Title:
Novelty neck pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novelty pillow is disclosed, having a compact size and a U-shape for cradling the head and neck of a (child) user while sitting in repose in a high backed chair or seat. The novelty pillow comprises a casing stuffed with a fill material, and has an optional opening in the casing allowing the user to add or remove fill material in order to adjust the firmness of the pillow. The pillow's casing is constructed of two similarly sized fabric members. When filled, the novelty pillow has a substantially uniform cross section through most of the pillow's U-shape. The end of one leg of the U-shaped body has a “critter head” affixed to it. A “critter head” is a stylized plush construct evoking the head of an animal or “critter.” Optionally, the end ofthe other leg can have features evoking an appendage of the “critter.”



Inventors:
Wolf, Jeffery M. (Waco, TX, US)
Silver, Abbye M. (Waco, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/755565
Publication Date:
07/14/2005
Filing Date:
01/12/2004
Assignee:
WOLF JEFFERY M.
SILVER ABBYE M.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
D06/601
International Classes:
A47C16/00; A47G9/00; (IPC1-7): A47G9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TRETTEL, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHERMAN D PERNIA, ESQ. (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A novelty pillow for cradling the neck and head of a user comprising: a pillow body containing a fill material, and configured in a U-shape and having a substantially uniform cross section around the U-shape of the body, the U-shape having a crotch formed by the joining of two legs, configured to receive the neck of a user sufficiently closely to hold the pillow body in position, and the legs each having a leg end; and a critter head affixed to one of the leg ends.

2. The novelty pillow of claim 1, wherein the pillow body further comprises a casing defining an exterior surface and an interior surface of the pillow body, and a lumen defined by the interior surface of the pillow body, the lumen being a single, continuous interior compartment.

3. The pillow body of claim 2, wherein the casing comprises two horseshoe-shaped fabric members, substantially similar in size and shape, with each member having a perimeter edge.

4. The casing of claim 3, wherein one of the horseshoe shaped members has a closeable opening removed from the perimeter edge of the member.

5. The casing of claim 4, wherein one of the members has a closeable opening removed from the perimeter edge of the member, which opening is closeable by a means selected from the group consisting of a zipper, buttons or snaps, hook-and-loop fasteners, laces, or sewing.

6. The novelty pillow of claim 2, wherein the pillow body further comprises the lumen ofthe casing being a single, continuous interior compartment filled with a fill material to provide the substantially uniform cross section around the U-shape of the pillow body.

7. The novelty pillow of claim 2, wherein the pillow body further comprises the lumen ofthe casing being a single, continuous interior compartment filled with a biologically inert fill material.

8. The novelty pillow of claim 2, wherein the pillow body further comprises a casing that is washable.

9. The pillow body of claim 3, wherein the casing further comprises a horseshoe-shaped top member, and a substantially-similarly sized and shaped bottom member, each member having a perimeter edge, the two fabric members being connected to each other by means of a seam around their perimeter edges.

10. The casing of claim 3, wherein one of the members has a closeable opening removed from the perimeter edge of the fabric member, the opening being covered by a fly.

11. The casing of claim 3, wherein one of the fabric members has a closeable opening removed from the perimeter edge ofthe member, the opening located on the member along a chord removed from the perimeter edge of the fabric member in the crotch section of the U-shaped fabric member.

12. The novelty pillow of claim 2, wherein the pillow body further comprises a casing constructed with a material selected from the group consisting of woven fabrics, knitted fabrics, and fleece-like materials.

13. The pillow body of claim 7, further comprising the lumen of the casing being filled with a biologically inert fill material that is a man-made material.

14. The pillow body of claim 7, further comprising the lumen of the casing being filled with a biologically inert fill material that is a man-made material selected from the group consisting of polystyrene, polyester, nylon and plastic.

15. The novelty pillow of claim 1, wherein the pillow body is washable.

16. The novelty pillow of claim 1, further comprising a pillow covering for containing the pillow body.

17. The critter head of claim 1, wherein the critter head further comprises a nape portion, a chin portion and a face portion containing head features such as ears, eyes mouth and nose.

18. (canceled)

19. The critter head of claim 17, wherein the critter head comprises a interior compartment filled with a fill material to provide an appropriate head shape of the critter head.

20. The novelty pillow of claim 1, wherein the critter head comprises a interior compartment in communication with a lumen of the pillow body.

