Title:
Bowling lane advertising and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of advertising on a bowling lane wherein the bowling lane consists of an approach area, a pin deck end area and a lane area extending between the approach area and the pin deck area. A generally transparent overlay structure overlies at least a portion of one of the approach area, the pin deck area and the lane area of the base member, wherein the overlay structure consists of a core layer, a decorative layer, and a wear layer. The overlay structure includes printed indicia that are visible through the overlay structure and protected thereby.



Inventors:
Burkholder, Roy A. (Whitehall, MI, US)
Fineran Jr., Raymond R. (North Muskegon, MI, US)
Hansen, Jan (Kungsbacka, SE)
Recknagel, Troy A. (Muskegon, MI, US)
Lehmkuhl, Thomas (Muskegon, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/924139
Publication Date:
01/27/2005
Filing Date:
08/23/2004
Assignee:
BURKHOLDER ROY A.
FINERAN RAYMOND R.
HANSEN JAN
RECKNAGEL TROY A.
LEHMKUHL THOMAS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/117
International Classes:
A63D1/04; B29C63/02; B32B27/20; B32B27/36; B29C63/48; (IPC1-7): A63D1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PIERCE, WILLIAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dykema Gossett PLLC (Suite 300 39577 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 48304, US)
Claims:
1. A method of advertising on a bowling lane, the bowling lane having an approach area thereof, a pin deck end area thereof and a lane area thereof extending between said approach area and said pin deck area, the method of advertising comprising the steps of; providing one or more generally transparent overlay structures overlying at least a portion of one of said approach area, said pin deck area and said lane area; providing printed indicia on said one or more of said overlay structures such that said printed indicia are visible through said one or more overlay structures and protected thereby, wherein said printed indicia of one of (i) a single overlay structure and (ii) a plurality of overlay structures when assembled, defines advertising.

2. The method of advertising of claim 1 including: providing an overlay structure with at least one of a core layer, a decorative layer, and a wear layer.

3. The method of advertising of claim 2 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said decorative layer.

4. The method of advertising of claim 2 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said core layer.

5. The method of advertising of claim 2 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said wear layer.

6. The method of advertising of claim 1 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises selecting any one or combination of two or more of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo.

7. The method of advertising of claim 6 including: providing an overlay structure with at least one of a core layer, a decorative layer, and a wear layer.

8. The method of advertising of claim 7 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said decorative layer.

9. The method of advertising of claim 7 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said core layer.

10. The method of advertising of claim 7 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said wear layer.

11. A method of advertising on a bowling lane, the bowling lane having an approach area thereof, a pin deck end area thereof and a lane area thereof extending between said approach area and said pin deck area, the method of advertising comprising the steps of: providing one or more generally transparent overlay structures overlying at least a portion of one of said approach area, said pin deck area and said lane area, wherein each of said overlay structure includes a core layer, a decorative layer over the core layer, and a wear layer over the decorative layer; providing printed indicia on said one or more overlay structures such that said printed indicia are visible through said one or more overlay structures and protected thereby, wherein said printed indicia of one of (i) a single overlay structure and (ii) a plurality of overlay structures when assembled, defines advertising.

12. The method of advertising of claim 11 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said decorative layer.

13. The method of advertising of claim 11 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said core layer.

14. The method of advertising of claim 11 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said wear layer.

15. The method of advertising of claim 11 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises selecting any one or combination of two or more of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo.

16. The method of advertising of claim 15 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said decorative layer.

17. The method of advertising of claim 15 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said core layer.

18. The method of advertising of claim 15 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises placing said printed indicia on said wear layer.

19. A method of advertising on a bowling lane, the bowling lane having an approach area thereof, a pin deck end area thereof and a lane area thereof extending between said approach area and said pin deck area, the method of advertising comprising the steps of: providing printed indicia on the bowling lane such that said printed indicia are visible to an observer of the bowling lane, wherein said printed indicia defines advertising.

20. The bowling lane of claim 19 wherein: said step of providing printed indicia further comprises selecting any one or combination of two or more of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo.

21. A bowling lane, comprising: one or more overlay structures, wherein each overlay structure includes a core layer, a decorative layer over the core layer, and a wear layer over the decorative layer wherein certain ones of said overlay structures includes printed indicia that is visible through said overlay structure and protected thereby, wherein said printed indicia of one of (i) a single overlay structure and (ii) a plurality of overlay structures when assembled, define advertising.

22. The bowling lane of claim 21 wherein said printed indicia is on said decorative layer.

23. The bowling lane of claim 21 wherein said printed indicia is on said core layer.

24. The bowling lane of claim 21 wherein said printed indicia is on said wear layer.

25. The bowling lane of claim 21 wherein said printed indicia is at least one of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo.

26. The bowling lane of claim 25 wherein said printed indicia is on said decorative layer.

27. The bowling lane of claim 25 wherein said printed indicia is on said core layer.

28. The bowling lane of claim 25 wherein said printed indicia is on said wear layer.

29. A bowling lane, comprising: an approach area thereof, a pin deck end area thereof and a lane area thereof extending between said approach area and said pin deck area; said bowling lane including printed indicia such that said printed indicia are visible to an observer of the bowling lane, wherein said printed indicia defines advertising.

