Title:
Walking cane retainer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A walking cane retainer includes a resilient clasping member, a rubber gripping pad attached to an inside surface of the clasping member and a strap. The clasping member is generally C-shaped in cross section with yieldable clasping arms partially enclosing an open receiving pocket. The clasping arms are dimensioned for an interference fit with the body of the walking cane. The walking cane snaps into the receiving pocket of the clasping member as the clasping arms yield and deflect, and is held in place by compressive engagement against the gripping pad during use. The walking cane is released for immediate service simply by pushing downwardly or outwardly on the handle of the cane, so that the body of the cane snaps out of the receiving pocket as the clasping arms yield and deflect. The retainer may also be used to hold a flashlight, a billy club, a night stick, a weapon handle, a hammer, a tool handle, or a tool, for example.



Inventors:
Mcconnell, Bernard E. (Greenville, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/210676
Publication Date:
02/05/2004
Filing Date:
07/31/2002
Assignee:
MCCONNELL BERNARD E.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45F5/00; A45B1/04; (IPC1-7): A45B3/00; A45B5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090205692REVERSIBLY ATTACHABLE SHADE FOR MOBILITY AIDSAugust, 2009Sapp
20030226586Convertible tentDecember, 2003Fulsang
20090308418Self-ventilating, decorative patio umbrellaDecember, 2009Houtan
20100083995Air mattress with inflatable canopyApril, 2010Sanders
20030145881Variable weight and height adustable therapeutic caneAugust, 2003Harroun
20050129456Crutch apparatus and methodJune, 2005Van Der
20030041889Catch-free automatic closing umbrella as effected by lotus-shape top ribsMarch, 2003Lin et al.
20060118150The Cab Hailer UmbrellaJune, 2006Mattozzi
20070113879Car awningMay, 2007Li
20100037929PROTECTIVE ELEMENTFebruary, 2010Liu
20080066795CANOPY WITH AUTOMATIC ROOF STRUCTURE HAVING IMPROVED STRUCTURAL STABILITYMarch, 2008Sy-facunda



Primary Examiner:
FITZGERALD, JOHN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENNIS GRIGGS (Dallas,, TX, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An article retainer comprising: a clasping member having a receiving pocket, an inside surface partially enclosing the receiving pocket and first and second clasping portions spaced apart from each other and defining an opening for permitting ingress and egress of an article into and out of the receiving pocket; and a gripping pad attached to the inside surface of the clasping member.

2. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the clasping member comprises a resilient material.

3. The retainer of claim 2, wherein the resilient material is selected from a group consisting of polycarbonate, plastic, polyvinyl chloride, aluminum, spring steel, graphite composite, fiberglass composite, and carbon fiber composite.

4. The retainer of claim 1, including a support strap coupled to the clasping member.

5. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap is releasably coupled to the clasping member.

6. The retainer of claim 4, including a snap fastener, and the support strap is releasably coupled to the clasping member by the snap fastener.

7. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap is permanently coupled to the clasping member.

8. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap comprises a material selected from a group consisting of leather, faux leather, plastic, cotton, hemp, wool, nylon, and polyester.

9. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap comprises an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends, wherein the strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first end, wherein a first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion, and wherein a second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end, such that when the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the strap having a loop shape.

10. The retainer of claim 4, further comprising a resilient gripping block attached to the support strap at a location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed.

11. The retainer of claim 10, wherein the resilient gripping block comprises foam rubber.

12. The retainer of claim 10, wherein the resilient gripping block has a ribbed surface.

13. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap comprises an elongated member having a first end and a second end, wherein the support strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first and second ends such that the strap forms a loop shape.

14. The retainer of claim 13, wherein the support strap is adapted to be a shoulder strap and the elongated member comprises a cord.

15. The retainer of claim 13, wherein the effective length of the loop shape formed by the elongated member is adjustable with a buckle device, the buckle device being coupled to the cord.