21. A novelty pillow for cradling the neck and head of a user comprising: a pillow body, the pillow body having a casing defining an exterior surface and an interior surface of the pillow body; a lumen defined by the interior surface of the pillow body, the lumen being a single continuous interior compartment ofthe pillow body and containing a fill material, and the pillow body configured in a U-shape and having a substantially uniform cross section around the U-shape of the body, the U-shape having a crotch formed by the joining of two legs, and configured to receive the neck of a user sufficiently closely to hold the pillow body in position and the legs each having a leg end; and a critter head affixed to one of the leg ends, the critter head having a interior compartment in communication with the lumen of the pillow body, the interior compartment filled with the fill material to provide an appropriate head shape of the critter head.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to pillow devices intended to receive the human body in a sitting position for the purpose of repose. More specifically, it relates to a child's U-shaped, novelty neck pillow, the pillow filled with a biologically inert material and having a leg of the U-shape configured as an animal head.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The field has been motivated to provide neck pillows for use when a person is sitting in repose. For children, the field has produced novelty pillows representing an animal for use by child in repose. For example, Petrusek (U.S. Pat. No. 4,133,064) discloses a device for supporting the head of a child user. The Petrusek device consists of an inflatable air-cushion, which when inflated has the shape of the head of an animal with opened jaws. The lower jaw supports the child's head when placed in the open mouth. However, the Petrusek device is disclosed for use in a supine position, and is not disposed for use in a sitting position.

Oliveira (U.S. Pat. No. 6,216,298) discloses achild's novelty pillow for use in combination with a child's motor vehicle safety seat. The Oliveira pillow has a padded cushion optionally shaped in the likeness of an animal. It is against the animal likeness that the head of a child user is cradled while the child is sitting in repose in the safety seat. Additionally, the Oliveira device has a pair of downwardly extending arms which attach together at their ends forming a loop around the neck of the child.

Matthews (U.S. Pat. No. 6,055,687) discloses a “toroidal” (donut shaped) support pillow with a generally circular or elliptical inner well region defined by two curved cantilevered opposing arms. Optionally, the Matthew's pillow may include a head member (such as an animal's head) attached anywhere along the top surface of the cantilevered arms. The head member is sufficiently rigid and attached such that the head member extends in a direction parallel generally to the vertical axis of the pillow.

Another example of an existing novelty neck pillow is disclosed by Perron (U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,049). The Perron neck support can be used by a person in a seated position and comprises two stuffed animal cushions connected by a pair of straps. The Perron pillow device is used by placing the stuffed cushions on the shoulders of the person with one strap holding the cushions together behind the user's neck and the other strap securing the cushions together at the front of the user's neck. Therefore, in use the Perron device can form a loop completely around the user's neck.

Although they may be useful for their intended purposes, these prior devices employ various structural elements and features in order to accomplish their utility that have limitations. Particularly for children, it can be beneficial to have an alternative child novelty pillow that does not form a loop around the user's neck, or that in anyway encircles a user's neck, and can be used in a sitting position. Additionally, it would be beneficial to have an alternative novelty pillow that can serve as a plush toy for a child user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a novelty pillow having a compact size and a U-shape for cradling the head and neck of a user while sitting in repose. The crotch of the U-shaped pillow fits around the user's neck sufficiently closely to hold the pillow in position. The U-shape of the present pillow does not close over the throat of a user, nor form a loop around the neck of a user. The novelty pillow is particularly useful for supporting the head and neck of the user while sitting in an upright or semi-reclining position in a high-backed chair, such as those on an airplane, automobile, bus, or the like. The pillow has a substantially-uniform cross section, and provides comforting support in a variety of head positions while the user is sitting in repose. The end of one leg of the U-shaped body has a “critter head” affixed to it. A “critter head” is a stylized plush construct evoking the head of a critter. Typically, the head is affixed to the U-shaped pillow body by sewing. Optionally, the end of the other leg can have features evoking an appendage of a critter. This element of the novelty pillow allows it to serve as a plush toy for a child user.

The novelty pillow comprises a U-shaped pillow body containing a fill material, and having a substantially uniform cross section around the U-shape of the pillow body up to the leg ends. The two legs of the U-shaped body form a crotch between them where they join at the base of the U-shape. The crotch is defined by the two legs and the base of the U-shape, and is configured to receive the neck of a user sufficiently closely to hold the pillow body in position while in use. The present novelty pillow utilizes a solid fill material (as opposed to being filled with air) to provide the substantially uniform cross section of the pillow body. Optionally, the present pillow body includes a closeable opening for adding or removing fill material.

