Title:
Kit for Providing Modular Grip and Writing Instrument Comprising Modular Grip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A kit for providing a modular grip for a writing instrument includes a plurality of tubular elements. Each of the tubular elements comprises an inner surface, an outer surface, and a representation. The inner surface is adapted to frictionally engage the writing instrument. The outer surface is adapted to be gripped by a user. The representations are disposed on the outer surface. The plurality of tubular elements are adapted to provide a user with the ability to create a modular grip and to customize and/or personalize a writing instrument.



Inventors:
Travers, John F. (Plainfield, IL, US)
Gerules, Matthew J. (Chicago, IL, US)
Silverstein, Jason S. (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/466054
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A46B5/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WALCZAK, DAVID J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A kit providing a modular grip for an instrument, the kit comprising: a plurality of tubular elements, each tubular element comprising: an inner surface adapted to frictionally engage the instrument; and an outer surface adapted to be gripped by a user, wherein at least one of the tubular elements comprises a representation disposed on the outer surface such that a user can combine one or more of the plurality of tubular elements on the instrument to provide a customized modular grip.

2. The kit of claim 1, wherein the representation comprises at least one of a geometrical, alphanumerical, or graphical representation.

3. The kit if claim 1, wherein the representation is selected from the group consisting of a debossed representation, an embossed representation, or a printed representation.

4. The kit of claim 1, wherein at least two of the plurality of tubular elements have different colors.

5. The kit of claim 1, further comprising an instrument selected from the group consisting of a writing instrument, a paint brush, and a tool.

6. The kit of claim 5, wherein the plurality of tubular elements are adapted to be stacked at least one of radially or longitudinally on the writing instrument for providing a modular grip on the writing instrument.

7. A writing instrument, comprising: a body containing a writing medium and having a longitudinal axis; a writing point extending from the body; a first tubular element having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner surface of the first tubular element adapted to frictionally engage the body and the outer surface of the first tubular element having a first representation; and a second tubular element having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner surface of the second tubular element adapted to frictionally engage the body and the outer surface of the second tubular element having a second representation, the first and second tubular elements adapted to be stacked relative to each other along the longitudinal axis of the body of the writing instrument, thereby providing a modular grip.

8. The writing instrument of claim 7, wherein the first representation and the second representation comprise at least one of a geometrical, textual, or graphical representation.

9. The writing instrument of claim 7, wherein the first representation is distinct from the second representation.

10. The writing instrument of claim 7, wherein the first representation is selected from the group consisting of a debossed representation, an embossed representation, and a printed representation.

11. The writing instrument of claim 7, wherein the second representation is selected from the group consisting of a debossed representation, an embossed representation, and a printed representation.

12. The writing instrument of claim 7, wherein the first tubular element is a different color than the second tubular element.

13. A method of forming a modular grip on a writing instrument, the method comprising: selecting a first tubular element from a plurality of tubular elements; removably positioning the first tubular element onto the writing instrument; selecting a second tubular element from the plurality of tubular elements, the second tubular element being distinct from the first tubular element; removably positioning the second tubular element onto the writing instrument generally adjacent the first tubular element, thereby creating a modular grip.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein removably positioning the first tubular element and the second tubular element onto the writing instrument comprises positioning the first tubular element and the second tubular element such that representations provided on outer surfaces of the first tubular element and the second tubular element are visible.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein removably positioning the first tubular element and the second tubular element onto the writing instrument comprises positioning a first tubular element and a second tubular element having different colors onto the writing instrument.

16. The method of claim 13, wherein removably positioning the first tubular element and the second tubular element onto the writing instrument comprises positioning a first tubular element and a second tubular element having outer surfaces with different representations.

17. The method of claim 13, wherein removably positioning the second tubular element generally adjacent the first tubular element comprises positioning the second tubular element at least one of radially adjacent or longitudinally adjacent the first tubular element.

