Title:
Artificial fingernail appliance and method for its use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is generally comprised of an appliance that may be of assistance in the coloration of an artificial fingernail. In some embodiments, the appliance is generally comprised of a trimming portion having a trimming edge that is used to form an interior edge of a hard exterior layer (such as acrylic) disposed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail and a support portion that may be used to manipulate the trimming portion during operation of the appliance. In other embodiments, the appliance is generally comprised of a nail coating trimmer, a handle, and handle attachment means to removably or permanently attach the nail trimmer to the handle. In these embodiments, the nail coating trimmer also has a trimming edge that is used to form an interior edge of a hard exterior layer disposed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail. The present invention also includes a method of using the appliance to assist in the coloration of an artificial fingernail.



Inventors:
Suppipat, Tammie Renee (Escondido, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/167403
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/27/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D29/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
DOAN, ROBYN KIEU
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MS. TAMMIE RENEE' SUPPIPAT (BSCONDIDO, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An appliance for use in coloration of an artificial fingernail, the appliance comprising a trimming portion and a support portion, wherein: (a) an exterior coating material is disposed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail approximately adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail and the exterior coating material dries to form a hard exterior layer; (b) the trimming portion is further comprised of a trimming edge that is impressed into the exterior coating material before it dries, such impression resulting in an interior edge of the hard exterior layer that is opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail; (c) the trimming edge is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge; and (d) the support portion is adjacent to the trimming portion and may be used to manipulate the trimming portion during the process of forming the interior edge.

2. The appliance of claim 1, wherein the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to attach the appliance to a handle.

3. The appliance of claim 2, wherein the support portion is approximately rectangular or square in shape.

4. The appliance of claim 3, wherein the support portion has a length in the range from ¼ inches to 1 inch and a width in the range from ⅛ inches to ½ inches.

5. The appliance of claim 1, wherein the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape and the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion.

6. The appliance of claim 5, wherein the support portion is disposed at the end of the trimming portion approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge.

7. The appliance of claim 5, wherein the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches.

8. The appliance of claim 7, wherein the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is approximately 3/16 inches.

9. The appliance of claim 1, wherein the trimming edge is arcuate in shape.

10. The appliance of claim 9, wherein the arcuate shape of the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches.

11. The appliance of claim 1, wherein the thickness of the trimming portion adjacent to the perimeter of the trimming edge is approximately 1/64 inches.

12. The appliance of claim 1, wherein the appliance is comprised of stainless steel.

13. The appliance of claim 1, wherein: (a) the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape, wherein the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion, and the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches; (b) the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches; and (c) the support portion is disposed at the end of the trimming portion approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge.

14. An appliance for use in coloration of an artificial fingernail, the appliance comprising: (a) a nail coating trimmer, wherein: (i) an exterior coating material is disposed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail approximately adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail and the exterior coating material dries to form a hard exterior layer; (ii) the nail coating trimmer is further comprised of a trimming edge that is impressed into the exterior coating material before it dries, such impression resulting in an interior edge of the hard exterior layer that is opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail; and (iii) the trimming edge is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge; (b) a handle; and (c) handle attachment means to operably attach the handle to the nail coating trimmer.

15. The appliance of claim 14, wherein: (a) the nail coating trimmer is further comprised of a trimming portion and a support portion; (b) the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape, and the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion; (c) the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to be removably attached to the handle; and (d) the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is removably attached to the handle by the handle attachment means.

16. The appliance of claim 15, wherein the handle attachment means is comprised of: (a) a cylindrical portion disposed on the end of the handle adjacent to the nail coating trimmer, wherein the cylindrical portion has threads on a portion of the exterior surface thereof and a longitudinal channel therein of a size and shape adapted to receive the distal end of the support portion, and the longitudinal channel extends from the distal end of the cylindrical portion; and (b) a collar portion having a generally cylindrical shape with an internal taper along its longitudinal axis and threads on its interior surface that operably correspond to the threads on the exterior surface of the cylindrical portion; (c) wherein the width of the longitudinal channel is reduced when the collar portion is screwed down against the cylindrical portion, so that the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is removably held in place in the longitudinal channel by friction.

17. The appliance of claim 15, wherein the support portion is disposed at the end of the trimming portion approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge.

18. The appliance of claim 15, wherein: (a) the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches; and (b) the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 17/16 inches.

19. The appliance of claim 18, wherein the thickness of the trimming portion adjacent to the perimeter of the trimming edge is approximately 1/64 inches.

20. The appliance of claim 15, wherein the handle is approximately cylindrical in shape.

21. The appliance of claim 20, wherein the handle is further comprised of a grip portion disposed approximately adjacent to the nail coating trimmer, wherein the grip portion assists the user of the appliance in holding the handle securely during use of the appliance.

