwardly projecting tab so that the outwardly projecting tab engages opening when the lid is in a closed position.
15. The container according to claim 14 including plural outwardly projecting tabs along a lower edge portion of the front panel, and plural openings along the inner surface of the front panel of the base, each opening positioned to engage a tab when the lid is in the closed position.
16. A container, comprising:a fiberboard base;a plastic lid attached to the base and sized to engage the base to define a container having a top panel, bottom panel, front panel, back panel and opposed lateral side panels, wherein the lid includes plural base-engaging members at a rear edge portion of the lid, each of the base-engaging members attachable to the base to secure the lid to the base.
17. The container according to claim 16 wherein the back panel comprises at least two layers of fiberboard and wherein each of the base-engaging members is captured between the two layers of fiberboard.
18. A container, comprising:a fiberboard base;a plastic lid attached to the base and sized to engage the base to define a container having a top panel, bottom panel, front panel, back panel and opposed lateral side panels, andattachment means for securing the lid to the base.
19. The container according to claim 18 wherein the attachment means further comprises plural base-engaging members connected to a rear edge portion of the lid, wherein the fiberboard base has at least an inner layer and an outer layer with a space therebetween, an upper edge, and plural openings in the upper edge, each opening defining a passageway into the space, and wherein each base-engaging member is received into one of the plural openings.
20. The container according to claim 19 wherein each base-engaging member further comprises a boss and wherein the boss is received in an opening in the inner layer of the base.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the field of packaging, and more particularly, to a container designed for use with any variety of goods, but especially for footwear, said container comprising a combination of materials including corrugated fiberboard and plastic.
The market for consumer footwear is notoriously competitive and there are numerous footwear manufacturers competing for a share of that market. The intense level of competition in the footwear industry is found in nearly every market sector, and regardless of the particular type of shoe. However, the competition is perhaps most keenly focused in the market sector pertaining to active shoes, outdoor shoes and athletic shoes. In this market sector as well as others, competitors are constantly searching for ways to increase sales and market shares. Some of the most successful, and thus commonly used marketing techniques, are very familiar to most consumers. Examples include rapid introduction of new styles, product endorsements by famous athletes, intense brand name marketing and promotion, and advertising directed to specific consumer groups such as consumers falling into specific targeted demographic groups. These techniques along with other marketing activities help give footwear manufacturers a competitive edge in a highly competitive market.
Traditional shoeboxes are sometimes utilized for marketing purposes in addition to their more traditional function. Shoes of all types are usually packaged in traditional rectangular shoeboxes manufactured from some kind of paperboard, often corrugated liner board (typically called "cardboard"). However, while such boxes serve an accepted functional role of storing and protecting the shoes, they do little to promote the product itself, other than minimal promotional information printed on the boxes.
While there are many different styles of shoeboxes, nearly all of them are variations on a standard theme: a rectangular box that is usually made of corrugated or heavy fiber board. Such boxes are useful for many reasons. From a purely functional point of view, rectangular shoeboxes provide a reasonably secure internal compartment for storing the shoes after manufacturing, and all the way from the factory to the consumer sales outlet. And traditional boxes are easily stacked, whether for shipping in containers from an offshore manufacturing location to a warehouse, for storage in a warehouse or a retail outlet, or for storing product for consumer inspection at warehouse-type retail outlets. While the internal compartment of a rectangular box is not custom designed to hold a pair of shoes, most shoes are held reasonably well in a standard box when the shoes are nested in the traditional opposed orientation, and generally with a tissue paper sleeve inserted between the shoes to prevent them from rubbing together and scuffing, and to protect the shoes from the box.
But in addition to their functional benefits, traditional rectangular shoeboxes serve another purpose, and that is as a part of the marketing plan. Nearly all shoe manufacturers try to use their product packaging as part of their overall marketing programs designed to sell the product. Thus, many shoe manufacturers print graphics and other promotional information on their boxes. Even though this marketing information may be visible only on the sides of the boxes since boxes are usually stacked, the space can be used as advertising space. Moreover, the box may be printed with information about the shoes--sizes and the like.
Another kind of container useful for footwear is the plastic container shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,243,815. In addition to providing a secure package for protecting the shoes, this container is clear so that it provides a way for consumers to see the shoes without opening the package.