16. The retainer of claim 13, wherein the support strap is adapted to be a shoulder strap and the elongated member has a generally flat cross-section shape.

17. The retainer of claim 12, wherein the support strap is adapted to be a belt loop and the elongated member has a generally flat cross-section shape.

18. The retainer of claim 4, wherein the support strap comprises: a belt loop member, the belt loop member being an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends, wherein the belt loop member is coupled to the clasping member at the first end, wherein a first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion, and wherein a second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end, such that when the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the belt loop member having a loop shape; a shoulder strap member including a cord and a loop-pile fastener material tag, wherein the tag is fastened about a portion of the cord such that fastening loops of the tag are exposed; a resilient gripping block attached to the belt loop member at a location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed; and a hook-pile fastener material pad attached to the belt loop member at another location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed.

19. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the gripping pad has a ribbed surface.

20. The retainer of claim 19, wherein the ribbed surface is formed by ribs that extend diagonally along the inside surface of the clasping member.

21. The retainer of claim 19, wherein the ribbed surface is formed by ribs that extend horizontally along the inside surface of the clasping member.

22. The retainer of claim 19, wherein the ribbed surface is formed by ribs that extend vertically along the inside surface of the clasping member.

23. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the gripping pad comprises foam rubber.

24. The retainer of claim 1, wherein the gripping pad comprising a strip of co-active fastener material attached to the inside surface of the clasping member, such that when a walking cane having a strip of complementary fastener material attached thereto is inserted into the clasping member, the co-active fastener material pad will releasably adhere to the complementary fastener material on the cane.

25. The retainer of claim 24, wherein the co-active fastener material and the complementary fastener material comprise hook-pile fasteners and loop-pile fasteners.

26. A walking cane retainer comprising: a clasping member having a generally C-shaped cross section, wherein the clasping member comprises a resilient material; a strap coupled to the clasping member, wherein the strap comprises an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends, wherein the strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first end, wherein a first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion, and wherein a second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end, such that when the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the strap having a loop shape; and a resilient gripping pad attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

27. A walking cane retainer comprising: a clasping member formed of resilient material partially enclosing an article receiving pocket, the clasping member including a pair of resiliently deflectable clasp portions for partially encircling an article when the article is inserted into the receiving pocket; a strap coupled to the clasping member, wherein the strap comprises an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends, wherein the strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first end, wherein a first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion, and wherein a second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end, such that when the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the strap having a loop shape; and a gripping pad attached to the clasping member and disposed between the resiliently deflectable clasp portions for engaging an article to be retained.

28. A walking cane retainer comprising: a semicylinder-shaped clasping member having a generally C-shaped cross section, wherein the clasping member comprises a pair of resiliently deflectable clasping arms; a strap coupled to the clasping member, wherein the strap comprises a cord having a first end and a second end, wherein the strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first and second ends of the cord; and a resilient gripping pad attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

29. A walking cane retainer comprising: a clasping member formed of resilient material, the clasping member including a pair of resiliently deflectable clasping arms forming sidewalls of a receiving pocket; a gripping pad attached to the sidewalls of the clasping arms for engaging the body of a walking cane in an operative retainer position; and the clasping arms and gripping pad being dimensioned for partially encircling a walking cane and providing an interference fit with the body of the walking cane when it is inserted into the receiving pocket, whereby the walking cane snaps into the receiving pocket as the clasp portions yield and deflect upon insertion, and the walking cane is held in the operative retainer position by compressive engagement of the clasping arms and gripping pad.

30. The walking cane retainer of claim 29, wherein the gripping pad comprises a plurality of elongated strips of gripping material disposed in circumferentially spaced relation to each other and extending longitudinally in parallel paths along the body of the walking cane in the operative retainer position.

31. The walking cane retainer of claim 29, wherein the gripping pad has a ribbed surface formed by multiple ribs that extend in helical paths along the body of the walking cane in the operative retainer position.