22. The appliance of claim 14, wherein: (a) the nail coating trimmer is further comprised of a trimming portion and a support portion; (b) the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape, and the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion; (c) the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to be permanently attached to the handle; and (d) the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is permanently attached to the handle by the handle attachment means.

23. The appliance of claim 22, wherein: (a) the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches; and (b) the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches.

24. The appliance of claim 22, wherein the handle is approximately cylindrical in shape.

25. A method of coloring an artificial fingernail, wherein the method comprises the following steps: (a) placing an exterior coating material of a predetermined color on the top surface of the artificial fingernail on a portion of the artificial fingernail adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail, wherein the coating material dries to form a hard exterior layer having approximately the same color as the exterior coating material; (b) providing an appliance for forming an interior edge of the hard exterior layer opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail, wherein the appliance is comprised of: (i) a nail coating trimmer having a trimming edge that is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge; (ii) a handle; and (iii) handle attachment means to operably attach the handle to the nail coating trimmer; (c) before the exterior coating material dries, positioning the trimming edge of the appliance on the surface of the exterior coating material disposed on the fingernail at the location at which the interior edge of the hard exterior surface of the fingernail is to be positioned; (d) before the exterior coating material dries, exerting pressure on the appliance against the exterior coating material and the artificial fingernail until the trimming edge of the appliance is in contact with the artificial fingernail along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge; (e) before the exterior coating material dries and with the trimming edge of the appliance in contact with the artificial fingernail along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge, moving the appliance laterally along the top surface of the artificial fingernail in the direction away from the free edge of the artificial fingernail so that the interior edge is formed; and (f) removing the appliance from the fingernail in a manner so that a portion of the exterior coating material is removed from the artificial fingernail, wherein the interior edge of the hard exterior layer is formed as a result of removal of a portion of the exterior coating material from the artificial fingernail by the appliance.

26. The method of claim 25, wherein: (a) the nail coating trimmer is further comprised of a trimming portion and a support portion; (b) the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape, and the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion; (c) the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to be operably attached to the handle; and (d) the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is operably attached to the handle by the handle attachment means.

27. The method of claim 26, wherein: (a) the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical portion is in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches; and (b) the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein the thickness of the trimming portion adjacent to the perimeter of the trimming edge is approximately 1/64 inches.

29. The method of claim 25, wherein the handle is approximately cylindrical in shape.

30. The method of claim 25, further comprising the step of placing an interior coating material of a predetermined color on the top surface of the portion of the artificial fingernail that is not covered by the hard exterior layer, wherein the interior coating material dries to form a hard interior layer having approximately the same color as the interior coating material.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention generally relates to an appliance that may be of assistance in the application of artificial fingernails and a method for using the appliance. More specifically, the present invention generally relates to an appliance that may assist in the coloration of artificial fingernails and a method for using the appliance.

The application of artificial fingernails, such as acrylic and gel fingernails, plays a substantial role in the beauty industry. In applying artificial fingernails, a nail technician may first file the natural fingernails until their surfaces are smooth and then attach new artificial fingernails over the natural fingernails. The nail technician may also trim the artificial fingernails by cutting them so that they have the desired length. The nail technician then typically applies an exterior coating material (which is usually white in color) on the top surface of the artificial fingernail that is adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail. This exterior coating, which may be comprised of a white acrylic or other suitable material, is typically in a liquid form and dries to form a hard exterior layer that is raised slightly above the top surface of the artificial nail. Before the exterior coating material dries, however, the edge (the “interior edge”) of the exterior coating material that is opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail is trimmed in a manner so that it has a predetermined shape. This shape is typically approximately circular or elliptical in nature, and is sometimes referred to as a “smile” or “half moon” shape in the beauty industry. Thus, the hard exterior layer of the artificial nail is usually white and is intended to mimic the white portion of a natural fingernail that is adjacent to the free edge of the fingernail. After the hard exterior layer is prepared, the nail technician typically applies an interior coating material (which is usually pink) to the top surface of the artificial fingernail that is not covered by the hard exterior layer. This interior coating, which may be comprised of a pink acrylic or other suitable material, is typically in a liquid form and dries to a form a hard interior layer that is also raised slightly above the top surface of the artificial nail. Thus, the hard interior layer is usually pink and is intended to mimic the pink portion of a natural fingernail. The hard exterior (usually white) layer and the hard interior (usually pink) layer are of the same approximate thickness, at least in the area where they meet, resulting in a finished artificial fingernail that has the same approximate appearance as a natural fingernail.

