Title:
FOOTWEAR CARE SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed an apparatus cleaning and/or applying material to footwear apparel. The apparatus includes an elongated body having a first end and a second end. The first end includes a brush and the second end includes a prong. An application system is positioned at least partially within the body between the first end and the second end.



Inventors:
Nanda, Puneet (Cerritos, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/459874
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
07/25/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/113, 15/114, 401/37
International Classes:
A46B11/00; A47L13/00; A47L13/26; A47L23/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WALCZAK, DAVID J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A footwear care system comprising: an elongated body configured to be grasped by a user, the body having a first end and a second opposing end; a brush coupled to the first end of the body a prong coupled to the second end of the body; and an applicator system comprising a reservoir positioned within the elongated body between the first end and the second end.

2. The footwear care system of claim 1, wherein the brush apparatus comprises a plurality of bristles that extend outwardly away from a brush head that is coupled to the first end of the body.

3. The footwear care system of claim 1, wherein the prong includes a sharpened distal end configured to remove material from a sole of a piece of footwear.

4. The footwear care system of claim 1, wherein the applicator system further comprises a removable cap coupled to the body a spreader and a valve positioned between the reservoir and the spreader.

5. The footwear care system of claim 4, wherein the spreader comprises a sponge.

6. The footwear care system of claim 1, further comprising within the reservoir a material consisting of a material selected from the group of a waterproofing material, a polish, a conditioner, and a cleaner.

7. An apparatus for cleaning and maintaining footwear, comprising: a housing configured to be grasped by a user, a brush apparatus, a digger, and an applicator system, that is configured to apply a treatment solution to a surface of the footwear, the applicator system positioned at least partially within the housing between the brush apparatus and the digger.

8. The footwear care system of claim 7, wherein the brush apparatus comprises a plurality of bristles that extend outwardly away from a brush head that is coupled to the housing.

9. The footwear care system of claim 7, wherein the digger includes a sharpened distal end configured to remove material from a sole of a piece of footwear.

10. The footwear care system of claim 7, wherein the applicator system further comprises a removable cap coupled to the body a spreader and a valve positioned between a reservoir and the spreader.

11. The footwear care system of claim 10, wherein the spreader comprises a sponge.

12. The footwear care system of claim 10, further comprising within the reservoir a material consisting of a material selected from the group of a waterproofing material, a polish, a conditioner, and a cleaner.

13. An apparatus for cleaning and maintaining footwear, comprising: an elongated body configured to be grasped by a user, the body having a first end and a second opposing end; means for brushing debris away from an outer surface of the footwear, said means for brushing material debris away from an outer surface of the footwear coupled to the first end of the body; means for removing debris from grooves in a sole of the footwear coupled to the second end of the body; and means for applying a material stored within a reservoir positioned with the elongated body between the first end and the second end to the outer surface of the footwear.

14. The footwear care system of claim 13, further comprising within the reservoir a material consisting of a material selected from the group of a waterproofing material, a polish, a conditioner, and a cleaner.

Description:

PRIORITY INFORMATION

This application claims the priority benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of Provisional Application 60/702,125 filed Jul. 25, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present inventions relate to footwear and, more particularly, relate to footwear care systems.

2. Description of the Related Art

A person often wears footwear, such as shoes and boots, when performing various tasks at construction sites, sports fields, farms, and the like. Mud, dirt and other substances may often accumulate on the footwear. To prevent the accumulated substances from being tracked indoors, people often remove or clean dirty footwear whenever entering a building, such as a home or business.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, a care system can be used to clean and/or apply material to a surface. In some embodiments, the care system is a wearing apparel care system that is a portable, handheld system that can be used to clean footwear. The care system can comprise a brush apparatus, a digger, and an applicator system. The applicator system can be configured to apply material, such as a fluid, paste, or gel on a surface.

