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Title:
A CONTAINER STRUCTURE FOR DETACHABLE COUPLING OF CONTAINERS AND SYSTEM INCLUDING SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/035580
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A container including a main body that, in use, holds material, an upper shoulder surface on the main body, an upstanding neck extending from the upper shoulder surface, at least two spaced apart neck tab members extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the neck and spaced above the upper shoulder surface and a bottom wall having a recess formed therein, the recess having a circumferential wall extending from the bottom wall toward the upper shoulder surface and a laterally extending portion, the circumferential wall including at least two spaced apart base tab members extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall and spaced above the bottom wall, the at least two spaced apart base tab members separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of at least two neck tab members of a second container such that when aligned with the at least two neck tab members of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

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JP3066846A filing cabinet
Inventors:
BYRNE, Paul James (239 George StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, 4000, AU)
FLEURY, Eric (239 George StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, 4000, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/050913
Publication Date:
March 01, 2018
Filing Date:
August 28, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
DA CUBE PTY LTD (239 George StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, 4000, AU)
International Classes:
B65D21/02; A45F5/10; B65D1/02; B65D23/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005057357A22005-06-23
WO2010034340A12010-04-01
Foreign References:
US20140326693A12014-11-06
US20090127152A12009-05-21
US20070012693A12007-01-18
CN101372273A2009-02-25
US20140027336A12014-01-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CULLENS PTY LTD (Level 32, 239 George StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, 4000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A container including:

a) a main body that, in use, holds material; and

b) a coupling mechanism having at least one an upstanding neck associated with the main body of the container and a second corresponding portion associated with at least one coupling recess located in a different portion of the main body of the container; the at least one upstanding neck having at least two spaced apart tab members extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the upstanding neck and the at least one coupling recess including a circumferential wall and a laterally extending portion, the circumferential wall including at least two spaced apart base tab members extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall, the at least two spaced apart base tab members separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of at least two neck tab members of a second container such that when aligned with the at least two neck tab members of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

2. A container including:

a) a main body that, in use, holds material;

b) an upper shoulder surface on the main body;

c) an upstanding neck extending from the upper shoulder surface;

d) at least two spaced apart neck tab members extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the neck and spaced above the upper shoulder surface;

e) a bottom wall having a recess formed therein, the recess having

i. a circumferential wall extending from the bottom wall toward the upper shoulder surface and a laterally extending portion,

ii. the circumferential wall including at least two spaced apart base tab members

extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall and spaced above the bottom wall, the at least two spaced apart base tab members separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of at least two neck tab members of a second container such that when aligned with the at least two neck tab members of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

3. A container as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 including more than one upstanding neck and more than one coupling recess.

4. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims further including a locking shear assembly with or without a ratchet assembly used to temporarily lock one container relative to a second container until separation is achieved by twisting one container relative to the second container to rupture the locking shear assembly.

5. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims further including a ratchet

assembly having a number of protrusions on one of the upstanding neck or coupling recess in order to prevent accidental but not determined separation.

6. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the main body is

substantially rectangular in shape.

7. A container as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5 wherein the main body is substantially cylindrical in shape.

8. A container as claimed in claim 6 or claim 7 wherein the main body has at least one

sidewall, at least one upper shoulder surface extending substantially laterally from the at least one sidewall inwardly toward the upstanding neck and a bottom wall into which at least one coupling recess is formed.

9. A container as claimed in claim 8 wherein at least one upper shoulder surface includes one or more raised lugs or protrusions in order to assist with alignment of adjacent containers during a coupling process.

10. A container as claimed in claim 9 wherein the one or more raised lugs or protrusions are deformable with a shape memory in order to provide a user with audible and/or tactile feedback of coupling of two containers by slightly deforming during coupling in order to allow passage of a deforming part provided on a second container and then reverting upon passage of the deforming part.

11. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the upstanding neck includes a threaded portion in order to allow a closure or cap to engage with the upstanding neck to close the container.

12. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the spaced apart neck tab members extend radially outwardly from a lower portion of the upstanding neck spaced above an upper shoulder surface of the container.

13. A container as claimed in claim 12 wherein the neck tab members are spaced equally about a circumference of the upstanding neck.

14. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the neck tab members extend from a radially extending flange extending a first distance radially outwardly from the upstanding neck with each of the neck tab members extending radially further outwardly than the radially extending flange.

15. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the neck tab members are planar in a side elevation extending substantially perpendicularly from the upstanding neck.

16. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the upstanding neck includes at least one additional threaded portion provided to engage with a corresponding thread provided in relation to the coupling recess in order to draw two adjacent containers axially toward one another upon rotation during coupling.

17. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein an outer portion of the bottom wall is provided with one or more coupling guide arrangements to interact with raised lugs or protrusions provided on an upper shoulder surface of an adjacent container.