The trimming of the exterior coating material to form the typically smile-shaped interior edge of the hard exterior layer, as it currently exists in the relevant art, is often accomplished by the nail technician shaping a piece of metal having relatively sharp edges (such as may be obtained by cutting the side of an aluminum beverage can) into an arcuate shape approximating the desired smile shape, impressing the piece of metal into the exterior coating material at the desired location of the interior edge, and then using the piece of metal to scrape away the excess exterior coating material in the direction opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail so that a smile-shaped interior edge remains for the hard exterior layer. In other cases, the nail technician may use the edge of another artificial fingernail in a similar manner to scrape away the excess portion of the exterior coating material so that only a smile-shaped interior edge remains. Both approaches, as well as other similar approaches, have a number of drawbacks. For example, a piece of metal used in the above described manner usually has multiple sharp edges that may cause injury to the technician or his or her client, or both. It is also time consuming to form and shape the piece of metal. In addition, and in order to avoid injury, it is often difficult to exert smooth and continuous pressure on the surface of the artificial fingernail using the piece of metal. This may cause the resulting shape of the interior edge to be a shape other than that desired. Use of another artificial fingernail to shape the interior edge typically renders the other artificial fingernail unusable, which results in unnecessary expense. It is also difficult in some cases to exert smooth and continuous pressure on the surface of the artificial fingernail using the other fingernail. This may also cause the resulting shape of the interior edge to be a shape other than that desired. In both cases, the piece of metal or other artificial fingernail are not specifically designed for this purpose, so that their use may also result in an interior edge that is not shaped exactly as desired.

Therefore, there is a need for an appliance that may be used to safely and accurately trim the coating material that is applied to artificial fingernails. For example, only a limited portion of the appliance should have a relatively sharp edge to avoid possible injury to the nail technician and the client. In addition, there is a need for the appliance to be easy to hold and simple to operate, so that smooth and continuous pressure may be exerted on the appliance while it is trimming the exterior coating material on the artificial fingernail. This will assist in the shape of the interior surface of the hard exterior coating of the artificial fingernail being as desired. Further, there is a need for an appliance that may be used to trim the exterior coating material on artificial fingernails, wherein the device has a trimming surface that is approximately the same as the desired final shape of the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of the artificial fingernails. This will reduce the work of the nail technician because he or she will need to spend less time trimming, and possibly re-trimming, the exterior coating material on the artificial fingernail to the desired shape of the interior edge. In addition, there is a need for the appliance to be lightweight, so that it is simple to use. Finally, there is a need for the appliance to be relatively inexpensive to produce and maintain.

SUMMARY

The present invention is directed to an appliance, as well as a method for using the appliance, that may assist in the coloration of an artificial fingernail in a manner that meets the needs discussed above in the Background section. As described in greater detail below, the present invention, when used for its intended purposes, has many advantages over other devices known in the art, as well as novel features that result in a new artificial fingernail coloration appliance and methods for its use that are not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any prior art means, devices or methods, either alone or in any combination thereof.

In the application of artificial fingernails, an exterior coating material (which is typically white) is disposed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail. The exterior coating material dries to form a hard exterior layer on the artificial fingernail. The interior edge of the hard exterior layer, which is the edge opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail, usually has a predetermined shape. This shape is typically arcuate, but other shapes may be used as well, as described in more detail below. A first version of the present invention generally discloses an appliance for use in the coloration of artificial fingernails, and more particularly, in the formation of the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of such fingernails. In this first version, the appliance is generally comprised of a trimming portion and a support portion. The trimming portion is further comprised of a trimming edge that is impressed into the exterior coating material before it dries, so that the impression results in the interior edge of the hard exterior layer. The trimming edge is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge. The support portion may be used to manipulate the trimming portion during the process of forming the interior edge. In some embodiments of this first version of the present invention, the support portion may be of a size and shape adapted to attach the appliance to a handle. In other embodiments, the support portion may be approximately rectangular or square in shape. In some of these embodiments, the support portion may have a length in the range from ¼ inches to 1 inch and a width in the range from ⅛ inches to ½ inches. In yet other embodiments, the trimming portion has an approximately partially cylindrical shape, and the trimming edge is disposed at one end of the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion. The support portion may be disposed at the end of the trimming portion approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge. Preferably, the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, and the width of the trimming portion, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches. More preferably, the radius of curvature of the concave surface defined by the approximately partially cylindrical trimming portion is approximately 3/16 inches. In addition, the trimming edge is preferably arcuate in shape. More preferably, the arcuate shape of the trimming edge is approximately partially semicircular and has a radius of curvature in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches, and the thickness of the trimming portion adjacent to the perimeter of the trimming edge is approximately 1/64 inches. Further, the appliance is preferably comprised of stainless steel.

A second version of the present invention also generally discloses an appliance for use in the coloration of an artificial fingernail, and more particularly, in the formation of an interior edge of a hard exterior layer on the top surface of such fingernails in a manner similar to that described herein with respect to the first version of the present invention. In the second version, the appliance is generally comprised of a nail coating trimmer, a handle, and handle attachment means, which are described in more detail below, to operably attach the handle to the nail coating trimmer. The nail coating trimmer has a trimming edge that is impressed into the exterior coating material before it dries, so that the impression results in the interior edge of the hard exterior layer. The trimming edge is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge. In some embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the nail coating trimmer may have substantially the same structure, features, characteristics, and operation as any embodiments of the appliance of the first version of the present invention, as described in more detail herein. In these embodiments, the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to be attached to the handle, and the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is attached to the handle by the handle attachment means. In some of these embodiments, the support portion is of a size and shape adapted to be removably attached to the handle, and the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is removably attached to the handle by the handle attachment means. In some embodiments involving removable attachment of the nail coating trimmer to the handle, the handle attachment means may be comprised of a cylindrical portion and a collar portion. The cylindrical portion is disposed on the end of the handle adjacent to the nail coating trimmer. The cylindrical portion also has threads on a portion of the exterior surface thereof and a longitudinal channel therein of a size and shape adapted to receive the distal end of the support portion. The longitudinal channel extends from the distal end of the cylindrical portion. The collar portion has a generally cylindrical shape with a slight taper along its longitudinal axis and threads on its interior surface that operably correspond to the threads on the exterior surface of the cylindrical portion. The width of the longitudinal channel is reduced when the collar portion is screwed down against the cylindrical portion, so that the support portion of the nail coating trimmer is removably held in place in the channel (and the handle) by friction. In other embodiments, the removable handle attachment means is comprised of other means, which are described in more detail below. In some embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the support portion may be disposed at the end of the trimming portion approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge. In other embodiments, the handle is approximately cylindrical in shape. In some of these embodiments, the handle may be further comprised of a grip portion disposed approximately adjacent to the nail coating trimmer, wherein the grip portion assists the user of the appliance in holding the handle securely during use of the appliance. In other embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the handle may be permanently attached to the nail coating trimmer by the handle attachment means, which are described in more detail below.

A third version of the present invention generally discloses a method of coloring an artificial fingernail. The method generally comprises the following steps. First, an exterior coating material of a predetermined color is placed on the top surface of the artificial fingernail on a portion of the artificial fingernail adjacent to the free edge of the artificial fingernail. The coating material dries to form a hard exterior layer having approximately the same color as the exterior coating material. Second, an appliance is provided for forming an interior edge of the hard exterior layer, wherein the interior edge is opposite the free edge of the artificial fingernail. The appliance may have substantially the same structure, features, characteristics, and operation as any of the embodiments of the second version of the present invention, as described in more detail herein. Third, before the exterior coating material dries, the trimming edge of the appliance is positioned on the surface of the exterior coating material disposed on the fingernail at the location at which the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of the fingernail is to be positioned. Fourth, and also before the exterior coating material dries, pressure is exerted on the appliance against the exterior coating material and the artificial fingernail until the trimming edge of the appliance is in contact with the artificial fingernail along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge. Fifth, before the exterior coating material dries and with the trimming edge of the appliance in contact with the artificial fingernail along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge, the appliance is moved laterally along the top surface of the artificial fingernail in the direction away from the free edge of the artificial fingernail so that the interior edge is formed. Sixth, the appliance is removed from the artificial fingernail in a manner so that a portion of the exterior coating material is removed from the artificial fingernail and the interior edge of the hard exterior layer is formed as a result of such removal of a portion of the exterior coating material from the artificial fingernail by the appliance.

Thus, the present invention meets the needs described above in the Background section. For example, the appliance of the present invention may be used to safely assist in the coloration of artificial fingernails. In its various embodiments, the appliance comprises only a limited portion having a sharp edge, which is generally limited to the portion in close proximity to the artificial fingernail. This should help to avoid possible injury to the nail technician and the client while the appliance is being used. In addition, in various embodiments, the appliance has a handle that is easy to hold. This makes the appliance simple to operate, so that smooth and continuous pressure may be exerted on the appliance while it is forming the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of the artificial fingernail. This will assist in the shape of the interior edge being as desired. Further, the trimming edge of the appliance is adapted to have the same general shape as the desired final shape of the interior edge. This will reduce the work of the nail technician because he or she will need to spend less time re-shaping the interior edge of the hard exterior layer to the desired shape. In addition, the appliance is lightweight, making it simple to use. Further, the nail technician is not required to spend time creating a crude tool to form the interior edge, and there are no longer wasted artificial fingernails used as such crude tools. Finally, the appliance should be relatively inexpensive to produce and maintain.

