Title:
Garment pairing device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A garment pairing device for pairing a first garment and a second garment having an elastic device adapted for attachment to the first garment, where the elastic device is adapted to receive the second garment. The elastic device may be attached to the first garment with a pair of attaching devices, may have a logo and/or an applique, may have a cross-section which is generally rectangularor circular, may have a centerline where the elastic device is centered with respect to the centerline, may be attached to a back side of the first garment, may be attached to a reinforced portion of the first garment, and may have a greater elasticity than the first garment. Also, the first garment may be a first sock and the second garment may be a second sock, where the first sock further has a band.



Inventors:
Ferguson, Darrian (Salinas, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/769880
Publication Date:
08/12/2004
Filing Date:
02/03/2004
Assignee:
FERGUSON DARRIAN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B11/00; (IPC1-7): A41B11/00; A43B17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A garment pairing device, comprising: a first garment having an elastic element anchored thereon; and a second garment having an elastic element anchored thereon; wherein the elastic element of each said first and second garments are color coded, said color coding facilitating the matching of the garments.

2. The garment pairing device according to claim 1, wherein said elastic element is an open pocket.

3. The garment pairing device according to claim 2, wherein said open pocket is disposed externally on each said first and second garment.

4. The garment pairing device according to claim 2, wherein said open pocket is disposed internally on each said first and second garment.

5. The garment pairing device according to claim 1, wherein said elastic element is a loop.

6. The garment pairing device according to claim 5, wherein said loop is disposed externally on each said first and second garment.

7. The garment pairing device according to claim 5, wherein said loop is disposed internally on each said first and second garment.

8. A sock pairing method comprising the steps of: providing a first sock; anchoring a first elastic element on the first sock; providing a second sock; anchoring a second elastic element on the second sock; the first and second elastic elements of each first and second sock have the same color code; matching of the socks by the color coded elastic elements; and securing the first and second sock by placing one of the socks within the elastic member of the other one of the socks.

9. The sock pairing method according to claim 8, wherein the elastic element is an open pocket.

10. The sock pairing method according to claim 9, wherein the open pocket is disposed externally on each first and second sock.

11. The sock pairing method according to claim 9, wherein the open pocket is disposed internally on each first and second sock.

12. The sock pairing method according to claim 8, wherein the elastic element is a loop.

13. The sock pairing method according to claim 12, wherein the loop is disposed externally on each first and second sock.

14. The sock pairing method according to claim 12, wherein the loop is disposed internally on each first and second sock.

Description:

[0001] The present application is a Continuation-in-Part of the copending U.S. nonprovisional application, Ser. No. 10/370,760, filed Feb. 24, 2003, which is a Continuation-in-Part of the copending U.S. nonprovisional application, Ser. No. 10/330,449, filed Dec. 30, 2002.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to a garment pairing device. Specifically, the present invention is directed to a combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device, an elastic loop garment pairing.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] During laundering, it is desirable to attach together paired garments, such as socks. Many devices have been proposed for this purpose. However, many of these devices are uncomfortable to wear, are unattractive, do not specifically promote use by children or simply do not work well after repeated washing and drying.

[0006] For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,038,413, issued Aug. 13, 1991 to Ursino, describes a sock fastening means. U.S. Pat. No. 5,970,524, issued Oct. 26, 1999 to Becker et al., describes a pair of separably joined socks or stockings. U.S. Pat. No. 6,032,294, issued Mar. 7, 2000 to Dean, describes a fastener for mating pairs of clothing items. U.S. Pat. No. 6,067,659, issued May 30, 2000 to Reichle, describes a device for sorting socks.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 6,092,241, issued Jul. 25, 2000 to Bellet, describes sock mates. U.S. Pat. No. 6,185,751 B1, issued Feb. 13, 2001 to Mason, describes releasably engagable socks. U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,158 B1, issued May 29, 2001 to Barbara, describes a sock clip assembly. U.S. Pat. No. 6,374,420 B2, issued Apr. 23, 2002 to Jossi, describes a fastener and a two-piece clothing comprising the fastener.

[0008] International Application No. WO 96/10345, published Apr. 11, 1996 to Lyons, describes a sock coupling device. International Application No. WO 96/26656, published Sep. 6, 1996 to Christy et al., describes a sock tab with mateable fastening means. United Kingdom Patent Application GB 2,327,856 A, published Feb. 10, 1999 to Whyte, describes a pair of interconnectable socks.

