Title:
Hair Retaining Clip with Elastic Biasing Member
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is directed to a hair retaining clip having a first clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion, a second clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion, and a hinge pivotally connecting the first and second clip members such that the first and second clip members are rotatable between a normal closed position and an open position. The hair retaining clip further includes an elastic member disposed between and attached to the claw portions of the first and second clip members. The elastic member biases the first and second clip members toward the normal closed position and retains the first and second clip members in the normal closed position.



Inventors:
Harrison, Joni M. (Atlanta, GA, US)
Chudzik, Stan (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Defenbaugh, Michael (Marietta, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/609210
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
12/11/2006
Assignee:
GOODY PRODUCTS (Freeport, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D8/20
View Patent Images:
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20080105270THERAPEUTIC STYLING BRUSH WITH INFUSION DELIVERYMay, 2008Walters et al.
20030209250Artificial nail having a color transition portionNovember, 2003Chang
20040031500Cuticle oil gel composition, delivery system and method of dispensing sameFebruary, 2004Reyzis
20050045200Shaving brush having a cavity for shaving creamMarch, 2005Zeunik
20050000538Combination key holder and sanitary dental floss dispenserJanuary, 2005Blasi et al.
20080105271CHAKRA SKIN CARE MASK SYSTEM AND METHODMay, 2008Valenty et al.



Primary Examiner:
DOAN, ROBYN KIEU
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARDNER GROFF GREENWALD & VILLANUEVA, PC (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hair retaining clip, comprising: a first clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion; a second clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion; a hinge pivotally connecting the first and second clip members such that the first and second clip members are rotatable between a normal closed position and an open position; and an elastic member disposed between and attached to the claw portions of the first and second clip members, wherein the elastic member biases the first and second clip members toward the normal closed position and retains the first and second clip members in the normal closed position.

2. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elastic member comprises an elastic band having first and second ends, a first end stop connected to the first end of the elastic band, and a second end stop connected to the second end of the elastic band, wherein the first end stop is connected to the claw portion of the first clip member and the second end stop is connected to the claw portion of the second clip member.

3. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 2, wherein the claw portions of the first and second clip members each comprise an opening extending therethrough, and wherein each of the end stops partially extends through the opening through the corresponding claw portion and engages the outer surface of the corresponding claw portion to prevent the end stop from passing through the opening.

4. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 3, wherein each end stop comprises a connection portion connected to the corresponding end of the elastic band, and outwardly extending tabs, wherein the connection portion of each end stop is disposed in the opening of the corresponding claw portion to prevent the end stop from passing through the opening.

5. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 3, wherein each end stop comprises an elongated rod and a body having outwardly extending wings, wherein the wings of the end stop are folded around and engage the corresponding end of the elastic band to connect the end stop to the end of the elastic band, and wherein the length of the rod is greater than the length of the corresponding opening such that the ends of the rod engage the outer surface of the claw portion beyond the ends of the opening.

6. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 2, wherein the elastic member comprises a rubber thread stitched through the elastic band such that portions of the rubber thread are exposed through the top and bottom surfaces of the elastic band, and wherein the rubber thread has a greater coefficient of friction than the surfaces of the elastic band.

7. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 1, wherein the hinge of the hair retaining clip is a living hinge.

8. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 1, wherein the first and second clip members and the hinge are integrally molded from the same material as a single unitary component.

9. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elastic member comprises an elastic band having first and second ends, a first end loop connected to the first end of the elastic band, and a second end loop connected to the second end of the elastic bands wherein the first end loop is disposed around the claw portion of the first clip member and the second end loop is disposed around the claw portion of the second clip member.

10. A hair retaining clip in accordance with claim 1, wherein each of the claw portions comprises hooks extending inwardly from an inner surface of the claw portion, and wherein the elastic member is attached to the hooks on the inner surfaces of the claw portions.

