Title:
Inflatable novelty
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inflatable novelty includes an inflatable structure defining an elongated chamber and a banner attached along an edge of the inflatable structure. The banner is supported by the inflatable structure permitting use of the inflatable novelty at sporting events and similar venues. A valve may be positioned at one end of the inflatable structure in communication with the elongated chamber to permit inflation of the elongated chamber.



Inventors:
Porto, James (Lake Villa, IL, US)
Laske, Les A. (Grayslake, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/369804
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOGE, GARY CHAPMAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pauley Petersen & Erickson (Hoffman Estates, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An inflatable novelty comprising: an inflatable structure defining an elongated chamber; a valve positioned at one end of the inflatable structure in communication with the elongated chamber, the valve permitting inflation of the elongated chamber and preventing deflation of the elongated chamber when the inflatable structure is in a static state; and a banner attached along an edge of the inflatable structure, the banner supported by the inflatable structure.

2. The inflatable novelty of claim 1 wherein the valve is integrated with the inflatable structure and is self-sealing.

3. The inflatable novelty of claim 1 wherein the banner comprises at least one of a flag and a pennant.

4. The inflatable novelty of claim 1 further comprising: a line of weakness formed between the banner and the inflatable structure, the line of weakness severable to permit removal of the banner.

5. The inflatable novelty of claim 1 further comprising: a plurality of banners connected to the edge of the inflatable structure.

6. The inflatable novelty of claim 1 further comprising: a first sheet; a second sheet connected to the first sheet to form the elongated chamber and the banner.

7. The inflatable novelty of claim 6 wherein the banner comprises a double thickness of material.

8. The inflatable novelty of claim 6 wherein a perimeter of the banner comprises an inflatable chamber.

9. An inflatable novelty comprising: a first sheet; a second sheet; a heat seal connecting the first sheet to the second sheet to form an elongated chamber; a banner connected along an edge of at least one of the first sheet and the second sheet; a valve positioned in communication with the elongated chamber and integrated with the first sheet and the second sheet, the valve permitting inflation of the elongated chamber and preventing deflation of the elongated chamber when in a static state and further so that the banner is supported by the elongated chamber when inflated.

10. The inflatable novelty of claim 9 wherein the valve is self-sealing.

11. The inflatable novelty of claim 9 wherein the banner comprises at least one of a flag and a pennant.

12. The inflatable novelty of claim 9 further comprising: a plurality of banners connected to at least one of the first sheet and the second sheet.

13. The inflatable novelty of claim 9 further comprising: a line of weakness formed between the banner and the inflatable structure, the banner detachable along the line of weakness.

14. The inflatable novelty of claim 9 further comprising: an inflatable chamber positioned around a perimeter of the banner.

15. A method of manufacturing an inflatable novelty comprising: providing a first sheet of material and a second sheet of material to a heat sealer; and heat sealing the first sheet of material to the second sheet of material to form an inflatable elongated chamber and a banner extending from the inflatable elongated chamber.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising the steps of: inflating the elongated chamber; and detaching the banner from the inflatable structure along a line of weakness.

17. The method of claim 15 further comprising the steps of: heat sealing around a perimeter of the banner.

18. The method of claim 15 further comprising: providing a valve in communication with the elongated chamber, the valve permitting inflation of the elongated chamber while preventing air from escaping the elongated chamber.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to an inflatable novelty, such as a balloon, that includes a chamber formed between two outer sheets defining an inflatable structure and a material piece, such as a banner, pennant or flag, extending outwardly from an edge portion of the inflatable structure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An inflatable novelty according to a preferred embodiment of this invention preferably includes an inflatable structure and a banner depending therefrom. The banner may be waved or raised through a generally rigid inflatable structure thereby permitting a user to display information printed on the banner, such as sports teams, national flags, political candidates and/or similar information appropriate for rallies, sporting events, parades and the like.