The body of the novelty pillow comprises a casing stuffed with a fill material. The casing defines the exterior surface of the pillow body. The interior surface of the casing defines the lumen or interior space of the pillow body. The lumen is a single, continuous interior compartment which contains the fill material ofthe pillow body. The casing comprises two fabric members of substantially the same size and shape. The fabric members of the casing typically are constructed of a washable, woven or knitted material. Materials suitable for practicing the fabric casing include man-made fibers, natural fibers, and combinations thereof, further including cottons, poly/cottons, fleeces, wools, flannels, etc.

The fabric members each have a perimeter edge and a horse-shoe or U-shape. The two fabric members contact and are connected to each other at their perimeter edges by a seam around their perimeter edges. The seam may be sewn together or sealed together in some other fashion compatible with the type of fabric involved. For example, some fabrics may be heat sealed together, while others may be glued. An appropriate fabric and method of connecting the perimeter seams of the members together is selectable by the ordinary skilled artisan.

The optional closeable opening of the present pillow for adding or removing fill material can be accomplished by any of a number of means known to and selectable by one of ordinary skill in the art for practice in the present invention. A preferred means of accomplishing this was accomplished by having one ofthe fabric casing members with a closeable opening set into it, the opening being removed from the perimeter edge of the fabric member. The opening was located on the fabric member along a chord removed from the perimeter edge in the crotch section of the horseshoe or U-shaped fabric member. The opening of the fabric member is made reversibly closeable by any of a number of means known to one of ordinary skill in the art, including zipper closures, buttons or snaps, hook-and-loop fasteners, laces, etc. In this preferred embodiment, the opening and the means for opening and closing the opening was covered with a fly.

The lumen of the pillow body casing is a single, continuous interior compartment. The lumen is packed with a sufficient amount of fill material to provide the substantially uniform cross section around the U-shape of the body. The fill material can be any of a variety of materials selectable by the ordinary skilled artisan for stuffing in a pillow, including fibrous and fluent materials, and combinations thereof. It is intended that the fill material be biologically inert to reduce the opportunity for the growth of germs, molds or fungi on the fill material. Also, it is optional that the fill material be washable and/or replaceable by the user. Appropriate biologically inert fill materials include polystyrene, polyester, and similar man-made materials configured in a manner selectable by the ordinary skilled artisan for suitable as stuffing for a pillow. The novelty pillow may further comprise a pillow covering for containing the pillow body.

The critter head may constructed in any of a number of manners as known to and selectable by one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings and figures contained herein. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the critter head is a typical animal head and includes a nape portion, a chin portion and a face portion. These portions may be comprised of one or more pieces and are sewn together to form the critter head. The critter head is stuffed with a fill material and sewn to the leg end ofthe pillow body. Ancillary head features such as ears, eyes, mouth and nose may be included on the critter head to improve the characterization ofthe particular animal stylized. The other leg end ofthe pillow body may be used to mount a stylized appendage of the subject critter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of the novelty pillow of the present invention showing its compact size and horseshoe or U-shaped configuration and plush critter head at the end of one of the pillow body legs.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the pillow body of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the pillow body of the present invention showing one leg end ofthe casing open to allow the casing lumen to communicate with the interior space of an attached critter head.

FIG. 4A is a top plan view of a casing fabric member.

FIG. 4B is a bottom plan view of a casing fabric member showing a zippered opening set into the fabric member.

FIGS. 5A and 5B are top plan views of two fabric pattern pieces that may be combined to accomplish a casing fabric member with a closeable opening.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view showing an example of how the two fabric pattern pieces of FIGS. 4A and 4B may be fitted with a zipper and combined to accomplish a casing fabric member having a closeable opening.

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of an exemplary critter head and leg end of the novelty pillow.

FIG. 8 is an end view of a critter head stuffed with a fill material prior to its attachment to the end of a pillow body leg.

FIG. 9 is a printout of an image illustrating examples of various plush critter heads that may be practiced with the present novelty neck pillow.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a novelty neck pillow having a compact size and a U-shape useful as a child's plush-type toy and as a neck pillow for cradling the head and neck of a child user while sitting in repose. Referring now to the drawings, the details of preferred embodiments of the present invention are graphically and schematically illustrated. Like elements in the drawings are represented by like numbers, and any similar elements are represented by like numbers with a different lower case letter suffix.