30. The bowling lane of claim 29 wherein said printed indicia is at least one of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION AND CLAIM TO PRIORITY

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/556,905, file Mar. 26, 2004 and is a continuation-in-part of commonly assigned, co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/224,142, filed Aug. 20, 2002, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/575,950, filed May 23, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,450,892, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/060,914, filed Apr. 15, 1998, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to bowling, and in particular to advertising and associated method for bowling centers and the like.

This invention relates to methods of promotion of products and ownership related to bowling centers and the like. People are drawn to bowling centers for various reasons, such as location or league establishments. Once the patrons are in the center, there are various methods utilized by the center to entice the patrons to spend money at the center, i.e., banners displaying food and/or beverage specials. However, it is also desirable to provide discreet messages or product promotion to educate patrons of products utilized at the center or remind patrons of the center ownership itself.

This invention also relates to ten pin bowling lanes and other indoor bowling lanes, such as five pin and duck pin bowling lanes. It is especially useful for a reconstructed bowling lane surface, in a method of preparing a bowling lane surface, and as a bowling lane surface protecting material over wood or synthetic lanes.

Bowling lane assemblies are composed of an elongated lane, a wider approach section at the foul line end, and a pin deck on the pin deck end. These lanes are primarily of two main types. One type is formed of joined wood boards. The other type has a synthetic surface on a support base such as pressed wood. Both types are mounted on an elevating support structure. A conventional bowling lane is the type that is fabricated of joined wood boards. The lane is structured with laminated strips of wood of substantial thickness extending lengthwise of the lane.

After a period of use of the lane, the action of bowling balls on the lane surface and repeated refinishing of the surface create wear and dents requiring resurfacing or reconstruction of the lane. A conventional way of treating the lane is to sand it down and apply a new finish coat to it. This procedure is time consuming and expensive; because of the sanding involved, an entire facility may have to be shut down when any one lane is resurfaced. To solve this problem, various attempts have been made to resurface a bowling lane by covering the lane with an overlay structure, usually a continuous homogeneous surface sheet extending the width of the lane. Another more recent technique for resurfacing bowling lanes is to cover the lane with a thin flexible tape or film 0.076 to 0.178 mm (3 to 7 mils) thick and having an undersurface coated with adhesive, not totally unlike a giant roll of cellophane tape, as described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,795,152 and 4,867,816.

This later technique has been found to be effective for many bowling establishments and has been widely used. However, it is not universally applicable, and it requires considerable skill and effort to avoid problems associated with the large underside adhesive surface area. The film must be carefully controlled, as it is being unrolled and laid in order to minimize air pockets, misaligmment, and other difficulties from an adhesive material of this nature. One specific difficulty, which arises when using this film, occurs due to seasonal movement in boards for wooden lanes. Because the material is adhered to the entire surface of the lane, the expansion and contraction of the wood boards can cause waves or tunneling of the film material resulting in a lane surface that is not smooth. Later removal of the film also destroys the film.

Additionally, the film material is thin and does not prevent the wood underneath from being dented by the ball or pins. Abrasive material or sharp pieces on the ball may penetrate the thin film. The ball can also penetrate the film used in this technique if the film is not cared for properly. The film lasts only three to ten years.

Rigid synthetic lane panels are also sometimes used to reconstruct lane surfaces. However, this is extremely expensive and leaves joints between the panels. The panels are usually about {fraction (1/2)} inch thick and 12 feet long phenolic or phenolic pressed wood panels.

Another attempt has been to use a single, relatively thick, homogeneous fiberglass panel that simply is mechanically attached to the existing lane at the four corners of the panel. This resulted in the panels becoming uneven.

Still another attempt was to provide a factory made, thin sandwich-type overlay structure and mechanically anchoring the structure to the lane at considerably spaced locations, such as on the order of four feet apart. The sandwich would include a particleboard covered by a synthetic laminate made in the factory and taken to a site for installation. Such sandwich structures would not stay flat and buckled between the anchoring locations.

A main concern with any type of mechanical attachment is the cosmetic consequences of the exposed mechanical means. In addition, the problems and dilemmas faced by lane designers, as exemplified above, are magnified when considering that a non-wood synthetic lane covering will respond to typical temperature and humidity changes differently from the wood lane it covers. Consequently, the synthetic covering must be firmly attached to the lane to either “move” with the lane, or to prevent the lane itself from moving significantly.

As can be seen from the above outline of various prior attempts at resurfacing bowling lanes, adhesives and/or closely spaced mechanical connections may accomplish these necessary results, except that adhesive attachment is quite expensive to perform, time consuming and generally presents an unhealthy environment, while mechanical fasteners or attaching means usually are cosmetically unacceptable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of this invention is to provide a unique method, sheet material, and resulting lane construction that can be readily manufactured in extruded form, can be readily installed, neither utilizes nor requires adhesive spread over the undersurface of the material, and is readily removed and replaced, if necessary, at a later date. Typically, but not necessarily, the method employs small strips of double-sided tape or other adhesive means or any type of mechanical fastening system at select locations for installation and retention of position. It protects the lane, whether of wood or synthetic material, and extends the life of the lane. It can also be used to revamp damaged sections of a lane.

