WO2008019058A2 - Carrier and method - Google Patents

Carrier and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2008019058A2
WO2008019058A2 PCT/US2007/017333 US2007017333W WO2008019058A2 WO 2008019058 A2 WO2008019058 A2 WO 2008019058A2 US 2007017333 W US2007017333 W US 2007017333W WO 2008019058 A2 WO2008019058 A2 WO 2008019058A2
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
carrier
side
panels
flanges
wall
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2007/017333
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2008019058A3 (en
Inventor
Angelo Cuomo
Original Assignee
E-Z Media, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US11/499,421 priority Critical
Priority to US11/499,421 priority patent/US7913837B2/en
Priority to US11/506,367 priority
Priority to US11/506,367 priority patent/US20070017828A1/en
Application filed by E-Z Media, Inc. filed Critical E-Z Media, Inc.
Publication of WO2008019058A2 publication Critical patent/WO2008019058A2/en
Publication of WO2008019058A3 publication Critical patent/WO2008019058A3/en

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D71/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans or pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D71/0003Tray-like elements provided with handles, for storage or transport of several articles, e.g. bottles, tins, jars
    • B65D71/0022Tray-like elements provided with handles, for storage or transport of several articles, e.g. bottles, tins, jars formed by folding or erecting one blank, and provided with vertical partitions
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2301/00Details of blanks
    • B65D2301/10Blanks mutually positioned to minimise waste material upon cutting out the individual blank from a continuous or large sheet
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00129Wrapper locking means
    • B65D2571/00135Wrapper locking means integral with the wrapper
    • B65D2571/00141Wrapper locking means integral with the wrapper glued
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00246Locating elements for the contents
    • B65D2571/00253Locating elements for the contents integral with the wrapper
    • B65D2571/0029Openings in top or bottom walls
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00333Partitions, i.e. elements contacting a major part of each aarticle or extending across the whole length of the wrapper
    • B65D2571/0037Partitions, i.e. elements contacting a major part of each aarticle or extending across the whole length of the wrapper extending from at least a side wall
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00333Partitions, i.e. elements contacting a major part of each aarticle or extending across the whole length of the wrapper
    • B65D2571/0037Partitions, i.e. elements contacting a major part of each aarticle or extending across the whole length of the wrapper extending from at least a side wall
    • B65D2571/00376Squarings or the like
    • B65D2571/00388Two rows of more than two cells
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00432Handles or suspending means
    • B65D2571/00456Handles or suspending means integral with the wrapper
    • B65D2571/00475Handles or suspending means integral with the wrapper and extending ion a substantially vertical plane
    • B65D2571/00487Handles or suspending means integral with the wrapper and extending ion a substantially vertical plane and formed integrally with a partition
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00432Handles or suspending means
    • B65D2571/00518Handles or suspending means with reinforcements
    • B65D2571/00524Handles or suspending means with reinforcements integral
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00648Elements used to form the wrapper
    • B65D2571/00654Blanks
    • B65D2571/0066Blanks formed from one single sheet
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00709Shape of the formed wrapper, i.e. shape of each formed element if the wrapper is made from more than one element
    • B65D2571/00722Shape of the formed wrapper, i.e. shape of each formed element if the wrapper is made from more than one element tubular with end walls, e.g. walls not extending on the whole end surface
    • B65D2571/00728Shape of the formed wrapper, i.e. shape of each formed element if the wrapper is made from more than one element tubular with end walls, e.g. walls not extending on the whole end surface the end walls being closed by gluing
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00833Other details of wrappers
    • B65D2571/00919Informative or decorative surfaces
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00833Other details of wrappers
    • B65D2571/00932Flattenable or foldable packages
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2571/00Bundles of articles held together by packaging elements for convenience of storage or transport, e.g. portable segregating carrier for plural receptacles such as beer cans, pop bottles; Bales of material
    • B65D2571/00123Bundling wrappers or trays
    • B65D2571/00981External accessories

Abstract

A carrier has two configurations, folded and unfolded. In the folded configuration the carrier has vertical walls and a base, forming a receptacle. The vertical walls are hinged together at their side-edges so that they can be folded together for forming a handle structure to carry the carrier and its contents, and swung apart to expose advertising copy, promotional items and/or books. Portions of the outside walls forming the covers can have openings to receive the necks of bottles to give added lateral support for the bottles. The vertical walls can be folded to create a handle, and swing apart to expose indicia; the motion used is like opening a book.

Description

CARRIER AND METHOD

This patent application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent applications Serial No. 10/215,938 filed August 9, 2002; Serial No. 10/662,265, filed September 15, 2003; Serial No. 10/737,612 filed on December 16, 2003; Serial No. 10/939,264 filed on September 10, 2004, Serial No. 11/012,440 filed on December 15, 2004, Serial No. 11/012,789, filed December 15, 2004, Serial No. 11/301,913, filed December 13, 2005, Serial No. 11/301,407, filed December 13, 2005, Serial No. 11/345,898, filed February 2, 2006, and Serial No. 11/443,962, filed May 30, 2006. The disclosures of those patent applications are hereby incorporated • herein by reference. This invention relates to carriers for beverages, food, liquids in containers and other objects, and to methods of making and using such carriers .

Although the carriers of the foregoing patent applications are excellent for most purposes , it is desired to provide modified versions of those carriers which are able to carry and protect objects of diverse sizes and shapes and to form covers over the receptacles containing the objects to be carried. It also is an object of the invention to provide simplified and more economical carriers having the desired characteristics.

In accordance with the invention, a carrier is provided in which outside walls are used to form handles and simultaneously cover all or a portion of the tops of the receptacles containing objects to be carried. The covers can be provided with holes or slots through which the necks of bottles such as wine or beer bottles can protrude. This can provide valuable lateral. support for tall objects to be carried, while partially covering upper surface portions of those objects.

Extra strength can be added to the handle structure by extending the central vertical panel structure upwardly and joining it with the extended outside walls to form a reinforced multi-ply handle structure.

Throughout most of its variations, the invention maintains the use of a pair of vertical support panels, a foldable receptacle extending outwardly from each panel, with the vertical support panels being secured together back-to- back, with each forming one side wall of one of the receptacles .

The preferred rectangular bottom structure for each receptacle is formed of four flanges, one extending downwardly from each of the four side walls of the receptacle. Each of two flanges is secured to an adjacent flange and the combination is folded diagonally at opposed corners of the rectangular structure . This bottom structure is strong and unfolds easily and automatically when the carrier is unfolded. The bottom structure preferably has a wide flange and, optionally, a tab-and-slot detent structure to hold a partially-unfolded carrier open for filling.

As a result, carriers of the invention provide an economical covered or partially-covered carrier which is strong and relatively easy to fill, and is able to support beverage containers of a variety of sizes and shapes, especially tall necked containers .

The invention also provides an improved method for packaging items for carry-out from an alcoholic beverage store, grocery or convenience store, restaurant, sports arena concession stand, etc. Carriers of the invention of a single size, or of a small number of different sizes, can be used to better and more safely carry beverage containers of a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Thus, tall necked wine or beer bottles can be given good lateral support by the covers provided over the receptacles, with holes available to give lateral support for the necks of bottles to be carried . Pre-packaged beverages in cans or bottles can be protected from dust and accidental spillage by means of the invention. The covers over the tops of the receptacles hold the beverage containers in the receptacles until the carrier cover is torn open. In the typical automatic carton filling equipment, the carrier is simply unfolded, filled with beverage containers, and the two outside walls are brought together and secured to one another. The carriers are selected so that the containers substantially fill the compartments in the carrier, and the outside walls are secured together so as to hold the containers together in a tight package .

In one particularly simplified embodiment of the invention, a single receptacle of the above-described construction is provided with a handle and used for holding and carrying objects such as beverage cans, cups, or bottles, or the like.

Preferably, the latter embodiment has two opposed lateral side walls which extend to a height well above two end side walls, and there is a handle structure near the uppermost edge of each lateral side wall . The two handle structures can be grasped simultaneously with one hand, and/or a latch can be used to hold the handle structures together.

Although the carriers described in the above- identified patent applications are advantageous in the amount of advertising space presented on the outside and other areas of the carrier, it is desired to improve the accessibility to advertising spaces provided in some of them. Accordingly, it is another object of the invention to provide a carrier construction and blank, and a method of making such a carrier in which the manufacturing cost is significantly reduced. It is a further object of the invention to provide such a carrier which is relatively strong and capacious, and relatively easy to unfold.

It is another object to provide such a carrier that stands upright and open when being loaded, provides substantial areas on which advertising can be located, and can be used with relative safety and reliability to carry cumbersome objects with a minimum of spillage.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, the foregoing objects are satisfied by providing a carrier with vertical support panels, each with a receptacle extending outwardly from its lower region. The carrier is made from blanks in which foldable panels are arranged in linear arrays. In the blanks, the vertical support panels can be folded and bonded to one another back-to-back. This facilitates the relatively close nesting of blanks on a sheet of material and thus reduces the amount of sheet material occupied by each blank and aids in reducing manufacturing costs .

Preferably, the side wall panels and vertical support panels are foldable relative to one another along lines perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the array, and shorter flanges forming the bottom structures of the receptacles are foldable along lines parallel to the longitudinal axes . This facilitates both nesting and automatic folding to form finished, folded carriers. It also is preferable that all of the fold lines parallel to the axes are located along one edge of the blank to facilitate folding by use of automatic folding equipment .