As shown in FIG. 1, the novelty pillow 10 is configured in a horseshoe or U-shape, for receiving and cradling the neck and head of a user. The novelty pillow comprises a pillow body 20 (see FIG. 2) configured in a U-shape with a critter head 100 affixed to a leg end 31 of one of the legs 30. The U-shape pillow body 20 has two legs 30 and a base 32. The two legs 30 join the base 32 and form a crotch 34 between them and where they join the base 32. The crotch 34 is defined by the space between the legs 30 and the base 32 of the pillow body 20, and is the space where the neck of a user is received. The crotch 34 is configured to receive the neck of a user sufficiently closely to hold the pillow body 20 in position while the user is sitting in repose. The pillow body 20 has a cross-section with a length L that is substantially uniform around the U-shape of the pillow body 20 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) until proximate the ends 31 of the legs 30. It is intended that the novelty pillow 10 can rest on a user's shoulders, without draping down the front or back of the user's body.

As shown in FIG. 3, the pillow body 20 comprises a casing 40 and fill material 60. In the embodiment shown, the fill material 60 is a fluent solid material such as polystyrene beads. However, other man-made fill materials are intended for practice as fill material 60 in the present invention. The casing 40 has an exterior surface 42 that defines the exterior surface of the pillow body 20. The interior surface 44 of the casing 40 defines the lumen 48 of the pillow body 20. The lumen 48 is a single, continuous compartment without partition which contains a fill material 60. When the lumen 48 is substantially filled with a fill material 60, the pillow body 20 has a relatively uniform cross section, as indicated by the length L shown in FIG. 3.

As exemplified in FIG. 2, the critter head 100 (shown in phantom) can be attached to a closed leg end 31 of the pillow body 20. In this configuration, the interior space 102 (see FIG. 8) of the critter head 100 is filled separately from the lumen 48 of the casing 40. This allows different fill materials 60 to be utilized to fill the separate spaces. For example, a plastic gas bladder can be utilized to fill the lumen 48 of the casing 40, while a polyester fiber can be used to fill the interior space 102 of the critter head 100. Alternatively, a critter head 100 can be attached to an open leg end 31 of the pillow body 20 (see FIG. 3), so that the lumen 48 of the pillow casing 40 communicates with the interior space 102 (see FIG. 8) of the critter head 100. This configuration can allow the two spaces 48 &102 to be charged with fill materials 60 at the same time. The ordinary skilled artisan can select which of these alternatives to practice in a specific embodiment of the present novelty pillow 10 based on the desired benefit to be derived from the embodiment.

As shown in FIG. 4A, the casing 40 is constructed of two horseshoe or U-shaped casing fabric members 46 of substantially the same size. The casing fabric members 46 preferably are constructed of washable, woven or knitted material. Materials suitable for practicing the fabric members 46 of the casing 40 include man-made fibers, natural fibers, and combinations thereof, further including cottons, poly/cottons, fleeces, wools, flannels, etc. Each casing fabric member 46 has a perimeter edge 50. The two fabric members 46 contact each other and are secured together by a seam 51 (See FIGS. 2 and 3) around their perimeter edges 50. The seam 51 preferably is sewn together. However, other means for securing the perimeter edges of the fabric members 46 to form a seam 51 are known to and practicable by the ordinary skilled artisan, such as heating or glueing. The lumen 48 of the casing 40 can be charged with fill material through an opening (not shown) along the line of the seam 51, and the opening subsequently closed by sewing or with a closure means (e.g., a zipper).

In a preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4B, one of the fabric casing members 46a had an opening or passage 52 through it. The opening 52 enabled access to the lumen 48 of the pillow body 20, after the casing 40 was constructed from the casing fabric members 46 &46a. The opening 52 was set into the fabric member 46a at a location away from its perimeter edge 50. The preferred opening 52 was linear and located along a cord of the larger curve of the base portion of the U-shape ofthe fabric member 46a. In this preferred embodiment, the opening 52 was reversibly closeable. This feature permitted the user to adjust the firmness of the novelty pillow 10 by adding or removing fill material 60 to or from the lumen 48 of the casing 40 through the casing opening 52. To accomplish this feature, the casing opening 52 further comprised a reversible closure device 54, which in the preferred embodiment of the figures was a zipper. However, other closure devices 54 are known to and practicable by one of ordinary skill in the art, including button or snap closures, hook-and-loop fasteners, laces, etc. Also in this preferred embodiment, the casing opening 52 and the closure device 54 were are covered by a fly 56 (see FIG. 6). The fly 56 is preferably constructed of the same fabric or material as the casing fabric member 46a.

