Title:
Shoelace protector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shoelace protector that serves to protect a shoelace at or near the eyelet. The shoelace protector generally comprises a tube with a shaft and a base. The shaft protects the shoelace from damage and the base prevents the tube from being pushed or pulled completely through the eyelet. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention the tube is detachably secured to the shoe by inserting said tube into the eyelet and lacing the shoelace therethrough. In another embodiment of the invention the tube is permanently secured to the eyelet or upper of the shoe.



Inventors:
Chmelar, Erik Vaclav (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/961586
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/12/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43C1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRITTAIN, JAMES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Erik Chmelar (Midland, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A protective shoelace enclosure for a shoe or the like that permits the majority of the shoelace to remain in full view, which generally comprises: a tube that encloses said shoelace at or near the eyelet; and a means of engaging said tube to said shoe.

2. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which said tube generally comprises a shaft and a base.

3. 3.The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which said means of engaging said shoelace protector to said shoe is to insert said tube into said eyelet and lace said shoelace through said tube.

4. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to said eyelet of said shoe.

5. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to said upper of said shoe.

6. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the shaft is constructed of a flexible material.

7. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the shaft is constructed of a rigid material

8. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the base is constructed of a flexible material.

9. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the base is constructed of a rigid material.

10. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the shaft is constructed of an opaque material.

11. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the shaft is constructed of a transparent material.

12. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the base is constructed of an opaque material.

13. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which the base is constructed of a transparent material.

14. The shoelace protector of claim 1 in which an insignia, emblem, logo, design, or other markings are be formed on said shoelace protector.

15. A protective shoelace enclosure for a shoe or the like that permits the majority of the shoelace to remain in full view, which generally comprises: a plurality of tubes joined to one another in any manner, said plurality of tubes enclosing said shoelace at or near a plurality of eyelets; and a means of engaging said plurality of tubes to said shoe.

16. The shoelace protector of claim 15 in which said means of engaging said shoelace protector to said shoe is to insert at least one said tube into said eyelet and to lace said shoelace through said at least one tube.

17. The shoelace protector of claim 15 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to at least one said eyelet of said shoe.

18. The shoelace protector of claim 15 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to said upper of said shoe.

19. The shoelace protector of claim 15 in which an insignia, emblem, logo, design, or other markings are formed on said shoelace protector.

20. A protective shoelace enclosure for a shoe or the like that permits the majority of the shoelace to remain in full view, which generally comprises: a tube that encloses said shoelace at or near the eyelet, said tube generally comprising a shaft and a base; and a means of engaging said tube to said shoe.

21. The shoelace protector of claim 20 in which said means of engaging said shoelace protector to said shoe is to insert said shaft of said shoelace protector into said eyelet with said base adjacent to said eyelet and to lace said shoelace through said shaft and said base

22. The shoelace protector of claim 20 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to said eyelet of said shoe.

23. The shoelace protector of claim 20 in which said shoelace protector is permanently secured to said upper of said shoe.

24. The shoelace protector of claim 20 in which an insignia, emblem, logo, design, or other markings are formed on said shoelace protector.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to devices that protect shoelaces from damage and, more specifically, to a protective enclosure around a portion of a shoelace at or near the eyelet that permits the majority of the shoelace to remain in full view to yield an uninterrupted stylish appearance.

The shoelace of a shoe is both functional and aesthetic. The shoelace functions to keep the shoe on the wearer's foot, and can be worn in various colors, lengths, or widths to provide aesthetic appeal.

When a shoelace becomes torn, ripped, broken, or otherwise damaged, often occurring during participation in sports, both the functional and aesthetic properties are compromised. To maintain the functional and aesthetic properties of a shoelace, it must be replaced after is breaks, which is a time consuming and tedious process. There have been several devices previously proposed to protect shoelaces from damage.

U.S. Pat. No. 690,003 (Altman) discloses a protective shoelace cover, which generally comprises a detachable shield provided with a means, such as a strap, for surrounding the foot or ankle of the wearer and with a means of engaging the upper edge of the shoe or the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. 1,660,664 (Aleksandrowicz) discloses a protective cover that folds over the tongue and shoelaces of a shoe, which generally comprises a flap member that is permanently secured to the shoe on one edge and detachably secured at the other edge by means of quick-detachable fasteners.