32. The walking cane retainer of claim 29, wherein the gripping pad has a ribbed surface formed by multiple ribs in the form of longitudinally spaced rings that extend around the body of the walking cane in the operative retainer position.

33. The walking cane retainer of claim 29, wherein the gripping pad has a ribbed surface formed by multiple ribs that extend longitudinally in parallel paths along the body of the walking cane in the operative retainer position.

34. The walking cane retainer of claim 29, comprising a belt clip support member coupled to the clasping member.

35. The walking cane retainer of claim 34, wherein the belt clip member comprises spring steel and wherein the belt clip member includes a first clip portion opposing a second clip portion with a spacing distance there between, the belt clip member being biased to clamp onto a belt inserted between the first and second clip portions.

36. The walking cane retainer of claim 34, wherein the belt clip support member comprises a folded loop of spring steel including closely spaced loop portions forming an open pocket for receiving and compressively engaging a belt.

37. A walking cane retainer comprising: a semicylinder-shaped clasping member having a generally C-shaped cross section, wherein the clasping member comprises a resilient material; a belt loop member coupled to the clasping member, the belt loop member being an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends, wherein the belt loop member is coupled to the clasping member at the first end, wherein a first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion, and wherein a second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end, such that when the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the belt loop member having a loop shape; a shoulder strap member comprising a cord and a loop-pile fastener material tag, wherein the tag is fastened about a portion of the cord such that fastening loops of the tag are exposed; a first resilient pad attached to the belt loop member at a location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed; a hook-pile fastener material pad attached to the belt loop member at another location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed; and a second resilient pad attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates generally to an article retainer. In one aspect, it relates to a retainer for holding a walking cane or some other generally cylindrical-shaped item. Some persons may need to use a walking aid, such as a walking stick or a walking cane, to assist them in walking, rising to stand, exiting a vehicle, and/or stabilizing themselves while standing, for example. Such persons may be temporarily injured or disabled, recovering from surgery and undergoing physical rehabilitation, or such persons may be permanently disabled due to age, illnesses, or prior injuries, for example. Whatever the case, many people are using walking canes.

[0002] Walking canes are very useful and sometimes necessary, but they can also be burdensome and cumbersome when a person needs to have both hands free. During daily activities there are often frequent occasions when a cane user will need to temporarily put aside the walking cane to perform an activity with both hands. But at the same time, the cane user will often want or need to have the walking cane close-by and easily accessible for immediate use. For example, if a cane user is in his kitchen preparing a meal or cleaning up, he will typically need the use of both hands. Sometimes the cane user may lean against a kitchen counter and use the kitchen counter for support or stabilization. But as soon as the cane user has a need to move to a different area of the kitchen or to leave the kitchen, the walking cane may be needed.

[0003] The kitchen example is a typical situation where the cane user will want or need to have the walking cane readily available. In such situations, the cane user may lean the walking cane against a cabinet while not in use. But this presents the risk that the cane may fall to the floor, and thus may be difficult or impossible for the cane user to pick up due to lack of mobility. It also presents the risk that the cane user may trip or stumble on a cane leaned at an angle, which could lead to a fall and possible injury.

[0004] Another common problem that walking cane users face is remembering where they left the walking cane when they set it aside temporarily to free their hands or while the cane is not in use. Hence, there is a need for a way to retain a walking cane close by when it is not being used, while also keeping the walking cane within close reach and out of the cane user's pathways.

[0005] Numerous prior patents have attempted to address the problems discussed above in different ways. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,884,730 discloses a walking cane attached to a spring-loaded retractable chain in a reel that removably attaches to a cane user's belt. U.S. Pat. No. 4,958,758 discloses a cane leash attached to the cane at one end of the leash and attaching to a wristband at the other end of the leash. U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,808 discloses a strap that attaches to a cane by a releasable fastening member. U.S. Pat. No. 6,000,414 discloses a flexible panel having a loop-pile fastener material attached thereto and being adapted to be removably secured to a belt worn by the cane user. The cane has hook-pile fastener material attached to it so that the cane can be releasably secured to the flexible panel.

