Title:
Disposable table cloth for umbrella table
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable table cloth for umbrella tables. The table cloth, for use by diners, card players, picnickers or other people using the table, is disposable, so that the users may simply place it flat on the table top, use the table, and dispose of the table cloth when they are finished. The table cloth has no expensive components such as velcro, elastic, ties, strings, etc, thus making for low cost. The table cloth further has a top surface which users may lay flat on the table top in order to use the table. The table cloth has a slit extending from the rim of the table cloth to a aperture through which the pole of the umbrella may sit. In addition, the table cloth has adhesive, especially tacky adhesive, used to fasten and seal the table cloth slit together.



Inventors:
Koropitzer, Ariel (Tustin, CA, US)
Koropitzer, Michelle (Tustin, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/422587
Publication Date:
04/14/2005
Filing Date:
04/24/2003
Assignee:
KOROPITZER ARIEL
KOROPITZER MICHELLE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G11/00; B65D65/30; (IPC1-7): B65D65/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The Law Office of Craig W. Barber (Golden, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A table cloth for use with a table having an umbrella pole rising from the center of the table, the table cloth comprising: a flat sheet of a disposable material; the flat sheet having a central aperture; the flat sheet further having a slit extending from the rim to the central aperture.

2. The table cloth of claim 1, wherein the central aperture is dimensioned and configured to accept such umbrella pole therethrough.

3. The table cloth of claim 2, wherein the central aperture has a radius approximately equal to the radius of such umbrella pole.

4. The table cloth of claim 1, further comprising: an adhesive running along the slit, whereby the slit may be fastened closed after the table cloth is placed upon a table.

5. The table cloth of claim 4, wherein the adhesive is furthermore tacky.

6. The table cloth of claim 4, wherein the adhesive further comprises transfer tape.

7. The table cloth of claim 4, wherein the adhesive further runs along substantially the entire length of the slit.

8. The table cloth of claim 4, wherein the adhesive further runs along a portion of the entire length of the slit.

8. The table cloth of claim 1, further comprising a fastener running along the slit, the fastener comprising of one member selected from the group consisting of: at least one plastic snap, a plastic seal, and combinations thereof.

9. The table cloth of claim 1, wherein the flat sheet has a planform selected from the group comprising: circular, square, rectangular, octagonal, hexagonal, irregular shapes and combinations thereof.

10. The table cloth of claim 1, wherein the flat sheet furthermore comprises a non-permeable material.

11. The table cloth of claim 1, wherein the flat sheet furthermore comprises a material selected from the group comprising: polymers, polyethylene, foam, paper, plastic, PEVA, laminates, and combinations thereof.

12. The table cloth of claim 1, wherein the flat sheet is dimensioned and configured to fit on at least one common size and shape of umbrella table.

13. A method of providing a clean table surface during dining at a table having an obstruction rising from the table, the method comprising: a) placing a flat sheet of a disposable material on the table surface prior to dining; the flat sheet having a central aperture and a slit extending from the rim to the central aperture, the slit having first and second edges; b) opening the slit and placing the central aperture around such obstruction rising from the center of the table; c) pulling the slit closed whereby the flat sheet entirely surrounds such obstruction; d) flattening the sheet.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising: e) fastening the edges of the slit together prior to step d) flattening the sheet.

15. The method of claim 13, further comprising: f) after dining, lifting the edges of the flat sheet to form a garbage bag.

16. The method of claim 13, wherein step c) further comprises: overlapping the first and second edges to reduce the size of the table cloth to better fit such table.

17. A table cloth for use with a table having an umbrella pole rising from the center of the table, the table cloth comprising: a) a flat sheet of a disposable, non-permeable, material, the flat sheet being of a size and shape to fit on at least one common size and shape of umbrella table; b) the flat sheet having a circular aperture of the same diameter as such umbrella pole; c) the flat sheet further having a slit extending from the rim to the central aperture, the slit having a first edge and a second edge, d) the first and second edge overlapping by a first distance when the flat sheet is laid flat.

18. The table cloth of claim 16, further comprising: e) an adhesive located on the second edge, within the first distance of the slit, whereby when the first and second edges overlap, the adhesive causes the first and second edges to adhere together.

