Title:
Interchangeable durometer coupling ring cleat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A removable cleat is described. A ground-engaging element is composed of a first material, and has a vertical axis, a lower ground engaging end, and an upper end. A coupling element is composed of a second material, and has a vertical axis, a lower end connected to the upper end of the ground-engaging element, and an upper end having an attaching structure for removably attaching the upper end to a shoe. One material is relatively harder and more rigid, permitting the cleat to withstand forces accompanying a non-slipping engagement. The other material is relatively softer and more pliant, permitting the cleat to absorb a shock produced when the shoe strikes a surface, thereby diminishing the shock transmitted to the encased foot.



Inventors:
Wayne I Jr., Schmitt (Dudley, MA, US)
Application Number:
09/747922
Publication Date:
06/27/2002
Filing Date:
12/21/2000
Assignee:
SCHMITT WAYNE I.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/67D
International Classes:
A43B13/18; A43C15/16; (IPC1-7): A43B5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sunstein LLP (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A removable cleat comprising: (a) a ground-engaging element composed of a first material having a vertical axis, a lower ground engaging end, and an upper end; (b) a coupling element composed of a second material and having a vertical axis, a lower end connected to the upper end of the ground-engaging element, and an upper end having an attaching structure for removably attaching the upper end to a shoe; wherein: (i) one material is relatively harder and more rigid, permitting the cleat to withstand forces accompanying a non-slipping engagement, and (ii) the other material is relatively softer and more pliant, permitting the cleat to absorb a shock produced when the shoe strikes a surface, thereby diminishing the shock transmitted to the encased foot.

2. A removable cleat according to claim 1, wherein the ground-engaging element and the coupling element are inseparable.

3. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the ground-engaging element upper end has an engaging structure and the coupling element has a receiving structure; wherein the engaging structure and the receiving structure are adapted to removably attach the ground-engaging element and the coupling element.

4. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the first material is softer than the second material.

5. A removable cleat as in claim 4, wherein the first material is natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic.

6. A removable cleat as in claim 4, wherein the second material is nylon, acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic, or metal.

7. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the first material is harder than the second material.

8. A removable cleat as in claim 7, wherein the first material is acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic, or metal.

9. A removable cleat as in claim 7, wherein the second material is natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic.

10. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the first material has a distinguishing appearance relative to the second material.

11. A removable cleat as in claim 10, wherein the distinguishing appearance between the first and second material is that each material retains a distinctive color.

12. A removable cleat as in claim 10, wherein as the ground-engaging element wears away, the coupling element becomes more visible.

13. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the ground engaging element has an outer circumference and plurality of projections arranged around the outer circumference.

14. A removable cleat as in claim 1, wherein the lower end of the coupling element contains a ledge around its circumference conformed to the shape of the ground-engaging projections.

15. A removable cleat comprising: (a.) a ground-engaging element of a first material having a vertical cylindrical axis, a lower ground-engaging end, and an upper end having an engaging structure for removably attaching the ground-engaging element to a receiving structure on the sole of a shoe; (b.) a coupling element of a second material concentric with the vertical cylindrical axis of the ground-engaging element, and having an upper end and a lower end such that the lower end is in contact with the ground-engaging element and the upper end is in contact with the sole of the shoe when the cleat is attached to the shoe; wherein: (i) one material is harder and more rigid, permitting the cleat to withstand the forces accompanying a non-slipping engagement; and (ii) one material is softer and more pliant, permitting the cleat to absorb the shock produced when the shoe strikes a surface, thereby diminishing the shock transmitted to the encased foot.

16. A removable cleat according to claim 15, wherein the ground-engaging element and the coupling element are inseparable.

17. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the ground-engaging element upper end has an engaging structure and the coupling element has a receiving structure; wherein the engaging structure and the receiving structure are adapted to removably attach the ground-engaging element and the coupling element.

18. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the first material is softer than the second material.

19. A removable cleat as in claim 18, wherein the first material is natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic.

20. A removable cleat as in claim 8, wherein the second material is nylon, acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic, or metal.

21. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the first material is harder than the second material.

22. A removable cleat as in claim 21 wherein the first material is acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic or metal.

23. A removable cleat as in claim 21, wherein the second material is natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic.

24. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the first material has a distinguishing appearance relative to the second material.

