Patent application title: Integral handle and holder for removable cups
Sunny Yu Sun Yeung (Scarborough, CA)
IPC8 Class: AB65D2500FI
Class name: Receptacles container attachment or adjunct container holder
Publication date: 2012-03-29
Patent application number: 20120074155
A holder for removable cups provides critical advantages for safe
evacuation and efficient transport of removable cups. The holder securely
carries a single removable cup by providing an interference fit that
increases with the weight of the contents carried. The holder allows for
safe evacuation of the contents of a single cup through provision of an
integral handle extending down from the ring holder. When the invention
is loaded with a removable cup, multiples of this Invention can be
stacked in an offset fashion by inserting the handle of one unit into the
vertical hollow in the handle of the next unit. The security of the
cluster increases with the weight of the contents yet jamming is avoided
through the provision of flat features in the handle. The offset pattern
of stacking is also determined by the provision of flats in the vertical
hollow in the handle. The Invention, when empty, can be nested stacked.
1. A holder for removable cups allows for offset stacking when loaded
with removable cups by allowing the insertion of the handle of an upper
unit into the handle of the lower unit by virtue of a handle hollow
containing flat features that act as keys to orientate the upper ring
holder out of contact with the ring holder of the lower unit.
2. A holder for removable cups allows for offset stacking when loaded with removable cups by allowing the insertion of the handle of an upper unit into the handle of the lower unit by virtue of a handle hollow containing flat features that prevent the jamming of the stacked loaded holders.
3. A holder for removable cups allows for stacking when loaded with up to five removable cups such that the height of the stack is less than the product of the cup height multiplied by the number of stacked units.
4. A holder for removable cups allows for the safe evacuation of contents by providing a ring holder that provides an interference fit with a removable cup allowing the safe evacuation of the cup contents.
5. A holder for removable cups allows for the safe evacuation of contents by providing an integral vertical handle allowing the safe evacuation of the cup contents.
RELATED U.S. APPLICATIONS
 Not applicable.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 Not applicable.
REFERENCE TO MICROFICHE APPENDIX
 Not applicable.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to a handle and holder system for cups.
 2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 37 CFR 1.98.
 The Invention described in this application is a stackable cup holder comprising a vertical handle that is integrated into a tapered round ring holder. The cross section of the integral handle is not perfectly circular. The ring holder portion functions to hold a removable cup inserted into the larger aperture. The removable cup itself is not part of the Invention although the aperture for holding the cup is designed to fit ranges of cups commonly used in commerce. These include disposable beverage cups used in commerce that have increasingly greater diameters of cross section up the vertical axis of the cup to make a cup that is inverted conical or truncated inverted conical in shape.
 Patents for cup holders for removable cups can be categorized upon four functional variables. The first variable is the ability to securely transport a cup. The second variable is the ability to safely effect evacuation of cup contents. The third variable is the ability to be stacked in multiples with cups loaded into the holders. The fourth variable is the ability to be nested in multiples in the absence of the removable cups for efficient use of space in storage. Nesting can be defined as the stacking of an identical or complementary item wherein features of the next item stacked pierce the plane along which the items are stacked.
 A first category of cups holder designs is comprised of those portable carriers of removable cups that simply transport. These carriers are not designed to allow for the safe evacuation of contents. Bradley (U.S. Pat. No. 6,520,366, Feb. 18, 2003) patented a holder for three cups that does allow for secure transport of inserted cups, but does not allow for safe evacuation of contents owing to no handle being present. Stacking in an offset fashion when loaded with removable cups is not possible in this design. Multiple removable cups are instead accommodated in the horizontal plane of the carrying tray. Nested stacking of empty holders is also not possible in the Bradley design. Olsen (US 2008/020320, Aug. 28, 2008) devised a cup carrier made of flexible plastic that does not allow for evacuation, that does not allow for offset stacking, and that does not allow for nested stacking, although it can securely transport cups. Libit (US 2005/0211578, Sep. 29, 2005) also illustrates a large group of patents describing foldable cardboard cup transport carriers that only serve to transport removable cups. They are not used for safe evacuation of the contents of a cup that has been loaded into the carrier. They are not used to stack when loaded with removable cups. They are not able to be stacked in a nested fashion when empty.