19. The table cloth of claim 17, wherein the first and second edges form a non-permeable seal when adhered together.

20. The table cloth of claim 17, wherein the adhesive is substantially flat, allowing the flat sheet to remain flat when the first and second edges are adhered together.

21. The table cloth of claim 17, wherein the adhesive further comprises: f) a strip of backing material which may be removed from the adhesive to expose it for use.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit and priority of previously filed provisional patent applications Nos. 60/376,607 filed Apr. 29, 2002 and 60/436,172 filed Dec. 23, 2002, both in the names of the same inventors, Ariel Koropitzer and Michelle Koropitzer.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to table clothes and specifically to disposable and sealable table cloths for umbrella tables.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The design of the ubiquitous umbrella table is a round table with a pole extending upwards from the center of the table, the pole supporting a large umbrella. The table may be other shapes, such as rectangular, square, octagon, hexagonal, the umbrella may be various sizes or colors but the general concept of the table is well known. Such tables are normally used outdoors: the umbrella is to protect the users from harsh sunshine, light rain or other weather. Locations for such tables include outdoor cafes, sidewalk bistros, restaurants, night-clubs, beach-clubs, parks, promenades and far too many other locations to list. Many such tables are located on patios and pool-side at private residences.

The major disadvantage of such tables is due to their exposed and semi-public nature: untidiness. Dust is omnipresent on outdoor picnic tables of all shapes and sizes, dirt may be found, animals frequently investigate the table tops and even human users are from time to time regrettably lax about cleaning up after themselves. The result is that the typical table requires cleaning before use.

As an example consider the home-owner who has an umbrella table in the backyard. While the necessity of cleaning the table repeatedly is removed, the individual naturally desires to eat their outdoor meals with a sanitary and attractive table cloth. But getting a table cloth to fit on a table with a pole sticking out of the middle can be quite challenging.

As another example, consider the proprietor of a sidewalk cafe who has several such tables. The wait-person or bus-person may clean the table properly after each use, however, the table may sit vacant for periods between “rushes” and thus have time for leaves, dust and other less identifiable problems to re-occur despite the vigilance of the owner or employees. As a result, the staff must clean the table a second time, just prior to seating any guests. Such duplicative cleaning is economically unproductive.