[0006] Each of the inventions of these prior patents have limitations in their ability to securely retain the cane for immediate use while allowing complete freedom of movement. Hence, there is a need for a better way to retain a walking cane when it is not being used, while also keeping the walking cane within close reach and out of the cane user's pathways.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The problems and needs outlined above are addressed by embodiments of the present invention. In the preferred embodiment, a walking cane retainer includes a resilient clasping member, a gripping pad attached to an inside surface of the clasping member and a strap. The clasping member is generally C-shaped in cross section with yieldable clasping arms partially enclosing an open receiving pocket. The clasping arms are dimensioned for an interference fit with the body of the walking cane. The walking cane snaps into the receiving pocket of the clasping member as the clasping arms yield and deflect, and is held in place by compressive engagement against the gripping pad during use. The walking cane is released for immediate service simply by pushing downwardly or outwardly on the handle of the cane, so that the body of the cane snaps out of the receiving pocket as the clasping arms yield and deflect.

[0008] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an article retainer is provided, which includes a semicylinder-shaped clasping member, a strap, and a resilient gripping pad. The semicylinder-shaped clasping member has a generally C-shaped cross section. The clasping member is made from a resilient material, such as plastic. The strap is coupled to the clasping member. The strap comprises an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends. The strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first end. A first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion. A second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end. When the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the strap has a loop shape. The resilient gripping pad is attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

[0009] In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, an article retainer is provided, that includes a semicylinder-shaped clasping member, a strap, and a hook-pile fastener material pad. The semicylinder-shaped clasping member has a generally C-shaped cross section. The clasping member is made from a resilient material. The strap is coupled to the clasping member. The strap comprises an elongated member having a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends. The strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first end. A first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion. A second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end. When the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the strap has a loop shape. The hook-pile fastener material pad is attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

[0010] In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention, an article retainer is provided, which includes a semicylinder-shaped clasping member and a strap. The semicylinder-shaped clasping member has a generally C-shaped cross section. The clasping member is made from a resilient material. The strap is coupled to the clasping member. The strap has a cord. The cord has a first end and a second end. The strap is coupled to the clasping member at the first and second ends of the cord.

[0011] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an article retainer is provided, which includes a semicylindrical-shaped clasping member and a spring-biased clip member. The semicylindrical-shaped clasping member has a generally C-shaped cross section. The spring-biased clip member is coupled to the clasping member. The clip member may be two separate portions coupled together and spring-biased with a separate spring. The clip member may be one piece of spring steel, for example, with opposing portions that are spring-biased toward each other when the opposing portions are spread open away from each other. The clip member may clamp onto an object (e.g., a belt or cord) inserted into the clip member to prevent the clip member from sliding along the object during use.

[0012] According to another aspect of the present invention, an article retainer is provided, which includes a semicylinder-shaped clasping member, a belt loop member, a shoulder strap member, a first resilient pad, a hook-pile fastener material pad, and a second resilient pad. The semicylinder-shaped clasping member has a generally C-shaped cross section. The clasping member is made from a resilient material. The belt loop member is coupled to the clasping member. The belt loop member has an elongated member with a first end, a second end, and a central portion between the first and second ends. The belt loop member is coupled to the clasping member at the first end. A first half of a snap fastener is located at the central portion. A second half of the snap fastener is located at the second end.