In another one aspect of the present invention, a footwear care system comprises a body, a brush apparatus, an applicator system, and a digger. The brush apparatus, the applicator system and the digger are mounted to the body. The brush apparatus comprises a plurality of bristles that extend outwardly away from a brush head. The brush head is mounted to the body. The digger is an elongated member that extends outwardly from the body. The digger is configured to remove material from the sole of the footwear. The applicator system comprises a removable cap attached to the body. The applicator system also comprises a spreader and a valve system configured to regulate the flow of material, which is contained within the body to the spreader. In some embodiments, the applicator system is positioned along the body between the brush apparatus and the digger. The spreader can extend outwardly from the body and can surround the valve system. In some embodiments, the spreader comprises one or more of the following: a sponge, an absorbent member, a pad, or other structure for spreading material.

In another one aspect of the present invention, a footwear care system comprises a brush apparatus and a digger. The brush apparatus includes a plurality of brush elements connected to a brush head. The digger is an elongated member that terminates at a tip. The digger is dimensioned so as to fit within a feature (e.g., groove) of a sole of footwear. In some embodiments, the digger is rigid and does not noticeably deflect when scraping off mud that has dried on the sole of the footwear. In some embodiments, the brush apparatus and the digger are at opposing ends of the footwear care system.

In another one aspect of the present invention, a footwear care system comprises an elongated body that is connected to a brush apparatus and a digger. In some embodiments, the body has a generally ellipsoidal shape as viewed from above. In some embodiments, the brush apparatus has a generally circular body as viewed from above. In some embodiments, the digger is positioned somewhat along the longitudinal axis of the elongated body. In some embodiments, the digger gradually tapers and terminates at a tip.

In another one aspect of the present invention, a footwear care system comprises a digger, an applicator system configured to dispense selectively fluid contained within a body, and a brush. The digger and the applicator system can be mounted to the body, which comprises a tank suitable for holding fluid. The digger can be an elongated pick member sufficiently rigid to dislodge material caught within tread of a shoe. In some embodiments, the digger is a curved structure that terminates at a somewhat blunt tip.

In another one aspect of the present invention, the applicator system comprises a valve system and a spreader. The valve system can be actuated between a first position and a second position. When the valve system occupies the first position, fluid is not dispensed from the tank. When the valve system occupies the second position, fluid is dispensed from the tank. The spreader is attached to a lower portion of the body and comprises an absorbent member. In some embodiments, the spreader surrounds a portion of the valve system such that fluid dispensed from the valve system is absorbed by the spreader when the spreader, is placed upon footwear.

In another one aspect of the present invention, a brush system comprises a brush apparatus, a pick, and an applicator. Each of the brush apparatus, the applicator, and the pick is mounted to a body of the brush system configured to hold fluid. The brush apparatus comprises a brush head that extends outwardly from the body. A plurality of brushing members is connected to the brush head. The applicator can be operated to dispense selectively fluid contained within the body. The applicator comprises a spreader that is temporarily or permanently attached to the body. The pick is a generally rigid member that extends outwardly from the body.

In another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for leaning and/or applying material to footwear apparel includes an elongated body having a first end and a second end. The first end includes a brush and the second end includes a prong. An application system is positioned at least partially within the body between the first end and the second end.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a footwear care system.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate embodiments of diggers for footwear care systems.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1, a cap for covering an applicator system has been removed.

FIG. 4 is a top elevational view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a bottom elevational view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a bottom elevational view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1, a cap for covering an applicator system has been removed.

FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1 having a cap removed.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the footwear care system of FIG. 1 taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 9 is a side-elevational view of a tank system and a valve system extending therefrom.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a valve system of a footwear care system.