One possible solution to this problem is the disposable tablecloth, a solution employed both outdoors and indoors by many establishments, and by picnicking consumers at public facilities. However, this solution is not optimal for umbrella tables. Umbrella tables have the central pole rising from the table surface. Any disposable table cloth must somehow contend with this problem.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,489 issued Dec. 19, 2000 to Kelldorf for TABLE COVER teaches a fabric table cover which stretches down to cover the legs and feet of the table. It has no aperture, no radial slit, etc. This patent is the topic of a design patent as well, discussed below.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,908,681 issued Jun. 1, 1999 to Foster for PROTECTIVE TABLE COVERS teaches a rectangular table cover with an elastic edge and a padded channel, designed to make coffee and end tables safer.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,694,866 issued Dec. 9, 1997 to Muller for OUTDOOR FURNITURE COVERS AND COVERING METHODS teaches a permanent elevated “tent-like structure” (column 2, line 9) for use when the table is in storage, i.e. when the umbrella of an umbrella table is folded or during inclement weather. Thus, unlike the present invention, the '866 patent concerns covering a table for storage, not covering it for human use. The cover is of TYVEK trademark of Du Pont material (usually used as one layer of the walls in residential building construction) which is designed to allow moisture to evaporate therethrough during extended periods of non-use. When in use, this device teaches (column 4, line 20 et seq) “The portion of the cover which defines the pole receiving aperture 36 is elevated to a position along the umbrella pole 24 and spaced upwardly from the table surface 22 as shown in FIG. 2. The cover is preferably elevated to a position along the pole and as high above the table surface 22 as is possible.” Presumably, this tent like structure aids in repelling snow, rain, leaves, etc by allowing them to roll down and off the table; but items rolling down and off the table is a property very undesirable in a table cloth intended for use during meals. Thus, the '866 patent does not teach and furthermore teaches away from a disposable table cover, does not teach and teaches away from a table cloth for use when the table is being used, and does not teach and teaches away from the cover having a surface laid flat upon the table top. (The examiner will note that NO figure in the '866 patent, specifically including FIG. 1, shows any part of the cover laid flat on the table top. FIG. 1 shows the cover ABOVE the table and is explained during the discussion prior to being used.) This patent also does not disclose and teaches away from any adhesive means of fastening a radial slit. These structural facts spring from the basic fact that the '866 patent is concerned with the art of covering tables for storage, not with table coverings for use of the table by diners.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,284,099 issued Feb. 8, 1994 to Cohen for TABLE MAT teaches a rectangular table mat having scores or perforations allowing the ends to hang down vertically from the end of a rectangular table.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,084,321 issued Jan. 28, 1992 to Sui for DISPOSABLE TABLE CLOTH teaches a square disposable table cloth which has fastenings proximate to the corners of the tablecloth, for securing the table cloth to the four legs of the square table. There is no provision for use with an umbrella table, such as a central aperture.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,776 issued Oct. 8, 1991 to Wyman FOLDABLE POOL TABLE COVER teaches a multilayered rectangular cover in four rigid sections. The cover is non-disposable and has no aperture.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,050,645 issued Sep. 24, 1991 to Howell et al for UMBRELLA TABLE COVER discloses a cover for umbrella tables. The cover features a “continuous upstanding elastic collar” around a central aperture. There is no radial slit from aperture to rim and thus additionally no suggestion for closing such a radial slit.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,923,453 issued May 8, 1990 to Bullard, Jr. for ABSORBENT DISPOSABLE COVER discloses an multilayer disposable cover of a rectangular shape.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,750,402 issued Jun. 14, 1988 to Markey for FOLDING TABLE COVER FOR HANDBELLS discloses a multi-layer, non-disposable rectangular cover having various handles and ties to allow easy carrying when folded.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,708,183 issued Nov. 24, 1987 to Figueroa for COMBINATION TABLE COVER AND SKIRT RETAINER discloses a clamp arrangement which grips the edge of a table.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,981,033 issued Apr. 25, 1961 to Cheetwood for FLOWER HOLDER discloses a conical flower holder having a aperture. In addition to being directed to flower holders and not table coverings, this patent teaches a conical shape, not a flat shape.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,954,635 issued Oct. 4, 1960 to Stotter for TABLE COVER teaches a generally square table cover of a laminate construction.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,486,320 issued Oct. 25, 1949 to Ost for MIXING BOWL COVER teaches an elasticized cover for a mixing bowl: the cover has an elasticized central aperture and a slit which fails to cover the distance from aperture to rim. The slit is apparently closed by means of a hook and eyelet (column 3, lines 5-15) at the central hole. In addition, the patent does not address outdoor table covers.

U.S. Pat. No. Des. 428,296 issued Jul. 18, 2000 to Kelldorf for TABLE COVER teaches a round table cover which stretches downwards to cover the legs and feet of the table. It has no central hole nor any disclosed fastening devices.

U.S. Pat. No. Des. 417,999 issued Dec. 28, 1999 to Ingram for COVER FOR STOWABLE TABLE discloses a cover for a stowable, presumably airliner, table, having a depression or hole for a cup. It has no hole, is not designed for a round outdoor table, and has no apparent fastening devices.

None of the above patents alone teach a disposable umbrella table cover, and none of the above patents, alone or in combination, teach an entirely satisfactory, easy to use, disposable umbrella table cover.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

General Summary

The present invention is an improved disposable table cloth for umbrella tables. The table cloth, for use by diners, card players, picnickers or other people using the table, is disposable, so that the users may simply place it flat on the table top, use the table, and dispose of the table cloth when they are finished. The table cloth has no expensive components such as velcro, elastic, ties, strings, etc, thus making for low cost. The table cloth further has a top surface which users may lay flat on the table top in order to use the table.

Non-permeability is an additional feature of embodiments of the present invention. Materials which allow gases or liquids to pass are less desirable from a cleanliness standpoint than materials which are non-permeable. Examples of materials which may be non-permeable include polymers, polyethylene, foam, paper, plastic, PEVA, laminates, and combinations thereof.

The table cloth is also the only disposable table cloth which has a slit extending from the rim of the table cloth to a aperture through which the pole of the umbrella may sit. In addition, the table cloth of the present invention is the only known disposable table cloth having adhesive, especially tacky adhesive, used to fasten the table cloth slit together.