The method achieves resurfacing of a bowling lane, even the approach and pin deck area if desired, with a sheet of flexible, relatively thick, polymer having a thickness of about 0.63 to 2.50 mm (25-100 mils), uncoated with adhesive. The side edges of the lane covering polymer sheet can be trimmed, and then the end edges trimmed, if necessary. Any initial waves in the laid extruded sheet have been found to basically disappear after being pushed down by a towel bar from the foul line to the pin deck. The polymer sheet may be one layer of clear 100 percent polycarbonate.

The extruded polymer sheet may also comprise a first layer and a second layer underlying the first layer. The first layer may be 100 percent polycarbonate or alternatively, may be a mixture of about 5-20 percent of a lubricious polymeric material, i.e., Teflon®, and correspondingly about 80-95 percent polycarbonate. When 100 percent polycarbonate is used, the total thickness of the first layer is about 25 percent of the total thickness of the extruded polymer sheet. When the first layer is made of polycarbonate and Teflon®, the first layer is about 5-50 percent of the total thickness of the extruded polymer sheet.

The first layer may contain an optical brightener, which may include a fluorescent dye that is responsive to ultraviolet light. The sheet may optionally include a third layer beneath the second layer. The optional second and third layers may contain a tinting dye or an ultraviolet blocking agent to avoid uneven glow appearance from substances beneath the film in the wood, etc. A replaceable decorative film, advertising material or web printed material of chosen design and color may be placed beneath the applied polymeric sheet or printed on the surface, usually on the bottom, of the polymer sheet as well.

Another aspect of the invention contemplates the use of a relatively thick, homogeneous laminate sheet for resurfacing a bowling lane. A plurality of mechanical fastening means are spaced about the perimeter of the sheet in respective recesses in the upper surface of the sheet and extending through the sheet for securement to the lane. Plug means fill the recesses flush with the upper surface of the sheet to hide the fastening means.

The laminate sheet includes a core, a decorative layer and a wear layer. The decorative layer may simulate the appearance of a wood bowling lane. This decorative layer may also include decorative indicia, advertising material or corporate logos or identification. At least one clear wear layer is provided over the decorative layer. The filler plugs are fabricated of similar material, also with a matching decorative layer.

Another aspect of this invention is to provide a bowling lane consisting of a base member that includes an approach area, a pin deck end area and a lane area extending between the approach area and the pin deck area With printed indicia on the base member so that the printed indicia is visible to an observer viewing the bowling lane. The bowling lane may include a generally transparent synthetic sheet member overlying at least a portion of the approach area, the pin deck area or the lane area, and an attachment member that securely attaches the synthetic sheet member to the base member to retain the synthetic sheet member in an overlying relationship with the base member. The synthetic sheet member may include the printed indicia that is visible through the synthetic sheet member and protected by the synthetic sheet member. The printed indicia may be located on the approach area, pin deck area or lane area. The printed indicia may be a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name or an organizational logo, or any other form of organizational information, product information or slogans, or advertising. The synthetic sheet may consist of a core, decorative layer, and wear layers and the printed indicia may be located on the core, decorative layer or wear layer.

These and other advantages of the invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following written specification, claims and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic side elevation of a bowling establishment made according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic sectional view taken at right angles to the view of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a bowling lane showing a portion of the lane;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a pair of bowling lanes, gutters, ball return zone, approaches and pin decks embodying the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a greatly enlarged, fragmentary side elevational view of one embodiment of the juncture of the approach and the lane at the foul line;

FIG. 6 is a greatly enlarged, fragmentary side elevational view of another embodiment of the juncture of the approach and the lane at the foul line;

FIG. 7 is a greatly enlarged, fragmentary side elevational view of an embodiment of the juncture at the lane and the pin deck;

FIG. 8 is a greatly enlarged, fragmentary side elevational view of an embodiment showing the extruded sheet on a synthetic lane and without applying an extruded sheet on the approach;

FIG. 9 is a greatly enlarged, exploded side elevational view of an embodiment of the juncture at the lane and the pin deck;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing in greater detail the fastening means and overlay structure of one aspect of the invention;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of an overlay structure of one aspect of the invention;

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, showing a bowling lane incorporating a logo;

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, showing a bowling lane incorporating a slogan;

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, showing a bowling lane incorporating bowling establishment identification;

FIG. 15 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, showing a bowling lane incorporating various aspects of the invention;

FIG. 16 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, showing a bowling lane incorporating a logo; and

FIG. 17 is a flow-chart setting forth the method of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper”, “lower”, “right”, “left”, “rear”, “front”, “vertical”, “horizontal” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIGS. 4 and 12. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification, are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