There has thus also been outlined, rather broadly, the more primary features of the present invention. There are additional features that are also included in the various embodiments of the invention that are described hereinafter and that form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto. In this respect, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the accompanying drawings. This invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, but the drawings are illustrative only and changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated and described within the scope of the appended claims. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of an embodiment of an appliance of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the embodiment of the appliance illustrated in FIG. 1, as taken along the lines 2-2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an end elevation view of the embodiment of the appliance illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, as taken along the lines 3-3 in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of an appliance of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is an elevation view of the embodiment of the appliance illustrated in FIG. 4, as viewed from the side of the appliance as it would typically be positioned for purposes of forming the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of an artificial fingernail.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the top surface of an artificial fingernail, wherein a hard exterior layer having an arcuate interior edge has been formed by use of the appliance illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. While the invention will be described in conjunction with the preferred embodiments, it is to be noted that the embodiments are not intended to limit the invention to those embodiments. On the contrary, the invention is intended to cover alternatives, modifications and equivalents, which may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

One embodiment of a first version of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the present invention discloses an appliance 10 for assisting in the coloration of artificial fingernails, which are not illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, and are not a part of the present invention. One surface of the appliance 10 is illustrated in plan view in FIG. 1, which for purposes of the description herein is referred to as the “top” surface (and the “top” view) of the appliance 10. A “side” view (side elevation view) of the appliance 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2, and an “end” view (end elevation view) of the appliance 10 is illustrated in FIG. 3. The appliance 10 is generally comprised of a trimming portion 20 and a support portion 30. The trimming portion 20 has a trimming edge 21 that is in momentary contact with an artificial fingernail (not shown) in order to form an interior edge of a hard exterior layer that is disposed on the top surface of the artificial nail. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, an exterior coating material 116, which is usually comprised of an acrylic material that is white in color, is placed on a portion of the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 that is adjacent to the free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115. The top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 is the surface opposite the surface that is attached to the natural fingernail (not shown). The free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115 is the distal end of the artificial fingernail 115, as it is attached to the natural fingernail. The exterior coating material 116 dries to form a hard exterior layer 116 on the artificial fingernail 115. The interior edge 119 of the hard exterior layer 116, which is the edge opposite the free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115, usually has a predetermined shape. This shape is typically arcuate, and more typically is approximately circular or elliptical in shape. The latter shapes are sometimes referred to as “smile” or “half moon” shapes in the beauty industry. It some cases, however, other shapes may also be used. The trimming edge 121 of the appliance 100 is positioned at the location on the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 at which the interior edge 119 of the hard exterior coating 116 of the artificial fingernail 115 is to be located. The user of the appliance 100 may then exert pressure on the appliance 100 against the artificial fingernail 115 until the trimming edge 121 is in contact with the fingernail 115 across approximately the entire width of the trimming edge 121. The user of the appliance 100 may then move the appliance 100 laterally along the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115. When the appliance 100 is moved in this manner, a portion of the exterior coating material 116 is removed by the scraping-type action, so that the interior edge 119 is formed, which will have the same approximate shape as the shape of the trimming edge 121. As a result, the trimming edge 21, 121 is of a size and shape adapted to produce the desired shape of the interior edge 119 of the hard exterior layer 116 of the artificial fingernail 115. Referring again to FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, the support portion 30 may be used to manipulate the trimming portion 20 during the process of forming the interior edge. For example, and although it is not the preferred method of using the appliance 10, the user of the appliance 10 may hold onto the support portion 30 while using the appliance 10 to form the interior edge. In some embodiments, the support portion 30 of the appliance 10 is of a size and shape adapted to attach the appliance 10 to a handle (not shown), as described in more detail below.