FIG. 11 is a side elevational view of the valve system of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a partial cross-sectional view of the valve system of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a footwear care system 40 that can be used to care for footwear. In the illustrated embodiment, the footwear care system 40 is a portable, handheld system that can be used to clean footwear and/or apply material to footwear. As used herein, the term “footwear” is a broad term and is used in its ordinary meaning and includes, without limitation, shoes, boots, sandals, and other wearing apparel for the feet. While the care systems are primarily described as employed for caring for footwear, the care systems can be used in other applications. For example, care system similar to the footwear care system 40 can be used on furniture, wearing apparel, automobiles, and the like. Thus, the footwear care systems can be utilized in various applications.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the footwear care system 40 comprises an elongated body 46, a brush apparatus 50, an applicator system 58, and a digger 70. The body 46 can form a handle 53 that can be conveniently and comfortably gripped by a user. The footwear care system 40 is preferably sized and configured to fit easily into a hand of a user. As such, a user can manually clean footwear with the footwear care system 40. In some embodiment, the cleaned footwear may then be suitable for wearing indoors.

One or more of the brush apparatus 50, the applicator system 58, and the digger 70 can be coupled permanently or temporarily to the body 46. In other embodiments, one or more of these components (or portions thereof) can be integrally formed with the body 46. The brush apparatus 50 and the digger 70 can be positioned at opposing ends of the body 46. The applicator system 58 can be positioned at some point along the body 46, preferably between the brush apparatus 50 and the digger 70. The user can hold the handle 53 to utilize one or more of the brush apparatus 50, the applicator system 58, and the digger 70. In some non-limiting embodiments, the footwear care system 40 can be used for one or more of the following treatments: cleaning, applying material to footwear, scraping of material, and combinations thereof.

A user can grip the handle 53 to hold conveniently and comfortably the footwear care system 40. In some embodiments, the body 46 can be configured to hold material that can be controllably dispensed by the applicator system 58. For example, the body 46 can comprise a reservoir or other storage structure for holding material. The material can be treatment materials (such as waterproofing material), conditioner (e.g., footwear conditioner, leather conditioner, etc.), cleaners, polisher, or other footcare products.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the brush apparatus 50 can comprise a brush head 52 and a plurality of cleaning elements 60 extending from the brush head 52. The brush head 52 can be integrally coupled to the body 46. The brush head 52 can extend laterally from the body 46. For example, the brush head 52 can extend somewhat horizontally from the body 46. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the brush head 52 is somewhat angled vertically from a central horizontal plane extending through the elongated body 46. The cleaning elements 60 are directed away from the applicator system 58. As such, the brush apparatus 50 can be used to brush off material without interference from the digger 70, or the applicator system 58. The orientation and the position of the brush head 52 can be selected depending on the intended use of the footwear care system 40. As shown on FIG. 4, the brush head 52 can have a somewhat circular shape as viewed from above. However, the brush head 52 can have any shape suitable for holding cleaning elements 60. For example, the brush head 52 can have a generally polygonal, elliptical, or other suitable shape.

The illustrated brush head 52 is permanently coupled to the body 46. The brush head 52 and the body 46 can be formed monolithically by a molding process (e.g., an injection molding process), machining process, or other manufacturing process. Alternatively, the brush head 52 can be removably mounted to the body 46. For example, the brush head 52 can be attached to the body 46 by mechanical fasteners, snap fittings, or the like. As such, the brush head 52 can be removed and/or replaced as desired.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, one or more cleaning elements 60 can be attached to the brush head 52 and can be used to clean footwear. In some embodiments, the cleaning elements 60 can comprise bristles, hairs, wires, prongs, or other suitable elongated members for brushing. The illustrated brush apparatus 50 comprises cleaning elements 60 in the form of bristles that are closely spaced together to form a somewhat densely packed arrangement. The bristles can comprise natural (e.g., hair) or synthetic materials (e.g., plastics, polymers, and the like), metal, and the like. As shown in FIG. 2, the upper end 70 of the cleaning elements 60 are preferably permanently mounted to the brushing head 52. Opposing ends 72 of the cleaning elements 60 can be used to brush off material from footwear.