11. A clip for retaining an elongated article, comprising: a first clip member having a handle portion, a body and teeth extending outwardly from the body; a second clip member having a handle portion, a body and teeth extending outwardly from the body; a hinge pivotally connecting the first and second clip members such that the first and second clip members are rotatable between a normal closed position with the teeth interlocked and an open position with the bodies and the teeth separated; and an elastic member comprising: an elastic band having first and second ends, a first end stop connected to the first end of the elastic band, and a second end stop connected to the second end of the elastic band, wherein the first end stop is connected to the body of the first clip member and the second end stop is connected to the body of the second clip member, and the elastic band biases the first and second clip members toward the normal closed position and retains the first and second clip members in the normal closed position.

12. A clip in accordance with claim 11, wherein the bodies of the first and second clip members each comprise an opening extending therethrough, and wherein each of the end stops partially extends through the opening through the corresponding body and engages the outer surface of the corresponding body to prevent the end stop from passing through the opening.

13. A clip in accordance with claim 12, wherein each end stop comprises a connection portion connected to the corresponding end of the elastic band, and outwardly extending tabs, wherein the connection portion of each end stop is disposed in the opening of the corresponding body to prevent the end stop from passing through the opening.

14. A clip in accordance with claim 13, wherein each end stop comprises an elongated rod and a body having outwardly extending wings, wherein the wings of the end stop are folded around and engage the corresponding end of the elastic band to connect the end stop to the end of the elastic band, and wherein the length of the rod is greater than the length of the corresponding opening such that the ends of the rod engage the outer surface of the body beyond the ends of the opening.

15. A clip in accordance with claim 12, wherein the elastic member comprises a rubber thread stitched through the elastic band such that portions of the rubber thread are exposed through the top and bottom surfaces of the elastic band, and wherein the rubber thread has a greater coefficient of friction than the surfaces of the elastic band.

16. A clip in accordance with claim 11, wherein the hinge of the clip is a living hinge.

17. A clip in accordance with claim 11, wherein the first and second clip members and the hinge are integrally molded from the same material as a single unitary component.

18. A clip in accordance with claim 11, wherein the first end stop comprises a first end loop connected to the first end of the elastic band, and a second end loop connected to the second end of the elastic band, wherein the first end loop is disposed around the body of the first clip member and the second end loop is disposed around the body of the second clip member.

19. A clip in accordance with claim 11, wherein each of the bodies comprises hooks extending inwardly from an inner surface of the body, and wherein the first end stop is connected to the hooks on the inner surface of the body of the first clip member and the second end stop is connected to the hooks on the inner surface of the body of the second clip member.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/302,647, filed on Dec. 14, 2005, which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to a device for retaining strands of hair and, more particularly, to a retaining clip including an elastic member for biasing portions of the retaining clip together.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

Retaining clips and, more specifically, claw clips for holding or retaining strands of hair during hair care or hair styling are widely used and have been around for many years.

One such example of a retaining clip is shown in U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 2004/0065341 to La Fauci. This application discloses a jaw hair clip for firmly holding hair. The jaw hair clip includes a first jaw portion pivotally attached to a second jaw portion via a hinge. The first and second jaw portions are biased together by a spring disposed on the hinge. Rubber or soft plastic beading is formed on at least one of the first or second jaw portions to soften the pressure applied to the hair, while minimizing slippage.

Another example of a retaining clip is shown in U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 2004/0149306 to Rogers. This application discloses a hair holding device with an elastic closure operation. The hair holding device includes first and second body members pivotally connected via a hinge. Each of the body members includes a hair gripping portion for engaging strands of hair. The first and second body members are biased together with a spring disposed at the hinge. The first and second body member include at least one elastomeric member for biasing the first and second body members together once the hair holding device is in a closed position.

