Title:
TOOTHBRUSH COVER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An accessory for a flexible toothbrush that is “prison-safe” and also lightweight and compact and therefore ideal for travel is disclosed. More particularly, the invention comprises a toothbrush cover that is made from flexible material having elastic properties so that the cover can deform and fit around the toothbrush, then subsequently return to its original shape.



Inventors:
Kayser, Steven L. (Ferndale, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/125195
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/22/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/63.5, 206/361, 206/362.4, 206/368
International Classes:
A46B17/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030168500Decorative six-pack bottle gift wrapSeptember, 2003Thomson-outlaw
20060108242Unlatching apparatus for media disk caddyMay, 2006Christensen et al.
20090114655WATER STORAGE TANKMay, 2009Weatherstone et al.
20090152160Disposable diaper changing assemblyJune, 2009Thompson et al.
20060180491Nesting and stacking storage crateAugust, 2006Zephir et al.
20080053854Systems and methods for packaging trays of plantletsMarch, 2008Moerkerken et al.
20050035015Packaging for a dental implantFebruary, 2005Bressler et al.
20060065569Novelty item containersMarch, 2006Jiang-stein
20080078682EMERGENCY OPERATIONS INCIDENT COMMAND KIT AND METHOD OF USEApril, 2008Clark et al.
20040084346Nestably stacking container with outer sleeveMay, 2004Candy
20080164170Tool caddy having carrier proximate center of gravityJuly, 2008Kirtlink



Primary Examiner:
FIDEI, DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lewis Kohn & Walker LLP (15030 Avenue of Science Suite 201, San Diego, CA, 92128, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cover for a toothbrush for preventing bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush while not in use, the cover comprising: a base portion for securely fitting over and around a toothbrush head; an upper portion for fitting over and protecting toothbrush bristles; and a pair of retaining ribs to secure the head of the toothbrush to the cover.

2. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, the base portion having an inside width, the corresponding toothbrush head having a width, the toothbrush head width greater than the base portion inside width, wherein the base portion can elastically deform and subsequently retain its original shape so that the base portion is able to fit around the toothbrush head and secure the toothbrush head.

3. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, the base portion comprising an inner wall, the inner wall having a shape to matingly receive a shape of the toothbrush head.

4. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising vent holes.

5. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising: a vent holes located on an end of the cover; a vent hole on a bottom of the base portion; and a vent hole on a top of the upper portion.

6. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising an air gap between the upper portion and the toothbrush bristles.

7. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the cover comprises flexible material, the flexible material not easily forged into a device that could be used as a weapon.

8. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising a length, the length approximately in the range of 1⅜ inches to 1½ inches.

9. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising semi-transparent material.

10. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising material chosen from the group consisting essentially of polyurethane, silicone, neoprene, EDPM, nitrile, fluoroelastomers, natural rubber, styrenebutadiene rubber, thermoplastic elastomers, polyvinyl alcohol, PMMA, polyamide, polyester terephthalate, polycarbonate, polyetherimide, polyethylene (LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE, and blends), polypropylene and copolymers, polysulfone, polyvinyl chloride, viton, PUNA nitrile, carboxylated nitrile, polysulfides, alpha olfen elastomers, conjugated diene elastomers, hydrogenated diene elastomers, ethylene carboxylate, ethylene-propylene-diene elastomers, functionalized ethylene-vinyl acetate, SB-diblock copolymers, SBS, SEBS and SIBS-triblock copolymers, and acrylic rubber.

11. A method of covering a toothbrush to prevent bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush while not in use, the method comprising: providing a flexible cover open at an end, the flexible cover having a base portion and an upper portion; deforming elastically the flexible cover open at an end so that the cover can fit over a head of the toothbrush; and maintaining an original shape of the toothbrush subsequent to the deforming elastically and fitting the cover over the head of the toothbrush.

12. The method of covering a toothbrush of claim 11, further comprising venting the cover with vent holes.

13. The method of covering a toothbrush of claim 11, further comprising shaping an inner wall of the base portion to the same shape as a head of the toothbrush, the inner wall matingly receiving the head of the toothbrush.

14. The method of covering a toothbrush of claim 11, further comprising molding the flexible cover from semi-transparent material.

15. A cover for a toothbrush head for preventing bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush head while not in use, the cover comprising: a base portion having an inner wall, the inner wall having a shape corresponding to a shape of the toothbrush head; and flexible material wherein the base portion can elastically deform to fit around the toothbrush head and subsequently retain an original shape to secure the toothbrush head.