[0009] Other patents showing devices for socks include the following: U.S. Pat. No. 4,106,126, issued Aug. 15, 1978 to Traenkle, describes a within-the-shoe sock having a removable retaining device. U.S. Pat. No. 4,165,555, issued Aug. 28, 1979 to Boxer et al., describes hook-and-pile strips for socks and the like. U.S. Pat. No. 4,682,389, issued Jul. 28, 1987 to Callender, describes a garment connector.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 5,321,855, issued Jun. 21, 1994 to Ciuffo, describes a fastening system for pairing socks, hosiery and gloves. U.S. Pat. No. 5,357,660, issued Oct. 25, 1994 to Smith, describes a sock pairing apparatus. U.S. Pat. No. 5,367,809, issued Nov. 29, 1994 to Ross, describes an easy identification of socks.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 5,579,541, issued Dec. 3, 1996 to Christy et al., describes sock tabs. U.S. Pat. No. 6,038,748, issued Mar. 21, 2000 to Durney et al., describes a laundry holder with sock snare. U.S. Pat. No. 6,247,183 B1, issued Jun. 19, 2001 to Haas-Laursen, describes secured infant socks.

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 2,785,413, issued Mar. 19, 2957 to Cook, describes methods of holding socks in pairs for laundering. The methods disclosed in Cook require a pair of socks having a band of elastic or twine material passed through several small openings in the cuff of the socks. The socks are then paired using a retaining strip that has a plurality of fastening elements for forming a plurality of retaining loops. In practice, the bands of a pair of socks are retained in the retaining loops, such that multiple pairs of socks are simultaneously laundered with the retaining strip. Cook also suggests retaining individual pairs of socks by looping the bands together to form a cinch knot (cf. FIG. 4).

[0013] The following: U.S. Pat. No. 287,808, issued Nov. 6, 1883 to Davis et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 673,157, issued Apr. 30, 1901 to Burnham; U.S. Pat. No. 1,426,797, issued Aug. 22, 1922 to Wangelin; U.S. Pat. No. 1,144,050, issued Jun. 22, 1915 to Nightingale et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 2,814,807, issued Dec. 3,1957 to Dollar; U.S. Pat. No. 3,492,674, issued Feb. 3,1970 to Poole; U.S. Pat. No. 3,601,818, issued Aug. 31, 1971 to Chesebro et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 3,688,348, issued Sep. 5, 1972 to Klotz et al. ; U.S. Pat. No. 4,947,489, issued Aug. 14, 1990 to Greenwood; U.S. Pat. No. 4,998,722, issued Mar. 12, 1991 to Scott; U.S. Pat. No. 5,133,091, issued Jul. 28,1992 to del Valle Mas; U.S. Pat. No. 5,461,728, issued Oct. 31, 1995 to Staszak; U.S. Pat. No. 5,566,396, issued Oct. 22, 1996 to Leib; U.S. Pat. No. 5,724,680, issued Mar. 10,1998 to Cesnick et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,774,898, issued Jul. 7, 1998 to Malpee; U.S. Pat. No. 5,913,318, issued Jul. 6, 1999 to Jones; U.S. Pat. No. 5,950,240, issued Sep. 14, 1999 to Carpenter et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,263, issued Dec. 19, 2000 to Anderson; U.S. Pat. No. 6,199,216, issued Mar. 13, 2001 to Weatherspoon; U.S. Pat. No. 6,209,141, issued Apr. 3, 2001 to Adeli; U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,159, issued May 29, 2001 to Martin; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,543,063, issued Apr. 8, 2003 to Greer; are merely a compilation of related patents in the art of sock pairing.

[0014] None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singularly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed. Thus a garment pairing device solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The present invention is directed to a garment pairing device for a first garment and a second garment. The first and second garments may be socks.

[0016] Further, the present invention is directed to an elastic member garment pairing device for a first garment and a second garment having a first elastic member on the first garment, a second elastic member on the second garment.

[0017] Even further, the present invention is directed to a garment pairing device for pairing a first garment and a second garment, where the first and second garments are matched, thereby they are kept together during laundering. Each garment has an elastic device disposed thereon, such that the device of one garment receives the other garment therein.

[0018] Accordingly, it is within the scope of the invention to provide a garment pairing device for pairing a first garment and a second garment having an elastic device adapted for attachment to the first garment, where the elastic device is adapted to receive the second garment

[0019] It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

[0020] These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a garment pairing device according to the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 2 is a close-up environmental, perspective view of a combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device according to the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 2.

[0024] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of FIGS. 3, 5, 7 and 8.

[0025] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 2.

[0026] FIG. 6 is a close-up environmental, perspective view of a combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device according to the present invention.

[0027] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 6.

[0028] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 6.

[0029] FIG. 9 is a close-up environmental, perspective view of a button and loop garment pairing device according to the present invention.

[0030] FIG. 10 is an environmental, perspective view of a garment pairing device according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

[0031] FIG. 11 is a close-up environmental, perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0032] FIGS. 11A-11C are elevational views of variations of the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 11.

[0033] FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 11.

[0034] FIGS. 12A-12C are elevational views of variations of the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 12.

[0035] FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 12.

[0036] FIG. 14 is a close-up environmental, perspective view of the present invention.

[0037] FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 14.

[0038] FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIG. 15.

[0039] FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the device as shown in FIGS. 11 and 14 in an unstretched state.