These and similar retaining clips use a metal spring to bias the clips to their normal closed position to clamp down upon the hair of the person wearing the clip. In some instances, stands of hair may become tangled in the hinge and/or spring, and be pulled out when the clip is removed causing discomfort to the wearer. Consequently, a need exist for a retaining clip that reduces the likelihood of hair becoming tangled in the hinge while still providing the necessary gripping of the hair when the clip is worn.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,535,765 to Takashima discloses a hair binder for binding a bunch of long hair that includes an elastic hair band, a pair of frames joined at proximal ends thereof for opening and closing relative to each other, the frames forming a circle when closed, a first engaging structure disposed at distal ends of the pair of frames for engaging opposite ends of the band, and a second engaging structure disposed at the proximal ends for engaging intermediate positions of the band when the frames are opened, and releasing the intermediate positions when the frames are closed. While the elastic band may bias the hair binder toward a closed position when the hair binder is opened, the hair binder and band are not configured for the band to provide a biasing force to retain the hair binder in the closed position when the frames are closed.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In one aspect, the invention is directed to a hair retaining clip having a first clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion, a second clip member including a handle portion and a claw portion, and a hinge pivotally connecting the first and second clip members such that the first and second clip members are rotatable between a normal closed position and an open position. The hair retaining clip further includes an elastic member disposed between and attached to the claw portions of the first and second clip members. The elastic member biases the first and second clip members toward the normal closed position and retains the first and second clip members in the normal closed position.

In another aspect, the invention is directed to a clip for retaining an elongated article. The clip includes a first clip member having a handle portion, a body and teeth extending outwardly from the body, a second clip member having a handle portion, a body and teeth extending outwardly from the body, and a hinge pivotally connecting the first and second clip members such that the first and second clip members are rotatable between a normal closed position with the teeth interlocked and an open position with the bodies and the teeth separated. The clip further includes an elastic member having an elastic band having first and second ends, a first end stop connected to the first end of the elastic band, and a second end stop connected to the second end of the elastic band. The first end stop is connected to the body of the first clip member and the second end stop is connected to the body of the second clip member, and the elastic band biases the first and second clip members toward the normal closed position and retains the first and second clip members in the normal closed position.

Additional aspects of the invention are defined by the claims of this patent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of a hair retaining clip in a generally closed position according to one embodiment of the disclosure;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the hair retaining clip of FIG. 1 in a generally open position;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an elastic member of detail 3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the hair clip of FIG. 1 in an open position ready to receive a bundle of hair;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the hair clip of FIG. 1 in a closed position retaining a bundle of hair;

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of another embodiment of the hair retaining clip;

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of another alternate embodiment of the hair retaining clip;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the hair clip of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is an isometric view of another alternate embodiment of the hair retaining clip;

FIG. 10 is an isometric view of another alternate embodiment of the hair retaining clip,

FIG. 11 is an isometric view of another alternate embodiment of the hair retaining clip;

FIG. 12 is an isometric view of an alternative embodiment of the hair retaining clip of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is an isometric view of the hair clip of FIG. 12 with an end stop pulled out of the corresponding opening and stretching the elastic band;

FIG. 14 is a side view of the hair clip of FIG. 12 in a closed position;

FIG. 15 is a side view of the hair clip of FIG. 12 in an open position ready to receive a bundle of hair;

FIG. 16 is a side view of the hair clip of FIG. 12 in a closed position retaining a bundle of hair;

FIG. 17 is an exploded view of one end of an embodiment of an elastic band and end stop for the hair clip of FIG. 12;

FIG. 18 is an isometric view of an alternative embodiment of an elastic band and end stop for the hair clip of FIG. 12;

FIG. 19 is an isometric view of a further alternative embodiment of an elastic band and end stop for the hair clip of FIG. 12;

FIG. 20 is an exploded view of one end of the elastic band and end stop of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is an isometric view of a further alternative embodiment of the hair retaining clip wherein the first and second clip members and hinge are integrally formed;

FIG. 22 is an exploded isometric view of the hair clip of FIG. 22;

FIG. 23 is an isometric view of a still further embodiment of the hair retaining clip; and

FIG. 24 is an isometric view of the elastic band of the hair clip of FIG. 23.

