CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/814,446 filed on Apr. 22, 2013, entitled “Stackable Liquid Pitcher.” The above identified patent application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety to provide continuity of disclosure.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to stackable beverage containers adapted for storing and pouring liquid, those with a handle for ease of pouring, and those with an optionally tapered spout for directing the pouring activity.
Liquid pitchers are well known vessels utilized for supporting large quantities of liquid contents and for dispensing the same. Liquid pitchers are uncomplicated in concept; however there remains room for improvement in their design. When many liquid pitchers need to be stored between uses, they take up a substantial amount of space because their design is generally not amenable to stacking.
Most liquid pitchers have two types of handles and each type of handle has different problems associated with it. The first type is an external handle that protrudes from the body of the container and connects to the side of the container in two positions, thus preventing the container from being stacked because it interferes with the containers' ability to fit within each other. The second type has an external handle that attaches to the top of the pitcher in one position and then angles downward. This type of handle configuration is generally stackable, but the handle is unstable and prone to breaking or cracking at the connection between the handle and the body of the liquid pitcher. A third type of liquid pitcher is generally stackable and not prone to breaking or cracking because it relies on depressions, rather than a handle, to create a graspable surface. Handles offer superior stability and control compared to depressions, however, because it allows use of the entire hand rather than just the fingertips. Therefore, presently available liquid pitchers offer either a pitcher with a structurally sound handle that is not stackable, a weak handle that is stackable, or no handle that is stackable. No presently available liquid pitcher has a strong handle, while at the same time being stackable.
The present invention seeks to solve the problems inherent with the aforementioned types of liquid pitchers by utilizing an internal handle, rather than an external handle or set of depressions. An internal handle that extends through the pitcher from one side to the other allows the pitcher to be easily grasped by a user during use, and thereafter stacked in a vertical fashion. Since there is no handle protrusion, no external elements block the ability to stack, while the well-defined through-handle provides a firm, balanced handling position without sacrificing any structural integrity.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Devices have been disclosed in the prior art that relate to liquid pitchers and those with stackable structural configurations. These include devices that have been patented and published in patent application publications. These devices generally relate to liquid service containers with external handles or depressions to aid in handling, but have variable success as it relates to stacking the same between uses. The following is a list of devices deemed most relevant to the present disclosure, which are herein described for the purposes of highlighting and differentiating the unique aspects of the present invention, and further highlighting the drawbacks existing in the prior art.
Specifically, U.S. Pat. No. 4,899,885 to Van Koert discloses a fully enclosed plastic container with a spout on its top wall and pieces that stack on the exterior of the top wall, adjacent to the spout, so that the container is still stackable despite the presence of a spout extending above the top of the container. The goal of Van Koert is to allow for complete emptying of the plastic container by having the spout above the peripheral edge of the top wall. Having the spout in this configuration would normally prevent the container from being stackable because the spout on top breaks the flat surface of the top wall, preventing another flat-bottomed container from being able to rest in a balanced position thereabove. Van Koert solves this problem by providing stackable pieces that interconnect along the top surface adjacent to the spout to create a flat surface suitable for stacking. While Van Koert has a similar objective as the present invention and provides a stackable liquid container, it differs from the present invention in several key aspects. First, the present invention is for a liquid pitcher, not a fully enclosed liquid container. Second, the present invention has an internal handle while Van Koert does not have a handle at all. Lastly, the present invention's ability to stack is inherent from its structure whereas Van Koert requires additional pieces to stack.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,289,953 to McMillan discloses a another beverage service container that is adapted to pour both liquid and liquids mixed with solids, such as ice. The beverage service container comprises a pitcher body, an external handle connected at two points to the outside of the pitcher, and three pouring chutes. One of the pouring chutes is adapted such that only liquid can move through it and the other two chutes permit both liquid and solids, such as ice, to be poured through them. McMillan's external handle creates a problem in that it prevents the liquid pitcher from being stackable. The present invention solves this issue by having an internal handle and an opening that is large enough to accommodate the base of a complimentary liquid pitcher.
U.S. Design Pat. No. D313,555 to Jordi demonstrates a liquid container that has depressions along its sides thereof that can be used to more easily grasp and pick up the pitcher. These depressions are internal structures in the body of the container, but they do not form an actual through-handle because they do not meet one another along the interior of the pitcher. The present invention has a full internal through-handle created by carving out a hollow conduit directly through the interior of the pitcher rather than just simple depressions along the exterior side walls of the container. Jordi's depressions are a major drawback because although they make it easier to grasp the liquid pitcher than if there were no depressions at all, the depressions still do not offer the control and stability of a complete through-handle as is suggested by the present invention.
