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Title:
IMPROVED CONTAINER FOR A COMPOSITION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/204875
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A container for holding and dispensing a dermatological composition. The container has a reservoir portion, a dispensing portion, a lid or cap, and a timer. The container is designed such that contact with or actuation of the lid or cap or the dispenser portion by a user's hand (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timer, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timer.

Inventors:
BURTON, Jack (Level 7, 235 Pyrmont StPyrmont, New South Wales 2009, 2009, AU)
Application Number:
AU2019/050369
Publication Date:
October 31, 2019
Filing Date:
April 26, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
J WALTER THOMPSON AUSTRALIA PTY LTD (Level 7, 235 Pyrmont StPyrmont, New South Wales 2009, 2009, AU)
International Classes:
B65D51/24; A45D33/30; A45D40/00; A61J7/04; G04F3/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOROVEC, Steven (Churchill Attorneys, St. Kilda Road Towers1 Queens Road,Suite 70, Melbourne Victoria 3004, 3004, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A container for holding and dispensing a dermatological composition, the container comprising:

a reservoir portion,

a dispensing portion,

a reversible closure means that is either integral with or separate to the dispensing portion, the reversible closure means configured to be manually operable by a user so as to alternately open and close the container, and

a timing means,

wherein the container is configured such that contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timing means.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein where the container is configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user provides tactile feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timer, the feedback results from a rotational action or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

3. The reversible closure means of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein where the container is configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user actuates the timing means, the actuation results from a touching action, or a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

4. The container of claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the tactile feedback is associated with actuation of the timing means.

5. The container of any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

6. The container of claim 5, wherein the rotational actuation by the user is also a rotational action required for or assists in closing or opening the reversible closure means.

7. The container of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the timing means is a manually operable rotary count-down timer.

8. The container of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the timing means is a mechanical timer.

9. The container of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the timing means is an electronic timing means.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein the electronic timing means comprises electrical or electronic detection means configured to detect contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user, the detection means being configured to trigger a timing function of the electronic timing means.

11. The container of claim 10, wherein the detection means is an electrical switch, a light- sensitive detector, a pressure-sensitive detector, a heat sensitive detector and a touch-sensitive detector.

12. The container of any one of claims 1 to 11, wherein the tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means is provided by electronic or electrical means.

13. The container of claim 12, wherein the electronic or electrical means for providing tactile, auditory or visual feedback is a vibrator, a speaker, a buzzer, or a light.

14. The container of any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein the reversible closure means is configured to alternately seal and unseal the dispensing portion so as to prevent loss of a product from the reservoir portion of the container when the reversible closure means is sealed, and allow release of the product for use thereof.

15. The container of any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the reversible closure means is configured to alternately expose and conceal the dispensing portion so as to prevent a user from contacting the dispensing portion when the reversible closure means is concealed, and allow a user to contact the dispensing portion is uncovered.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the dispensing portion is a spray head or a nozzle.

17. The container of any one of claims 1 to 16, wherein the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

18. The container of claim 17, wherein the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a time-dependent characteristic of a product which the container holds, or is intended to hold.

19. The container of any one of claims 1 to 18, wherein the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

20. A reversible closure means configured for use with a container for holding a product, the reversible closure means configured to be manually operable by a user so as to alternately open and close a container for which it is intended to be used, wherein the reversible closure means comprises timing means.

21. The reversible closure means of claim 15 is configured such that contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timing means.

22. The reversible closure means of claim 20 or claim 21, wherein where configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user provides tactile feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, the feedback results from a touching action, or a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action provided by the user to the reversible closure means.

23. The reversible closure means of any of claims 20 to 22, wherein where configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user actuates the timing means, the actuation results from a touching action, a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

24. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 21 to 23, wherein the tactile feedback is associated with actuation of the timing means.

25. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 24, wherein the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

26. The reversible closure means of claim 25, wherein the rotational actuation by the user is also a rotational action required for or assists in closing or opening the reversible closure means.

27. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 26, wherein the timing means is a manually operable rotary count-down timer.

28. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 27, wherein the timing means is a mechanical timer.

29. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 27, wherein the timing means is an electronic timing means.

30. The reversible closure means of claim 29, wherein the electronic timing means comprises electrical or electronic detection means configured to detect contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user, the detection means being configured to trigger a timing function of the electronic timing means.

31. The reversible closure means of claim 30, wherein the detection means is an electrical switch, a light-sensitive detector, a pressure-sensitive detector, a heat sensitive detector and a touch-sensitive detector.

32. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 31, wherein the tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means is provided by electronic or electrical means.

33. The reversible closure means of claim 32, wherein the electronic or electrical means for providing tactile, auditory or visual feedback is a vibrator, a speaker, a buzzer, or a light.

34. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 33, wherein the container for which the reversible closure means is configured to be used comprises a dispensing portion and a reservoir portion, and wherein the reversible closure means is configured to alternately seal and unseal the dispensing portion so as to prevent loss of a product from the reservoir portion of the container when the reversible closure means is sealed, and allow release of the product when the reversible closure means is unsealed.

35. The reversible closure means of claim 34, wherein the reversible closure means is configured to alternately expose and conceal the dispensing portion so as to prevent a user from contacting the dispensing portion when the reversible closure means is concealed, and allow a user to contact the dispensing portion is uncovered.

36. The reversible closure means of claim 35, wherein the dispensing portion is a spray head or a nozzle.

37. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 36, wherein the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

38. The reversible closure means of claim 37, wherein the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a product for which the reversible closure means holds, or is intended to hold.

39. The reversible closure means of any one of claims 20 to 38, wherein the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

40. A container for holding and releasing a product, the container comprising:

a reservoir portion,

a dispensing portion, and

a timing means,

wherein the timing means is positioned about the container or is configured so as to be generally contactable by a hand of a user

41. The container of claim 40, wherein the timing means is an electronic timing means or a mechanical timing means.

42. The container of claim 40 or claim 41, wherein the timing means provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user when holding or viewing the container to actuate the timing means.

43. The container of any one of claims 40 to 42, wherein the timing means is attached to the base of the container, or about an outer surface of the body of the container.

44. The container of any one of claim 40 to 43, wherein the timing means is releasably attached so as to allow attachment thereof to a second container.

