Drinking cup assembly

- Innobaby LLC

There is a drinking cup assembly comprising an outer cup and an inner cup, the outer cup having a dispensing closure, the inner cup being removably attached to the outer cup. A space is located between the outer cup and the inner cup, can contain an item being insertable into this space. The dispensing closure has an aperture and is adapted to receive a flexible conduit straw and a rotatable lid to open and close the flexible conduit straw. The flexible conduit straw has a weighted lower end of a soft plastic or a material coated with a soft plastic. The outer cup and inner cup are each structured to receive a sealing lid to separately close the outer cup and/or the inner cup. The attachment of the lids may be by one of an interference fit or a threaded attachment. The closure has a recess adjacent to the aperture, the flexible conduit fitting within this recess upon the rotatable lid flexing the conduit to close the conduit. The outer cup has handles. The inner cup can be metallic such as an aluminum or stainless steel. The inner cup may also be a glass such as a Pyrex, or a plastic such as a polyester, or a polyolefin and can include a silicone. The drinking cup assembly has a combined gasket/valve combination to seal the closure to the outer cup and to equalize the pressure in the cups with the exterior. The flexible conduit straw has a plurality of segments, at least one of the segments having a surface with a cross-cut to prevent leakage.

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Description

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Application 61/796,061 filed Nov. 1, 2012 which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a drinking cup assembly having an outer cup with handles and an inner cup to hold a product. The drinking cup assembly is primarily directed for use with infants and small children. Although primarily designed for use together with a single lid that is designed for use with a single lid that is designed to seal and secure the contents of the cup while used as a single cup or a double cup, each of the outer and the inner cup can be used separately with each having a separate lid for closing the assembly units when used separately.

An objective of the invention is to have a multi-use drinking cup assembly for use in providing both liquid and solid nutrition to an infant or child. Many parents of infants and small children will have two or more cups, such as “sippy” cups, available for use. This is the case if more than one type of liquid is to be provided to the infant or small child away from home. Also in the home more than one cup is needed since one may be in the process of being washed while another is in use. With the cups being versatile and useful with both liquid and dry food, additional needs are served with fewer units. Cups such as “sippy” cups for liquids are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,273,172; U.S. Pat. No. 7,124,907 and U.S. Design Pat. 649,835. These patents illustrate the state of the art in cups, such as “sippy” cups, for providing liquids to infants and children. U.S. Pat. No. 5,273,172 discloses a cup for a liquid that has a closure with a straw that can be closed by a lid on the closure rotating and bending the straw. The sole use for this cup is for liquids. U.S. Pat. No. 7,124,907 discloses a related cup for liquids where the straw is closed in a manner similar to that of U.S. Pat. No. 5,273,172, but where the closure has a channel to accommodate the straw when it is being bent over by a lid to close the straw. U.S. Pat. No. 7,124,907 also discloses the placement of a graphical expression in a cavity between an inner and an outer cup. This cup also is solely for use with liquids. U.S. Design Pat. 649,835 discloses a Sip Cup that has a closure and two handles. This can be used by an infant or a child.

The present invention solves many problems. It provides a multi-use “sippy” cup. It provides a more useful dual cup assembly. The use of the cups individually with separate lids makes them useful to also store solid as well as liquid products. As the child grows the cup closure with a straw may no longer needed. Then the cups with lids can be used to carry treats or to store many kitchen items. The inner cup may be used as a tumbler for toddlers or older children, extending the usability of this cup. Used together the cups serve as an instrument that can be personalized to the user by the addition of inserts between the inner and the outer cups making it a distinct advantage from other “sippy” cups.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to a drinking cup assembly comprising an outer cup and an inner cup, the outer cup having a dispensing closure, the inner cup removably attached to the outer cup with a space between the outer cup and the inner cup, an item being insertable into the space. The item being one or more of informational, decorative and/or insulating. Between the dispensing closure and the outer cup there is a sealing gasket. The dispensing closure has an aperture adapted to receive a flexible conduit straw and a rotatable lid to open and close the flexible conduit.

The outer and inner cups are each structured to receive a sealing lid to separately close the outer cup and the inner cup so that they can be separately used. The lid for the outer cup can also be used to seal the combined unit of inner and outer cup with a single seal for ease of use. The outer cup has handles for enhanced gripping by an infant or child.

