(19)
(11)EP 2 475 595 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
27.11.2019 Bulletin 2019/48

(21)Application number: 10815762.9

(22)Date of filing:  25.02.2010
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B65D 75/00  (2006.01)
B65D 75/56  (2006.01)
B65D 75/28  (2006.01)
B65D 75/58  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2010/025339
(87)International publication number:
WO 2011/031342 (17.03.2011 Gazette  2011/11)

(54)

FLEXIBLE CONTAINER WITH FITMENT AND HANDLE

BIEGSAMER BEHÄLTER MIT EINSATZ UND GRIFF

RÉCIPIENT SOUPLE AVEC GOULOT ET POIGNÉE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 10.09.2009 US 241213 P
23.09.2009 US 565177

(43)Date of publication of application:
18.07.2012 Bulletin 2012/29

(73)Proprietor: Smart Bottle, Inc
Asheville, NC 28804 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • WILKES, Kenneth, R.
    Asheville NC 28804 (US)
  • SCHULDT, Frederic, W.
    Weaverville NC 28787 (US)

(74)Representative: Barton, Matthew Thomas et al
Forresters IP LLP Skygarden Erika-Mann-Strasse 11
80636 München
80636 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
FR-A1- 2 585 678
JP-A- 2001 348 065
JP-A- 2004 131 151
US-A- 1 623 107
US-A- 4 454 979
US-A- 5 338 117
US-A1- 2002 094 923
US-A1- 2006 257 057
US-A1- 2009 097 779
US-A1- 2009 180 716
GB-A- 2 456 550
JP-A- 2003 040 288
JP-A- 2004 168 341
US-A- 2 072 225
US-A- 4 467 588
US-A- 5 758 473
US-A1- 2003 059 130
US-A1- 2007 036 471
US-A1- 2009 101 699
US-S1- D 608 656
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD



    [0001] This relates to a flexible container with a fitment and a handle.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] A flexible container can be used to contain a liquid. The container includes flexible panels of plastic sheet material that arc adjoined together along their edges to form a pouch with a top opening. A rigid fitment is sealed into the pouch's top opening. A channel in the fitment provides access to the interior of the pouch for filling and emptying the pouch. The fitment has an external screw thread by which a bottle cap is screwed onto the fitment to seal off the container.

    SUMMARY



    [0003] The present invention relates to a flexible container as defined by the claims.

    [0004] Containers with handles are known in the art. E.g., JP 2003 040288 describes a container with upper and lower oral cut-outs. A similar container with single cut-outs is disclosed by JP 2001 348065.

    [0005] There exists a need in the art for containers with handles of an increased strength. It is an object of the present invention to comply with this need.

    [0006] The flexible container of the present invention is defined by the features of claim 1.

    [0007] The flexible container includes a panel structure of flexible web material. The panel structure defines a pouch that has a top opening. A rigid fitment, in the top opening, has a surface section adjoining the pouch. The panel structure defines a handle. The pouch is configured to be carried by the handle in an upright orientation in which the handle projects upward from the pouch at a juncture that is not above the bottom of the pouch-adjoining surface section of the fitment.

    [0008] Preferably, the juncture is below the pouch-adjoining surface section of the fitment, and even below the bottom of the fitment. The juncture is one of four junctures, below the pouch-adjoining surface section, at which the handle projects upward from the pouch. The handle includes a handgrip, and the container lacks a line of weight-supporting material extending continuously downward from the handgrip to the fitment. The juncture is one of four junctures, below the pouch-adjoining surface section, at which the handle projects upward from the pouch. The panel structure includes flexible front and rear panels extending in a lateral direction, and the junctures include two front junctures at laterally opposite sides of the front panel and two rear junctures at laterally opposite sides of the rear panel. The handle includes two front suspensions extending from the two front junctures and two rear suspensions extending from the two rear junctures.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0009] 

    Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a gusseted flexible container shown in an unfilled condition.

    Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the container in a filled condition.

    Fig. 3 is an exploded view of the container.

    Figs. 4-7 are respective plan views of a front panel, a rear panel, a first side panel and a second side panel that are shown in Fig. 3.

    Fig. 8 is a perspective view of the container showing its upper handle folded down while the container rests on a surface.

    Fig. 9 is a perspective view of the container being carried in an upright orientation.

    Fig. 10 is a perspective view of the container being suspended in a partially inverted orientation for decanting the container.