An exemplary embodiment of a bowling establishment made according to the invention is illustrated in FIG. 1 in a somewhat schematic form. The same includes an enclosure, generally designated 110, having a ceiling 112 with a saw tooth configuration, opposed end walls 114 and 116, sidewalls 118 (only one of which is shown), and a floor 120. Supported on the floor 120 is a plurality of bowling lanes 10 in side-by-side relation as is well known and shown in FIG. 4. The lanes 14 may be either natural wood construction or so-called synthetic lane construction, and each has an upper surface 124 which is planar and which is flanked by gutters 16 (FIG. 2). The surface 124 is adapted to have one or more bowling balls 126 rolled thereon toward the pit end 128 thereof. As is well known, bowling pins 130 are spotted in a triangular configuration on the bowling surface 124 at the pit end 128, specifically, on the pin deck 24, usually by an automatic pinsetter, shown schematically at 132.

A masking unit 134 hides the pinsetter 132 and may be of conventional construction. A ball return and rack, generally designated 136, is located near the approach end 26 of the lanes. An area 140, shown extremely condensed in FIG. 1, to the right of the approach end 26 of the lanes 10 may house the usual amenities, such as seating for the bowlers, a bar and/or grill, an area for entertaining children, equipment storage, and rental locations, etc.

In the usual case, the enclosure 110 would be relatively window free. The windows, if any, will generally be located adjacent the area 140 and will severely limit the amount of light entering the establishment 110. For this reason, the ceiling 112, and the saw tooths thereof, is provided with conventional lane lighting, typically in the form of several fluorescent tubes 142. In addition, conventional lamps 144 or ultraviolet lights 152 may be disposed behind the masking unit 134 so as to illuminate the pit end 128 of each of the lanes 10.

If made of wood, a typical lane 14 will consist of thirty-nine boards 15 across the width of the lane 14. Synthetic lanes are constructed to simulate real wood and, therefore, may also appear to have thirty-nine boards 15 across the width of the lane 14. An example of the configuration of boards 15, whether simulated or real wood, is shown in FIG. 3. While FIG. 3 represents a typical lane with thirty-nine boards, other configurations are contemplated to be within the scope of this invention. In addition, while FIG. 3 depicts the thirty-nine board configuration, FIGS. 12-14 do not show all thirty-nine boards because the inventive concept is more clearly illustrated in this manner.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-9 of the drawings, a two-lane bowling facility is shown in greater detail to illustrate one embodiment of the invention, it being realized that typical bowling centers have a large number of lanes, usually in pairs like this. This two-lane arrangement 10 includes two lane assemblies 12 and 12′ in a typical arrangement with each lane 14 being straddled by a pair of gutters 16. Between the two lane assemblies is a ball return capping 18 that is above a ball return channel of typical type. At opposite sides of the two lanes from the ball return capping are lane divisions 20 of typical type.

Each lane 14 is of standard length, i.e., 60 feet plus or minus {fraction (1/2)} inch as measured from the foul line 22 to the center of the number one pin on the pin deck 24. At the head end of the lane, i.e., adjacent foul line 22, is what is known as the approach 26. The approach is where the bowler advances toward the lane with the ball in hand in order to roll or bowl the ball down the lane toward the pins on the pin deck 24. These pins are graphically illustrated as ten pins in the typical triangular configuration with number one pin being at the front apex of the triangle and numbers seven and ten pins being at the rear apices or corners of the triangle. The lane is of standard width of 41½ inches plus or minus {fraction (1/2)} inch, according to the standards of the American Bowling Congress (ABC).

The invention shown in FIGS. 4-9 will typically be used to restore or recondition a lane which has become worn due to ball indentations, ball tracking marks, blemishes, pin indentations and general wear due to repeated traverse of the lane by balls and by a conventional lane conditioning machine. Alternatively, the invention can be used to complete, i.e., finish off, a new lane of wood or of synthetic material, and/or used in the other manners disclosed herein. If the lane is a worn lane, it is preferably sanded to remove ball dents and other cosmetic problems before the material of this invention is installed, and preferably a wood lane has a slightly rubbery base coat lane finish applied to it to seal the wood, which prevents liquids from wicking between the sheet and lane. If the lane is in good condition, the material of this invention can be installed on top of the existing wood lane finish or the synthetic lane. One variation is to sand and apply base coat only to the approximately first one third of the lane from the approach since this is where most ball damage occurs. Then, the novel sheet material is applied to the lane. If it is later decided to recondition the entire length of the lane, the novel material and lane protection layer can be readily removed from the lane, the lane reconditioned, and the novel sheet material replaced over the length of the lane.

In contrast to the prior teachings wherein a very thin film, e.g., about 0.076 to 0.178 mm (3 to 7 mils), having an adhesive over its lower surface, is carefully unrolled and adhered over the length of the lane, the present sheet is of substantial thickness of about 0.63 to 2.50 mm, preferably 1.25 mm thick, and is not coated with adhesive. In the depicted embodiment of FIG. 4, the extruded polymer sheet 30, preferably made of polycarbonate, extends over the length of the lane from the foul line 22 to the rear edge of the pin deck 24. However, the extruded polymer sheet may cover the approach, the lane and the pin deck or any one of these areas individually or in combination. One or more sheets may be used.