16. The cover for a toothbrush head of claim 15 further comprising: an upper portion for fitting over and protecting toothbrush bristles; and a pair of retaining ribs to secure the head of the toothbrush to the cover.

17. The cover for a toothbrush head of claim 15 Her comprising vent holes, the vent holes preventing the cover from retaining liquid.

18. The cover for a toothbrush head of claim 15, the base portion having an inside width, the corresponding toothbrush head having a width, the toothbrush head width greater than the base portion inside width, wherein the base portion can elastically deform and subsequently retain its original shape so that the base portion is able to fit around the toothbrush head and secure the toothbrush head.

19. The cover for a toothbrush of claim 15, further comprising material chosen from the group consisting essentially of polyurethane, silicone, neoprene, EDPM, nitrile, fluoroelastomers, natural rubber, styrenebutadiene rubber, thermoplastic elastomers, polyvinyl alcohols PMMA, polyamide, polyester terephthalate, polycarbonate, polyetherimide, polyethylene (LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE, and blends), polypropylene and copolymers, polysulfone, polyvinyl chloride, viton, PUNA nitrile, carboxylated nitrile, polysulfides, alpha olfen elastomers, conjugated diene elastomers, hydrogenated diene elastomers, ethylene carboxylate, ethylene-propylene-diene elastomers, functionalized ethylene-vinyl acetate, SB-diblock copolymers, SBS, SEBS and SIBS-triblock copolymers, and acrylic rubber.

20. The cover for a toothbrush head of claim 15, further comprising a length, the length approximately in the range of 1⅜ inches to 1½ inches.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention pertains generally to toothbrush devices and accessories in addition to inmate-safe hygiene products for the correctional services market. More specifically, the present invention relates to inmate hygiene products having safety features to prevent the product from being used to cause harm to individuals. The present invention is particularly, but not exclusively, useful as a flexible inmate-safe toothbrush cover.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Regular brushing of teeth is considered paramount to healthy oral hygiene and prevention of tooth decay. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends individuals brush their teeth at least twice a day to remove decay-causing plaque and tarter as protection against developing cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Moreover, in 2003 the toothbrush was recognized as the number one invention Americans could not live without beating out the automobile, computer, cell phone, and microwave oven according to the Lemelson-MIT Invention index. Toothbrush covering devices are additionally important to keep toothbrushes clean and free of bacteria between uses.

Heretofore, toothbrush covering devices have been well known in the art as early as the invention described in TOOTHBRUSH HOLDER, U.S. Pat. No. 2,956,851 to Merendino issued in 1960. Numerous other examples exist and while these devices fulfill their respective objectives, there remains a need for novel hygiene products specifically designed for the correctional services market while also having attractive features applicable to the overall retail toothbrush market.

Prisons and other detention systems monitor devices permitted to be used by inmates to prevent the use of an otherwise safe device as a weapon. For example, conventional toothbrushes and toothbrush containers are not permitted to be used by many prison systems because they may be fashioned into a pointed shaft or rod or otherwise used as a shank for a sharp object such as a razor blade, which could be used to endanger inmates as well as other security personnel. Similarly, toothbrush covers made of rigid plastic could also be forged into sharp objects. Also, some toothbrush covers could be used by inmates to throw urine or chemicals at guards or other inmates or to pass illegal substances such as powdered drugs between inmates.

Present inventor Kayser and assignee of the present invention, Loops, LLC have proposed other hygiene products with applicability to the correctional market such as TOOTHBRUSH AND METHODS OF MAKING AND USING SAME, U.S. Pat. No. 7,334,286, U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2007/0226931, U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2006/0037160; PACKAGED TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHBRUSH CONTAINER AND METHODS OF MAKING SAME, U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2007/0119736; and METHOD OF USING DENTAL FLOSS, U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2005/0257801. As stated herein, additional hygiene products are needed in the market.