26. A removable cleat as in claim 24, wherein the distinguishing appearance between the first and second material is that each material retains a distinctive color.

27. A removable cleat as in claim 24, wherein as the ground-engaging element wears away, the coupling element becomes more visible.

28. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the ground engaging element has an outer circumference and plurality of projections arranged around the outer circumference.

29. A removable cleat as in claim 15, wherein the lower end of the coupling element contains a ledge around its circumference conformed to the shape of the ground-engaging projections.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a traction-enhancing mechanism mounted on the sole of footwear, particularly for athletic footwear.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The concept of the athletic cleat is to provide stability to the athlete by grasping the athletic surface thereby prohibiting inordinate slipping of the athletic shoe. Therefore, the cleat must be manufactured from a material firm enough to withstand the considerable force exerted upon it when engaged in a grasping activity. However, the firmness causes the cleat to be relatively inflexible. Therefore, the shock produced when the shoe strikes the surface is transmitted to the foot encased in the shoe. Over an extended period of use, the user's foot would experience discomfort and fatigue under the repeated stress. This experience would be exaggerated using a hard cleat on a hard surface. A softer cleat could be used to cushion the blow but at the expense of losing necessary traction. A single unit cleat with an inner layer of a first material and an outer layer of a second material, where one could be soft and the other hard, is used in the MacNeill Engineering Dual Density Plastic Cleat for Footwear System ( described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,996,260, issued Dec. 7, 1999, which is incorporated herein by reference). However, a cleat that could be customized by the athlete at the athlete's convenience has not been offered.

SUMMARY

[0003] The present invention provides a removable cleat for athletic footwear. A representative embodiment has a ground-engaging element made of a first material with a vertical axis and upper and lower ends. The lower end is involved in grasping the athletic surface thereby providing traction, and at the upper end is an attachment structure for attaching the element to a coupling element. The coupling element is composed of a second material with a vertical axis and upper and lower ends. At the lower end is an attachment structure for attaching to the ground-engaging element, and at the upper end is an attachment structure for attaching to the sole of a shoe. In this embodiment, one of the materials is made of a harder, more rigid material while the other material consists of a softer, more pliant material.

[0004] In such an embodiment, the first material may be manufactured from a relatively softer material—e.g. natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic. The second material may be manufactured from a relatively harder material—e.g. nylon, acetal, hard polyurethane, or metal. However, in other embodiments the first material may be manufactured from the relatively harder material and the second material may be manufactured from a relatively softer material.

[0005] In addition, the ground-engaging element and the coupling element may be inseparable. However, in an alternative embodiment, the two elements may be removably attached. Further, these materials may have a distinguishing appearance relative to each other, such as a distinctive color. In such an embodiment, when the first material wears away, the second material becomes externally visible.

[0006] In some embodiments, the ground-engaging element has an outer circumference and a plurality of projections arranged around an the outer circumference. In such an embodiment, the coupling element may contain a ledge around its circumference conformed to the shape of the ground-engaging element projections.

[0007] Another representative embodiment is a removable cleat for footwear which has a ground-engaging element of a first material having a vertical, cylindrical axis, a lower ground-engaging end, and an upper end. The upper end has an engaging structure for removably attaching the ground-engaging element to a receiving structure on the sole of a shoe. The coupling element is composed of a second material and has a vertical, cylindrical axis, which is larger in diameter than the ground-engaging element. It has a lower end connected to the upper end of the ground-engaging element, and an upper end.

[0008] In such an embodiment, the coupling element lower end is in contact with the ground-engaging element, and the coupling element upper end is in contact with the sole of the shoe preceding attachment of the ground-engaging element to the receiving structure of the shoe.

[0009] One material is harder and more rigid, permitting the cleat to withstand the forces accompanying a non-slipping engagement while one material is softer and more pliant, permitting the cleat to absorb the shock produced when the shoe strikes a surface, thereby diminishing the shock transmitted to the encased foot. The harder material may be manufactured from acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic, or metal. The softer material may be manufactured from natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic. Also, the first material may have a distinguishing appearance from the second material such as a distinctive color. Hence, when the ground-engaging element wears away the coupling element becomes more visible.

[0010] In such an embodiment, the ground-engaging element my have an outer circumference and a plurality of projections arranged around the outer circumference. In addition, the coupling element may contain a ledge around its circumference and is conformed to the shape of the ground-engaging projections.