While the method and device described herein are susceptible to various modifications and alternative constructions, certain illustrative embodiments thereof have been shown in the drawings and will be described below in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the disclosure and the claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.

It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term by limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. § 112, sixth paragraph.

Referring now to the drawings and with specific reference to FIGS. 1 and 2a hair retaining clip constructed in accordance with the teachings of he disclosure is generally depicted by reference numeral 20. As shown therein, the clip 20 in this exemplary embodiment, includes a first half or first clip member 22, a second half or second clip member 24, a hinge 26, and an elastic member 28. The first and second clip members 22, 24 are pivotally connected via the hinge 26 near a handle 30 of the clip 20. The handle 30 includes a first handle portion 32 that is part of the first clip member 22, and a second handle portion 34 that is part of the second clip member 24. A claw or retaining portion 36 is disposed opposite the handle 30 on the clip 20. As with the handle 30, the claw 36 includes a first claw portion 38 that is part of the first clip member 22 and a second claw portion 40 that is part of the second clip member 24.

The first claw portion 38, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, includes and is defined by a plurality of fingers 52a that are at least partially curved or angled. Similarly, the second claw portion 40, includes and is defined by a plurality of fingers 52b that are at least partially curved or angled. Furthermore, the first and second clip members 22, 24 may include an intermediate connecting structure between the first and second handle portions 32, 34 and the first and second claw portions 38, 40 respectively. The elastic member 28 is disposed between and biases the first clip member 22 and the second clip member 24 together. Specifically, the elastic member 28 is connected to the hair clip 20 between the hinge 26 and the claw 36, and provides a biasing force to close the clip 20, thereby replacing the coil springs of previous clips that typically provide a bias at the hinge.

The clip 20, therefore, is opened or placed in an open position, as seen in FIG. 2, by forcing the first and second handle portions 32, 34 towards each other, thereby moving the first and second claw portions 38, 40 of the claw 36 apart. Similarly, as seen in FIG. 1, the resiliency of the elastic member 28, which is disposed between the first and second halves 22, 24 of the clip 20, will close or bias the claw 36 in a closed position.

The clip 20, as disclosed herein, may be used to retain strands of hair such as, for example, in a pony tail, but may be used in other fashions and manners that may or may not include the retention of hair.

The clip 20 and, more specifically, the first clip member 22, the second clip member 24, and at least portions of the hinge 26, may be constructed from a variety of materials, including, but not limited to wood, plastic, metal and composites. Preferably, however, the above components are constructed with a injection molding process using plastic materials such as ABS, polypropelene, high impact polystyrene, or the like.

The elastic member 28 may be constructed from a material including but not limited to plastic, rubber, natural rubber, silicone, or other elastic or viscoelastic materials. The elastic member 28 may form a continuous loop that may also contain breaks therebetween. The elastic member 28 may have a round cross-sectional area but may have other cross-sectional shapes, such as rectangular, oval, square, triangular, etc. In this exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the elastic member 28 includes a core 45 surrounded by and substantially enclosed by a sheath 47. The sheath 47 further includes a friction member 49 that may be part of the sheath 47 or is simply threaded there through. A more detailed description of this embodiment of the elastic member 28 can be found in U.S. Patent Application 60/628,148 which is expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes.

The first clip member 22, as best illustrated in FIG. 1 and 2, includes the first handle portion 32 at one end and the first claw portion 38 at the other end. A first hinge portion 44 is disposed on the first clip member 22 and, more specifically, is disposed near the first handle portion 32. The first hinge portion 44 includes a plurality of tabs 46a having apertures 48a for receiving a pin 50. Similarly, the second member 24 includes the second handle portion 34 at one end and the second claw portion 40 at the other end. A second hinge portion 51 is disposed on the second clip member 24 and, more specifically, is disposed near the second handle portion 34. The second hinge portion 51 includes a plurality of protrusions 46b having apertures 48b for receiving the pin 50.