In the embodiment of this first version of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, the support portion 30 is approximately rectangular in shape. It is to be noted, however, that in other embodiments of the present invention the support portion 30 may have a different shape, as long as the support portion 30 does not unreasonably interfere with the operation of the appliance 10 (e.g., does not interfere with the trimming edge 21 and its formation of the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of the artificial fingernail). For example, the support portion 30 may be generally square, circular, elliptical, cylindrical, conical, triangular, trapezoidal, or polygonal in shape or have any combination of such shapes, or almost any other shape, when viewed from above the top surface of the appliance 10. In addition, although the support portion 30 is approximately flat and relatively thin in the illustrated embodiment when viewed from the side of the appliance 10, the support portion 30 may have different “side” shapes in other embodiments of the present invention. For example, the support portion 30 may be generally square, circular, elliptical, cylindrical, conical, triangular, trapezoidal, or polygonal in shape or have any combination of such shapes, or almost any other shape, when viewed from the side of the appliance 10. Further, the support portion 30 may have different orientations relative to the trimming portion 20 in other embodiments of the present invention. For example, the support portion 30 may be rotated approximately 90 degrees from the position relative to the trimming portion 20 illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, so that rather than observing the relatively thin cross-section of the support portion 30, the flat face portion 31 of the support portion 30 is observed when the support portion 30 is viewed from the side of the appliance 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the support portion 30 extends approximately along, and is approximately centered about, the longitudinal axis (the axis along the partially cylindrically shape) of the trimming portion 20. In other embodiments of the present invention, the support portion 30 may extend from the trimming portion 20 in almost any direction, as long as the support portion 30 does not unreasonably interfere with the operation of the appliance 10. For example, in some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 2, the support portion 30′ may extend in an upward or downward direction from the trimming portion 20. As another example, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the support portion 30′ may extend in a direction to one side of the longitudinal axis of the trimming portion 20. In yet other embodiments, the support portion 30, 30′ may extend in any combination of such directions (e.g., upward and to one side). In the illustrated embodiment, the support portion 30 is disposed at the end of the trimming portion 20 opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge 21. This is the preferred orientation of the support portion 30. In other embodiments, however, the support portion 30 may generally extend from any part of the trimming portion 20, except the trimming edge 21, as long as the support portion 30 does not unreasonably interfere with the operation of the appliance 10. It is also to be noted that in other embodiments of the present invention the support portion 30 may be of almost any size relative to the trimming portion 30, as long as the support portion 30 is not of a size that unreasonably interferes with the operation of the appliance 10. For example, in some embodiments, the support portion 30 may be larger than the trimming portion 20, rather than smaller than the trimming portion 20. Further, it is to be noted that in some embodiments the support portion 30 may have a hole, aperture, port or other opening therein to assist in attaching the appliance 10 to a handle, as described in more detail below.

In the embodiment of the first version of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, the trimming edge 21 is disposed at one end of the trimming portion 20 and is generally arcuate in shape. Generally, the trimming edge 21 has the approximate shape that is desired for the interior edge of the hard exterior layer disposed on the artificial fingernail, so that the interior edge takes on the approximate shape of the trimming edge 21 when the interior edge is formed by the appliance 10. In the preferred embodiments, the trimming edge 21 is approximately partially circular or elliptical in shape, as illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3. Also, as illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, the trimming portion 20 may have an approximately partial cylindrical shape. For example, when viewed from the end of the appliance 10, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the trimming portion 20 appears to be approximately partially semicircular in shape. In other embodiments of the present invention, the trimming portion 20 may have other shapes, as long as the shape does not interfere with the operation of the appliance 10 (e.g., does not change the shape of the trimming edge 21 beyond that desired for the shape of the interior edge and does not interfere with the trimming edge 21 and its formation of the interior edge of the hard exterior layer). For example, in other embodiments, the portion of the trimming portion 20 that is not adjacent to the trimming edge 21 may generally be square, rectangular, conical, circular, elliptical, cylindrical, triangular, trapezoidal, or polygonal in shape or have any combination of such shapes, or almost any other shape, when viewed from above the top surface or from the side of the appliance 10. The preferred size and shape of the trimming portion 20 and the trimming edge 21 is dependent upon the size of the artificial fingernail and the desired shape of the interior edge of the hard exterior layer of the artficial fingernail. Thus, in some of the preferred embodiments, the trimming portion 20 may have the approximately partially cylindrical shape illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, wherein the trimming edge 21 is disposed at one end of the trimming portion 20. In these embodiments, the radius of curvature A of the concave surface 22 of the trimming portion 20 is preferably in the range from 5/32 inches to 7/32 inches, the length B of the trimming portion 20 is in the range from ¼ inches to 1 inch, and the width C of the trimming portion 20, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge 21, is in the range from ⅜ inches to ½ inches. Also in these embodiments, the trimming edge 21 is approximately partially semicircular in shape and has a radius of curvature D in the range from ⅜ inches to 7/16 inches, and the thickness of the trimming portion 20 adjacent to the perimeter of the trimming edge 21 is approximately 1/64 inches for a trimming portion 20 constructed of stainless steel. More preferably, the radius of curvature A of the concave surface 22 of the trimming portion 20 is approximately 3/16 inches, the length B of the trimming portion 20 is approximately ½ inch, the width C of the trimming portion 20, as measured between the points at each end of the trimming edge 21, is approximately 7/16 inches, and the trimming edge 21 is approximately partially semi-circular in shape and has a radius of curvature D of approximately 13/32 inches. Further, in the preferred embodiments, the support portion 30 is approximately rectangular in shape and is disposed at the end of the trimming portion 20 approximately opposite the end on which is disposed the trimming edge 21, as illustrated in FIG. 1 through FIG. 3. In these preferred embodiments, the support portion 30 has a length E in the range from ¼ inches to 1 inch and a width F in the range from ⅛ inches to ½ inches. More preferably, in embodiments having a trimming portion 20 with the more preferred dimensions described above in this paragraph, the support portion 30 is rectangular and has a length E of approximately ½ inches and a width F of approximately 3/16 inches.

In the embodiments of this first version of the present invention, the appliance 10 may be comprised of any suitable rigid or semi-rigid material, as long as the portion of the trimming portion 20 that is adjacent to the trimming edge 21 is rigid enough to retain its shape during operation of the appliance 10. For example, the appliance 10 may be constructed in whole or in part of rigid or semi-rigid wood, metal, plastic (or other polymers, such as polyvinyl chloride or polycarbonate), ceramic, or combinations of such materials. Thus, in some embodiments, the trimming portion 20 may be constructed of stainless steel and the support portion 30 may be constructed of polyvinyl chloride. Preferably, the appliance 10 is constructed entirely of stainless steel, which may be fabricated as a single piece, such as by molding or machining or both.

An embodiment of a second version of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5. Generally, FIG. 4 illustrates an appliance 100 of this second version, which is also for use in coloration of an artificial fingernail (not illustrated in FIG. 4), and FIG. 5 illustrates the appliance 100 approximately in position to form the interior edge (not illustrated in FIG. 5) of the hard exterior layer 116 of an artificial fingernail 115. FIG. 6, which is a plan view of the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115, illustrates the hard exterior layer 116 and its interior edge 119 that result from use of the appliance 100 to form the interior edge 119. In this embodiment, as illustrated primarily in FIG. 4, the appliance 100 is generally comprised of a nail coating trimmer 110, a handle 140, and handle attachment means to operably attach the handle 140 to the nail coating trimmer 110. The handle attachment means are described in more detail below. In various embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the nail coating trimmer 110 may have substantially the same structure, features, characteristics and operation as any of the embodiments of the appliance 10 comprising the first version of the present invention described above and illustrated in connection with FIG. 1 through FIG. 3. In this second version of the present invention, however, the support portion 130 of the nail coating trimmer 110 is of a size and shape adapted to be operably attached to the handle 140 using the handle attachment means described in more detail below. Thus, the nail coating trimmer 110 has a trimming edge 121 that is in momentary contact with the artificial fingernail 115, and the trimming edge 121 is of a size and shape adapted to produce the desired shape of the interior edge 119 of the hard exterior layer 116 disposed on the artificial fingernail 115. The handle 140 illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 is approximately cylindrical in shape. In other embodiments of the present invention, the handle 140 may have almost any shape that is desirable to assist the user of the appliance 100 in operating the appliance 100. For example, the handle 140 may have a conical shape or may have a transverse cross-sectional shape approximating an ellipse, square, rectangle, triangle, or other polygonal or arcuate shape or any combination of such shapes. In addition, the handle 140 need not be linear along the longitudinal axis of the handle 140, but may instead have one or more arcuate or linear portions or combinations of such portions along the longitudinal axis. For example, the handle 140 may have one or more bends along its longitudinal axis or may have an ergonomic shape (e.g., a “hand grip” generally shaped as the interior of a hand in the approximately closed position). The preferred shape of the handle 140 is dependent upon the individual preference of the user of the appliance 100. More preferable, the handle 140 has the general shape illustrated in FIG. 4. In addition, the handle 140 may be constructed of almost any rigid or semi-rigid material, or combinations of such materials, as long as the handle 140 has the structural strength and rigidity necessary to support the nail coating trimmer 110 and adequately operate the appliance 100 in a manner to accomplish its intended uses. For example, the handle 140 may be constructed in whole or in part of wood, metal, plastic (or other polymers, such as polyvinyl chloride or polycarbonate), ceramic, or combinations of such materials. In addition, the handle 140 may also be partially constructed of flexible materials. For example, portions of the handle 140 may be constructed of cloth, fabric, rubber (including neoprene), or combinations of such materials. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, the handle 140 has a grip 141 comprised of a flexible material, such as rubber, covering a portion of the handle 140 approximately adjacent to the nail trimmer 110. The grip 141 assists the user of the appliance 100 in securely holding the handle 140 while operating the appliance 100. Preferably, the handle 140 is constructed of a metal, such as stainless steel, and has a grip-type member (such as the grip 141) to assist in holding the handle 140.