[0013] When the first and second halves of the snap fastener are joined, the belt loop member has a loop shape. The shoulder strap member has a cord and a loop-pile fastener material tag. The tag is fastened about a portion of the cord such that fastening loops of the tag are exposed. The first resilient pad is attached to the belt loop member at a location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed. The hook-pile fastener material pad is attached to the belt loop member at another location inside the loop shape formed when the snap fastener is closed. The second resilient pad is attached to an inside surface of the clasping member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] The accompanying drawings are incorporated into and form a part of this specification to illustrate preferred embodiments of the present invention. Various advantages and features of the invention will be understood from the following detailed description taken with reference to the attached drawing figures in which:

[0015] FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a walking cane being held by a first embodiment of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the first embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a cross-section view of the clasping member of FIG. 4 taken along line 3-3;

[0018] FIG. 4 is a front view of the clasping member of the first embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2;

[0019] FIG. 5 is a front view of a clasping member of a second embodiment of the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 6 is a cross-section view of the clasping member of FIG. 5 taken along line 6-6;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a front view of a clasping member of a third embodiment of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 8 is a cross-section view of the clasping member of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8;

[0023] FIG. 9 is a walking cane adapted for use with a fifth embodiment of the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the fifth embodiment of the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment of the present invention;

[0026] FIG. 12 is a front view of clasping member for an eighth embodiment of the present invention;

[0027] FIG. 13 is a cut-away view of the clasping member of FIG. 12;

[0028] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a ninth embodiment of the present invention;

[0029] FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a tenth embodiment of the present invention;

[0030] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of shoulder strap member of the tenth embodiment of FIG. 15;

[0031] FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the tenth embodiment of FIG. 15 with a shoulder strap member removed;

[0032] FIG. 18 is a side view of an eleventh embodiment of the present invention with a belt clip member; and

[0033] FIG. 19 is a front view of the eleventh embodiment of FIG. 18.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0034] Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to various examples of how the invention can best be made and used. Like reference numerals are used throughout the description and several views of the preferred embodiment to indicate like or corresponding parts.

[0035] FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a walking cane retainer 30 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1 shows a conventional walking cane 32 in an operative retainer position including a handle H and a generally cylindrical body portion 33 releasably gripped within the retainer 30. FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the first embodiment with the walking cane 32 removed. The walking cane retainer 30 has a semi-cylindrical clasping member 34 and a strap 38 coupled to the clasping member 34. FIG. 4 shows a front view of just the clasping member 34 of FIG. 2. FIG. 3 is a cross-section view taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 4. As best illustrated in FIG. 3, the clasping member 34 has a generally C-shaped cross-section that partially encloses an open receiving pocket 35. The clasping member 34 is preferably made from a resilient material so that it can flex to allow the cane 32 to be snapped into and out of the receiving pocket 35. The resilient material of the clasping member 34 may be chosen from numerous suitable materials, including but not limited to: Lexan® polycarbonate, plastic, polyvinyl chloride, aluminum, spring steel, metal, graphite composite, fiberglass composite, Kevlar® composite, carbon fiber composite, or any combination thereof, for example. One of ordinary skill in the art will realize other materials that may be substituted.

[0036] As shown in FIG. 3, the size or diameter of the cross-section for the clasping member 34 expands to a size slightly larger than the size or diameter of the walking cane 32 that a given retainer 30 is designed to hold. As shown in FIGS. 2-4, the first embodiment has a resilient gripping pad 40 attached to an inside surface 37 of the clasping member 34. The gripping pad 40 of the first embodiment is made from foam rubber (or neoprene) and has a ribbed surface with horizontal ribs 41 extending partially around the inner surface 35. The gripping pad 40 may be made from a variety of compressible materials, including but not limited to: foam rubber, neoprene, silicon, vinyl, or any combination thereof, for example. The resilient gripping pad 40 opposes movement of the cane 32 within the clasping member 34. The gripping pad 40 also may help prevent the cane 32 from rattling within the clasping member 34 and reduce vibrations. The gripping pad 40 also maintains high frictional pressure engagement with the cane 32 to aid the clasping member 34 in holding the cane 32. Preferably, the inner diameter of the clasping member 34 when in a relaxed position (i.e., when a cane is not in the clasping member 34) is slightly less than the diameter of the smallest commonly sold walking cane. Such sizing would thus allow the clasping member 34 to effectively grasp and resist linear slippage on the smallest commonly sold walking canes, while also being able to flex enough to retain the largest diameter size of commonly sold walking canes. Hence, the clasping member 34 may accommodate a wide range of cane sizes.