[0040] FIGS. 18A-18D are elevation views, of the color code scheme arrangements of the preferred embodiments

[0041] Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0042] The present invention is directed to a garment pairing device. Specifically, the present invention is directed to a combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device 10, 20 as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, a combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device 110, 120 as shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, and an elastic loop garment pairing device 200 as shown in FIG. 9. FIGS. 10, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 show the present invention. Particularly, FIGS. 11, 11A-11C, 12, 12A-12C, and 18A-18D are directed to a garment pairing device for pairing a first garment A and a second garment B which comprises an elastic device 300, 400.

[0043] As described in FIG. 1, the combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device 10, 20 is useful in that a person 1 can easily match and temporarily attach together a first garment A and a second garment B prior to washing the garments in a washing machine 3 and/or prior to drying the garments in a dryer. The person 1 may also be a wearer of the garments A, B. The combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device 10, 20 further protects the skin of the person 1 with cushions 50, 60, described in greater detail below.

[0044] In an arrangement, as shown in FIG. 2, a combined garment pairing and skin cushioning device 10, 20 is provided for a first garment A and a second garment B. The first garment A and the second garment B may be any pair of garments which are typically worn at the same time or meant to be paired together, such as a pair of socks. Other examples may include athletic equipment, gloves, anklets, bracelets, knee pads, shin guards, elbow pads, and a shirt or blouse that is intended to be worn with a particular pair of pants or slacks.

[0045] The device 10, 20 includes a first attaching device 30, a second attaching device 40, a first cushion 50, and a second cushion 60. The first attaching device 30 is adapted to be attached to the first garment A and is adapted for attaching the first garment A to the second garment B. The second attaching device 40 is adapted to be attached to the second garment B and is adapted for attaching the second garment B to the first garment A.

[0046] The first and second attaching devices 30, 40 may be any suitable devices for releasable engagement with one another. The first and second attaching devices 30, 40 are desirably suitable for repeated use in a washing machine and/or dryer. The first and second attaching devices 30, 40 may be attached such that the engaging surfaces face inward or outward with respect to the skin of the person 1 wearing the garments.

[0047] For example, releasably engageable fasteners may be used. Such releasably engageable fasteners are described in detail, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,038,413, issued Aug. 13, 1991 to Ursino, which is incorporated by reference herein. As shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the first and second attaching devices 30, 40 may be attached to the garments using any suitable means of attachment including the use of retainers 35, 45. This means of attachment is described in detail in the Ursino patent at FIG. 4 and at col. 2, lines 45-53.

[0048] Returning to the present invention, the first cushion 50 is adjacent to the first attaching device 30, and the second cushion 60 is adjacent to the second attaching device 40. The cushions 50, 60 are provided adjacent to the attaching devices 30, 40 so that the skin of the person 1 is protected from the attaching devices 30, 40. The cushions 50, 60 are desirable in that the attaching devices 30, 40 are often made of a hard material such as plastic or metal.

[0049] The cushions 50, 60 are desirably made of any suitable material, such as fabric, cotton, plastic, rubber, nylon or the like. The cushions 50, 60 should desirably simultaneously provide a sufficient cushioning effect, permit the attachment of the first attaching device 30 and the second attaching device 40, and be able to withstand repeated washing and drying.

[0050] In a second arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first arrangement. Further, the first cushion 50 surrounds the first attaching device 30, the first cushion 50 is adapted to permit the attachment of the first attaching device 30 and the second attaching device 40, the second cushion 60 surrounds the second attaching device 40, and the second cushion 60 is adapted to permit the attachment of the second attaching device 40 and the first attaching device 30.

[0051] The cushions 50, 60 may completely surround the attaching devices 30, 40 in at least the X and Y directions. The cushions 50, 60 may be provided to be sufficiently thick so as to surround the attaching devices 30, 40 in the Z direction or at least thick enough so that the outside surfaces of the garments A, B extend beyond the attaching devices 30, 40 in the Z direction.

[0052] By providing the cushions 50, 60 in this manner, the present inventor has found that the cushions 50, 60 prevent the attaching devices 30, 40 from contacting, or causing pain or irritation to the skin of the wearer of the garment. For example, the present inventor has found that the skin of the wearer of a pair of socks including the cushions 50, 60 of the present invention is still protected even when boots are worn over the socks and laced up tightly against the socks. Even when boots are not worn, socks provided with the cushions 50, 60 of the present invention provide a comfortable feel to the wearer of the garment. Similar positive effects are found when the cushions 50, 60 are used with other types of garments.

[0053] In a third arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first arrangement. Further, the first cushion 50 has a first substantially toroid shape, and the second cushion 60 has a second substantially toroid shape.

[0054] The substantially toroid shape of the cushions 50, 60 may completely surround the attaching devices 30, 40 in at least the X and Y directions. The substantially toroid shape of the cushions 50, 60 may be provided to be sufficiently thick so as to surround the attaching devices 30, 40 in the Z direction or at least thick enough so that the outside surfaces of the garments A, B extend beyond the attaching devices 30, 40 in the Z direction. The hole in the center of the substantially toroid shape is adapted to accommodate the attaching devices 30, 40.

