Patent application title: DISPOSABLE COUNTERTOP PROTECTION
Stephanie Lynn Blackwell (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Robert D. Mcneeley (Estero, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47B9618FI
Class name: Adhesive bonding and miscellaneous chemical manufacture methods surface bonding and/or assembly therefor
Publication date: 2013-06-13
Patent application number: 20130146205
A flexible, polymeric, self-adhering, disposable film and delivery system
for countertop protection during food preparation. The film or sheet is
constructed and arranged to temporarily and releasably adhere to an upper
surface of the countertop to cover enough of the food-preparation surface
in order to protect that surface from any particulates coming from food
preparation activity. In one form, multiple film sheets are packaged
together by stacking the individual sheets or by forming a continuous
roll of sheets. The continuous roll of sheets are separable into
individual sheets by means of a perforated score line or by cutting such
as with scissors or other tools. One or more perforated score lines can
be formed in the roll of sheets thereby forming a pattern of score lines
for creating a wide variety of sizes and shape options for the individual
sheets from a single roll of sheets.
1. A countertop protection system for use during food preparation
comprising: a substantially flat countertop constructed and arranged for
food preparation; and a flexible, polymeric, self-adhering film provided
as a sheet which is applied to an upper surface of said substantially
2. The countertop protection system of claim 1 wherein said film includes a perforated score line, said film being separable by the perforated score line to form a plurality of sheets.
3. The countertop protection system of claim 2 wherein said film includes a second perforated score line that is substantially perpendicular to the first perforated score line, said film being separable by the first and the second perforated score lines to form a plurality of sheets.
4. The countertop protection system of claim 3 wherein each of the plurality of sheets has a unique size and shape.
5. The countertop protection system of claim 1 wherein said film is opaque.
6. A film for use with a substantially flat countertop constructed and arranged for food preparation, said film comprising: a flexible, polymeric, self-adhering sheet having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a peripheral edge, said sheet constructed and arranged to temporarily and releasably adhere to an upper surface of said countertop.
7. The film of claim 6 wherein said sheet is reversible wherein either said top surface or said bottom surface of said sheet is applied to the upper surface of said countertop.
8. The film of claim 6 wherein said sheet includes a plurality of sheets wound on a continuous roll, the plurality of sheets being separable by a plurality of perforated score lines.
9. The film of claim 6 wherein said sheet includes a plurality of individual sheets arranged in a stack.
10. The film of claim 9 wherein a single sheet is peelable from the stack to remove the single sheet from the stack.
11. The film of claim 9 further comprising a liner positioned between adjacent sheets.
12. The film of claim 9 further comprising a removable, peel-off paper backing applied to one of said bottom or said top surfaces of each of said sheets.
13. A method of temporarily covering a portion of a substantially flat countertop surface for use during food preparation, comprising: providing a flexible, polymeric, self-adhering sheet having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a peripheral edge; and pressing said bottom surface of said sheet against said portion of said countertop surface such that said sheet adheres to said countertop surface.
14. The method of claim 13 wherein said sheet includes a plurality of film sheets and a plurality of perforated score lines.
15. The method of claim 14 further comprising separating said plurality of film sheets into individual sheets by tearing along the perforated score lines.
16. The method of claim 13 wherein said sheet is made of an opaque material.
17. A method of dispensing a film sheet, comprising: providing a stack of flexible, polymeric, self-adhering film sheets wherein each of the film sheets has a top surface, a bottom surface, and a peripheral edge; and peeling one of the film sheets from the stack of film sheets.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/570,041 filed Dec. 13, 2011, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
 Disclosed is a disposable countertop protection concept which involves the use of a material in a novel and unobvious manner. During food preparation, kitchen and restaurant countertops and similar work surfaces can become exposed to various substances, fluids, juices, scraps, residues, etc. Even if these materials are not a concern when the associated food item is properly prepared, these by-products need to be removed in a proper manner and the associated work surface, such as a countertop, properly cleaned. For example, juices from preparing chicken can present a health concern if allowed to contaminate other foods.
 A related concern is the desire to protect the countertop, particularly if the countertop is a residential surface made from a "designer" material, such as granite or quartz. Some food "by-products", and actually certain foods, might include constituents which could stain or even etch (if they are acidic) or otherwise damage high-end countertops such as granite, quartz, marble, soapstone, woods, etc.