[0037] FIGS. 5-8 illustrate just the clasping member 34 of the retainer 30 to illustrate some alternative embodiments of the gripping pad 40. In a second embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, three gripping pads 40 are attached inside the clasping member 34 and adjacent gripping pads are circumferentially spaced from each other. FIG. 6 shows a cross-section view of FIG. 5 along line 6-6. Also, each gripping pad 40 of the second embodiment is not ribbed. In a third embodiment shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, a single gripping pad 40 is attached to the inside of the clasping member 34, as in the first embodiment, but the gripping pad 40 is not ribbed in the third embodiment. FIG. 8 shows a cross-section view of FIG. 7 along line 8-8. In yet another embodiment, the retainer 30 may be made and used without the resilient pad 40 being attached to the inside surface of the clasping member 34.

[0038] Referring again to FIGS. 1-4, the strap 38 of the first embodiment has a belt loop member 44 adapted for attachment around a belt of a cane user. The belt loop member 44 is an elongated member having a first end 46, a second end 48, and a central portion 50 between the first and second ends 46 and 48. The belt loop member 44 is permanently coupled to the clasping member 34 at the first end 46 with a rivet 52. The rivet may allow the clasping member 34 to pivot relative to the belt loop member 44. However in other embodiments, the belt loop member 44 may be permanently coupled to the clasping member 34 by other means, such as being sewn or using adhesive, for example.

[0039] Moreover, the belt loop member 44 may be releasably coupled to the clasping member 34, by a snap fastener 56 or a button, for example. A first half 54 of a snap fastener 56 is located at the central portion 50. A second half 58 of the snap fastener 56 is located at the second end 48. When the first and second halves 54 and 58 of the snap fastener 56 are joined (i.e., when the snap fastener 56 is closed), the belt loop member 44 has a loop shape. The belt loop member 44 may be made from a variety of suitable materials, including but not limited to: leather, faux leather, plastic, cotton, hemp, wool, nylon, polyester, or any combination thereof, for example.

[0040] FIGS. 9 and 10 show a walking cane 32 and a cane retainer 30 in accordance with a fifth embodiment of the present invention. The clasping member 34 and belt loop member 44 of the fifth embodiment (FIG. 10) are the same as that of the first embodiment (FIG. 2), except that the fifth embodiment does not have the resilient gripping pad 40 attached to the inside surface of the clasping member 34. Instead, the fifth embodiment has a hook-pile fastener material pad 60 (e.g., Velcro® fastener material) attached to the inside surface of the clasping member 34. The walking cane 32 has an interlockable loop-pile fastener material pad 62 attached around it (either partially or all the way around the cane 32), as shown in FIG. 9. Thus when the cane 32 of FIG. 9 is snapped into the clasping member 34 of FIG. 10, the hook-and-loop fasteners 60 and 62 help to hold the cane 32 in place relative to the clasping member 34, and it helps prevent the cane 32 from sliding or moving within the clasping member 34 during use of the retainer 30.

[0041] The opening 64 formed between the facing edges of the clasping arms in the relaxed position (see FIGS. 7, 8 and 10) into the receiving pocket 35 of the clasping member 34 is slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the cane 32, thereby providing an interference fit with the body of the cane as it is inserted into and out of the receiving pocket 35. The upper edges 34E, 34F of the clasping arms are rounded or tapered so that the cane 32 snaps into and out of the pocket 35 and are held in place by the gripping and interlocking engagement of the gripping pad 40 or with the hook-and-loop fasteners 60 and 62. Note that loop-pile fastener material may be substituted for the hook-pile fastener material of the pad 60 on the inside surface of the clasping member 34 when hook-pile fastener material is substituted for the loop-pile fastener material of the pad 62 on the cane 32. Switching the position of the hook (or loop) material with that of the loop (or hook) material provides an equivalent structure that performs the same function, the same way, to achieve the same results, as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.

