What is claimed is
1. A shoelace keeper for an infant's shoelace comprising
2. A shoelace keeper according to claim 1, further including a structural rib carried on said first wall portion, said rib extending outwardly from said section and overlying said second wall portion when said wall portions are secured together, said rib cooperating with said first wall portion edge to define two said shoelace passages.
3. The shoelace keeper of claim 1 wherein said enclosure comprises
4. The shoelace keeper of claim 3, wherein said second enclosure portion further provides a cover portion spaced from said second wall portion, said motion of said first enclosure portion with respect to said second enclosure portion bringing said cover portion adjacent said first circumferential side wall section to close said enclosure.
5. A shoelace keeper according to claim 3, said latch means comprising a flexible, resilient member projecting from said first circumferential side wall section toward said second circumferential side wall section, an inward directed boss on said member, a receiving channel in said second circumferential side wall section, and a receiving cavity in said second circumferential side wall section for said boss, said boss being seatable in said cavity to lock said enclosure in a closed position, and unseatable therefrom by outward flexing of said flexible resilient member, thereby enabling said enclosure to be opened by partially rotating said side wall sections about said hinge means.
6. A shoelace keeper according to claim 3, said hinge means comprising, in combination, a flexible web connecting said first and second circumferential side wall sections, and first and second interlockable members projecting respectively from one and the other of said side wall sections adjacent to the inward enclosure side of said web, said members being shaped for mutual interlocking engagement, when said enclosure is closed, along surface orientations ranging from an orientation generally transverse to the plane of the side wall near the hinge, to an orientation generally parallel to said side wall plane.
7. A shoelace keeper according to claim 3, and further including an upper wall for said enclosure carried by one of said side wall sections, said upper wall being generally parallel with said first and second wall portions, a receiving channel for said upper wall in the other of said side wall sections, said upper wall mating with said receiving channel when said side walls are closed about said hinge means.
8. A shoelace keeper according to claim 3, and further including a cap for said enclosure, a flexible strap connecting said cap to the remainder of said enclosure, and means for releasably locking said cap over said enclosure when said enclosure side walls are closed, said keeper thereby comprising a one-piece construction.
9. A shoelace keeper according to claim 8, and further including an outward extending ledge at the lower portions of the enclosure side wall sections, said strap being formed from a resilient material and attached to the outer portion of said ledge at an acute angle to the enclosure side wall sections, said strap being bent away from said enclosure at a distance from its attachment to the ledge substantially equal to the width of the ledge, such that the cap is held clear of the enclosure when the enclosure is opened and the strap is in a relaxed position, said strap being flexible about its connection with said ledge to overlie said ledge and extend upwardly between the cap and the enclosure side wall when the cap is emplaced over the enclosure.
10. A shoelace keeper according to claim 8, said cap including a central wall adapted to overlie said enclosure and a circumferential side wall surrounding the enclosure side wall sections when the cap is emplaced on the enclosure, said cap locking means comprising the combination of an inward directed boss on the side wall of said cap, a pocket in the side wall of said enclosure for receiving said boss, said keeper being formed from a resilient material of sufficient flexibility to deform when the cap is emplaced on the enclosure until the boss is seated in the pocket, and mutually opposed finger supports extending outwardly from the lower portions of said cap and enclosure side walls in the vicinity of said boss and pocket, said finger supports providing a base for the application of mutually opposed forces to said cap and enclosure for dislodging said boss from said pocket.
11. A shoelace keeper according to claim 10, said boss and pocket being located respectively on said cap and enclosure opposite to said strap, and further including additional inward directed bosses on the side wall of said cap near and on each side of said strap, and pockets in the side wall sections of said enclosure for releasably receiving said additional bosses when said cap is pressed down over the enclosure.
12. A shoelace keeper for an infant's shoelace, comprising
This invention relates to shoelace keepers, and more particularly to shoelace keepers that are specially designed for use with infants.
Heretofore known shoelace keepers can generally be classified as being either of the clip variety, in which a shoelace tie is held in place by a clip and the tie itself is exposed, or of the enclosure variety, in which a shoelace tie is housed inside an enclosure with some means of opening the enclosure to admit the tie and then closing it. While many of these devices are effective in preventing a shoelace from becoming untied, there are also some problems that need to be overcome, particularly with respect to their use on infants' shoes.