Another device is U.S. Design Pat. No. D382,763 to Jeppesen, which demonstrates a pouring container that, similarly to Jordi, has depressions along its side walls that allow individuals to more easily grasp the pitcher from the exterior thereof. Just as in Jordi, these depressions are changes in the contour of the pouring container sidewalls, and while similar in concept to the present invention, not meet together to form an internal through-handle. Jeppesen therefore has the same drawbacks as Jordi in that its sidewall depressions do not offer the same stability and degree of purchase over the vessel as a handle described by the present invention.
Finally, U.S. Design Pat. No. D428,756 to Miller demonstrates a liquid container with handle indentations in its sidewalls along the rear of the container. The indentations are deeper than the depressions disclosed in Jordi and Jeppesen, and thus more closely resemble a stable handle. However the indentations nonetheless do not meet to form a complete through-handle, which creates an enclosed conduit through the body of the present liquid pitcher for increased purchase and for accommodating stacking of complementary pitchers thereon. The deeper indentations, like the depressions, do not offer the same stability and control as the handle described in the present invention, nor do they promote support within the container interior for stacking several containers in a vertical fashion.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is therefore submitted as a new and improved liquid pitcher that is readily stackable because it utilizes an internal through-handle and has an opening large enough to accommodate the base of a complimentary pitcher therethrough. The internal handle offers more control and is easier to grasp than indentations found in the prior art, wherein the through-handle is formed by an internal conduit that creates an open space and an exposed handle region for the user's hand to completely grasp and support the pitcher body. 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 liquid pitcher devices. In this regard the instant invention substantially fulfills these needs.
In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of liquid containers now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new stackable liquid pitcher wherein the same can be utilized for providing convenience for the user when there is a desire to conserve space by stacking multiple liquid pitchers.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved liquid pitcher device that has all of the advantages of the prior art and none of the disadvantages.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an internal handle liquid pitcher that can be more readily stacked than those having an external handle, whereby the present invention offers the ability to stack several of the same pitchers in vertical alignment without interference from an external handle thereon.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an internal through-handle for improved purchase.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an internal ledge defined by the internal through-handle for supporting the base of a complimentary pitcher within the interior of the first pitcher.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS
It is a final object of the present invention to provide a liquid pitcher that has a strong, structurally sound handle that is not prone to breaking or cracking.
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 is perspective side view showing the major aspects of the liquid pitcher, including its interior volume, the base surface, the pitcher sidewalls, and the internal through-handle formed between opposing sidewalls thereof.
FIG. 2 is an overhead view demonstrating the internal structure of the liquid pitcher and the exterior surface of the through-handle, which is adapted to support the base of a pitcher placed therein.
FIG. 3 is a rear view of the liquid pitcher showing the orientation of the internal handle
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the liquid pitcher demonstrating the stackable nature of the present invention and the vertical alignment thereof when stacked.
Reference is made herein to the attached drawings. Like reference numerals are used throughout the drawings to depict like or similar elements of the stackable liquid pitcher. For the purposes of presenting a brief and clear description of the present invention, the preferred embodiment will be discussed as used for storing liquid in pourable pitchers and, when done, conserving space by stacking the liquid pitcher in vertical alignment. The figures 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 side perspective view of the stackable liquid pitcher of the present invention. The liquid pitcher comprises a base surface 11 and a sidewall 12 extending upwardly from the base surface 11. In this embodiment, the base surface 11 is shown as a roughly elliptical shape, but it may also be provided in rectangular, triangular, octagonal, or any other shape and may have any defined surface area. The sidewall 12 extends from the perimeter of the base surface 11, forming a continuous wall that extends upwards and defines the interior volume of the pitcher. In this embodiment, the sidewall 12 tapers slightly inward moving towards the base surface 11, but the given design may take on different forms, falling within the scope of the present invention. The sidewall 12 has a pouring portion and a rear portion disposed oppositely from the pouring portion. The upper termination of the sidewall 12 forms an upper edge 15 at the opposite end from the base surface 11. The aperture outlined by the upper edge 15 has a cross-sectional area greater than the surface area of the base surface 11, which allows the pitcher to accept a complimentary pitcher into its interior volume for stacking purposes.
