Title:
CUP TETHER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The cup tether is an elastic strap having a first end and a second end and a childproof fastener at one end forming the end into a loop and an elastic loop on the other end. The tether is designed so that one end is attached to an anchor such as a frame of a toddler's seat, a car seat, a stroller, a highchair, or other somewhat stationary object, and the elastic loop end is attached to a drinking container, e.g. a child's sippy cup, and baby bottle. One end is secured around the anchor by wrapping the end portion of the strap around the anchor and securing the strap in place with a fastener, preferably a childproof buckle. The container is secured using the elastic loop and the cup is slipped in or the loop is adjusted. The buckle with the fastener and a second buckle for the elastic loop side permit the size of the loop to be adjusted. The cup tether limits the distance the drink container can be thrown and permits easy retrieval of the container.



Inventors:
Kaplan, Alvin (Armonk, NY, US)
Kaplan, Joel (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/426873
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/27/2006
Assignee:
Kaplan, Joel (New York, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
STERLING, AMY JO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DARBY & DARBY P.C. (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tether for anchoring a drinking container to an object, comprising: an elongated elastic strap having a first end and a second end; a fastener fastening the first end into a first loop adapted for anchoring the strap to the anchor, wherein the fastener has an open position and a closed position; and a distal end fastened to the second end forming a second loop adapted for securing the drinking container to the strap, wherein the second loop is only in a closed position.

2. The tether of claim 1, wherein the fastener is a mating childproof buckle having a male portion and a female socket, the male portion having a resilient catch, the female socket being a slot having a rectangular opening for releasably receiving the male portion.

3. The tether of claim 1, wherein the distal end further comprises a buckle slidable along the elongated elastic strap to alter the size of the second loop.

4. The tether of claim 1, wherein the fastener is adjustable along the length of the elastic strap.

5. The tether of claim 1, wherein the strap is between twenty inches and thirty inches long.

6. A tether for anchoring a drinking container to an object, comprising: an elongated elastic strap having a first end and a second end; a fastener fastening the first end into a first loop adapted for anchoring the strap to the anchor, wherein the fastener has an open position and a closed position; and a second fastener fastening the second end forming a second loop adapted for securing the drinking container to the strap, wherein the fastener has an open position and a closed position.

7. The tether of claim 6, wherein the second loop is only in a closed position.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119 from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/694,499, filed Jun. 27, 2005 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/699,768, filed Jul. 15, 2005. The entire disclosures of the provisional applications are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to tethers, more particularly to a tether for a drinking cup with a lid of the type commonly known as a “sippy cup” to a car seat, stroller, booster seat, so that the distance the cup can be thrown can be limited and the cup may be readily retrieved when dropped or thrown by a toddler. The cup tether may also be used with baby bottles, sports bottles, and other drink containers having a lid with a spout or nipple.

2. Description of the Related Art

Children, whether in jest or in anger, or simply to get attention, are known to throw objects, such as a drinking containers, toys, etc., especially when they reach the “terrible two's.” Throwing objects is dangerous, but the danger increases when the object is thrown in a moving motor vehicle, as the driver may be distracted. If a drinking cup is thrown or dropped, the contents may spill if the container forcefully hits the floor. Sometimes the child does not throw the object but accidentally lets the cup slip out of their hands. In either case, a child may find it hard to regain the object if they are strapped into a car seat, high chair or stroller.

A cup tether that limits the distance an object can be thrown and that can be used to retrieve the dropped or thrown object is desirable. It is further desirable that the tether be adapted for attachment to child seats, and be fastened thereto by childproof fasteners that are difficult for the child to open. It is also desirable that such a leash be stretchable, so that a parent or caregiver may pull the drink container away from the toddler for refilling the drink container without having to unfasten the tether.

A number of devices tether a parent to a child. U.S. Pat. No. 4,745,883 to Baggetta discloses a single elastic strap with the ends sown in a loop. One end fits over a parent's wrist, while the other end fits over the child's wrist. The strap is elastic to allow some freedom of movement between the parent and child. The device is long and is not designed to anchor the child to an object nor anchor one object to another.