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is an elevated bottom view of the cleat with the ground-engaging element and the coupling element connected.

[0012] FIG. 2 is an elevated bottom view of the ground-engaging element.

[0013] FIG. 3 is an elevated bottom view of the coupling element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

[0014] FIG. 1 illustrates a separable dual density component cleat 10 according to a representative embodiment of the present invention. The cleat 10 has two main structures, a ground engaging element 20 (shown separately in FIG. 2) and a coupling element 30 (shown separately in FIG. 3).

[0015] The ground engaging element 20 has eight projections 24 that are arranged around the outer circumference, with the projections emanating radially from a central disk 22. The ground engaging element 20 is concave on the ground side so that the projections 24 are the first part of the entire cleat 10 to make contact with the ground. Therefore, the projections 24 absorb some of the shock before the central disk 22 contacts the surface.

[0016] The coupling element 30 has a wall 32 that defines a cavity 34 wherein sits a vertical cylindrical axis element 28 of the ground-engaging element 20. A ledge portion 36 along the outer circumference of the coupling element 30 is shaped to conform to the projections 24 on the ground-engaging element 20 such as a lock and key. At the junction 14 where the ground-engaging element 20 and the coupling element 30 meet, the two elements may be inseparably joined together as formed during a cleat manufacturing process. Alternatively, the ground-engaging element 20 and the coupling element 30 may be made to be removably connectable by the user.

[0017] In one embodiment, the coupling element 30 is removably attachable using an attaching structure on the upper end to a receiving receptacle on a shoe. In another embodiment, vertical cylindrical axis element 28 of the ground-engaging element 20 traverses the cavity 34 of the coupling element 30 and attaches reversibly to the sole of the shoe. In either embodiment, attachment of the cleat 10 to a shoe brings the upper end of the coupling element 30 into contact with the sole of the shoe, and the lower end of the coupling element is in intimate contact with the ground engaging element 20.

[0018] The attachment structure for the attachment of the ground-engaging element 20 to the coupling element 30, the coupling element 30 to the shoe sole, or the ground-engaging element 20 to the shoe sole can be any means of attachment: directly screwing the cleat into the sole of the shoe by having threads adapted on the cleat to interlock with a threaded receptacle in the sole; using separate screws to attach the cleat to the sole; a latching device on the sole of the shoe to attach the cleat; or a primary connector as used in the MacNeill Engineering Q-lok™ System (described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,768,809, issued Jun. 23, 1998, which is incorporated herein by reference).

[0019] In representative embodiments of the present invention, the ground-engaging element 20 and the coupling element 30 are made of different materials having different durometer hardnesses. Thus, the material of one element is softer than the material of the other element to provide shock-absorbing cushioning, while the harder material of the other element provides the force resisting strength for the cleat to properly engage the turf. The relatively soft deformable material may be, for example, natural rubber, thermoplastic, soft polyvinyl-chloride, soft polyurethane, or soft plastic. The relatively harder material may be, for example, nylon, acetal, hard polyurethane, hard plastic, or metal.

[0020] The different materials may be distinctively color-coded. Over a period of use, if the material of the ground-engaging element 20 is relatively softer and wears thin, then the contrasting color of the coupling element 30 emerges around its circumference when looking at the ground side of the cleat 20. Therefore, the user has an easy method for detecting the wear condition of the cleat 20 to determine when the cleat should be replaced.

[0021] In addition, color-coding the materials of the ground-engaging element 20 and the coupling ring 30 allows the cleat 10 to be manufactured and marketed in an array of different hardness and softness combinations that allows a user to use the color-coding to select a specific hardness and softness combination cleat 10 suitable for anticipated turf conditions and the user's own preferences. For instance, over hard dry turf the user may prefer a cleat 10 having a high softness element to provide additional shock absorption. On the other hand, over soft wet turf the user would likely prefer that both elements of the cleat 10 have relatively high hardness to provide additional strength when shock absorption is not needed. This process may be especially convenient in an embodiment where the the ground-engaging element 20 and the coupling element 30 are removably separable by the user so that the material of each may be mixed and matched at will. In any case, in various embodiments, either the ground engaging element or the coupling element may contain the softer cushioning material, while the other element would contain the harder strength providing material.

[0022] The above description of the drawings provides details of representative embodiments of the present invention. However, the present invention is not limited to the description set forth. Various modifications of this invention as described will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of this invention as defined in the claims.





 
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