In 1879, Charles G. Hutchinson, who happened to be the son of a prominent Chicago bottler, devised a spring-clasped internal bottle closure known as the "Hutchinson Stopper." Hutchinson was issued a patent for his invention from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), as follows:
- "Be it known that I, Charles G. Hutchinson, of Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Bottle-Stoppers, of which the following, in connection with the accompanying drawings, is a specification...My invention relates to that class of bottle-stoppers provided with a laterally-yielding spring extending upward from the plug, and adapted to hold the latter in its open and closed position, alternately, according to the adjustment vertically of the spring in the neck of the bottle."
It's popularity spread rapidly during the period, becoming a virtual standard of the time. It proved so popular that bottles produced for years to follow became referred to as "Hutchinson Bottles."
Stoppered bottles were still being used by some small American companies as late as the 1920's. Inevitably, laws restricting their use due to the absence of uniform sanitary processing of the stoppered bottles brought a premature end to an interesting era in bottling.
Ironically, Asa Candler didn't think much of the idea of bottling his famous beverage, concentrating exclusively on the dispensed syrup and soda fountain market. It would be 5 more years before the first officially sanctioned bottling of Coca-Cola would get underway.
The design of the world famous "Coke Bottle" shaped Coca-Cola bottle was no accident of design. Benjamin Thomas, was a bottler from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He'd written to The Coca-Cola Company citing the need for a package that "a person could recognise as a 'Coca-Cola' bottle when feeling it in the dark, so shaped that even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was."
The Root Glass Company's designers Alexander Samuelson and Earl R Dean effectively answered that request with their 1915 design for the original "hobble skirt" contoured bottle in Terre Haute, Indiana. They chose green-tinged glass, named 'Georgia Green', after the company's home State, for the first run of bottles. On April 19, 1994 -- 50 years after the release of the glass contour bottle -- the P.E.T. contour bottle was released to US markets.
By 1937, the hobble skirt bottle enjoyed widespread use throughout America, but the twice reissued patent was due to expire. Understandably, by this time, the bottle had come to be universally associated with the 'Coca-Cola' brand, but existing law prevented the Root Glass Company from renewing the original patent again, so The Coca-Cola Company applied for -- and received -- a "design patent" for the hobble skirt bottle on March 24, 1937. This category of patent had been reserved for original manufacturing designs. Thus, the patent was transferred patent from The Root Glass Company to The Coca-Cola Company and effectively prevented competitors from imitating the bottle for another 14 years.
By 1957, bottling technology progressed beyond the need for embossing the Coca-Cola script and lettering, instead applying "applied color labelling" (ACL) as a replacement. The white ACL lettering gave a 'cleaner' graphic 'look' and made the 'Coca-Cola' logo more easily recognizable to new consumers. In a final effort to safeguard the 'Root' bottle design indefinitely, The Coca-Cola Company requested that the US Patent Office grant a trademark on the bottle. The Company argued that the bottle had become so well known that it had taken on trademark status. On April 12, 1960, the trademark was granted, indefinitely, protecting the unique design.