For example, the locking mechanisms on clips may be played with and are subject to being accidentally released by the infant, and the smaller clips present the danger that the infant may swallow them. In addition, if the locking mechanism is complicated the clip can be difficult to operate, particularly if the infant does not keep still. Enclosure type keepers have the advantage of hiding the shoelace tie from the infant, but they are often separable into a number of small pieces that can become swallowed or lost. The swallowing hazard is so severe that many keepers have been taken off the market pursuant to safety standards imposed by a regulatory agency. Some enclosure devices also require a certain amount of precision in positioning the shoelace tie inside the enclosure and then affixing a cap; this again is difficult to do if the infant is squirming.
In view of the above-stated considerations, it is an object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved shoelace keeper that effectively encloses an infant's shoelace tie and that is easy to install.
Another object is the provision of a novel and improved shoelace keeper that is safe for use with infants, and that cannot be swallowed when either opened or closed.
Still another object is the provision of a novel and improved shoelace keeper having no small parts that can be lost.
In the accomplishment of these and other objects, the shoelace keeper of the present invention comprises an enclosure having a wall adjacent the shoe, the wall including a first wall portion having an edge including at least one shoelace passage having a periphery open at the edge, a second wall portion having an edge and movable with respect to the first portion to bring the second wall portion edge adjacent the shoelace passage to close the shoelace passage periphery, and latch means for releasably securing the second wall portion to the first wall portion.
In a particular embodiment the enclosure has a circumferential side surface that is divisible into first and second side sections, each attached to a wall portion, by means of a hinge about which the side sections are partially rotatable. A flexible, resilient member is provided with an inward directed boss and projects from one towards the other of the side sections. The other side section has a receiving channel for the member and a receiving cavity for the boss, the enclosure being releasably locked by sliding the member in the channel until the boss snaps into the cavity. The keeper is opened by flexing the member outward to release the boss. The entire keeper can be constructed from a flexible, resilient material, with the hinge comprising a flexible web connecting the side sections, and first and second interlockable members that project from the side sections adjacent to the inward enclosure side of the web. The two members interlock, when the enclosure is closed, along surface orientations ranging from an orientation generally transverse to the plane of the side surface near the hinge, to an orientation generally parallel to the side surface plane.
The enclosure is preferably covered by a removable cap having a side wall surrounding the enclosure side surface. The cap is connected in a one-piece construction with the enclosure by means of a flexible resilient strap attached to a ledge at the lower portion of the enclosure side surface. A plurality of inward directed bosses on the cap side wall mate with corresponding pockets in the enclosure side surface when the cap is pressed down over the enclosure, a pair of opposed finger supports being provided on the enclosure and cap to enable the bosses to be dislodged from their pockets. The strap is attached to the outer portion of the ledge at an acute angle to the enclosure side surface, and is bent away from the enclosure so that the cap is held clear when the enclosure is opened. The upper surface of the cap may be embellished with a pictorial or molded-in decoration.
In another embodiment a top for the enclosure is permanently carried by one of the side sections, and mated with the other side section when the keeper is closed about a shoelace tie.
In another preferred embodiment, the keeper comprises an enclosure having first and second enclosure portions. The first enclosure portion provides a first wall portion having an inner edge including an indented portion defining a passage having a periphery open at the edge, a first side wall section connected to the first wall portion and surrounding a part thereof, the first wall portion inner edge extending between the ends of the first side wall section, and a resiliently flexible rib formed integrally with the first wall portion exterior surface, extending past the first wall portion edge and cooperating therewith to define two shoelace passages, and having a free end. The second enclosure portion provides a second wall portion having an edge, and movable with respect to the first portion to bring the second wall portion edge adjacent the shoelace passages to close the shoelace passage peripheries, a second side wall section connected to the second wall portion, and a cover portion spaced from the second wall portion and generally parallel therewith. The keeper further comprises hinge means joining the first and second side wall sections for motion of the first enclosure portion with respect to the second enclosure portion to bring the second wall portion below the rib free end and to bring the second wall portion edge adjacent the shoelace passages to close the shoelace passage peripheries when the keeper is closed. The first and second wall portions, in the closed condition of the keeper, together define a wall adapted to be placed adjacent the shoe.