A similar device to the '833 patent is U.S. Pat. No. 4,788,941 to Villeneuve. The '941 patent discloses a safety belt with female members of a fastening elements sown on the ends of a single strap and the corresponding male members movable along the length of the strap. The fastening elements allow the ends of the strap to be formed into loops. One loop is disposed around a parent's waist and the other around a child's waist so the parent and child are attached side-by-side. The strap can also be fit around the wrists of the users. Again, the device is long and is not designed to anchor the child to an object nor anchor one object to another.

A device to tether a cup to an object is U.S. Patent Publication Number 2005/0115996, filed Jun. 2, 2005. The device is a single elastic leash with childproof fasteners on both ends. The male members of the fasteners are slidable along the length of the leash and the female members are sewn to the ends. The fasteners, once engaged, form two loops, one to be connected to relatively stationary object and the other to be secured to the cup or drinking vessel. However, both ends use childproof buckles and pose a difficulty for the parent to disengage either the cup or the leash from the anchor.

A number of other tethering devices have been developed that allow the user to carry bottles without encumbering ones hands. U.S. Patent Publication Number 2002/0046984, published Apr. 25, 2002, describes a two-ended bottle holder. The bottle holder is bottle and a metal spring clip at the opposite end for attaching the holder to a belt loop. The holder loop is adjustable to fit the top circumference of the bottle. The band is apparently inelastic, being made from rope or nylon.

U.S. Patent Publication Number 2002/0005418, published Jan. 17, 2002, describes a bottle connector for attaching a bottle to something or someone. The bottle connector has two “O” shaped-rings that are connected to a strap or a clip by way of a linking key ring. The “O” shaped-rings are adjustable and fit under a ridge disposed at the bottle's neck. The connector is especially suited for runners who do not want to hold things in their hands as they run. The connector can be attached to the individual, their backpack or clothing.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,413,261, issued to Wu on May 9, 1995, describes a detachable carrying band for a child's water bottle. The '261 device comprises a strap that is worn around a person's neck and a ring that is secured under an annular ridge on the water bottle. The strap has pin projections that releasably attach to the ring. When extreme force is placed on the bottle the pins release from the ring loosening the bottle from the strap and thereby preventing the possibility of et al. on Sep. 21, 1999, describes a bottle holder comprising a cord and an elastic ring. The ring is secured to the underside of the annular flange of a bottle and suspends the bottle from a cord worn around a person's neck.

Numerous other bottle holders have also been developed that are worn from a user's neck and hold a drink container using an adjustable noose-like end. U.S. Pat. No. 6,036,066, issued to Giacona III on Mar. 14, 2000, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,443,338, issued to Giacona III on Sep. 3, 2002, describe a bottled drink carrier comprising a strap having an upper looped end and lower looped end. The upper end encircles a person's neck and the lower end holds the bottle. The lower end comprises an adjustable noose formed by a cable and a slide. The noose is placed over the neck of the bottle and is tightened by sliding the slide up the cable close to the bottle's neck.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,131,780, issued to Becker on Oct. 17, 2000, describes a bottle holding tote. The tote is a nylon belt having two ends. One end has an attachment means to hold onto an object and the second end is a noose that holds the bottle. The noose comprises a nylon cord and a spring-loaded clip. The noose is placed over the bottle's neck and tightened with the clip.

Some bottle holders have been designed specifically for children as part of a device or garment worn on the body. U.S. Pat. No. 4,096,977, issued to Barville et al. on Jun. 27, 1978, describes a bottle-anchoring device designed to hold a baby bottle directly on a harness worn by an infant. The anchoring end uses a number of different sized rings that can be selected to fit the circumference of a particular bottle's neck.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,564,957, issued to Scharf on Jan. 21, 1986, describes a baby bottle security garment. The '957 device comprises a vest or garment worn on the upper half of the body, a sleeve for receiving the bottle and a strap for securing the sleeve to the garment. The sleeve is strapped to the center of the chest and holds the bottle upright.

Other bottle holders have been developed to encase the entire drink container. U.S. Pat. No. 6,032,841, issued to Johnson on Mar. 7, 2000, describes an article holder that encircles the article and a carrier on which the article is being carried, such as a bike. The holder comprises a flexible, resilient sheet that is wrapped around the article and the carrier. The holder has a layer of non-skid material on it to increase friction and prevent slippage.