The attachment of the lids may be by one of an interference fit and a threaded attachment to the open peripheral end of the inner and the outer cups and usually will include a lid sealing gasket.

The closure has a recess adjacent to the aperture, the flexible conduit straw fitting within this recess upon the rotatable lid being rotated and flexing the conduit to close the conduit. The weighted lower end of the flexible conduit straw is comprised of a relatively soft plastic or of a relatively hard material coated with a relatively soft material.

The inner cup can be metallic comprised of aluminum or a stainless steel. The inner cup also can be comprised of a Pyrex glass or a plastic such as a polyester, a co-polyester, a polyolefin such as polypropylene, or a combination of materials such as a silicone layer on an aluminum or a stainless steel. This combination of materials may aid in providing an additional seal on the outer rim of the inner cup to protect the space between the two cups from liquids and also to provide an additional gripping area for infants and toddlers should the toddler use the inner cup as an individual cup.

The closure of the drinking cup assembly has a valve to equalize the pressure within the drinking cup assembly and the atmosphere outside the drinking cup assembly. In a preferred embodiment the valve is an integral part of a sealing gasket between the outer cup and the closure. In addition the inner cup has a compressible band on an exterior surface adjacent an open end to hold the inner cup within the outer cup when a part of the two cup drinking cup assembly.

The flexible conduit straw can be comprised of a plurality of parts. These can be an enlarged upper end, a straw conduit mid-section and a weighted lower end. Connector units also can be used to connect one or more of the plurality of parts. One or more of these plurality of parts can include a crosscut structure to preclude leakage up the straw.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the drinking cup assembly with the rotating lid on the closure open showing the straw.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the drinking cup assembly showing the outer cup the inner cup informational item in space between the outer cup and the inner cup, the inner cup and the closure

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the drinking cup assembly.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the drinking cup assembly.

FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the drinking cup assembly.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the drinking cup assembly.

FIG. 7 is a vertical cross-section view of the drinking cup assembly.

FIG. 8 is a vertical cross-section view of the outer cup with a closing lid.

FIG. 9 is a vertical cross-section view of the inner cup with a closing lid.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the new gasket between the dispensing closure and the outer cup.

FIG. 11 is a bottom plan view of the gasket of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is an elevation view of the flexible conduit straw.

FIG. 13 is a bottom plan view of the lower end of the upper enlarged portion of the flexible conduit straw to show one alternative location for a crosscut to preclude leakage.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention will be disclosed in more detail in its preferred embodiments with reference to the appended drawings. The preferred embodiment may be modified in various ways but still embody the basic aspects of the present invention. All such modifications are considered to be within the disclosure, drawings and the appended claims of this application.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the entire drinking cup assembly 10. This view primarily shows the outer cup 12 having a base 13 and closure 16. Between the outer cup 12 and the closure 16 is gasket 42. The outer cup has handles 14 which have gripping ridges 17 on an inner surface. The outer cup has a base 13 on a lower end and threads 15 on an upper end. Attached to the threads is the closure 16 which has a base portion 24 and an upper region 26, The base 24 has grips 25 with the upper region 26 having a rotating lid 18 with an opening tab 19. The lid 18 is attached to the upper region 26 by a hinge 20. Extending from the upper region is flexible conduit straw 28 with an interior channel 28a and an enlarged upper end area 33. The flexible conduit straw 28 can be folded into an adjacent channel formed by channel base 22 and channel walls 23. The flexible conduit straw 28 extends through aperture 21. The flexible conduit straw is shown in more detail in FIG. 12.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the drinking cup assembly 10. Shown is outer cup 12 with side wall 12a, base 13, handles 14 and handle grips 17. On an upper end are threads 15 for the attachment of closure 16. A gasket 42 seals the closure 16 and the outer cup 12. There is a band 32 for interference attachment to the sidewall surface 12a of outer cup 12 and for contact with the inner cup 30 and for stabilizing the inner cup 30 in outer cup 12. The band 32 is attached mechanically or adhesively to the inner cup 30. A rolled over edge 34 of the band serves to stabilize band 32 and to assist in gripping the outer cup 12. Located in a space 36 (see FIG. 7) between the outer cup 12 and the inner cup 30 is an informational, decorative and/or insulating item 40 which is shown in this Figure with a caricature of a dog and a slogan. The gasket 42 is between the outer cup 12 and the closure 16 and provides a leak proof seal between these parts.