There are several problems evident in traditional shoeboxes. First, the standard rectangular box design necessarily takes up more space than is needed to contain the shoes. Even when nested in an opposed orientation, a pair of shoes defines a shape that is seldom a regular rectangle, and as a result, most standard shoeboxes have excess materials and take up more space than is necessary. These factors increase costs of the product. For example, minimizing the amount of raw material used to make the box could reduce material costs tied up in the packaging. Likewise, eliminating excess packaging material that takes up added space can reduce shipping and storage costs.
Second, most shoeboxes are made entirely of some form of paper--usually corrugated or a heavy paperboard. While such materials tend to make a relatively strong container, they can be crushed and are subject to moisture absorption and damage. Moisture damage to cardboard can be a significant problem. And even broken-down corrugated boxes designed for shoes tend to take up a significant amount of space. Further, the boxes must be manufactured in one location as blanks, shipped to another location where they are set up as boxes. Finally, raw material costs for corrugated are increasing at a steady rate, making the economics of using all-corrugated less and less favorable.
But perhaps the greatest shortcoming of traditional, rectangular, all-fiberboard shoeboxes is their limited ability to enhance product sales. As noted above, most shoe manufacturers print promotional information of one kind or another on their shoeboxes, including trademarks, logos and the like. This is valuable to a degree in selling the product. But corrugated and other fiberboards are inherently opaque, and as such, a consumer must open the box to look at the shoes contained inside. Shoe manufacturers want their consumers to look at their shoes--the appearance of the shoe is an important factor in the consumer's decision on what to buy. It can be difficult to pull a box out of a stack of boxes, open it to look at the shoe, and then replace the shoe in the box in even a relatively neat fashion. Stated in another way, a large part of the consumer's buying decision is based upon the appearance of the shoe. As a result, shoe manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money in making their shoes look attractive to consumers--the manufacturers want consumers to see the product. But for all of this, shoes are almost always hidden in a shoebox.
As noted, the foregoing is but one example of some shortcomings of traditional, paper-based packaging. There is a real need for improved packaging containers.
The present invention provides the benefits of a traditional fiberboard shoebox with a see-through display container that overcomes the problems in the prior art, and at the same time provides substantial marketing and product promotion advantages for whatever product might be held in the container. To name a few examples of the advantages that the inventive package provides, the container actually helps promote the product held within the container and increase sales by presenting the product in a container that the consumer can see through. Since the container includes a see-through portion, other consumers will be able to see what the purchaser has purchased.
The invention illustrated and described herein is a hybrid container fabricated from a combination of fiberboard and plastic that may be used as a package for many different objects. The structural features of the invention and the manner in which the inventive package is formed make the container useful in numerous industries for innumerable goods. Nonetheless, the package of the present invention is described below with particular reference to its use as a container for footwear. While the description of the invention sometimes focuses on a footwear container, it is to be understood that the principles of the invention apply to the container used for other purposes, and that the invention is not limited to use as a footwear container, but is instead limited only by the appended claims.
In a preferred embodiment the present invention comprises a shoe container formed of a corrugated base with a clear or translucent plastic lid portion that is formed such that a pair of shoes fits into the interior of the container and is visible through the container. The container may be formed in any size to accommodate any sized shoe.
The base of the container is formed from a blank and the lid portion is preferably a clear plastic material that is thermoformed in a one-piece configuration that includes then attaches securely to the base. The package is formed in a manner that results in a strong container that protects items contained therein. The container combines the best functional attributes of an all-fiberboard box, including strength and durability, with the added benefits of a clear top so the shoe may be viewed at the retail level by the consumer without having to open the container.
The corrugated base may be utilized for printing conventional graphics and the like, and the plastic lid may also be emblazoned with logos and the like. The lid of the container may be formed of many different types of plastics, including plastics containing significant levels of recycled materials, and of course the corrugated based may be manufactured using recycled fiber. The plastic lid portion may be colored to match the color scheme that the manufacturer has selected for the shoe, and the color of the container may thus be combined into a marketing plan.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention will be better understood and its numerous objects and advantages will be apparent by reference to the following detailed description of the invention when taken in conjunction with the following drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first illustrated embodiment of a container according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the container of FIG. 1, taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective, partially cut away and exploded view of the container of FIG. 1, showing the lid removed from the base.
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the corrugated blank used to form the base of the container, illustrating the various fold and cut lines and cut outs.
FIG. 5 is a view illustrating assembly of the corrugated blank shown in FIG. 4 into the base of the container.
FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the hinge portion of the lid, illustrating the lid in the open position and, in dashed lines, in the closed position.
FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view similar to FIG. 6 showing the hinge section.
FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view of the lid of the container.
FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of the lid of the container.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
A preferred embodiment of the container of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 through 9. The invention is principally described herein with respect to an exemplary design intended for use with footwear such as athletic shoes. However, the invention as defined in the appended claims is not limited to a container for shoes, and those of ordinary skill in the art will instead recognize that the invention applies to containers for any kind of goods. In this specification, relative directional terms such as upward and downward are made with reference to the container as it would rest with its base on a ground plane. Directional terms such as inward and outward are made with reference to the container. Thus, "inward" refers to the direction toward the geometric center of the container, and "outward" refers to the direction away from the center of the container.
With reference to FIG. 1, container 10 is formed in two body halves, namely a base 12 and an attached lid 14. In the most preferred embodiment, base 12 is formed of corrugated liner board--i.e., sometimes referred to as cardboard--and lid 14 is formed of a clear plastic sheet thermoformed into the desired configuration and dimensions. It will be appreciated that the base 12 may just as well be formed of other materials, including for example corrugated plastic material and other plastics, fiberboard of various types, etc. It will further be appreciated that the lid 14 may be fabricated from a variety of kinds of plastics. Ideally, both the base 12 and lid 14 are manufactured from as much recycled materials as practical. As used herein, the term "fiberboard" refers to corrugated liner board and non-corrugated paper board.
It is often desirable to print text and graphics on the corrugated material to identify the contents of the container, and to provide marketing information and provide a more attractive package. Coatings may be applied over the printed corrugated material in order to minimize ink transfer, scuffing, and ink bleeding, etc. The coatings may be a plastic laminate such as a polypropylene sheet, which is applied to the corrugated after the sheet has been printed. Similarly, the coating may be an aqueous coating material that is applied as a liquid over the sheet with a printer roller inline when the sheet is being printed.
The manner in which the lid attaches to the base is detailed below. From review of FIG. 1 it is apparent that the lid is hinged to the base across the upper rear edge of the base with a hinge referred to generally with reference number 18. A joint 16 extends diagonally across the lateral end panels (20 and 22) of the container between the base and the lid when container 10 is closed. More specifically, with reference to FIG. 2, the joint 16 between base 12 and lid 14 extends in a diagonal direction extending generally from the hinge 18 at the upper edge of rear wall 27 of base 12, across the lateral side walls (one of which is illustrated in FIG. 2 and is given reference number 20) and to the front wall 25 of base 12. It will be understood that since the ends of the container are bisected by the diagonal joint 16, the lateral end walls 22 and 24 comprise a portion of both the base 12 and lid 14.
As will further be apparent from FIG. 2, the hinge 18 lies entirely within and interiorly of the intersection of the planes defined by the rear wall 27 of base 12 and the upper panel 28 of lid 12. Hence, the rear panel, top panel and base panel are entirely planar with no obstructions extending beyond the planar sections. This allows the container 10 to be stacked stably on any of those three panels.
As illustrated in FIG. 3, lid 14 is attached to base 12 with a series of three tabs 26 that interconnect with cooperatively formed openings in the rear wall 27 of base 12. The structure and operation of these features will be detailed below. First, however, the lid and the base are detailed.
With continuing reference to FIG. 3, lid 14 comprises a monolithic thermoformed clear member formed in a single sheet according to thermoforming technologies. The lid includes a top panel 28 and a front panel 30 and a pair of opposed, generally triangularly shaped side panels 33. The side panels 33 slope from a rear edge 40 of the lid to a lower edge portion of the front panel 30. An angular panel 32 may optionally be formed between top panel 28 and front panel 30. A closure flap 34 extends laterally across the lower edge 36 of front panel 30 and includes two closure tabs 38 that project outwardly, toward the front of the container. As best seen in FIG. 2, the outer, exposed surface of the closure tabs 38 is angled outwardly to define a ramp surface, which allows the closure flap 34 and closure tabs 38 to be slid easily into engagement with the base.
The three tabs 26 are integrally formed with the lid 14 and are attached at regular spacing intervals along the rearward edge 40 of lid 14 and depend downwardly from the rear edge. Each of the three tabs 26 is identical in construction and in combination, the three tabs serve to attach the lid to the base and to define a hinge that allows the lid to be easily opened and closed to open and close the container. It will be readily appreciated that while three tabs 26 are shown in the drawings and described herein, there may be a greater or lesser number of tabs depending upon the size of the particular container.