Objects and advantages of this invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the appended claims and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings show different features of an inflatable novelty, according to preferred embodiments of this invention, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front view of an inflatable novelty in an inflated condition, according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of an inflatable novelty, according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 3 is a front view of an inflatable novelty, according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of an inflatable novelty in an unassembled condition, according to one preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 5 shows a plurality of inflatable novelties aligned on a material sheet in an uncut, unassembled condition according to one preferred embodiment of this invention; and

FIG. 6 shows a plurality of inflatable novelties aligned on a material sheet in an uncut, unassembled condition according to one preferred embodiment of this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-3 show a front view of an inflatable novelty 20. FIGS. 1 and 2 show an inflatable novelty 20 in an uninflated condition and FIG. 3 shows inflatable novelty 20 in an inflated condition, according to preferred embodiments of this invention. As shown in FIGS. 1-3, inflatable novelty 20 preferably includes inflatable structure 40 and banner 30 depending therefrom. As such, banner 30 may be waved or raised through a generally rigid inflatable structure 40 thereby permitting a user to display information printed on banner 30, such as sports teams, national flags, political candidates and/or similar information appropriate for rallies, sporting events, parades and the like.

According to one preferred embodiment of this invention, inflatable structure comprises a first sheet 22 and an opposing second sheet 24, preferably the same or similar in shape and/or dimensions as first sheet 22. First sheet 22 and second sheet 24 can have any suitable or desired length, width and/or shape. Preferably, first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 together form inflatable structure 40 that defines elongated chamber 70. Inflatable structure 40 may comprise any number of shapes such as a flag pole, a tube, a squiggle shape, a lantern, a claw, a hook or any other suitable shape known to those having ordinary skill in the art.

Preferably, in an unassembled condition, first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 are formed of one sheet and are connected or attached to each other with a heat seal or similar manner of connection that results in an airtight contact between first sheet 22 and second sheet 24. According to one preferred embodiment, such as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 may share a common fold line 25, thereby forming a double layer of material. As such fold line 25 may form one edge of inflatable structure 40. Alternatively, first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 can be formed independently and connected or attached to each other using a heat seal, for example, such as shown in FIG. 6.

First sheet 22 and second sheet 24 are preferably made of a suitable plastic material, such as a nylon, polyester, mylar or polyethylene material, that can be easily heat sealed to form inflatable structure 40. Other suitable materials known to those skilled in the art may be used to make first sheet 22 and/or second sheet 24. Such suitable materials are preferably generally impermeable, non-porous and flexible materials that may be formed in sheets, cut and/or sealed.

According to one preferred embodiment of this invention, valve 50 is positioned at one end of inflatable structure 40 and in communication with elongated chamber 70. Valve 50 is preferably integrated with inflatable structure 40 to form a unitary device that does not require any additional cap, lid, seal, instrument or device to inflate, deflate and/or operate. Valve 50 permits inflation of elongated chamber 70 and prevents deflation of elongated chamber 70 when inflatable structure 40 is in a static state, that is, when inflatable structure 40 is not being inflated. In this manner, inflatable structure 40 and/or valve 50 is preferably self-sealing.

Alternatively, heat seal 28 or similar permanent closure may be extended along a periphery of inflatable structure 20 after inflation of inflatable structure 40 to permanently seal the air within elongated chamber 30.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, banner 30 is attached along an edge of inflatable structure 40 and/or integrated with inflatable structure 40. Banner 30 is preferably supported by inflatable structure 40. Specifically, banner 30 may comprise a flag, a pennant or other similar object suitable for waving and/or displaying. According to one preferred embodiment of this invention, a plurality of banners 30 may be connected to an edge of inflatable structure 40.

In one preferred embodiment of this invention, banner 30 includes a generally triangular pennant shape, such as shown in FIG. 1; a generally rectangular flag shape, such as shown in FIG. 2; or a generally rectangular shape with a serrated edge, as shown in FIG. 3. Banner 30 can have any suitable shape, such as a triangular or square shape. Banner 30 can include any suitable graphic, slogan and/or signage on a surface of banner 30, such as a team logo, a sponsorship logo or trademark and/or advertisement, for example. Similarly, first sheet 22 and/or second sheet 24 may include similar or different graphics, slogans and/or signage. In addition, banner 30 may be fixed relative to inflatable structure 40 or removeable via a perforation or similar line of weakness. The resulting removed banner 30 may include a coupon or similar promotional material or may include two sided tape or similar affixation means for displaying the removed banner 30.