Summary in Reference to Claims

It is therefore one aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth comprising: a planar sheet of a disposable material; the planar sheet having a central aperture; the planar sheet further having a slit extending from at least one edge to the central aperture.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth further comprising: an adhesive running along the slit, whereby the slit may be fastened closed after the table cloth is placed upon a table.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth wherein the adhesive is furthermore tacky.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth wherein the adhesive further comprises transfer tape.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth wherein the flat planer sheet has a planform selected from the group comprising: circular, square, rectangular, octagonal, hexagonal, irregular shapes and combinations thereof.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a table cloth wherein the flat planer sheet furthermore comprises a material selected from the group comprising: polymers, polyethylene, foam, paper, plastic, PEVA, laminates, and combinations thereof.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a method of providing a clean table surface during dining, the method comprising: a) placing a flat planar sheet of a disposable material on the table surface prior to dining; the planar sheet having a central aperture and a slit extending from at least one edge to the central aperture; b) opening the slit and placing the central aperture around any obstruction rising from the center of the table; c) pulling the slit closed; d) flattening the flat planar sheet.

It is therefore another aspect, advantage, objective and embodiment of the present invention to provide a method further comprising: e) fastening the edges of the slit together prior to step d) flattening the flat planar sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first embodiment of the disposable table cloth wherein the planform is polygonal, specifically octagonal.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a second embodiment of the disposable table cloth, having a rectangular planform.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a third embodiment of the disposable table cloth having a circular planform.

FIG. 4 is a partial view showing in detail a fourth embodiment of the invention in which the adhesive does not run the full length of the slit.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a fifth embodiment of the disposable table cloth, showing a non-adhesive fastener system using plastic snaps.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a sixth embodiment of the disposable table cloth, showing a non-adhesive fastener system using a plastic seal.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS

  • 100 Table Cloth
  • 102 Aperture
  • 104 Radial Slit
  • 106 First Edge
  • 108 Second Edge
  • 110 Rim
  • 112 Adhesive
  • 200 Table Cloth
  • 202 Aperture
  • 204 Radial Slit
  • 206 First Edge 206
  • 208 Second Edge 208
  • 210 Rim
  • 212 Adhesive
  • 300 Table Cloth
  • 302 Aperture
  • 304 Radial Slit
  • 306 First Edge
  • 308 Second Edge
  • 310 Rim
  • 312 Adhesive
  • 404 Slit
  • 406 First Edge
  • 408 Second Edge
  • 412 Adhesive
  • 500 Table Cloth
  • 502 Aperture
  • 504 Radial Slit
  • 506 First Edge
  • 508 Second Edge
  • 510 Rim
  • 512 Fastener
  • 600 Table Cloth
  • 602 Aperture
  • 604 Radial Slit
  • 606 First Edge
  • 608 Second Edge
  • 610 Rim
  • 612 Fastener

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first embodiment of the disposable table cloth. This embodiment has a generally octagonal planform, however, it may be an exact or irregular polygon in alternative embodiments.

Table cloth 100 has aperture 102 and radial slit 104 having first edge 106 and second edge 108. Second edge 108 has thereon adhesive 112. Radial slit 104 extends entirely from aperture 102 to rim 110.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a second embodiment of the disposable table cloth. Table cloth 200 has aperture 202 and radial slit 204 having first edge 206 and second edge 208. Second edge 208 has thereon adhesive 212. Radial slit 204 extends entirely from aperture 202 to rim 210.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a third embodiment of the disposable table cloth. This is the presently preferred embodiment and best mode now contemplated for carrying out the invention. Table cloth 300 has aperture 302 and radial slit 304 having first edge 306 and second edge 308. Second edge 308 has thereon adhesive 312. Radial slit 304 extends entirely from aperture 302 to rim 310.

Edges 306 and 308 may overlap each other when the flat sheet of table cloth 300 is laid flat upon a table. The overlap may be a first distance, allowing edge 308 to have adhesive 312 within the overlap distance such that when laid flat upon a table, adhesive 312 will contact first edge 306 and cause first edge 306 to adhere to second edge 308, forming a non-permeable seal.

To use the invention, it is unfolded or unrolled and the radial slit is opened up. Then the table cloth is laid flat on the table with the aperture circumferentially disposed about the umbrella pole. The radial slit may then be closed and the opposing edges of the radial slit smoothed together and sealed with adhesive. In all three embodiments shown, the table cloth has a portion which lays flat on the table during use, so that diners may place food, beverages, utensils, or anything else upon the table top. If the invention did not sit flat onto the table top, it would not function as a useful table cloth.