U.S. Patent Publication Number 2001/0032867, published Oct. 25, 2001, describes a thermally insulated beverage bottle holder made from neoprene that encases the entire bottle. A zipper disposed vertically on the outside of the holder allows a user to easily insert and take out the bottle from within the holder. The holder acts as a carrying case and has a detachable strap to hang from a person's neck or shoulder.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,147,079, issued to Heather on Sep. 15, 1992, describes a container-carrying device. The device comprises a number of longitudinal straps and a number of circumferential straps that, in combination, surround and hold the container. One pair of longitudinal straps extends up over the bottle to form a shoulder strap. A buckle disposed at the straps ends make the shoulder strap adjustable. The straps are preferably made of high-tensile strength synthetic fiber material. French Patent Number 2,615,078 published on Nov. 18, 1998 shows a sack made up of a number of straps that surround the bottle to easily carry and transport a bottle.

Still other bottle carriers hold drink containers by providing a pouch or cavity for the drink container to rest in. U.S. Pat. No. 6,401,993, issued to Andrino on Jun. 11, 2002, describes a multi-purpose bottle holder. The holder comprises an elongate cylindrical body having a closed bottom and an open top that forms a cavity to receive and hold the bottle. A strap is attached to the top end of the cylindrical cavity to secure the holder to one's shoulder or waist. An O-ring attached to the holder encircles the neck of the bottle and secures the bottle in the cavity of the holder.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,397,039, issued to Parcelles on Mar. 14, 1995, describes a baby bottle holder comprising an elongate elastic strap having a pouch at one end and a removably attachable loop at the opposite end. The pouch receives the baby bottle and retains the bottle using an elastic band found at the opening of the pouch. The removably attachable looped end connects to itself by snaps, Velcro or buckles.

Other bottle holders are described or shown in U.S. Design Patent Number Des. 217,828, issued to Hilliard on Jun. 16, 1970 (displays an ornamental design for a beverage can holder); U.S. Pat. No. 5,464,183, issued to McConnell et al. on Nov. 7, 1995 (a drink holder having an annular support, vertical fingers attached to the end of the support and horizontal feet that extend from the end of the fingers to support the base of a container); U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,486, issued to Smith et al. on Oct. 20, 1998 (a flexible arm mountable to a surface such as a stroller having a engaging channel for holding a baby bottle or a cup); and U.S. Pat. No. 6,264,153, issued to Ragner et al. on Jul. 24, 2001 (easy mounting beverage holder having at least one support arm, a cup shaped body attached to the arm, a lid and a flexible straw).

None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed. Thus a cup tether solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The cup tether is an elastic strap having a first end and a second end and a childproof fastener at one end forming the end into a loop and an elastic loop on the other end. The tether is designed so that one end is attached to an anchor such as a frame of a toddler's seat, a car seat, a stroller, a highchair, or other somewhat stationary object, and the elastic loop end is attached to a drinking container, e.g. a child's sippy cup, and baby bottle. One end is secured around the anchor by wrapping the end portion of the strap around the anchor and securing the strap in place with a fastener, preferably a childproof buckle. The container is secured using the elastic loop and the cup is slipped in or the loop is adjusted. The buckle with the fastener and a second buckle for the elastic loop side permit the size of the loop to be adjusted. The cup tether limits the distance the drink container can be thrown and permits easy retrieval of the container.

Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a cup tether that tethers a toddler's sippy cup or other drink container to a car seat, stroller, highchair, booster seat, or the like, in order to limit the distance the drink container can be thrown and to permit easy retrieval of the container when it is dropped or thrown by the toddler.

It is another object of the invention to provide a cup tether that having an adjustable anchor and drink container loops in order to tether different size toddler drink containers to any available child's seat.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a cup tether that provides an elastic tether for a toddler's drink container so that a parent or caregiver may pull the drinking container out of the child's reach when refilling the container without unfastening the tether from the anchor.

