Title:
Anti-splash guard and deodorant pouch for urinals
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present teachings describe one embodiment of an anti-splash guard and deodorant pouch adapted for a lavatory device having an interior region for receiving waste fluid. The anti-splash guard may include a fibrous material configured to be positioned in the interior region of the lavatory device so that splash back of fluids contacting the anti-splash guard is reduced. The deodorant pouch advantageously comprises a deodorant material sandwiched between layers of anti-splash material, such as the fibrous material that is used in the anti-splash guard. The deodorant pouch may increased a useful lifespan of the deodorant material held therein by preventing pieces of the deodorant material from falling down the drain of the lavatory device and by reducing the amount of fluid that contacts the deodorant material.



Inventors:
Valadez, Dimas M. (Rialto, CA, US)
Valadez, Phillip D. (Rialto, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/009550
Publication Date:
07/07/2005
Filing Date:
12/10/2004
Assignee:
VALADEZ DIMAS M.
VALADEZ PHILLIP D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D13/00; (IPC1-7): E03D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PHILLIPS, CHARLES E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An anti-splash apparatus configured for placement in a urinal, the apparatus comprising: a first surface comprising a first plurality of fibrous strands arranged in a mesh configuration; a second surface comprising a second plurality of fibrous strands arranged in a mesh configuration; a deodorant material sandwiched between the first and second surface; and a coupling material attaching an outer perimeter of the first surface to an outer perimeter of the second surface so that the deodorant block is contained between the first and second surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a density of the first surface is sufficiently low so that fluid contacting the first surface is substantially prevented from splashing off of the first surface.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a weight of the first surface is in the range from about nine ounces per square yard to about twelve ounces per square yard.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein a weight of the first surface is about eleven ounces per square yard.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the fibrous strands are arranged in the mesh configuration using a water based latex binder.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the fibrous strands comprise polyester.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a thickness of the first surface is about eight millimeters.

8. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the density of the first surface is sufficiently high so that non-dissolved portions of the deodorant material are substantially prevented from moving through the first surface.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first surface comprises pores having an average diameter that is sufficiently large so that a fluid that contacts the first surface is substantially prevented from splashing away from the apparatus.

10. A method of manufacturing a deodorant apparatus for use in a lavatory device, the method comprising: placing a deodorant material between a first fibrous material and a second fibrous material; and attaching the first fibrous material to the second fibrous material so that the deodorant material is substantially contained between the first and second fibrous materials, wherein the fibrous material substantially prevents non-dissolved portions of the deodorant material from passing through the fibrous material.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the lavatory device comprises a urinal.

12. An anti-splash device for placement in an urinal, the device comprising: two layers of material each comprising a plurality of randomly shaped fibers bound together with a water based latex binder to form a planar surface, wherein a weight of the planar surface is about eleven ounces per square yard; and a deodorant interposed between the two layers.

13. The anti-splash device of claim 12, wherein the anti-splash device has a generally round configuration.

14. The anti-splash device of claim 12, wherein the fibrous material comprises a synthetic polyester mesh.

15. An apparatus adapted for placement in a lavatory device having an interior region for receiving waste fluid, the apparatus comprising: a splash guard comprising a fibrous material configured to be positioned in the interior region of the lavatory device so that deflection of fluid projected into the interior region of the device away from the apparatus is substantially inhibited; and an implement comprising two sheets of similar sized material, at least one sheet comprising a plurality of fibers arranged in a mesh-like structure so as to substantially inhibit splash back of fluid that contacts the at least one layer, the implement further comprising a deodorizer positioned between the two sheets.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the two sheets of material are sewn together along an outer perimeters of the sheets so as to contain the deodorizer therebetween.

17. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the deodorizer comprises a deodorant block.

18. The apparatus of claim 15, further comprising an attachment device adapted to removably secure said the splash guard to a mounting surface of the lavatory device.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein said attachment device comprises a suction cup including a lip configured for grasping by a user and aiding in removal of the suction cup from the mounting surface.

20. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said attachment device further comprises a hook adapted to attach said suction cup to the device.

21. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the lavatory device is configured to provide flushing water to the interior region of the lavatory device so that substantially all of the flushing water contacts the implement.

22. The apparatus of claim 21, wherein the anti-splash guard is positioned so that the flushing water rinses at least a portion of the anti-splash guard.

23. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the fibrous material is dipped in a solution that inhibits bacterial, fungal, or viral growth.

24. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the fibrous material is coated with crystals, powders, or enzymes that inhibit bacterial, fungal, or viral growth.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/528,508, filed on Dec. 10, 2003, and to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/558,000, filed on Mar. 31, 2004. Each of these provisional applications is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to lavatory devices and, in particular, relates to an anti-splash guard and deodorant pouch for urinals.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventional deodorant urinal screens, which typically contain a deodorant block, fail to reliably prevent splashing of waste fluid, such as urine, from the interior region of urinals. Some conventional deodorant urinal screens have wide slotted openings that allow large amounts of waste fluid to strike the interior walls of the urinal through the wide slotted openings. This often results in splash back of the waste fluid outwardly from interior region of the urinal. For example, when waste fluid is projected into the urinal at high velocity, the waste fluid flows between the wide slotted openings, strikes the hard surface of the interior walls of the urinal, and splashes back outwardly from the interior region of the urinal. This generally causes exterior regions of the urinal to become wet with waste fluid. As a result, there currently exists a need to prevent splashing of waste fluid out of the interior region of the urinal.

In addition, the wide slotted openings of conventional deodorant urinal screens allow pieces of the deodorant material, such as a deodorant block, to be flushed down the drain of the urinal. Also, because the deodorant material is mostly exposed directly to the flow of flush water, urine, and any other substance placed in the urinal, the deodorant material may be quickly dissolved by the fluids. Accordingly, there is a need for improved apparatuses for holding a deodorant material in a urinal in order to increase a useful life of the deodorant material. There is also a need for improved structures for deodorant urinal screens that reduce the occurrence of splash back.

SUMMARY OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the present invention relates to an improved deodorant containment apparatus that is configured to increase the useful life of a deodorant material contained therein. In one embodiment, a deodorant pouch containing a deodorant material, such as a deodorant block, is placed in a urinal. The pouch may be sealed so that the deodorant material must be substantially dissolved in a fluid before it will pass through pores of the layers. Accordingly, the useful life of the deodorant material may be extended by preventing pieces from breaking off and entering the urinal drain. In addition, the pouch may comprise fibrous material that is configured to reduce the direct contact of urine and other fluids on the deodorant material. Because the deodorant material may be water soluble, by reducing the direct contact of fluid with the deodorant material, the life of the deodorant material may be extended.

In another embodiment, the present invention discloses systems and methods for reducing the occurrence of splash back that may occur when a fluid contacts a urinal. For example, an anti-splash guard may comprise a fibrous material configured to reduce splash back and may be configured for attachment to a back surface of a urinal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects and features of the invention will become more apparent from the following description and appended claims taken in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a lavatory device or urinal having an anti-splash guard positioned therein;

FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of the anti-splash guard of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates the flexibility of the anti-splash guard of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 illustrates various embodiments of urinals;

FIG. 5 illustrates an exploded view of another embodiment of the anti-splash guard of the present invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of the anti-splash guard of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 illustrates an attachment device used in conjunction with the anti-splash guard of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a urinal 800 having an anti-splash guard 820 and a pouch 500 placed therein.

FIGS. 9A-9C are each views of an exemplary suction cup that may be used to attach the anti-splash guard to a urinal.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following is a detailed description of embodiments of the invention. However, the invention can be embodied in a multitude of different ways as defined by the claims. The invention is more general than the embodiments that are explicitly described, and accordingly, is not limited by the specific embodiments.

FIG. 1 illustrates a lavatory device or urinal 100 having an anti-splash guard 120 of one embodiment positioned therein. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the urinal 100 comprises a plurality of components including first and second sidewalls 102, 104, a back wall 106, an upper wall 108, and a bowl section 110 having a lip portion 111 that are joined together so as to form an interior region 112 defined within the urinal 100. In general, the bowl section 110 captures waste fluid, such as urine, contaminated liquid, waste water, rinse water, etc., and the lip portion 111 inhibits the waste fluid from flowing out of the bowl section 110. Additionally, a plumbing apparatus 114 is mounted to the upper wall 108 in a generally known manner so as to provide flushing water to the interior region 112 of the urinal 100 when a flush valve 116 is actuated by a user. In one aspect, the sidewalls 102, 104 and the back wall 106 are adapted to direct the flow of flushing water to the bowl section 110 such that the flushing water rinses the sidewalls 102, 104 and the back wall 106 and dilutes the waste fluid captured in the bowl section 110. Moreover, the urinal 100 further comprises a plumbed drain component 118 attached to the bowl section 110 that allows at least a portion of the waste fluid to flow from the bowl section 110 of the urinal 100 to external sewage plumbing (not shown).