Latch means are provided for releasably securing the second wall portion to the first wall portion.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will be seen from the following detailed description of particular embodiments of the invention, in conjunction with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shoelace keeper constructed in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the shoelace keeper shown in FIG. 1 enclosing a shoelace tie on an infant's shoe;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary perspective view of a hinge mechanism for the keeper;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of the area at which the cap portion of the keeper is attached to the enclosure portion;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of the mechanism for releasably snapping the cap portion over the enclosure portion;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the shoelace keeper enclosing a shoelace tie on an infant's shoe;
FIGS. 7 and 8 are perspective views of other embodiments of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view, partially broken away, of an alternative embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 9.
Referring to FIG. 1, a shoelace keeper adapted to completely enclose a shoelace tie is shown. The keeper is mold-formed in a one-piece construction from a somewhat flexible, resilient material such as polypropylene, with a thickness of generally about 1/16 inch. First and second wall portions 2 and 4 form a bottom wall portion that is placed adjacent the shoe. Formed integrally with each of the wall portions 2 and 4 are circumferential side sections 6 and 8 respectively, the two side sections together forming an endless side surface when the keeper is closed. The side sections and bottom wall portions can be partially rotated about a hinge 10 to open and close the keeper.
Wall portion 2 has an edge 16. A pair of shoelace passages 12 and 14 suitable in size for accommodating opposite ends of a shoelace are formed in wall portion 2, the periphery of each passage being open at edge 16. A structural rib 18 is molded to the bottom wall portion 2 between the spaced-apart passages 12 and 14, with one end 20 of the rib overlying the upper surface of wall portion 2 and the other end 22 extending outward to overlie the upper surface of wall portion 4 when the keeper is closed.
A locking mechanism is provided that includes a cantilever member 24 that projects, as an extension of side wall section 8, toward side section 6 from the vertical edge of side section 8 opposite to hinge 10. An inward directed hook or boss 26 is molded onto member 24 and expands from a very narrow thickness at the far end of the member to a thickness about three times that of the side wall 8 at an intermediate portion of the member 24. A receiving channel 28 for member 24 is molded into the adjacent portion of side section 6, the depth of channel 28 being equal to the thickness of member 24 so that the member lies flush with the outer side surface when the keeper is closed. A cavity 32 is formed at the far end of channel 28 for receiving boss 26. The sloped inward facing surface 30 of boss 26 is adapted to flex the member 24 outwardly as the keeper is rotated closed about hinge 10, the boss 26 being seated in cavity 32 to lock the keeper when its two sections are fully closed against each other.
The side sections 6 and 8 are girded by a bottom, outward flaring ledge 34 that provides structural support and also serves as a base for locking in place a cap described hereinafter. An indentation 36 in side section 6 is also provided for use in conjunction with the cap. A small button 37 on the inward side of member 24 sits on the upper surface of bottom wall portion 2, when the enclosure is shut, next to the side section 6, which is set back slightly from the edge 16 of bottom wall portion 2.
The keeper is closed by a cap 38 that includes a central wall 40 and a depending wrap-around or circumferential side wall 42. The cap 38 is attached to the remainder of the keeper by means of a strap 44 that joins the cap side wall 42 at one end and the ledge 34 at the enclosure side surface indentation 36 at its other end. On either side of the strap 44 a pair of bosses 46 and 48 project inwardly from the inside surface of cap side wall 42, and an additional inward directed boss 50 is provided at the inside cap wall surface opposite to the strap 44. Aligned with the last mentioned boss 50 on the outer surface of the cap wall is a flared member 52 that provides a finger support for uncovering the cap from the enclosure portion of the keeper. The bosses 46, 48, 50 and finger support 52 cooperate respectively with pockets 54 and 56 on the enclosure side section 6 and pocket 58 and finger support member 60 on the other enclosure side section 8 for positioning the cap on and off of the enclosure. The cap 38 and strap 44 are formed in the same mold with the main enclosure portion of the keeper, thereby forming a unitary one-piece construction and eliminating the possibility of any small parts being lost or swallowed.