In one further specific embodiment of the invention, there is provided a carrier blank comprising a sheet of material shaped to form, a linear array of parts, said parts comprising first and second vertical support panels, a first group of foldably interconnected side wall panels foldable to form a side wall structure for a first receptacle to be secured to one of said vertical support panels, and a second group of foldably interconnected side wall panels foldable to form a side wall structure for a second receptacle to be secured to the other of said vertical support panels, and flanges extending from said side walls and said vertical support panels and being foldable to form bottom wall structures for said receptacles, said vertical support panels being foldable to be secured together back-to-back.

In another embodiment of the invention, a carrier and blank are provided in which the two vertical support panels are hinged together along one side edge and are not glued together so that they can be swung apart to see advertising, promotional gifts, books or booklets, and other material printed on or secured to the inside surfaces of the vertical support panels. This increases the advertising space available and makes it relatively easy for the user to gain access to the advertising. It is particularly advantageous in that the two halves of the carrier open like a book, thus facilitating securing a booklet or book to the surfaces for reading, drawing, or other such purposes.

In other respects, the invention comprises the additional features of the various different carriers disclosed in the above-identified pending patent applications whose disclosures are incorporated by reference into this patent application.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from or set forth in the following description and drawings .

IN THE DRAWINGS:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the carrier of the invention,-

FIGURES 2 and 3 are broken-away plan views of alternative embodiments of the carrier of the invention,-

FIGURE 4 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIGURE 1 in an erected but unfilled state,-

FIGURE 5" is a top plan view of a blank used to make the carrier of FIGURE 1; FIGURES 6, 7 and 8 are, respectively, end elevation, side elevation and top plan views of another embodiment of the invention;

FIGURES 9 and 10 are, respectively, end and side elevation views of another embodiment of the invention; FIGURE 11 is a side elevation view of another embodiment of the invention;

FIGURES 12 and 13 are, respectively, perspective and end elevation views of another embodiment of the invention;

FIGURE 14 is a top plan view of a blank for another embodiment of the invention;

FIGURE 15 is an end elevation view of a further embodiment of the invention;

FIGURE 16 is a top plan view of the carrier shown in FIGURE 15; FIGURE 17 is an enlarged, broken-away view of a component of the carrier of FIGURE 1 ;

FIGURE 18 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the invention; FIGURE 19 is a cross-sectional partially broken-away view taken along line 19-19 of Figure 1;

FIGURE 20 is an end elevation view of the carrier of Figures 18 and 19; FIGURE 21 is a bottom plan view of the carrier of

FIGURES 18-21, with the carrier partially unfolded;

FIGURE 22 is a top plan view of a blank used to make the carrier of FIGURES 18-21; and

FIGURE 23 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIGURE 18 after the handle structures have been latched together, and with a modification thereof.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the invention,-

FIG. 25 is a cross-sectional, partially broken-away view taken along line 25-25 of FIG. 24,-

FIG. 26 is a side elevation view, also partially broken away, of the carrier of FIG. 24 with a food carrying tray mounted thereon,-

FIG. 27 is a front elevation view, also partially broken away, of the structure shown in FIG. 26,-

FIG. 28 is a top plan view, also partially broken away, of the structure shown in FIG. 26;

FIG. 29 is a bottom plan view of a portion of the carrier shown in FIGs. 24-28 in a partially collapsed condition;

FlG. 30 is a schematic diagram illustrating the steps in a typical manufacturing process used to manufacture the carriers shown in FIGs. 24-29 and elsewhere herein;

FIG. 31 is a top plan view of a pair of nested blanks used for making the carrier of FIGs. 24-29;

FIGs. 32, 33, and 34 are views of one of the blanks shown in FIG. 31 at various stages of the process of manufacturing the carrier; FIG. 35 is a perspective view of an alternative food-carrying tray which, can be used instead of the tray shown in FIGs. 26-28;

FIG. 36 is a perspective view, partially broke away, of a 6-pack carrier constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 37 is a cross-sectional , partially broken-away view taken along line 37-37 of FIG. 36;

FIG. 38 is a bottom plan view of a portion of the carrier shown in FIG. 36, with the portion partially collapsed;

FIG. 39 is a top plan view of a pair of nested blanks used to make the carrier shown in FIGs. 36-38;

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of another carrier constructed in accordance with the present invention, this carrier being adapted to have two carrying compartments instead of the four compartments of the carrier shown in FIG.

24;

FIG. 41 is a top plan view of a blank used to manufacture the carrier shown in FIG. 40;

FIG. 42 is a top plan view of a pair of nested blanks of an alternative form used to make a carrier like the carrier of FIG. 40;

FIG. 43 is a bottom plan view of a portion of the carrier shown in FIG. 40, with the carrier partially collapsed;

FlG. 44 is a front elevation view of another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 45 is a side elevation view of the embodiment shown in FIG . 44 ;

FIG. 46 is a top plan view of a blank used to make another embodiment of the carrier of the present invention; FIG. 47 is a plan view of a partially folded carrier of the type shown in FIG. 46, with the rear surfaces of the folded blank in front; and

FIG. 48 is a plan view of another version of the carrier shown in FIG. 47, with other materials secured to the rear surfaces of the vertical panels .

GENERAL. DESCRIPTION

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a carrier 20 constructed in accordance with the present invention. The carrier includes a vertical support panel structure 22 and, when unfolded, as shown in Figure 1, includes two receptacles 24 and 26 which extend outwardly from opposite sides of the vertical support panel structure 22.

The first receptacle 24 includes a rear end wall 28, an outside wall 30, and a front end wall 32. One panel 64 forming the central vertical support panel structure 22 forms the fourth side wall of the receptacle 24.

Similarly, receptacle 26 includes a rear end wall 38, an outside wall 36, and a front end wall 34, as well as another panel 66 of the vertical support structure 22 (also see Figure 5) .

Each of the receptacles has a bottom structure 40 or 42 which is shown in greater detail in Figure 5 and will be described below, and which has been described in some or all of the above-identified pending patent applications.

Each of the outside walls 30 and 36 is elongated so as to extend well above the upper edge of the two end walls 28 and 32 or 38 and 34.

The outside wall 30 has a section 44 foldable over along a fold line 43, and a.n upper edge section 46 formed by folding along another fold line 45. Similarly, as shown in Figure 5, the outside wall 36 has a section 48 defined by fold lines 47 and 49, and an upper edge section 50.

Each of the upper edge sections 46 and 50, as well as the upper edge sections of the panels making up the vertical panel structure 22 has a hand hole 52 with a hand guard 54. The hand holes 52 are aligned with one another and the upper edge sections are secured together so as to form a combined handle structure by means of which the carrier can be lifted and carried.

In accordance with one of the optional features of the invention, each of the panels 44 and 48 has a hole 56 or 60 positioned to receive the neck of a bottle 58 or 62 therethrough. This provides lateral support for the bottles near their upper ends so as to stabilize them and prevent them from falling from the receptacles in which they are carried.

As shown in Figure 1, each of the bottles 58 or 62 has a diameter substantially smaller than the inside dimensions of the receptacle 24 or 26 in which it is located. This can come about when a carrier 20 of a standard size is used to package products which vary widely in size, as might be done in a carry-out retail store. By restraining the necks of the bottles by means of the panels 44 and 46 and the holes

56 and 60, etc., the carrier 20 can be used to carry a wide variety of bottles which might be too small to fit snugly in the carrier, or are tall with a tendency to tip, etc.

The carrier 20 has four locking structures 55, 57, 59, and 61 which are used to lock all of the parts of the handle structure together after the items to be carried have been loaded into the carrier.

Figure 17 shows one of the four locking structures

57 in detail. A rectangular hole 63 is die cut in all layers of the handle structure except one, in which an arrow-head shaped tab 69 is die-cut. The tab has two barbs 73 and 75 which project from the sides to a width somewhat wider than the width of the hole 63. The other three lock structures 55, 59, and 61 are of similar construction, except that the lock structures 59 and 61 are smaller than the structures 55 and 57. Material 71 only partially die cut is pushed outwardly when tab 69 is pushed through the hole 63. In locking the handle layers together, the layers are brought together with the holes 63, etc., aligned with one another and the tabs 69, etc., aligned with the holes, and the tabs are pushed through the holes until the barbs 73, 75, etc., catch on the side edges of the holes to lock the panels together. The tabs can be pushed through the holes by hand, or by the movement of rods, if the carriers are filled by automatic bottling equipment.

The handle layers can be pulled apart by hand fairly easily, when the customer wishes to open the carrier to remove a beverage container .

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figure 5 is a plan view of the blank used to make the carrier 20, except that an alternative handle lock structure is used Although a variety of different blanks can be used, the one shown in Figure 5 is particularly well designed for fabrication using an automatic in-line gluing machine .

The blank includes a pair of panels 68 and 70 which are secured to the side walls 32 and 34, respectively, along weak perforated lines 51 and 53. During the gluing and folding process using automated equipment, the panels 68 and 70 are broken loose from the panels 32 and 34 and are folded over on the panels 64 and 66, respectively, and glued thereto in order to form a multi-ply handle structure.

Tabs 65 and 67 extend from the left and right edges of the blank and are glued and, when the panels are folded over, are attached, respectively, to the panels 38 and 28 to form the side walls of the receptacles 24 and 26.

The bottom structure 40 includes a first flange 72 which extends downwardly from panel 64, and a triangular flange 74, with a tab 78 and a diagonal fold line 76, extends downwardly from the panel 32. A broad panel 80 extends downwardly from the panel 30, and another triangular flange 82 with a tab 86 and diagonal fold line 84 extends downwardly from the panel 28.