It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and still further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of a specific embodiment thereof, especially when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components, wherein the hidden lines form no part of the invention, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a cup tether according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cup tether of the present invention with one buckle in an open configuration and a fixed loop;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the cup tether of the present invention with one buckle in a partially open configuration and a slidable loop;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the buckle of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the cup tether of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the cup tether of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the cup tether of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is a cup tether, designated generally as 100 in the drawings. The tether 100 is designed to tether a drink container 102, such as a toddler's sippy cup, baby bottle, sports bottle, or any other toddlers having a lid with a spout, or nipple, to an anchor 104, such as a child's car seat, stroller, highchair, booster seat, or any other child equipment. The tether 100 may be attached to a belt, post, leg divider, or other supporting part of the frame of the anchor 104 upon which the child is near or seated. In the context of a car seat, the tether 100 may be attached to a shoulder belt, a waist belt or an abdominal shield. The opposite end of the tether is designed to hold the container 102, preferably a cup. The cup can be made of plastic or other unbreakable material and has a lid to prevent spills. A conventional “sippy cup”, for example, includes a cup, a lid that snaps onto the cup, and a spout attached to the lid that the child uses to sip the drink. Some containers 102 may include a straw that extends to the bottom.

As shown in FIGS. 2and 3, the tether 100 is an elongated elastic strap 106 having two opposing ends 108, 110 and a fastener 112 disposed at a first end 108 of the strap 12. The fastener can be used to form the strap 106 into a loop, which is secured by the fastener 112. The fastener can be snaps, hook and loop, or other such fasteners designed not be easily unfastened by a toddler.

One embodiment is a relatively childproof fastener 112 disposed at end 108 of the strap 106, such as the buckles shown in the drawings, including FIG. 4. FIG. 2 shows tether 100 with the buckle open. The buckle includes a male buckle portion 114 and a female socket 116. The male buckle portion 114 has a vertical post 118 forming an opening and through which the strap 106 is threaded in order to adjust the size of the loop 200 in conventional manner. The male buckle portion 114 contains a post, tongue, or tangs 120 to engage the female socket 116.

The female socket 116 is fixed to strap end 108 by looping strap 106 around a post 122 and securing the strap 106 with stitching. Female socket 116 can have a slot or opening 124 designed to engage the tangs 120 of the male buckle member 114. Typically more force and manual dexterity than a toddler is capable of are required to unfasten the buckle. Thus, the fastener 112 has an open position, where the male and female members are not engaged and the loop 200 is open and a closed position engaging the male and female members.

The vertical post 118 of the male buckle 114 is located in the center of an opening and permits the strap 106 to loop around. The position of the male buckle 114 on strap 106 is adjustable because it can slide along the strap 106 toward either end 108, 110 and be fixed in place by tension.

The second end 110 is formed into a loop 202 by looping a distal end 126 of the strap 106 back upon the strap 106 and affixing it thereto. The distal end 126 can be affixed permanently to fix the size of the loop. In this embodiment, the cup tether 100 can be designed to be used with a specific drinking container 102. The loop formed from the distal end 126 can be elastic or non-elastic. Further, the distal end 126 can engage a slidable buckle 128. The buckle 128 is disposed on strap 106 and can slide along the length of the strap 106. The distal end 126 can be permanently engaged to the buckle 128 so the loop 202 can be sized but restricted from being “opened” by disengaging either the distal end 126 or the buckle 128. The buckle 128 can be set in place by friction or can be a spring loaded tension member that engages the strap 106 in its normal state and a parent must depress a spring loaded member to release the tension to move the buckle 128.

The strap 106 of tether 100 is preferably made of elastic material. The elasticity of the tether 100 provides resilience when a user is trying to pull the drinking container 102 in any direction. Also, if the drinking container 102 is being held by tether 100, the resilience of the strap 106 lessens the chance that the drinking container 102 will be suddenly jerked, causing A lid on the drinking container 102 to fall off. A particular advantage of using the elastic tether 100 on a car seat located in the rear of a car is that a parent can pull the drinking container 102 from the back seat to the front of the car to fill the cup 106 with liquid without having to move from the front seat. The tether 100 is preferably made with elastic material other non-elastic material could also be used.

The strap 106 may be encased in decorative fabric 130. The fabric 130 serves a decorative effect. The fabric can be folded in half and sewn along one edge so that the strap 106 is inserted in the fabric, or the fabric can be sewn directly on the strap 106.