At least one material piece or section, such as banner 30, including a pennant, flag or similar section, extends outwardly from a periphery of inflatable structure 40, as shown in FIGS. 1-3. Banner 30 can have any suitable or desired dimensions, color and/or shape. Banner 30 may comprise a single continuous geometry or may comprise a plurality of smaller flags or may comprise discrete strips of material sufficient to form one or more “pom-poms.” As such, pom-poms may be waved using inflatable structure 20. Additionally, each edge portion of banner 30 can have any suitable or desired peripheral shape or boundary. Inflatable novelty 20 can include at least one banner 30 attached to or formed with first sheet 22 and/or at least one banner 30 attached to or formed with second sheet 24.

Banner 30 can be positioned at any desired location along the periphery of first sheet 22 or second sheet 24. For example, a plurality of banners 30, each having any desired dimensions and/or shape, can be positioned in series along a length of inflatable structure 40. Preferably, banner 30 is integrated with first sheet 22 or second sheet 24. Alternatively, banner 30 can be an independent material piece or sheet that can be attached to first sheet 22 or second sheet 24 using a heat seal, thermal bonds and/or an adhesive bond, for example. Banner 30 can be inflatable or non-inflatable. Preferably, but not necessarily, banner 30 is made of the same material as first sheet 22 and second sheet 24. In addition, banner 30 may comprise a double layer of first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 either disassociated from each other or connected via a heat seal or similar means of attachment.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, a generally continuous heat seal 28 attaches or seals first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 with respect to each other at corresponding edge portions to form inflatable structure 40 having an internal chamber 30 therebetween. In the inflated condition, elongated chamber 30 defined by heat seal 28 contains air or a suitable gas to form inflatable structure 40. Heat seal 28 can be a peripheral heat seal formed at a distance inward from an edge 29 of inflatable structure 40. Other suitable attachment or fastening means, such as an adhesive, can be used to seal first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 with respect to each other.

FIG. 5 shows a plurality of preassembled inflatable novelties 20 aligned on a material sheet 50 in an uncut, unassembled condition. As shown in FIG. 5, during the manufacturing process, a plurality of inflatable novelties 20 are preferably aligned or configured on material sheet 50 to minimize the amount of material needed to manufacture inflatable novelties 20 and material sheet waste or scrap. FIG. 6 shows an alternative embodiment whereby a plurality of preassembled inflatable novelties 20 are aligned in an uncut, unassembled condition so that first sheet 22 is positioned relative to second sheet 24 in a mirror-image. This arrangement permits heat seal 28 to be applied around a perimeter of inflatable structure 40 and/or banner 30 to form inflatable novelty 20.

According to another preferred embodiment of this invention, a series of banners 30 may be positioned on an elongated inflatable structure 20 so as to create a string of banners 30, such as flags or pennants. Alternatively, banners 30 may be inflatable and positioned in series on a string or tube, inflatable or non-inflatable. Alternatively, or in addition, a perimeter of banner 30 may comprise an inflatable chamber thereby permitting inflation of edges of banner 30 to maintain an upstanding banner 30 relative to inflatable structure 40.

According to a preferred embodiment of this invention, a method of manufacturing inflatable novelty 20 includes providing first sheet 22 and second sheet 24 to a heat sealer and heat sealing first sheet 22 to second sheet 24 to form an inflatable elongated chamber 70 and banner 30 extending therefrom. In this manner, banner 30 may be formed of a double layer of material from material sheet 60. Banner 30 may include first sheet 22 sealed to second sheet 24 or first sheet 22 independently formed from second sheet 24 thereby permitting removal of one or both of first sheet 22 and/or second sheet 24 from inflatable structure 40. In practice, a portion of banner 30 formed by first sheet 22 may comprise a flag or pennant and a portion of banner 30 formed by second sheet 24 may form a coupon or otherwise detachable portion as described above.

According to one preferred embodiment of this invention, banner 30 may include an arrangement of heat seals 28 around a perimeter that permits a perimeter of banner 30 to be inflated as like inflatable structure 40. Such an arrangement permits banner 30 to fully extend from inflatable structure 40 without waving or other outside stimulus.

While in the foregoing specification this invention has been described in relation to certain preferred embodiments thereof, and many details have been set forth for purpose of illustration, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that inflatable structures 20 and the related method of manufacture are susceptible to additional embodiments and that certain of the details described herein can be varied considerably without departing from the basic principles of the invention.