Similarly, the bottom structure 42 for the receptacle 26 includes flanges 94 and 102, and triangular flanges 88, 96 with tabs 92, 100 and fold lines 90, 98 which are the mirror images of the corresponding flanges of the bottom structure 40.

Each of the broad flanges 80 and 94 has a tab 122 or 130 extending from one side and an end tab 104 or 108. The tab 122 or 130 cooperates with each of three slots 120, 118 and 116 or 124, 126, and 182, (also see Figure 1) as the carrier is being unfolded to hold the receptacles open until objects have been placed in them. The placement of the objects in the receptacles presses the panels 80 and 94 downwardly until the tab 122 extends through the slot 116 and the tab 130 extends through the slot 128 to help hold the panel in a downward position. This feature of the invention is described in greater detail in some of the foregoing patent applications .

Glue is applied to the tabs 78, 86, 92, 100, 67, and 65, as well as to the surfaces of panels 68 and 70, and the panels are folded over upon one another to form the carrier structure which is folded and ready for shipment to a retail store, bottling facility or other place where it is loaded with items to be carried.

Still referring to Figure 5, as well as Figure 4, the locking structure includes a wide barbed male locking member or tab 112 extending from the upper edge of the panel

30. The tab 112 has two barbs 115, 117 extending to a width greater than that of the handle hole 52.

To lock the layers of the handle together, the panels are brought together with the holes 52 in alignment, and the tab 112 is folded over the upper edges of the panels, in the direction indicated by the arrow 114 in Figure 4, and pushed through the holes 52 until the barbs 115, 117 are caught on the edges of the panel 46 to lock the panels together. This locking is easy to perform by hand, without any tools .

Other known locking structures can be used instead of those shown in Figures 1, 4, 5 and 17, if desired.

ALTERNATIVE BOTTLE NECK HOLE SHAPES Figures 2 and 3 are broken away views of the panels

43 and 46 with alternative hole shapes which can be used to accommodate the necks of bottles of varying sizes.

The embodiment shown in Figure 2 provides a circular hole 132 with radial perforations 134 extending outwardly from the edges of the hole. When a bottle neck of a diameter larger than the diameter of the hole 132 is thrust through the hole 132, the perforations 134 break and enlarge the hole to accommodate the larger bottle neck.

Figure 3 is an elongated opening 136 with a generally wasp-like shape. It has an enlarged upper portion

138, a neck portion 140 and an enlarged lower portion 142.

The elongated hole extends past the fold line 43 and downwardly into the panel 30. It is provided so that the panels 30 and 44 will be bendable to fit the contours of a larger bottle and give it added support . Openings of the shape shown in Figure 3 are illustrated in some of the embodiments set forth hereinbelow. Figure 4 shows the unfolded carrier 20, with the alternative handle lock, in the position which the carrier takes prior to being loaded with objects to be carried. As it can be seen, the outside walls 30 and 36 with the extensions 44 and 46 and 48 and 50 make the panels extend well above the upper edge of the vertical support panel structure 22.

It should be understood that the dimensions of the various panels 44, 46 and 30 can be varied in order to accommodate different products to be carried. For example, the panels 44 and 48 are horizontal as shown in Figure 1, and yet they need not be. Instead, they can be positioned at an angle as desired and needed. Also, holes of other shapes can be used to accommodate the bottle necks. The holes can be oval, rectilinear, or of any shape desired and suited to the purpose . FURTHER ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Figures 6, 7 and 8 show the carrier of Figure 1 in use as a six-pack carrier for beverage cans 142 and 144. The panels 44 and 48, in this case, have no holes in them so that they completely cover the tops of the cans in the carrier. As it is shown in Figures 6 and 7, dividers 146 and

148 are provided to divide the carrier into different compartments in which the cans are located. In the embodiment shown in Figures 6-8, there are four such compartments and a beverage can is located in each, as it is shown in Figure 8, in which cans 150 and 152 are shown in addition to the cans 142 and 144. Of course, the carrier can be made to carry 6, 12 or other numbers of cans, as needed. The carrier 160 shown in Figures 9 and 10 is especially desirable for packaging tall bottles such, as wine bottles with long necks.

As it is shown in Figure 10, the opening accommodating each of the bottle necks is of the type shown in Figure 3 with an enlarged upper portion 138 and a lower portion 142. This is beneficial in gripping the bottle better and, also, in showing at least a portion of a label 163 of the bottle. The carrier 164 shown in Figure 11 is essentially the same as the carrier 160 shown in Figures 9 and 10, except that it is adapted to hold six tall wine bottles instead of only two .

Two dividers 166 are provided in each of the receptacles to provide six compartments, one for each of the wine bottles 162.

Figures 12 and 13 show another carrier 168 made in accordance with the invention. The carrier 168 is used to hold six small, short bottles of beer, sometimes called "nips". The carrier includes outside walls 174 and 176, end walls 170 and 172, horizontal cover portions 184 and 182, and vertical handle portions 186 and 188. Rear end walls are not visible in Figure 12.

The vertical panels forming the two receptacles of the carrier are joined together as indicated at 180.

Locking structures 190 and 192 are provided in order to lock the various portions of the handle structure together after the bottles have been placed in the carrier.

As with the embodiments shown in Figures 9-11, the elongated hole structures shown in Figure 3 are used. This allows the panels 182 and 184 to be drawn tightly towards the center of the structure so that the edges of the carrier tend to be rounded and the bottles are held tightly. If desired, the panels 186 and 188 can be glued together during the packaging process rather than using the tabs 190 and 192.

Slot groups 194 and 196 are provided to aid in holding the receptacles open until loaded with bottles during the bottling procedure, as described above with respect to Figures 1 and 4.

Figure 13 is an end view showing the carrier 168 as it looks immediately prior to loading the bottles into the receptacles.

All of the embodiments in Figures 6 through 13 have in common the feature that the vertical panel structure 22 or 180, etc., does not extend upwardly to be joined with the upper portions of the outside panels 30, 36, 174 and 176 to form a compound handle. This is because those carriers are designed to hold bottles or cans which are to be primarily prepackaged and delivered as six-packs, two-packs, four-packs, twelve-packs, etc., to grocery stores, alcoholic beverage stores, convenience stores, etc., for retail sale. The compartments for the beverage containers are dimensioned so as to be only slightly larger than the containers they receive, so that the package can be made as tight as possible and so as to minimize the usage of materials. Moreover, the tight structure allows the further minimization of materials by shortening the central vertical panel structure and using only the upper extensions of the outside walls as handles.

It should be understood, of course, that the vertical central panel structure can be extended upwardly to join with the upper portions of the outside wall panels to give added strength, where needed.

Figure 14 is a blank used to make a carrier which is almost the same as the carrier 168 shown in Figure 12 except that it has six circular holes 198, 200 instead of the elongated holes shown in the Figure 12 structure .

As with the Figure 5 blank, the blank shown in Figure 14 is designed for use with an in-line gluer. The wall panels 170, 172, 174 and 176 are shown, as well as rear end panels 175 and 177 which are not visible in Figure 12.

Vertical support panels 202 and 204 are shown, with flanges 206 and 208 extending from the left and right edges of the blank, as shown.

Four dividers 210, 212, 214 and 216 are shown. Each has a tab 211, 213, 217 or 219, respectively, which is glued to the opposing outside wall 174 or 176 in order to form the dividers, as described in greater detail in several of the above-identified patent applications.

Wide flanges 220 and 226 extend, respectively, from the lower edges of panels 202 and 204. Each wide flange has two tabs 222 or 228 which mate with slots 224 or 230 when the carrier is unfolded, so as to hold the flanges in place. Side tabs 232 and 234 extend from the flanges 220 and 226. These cooperate with the locking slots 194, 196 to hold the receptacles open while they are being loaded with products. Narrower flanges 238 and 244 extend downwardly from the panels 174 and 176. Triangular panels of the type described above and shown in Figure 5 are provided at 236, 240, 242 and 246. They function the same as those shown in the Figure 5 structure to form automatically unfolding bottom structures when the carrier is unfolded.

The locking tabs 190 and 192 shown in Figure 12 are shown in greater detail in Figure 14. Each is a projection with two barbs extending outwardly at the sides . Each tab 190, 192 extends from the end of the panel 186. Slots 191 and 193 are provided in the upper edge of the panel 188 in a position to receive the tabs 190, 192. When the panels 186 and 188 are brought together in order to fasten them to one another, tabs 190 and 192 are bent over and they are inserted through the slots 191 and 193 until he barbs catch. Thus, the tabs 190 operate to secure the two panels 186 and 188 together. Lock structures like the structures 55, 57 in Figure 1 can be used instead, if desired.

Figures 15 and 16 show a further embodiment of the invention in which the carrier 220 has a flat top and a central slot 228 (Figure 16) in the flat top to be used as a handle instead of an upstanding handle such as in the embodiments shown in the previous figures of the drawings. Again, stubby bottles of beer 224 are shown packaged in the carrier 220. The portions 182, 186, 184 and 188 are folded over to embrace the bottle tops, as in the Figures 12 and 13 embodiment, but, the upper portions 186 and 188 are not bent upwardly. Instead, they are overlapped and glued together along a seam 226 (see Figure 16) . This seam is formed after the bottles 224 have been loaded into the carrier. The panels 186 and 188 are pulled tightly towards one another and overlapped and glued together.

As it is shown in Figure 16, the structure is used to form a twelve-pack. It also can be used to make a six-pack or a twenty-four-pack carrier, as needed and desired.