    Fig. 11 is a perspective view of the container being suspended in a fully inverted orientation for emptying the container.

    Figs. 12 and 13 are plan views of alternative front and rear panels.

    Figs. 14 and 15 are perspective views of a non-gusseted flexible container shown respectively in an unfilled condition and a filled condition.

    Fig. 16 is a view, similar to Fig. 4, of an alternative front panel.


    DESCRIPTION


    Overview



    [0010] The apparatus shown in Figs. 1 and 2 has parts that are examples of the elements recited in the claims. The apparatus includes a gusseted container 10 for containing liquid 11 or solids. The container 10 includes a flexible pouch 12, a rigid fitment 14, an upper handle 16 and a lower handle 18. Fig. 1 shows the container 10 in a collapsed, unfilled condition. Fig. 2 shows the container 10 in an expanded, filled condition, achieved by pouring solids or, as in this case, liquid, into the pouch 12 through a channel 20 in the fitment 14. A bottle cap 22 is screwed onto the fitment 14 to close the channel 22 and seal the container 10. The upper handle 16 adjoins the pouch at junctures 19.

    [0011] In the following description of the container 10, directional terms such as upper, lower, horizontal and vertical are with respect to the container's upright orientation of Fig. 1. "Lateral" is in the horizontal direction when the container 10 is the upright orientation.

    Pouch



    [0012] As shown in Figs. 2-3, the pouch 12 has a top opening 24. The pouch 12 is defined by a flexible panel structure that includes four rectangular panels of flexible web material that are adjoined along their peripheries. The flexible web material is flexible sheet material configured to accept, during its handling and use, repeated folding and unfolding and rolling into rolls and unrolling with insubstantial resistance. Examples of such flexible web material are extruded thin plastic sheet, foil and paper, and laminations thereof. Laminations comprise two or more webs laminated over each other, such as by heat or adhesive. An example two-layer lamination comprises a nylon web laminated on a polyethylene web. An example three-layer lamination comprises a plastic sheet, a foil and a paper laminated over each other. The web's flexibility enables the resulting pouch 10 to be collapsible, in that it is configured to be, during handling and use, repeatedly collapsed into the empty, flattened configuration of Fig. 1 and re-expanded into the filled configuration of Fig. 2.

    [0013] The panels include front and rear panels 31 and 32 and first and second opposite side panels 41 and 42. Each panel 31, 32, 41, 42 has an inside surface 44 configured to contact the pouch contents 11 and to adjoin to other panels 31, 32, 41, 42, and an outside surface 45 configured to be exposed to the outside air.

    [0014] Part or all of the front and/or rear panels 31, 32 can be imprinted with illustrations and/or text (not shown) relating to the container's contents 11. The imprinting can render some or all of the front and/or rear panels 31, 32 opaque. The side panels 41, 42 can be completely transparent so the container's contents 11 can be seen from outside the container 10.

    [0015] Figs. 4-7 show plan views of the inside surfaces 44 of the front panel 31, the rear panel 32, the first side panel 41 and the second side panel 42, respectively. The inside surface 44 of each panel 31, 32, 41, 42 includes a cavity-bounding section 46 that is configured to bound the container's cavity 47 (Fig. 2) and contact its contents 11.

    [0016] The inside surface 44 of each panel 31, 32, 41, 42 includes a contiguous series of adjoining sections that surround the cavity-bounding section 46. The adjoining sections are portrayed in Figs. 4-7 as hatched areas bounded by imaginary dot-dashed lines. Each adjoining section is configured to adjoin a corresponding adjoining section of the fitment 14 or another panel. The adjoining sections of the front panel 31 include a first side adjoining section 31A configured to adjoin a front adjoining section 41F of the first side panel 41. The front panel 31 further includes a second side adjoining section 31B configured to adjoin a front adjoining section 42F of the second side panel 42. The rear panel 32 includes a first side adjoining section 32A configured to adjoin a rear adjoining section 41R of the first side panel 41. The rear panel 32 further includes a second side adjoining section 32B configured to adjoin a rear adjoining section 42R of the second side panel 42. Each of the panels 31, 32, 41, 42 includes a fitment adjoining section 31C, 32C, 41C, 42C, configured to adjoin the fitment 14.

    [0017] Adjoining the adjoining sections 31A, 31B, 31C, 32A, 32B, 32C, 41F, 41R, 41C, 42F, 42R, 42C to each other or to the fitment 14 can be done, for example, ultrasonically or through heat and pressure such as with a seaming iron or a hot roller. It can entail, for example, plastic welding, in which the material of one panel melts into the other, or an adhesive or thermoplastic coating applied to one of or both adjoining surfaces.

    [0018] In the assembled, unfilled condition of the container 10 shown in Fig. 1, each of the front and rear panels 31, 32 lies flat. The side panels 41, 42 are sandwiched between the front and rear panels 31, 32 and are folded in half at respective fold lines 43. The two fold lines 43 meet at the pouch's midline 49, where they are sandwiched between the front and rear panels 31, 32. In the filled condition shown in Fig. 2, the folds 43 are unfolded (opened) along most of their heights. The fold lines 43 are living hinges, configured during use and handling to enable repeated folding and unfolding as the container 10 is repeatedly emptied and collapsed and then filled and expanded.

    Fitment



    [0019] The fitment 14 is shown in Figs. 2-3. It is rigid and preferably molded as a one-piece component. It includes the channel 20, a pouch-adjoining surface section 50 sealed to the pouch 12 and a spout 52 projecting out of the pouch 12. The channel 20 extends downward from a top opening 54 of the fitment 14 to provide access to the container cavity 47 for filling and emptying the container 10. The pouch-adjoining surface section 50 surrounds the fitment 14. The pouch-adjoining surface section 50 has a bottom 51 that in some examples can coincide with the fitment's bottom 55. The pouch-adjoining section 50 is sealingly adjoined about its full circumference to the fitment-adjoining sections 31C, 32C, 41C, 42C of the pouch panels 31, 32, 41, 42. When the container 10 is assembled, the bottom 51 (Fig. 3) of adjoining section 50 of the fitment 14 coincides with the bottom 51 (Fig. 4) of the adjoining section 31C (Figs. 3-4) of the front and rear panels 31, 32. The spout 52 has an external screw thread 56. The screw cap 22 (Fig. 1), with an internal screw thread 58, is screwed onto the fitment 14 to seal the container 10.

    Upper Handle



    [0020] As shown in Figs. 1-2, the upper handle 16 is formed from the same panels 31, 32, 41, 42 that form the pouch 12. Each of the front and rear panels 31, 32 extends along the full horizontal width of the handle 16. Each side panel 41, 42 extends from a peripheral edge 59 of the handle 16 laterally inward, with the side panels' fold lines 43 meeting at the pouch's midline 49.

    [0021] Figs. 2 and 4 show components of the handle 16 that are defined by the front panel 31. These components include a horizontal handgrip structure 60 and two vertical side suspensions 62. The suspensions 62 extend from laterally opposite ends of the handgrip structure 60 downward to the junctures 19 between the suspensions 62 and the pouch 12.

    [0022] The peripheral edge 59 of the panel 31, and thus of the handle 16, follows three legs of a rectangle. The handgrip structure 60 has a straight horizontal bottom edge 64 and two upward side edges 66 that together define a flap 67. The flap 67 is configured to be bent upward about a horizontal fold line 68 when the handgrip structure 60 is manually grasped, to fold the handgrip structure 60 onto itself to increase its thickness and strengthen.

    [0023] Two vertical inner edges 69 of the two side suspensions 62 extend from the handgrip structure 60 down to respective lowest locations 71, 72 of the vertical inner edges 69. These lowest locations 71, 72 are at the junctures 19 between the suspensions 62 and the pouch 12. Two inner upturned edges 73 extend from the respective lowest locations 71, 72 upward to the fitment 14.

    [0024] The inner edges 64, 66, 69, 73 of the front panel 31 together comprise an opening edge 74 that defines a panel opening 76 in the front panel 31. The opening edge 74 has a first end 81 at the fitment 14 and an opposite second end 82 at the fitment 14. The two ends 81, 82 are circumferentially spaced about the fitment 14 by about 90 degrees. The opening edge 74, along its entire path, is cut into a double-layer of adjoining sections. Specifically, from its first end 81 to the pouch midline 49, the edge 74 is cut into both the first side adjoining section 31A of the front panel 31 and front adjoining section 41F of the first side panel 41 (Fig. 6). From its second end 82 to the pouch midline 49, the edge 74 is cut into both the second side adjoining section 31B of the front panel 31 and the front adjoining section 42F of the second side panel 42 (Fig. 7). The panel opening 76 laterally separates the two suspensions 62 and bounds the handgrip structure 60 from below.

    [0025] As shown in Fig. 5, the rear panel 32 is substantially a mirror image of the front panel 31. It has features for defining the handle 16 that are substantially identical to those of the first panel 31, and that are designated in Fig. 5 with primed numerals that match those of corresponding features in the front panel 31. Like the front panel 31, the rear panel 41 has an opening edge 74' defining a panel opening 76'. The rear opening edge 74', from its first end 81' to the pouch midline 49, is cut into both the first side adjoining section 32A of the rear panel 32 and the rear adjoining section 41R of the first side panel 41. From its second end 82' to the pouch midline 49, the opening 76' is cut into both the second side adjoining section 32B of the rear panel 32 and the rear adjoining section 42R of the second side panel 42. The first ends 81, 81' of the respective front and rear opening edges 74, 74' are circumferentially spaced about the fitment 14 by about 90 degrees. Similarly, the second ends 82, 82' are circumferentially spaced about the fitment 14 by about 90 degrees.

    [0026] In this example, as shown in Fig. 2, the handgrip structure 60 of the front panel 16, including its flap 67, adjoins the handgrip structure 60' of the rear panel 32 only along the pouch's midline 49. The front and rear handgrip structures 60, 60' thus form a single bifurcated handgrip 86. In alternative examples, the handgrip structures 60, 60' can be adjoined along all or part of their width and height, and even up to the peripheral edge 59.

    [0027] When unassembled and laid flat, as in Figs. 4-7, the side panels 41, 42 are substantially identical to the front and rear panels 31, 32. They have features for defining the handle 16 that match those of the first panel 31, and that are designated in Figs. 6-7 with double-primed numerals that match those of corresponding features in the front panel 31. However, when assembled as in Figs. 1, each of the side panels 41 differs from the front and rear panels 31, 32 in that it extends laterally only to the pouch midline 49, where its fold 43 abuts the fold 43 of the other side panel. The opening edges 74', 74" of the rear panel 32 and side panels 41, 42 coincide with the opening edge 74 of the front panel 31. One half of the front opening edge 74 of the front panel 31, extending to the pouch midline 49, coincides with the opening edge 74" in the first side panel 41, and the other half of the front opening edge 74 coincides with a matching opening edge 74" in the second side panel 42. The same holds true for the rear opening edge 74'.

    [0028] The panel openings 76, 76', 76" in the front, rear and side panels 31, 32, 41, 42 are defined by absence of panel material, achieved in any suitable way. When manufacturing the panels 31, 32, 41, 42, the openings can be formed by actually cutting material from the panels after they are formed or can exist in the panels when the panels are first formed.

    [0029] The upper handle 16 has a special configuration, defined as follows with respect to the front panel 31 in Figs. 2 and 4, that facilitates folding and use. The panel opening 76 extends laterally over and across the fitment 14 to make room for fingers to extend fully about the handgrip structure 60 directly above the fitment 14 when the container 10 is carried. At laterally opposite sides of the fitment 14, the opening 76 extends down to the respective lowest locations 71, 72, which are not above, and in this example are below, the bottom 51 of the fitment's adjoining section 50 and preferably even the bottom 55 of the fitment 14. Accordingly, the container 10, when suspended by the handle 16, lacks a line of material, supporting the weight of pouch's contents 11, extending continuously downward from the handgrip structure 60 to the fitment 14. That is because any path of material extending from the handgrip structure 60 to the fitment 14 must include an upward leg, such as along the upturn edge 73.

    [0030] As shown in Fig. 8, one consequence of this configuration is that it facilitates folding down the handle 16, including its side suspensions 62, to overlie the pouch 12 and remain entirely below the fitment's adjoining section 50 and bottom 55. This is facilitated by the lower panel 32, over which the handle 16 is folded, to have folds 84 at opposite sides of the fitment 14. The folds 88 extend along an imaginary line 89 that underlies the fitment's adjoining section 50 and bottom 55 directly below the center of the fitment 14.

    [0031] Fig. 9 shows the container being carried in an upright orientation. The upper handgrip 86 is grasped by a hand fully about the handgrip 86. The fitment's opening 56 (Fig. 1) faces upward. The suspensions 62 extend downward from the handgrip 86. The four junctures between the suspensions 62, 62' and the pouch 12, at the lowest locations 71, 72, 71', 72' of the panel openings 76, 76', together carry the full weight of the pouch's contents.

    [0032] Even though the fitment 14 is above the pouch 12 and closer to the handgrip 86 than is the pouch 12, lifting the handgrip 86 supports the fitment 14 by way of the flexible pouch 12 beneath it, instead of suspending the pouch 12 by way of the fitment 14. The fitment 14 is thus supported from below by the flexible web material of the pouch 12 which is itself supported from the junctures 19 that are below the fitment 14 and its adjoining section 50.

    Lower Handle



    [0033] Referring to Fig. 1 and Figs. 4-7, the lower handle 18 comprises a handgrip 90 and two side suspensions 92, having some of the same features as the upper handgrip 16. Specifically, the suspensions 93 extend from opposite ends of the lower handgrip 90 to the cavity-bounding section 46. The lower handgrip 90 is formed from the same sheets 31, 32, 41, 42 that form the pouch 12. The front and rear panels 31, 32 each extend along the full width of the lower handgrip 90, while each side panel 41, 42 extends laterally only to the midline 49, where their folds 43 meet between the front and rear panels 31, 32.

    [0034] The lower handgrip 90 is formed by a U-shaped slit, cut in all four panels 31, 32, 41, 42, comprising a straight horizontal section 94, 94', 94" and two opposite vertical sections 96, 96', 96" that define a flap 98, 98', 98". The flap 98, 98', 98" is configured to bend about a fold line 99, 99', 99" when the handgrip 90 is manually grasped, to increase its thickness and strengthen.

    [0035] Fig. 10 exemplifies a method of decanting the container 10. The upper and lower handgrips 86 and 90 are grasped simultaneously to suspend the pouch 12 in a sideways orientation in which it is partially inverted, with the front panel 31 below the rear panel 32. In the orientation shown, the "upper" and "lower" handgrips 86 and 90 are at about the same level. The suspensions 62 and 92 of the front panel 31 extend downward to together carry the full weight of the liquid in the pouch 12. The suspensions 62' and 92' of the rear panel 32 do not carry the weight of the liquid, but instead are folded. Folds 84 of the top suspensions 62' define an imaginary line 85 that is directly behind the fitment 14, i.e., directly behind the fitment's bottom 55. The entire fitment 14 is therefore beyond the suspensions 62 in a direction away from the lower handle 18. The fitment opening 54 faces horizontally, for the liquid to flow by gravity out from the pouch 12 through the fitment 14. The special configuration described above for the upper handle 86 enables the suspensions 62 to bend more sharply and neatly behind the fitment 14 than if the upper handle 86 lacked this configuration.

    [0036] Fig. 11 exemplifies a method of completely emptying the container 10. The lower handgrip 90 is manually grasped fully about the lower handgrip 90 to suspend the container 10 upside down in an inverted orientation in which the lower handgrip 90 is above the upper handgrip 86. In this orientation, the pouch opening 24 and the fitment opening 54 face downward away from the lower handgrip 90. Liquid in the pouch 12 flows by gravity out of the pouch 12 through the fitment opening 54. This is especially useful for contents 11 that flow slowly, such as salad dressing and oil.

    Other Examples



    [0037] In the above example of the front and rear panels 31, 32 shown in Figs. 4-5, the first and second adjoining sections 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B of each of the front and rear panels 31, 32 meet at the pouch's midline 49. This causes the folds 43 in first and second side panels 41, 42 to meet at the midline 49 too. This, in turn, gives the filled container 10 a generally square footprint.

    [0038] Figs. 12-13 show alternative front and rear panels 31' and 32'. The first and second adjoining sections 31A, 31B of the first panel 31' are separated by upper and lower central adjoining sections 31D, 31E. Similarly, the first and second adjoining sections 32A, 32B of the second panel 32' are separated by upper and lower central adjoining sections 32D, 32E. When the pouch 12 is assembled, the upper central adjoining sections 31D, 32D are adjoined and the lower central adjoining sections 31E, 32E are adjoined. In that case, the folds 43 (Fig. 1) in the side panels 41, 42 will be spaced laterally from each other. That will give the filled container 10 a generally rectangular footprint that is not square but instead longer laterally (along the front and rear panels 31', 32') and thus longer along the handgrips 60, 60', 90, 90' and shorter along the side panels 41, 42.