In light of the situation described herein, it is an object of the present invention to provide a Toothbrush Cover that is a secure fit to existing toothbrushes on the correctional market. It is another object of the present invention to provide a cover for a toothbrush that is made of relatively soft, lightweight flexible material that can not be easily fashioned into a weapon. It is still another object of the present invention to provide a toothbrush cover that will not retain liquid that may be used by inmates for purposes other than for covering a toothbrush. It is yet still another object of the present invention to provide a toothbrush cover configured for existing toothbrushes that is well suited for travelers or backpackers because of its small size and light weight. It is still further an object of the present invention to provide a toothbrush cover with simple retention means.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above mentioned deficiencies associated with the prior art. More particularly, the present invention in a first aspect is a cover for a toothbrush for preventing bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush while not in use, the cover comprising: a base portion for securely fitting over and around a toothbrush head; an upper portion for fitting over and protecting toothbrush bristles; and a pair of retaining ribs to secure the head of the toothbrush to the cover.

The invention is further characterized in that the base portion has an inside width, also the corresponding toothbrush head has a width, the toothbrush head width greater than the base portion inside width, wherein the base portion can elastically deform and subsequently retain its original shape so that the base portion is able to fit around the toothbrush head and secure the toothbrush head. As an alternative to retaining ribs, the inner wall has a shape to matingly receive a shape of the toothbrush head. Yet further, the invention comprises vent holes to allow for some fresh air flow to the device while in use, and also to prevent the device from being able to hold liquids, for example, in the correctional environment. More specifically, vent holes are located on an end of the cover, on a bottom of the base portion, and on top of the upper portion. Yet still further, an air gap between the upper portion and the toothbrush bristles further assists ventilation of the device.

The cover of the present invention comprises flexible material that is not easily forged into a device that could be used as a weapon. The invention further comprises a length, the length approximately in the range of 1⅜ inches to 1½ inches.

It is further contemplated that the invention be made from transparent or semi-transparent material. It is also contemplated that the invention be made from material with favorable ductile properties, such as elastomers. More specifically, the invention comprises material chosen from the group consisting essentially of polyurethane, silicone, neoprene, EDPM, nitrile, fluoroelastomers, natural rubber, styrenebutadiene rubber, thermoplastic elastomers, polyvinyl alcohol, PMMA, polyamide, polyester terephthalate, polycarbonate, polyetherimide, polyethylene (LDPE, HDPE, LLDPE, and blends), polypropylene and copolymers, polysulfone, polyvinyl chloride, viton, PUNA nitrile, carboxylated nitrile, polysulfides, alpha olfen elastomers, conjugated diene elastomers, hydrogenated diene elastomers, ethylene carboxylate, ethylene-propylene-diene elastomers, functionalized ethylene-vinyl acetate, SB-diblock copolymers, SBS, SEBS and SIBS-triblock copolymers, and acrylic rubber.

In a second aspect, the invention can be characterized as a method of covering a toothbrush to prevent bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush while not in use, the method comprising: providing a flexible cover open at an end, the flexible cover having a base portion and an upper portion; deforming elastically the flexible cover open at an end so that the cover can fit over a head of the toothbrush; and maintaining an original shape of the toothbrush subsequent to the deforming elastically and fitting the cover over the head of the toothbrush.

Further, the method of the invention comprises venting the cover with vent holes. Additional method steps of the invention include shaping an inner wall of the base portion to the same shape as a head of the toothbrush, the inner wall matingly receiving the head of the toothbrush. The method additionally comprises molding the flexible cover from semi-transparent material.

In a third aspect, the invention may be characterized as a cover for a toothbrush head for preventing bacteria and contaminants from depositing on the toothbrush head while not in use, the cover comprising: a base portion having an inner wall, the inner wall having a shape corresponding to a shape of the toothbrush head; and flexible material wherein the base portion can elastically deform to fit around the toothbrush head and subsequently retain an original shape to secure the toothbrush head.

The cover is further characterized in that it additionally comprises an upper portion for fitting over and protecting toothbrush bristles; and a pair of retaining ribs to secure the head of the toothbrush to the cover.

These, as well as other advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following description and drawings. It is understood that changes in the specific structure shown and described may be made within the scope of the claims, without departing from the spirit of the invention.

While the apparatus and method has or will be described for the sake of grammatical fluidity with functional explanations, it is to be expressly understood that the claims, unless expressly formulated under 35 USC 112, are not to be construed as necessarily limited in any way by the construction of “means” or “steps” limitations, but are to be accorded the full scope of the meaning and equivalents of the definition provided by the claims under the judicial doctrine of equivalents, and in the case where the claims are expressly formulated under 35 USC 112 are to be accorded full statutory equivalents under 35 USC 112.