Details of the hinge 10 are shown in FIG. 3. The enclosure side wall sections 6 and 8 are joined by a flexible, resilient web 62 that extends between the sections on the exterior side of the enclosure (as viewed when the keeper is closed), web 62 being formed as a continuation of the side wall sections having an attenuated thickness. A first member 64 projects from side wall section 8, adjacent to web 62 on the inward enclosure side thereof, and has an inward facing side surface 66 formed as a continuation of the inward surface of wall section 8, and a forward surface 68 transverse to surface 66. A second member 70 projects from side wall section 6 adjacent to web 62 on the inward enclosure side thereof, and includes a wall 72 that is opposed to and abuts surface 68 when the keeper is closed, and an extension 74 at the inward side of wall 72 with an outward facing surface 76 that overlies and abuts surface 66 when the keeper is closed. The wall sections 6 and 8 are pivoted apart, flexing web 62, to open the enclosure. With the enclosure closed, the members 64 and 70 interlock and form a solid base that prevents the application of damaging stresses to the relatively thin web 62, their mutually abutting surfaces being oriented along planes that range from transverse to parallel to the plane of the enclosure side walls near the hinge.
Referring now to FIG. 4, the strap is molded to the outer edge of ledge 34 in alignment with the indentation 36 in side wall section 6, and forms an acute angle with the said side wall section when in a relaxed position. The strap is bent backwards from the enclosure at a bend 78 located at a distance from the ledge 34 equal to the width of the ledge from its outer edge to the rear wall 80 of indentation 36. The cap is thus held clear of the enclosure portion of the keeper when not in use, facilitating the emplacement of the keeper over a shoelace. When the cap is pushed down over the enclosure the strap 44 lodges in the indentation 36 with the portion between the ledge and bend 78 overlying the ledge, and the remainder of the strap extending upward between wall 80 and the inside surface of the cap side wall 42. The downward closing force on the cap is partially transmitted by bosses 46 and 48 to the enclosure side wall around pockets 54 and 60, which may be formed as simple openings at the junction of the side wall and ledge, and slightly deforms the wall until the bosses are lodged within their respective pockets. The resilient wall thereupon resumes its original shape, with the bosses 46 and 48 holding the cap in place.
In FIG. 5 the mechanism for snapping the cap on and off the enclosure is shown, with the cap positioned just above the enclosure. The finger support members 52 and 62 are mutually aligned on the cap and enclosure so as to be disposed in the same plane with ledge 34 when the cap is in place (a gap is provided in ledge 34 to make room for member 52). Boss 50 cooperates with pocket 58 to hold the cap in place in a manner similar to that of bosses 46 and 48 and pockets 54 and 56.
The keeper is shown in place on a shoe 82 in FIGS. 2 and 6, with a decorative embellishment 84 provided on the upper surface of cap 8 by painting, molding, or the like. One of the advantages of the device is the ease with which it can be emplaced and removed, even with a squirming infant. In use, a shoelace 86 is first tied in the normal manner. With the bottom wall portions 2 and 4 rotated apart about hinge 10 and the cap 38 held clear of the enclosure portion by shaped strap 44, the keeper is brought into engagement with the shoelace, rib 18 guiding under the tie to direct the lace ends below the tie through apertures 12 and 14 and thence into the interior of the keeper. The keeper is then closed about hinge 10, the two bottom wall sections 2 and 4 adjoining to prevent the lace from escaping out of apertures 12 and 14, and the boss 26 on member 24 sliding against channel 28 until it is lodged in cavity 32, locking the keeper closed. The cap 34 is then snapped shut over the enclosure, bosses 46, 48, and 50 lodging respectively in pockets 54, 56, and 58. The shoelace tie is now completely enclosed and cannot be played with or untied by the infant. While easy for an adult, opening the keeper requires a minimum of strength and manual coordination that are normally beyond an infant's capabilities. To remove the keeper the cap 34 is first lifted off by placing one finger (or thumb) on the top of member 60 and another finger on the bottom of member 52, and applying a torque pressure to the two members to lift the cap upwards and dislodge the various bosses from their respective pockets. Locking member 24 is then flexed away from the cavity 32, the keeper sections rotated apart about hinge 10, and rib 18 slid out from under the shoelace tie.