 While one way to protect these types of countertops is to use a cutting board, it is still quite likely that fluids, particles and the like of the food being prepared will find their way onto the countertop. Even with a cutting board there is still the need to repeatedly clean its surface. There are also concerns with certain surfaces and certain materials being used for cutting boards of whether the contaminants will work their way into the body of the material such that surface cleaning is not totally effective. In terms of the repeated cleaning which is required, the food preparation surface needs to be properly cleaned between different tasks. For example, after cutting up chicken and then getting read to chop vegetables or fruits, a thorough cleaning is critical. The risks of ingesting raw or uncooked chicken, including the juices and by-products, is well known and well documented. As another example, persons with food allergies are concerned with cross contamination when food contacts an allergen remaining on the food preparation surface to cause contamination of the food. If the food preparation surface is not properly cleaned then the allergen might remain on the preparation surface and could be potentially mixed with other food to cause cross contamination. The person then eats the contaminated food and potentially has an allergic reaction.
 After considering the range of issues regarding safe and sanitary food preparation, and the need to protect high-end countertops, a solution to these problems was found in the use of a durable plastic sheet which is self-adhering to the upper surface of the countertop or other smooth and flat food preparation surface. The envisioned polymeric film to be used is flexible and disposable. While reference is made to countertops and the high-end materials, the envisioned polymeric film can be used on cutting boards and can be used under food items which might release fluids or juices when thawing, as one example.
 As used herein "disposable" is intended to be used and understood in its normal, common sense context. Simply because something can be destroyed and discarded does not make it "disposable". Consider, for example, a building demolition. Obviously the structure can be destroyed and the scrap material discarded. However, most would never consider buildings to be "disposable". Instead, most would understand that the use of the term "disposable" is intended to mean something which can be easily discarded and comes at a cost which makes limited use and a short life expectancy acceptable to a majority of consumers. This is the meaning assigned for purposes of this disclosure.
 The envisioned flexible, polymeric self-adhering, disposable film can be supplied in single sheets of assorted sizes, it can come off a roll with separating perforations, and it can be supplied on a continuous roll to be cut off to a desired size, selectively chosen by the end user. A still further option would be to include a repeating pattern of crossing perforations so as to tailor not only the overall size of the plastic sheet to the area of the countertop to be covered, but also the actual shape such as rectangular, square, L-shaped, T-shaped, etc. When the food preparation is completed, the piece of film being used as surface protection can be rolled up or folded and easily discarded in a suitable trash receptacle. The countertop or other work surface remains clean, uncontaminated, free of staining or etching and ready to receive another film sheet for the next food preparation task.
 A flexible, polymeric, self-adhering, disposable film and delivery system for countertop protection during food preparation.
 Further forms, objects, features, aspects, benefits, advantages, and embodiments of the present invention will become apparent from a detailed description and drawings provided herewith.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view, in partial form, of a kitchen layout with countertops and workplaces with one portion covered by a film sheet according to the present disclosure.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 film sheet.
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a package containing a plurality of the FIG. 2 film sheets.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a roll of connected film sheets separated by perforated score lines.
 FIG. 5 is a top plan view of an alternative film sheet configuration coming off a continuous roll with additional perforated score lines.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SELECTED EMBODIMENTS
 For the purpose of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications in the described embodiments, and any further applications of the principles of the invention as described herein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates. One embodiment of the invention is shown in great detail, although it will be apparent to those skilled in the relevant art that some features that are not relevant to the present invention may not be shown for the sake of clarity.
 Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2 there is illustrated a portion 20 of a residential kitchen with a double sink 22 and countertops 24 and 26. This particular layout and the use of a residential kitchen is only for illustrative purposes. A restaurant with its food-preparation surfaces could be used instead, except that it is unlikely for the restaurant countertops or work surfaces to be fabricated from high-end materials. Instead, restaurants often prepare food for persons with food allergies so the food-preparation surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned to avoid cross contamination. The countertop layouts and shapes are also only for illustrative purposes. One point to be noted is that there is a substantially flat and smooth work surface 28 as part of the kitchen countertop to be used for food preparation and which is covered and protected by film sheet 30, according to the present disclosure. A generally rectangular form of film sheet 30 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The film sheet 30 includes a top surface 50, a bottom surface 52, and a peripheral edge 54. Although a rectangular shape is illustrated, other sizes and shapes are contemplated. The film sheet 30 is made of a nontoxic material that can contact food without causing contamination of the food.
 Sheet 30 has been dispensed and provided in a size and shape intended to cover enough of the food-preparation surface in order to protect that surface from any fluids, juices, scraps, particulates, etc. coming from the food preparation activity. The flexible film comprising sheet 30 is a relatively thin polymeric material and when applied to a smooth, flat surface, such as a countertop, possesses a self-adhering property or capability as part of the combination. This self-adhering property between the two smooth surfaces is similar to how a plastic film which is applied to windows as a tint and/or UV filter is able to adhere to the window. The film sheet 30 has static adhesion properties sufficient to temporarily and releasably adhere the sheet 30 to the food-preparation surface or to another film sheet 30, as described below. One might ask why something like wax paper or parchment paper would not serve the same purpose as film sheet 30, and there are two principal reasons why these alternatives are not suitable. One reason is the durability of the film sheet 30, including strength, resistance to tearing and being more puncture-resistant. Another reason is the self-adhering quality or property. Anyone who has worked with wax paper for example is aware of how the edges curl up and need to be secured, such as being weighted down by some other object. It is also well known that wax paper tears very easily and does not have the durability required for food preparation considering the nature of the various tasks. For similar reasons as described with respect to wax paper, one would not use aluminum foil, another typical product used in the kitchen, to cover the food-preparation surface.
