Patent application title: Article Carrier with Exterior Barcode Access
Sheri Y. Munn (Gainesville, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D136FI
Class name: Special receptacle or package portable segregating carrier for plural cylindrical beverage-type receptacles (e.g., beer cans, pop bottles)
Publication date: 2012-04-26
Patent application number: 20120097555
A handheld article carrying device is disclosed, comprising a rigid
structure with a plurality of cylindrical bins aligned in a grid
formation, a handle for carrying the device and sidewall cut-outs for
visualizing and accessing article barcodes within the bins. The hand
carrying device is ideal for collecting cans, jars and bottles of food
articles in a grocery or convenience store environment, and allowing
access during checkout without requiring the user to remove the items
from the carrier. Apertures extend from the upper surface of the device
and terminate before the lower surface, creating a matrix of bins to
house various diameter articles therein. Each bin is adjacent to a
sidewall of the device to allow unobstructed vision of the article outer
surface and the barcode presented thereon. Organization, carrying
capacity and convenience during checkout are all improved while utilizing
the carrying device.
1. A loose article carrying and organizing device, comprising: a
structure with an interior volume, an upper surface and sidewalls; a
plurality of apertures disposed about said structure upper surface
forming bins within said structure interior volume adapted for accepting
loose articles; window cut-outs forming penetrations through said
structure sidewalls for visualizing said loose articles within said bins;
a handle attached to said structure upper surface.
2. A device as in claim 1, wherein said structure forms a rectangular box.
3. A device as in claim 1, wherein said apertures form bins comprising a cylindrical geometry.
4. A device as in claim 1, wherein said bins being located adjacent to said structure sidewalls, providing a window cut-out for each bin.
5. A loose article carrying and organizing device, comprising: a structure with an interior volume, an upper surface and sidewalls; a plurality of apertures disposed about said structure upper surface forming bins within said structure interior volume adapted for accepting loose articles; window cut-outs forming penetrations through said structure sidewalls for visualizing said loose articles within said bins; said bins being located adjacent to said structure sidewalls, providing a window cut-out for each bin; a handle attached to said structure upper surface.
6. A device as in claim 5, wherein said structure forms a rectangular box.
7. A device as in claim 5, wherein said apertures form bins comprising a cylindrical geometry.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/405,803 filed on Oct. 26, 2010, entitled "Carrier."
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to article carrying devices. More specifically, the present invention relates to a can, jar, container or bottle carrying device that allows individual support and storage thereof, while providing exterior access to barcodes presented on the articles during checkout, without requiring the user to individually remove each article for scanning.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 Many grocery items are packaged in jars, cans or bottles. These items can be difficult to handle if purchasing several at one time. By hand, carrying more than two articles introduces a risk of dropping one or more items onto the floor and causing damage to the goods or the floor itself. Use of a hand-carried basket is not always ideal for glass or fragile items, since their placement within the baskets is not a secure one, leading to movement and possible damage thereto. Shopping push carts provide even less internal support for such items, but a more stable platform. Ideal placement of jars, cans and bottles is against the sidewalls of these devices, or supported against other groceries. Shopping for a small quantity of items also makes these devices less ideal.
 A further problem is scanning these items during checkout. These articles are generally individually distributed, which can be burdensome when having to individually place each article on a checkout counter and ask a clerk to pick up and scan each item. These items also tend to be small articles, which exacerbates the problem associated with handling them individually. With current means of shopping, consumers are required to place the items in the cart or basket, remove and place them on the check-out conveyor belt one at a time. This takes additional time, as well as a considerable amount of cart and conveyor belt space. Check-out clerks are then required to scan each item and place it in a shopping bag. This exercise is time-consuming, resulting in lost productivity and longer checkout lines. Consumers may then experience difficulty when transporting bags full of cans and jars, and afterwards trying to neatly store them at home. An effective solution is required that solves the aforementioned problems associated with loose canned, jarred or bottled goods. A device is required that aids a user in a marketplace during the checkout process, carrying the articles home and then storing them appropriately.