U.S. Pat. No. 1,171,582 (Bertona) discloses a shoelace cover that is permanently secured to the shoe, consisting of hooks that are engaged to the eyelets and a strap and buckle that encircles the ankle.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,022,554 (Williams) discloses a protective shoelace cover that is permanently secured to the shoe, which generally comprises a length of material that is an extension of the tongue, which overlies the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,006,086 (Bird) discloses a shoe guard that protects the metatarsal area by means of a protective plate that folds over the tongue and shoelaces of a shoe, which generally comprises a detachably secured protective plate of lightweight, tough, resilient material with sufficient rigidity to resist severe deformation but resilient enough to permit slight deformation, conforming to the general contour of the metatarsal area of the foot.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,481,055 (Herman) discloses safety protector that fits over the forward part of a baseball shoe, which generally comprises a hollow member that is engaged with the shoe by threading shoelaces through apertures at upper end thereof.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,518,781 (De Vita) discloses a shoe protector that is fixed over the front of a shoe by means of a pair of apertures which receive the shoelaces therethrough and by means of a tongue fixed to extend from the inner side of the shoe protector under the lacing flaps and shoelaces, which generally comprises a rigid and lightweight downward sloping shield that is shaped like the front portion of a shoe upper.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,065,861 (Pelfrey) discloses, among other elements, a shoelace cover for a football punting shoe, which generally comprises an enclosing sheath that is permanently secured on one edge and detachably secured on the other edge by means of Velcro fasteners.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,333,248 (Samuels) discloses a protective shoe cover that overlies the toe and instep and is at least partially removable from the shoe, which generally comprises an outer flexible sheet and an inner energy-absorbing layer and a particular improvement in providing a flap overlying the shoelaces with a pair of openable flap closure means on each side of said flap.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,571,856 (Lin, et. al.) discloses a double-laced athletic shoe, which generally comprises an upper strap that extends about the upper edge of the shoe and partially covers the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,577,419 (Chassaing) discloses a shoe, which generally comprises an upper strap that extends across the upper tongue of the shoe and partially covers the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,640,025 (DeRenzo) discloses a figure-eight shoe tie system that partially covers the shoelaces, which generally comprises an elongated strap that passes under the arch of the wearer, over the top of the shoe, and encircles the ankle of the wearer.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,766,682 (Malloy, III) discloses a removable shoelace cover strap adapted for use about the instep of a shoe having a knotted lace to prevent untying thereof, which generally comprises an elongated strap with an elastic medial portion and opposite end portions with hook and loop fastener patches for attaching the opposite end portions to each other.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,967,493 (Mues) discloses a protective shoe shield, which generally comprises a lower toe piece that is secured to the toe, an upper covering piece that is located above the lower piece which extends rearwardly toward the ankle of the wearer, and a cooperating attachment means protruding from the top surface of the lower piece and the bottom surface of the upper piece to detachably secure the upper piece above the bridge of the shoe.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,991,318 (Cornell) discloses a foot safety guard, which generally comprises a monolithic body that is detachably secured to a shoe by a strap and a neck portion that has a break away line of weakening and a hook that engages the shoelace.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,313,719 (Koethe) discloses protective shoelace shield that is detachably secured to the lacings of a shoe, which generally comprises a channel-shaped thermoplastic shell with a tab extending from the front end of the shield for securing said shield to the front-most fold of the shoelace and a fastening means attached to the inner surface of the shell for further securing the shield to the shoe.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,106 (Emrick) discloses a detachably secured shoe string cover, which generally comprises an upwardly-facing wiping surface and can be held in place by hook and loop-type fasteners.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,459,947 (Lasher) discloses a decorative shoe tongue and lace securing device that covers the shoelaces of a shoe, which generally comprises a bottom strap that is folded under the shoelaces and a top cover that overlies the shoelaces which can be held in place by hook and loop-type fasteners.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,566,477 (Mathis, et. al.) discloses a detachably secured shoelace cover, which generally comprises a length of material that is secured to the shoe by means of a number of straps threaded therethrough.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,671,517 (Gourley) discloses a shoelace safety guard, which generally comprises an outer cover folded over a lower cover that is held in place by hook and loop-type fasteners and wherein the tied laces are stored.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,701,688 (Crowley) and U.S. Pat. Des. No. 377,410 (Crowley) disclose a protective shoelace cover that is detachably secured to the upper of a shoe, which generally comprises a triangular edge element, a translucent window composed of tubular elements and connected to the edge element, and fasteners attached beneath the edge element. The translucent window permits the shoelaces to be seen therethrough.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,737,811 (Rashid) discloses an article for fastening of eyelet shoes, which generally comprises an elongated, preferably elastic cord having first and second ends and having substantially T-shaped elements secured to each end of said cord such that the T-shaped elements are proportioned for snap-fit passage through the eyelet.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,755,044 (Veylupek) discloses a shoe lacing system, which, among other elements, generally comprises anchor elements having a first portion for attachment to an existing eyelet of the shoe and a second portion though which and with respect to the lace may move.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,000,111 (Deskins, et. al.) discloses a device for containing, concealing, and protecting footwear fasteners that partially covers the shoelaces of a shoe, which generally includes a lower portion for the shoelaces to pass through and for supporting a tied shoelace knot and an upper portion that is secured to the lower portion to retain the shoelace knot.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,029,375 (Borel) discloses, among other elements, a system for passing the shoelace of a boot to allow protection of the said shoelace efficiently against abrasion, to facilitate the return of the lace without generating friction, and to avoid risking any hooking that would be caused by projections, which generally comprises a passage through which the shoelace is laced that has an overlapping portion both in the transverse direction of the boot and in the longitudinal direction of the boot to constitute a protective cap.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,240,657 (Weber, et. al.) discloses footwear with a shoelace binding system that can provide a measure of flexibility between an eyelet and a shoelace lace, which generally comprises a plurality of replaceable eyelet extenders consisting of a sub-eyelet section that is inserted into the eyelet of the shoe upper and a supra-eyelet section through which the shoelace is laced.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,338,186 (Kleinmann) discloses a snap-on shoelace retaining and/or blocking device, which generally comprises a tube-shaped portion with two parts articulated about a hinge that can be locked in the closed position and unlocked to allow for the insertion or removal of the shoelace, and that is secured by at least one part integral with the shoe, for instance to a shoelace passing through at least two holes formed in at least one of the two parts of the tube.