It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the urinal 100 may comprise various types of conventional urinal configurations including the illustrated wall mounted configuration without departing from the scope of the present teachings. Therefore, the urinal 100 as described herein should not be limited in scope or function to the illustrated embodiment. It should also be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the anti-splash guard 120 may also be referred to as an apparatus, component, or device without departing from the scope of the present teachings.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the anti-splash guard 120 is positioned in the urinal 100 so as to be seated in the bowl section 110. In one embodiment, the anti-splash guard 120 rests adjacent to the lip portion 111 of the bowl section 110 and adjacent to the back wall 106 of the urinal 100. In addition, the anti-splash guard 120 is positioned in the bowl section 110 so as to at least partially overlie the plumbed drain component 118. Also, the anti-splash guard 120 may be positioned in the interior region 112 of the urinal 100 such that the flow of flushing water rinses at least a portion of the anti-splash guard 120. In one aspect, the anti-splash guard 120 comprises a porous mesh material that is adapted to absorb the force of waste fluid being projected into the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. Advantageously, the absorption bias of the anti-splash guard 120 substantially reduces the occurrence of waste fluid splashing outwardly from the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. It should be appreciated that further scope and functionality related to the anti-splash guard 120 will be described in greater detail herein below.

FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of the anti-splash guard 120. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the anti-splash guard 120 may be contoured to fit within the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. In addition, the anti-splash guard 120 may comprise front and back sides 122, 124 having substantially flat surfaces so as to allow the anti-splash guard 120 to fit flush against the back wall of the urinal 100 when positioned adjacent thereto. In one aspect, the anti-splash guard 120 may be contoured to resemble a substantially rectangular shape having rounded corners. In another aspect, the anti-splash guard 120 may be adapted to resemble a substantially oval shape. In general, it should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the anti-splash guard 120 may be adapted to comprise various other geometrical shapes, such as triangular, diamond, pentagonal, hexagonal, etc., without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For example, in one embodiment (such as illustrated in FIG. 8, for example), a top portion of the anti-splash guard is substantially rectangular, provided an increase surface area coverage of the urinal, while the lower portion of the anti-splash guard is substantially oval shaped provided a better fit in the lower portion of the urinal.

As further illustrated in FIG. 2, the anti-splash guard 120 comprises dimensional characteristics including length 122, width 124, and thickness 126. In one embodiment, the length 122 of the anti-splash guard 102 is between about 8-16 inches, preferably between about 11-13 inches, and more preferably about 12 inches. Additionally, in one embodiment, the width 124 of the anti-splash guard 102 is between about 8-16 inches, preferably between about 11-13 inches, and more preferably about 12 inches. Moreover, in one embodiment, the thickness 126 of the anti-splash guard 102 is between about 0.25-1.25 inches, preferably between about 0.5-1 inch, and more preferably about 0.75 inches.

As further illustrated in FIG. 2, the anti-splash guard 120 comprises fibrous strands 124 that are arranged, positioned, or joined together so as to define a porous mesh or lattice configuration. In one embodiment, the fibrous strands 124 may comprise translucent or opaque materials formed of a semi-rigid or flexible material, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl-chloride (PVC), polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), various types of synthetic polyester meshes, etc. In another example, various floor buffing pads, such as Scotch-brite® manufactured by 3M company of St. Paul, Minn., may be adapted or sized to conform to the dimensional characteristics of the anti-splash guard 120 as described herein. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the fibrous strands may comprise various other generally known materials, including anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral materials, without departing from the scope of the present teachings.

In one embodiment, the fibrous material comprises a material that is supplied by Americo, located at 6224 North Main St. in Acworth, Ga. The table below includes exemplary specification for three materials that may be used as the fibrous material in the anti-splash guard 120 and the pouch 500 (FIG. 5).

FinishedThickness
Americo Roll StockWeight TypicalTypical
Material TypeCodeFiber TypeBinder TypeValueValue
RETAIL YELLOW310107POLYESTERWATER BASED11 oz/YD28 MM
NONWOVEN MATERIALLATEX BINDER
RETAIL BLUE NON WOVEN310105POLYESTERWATER BASED11 oz/YD28 MM
MATERIALLATEX BINDER
RETAIL RED NON WOVEN300199POLYESTERWATER BASED11 oz/YD28 MM
MATERIALLATEX BINDER

The above specifications are exemplary and are not limiting as to the manufactures and materials that may be used in the products described herein. For example, in one embodiment the weight of the fibrous material may be in the range of about 9-12 ounces per yard. Accordingly, these specifications are provided as examples of materials that may be used in order to achieve at least some of the objectives described herein.

