Title:
Article of manufacture and method for improving handling and performance of sports equipment and for advertising thereon
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sleeve for placement over an ice or street hockey stick or other piece of sports equipment on the portion thereof that contacts a puck or ball includes a pattern that imparts greater spin to the ball or puck when struck, is made of a dampening material that deadens the puck or ball against the stick or a resilient material that increases the speed of the puck or ball when struck, and/or includes advertising indicia thereon.



Inventors:
Westerlund, Ulf Anders Paulson (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/142647
Publication Date:
11/28/2002
Filing Date:
05/09/2002
Assignee:
WESTERLUND ULF ANDERS PAULSON
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B59/00; A63B59/12; A63B59/14; (IPC1-7): A63B59/12; A63B59/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John M. Johnson (New York, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A sleeve adapted to be placed over at least a portion of a blade of a hockey stick, comprising: a single-piece, substantially tubular member having at least one open end for placement over a hockey stick and having a face with a pattern thereon for contact with a puck or ball, said sleeve being removable from and re-attachable to the hockey stock.

2. The sleeve according to claim 1 comprised of an elastomeric material.

3. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein the pattern comprises groves.

4. The sleeve according to claim 3 wherein the grooves are disposed such that they increase rotation of a ball or puck struck with the stick.

5. The sleeve according to claim 3 wherein the groves are angled from the horizontal.

6. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein the pattern comprises dimples.

7. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein the pattern comprises nibs or an abrasive pattern.

8. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein the pattern comprises a tape-like pattern.

9. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein said sleeve has a front and back, and the pattern is disposed on the front and on the back.

10. The sleeve according to claim 9 wherein the pattern on the front differs from the pattern on the back.

11. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein said sleeve has a bottom, the bottom is comprised of a wear-resistant material.

12. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein said sleeve has a bottom and a top, and is wedge-shaped such that the bottom is thicker than the top.

13. The sleeve according to claim 12 wherein said sleeve improves lift of a ball or puck coming in contact with the hockey stick blade on which said sleeve is attached.

14. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein said sleeve is attached after the sports equipment is manufactured.

15. The sleeve according to claim 1 wherein said face of said sleeve has advertising indicia thereon.

16. A sleeve adapted to be placed over at least a portion of a blade of a hockey stick, comprising: a single-piece, substantially tubular member having at least one open end for placement over a hockey stick and having a face with a pattern thereon for contact with a puck or ball, said pattern affecting at least one of the speed or spin of the puck or ball when shot with the hockey stick.

17. The sleeve according to claim 16 comprised of an elastomeric material

18. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein the pattern comprises groves.

19. The sleeve according to claim 18 wherein the groves are angled from the horizontal.

20. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein the pattern comprises dimples.

21. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein the pattern comprises nibs or an abrasive pattern.

22. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein the pattern comprises a tape-like pattern.

23. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein said sleeve has a front and back, and the pattern is disposed on the front and on the back.

24. The sleeve according to claim 23 wherein the pattern on the front differs from the pattern on the back.

25. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein said sleeve has a bottom, the bottom is comprised of a wear-resistant material.

26. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein said sleeve has a bottom and a top, and is wedge-shaped such that the bottom is thicker than the top.

27. The sleeve according to claim 26 wherein said sleeve improves lift of a ball or puck coming in contact with the hockey stick blade on which said sleeve is attached.

28. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein said sleeve is attached after the sports equipment is manufactured.

29. The sleeve according to claim 16 wherein said face of said sleeve has advertising indicia thereon.

30. A sleeve adapted to be placed over at least a portion of a blade of a hockey stick, comprising: a single-piece, substantially tubular member having at least one open end for placement over a hockey stick and having a face with a pattern thereon for contact with a puck or ball, said sleeve comprised of a material that has one of a high coefficient of elasticity and a low coefficient of elasticity to impart greater speed to a struck puck or ball or to dampen a puck or ball against the blade of the hockey stick, respectively.

31. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein the pattern comprises groves.

32. The sleeve according to claim 31 wherein the grooves are disposed such that they increase rotation of a ball or puck struck with the stick.

33. The sleeve according to claim 31 wherein the groves are angled from the horizontal.

34. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein the pattern comprises dimples.

35. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein the pattern comprises nibs or an abrasive pattern.

36. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein the pattern comprises a tape-like pattern.

37. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein said sleeve has a front and back, and the pattern is disposed on the front and on the back.

38. The sleeve according to claim 37 wherein the pattern on the front differs from the pattern on the back.

39. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein said sleeve has a bottom, the bottom is comprised of a wear-resistant material.

40. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein said sleeve has a bottom and a top, and is wedge-shaped such that the bottom is thicker than the top.

41. The sleeve according to claim 40 wherein said sleeve improves lift of a ball or puck coming in contact with the hockey stick blade on which said sleeve is attached.

42. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein said sleeve is attached after the sports equipment is manufactured.

43. The sleeve according to claim 30 wherein said face of said sleeve has advertising indicia thereon.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/289,699 filed May 9, 2001 entitled METHOD, SYSTEM AND ARTICLE OF MANUFACTURE FOR TAPING A STICK, IMPROVING PLAYER PERFORMANCE, AND ADVERTISING.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to an article of manufacture and method for using the article in connection with a ball or puck which results in improved handling and performance and enabling advertising thereon.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Sporting equipment for use with a ball or puck is often modified by players at the point of contact with a ball or puck, or at the point of contact with the player, so as to modify, and preferably improve, handling and performance of the equipment with a ball or puck, or to improve the durability of the sporting equipment. For example, in the game of ice and/or in-line hockey, hockey sticks may be made of wood, glass fibers, graphite, and/or similar materials, such as engineering plastics. Hockey sticks are frequently taped by hockey players at the point of contact with a puck so as to improve handling and performance of the stick in relation to the puck or ball. Tape conventionally used is black friction tape or electrical tape, write adhesive tape, or clear plastic tape. Tape typically does not allow for desired adjustments to speed, control, accuracy, damping, resilience or lift or trajectory, i.e., handling and performance, of the puck or ball. In addition, tape may get easily cut by stick, puck or skate blade, absorb water or otherwise rapidly lose damping capability or resiliency.

[0004] Occasionally, players adhere plastic cutouts to the stick to attempt to improve handling and performance. Adhesive cutouts present disadvantages similar to tape as discussed above In addition, cutouts and tape adhere to the stick which makes removing the cutout or tape difficult. Another disadvantage of conventional tapes and cutouts is that they do not readily enable advertising. Conventional tapes and cutouts also typically do not allow for wear-resistant configurations in desired locations on the stick. For example, at edges of a hockey stick which tend to contact the ice, conventional tapes and cutouts are either not wear-resistance enough or tend to interfere with stick or player performance, or may not be in compliance with league rules.

[0005] In addition to tape and cutouts, shrinkable materials have been tried but are not widely used. Disadvantages of these materials include those listed above for tape and cutouts, but also include that these materials have not typically provided the desired improvement in handling and performance, that devices are required to shrink the material to the stick, and that heating the stick with the shrinkable materials tends to weaken, damage or deform the stick.

[0006] What is desired therefore is an article of manufacture and a method for use in connection with sporting equipment for improving handling and performance of the sporting equipment in relation to a ball or puck. What is further desired is an article of manufacture and a method for improving handling and performance of the sporting equipment which readily allows for advertising. What is further desired is an article of manufacture and method for providing localized improvement in wear-resistance without interfering with stick or player performance, and which complies with league rules.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] Accordingly, an object of the invention is to provide an article of manufacture and method for improving performance of a hockey stick, such as when a player is handling, passing and shooting the puck or ball. Another object of the invention is to provide an article of manufacture and method for improving performance of a hockey stick that enables advertising to be displayed thereon. Yet another object of the invention is to provide an article of manufacture and method for increasing player safety.

[0008] These and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings showing an illustrative embodiment of the invention. More particularly an article of manufacture is provided having a surface configuration and/or composition resulting in improved handling and performance, such as improved puck speed, control, accuracy, or lift. In addition, an article of manufacture is provided which provides the improved handling and performance and allows for advertising.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIGS. 1A through 1C depict front, lateral and top views of an embodiment of the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 shows the embodiment of FIGS. 1A through 1C disposed over a hockey stick;

[0011] FIGS. 3A through 3C depict front, lateral and top views of another embodiment of the invention;

[0012] FIG. 4 shows the embodiment of FIGS. 3A through 3C disposed over a hockey stick;

[0013] FIGS. 5A through 5C depict front, lateral and top views of yet another embodiment of the invention;

[0014] FIG. 6 shows the embodiment of FIGS. 5A through 5C disposed over a hockey stick;

[0015] FIGS. 7A though 7C depict front, lateral and top views of yet still another embodiment of the invention;

[0016] FIG. 8 shows the embodiment of FIGS. 7A through 7C disposed over a hockey stick;

[0017] FIGS. 9A through 9C depict front, lateral and top views of still another embodiment of the invention;

[0018] FIG. 10 shows the embodiment of FIGS. 9A through 9C disposed over a hockey stick;

[0019] FIGS. 11A through 11C depict front, lateral and top views of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 3A through 3C with advertising thereon;

[0020] FIGS. 12A through 12C depict front, lateral and top views of the embodiment of FIGS. 1A through 1C with advertising thereon;

[0021] FIGS. 13A through 13C depict front, lateral and top views of another embodiment of the invention.

[0022] FIGS. 14 A through 14C depict front, lateral and top views of the embodiment of FIGS. 5A through 5C with advertising thereon;

[0023] FIGS. 15A through 15C depict front, lateral and top views of the embodiment of FIGS. 9A through 9C with advertising thereon;

[0024] FIGS. 16A through 16C depict front, lateral and top views of the embodiment of FIGS. 7A through 7C with advertising thereon;

[0025] FIGS. 17A through 17D depict front side, lateral and top views of yet another embodiment of the invention; and

[0026] FIGS. 18A through 18C depict the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 9A through 9C being disposed over a hockey stick.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0027] FIGS. 1A through 1C depicts an article of manufacture 10 (or sleeve) in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, article 10 has a tape-like pattern 12. FIG. 2 shows article 10 on a hockey stick 1 positioned such that article 10 will be contacted by a hockey puck during a hockey game. It is understood that the term “hockey stick” encompasses both ice hockey sticks and street hockey sticks. It is understood that article 10 may be used in connection with other sports equipment (not shown), such as a baseball bat, ping-pong racket. FIGS. 3A through 3C and FIG. 4 show article 20, another embodiment of the invention, having a grooved pattern 22. FIGS. 5A through 5C and FIG. 6 depict article 30, yet another embodiment of the invention, having a nibbed pattern 32. It is understood that nibs 32 may have a face that is slightly rounded and convex, as shown, or may have flat planar faces. FIGS. 7A through 7C and 8, illustrate another embodiment of the invention, article 40, which has a dimple pattern 42. As with the nib pattern 32, dimples 42 may have a concave shape, as shown, or may have another non-uniform shape so long as the nib 42 is in the shape of an indentation of some kind. It is understood that nibs 32 and dimples 42 need not have a generally circular shape but may have a shape, such as an irregular shape, triangular shape or rectangular shape or any combination thereof FIGS. 9A through 9C and 10 depict another embodiment of the invention, article 50, which has angled grooves 52. Grooves 52 may be angled in any direction, including in a direction opposite to that shown in FIG. 10, which shows grooves running from the top of the face of the stock to the bottom of the face of the stick, with each groove having its bottom end closer to the handle of the stick than is the top of the groove. Grooves 52 may also be in one direction on one side, and in another direction on the other side of stick 1. Grooves 52 may also be aligned relative to the face of the stick 1 or the handle of the stick I and the likely direction of contact with a puck in play such that speed or direction of the puck departing from the stick 1 may be influenced in a predetermined manner. More specifically, these grooves may impart a greater rate of rotation, or spin, to the puck.

[0028] Patterns 12, 22, 32, 42 and 52 are examples of the types of patterns that may be used in accordance with the invention. It is understood that a variety of patterns may be used which result in the desired handling and performance. For example, angled groves, such as angled grooves 52, may be used to influence the direction of a shot. In addition, a combination of patterns may be used. For example, as shown in FIG. 17A, angled grooves 129 may be provided on one side of article 120 and dimples 124 may be provided on the other side of article 120. Nib 32 or an abrasive pattern is useful in increasing control over the puck. An article having a pattern effective in increasing puck speed, such as one utilizing hard materials or very elastomeric or resilient materials, is useful for defensive hockey players as well as those who shoot or pass. An article having a pattern or comprised of resilient material is useful for hockey goal tenders to deaden a puck blocked by the stick against the stick.

[0029] Preferably, the article or sleeve is comprised of material which exhibits high flexibility at room temperature and less flexibility at temperatures of around 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. In this manner, the article or sleeve can be easily placed over the blade of the hockey stick from either blade end or handle end at room temperature due to its greater elastomeric qualities, and during game play on ice the article is less likely to slip off the blade due to the decrease in elastomeric properties.

[0030] Article or sleeve 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 may also advantageous be comprised of a unitary material having a harder, more wear-resistant material at the bottom edge of the article or sleeve 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 to increase the useful life, and a more elastomeric material in the portion of the article or sleeve 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 expected to come in contact with the puck. Article may have a wedge-shape, such that the bottom of the article is thicker than the top of the article. This may advantageously be used to increase the lift on the puck.

[0031] FIGS. 11A through 17D depict articles or sleeves 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, and 120 further comprising advertising 64, 74, 82, 94, 104, 114, 129 as well as patterns 62, 72, 82, 92, 102, 112, 126, and 128. It is understood that advertising may a pattern on the article. Advertising 64, 74, 82, 94, 104, 114, and 129 may be in color, comprise logos or other banner advertising.

[0032] FIGS. 18A through 18C show the article 50 being disposed over the stick 1. Preferably, article 50 is disposed over the handle of the stick 1, however, article 50 may be disposed over the blade of the stick 1. Article 50 as shown for example in FIGS. 18A through 18C is positioned and/or sized such that it is in the area of the blade that comes in contact with the puck. It is understood that article in accordance with the invention may be positioned over the tip of the blade of the stick to improve safety.

[0033] The sleeve that is the subject invention can improve the ice or street (in-line skate) hockey player's performance in handling, dribbling, passing and shooting the puck. Various surface configurations applied to the sleeve that is the subject invention will improve puck speed, control, accuracy and lift. Various non-limiting examples of surface configurations are shown in the Figures. In a non-limiting embodiment of the instant invention, a surface configuration comprising a plurality of diagonally configured ridges functions to increase the spin and centrifugal force the puck, thus enhancing the player's accuracy and control of the puck. Likewise, the material from which the sleeve is constructed will also affect the speed of the puck or ball. For example, the sleeve is constructed from a resin with a high coefficient of elasticity will impart more speed to a struck puck than a sleeve that is the subject invention constructed from a material with a comparatively low coefficient of elasticity. In one embodiment of the invention, the sleeve is designed for a goalkeeper who desires to reduce the energy of rebounds from the blade of the hockey stick. Accordingly, the configuration and/or material of the sleeve (for example, a material with a low coefficient of elasticity) are designed to absorb impact by the puck or ball and dampen or decrease the energy of a puck or ball rebound.

[0034] In another non-limiting embodiment, the sleeve has varying thickness and configurations on the top and bottom of the blade as well as on the forehand and backhand side of the blade. In another embodiment, the sleeve that is the subject invention can be sold on a roll and the players can cut whatever length is desired to optimize the stick to suit various nuances of their individual skills, or specific demands associated with their position.

[0035] The sleeve's surface configurations simulate the patterns and configurations produced by regular tape and taping techniques that are allowed by the professional and amateur leagues, but have the aforementioned benefits of the sleeve. Benefits of the sleeve include but are not limited to: (1) an information display area for advertising, team logos, or team colors; (2) easy installation and deinstallation that will not damage or alter the shape of the stick; (3) increased durability of the hockey stick blade; and (4) affecting the control, handling and speed of puck or ball. In another embodiment, the bottom edge of the sleeve is made thicker or of heavier material to prevent wear. Additionally, the present invention provides advertisers the ability to advertise in a new manner.

[0036] The sleeve can be manufactured by methods including but not limited to extrusion technique, high performance blow mold technology, or dip molding which allow for printing of indicia, such as logos, advertisements, brand names, and other information. The sleeve can be packed, for example, in a roll making the printing easier. Corporate logos, for example, can be printed and prominently displayed on the sleeve that is the subject invention. The sleeve can also be produced in a multitude of colors/logos corresponding to the colors and/or logos of various NHL/AHL/IHL and college and national teams, as well as high school and youth hockey programs.

[0037] In one embodiment, the sleeve is constructed from recyclable materials and it is reusable and not permanently attached to the stick in anyway. The player will have choices as to puck handling and shooting performance based on the surface configurations of the sleeve. One of the major advantages of the sleeve is that it allows a player to choose from an array of materials and surface configurations so that their stick can be customized to optimally match his or her position, individual skill level and style of play. Because it is stronger and more resistant to cuts from other blades and skates, the sleeve also increases the useful life of the hockey stick, as well as increasing player safety, by reducing the amount of dangerous debris on the ice from damaged or worn sticks. In one embodiment, the sleeve is elastic and is attached by sliding it on from the top of the stick In another embodiment, the sleeve is attached by sliding it on from the end of the blade.