U.S. Pat. No. D283,463 (Chassaing) discloses an ornamental design for a high-top shoe, which generally comprises an upper strap that extends across the upper tongue of the shoe and partially covers the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. D283,556 (Campbell) discloses an ornamental design for a sport shoe, which generally comprises a length of material that overlies the shoelaces.

U.S. Pat. No. D350,013 (Gitelman) and U.S. Pat. No. D351,276 (Gitelman) disclose a decorative strap that partially covers the shoelaces of a shoe, which generally comprises a cross strap that extends from the forefoot area on one side of the shoe to a rear foot area on the other side of the shoe.

U.S. Pat. No. D368,356 (Reale) discloses a decorative cover that partially covers the shoelaces of a shoe, which generally comprises a length of material that is engaged to the shoe along a lower edge using hook and pile-type fasteners and which is interconnected over the tongue area of the shoe straps extending across the throat of said shoe.

U.S. Pat. No. D378,949 (Lindaman) discloses a sock that encloses a shoe, generally comprising a sock with loop and pile fasteners.

U.S. Pat. No. D385,102 (Avar) discloses an element for a shoe that partially covers the shoelaces, which generally comprises three straps interconnected with side members, one of which extends about the bottom of the shoe, one of which extends about the rear of the shoe, and one of which extends about the upper throat of the shoe.

Although these prior art shoelace guards may be capable of protecting shoelaces from damage, they have several disadvantageous properties. The aforementioned shoelace guards may be very large, very complicated in construction or use, or drastically alter the appearance, fit, or performance of the shoe. These disadvantageous properties can detract from the aesthetic or functional properties intended by the manufacturer of the shoe.