In one embodiment, the anti-splash guard 120 including the fibrous strands 124 may be dipped in a solution that inhibits bacterial, fungal, and/or viral growth. In addition, the anti-splash guard 120 including the fibrous strands 124 may be coated, dipped, and/or impregnated with crystals, powders, enzymes, etc. that also inhibit bacterial, fungal, and/or viral growth. Moreover, a deodorant material or substance including fragrance liquid enzymes may be applied to the anti-splash guard 120 including the fibrous strands 124 so as to reduce odor emanating therefrom. For example, the anti-splash guard 120 including the fibrous strands 124 may be coated, dipped, and/or impregnated with an enzyme drain cleaner, such as the Enzyme Drain Cleaner manufactured by Padre Janitorial Supplies of San Diego, Calif. In one aspect, the enzyme drain cleaner digests grease and organic waste, dissolves uric acid, and deodorizes odors. Advantageously, the enzyme drain cleaner breaks down odor causing micro-organisms as opposed to simply covering up the odor. Additionally, the enzyme drain cleaner can more effectively sanitize or disinfect the anti-splash guard 120 so as to reduce the growth of odor causing germs.

In another embodiment, the anti-splash guard 120 may comprise various colors so as to color coordinated with the decor of the urinal or the surrounding room decor. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that, in one aspect, the color or coloration of the anti-splash guard 120 including the fibrous strands 124 may be formed as an integral part of the material composition thereof. In various other embodiments, the color or coloration may be applied to the anti-splash guard 120 after formation thereof. Additionally, various types of applied images, such as logos, artwork, advertisements, etc., may be added to or printed on the anti-splash guard 120. Therefore, the aesthetic coloration and/or applied imaging of the anti-splash guard 120 may vary depending on the desirable application or implementation thereof without departing from the scope of the present teachings.

FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of the flexible characteristics of the anti-splash guard 120. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the anti-splash guard 120 is flexible or bendable along its length 130 and width 132 so as be seated in the bowl section 110 of the urinal 100. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 1 with reference to FIGS. 2-3, the anti-splash guard 120 is positioned in the interior region 112 of the urinal 100 such that a first portion 150 of the anti-splash guard 120 is positioned adjacent the bowl section 110 so as to fit therein and such that a second portion 152 of the anti-splash guard 120 is positioned adjacent the back wall 106 so as fit adjacent thereto. In one aspect, a third portion 154 of the anti-splash guard 120 bends or folds along the length 130 thereof so as to accommodate the contour or curvature of the back wall 106 and bowl section 110 within the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. In another aspect, a fourth portion 156 of the anti-splash guard 120 bends or folds along the width 132 thereof so as to accommodate the contour or curvature of the bowl section 110 within the interior region 112 of the urinal 100.

Advantageously, the anti-splash guard 120 rests adjacent to the lip portion 111 of the bowl section 110 and adjacent to the back wall 106 of the urinal 100. In addition, the anti-splash guard 120 comprises fibrous strands 124 that form a porous mesh structure that is adapted to absorb the force of waste fluid being projected into the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. In one aspect, the anti-splash guard 120 substantially prevents the projected waste fluid form striking the underlying back wall 106 and bowl section 110 to thereby reduce splash back of waste fluid out of the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. Moreover, the absorption bias of the anti-splash guard 120 substantially reduces the occurrence of waste fluid splashing outwardly from the interior region 112 of the urinal 100. Beneficially, this increases the reliability and functional convenience of the anti-splash guard 120, which is advantageous in many circumstances.

Additionally, it should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the anti-splash guard 120 of the present teachings can be contoured and/or adapted to fit various types of urinals. As illustrated in FIG. 4, these types of urinals may include an Innsbrook 0.5 Urinal 200, a Lynbrook 0.85 Urinal 202, a Trimbrook 0.85 Urinal 204, a Jetbrook 1.0 Urinal 206, a Washbrook 0.7 Urinal 208, an Allbrook 0.7 Urinal 210, a Stallbrook 0.7 Urinal 212, and/or a Maybrook 0.5 Urinal 214, as manufactured by American Standard of Piscataway, N.J. Moreover, it should also be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the anti-splash guard 120 may also be contoured and/or adapted to fit various other types of generally known lavatory devices and/or urinals including waterless urinals, dual-flush urinals, and high efficiency urinals without departing from the scope of the present teachings.