45. The container of any one of claims 40 to 44 wherein the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

46. The container of any one of claims 40 to 45, wherein the timing means is a manually operable rotary count-down timer.

47. The container of any one of claims 40 to 46, wherein the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

48. The container of claim 47, wherein the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a time-dependent characteristic of the product which the container holds, or is intended to hold.

49. The container of any one of claims 30 to 36, wherein the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

50. A method of releasing a product from a container, the method comprising the steps of: opening or closing a container according to any one of claims 1 to 19, and

actively or passively actuating the timing means.

51. The method of claim 50, wherein the step of actuation occurs substantially

contemporaneously with the opening or closing of the container, or within about 5, 10, 15,

20, or 30 seconds of the opening or closing of the container.

52. The method of claim 50 or claim 51, wherein the timing means is actively or passively set for a predetermined time period.

53. The method of any one of claims 50 to 52, comprising using a product held by the container.

Description:
IMPROVED CONTAINER FOR A COMPOSITION

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed generally to the field of consumer product packaging. In particular, but not exclusively, the invention is directed to a container for holding and dispensing a product which is initially used, and requires a user to conduct a further step related to the product at a time interval thereafter. Exemplary products include dermatological compositions such as a sun protection composition (the further step being re-application), a pharmaceutical composition (the further step being re-administration), and a cleaning composition (the further step being a rising step).

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Many consumer products require a user to perform a further step after an initial use. One example is that of sun protection lotions which are initially applied before a user is exposed to the sun, and then a certain period of time after that initial application the lotion must be reapplied in order for protection against sunburn to be maintained.

In the prior art it is known to package sun protection lotions and other skin care products have been packaged in various vessels such as tubes, bottles, sachets and the like to provide a convenient means of transporting a reservoir of the cream. Often these vessels carry information on an external surface about the sun protection factor (SPF) offered by the composition contained within. A user wishing to use the composition as a protectant against skin damage caused by solar UV radiation, may use this information as a guide to the level of protection offered to their skin by the composition. For many users, SPF information is either not easily comprehended or not properly complied with, this leading to the potential for sun damage to develop while exposed to solar radiation. Even where the information is understood, a user may forget to reapply a sun protective composition. In any event, a common outcome is for a user to be afflicted with at least a low level of sun damage (and in some cases significant damage) thereby occasioning the pain of sunburn, and also the increased possibility of melanoma or other skin cancer.

Thus, it is a problem that even a user having the full intention of avoiding the negative consequences of sun exposure by employing the use of a sun protective composition is liable nevertheless to experience such consequences.

The prior art provides a number of solutions to this problem. One approach is to provide a user with an indicator tag to be worn or attached to a user’s clothing. These indicator tags are typically impregnated with a chemical which changes colour in proportion to the amount of ETV radiation to which it has been exposed. When a significant colour change is noted, the user understands that it is necessary to reapply sun protection lotion, or to move into shade. Typically, the user applies a sun protection lotion to the skin, and then applies the indicator to their person before sun exposure. A shortcoming of this approach is that the amount of time for which a user can be safely exposed to the sun varies according to the SPF rating of the sun protection lotion used. Accordingly, a range of indicator tags must be carried with each tag being separately configured so as to be applicable for use with a lotion of a certain SPF rating. Furthermore, the user must select the correct tag for the lotion used this being a task that is prone to user error. Finally, the user must remember to wear the indicator tag and furthermore remember to continuously check the tag for the expected colour change. Even where a user has the full intention of remembering to check the tag colour, distractions such as engaging in conversation or watching young children or even falling asleep can mean that such checking does not happen in a timely manner.

Another approach relies on a hat having an embedded electronic ultraviolet (UV) radiation sensor which (via a processor executed algorithm) determines the cumulative dosage of UV radiation and emits an audible tone when a predetermined dosage is received. A shortcoming is that the user must firstly remember to bring that hat (amongst other hats owned by the user) and secondly to stage dosage sensing once the sunscreen is applied. In any event, this prior art invention is overly complex and relies on electronics which are prone to failure.

A further solution by prior artisans involves a SMS-based text message service which issues reminders to apply sunscreen throughout the day. The service indiscriminately sends reminders at regular intervals to any person signed-up over the day. Users of this service may tire of the ongoing messages and cease to take any notice after some time.

Another example of a time sensitive consumer product is a pharmaceutical composition. A user typically ingests a dosage unit at a first point in time and must then remember to ingest a further dosage after a time interval. A common circumstance would be where an analgesic is taken, and to maintain an adequate level of pain relief a second dosage must be taken upon expiration of a predetermined number of hours. There already exists in the art various smart phone executable applications to remind a user when to take the second dose (and further doses) with a reminder alarm. However, as for sunscreen the user may neglect to set the application to trigger the reminder alarm. Moreover, the user may be unsure of the appropriate time period to set for the reminder.

Household products such as cleaners may also require a further step to be performed after an initial use. One example is that of a caustic oven cleaner that is firstly applied, but then must be removed within, say, 30 minutes to avoid damage to the oven surfaces.

Yet a further example is in the area of beauty compositions. An hyaluronic acid composition may be applied to the face to smooth the complexion, and to avoid damage to the skin a neutralizing composition must be applied after a time interval to counteract the effect of the acid.