The closure 16 has a base portion 24 and an upper region 26. There are gripping tabs 25 on closure 16 to assist in removing the closure from the outer cup 12. The rotating lid 18 has a gripping tab 19 and a hinge 20 to assist in rotating the lid. Extending into the outer cup 12, or inner cup 30, is the flexible conduit straw 28 with a weighted lower end 29 the flexible conduit straw mid-section 28b. The weight maintains the flexible conduit straw adjacent to the lower surface 11 of outer cup 12 or lower surface 35 of inner cup 30, depending on the cup being used, and within a contained liquid. When used in a single cup version solely in conjunction with the outer cup 12 the flexible conduit straw weight 29 will be adjacent to the bottom wall 11 of the outer cup 12. When use in conjunction with the inner cup 30 within outer cup 12 the flexible straw weight will adjacent to inner cup lower wall 35. This single cup version may be used in instances where the user may prefer a lighter weight cup or a larger capacity cup. The straw 28 is shown in more detail in FIG. 12. There is a center section continuous channel 28a to and through the weighted lower end 29. The upper part 33 of the flexible conduit straw 28 has a larger diameter in order to simulate a nipple. A lower section of expanded portion 33 of the flexible conduit straw 28 mounts and seals the flexible conduit straw to aperture 21 of the closure 16.

This weighted lower end 29 has at least one opening, usually a lower opening. This weighted lower end 29 preferably is comprised of a relatively soft material such as a silicone or a lower molecular weight polyester, polyethylene or polypropylene. These lower molecular weight materials are softer than higher molecular weight materials. It must be of a softer (less hard) material than the walls of both the outer and the inner cups. It can be a higher molecular weight polyethylene or polypropylene, which usually will be harder material, if coated with a soft material. It can also be a metal or metal alloy if coated with a soft material. Any such soft materials must qualify as a food grade material. The reason for the preferred material is to prevent the cracking of the lower part of cup 12 or of cup 30 during vigorous shaking and use. If the lower weight end 29 of the flexible conduit straw 28 is of a relatively hard material, or of an uncoated relatively hard material, there is a tendency of the weighted end 29 to cause cracks to form in the cup side walls. This will result in leakage of contained liquid from the cup 12 or the cup 30 depending which is being used to contain the liquid. This can be a leakage from inner cup 30 into outer cup 12, or if there if the liquid is in outer cup 12 to an exterior surface that will require cleaning. The cracking can occur with sustained shaking of the drinking cups by a child and the consequent striking of the straw lower end 29 against the surfaces of the cup containing the liquid. As a general rule the lower end weight material or weight material coating should be softer (less hard) than the surfaces of both the outer and inner cup surfaces. An alternative is to have the inner surfaces of the outer and inner cups comprised of a soft material. However, such cups would be less durable. Coating the inner surfaces of the cups with a soft material also is not an effective alternative.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the complete drinking cup assembly 10. The right and left elevation views are essentially the same. There is shown outer cup 12 with base 13 and handles 14. Also shown is inner cup 30 with inner cup base 35. Attached to the outer cup 12 at an upper end is the closure 16. The closure 16 has grips 25 on the base 24 of the closure. Rotating lid 18 has lid grip 19 for raising and closing the lid. Also shown, and better shown in FIG. 6, is valve 44 for equalizing the pressure within the drinking cup assembly 10 with the exterior atmosphere. FIG. 4 is a front elevation view and FIG. 5 a rear elevation view. The only significant difference in these latter two views is in the closure 16. In FIG. 4 there is shown the front of the rotating lid 18 with lid grip 19 while in FIG. 5 there is shown lid hinge 20 and pressure equalization valve 44. Otherwise there is shown outer cup 12 with its base 13. There is a handle 14 on each side with each handle having handle grips 17. The closure 16 has a base 24 and an upper region 26. Closure grips 25 aid in the removal of the closure.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the drinking cup assembly 10. This view better shows the pressure equalizing valve 44. Also shown are handles 14 and closure grips 25. The rotating lid 18 is on upper region 26 and is attached to the upper region 26 at hinge 20. The lid has a lid grip 19 to assist in opening the lid.