FIG. 5 provides a schematic exploded view of a pouch 500 configured for use in a urinal. As shown in FIG. 5, the pouch 500 generally includes a plurality of layers 502, 504, with a deodorizer 506 sandwiched therebetween. In one embodiment, each layer 502, 504 comprises a mesh material having fibrous strands, wherein the fibrous strands are formed so as to provide an anti-splash surface. The fibrous strands may comprise translucent or opaque materials formed of a semi-rigid or flexible material, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl-chloride (PVC), polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), various types of synthetic polyester meshes, etc. In another example, various floor buffing pads, such as Scotch-brite® manufactured by 3M company of St. Paul, Minn., may be adapted or sized to conform to the dimensional characteristics of the anti-splash layer as described herein. As also shown in FIG. 5, the layers 502, 504 are configured into a desired shape and size adapted for placement in a urinal. For example, in one embodiment each of the layers 502, 504 is substantially oval shaped. In one embodiment, the layers 502, 504 are attached by sewing an outer perimeter of the layers 502, 504 together using a suitable thread, such as a nylon or plastic thread. In other embodiments, the layers 502, 504 may be attached using other suitable means. In an advantageous embodiment, the layer 502, 504 of the pouch 500 are sealed so that the deodorizer 506 must be substantially dissolved in a fluid before it will pass through pores of the layers 502,504. In this way, the useful life of the deodorizer 506 may be extended by preventing pieces of the deodorizer from breaking off and entering the drain component 118 (FIG. 1), for example.

In addition, the use of a fibrous material for housing the deodorizer 506 reduces the direct contact of urine and other fluids on the deodorizer 506. Because the deodorizer 506 may be water soluble, by reducing the direct contact of fluid with the deodorizer 506, the life of the deodorizer 506 may be extended. Accordingly, the user of an appropriate fibrous material may increase the number of uses for the deodorizer 506.

In certain embodiments, the deodorizer 506 is a conventional restroom deodorant such as paradichlorobenzene (PARA) blocks or non-PARA blocks. Preferably, a deodorant in block form is sandwiched between two anti-splash mesh layers to provide a deodorizing effect to the mesh layers.

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of the pouch 500 with the two mesh layers attached together, thereby sandwiching the deodorant block 506 therebetween. As shown in FIG. 6, the pouch 500 may have a generally round configuration and may be adapted for placement in a urinal.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a pouch 600 of another embodiment, illustrating the pouch 600 being attached to an attachment device 602. The attachment device 602 includes a suction cup 604 and a hook 606. When in use, the hook 606 is adapted to removably attach to the anti-splash guard 600 while the suction cup 604 is adapted to attach to a mounting surface such as a urinal. Thus, the pouch 600 may be replaced with a new pouch without removing the suction cup 604.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a urinal 800 having an anti-splash guard 820 and a pouch 500 placed therein. As illustrated in exemplary FIG. 8, the anti-splash guard 820 is mounted to the urinal 800 by means of a suction cup 810 and a hook 830. In an advantageous embodiment, the anti-splash guard 820 comprises a fibrous material having a density that is sufficiently low to prevent fluid contacting the anti-splash guard 820 from splashing outside of the urinal 800 and potentially onto the provider of the fluid. The exemplary anti-splash guard 820 is shaped to fit in the lower portion of the urinal without causing the guard 820 to fold.

In addition to the use of the anti-splash guard 820 in the urinal 800, a pouch 500 is placed in the bowel section 110 of the urinal 800. The pouch 500 advantageously houses a deodorizing material, such as a deodorant block or cake, and is also made of a fibrous material that reduces splash back from the surface of the pouch 500. Thus, the pouch provides a sanitizing function in the urinal 800, while also reducing splash back of fluid that contacts the pouch.

FIGS. 9A-9C are each views of an exemplary suction cup 904 that may be used to attach the anti-splash guard to a urinal. In particular, FIG. 9A is an elevated perspective view, FIG. 9B is a top view, and FIG. 9C is a side view, of the suction cup 904. The suction cup illustrated in FIGS. 9A-9C advantageously includes a lip 910 configured for use in removing the suction cup 910 from at attached surface. More specifically, a user may remove the suction cup 904 by grasping and pulling on the lip 910. Accordingly, time and effort required to remove the suction cup 904 may be reduced. In addition, the lip 910 provides a surface for grasping that reduces the risk of the user from touching a surface of the urinal.

Specific parts, shapes, materials, functions and modules have been set forth, herein. However, a skilled technologist will realize that there are many ways to fabricate the system of the present invention, and that there are many parts, components, modules or functions that may be substituted for those listed above. While the above detailed description has shown, described, and pointed out the fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to various embodiments, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form and details of the components illustrated may be made by those skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics of the invention.