Another example is that of car polish, where after application the polish must be left to dry before it is buffed at a later time. A user may simply forget to return to buff the car, and may only discover the error when returning to drive the car on an errand. It is an aspect of the present invention to overcome or ameliorate one of more problems of the prior art to provide an improved means for reminding the user of a product to execute a further product-related step at a future time.. It is another aspect to provide an alternative to prior art means for reminding such a user of to execute a further product-related step at a future time. The discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles and the like is included in this specification solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not suggested or represented that any or all of these matters formed part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed before the priority date of each claim of this application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention provides a container for holding and dispensing a dermatological composition, the container comprising: a reservoir portion, a dispensing portion, a reversible closure means that is either integral with or separate to the dispensing portion, the reversible closure means configured to be manually operable by a user so as to alternately open and close the container, and a timing means, wherein the container is configured such that contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timing means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, where the container is configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user provides tactile feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timer, the feedback results from a rotational action or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, where the container is configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user actuates the timing means, the actuation results from a touching action, or a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tactile feedback is associated with actuation of the timing means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the rotational actuation by the user is also a rotational action required for or assists in closing or opening the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is a manually operable rotary count down timer. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is a mechanical timer.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is an electronic timing means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the electronic timing means comprises electrical or electronic detection means configured to detect contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user, the detection means being configured to trigger a timing function of the electronic timing means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the detection means is an electrical switch, a light- sensitive detector, a pressure-sensitive detector, a heat sensitive detector and a touch-sensitive detector.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means is provided by electronic or electrical means.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the electronic or electrical means for providing tactile, auditory or visual feedback is a vibrator, a speaker, a buzzer, or a light.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the reversible closure means is configured to alternately seal and unseal the dispensing portion so as to prevent loss of a product from the reservoir portion of the container when the reversible closure means is sealed, and allow release of the product for use thereof.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the reversible closure means is configured to alternately expose and conceal the dispensing portion so as to prevent a user from contacting the dispensing portion when the reversible closure means is concealed, and allow a user to contact the dispensing portion is uncovered.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the dispensing portion is a spray head or a nozzle.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a time-dependent characteristic of a product which the container holds, or is intended to hold.

In one embodiment of the first aspect, the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

In a second aspect, the present invention provides a reversible closure means configured for use with a container for holding a product, the reversible closure means configured to be manually operable by a user so as to alternately open and close a container for which it is intended to be used, wherein the reversible closure means comprises timing means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the reversible closure means is configured such that contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timing means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, where configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user provides tactile feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, the feedback results from a touching action, or a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action provided by the user to the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, where configured such that contact of the reversible closure means by a hand of a user actuates the timing means, the actuation results from a touching action, a rotational action, or a lifting action, or a tilting action applied by the user to the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the tactile feedback is associated with actuation of the timing means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the rotational actuation by the user is also a rotational action required for or assists in closing or opening the reversible closure means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is a manually operable rotary count down timer.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is a mechanical timer.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is an electronic timing means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the electronic timing means comprises electrical or electronic detection means configured to detect contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means or the dispenser portion by a hand of a user, the detection means being configured to trigger a timing function of the electronic timing means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the detection means is an electrical switch, a light- sensitive detector, a pressure-sensitive detector, a heat sensitive detector and a touch-sensitive detector. In one embodiment of the second aspect, the tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means is provided by electronic or electrical means.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the electronic or electrical means for providing tactile, auditory or visual feedback is a vibrator, a speaker, a buzzer, or a light.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the container for which the reversible closure means is configured to be used comprises a dispensing portion and a reservoir portion, and wherein the reversible closure means is configured to alternately seal and unseal the dispensing portion so as to prevent loss of a product from the reservoir portion of the container when the reversible closure means is sealed, and allow release of the product when the reversible closure means is unsealed.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the reversible closure means is configured to alternately expose and conceal the dispensing portion so as to prevent a user from contacting the dispensing portion when the reversible closure means is concealed, and allow a user to contact the dispensing portion is uncovered.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the dispensing portion is a spray head or a nozzle.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a product for which the reversible closure means holds, or is intended to hold.

In one embodiment of the second aspect, the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

In a third aspect, the present invention provides a container for holding and releasing a product, the container comprising: a reservoir portion, a dispensing portion, and a timing means, wherein the timing means is positioned about the container or is configured so as to be generally contactable by a hand of a user

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is an electronic timing means or a mechanical timing means.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user when holding or viewing the container to actuate the timing means.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is attached to the base of the container, or about an outer surface of the body of the container. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is releasably attached so as to allow attachment thereof to a second container.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is configured to be actuated by the application of a rotational action by the user.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is a manually operable rotary count down timer.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is configured to measure an elapsed time.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the elapsed time is predetermined and set according to a time-dependent characteristic of the product which the container holds, or is intended to hold.

In one embodiment of the third aspect, the timing means is configured to emit an audible signal at an elapsed time.

In a fourth aspect, the present invention provides a method of releasing a product from a container, the method comprising the steps of: opening or closing a container or a reversible closure means according to any one of the first, second or third embodiments, and actively or passively actuating the timing means.

In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the step of actuation occurs substantially contemporaneously with the opening or closing of the container, or within about 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds of the opening or closing of the container.

In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the timing means is actively or passively set for a predetermined time period.

In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the method comprises using a product held by the container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 A shows a preferred embodiment of the invention that is a pressure spray pack containing a sunscreen composition, and a combination lid/timer fitted to the spray head.

FIG. 1B shows the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 with the combination lid/timer removed to reveal the spray head.

FIG. 2 A. shows in greater detail the combination lid/timer of the embodiment of FIG. 1 A. FIG. 2B. shows in greater detail the spray head of the embodiment of FIG. 1B. FIG. 3 A shows a preferred embodiment of the invention that is a roll-on applicator containing a sunscreen composition, and a combination lid/timer fitted to the ball mount.

FIG. 3B shows the preferred embodiment of FIG. 3 A with the combination lid/timer removed to reveal the ball mount and ball.

FIG. 4A shows a preferred embodiment of the invention having a combination lid/timer in the form of a hinged lid, with the lid in the closed position.

FIG. 4B shows a preferred embodiment of the invention having a combination lid/timer in the form of a hinged lid, with the lid in the open position.

FIG. 5 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention having a combination lid/timer in the form of a pump pack.

FIG. 6 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention whereby a mechanical timer is attached to the base of a pressure spray pack containing a sunscreen composition.

FIG. 7 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention whereby an electronic timer is housed within a cap, the cap being self-contained and reusable on a second“refill” container when the first container is exhausted.

FIG. 8 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention whereby an electronic timer is housed within a rotatable cap. In this embodiment, the cap is not removable.

FIG. 9 and FIG. 10 each show a preferred embodiment of the invention for a hair treatment products whereby an electronic timer is housed within a rotatable cap. In this embodiment, the cap is not removable.

FIG. 11, FIG. 12 and FIG. 13 each show a preferred embodiment of the invention for a medicament whereby an electronic timer is housed within a rotatable cap. In this embodiment, the cap is removable.