In the typical instance, the polymer sheet 30 (FIG. 4-9) extends from the foul line 22 to the rear edge of the pin deck 24. The polymer sheet is not typically glued to the entire lane. Rather, an adhesive means or any type of mechanical adhesive means attaches the foul line end portion of the sheet, and the central area of the lane remains free of adhesive. Preferably, the adhesive is a narrow strip of thin, double-sided adhesive tape 27, preferably about 0.1 mm thick, extends substantially the width of the lane, and is positioned between extruded polymer sheet 30 and the lane surface, i.e., beneath the sheet and on top of the lane surface. The polymer sheet 30 is preferably relatively stiff when flat. This leading edge is what primarily holds the sheet in position. However, static forces also assist in retaining the polymer sheet 30 in position, especially over the central area of the lane. At the far end of the lane, i.e., at the rear of pin deck 24, the polymer sheet 30 may be secured to the underlying lane surface by a pair of laterally spaced strips of thin double-sided adhesive tape 28 (FIG. 4). It is presently preferred to have these strips of tape basically at the corners, i.e., adjacent the number seven and number ten pin locations. The double-sided tape 27 at the foul line is preferably about two inches wide. The double-sided tape at 28 preferably is in pieces of about two inches wide by four inches long in dimension, both being very thin, preferably about 0.1 mm thick. The polymer sheet 30 may be a substantially clear sheet made of 100 percent polycarbonate.

In another embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 4-9, the extruded polymer sheet 30 may also comprise a first layer 35 and a second layer 37 underlying first layer 35. First and second layers 35 and 37 are preferably co-extruded. The extruded polymer sheet 30 is clear, i.e., generally transparent, when polycarbonate is used to form the extruded polymer sheet. The extruded polymer sheet may be provided with selected decorative effects underneath it. These decorative materials can be inserted as a film or web and removed at will since the polymer sheet is not glued or otherwise attached to the lane over its length. The decorative effects or advertising material may also be printed on or under the polymer sheet. Thus, for example, the undersurface material can have a simulated wood appearance, advertising material, or any suitable design or wording to suit special occasions or environments, corporate name, corporate logo, product name, organizational name or logo or other printed indicia. The second layer 37 can include in its thickness a coloring agent, an ultraviolet light blocker material, and/or an ultraviolet responsive pigment or dye material that is responsive to ultraviolet light to provide a special glow-in-the-dark effect similar to that described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,489,241; 5,529,541 and 5,888,142, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. Incorporation of the ultraviolet responsive material into the second layer is advantageous because, should scratches occur in the first layer, this will not adversely affect the ultraviolet lighting characteristics of the lanes. Nevertheless, the ultraviolet responsive material could alternatively be incorporated into the first layer.

The first layer 35 may comprise between about 5-20 percent of a lubricious polymeric material, i.e., TEFLON® (tetrafluoroethylene fluorocarbon, fluorinated ethylene-propylene, or copolymers thereof), and correspondingly 80-95 percent polycarbonate instead of being 100 percent polycarbonate material. When this is done, the thickness of the first polycarbonate layer is about 5-50 percent of the total thickness of the extruded polymer sheet. An extruded layer of TEFLON®/polycarbonate can be made by feeding beads, which are each made of 5-20 percent TEFLON® and correspondingly 80-95 percent polycarbonate, into the extruder.

According to another embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 4-9, the extruded polymer sheet 30 is composed of three laminated layers underlying one another including, a first polycarbonate layer, which is generally clear and may optionally include a lubricious polymeric material such as TEFLON® and/or an optical brightener, a second polycarbonate layer that is generally clear and contains an ultraviolet responsive pigment or dye, a color tint material, and an ultraviolet light blocker material, and a third polycarbonate layer 39, which also is generally clear. The third layer 39 may contain an ultraviolet light-blocking agent to protect the lane from fading, a color tint material, an optical brightening material, and/or an ultraviolet light blocker alone or in any combination. Preferably, the first, second, and third layers are co-extruded. Due to the co-extrusion, the first, second and third layers do not necessarily form discrete layers.

The use of TEFLON® in combination with polycarbonate in the first layer of the extruded polymer sheet reduces friction on the lane and creates a slight white color. When TEFLON® is added to the first layer, however, the coefficient of friction of the upper surface of the sheet material is comparable to that of an oiled lane surface. The slight white color of the TEFLON®/polycarbonate first layer is an advantage because it brightens the bowling lane under normal lighting conditions. Bowlers find bright lanes more appealing. The TEFLON®/polycarbonate first layer also typically creates a bowling surface with better texture. When TEFLON® is incorporated into the first or only layer, the extruded polymer layer is less glossy and has a generally matte appearance, making a matte finish treatment unnecessary. When TEFLON® is incorporated into the first layer, except for the relative thickness changes discussed above, the composition of the second and third polycarbonate layers, when used, remains as discussed above. Whether or not TEFLON® is used as a component in the first layer, the first or second polycarbonate layers may contain ultraviolet responsive pigments or dyes. The ultraviolet responsive pigment or dye may be a fluorescent glow-in-the-dark material that may have a slightly brown appearance under normal lighting conditions, or it may be clear with no visible coloration under normal lighting conditions. Of course, any combination of glow-in-the-dark ultraviolet responsive pigments or dyes may be used or the pigment or dye may be omitted entirely from the second polycarbonate layer in both embodiments. Likewise, as discussed above, the third layer may contain an ultraviolet light blocker, which protects the wood surface of the lane from becoming damaged.