[0042] FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of a walking cane retainer 30 in accordance with a sixth embodiment of the present invention. In the sixth embodiment, the clasping member 34 is similar to that of the third embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 8. But in the sixth embodiment, the strap 38 coupled to the clasping member 34 has a cord 68. The cord 68 has a first end 71 and a second end 72. The first and second ends 71 and 72 of the cord 68 are coupled to the clasping member 34 with metal rings 74 (although the rings 74 may be made from another material, e.g., plastic) to form a loop shape. Also in another embodiment (not shown), the rings 74 may not be needed if the cord 68 is simply threaded through the holes 76 formed in the clasping member 34. The effective length of the loop shape for the strap 38 is adjustable with a buckle device 78, which is coupled to the cord 68.

[0043] With this type of strap 38 (FIG. 11), the cane retainer 30 may be strapped over a person's shoulder or strapped (or tied or hung) onto a chair, knob, door handle, or hanger, for example, when the cane 32 is not being used. The strap 38 of the sixth embodiment may be substituted for a shoulder strap 38 with a generally flat cross-section shape, such as the straps often used for women's purses, on duffle bags, or on back packs, for example. The material of the strap 38 of these embodiments may be made from a variety of suitable materials, including but not limited to: leather, faux leather, plastic, cotton, hemp, wool, nylon, polyester, or any combination thereof, for example.

[0044] FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate a clasping member 34 for an eighth embodiment of the present invention to illustrate yet another variation on the resilient pad 40 located inside the clasping member 34. The resilient gripping pad 40 of FIGS. 12 and 13 has a ribbed surface with ribs 43 extending in a generally helical pitched path along the inside surface 37 of the clasping member.

[0045] FIG. 14 illustrates a ninth embodiment of the present invention. In the ninth embodiment, a spring-biased clip member 80 is releasably coupled to the clasping member 34 with a snap fastener 82. Preferably, the clasping member 34 pivots about the snap fastener 82 relative to the clip member 80, which provides more mobility when the cane 32 is installed in the retainer 30 (e.g., for a person sitting in a chair).

[0046] FIGS. 15-17 illustrate a tenth embodiment of the present invention. In the tenth embodiment, the resilient gripping pad 40 located on the inside surface 37 of the clasping member 34 has a ribbed surface with vertically extending ribs 45 (see FIG. 15). The strap 38 of the tenth embodiment has two major parts for providing multiple uses: a belt loop member 44 and a shoulder strap member 84. The belt loop member 44 is permanently coupled to the clasping member 34 with a rivet (not shown) and adhesive. The belt loop member 44 of the tenth embodiment is similar to that of the first and fourth embodiments (see FIGS. 2 and 10), but with the addition of a resilient pad 88 and a hook-pile fastener material pad 90 located inside the loop shape (see FIG. 17) formed when the snap fastener 56 is closed (see FIG. 15). The resilient pad 88 located on the belt loop member 44 is made from foam rubber, for example, with a ribbed surface. When the shoulder strap member 84 of FIG. 16 is not used and the cane retainer 30 is attached to a belt on the user (not shown), the resilient pad 88 within the belt loop member 44 helps prevent the retainer 30 from moving relative to the user's belt.