[0055] The substantially toroid shape may be varied to suit the particular shape of the attaching devices 30, 40. For example, the XY cross-section (FIG. 4) and the YZ cross-section (FIGS. 3 and 5) of the substantially toroid shape may not be precisely circular. Also, when the cushions 50, 60 are made of a relatively soft material such as fabric or cotton, the substantially toroid shape may have some degree of variation as would be expected from such a material. Nonetheless, the cushions 50, 60 are desirably toroid in shape such that the material including the cushions 50, 60 surround the attaching devices 30, 40 in at least the X and Y directions and at least a portion of the Z direction.

[0056] In a fourth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first arrangement. Further, the first garment A includes a first inner layer A1 and a first outer layer A2, the first cushion 50 is adapted to be attached to the first inner layer A1 and the first outer layer A2, the second garment B includes a second inner layer B1 and a second outer layer B2, and the second cushion 60 is adapted to be attached to the second inner layer B1 and the second outer layer B2.

[0057] In FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the cushion 50 is shown attached to both the layers A1, A2 the cushion 60 is shown attached to both the layers B1, B2. However, the cushion 50 may be attached to either of the layers A1, A2, and the cushion 60 may be attached to either of the layers B1, B2. In other words, the cushions 50, 60 may be attached on the inside surfaces of the garments A, B (not shown) such that they are adapted for direct contact with the skin of the wearer.

[0058] In a fifth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first arrangement. Further, the first garment A includes a first inner layer A1 and a first outer layer A2, the first cushion 50 is adapted to be located between the first inner layer A1 and the first outer layer A2, the second garment B includes a second inner layer B1 and a second outer layer B2, and the second cushion 60 is adapted to be located between the second inner layer B1 and the second outer layer B2.

[0059] In a sixth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first arrangement. Further, the first garment A is a first sock, and the second garment B is a second sock. The first garment A may also be a first glove, a first anklet, a first bracelet, a first knee pad, a first shin guard, a first elbow pad, a first paired garment or the like. The second garment B may be a second glove, a second anklet, a second bracelet, a second knee pad, a second shin guard, a second elbow pad, a second paired garment or the like.

[0060] In a seventh arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first, second and third arrangements.

[0061] In an eighth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the device 10, 20 includes the features of the first, second, third, fifth and sixth arrangements.

[0062] As described in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth arrangements of the present invention, the combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device 110, 120 is similarly useful in that a person 1 can easily match and temporarily attach together a first garment A and a second garment B prior to washing the garments in a washing machine 3 and/or prior to drying the garments in a dryer.

[0063] The combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device 110, 120 further provides the additional feature of symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80. The symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 may be particularly useful as a learning tool for children. Specifically, the symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 encourage children to assist in the often maligned task of doing the laundry by creating a game of matching the symbol shaped attaching devices 70, 80.

[0064] The symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 may be any type of visual element which encourages children to put the socks together. The present inventor has found that the symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 help children form a habit of putting socks together. For example, the use of letters, numbers, or different shapes help form the habit. At the same time, children using the present invention help their parents with the laundry.

[0065] When using a unique pair of symbols for each pair of garments, the combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device 110, 120 has the further advantage of ensuring that pairs of garments are not mismatched. The symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 may also display a company logo.

[0066] In a ninth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, a combined garment pairing and symbol-shaped device 110, 120 is provided for a first garment A and a second garment B. As described with respect to the first arrangement above, the first garment A and the second garment B may be any pair of garments which are typically worn at the same time or meant to be paired together, such as a pair of socks.

[0067] The device 110, 120 includes a first attaching device 70 and a second attaching device 80. The first attaching device 70 is adapted to be attached to the first garment A and is adapted for attaching the first garment A to the second garment B, and the second attaching device 80 is adapted to be attached to the second garment B and is adapted for attaching the second garment B to the first garment A.

[0068] The first and second attaching devices 70, 80 may be any suitable devices for releasable engagement with one another. The first and second attaching devices 70, 80 are desirably suitable for repeated use in a washing machine and/or dryer.

[0069] The first attaching device 70 has a first overall shape, the second attaching device 80 has a second overall shape, the first overall shape is a first symbol, and the second overall shape is a second symbol. The first and second symbols may be any pair of symbols which correspond with one another in a recognizable way.

[0070] For example, the first attaching device 70 may have a first overall shape which approximates the letter “A,” and the second attaching device 80 may have a second overall shape which also approximates the letter “A.” Any suitable symbol may be used, including numbers, mathematical symbols, geometric shapes, symbols with matching color combinations, words, phrases, sports equipment, fictional characters, cartoon characters, animal shapes, plant shapes, and the like.

[0071] Alternately, the first symbol may have a first overall shape which is the inverse shape of the second symbol which has a second overall shape. In other words, the first and second overall shape of the first and second attaching devices 70, 80 may include the means for attaching the first and second attaching devices 70, 80 to each other.