With reference again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the digger 70 is configured to clean footwear. In some embodiments, the digger 70 is configured to clean portions of footwear that may or may not be effectively cleaned with the brush apparatus 50. A user can therefore select and use the digger 70 or the brush apparatus 50 based on the portion of the footwear to be cleaned. Exemplary diggers can be used to clean along grooves, channels, projections, recesses, texturing, crevices, small holes, and other structures of footware. The digger 70 may be able to clean more effectively these structures as compared to a brush. In some cases, the digger 70 and the brush apparatus 50 can be used in combination to clean, e.g., a sole of footwear.

With continued reference to FIG. 2, the digger 70 has a digger body 80 that extends laterally from the elongated body 46 of the footwear care system 40. The digger body 80 then curves downwardly and terminates at a tip 86. The digger body 80 is preferably rigidly coupled to the body 46 of the footwear care system 40 and can be generally rigid. For example, the digger 70 can be sufficiently rigid for scraping dried mud from the soles of a boot. In some embodiments, the digger 70 can be used to scrap off tar, gum, and the like without appreciably deflecting. The stiffness of the digger 70 can selected to minimize or limit bending of the digger 70. The digger 70 can comprise one or more of the following materials: metal (e.g., steel, and its alloys, aluminum), plastics including rigid plastics, polymers, and the like. In some embodiments, a plurality of materials can be used to form the digger. For example, the body 80 can comprise plastic (e.g., a plastic having a generally high modulus of elasticity) that surrounds a reinforcing member, preferably made of metal, extending through the body 80.

As shown in FIG. 2, the digger body 80 can gradually taper outwardly from the body 46 to form the tip 86. The tip 86 can be sized and dimensioned to fit into the tread formed by the sole of footwear. In some embodiments, the tip 86 can be inserted into grooves, between projections, along seams, and the like of footwear to dislodge material. The tip 86 may or may not be gradually tapered and can form a sharp or blunt tip. The illustrated body 80 can form a somewhat hook-shaped pick.

The footwear care system 40 can have any number of diggers 70. Although not illustrated, exemplary footwear care systems can comprise a plurality of diggers. In some embodiments, each digger can have a different size and configuration. As such, one digger can be used to clean some portions of a shoe while another digger can be used to clean another portion of the footwear. Thus, the footwear care system 40 can comprise diggers that are configured to clean different portions of the footwear. However, exemplary footwear care systems can also comprise a plurality of diggers having a similar size and configuration as each other.

FIGS. 2A through 2C illustrate various types of diggers that can be employed. These diggers are similar to the digger 70, except as detailed below. FIG. 2A illustrates an elongated digger 100 that is generally straight. The digger 100 terminates at a somewhat blunt tip 102. The blunt tip 102 is generally rounded to minimize damage to footwear. The digger 100 is especially well suited to clean out holes (e.g., lace holes) of footwear.

FIG. 2B illustrates a digger 106 that is a relatively thin and configured to clean between small features of footwear. The digger 106 can comprise a wire made out of metal or plastic, although the digger 106 can comprise other materials. The digger 106 can be used for detailed cleaning, digging, prying, and the like.

FIG. 2C illustrates a digger 108 comprising a body 110 and a brush system 112. The brush system 112 is mounted to the body 110 and can comprise a plurality of bristles. The digger 108 can be used to dig out material and can also be used to brush off accumulated material (e.g., dirt) from footwear. The digger 108 may be used to brush portions of footwear that may not be adequately cleaned by the brush apparatus 50. For example, the brush 112 of the digger 108 can be used to brush off relatively small features (e.g., narrow grooves, small tread, small protrusions, etc.) of the footwear. Exemplary diggers can comprise one or more of the following: a pick, hook, a shaft, and combinations thereof.