    [0039] Figs. 14 and 15 show an alternative container 110 respectively in a flattened, unfilled condition and an expanded, filled condition. This container 110 differs from the previous container 10 in that it is not gusseted. It is instead formed by adjoining the front and rear panels 31, 32 of Figs. 4-5 directly together, without side panels 41, 42 (Fig. 3) in-between. This is done by adjoining section 31A of the front panel 31 to section 32A of the rear panel 32, and adjoining section 31B of the front panel 31 to section 32B of the rear panel 32. Sections 31C and 32C of the front and rear panels 31, 32 adjoin section 50 (Fig. 3) of the fitment 14. This is thus a non-gusseted container 110, because it has a non-gusseted pouch 112. This is in contrast to the gusseted container 10 of Figs. 1-2 with its gusseted pouch 12.

    [0040] The front and rear handgrip structures 60, 60 of this container 110, which form the handgrip 86, can be adjoined together along all or part of their surface areas. Similarly, the front and rear suspensions 62, 62' can be adjoined together along all or part of their surface areas.

    [0041] The non-gusseted container 110 of Figs. 14-15 has many of the features of the gusseted container 10 of Figs. 1-2, for the container 110 to be used and manipulated in the same manner as the container 10 of Figs. 1-2. These features are labeled with the same reference numerals as corresponding features of the container 10 of Figs. 1-2. For example, as shown in Figs. 4-5 and 14-15, junctures 19 between the handle 86 and the pouch 112, at the lowest locations 71, 72 (of which only 71 is visible in Figs. 14-15) of the opening 76, are not above, but instead below, the bottom 51 of the fitment's adjoining section 50 and the bottom 55 of the fitment 14. The container 110, when suspended by the handle 16, lacks a line of material, supporting the weight of pouch's contents 11, extending continuously downward from the handgrip structure 86 to the fitment 14.

    [0042] In each panel 31, 32, 41, 42 described above, as illustrated with reference to the front panel 31 of Fig. 4, the handle junctures 19 at the lowest points 71, 72 of the panel opening 76 are below the fitment's adjoining section 50. Fig. 16 shows an alternative front panel 231, in which the junctures 219 and the lowest points 271, 272 of the panel opening 76 are at, instead of below, the level of the bottom 51 of the fitment's adjoining section 50. This is indicated by two horizontal dashed lines extending from the lowest points 271, 272 to the bottom 51 of the fitment's adjoining section 50. The front panel 231 can be joined to an identical rear panel and the fitment 14 to yield an alternative container. All other features of the front panel 231 of Fig. 16 are the same as in the front panel 31 of Fig. 4, and are labeled with the same reference numerals as the corresponding features of Fig. 4.

    [0043] This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims.


    Claims

    1. A flexible (10) container for resting on a surface when in a filled condition, comprising:

    a panel structure of flexible web material, defining a pouch (12) that has a top opening (24);

    a rigid fitment in the top opening (24), having a fitment opening (54) through which the pouch (12) can be filled with liquid;

    an upper handgrip (86) coupled to the pouch configured to be grasped by a hand fully about the upper handgrip (86) to suspend the pouch (12) solely by the upper handgrip (86) in an upright orientation in which the fitment opening (54) faces upward;

    a lower handgrip (90) coupled to the pouch (12) configured to be grasped by a hand fully about the lower handgrip (90) to suspend the pouch (12) solely by the lower handgrip (90) in an inverted orientation in which the fitment opening (54) faces downward for liquid in the pouch (12) to flow by gravity out of the pouch (12) through the fitment (14);

    wherein the upper and lower handgrips (86, 90) are further configured to be manually grasped for suspending the pouch (12) simultaneously by both handgrips in a partially inverted orientation in which the fitment opening (54) faces sideways for the liquid to flow by gravity out from the pouch (12) through the fitment (14); and

    wherein the upper and lower handgrips (86, 90) comprise a straight horizontal section (94) and two opposite vertical sections (96) that define a flap (67), wherein the flap (67) is configured to be bent upward about a horizontal fold line (68) when the upper and lower handgrips (86, 90) are manually grasped,

    wherein the panel structure includes front and rear panels (31, 32) of flexible web material, and the upper and lower handgrips (86, 90) are bounded by openings in the front and rear panels, and
    wherein the container further comprises a pair of front suspensions (62) formed from the front panel (31) and a pair of rear suspensions (62') formed from the rear panel (32), wherein the front suspensions (62) extend from opposite ends of the upper handgrip (86) to the pouch (12) and the rear suspensions (62') extend from opposite ends of the upper handgrip (86) to the pouch (12), wherein the front and rear suspensions (62, 62') bear the weight of the pouch (12) when the pouch (12) is lifted in the upright orientation, and wherein in the pouch's (12) partially inverted orientation one of the pairs of suspensions (62, 62') bears part of the weight of the pouch (12) while the other pair of suspensions (62, 62') is folded at a fold lines (43) extending along an imaginary line directly behind the fitment (85) such that the upper handgrip (86) is located above the fitment (14) when the pouch (12) is lifted in the partially inverted orientation.
     