[0072] As another alternate, the first and second attaching devices 70, 80 may be joined together to form an overall shape which is recognizable. For example, the first attaching device 70 may have a first overall shape corresponding with the first half of a car, and the second attaching device 80 may have a second overall shape corresponding with the second half of the car. This feature is particularly useful when using the device 110, 120 as a learning tool for children and in order to facilitate the task of matching garments together prior to doing the laundry.

[0073] The first and second attaching devices 70, 80 may be permanently attached to first and second base members 74, 84 which are adapted for permanent attachment to first and second retainers 35, 45, respectively. Each of the attaching devices 70, 80 may be attached to the respective one of the base members 74, 84 using any suitable means of attachment including, for example, adhesive, a mechanical attachment and the like. Alternately, each of the attaching devices 70, 80 may be integrally formed with the respective one of the base members 74, 84. The base members 74, 84 may be attached to the retainers 35, 45 using any suitable means of attachment, including, for example, the means of attachment disclosed in the Ursino patent.

[0074] In a tenth arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, the device 110, 120 includes the features of the ninth arrangement. Further, the first attaching device 70 includes a protrusion 72, and the second attaching device 80 includes a depression 82 adapted to releasably engage the protrusion 72.

[0075] There may be a plurality of protrusions on the first attaching device 70 and a plurality of depressions on the second attaching device 80 which are arranged to correspond with the plurality of protrusions. The protrusion and depression may include further structural details to facilitate the attachment of the first and second attaching devices 70, 80.

[0076] In an eleventh arrangement, as shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, the device 110, 120 includes the features of the ninth arrangement. Further, the first symbol corresponds with the second symbol. For example, the first symbol may be a first letter, a first number, a first mathematical symbol, or a first company logo, and the second symbol may be a second letter, a second number, a second mathematical symbol, or a second company logo corresponding with the first symbol. In corresponding with each other, the objective is to provide a shape of the first and second symbols which are suitable for matching in a recognizable way, particularly for use by a child. For example, the first symbol may be identical to the second symbol, the first symbol may be in the inverse shape of the second symbol, or the first symbol may have the same shape as the second symbol but have a different color. Any other suitable corresponding relationship between the shape of the first and second symbols may be used.

[0077] The foregoing discussed arrangements show the following advantages: permits a person 1 to easily match and temporarily attach together a first garment A and a second garment B prior to washing the garments in a washing machine 3 and/or prior to drying the garments in a dryer; protects the skin of the person 1 with cushions 50, 60; and provides symbol-shaped attaching devices 70, 80 which may be used as a learning tool for children.

[0078] As described in the twentieth arrangement, FIGS. 1 and 9 of the present invention, the button and loop garment pairing device 200 is similarly useful in that a person 1 can easily match and temporarily attach together a first garment A and a second garment B prior to washing the garments in a washing machine 3 and/or prior to drying the garments in a dryer. The button and loop garment pairing device 200 provides a highly effective means of temporarily attaching garments prior to placing the garments in a washer or dryer.

[0079] In a twentieth arrangement, as shown in FIG. 9, an button and loop garment pairing device 200 is provided for a first garment A and a second garment B. As described with respect to the first arrangement above, the first garment A and the second garment B may be any pair of garments which are typically worn at the same time or meant to be paired together, such as a pair of socks. The device 200 includes a first button and loop 95 adapted for attachment to the first garment A, a second button and loop 100 adapted for attachment to the second garment B, and a securing device 90 adapted for attachment to the first button and loop 95. The securing device 90 is adapted for insertion into the second button and loop 100.

[0080] The button and loops 95, 100 may be made of any suitable material which allows for resilient expansion and contraction and is suitable for repeated use in a washer and dryer. Such a material may be, for example, elastic nylon, bungee material, or the like.

[0081] The securing device 90 may be any suitable device for securely retaining the first and second garments A, B. The securing device 90 may be provided in any suitable shape and made of any suitable material. For example, the securing device 90 may be a disc-shaped piece of plastic. The securing device 90 may include holes 92 through which the first button and loop 95 is inserted and then attached to the first garment A. Alternately, there may a pair of securing devices, one attached to the first button and loop 95 and another attached to the second button and loop 100.

[0082] The first button and loop 95 may be attached to the first garment A using any suitable means, for example, the first button and loop 95 may be sewn to the first garment A. Alternately, the first button and loop 95 may be attached to the first garment A through openings (not shown). Similarly, the second button and loop 100 may be attached to the second garment B using any suitable means, for example, the second button and loop 100 may be sewn to the second garment B. Alternately, the second button and loop 100 may be attached to the second garment B through openings 102.

[0083] In use, in order to attach the first and second garments A, B together, the person 1 doing laundry stretches the second button and loop 100 around the securing device 90 and releases the second button and loop 100 which returns to its normal, untensioned state. As the second button and loop 100 returns to its normal, untensioned state, the second button and loop 100 tightens around the first button and loop 95 and provides a force against the securing device 90. As such, the garments A, B are secured together and are ready for laundering.