It should be understood that, in the blanks shown in Figures 5 and 14 , areas to be glued are marked "GLUE" or "G" , and fold lines are marked "FOLD" .

SINGLE-BOTTOM CARRIER Figure 18 is a perspective view of a single-bottom carrier using the principles of the present invention. The carrier 300 uses a single receptacle 302 of the same type as the two receptacles 24, 25 used in Figure 1 and in other embodiments of the invention described above.

The carrier includes four side walls 304, 306, 308, and 310, side walls 310 and 306 being called "end walls", and side walls 304 and 308 being called "lateral side walls" . In the particular embodiment shown in Figure 18 , the lateral walls are substantially longer in the horizontal direction. However, the relative lengths of those walls can be different, depending on the requirements of the carrying task at hand.

Each of the lateral walls has an upper edge 318 or

320, and each of the end walls has an upper edge 314 or 316.

The lateral walls are substantially taller than the end walls.

This gives substantial material above the edges 314 and 316 in order to form a cover and handle structure for the carrier.

The receptacle 302 has a bottom wall structure 312 which is the same as the bottom wall structures for the receptacles shown in the embodiments described above.

Each of the lateral side walls has, near its upper edge 318 or 320, a handle hole 324 or 322. Those handle holes have the same size and elongated oval shape.

Extending from the upper edge 320 of the lateral wall 308 is a projection or flap 326 with barbs 328 and 330 on opposite sides. The projection 326 is dimensioned so as to be capable of being wrapped around the upper edge 318 of the opposite lateral wall and forced through the openings 322 and

324 to lock the upper areas of the lateral side walls together and form a unified hand hole structure for carrying the carrier. in this respect, this embodiment is similar to the embodiment shown in Figure 4 and described above .

Alternatively, other latching mechanisms such as those shown in Figures 1, 7, 12, etc., can be used instead. A divider structure 332 is provided. It is formed by material cut out from one side wall 304. This leaves an opening 336. The divider is secured between the two lateral side walls 304 and 308 with the use of a tab 334 at one end which is glued to the inside surface of the lateral side wall 308.

The four walls of the carrier are secured together by means of a flange 348 which is glued to the inner surface of the far edge of the end wall 306. Bach lateral side wall 304 and 308 has a horizontal fold line 362 or 364, which is optional, to facilitate bending of the top portions of the lateral side walls to form a cover over the carrier .

Figure 20 is an end elevation view of the carrier 300 of Figure 18 with a container 366 inside. Although the container can be any of a plurality of different types of containers, the container 366 shown is a cylindrical beverage can of a size predetermined to fit snugly into the carrier.

The carrier 300 is closed by bending the upper portions of the lateral side walls 304 and 308, wrapping the projection 326 around the upper edge of the side wall 304, and inserting the projection 326 through the openings 322 and 324 where the barbs 328 and 330 catch on the edges of the hand hole 324 and secure the two lateral side walls together at their top edges . A hand hole remains for a person to insert his or her fingers, as indicated at 324 in Figure 23.

The bottom wall structure 312 of the carrier is shown in substantial detail in Figures 19, 21, and 22, as well as Figure 18. The bottom structure 312 is made up of four flanges which extend from the lower edges of the four side walls of the carrier. Referring particularly to Figure 22, a long but relatively narrow flange 360 is secured along a fold line 361 to the bottom edge of the lateral panel 304.

Another relatively long flange 338 is secured to the bottom edge of the panel 308 along a fold lie 63. The panel 338 is relatively wider than the flange 360 and, in fact, spans entirely across the width of the bottom structure 312. It locks into the opposite lateral side wall 304 by means of two tabs 342 and 340 which fit into slots 344 and 346. The flange 338 also has a tab 376 extending from one side edge. This tab fits into one of the slots 368, 370, and 372 in the end wall 306 (see Figure 18 as well as Figure 22) as the flange 338 is rotating downwardly during unfolding of the carrier. This feature, which has been described in greater detail in the above-identified co-pending patent applications, assists in holding the flange 338 in an intermediate position before it is fully open so as to prevent the carrier from relapsing into its folded position due to the resilience of the cardboard used in making the carrier. The bottom structure also includes a flange 354 secured along the bottom edge of end wall 310 along a fold line 365, and another flange 349 secured along fold line 367 to the bottom edge of end wall 306. A tab 358 is secured to the flap 354 along a diagonal fold line 356, and a flap 350 is secured to the flange 349 along a diagonal fold line 352.

The side walls are secured together along vertical fold lines 373, 375, and 379, and the tab 348 is secured to the left edge of panel 304 along a fold line 381.

As is shown most clearly in Figure 21, the tab 358 is glued to the long flange 360, and the tab 350 is glued to the wide flange 338.

Figure 21 shows the bottom structure 312 partially unfolded. As the opposite edges are pressed towards one another, as indicated by arrows 369 and 371, the connection of the flanges 338 and 360 with the end flanges automatically opens the bottom structure to a horizontal position as shown in Figure 18. During the movement, the right edge of the flange 338 bends as shown at 378 in Figure 21, but eventually straightens out and the tab 376 slips into one of the slots 368 or 370 and props the carrier open. Thus, the carrier can stand on a horizontal surface alone, and both hands of a worker can be used to fill the carrier. Alternatively, in a bottling or packaging line in a beverage plant, the machinery need not hold the carrier open while the machinery automatically inserts containers into the carrier.

The bottom structure 312 is notable for its strength. This is due to a number of factors, including the overlay of flanges, one on top of the other in various portions of the bottom wall, thus providing multi-ply strength.

Particularly notable is the fact that the top flange 338 extends all the way across the bottom and thus provides extraordinary support not provided by other similar bottom structures. The flange 338 does double duty by serving as a propping member to prop the carrier open while it is being filled. In addition, with the tabs 340 and 342 fitting into slots in the opposing lateral side wall, the broad flange 338 serves the additional function of locking the bottom panels together. This happens either when a worker or a machine presses downwardly on the panel 338, or simply when objects to be carried in the container are loaded into it and their weight rests upon the flange 338. The flange 338 further is locked in position when the tab 376 fits into the slot 372. As it is shown in Figures 20 and 23, the upper portions of the lateral side walls 304 and 308 come together and are secured to one another or held together by inserting the hand through both hand holes simultaneously, thereby providing a cover over the contents being carried in the carrier. Moreover, the carrier 300 is simple and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.

The carrier 300 is very well suited to uses in carrying many objects. However, it is especially advantageous in carrying beverage containers and food items. The carrier, like the carriers provided above, provides a cover so that a variety of food items can be carried in open containers without danger of contamination by falling objects.

Open containers of coffee, tea, or other beverages, soup, sandwiches, etc., can be carried with protection form the cover .

Figure 23 shows the use of an insert 374 having downwardly-extending legs resting on the bottom of the carrier. The insert has holes 380 in its top to receive ice cream cones or cups. Even very tall cones containing soft ice cream will fit into the carrier. The cover even matches the shape of the tops of such cones.

FOUR-COMPARTMENT CARRIER

FIGs. 24, 25, 29 and 31 show a general-purpose four- compartment carrier 420 with a locking bottom structure. The four compartments or receptacles can hold beverage cups, cans or bottles and a variety of other types of objects, such as potted plants, cans of motor oil or fuel additive, etc.

FIGs. 30-34 show a preferred method of manufacturing the carrier 420, as well as other carriers described herein, and FIGs. 26-28 show a top tray accessory for carrying food or other items above the items in the four compartments of the FIG. 24 carrier. The carrier 420 includes a central support structure

222 including two vertical support panels 423 and 425 glued or otherwise bonded together. The central support structure 422 has an upper edge 430 and a hand-hole 428 below the upper edge 430, with a foldable hand guard 432.

The upper portion of the central support structure 422 has a front surface panel 424 and a rear surface panel 426, which are bonded, respectively, to the upper areas of the panels 423 and 425, thus forming a four-ply handle structure. A receptacle structure extends outwardly from each of the two vertical support panels 423 and 425. One receptacle 427 includes a panel folded to form the side walls 434, 436, and 438 and secured at one end to the panel 423 by a flange 446 extending from the left edge of the panel 423 and bonded to the panel 434.

Similarly, a second receptacle 429 on the opposite side of the carrier is formed by side walls 440, 442 and 444, with a flange 448 extending from the left edge of panel 425 bonded to the panel 444. Each of the two receptacles has a bottom structure

450 or 452 including a hinged locking panel 464 or 470 which extends completely across the bottom structure (see FIG. 25) and has a locking tab 466 or 472 extending from its outermost edge. The tabs 466 and 472 fit into slots 468 or 474 at the bottom of the vertical support panel 423 or 425, as it is shown in greater detail in FIG. 25.

Now referring to FIG. 25, as well as to FIG. 29, each of the receptacles has a bottom support structure like most of the embodiments of the invention described in the above-identified pending patent applications, and other embodiments described herein.

FIG. 25 is a broken away cross-sectional view taken along line 25-25 of FIG. 24. The carrier shown in FIG. 24 is standing erect on a horizontal surface such as the surface 480 shown in FIG. 25. The carrier 420, which is folded and flattened when shipped, is shown in FIG. 24 after it has been unfolded by the simple operation to be described below. Referring to FIG. 25, the bottom structure 450 of the left-hand receptacle 427 shown in FIG. 25 is in the position it normally takes immediately after the carrier has been unfolded and before any beverage containers or other objects have been placed in the receptacle, or before someone has pushed the panel 464 downwardly to insert the locking tab 466 into the slot 468.