    2. The container (10) of claim 1 wherein the panel structure of flexible material includes four rectangular panels (31, 32, 41, 42) of flexible web material that are joined along their peripheries.
     
    3. The container (10) of claim 1 or 2, wherein the panel structure is expandable from a collapsed, unfilled condition to an expanded, filled condition.
     
    4. The container (10) of any preceding claim wherein the filled container (10) has a generally square footprint.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Flexibler Behälter (10), der dazu gedacht ist, im gefüllten Zustand auf einer Oberfläche zu stehen, umfassend:

    eine Streifenstruktur aus flexiblem Bahnmaterial, die einen Beutel (12) definiert, der eine obere Öffnung (24) aufweist;

    eine starre Fassung in der oberen Öffnung (24), die eine Fassungsöffnung (54) aufweist, durch die hindurch der Beutel (12) mit Flüssigkeit gefüllt werden kann;

    einen oberen Handgriff (86), der mit dem Beutel gekoppelt ist und konfiguriert ist, um mit einer Hand ganz an dem oberen Handgriff (86) ergriffen zu werden, um den Beutel (12) nur an dem oberen Handgriff (86) in einer aufrechten Orientierung aufzuhängen, in der die Fassungsöffnung (54) nach oben gewandt ist;

    einen unteren Handgriff (90), der mit dem Beutel (12) gekoppelt ist und konfiguriert ist, um mit einer Hand ganz an dem unteren Handgriff (90) ergriffen zu werden, um den Beutel (12) nur an den unteren Handgriff (90) in einer umgedrehten Orientierung aufzuhängen, in der die Fassungsöffnung (54) nach unten gewandt ist, damit Flüssigkeit in dem Beutel (12) durch Schwerkraft aus dem Beutel (12) durch die Fassung (14) hindurch herausfließt;

    wobei die oberen und unteren Handgriffe (86, 90) ferner konfiguriert sind, um manuell ergriffen zu werden, um den Beutel (12) gleichzeitig an beiden Handgriffen in einer teilweise umgedrehten Orientierung aufzuhängen, in der die Fassungsöffnung (54) zur Seite gewandt ist, damit die Flüssigkeit durch Schwerkraft aus dem Beutel (12) durch die Fassung (14) hindurch herausfließt; und

    wobei die oberen und unteren Handgriffe (86, 90) einen geraden waagerechten Abschnitt (94) und zwei gegenüberliegende senkrechte Abschnitte (96) umfassen, die eine Klappe (67) definieren, wobei die Klappe (67) konfiguriert ist, um an einer waagerechten Faltlinie (68) nach oben gebogen zu werden, wenn die oberen und unteren Handgriffe (86, 90) manuell ergriffen werden,

    wobei die Streifenstruktur vordere und hintere Streifen (31, 32) aus flexiblem Bahnmaterial umfasst, und die oberen und unteren Handgriffe (86, 90) durch Öffnungen in den vorderen und hinteren Streifen begrenzt sind, und

    wobei der Behälter ferner ein Paar von vorderen Aufhängungen (62), die aus dem vorderen Streifen (31) gebildet sind, und ein Paar von hinteren Aufhängungen (62'), die aus dem hinteren Streifen (32) gebildet sind, umfasst, wobei sich die vorderen Aufhängungen (62) von gegenüberliegenden Enden des oberen Handgriffs (86) bis zu dem Beutel (12) erstrecken und sich die hinteren Aufhängungen (62') von gegenüberliegenden Enden des oberen Handgriffs (86) bis zu dem Beutel (12) erstrecken, wobei die vorderen und hinteren Aufhängungen (62, 62') das Gewicht des Beutels (12) tragen, wenn der Beutel (12) in der aufrechten Orientierung angehoben wird, und wobei in der teilweise umgedrehten Orientierung des Beutels (12) eines von den Paaren von Aufhängungen (62, 62') einen Teil des Gewichts des Beutels (12) trägt, während das andere Paar von Aufhängungen (62, 62') an einer Faltlinie gefaltet ist, die sich entlang einer gedachten Linie direkt hinter der Fassung (85) erstreckt, so dass sich der obere Handgriff (86) über der Fassung (14) befindet, wenn der Beutel (12) in der teilweise umgedrehten Orientierung angehoben wird.