18. The method of claim 13, further comprising removably positioning a third tubular element onto the writing instrument generally at least one of the first tubular element or the second tubular element, thereby supplementing the modular grip.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/710,411, filed Aug. 22, 2005, the entire contents of which are hereby expressly incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure relates to writing instruments and, more particularly, to writing instruments having modular grips.

BACKGROUND

Many students, teachers and professionals alike utilize some sort of grip with their writing instruments. There are a variety of reasons why grips are used. For example, some individuals prefer to grasp a thicker portion of a writing instrument (most conventional add-on grips inherently add some level of thickness.) Additionally, many individuals that spend vast amounts of their day writing or scribbling notes may become fatigued or callused from the surface of a typical writing instrument, such as a pen or pencil. Grips are also used to prevent slippage, and to allow the user to exert finer control over his/her writing.

Most conventional add-on grips work to solve this problem by either providing a soft grip and/or an otherwise ergonomically designed grip. One example of an ergonomically designed grip includes a grip having a triangular cross-section. Whether the add-on grip is constructed purely of a soft deformable material or is otherwise ergonomically designed, the grip typically constitutes an elongated tube. The tube is adapted to slide onto the writing instrument and be positioned near its writing tip.

More recently, writing instruments having integral grips (i.e., grips formed integrally with or fixedly attached to writing instruments) have become available. These integral grips are typically rubber or even knurled metal in some circumstances. One integral rubber grip is co-molded with the pen body. The co-molding operation ensures the grip retains its intended position on the pen body. Metal grips are generally formed as separate pieces and subsequently threaded or otherwise attached to the pen or pencil body. Such integral grips are formed with the pen or pencil body and cannot be easily removed therefrom, particularly without damaging the appearance of the writing instrument. Thus, these types of grips do not even provide an individual the ability to change the style of the writing instrument or grip.

While such conventional grips satisfy their utilitarian requirements, they fail to satisfy individuals seeking a more interesting writing utensil. Most are monochromatic and lack any aesthetical appeal. Additionally, such conventional grips fail to provide individuals with an opportunity to customize or personalize their writing utensil beyond merely adding the grip.

SUMMARY

One aspect of the present disclosure includes a kit for providing a modular grip for an instrument, e.g., a writing instrument such as a pen or pencil. The kit comprises a plurality of elastomeric tubular elements. The tubular elements have inners surfaces, outer surfaces, and representations. The inner surface of each tubular element is adapted to frictionally engage the writing instrument. The outer surface is adapted to be gripped by a user. The representations are disposed on the outer surface such that a user can selectively customize the modular grip by utilizing one or more of the plurality of tubular elements.

According to another aspect, the representations include at least one of a geometrical shape, a graphic, and one or more alphanumeric characters.

According to another aspect, the representations are printed onto, debossed from, or embossed into the outer surface.

According to another aspect, each of the plurality of tubular elements has a distinct color.

According to another aspect, the kit further comprises a writing instrument.

According to another aspect, the plurality of tubular elements are adapted to be stacked along a longitudinal axis of the writing instrument for providing a unique modular grip on the writing instrument.

Other embodiments of the present disclosure are directed to a writing instrument having a modular grip constructed of a plurality of tubular elements, and a method of providing the modular grip constructed from the plurality of tubular elements. The plurality of tubular elements, as mentioned, may have various representations provided thereon enabling a user to customize and/or personalize the modular grip and, therefore, the writing instrument.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a writing instrument including a modular grip formed comprising a plurality of tubular elements constructed in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the plurality of tubular elements of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a tubular element according to another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a tubular element according to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another writing instrument including a plurality of tubular elements disposed thereon in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a plurality of tubular elements according to another embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a kit including a plurality of tubular elements according to the present disclosure, which is packaged for retail; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another kit packaged for retail, the kit including both a plurality of tubular elements according to the present disclosure and a writing instrument.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present disclosure provides a new and unique modular grip for a writing instrument, as well as a kit for packaging and retailing the modular grip (with and without a writing instrument). The modular grip is formed by positioning a plurality of user selectable tubular elements that may be removably disposed on the writing instrument in any configuration desired. This enables individuals to selectively create a unique pen or pencil modular grip. Additionally, each of the tubular elements may be constructed of different or varying colors and may include representations. The representations may comprise letters, numbers, words, phrases, pictures, images, graphics, geometric shapes, or any combination thereof, thereby providing various dimensions to the modular grip customization and/or personalization experience.