Each tab 26 is defined by a downwardly extending main panel 42. In the central portion of main panel 42 is an inwardly projecting boss 44 that is generally rectangular in shape with rounded corners. As best illustrated in the cross sectional view of FIG. 2, the joints where the tabs 26 are attached to the rear edge 40 of lid 14 is defined by a generally C-shaped section 46 that defines a living hinge 48. Because the plastic material used to fabricate lid 14 is resilient, the C-shaped section 46 that defines living hinge 48 allows the hinges to be "cycled" many times. In other words, when the container 10 is assembled the lid may be opened and closed many times without damaging the living hinge. Inwardly projecting "in-drafts" 50 are formed near the outer lateral edges of lid 14 along the upper rear edge thereof to strengthen the lid. The diagonal edges of the lid that extend between the rear edge 40 and the lower front edge 36 are defined by inverted U-shaped channels 52, the function of which are detailed below.
Turning now to FIG. 4, the base 12 will be described. As noted earlier, base 12 is preferably although not necessarily fabricated from corrugated with a high percentage of recycled fiber. The base 12 is made from a blank 60 that is cut and folded to form the base. In the illustration of FIG. 4, fold lines are shown in dashed lines and cut lines are shown in solid lines. A double fold line is shown in a double dashed line. The centermost panel or base panel 62 of blank 60 in FIG. 4 defines the base of the container 10. A first rear panel 64 is attached to base panel 62 at a fold line 66 and two elongate openings 68 are formed along the length of the fold line 66. A second rear panel 70 is attached to first rear panel 64 at a double fold line 72. Three elongate openings 74 are formed along the length of fold line 72 and three rectangular openings 76 are formed generally in the central portion of second rear panel 70 aligned with the elongate openings. As detailed below, the positions of three elongate openings 74 and three rectangular openings 76 correspond to the locations of the three tabs 26 on lid 14 and cooperate with the tabs to attach the lid 14 to base 12. A pair of elongate tabs 78 is formed on the outer edge 80 of second rear panel 70.
A first front panel 82 is attached to base panel 62 at a fold line 84 and a pair of elongate openings 86 is formed along fold line 84. A second front panel 88 is attached to first front panel 82 at a double fold line 90. Second front panel 88 includes two openings 89. A third panel 92 is attached to the second front panel 88 at a fold line 94. Fold line 94 includes two cut portions 96 that define tabs, as detailed below. Each of the three outer, peripheral edges of third panel 92, labeled 98, 100 and 102, includes a pair of indented cut out portions labeled 98a, 98b, 100a, 100b, and 102a, 102b, respectively.
A first side panel 104 is attached to base panel 62 at a fold line 106 and a pair of elongate openings 108 is formed along the fold line. A second side panel 110 is attached to first side panel 104 at an angularly extending double fold line 112. The outer edge 114 of second side panel 110 includes a pair of tabs 116. The rearward edge 118 of first side panel 104 is separated from a first rear flap panel 120 at a cut line 122. First rear flap panel 120 is attached to first rear panel 64 at a fold line 124.
A first side panel 126 is attached to the opposite lateral edge of base panel 62 at a fold line 128 and a pair of elongate openings 130 is formed along the fold line 128. A second side panel 132 is attached to first side panel 126 at an angularly extending double fold line 134. The outer edge 136 of second side panel 132 includes a pair of tabs 138. The rearward edge 140 of second side panel 126 is separated from a second rear flap panel 142 at a cut line 144. Second rear flap panel 142 is attached to first rear panel 64 at a fold line 146. A pair of circular openings 148 and 150 is formed in first side panel 126 and second side panel 132, respectively. These openings align in the finished, assembled container to define an opening 101, which functions as a grab point, as detailed below.
A first front flap 154 is attached at a fold line 156 to first side panel 104. First front flap 154 is separated from first front panel 82 at a cut line 158. Likewise, on the opposite lateral side of blank 60, a second front flap 160 is attached at a fold line 162 to first side panel 126. Second front flap 160 is separated from first front panel 82 at a cut line 162.
First and second rear flap panels 120 and 142 are mirror images of each other. The outer peripheral edges of the panels define a first cut out section 170 and a second cut out section 172.
Assembly of base 12 will now be described with reference to FIG. 5, which includes various arrows to indicate how the blank 60 shown in FIG. 4 is folded to assemble the base. Although the process for assembly of base 12 described below is in a particular sequence, it will be appreciated that the steps need not be done in the order stated.