FIG. 7 is a vertical cross-section of the drinking cup assembly 10 without the closure 16. There is shown the outer cup 12 with handles 14, a base 13 and a lower surface 11. Also shown are threads 15 which mate with threads on the closure 16 to attach closure 16 to outer cup 12. Handle grips 17 are shown on an inner surface of the handles 14. The inner cup 30 is shown with a rolled over top edge 34. This inner cup 30 has a side wall 31 and a bottom wall 35. Attached to an upper end of inner cup 30 is band 32 to provide for a friction fit of inner cup 30 in outer cup 12. This band 32 can be mechanically or adhesively attached to the inner cup 30. This band preferably is a silicone but can be a polyolefin such as a polyethylene or a polypropylene. Other polymers can be used but they could increase the cost of the drinking cup assembly 10.

FIG. 8 is a vertical cross-section of the outer cup 12 with a lid 27 to fully close the outer cup. The outer cup 12 has a base 13 and a bottom wall 11. There is a sidewall 12a. Shown are handles 14 with handle grip ridges 17. The outer cup threads 15 mate with threads 29 of lid 27. In this configuration the outer cup 12 usually may contain a solid or a liquid and will provide hand grips for easy gripping by a child. However, it is very useful to contain a liquid since with the handles 14 it can more easily be handled by a child. In contrast the inner cup 30 as shown in a vertical cross-section in FIG. 9 does not offer hand grips and can be used primarily for storing a solid product. The inner cup 30 has a sidewall 31 and a bottom wall 35. The inner cup lid 38 has a projection 37 to fit under rolled over edge 34 of inner cup sidewall 31. The sealing lid 38 will be continuous and will seal the inner cup 30. In this way a solid treat can be separately carried in inner cup 30 while a drink can be provided in the outer cup 12. The sealing lids 27 and 38 will be continuous and seal onto either the outer cup 12 or the inner cup 30. These sealing lids usually will be formed from a polyethylene or a polypropylene. This can be a latching or an interference fit.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show views of a preferred sealing gasket 46 located between the dispensing closure 16 and the outer cup 12. It is preferred that the valve 44 be an integral part of the gasket 46. In this embodiment the gasket 46 has the valve 44 extending from support 45 which is an integral part of gasket 46. Gasket tab 47 provides for easier handling of the gasket/valve. This structure makes it easier to assemble the valve 44 into the dispensing closure 16. It also prevents the valve from being misplaced or lost.

FIG. 12 is an elevation view of the flexible conduit straw 28 shown in a four part combination structure 33/39/28b/29. It has an enlarged upper part 33 which has a lower end 33a. Connector 39 connects the enlarged upper part 33 to flexible conduit straw mid-section 28b. Flexible conduit straw mid-section 28b connects at a lower end to the weighted part 29. FIG. 13 is a plan view of the lower end 36a of the enlarged upper portion 33. Shown in the lower end is a crosscut 33b. This crosscut can have other shapes. The function of this crosscut is to prevent leakage from the cups when an infant or child is not sucking on the flexible conduit straw. This can be when the dispensing cup is on its side. This also is a distinct advantage during the transport of the drinking cup assembly and while it is being used by an infant or child. Although in this embodiment the crosscut is shown at a lower end of the upper end 33a of upper enlarged part 33, the crosscut can also be located in the connector 39 (adjacent the upper or lower end), the flexible conduit straw mid-section 28b (adjacent either end) or in the connection of the weighted end 29 into the flexible conduit straw mid-section 28b. An additional flexible conduit straw modification is the deletion of connector 39 and a more direct connection such as enlarged upper part lower end 33a abutting the upper end of the flexible conduit straw 28b. A sleeve or other structure can be used to keep the parts in an abutting structure.

The outer cup 12 will usually be a plastic and preferably a polyolefin. Suitable polyolefins are polyethylenes and polypropylenes. Polyester plastics also can be used. Suitable polyesters are the polyethylene terephthalates. This outer cup 12 also can be transparent or opaque. Suitable transparent plastics are polyesters and certain polypropylenes, such as clarified polypropylenes. The inner cup can be a plastic or can be metallic. If a plastic it will usually be a polyolefin or a polyester or copolyester. Useful polyesters or copolyesters are available from the Eastman Chemical Company of Kingsport, Tenn. If metallic it will be an aluminum alloy or a steel alloy, such as a stainless steel. Metals are useful since they are not prone to staining. Infant and child drinks can be a grape, cranberry or a related colored fruit. In addition metal cups are easier to clean and are unbreakable. It also is an option to use a glass, such as a Pyrex glass. The outer cup and the inner cup can be of essentially any color. This particularly is the case with the outer cup. In the space 36 between the outer cup 12 and the inner cup 30 there can be an item 40. These items can be a person's name, a drawing, an outdoor scene, a picture, a schedule notice, an insulating material or a combination of the foregoing. The possibilities are limitless.