FIG. 14 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention that does involve a closure means such as a cap. Instead, the electronic timer is actuated by a touch sensor.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" or similar wording 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, appearances 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, but may. Furthermore, the particular features, structures or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner, as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from this disclosure, in one or more embodiments.

Similarly it should be appreciated that the description of exemplary embodiments of the invention, various features of the invention are sometimes grouped together in a single embodiment, figure, or description thereof for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure and aiding in the understanding of one or more of the various inventive aspects. This method of disclosure, however, is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed invention requires more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in less than all features of a single foregoing disclosed embodiment. Thus, the claims following the Detailed Description are hereby expressly incorporated into this Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment of this invention.

Furthermore, while some embodiments described herein include some but not other features included in other embodiments, combinations of features of different embodiments are meant to be within the scope of the invention, and from different embodiments, as would be understood by those in the art.

In the claims below and the description herein, any one of the terms“comprising”,“comprised of’ or“which comprises” is an open term that means including at least the elements/features that follow, but not excluding others. Thus, the term comprising, when used in the claims, should not be interpreted as being limitative to the means or elements or steps listed thereafter. For example, the scope of the expression a method comprising step A and step B should not be limited to methods consisting only of methods A and B. Any one of the terms“including” or “which includes” or“that includes” as used herein is also an open term that also means including at least the elements/features that follow the term, but not excluding others. Thus, “including” is synonymous with and means“comprising”.

The invention has been described with reference to certain advantages. It is not suggested or represented that each embodiment of the invention have all of the advantages described. Any particular embodiment may have only a single advantage. In some embodiments, the invention may provide no advantage and merely provide a useful alternative to the prior art.

The present invention is predicated at least in part on Applicant’s discovery that a timer associated with a container provides advantage where a time-dependent product is concerned. In particular, it has been found that the necessary manual manipulation of a container holding a time-dependent product may be exploited as an action that of itself actuates a timer associated with the container, or reminds the user to activate a timer associated with the container. In this way, the timer is actuated at the time that the time-dependent product is initially used, thereby overcoming the problem of a user forgetting to commence timing, or forgetting to note the absolute time that the product was initially used. As one example, where the time-dependent product is a sun protective composition, the manipulation of the lid, or a pump dispenser or a spray dispenser of the container actuates and optionally sets a timer. The timer counts down from a predetermined time or counts up to a predetermined time. In any event, an elapsed time is measured which is the time for which the particular sun protection composition within the container could be reasonably expected to provide a useful level of sun protection. For example, where the composition has a rated SPF (sun protection factor) of 10 the user may be exposed to solar radiation for a period of 10 times that the user’s skin can bear without any protective composition. Thus, a user who can normally stay in the sun for 15 minutes without burning may set the timer for 150 minutes (10 x 15 minutes). At the end of 150 minutes a user comprehensible signal of some type is conveyed to the user to signify the end of the protective period, and at which time the user will apply more sun protection composition or otherwise shield his/her skin from the sun. The timer may be configured to convey a signal to the user at an interval of time (such as 5 or 10 minutes) before the end of the protective period, and then again at the end of the protective period.

Where a composition of a higher SPF rating (such as SPF 30 or SPF 50) is used, a timer having an extended range of many hours may be provided. However, in such cases a manufacturer of the composition may take account of the possibility that that some composition is lost from skin by way of perspiration, rubbing of the skin against a towel or beach sand, or exposure to water and instead configure the timer to measure a maximum time period. Such a time period may be 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 or 4 hours.

Another example of a time-dependent product is a therapeutic composition (such as an oral composition or a topical composition) containing a therapeutically active compound. In order to maintain the desired therapeutic effect of the active compound it is typically necessary to administer the composition at regular predetermined intervals. Where the composition is an analgesic, administration on a 6-hourly basis may be required in order to maintain an adequate level of pain relief. Any interval shorter that 6 hours may result in undesirably high serum levels of the active compound, with an interval longer than 6 hours resulting in serum levels decreasing to the point that useful analgesia is no longer provided. The present invention provides a means by which the user (or a carer of the user) is reminded to administer a second dose (and possibly even a third, fourth or fifth dose) such that the user is afforded proper analgesia with no risk of over dosage. Typically, the timer is configured so as to be settable only for the relevant time period, which in this example is 6 hours.

Another example of a time-dependent product is a hair conditioning composition, which is preferably left on the hair for a minimum time period in order for the conditioning agents to properly penetrate the hair shaft before rinsing. Users are typically keen to allow no more than the minimum time for the conditioning agents to penetrate so as to minimize the volume of shower water wasted while waiting. Typically, the timer is configured so as to be settable only for the relevant time period, which in this example may be two minutes. The present invention is applicable beyond containers for personal care products. An exemplary embodiment is that of a cleaning composition that should be left in contact with a surface for a minimum period of time. One type of cleaning product is a fabric stain removal composition that should applied to a soiled fabric for a minimum time so as to allow desorb the stain to desorb from the fabric fibres, with it being necessary for the fabric to be laundered before the composition has evaporated from the fibres and in which case the stain would simply re-adsorb.

The container has a reversible closure means, which is typically a lid of some description. The lid may be of the screw on and screw off type which may seal the container. Alternatively, a hinged snap-fit lid may be used, again for sealing the container. As a further possibility, the container may be a pressurized or pump-pack container in which case the lid may simply cover the spray head or a nozzle (including a pump nozzle) thereby preventing accidental discharge. In another embodiment the composition may be provided in a roll-on applicator having a lid covering the ball of the applicator. In any event, according to the present invention the lid is configured such that contact with or actuation of the reversible closure means by a user (i) provides tactile, auditory or visual feedback to the user so as to remind the user to actuate the timing means, and/or (ii) automatically actuates the timing means.

The means by which the lid provides user feedback or is actuated depends generally on the type of lid concerned. Where the lid is a screw-on-screw-off type the rotational forced imparted by user in opening and closing the lid may be exploited. As one example, the rotation required to close a lid (as occurs when composition has just been applied to the skin) may cause a rotary mechanical timer to start rotating. Thus, once the user has screwed down the lid to the point it has sealed, the lid continues to rotate so as to tension a spring in a rotary mechanical time integral with the lid. In rotating the timer, a clicking sound may be emitted by a ratchet mechanism of the timer this providing an audible cue for the user to set the timer for a maximum sun exposure period. The increasing tension of the spring and the ratcheting may provide a haptic feedback to the user’s fingers or hand, again providing a cue to set the timer. Further description of such a lid is provided infra in the preferred embodiments section herein and the drawings.