FIG. 1 depicts a writing instrument 10 having a modular grip 12. The modular grip 12 comprises a plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d. The plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d, as will be described in detail below, allow a user to customize and/or personalize the modular grip 12, and therefore the writing instrument 10, by arranging the tubular elements 14a-14d in creative configurations.

In FIG. 1, the plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d includes four tubular elements; however, the writing instrument 10 may be populated with any number of tubular elements, as desired by a particular user. Further, the writing instrument 10 includes a conventional ball-point pen having a writing tip 10a, a push-button actuator 10b capable of protracting and retracting the writing tip, and a substantially cylindrical body 10c disposed therebetween. The body 10c extends along a longitudinal axis 16. Although shown as a pen, any writing instrument such as a pencil (as shown in FIG. 5), a felt-tip pen, a marker, etc., could be used. Additionally, the modular grip tubular elements could be used in combination with, for example, a paint brush, a tool such as a screw driver, a hammer, or any other elongated item having a longitudinal axis used for gripping.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the tubular elements 14a -14d are disposed on the cylindrical body 10c of the writing instrument 10 and spaced along the longitudinal axis 16. While FIG. 1 illustrates spaces of varying dimensions between the tubular elements 14a-14d, alternate configurations may include the tubular elements 14a-14d closely positioned such that no spaces exist. In one embodiment, the tubular elements 14a-14d are constructed of different colors, thereby providing a color-based dimension to the personalization and/or customization of the writing instrument 10. In yet another embodiment, the tubular elements 14a-14d may include representations 18a-18d, as shown generally in FIG. 2. The representations 18a-18d may include letters, numbers, words, phrases, pictures, images, graphics, geometric shapes, or any combination thereof, thereby providing textual and/or graphical dimension to an individuals personalization and/or customization of the writing instrument 10. Most frequently at least one tubular element includes a representation selected from a letter, number, word, phrase, picture, image, graphic, geometric shape, or any combination thereof

FIG. 2 depicts a plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d including representations 18a-18d, which have been removed from the writing instrument 10. The general structure of each of the tubular elements 14a-14d will now be described with reference to the tubular element 14b. It should be understood, however, that each of the tubular elements 14a-14b are generally constructed in substantially the same fashion.

The tubular element 14b comprises a generally hollow cylindrical member having an inner surface 20, an outer surface 22, and a pair of ends surfaces 24a, 24b. The end surfaces 24a, 24b are generally perpendicular to and extend between the inner and outer surfaces 20, 22.

The inner surface 20 is generally uniformly cylindrical. So configured, the inner surface 20 is adapted to snugly, but removably fit onto the writing instrument 10, as illustrated in FIG. 1. Of course, the inner surface 20 may be adapted to be combined with other instruments, as described above. Friction generated by shear forces between the inner surface 20 and the body 10c of the writing instrument 10 retains the position of the tubular element 14b thereon. The outer surface 20 is also generally uniformly cylindrical and includes the representation 18b. The representation 18b, as provided on the particular tubular element 14b depicted in FIG. 2, includes alphanumeric characters 25 that deliver a message, i.e., “don't judge me.” In FIG. 2, the representation 18b is embossed into the outer surface 22 of the tubular element 14b.