18. A container as claimed in claim 17 wherein each coupling guide arrangement is provided as a shaped recess shaped to correspond to the shape of a raised lug or protrusion formed on the upper shoulder surface.

19. A container as claimed in claim 18 wherein each recess is arcuate extending from adjacent to a side wall of the container in a substantially semicircular shape.

20. A container as claimed in claim 18 or 19 wherein each shaped recess increases in depth from a shallower entry end to a deeper end, the deeper end corresponding to a coupled position of the raised lug or protrusion of an adjacent container when in the coupled position.

21. A container as claimed in any one of claims 18 to 20 wherein a locking portion is provided in association with each recess, shaped to allow the raised lug or protrusion of an adjacent container to ride over the locking portion upon application of sufficient force during coupling.

22. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the coupling recess is formed from one or more circumferential wall portions stepped relative to one another, shaped to receive a portion of the neck of an adjacent container and to allow engagement of the neck tab portions of an adjacent container with the base tab portions located within the coupling recess.

23. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the coupling recess is provided with a number of base tab members extending radially inwardly toward one another within the coupling recess, separated from one another and spaced around the circumference of the recess in order to allow the neck tab members of an adjacent container to be inserted between the base tab members of the first container and the respective containers rotated relative to one another.

24. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the base tab members extend inwardly from a radially extending flange.

25. A container as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the base tab members are provided above a plane of the base wall of the container but below an inner laterally extending portion defining the inner extremity of the recess.

26. A container system including at least two containers according to any one of the preceding claims wherein a first container is located with an upstanding neck aligned with a coupling recess on a second, adjacent container with the neck tab members of the first container aligned with spaces between the base tab members in the coupling recess of the second container such that the two containers are then moved axially together to move the upstanding neck of a first container within the coupling recess of the second container and the respective containers twisted or rotated relative to one another such that the neck tab members of the first container are moved above the base tab members in the coupling recess of the second container, to attach or couple the containers to one another.

27. A container system as claimed in claim 26 further including a carry strap is provided to allow a user to more easily carry multiple containers, the carry strap being elongate with an engagement portion provided at both ends of the carry strap.

28. A container system as claimed in claim 27 wherein the engagement portion is a ring with a central opening.

Description:
A CONTAINER STRUCTURE FOR DETACHABLE COUPLING OF CONTAINERS AND SYSTEM INCLUDING SAME

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to detachable coupling of containers and particularly to a container structure for detachable coupling of containers together.

BACKGROUND ART

[0002] Detachable containers are available. One such container structure is disclosed in United States Patent Application No. 20140061086 and that document also includes a useful overview of the prior art.

[0003] It will be clearly understood that, if a prior art publication is referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms part of the common general knowledge in the art in Australia or in any other country.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0004] The present invention is directed to a container structure for detachable coupling of containers and system including same, which may at least partially overcome at least one of the abovementioned disadvantages or provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice.

[0005] With the foregoing in view, the present invention in one form, resides broadly in a container including a) a main body that, in use, holds material;

b) an upper shoulder surface on the main body;

c) an upstanding neck extending from the upper shoulder surface;

d) at least two spaced apart neck tab members extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the neck and spaced above the upper shoulder surface;

e) a bottom wall having a recess formed therein, the recess having

a. a circumferential wall extending from the bottom wall toward the upper shoulder surface and a laterally extending portion,

b. the circumferential wall including at least two spaced apart base tab members extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall and spaced above the bottom wall, the at least two spaced apart base tab members separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of at least two neck tab members of a second container such that when aligned with the at least two neck tab members of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

[0006] In use, multiple containers having the features described above can be detachably coupled to one another in order to allow a user to more easily carry multiple containers and/or to allow a user to carry multiple types of material in different containers easily and simply.

[0007] Typically, the containers will be used separately, but will be detachably coupled to one another for transport or convenience. As mentioned above, different materials can be stored in different containers, which are then detachably coupled to one another. In general, multiple containers may be sold in sets which can be detachably coupled to one another. Alternatively, the containers can be sold individually but a user can buy more than one container and then detachably couple the containers together. Normally, all of the containers which are detachably coupled to one another will have substantially the same configuration although there may be exceptions to this as will be explained below.

[0008] The coupling mechanism discussed in this specification will be discussed generally as having a first portion associated with the neck of the container and a second corresponding portion associated with the coupling recess, generally located in the bottom wall of the container. However, more than one coupling recess with the particular coupling formation disclosed herein may be provided on a container. For example, a container may have one or 2 or 3 or more coupling recesses, each located in a respective sidewall of the container in addition to the coupling recess provided in the bottom wall as this will allow a user to attach multiple containers together in different configurations.

[0009] It is also within the purview of the current specification to have a reverse

configuration, that is to provide inwardly extending members in the recess in the container and one or more corresponding openings relative to the neck of the container into which the inwardly extending members are received when attaching one container relative to a second container.

