Title:
Footwear with removable closure straps
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Footwear having a plurality of removable and interchangeable hook and loop closure straps permitting the wearer to alter the appearance of the footwear and extend the useful life of the footwear. The removable straps include a detachable coupling device with a cooperating detachable coupling device attached to the footwear. An attachment means with an opening located on the opposing side of the footwear allows the removable strap to be pulled back on itself to the desired degree of footwear closure and secured with the hook and loop material. As a result of the fastening process, the display area of the strap is presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner.



Inventors:
Doody, Paul Joseph (Niantic, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/654120
Publication Date:
03/03/2005
Filing Date:
09/03/2003
Assignee:
DOODY PAUL JOSEPH
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/50.5
International Classes:
A43B3/24; A43C11/14; A43C11/24; (IPC1-7): A43C11/00; A43B5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul J. Doody (Niantic, CT, US)
Claims:
1. -11. (cancelled)

12. Footwear having a sole, uppers and a variable instep opening in combination with an adjustable closure assembly said closure assembly comprising: a removable strap, said removable strap comprising a detachable coupling means, a flexible band, a hook and loop self fastening means and a display area. a cooperating detachable coupling means secured to one upper. an anchor means with an opening secured to the opposing upper.

13. The removable strap of claim 12 wherein said detachable coupling means is a clip.

14. The footwear of claim 12 wherein said cooperating detachable coupling means is a D-ring.

15. The footwear of claim 12 wherein said anchor means with an opening is a D-ring.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to footwear, specifically footwear having hook and loop closure straps.

2. Background of the Invention

Hook and loop fastening devices are used extensively in many types of footwear. The advantages of these footwear closure devices over conventional shoelaces include easy and rapid closure, unlimited varying degrees of tightness and more uniform support of the foot.

Multiple U.S. patents have been issued for hook and loop closure devices for footwear including U.S. Pat. No. 4,114,297 to Famolare (1978), U.S. Pat. No. 4,126,951 to Antonious (1978), U.S. Pat. No. 4,308,672 to Antonious (1982), U.S. Pat. No. 4,486,965 to Friton (1984) and U.S. Pat. No. 4,642,914 to Caldeira (1987). The disadvantage of all of these devices is the permanent attachment of a portion of the hook and loop material to the body of the footwear during manufacture. The permanent attachment of the hook and loop material has both functional and aesthetic disadvantages.

The mechanical locking feature of the hook and loop material becomes weakened over time by a number of cumulative factors including environmental contamination (dust, sand, dirt, mud, snow), compressive overloading (see U.S. Pat. No. 5,081,748 to Eberle, 1992) and fatigue from repeated open and close cycles. The reduced resiliency of the permanent hook and loop feature leads to a loosening of the footwear on the foot and the need for repeated closures that further deteriorate the mechanical lock. The deterioration continues to progress until the footwear must be discarded. Many consumers expect expensive footwear to last for years and avoid purchasing footwear using permanent hook and loop closure devices due to the limited life of the hook and loop material.

The second disadvantage of the permanent hook and loop closure devices is aesthetic in nature. The permanent mounting allows only one appearance of the footwear. The consumer must be satisfied with one style and color for the life cycle of the footwear. The consumer is unable to vary the style and color to coordinate with clothing or provide a fashion statement.

Variations in footwear appearance have been attempted with a Footwear Construction (U.S. Pat. No. 3,999,311 to Epstein, 1976), a Shoe Shield (U.S. Pat. No. 5,313,719 to Koethe, 1994), and a Removable Shoelace Cover (U.S. Pat. No. 5,566,477 to Mathis et al., 1996). The disadvantage of these devices is that they are not an integral part of the shoe closure system. These devices are additional pieces that must be separately attached to each shoe by the consumer. This is both time consuming and gives the shoe a “patched” appearance. Furthermore, these devices are purely cosmetic, do not provide for adjustable closure and do not provide support for the foot.

A Detachable Shoe Strap System is disclosed by Jneid in U.S. Pat. No. 5,992,058 (1999). This invention uses snaps in conjunction with hook and loop fastening devices to secure removable straps to the edge of the sole of a shoe. The hook and loop design includes permanent attachment of the hook and loop material to the shoe body resulting in the same disadvantages previously detailed. Furthermore, the invention does not provide a cinching or tightening method for the removable straps. Rather the shoe produced has a slip fit on the foot. The invention does not provide support for the foot.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION-OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Accordingly the objects and advantages of the present invention are to provide footwear incorporating a hook and loop closure strap that is completely removable from the footwear for functional and aesthetic improvement.

The present invention has no hook and loop material permanently attached to the footwear. When the removable hook and loop fastener device begins to loose its mechanical strength due to the cumulative effects of contamination, compressive overloading and fatigue it may be easily replaced at any time with a new removable hook and loop fastener device. The failure of the hook and loop mechanism does not make the footwear unusable. The life cycle of the footwear is thus greatly extended and more consumers would be inclined to purchase footwear incorporating this invention. In anticipation of this event, the initial sale of the footwear could include multiple replacement straps or replacement straps could be separately purchased by the consumer at a later date.

