Patent issued for packaging container, blank and method of forming a packaging container, that provides support for individually packaged products

January 4, 2013 () – According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventor Poitevin, Patrick Jules Joseph (Birmingham, GB), filed on August 21, 2009, was cleared and issued on December 25, 2012.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8336713, is Cadbury UK Limited (GB).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "It is known to use packaging containers such as paperboard or cardboard boxes, cartons and trays for storing and transporting individually packaged products. A number of individually packaged products are placed in the packaging container, which is generally closed by means of an integral folded top closure or by means of a separate, removable lid for transport to a retail outlet. At the retail outlet the container package is opened to display the products and placed on a shelf without having to remove the individual products from the container.

"Opening the packaging container may involve removal of the lid or, where the packaging container is closed by means of an integral folded top closure, at least a portion of the top and often part of a front wall of the container may be removed by tearing along a line of weakness. A wide range of products are stored and transported in this way, including: confectionery, snack foods, cereals, household goods, cosmetics and other personal care products, for example.

"In order to display the products, it is desirable that they are positioned in the container in a generally upright condition. However, products which have a relatively small base are generally unstable in the packaging container and have a tendency to fall over or to slip down once a number of the products have been removed from the container. There have been attempts to solve this problem by modifying the base of the packaging container to support the individually packaged products or by coating the base with an anti-slip material. GB 2 240 321 A for example discloses a cardboard tray having a series of slits across the base of the tray connected by creases extending along the length of the tray. This gives the base a saw-tooth configuration along its length to provide support for products.

"In an alternative arrangement, EP 0 940 345 A1 discloses an open top container having a number of flaps or tabs formed in opposing side wall regions. The flaps have prongs and are connected with the side wall along their upper edges by means of a fold line. The flaps align with in corresponding openings formed in side wall regions of a lid for the container. When the lid is lifted, the prongs engage in the apertures and are hinged upwardly to project into the tray to provide product dividers. The arrangement disclosed is complex to produce and assemble which results in increased manufacturing costs. Furthermore, the flaps do act to support the products in the container until the lid is removed.

"There is a need, therefore, for an alternative packaging container which provides support for individually packaged products which overcomes, or at least mitigates one or more of the drawbacks of the known arrangements.

"There is also a need for an alternative packaging container which provides support for individually packaged products which can be produced from a single blank of material."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a packaging container for transporting and/or displaying a plurality of individually packaged products, the container comprising at least a base and side walls defining an interior volume for holding the products, in which at least one side wall has one or more tabs, the tab(s) projecting into the interior volume for contact with products in the container, each tab comprising a portion of the at least one side wall which is bent inwardly out of the plane of the side wall about a fold line leaving an aperture in the side wall, and, prior to bending, each tab being surrounded about its free edge(s) by a cut-out in the side wall such that the surface area of the tab is less than the surface area of the aperture.

"One or more tabs may be provided on each of two opposing side walls.

"A side wall may have a plurality of tabs spaced along its length.

"A side wall may be joined to the base along an edge and the fold line may be at an acute angle with respect to at least part of the edge. The acute angle may be less than about 75.degree..

"It should be noted that the term 'about' is used herein in relation to angular measurements to include a range of +/-10 degrees from the stated angle.

"A side wall may be joined to the base along an edge and the fold line may be substantially parallel to at least part of the edge.

"There may be three or more separate tabs on each of two opposing side walls, each tab being connected with the reminder of its respective sidewall by means of a fold line defining a lower edge of the tab.

"The tabs may be bent about their respective fold lines through an angle of about 90.degree. or more.

"The tabs may be resiliently biased to a rest position in which the distance between the free ends of opposed pairs of tabs and/or between the free end of each tab and the inner surface of the opposing side wall is less than the width of the individually products to be contained.

"The container may have front and rear walls and an integral top closure. In which case, the container may have one or more lines of weakness arranged such that at least a portion of the top closure can be removed by tearing along the one or more lines of weakness.

"The one or more lines of weakness may be arranged such that the whole of the top closure and at least a portion of the front wall can be removed by tearing along the one or more lines of weakness.

"The one or more lines of weakness may be arranged so that a portion of the rear wall can be removed by tearing along the one or more lines of weakness.

"In one embodiment, the packaging container is formed from a single, unitary blank of material.