[0010] Other anti tampering mechanisms may be provided in association with the coupling mechanism. For example a locking shear assembly with or without a ratchet assembly could be used to temporarily lock one container relative to a second container until separation is achieved by twisting one container relative to the second container to rupture the shear ring. [0011] A ratchet assembly may be used in association with the coupling mechanism in repeated use in order to prevent accidental but not determined separation.

[0012] The present invention is directed to allowing two containers to be coupled relative to one another for repeated use. The containers may initially be coupled to one another in any way, but once separated initially, the coupling mechanism as explained above is suitable used. In other words, the containers may be coupled together initially using any mechanism but once separated, the coupling mechanism as explained above is suitable used to removably couple them together thereafter.

[0013] A carry strap may also be provided to allow a user to more easily carry multiple containers. In a preferred form, the carry strap is preferably elongate with an engagement portion provided at both ends of the carry strap. The engagement portion may be as simple as a ring with a central opening or may be more complex such as an engagement plug having a coupling formation similar to that provided on the neck of the container in order to engage within a recess of a container. One or both ends of the carry strap may potentially be provided with both a ring and an engagement plug.

[0014] In the most preferred embodiment, the carry strap will be provided with a ring having an opening at both ends. In use, the ring will simply be received over the neck of the container, below the neck tab members then the container is coupled to a second container which will sandwich the ring between the two containers. If this is also achieved at the opposite end of the carry strap, the carry strap will then allow the user to lift the carry strap in order to lift the coupled containers.

[0015] The container of the present invention includes a main body that, in use, holds material. The main body may have any shape. In one preferred embodiment, the main body may be substantially rectangular in shape rather than cylindrical as a rectangular shape increases the volume of material that can be stored for the same width and height cylindrical container.

However, in other embodiments, particularly those in which the container may be used to house carbonated beverages, a cylindrical shape is preferred as this shape may be more optimal for pressure vessels. Therefore, the shape of the container can be varied according to the application of the container.

[0016] It is preferred that the main body be configured to be aesthetically appealing. One or more grip portions may be provided on an exterior surface of the main body. It is preferred that the one or more grip portions also function as aesthetic features. For example, a "crushed ice" detail or relief may be provided on at least one wall of the main body which may enhance the aesthetics of the main body and also function as a grip enhancing portion.

[0017] Generally, the preferred rectangular shaped main body will have four sidewalls, an upper shoulder surface which effectively functions as an upper wall and a bottom wall into which the preferred recess is formed. The walls of the preferred rectangular shaped main body need not be absolutely planar and indeed, preferably are shaped or provided with shaped portions to increase grip and the aesthetic appearance.

[0018] The main body may be manufactured from any material but typically, will be manufactured of a plastic material. The material chosen will generally be inert and as a preferred use of the container of the present invention will be to contain drinks or foodstuff, will preferably be food safe plastic. The main body of different containers need not be the same height but all containers will preferably have the same horizontal cross-section size and shape.

[0019] As mentioned above, the container of the present invention may be used to contain a liquid but may be used to hold particulate material. Still further, a container of the present invention may be used to hold pharmaceuticals or drugs for example and in a particular use, detachably coupled containers may hold different pharmaceuticals that are used or prescribed with one another, or pharmaceuticals may have synergistic effects, for example.

[0020] The container of the present invention also includes an upper shoulder surface on the main body. Preferably, the upper shoulder surface will extend laterally from an upper portion of the sidewalls of the container toward the neck of the container. Preferably, an arcuate transition is provided between an upper end of each side wall and the upper shoulder surface of the main body.

[0021] The neck of the container will preferably be substantially centrally located across the upper shoulder surface. As mentioned above, the upper shoulder surface of the container preferably functions as a top wall for the container albeit one with the neck formed thereinto.

[0022] The upper shoulder surface of the main body may be substantially planar or not. According to a preferred embodiment, the upper shoulder surface will be substantially planar at an outer portion and a partially spherical portion, upstanding from the substantially planar outer portion will typically be provided centrally with the neck extending upwardly from the partially spherical portion.

[0023] The upper shoulder surface will preferably include one or more raised lugs or protrusions in order to assist with alignment of adjacent containers during the coupling process. Preferably, four raised lugs or protrusions are provided, one located at or adjacent each corner of the substantially rectangular upper shoulder surface, standing proud of the upper shoulder surface. Each of the preferred raised lugs or protrusions may have any configuration, but will preferably be partially spherical or domed. The raised lugs or protrusion will preferably be integrally formed with the upper shoulder surface and normally, the raised lugs or protrusions will be hollow on the underside.