The right-hand receptacle 229 is shown in FIG. 25 with a full beverage cup 454 in place. The full cup has pressed down upon the panel 470 and pressed the locking tab 472 into the slot 474.

The locking or top panels 464 and 470 are rectangular and are almost as long as the distance between side walls 434 and 438. The rectangular shape of the panels 464 and 470 thus advantageously holds the receptacles 427 and 429 open so that the carrier 420 will sit erect on a horizontal surface with the receptacles 427 and 429 open so that the carrier easily can be filled with beverage cups or other objects.

As it will become apparent from the discussion below, as the carrier 420 is opened, the bottom panels 464 and 470 are automatically pulled downwardly approximately to an angle such as that shown for the panel 464 in FIG. 25 by the interlocking bottom structure to be described below.

Referring to FIG.29 of the drawings, the bottom structure 452 includes the broad locking panel 470 with its tab 472 which is hinged at the bottom of the side wall panel 442. Also, a panel 488 which extends approximately half way across the width of the receptacle 429 is hinged from the bottom edge of the vertical support panel 423.

A first corner structure includes a flange hinged to the bottom edge of the side panel 444 and consisting of a first portion 490 and a second portion 491, separated from one another by a fold line 493.

A second corner structure is located at the corner of the bottom structure which is opposite to the first corner structure. The second corner structure, which is hinged from the lower edge of the side wall panel 440, consists of a first portion 495 and a second portion 497 joined to the first portion 495 at a fold line 501.

The flange portion 491 is bonded to the top panel

470, and the flange portion 497 is bonded to the panel 488. The other bottom structure 450 for the other receptacle 427 is not shown in FIG.29, but it has corner flange structures 478, 476 and 403, 405 (FIG.31), as well as the wide flange 464 and flange 484 which are attached together like the flanges of structure 452. As the carrier is unfolded, the two corner flange structures pull downwardly on the panels 470 and 488 until they reach a position spaced somewhat upwardly from the bottom of the receptacle. Then, top panel 470 is pressed downwardly by hand or by the weight of an object being placed upon it to snap the lock tab into the slot to hold the bottom structure flat. The other bottom structure 450 unfolds in the same manner .

The corner structures and the overlapping long panels together form a very strong multi-ply bottom structure capable of holding substantial loads .

Referring again to PIG. 24, a first divider 456 with an end tab 458 adhered to the inner surface of the wall 436 divides the left-hand receptacle 427 into two compartments. Similarly, a second divider 460 with an end tab 462 bonded to the side wall 442 provides a divider for the right-hand receptacle 429.

In addition, gussets 451, 453, 447 and 449 are provided at the junctions between the side walls 438, 440, 434 and 444 and the vertical panel structure. These gussets, as well as the dividers, are optional. The gussets provide added strength for the carrier structure, if needed.

AUXILIARY TRAY

FIGs. 26-28 show an auxiliary" tray 492 designed for use with the carrier 420. The tray is substantially the same as the trays shown in the above-identified patent applications .

The tray 492 has a bottom wall 504, and four upstanding side walls 494, 496, 498, and 499. The side walls 494 and 496 have triangular tabs 422 and 424, respectively (see FIG. 28) , which are glued to the front and rear walls at the corners of the tray. The side walls are folded onto one another along fold lines such as lines 518 and 526 at the corners, and fold lines 500 and 502 so as to fold the tray flat for shipment and storage.

As it is shown in FIG. 28, the bottom wall 504 has an elongated slot 512 which is wider in the middle than at either end, and two end sections 514 and 516 which are perpendicular to the section 512. Thus, an "I"-shaped slot is formed in the bottom wall 504.

FIG. 26 is a broken-away side elevation view showing two beverage cups 507 and 508 in the carrier 520 and the tray 492 resting on top of the cups. It can be seen in FIGs. 27 and 28 that the gussets 447, 449, 451, and 453 extend upwardly through portions of the slots 514 and 516, while the central support structure 422 of the carrier extends upwardly through the slot 512. If the gussets are not needed, then the slot can be simplified to be a single slot without end sections 514 and 516.

FIGs. 26 and 27 also show that the height of the beverage cups or other containers which might be present in the carrier 420 vary to a substantial degree. Thus, the tops of the cups 507 and 508 shown in FIG. 26 extend higher above the upper edge 506 of the side wall 442 of the carrier than do the tops of the cups 509 and 510 in FIG. 27. However, it is preferred that the tops of the beverage containers always be above the upper edge of the side walls of the carrier so that the containers are easily accessible to grasp them and remove them from the containers, and to minimize the amount of sheet material used in the carrier. MANUFACTURING METHOD

FIG. 30 is a schematic diagram showing steps typically taken in manufacturing carriers in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 31 shows two blanks 536 and 538 which are to be folded and glued to form two finished carriers.

Referring first to FIG. 30, fiberboard material from a roll 528 is fed first to a printing station 530 where legends, logos, advertising material, etc., are printed on the areas of a wide sheet of fiberboard material in positions in which the carriers will be formed. Typically, the sheet material can be relatively wide, e.g., 450 inches or more, depending upon the capacity of the die cutting, folding and printing equipment used.

The printed sheet material next moves to a die cutting and scoring machine 532 which die cuts and scores the material to form blanks such as the blanks 536 and 538.

As it will be explained in greater detail below, because of the linear array of panels formed by the panels making up the blanks, several blanks can be ^nested" side-by- side across the width of the sheet material so as to maximize the usage of material and help minimize the manufacturing cost of the carrier. FIG. 31 shows two of the blanks 436 and 438 nested side-by-side with one another. In actuality, three or more such blanks can be nested side-by-side, but the other blanks are not shown in order to save space in the drawings .

At the station 532, the sheet material is die-cut and scored to form fold lines.

Finally, at station 534, each blank is automatically glued and folded to form a fully folded carrier, ready for packing and shipment, as it will be described in greater detail below. FOUR-COMPARTMENT BIAMK STRUCTURE

Referring now to FIG. 31, part numbers have been shown on only one of the blanks, the blank 536, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and crowding of the drawing.

The blanks 536, 538, etc., form a linear array of panels extending in the direction indicated by the arrow 540 which is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the array.

In general, the vertical support panels and side wall panels are joined together in series along fold lines perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the array, and the panels and flanges forming the bottom structures of the receptacles are joined to the vertical support panels and side wall panels along fold lines which are parallel to the longitudinal axis.

As it can be seen in FIG. 31, the panels 423 and 424 are separate from one another except that they are joined along a fold line 544. Similarly, panels 425 and 426 are separate but attached along the fold line 546. The divider arms 456 and 460 are formed as cutouts from the material of panels 423 and 425, respectively, with hinges at fold lines 547 and 549.

All of the flaps or flanges forming the bottom structures for the two receptacles 427 and 429 are located along one edge of the linear array. This has the advantage of enabling automatic folding equipment for the bottoms to be located along only one edge of the blank as the flaps and flanges are folded. This can reduce equipment required and/or can speed the manufacturing process.

FOLDING AND GLUIHG

FIGs. 32-34 illustrate the folding and gluing processes at various stages of completion.

First, as it is shown in FIG. 32, adhesive is applied to the upper surfaces of the panels 424 and 426, and the panel 424 is folded onto the panel 423 along line 544 and pressed to adhere it to the panel 423. Similarly, panel 426 is folded along line 546 onto the upper portion of panel 425 and adhered in place. Also, each of the divider arms 456 and 460 is folded out from its original position, thus leaving an opening 554 or 556 in the panel 423 or 425.

Each of the panels 484, 464, 470 and 488 is folded upwardly to the position shown in FIG. 32. Each of the corner flaps is folded twice, first upwardly along its upper edge, and then the flaps 505, 476, 490, and 495 are folded downwardly along the diagonal fold line of each of the corner structures.

Then, each of the end flanges 446 and 448 is folded over, the flange 446 to the right, and the flange 448 to the left.

Next, adhesive is applied to each of the flanges 446 and 448, 458, 505, 476, 490, 497, and 462. Referring now to FIG. 33, next, the blank is folded along fold lines 550 and 548 shown in FIG. 32 to form the partially-folded blank 558 shown in FIG. 33, and the folded- over portions are pressed onto the portions below them so that the adhesive on the adhesive-coated surfaces adheres to each of the surfaces it touches. Thus, the pad 476 adheres to the flap 484, the pad 505 adheres to the flap 464, the pad 458 adheres to the middle of the panel 436, and the pad 462 adheres to the middle of panel 442. The flanges 446 and 448 adhere, respectively, to the right edge of panel 434 and the left edge of panel 444, as shown in FIGs. 24 and 33.

Referring now to FIG. 34, next, adhesive is applied to the surfaces 423 and 425 shown in FIG. 33, and the blank is folded along the center line 552 and the halves are pressed together in order to bond the two vertical support panels 423 and 425 together back-to-back, thus forming the folded carrier blank 560.

The use of linear arrays of panels to form the carrier structure is highly advantageous not only in that it allows for closer and more efficient nesting of the blanks, and produces corresponding material savings, but also in that more carriers can be produced per linear foot of sheet material, thus increasing production for a given speed of sheet material movement. This, of course, can further reduce manufacturing costs .

The finished folded carrier 560 shown in FIG. 34 is ready for packing and shipment to customers . The folded carrier 560 is advantageous in that it has a relatively small volume and thus provides savings in shipping containers and freight costs.