For the same reason, the adhesive may in preferred embodiments be substantially flat, by which is meant that the adhesive allows the flat sheet to remain flat when the first and second edges are adhered together overlapping.

An advantage of adhesive, and an advantage of the present invention over the prior art, is in the ability of the first and second edges to be overlapped at the time of installation of the table cloth onto the table. If a table cloth is used on a table substantially smaller than it was dimensioned and configured to fit, it may be reduced in size simply by increasing the degree of overlap of the two edges. If one edge substantially overlaps the other, the result is that some portions of the table cloth are “doubled over”, but without actually creating a crease or bend in the flat table cloth. By this method, the table cloth may be fitted to a smaller table, an aspect of the adhesive embodiment not available to prior art or other embodiments featuring fasteners, ties, etc.

Adhesive also allows fitting the table cloth to a larger table than it was designed, dimensioned and configured to fit to. For example a round table cloth of 82 inches diameter (208.3 cm) could be fitted to a table of diameter 86 inches by adhering the slits to the table directly and leaving an arc of table (having a width at the edge of approximately 12 inches (30 cm) or roughly 5% of the table surface) uncovered. While the uncovered arc and a second uncovered portion 2 inches (5.1 cm) at the rim would be uncovered, the large part of the table would be covered. This is not preferable, but is merely an example of the flexibility of employment of the design: it may be used with tables larger and smaller than originally planned.

Note that in the preferred embodiments, the table cloth is used with a table to which it is designed, dimensioned and configured: it is manufactured in standard sizes designed, dimensioned and configured to fit common sizes and shapes of umbrella tables. A line of sizes of the invention may also be manufactured: one of diameter 82 inches (208.3 cm), another of diameter 50 inches (127 cm), and so on.

FIG. 4 is a partial view showing in detail a fourth embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment first edge 406 and second edge 408 of slit 404 may be seen in greater detail. In this 20 embodiment, second edge 408 has a length of adhesive 412. However, unlike previous embodiments, adhesive 412 is considerably shorter in length than slit 404.

Adhesive may also be disposed upon one or both sides of the slit, thus allowing either less expensive manufacture or a greater ability to adjust and flatten the table cloth on the table.

Yet another aspect of the use of adhesive is that the step of overlapping the first and second edges and sealing them may be accomplished by means of removing a backing material such as a strip of plastic or paper, thus exposing the adhesive only when needed. Transfer tape may be employed in this way.

FIG. 5 is a plan view showing a fifth and much LESS favored embodiment of table cloth 500 of the invention in which a non-adhesive fastening system in which fastener 512 is used to secure first edge 506 to second edge 508 in order to seal shut slit 504. The non-adhesive fasteners 512 may not extend entirely from aperture 502 to rim 510. While fastener 512 is depicted as a circular fastening such as an inexpensive plastic button. The disadvantage of this device is that it creates an unfavorable series of bumps in the table cloth. During dining use, the bumps may cause accidents, for example, by upsetting a beverage container or cup. In addition, the bumps may be uncomfortable to individuals who eat, drink, talk or otherwise use the table with their arms resting on the flat sheet.

Another reason why adhesive is the presently preferred embodiment is that such a series of fasteners would be non-permeable along the slit, thus allowing gas, liquid or even solids from the table surface to reach the eating surface. This is undesirable.

In an alternative and also less favored alternative embodiment of table cloth 600, depicted in plan view in FIG. 6, inexpensive plastic seal 612 is used as the fastener holding the first and second edges 606, 608 of the slit 604 together. Such seals are commonly marketed on plastic bags, freezer bags and similar applications, for example under the tradename “ZIP-LOC”, among others. The advantage of such a seal is that eliminates the need for the addition of transfer tape or other adhesive during manufacture: the device may be made in a single operation in which two halves (one on each side of the slit) are extruded and then joined on the side of the device opposite the slit. A potential advantage is that such seals may be more appealing to consumers desiring a “modem” device. Another potential advantage would be reduced cost of manufacture in extremely large quantities in which extrusion equipment became economically attractive.