Accordingly, what is desired, and has not heretofore been developed, is device that protects the shoelace of a shoe from damage, which is simple in both construction and use, permits the majority of said shoelace to be fully exposed and in plain view, and does not drastically alter the appearance, fit, or performance of the shoe.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a protective shoelace enclosure that prevents said shoelace from damage at or near the eyelet.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a protective shoelace enclosure in which the majority of the shoelace remains fully exposed and in plain view to yield an uninterrupted stylish appearance.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a decorative shoelace enclosure at or near an eyelet.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a shoelace enclosure that is inexpensive to manufacture.

It is even an additional object of the present invention to provide a shoelace enclosure that is simple in construction.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a shoelace enclosure that is easy to use.

The present invention relates to a shoelace enclosure for use with an athletic shoe for protecting the portion of a shoelace at or near the eyelet from tearing, ripping, breaking, or otherwise being damaged. The present invention is particularly applicable to skateboarding shoes wherein frequent contact to the abrasive grip tape of a skateboard or frequent contact to abrasive concrete or asphalt damages the shoelaces at or near the eyelets and causes said shoelaces to break.

The shoelace protector of the present invention generally comprises a tube with a base and a shaft through which the shoelace is laced. The inner diameters of the shaft and base are large enough to permit the shoelace and aglet to be laced therethrough. The outer diameter of the shaft is smaller than the inner diameter of the eyelet to permit the tube to be inserted into the eyelet. The outer diameter of the base is larger than the inner diameter of the eyelet to prevent the tube from being pushed or pulled completely through the eyelet. One shoelace protector can be used per eyelet.

The above and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which the same reference numerals are used to identify the same or similar parts in several views.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an athletic shoe with an embodiment of the shoelace protector of the present invention positioned thereon.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the shoelace protector shown in FIG. 1 further showing the eyelet into which the shoelace protector is to be inserted and further showing the shoelace and aglet which is to be laced therethrough.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the shoelace protector shown in FIG. 2 further showing the eyelet into which the shoelace protector is inserted and further showing the shoelace and aglet laced therethrough.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the shoelace protector shown in FIG. 1 as seen looking down on the top of the shoe and further showing the shoelace protector inserted into the eyelet and further showing the shoelace laced therethrough.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional perspective view of the shoelace protector of FIG. 4 taken along the line A-A in which said shoelace protector is inserted into the eyelet of the shoe and in which the shoelace is laced therethrough and further in which the shoelace protector is shown bending in the direction of the shoelace.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a shoelace enclosure for use with an athletic shoe for protecting the portion of a shoelace at or near the eyelet from tearing, ripping, breaking, or otherwise being damaged. The shoelace protector is inserted into the eyelet of a shoe and the shoelace is laced therethrough, thereby enclosing the shoelace at or near the eyelet and protecting said shoelace from damage.

FIG. 1 shows the shoelace protector 1 of the present invention, engaged with a shoe, generally indicated at 11, by means of insertion into the eyelet 8 and by lacing the shoelace 10 therethrough. One shoelace protector 1 is shown per eyelet 8.

The shoe 11 is generally comprised of an upper 14, a tongue 12, and a sole 13. The tongue 12 is typically positioned below the shoelace 10. The shoelace 10 is laced through the eyelets 8 to secure the shoe 11 to the wearer. Some of the eyelets 8 are shown to be a grommet attached to the upper 14 while other some other eyelets 8 are shown to be just a hole in the upper 14 designed to accept the shoelace 1 0. The shoelace protector 1 of the present invention may be used with an eyelet of any type or style.

The shoelace protectors 1 shown in FIG. 1 are engaged with a shoe 11 by means of insertion into the eyelet 8 and by lacing the shoelace 10 therethrough. The shoelace protector 1 is shown bending in the general direction of the shoelace 10. The shoelace 10 is enclosed by the shoelace protector 1 that protects the shoelace 10 from damage.

The shoelace protector 1 of FIG. 2 can be constructed of an opaque material that is the same or different color as the shoelace 10, the upper 14, the tongue 12, or the sole 13, or of a translucent material that is clear or tinted any color. The texture of the material used to construct the shoelace protector 1 may be smooth or coarse. Furthermore, an insignia, emblem, logo, or other markings can be formed on the shoelace protector 1 for display.