Another embodiment of the invention, shown in FIG. 7, is essentially the same as that described above except for the cap 38 and the enclosure features associated with the cap, identical elements being identified by the same numerals as used in FIGS. 1-6. In this embodiment, a circular disc 88 is carried by the upper portion of side wall section 8 in a plane generally parallel to the bottom wall of the keeper. A receiving groove or channel 90 for the disc 88 is formed on the upper inside portion of the other side wall section 6, the disc 88 sliding into and out of channel 90 when the keeper is closed and opened, and serving as an upper wall for the device.
In FIG. 8 a further embodiment is shown, similar to that of FIG. 1, with the exception that rib 18 has been removed and a single opening is provided in bottom wall section 2 in place of spaced-apart perforations 12 and 14. Both ends of the shoelace are passed through the opening 92, which is made sufficiently small so that the shoelace tie cannot be pulled out when the keeper is closed. While this embodiment eliminates the need for sliding rib 18 of the previously described embodiments under the shoelace tie and thereby allows the shoelace to be tied slightly tighter, somewhat more care must be taken in installing the keeper to make sure that both ends of the shoelace are within the opening 92 and that the tie is inside the keeper.
In another preferred embodiment, referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10, the enclosure of the shoelace keeper is formed by two cooperative enclosure portions 112 and 114. First enclosure portion 114 includes a first bottom wall portion 100 of generally circular outline, which has an inner edge 102 having an indented portion forming a shoelace passage. A first circumferential side wall section 101 extends part way around first wall portion 100 and is formed integrally therewith. Inner edge 102 of wall portion 10 extends between ends 150 and 152 of side wall section 101. A resiliently flexible rib 118 is molded integrally with the exterior surface of first wall portion 100, and extends past edge 102 thereof into the indentation of the shoelace passage. Rib 118 cooperates with the indented portion of edge 102 to define two shoelace passages 104 and 106. Rib 118 includes a depressed section 120, which is generally below the level of wall portion 100, and a free end carrying a raised end boss 122. Wall portion 100 is cut away from side wall section 101 at 119 to permit rib 118 to flex freely.
The second enclosure portion 112 includes a second bottom wall portion 108 having generally the outline of a segment of a circle, and having an inner edge 110 forming the chord of the segment. A second circumferential side wall section 103 is semi-circular in outline and is formed integrally with second wall portion 108. Second enclosure portion 112 provides a cover wall 124 of generally circular outline (shown partially broken away in FIG. 9) formed integrally with circumferential side section 103. Lip member 126 is provided on the upper edge of cover wall 124 at a point on the circumference removed from second bottom wall portion 108. Side section 101 of first enclosure portion 114 provides a latch member 128 that cooperates with lip member 126, when the keeper is closed, to retain the enclosure portions together.
First and second circumferential side wall sections 101 and 103 are hinged together at 116. The second enclosure portion 112 with its edge 110 is movable at hinge 116 with respect to the first enclosure portion 114 with its edge 102, to bring edge 110 adjacent passages 104 and 106 to close their peripheries, providing a complete wall portion adapted to be placed adjacent the shoe and having two relatively small shoelace passages therethrough. End bosses 122 of rib 118 slides up over edge 110 and rests on the inner surface of second wall portion 108. Side sections 101 and 103 cooperate to form an endless side surface when the keeper is closed. Cooperative bosses 130 and 132 on portions 114 and 112 respectively are brought adjacent one another when the keeper is closed, and are pressed in opposing directions to open the keeper.
In operation, the keeper of FIGS. 9 and 10 is placed over the shoe, with wall portion 100 adjacent the shoe, and the two shoelace ends are drawn through passages 104 and 106. The ends are then tied over depressed portion 120 of rib 118. Enclosure portion 112 is rotated at hinge 116 to move second wall portion 108 with respect to first wall portion 100, bringing edge 110 adjacent passages 104 and 106 to close their peripheries. At the same time, cover wall 124 is brought adjacent second circumferential side section 101 to close the keeper. Lip 126 and latch member 128 cooperate to hold enclosure portions 112 and 114 together. The shoelace tie is retained within the keeper enclosure formed by members 112 and 114, and is protected by cover 124 from being untied.