Title:
Sports activity device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sports activity device is provided comprising a toroidal section having an outer shell and an inner portion comprising an inflatable rubber bladder or a foam insert. The inner portion is accessible by means of a closing mechanism, such as a zipper, disposed along the inner circumferential portion of the outer shell. The zipper also serves to provide structural support to the toroidal section. A flexible material is attached to the upper portion of the toroidal section so as to create an uninterrupted planar surface that stretches across the toroidal section. Insignia or advertising may be imprinted upon the flexible material.



Inventors:
Goodwin, Richard (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Williams, Kevin (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/242474
Publication Date:
04/06/2006
Filing Date:
10/03/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James G. Coplit, Esq. (Norwalk, CT, US)
Claims:
Wherefore, we claim:

1. A sports activity device, alternatively playable as a device for launching and catching a ball or similar object and as a tossable flying disc, said device comprising: a toroidal section, said toroidal section being comprised of an outer shell and an inner portion, said inner portion being accessible by means of a closing mechanism; a flexible material attached to said toroidal section so as to create an uninterrupted planar surface that stretches across said toroidal section, wherein said flexible material is attached to the uppermost portion of said toroidal section.

2. The sports activity device of claim 1, wherein said inner portion comprises an inflatable rubber bladder.

3. The sports activity device of claim 2, wherein said inflatable rubber bladder is an inner tube having a valve therein.

4. The sports activity device of claim 1, wherein said inner portion comprises a substantially rigid toroidal shaped object.

5. The sports activity device of claim 4, wherein said inner portion is composed of foam.

6. The sports activity device of claim 1, wherein said closing mechanism comprises a zipper.

7. The sports activity device of claim 6, wherein said zipper is disposed along the inner circumferential portion of said outer shell, and wherein said zipper also serves to provide structural support to said toroidal section.

8. A sports activity device, alternatively playable as a device for launching and catching a ball or similar object and as a tossable flying disc, said device comprising: a toroidal section, said toroidal section being comprised of an outer shell and an inner portion comprising an inflatable rubber bladder, said inner portion being accessible by means of a closing mechanism, wherein said closing mechanism comprises a zipper disposed along the inner circumferential portion of said outer shell, and wherein said zipper also serves to provide structural support to said toroidal section; a flexible material attached to said toroidal section so as to create an uninterrupted planar surface that stretches across said toroidal section, wherein said flexible material is attached to the uppermost portion of said toroidal section.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to sports activity devices, and more particularly, to such a sports activity device that may alternatively be used as a tossable flying disc or as a device for launching or catching a ball or similar object, and even more particularly to a sports activity device having a hollow toroidal shell within which either an inflatable bladder or a foam insert may be situated so as to allow the device to be collapsible.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Flying discs and the like have long been known in the art, as have variations on the basic premise, including discs that glow in the dark or discs having a hole in the middle thereof to allow for the disc to be thrown further.

An example of a glow-in-the-dark flying disc is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,544,093, which issued to Komuro on Apr. 8, 2003 for “Revolving and flying toy,” which discloses a revolving and flying toy which having an insert pocket in which a chemical luminous body may be placed. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 5,083,799, which issued to Thill on Jan. 28, 1992 for “Lightable whistling disc” discloses a tossable disc including a substantially flat, planar section and an inflatable ring and attached thereto with a chemiluminescent light source positioned on the planar section and a plurality of whistle elements mounted on the inflated ring such that as the toy is tossed through the air the movement thereof will present an auditory sound and the chemiluminescent light source may be activated at the user's desire.