[0024] The preferred raised lugs or protrusions are preferably manufactured of plastic, generally formed during the same process used to form the container itself. In a preferred embodiment, the thickness of material used to form the raised lugs or protrusion will preferably give each raised lug or protrusion a degree of resilience. In particular, the raised lugs or protrusions may be deformable but also have a shape memory in order to return to their partially spherical or domed configuration upon removal of the deforming force. In use, the raised lugs or protrusions will normally be subjected to a deforming force during the coupling process in order to provide a user with audible and/or tactile feedback of the coupling of the containers and will typically do so by slightly deforming during the coupling process in order to allow passage of a deforming part provided on a second container and then assuming their normal partially spherical or domed shape upon passage of the deforming part.

[0025] The container of the present invention also includes an upstanding neck extending from the upper shoulder surface. As mentioned above, the upstanding neck is generally approximately centrally located across the upper shoulder surface. It is preferred that the upstanding neck is integrally formed with the upper shoulder surface and the remainder of the container. The upstanding neck preferably includes a threaded portion in order to allow a closure or cap to engage with the neck to close the container.

[0026] An anti-tamper assembly is typically provided in association with the neck and the closure or cap. Generally, any anti-tamper assembly is provided above the neck tab members.

[0027] The upstanding neck of the present invention is typically generally circular. The container will normally be blow moulded or vacuum formed. As mentioned above, more than one recess with a coupling formation may be provided on each bottle but it is preferred that there is only one neck provided per container.

[0028] The container includes at least two spaced apart neck tab members extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the upstanding neck and spaced above the upper shoulder surface. Preferably, there are at least two spaced apart neck tab members and according to a most preferred embodiment, preferably four spaced apart neck tab members. Typically, the neck tab members are spaced equally about the circumference of the upstanding neck. In the configuration where four spaced apart neck tab members are provided, the neck tab members are typically separated by approximately 90° from one another.

[0029] The preferred neck tab members may extend from a radially extending flange. In this configuration, the radially extending flange preferably extends the first distance, radially outwardly from the neck with each of the neck tab members extending radially further outwardly than the flange.

[0030] The neck tab members are preferably integrally formed with the neck and/or flange if provided. The neck tab members are preferably provided above the upper shoulder surface of the container but below the at least one threaded portion of the neck. The neck tab members are typically planar in a side elevation extending substantially perpendicularly from the neck.

[0031] The neck tab members are preferably substantially rectangular when viewed in plan. The neck tab members can have arcuate transitions or corners in order to provide an easier engagement during the coupling process. The neck tab members are preferably substantially rigid.

[0032] The upstanding neck and/or a portion of the spherical surround to the neck may include additional thread detailed provided to engage with a corresponding thread detailed provided in relation to the recess in order to draw containers axially toward one another upon rotation during the coupling process.

[0033] The container of the present invention also includes a bottom wall having a recess formed therein, the recess having a circumferential wall extending from the bottom wall toward the upper shoulder surface and a laterally extending portion, the circumferential wall including at least two spaced apart base tab members extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall and spaced above the bottom wall, the at least two spaced apart base tab members separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of at least two neck tab members of a second container such that when aligned with the at least two neck tab members of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

[0034] The bottom wall is preferably planar, particularly at an outer portion surrounding the recess. The coupling recess is typically provided as a substantially central recess. In a preferred configuration, the outer portion of the bottom wall is typically provided with one or more coupling guide arrangements to interact with the preferred raised lugs or protrusions provided on the upper shoulder surface of an adjacent container.

[0035] Preferably, each coupling guide arrangement is provided as a shaped recess which is shaped to correspond to the shape of a raised lug or protrusion formed on the upper shoulder surface. In a preferred configuration, each recess is arcuate. It is preferred arcuate recess preferably extends from adjacent to a first side wall of the container toward an adjacent side wall in a substantially semicircular shape.

[0036] It is further preferred that each shaped recess will increase in depth from shallower entry end to a deeper end, the deeper end corresponding to the position of the raised lug or protrusion of an adjacent container when in the coupled position. It is preferred that the deeper end is substantially shaped to abut an external shape of the lug or protrusion provided on an upper shoulder surface of an adjacent container.

[0037] In a preferred embodiment, a locking portion may be provided in association with each recess. The locking portion is preferably shaped to allow the lug or protrusion of an adjacent container to ride over the locking portion upon application of sufficient force during the coupling process. This will typically assist with preventing accidental decoupling but not determined separation of the containers by user.

[0038] Any type of locking portion may be provided. The locking portion will typically be provided as one or more protrusions extending into the recess in order to abut engage with the lug or protrusion of an adjacent container. In one preferred embodiment, a single protrusion located approximately centrally within the recess and standing proud of the surface of the recess is provided. The single protrusion will typically extend from the surface of the recess downwardly when the container is in the upright position. In an alternate configuration, a pair of protrusions may be provided extending laterally into the recess from one or more sides of the recess.