For types of lid that do not screw down, a twisting motion is nevertheless often used for removal. For example, where the container is a pressure pack having an aerosol spray head a lid may be used to protect the spray head from accidental discharge. Such lids may engage with a rim of the container formed about the spray head by way of a snap fit or friction fit. Even though no threaded means are involved, users will nevertheless typically twist the lid while attempting to pull off the lid.

The present invention may be operable where no twisting motion is involved in the removal of a lid. The lid may be configured such that when the user makes visual contact with the lid (as is generally the case when a user seeks to open or close a container) the user is reminded to set the timer. The timer will generally confer a visual distinctiveness on lid, the visual distinctiveness preferably being evocative of the concept of timing. Overall, the visual distinctiveness may prompt the user to set the timer when manipulating the lid. For example, where the timer is a mechanical timer a graduated time scale may be printed on or about the lid. The time scale may be marked to include time units (such as 20 min, 30 min, lh, 2h etc), such markings conveying to the user the concept of time thereby reminding the user to set the timer. Where the timer is an electric timer, a time-related indicium such as an hour glass or the printed words“start timer” may remind the user to set the timer.

A mechanical timer of the rotary type may have some inherent free play between the rotating portion and the fixed portion. When grasped by the hand, the rotating portion can be very slightly tilted relative to the fixed portion. Often, the fixed portion of the time is in fixed relation to the container, with the container being held in one hand and the rotating portion of the lid/timer being held in the other. In this situation the free play can be quite apparent to a user, and acts to remind the user to set the rotating portion of the timer before or after applying sun protection lotion.

In some embodiments, the timing means is an electronic timer, the timing function being provided by an electronic circuit. A basic timing circuit including controls to stop and start timing comprises an oscillator to function as a clock (such as the well known“555” timing integrated circuit, or even a crystal oscillator), a counter, a simple set-reset flip-flop (such as a quad NAND gate chip) that controls whether or not clock pulses reach the counter, a display decoder/driver, and an output controller which may control a buzzer, or light emitting diode(s) as visual indicators.

Electronic timing means provides for a larger variety of input and output options than does a mechanical timer. An input for starting the electronic timer may be a simple electrical switch that is moved between open and closed states by some movement associated with a user manipulating a container or a container lid in the course of releasing a product held by the container. For example, the removal of a lid in preparation to release a product may actuate an electrical switch. The switch may be a mechanical switch, or even more simply comprised of two electrical contacts that alternately electrically connected or disconnect for as to form a closed circuit and an open circuit. The switch may be actuated by a product releasing action such pressing a spray head or a pump nozzle or tilting the container. In any event, actuation of the switch is indicative of a product being released, or about to be released and accordingly the switch actuation in turn triggers the timer to starting timing.

Alternatively, actuation of the switch (however actuated) may trigger an electrical or electronic reminder for a user to manually actuate the timing means. In one embodiment of that form of the invention, the switch may be actuated upon opening of a lid so as to cause a sound (via a buzzer) to be emitted thereby reminding the user to actuate the timing means. In this embodiment, the switch and buzzer may operate independently from the timing means although in some embodiments the buzzer may also be connected to the timing means and be configured to output a sound when the predetermined period of time has elapsed. In some embodiments, the timing circuit or the user reminder function may be actuated by modulation of light level in an area beneath a lid. Placing a lid on a container may decrease the amount of light incident on the underside of the lid, or on a surface of the container that is covered by the lid. The decrease in light may be detected by a light sensor (such as a simple photoresistor) which functions as an input to an electronic circuit configured to start or stop the electronic timing means. Thus, opening the lid will increase the amount of light incident on the light sensor which is indicative of the imminent release of product from the container (by whatever means).

The electronic timer or the user reminder function may be actuated by only by the user touching a lid, a spray head or a pump nozzle. As will be appreciated by the skilled person, touch may be detected by capacitance means (single electrode) or resistance means (dual electrode) both of which are operable by reliance on the natural electrical characteristics of the body. Alternatively, a piezo touch switch may be used, which is actuated by the mechanical bending of a piezo ceramic material in response to mechanical contact.

Some touch-enabled embodiments may require the lid and/or container to be fabricated from a metal or to at least have an electrically conductive coating to be operable.

In embodiments of the invention directed to containers, the container may be any of the typically consumer-level containers of the type sold in supermarkets, department stores, druggists, pharmacies and the like containing skin care compositions. The container may have a capacity of as low as about 50ml (in a roll-on presentation, for example), or about 200ml (in a squeeze tube or spray pack presentation, for example), or between about 400ml and 1000ml (in a pump pack presentation, for example). Capacities between about 50 ml and about 1000ml are therefore contemplated.

The container may be fabricated from a rigid polymer or a flexible polymer, and in the case of pressure packs a metallic material may be used.

Some embodiments of the invention are directed to the combination of container, timing means and time-dependent product. A working interrelationship between the product and the timer is provided because the composition has a time dependence with regard to its functionality. An exemplary composition is a sun protective composition having an ability to inhibit or prevent sunburn on the skin of a human to which it is applied. Sun protective compositions have a clear time dependence with regard to functionality in that reapplication is required after a certain period of time to maintain protection. The composition may or may not have a designated SPF, and may be in the form of a lotion, cream, oil, emulsion, gel, or mousse.

The invention is also applicable to compositions other than those that have a sun protective function. For example, many artificial tanning compositions are intended to be washed off after a certain period of time (typically 2 hours) to prevent excessive darkening of the skin. Similarly, skin whitening compositions can damage the skin if left on for too long. As another example, acidic facial peels should be removed or neutralized after a period of time to prevent skin damage.

Some embodiments of the invention are directed to a lid/timer alone, and without any container in combination therewith. Such embodiments may be used to retrofit existing containers without a timing facility. Alternatively, a lid/timer may be removed from an emptied container and the applied to a second“refill” container being filled with composition.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention has been described in detail in relation to preferred lids, and combinations of container with a lid.