     
    2. Behälter (10) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Streifenstruktur aus flexiblem Material vier rechteckige Streifen (31, 32, 41, 42) aus flexiblem Bahnmaterial umfasst, die entlang ihrer Peripherien zusammengefügt sind.
     
    3. Behälter (10) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Streifenstruktur von einem zusammengelegten, ungefüllten Zustand in einen ausgedehnten, gefüllten Zustand ausdehnbar ist.
     
    4. Behälter (10) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der gefüllte Behälter (10) eine im Allgemeinen quadratische Standfläche aufweist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Récipient souple (10) destiné à reposer sur une surface lorsqu'il est dans un état rempli, comprenant :

    une structure de panneau de matériau en bande souple, définissant une poche (12) qui a une ouverture supérieure (24) ;

    un goulot rigide dans l'ouverture supérieure (24), ayant une ouverture de goulot (54) à travers laquelle la poche (12) peut être remplie de liquide ;

    une poignée supérieure (86) couplée à la poche configurée pour être saisie par une main entièrement autour de la poignée supérieure (86) pour suspendre la poche (12) uniquement par la poignée supérieure (86) dans une orientation verticale dans laquelle l'ouverture de goulot (54) est tournée vers le haut ;

    une poignée inférieure (90) couplée à la poche (12) configurée pour être saisie par une main entièrement autour de la poignée inférieure (90) pour suspendre la poche (12) uniquement par la poignée inférieure (90) dans une orientation inversée dans laquelle l'ouverture de goulot (54) est tournée vers le bas pour que le liquide dans la poche (12) s'écoule par gravité hors de la poche (12) à travers le goulot (14) ;

    les poignées supérieure et inférieure (86, 90) étant configurées en outre pour être saisies manuellement pour suspendre la poche (12) simultanément par les deux poignées dans une orientation partiellement inversée dans laquelle l'ouverture de goulot (54) est tournée sur le côté pour que liquide s'écoule par gravité hors de la poche (12) à travers le goulot (14) ; et

    les poignées supérieure et inférieure (86, 90) comprennent une section horizontale droite (94) et deux sections verticales opposées (96) qui définissent un volet (67), le volet (67) étant configuré pour être courbé vers le haut autour d'une ligne de pliage horizontale (68) lorsque les poignées supérieure et inférieure (86, 90) sont saisies manuellement,

    la structure de panneau comprenant des panneaux arrière et avant (31, 32) de matériau en bande souple, et les poignées supérieure et inférieure (86, 90) étant délimitées par des ouvertures dans les panneaux arrière et avant, et

    le récipient comprenant en outre une paire de suspensions avant (62) formées à partir du panneau avant (31) et une paire de suspensions arrière (62') formées à partir du panneau arrière (32), les suspensions avant (62) s'étendant d'extrémités opposées de la poignée supérieure (86) à la poche (12) et les suspensions arrière (62') s'étendant d'extrémités opposées de la poignée supérieure (86) à la poche (12), les suspensions avant et arrière (62, 62') supportant le poids de la poche (12) lorsque la poche (12) est soulevée dans l'orientation verticale, et, dans l'orientation inversée partiellement de la poche (12) une des paires des suspensions (62, 62') supportant une partie du poids de la poche (12) tandis que l'autre paire de suspensions (62, 62') est pliée au niveau d'une ligne de pliage (43) s'étendant le long d'une ligne imaginaire directement derrière le goulot (85) de telle sorte que la poignée supérieure (86) est située au-dessus du goulot (14) lorsque la poche (12) est soulevée dans l'orientation partiellement inversée.


     
    2. Récipient (10) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la structure de panneau de matériau souple comprend quatre panneaux rectangulaires (31, 32, 41, 42) de matériau en bande souple qui sont joints le long de leurs périphéries.
     
    3. Récipient (10) selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel la structure de panneau est extensible d'un état non rempli replié à un état rempli étendu.
     
    4. Récipient (10) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le récipient rempli (10) a une empreinte généralement carrée.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description