The tether 100 may be any width size that corresponds to the size of the fasteners used at the ends 108, 110 of the strap 106. In an embodiment, one-inch fasteners can be used at the first end 108 and the width of the tether 100 should be one inch. The length of the tether 100 is about twenty to thirty inches long, with a preferred length being about thirty inches long when the fastener 112 is unfastened. The tether 100 can be about eighteen inches long when the fastener 112 is fastened. The length of the strap 106 allows a child to pull the drinking container 102 up to their mouth and drink out of it without having to worry that the child will strangle itself with it. Also, the strap 106 is generally short enough that the drinking container 102 will not fall all the way to the car floor if the toddler drops it.

Referring now to FIG. 5 which illustrates another embodiment of the present invention wherein a tether 400 can have an elongated elastic strap 402 having two opposing ends 404, 406 having hook and loop fasteners (e.g. Velcro™) 408. A hook portion 410 engages loop portion 412 can be used to form an enclosed portion 414. The hook and loop fastener 408 can be designed not be easily unfastened by a toddler. The hook or loop portions can be sized such to allow a range of positions to alter the size of the loop.

FIG. 6 illustrates a further embodiment of the present invention. A tether 500 can be an elongated elastic strap 502 having two opposing ends 504, 506. A first end 504 has another embodiment for a buckle 300. The buckle 300 includes a male buckle portion 302 and a female socket 304. The male buckle portion 302 has tangs 306 and can have center post 308 to engage the female socket 304. The male buckle portion 302 can be threaded through strap 502 and slidably engaged in conventional manner in order to adjust the size of a loop that can be formed when the ends meet. The tangs 306 can be designed to engage female socket 304 to be child proof, because of the pressure required to disengage the tangs 306 from the opening 310.

The female socket 304 can be fixed to the first strap end 504 by looping the strap 502 around a post portion of female socket 304 and securing the strap 502 with stitching. Female socket 304 can have a slot or opening 310 designed to engage the tangs 306 of the male buckle member 302. Typically a toddler does not have the strength and manual dexterity capable of unfastening the buckle 300. Thus, the fastener 300 has an open position, where the male and female members 302, 304 are not engaged and a loop is open, and a closed position engaging the male and female members and closing the loop.

Second end 506 of strap 502 has a hook and loop fastener (e.g. Velcro™) 408 which can be used to form an enclosed loop. The hook and loop fastener 408 can be designed not be easily unfastened by a toddler, as above.

FIG. 7 illustrates an embodiment of tether 600. The tether 600 includes strap 602 with first end 604 and second end 606. The first end 604 can have hook and loop fasteners with a hook portion 608 engaging loop portion 610 which can be used to form an enclosed portion. The hook and loop fastener can be designed not be easily unfastened by a toddler. Second end 606 is formed into a loop 612 by looping a distal end 614 of the strap 602 back upon the strap 602 and affixing it thereto. The distal end 614 can be affixed permanently to fix the size of the loop 612.

The strap 602 may be encased in decorative fabric 616 which can serve a decorative effect. The fabric 616 can be folded in half and sewn along one edge so that the strap 602 is inserted in the fabric, or the fabric can be sewn directly on the strap 602. In an embodiment, the hook and loop portions and/or the distal end 614 can be affixed to fabric 616 instead of strap 602.

FIGS. 2, 3, and 5-7 illustrate numerous embodiments of tether 100, 400, 500, and 600. The ends of the tether can be arranged in any combination of stitched, hook and loop and buckles. Alternating the attachments on the ends of the strap allows a user to define an “end”. A user can set one end to always be set for the size of the container, while the other can be varied if the user moves the strap from car seat to stroller to highchair to booster seat. In the alternating embodiments, a user can choose which attachment works best with the user's particular container and/or items for affixing the strap. The present invention is not limited to the combinations of attachments illustrated herein.

Thus, while there have been shown, described, and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form and details of the devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or steps which perform substantially the same function, in substantially the same way, to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Substitutions of elements from one described embodiment to another are also fully intended and contemplated. It is also to be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale, but that they are merely conceptual in nature. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.