Turning firstly to FIG. 1 there is shown an aerosol pressure pack container having disposed within a sunscreen composition (not visible) having a rating of SPF 50+. On the left is the combination container (10) having applied a separate lid/timer (15), and on the right the container (10) only (the lid/timer (15) having been removed manually by a user) to reveal the spray head (20) through which the composition is dispensed. The spray head (20) has an annular surface (25) facing outwardly, dimensioned so as to be snugly received in the inwardly facing surface of the lid/timer rim (30).

The lid/timer (15) comprises an upper rotatable portion (35) having a graduated scale (40) printed on the lower outwardly facing surface. The upper rotatable portion (35) is rotatable relative to the underlying rim (30) of the lid/timer. The rim (30) has printed thereon a pointer (50). The timer of the lid/timer (15) operates mechanically by the user rotating the upper rotatable portion (35) clockwise relative to the rim (30). In doing so, the spring of the clockwork mechanism (not shown) within the timer is tensioned. The user rotates the upper rotatable portion (35) until the pointer (50) points to the desired time period on the graduated scale (40). At that point, the user releases the upper rotatable portion (35) and the tensioned spring acts to power the clockwork mechanism which in turn acts to rotate the upper rotatable portion (35) in an anticlockwise direction. At any time, a user is able to comprehend the time remaining of the initially set time period by reading the time indicated on the graduated scale (40) against the pointer (50). Once the upper rotatable portion (35) has returned to its starting position (0 min) the mechanism of the timer actuates a bell.

A user desirous of apply the composition will typically grasp the container (10) with one hand about the narrowed region (55). The user then grasps the upper rotatable portion (35) of the lid/timer (15) so as to remove the lid/timer (15) with the aim of exposing the spray head (20). The user will naturally give the lid/timer a slight twist in order to overcome the frictional engagement between the inner surface of the inwardly facing surface of the lid/timer rim (30) with the outwardly facing an annular surface (25) of the spray head (20). In that twisting motion, the upper rotatable portion (35) of the lid/timer (15) will be rotated (assuming that the twist is made in a clockwise direction) and the user will receive tactile feedback caused by the tensioning of the spring and the ratchet/escapement of the clockwork mechanism of the timer. This feedback reminds the user to set the timer to a desired sun exposure period before applying the sunscreen composition.

It will be appreciated that in this preferred embodiment the frictional engagement between the lid/timer (15) and the annular surface (25) of the spray head (20) is sufficiently high so as to allow the upper rotational portion (25) of the lid/timer (15) to rotate in preference to any rotation of the rim (30) of the lid/timer (15) relative to the spray head (20).

Once the timer has been set, the user encircles a finger about the stationery portion (45) of the lid/timer (15) and lifts or twists that portion so as to overcome the frictional engagement between the lid/timer (15) and spray head (20). Thus, removal of the lid/timer can be achieved without disturbing the upper rotatable portion (35) of the lid/timer (15).

As an alternative to the steps described above, the user may set the timer only after the lid/timer has been removed from the spray head (20)

Even where the user naturally twists the upper rotatable portion (35) of the lid/timer (15) only in an anti-clockwise direction (such that that the spring of the clockwork mechanism is not tensioned) the free play inherent in a low-cost mechanical timer mechanism will nevertheless provide tactile feedback to the user. The user will feel a short period of little resistance to rotation, which will then abruptly cease when the slack in the mechanism is fully taken up. In any event, it is contemplated that most users will naturally twist the lid/timer (15) bi- directionally in seeking to remove it from the spray head (20).

Although not contemplated to be a common occurrence, some users may not twist the lid/cap (15) at all and instead grasp the upper portion (35) of the lid/timer (15) and pull it axially away from the spray head (20). Again, the free play inherent in a low cost mechanical timer mechanism will provide an unusual feel to the user, thereby reminding the user that he/she is grasping a timer mechanism which must be manually set.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2 which shows at left and in greater detail the lid/timer (15) and spray head (20) of the embodiment of FIG. 1. As drawn, the upper rotatable portion has been set to 10 minutes and has commenced countdown to zero minutes. At the zero minute point (60) of the graduated scale (40) the indicium“RE-APPLY” is printed so as to remind the user to re-apply the sunscreen composition in order to maintain protection against sunburn.

The embodiment of FIG. 3 is similar to that of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 except that the sunscreen composition is presented in the form of a roll-on. The ball (65) is retained in a mount (68) having an outwardly facing annular surface (25) which snugly engages with the inwardly facing surface of rim (30) of the lid/timer (15). The operation of this embodiment of FIG. 3 is essentially the same as for the embodiment of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

Turning now to FIG. 4 there is shown an embodiment having a lid/timer (15) which is integral with a nozzle head (70). The lid/timer (15) is connected to the nozzle head (70) by a hinge (75). This embodiment is drawn at left in the open position and at right in the closed position. Interior to the lid/timer (15) is a sealing member (not shown) which when the lid/time is closed inserts into and snugly engages with the nozzle (80) of the nozzle head (70) thereby preventing egress of composition where the flexible reservoir (85) is inadvertently squeezed.

As will be appreciated, the user does not exert any twisting force on the lid/timer (15). Instead, the lid/timer is grasped and tilted so as to reveal the nozzle head (70). As described for the embodiment of FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the free play inherent in a low cost mechanical timing mechanism provides an unusual feel to the user, thereby reminding the user that he/she is grasping a timer mechanism which must be manually set.

In any event, a user will typically look at the lid/timer (15) of any embodiment and upon visual contact with the graduated scale (40) and pointer (50) will be instantly reminded of the need to rotate the upper rotational portion (35) so as to set the timer. The upper rotatable portion (35) of the lid/timer (15) is made deliberately large in the preferred embodiments such that it is almost necessary grasp it when seeking to dispense composition. The large size of the rotatable portion (35) provides a further visual cue for the user to set the timer.

The present invention may be applied to a pump pack as shown in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, the lid/timer (15) acts to support a pump nozzle (80). The lid of the lid/timer (15) is of the screw-on type. Generally a user is not required to remove the lid/timer (15) given that composition is freely available by pressing the nozzle (80) downwardly. However, the user will typically look at the nozzle (80) while pressing and given the proximity of the lid/timer (15) to the nozzle (80) makes visual contact with the lid/timer (15) and therefore a reminder to set the timer. In some instances the user will rotate the nozzle (80) toward themselves when preparing to dispense composition and in the process may touch the lid/timer and thereby be provided with tactile feedback to remind the user to apply composition.