 These A second category of cup holders are those that hold removable cups, allow for safe evacuation of the contents of the cup, and stack when loaded with removable cups. The main distinction is that they have no facility for offset stacking when loaded with removable cups. Instead they simply stack end to end. Lan (US 2006/0175506, Aug. 19, 2006) describes an integrated and adjustable cup handle with ring and large base. The main function of the Lan design is to hold a range of cups; conceivably it could be stacked end on end when loaded with the removable cups if lids were applied. The portable beverage container designed by Stokes (U.S. Pat. No. 6,758,363, Jul. 6, 2004) goes even further in this concept by providing a handle integrated into a uniquely shaped cup receptacle for a removable cup. The consequence of this design is that the removable cup also has to have that unique design to fit. When equipped with a lid these cup holders could conceivably be stacked end to end. A lighter version of these designs that is specifically designed to be stacked end on end safely is seen in the stackable cup holder design by Liebermann (U.S. Pat. No. 4,726,470, Feb. 23 1988). None of these designs allow for nested stacking for storage. None of these designs allow for offset stacking when loaded with removable cups.
 A third category of cup holders relies upon the integrity of the rim of the removable cup. This could be present a safety risk when used with hot liquids in disposable cups. Such cup holders are distinct because they do not incorporate any sort of complete ring to hold the removable cup. Baum (U.S. Pat. No. 6,588,064, Jul. 8, 2003) described a detachable cup handle that clips onto and levers against the rim of the cup for carrying. Otherwise it is just a handle that can be nested stacked when in storage. It conceivably could be used in multiples for offset stacking and transport when loaded with cups. The safe evacuation of the contents of the cup is put at risk by the degree of integrity of the rim of the cup. Scott (U.S. Pat. No. 6,799,694, Oct. 5, 2004) designed a specimen up with a handle that employs a female thread on the inside of a holding ring that threads into a male thread incorporated on the outside rim of the removable cup. This presents new risk in the clean evacuation of the contents. These risks include failure of the removable cup thread plus contamination of the contents upon evacuation by the holder itself and deviations in evacuated content flow in directions not anticipated when the contents encounter the holder rim itself. It can be seen that the Invention described in this application is distinct from such devices in that it ensures the safe evacuation of the contents of the removable cup by avoiding contact between the rim of the removable cup and the cup holder itself. The Invention further ensures safe evacuation by not relying on the integrity of the removable cup lip.
 One driving force in the evolution of cup holders is the minimization of materials. This leads to the final category of cup holders described in this Application. This category is described by lightweight cup holders that attempt to provide all four functions discussed in this Application. Rokov (2004/020093, Sep. 29, 2005) does provide a simple handle plus ring holder that allows for nested stacking when empty. The design consists of a tapered ring holder attached to a upward strip projecting outward at the same angle of taper as incorporated into the ring holder. It arguably provides for safe evacuation of the contents owing to the provision of a handle. This last point is arguable since for some contents such as hot liquid being drunk the evacuation would be awkward. The awkwardness arises from a slight variation in handle position being magnified in a considerable increase in rate of evacuation of contents. The design by Rokov might allow for transport of multiple loaded cups if further developed but this would be in an end to end fashion. The Rokov design can be nested stacked for storage. Another design that allows for safe evacuation of contents is that of Sawhaney et al. (U.S. 2008/0017540, Jan. 24, 2008). This design for nestable measuring cups allows increasing smaller cups to be stacked into one another for storage owing to the cup handle shape allow for stacking. While this design is entirely distinct as it does not allow for the transport of removable cups, it is instructive as it touches upon the design meme of multiple stacking through complementary shape of upper and lower partners in the stack. This complement is not just in the band in this case but also in the shape of the handle. A related design meme is also seen in the Invention in this Application. As opposed to the Sawhaney design, the handles in this Invention are not flat but tapered tubular in shape. The Bruinsma design (U.S. Pat. No. 6,360,913, Mar. 26, 2002) used an integrated ring holder and handle and is possibly the closest patent design to the Invention described in this Application. It differs in having no capacity for stacking when loaded with removable cups nor nested stacking of the empty units. Similar designs by Shamis (Des. 370,384, Jun. 4, 1996) and Hung (D333,074, Feb. 9, 1993) share the ability to be stacked when empty, hold a loaded removable cup securely, enable safe evacuation of contents but lack the ability to be stacked in an offset pattern when loaded with removable cups.
 The present Invention as described in this Application also fits into this final category.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The Invention described in this application is a stackable cup holder comprising an integral handle with a hollow cross section that is not perfectly circular that is integrated with a tapered round ring holder. The removable cup itself is not part of the Invention although the aperture for holding the cup is designed to fit ranges of cups commonly used in commerce. The handle itself also provides a volume making it easy to hold and provide ergonomic features such as thumb grips.