[0047] The shoulder strap member 84 shown in FIG. 16 has a cord 68 and a loop-pile fastener material tag 92. The tag 92 is fastened about a portion of the cord 68 so that the fastening loops of the tag 92 are exposed. The tag 92 may be glued and/or sewn to the cord 68, for example. The cord 68 has an adjustment buckle device 78 attached thereto for allowing the effective length of the shoulder strap member 84 to be adjusted. Hence, the length of the shoulder strap member 84 may be sized for different applications. For example, the shoulder strap member 84 may be sized to be used around a person's waist, such as when a heavy coat or rain coat is worn. As another example, the shoulder strap member 84 may be sized to fit over a person's shoulder so that the belt loop member hangs at or below the person's waist when standing. When the shoulder strap member 84 is installed within the belt loop member 44, as shown in FIG. 15, the hook-pile fastener material pad 90 engages the loop-pile fastener material tag 92, which helps keep the cord 68 from sliding within the belt loop member 44 during use. Also, the resilient pad 88 located within the belt loop member 44 helps keep the tag 92 pressed against the hook-pile pad 90. Thus, the retainer 30 of the tenth embodiment may be worn on a user's belt (without the shoulder strap member 84) or worn over the user's shoulder, for example, using the combination of the shoulder strap member 84 and the belt loop member 44, as shown in FIG. 15. The shoulder strap member 84 may be strapped around, hung, or tied to an object as well, such as a door knob, a cabinet handle, or a hanger, for example.

[0048] FIGS. 18 and 19 show a side view and a front view, respectively, of an eleventh embodiment of the present invention, which incorporates a spring steel belt clip member 100. The belt clip member 100 may be formed from a single piece of spring steel having a first clip portion 101 opposing a second clip portion 102. The belt clip member 100 is shown in a relaxed position in FIG. 18. A belt 104 is shown in phantom lines in FIG. 19 to illustrate one use of the eleventh embodiment. Preferably, the spacing between the first and second clip portions is such that when a belt 104 is inserted into or through the belt clip member 100, the first clip portion 101 is slightly spread apart away from the second clip portion 102 and the belt clip member 100 clamps onto the belt therein due to the spring bias created by the spring steel material. In such a configuration where the belt clip member 100 clamps onto a belt 104, the clamping action of the spring bias may prevent the retainer 30 from sliding or moving along the belt 104 during most uses. The belt clip member 100 is preferably sized to receive a wide range of common belt widths and thicknesses.

[0049] The eleventh embodiment of FIGS. 18 and 19 may also be combined with and clamped onto the tab 92 of the strap member 84 shown in FIG. 16 to provide yet another use of the eleventh embodiment. Thus, instead of clamping onto a belt 104, the belt clip member 100 may be clamped onto the tab 92 of the strap member 84, which may be worn over a shoulder or around a person's waist, for example.

[0050] Although the C-shaped cross sections for the clasping members 34 shown herein are generally circular in profile, the generally C-shaped cross section of the clasping member for other embodiments (not shown) may vary. For example, the C-shaped cross section may have corners and flat portions so that the cross section resembles part of a polygon shape (e.g., square, hexagon, octagon). The C-shaped cross section may also have round shaped portions combined with straight or flat shaped portions, such as a curved C-shape with a flat back, for example. With the benefit of this disclosure, one of ordinary skill in the art will realize many possible variations for the generally C-shaped cross section of the clasping member 34 that may be used to perform the same functions, the same way, and with the same results.

[0051] In yet another embodiment, the belt loop member 44 may be a permanently closed loop (i.e., no snap fastener 56), which requires a belt to be threaded through the belt loop member 44 or which requires the cord 68 for an additional shoulder strap member 84 to be threaded through the belt loop member 44, for example.

[0052] With the benefit of this disclosure, one of ordinary skill in the art will realize that the components and features of the embodiments described above maybe mixed and combined in numerous different ways to form other embodiments of the present invention.

[0053] Embodiments of the present invention may also be used to retain an article other than a walking cane, including but not limited to: a flashlight, a billy club, a baton, a night stick, nunchucks, a kama, a sai, an escrima stick, a tonfa, a mace canister, a billiards cue stick, a hammer, a tool handle, or a tool, for example.

[0054] Although the invention has been described with reference to certain exemplary arrangements, it is to be understood that the forms of the invention shown and described are to be treated as preferred embodiments. In light of the description herein, various changes, substitutions and modifications may be realized without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.