With respect to FIGS. 1 and 2, the applicator system 58 can be positioned at a lower portion of the body 46. In FIGS. 1 and 2, an applicator cap 110 surrounds and protects the components of the applicator system 58. The applicator cap 110 can be removed from the body 46 (see FIGS. 3, 6, and 7) to expose a spreader 120. When a user grips the handle 53, the spreader 120 can be conveniently used to apply a coating of material footwear, such as a boot. The material can protect and prolong the life of the footwear, enhance the appearance the footwear, and otherwise treat the footwear as desired.

With respect to FIGS. 6 and 7, the applicator system 58 can comprise a valve system 140 that is at least partially surrounded by the spreader 120. The valve system 140 and the spreader 120 can be used in combination to deliver material held within the body 46 onto footwear. In some embodiments, the spreader 120 can be used to apply, e.g., waterproofing material, polish, conditioner, cleaners, and other footwear care materials. The material applied by the spreader 120 can be a liquid, gel, paste, or other spreadable material that can be stored in the body 46, although the material may not be stored in the body 46. In some embodiments, the spreader can be used to pick up material stored in a separate container.

With reference to FIGS. 7 and 8, the spreader 120 is attached to a bottom mounting structure 140 of the body 46. The mounting structure 140 is configured to hold the spreader 120. The spreader 120 can be a sponge, absorbent member, pad, or other suitable or structure for spreading material, preferably released from the body 46. In some embodiments, the spreader 120 is an open-celled foam member that can absorb liquid released from the body 46. As viewed from below, as shown in FIG. 6, the spreaders 120 can have a generally elliptical profile. However, the spreader 120 can have any other suitable shape for engaging footwear. Additionally, any number of spreaders 120 can be positioned along the footwear care system 40. For example, a plurality of spreaders can be mounted to one or more portions of the body 46.

With respect to FIGS. 6-8, the spreader 120 can have one or more holes or passageway 146 for facilitating the delivery material onto a surface. The illustrated spreader 120 has a single passageway 146. The passageway 146 can surround at least a portion of the valve assembly 140. An actuator 410 of the valve assembly 140 can be centrally disposed through at least a portion of passage 146.

The valve assembly 140 can be operated to dispense selectively material contained within the body 46 into the passageway 146. When the spreader 120 is applied to a surface of footwear, the material dispensed by the valve system 140 can be captured between the surface of the footwear and the walls of the passageway 146. The spreader 120 can then absorb and spread the material along the surface of the footwear. The valve assembly 140 and the spreader 120 can cooperate to apply effectively material in a controlled manner.

The spreader 120 is spaced from the brush apparatus 50 and the digger 170, and is positioned on the opposite side of the body 46 as the handle 53. In the illustrated embodiment, the spreader 120 is medially disposed along the body 46. As such, a user can use the brush apparatus 50 to clean footwear without contacting the footwear with the spreader 120, if the cap 110 is removed. Similarly, the digger 70 can be utilized without contacting the footwear with the spreader 120, if the cap 110 is removed. Of course, the cap 110 can be used to cover the spreader 120 to prevent both the application of material by the spreader 120 to footwear and the contamination of the spreader 120.

In some embodiments, the spreader 120 is permanently attached to the body 46. Adhesives, glues, and other attachment means can be employed to couple the spreader 120 to a bottom surface 168 (FIG. 8) of the body 46. However, the spreader 120 can be temporarily coupled to the body 46. For example, hoop and loop type fasteners (e.g., VELCRO®), temporary adhesives (e.g., pressure sensitive adhesives), fasteners (e.g., screws or other mechanical fasteners), and other temporary attachment means can be used to couple the spreader 120 to the body 46. In some embodiments, the spreader 120 can be removed from the body 46 so that the spreader 120 can absorb or otherwise pick up material contained in the body 46, a separate container, or excess material disposed on the footwear. The spreader can then be reattached to the body 46 for applying the material to the footwear. In this case, the footwear care system 40 may not comprise a valve system. Thus, the spreader 120 can be permanently or temporarily attached to the body 46 depending on the use of the footwear care system 40.