Reference is now made to FIG. 6 which shows an alternative embodiment of the invention that is not reliant on the use of a mechanical timer with a closure means (such as a lid). In this embodiment the container has a standard lid (90), but a mechanical rotary timer (95) is fitted to the base of the container (10). As will be appreciated, mechanical timers are necessarily large and therefore visually distinctive (much more so than digital timers), with the embodiment of FIG. 6 exploiting that distinctiveness to remind the user that a timer is provided and must be set.

A further advantage of a mechanical timer (in any embodiment of the invention) is a lack of reliance on battery power for operation. Consumers often allow batteries to expire, and tend not to replace them in a timely manner. In the context of the present invention, a“button” type battery would typically be used with consumers having difficulty in identifying the correct type for replacement. Button batteries are also a well-known and significant danger to small children, who may ingest the battery if playing with the container. Reference is now made to FIG. 7 which shows a removable cap (15) having incorporated therein electronic timer circuity (not shown) disposed in a compartment beneath the upper cap (15) surface. The cap (15) is comprises a button (100) which is depressable by a user (as indicated by the large arrow of FIG. 7 A), but in other respects functions as a prior art prior art cap being removable so as to expose a spray head as shown in FIG. 7B.

The button (100) is potentially illuminable about its circumferential edge by way of an underlying light emitting diode (LED; not shown). The periphery of the button (100) is formed of a plastic that is of sufficient thinness to allow transmission of light from the underlying LED so as to be discernible by a user. In FIG. 7A, the lid (15) is shown engaged with the spray head (25) as will be the case before use. FIG. 7B shows the lid (15) after removal by the user in preparation for releasing a product via the spray head 20. After the product is released, the user reapplies the cap (15) as shown in FIG. 7C and depresses the button (100) which in turn actuates the electronic timer housed within the cap (15). The button (100) has an hour-glass indicium printed thereon, which acts as a visual reminder to the user to press the button (100). As will be appreciated, the user will be necessarily looking directly at the cap (15) when replacing it, given the need to locate the cap coaxially with the spray head (20). In an alternative embodiment, the button (100) may extend above the upper edge of the cap (15) such that it is automatically depressed when the user pushes against it when urging downward onto the underlying spray head (25). In a further alternative, the button is located on the underside of the cap (15) and is therefore lightly compressed against the top of the spray head (25) when the lid is secured.

After depression of the button (100) and actuation of the electronic timer (which in this preferred embodiment is set to a predetermined value of 2 hours) the LED underlying the button (15) illuminates green (FIG. 7C) and flashes at intervals to confirm to the user that timing has commenced. Once 2 hours has elapsed, the LED illuminates red (FIG. 7D; the LED being capable of multiple wavelength output) and flashes rapidly. Furthermore, a piezo buzzer (not shown) of the electronic timer sounds so as to alert the user that the predetermined period has expired, and indicating further action on the part of the user in relation to the product is required. The user acknowledges and silences the alert by depressing the button (100) at which time the LED returns to its original unlit state (FIG. 7A).

Reference is made to FIG. 8 which shows an embodiment of the invention which comprises a rotatable cap (15) which is not intended to be removed from the underlying spray head (20). Instead, the cap (15) is intended to remain in situ , but is configured to rotate about its vertical axis (as shown in FIG. 8B) so as to assume one of the three positions. The first position is shown in FIG. 8 A where the spray head nozzle (22) is revealed by a window (130) of the cap (15). In this first position, the button 100 is configured to depress the underlying spray head so as to release product. Once the product is released, the user rotates the cap counter clockwise to the second position shown in FIG. 8B and in which case the window (130) reveals an hour glass indicium (135) to indicate that a timing function is available, along with the time period measured (in this case 2 hours). The indicium (135) is illuminable from behind by an LED, however at this point in time is unlit. With rotation of the cap (15), the button is also rotated counter-clockwise such that is it no longer capable or actuating the spray head (20) but is now able to actuate an underlying switch (not shown) which in turns actuates electronic timer circuitry (not shown) housed within the cap (15). Thus, in the second position, depression of the button 100 actuates the timer, with the LED behind the indicium 135 not lit green (as shown in FIG. 8D) to confirm to the user that timing has commenced. Once 2 hours has elapsed, the LED illuminates red (FIG. 8E; the LED being capable of multiple wavelength output) and flashes rapidly. Furthermore, a piezo buzzer (not shown) of the electronic timer sounds so as to alert the user that the predetermined period has expired, and indicating further action on the part of the user in relation to the product is required. The user acknowledges and silences the alert by depressing the button (100) at which time the LED returns to its original unlit state (FIG. 8 A).

FIG. 8C shows that third position of the rotatable cap (15) whereby the cap (15) is rotated further counter-clockwise so as to reveal the printed indicium (140)“OFF” through the window (130). In this position the button (100) cannot be depressed and accidental release of product and actuation of the electronic timer is prohibited. The indicium (140) is not backlit in this position.

FIG. 9 shows a cap (15) of the present invention useful in timing the application of a 3 minute hair conditioner whilst a user is bathing. In this embodiment, a mechanical timer would be contraindicated given the potential for ingress of water and steam leading to corrosion of metallic components of the mechanism. The battery and electronics in this embodiment are confined to a waterproof or water resistant cavity within the cap (15). The cap (15) has an external shell that is rotatable to limited extent about an underlying central core. Before conditioner has been used, the cap is screwed closed and is in the first position shown in FIG. 9B with the window (130) of the shell revealing the indicium (140)“OFF” being printed on a red background.

When the user wishes to dispense hair conditioner, the cap shell is rotated counter-clockwise until the hour glass indicium (135) shows through the window (130) as shown in FIG. 9 A. At this point, a stop member (not shown) prevents further rotation of the shell about the core such that the indicium (135) remains within the window (130). The core is still however able to rotate such that the cap (15) as a whole can be completely unscrewed from the underlying container and removed by the user to access the conditioner.

A piezo switch (not shown) on the stop member is actuated in the process of unscrewing the cap (15) to automatically start the electronic timer circuitry disposed within the cap (15). Given that the manufacturer’s intention is for the hair to be contacted with conditioner for 3 minutes, the timer circuitry automatically sets to 3 minutes.