One major disadvantage of this embodiment, however, and the reason why adhesive is actually preferable, is that a “ridge” is created down slit 604. If the fastener 612 extends the length of slit 604 from aperture 602 to rim 610, then the ridge will also. Otherwise, the length of fastener 612, whatever that length may be, will be ridged. This ridge will have many of the same disadvantages of faster 512 of the previous embodiment, although it would at least offer a permeable seal. Yet another reason adhesive is the preferred embodiment is that adhesive such as 412 allows the size of the table cloth to be easily and instantly adjusted at the time of installation.

Materials

The present invention may advantageously use materials which are thin, light, and inexpensive. Any such disposable material may be used.

The table cloth of one preferred embodiment is comprised of plastic having a thickness of approximately 2 mils. In general, the plastic may be from approximately ½ to approximately 15 mils in thickness. The plastic may be transparent, translucent, colorful, patterned or otherwise adorned. The plastic may be textured or smooth or textured in patterns. In the preferred embodiment, a circular sheet of 208 cm (82 inches) diameter weights between 6 and 7 ounces (circa 180 grams), however, weight of the invention may differ depending upon size, shape, type of material used, adhesive used, size of the aperture, and other factors. The choice of plastic or other polymer may be made by one skilled in the art without undue experimentation.

In other preferred embodiments, the table cloth of the present invention may be made of a polymer such as polyethylene, EVA grade foam, cross-linked EVA form, closed cell foams, EVA/LDPE, or other polymers. (The term “EVA” stands for Ethylene and Vinyl Acetate.) In one particular presently favored embodiment, the table cloth of the present invention may be made of PEVA, a combination of polyethylene and EVA foam. In another embodiment, the present invention may comprise laminated sheets of PEVA foam and a fabric material such as cotton, polyester, nylon, terry, towel, non-woven fibres and so on.

EVA/PEVA/EVA-LDPE foams have a number of desirable properties for the present invention. It is light, having exemplary densities such as 0.021 to 0.1 grams/cubic centimeters (1.3 to 6 lb/cubic foot). This allows the device of the present invention to be quite light. Furthermore, it is possible to manufacture it in a range of thicknesses, a fact used when making shoe in-soles which vary substantially in thickness. While in some applications (toys, mats) EVA foams may be made up to ten centimeters or more thick, for the present invention quite thin table cloths are preferential: on the order of millimeters or mils. PEVA and similar laminates provide the ability to have a thin foam with strength sufficient to withstand at least one cycle of usage.

In addition, disposable PEVA table clothes provide a further benefit in terms of feel. While PEVA is not a true “memory foam”, it nonetheless may be compressed slightly and will rebound out to original dimensions when pressure is removed. Thus PEVA offers a very thin layer of padding atop a table. This is important for outdoor tables, some of which have irregular or weathered top surfaces. In terms of Durometer readings by the “SHORE” scale, PEVA may have exemplary durometer readings of 15 to 50. This measurement (also called “surface hardness”) indicates a surface with a certain amount of give. This is an important property in allowing the invention to drape properly off of a table edge, allowing it to lie flat on the surface of the table, and in providing a more comfortable surface. By comparison, certain types of cross-linked polyethylene are not used in any preferred embodiments because they lack these properties, for example, by being extremely rigid.

Yet another favorable property of PEVA is the ability to accept a variety of colorful surfaces and textures. Patterns may be heat transferred to PEVA laminate sheets or printed on by other means.

Yet another favorable property of PEVA is the lack of water absorption: certain types of EVA foams may absorb only 1% of their weight of water after hours of exposure. This is favorable in the context of table clothes, which may expect to have water spilled upon them frequently.

PEVA also resists oil, another substance (in the form of cooking oils, olive oils, butter, margarine, etc) which may reasonably be expected to impact a table cloth. It is also a thermal insulator, meaning that if placed upon a very cold or hot table surface, a thin layer of insulation between diners and table will be created, thus making for a more comfortable dining experience.

One final and crucial aspect of PEVA is that it is non-toxic. Thus, food which falls upon the surface will not pick up any components which are dangerous. Certain less preferred substances such as the PEVA relative PVC (Polyvinylchloride) have toxic components, and may even release toxic cyanide based fumes when burned. PEVA, on the other hand, melts prior to burning, providing yet another safety factor. Since table clothes may reasonably expect usage with candles, lights, gas lights, matches, cigarettes, cigars and similar table dressing, a substance which is entirely non-toxic is beneficial. PVC is not even legal in a number of jurisdictions including Europe.