In this embodiment, the handle portions 32, 34 are each disposed at an angle relative to the claw 36, to provide room and leverage for opening the clip 20 via the handle 30. The first and second clip members 22, 24 are, therefore, substantially similar in stricture. The first and second clip members 22, 24 differ, however, in that the spacing of some of the components are offset or misaligned to allow the clip 20 to operate and close. Specifically, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the tabs 46a are offset relative to the tabs 46b such that the pin 50 can engage both the tabs 46a and 46b, and the fingers 52a, 52b are offset such that the claw 36 can close.

The elastic member 28, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, may be permanently or removably connected to the clip 20. In this exemplary embodiment, the elastic member 28 is secured by engaging the elastic member 28 with a plurality of slots 54a disposed on the first and second clip members 22, 24. Specifically, the slots 54a are disposed on outer edges of each of the first and second clip members 22, 24 such that the elastic member 28 can be inserted into the slots 54a without having to cut the elastic member 28, and thereby allowing easy replacement of the elastic member 28.

An operation of the clip 20 will be herein described as retaining a bundle of hair 70, but it should be understood that the clip 20 may be used to retain, hold, or be disposed on a variety of objects in a variety of ways. In operation, as best illustrated in FIG. 4, a user may press the first and second handle portions 32, 34 towards each other, thereby opening the claw 36. The elastic member 28 is now in a taught state biasing the first and second claw portions 38, 40 of the claw 36 toward each other. Contemporaneously, the area defined by the claw 36 is separated by the elastic member 28 creating an upper and a lower area, as oriented in FIGS. 4 and 5. The lower of area is defined by the claw 36 and the elastic member 28, and receives the bundle of hair 70. The upper area is be defined by the claw 36 and the elastic member 28, but may also be defined by the handle 30.

The clip 20, as illustrated in FIG. 5, is then engaged with the bundle of hair 70, by encompassing the bundle of hair 70 with the claw 36. As a result, an upper side of bundle of hair, as oriented in FIGS. 4 and 5, abuts a portion of the elastic member 28 and a lower side of bundle of hair 70 abuts the claw 36. As a result, the strands of hair that comprise the bundle of hair 70 are prevented from engaging the hinge 26 by virtue of the barrier created by the elastic member 28. This is another benefit of the hair clip 20, as it prevents the entanglement of the strands of hair with the hinge 26.

The above exemplary embodiment may be varied or altered to achieve and create additional or alternative features. For example, as seen in FIG. 6, a clip 120 may include a living hinge 26a that may be attached to the clip 120 via glue, adhesive, or other attachment means. Alternatively, the living hinge 26a may be integrally molded in a one or multi step injection molding process with first and/or second members 122, 124.

As seen in FIGS. 7 and 8, a clip 220 may include hooks 54b′ disposed on first and second clip members 222, 224 through which an elastic member 228 is disposed. As a result, the elastic member 228 may easily be removed or replaced due to the nature of the hook 54b′ configuration. Alternatively, the clip 220 may include eyelets disposed on the first and second clip members 222, 224. The hooks 54b′ may be attached via adhesive or other connection mechanism after the clip members 222, 224 are fabricated, or the hooks 54b′ may be integrally molded as components of the clip members 22, 224. To facilitate the molding of the clip members 222, 224 and hooks 54b′, such as during an injection molding process, it may be necessary to mold hook clearance holes 230 through the surfaces of the clip members 222, 224. The holes 230 through the clip members 222, 224 may be concealed by covers 232 (FIG. 8) that may attach to the outer surfaces of the clip members 222, 224 at the holes 230. The covers 232 may include outwardly extending tabs 234 that may be inserted into the holes 230 to align the covers 232. The illustrated tabs 234 include a mechanical lock in the form of tips 236 configured to deflect the tabs 234 inwardly as the tabs 234 are inserted into the holes 230, and snap back to engage the inner surfaces of the clip members 222, 224 to hold the cover 232 in place. Alternatively, or in addition, the covers 232 and/or tabs 234 may be glued, sonically welded or otherwise attached to the clip members 222, 224.