The concept using an inflatable tub in a flying disc has also been known in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,078,637, which issued to McFarland on Jan. 7, 1992 for “Flexible flying disc with edge tube” discloses a flexible flying disc having an aerodynamic design for long and stable flight made of soft, flexible material and including a flexible tube within the disc to provide a spring type action for maintaining the shape of the disc or for returning the disc to its original shape when the disc is folded or pulled out of shape. Another example is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,466,212, which issued to Lehman on Aug. 21, 1984 for “Inflatable saucer toy with shape holders and weights” and which discloses a flying saucer toy made up of an upper dome section, an upper lip section, a lower lip section, an inside lip section, and a lower dome section all of which may individually be thicker than the remaining sections or which may have reinforcement rings molded into them to hold the saucer in an ideal aerodynamic shape. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,135,325, which issued to Lehman on Jan. 23, 1979 for “Inflatable flying saucer toy” discloses a hand tossed flying saucer toy being inflatable from a central valve member wherein the peripheral of the depending lip is substantially circular in cross-section and formed so as to have a memory when the saucer is inflated.

Other examples of inflatable throwing toys are shown in two patents which issued to Magid, et al., namely, U.S. Pat. No. 4,335,536 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,318,244, both of which disclose an inflatable throwing toy made of air impervious sheet material comprises an inflatable ring having an inflating valve located thereon the ring being comprised of a bottom and a top section joined at their outer and inner peripheries, and two or more disc sections with at least a first disc section of which being attached to the top section of the inflatable ring and a second disc section being attached to the first disc section of the inflatable ring forming an inflatable enclosure with the first disc section with an inflating valve located on a part of the inflatable enclosure.

There are also references which teach making the flying disc toy flexible so as to be safer to use and easier to catch. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,290,226, which issued to Stauffer on Sep. 22, 1981 for “Flexible flying disc toy” discloses a flexible flying disc toy having a flat, flexible body of fabric material, whereby an advertising message or the like may be printed thereon, and a shape defining and retaining, flexible peripheral ring and rim integrally formed of vinyl or the like so that the disc toy may be folded or crumpled for storage, the toy assuming its original shape after storage and before use.

As shall be appreciated, the prior art fails to specifically address either the problem or the solution arrived upon by applicant.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Against the foregoing background, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a sports activity device that may be used as a flying disc.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a sports activity device that may be used to launch and catch objects such as balls.

It is but another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that may be easily collapsed for transportation and/or packaging.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device is easy and fun to use.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that is relatively soft so as to prevent damage to players and objects the device strikes.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that includes a toroidal outer shell which houses an inflatable inner tube.

It is but another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device in which the closing mechanism for the outer shell provides stability to the device.

It is yet still another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that may be used as a promotional or advertising tool by imprinting information, logos, or advertising on the upper surface thereof.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device having an outer bladder-filled shape which acts as a rigid structure allowing the user to hold the device in one or two hands and position the elastic surface in such a way as to catch and/or rebound a ball or other object.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that may be shipped, displayed, sold, and transported in a significantly compact manner.

It is but another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device that easily allows for the replacement of damaged bladders.

It is yet still another object of the present invention to provide such a sports activity device in which the closure mechanism provides a ridge that increases the grasp ability of the device.

To the accomplishments of the foregoing objects and advantages, the present invention, in brief summary, comprises a toroidal section having an outer shell and an inner portion comprising an inflatable rubber bladder or a foam insert. The inner portion is accessible by means of a closing mechanism, such as a zipper, disposed along the inner circumferential portion of the outer shell. The zipper also serves to provide structural support to the toroidal section. A flexible material is attached to the upper portion of the toroidal section so as to create an uninterrupted planar surface that stretches across the toroidal section. Insignia or advertising may be imprinted upon the flexible material.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and still other objects and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the detailed explanation of the preferred embodiments of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of the sports activity device of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the sports activity device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of the sports activity device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view of the sports activity device of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a detailed cross-sectional view of the sports activity device of FIG. 1.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, to FIGS. 1 and 2 thereof, the sports activity device of the present invention is provided and is referred to generally by reference numeral 10. The sports activity device 10 comprises a toroidal section 12 comprised of an outer shell 14 and an inner portion 16. The inner portion 16 is designed to be inserted and retained within the outer shell 14 to provide shape and support for the sports activity device 10. The inner portion 16 is constrained and shaped by the outer shell 14. It should be appreciated that while the shape of the sports activity device 10 in the preferred embodiment is circular, and the shape of the outer shell 14 and inner portion 16 are both toroidal, such shape is merely one embodiment. Other shapes are also contemplated in a variety of geometric shapes, such as ovoid, star-shaped, triangular or rectangular. Certainly some shapes might be better suited to flying than others; however, the sports activity device 10 of the present invention may also be used for other methods as discussed herein.