UNFOLDING THE CARRIER

When the folded carrier 560 is removed from the carton to be used by the customer, the customer merely places one hand against the edge 552 and another against the edges 550, 548 of the blank and presses his or her hands together, applying pressure in the directions 562 and 564, and the folded-up carrier pops open to the position shown in FIG. 24. The top tray 492 similarly can be folded and shipped to the customer, and can be unfolded quickly and easily for ready use.

ALTERNATIVE TRAY STRUCTURE FIG. 35 shows an alternative tray structure for mounting on the handle structure of the carrier shown in FIGs. 24-34.

The tray structure 566 comprises a closable box having side walls 568, a bottom wall 582, and a top wall 570 which is hinged at one edge 572 to the side wall 568. The box has a pair of slots 574 and 576, one in the top wall 470, and one in the bottom wall 582. Each slot is sized and shaped to received the vertical support structure 422 of the carrier 420 shown in FIG. 24. Each slot is covered by an adhesive strip 578 or 580 to protect the food inside the box until it is sold.

When the food is sold, the strips 578 and 580 are peeled off of the box, the vertical support panel 422 is inserted through the slots, and the food can be carried away with one hand, together with beverages in the carrier. As it is disclosed in the above-identified patent application Serial No. 10/939,264, such covered boxes can be used to carry hot or cold pizza pies, donuts, and other such items . The adhesive slot covers protect the food during storing, shipping, heating and handling prior to being used to deliver food to customers .

The box 566 is loaded with food at a processing location and is sent to remote distribution points, under refrigeration, if necessary. At the distribution points, the box can be heated to heat the food, if desired, the strips removed, the box placed on the carrier and carried away.

If an I-shaped slot in the box top and bottom like that shown in FIGs. 26-28 is needed, the adhesive strips would be shaped and sized to cover the entirety of each slot .

PACKAGED BEVERAGE CARRIER

FIGs. 26, 37 and 38 show a "packaged" beverage carrier 590 constructed in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, the carrier 590 is a six-pack carrier designed to hold six bottles of a soft drink, beer, water, or other beverage. It is of basically the same construction as the carrier 422 and others shown in the above-identified pending patent applications, but is specifically constructed so as to be easily filled by automatic filling equipment instead of by hand. The filled carriers then are shipped to stores .

The carrier 590 shown in FIG. 36 differs from that shown in FIGs. 24-34 also in that the carrier 590 is not as tall because there is no need for an auxiliary tray attachment, and because the carrier 590 is designed to have the same height as existing carriers which it is intended to replace .

The carrier 590 includes a vertical support structure 592 with panels 594 and 596 bonded together back-to- back, and with a front panel 598 and a rear panel 600, a hand- hole 602 and a foldable hand guard 604. The upper edge of the vertical support structure is shown at 606.

Two receptacles 620 and 622 are provided, one extending from panel 594, and the other from the panel 596. The first receptacle 620 includes side walls 608, 610, and 612, and the second receptacle 622 has side walls 614, 616, and 618. The side walls are secured to the vertical support structure by means of flanges 670 and 684 extending from the panels 594 and 596.

Two dividers 658 and 664 in each receptacle extend from the central support structure and are bonded to the side wall 610 or 616 by means of tabs 662 and 668. Each of the dividers has a downwardly-extending tapered lower portion 760 or 666 extending to near the bottom of the carrier in order to provide cushioning between adjacent bottles in the three compartments formed by the dividers to reduce the possibility of breakage of the bottles .

Referring now to FIG. 37, as well as FIG. 36, each of the two receptacles 620, 622 has a bottom structure 624 or 626 which is similar to one of the bottom structures shown in FIGs. 24 and 25, with one of the main differences being that the top panels 628 and 632 are hinged to the vertical support structure instead of to the side wall opposite the vertical support structure. Also, the top panel 628 or 632 of the bottom structure is tapered at its side edges 640. The tapered edges 640 are provided to minimize interference between the parts of the bottom structure when the carrier is unfolded. Although this reduces the tendency of the top panel to hold the carrier open during filling, this is not very significant in that the carriers usually are filled automatically by filling machines which hold the carriers open during filling.

Each of the top panels 628 or 632 extends across the bottom structure and has a pair of tabs 630 or 634, each of which extends outwardly and projects through one of a pair of slots 636, 638 in the wall panels 610 and 616 of the carriers to lock the top panels in place. The bottom structures 624 and 626 are quite similar in principle to the bottom structure of the receptacles in the carrier 620 shown in FIGs. 24 and 25.

Thus, when a folded carrier is erected by pushing on opposed sides, the panel 528 or 532 is not depressed all the way down, but remains partially raised, similar to the bottom panel 464 shown in PIG. 25.

Then, when a full beverage bottle 686 is placed in one of the receptacles 620 or 622, the weight of the beverage and bottle presses the top panels downwardly so that the tabs 630 bend and then snap into the slots 636 and 638 so as to lock the top panel of the bottom structure in place. This construction, in combination with the remaining panels which support it, provides an exceptionally strong bottom which locks automatically, without the need of a separately-actuated latching structure such as that needed in manufacturing some prior carriers .

FIG. 38 shows a partially-collapsed bottom structure 626 for the receptacle 622 of the carrier 690 shown in FIG. 36. Two corner structures are provided. One has a flange 648 extending from the bottom edge of the side wall 614, with a tab 650 connected along the fold line 649 to the flange 648. The tab 650 is bonded to the broad top panel 632 of the bottom structure 626. In a corner opposite the corner in which the first corner flange structure is located is a second flange structure including a flange 644 extending from the bottom edge of the side wall 618, with a tab 646 connected to the flange 644 along a fold line 651. The tab 646 is bonded to the flange 642 which extends from the bottom edge of the vertical support panel 696.

The corner flange structures operate in substantially the same way as the corresponding structures shown in FIGs. 14 and 29 to pull the bottom panels downwardly from a folded-up position so as to unfold the receptacle structures . The other bottom structure 624 has corresponding parts, such as flanges 652, 654, 656, etc., and operates in the same way as the bottom structure 626.

PACKAGED BEVERAGE CARRIER BIANK

FIG. 39 shows two linear arrays 688 and 690, each forming a blank to make a single carrier of the type shown in FIGS. 36-38. Only two linear blanks 688 and 690 are shown in FIG.

39. They are nested together closely to maximize the efficiency of use of the sheet material. However, in a typical installation, up to four or more blanks can be nested across the sheet, thus illustrating the material savings provided by the invention.

The process of making the carrier 690 is substantially the same as that illustrated in FIGs. 30-34 above. The sheet material first is printed, then sent to a die cutting and scoring station, where the sheet is cut and scored to form the shapes and fold lines indicated in FIG. 39.

The various portions of the blanks shown in FIG. 39 then are folded and glued substantially as described above, except that there are two dividers such as the dividers 658 and 664 in each of the receptacles instead of only one. After the panels 598 and 600 are glued onto the panels 594 and 596, respectively, the bottom flanges are folded and glued, as are the end flanges 6770 and 684, and the blank is folded along lines 698 and 696, and finally along central line 694 to complete a folded carrier, ready for use. The carrier 690, when folded, has substantially the shape shown in FIG. 34 of the drawings, but is somewhat smaller. The folded carrier occupies substantially less area than the typical prior art "sling-bottom" carrier it is intended to replace, thus providing savings in shipping cartons and freight costs when the carriers are shipped to the bottling plants in which they are used.

As with the embodiments shown in FIGs. 24-34, the manufacturing process is believed to be faster, as well as more economical in the use of materials . This is believed to produce significant cost savings in manufacturing the product.

TWO-COMPARTMENT CARRIER

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of a two-compartment version 700 of the four-compartment carrier shown in FIGs. 24- 34. The carrier 700 is essentially the same in construction as the embodiment shown in FIGs. 24-34, except it is only half as wide as the other carrier, and has only two compartments instead of four. The carrier 700 has a vertical support structure 702 with vertical support panels 704 and 706, and panels 708 and 710 bonded to the upper surfaces of the vertical support panels. The vertical support panels 704 and 706 are bonded together back-to-back. A hand hole 712 and hand guard 714 are provided.

Two receptacles are provided at 716 and 718. The first receptacle includes side walls 720, 722 and 724, and the second receptacle includes side walls 726, 727 and 728. The side wall structures are secured to the central support structure 702 by means of flanges 730 and 734 which are bonded to the inside surfaces of the side wall panels 724 and 726, respectively .

Gussets are provided at 770, 772, 747, and 778. Two bottom structures 836 and 838 are provided. Each has a top panel 740 or 742 with a projecting tab 744 or 745 which extends through a slot 746 or 747 in side wall 722 or 727. FIG. 43 is a bottom plan view of a partially folded receptacle 718 showing the top panel 742, the opposing panel 751 (also see FIG. 41), and corner structures.

In one corner structure, a flange 760 extends from the bottom of the side wall panel 726 and has a tab 748 joined with it along a fold line 762. The tab 748 is bonded to the flange 751.

An opposing corner structure includes a flange 764 extending from the bottom edge of the side wall panel 728 and a tab 768 joined with the flange 764 along a fold line 766. The tab 768 is bonded to the flange 742. The other bottom structure has corner structures with a flange 761 with tab 765 and fold line 763, and flange 753 with tab 759 and old line 755, as well as flange 749. The foregoing bottom structures automatically pull down the bottom panels of each of the receptacles, substantially as described above in connection with the four- compartment embodiment .

The bottom of each receptacle, when fully opened, is approximately square .

A beverage cup 780 is shown in place inside the receptacle 716 in FIG. 40.