The closure 16 will be comprised of a polyolefin such as a polyethylene or a polypropylene. It can be opaque, translucent or transparent. In some instances the rotating lid 18 of the closure 16 can be the same or a different color from that of the remainder of the closure.

Claims

1) A drinking cup assembly comprising an outer cup and an inner cup, the outer cup having a closure, the inner cup removably attached to the outer cup, the dispensing closure having an aperture adapted to receive a flexible conduit straw, the flexible conduit straw having an upper end and a lower end, the lower end being weighted so as to contact a lower surface of the inner cup and of the outer cup when the inner cup is not a part of the drinking cup assembly, the weighted lower end being of a material softer than the inner surfaces of the inner cup and of the outer cup.

2) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the weighted lower end is comprised of harder material coated with the softer material.

3) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the softer material is a polyester, a co-polyester, a polyethylene and a polypropylene.

4) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the flexible conduit straw has a plurality of segments, an upper segment comprising an enlarged upper portion, a lower end surface of the of the enlarged upper portion having a cross-cut.

5) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the closure has a recess adjacent to the aperture, the flexible conduit straw fitting within this recess and upon the rotatable lid flexing the conduit straw to close the flexible conduit straw.

6) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the item in the space is one of an informational sheet, a decorative sheet, a booklet, an insulating sheet and a combination of the foregoing.

7) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein there is a gasket between the closure and the outer cup, the gasket having a valve to equalize pressure therein is attached to the gasket, the valve fitted into an aperture in the closure.

8) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the flexible conduit straw has a plurality of segments, an upper segment comprising an enlarged upper portion, a straw conduit mid-section and a weighted lower end, at least one of the enlarged upper portion, flexible straw mid-section and weighted lower end having a cross-cut.

9) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the flexible conduit straw has an enlarged portion at an upper end.

10) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the inner cup is metallic.

11) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 1 wherein the inner cup comprises a plastic.

12) A drinking cup assembly comprising an outer cup and an inner cup, the outer cup having a closure, the inner cup removably attached to the outer cup, a space between the outer cup and the inner cup, an item insertable into the space, the dispensing closure having an aperture adapted to receive a flexible conduit straw, a gasket between the outer cup and the closure, the gasket having an attached valve to equalize pressure, the valve fitted into an aperture in the closure.

13) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the flexible conduit straw has an upper end and a lower end, the lower end being weighted so as to contact a lower surface of the inner cup and of the outer cup when the inner cup is not a part of the drinking cup assembly, the weighted lower end being of a material softer than the inner surfaces of the inner cup and of the outer cup.

14) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the inner cup is metallic.

15) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein at least one of the outer cup and the inner cup is comprised of a plastic.

16) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the flexible conduit straw has a plurality of segments, an upper segment comprising an enlarged upper portion, a straw conduit mid-section and a weighted lower end, at least one of the enlarged upper portion, flexible straw mid-section and weighted lower end having a cross-cut.

17) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the outer cup contains a liquid product and the inner cup separated from the outer cup contains a solid product.

18) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the outer cup and the inner cup each has a sealing lid to close the outer cup and the inner cup when it is not a part of the drinking cup assembly.

19) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the item in the space is one of an informational sheet, a decorative sheet, a booklet, an insulating sheet and a combination of the foregoing.

20) A drinking cup assembly as in claim 12 wherein the inner cup has a compressible band on an exterior surface adjacent an open end to hold the inner cup within the outer cup when a part of the drinking cup assembly.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140158699
Type: Application
Filed: Oct 28, 2013
Publication Date: Jun 12, 2014
Applicant: Innobaby LLC (Barrington, IL)
Inventors: Jee Yeon Yoo Kim (Barrington, IL), Kristen Yoohee Min (Wauconda, IL)
Application Number: 13/998,382