In some embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the handle attachment means may be used to removably attach the nail coating trimmer 110 to the handle 140. This allows the nail coating trimmer 110 to be removed from the handle 140 and replaced with a second nail coating trimmer 110 should the user of the appliance 100 desire to use a nail coating trimmer 110 of a different size or shape or should the first nail coating trimmer 110 become damaged or otherwise unusable. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, the handle attachment means 150 may be comprised of a cylindrical portion 151 at the end of the handle 140 that is attached to the nail coating trimmer 110, wherein the cylindrical portion 151 is threaded on a portion of its exterior surface and has a channel 152 disposed within the cylindrical portion 151 that is of a size and shape adapted to receive the distal end of the support portion 130. In the illustrated embodiment, the cylindrical portion 151 has a rounded end 151a. The handle 140 is also comprised of a collar portion 153 that is cylindrically shaped with a slight taper internally along its longitudinal axis. The collar portion 153 has threads on a portion of its interior surface that operably correspond to the threads on the cylindrical portion 151. As the collar portion 153 is screwed onto the cylindrical portion 151, the width of the channel 152 is reduced, thereby clamping the sides of the channel 152 against the support portion 130 so that the support portion 130 is held in place in the channel 152 (and therefore in the handle 140) by friction. As may be readily noted, there are many possible means that may be used as handle attachment means for removably attaching the nail coating trimmer 110 to the handle 140. For example, such means may be comprised of one or more pins, nuts, bolts, washers, cotter pins, clamps, screws, clasps, dowels, clips, anchors, latches, pegs, hooks, openings, slits, slots, ports, channels or combinations of any such means. In addition, examples of such means are incorporated in various handles that are as a part of the knife/blade systems sold by the Hunt Corporation under the trademark X-ACTO. In other embodiments of this second version of the present invention, the handle attachment means 150 may permanently attach the nail coating trimmer 110 to the handle 140. For example, the handle attachment means 150 may be comprised of one or more glues, adhesives, epoxies, nails, screws, stitching, rivets, welds, fusions, anchors, as well as one or more of the removable handle attachment means 150 described above, or combinations of any such means. Alternatively, all or a portion of the handle 140 and the nail coating trimmer 110 may be constructed as a single component, such as where the handle 140 and the nail coating trimmer 110 are fabricated as a single piece.

A third version of the present invention is comprised of a method of coloring a fingernail. Referring to the appliance 100 illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 (and primarily in FIG. 5), as an example, this method is comprised of the following steps. First, an exterior coating material 116 of a predetermined color is placed on the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 on a portion of the artificial fingernail 115 adjacent to the free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115. The coating material 116 dries to form a hard exterior layer 116 having approximately the same color as the exterior coating material 116. Second, an appliance 100 is provided for forming an interior edge 119 of the hard exterior layer 116, wherein the interior edge 119 is opposite the free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115. The appliance 100 may have substantially the same structure, features, characteristics, and operation as any of the embodiments of the second version of the present invention, as described in more detail above and illustrated in connection with FIG. 4 through FIG. 6. The trimming edge 121 of the nail coating trimmer 110 is of a size and shape adapted to produce a predetermined shape for the interior edge 119. In other words, the trimming edge 121 has approximately the same shape as the shape desired for the interior edge 119. Third, before the exterior coating material 116 dries, the trimming edge 121 of the appliance 100 is positioned on the surface of the exterior coating material 116 disposed on the artificial fingernail 115 at the location at which the interior edge 119 of the hard exterior surface 116 of the artificial fingernail 115 is to be positioned. Fourth, and also before the exterior coating material 116 dries, pressure is exerted on the appliance 100 against the exterior coating material 116 and the artificial fingernail 115 until the trimming edge 121 of the appliance 100 is in contact with the artificial fingernail 115 along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge 121. Fifth, before the exterior coating material 116 dries and with the trimming edge 121 of the appliance 100 in contact with the artificial fingernail 115 along approximately the entire width of the trimming edge 121, the appliance 100 is moved laterally along the top surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 in the direction away from the free edge 118 of the artificial fingernail 115 so that the interior edge 119 is formed. It is to be noted that a portion of the trimming surface 121 may not be adjacent to the surface of the artificial fingernail 115 during this movement, as long as the trimming surface 121 is close enough to the surface 117 to remove an adequate amount of the exterior coating material 116 to form the interior edge 119. Sixth, the appliance 100 is removed from the artificial fingernail 115 in a manner so that a portion of the exterior coating material 116 is removed from the artificial fingernail 115, so that the interior edge 119 of the hard exterior layer 116 is formed as a result of removal of a portion of the exterior coating material 116 from the artificial fingernail 115 by the appliance 100. In some embodiments, and referring to FIG. 6, the method may further comprise the step of placing an interior coating material 116′ of a predetermined color on the top surface 117 of the portion of the artificial fingernail 115 that is not covered by the hard exterior layer 116. The interior coating material 116′ also dries to form a hard interior layer 116′ having approximately the same color as the interior coating material 116′.

It is to be noted, however, that it may be possible to apply the interior coating material 116′ before the exterior coating material 116, and then use the appliance 100 to trim the interior coating 116′, rather than the exterior coating material 116. This would create the desired shape for an exterior surface 119′ of the hard interior surface 116′. In such cases, the exterior coating material 116 would then typically be applied to the area of the surface 117 of the artificial fingernail 115 that was not covered by the hard interior layer 116′.





 
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