A though-hole 16, situated along the sidewall 12 of the pitcher between the upper edge 15 and the base surface 11, extends through two opposing faces of the sidewall 12. The through-hole 16 comprises an internal conduit that is adapted to allow a user to place his or her fingers therethrough and grip a handle portion 14 when supporting the pitcher and its contents. The through-hole 16 is separated from the pitcher interior by the inner conduit wall 17. The inner conduit wall 17 closes off the through-hole 16 from the interior volume of the pitcher to prevent liquid from exiting the interior volume via the through-handle. The inner wall 17 of the through-hole 16 and the sidewall 12 together form a handle portion 14 that may be used to grasp the liquid pitcher. The exterior face of the handle portion 14 is defined by the rear of the pitcher and a portion of the through-hole wall 17. The handle 14 is therefore integrally formed into the sidewall of the pitcher and does not extend outward. Therefore the handle portion 14 does not protrude outward from the sidewall 12 to create an interference that would inhibit stacking several pitchers on top of one another. External handles of most pitchers protrude from the bodies of the pitchers, thereby preventing stacking. The internal through-hole 16 and integral handle portion 14 of the present invention is critical to the stacking function because external handles either prevent the pitcher from being stackable or are only connected at a single point at the top of the pitcher and are structurally unsound.
This figure depicts an embodiment having a spout 13. The spout 13 extends outwardly from the pouring portion of the sidewall 12. The spout 13 is situated opposite from and points away from the handle portion 14 so that liquid can be poured out of the body of the pitcher. The spout 13 is optional and embodiments without a spout 13 are also contemplated by this disclosure.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown an overheard view of the liquid pitcher. This view shows the inner conduit wall 17 within the interior of the volume of the liquid pitcher. The interior volume of the liquid pitcher is defined by the sidewall 12 extending from the perimeter of the base surface 11. The inner conduit wall 17 of the through-hole 16 and the sidewall 12 together form the handle portion 14. The top portion of the inner conduit wall 17 defines a ledge that is capable of supporting the base surface 11 of a complimentary liquid pitcher by laying flush against the complimentary base surface 11. The present liquid pitcher is stacked either in an upright or an upside-down configuration. In the upright stacking configuration, the base surface 11 lies against the table, shelf, or other flat storage space and the base surface 11 of a complimentary liquid pitcher rests on top of the ledge of the inner conduit wall 17. In the upside-down stacking configuration, the upper edge 15 lies against the table, shelf, or other flat storage space and the ledge of the complimentary inner conduit wall 17 supports the complimentary liquid pitcher. In either configuration, the ledge created by the top of the inner conduit wall 17 supports a liquid pitcher.
Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown a back view of the liquid pitcher. The through-hole 16 is composed of a first open end 18 and a second open end 19 connected by an inner conduit wall 17. The sidewall 12 and the inner conduit wall 17 connect seamlessly. The through-hole 16 can be of any size or shape, as long as it is capable of forming a handle with the parallel face of the sidewall 12. In this embodiment, the first and second open ends 18,19 are roughly triangular, but their shape may be circular, rectangular, octagonal, or any other shape and is not limited in any way by this disclosure. The handle portion 14 does not protrude in any from the sidewall 12 because it is integrally formed into the sidewall.
Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a perspective view of several of the liquid pitchers in a stacked position. Two properties of the present invention permit it to be stackable. First, the surface area of the base surface 11 is less than the cross-sectional area of the aperture formed by the sidewall 12 and outlined by the upper edge 15. This allows the base surface 11 of a complimentary liquid pitcher to fit within the body of the liquid pitcher. Second, the handle portion 14 does not protrude from the sidewall 12, thereby allowing the liquid pitcher to fit within the interior volume of a complimentary liquid pitcher. The inner conduit wall 17 supports the base surface 11 of a complimentary liquid pitcher, thereby allowing the complimentary liquid pitchers to rest securely within each other.
In use, the stackable liquid pitcher is ideally adapted for conserving space while still retaining all of the traditional functionality of a normal liquid pitcher. Traditional liquid pitchers with external handles are either not stackable because the external handle prevents them from being able to fit inside each other or are not structurally sound because the handle is connected at a single point at the top of the pitcher that is prone to breaking. The present invention has an internal handle, however, which allows the pitcher to be stackable since there is no external protrusion preventing one pitcher from sitting inside another and it is structurally very sound since it has two points of attachment. The present invention in all other ways acts as a traditional liquid pitcher by storing liquid in an easy-to-pour manner.
It is therefore submitted that 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.