The lumen 48 of the pillow's casing 40 is a single, continuous interior compartment for containing the fill material 60. Optionally, the lumen 48 can be continuous with the interior space 102 of the critter head 100. The single, continuous compartment nature of the lumen 48 allows a degree of malleability or sculpability of the novelty pillow 10 when it contains a fluent fill material 60 such as polystyrene or plastic beads or air bubble(s). The fill material 60 can be any of a variety of fibrous or fluent solid materials as noted above. It is preferable that the fill material 60 be biologically inert to reduce the opportunity for the growth of germs, molds, mildew, fungi or the like. Appropriate biologically inert fill materials 60 can include polystyrene, polyester, nylon, and similar man-made materials. Additionally it is preferred that the fill material 60 be washable and replaceable by the user, or that the fill material 60 be washable in situ in the casing 40. This enables the novelty pillow 10 to be washable as a unit. Alternatively, the user may remove the fill material 60 from the casing 40 and wash the fill material 60 and the casing 40 separately. To facilitate removing and replacing the fill material 60, it may be separately contained in a sack or bag (not shown).

FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate an example of how a casing fabric member 46a may be constructed from two fabric pattern pieces, one being the major pattern piece 62, and the other being the minor pattern piece 64. In the embodiment of a casing fabric member 46a shown in FIG. 6, the minor pattern piece 64 provides for the fly 56 covering the casing opening 52 of the pillow body 20. However, by shifting the placement of the closure device 54, the major pattern piece 62 can be made to provide the fly 56, and the fly opening would face in the opposite direction from that shown in FIG. 1. A hook-and-loop type fastener such as VELCRO™ may also be used as a closure device 54, especially where the fill material 60 is fibrous or is separately contained in a bag or sack as noted above.

In a preferred embodiment as shown in FIG. 4A, a casing member is constructed from a fleece-like material such as POLARFLEECE™. The casing member has an over all width W. The width W ranges from about twelve to twenty inches, depending on how large a potential cross section length L is desired. The crotch space 34 of the fabric member 46 has an entrance O of about three to four inches. The base 32 portion of the fabric member 46 has a depth D ranging about five to nine inches. The depth D is substantially uniform around the curvature of the base 32 section of the fabric member 46 as shown in FIG. 4A. In a preferred embodiment, for children, the width W is about fifteen inches, the depth D is about six inches and the entrance gap O is about three inches. In this embodiment, the seam 51 is sewn on a stitch line 66 about one quarter inch from the edge 68 of the perimeter 50 of the fabric member 46.

As noted above, the critter head 100 may constructed in any of a number of manners as known to and selectable by one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings and figures contained herein. In a preferred embodiment exemplified in figures, the critter head 100 was a stylized dog head. Typically, the critter heads have a nape portion 104, a chin portion 108 and a face portion 112 (see FIGS. 1, 7 and 8). These portions may be comprised of one or more pieces and are sewn together to form the critter head 100. In the preferred embodiment shown, the critter head 100 was first stuffed with a fill material (see FIG. 8) and then sewn to the leg end 31 of the casing 40. Ancillary head features such as ears 120, eyes 122, mouth 124 and nose 126 may be included on the critter head 100 to improve the characterization ofthe particular animal stylized. Additionally, the manner of accomplishing these features should take into account the age of the user. More specifically, these features should be accomplished on embodiments intended for young children in an appropriately safe manner. The other leg end 31 of the casing 40 optionally may be used to mount a stylized appendage 150 of the subject critter, e.g., a tail as shown in FIG. 1.

As shown in FIG. 9, it is intended that the present novelty pillow 10 be practiced utilizing a variety of plush critter heads 100. The novelty pillow 10 embodiments illustrated in FIG. 9 include (left to right) a dog, a seal a panda bear, a monkey and a pig.

While the above description contains many specifics, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as exemplifications of one or another preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variation are possible, which would be obvious to one skilled in the art. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents, and not just by the embodiments.