As discussed previously, the polymer sheet 30 may be substantially clear 100 percent polycarbonate only. The approach 26 (FIGS. 4-6 and 8) may or may not have a polymer sheet 30 applied. If it is applied, preferably the polymer sheet 40 (FIG. 5) on the approach 26 will be at least as thick and preferably slightly thicker than polymer sheet 30 on the lane 14, so as not to interfere with the sliding action of the bowler. For example, if polymer sheet 30 is 1.25 mm thick, polymer sheet 40 is preferably between 1.5 and 2.0 mm thick up to the foul line 22 (FIG. 5). Since this approach polymer sheet 40 is traversed by the bowler who also slides on it, it has its forward edge adjacent the foul line secured by a thin layer of adhesive of double-sided adhesive tape 42 extending across the entire width of the approach layer 40, and at the rear edge of the approach, a layer 44 of thin double-sided adhesive tape extends the width of the approach. The double-sided tape at 42 and 44 is very thin, about 0.1 mm thick, and preferably about 2-3 inches wide. The double-sided adhesive tape contains a removable protective strip 29 over the adhesive on one side of the tape prior to attachment. Optionally, a fill-in strip 36 of polymeric material can be utilized between the approach sheets 40 of the adjacent lanes (FIG. 4).

The polymer sheet 30 shown in FIGS. 4-9 may be formed on a polymer extruder having a die orifice of selected width and height to produce the width and thickness of the polymer sheet 30. Preferably, a removable protective film is applied to at least one surface of polymer sheet 30 after the polymer is extruded. Polymer sheet 30 is then transported to the bowling establishment. Sheet 40 may be formed in the same or a similar way.

When installing the polymer sheet 30 on the bowling lane, a roll of polymer sheet 30 is typically used. Once the lane has been prepared, if necessary, by sanding the base coat finishing the existing lane surface, the roll of polymer sheet 30 is laid down on the bowling lane and unrolled over the area to be covered. Once unrolled, the protective film/layer may be removed from extruded polymer sheet 30 prior to installation. Unrolling the sheet and/or removing the protective film creates a static charge that attracts particles to the bottom surface of sheet 30. Typically, any remaining dust or other small particles on the lane surface adhere to the polymer sheet 30 due to the static forces. If this occurs, the sheet 30 may be inverted (flipped over). This exposes the particles attached to the polymer sheet 30 by the static forces such that they may be removed with a towel.

In order to easily flip the polymer sheet 30, the pin deck end of the polymer sheet is pulled over the polymer sheet until it lies on the approach 26. Then, the looped end is grasped and pulled onto the approach 26. There are now four polymer sheet sections overlying one another. Next, the bottom layer of the polymer sheet 30 is pulled out from the looped end (now located about 15 feet down the lane). When the installer approaches the pin deck end 24, the polymer sheet 30 will flop over itself. The material may then be positioned as needed.

If the sheet 40 is not used on the approach area 26, then the leading edge of the sheet material at the foul line 22 is laid after the underlying wood is beveled, e.g., about 1.5 mm deep at the foul line, for a sheet material of 1.25 mm in thickness, angling up to the rest of the lane surface in 6 inch distance or so as depicted in FIG. 6. This is to assure that polymer sheet 30 will not extend above the level of the approach so as to inhibit the bowler's sliding action in the event the bowler slides across the foul line. The sheet 30 is then slid, as necessary, until one end is adjacent the foul line 22 and the opposite end is at the far end of the pin deck 24. The top surface is preferably then cleaned with a slightly damp, lint-free towel bar or the like. This removes any dirt and dust from the polymeric sheet 30 and should especially be done if the sheet has been inverted to expose dust or other particles that were on the lane but that adhered to the sheet due to static forces, as discussed above.

Once the polymer sheet 30 is positioned so that it is straight and covers the entire lane surface, it can be temporarily attached to the lane with a few pieces of double-sided tape. It may be permanently attached. Then, a cutting tool of the type commonly used for cutting polymers is preferably employed to trim the side edges of the polymer sheet 30 so that the width of the sheet is equal to or slightly less than the underlying lane width. Preferably, the edges are about 0.1 mm or so less width than the lane, on each side of the lane but within the ABC guidelines. Then the front and back ends are trimmed to the proper length, if necessary. Preferably, the top surface of the sheet 30 is then buffed slightly as with a rotary floor machine, at least for the first approximately 30-45 feet of the lane. The cut edges are then smoothed and typically beveled.