As is also illustrated in FIG. 2, each of the representations 18a-18d on the tubular elements 14a-14d, respectively, may have different content. For example, tubular elements 14a and 14d include representations 18a and 18d, respectively, comprising geometric shapes, while tubular element 14c includes representation 18c comprising multiple representations. More specifically, the representation 18a on tubular element 14a comprises geometric shapes 24 including a plurality of elliptical dimples. The representation 18d on the tubular element 14d comprises a plurality of geometric shapes 32 including longitudinally extending grooves. The representation 18c on tubular member 14c comprises a first representation and a second representation. The first representation comprises a graphic 26 including an animal face and the second representation comprises a plurality of geometric shapes 30 including circumferentially extending grooves. Thus, the particular content of the representation 18a-18d is not limited to that which is depicted in the figures, but may include letters, numbers, words, phrases, pictures, images, graphics, geometric shapes, or any combination thereof, or any other representation that may be desired by a consumer. Hence, individuals may personalize and/or customize a writing instrument or other similarly constructed device with a single such tubular element 14a-14d or a plurality of tubular elements. Also, as stated above, the tubular elements 14a-14d may be constructed of different colors thereby providing yet another dimension of customization and/or personalization. Furthermore, any single tubular element 14 may be constructed of multiple colors. For example, the outer surface 22 of the tubular element 14 may be constructed of one color or multiple colors and the representation 18 may be constructed of another color or multiple colors.

FIG. 5 depicts another embodiment of the present invention including a writing instrument 100 having a modular grip 112. The writing instrument 100 comprises a pencil having a sharpened writing tip 100a and an eraser 100b. The modular grip 112 comprises a plurality of tubular elements 14e-14g disposes on the writing instrument 100 near the sharpened writing tip 100a. Of course, mechanical pencils could also be used in combination with a modular grip in accordance with this disclosure.

While tubular elements 14a-14d described above with reference to FIG. 1 are stacked longitudinally, the tubular elements 14e-14g depicted in FIG. 5 are stacked radially on the writing instrument 100 in FIG. 5. More specifically, tubular element 14e is disposed such that its inner surface (not shown) directly engages the pencil 100. Tubular element 14f is disposed such that its inner surface (not shown) directly engages the outer surface 22 of tubular element 14e. Tubular element 14g is disposed such that its inner surface (not shown) directly engages the outer surface 22 of tubular element 14f. In one embodiment, the tubular elements 14e-14g can be stacked radially because they are constructed of an elastically deformable material. In another embodiment, the tubular elements 14e-14g are constructed of varying diameters to enable this radial stacking.

Additionally, unlike the tubular elements 14a-14d described above with reference to FIG. 1, the tubular elements 14e-14g in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5 having varying longitudinal dimensions. Specifically, tubular element 14e has a longitudinal dimension slightly larger than a longitudinal dimension of tubular element 14f. Likewise, tubular element 14f has a slightly larger longitudinal dimension than tubular element 14g. Accordingly, when stacked radially, as depicted in FIG. 5, the tubular elements 14e-14g provide a modular grip 12 with varying degrees of thickness, thereby providing another structural dimension to the customization and/or presonalization of the writing instrument 100. Additionally, the radial stacking of the tubular elements 14a-14d provides for a modular grip 112 having an enhanced gripping function. Additionally, as discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1-4, the modular grip 112 of FIG. 5 may also be customized and/or personalized with tubular elements 14 having particular representations 18. For example, tubular element 14g of FIG. 5 has an outer surface 22 including representations 18g comprising a plurality of geometrical shapes 132 including longitudinally extending grooves similar to those described above with reference to tubular element 14d in FIG. 2. In another embodiment, a user may select a tubular element 14 having any representation 18 such as one or more alphanumeric characters, geometric shapes, graphics, or any combination of alphanumeric characters, geometric shapes, and/or any other symbol, indicia, and/or textual or non-textual representation that may be desired by a consumer to be the outermost radially disposed tubular element 14 in the modular grip 112. Additionally, a user may select tubular elements 14e-14g having different colors, thereby further personalizing and/or customizing the modular grip 112.