[0084] Turning now to FIGS. 10, 11, 11A-11C, 12, 12A-12C, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18A-18D, preferred embodiments of the present invention are directed to a garment pairing device for pairing a first garment A and a second garment B which includeses an elastic device 300, 400.

[0085] In FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, the garment pairing device includes an elastic device 300, 400 adapted for attachment to the first garment A, and the elastic device 300, 400 is adapted to receive the second garment B. The elastic device 300, 400 may be any suitable device which can be attached to a garment and has sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete. The elastic device 300, 400 is desirably sufficiently strong to hold the first and second garments together during the laundering process. For example, the elastic device may be an elastic band 300 or an elastic cord 400.

[0086] The elastic device 300, 400 may be made of any suitable material and may be provided in any suitable shape, size or color. For example, the elastic device 300, 400 may be a band or cord made of a woven or non-woven material including fibers of, for example, nylon, cotton or a nylon-cotton blend. The material of the elastic device 300, 400 may be the same material as that of the garment itself.

[0087] The elastic device 300, 400 is useful in that a person 1 can easily match and temporarily attach together a first garment A and a second garment B prior to washing the garments in a washing machine 3 and/or prior to drying the garments in a dryer.

[0088] As shown in FIGS. 11, 12 and 13, the device, in this case an elastic band 300, is attached to the first garment A with a pair of attaching devices 310 (see the twenty-second embodiment below for full details). The first garment A has an inside surface A1 and an outside surface A2. The first garment A may be a first sock, in which case the sock may have a sock band A10 which has an tipper end A6 and a lower end A8. The second garment B also has an inside surface B1 and an outside surface B2. The elastic band 300 has an inside surface 302, an outside surface 304, an upper end 306 and a lower end 308. The outside surface 304 may bear a logo L. In use, the outside surface B2 of the second garment B is held against the first garment A in between the inside surface 302 of the elastic band 300 and the outside surface A2 of the first garment A.

[0089] With respect to FIGS. 11 and 12, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in several variations depicted in FIGS. 11A-11C and 12A-12C. FIGS. 11 and 12 provide the elastic device 30, 400 on the outer surface of the garments A, B. In FIGS. 11A-11C, the variation of this embodiment is shown have the garments A, B (which have been completely discussed above), however for clarity common elements will have common numerals. Specifically, the top or cuff of the garments A,B is designated 500. Likewise, the anchoring or securing element is designated 510. The anchoring or securing may generally be referred to as stitching 510, although any suitable, known anchoring or securing element is well within the scope of the invention. As in FIG. 11, the elastic member 300, 400 is shown in FIG. 11A as elastic member 502, generally referred to as an opened pocket. The elastic member 502 is disposed on the internal portion of the cuff 500. FIG. 12A demonstrates the premise of the open pocket or elastic member 502. It is easily seen that by securing one garment, for example B, in the open pocket or elastic member 502 of garment A, the pair of garments (socks) are secured together for laundering. In this manner, the garments will remain together until the are separated.

[0090] FIGS. 11B and 11C, are two other variations of the preferred embodiment of FIG. 11. Specifically, instead of the elastic member 300, 400 of FIG. 11, and 502 or FIG. 11A, a loop of elastic material is used to secure the garments together. FIG. 11B provides an elastic loop 504, disposed on the internal portion of the cuff 500. The loop 504 is attached to the cuff 500 by the stitching 510. Although the loop 504 is shown in an exaggeration for illustrative purposes, it is clearly seen in FIG. 12B how the pair of garments are secured together and held throughout the laundering until separated by the user. Likewise, FIG. 11C provides an elastic loop 504, disposed on the external portion of the cuff 500. The loop 506 is attached to the cuff 500 by the stitching 510. Although the loop 506 is shown in an exaggeration for illustrative purposes, it is clearly seen in FIG. 12C how the pair of garments are secured together and held throughout the laundering until separated by the user. Likewise, FIG. 11C

[0091] As shown in FIGS. 14, 15 and 16, the device, in this case an elastic cord 400, is attached to the first garment A with a pair of attaching devices 410. The first garment A and the second garment B are the same as that described above. The elastic cord 400 has an inside surface 402, an outside surface 404, an upper end 406 and a lower end 408. An appliqué 500 may be attached to the elastic cord 400. The appliqué 500 may bear a logo L. In use, the outside surface B2 of the second garment B is held against the first garment A in between the inside surface 402 of the elastic cord 400 and the outside surface A2 of the first garment A.