With respect to FIG. 4, the body 46 can have a generally ellipsoidal shape and extends between the brush apparatus 50 and the digger 70. The handle 53 of the body 46 can be designed to fit easily and comfortably in the hand of the user, such that the user can utilize the brush apparatus 50, the application system 58, and/or the digger 70. Although not illustrated, the brush apparatus 50 and/or the digger 70 can be positioned along the sides of the body 46. In some embodiments, the brush apparatus 50 is positioned along the lateral side of the body 46. It is contemplated that the brush apparatus 50, the digger 70, and the applicator system 58 be located in other positions. For example, the positions of the brush apparatus, the digger, the applicator system can be switch as desired.

With respect to FIG. 8, the body 46 can be attached to the brush apparatus 50 and the digger 70. The illustrated body 46, the brush apparatus 50, and the digger 70 have a one-piece construction, although they can have a multi-piece construction as discussed above. The body 46 can comprises a tank 180 surrounded by a body housing 184. The tank 180 can define one or more chambers or reservoirs 190 suitable for holding a material (preferably material suitable for use on footwear). The material can be in a liquid state and held in the reservoir 190 for any length of time. The valve system 140 is preferably in communication with liquid contained within the reservoir 190. The valve system 140 can be operated to dispense out fluid contained within the reservoir 190.

With reference to FIG. 9, in some embodiments, the tank 180 is configured for single use. For example, the tank 180 can have a one-piece construction and is generally not suitable for refilling. In this case, the footwear care system 40 may be disposable. However, in other embodiments, the tank 180 is configured to be refilled. For example, as shown in FIG. 9, the tank 180 can comprise a lid or cover 200 that is removably coupled to a body 210. The cover 200 can be attached to the tank body 210 by a frictional coupling, interlocking structures, interference structures, or other suitable structures for temporarily coupling the cover 200 to the body 210. The user can remove the cover 200 to fill the reservoir 190 with the desired amount of fluid. After filling the reservoir 190, the cover 200 can be replaced so that the footwear care system 40 can be used again. The material stored within the tank 180 can be replenished any number of times. Preferably, the cover 200 and the body 210 form a generally water tight seal to prevent the leakage of fluid from the reservoir 190. Alternatively, the tank 180 can be configured to hold material (e.g., a shoe polish) that can be applied by a removable spreader. The cover 200 can be removed to wipe polish onto the spreader. The spreader can then apply the polish to a shoe to improve the appearance and bring new life to the shoe. Of course, in this case, the footwear care system may not have a valve system.

With reference again to FIG. 8, the valve assembly 140 extends between the reservoir 190 and the passageway 146. The valve system 140 can be disposed in a throughhole 230 formed by the tank 180. The valve system 140 can be moved from a first position to inhibit fluid flow and a second position to dispense fluid. When the valve system 140 is in the first position (as shown in FIG. 8), the valve system 140 is closed and fluid is retained within the chamber 190. The actuator 110 can be pressed towards the body 146 to move the valve system 140 to the second position to release fluid contained within the reservoir 190. When the valve system 140 occupies the second position, fluid can flow from the reservoir 190 through and out of the valve system 140.

With respect to FIGS. 10-12, the valve system 140 comprises a housing 240 surrounding an actuating mechanism 244 that includes the actuator 210. As shown in FIG. 12, the actuating mechanism 244 extends at least partially through the housing 240. The actuating mechanism 244 can be moved to open and close the valve apparatus 140. The actuating mechanism 244 preferably includes the actuator 210, the plunger 250, a biasing member 290, and a stop 300.

The housing 240 extends upwardly into the reservoir 190 (see FIG. 8) to provide a fluid path through an inner housing chamber 280. The actuating mechanism 244 can be centrally disposed through the chamber 280. The housing 240 defines a throughhole 260 that is configured to cooperate with the plunger 250 to form a seal 270 that prevents fluid from passing between the actuating mechanism 244 and the housing 240. When the actuating mechanism 244 is in the illustrated position, the plunger 250 and the throughhole 260 have matched surfaces that cooperate to form a fluid tight seal.