"In accordance with a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a combination of a packaging container in accordance with the first aspect and a plurality of individually packaged products within the interior volume of the container, the tab(s) contacting end regions of the products.

"The tab(s) may be resiliently biased towards a rest position in which the distance between the free ends of opposed pairs of tabs and/or between the free end of each tab and the inner surface of the opposing side wall is less than the width of the individually packaged products, the arrangement being such that tab(s) is/are bent beyond the rest position against the bias force by the products when introduced into the internal volume.

"The products may be confectionery products such as chocolate bars.

"In accordance with a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of forming a packaging container for transporting and/or displaying a plurality of individually packaged products, the method comprising: a. providing a container comprising at least a base and side walls defining an interior volume for holding the products; b. providing one or more tab(s) on at least one side wall, the tab(s) being connected to the remainder of the side wall by a fold line and the free edge(s) of the tabs may be spaced from the remainder of the side wall by a cut-out; c. bending the tab(s) about their respective fold lines so that they project into the interior volume for contact with products in the container.

"One or more tabs may be provided on opposing side walls.

"A side wall may have a plurality of tabs spaced along its length.

"A side wall may be joined to the base along an edge and the fold line may be at an acute angle with respect to at least part of the edge. The acute angle may be less than about 75.degree..

"A side wall may be joined to the base along an edge and the fold line may be substantially parallel to at least part of the edge.

"The container may have three or more separate tabs on each of two opposing side walls, each tab being connected with the reminder of its respective side wall by means of a fold line defining a lower edge of the tab.

"The tab(s) may be bent through an angle of about 90.degree. or more from an initial position in which they are substantially coplanar with their respective side wall.

"In one embodiment, the method comprises introducing a plurality of individually packaged products into the interior volume after the tab(s) has/have been bent through an angle of about 90.degree. or more. In an alternative embodiment, the method comprises bending the tab(s) through an angle of less than about 90.degree., subsequently introducing a plurality of individually packaged products into the interior volume so that the products contact the tab(s) as they are inserted into the interior volume and further bend the tab(s) through an angle of more than about 90.degree..

"The method may comprise forming the container from a single, unitary blank of material.

"In accordance with a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a blank for forming a packaging container in accordance with the first aspect or for use in the method of the second aspect, the blank comprising a single unitary sheet of material having fold lines which define panel portions which constitute the side walls of the container when it is formed, in which one or more tabs are provided on at least one the side wall panel portions, the tab(s) being connected with the remainder of their respective side wall panel portion(s) by means of a fold line about which the tab(s) can be bent out of the plane of their respective panel portion, the free edge(s) of the tabs being spaced from the remainder of their respective panel portion by means of a cut-out.

"One or more tabs may be provided on panel portions which define opposing side walls of the container when it is formed.

"At least one side wall panel portion may have a plurality of tabs spaced along its length.

"Each tab may be formed by means of a cut line in its respective side wall panel portion. Each tab may be formed by means of spaced cut lines to define the cut-out. Each tab may be is semi-circular in shape. The semi-circular tab may be formed by means of an arcuate cut-out.

"In one embodiment, the blank comprises four main panels arranged in-line with adjacent main panels being separated by a transverse fold line, each main panel being divided into three panel portions by means of spaced longitudinal fold lines; a middle one of the panel portions being configured to form a wall of the container when it is formed, a first outer one of the panel portions comprising a flap for forming the base of the container when it is formed and the other of the outer panel portions comprising a flap for forming a top closure of the container when it is formed.

"The blank may have one of more lines of weakness configured to enable at least the flaps which form the top closure to be removed from the completed container by tearing along the lines of weakness.

"A middle panel portion of one of the main panel portions may constitute a front wall of the completed container, and the one or more lines of weakness may extend into the front wall panel portion and be configured such that a portion of the front wall of the completed container can be removed by tearing along the one or more lines of weakness."

For more information, see this patent: Poitevin, Patrick Jules Joseph. Packaging Container, Blank and Method of Forming a Packaging Container. U.S. Patent Number 8336713, filed August 21, 2009, and issued December 25, 2012. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=110&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=5466&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20121225.PD.&OS=ISD/20121225&RS=ISD/20121225

Keywords for this news article include: Cadbury UK Limited.

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