[0039] As mentioned above, the provision of the locking portion is intended to force temporary deformation of the lug or protrusion on the upper shoulder surface in order for the lug or protrusion to pass the locking portion or vice versa (in which the locking portion deforms to allow the lug or protrusion to pass the locking portion). The provision of a locking portion in association with the recess will provide tactile and/or audible feedback of the coupling lock. [0040] The coupling recess is typically formed from one or more circumferential wall portions. The coupling recess may be formed from one or more wall portions and the wall portions may be stepped relative to one another. It is preferred that the coupling recess be substantially circular in order to correspond to the external shape of the neck and/or closure or cap of the container. The coupling recess will typically be shaped to receive a portion of the neck of an adjacent container and to allow engagement of the neck tab portions of an adjacent container with the base tab portions located within the coupling recess when the bottom wall of the container abut the upper shoulder surface of a second, adjacent container.

[0041] The recess is typically provided with a number of base tab members and the base tab members will typically extend radially inwardly toward one another within the recess. The base tab members are typically separated from one another and spaced around the circumference of the recess in order to allow the neck tab members of an adjacent container to be inserted between the base tab members of the first container and the respective containers rotated relative to one another.

[0042] Preferably, there are at least two spaced apart base tab members and according to a most preferred embodiment, only two spaced apart base tab members as this will allow the containers to be coupled in different configurations. Typically, the base tab members are spaced equally about the circumference of the recess. In the configuration where to spaced apart base tab members are provided, the base tab members are typically separated by approximately 180° from one another.

[0043] The preferred base tab members may extend inwardly from a radially extending flange. In this configuration, the radially extending flange preferably extends the first distance, radially inwardly from the wall of the recess with each of the base tab members extending radially further inwardly than the flange.

[0044] The base tab members are preferably integrally formed with the wall of the recess and/or flange if provided. The base tab members are preferably provided above the plane of the base wall of the container but below the inner laterally extending portion defining the inner extremity of the recess. The base tab members are typically planar in a side elevation extending substantially perpendicularly from the circumferential wall of the recess.

[0045] The base tab members are preferably substantially rectangular when viewed in plan. The base tab members can have arcuate transitions or corners in order to provide an easier engagement during the coupling process. The base tab members are preferably substantially rigid.

[0046] In use, one container is located with the neck portion aligned with the recess on an adjacent container with the neck tab members of the first container aligned with the spaces between the base tab members in the recess of the second container. The two containers are then moved axially together to move the neck portion of a first container within the recess of the second container and the containers twisted or rotated relative to one another such that the neck tab members of the first container are moved above the base tab members in the recess of the second container, detach decoupling the containers to one another. In practice, to separate the containers, they are simply rotated relative to one another in the reverse direction and then moved axially apart.

[0047] Any of the features described herein can be combined in any combination with any one or more of the other features described herein within the scope of the invention.

[0048] The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0049] Preferred features, embodiments and variations of the invention may be discerned from the following Detailed Description which provides sufficient information for those skilled in the art to perform the invention. The Detailed Description is not to be regarded as limiting the scope of the preceding Summary of the Invention in any way. The Detailed Description will make reference to a number of drawings as follows:

[0050] Figure 1 is an isometric view from the front of a container according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0051] Figure 2 is an isometric view showing the underside of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0052] Figure 3 is a plan view of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0053] Figure 4 is a left side elevation view of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0054] Figure 5 is a front elevation view of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0055] Figure 6 is a right side elevation view of the container illustrated in Figure 1. [0056] Figure 7 is a view from the bottom of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0057] Figure 8 is an alternate isometric view showing the underside of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0058] Figure 9 is an isometric view from above of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0059] Figure 10 is an exploded detail view of the lid and neck of a preferred embodiment.

[0060] Figure 11 is a plan view of the container illustrated in Figure 1.

[0061] Figure 12 is a plan view of the container illustrated in Figure 11 offset by 90°.

[0062] Figure 13 is a sectional view along line C-C in Figure 11.

[0063] Figure 14 is a sectional view along line H-H in Figure 12.

[0064] Figure 15 is an isometric exploded view from a first angle of two containers of the configuration illustrated in Figure 1 showing the coupling of a first container to a second container.

[0065] Figure 16 is a front elevation view showing the coupling of a first container to a second container according to a preferred embodiment.

[0066] Figure 17 is a sectional view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 16 along line B-B.

[0067] Figure 18 is a detailed view of the portion illustrated in Figure 17 and identified by reference letter "C".

[0068] Figure 19 is an isometric view of a pair of containers coupled together according to a preferred embodiment.

[0069] Figure 20 is a plan view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 19.

[0070] Figure 21 is a sectional view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 20 along line C-C.

[0071] Figure 22 is a detailed view of the portion illustrated in Figure 21 and identified by reference letter "A".

[0072] Figure 23 is an isometric view of a pair of containers partway through the coupling process according to a preferred embodiment.