 Referring now to FIG. 3, one option for packaging and dispensing of multiple film sheets 30 is illustrated. It is envisioned that a stack 32 of individual sheets 30 could be packaged in a box 34 or carton, all of the sheets 30 being of the same size and optionally separated by a paper liner 36 to facilitate separation. If a paper liner 36 is not used, single sheet 30 could simply be peeled off of the stack 32. Different boxed sizes could be offered such as an 12-inch by 18-inch size, a 12-inch by 12-inch size, a 12-inch by 15-inch size and a 15-inch by 18-inch size, as some of the options. Alternatively to a box 34, a binding (not illustrated) may be affixed along one or more of the peripheral edges 54 of the sheets 30 in order to hold the sheets 30 together.
 Referring to FIG. 4, a continuous roll 38 of sheets 30 is illustrated, with the sheets 30 being separated and separable by means of a perforated score line 40. Each sheet 30 is separated from the immediately adjacent sheet by a similar perforated score line 40. As the roll 38 is unrolled, individual sheets 30 can be obtained by tearing one sheet 30 from the roll 38 by tearing along the weakened score line 40. The roll size could be set at a 12-inch or 15-inch width, for example, and then place a perforated score line 40 at every 6 inches along a specific length, such as 18 inches to 6 feet. Another option would be to include a greater length and score lines at either a shorter spacing or a longer spacing. The idea of having score lines so as to segment the larger roll into smaller strips provides a wide range of tailored size options for the end user to select, one task at a time. If the weakened score lines 40 are not provided as a part of the continuous roll 38, then each selected sheet 30 must be cut from the roll 38 either by the use of scissors, by the use of a knife or similar cutting implement or by providing a cutting edge (not illustrated) as part of the box or carton which holds roll 38. This would be similar to how aluminum foil is currently dispensed, using a serrated cutting edge on the actual box.
 Referring now to FIG. 5, a further option for the perforated score lines is illustrated. In addition to score lines 40 which run generally parallel to the axis of the roll 38, generally perpendicular score lines 42 are added. As one example, lines 40 are on 6-inch spacing and for a 15-inch length roll, lines 42 are on 5-inch spacing. This pattern of score lines 40, 42 gives the user of film sheet 30 a wide variety of sizes and shape options. For example, tearing a film sheet 30a from the continuous strip by tearing the perforations along lines AB, BC and CD will result in a L-shaped film sheet 30a which might be of interest if the intended food preparation area includes a corner or right angle turn.
 The film sheet 30, regardless of the size, shape or manner of dispensing, provides a flexible protective layer which will adhere to a countertop and which is disposable. The material and its manner of use provides a protection system and concept for countertop surfaces during food preparation. The use of film sheet 30 prevents staining, etching and bacterial contamination of the countertop during food preparation and facilitates easy cleanup and disposal.
 In some embodiments, the film sheet 30 is colored or opaque. One benefit of making the film sheet 30 opaque or colored is that the film sheet 30 may be more easily seen when it is applied to the food-preparation surface. Further, various colors for the film sheet 30 could designate different food preparation areas in a kitchen. For example, a first film sheet 30 colored red could indicate a red meat preparation area whereas a second film sheet 30 colored green could indicate a vegetable preparation area. Other colors for the film sheet 30 can be used or the film sheet 30 can be translucent or clear.
 In each of the disclosed embodiments, a removable, peel-off paper backing (not illustrated) can be used on each sheet 30 as an additional feature. Such a backing is helpful in applying and smoothing each sheet 30 onto the countertop surface.
 In some embodiments, the film sheet 30 includes a roughened and/or thickened portion (not illustrated) on the top surface 50. The roughened surface on the film sheet 30 helps facilitate food preparation, such as, providing a means to resist movement of food placed on the film sheet 30 as a cook cuts or otherwise manipulates the food on the film sheet 30. As another example, the thickened portion of the film sheet 30 can designate a cutting area on the film sheet 30.
 While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes, equivalents, and modifications that come within the spirit of the inventions defined by following claims are desired to be protected. All publications, patents, and patent applications cited in this specification are herein incorporated by reference as if each individual publication, patent, or patent application were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference and set forth in its entirety herein.
Patent applications in class Surface bonding and/or assembly therefor
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