GANGED CARRIERS

FIGs. 44 and 45 are, respectively, a side elevation view and a front elevation view of a modification of the invention shown in FIGs. 40-43 in which a single tray 808 which is wide enough to receive the handles of two separate two-cup carriers 790 and 792 is provided so that two of the two-compartment carriers can be ganged together and carried with one hand by means bf the handle holes 794 and 796. The tray is shown atop three beverage cups 798, 800, and 806. The lower portion of each of the two separate carriers is shown at

802 and 804. If preferred, a single shorter tray can be used with only one of the carriers shown in PIG. 40. Alternatively, a wider tray can be used which fits onto both of the four- compartment carrier and the two-compartment carrier. TWO-COMPARTMENT CARRIER BLANK

FIG. 41 shows an array 782 of panels of a linear blank used to make the carrier shown in FIG. 40. The printing, die cutting and scoring, and folding and gluing steps are substantially the same as shown above for the four- cup carrier and the packaged beverage carrier, and will not be repeated here.

The blanks 782 are nested on a sheet of material substantially in the manner shown in FIG. 42; that is, with alternate blanks inverted relative to one another. In this manner, the usage of sheet material is minimized.

FIG. 42 shows a pair of modified blanks 784 and 786 which are the same as blank 782 shown in FIG. 41, except that the gussets 770 and 772 (as well as gussets 774 and 778) are omitted from the blanks 784 and 786. This allows the blanks to be nested even closer together, thus further reducing the usage of sheet material .

SXPE-OPENING HINGED CARRIER

In accordance with another feature of the invention, a carrier is provided in which the vertical support panels are not glued together, but are hinged together so that they can be swung apart to access advertising, booklets or promotional materials and the like located on the inside surfaces of the vertical support panels. This increases the amount of surface area available for advertising and promotion, and complements the provision of similar carriers described in some of the above-identified patent applications in which the vertical support panels are hinged at the top to swing apart and expose internal advertising space. One embodiment of the invention actually is shown in FIG. 24 of the drawings, in which the vertical support panels 423 and 425 have been folded over and glued in place with one edge of each in close proximity to the edge of the other at 425. Thus, by simply eliminating the last gluing and folding step, a side-opening hinged carrier structure is provided. The advertising material, promotional material, etc., can be placed on the surfaces of the vertical support panels 423 and 425 shown in FIG. 33. A further embodiment of the invention is shown in

FIGs. 46-48. The embodiment shown is a two-cup carrier, but can be a four-cup, six-pack or other size carrier.

Two vertical support panels 822 and 824 are provided, with reinforcement panels 860 and 862 already glued in place. The panels 822 and 824 are integrally hinged together along the line 834, which is a fold line in the blank.

The blank shown in FIG. 46 has side wall panels 840, 842, 844, 846, 848, and 850. The panels 840, 842, 844 are secured together in series to form another group, and the group is connected at the left edge 838 of the panel 824. A gluing flange 852 extends from the left edge of panel 840.

Panels 846, 848, and 850 are secured together in series to form another group, and the group is attached to the right edge 836 of the panel 822. A glue flange 854 extends from the right edge of panel 850.

When the blank is glued and folded over, the side walls of two receptacles are formed when the flange 852 is glued to the area indicated by dashed line 856, and the flange 854 is glued to the area 858, also indicated by dashed lines. The bottom structure of the carrier is the same as others described above. Triangular bottom flanges 864, 872, 890, and 898 extend from the bottom edges of the panels 840, 844, 846, and 850, respectively. Each of those triangular flanges has a truncated triangular glue tab 868, 876, 894, or 902 hinged to it along a diagonal fold line 866, 874, 892, or 900.

Relatively narrow flanges 870 and 896 extend from the lower edges of the panels 842 and 848, respectively.

Wide panels 878 and 880 extend, respectively, from the lower edges, 830 or panels 824 and 822.

Each wide panel has a tab 882 or 888 extending outwardly from its most remote edge, and another tab 884 or 886 extending from a side edge.

The tabs 882 and 888 fit into slots 904 and 906, respectively.

Slots 908, 910, and 912 are provided in the panel 840, and corresponding slots 914, 916, and 918 are formed in the panel 850 for intercepting the tabs 884 and 886 during their descent while the carrier is being unfolded, so as to hold the carrier receptacles open for filling, as described in greater detail above and in prior patent applications mentioned above. The glue tab 968 is glued to the adjacent flange

870; the glue tab 876 is glued to the flange 878,- tab 894 is glued to flange 880; and tab 902 is glued to flange 896, so as to form an automatic-opening pair of bottom structures for the receptacles of the carrier. Folds are made along the fold lines marked WF" in

FIG. 46.

FIG. 47 shows the carrier after it has been glued and folded and turned over so that the rear sides of the vertical support panels 822 and 824 are facing upwardly. As it can be seen in FIG. 47, the rear surfaces of the vertical support panels 928 and 930 bear printed advertising or other printed information 932, as well as promotional materials 934, such as printed cards, CD records, etc. Thus, when the beverages carried in the carrier have been removed, the carrier can be opened like a book and read in the convenience of a seat in which the customer sits while perusing the materials attached to the backs of panels 822 and 824.

FIG. 48 shows an alternative display on the backs 1028 and 930 of the vertical support panels. A multi-page booklet or book 936 is secured to the surfaces of the panels 928 and 930, with the spine 938 of the book aligned with the hinge 834 between the vertical panels. Thus, the booklet or book can be read by the person opening the carrier, and it can be removed by pulling on it so that the booklet can be kept and the carrier discarded, if that is the user's pleasure.

The carrier support panels can be swung to form a single handle structure for carrying the carrier and its contents and can be swung apart for access the advertising, etc . inside .

As it can be seen the side-opening carrier offers a very convenient format for display advertising, games and promotional materials. This is very attractive, both to advertisers and to users of the carrier.

MATERIALS

The materials of which the carrier of the present invention can be made need not be expensive . Ordinary, medium-weight fiberboard is believed to be sufficient for most purposes. For example, it can be 0.20 S.U. S. recycled newspaper material. If waterproofing beyond the acrylic coating provided on such board is necessary, a further waterproof coating can be applied on both the inside and outside surfaces.

It is within the realm of the invention also to make the carriers out of flexible plastic materials. If desired, the carriers can be made of plastic materials that are easily washable so that the carriers can be reused .

BONDING Bonding of parts to one another can be done by means other than adhesives . For example, plastic or plastic coated parts can be bonded together by ultrasonic or heat bonding. Staples or other mechanical fasteners also can be used.

It can be seen from the foregoing that the invention well satisfies the objectives set forth above. The carrier construction which permits the blanks to be made in linear arrays permits better nesting of the blanks on a sheet of fiber board material, thus providing significant savings in the use of materials in the carriers. Additionally, it is believed that the speed of the automatic manufacturing of the carriers can be increased, and the manufacturing cost correspondingly decreased. Additional savings in the complexity of some of the folding machinery needed also may be realized. The side-opening hinged carrier provides an improvement in the advertising space available on the carrier and in the convenience and comfort of using it .

The above description of the invention is intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes or modifications in the embodiments described may occur to those skilled in the art . These can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.