In the preferred embodiment, the inner portion 16 comprises an inflatable inner tube 18 or similar device. The inner tube 18 may be inflated using a valve 20. However, other materials or objects may be used, provided that they have sufficient rigidity and strength so as to provide a shape and support to the sports activity device 10. For example, a toroidal shaped foam insert may also be used.

The inner portion 16 may be inserted within the outers shell and thereafter retained therein by means of a closing mechanism 22. In the preferred embodiment, the closing mechanism comprises a zipper 24 disposed along the inner circumferential portion 26 of the outer shell 14. In such embodiment, the zipper 24 also serves to provide structural support to the toroidal section 12 and to the entire sports activity device 10. Of course, other closure means are contemplated, such as snaps, hook and loop fasteners, ties, or even elastic devices. The zipper 24 also provides access to the valve 20 for inflating or deflating the inner tube 18.

Attached to the upper surface of the toroidal section 12 is an elastic material that creates an uninterrupted, trampoline-like, planar surface 28 that stretches across the toroidal section 12. This surface 28 can be formed using a variety of elastic materials that serve the purpose of allowing the user to both catch or rebound an object, and also assisting in the flight of the sports activity device 10.

Having thus described the invention with particular reference to the preferred forms thereof, it will be obvious that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims. For example, the inner tube 18 can be replaced with a rigid or semi rigid material such as, but not limited to, open or closed cell foam around which the outer shell 14 would act as a protective surface and a medium to attach the elastic planar surface 28.

The elastic planar surface 28 can additionally serve a promotional or advertising purpose by allowing for graphic branding or imprinting. Additionally a more heavy-duty elastic membrane may be used for the planar surface 28, thereby allowing it to be used as an athletic training aid. Used in conjunction with an exercise “heavy ball”, the device 10 would aid in organized training sessions geared towards building core strength and coordination across ages ranging from child to senior. Such a heavy-duty membrane would further allow the device 10 to be used to catch small animals that might jump from the window of a burning building.

Furthermore, the sports activity device 10 of the present invention can be made in a variety of sizes and materials that would extend the occasions and environments in which it can be used. For example, smaller softer versions may be used indoors with softer and lighter balls or objects. Larger, more rigid versions may be provided which would require greater strength and would rebound balls and other objects to greater distances and velocities. Heavy-duty versions that would utilize cover materials for the elastic planar surface 28 having textures and reliefs allowing for more positive handgrip and resistance to abrasion.

The sports activity device 10 of the present invention lends itself to a variety of play/athletic uses. Examples of such uses include:

    • Two or more participants can catch and rebound a ball or other object in a back and forth manner that allows them to increase the velocity, height, and distance of the object.
    • One person can receive and rebound a ball or other object in an up and down manner increasing the velocity and height of the object. They may also use a variety of vertical surfaces as a target against which to bounce a resilient ball or other object.
    • Two or more participants may engage in receiving and rebounding an object and include the throwing of the device in a “Frisbee” like manner at the same time in order to provide a more multi-skilled sport.
    • The sports activity device 10 may be used to participate in a variety of existing athletic sports such as, but not limited to:
      • Tennis
      • Badminton
      • Volleyball
      • Basketball
      • Baseball/softball
      • Soccer
      • Handball
      • Squash
      • Racquetball
      • Table tennis
      • Football
    • Because the sports activity device 10 in its inflated mode would float in water, it can be used in swimming pools and open water environments in such activities as:
      • Water polo
      • Water basketball
      • Water badminton
      • Water volleyball
    • The device 10 would particularly lend itself to the catching and rebounding of water filled balloons and water soaked objects.
    • The device 10 can be set in a fixed position and used as a target for throwing and rebounding of balls and other objects.