[0073] Figure 24 is a plan view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 23.

[0074] Figure 25 is a sectional view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 24 along line I- I.

[0075] Figure 26 is an isometric view of a pair of coupled containers according to a preferred embodiment.

[0076] Figure 27 is a plan view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 26.

[0077] Figure 28 is a sectional view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 27 along line D-D.

[0078] Figure 29 is an isometric view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 26 with portions of the walls removed for clarity.

[0079] Figure 30 is a detailed view of the portion illustrated in Figure 29 and identified by reference letter "B".

[0080] Figure 31 is an isometric view of a container as illustrated in Figure 1 used as a rest for a tablet or smart phone.

[0081] Figure 32 is a front elevation view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 31

[0082] Figure 33 is a side elevation view of the configuration illustrated in Figure 31.

[0083] Figure 34A to 34E is a left side elevation, front elevation, right side elevation, plan and bottom view of a circular container according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0084] Figure 35A is 35E is an isometric view, side elevation view, sectional elevation view along line J-J, detailed view of area "K" and detailed view of area "L" of a pair of contained illustrated in Figures 34A to 34 E connected together.

[0085] Figure 36A to 36D is a plan view, 90° rotated plan view, sectional view along line M-M and sectional view along line N-N of the container illustrated in Figures 34A to 34E.

[0086] Figure 37A to 37C is an isometric view from below, an isometric view from above and an exploded view of an upper portion of the container illustrated in Figures 34A to 34E. [0087] Figure 38 A and 38B is an isometric view from below, an isometric view from above of the containers illustrated in Figures 35A is 35E in the pre-connection position.

[0088] Figure 39 is an elevation view of two containers immediately prior to rotation to couple the containers together.

[0089] Figure 40 is a sectional elevation view of configuration illustrated in Figure 39 along line P-P.

[0090] Figure 41 is a detailed view of the portion identified by reference letter "Q" in Figure 40.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0091] According to a particularly preferred embodiment of the present invention, a container structure for detachable coupling of containers 10 and system including more than one of these containers 10 is provided.

[0092] As illustrated in the accompanying Figures, the preferred embodiment of container 10 includes a main body 11 that, in use, holds material (not shown. The main body 11 has an upper shoulder surface 12 and an upstanding neck 13 extends from the upper shoulder surface 12. The neck 13 has a number of spaced apart neck tab members 14 extending radially outwardly from a lower portion of the neck 13 and spaced above the upper shoulder surface 12. The main body 11 also has a bottom wall 15 having a recess 16 formed therein. The recess 16 has a circumferential wall 17 extending from the bottom wall 15 toward the upper shoulder surface 12 and a laterally extending portion 18 located within the container main body 11. The circumferential wall 17 includes a pair of spaced apart base tab members 19 extending radially inwardly from a lower portion of the circumferential wall 17 and spaced above the bottom wall 15, the spaced apart base tab members 19 separated by a receiving opening to receive at least one of the neck tab members 14 of a second container such that when aligned with the neck tab members 14 of the second container, the container and second container can be moved axially together and upon relative rotation of the container and the second container, detachably couple the container and the second container.

[0093] In use as illustrated in Figures 15 to 31, multiple containers 10 having the features described above can be detachably coupled to one another in order to allow a user to more easily carry multiple containers 10 and/or to allow a user to carry multiple types of material in different containers easily and simply. [0094] Typically, the containers 10 will be separated for use, but will be detachably coupled to one another for transport or convenience. As mentioned above, different materials can be stored in different containers which are then detachably coupled to one another. In general, multiple containers will typically be sold in sets which can be detachably coupled to one another. Alternatively, the containers can be sold individually but a user can buy more than one container and then detachably couple the containers together. Normally, all of the containers which are detachably coupled to one another will have substantially the same configuration although there may be exceptions to this as will be explained below.

[0095] The main body 11 of the preferred embodiment illustrated is substantially rectangular rather than cylindrical as a rectangular shape increases the volume of material that can be stored for the same width and height cylindrical container.

[0096] One or more grip portions are provided on an exterior surface of the main body 11 and it is preferred that the one or more grip portions also function as aesthetic features. For example, a "crushed ice" detail or relief may be provided on a central portion 20 of a pair of opposed side walls 21 (left side and right side) of the main body 11 which may enhance the aesthetics of the main body 11 and also function as a grip enhancing portion. The respective central portions 20 of the other two side walls (front and rear) will normally include a front and rear label identifying the material sold in the container 10.

[0097] Generally, the preferred rectangular shaped main body will have four sidewalls 21, the upper shoulder surface 12 which effectively functions as an upper wall and the bottom wall 15 into which the recess 16 is formed. The side walls 21 of the preferred rectangular shaped main body 11 need not be absolutely planar and indeed, preferably are shaped or provided with shaped portions to increase grip and the aesthetic appearance.