Panels 110 and 132 are folded at double fold lines 112 and 134, respectively, over the respective adjacent panels 104 and 124. This is shown with arrows A in FIG. 5. Tabs 116 on edge 114 of panel 110 are inserted into openings 108 at the fold line 106, and tabs 138 are inserted into openings 130 along fold line 128. Opening 150 on panel 132 and opening 148 on panel 126 align to define a through opening 101 into the base 12 of container 10. Opening 101 defines a grab-point so that a single container 10 may be withdrawn from a stack of containers.
Front flaps 154 and 160 are then folded at fold lines 156 and 162, respectively, in the direction shown by arrows B so that the flaps align with fold line 84. Third panel 94 is next folded inwardly such that the panel covers base panel 62, as illustrated with arrow C. As this is done, first front panel 82 folds at fold line 84 and second front panel 88 folds at double fold line 90 to form the front wall 25 of the base; tabs 96 are engaged in openings 86 to secure front wall 25 remains in an upright position and front flaps 154 and 160 are captured between the first and second front panels. Third panel 94 is held in place on base panel 62 by virtue of the various tabs and cut outs around the periphery of the panel, such as cut outs 98a, 98b, which are engaged by tabs 116, and cut outs 102a and 102b, which are engaged by tabs 138. Tabs 96 likewise engage elongate openings 86 to secure front wall 25.
Next, rear flap panels 120 and 142 are folded at fold lines 124 and 146, respectively so that the edges defined by cut lines 122 and 144 align with fold line 66. When this is done, cut outs 170 and 172 align to form notches on the forming rear panel of the base. First rear panel 64 is folded upwardly at fold line 66 and second rear panel is folded inwardly and over rear flap panels 120 and 142 in the direction of arrow D to form the rear wall 27 of the base 12. Tabs 78 are inserted in openings 68 and cut outs 100a and 100b to secure the rear panel and the bottom panel. Rectangular openings 76 are at this point located in an overlying position relative to the notches defined by cut outs 170 and 172.
When assembled in this manner, base 12 is a strong and secure container base 12 as shown in FIG. 3. Given the structure of the blank 60, each wall or panel of base 12 is a double layer of corrugated material. Given the various tabs and cut outs described above, the base is very secure, although it may be disassembled if necessary. With reference now to FIGS. 6 and 7, the hinge 48 is shown in detail. In FIG. 6 the relative open and closed positions of lid 14 are shown in sold and dashed lines, with the arrow A illustrating the relative positions of the lid. As may be seen in FIG. 7, which illustrates the lid in the closed position, the C-shaped section 46 of hinge 18 is slightly compressed when the lid is closed. Since the plastic material is resilient, this compression does not damage the hinge and the lid may be opened and closed repeatedly.
It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the base may be fabricated in many different structural configurations without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the third panel 92 of the base is described above as a "roll-over" panel that completely covers the base panel 62 in the assembled base. Base panel 92 may of a different size, and may even be omitted. Similarly, the angled side panels are defined by folded-over double-layer panels (i.e., first side panel 104 and second side panel 110). The second side panel may be omitted.
With returning reference to FIG. 3, attachment of lid 14 to base 12 will be described. The rear wall 27 of base 12 is defined by panels 64 and 70, with flaps 120 and 142 captured therebetween. Because the flaps 120 and 142 are captured between the panels 64 and 70, the notches 170 and 172 defined in flaps 120 and 142 are aligned with rectangular openings 76. Elongate openings 74 in double fold line 72 are also aligned with notches 170 and 172 and with rectangular openings 76. To assemble lid 14 with base 12, tabs 26 are inserted into and through elongate openings 74. The elongate openings 74 are narrower in width than bosses 44 and the rectangular openings 76 are cooperatively shaped with bosses 44 and designed to accept the bosses. Because base 12 is corrugated fiberboard, the openings 74 may be expanded to allow insertion of bosses 44 through the openings. As the lid 14 is pressed downwardly toward base 12, bosses 44 pop into rectangular openings 76 and the elongate openings 74 close to their original positions, thereby capturing the bosses 44 in openings 76. Once the bosses are captured in the rectangular openings 76, the lid is firmly attached to the base and cannot easily be removed. The lowermost arm of the C-shaped section 46 of hinge 48 rests on the upper edge 103 of rear wall 27 (FIG. 2).