The plunger 250 is preferably permanently mounted to the actuator 210. The plunger 250 can comprise a somewhat compressible or compliant material, such as foam, rubber, polymers, plastics, and other materials that are suitable for interacting with the housing 240 to form a seal. However, the plunger 250 may not comprise a compressible member. For example, the plunger 250 may comprise metal or a hard plastic.

In the illustrated embodiment, the plunger 250 has a somewhat frusta-conical shape and is configured to mate with the correspondingly tapered throughhole 260. The actuator 210 can extend on either side of the plunger 250. The plunger 250 can be securely mounted to the actuator 210. The portion of the actuator 210 extending upwardly from the plunger 250 can be surrounded by the biasing member 290.

The biasing member 290 can be positioned between the stop 300 and the plunger 250. In some embodiments, the biasing member 290 is in the form of a spring (e.g., a helical spring), although the biasing member 290 can be other devices or mechanisms for applying a force. As such, the biasing number 290 is interposed and captured between the stop 300 and the plunger 250. The stop 300 can engage a tapered portion 320 of the housing 240 such that the biasing member 290 applies a downwardly force to the plunger 250 to preferably maintain the seal 270. However, when an upwardly directed force 330, sufficient to overcome the downward force applied by the biasing member 290, is applied to the actuator 210, the actuator 210 is moved upwardly. The plunger 250 can be displaced upwardly towards the stop 300 to break the seal 270. Thus, the actuator 210 and the plunger 250 can be moved relative to the stop 300 to compress the biasing member 290. When the plunger 250 is moved upwardly and spaced from the surface of the throughhole 260, fluid within the reservoir 190 can flow through the chamber 280, between the plunger 250 and the throughhole 260, and into the spreader 120.

Although not illustrated, it is contemplated that other actuating mechanisms can be used to release selectively fluid contained in the reservoir 190. In view of the present disclosure, a skilled artisan can select the design and configuration of the valve assembly for different applications. In some embodiments, the footwear care system comprises a plurality of valve systems.

In operation, if a user presses the spreader 120 against a surface of footwear, the actuator 210 may be depressed to release fluid out of the reservoir 190 and ultimately into the spreader 120. The spreader 120 can at least partially absorb the fluid and apply the fluid to the surface of the footwear as the user slides the spreader 120 along the footwear. The fluid can be any fluid suitable for application to footwear. For example, the fluid can comprise waterproofing liquid designed to protect (e.g., waterproof) the footwear. The footwear care system 40 can be used to any number of coats of treatment fluid to the footwear. Of course, if the user does not apply sufficient force to depress the actuator 210, the valve system 140 remains closed and does not release material from the reservoir 190, although the spreader 120 can still be used to spread material. The user can repeatedly actuate the actuator 210 to dispense the desired amount of fluid from the reservoir 190, as desired.

The footwear care systems disclosed herein may be formed through any suitable means. The various methods and techniques described above provide a number of ways to carry out the invention. Of course, it is to be understood that not necessarily all objectives or advantages described may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment described herein. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the methods may be performed in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objectives or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

Furthermore, the skilled artisan will recognize the interchangeability of various features from different embodiments disclosed herein. Similarly, the various features and steps discussed above, as well as other known equivalents for each such feature or step, can be mixed and matched by one of ordinary skill in this art to perform methods in accordance with principles described herein. Additionally, the methods which is described and illustrated herein is not limited to the exact sequence of acts described, nor is it necessarily limited to the practice of all of the acts set forth. Other sequences of events or acts, or less than all of the events, or simultaneous occurrence of the events, may be utilized in practicing the embodiments of the invention.

Although the invention has been disclosed in the context of certain embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited by the specific disclosures of preferred embodiments herein.