The invention can be better visualized by turning now to the following drawings wherein like elements are expressed using like reference characters.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features of this invention, as well as the invention itself, both as to its structure and its operation, will be best understood from the accompanying drawings, taken in conjunction with the accompanying description, in which similar reference characters refer to similar parts, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective illustration of a preferred embodiment of the present invention axially aligned to a toothbrush;

FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of an invention embodiment as viewed from an open end;

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the embodiments illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 as viewed from a closed end;

FIG. 4 is an end view of the present invention covering a toothbrush as viewed from line 4-4 in FIG. 8C;

FIG. 5 is an end view as in FIG. 4, however, without the toothbrush illustrated;

FIG. 6 is sectional view of the present invention along sectional lines 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the present invention along sectional lines 7-7 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8A is a bottom view of an invention embodiment axially aligned to a toothbrush to compare a toothbrush head width to an invention inside wall width;

FIG. 8B is a bottom view illustrating elastic deformation of the present invention; and

FIG. 8C is a bottom view illustrating the invention returning to its original shape subsequent to the elastic deformation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Referring initially to FIG. 1 a preferred embodiment 100 of the present invention is illustrated axially aligned to a toothbrush 110. Cover 100 is intended to prevent bacteria and contaminants from depositing on toothbrush bristles 112 while not in use. Since the embodiment 100 just covers the toothbrush head 111, it is also a less expensive alternative to a toothbrush cover that covers the entire toothbrush 110.

Base portion 120 defines a lower part of the device 100 that encompasses the toothbrush head 111. Similarly, upper portion 130 generally defines an upper part of the device 100 that surrounds the toothbrush head 111. Various vent holes 150, 160, 170 are provided to vent an area inside the toothbrush cover and to ensure the device 100 is not used, for example in a prison environment, to throw urine or chemicals, at guards or inmates. Additionally, vent holes 150, 160, 170, make it more difficult for the device 100 to be useful to store or pass drugs, also for example in a correctional environment.

FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 further illustrate vent holes 150, 160, 170 of the present invention may be either on a top, a bottom, or an end of the device 100, respectively. FIG. 4 illustrates an end view of invention 100 and a toothbrush inserted thereto. This particular view shows a relatively small air gap 180 between the toothbrush bristles 112 and an upper inside wall of the device 100. FIG. 4 is seen along line 4-4 in FIG. 8C and, as stated, has an air gap 180 with a relatively small tolerance.

FIG. 5 illustrates an end view similar to that in FIG. 4, however, without the toothbrush illustrated. FIG. 5 further shows lines 6-6 and 7-7 illustrating sectional lines for sectional views in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7. As shown, base portion 120 includes an inside wall 141. Additionally, the invention embodiment 100 comprises a pair of retaining ribs 140 that hold the toothbrush head 111 in place. Open end 144 receives the toothbrush head 111 as further illustrated in FIGS. 8A through 8C. A length of the cover 100 is represented by length l. By way of example, length l is approximately in the range of 1⅜ inches to 1½ inches.

As an alternative embodiment, inside wall 141 is shaped specifically to receive a shape of the toothbrush head 111. In this embodiment, retaining ribs 140 will be less pronounced and most closely follow the shape of toothbrush head 111.

Referring to FIGS. 8A through 8C, toothbrush cover, open at an end 144, has a width w1 associated with the inside wall 141 retaining ribs 140. Width w1 is greater than a width w2 corresponding to the toothbrush head 111. Cover 100 further comprises a flexible toothbrush cover made of material with favorable ductile properties. Accordingly as shown in FIGS. 8B and 8C, when the toothbrush 110 is inserted to the cover 100, the cover 100 is able to elastically deform 143 and subsequently return to its original shape (FIG. 8C). Reference character 143 represents a portion 143 that elastically deforms. Importantly, cover 100 is made from flexible material and cover 100 is able to be folded over upon itself and then return to its original shape. The flexible, ductile and relatively soft material is not easily forged in to a weapon, by prison inmates, for example. Additionally, cover 100 is made from transparent or semi-transparent material.

While the particular Toothbrush Cover as herein shown and disclosed in detail is fully capable of obtaining the objects and providing the advantages herein before stated, it is to be understood that it is merely illustrative of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention and that no limitations are intended to the details of construction or design herein shown other than as described in the appended claims.

Insubstantial changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalently within the scope of the claims. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements.