Title:
Belt loop cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disclosed belt loop cover device provides a housing that can removably receive a belt loop of a pair of pants. The device includes a hollow shell or cap generally having the shape and size of a belt loop, which has a face that can be suitably ornamented. The shell further includes a pair of side walls, which are raised in a direction opposite the face, and a flat plate. The plate has one edge that is hingedly coupled to one of the side walls and an opposite edge that is releasably couplable to the other side wall.



Inventors:
Rubin, Corey L. (Carlsbad, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/377063
Publication Date:
08/28/2003
Filing Date:
02/28/2003
Assignee:
RUBIN COREY L.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41F9/00; A44B11/00; (IPC1-7): A41D27/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOUIS J. HOFFMAN, P.C. (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. Apparatus for decoratively covering a belt loop of a pair of pants worn by a person, the apparatus comprising: (a) a hollow rectangular shell in the general shape and size of the belt loop, the shell including a face and a pair of side walls raised in a direction opposite the face; and (b) a flat plate having one edge hingedly coupled to one of the side walls and an opposite edge releasably couplable to the other side wall.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a pair of end walls raised in a direction opposite the face and interposed along opposing short sides of the shell between the side walls.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the end walls are shorter than the side walls in both length and height.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the side walls are about four times the length of the end walls.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the side wall to which an edge of the plate is releasably couplable includes a rolled wall edge to frictionally engage the edge of the plate.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the face of the shell is longer than the plate, thereby permitting the face to be longer than the belt loop.

7. A method for decorating a belt loop of a garment, the method comprising: (a) providing a decorative device that includes a hollow rectangular shell having a face and a flat plate having one edge hingedly coupled to the shell and an opposite free edge; (b) sliding the plate behind the belt loop with the face oriented away from the garment; and (c) snapping the plate closed against the shell with the belt loop therebetween by frictionally engaging the free edge of the plate with the shell.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises providing a rolled wall edge on the shell for frictionally engaging the free edge of the plate.

9. The method of claim 7 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises providing a pair of end walls raised in a direction opposite the face and interposed along opposing short sides of the shell between the side walls.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises providing end walls that are shorter than the side walls in both length and height.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises making the side walls about four times the length of the end walls.

12. The method of claim 9 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises providing a rolled wall edge on the side wall to which an edge of the plate is releasably couplable, the method further comprising frictionally engage the edge of the plate with the rolled wall edge.

13. The method of claim 9 wherein providing the decorative device further comprises making the face of the shell longer than the plate, thereby permitting the face to be longer than the belt loop.

14. Apparatus for decoratively covering a belt loop of a pair of pants worn by a person, the apparatus comprising: (a) covering means for fitting over the length and width of the belt loop without moving around the loop or presenting uncomfortable wearability; and (b) means for removably securing the covering means to the belt loop.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/360,116, filed Feb. 28, 2002 and entitled “Belt loop cover,” that application being incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Many, perhaps most, of the styles of pants currently being marketed for men, women, and children alike have a set of sewn-on belt loops that are attached around the waistband of the top portion of the pants. The typical usage of these belt loops is to hold a belt. Sometimes, however, the wearer of pants chooses not to wear a belt, leaving the belt loops unused.

[0003] Various types of decorative articles for otherwise unused belt loops have been proposed. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,642,556 discloses a decorative concho that can be attached to the belt loop of a person's pants, utilizing three bars attached to the back of the decorative buckle that form a serpentine path into which the belt loop slides. A problem associated with this arrangement is that it is difficult to attach the decorative concho to the belt loop. Such attachment involves sliding the loop behind the various bars that open at opposite ends, thus forcing the loop to bend in several directions at once.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 5,797,145 also discloses a decorative device used on the belt loop of pants. As taught in that reference, an annular surface is configured with a gap along its length. The belt loop is manipulated into this gap, and the decorative item thus encloses the loop. A problem associated with this arrangement is that the entire clothing decoration has the ability to rotate about its axis, permitting the decorative portion to shift from the front (viewable) part of the loop to its side or back, thus exposing the gap into which the loop entered. The '145 patent also discloses an alternative hinged unit, which presents similar problems. The hinged unit can rotate on its axis and expose the hinged portion of its cover. Another problem associated with the device of the '145 patent is that the annular or hollow shape of the cover causes it to protrude slightly out from the shape of the belt loop, possibly causing discomfort or even danger to the wearer.

[0005] What is needed, in view of these and other shortcomings of conventional devices, is a convenient way of attaching an ornamentation device to a belt loop so that the device remains in an orientation that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing when worn and easily removable afterwards.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] A belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the present invention provides a housing that can removably receive a belt loop of a pair of pants. The device includes a hollow shell or cap generally having the shape and size of a belt loop, which has a face that can be suitably ornamented in any number of ways.

[0007] The shell further includes a pair of opposing side walls, which are raised in a direction opposite the face, and a flat plate. The plate has one edge that is hingedly coupled to one of the side walls and an opposite edge that is releasably couplable to the other side wall.

[0008] Advantageously, the shell is in the general shape and size of the belt loop. Thus, the flat plate is able to slide behind the belt loop and secure the shell to it.

[0009] A belt loop cover device according to another aspect of the invention further includes a pair of end walls. The end walls are also raised in a direction opposite the face of the shell, but they extend along opposite width-opposing sides of the shell rather than along its length-opposing sides. The walls of the second pair are shorter than the walls of the first pair. This arrangement provides the shell with an area through which the belt loop passes and in which top and bottom portions of the belt loop can rest.

[0010] In a belt loop cover device according to another aspect of the invention, the face of the shell is longer than the plate. This arrangement permits the face to be longer than the belt loop and fully cover it.

[0011] The above summary does not include an exhaustive list of all aspects of the present invention. Indeed, the inventor contemplates that the invention includes all systems and methods that can be practiced from all suitable combinations of the various aspects summarized above, as well as those disclosed in the detailed description below and particularly pointed out in the claims filed with the application. Such combinations have particular advantages not specifically recited in the above summary.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] Various embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to the drawings, wherein like designations denote like elements.

[0013] FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the invention including a cap.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the device of FIG. 1 illustrating a face plate of the device pivotally connected to the cap in an opened position.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a back perspective view of the device of FIG. 1 illustrating the face plate in a closed position.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a back perspective view of the device of FIG. 1 illustrating the face plate pivotally connected to the cap in an opened position, with particularly advantageous features.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a back perspective view of a belt loop cover device in accordance with another aspect of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a back perspective view of a belt loop cover device in accordance with another aspect of the invention having an attachment that employs a butterfly tie tack.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a back perspective view of the device of FIG. 6 illustrated with the attachment in a closed position.

[0020] FIG. 8 is a back perspective view of a belt loop cover device in accordance with another aspect of the invention having an attachment that employs a spring-loaded clamping mechanism.

[0021] FIG. 9 is a back perspective view of the device of FIG. 8 illustrated with the attachment in a closed position.

[0022] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a pair of pants with a belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the invention attached to one belt loop.

[0023] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the invention having a manually operated release mechanism.

[0024] FIGS. 12-15 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “four gemstones” ornamental design.

[0025] FIGS. 16-19 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “10×3 gemstone matrix” ornamental design.

[0026] FIGS. 20-23 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “four gemstone flowers” ornamental design.

[0027] FIGS. 24-27 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “large central twist surrounded by smaller twists” ornamental design.

[0028] FIGS. 28-31 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “four truncated pyramids” ornamental design.

[0029] FIGS. 32-35 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “three frontal half-skulls” ornamental design.

[0030] FIGS. 36-39 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “mirrored paisleys” ornamental design.

[0031] FIGS. 40-43 are perspective, side, front, and top views, respectively, of a belt loop cover device having a “barbed wire” ornamental design.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0032] A belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the present invention decoratively covers a belt loop of a garment in a way that offers numerous benefits. The device is easily attached and detached. It does not have the ability to move around the loop significantly and is substantially the actual shape and size of the belt loop. Thus the device does not present uncomfortable wearability, i.e., discomfort to the wearer. The device provides a surface that can be suitably ornamented.

[0033] As may be better understood with reference to FIG. 10, for example, a belt loop cover device 114 attaches to a belt loop (not shown) of a pair of pants 110. FIG. 10 illustrates an unadorned belt loop 112 for comparison. Referring to FIG. 2, exemplary device 114 includes a hollow shell or cap 19, which includes a face 1 (FIG. 1) that can be suitably ornamented, as illustrated for example in FIGS. 12-39. Shell 19 is provided with raised end walls 3, 4 and side walls 5, 6 (FIG. 4) so as to provide a chamber 2 in cooperation with a back side of face 1.

[0034] Shell 19 is rectangular, which as used herein means that shell 19 is generally rectangular on all faces, accounting for preferred beveling of corners and edges.

[0035] End walls 3, 4, which are interposed along opposing short sides of shell 19 (i.e., the shorter of the four sides of the rectangular shaped shell) between side walls 5, 6, are slightly shorter in height than side walls 5, 6. This arrangement provides an area through which the belt loop (not shown) passes and in which the top and bottom portions of the belt loop rest.

[0036] Side wall 5 has an edge 7 that is semi-cylindrically rolled towards chamber 2. A flat plate 8 is attached to side wall 6 by legs 9, 10, 11, which extend from flat plate 8 through holes 12, 13, 14 in wall 6. This arrangement provides for hinged movement of flat plate 8, which slides behind the belt loop.

[0037] In exemplary device 114, a free edge 15 of flat plate 8 preferably extends slightly beyond the surface of side wall 5 when plate 8 is in a closed position. This configuration provides fingernail pressure surfaces that a user can employ to re-open the hinged unit. Spring prongs 16, 17, 18 project from the front edge 15 of the flat plate 8. When the unit (i.e., plate 8 and its prongs and legs) is in a closed position, prongs 16-18 frictionally engage the rolled wall edge 7 of side wall 5, providing a snapped-closed position which does not open (during expected use) until manually unsnapped.

[0038] FIG. 5 is a back perspective view illustrating a belt loop cover device 50 according to various aspects of the invention with a somewhat different form of construction than device 114. Device 50 includes a flat plate 20 in which two slits 21, 22 are provided. Slits 21, 22 permit spring prongs 23, 24 to resiliently move the sides of plate 20 towards each other and change the shape of the plate 20. When spring prongs 23, 24 frictionally engage a side wall 25, slits 21, 22 incur any stress caused by tension of spring prongs 23, 24 against side wall 25. Slits 21, 22 allow torsional movement of flat plate 20 as spring prongs 23, 24 are engaged and disengaged, preferably one at a time.

[0039] FIGS. 6, 7, 8, and 9 illustrate various modified configurations in the mechanism that can be utilized in the attachment of a device of present invention to a belt loop. The device of FIGS. 6-7 has an attachment that employs a butterfly tie tack. The device of FIGS. 8-9 has an attachment that employs a spring-loaded clamping mechanism. The embodiments of FIGS. 6-9 can employ plain, flat face plates as shown schematically, or shells like shell 19 of device 114. In addition, the embodiment of FIGS. 8-9 can employ other types of plates, e.g., like plate 8 of device 114 (FIGS. 1-4) or plate 128 of device 120 (FIG. 11).

[0040] A hollow shell or cap of a belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the invention is in the general shape and size of a belt loop, a commonly found clothing item (e.g., belt loop 112 of FIG. 10) having predictable dimensions (e.g., 1¾-2 inch length and {fraction (7/16)}-½ inch width). In other words, such a shell is not too short to cover the belt loop's length, nor too narrow (internally) for its width to fit over the width of the belt loop (raised walls 5, 6 of cap 19 fit on opposite sides of a belt loop's width), nor so large or nonconforming in shape that it presents uncomfortable wearability (due to excess size or obtrusive structure) or becomes capable of movement around the belt loop (due to excess internal space).

[0041] A belt loop cover device according to various aspects of the invention can be constructed from any suitable materials, and by any suitable technique. As presently preferred, for example, walls 3-6 of shell 19 and the back of face 1 are comprised of a single piece of flat sheet metal (e.g., brass or nickel) that is stamped from a larger sheet and formed by bending (e.g., with tools and dies) into the open box shape illustrated in FIGS. 1-4. Another piece of sheet metal is stamped to form flat plate 8 and is suitably bent to form hinge legs 9-11 and prongs 16-18. The corners left around the gap from the bent legs and prongs can be rounded to avoid sharp edges, as with corner 30 of FIG. 3 and corner 40 of FIG. 4. The sheet metal of shell 19 and plate 8 is then assembled and plated with fine silver.

[0042] Any suitable type of ornamentation can be applied to face 1. For example, FIGS. 21-23 illustrate particular designs contemplated by the inventor having raised ornamentation of gemstones, which are set in circular metal castings. The perspective view of FIG. 20, as with those of FIGS. 12, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40, faithfully depicts flat ornamental designs that employ only surface indicia on the belt loop devices' faces. To varying degrees, the perspective views depict raised variations of the ornamental designs more or less schematically. Corresponding side views of FIGS. 13, 25, 29, 33, 37, and 41 and top views of FIGS. 15, 27, 31, 39, and 43 illustrate three-dimensional variations with raised ornamentation. The surface indicia designs and raised ornamentation designs appear alike in the front views of FIGS. 14, 26, 30, 38, and 42.

[0043] Any suitable type of aesthetically pleasing, crystal-like object can be employed as a “stone” in the ornamental designs of FIGS. 12-15, FIGS. 16-19, and FIGS. 20-23. Examples include “Swarovski” Austrian crystal, Czech crystal, glass, or even plastic in cost-sensitive implementations. Suitable precious and semi-precious gemstones include garnet, carnelian, topaz, turquoise, amethyst, peridot, onyx, ruby, and sapphire.

[0044] In the ornamental design of FIGS. 12-15, one variation is faithfully illustrated with “round cut” stones. However, stones of the ornamental design of FIGS. 16-19 and the ornamental design of FIGS. 20-23 are illustrated schematically, without depiction of the true cuts employed in variations of these designs. For each crystal-type design, the following variations are contemplated, with suitably varying numbers of facets: “square,” “rectangle,” “oval,” “pear,” “marquise,” and “baguette.”

[0045] In addition to ornamental designs that are illustrated with repeated elements (e.g., the four “gemstone flowers” of FIGS. 20-23), variant ornamental designs having more or fewer such elements are also contemplated.

[0046] Raised ornamentation with such stones can have any suitable construction. For example, structure of the ornamentation illustrated in FIGS. 20-23 can be fabricated from a cast metal piece that is ultimately silver-soldered to the face of the ornamented device's shell. First, the fabricator can take an impression of a wax model that includes concavities for the stones. The fabricator can then encase the wax in a fire-retardant material and melt it out. This process step leaves a concavity the size and shape of the cast piece. The fabricator can then fill the mold with liquid metal (e.g., brass or sterling silver). When the mold is removed, and the finished casting is ready, the resulting structure can be silver-soldered to the face, preferably from the back of the face through small holes in it. If the casting is made of brass, the fabricator can apply a silver plating to it. To set each stone, the fabricator can apply glue to the inside of the casting by hand using a small dropper, and set the stone in place.

[0047] Public Notice Regarding the Scope of the Invention and Claims

[0048] The inventor considers various elements of the aspects and methods recited in the claims filed with the application as advantageous, perhaps even critical to certain implementations of the invention. However, the inventor regards no particular element as being “essential,” except as set forth expressly in any particular claim.

[0049] While the invention has been described in terms of preferred embodiments and generally associated methods, the inventor contemplates that alterations and permutations of the preferred embodiments and methods will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the specification and a study of the drawings. For example, a belt loop device according to various aspects of the invention can be worn with or without a belt. Further, many variations of structure exist for hingedly and releasably coupling a plate to a shell according to various aspects of the invention. Examples of such variations include, for hingedly coupling, sleeve bearing-type hinges, such as those used on doors, and flexible non-fatiguing material (e.g., cloth bonded to both plate and shell). For releasably coupling, a few examples of suitable alternative structures are jewelry-type clasps, magnets, and deformable tab-and-slot arrangements such as those found in plastic hair barrettes.

[0050] Additional structure can be included, or additional processes performed, while still practicing various aspects of the invention claimed without reference to such structure or processes. For example, FIG. 11 illustrates a belt loop cover device 120 in accordance with a more particular aspect of the invention having a manually operated release mechanism 122 and a plate 128 that includes a lip 126. Mechanism 122 engages lip 126 via a slot 124. Claims not reciting such a mechanism or lip read on devices that both include and exclude such structure. In addition, elements not specifically claimed as being fabricated from any particular materials are not required to have any the material listed above.

[0051] Accordingly, neither the above description of preferred exemplary embodiments nor the abstract defines or constrains the invention. Rather, the issued claims variously define the invention. Each variation of the invention is limited only by the recited limitations of its respective claim, and equivalents thereof, without limitation by other terms not present in the claim.

[0052] In addition, aspects of the invention are particularly pointed out in the claims using terminology that the inventor regards as having its broadest reasonable interpretation; the more specific interpretations of 35 U.S.C. § 112(6) are only intended in those instances where the terms “means” or “steps” are actually recited. As one example, a flat plate according to various aspects of the invention includes any structure that lies substantially in a single plane. The term is not limited to the particular shape and structure of plate 8 illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4.

[0053] The words “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are intended as open-ended terminology, with the same meaning as if the phrase “at least” were appended after each instance thereof. A clause using the term “whereby” merely states the result of the limitations in any claim in which it may appear and does not set forth an additional limitation therein. Both in the claims and in the description above, the conjunction “or” between alternative elements means “and/or,” and thus does not imply that the elements are mutually exclusive unless context or a specific statement indicates otherwise.