[0038] The sleeve can have team colors such as blue and red for youth ice hockey schools. In another embodiment it covers the tip of the blade and making it safer for the players.

[0039] The sleeve does not use a heat source to shrink-fit it onto the blade of the stick, thus making is easy to install and remove from the stick Additionally, by not requiring heat to install the sleeve that is the subject invention onto the stick, the stick and the sleeve is not subjected to heat damage and deformity. The sleeve and the stick remain uniform and not weakened. There is no need for propane torches, even children can use the product. The sleeve is reusable, thus extending its life. If the shaft of the stick breaks—the most common type of break in hockey sticks—the sleeve can be re-used.

[0040] While the disclosed embodiments apply the present invention to an ice or in-line skate hockey stick, it will be appreciated by those of skill in the relevant art that the instant invention can be readily applied to other athletic equipment including but not limited to: baseball/softball bats, golf-clubs, tennis racquets, ping-pong paddles and croquet mallets.

[0041] In another non-limiting example, an “industrial polymer” based material is used for construction of the sleeve. Polymers are chemical compounds whose molecules are very large, often resembling long chains made up of a seemingly endless series of interconnected links. The size of the molecules, together with their physical state and the structures that they adopt, are the principal causes of the unique properties associated with plastics—including the sleeve's ability to be molded and shaped.

[0042] In a non-limiting example, the sleeve is made from a “thermoplastic resin.” The property of plasticity inherent to thermoplastic resins allows the sleeve to be capable of being molded (into a great variety of sizes and patterns) and remolded repeatedly, as previously mentioned.

[0043] The plastic behavior of the sleeve is also influenced by its morphology. By definition, thermoplastic-based materials retain their molded shapes up to a certain temperature. Above Tg the amorphous parts of the polymer enter the rubbery state, in which the molecules display increased mobility and the material becomes plastic and even elastic (that is, able to be stretched).

[0044] The sleeve's rubbery material, for example, consists of elastomers having strong intermolecular associations but no real chemical interlinks. If the associations between the molecules are strong enough to prevent flow under moderate stresses, such materials can serve as practical rubbery solids. Also, because the weak interlinks give way at high temperatures, allowing the material to take on a new shape in response to pressure, they can be reprocessed and reused. For this reason the sleeve may be a “thermoplastic elastomer”.

[0045] Based on the sleeve's features/characteristics, in the non-limiting example, the material used in the production and industrialization of the sleeve is classified as a “Low Durometer Thermoplastic Elastomer”, like a Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), as an example.

[0046] The most common chemical product manufacturing processes have extrusion as their basis. In the case of injection molding, the ‘extruder’ is part of the machine and is also used to inject the plastic into the mold. Extrusion can be used to incorporate pigments and additives for making a compound. However with modem equipment these additives are often added at the machine during processing.

[0047] More specifically, to produce the sleeve that is the subject invention extrusion of blow film can be employed. A ring die is used. The sleeve's material is directed upwards as a tube. Air pressure is maintained in the tube to control the sausage like bubble, which is nipped between the rollers to provide the seal. The film is then wound onto reels.

[0048] The blow-molding machine is based on a standard extruder barrel and screw assembly to plasticize the polymer. The molten polymer is led through a right angle and through a die to emerge as a hollow (usually circular) pipe section called a parison.

[0049] When the parison has reached a sufficient length a hollow mold is closed around it. The mold mates closely at its bottom edge thus forming a seal. The parison is cut at the top by a knife prior to the mold being moved sideways to a second position where air is blown into the parison to inflate it to the shape of the mold, thus creating the sleeve.

[0050] The foregoing merely illustrates the principles of the invention relative to a particular embodiment. It will thus be appreciated that those skilled in the art will be able to devise numerous other arrangements which embody the principles of the invention and are thus within its spirit and scope. For example, while the disclosed embodiments describe the present invention as being inserted over a hockey stick, those of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the instant invention encompasses insertion of the article to other sports equipment, including field hockey sticks, in-line hockey stick, bandy equipment, baseball/softball bats, golf-clubs, tennis racquets, ping-pong paddles and croquet mallets.