FIG. 6 depicts a plurality of tubular elements 14h-14k according to another embodiment of the invention. The plurality of tubular elements 14h-14k are constructed generally identically to the tubular elements 14a-14d described above with reference to FIGS. 1-4. For example, the tubular elements 14h-14k each include an inner surface 20, an outer surface 22, and end surfaces 24a, 24b. Additionally, the outer surfaces 22 of each of the tubular elements 14h-14k include representations 18h-18k.

The representations 18h-18k of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6 comprise cooperative portions of a graphic. For example, when appropriately aligned, the representations 18h-18k cooperate with one another to present a single graphic, which includes a person in FIG. 5. In alternative embodiments, the representations 18h-18k may comprise letters, numbers, words, phrases, pictures, images, graphics, geometric shapes, or any combination thereof, or any portion thereof.

Referring back to FIG. 6, the representation 18h comprises a graphic of a person's face. Representation 18i comprises a graphic of a person's body. Representation 18j comprises a graphic of a person's legs. Representation 18k comprises a graphic of a person's feet. Accordingly, in combination, the representations 18h-18k define a single graphic, which includes a person. While the representations 18h-18k have been disclosed as cooperatively defining a single graphic, an alternative embodiment may cooperatively define letters, numbers, words, phrases, pictures, images, graphics, geometric shapes, or any combination thereof. For example, each of the representations 18h-18k may include a single letter, a word, a part of a word, or part of a phrase. A user could then selectively position different tubular elements on a writing instrument such as a pen 10 or a pencil 100 to create a whole word, phrase, or message that is unique to that specific writing instrument. For example, a user could spell his or her name, favorite sports team name, etc. Such interactive and cooperative representations 18h-18k provide yet a further dimension to the customization and/or personalization of the modular grips 12, 112 of the writing instrument 10, 100.

FIG. 7 depicts a kit 200 for retailing a plurality of tubular elements 14, such as tubular elements 14a-14d. However, in alternate embodiments, the kit 200 may include tubular elements 14e-14g, 14h-14k, or any combination of tubular elements 14a-14d, 14e-14g, and 14h-14k.

The kit 200 includes packaging 202 comprising a cardboard backing 204 and a transparent window 206. The transparent window 206 generally comprises an elongated box and includes a flange portion 206a adhered to the cardboard backing 204. Thus, the transparent window 206 contains the plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d on the cardboard backing 204 as a retail package. The cardboard backing 204 further includes an aperture 208 for hanging the kit 200 on a display hook in a retail store. While the kit 200 is depicted as including four tubular elements 14a-14d, another embodiment of the kit 200 may include any number of tubular elements 14. The more tubular elements 14 that the kit 200 contains, the more dimensions a user would be provided for customizing and/or personalizing their writing instrument 10, 100.

As mentioned above, the kit 200 may include generally any assortment of tubular elements 14. For example, the kit 200 may include tubular elements 14a-14d having random non-related representations 18a-18b, as depicted in reference to FIG. 2. In another embodiment, the kit 200 may include only tubular elements having cooperative representations 18h-18k such as tubular elements 14h-14k described above with reference to FIG. 6. In another embodiment, the kit 200 may include tubular elements 14 having cooperative representations 18h-18k as well as random unrelated representations 18a-18d and/or tubular elements 14e-14g having varying dimensions such as those described with reference to FIG. 5, thereby providing a user with multiple dimensions of potential customization and/or personalization within a single kit 200.