With lid 14 attached to base 12 as described, the inverted U-shaped channels 52 that extend along diagonal joints 16 are in a position to nest over the upper edges 105 of side walls 20 and 22. The width of the U-shaped channels is sized to be roughly the same as or slightly narrower than the width of the side walls. As such, when the U-shaped channels are slid onto the upper edges of the side walls, the channels slip over the upper edges and thus-engage the upper edges of the side walls. This results in the lid--being secured snugly to the base. The inverted U-shaped channels 52 thus assist in locating the base and lid with respect to one another when closed together, and assist in retaining the lid and base in the closed position. The U-shaped channels thus prevent relative movement between the base and the lid and stabilize the container in the lateral direction. Stated another way, when the U-shaped channels are engaged over the upper edges of the side walls, the lid may not be moved from side to side relative to the base. This gives the assembled container significant lateral strength.
As the lid 14 is moved from the open position to the closed position, closure flap 34 is slid behind (i.e., inwardly of) panel 82 of front wall 25. This is best illustrated in FIG. 2. Because the lower surface of the closure tabs 38 is sloped upwardly, the closure tabs slide easily down the interior surface of the front wall 25 until the closure tabs snap into openings 89 in panel 82. At the point where the closure tabs snap into openings 89, the lower edge 35 of closure flap 34 abuts the panel 92. Because the upper surface of the closure tabs is horizontal, the tabs are retained in the openings 89 and prevent the lid from opening. Nonetheless, the lid is easily opened by pushing the front panel 30 inwardly to disengage the closure tabs from the openings, thereby allowing the lid to be opened. Since the lid 14 is plastic and fairly resilient, the front panel 30 is easily pushed inwardly in this manner. Because the lower edge 35 of closure flap 34 rests on panel 92 when the lid is closed, the lid has substantial compression strength and will not crush even when the container is in a stack with many other containers or other materials on top of it.
With specific reference now to FIG. 3, the interior of container 10 defines an article-holding space 110 that is configured to hold articles such as a pair of shoes without regard to any particular orientation of the shoes relative to one another. Continuing with the example of a pair of shoes, the shoes in the pair may thus be oriented in a toe-to-heel orientation, or any other orientation to display the shoes to consumers.
Lid 14 of container 10 is preferably fabricated from a clear material so that goods held within the container are plainly visible through the container panels. As used herein, the word "clear" refers to any transparent or translucent material used to fabricate the container and through which the interior of the container may be seen. Many materials may be used to fabricate the container. These include numerous grades of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), and vinyls such as various grades of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Those or ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the material selected will depend upon the structural and cosmetic requirements of the particular package. The polymers used to manufacture lid 14 may include modifier compounds such as softeners, impact modifiers and the like, depending upon the application. In a preferred embodiment the material selected for manufacturing the container will include a high percentage of recycled material.
The material used to form lid 14 may be clear, colored, or and any combination of coloring may be used. Moreover, portions of the container may be opaque so long as at least some of the container is clear to display the contents. The lid of the present invention is preferably formed using a thermoforming processes whereby a blank of material is heated and pulled into a tool or mold and shaped, for instance with a vacuum, to form the lid.
Again with reference to use of container 10 as a container for shoes, preferably the package is sized such that one container will fit several different sizes of shoes. Thus, as one example, a blank container 10 may be designed to hold a specific style of shoes (such as athletic shoes) in the size range of men's sizes 7 to 9 (in the traditional U.S. sizing system), and also women's athletic shoes in sizes 9 to 11. The container 10 described above provides the advantage of allowing the consumer to view the contents of the container, and it is close enough in size to standard shoe boxes that it may be used without modification to the existing shoe distribution, warehousing and sale infrastructure.
The blank 60 lies flat prior to assembly and may thus be shipped in large quantities with relatively little shipping space required. The walls of the lid 14 are angled slightly so that the lids may be nested with other lid for ease of shipping and to minimize the space required for shipping many empty containers. It will be appreciated that with this configuration many lids may be shipped to a manufacturing facility in a minimal amount of space
Those of skill in the art will further recognize the many different shapes that can be used to define a container equivalent to the container described herein. Importantly, the base of the container could be made with horizontal side edges as are found on typical shoe boxes, thus eliminating the angled side edges described above. The lid of this container would be attached to the base in the same manner described above, and the lid would have the same closure mechanisms and U-shaped channels along the side edges. To name but a few additional examples, the container could be formed with a handle, and the article-receiving space inside of the container may be designed to conform more uniquely to a specific article. Moreover, in the preferred embodiment the container is roughly equivalent in size and shape to a standard shoebox for holding a pair of shoes of similar size. In this way the container of the present invention is accommodated easily into existing footwear manufacturing, distribution and sales infrastructure.
While the present invention has been described in terms of a preferred embodiment, it will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill that the spirit and scope of the invention is not limited to those embodiments, but extend to the various modifications and equivalents as defined in the appended claims.
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