[0098] The main body 11 may be manufactured from any material but typically, will be manufactured of a plastic material. The material chosen will generally be inert and as a preferred use of the container of the present invention will be to contain drinks or foodstuff, will preferably be food safe plastic. As mentioned above, the container 10 of the present invention may be used to contain drinks but may be used to hold particulate material. Still further, a container of the present invention may be used to hold pharmaceuticals or drugs for example and in a particularly use, detachably coupled containers may hold different pharmaceuticals that are used or prescribed with one another or pharmaceuticals may have synergistic effects for example.

[0099] As illustrated, the upper shoulder surface 12 extends laterally from an upper portion of the sidewalls 21 of the container 10 toward the neck 13 of the container. Preferably, an arcuate transition is provided between an upper end of each side wall 21 and the upper shoulder surface 12 of the main body 11.

[0100] The neck 13 of the container 10 is substantially centrally located across the upper shoulder surface 12. The upper shoulder surface 12 of the main body 11 is substantially planar. According to the illustrated embodiment, the upper shoulder surface 12 is substantially planar at an outer portion and a partially spherical portion 22, upstanding from the substantially planar outer portion is provided centrally with the neck 13 extending upwardly from the partially spherical portion 22.

[0101] In the preferred embodiment illustrated, the upper shoulder surface 12 includes four raised protrusions 23 in order to assist with alignment of adjacent containers during the coupling process. Each raised protrusion 23 is located at or adjacent each corner of the substantially rectangular upper shoulder surface 12, standing proud of the upper shoulder surface 12. Each of the raised protrusions 23 illustrated is partially spherical or domed and is integrally formed with the upper shoulder surface 12. Normally, the raised protrusions 23 are hollow on the underside.

[0102] In a preferred embodiment, the thickness of material used to form the raised protrusions 23 give each raised protrusion 23 a degree of resilience. In particular, the raised protrusions 23 may be deformable but also have a shape memory in order to return to their partially spherical or domed configuration upon removal of the deforming force. In use, the raised protrusions 23 are normally be subjected to a deforming force during the coupling process in order to provide a user with audible and/or tactile feedback of the coupling of the containers 10 and will typically do so by slightly deforming during the coupling process in order to allow passage of a deforming part provided on a second container, and then assuming their normal partially spherical or domed shape upon passage of the deforming part.

[0103] As mentioned above, the upstanding neck 13 is generally approximately centrally located across the upper shoulder surface 12. It is preferred that the upstanding neck 13 is integrally formed with the upper shoulder surface 12 and the remainder of the container 10.

[0104] As best illustrated in Figure 10, the upstanding neck 13 normally includes a threaded portion 24 in order to allow a lid 25 to engage with the neck 13 to close the container 10. An anti-tamper assembly (including a ring member 26 initially attached to the lid 25 and seated in a circumferential groove 27 on the neck 13) is typically provided in association with the neck 13 and the lid 25. Generally, any anti-tamper assembly is provided above the neck tab members 14. [0105] As illustrated, the upstanding neck 13 is typically generally circular. The container will normally be blow moulded or vacuum formed.

[0106] Preferably, there are four spaced apart neck tab members 14 as illustrated in Figure 9 in particular. The neck tab members 14 are spaced equally about the circumference of the upstanding neck 13 typically separated by approximately 90° from one another.

[0107] The preferred neck tab members 14 extend from a radially extending flange 28. In this configuration, the radially extending flange 28 preferably extends a first distance radially outwardly from the neck 13 with each of the neck tab members 14 extending radially further outwardly than the flange 28. The difference in radial extension can be clearly seen form a comparison of Figure 18 to Figure 23.

[0108] The neck tab members 14 are integrally formed with the neck 13 and/or flange 28. The neck tab members 14 are provided on the neck 13 above the upper shoulder surface 12 of the container 10 but below the threaded portion 24 of the neck 13. The neck tab members 14 are typically planar in a side elevation extending substantially perpendicularly from the neck 13.

[0109] The neck tab members 14 are preferably substantially rectangular when viewed in plan. The neck tab members 14 can have arcuate transitions or corners in order to provide an easier engagement during the coupling process. The neck tab members 14 are preferably substantially rigid.

[0110] The bottom wall 15 of the container 10 is preferably planar, particularly at an outer portion surrounding the recess 16. The coupling recess 16 is typically provided as a substantially central recess. In a preferred configuration, the outer portion of the bottom wall 15 is provided with four coupling guide arrangements to interact with the raised protrusions 23 provided on the upper shoulder surface 12 of an adjacent container.

[0111] Preferably, each coupling guide arrangement is provided as a shaped recess 29 which is shaped to correspond to the shape of a raised protrusion 23 formed on the upper shoulder surface 12. In a preferred configuration illustrated in Figures 2, 7 and 8, each recess 29 is arcuate. It is preferred arcuate recess 29 preferably extends from adjacent to a first side wall of the container toward an adjacent side wall, in a substantially semicircular shape.