FIG. 8 depicts another kit 300, which is an alternative embodiment of the kit 200. The kit 300 is generally identical to the kit 200 described above, but further includes a writing instrument 10. Thus, while the kit 300 includes a cardboard backing 304 and a transparent window 306, such components are configured slightly differently. For example, the cardboard backing 304 depicted in FIG. 8 is larger than the cardboard backing 204 depicted in FIG. 7. Additionally, the transparent window 306 depicted in FIG. 8 comprises a flange 306a and two generally elongated boxes, which are identified by reference numerals 306b and 306c. In the embodiment depicted, the elongated boxes 306b, 306c are separated by a center portion 306d of the window 306. Thus, the elongated box 306 b contains the pen 10 and the elongated box 306c contains the plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d. However, in an alternate embodiment, the window 306 may merely include a single box containing both the pen 10 and the plurality of tubular elements 14a-14d. While the writing instrument 10 packaged in the kit 300 depicted in FIG. 8 includes a pen 10, alternate kits 300 may include a pencil 100 or any other writing instrument.

Furthermore, in yet another embodiment, the kit 300 may include the plurality of tubular elements 14h-14k depicted in FIG. 6 and a writing instrument 10 that interacts with the cooperative representations 18h-18k on the plurality of tubular elements 14h-14k. For example, the kit 300 may include a writing instrument 10 having a representation that includes a graphic of a hat depicted thereon such that when the tubular elements 14h-14k are properly positioned on the writing instrument 10, the person constructed by the representations 18h-18k could be wearing a hat.

Further still, the representations 18a-18d, 18g, and 18h-18k have been disclosed herein as being embossed into the outer surfaces 22 of the respective tubular elements 14a-14, 14g, and 14h-14k, in alternative embodiments, the representations 18a-18d, 18g, and 18h-18k may be debossed from the outer surface 22. For example, FIG. 3 depicts an alternate embodiment of tubular element 14b including the representation 18b, which includes alphanumeric characters 25 delivering the message “don't judge me, ” debossed from the outer surface 22 thereof. In yet another embodiment, the representations 18a-18d, 18g, and 18h-18k may be printed or silk-screened onto the outer surface 22 with ink or some other printing medium. For example, FIG. 4 depicts another alternate embodiment of tubular element 14b including the representation 18b, which includes alphanumeric characters 25 delivering the message “don't judge me, ” printed onto the outer surface 22 thereof. In still yet another embodiment, the representations 18a-18d, 18g, and 18h-18k may be cut entirely through the tubular elements. Generally, the representations 18a-18 d, 18g, and 18h-18k may be provided in any manner that is recognizable against to the outer surface 22 or at least temporarily contrasting with the outer surface 22. It should be understood, however, that the embodiments including embossed and/or debossed representations provide a tubular element capable of generating increased friction between itself and a users grasp, thereby reducing slippage and enhancing the gripping function of the tubular element and/or modular grip 12, 112.

Still further, as mentioned above, the representations 18a-18d, 18g, and 18h-18k provided on the respective tubular elements 14a-14, 14g, and 14h-14k may include varying colors. For example, with reference to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6, representation 18i, which comprises that body portion of a person, may be made white to represent a white t-shirt, while representation 18j, which comprises the legs, may be made blue to represent denim blue jeans.

In one embodiment, the tubular elements 14 constructed of an elastomeric material such as a thermoplastic elastomer or a silicone material. In alternative embodiments, the tubular elements 14 may comprise synthetic materials such as polyesters or vinyls, which include an elastic banding. In further alternate embodiments, however, the tubular elements 14a-14d may be constructed of generally any material which suits the principles of the present disclosure.

Therefore, in light of the foregoing, it should be appreciated that the tubular elements constructed in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure provide a user with a unique and creative way to create a modular grip for a writing instrument, as well as customize and/or personalize the writing instrument with various colors, phrases, images, characters, or any other foreseeable subject matter. Additionally, the kits constructed in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure provide a potential purchaser with a preselected plurality of tubular elements that may or may not subscribe to a common theme or cooperative presentation of letters, words, phrases, graphics, symbols, and/or images. Such multidimensional applications may be implemented by a user to periodically alter the appearance of their writing instrument to provide a fresh new outlook on school and/or business.