After the surface of the extruded polymer sheet 30 is cleaned as necessary, it is attached at the foul line 22 with the double-sided tape 27 about 2 inches wide and about 0.1 mm thick over the width of the material. Two pieces of two-inch wide tape may also be used. For ease of installation, the double-sided tape should be attached to the lane first. It may be desired not to further secure the rear end of the polymer sheet 30 at the pin deck 24 until the lane has been used and/or conditioned with a common bowling lane conditioner a few times to assure that it lies completely flat. Ultimately, the rear end of the polymer sheet 30 is preferably attached to the underlying lane surface by a pair of approximately two inch by four inch pieces of double-sided tape 28 at the rear corners of the pin deck. The sheet material can be buffed periodically to assure uniformity of surface characteristics. With these simple steps completed, the sheet material has been found by extensive testing to be suitable for extended bowling.

The upper surface of polymer sheet 30 can be smooth or have a matte finish. As discussed above, when no TEFLON® is incorporated into the polycarbonate layer, treatment may be necessary to obtain a matte finish, while no such treatment is necessary when TEFLON® is used because the reconditioning layer is less glossy. If at any time it is desired to remove the polymer sheet 30 for treatment of the lane in any fashion, or applying decorative surfaces or the like beneath it, this can be readily done by simply releasing the double-sided tape at the ends and shifting the polymer sheet 30 off the lane.

Installation of the extruded polymer sheet 40 shown in FIGS. 4-9 on the approach is done in similar fashion except that the entire width of the sheet 40 on the approach has the double-sided tape 42 on both the edge portion adjacent the foul line and at 44 on the leading edge portion, as depicted in FIG. 4.

If it is desired to have a separate layer of material on the pin deck 24, this can be done in the manner indicated in FIG. 7 by having polymer sheet 30 terminate at the front of the pin deck 24, applying a separate layer 31 on the pin deck, there being underlying double-sided tape 28′ beneath the rear edge of polymer layer 30, and tape 28″ beneath the forward edge of layer 31, adjacent to each other, and a very thin layer of clear plastic film 33, e.g., about 0.005 inch thick, beneath both of these strips to tape. The tape may have an adhesive protective strip 29 on both sides (FIG. 6). However, typically the adhesive tape has a single top protective strip, and the adhesive is rolled onto the surface when applied. Once unrolled, the top protective strip 29 is removed to reveal the adhesive. Additionally, if there is another section of the lane, e.g., the head section, which is damaged, it can be cut out and replaced with material of appropriate length. A separate piece of a very thin clear plastic, with adhesive on one side, may also be used to adhere the sheet to the lane, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,795,152.

Also, a lubricious polymeric material containing lane finishing material may be applied as a lane finish directly to any portion of the surface of the lane, the pin deck or to the polymer sheet.

Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the invention contemplates the use of a synthetic sheet member, or overlay structure, generally designated 46, for covering, i.e. resurfacing, a bowling lane 10, and including the use of a plurality of mechanical fastening means, generally designated 50.

More particularly, overlay structure 46 may be fabricated of a relatively thick, homogeneous laminate sheet 52. A decorative layer 54 covers overlay structure 46 core 57 to simulate the appearance of a wood bowling lane. Decorative layer 54 may then be covered by at least one clear wear layer 55. It is anticipated that more than one wear layer may be applied, 55 and 55a. The top clear layer 56 and wear layers 55, 55a are provided for long wearing characteristics.

The majority of laminate sheet 52 may be fabricated of a homogeneous material constructed with layers of phenol-formaldehyde impregnated Kraft paper 0.007 inch thickness per sheet. Sheet 52 should be greater than {fraction (3/16)} inch thick and, preferably, on the order of {fraction (7/16)} inch thick for accommodating mechanical fastening means 50 as described hereinafter. In relation to the screw fasteners described hereinafter, the sheet is on the order of three times the height of the head of one of the screws.

Decorative layer 54 may be fabricated by a melamineformaldehyde impregnated alpha-cellulose 65# basis weight paper with cured thickness on the order of 0.006-0.008 inch or any other suitable product. The decorative layer paper may be pre-dried and tension-controlled during impregnation to minimize any sheet width variation.

Laminate sheet 52 may be made using extremely high pressures. The core 57 may be made with phenolic Kraft paper layers or other suitable product, and fused with the decorative layer 54 and the wear layer(s) 55, 55a in a single process. All the layers may be individually resin soaked by running the sheets through a resin bath, and then dried before processing. The layers may then be stacked to yield the desired final laminate thickness. The decorative layer 54 may be stacked on top of the core 57, with the wear layer(s) 55, 55a and final clear layer 56 on top of the decorative layer 54 (FIG. 11). The finished laminate sheet 52 may be a one-piece homogeneous structure. A mirror image of the decorative layer 154, wear layer(s) 155, 155a and clear layer 156 may be produced on both sides of the core 57 (FIG. 11) for dimensional stability, it being understood that clear top 56, wear layer(s) 55, 55a and decorative layer 54 are those layers visible to an observer viewing the lane.