Fiber materials may also be used. Paper is one example of a suitable fiber material for use with the present invention. As with the presently preferred plastic embodiment, alternative embodiments of paper may be quite thin or quite thick, may be colorful, patterned or otherwise adorned, may be textured or smooth or textured in patterns, and may have various weights depending upon size, shape, type of material used, adhesive used, size of the aperture, and other factors. Such choices may be made by one skilled in the art without undue experimentation. Paper may also be suitably treated so as to be rendered non-permeable.

Additional types of materials other than polymers or fiber materials may be used without departing the scope of the present invention. In general, advantageous materials will be light (so the invention weighs only ounces and inexpensive to acquire and manufacture (thus making for an inexpensive disposable product).

Another aspect of the present invention is the use of adhesive to close the radial slit. A series of adhesive patches or a single longer line of adhesive may partially or wholly cover the length of the slit from rim to aperture. Such adhesives may be patterned, randomly placed along part or all of the length of the slit, or continuous. The adhesive may be applied to one or both sides of the slit, in the same or different locations along the slit.

One advantageous type of adhesive used in the preferred embodiment is two sided tape. Another preferred embodiment utilizes transfer tape. When the product is made, one side of the tape may be fastened to one side of the slit while the other side of the tape may have the backing/liner left on, rendering the adhesive tape non-functional until the user elects to remove the backing/liner and apply the opposing side of the slit to the tape, thus fastening the two sides together and rendering the flat portion of the table cloth on the table top, which portion users will place food, etc, onto, a single, flat surface without wrinkles, ridges domes or other impediments to convenient use of the table top. In addition to fastening the two sides together, a continuous length of adhesive from rim to aperture may in fact seal the two edges together, thus preventing anything under the table cloth from migrating to the top of the table cloth during use and furthermore preventing anything atop the table cloth (such as a spoon) from accidentally ending up under the table cloth. A single length of adhesive is in fact the presently favored embodiment and best mode now contemplated for carrying out the invention.

The adhesive may in other embodiments be a line or pattern of glue placed along one or both slit edges. Such glue may be covered with a backing, or it may simply be activated by pressure (for example glue capsules or nodules in a neutral matrix or an unmixed combination of two glue-sub-components which mix when pressure is applied).

In one somewhat favored alternative embodiment, the adhesive may exhibit the property of “tackiness” most usually associated with POST-IT brand sticky notes (trademark of 3M Corporation). Items closed with such tacky adhesives may be opened and resealed. In this embodiment, the user would pull the sides of the slit apart, place the table cloth flat on the table as earlier described, and reseal the edges together.

As discussed previously in reference to FIG. 5, one less favored alternative embodiment uses the “plastic snap”, an inexpensive plastic snap fastener. One or more such snaps may be utilized at low cost, albeit at the cost of creating one or more “bumps” in the table cloth. Another less favored alternative embodiment is the type of inexpensive plastic seal such as is commonly marketed on plastic bags, freezer bags and similar applications, for example under the tradename “ZIP-LOC”, among others.

While the invention may be sold individually, advantageously the invention may be sold in a packet of several units. In addition, the invention may be marketed and sold along with picnic supplies, barbeque supplies and so on. Such cost and marketing considerations and advantages spring from the inexpensive nature of the overall product, which may be made with plastic and adhesive.

The invention may also be used as a convenient garbage container after the final use is finished. Instead of removing all dishes, cutlery, food and so on from the table at end of the use, users may simply leave garbage on the disposable table cloth, lift the edges, and form a convenient garbage bag. In embodiments the table cloth may be used once and disposed of, while in other embodiments the table cloth may be used several times before disposal: in the longer lasting embodiments, such disposal with garbage may only be done after the final use.

The disclosure is provided to allow practice of the invention by those skilled in the art without undue experimentation, including the best mode presently contemplated and the presently preferred embodiment. Nothing in this disclosure is to be taken to limit the scope of the invention, which is susceptible to numerous alterations, equivalents and substitutions without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The scope of the invention is to be understood from the claims accompanying the corresponding utility application to be filed at a later date.