FIG. 2 shows the means of engaging the shoelace protector 1 to the shoe. The shoelace protector 1, which generally comprises a tube with a shaft 2 that has a shaft inner diameter 4, a shaft outer diameter 6, and a shaft length 17, and a base 3 that has a base inner diameter 5, a base outer diameter 7, and a base length 18, is inserted into the eyelet 8 that has an eyelet inner diameter 9 until the base 3 makes contact with the eyelet 8. The eyelet 8 is shown as a grommet in the upper 14. The shoelace 10, which includes an aglet 15 that has an aglet diameter 16 and an aglet length 19, is then laced through the shoelace protector 1.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention in which the shoelace protector 1 is detachably secured to the shoe, if the material used to construct the shaft is non-compressible or non-deformable then it is necessary for the shaft outer diameter 6 to be less than the eyelet inner diameter 9 to permit insertion of the shaft 2 into the eyelet 8. Further, it is necessary for the base outer diameter 7 to be large than the eyelet inner diameter 9 to stop the shoelace protector 1 from being pushed or pulled completely through the eyelet 8. In another embodiment of the present invention in which the shoelace protector 1 is permanently attached to either the eyelet 8 or the upper 14 then the aforementioned relationships between the shaft outer diameter 6 and the eyelet inner diameter 9 and between the base outer diameter 7 and the eyelet inner diameter 9 are not necessary.

If the material or materials used to construct the shaft and/or base are non-expandable or non-deformable then it is necessary for the aglet diameter 16 to be less than both the base inner diameter 5 and the shaft inner diameter 4 to permit the shoelace to be laced therethrough.

The shaft length 17 of the shoelace protector 1 shown in FIG. 2 should be of sufficient length to adequately protect the shoelace 10 from damage. If a non-compressible or non-deformable material is used to construct the shaft 2 and/or base 3 such that the shaft length 17 and/or base length 18 cannot be compressed then it is desired, although not necessary, for the sum of the shaft length 17 and base length 18 to be less than the aglet length 19 to permit the shoelace 10 to be easily laced therethrough. It is further necessary that the shaft length 17 be less than the length between a pair of consecutive eyelets through which the shoelace 10 is laced to permit the majority of the portion of the shoelace 10 between the pair of consecutive eyelets to remain in full view. Either the shoelace protector 1 can be inserted into the eyelet 8 first followed by the shoelace 10 being laced therethrough, or the shoelace 10 can be laced first through the shoelace protector 1 and then both the shoelace protector 1 and the shoelace 10 can be inserted into the eyelet 8.

FIG. 3 shows the shoelace protector 1 inserted into the eyelet 8 such that the shaft 2 passes through the eyelet 8 and the base 3 is positioned against the eyelet 8. The shoelace 10 with aglet 15 is shown laced through the shoelace protector 1. Further shown is the upper 14 in which the eyelet 8 resides.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view, as seen looking down on the top of the shoe, of the shoelace protector 1 inserted into the eyelet 8 of the upper 14 and with shoelace 10 laced therethrough. The shaft 2 is shown bending in the general direction of the shoelace 10. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention the shaft 2 is constructed of a flexible and durable material such as nylon, flexible plastic, leather, durable cloth, or rubber, which permits bending of the shaft 2 in the general direction of the shoelace 10. Furthermore, in this preferred embodiment of the present invention in which the shoelace protector 1 is detachably secured to the shoe, the material for construction of the base 3 should be sufficiently rigid to prevent the shoelace protector 1 from being pushed or pulled completely through the eyelet 8. The base 3 can be constructed from rigid plastic, metal, or from the same material as the shaft 2. Furthermore, two or more materials or a composite material can be used to construct the shaft 2 or base 3.

FIG. 5 shows a cross-sectional perspective view of the shoelace protector 1 of FIG. 4 taken along the line A-A in which said shoelace protector 1 is positioned against the eyelet 8 of the upper 14 and in which the shoelace 10 is laced therethrough and further in which the shoelace protector 1 is shown bending in the general direction of the shoelace 10. It is clear in this embodiment of the present invention in which the shoelace protector 1 is detachably secured to the shoe that the base 3 secures the shoelace protector 1 in a position to provide protection of the shoelace 10 from damage at or near the eyelet 8.

Although the invention has been described with reference to a specific embodiment, many variations or modifications would be apparent from the above description that do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.