Mechanical fastening means 50 are in the form of screws 58 extending through overlay structure 46 for securement to lane 14, as shown. The screws extend through drilled holes 60, the holes being countersunk, as at 62, to accommodate the heads 64 of the screws 58 in recesses 66 in the upper surface of the sheet. After the screws 58 are embedded to securely fix the sheet to the existing lane, a plurality of disc-shaped plugs 68 may be inserted by a press fit into recesses 66 sufficient to be substantially flush with the upper surface of overlay structure 46. The plugs 68 may be fabricated similar to the laminate sheet, including a decorative layer to match the decorative layer of the sheet, but simply of a thinner construction.

Referring to FIGS. 12-17, another embodiment of the present invention with printed indicia on the bowling lanes will be described. In FIG. 12, a bowling lane assembly 74 is shown and is similar to the previously described bowling lane assembly 12, and similar parts appearing in FIG. 12 are represented by the same, corresponding reference numerals. Bowling lane assembly 74 has an approach area 26, a lane area 14 and a pin deck area (not shown). Gutters 16 straddle either side of the lane 14 and a foul line 22 is located at the juncture of the lane 14 and the approach 26. In this embodiment, a transparent synthetic overlay structure 46, as described with reference to FIGS. 10 and 11, overlays bowling lane assembly 74. The overlay structure 46 may cover all or a portion of the approach 26, pin deck area 24 and lane 14. As described with reference to FIGS. 10 and 11, the overlay structure 46 is securely attached to the bowling lane assembly 74. The overlay structure 46 includes printed indicia that are visible through the overlay structure 46 and can be seen to the casual observers viewing the lane. For instance, the printed indicia is large enough to be be seen while standing on the approach 26 and viewing the pin deck area 14. The printed indicia may be placed on the core 57, decorative layer 54 or wear layer(s) 55, 55a of the overlay structure 46. The printed indicia may include a wide variety of printed material to create messages and/or ornament the interior of the bowling center. For instance, the printed indicia may take the form of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name and an organizational logo or any other form of organizational information, product information or slogans or advertising information. The printed indicia 76 shown in FIG. 12 is a corporate name identifying the manufacturer of the bowling equipment. The type of printed indicia chosen depends upon the needs of the bowling center, it being understood to those skilled in the art that the printed indicia chosen is more permanent in nature due to its application on the bowling lane 14.

FIGS. 13-16 show bowling lane assemblies similar to the previously described bowling lane assembly 12 with similar parts appearing in FIGS. 13-16 and represented by the same, corresponding reference numerals. Bowling lane assembly 84 shown in FIG. 13 shows another embodiment of the present invention with the use of a slogan as the printed indicia 86. FIG. 14 shows a bowling lane assembly 94 with the bowling establishment's name as the printed indicia 96 located on the lane 14. FIG. 15 shows another embodiment of the present invention with printed indicia 86, 96 located on the lane area 14 and approach 26, respectively. It should be understood that any combination of printed indicia, e.g., corporate name with advertising material, etc. can be placed anywhere on the bowling lane, e.g., approach and lane, or approach and pin deck. In addition, the printed indicia can be in any orientation on the lane, e.g., along the length of the lane as shown in FIGS. 12-15, or across the lane as shown in FIG. 16. The orientation may also be diagonal, circular, etc. The combinations of application and printed indicia are limitless and anticipated as being within the scope of the invention.

The printed indicia may be applied to the overlay structure 46 on the core 57, decorative layer 54 or wear layer(s) 55, 55a. The printed indicia may be applied to the overlay structure 46 by any one of a number of different suitable processes, such as printing using an ink jet printer or any other suitable processes. The printed indicia may be applied to the bowling lane assembly 12, 74, 84, 94 without the use of an overlay structure 46 by any one of a number of different suitable processes.

With reference to FIG. 17 and FIGS. 12-16, a method of advertising on a bowling lane will be described. The method of advertising on a bowling lane wherein the bowling lane has an approach area, a pin deck area and a lane area includes step 100 of providing printed indicia for placement on the bowling lane such that the printed indicia is visible to an observer viewing the bowling lane (FIG. 17). The printed indicia may include a wide variety of printed material to create messages and/or ornament the interior of the bowling center. For instance, the printed indicia may take the form of a corporate name, a corporate logo, a product name, an organizational name, an organizational logo or any other form of organizational information, product information or slogans, or advertising information. The method of advertising may further include step 102 of providing one or more generally transparent overlay structures overlying at least a portion of the approach, lane or pin deck area. In substep 104 of step 102, the printed indicia may be on the overlay structure such that the printed indicia are visible and protected by the overlay structure. The method of advertising may also include step 106 of providing the overlay structure with at least one of a core layer, decorative layer, wear layer(s) and clear layer, and substep 108 of step 106 includes placing the printed indicia on at least one of the core layer, decorative layer, wear layer and clear layer. Alternatively the method of advertising may be accomplished by applying the printed indicia to the bowling lane assembly by any one of a number of different suitable processes.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.