 The first function of the Invention is to allow for insertion of a removable cup that will lodge into the tapered ring for the purpose of secure transport. The second function of the Invention is to allow the user to tilt the cup safely using the handle to evacuate the contents at a rate proportional to the angle of tilt. The third function of this Invention is the potential for stacking two to five of these cup holders in an offset fashion when each holder is equipped with a removable cup filled or empty. The fourth function of the Invention is to allow for nested stacking of the cup holders when not equipped with a removable cup for efficient storage and transport both before sale and after when in use.
 This Invention therefore has the following functionalities:
 This Invention is able to securely effect the transport of a removable cup.
 This Invention is able to safely effect the evacuation of the contents of a removable cup.
 Multiples of this Invention are able to be stacked in an offset fashion when loaded with removable cups.
 This Invention is able to be nested stacked for storage.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention, showing attachment to cup.
 FIG. 2(A) is a side elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing a first stacking configuration.
 FIG. 2(B) is an upper perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing a second stacking configuration.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The most common removable cup may be the disposable beverage cup. The convenient disposable cup brings with it environmental disadvantages as well as ergonomic disadvantages. One ergonomic disadvantage commonly encountered is the heat of the contents presenting a safety risk in holding the cup itself or in evacuating its contents safely during drinking. For this reason disposable holders for drinking and disposable trays for transporting add to the already considerable environmental footprint of the disposable drinking cup. The Invention described in this application replaces both the cardboard ring or second cup needed to hold the hot beverage cup as well as the tray used to hold multiple cups. It can be made of recycled plastic and reused owing to the ability of the nested stacked unit to be stored efficiently relative to the size of the removable cup it is used to carry. The Invention can also be used as an efficient display device for other loose contents such as flowers planted in soil within the cup.
 The stackable cup holder Invention is illustrated in FIG. 1, showing a ring holder (1) that is tapered outward upward in order to securely grip upon a removable cup (2) with a complementary taper. This design allows for insertion of cups with a range of cup diameters and cup tapers. Flats (4) are designed into the internal diameter of the hollow (3) in the handle (5). The ring holder functions to hold a removable cup inserted into the larger aperture through a light interference fit based on friction. The strength of frictional force holding the cup in place is proportional to the weight of the cup contents and is also dependent on the surface characteristics of the removable cup. The removable cup itself is not part of the Invention although the aperture for holding the cup is designed to fit ranges of cups commonly used in commerce. These include disposable beverage cups used in commerce that have increasingly greater diameters of cross section up the vertical axis of the cup to make a cup that is inverted conical or truncated inverted conical in shape.
 Although the removable cup is not part of this Invention certain cup features should be reviewed to examine whether they conflict with the Invention functions. A base is assumed in a cup to hold contents but is sometimes absent. A lip is often present in disposable cups but is sometimes absent in cups made of rigid materials. A lid is an option for any cup. This Invention does not rely upon the presence of a cup base nor a lip nor a lid and indeed enables the use of these features while still maintaining the functions of carrying and evacuating and stacking and nesting. Other inventions described in this Application can have their functionality reduced by cups that vary in these three features.
 The second function of the Invention is to allow the user to tilt the cup safely using the handle to evacuate the contents at a rate proportional to the angle of tilt. The evacuation is safe because the fulcrum of angle tilt is near to the point of evacuation of contents.
 The third function of this Invention is the potential for stacking two to five of these cup holders in an offset fashion when each holder is equipped with a removable cup filled or empty. Stacking of loaded cup holders is illustrated in FIG. 2(a) where three cups are stacked for easy portability. The flats incorporated into the hollows of the handle (3) perform two functions in stacking. The first is to prevent jamming of the handles as would occur with a perfectly circular internal diameter at cross section. The second is to act as keys to distribute multiple cups in a stable offset pattern to prevent the ring holders (1) loaded with full removable cups (1) from banging into one another during transport. Offset stacking also allows for a smaller vertical dimension of stacking in comparison with end to end stacking. Offset stacking is preferred when a short vertical stacking distance is desired. A unique feature of this offset design is that the security of the stack increases with the weight of contents carried in the cups. A person holding multiple cups would prefer a shorter cluster as it easier to balance and less likely to fall apart.
 The fourth function of the Invention is nested stacking of the cup holders when not equipped with a removable cup for efficient storage and transport both before sale and after when in use. FIG. 2(b) illustrates how closely and securely the empty holders can be nested to maximize efficient storage.
 The combination of these four functionalities makes this a novel Device. The design features enabling these functions are presented as Claims for innovation.
Patent applications in class Container holder
Patent applications in all subclasses Container holder