[0112] Each shaped recess 29 increases in depth from a shallower entry end to a deeper end, the deeper end corresponding to the position of the raised protrusion 23 of an adjacent container when in the coupled position. It is preferred that the deeper end is substantially shaped to abut an external shape of the protrusion 23 provided on an upper shoulder surface 12 of an adjacent container.

[0113] A locking lug 30 is provided in association with each recess 29. The locking lug 30 is shaped to allow the protrusion 23 of an adjacent container to ride over the locking lug 30 upon application of sufficient force during the coupling process. This will typically assist with preventing accidental decoupling but not determined separation of the containers by user.

[0114] In the preferred embodiment illustrated, a single lug 30 located approximately centrally within the recess 29 and standing proud of the surface of the recess 29 is provided. The lug 30 extends downwardly when the container is in the upright position.

[0115] As mentioned above, the provision of the locking lug 30 is intended to force temporary deformation of the protrusion 23 on the upper shoulder surface 12 of an adjacent container in order for the protrusion 23 to pass the locking lug 30 or vice versa (in which the locking lug 30 deforms to allow the protrusion 23 to pass the locking lug 30). The provision of a locking lug 30 in association with the recess 29 will from provide tactile and/or audible feedback of the coupling lock. The coupled configuration and the engagement between the locking lug 30 and the protrusion 23 is illustrated particularly in Figures 29 and 30.

[0116] The coupling recess 16 is typically formed from a pair of circumferential wall portions stepped relative to one another. It is preferred that the coupling recess 16 is substantially circular in order to correspond to the external shape of the neck 13 and/or lid 25 of the container 10. The coupling recess 16 is shaped to receive a portion of the neck 13 of an adjacent container and to allow engagement of the neck tab portions 14 of an adjacent container with the base tab portions 19 located within the coupling recess 16 when the bottom wall 15 of the container 10 abut the upper shoulder surface 12 of a second, adjacent container 10.

[0117] The recess 16 is provided with a number of base tab members 19 extending radially inwardly toward one another within the recess 16. The base tab members 19 are separated from one another and spaced around the circumference of the recess 16 in order to allow the neck tab members 14 of an adjacent container to be inserted between the base tab members 19 of the first container and the respective containers rotated relative to one another.

[0118] In the illustrated embodiment, there are two spaced apart base tab members 19 as this will allow the containers to be coupled in different configurations. Typically, the base tab members 19 are spaced equally about the circumference of the recess 16. In the configuration where two spaced apart base tab members 19 are provided, the base tab members 19 are typically separated by approximately 180° from one another.

[0119] The base tab members 19 are integrally formed with the wall of the recess 16. The base tab members 19 are preferably provided above the plane of the base wall 15 of the container. The base tab members 19 have a planar abutment in a side elevation extending substantially perpendicularly from the circumferential wall of the recess 16.

[0120] In use, one container is located with the neck portion aligned with the recess on an adjacent container with the neck tab members of the first container aligned with the spaces between the base tab members in the recess of the second container. This is illustrated generically in Figure 15 to 18. The two containers are then moved axially together to move the neck portion of a first container within the recess of the second container as shown in Figures 16, and 23 to 25. As illustrated, the containers are offset from one another by approximately 45° prior to rotation into the coupled configuration.

[0121] The containers are then twisted or rotated relative to one another such that the neck tab members 14 of the first container are moved above the base tab members 19 in the recess 16 of the second container, detachably coupling the containers to one another. This is illustrated in particular in Figures 19 to 22 and 26 to 28 with Figure 28 showing detail of the coupling engagement.

[0122] In practice, to separate the containers, they are simply rotated relative to one another in the reverse direction and then moved axially apart.

[0123] The particular configuration of the container of the preferred embodiment also allows the container 10 to function as a rest for electronic devices such as is illustrated in Figures 31 to 33. In this use condition, a user can rest their smartphone 40 or tablet on the upper shoulder surface 12 against the lid 20 and the smartphone 40 will not slide off the container being retained thereon by the protrusions 23.

[0124] An alternative embodiment is illustrated in Figures 34A to 40. These Figures show the coupling mechanism discussed above, applied to a cylindrical container. The same reference numerals have been used to identify the same features. The major difference in the cylindrical embodiment is in the shaped recess 29 which is an arcuate recess in the cylindrical embodiment and does not extend to the sidewalls 21 of the container.

[0125] In the present specification and claims (if any), the word 'comprising' and its derivatives including 'comprises' and 'comprise' include each of the stated integers but does not exclude the inclusion of one or more further integers.

[0126] Reference throughout this specification to One embodiment' or 'an embodiment' means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearance of the phrases 'in one embodiment' or 'in an embodiment' in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment.

Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more combinations.