 The present invention provides a means to alleviate all of the drawbacks associated with shopping for loose articles. The present invention comprises a personal carrying device with a plurality of bins situated about its interior. The carrier itself is a rigid, rectangular structure, while the bins define a matrix of cylindrical containers for which jars, cans, bottles and other articles may be placed. Each bin is adjacent to a sidewall surface of the container, through which is provided window cut-outs for visual purposes of the article within the bin. The window provides ease of access for a clerk to scan each item's bar code without removing the article from the carrier. This accelerates the checkout process, as the items remain within the carrier from selection through checkout. The device can then be transported home and placed in an appropriate storage environment without removing the articles therefrom, providing a cabinet or refrigerator storage device after its use in a grocery market.
 The present invention can be placed within a larger structure if desired, including a hand-carried basket or shopping cart. In this position, the carrier functions as a loose item collector for improved organization and accelerated check out when removed from the cart or basket. A handle is further provided along the top surface of the carrier device to allow hand carrying of the device, either loaded or unloaded, allowing a user the ability to shop for items without using a store-borrowed cart or basket. After checkout, the carrier functions as a user-owned carrying device that can be used to transport the articles in a convenient and organized fashion. The articles do not have to be bagged, and are supported if placed in a moving vehicle. The rigid structure of the device supports article shifts in momentum as a vehicle is driven home. The device further provides a convenient means for shopping for a few loose articles while in the store, allowing rapid retrieval and checkout without wasting time with carts or carrying several items by hand.
 Several devices have been disclosed in the prior art for carrying cans and jars. These items have familiar structural and design elements for the purposes of supporting a plurality of loose articles within a bag or rigid structure. However, these devices fail to describe the novelty associated with the present invention, namely its ability to facilitate swift checkout and provide a carrying device that is adapted for several uses. While fulfilling a specific requirement or being independently novel, the prior art devices have inherent drawbacks with regard to the present invention.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,304,332 to Danti is one such device that describes a package means of transporting a plurality of canned goods, such as soft drinks, soup and the like. Two tensioned film wraps are arranged at right angles to one another and envelope the canned goods to permit carrying of the same. One of the film wraps serves as a handle means for carrying the articles with one hand. While this device provides a novel means to package and carry a plurality of canned articles, it is not suited for individuals purchasing articles in a market environment. The Danti patent serves as a means to improve packaging for the manufacturer while incorporating a handle means in the process.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,542,826 to Adams is another device that describes a carrier for beverage containers comprising a generally rectangular and flexible bag that can be collapsed from an extended position during use to a compact condition for storage and transport. The bag provides a cavity divided into a matrix of empty slots to facilitate the organization of used beverage cans prior to returning to the point of purchase for a recycle refund. The exterior walls are transparent to allow inspection of contents therein, aiding the process of container returns for tabulation of the refund amount. The Adams device is adapted for returning used containers and for quickly counting the number of containers being carried within the carrier. It is not adapted for purchasing articles and providing access to bar codes on the articles while stowed in the device. The device shows slots that are internal to the bag cavity, which would not permit easy scanning of articles contained therein without removal and inspection.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,499,997 to Swingly, Jr. describes an improved tote box adapted for using with automated storage and retrieval systems. A bumper rim is mounted a short distance from the tote bottom surface to reduce any moment arm that would cause tipping of the box when contacting an exterior object. Stacking stops integrated in the bumper rim provide strength and a drain means to prevent fluid from flowing into the lower region of the box. A divider grid delimits the interior space of the box to allow for organization of articles placed therein. The Swingly device provides a device adapted for use in assembly and production lines, wherein a quantity of articles is moved along an automated storage and retrieval system that can encounters bumps and changes in momentum that must be managed to prevent damage to the contents therein. The grid divider and the tote itself are not intended for consumer use, and its structure and scope diverges from the present invention.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,706,805 to Becher provides a top loading carton that includes vertically disposed windows along its exterior sides to permit swift counting of articles placed within the carton. The device is adapted for housing returnable beverage containers to allow collection and returning to a redemption center. The number of containers can be easily tabulated from the exterior of the carton, while the carton itself is comprised of an inexpensive and disposable sheet material. The Becher device describes a cardboard or similarly disposable carton used for tabulating interior contents without requiring the user to remove the articles for individual counting. Its structure and intent differs from the present invention, wherein a rigid carrying container is provided for purchasing articles and facilitating improved checkout without individually removing and scanning each article.