[0092] In FIGS. 11, 12, 14, 15 and 17, the garment pairing device includes the elastic device 300, 400 is attached to the first garment A with a pair of attaching devices 310, 410. The pair of attaching devices 310, 410 may be any suitable pair of devices for attaching the elastic device 300, 400 to the garment. For example, pair of attaching devices 310, 410 may be a seam which includes thread, a hook and loop material such as VELCRO, or an integrated seam where the elastic device 300, 400 is woven into the fabric of the garment itself. Similarly, FIGS. 11A-11C and 12A-12C, the garment pairing device includes the elastic devices 502, 504, 506, respectively attached to the first and second garments A, B. The anchoring or stitching 510 of the elastic members 502, 504, 506 may be any suitable be type of anchorage, such as a seam which includes thread, a hook and loop material such as VELCRO, or an integrated seam where the elastic members 502, 504, 506 are woven into the fabric of the garments A, B.

[0093] 1n FIGS. 11 and 14, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment however, the elastic device 300, 400 may further includes a logo L. The advantages of including a logo L in combination with the device of the present invention are described above with respect to the eighth and eleventh embodiments of the present invention.

[0094] In FIG. 13, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device, in this case an elastic band 300, has a cross-section which is generally rectangular. In using the term “generally rectangular,” it is understood that the actual cross-section of the elastic band 300 will have deviations from a true rectangular cross-sectional shape as would be expected from a material made of fibers of nylon, cotton or a nylon-cotton blend. The advantage of the generally rectangular cross-section is that it may be made to blend in with the appearance of the garment. In the case where the garment is a sock, the elastic band 300 of the present invention may match the appearance and shape of a band A10 of the sock A.

[0095] In FIG. 16, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device, in this case an elastic cord 400, has a cross-section which is generally circular. In using the term “generally circular,” it is understood that the actual cross-section of the elastic cord 400 will have deviations from a true circular cross-sectional shape as would be expected from a material made of fibers of nylon, cotton or a nylon-cotton blend. The advantage of the generally circular cross-section is that it may be used to attach additional items to the device of the present invention.

[0096] In FIG. 16, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the above mentioned embodiments, and the cross-section has a diameter D of less than 1.27 cm (½″). The present inventor has found that a diameter D of less than 1.27 cm (½″) provides the elastic cord 400 with sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0097] In FIG. 16, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the aforementioned preferred embodiments, and the cross-section has a diameter D of between 0.15875 cm ({fraction (1/16)}″) and 0.635 cm (¼″). The present inventor has found that a diameter D of between 0.15875 cm ({fraction (1/16)}″) and 0.635 cm (¼″) provides the elastic cord 400 with sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0098] In FIGS. 14, 15 and 16, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device, in this case an elastic cord 400, further includes an appliqué 500. As best seen in FIGS. 15 and 16, the appliqué 500 may be attached to the elastic cord 400 using a pair of U-shaped members 510 which encircle the elastic cord 400. The appliqué 500 is useful in that it makes it easier for the person 1 using the elastic device to grab the elastic device with their fingers and pull the elastic device away from the garment thus facilitating the insertion of another garment.

[0099] In FIG. 14, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the appliqué 500 further includes a logo L. The advantages of including a logo L in combination with the device of the present invention are described above with respect to the eighth and eleventh arrangements of the present invention.

[0100] In FIGS. 12 and 15, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment. In addition, the first garment A has a centerline A12, and the elastic device 300, 400 is attached to the first garment A such that the elastic device 300, 400 is centered with respect to the centerline A12. The centerline A12 passes through a front side A14 and a back side A16 of the first garment A defining two equal halves of the first garment A. It is desirable to center the elastic device 300, 400 with respect to the centerline A12 in order to facilitate the folding of the first garment A for storage. For example, when the first garment A is a sock, socks are typically folded along the centerline A12. Also, the elastic device 300, 400 of the present invention may be used as a hook to suspend the garment. In such a case, it is desirable to suspend the garment from the centerline A12 of the garment so as to avoid placing too much force on one side of the garment versus the other. In other words, centering the elastic device 300, 400 may prevent inadvertent wear and tear on the garment when the elastic device 300, 400 is being used as a hook to suspend the garment.

[0101] In FIGS. 12 and 15, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device 300, 400 is attached to the back side A16 of the first garment A. As above, the present inventor has found that centering the elastic device 300, 400 on the back side A16 of the first garment A may prevent inadvertent wear and tear on the garment when the elastic device 300, 400 is being used as a hook to suspend the garment.

[0102] In FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 17, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device 300, 400 is attached to a reinforced portion of the first garment A, such as a sock band A10 which is generally thicker than the rest of the sock. Because the person 1 using the device 300, 400 of the present invention is required to exert some force on the device 300, 400 in order to open the device 300, 400 and place a second garment B through the opening (between inside surface 302, 402 and outside surface A2) created therein, it is desirable to reinforce the portion of the first garment A to which the device 300, 400 of the present invention is attached. This reinforcement prevents inadvertent damage to the first garment A.

[0103] In FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, the garment pairing device, includes all the features of the preferred embodiment. In addition, the first garment A is a first sock, the second garment B is a second sock, and the first sock further includes a band A10. It is desirable to attach the device 300, 400 of the present invention to the band A10 since the band is a reinforced portion of the first garment A.