After removing the required amount of conditioner, the user returns the cap (15) to the container (10) but does not screw the cap (15) down tightly such that the indicium (135) remains in the window (130). The user applies the conditioner to the hair, and awaits an audible alert emitted via a buzzer (not shown) connected to the timer circuitry at the elapse of 3 minutes. One the alert commences, the user screws down the cap (15) tightly to the point that the external shell contacts a second stop member on the underlying core. The second stop member has a second piezo switch which when activated by the contact silences the alert and resets the timer circuitry. At this point, the cap has returned to the state shown in FIG. 9B.

FIG. 10 shows a container (10) and cap (15) arrangement that is physically similar to that of FIG. 9. However, the product within the container is a hair treatment which is to be contacted with the hair for 30 minutes. To that end, the timing circuitry is configured to emit an audible alarm after the elapse of 30 minutes. FIG. 10A shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer is actuated. FIG. 10B shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer has been stopped, and the cap screwed close tightly.

FIG. 11 shows a container (10) and cap (15) arrangement that is physically similar to that of FIG. 9. However, the product within the container is a paediatric analgesic which is to be administered over a 24 hour period at 4 hour intervals. To that end, the timing circuitry is configured to emit an audible alarm after the elapse of 240 minutes. FIG. 11A shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer is actuated. FIG. 11B shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer has been stopped, and the cap screwed close tightly. In this context, the manufacturer would likely prefer the container is closed tightly between dosages and accordingly the cap may be configured such that screwing the cap (15) tightly will still allow the timer to continue its timing function. When the alert sounds, the act of unscrewing the cap (15) may both (i) silence the alert and (ii) reset the timer to commence a new 240 minute timing period.

Given the potential danger in overdosing a child (or indeed an adult or even an animal) by administering the analgesic at intervals shorter than specified by the manufacturer the present invention provides a significant safety advantage. The manufacturer presets the dosage interval in the timer logic, and accordingly a parent cannot set an erroneous time period, as is possible for a user-adjustable timer. Manufacturers of paediatric medications go to great lengths to ensure that a volume dosage is correct. Manufacturers often include an easily readable volume measurement device (such as a syringe-type arrangement) to minimize the risk of overdosing by a parent. Before the present invention, a manufacturer had no means by which dosage errors based on time could be minimized, apart from including written directions on the medicament bottle. Such written directions are often of a virtually unreadable font size, and in any event can be misinterpreted by a parent.

Furthermore, some persons are rely on multiple different medications and each medication may have a different dosage time interval. For example, an analgesic may need to be taken 6 hourly, and an antibiotic taken 12 hourly. The present invention provides advantage in so far as each medication container will have its own preset dosage interval programmed into the electronic timing circuitry. Accordingly, when the alert on the analgesic container sounds then the person knows to take the analgesic, and when the alert on the antibiotic container sounds the person knows to take the antibiotic. Reference is made to another pharmaceutical embodiment, whereby FIG. 12 shows a container (10) and cap (15) arrangement that is physically similar to that of FIG. 9. However, the product within the container is a metered dose powder for inhalation which is to be administered over a 24 hour period at 6 hour intervals. To that end, the timing circuitry is configured to emit an audible alarm after the elapse of 360 minutes. FIG. 12A shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer is actuated. FIG. 12B shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer has been stopped, and the cap screwed close tightly. In this context, the manufacturer would likely prefer the container is closed tightly between dosages and accordingly the cap may be configured such that screwing the cap (15) tightly will still allow the timer to continue its timing function. When the alert sounds, the act of unscrewing the cap (15) may both (i) silence the alert and (ii) reset the timer to commence a new 240 minute timing period.

Reference is made to another pharmaceutical embodiment, whereby FIG. 13 shows a squeezable tube container (10) and cap (15) arrangement that is physically similar to that of FIG. 9. However, the product within the container is topical preparation in the form of an antibiotic ointment which is to be administered over a 24 hour period at 8 hour intervals. To that end, the timing circuitry is configured to emit an audible alarm after the elapse of 480 minutes. FIG. 13 A shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer is actuated. FIG. 13B shows a first state of the cap (15) whereby the timer has been stopped, and the cap screwed close tightly. In this context, the manufacturer would likely prefer the container is closed tightly between dosages and accordingly the cap may be configured such that screwing the cap (15) tightly will still allow the timer to continue its timing function. When the alert sounds, the act of unscrewing the cap (15) may both (i) silence the alert and (ii) reset the timer to commence a new 240 minute timing period.

Reference is made to another pharmaceutical embodiment, whereby FIG. 14 shows an aerosol container (10) and cap (15) arrangement that is physically similar to that of FIG. 9. However, the product within the container is a liquid oral preparation in the form of a nicotine replacement composition which is to be administered over the waking period of the day at hourly intervals. To that end, the timing circuitry is configured to emit an audible alarm after the elapse of 60 minutes. In this embodiment, a capacitive region is provided on the exterior of the container (10) which when contact by a user’s hand actuates an electronic timing circuit disposed about the container. FIG. 14A shows a first state whereby the timer is actuated and a green LED backlight illuminates an indicium showing an hours glass to indicate the timer has activated. FIG. 13B shows a second state of the cap (15) whereby the timer has been stopped after the user has again contacted the container (thereby actuating again the capacitive region) after the timer alert was emitted. This second contact with the container resets the timer for a further 60 minute period.

It will be appreciated that the present invention is also suitable for solid products, such as solid dosage forms of medicaments such as tablets, capsules, pills, lozenges and the like that may be stored in a container. It will be further appreciated that an advantage of some forms of the invention is that the user has no ability to alter the time period set for the timing means. Prior art timers rely on a user having entered the correct time period, which in some applications may be important or even critical. The present invention (at least where the timing means is embodied in the form of electronic circuitry) allows the manufacturer of a product to set a timing interval that cannot be altered, thereby removing the possibility of error on the part of a user.

While the invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiments shown and described in detail, various modifications and improvements thereon will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art.

Accordingly, the spirit and scope of the present invention is not to be limited by the foregoing examples, but is to be understood in the broadest sense allowable by law.