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,009,315 to Robare discloses a reusable container carrier that comprises a flexible, clear plastic envelope with an openable top and removable inserts to divide the interior space of the carrier into regions to organize contents placed therein. This device provides external viewing of the articles placed within the cavity of the carrier, however the transparency of the outer envelope tends to cause problems associated with light distortion and refraction as a bar code scanner is utilized to read the bar codes on each article. The present invention discloses a rigid carrying container with through-holes for unobstructed vision of the article bar codes for the same clarity as presented when the articles are scanned individually and without a carrier.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,288,013 to Napier describes a jar carrier comprising a frame, legs and a pair of handles secured along the top of the frame. A plurality of U-shaped openings provide for reception of jars and securement thereof. The Napier device presents a structure for carrying jars via specifically designed receptacles. While this device provides clear sight of a product's bar code for scanning purposes, its structure differs from the present invention. Further, it is adapted for use with specific types of jars, as opposed to universal slots that are provided in the present invention. The slots are adapted to accept any cylindrical structure or shape that fits within the confines of the cylinder diameter.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,877,128 to Strickland describes a baby bottle caddy wherein a container is formed with an interior matrix of compartments for storing and organizing the baby bottles. The exterior wall of the container is formed to accept containers of cooling medium therewithin, allowing the baby bottles and formula to be chilled for a period of time within the device. While the Strickland device provides a novel caddy and device that fits a given requirement, it fails to describe the elements of the present invention. The walls of the device are opaque, while its structure flexible and adapted to accept a cooling medium.
 Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,221,002 to Garganese describes a beverage container carrier having two rows of receiving apertures between a hinge and an end latch. The apertures include separation lines to open and close around a beverage container, allowing fitment around and securement thereto. This device provides a rigid container carrier that works best while transporting a plurality of beverages. Its mechanism for clasping around a container is not adapted for use by a consumer who wishes to quickly pick out and store an individual container. The Garganese device would have to be set down, unclasped and reclasped around each container, which is difficult in a store setting. Its structure and versatility as a consumer aid is limited with respect to the present invention.
 The present invention differs in structure and spirit from the prior art devices. Its ability to accelerate the checkout process by utilizing bins situated adjacent to the sidewalls of the device with cut-out windows provided thereon is of particular novelty. The present invention therefore substantially diverges in design elements from the prior art, and consequently it is clear that there is a need in the art for an improvement to existing article carrying devices. In this regard the instant invention substantially fulfills these needs.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of article carrying devices now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new article carrying device wherein the same can be utilized for providing convenience for the user when storing, transporting and organizing loose articles and allowing accelerated checkout without requiring a user to remove the articles from the carrier.
 It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved loose article carrying device that has all of the advantages of the prior art and none of the disadvantages.
 Another object of the present invention to provide a loose article carrying device with a rectangular, rigid structure comprising a plurality of apertures situated about its upper surface that provide bins for the placement of articles therein, along with a handle to allow single-handed carrying.
 Another object of the present invention is to provide a loose article carrying device with bins adjacent to sidewalls where window cut-outs provide visualization of each article placed therein, facilitating bar code scanning the articles without requiring the user to remove each article from the device.
 Another object of the present invention is to provide loose article carrier that can support a plurality of cans, jars, containers or bottles in an organized matrix of bins, and one that can be provided in a configuration of any desirable quantity thereof.
 Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a rigid article carrying device that can support articles within its bins during transit without tipping or dislocation of articles.
 A final object of the present invention is to provide a loose article carrier that is easily and inexpensively manufactured.
 Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS
 Although the characteristic features of this invention will be particularly pointed out in the claims, the invention itself and manner in which it may be made and used may be better understood after a review of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein like numeral annotations are provided throughout.
 FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the present invention, wherein a small can embodiment is provided with a plurality of small window cut-outs.
 FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the present invention, wherein elongated window cut-outs are provided.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Reference is made herein to the attached drawings. Like reference numerals are used throughout the drawings to depict like or similar elements of the article carrying device. For the purposes of presenting a brief and clear description of the present invention, the preferred embodiments are discussed as used for carrying a plurality of loose jars, cans or bottles and facilitating the checkout process. The illustrations are intended for representative purposes only and should not be considered to be limiting in any respect.
 Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a frontal perspective view of an article carrying device as described by the present invention. A rectangular, rigid structure is provided with a plurality of apertures 11 extending through its upper surface. The apertures comprise cylindrical bins for which to place loose articles, such as cans, jars and bottles. The articles may be cylindrical in nature or fit within the confines of the cylindrical bins 11. A plurality of window cut-outs 13 are provided along the sidewalls 12 of the carrying structure to allow unobstructed vision of each article placed within a bin 11 adjacent thereto. Each bin is positioned adjacent to a sidewall 12 of the structure to provide an individual window cut-out 13 for viewing the contents of each. No internal bins are provided that are obstructed for external side viewing. In this embodiment of the present invention, two vertically stacked windows are provided for viewing each bin. This configuration is best suited for shorter cans, such as tuna or small vegetable cans.
 A handle 14 is provided along the upper surface of the structure for a user to grasp and hand-carry the loaded device as desired. Alternatively, the device may be placed within a grocery cart or basket, providing a stable organizer for loose articles as a user is shopping. Once articles are collected and placed within the bins, the user can place the device on a checkout counter or conveyor belt for scanning purposes. Each article, using the window cut-outs 13 to view the article bar codes, is scanned without removal from the carrier device. This allows rapid scanning, tabulating and processing of the articles during checkout, and avoids time-consuming tasks such as fumbling with small or loosely packaged articles.
 Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention, wherein a carrying structure is provided with a plurality of apertures along its upper surface defining discrete bins for which to place food articles 15, such as cans, jars and bottles. In this view, the device is shown in a working position, wherein a user is supporting the carrier by the handle 14, and the bins are filled with various cans 15 for purchase. Along the sidewalls 12 of the carrying device are provided window cut-outs 13 that allow unobstructed viewing of each can 15 within the bins. The cut-outs in this embodiment of the carrying device are elongated penetrations that run nearly the entire length of each bin to allow increased viewing area. The window cut-outs may alternatively be provided along all sidewall surfaces of the device, or as shown along two opposing sides.
 In use, the device provides a structure to support a plurality of loose articles and allow easy carriage of the same. The device improves existing carrying devices by providing a clear visualization of the articles carried within, improving observation and tabulation of each article during checkout procedures at a grocery market. A bar code scanner can access the bar codes on each article without removing each item from the carrier, saving time for the consumer and the clerk operating the scanner. The device is ideally suited for cans, bottles, containers and jars; however it is easily adaptable for use carrying other loose items, such as buttons, beads, nuts and bolts, or any other product that would benefit from an organizer and carrying device.
 Construction of the present invention may comprise of single-piece or likewise of multi-piece structure. The handle of the device may further be formed into the structure or attached thereto using an appropriate attachment means, including rivets, fasteners or pull-through tensioning means. Materials contemplated for constructing the carrying device may include any material deemed suitable by one skilled in the art of carrying containers and organizers, including plastics, metal, cardboard or similar material that affects a rigid structure with window cut-outs. The number of bins may also vary depending on user preferences, within the limitation that all bins be positioned adjacent to a window cut-out for bar code scanning and item inspection purposes.
 To this point, the instant invention has been shown and described in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made within the scope of the invention and that obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art. With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.
 Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.
Patent applications in class PORTABLE SEGREGATING CARRIER FOR PLURAL CYLINDRICAL BEVERAGE-TYPE RECEPTACLES (E.G., BEER CANS, POP BOTTLES)
Patent applications in all subclasses PORTABLE SEGREGATING CARRIER FOR PLURAL CYLINDRICAL BEVERAGE-TYPE RECEPTACLES (E.G., BEER CANS, POP BOTTLES)