Claims

WHAT IS CIAIMED IS:
1. A carrier comprising a receptacle having four side walls joined together along vertical fold lines, and a bottom wall joined to said side walls along horizontal fold lines, said side walls comprising two end walls opposite one another and two lateral walls opposite one another, said lateral walls being substantially taller than and extending above said end walls, each of said lateral walls having an upper edge and a handle structure adjacent said upper edge, said bottom wall comprising a plurality of flanges, each extending downwardly from the lower edge of one of said side walls, each of two of said flanges extending from opposite ones of said side walls being secured to an adjacent one of said flanges so that said flanges fold upwardly into said receptacle when said carrier is folded, and fold downwardly to form said bottom wall when said carrier is unfolded. 2. A carrier as in Claim 1 with one of the flanges extending from one of said lateral walls spanning substantially the entire distance between said lateral walls when said carrier is unfolded.
3. A carrier as in Claim 2 in which said one flange is the uppermost flange forming said bottom wall.
4. A carrier as in Claim 2 in which said one flange extends to the opposite one of said lateral walls and has at least one tab extending from one edge, said opposite lateral wall having a recess for receiving said tab to engage said one edge of said one flange and hold it down.
5. A carrier as in Claim 1 in which one of said flanges is shaped and dimensioned so as to engage one of said end walls during unfolding of said carrier to deter said carrier from relapse into a folded form. 6. A carrier as in Claim 5 in which said one flange has a tab extending outwardly from one side edge, and said one end wall has at least one slot therein positioned to receive said tab as said one flange unfolds to increase the engagement between said side edge and said one end wall . ' 7. A carrier as in Claim 1 in which the portions of said lateral walls which are located above said end walls can be bent towards one another to bring said handle structures together, and a latch structure for releasably attaching said handle structures together to form a single unified handle structure.
9. A carrier as in Claim 2 including a divider structure consisting of a divider member secured between said lateral walls at a location sufficiently far above said bottom wall to avoid stoppage of the movement of said one flange as it moves from a folded to an unfolded position.
9. A carrier comprising a receptacle having four side walls joined together along vertical fold lines, and a bottom wall joined to said side walls along horizontal fold lines, said side walls comprising two end walls opposite one another and two lateral walls opposite one another, at least one of said lateral walls being substantially taller than and extending above said end walls, said one lateral wall having an upper edge and a handle structure adjacent said upper edge, said bottom wall comprising a plurality of flanges, each extending downwardly from the lower edge of one of said side walls, each of two of said flanges extending from opposite ones of said side walls being secured to an adjacent one of said flanges so that said flanges fold upwardly into said receptacle when said carrier is folded, and fold downwardly to form said bottom wall when said carrier is unfolded, one of said flanges extending from said lateral walls spanning substantially the entire distance between said lateral walls when said carrier is unfolded.
10. A carrier as claimed in Claim 9 in which said one flange is the uppermost flange forming said bottom wall.
11. A carrier as claimed in Claim 9 in which one of said flanges is shaped and dimensioned so as to engage one of said end walls during unfolding of said carrier to deter said carrier from relapse into a folded form.
12. A method of packaging food items including containers, said method comprising: (a) providing a folded carrier having a receptacle with four side walls joined together along vertical fold lines, and a bottom wall joined to said side walls along horizontal fold lines, said side walls comprising two end walls opposite one another and two lateral walls opposite one another, said lateral walls being substantially taller than and extending above said end walls, each of said lateral walls having an upper edge and a handle structure adjacent said upper edge, said bottom wall comprising a plurality of flanges, each extending downwardly from the lower edge of one of said side walls / each of two of said flanges extending from opposite ones of said side walls being secured to an adjacent one of said flanges so that said flanges fold upwardly into said receptacle when said carrier is folded, and fold downwardly to form said bottom wall when said carrier is unfolded. (b) placing at least one of said containers in said receptacle ,
(c) folding said lateral side walls over the top of said container, and
(d) securing said outside walls together adjacent said upper edges to at least partially cover said receptacles and form a combined handle structure for said carrier.
13. A method as in Claim 12 in which said containers are of a predetermined size, and including the step of filling a plurality of said carriers using the foregoing steps, and shipping the filled carriers to retail packaged beverage outlets .
14. A method as in Claim 12 in which said securing step is selected from the group consisting of (a) joining said upper edges together to form a vertical handle structure; (b) joining said upper edges together to form a flat top and a seam with said edges being glued together and a slot in said flat top to form a handle hole; (c) using a locking structure to lock said upper edges together; in which said container is packed by hand in said carrier at a carry-out store and used by customers to carry out the container, said container being selected from the group consisting of an open beverage cup , and a solid food container including soft or hard ice cream cones or cups, said carrier providing a cover over the top of said container while it is being carried.
15. A blank for forming a foldable carrier, said blank comprising (a) a rectilinear support panel, said panel having first and second opposed longitudinal side edges, and two opposed transverse end edges,
(b) first, second and third side-wall panels, each having first and second longitudinally-extending opposed side edges and transversely-extending opposed end edges,
(c) said first side edge of each of said first and second side-wall panels being secured to the other, along a fold line.
(d) said second side edge of said first side-wall panel being secured to said first side edge of said support panel along a fold line,
(e) a first side-edge of said third side-wall panel being connected along a fold line to one of (1) said second side-edge of said support panel and (2) said second side edge of said second side-wall panel,
(f) a first one of said transverse edges of each of said side-wall panels and said support panel being aligned with one another to define a bottom plane for said carrier, and (g) a bottom flange extending from each of said one transverse edges, each of said bottom flanges being shaped to be joined selectively with other of said bottom flanges to form an automatically-unfolding bottom wall structure joined with said side-walls to form a receptacle when said carrier is unfolded.
16. A blank as in Claim 15 including a side flange extending from one of (1) said second side edge of said support panel, and (2) said second side edge of said third side-wall panel for securing said side-wall and support panels together to form a four-wall side-wall enclosure for said receptacle .
17. A blank as in Claim 15 in which said second side-wall panel has the same transverse width as said support panel, and at least said first and third panels have longitudinal lengths substantially less than the longitudinal length of said support panel .
18. A blank as in Claim 17 in which said second side-wall panel has a longitudinal length substantially equal to one of (1) said first and third side-wall panels, and (2) said support panel .
19. A blank as in Claim 15 in which said support panel has a handle structure adjacent the other one of said transverse edges.
20. A blank as in Claim 19 in which said second side-wall panel has substantially the same longitudinal length as said support panel , and each of said support panel and said second side-wall panel has a handle structure positioned to be aligned with the other handle structure when said support panel is joined together with said second side-wall panel at said other transverse edge of both. 21. A carrier comprising
(a) a pair of support panels, each having side edges and upper and lower transverse end edges,
(b) a pair of foldable receptacles, each secured to and extending outwardly from one of said support panels, when said carrier is unfolded,
(c) each of said receptacles having three side walls connected along fold lines to one another and to one of said side edges of one of said support panels in series to form two groups of interconnected panels, (d) each of said receptacles having a bottom wall formed by a flange extending from said lower end edge of one of said support panels and the lower edge of each of said side walls in each of said groups, each of two opposite ones of said flanges in each of said groups being secured to an adjacent one of said flanges to form an automatically- unfolding bottom structure for each of said receptacles,
(e) said support panels being hinged together along one of said side edges of each, whereby the user of said carrier can select between bringing said support panels together and pivoting said support panels apart.
22. A carrier as in Claim 21 in which each of said two flanges has a first section secured to said lower edge of said side wall, and a second section attached to said first section along a diagonal fold line, said second section being secured to said adjacent flange.
23. A carrier as in Claim 21 in which said groups are connected together in series with said support panels connected at opposite ends of the resulting structure, each of said support panels being folded over and secured to other panels in its group, with said one side edge of each of said support panels being adjacent the other.
24. A carrier as in Claim 23 in which said groups are connected together along a central fold line at one edge of one of said side wall panels of each group, and said central fold line forms the hinge line between said support panels.
25. A carrier as in Claim 21 in which said groups are connected together in series with said support panels being joined together integrally along a fold line, with the remaining side wall panels in each group extending outwardly from the side edge of each support panel opposite said one side edge.
26. A carrier as in Claim 21 including a handle structure adjacent said upper end edge of each of said support panels.
27. A carrier as in Claim 21 in which the surfaces of said support panels which abut one another when said support panels are swung together bear information in a form selected from the group consisting of graphic matter printed on at least one of said surfaces,- a flat record releasably secured to at least one of said surfaces; and a multi-page booklet secured to said surfaces with its spine closely adjacent said fold line between said support panels .
28. A method of making a carrier comprising (a) providing a blank forming
(i) a pair of support panels, each having side edges and upper and lower transverse end edges,
(ii) first and second linear groups of side-wall panels joined together and to said support panels to form a long series of connected panels for forming two separate receptacles , each connected to and extending from one of said support panels when said carrier is unfolded,
(iii) a plurality of flanges, each flange extending from said lower end edge of one of said support panels and the lower edge of each of said side wall panels in each of said groups,
(iv) each of two opposed ones of said flanges in each of said groups being secured to an adjacent one of said flanges, and including the steps of (b) folding and gluing said flanges to one another to form said receptacles, folded flat, with one of said side edges of each of said support panels closing adjacent the other with a hinge attaching them together and said support panels otherwise being disconnected from one another, whereby the user of said carrier can select between having said support panels together and having said support panels apart,
29. A method as in Claim 28 in which said support panels are connected together in said blank along one side wall of each of said support panels . 30. A method as in Claim 28 in which said support panels are connected at opposite ends of said long series and each has a glue flange extending along one of said side edges, and in which said folding and gluing includes folding each of said support panels over towards one another and adhering each of said glue flanges to one of a pair of side wall panels joined together at a fold line, said fold line serving as said hinge .
31. A carrier blank comprising
(a) a pair of support panels, each having side edges and upper and lower transverse end edges,
(b) first and second linear groups of three side wall panels, each secured at one end to one of said side edges of one of said support panels, said side wall panels in each group being joined together in series along fold lines, and said groups being joined together with said support panels to form one long series of panels,
(c) two groups of bottom flanges, one flange in each group extending from the lower edge of one of said side wall panels and one of said support panels in one of said side wall panel groups, (d) each of said bottom flange groups having two flanges positioned to be located at opposite sides of a bottom structure to be formed by unfolding said carrier, and being shaped to be secured to an adjacent flange along a diagonal fold line;
(e) said support panels being located at positions selected from the group consisting of : at opposite ends of said long series,- and in the middle of said long series, with said support panels being joined together along one of said side edges of each.
32. A blank as in Claim 31 in which each of said support panels has a handle structure adjacent its upper edge .
PCT/US2007/017333 2002-08-09 2007-08-03 Carrier and method WO2008019058A2 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/499,421 2006-08-04
US11/499,421 US7913837B2 (en) 2002-08-09 2006-08-04 Carrier and method
US11/506,367 2006-08-17
US11/506,367 US20070017828A1 (en) 2002-08-09 2006-08-17 Carrier and method

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WO2008019058A3 WO2008019058A3 (en) 2008-09-12

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Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5975287A (en) * 1996-02-15 1999-11-02 Riverwood International Corporation Bottle carrying arrangement
US20040124107A1 (en) * 2002-08-06 2004-07-01 Cuomo Angelo V. Carrier and method
US7063208B2 (en) * 2002-02-21 2006-06-20 Meadwestvaco Packaging Systems, Llc Article carrier and blank therefor

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5975287A (en) * 1996-02-15 1999-11-02 Riverwood International Corporation Bottle carrying arrangement
US7063208B2 (en) * 2002-02-21 2006-06-20 Meadwestvaco Packaging Systems, Llc Article carrier and blank therefor
US20040124107A1 (en) * 2002-08-06 2004-07-01 Cuomo Angelo V. Carrier and method

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