[0104] In FIG. 17, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiments. In addition, the elastic device 300, 400 is attached to the band A10 with a pair of attaching devices 310, 410, the band A10 has a peripheral band length (L1+L2), the elastic device 300, 400 has an unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1, and the unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1is less than one-half of the peripheral band length (L1+L2). The unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1 refers to the length of the elastic device 300, 400 in an unstretched state as shown in FIG. 17. (The device is shown in a stretched state in FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.) Also, the unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1 is the length when measured along the outside surface A1 of the first garment A. The peripheral band length (L1+L2) is the total circumference of the first garment A when measured along the outside surface A1 of the first garment A. The present inventor has found that when the unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1 is less than one-half of the peripheral band length (L1+L2) there is sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0105] In FIG. 17, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiments, and the unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1 is between one-quarter and one-third of the peripheral band length (L1+L2). The present inventor has found that when the unstretched peripheral elastic device length L1 is less than one-half of the peripheral band length (L1+L2) there is sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0106] In FIG. 13, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiments. In addition, the band A10 has a band height Y2, the elastic device, in this case an elastic band 300, has an elastic device height Y2, and the band height Y2 is equal to the elastic device height Y1. In this case, the top end 306 and the bottom end 308 of the elastic band 300 are aligned with the upper end A6 and the lower end A8 of the sock band A10. The present inventor has found that when the band height Y2 is equal to the elastic device height Y1, there is sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0107] In FIG. 13, the garment pairing device includes all the features of preferred embodiments. In addition, the band A10 has a band thickness X2, the elastic device 300, 400 has an elastic device thickness X1, andthe band thickness X2 is equal to the elastic device thickness X1. The present inventor has found that when the band thickness X2 is equal to the elastic device thickness X1 there is sufficient elasticity to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete.

[0108] In another arrangement, the garment pairing device includes all the features of the preferred embodiment, and the elastic device 300, 400 has a greater elasticity than the first garment A. The present inventor has found that it is desirable to increase the elasticity of the elastic device 300, 400 as compared to the elasticity of the band A10, because, at times, more force is required to receive a garment, hold the garment during the laundering process and release the garment after the laundering process is complete than is required to merely hold a garment against the skin of the person 1 wearing the garment.

[0109] In another variation, the garment pairing device includes all the features of several of the foregoing arrangements. In addition, the elastic device, in this case the elastic band 300, has a greater elasticity than the band A12 of the first garment A.

[0110] In FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, the elastic device 300, 400 is shown attached to the first garment A. It is to be understood that a second elastic device may also be attached to the second garment B. For example, as shown in FIG. 14, a second elastic cord 400′ is attached to the second garment B. The second elastic device may be used in lieu of the elastic device 300, 400 or to attach a third garment to the first and second garments. Alternately, the second elastic device may be used as a hook to suspend the first and second garments A, B therefrom.

[0111] Referring back to the preferred embodiment. and the variations thereof, FIGS. 11, 11a-11C, 12, and 12A-12C, it is further noted that the elastic members of the garments A, B are provided with a manner of unique distinction between similar garments. In particular, the garments A, B, as shown in FIGS. 18A-18D, respectively correspond to FIGS. 11A-11C, and 11. FIGS. 18A-18D provide a manner in which to distinguish similar garments with respect to size, of like color. For example, in FIG. 18A, the garments A, B have the cuff 500, with the open pocket 502 internally anchored at 510. Open pocket 502 is further illustrated at 502A, 502B-502X, depicting different colors for use as open pocket 502. In this fashion, several pairs of garments A, B having the basic color (e.g., white) but varying in size (i.e., small, medium, large, etc.) or style (i.e., men's, women's, boys, girls, etc.), are easily matched together because each pair garments of one size will have a first color open pocket 502A, and second pair of garments of a different size will have a second color open pocket 502B, and so on. It is clearly understandable that the color variations of the open pockets 502 provide an easily identifiable color coded arrangement 502A, 502B-502X for the preferred embodiments.

[0112] This type of color coded pattern is carried throughout the variations of the preferred embodiment. As seen in FIGS. 18B-18D, the internal loop 504, the external loop 506, and the external open pocket 508 (otherwise members 300, 400 above), will each have a color coded assignment available for various sizes, styles, etc. respectively depicted as 504A, 504B-504X; 506A, 506B-506X; 508A, 508B-508X.

[0113] When using a unique color for each pair of garments, the color coded garment pairing devices 502A, 502B-502X; 504A, 504B-504X; 506A, 506B-506X; 508A, 508B-508X have the further advantage of ensuring that pairs of garments are not mismatched. In addition, the color coded devices 502A, 502B-502X; 504A, 504B-504X; 506A, 506B-506X; 508A, 508B-508X provide an excellent opportunity to assist youngster and the mentally challenged to be self-sufficient in an non-offensive yet efficient manner.

[0114] It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.