The fashion and aesthetic options presented by the removable strap are boundless. Footwear could include a series of straps of variable colors and patterns for coordination with clothing. For example, white sneakers could be sold with yellow, red, green and blue replacement straps. The consumer would no longer be limited to finding an outfit to match a specific color of footwear. The removable straps could become a message board, similar to the current use of tee shirts. Messages like “I♥MOM” could be readily displayed. The footwear could have a theme. For instance the footwear might be designed to display the colors and symbols of a professional sports team. The removable straps could contain players names and numbers, allowing the consumer to vary the players displayed on the straps. Other themes could include movies and television shows with a variety of characters displayed on the removable straps. Custom straps could be generated from a web site that allows consumers to create their own design. The electronic file could be downloaded to a data driven fabric printer of fabric stitching machine creating the unique design. High school teams could generate personalized straps in school colors that display the school name, the sport, player names, player numbers and the school slogan. Images from digital cameras could be displayed on the removable straps. The possibilities for aesthetic variations to the footwear are limitless.

This invention incorporates all of the advantages of hook and loop straps including ease of use, rapid closure, unlimited degrees of closure and uniform support of the foot. The removable straps can be replaced rapidly and with minimum effort. Further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.

SUMMARY

The present invention relates to footwear with an improved closure means that includes permanent attachment points on the footwear and removable straps. The removable straps incorporate all the advantages of hook and loop closure systems. The interchangeable nature of the removable straps allows for variations in the appearance of the footwear and extends the useful life of the footwear.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the present invention showing the permanent attachment points of the footwear.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view on the removable strap.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the footwear with the top removable strap in the attached but unfastened position and the bottom removable strap in the attached and fastened position.

FIG. 4 schematically shows a cross-section of the shoe with the removable strap in the attached and fastened position.

DRAWINGS—Reference Numerals

10 Shoe
12 Sole
14 Upper
16 Tongue
18 Variable opening
19 Cooperating detachable coupling device
20 D-ring
21 Mounting strap
22 Attachment opening
23 Removable strap
24 Detachable coupling device
26 Flexible band
28 Hook and loop material
30 Display area
31 Clip

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT—FIG. 1 and FIG. 2

FIG. 1. shows a shoe 10 of the present invention. The shoe 10 is shown as a running-type shoe formed of a sole 12 and uppers 14 having a variable opening 18 and a tongue 16. The preferred embodiment features a symmetrical design where the cooperating detachable coupling device 19 and the attachment opening 22 are both D-rings 20 permanently secured to the shoe by mounting straps 21. The cooperating detachable coupling device 19 and the attachment opening 22 are positioned on opposing sides of the shoe 10. The attachment opening 22 is sized to accommodate a removable strap 23 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 2 shows the removable strap 23 consisting of a detachable coupling device 24, a flexible band 26, self adhering hook and loop material 28 and a display area 30. In the preferred embodiment, the detachable coupling device 24 is a clip 31 that is permanently secured to the flexible band 26. The display area 30 may be a separate piece or simply an area of the flexible band 26 that contains the aesthetic portion of the removable strap 23.

Operation—FIG. 3 and FIG. 4

In use, the variable opening 18 expands in order to accommodate the wearer's foot as it is inserted into the shoe 10. The removable strap 23 is attached to the shoe 10 by attaching the detachable coupling device 24 to the cooperating detachable coupling device 19 on the shoe 10. The opposite end of the removable strap 23 is threaded through the attachment opening 22 on the opposing side of the shoe 10. The removable strap 23 is then pulled back over itself using the mechanical advantage of the attachment opening 22 to aid in tightening the variable opening 18. The self adhering hook and loop material 28 is pressed together after the precise tightness is achieved securing the shoe 10 to the wearer's foot. This process is repeated for all removable straps 23. As a result of the fastening process, the display area 30 is presented for an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The shoe 10 is removed by pulling back on the removable straps 23 and separating the hook and loop material 28. The foot is then easily removed from the shoe 10. The wearer may elect to leave the current removable straps 23 on the shoe 10 secured by the liking of the detachable coupling device 24 and the cooperating detachable coupling device 19.

To replace the current removable straps 23 the detachable coupling device 24 is released from the cooperating detachable coupling device 19 and the removable strap 23 is separated from the shoe 10. Alternative removable straps 23 can then be attached following the procedure described above.

Conclusion, Ramifications and Scope

Accordingly, the reader will see that the footwear with removable straps extends the functional life of the footwear and provides the wearer with aesthetic options. Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of the preferred embodiment of this invention.

Many variations to the preferred embodiment are possible. For example, any footwear type including but not limited to athletic shoes, boots, sandals, work shoes, casual footwear and dress footwear could incorporate removable straps. The size, number and material of the removable straps may be varied. The flexible band may be made of a variety of materials including but not limited to leather, nylon, canvas, plastic or elastic. The cooperating detachable coupling device and the mating detachable coupling device may be replaced with any number of removable attachment systems, including but not limited to snaps, buckles, expansion style clips, clasps or hook and loop material. The attachment opening may be modified in size and shape, modified to incorporate a roller, replaced by a slot design or replaced by another alternative design. Any combination of a detachable strap system and an attachment opening is a possible embodiment. The removable straps could be used in conjunction with another footwear closure system on the same item of footwear including but not limited to laces, snaps or hook and loop. The arrangement and position of the straps on the footwear may be varied. The pattern of the straps may be varied including but not limited to asymmetrical and diagonal patterns. The straps may be linked together in some fashion forming a functional unit. The display area may be a separate piece or a section of the flexible band. The display area may be made of any material with the aesthetic portion generated by any means including but not limited to dyeing, printing, painting, silk screen, punching, embossing or stitching. The display area may be three dimensional in presentation. The display area may be constructed as a separate and removable item attached by any number of methods including but not limited to hook and loop, snaps or clips.

Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiment illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.