A clip 320 may also include apertures 54c for receiving an elastic member 328, as illustrated in FIG. 9. In this exemplary embodiment, the elastic member 328 may be looped or threaded through the apertures 54c in the first and second members 322, 324. More specifically, the elastic member 328 may be looped through one of the apertures 54c in the first members 322 and through one or more of the apertures 54c in the second member 324, and then may be fasten to itself in an area defined by a claw 336 with a knot or other manner of connection known to those skilled in the art. Alternatively and/or additionally, the elastic member 328 may simply be threaded through one or more of the apertures 54c in the first and second members 322, 324 and then may be fasten on the other side of the first and second members 322, 324 with a button, knob, knot, or the like.

The clip 20 may also include an elastic member 428 constructed from a thermal plastic elastomer (TPE) material, as seen in FIG. 10. The TPE web 428 may be molded into a clip 420 as part of a multiphase injection molding process. Specifically, the first and second clip members 422, 424 may include apertures 54d or similar structure for receiving the web 428. Additionally, the web 428 may include a stop or plug 443 to secure the web 428 in the first and second clip members 422, 424.

A clip 520, as illustrated in FIG. 1, may also include an elastic member 528 comprising a woven elastic web having a friction member 549 as was described previously. As further shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, the hair clip 520 includes clip members 522, 524 pivotally connected by a hinge 526 and biased together by an elastic member 528. The clip member 522 includes a body portion 530 and outwardly extending teeth 532 disposed on one side of the hinge 526, and a handle portion 534 disposed on the opposite side of the hinge 526. Similarly, the clip member 524 includes a body portion 540, teeth 542 and a handle portion 544 configured and aligned so that the teeth 532, 542 mesh when the body portions 530, 540 are biased together (See FIG. 15), and the body portions 530, 540 and teeth 532, 542 rotate to an open position when the handle portions 534, 544 are pressed together (See FIG. 16).

The biasing force causing the hair clip 520 to be oriented in the normal closed position is provided by the elastic member 528. The elastic member 528 includes an elastic band 550 and oppositely disposed end stops 552, 554. The elastic band 550 may be similar in construction to the elastic member as described above, or may be any other type of elastic band that may apply a biasing force in the form of the tension in the elastic band 550 when it is stretched between the body portions 530, 540 of the clip members 522, 524, respectively. In the illustrated embodiment, the elastic band 550 may be similar to the elastic bands used in the waists bands of athletic shorts or coats, or other parts of clothing where it is desirable to have the garment cling snuggly to the body. The friction member 549 is stitched or woven into the elastic band 550 so that the friction member 549 is partially exposed through the top and bottom surfaces of the elastic band 550. The friction member 549 may be a thread formed from rubber or other material having a greater coefficient of friction than the outer surfaces of the elastic band 550, and may be elastic such that the thread 549 stretches along with the elastic band 550. The thread 549 is stitched through the elastic band 550 in rows with the thread 549 alternatively being exposed through the top and bottom surfaces of the elastic band 550 (See FIGS. 14-16).

The end stops 552, 554 are connected to the elastic band 550 at either end, and each include a connection portion 556 to which the corresponding end of the elastic band 550 is attached (FIG. 13). Each end stop 552, 554 further includes a pair of tabs 558 extending outwardly on opposite ends of the end stop 552, 554. The end stops 552, 554 are configured to be received into corresponding openings 536, 546 through the bodies 530, 540 of the clip members 522, 524, respectively. The openings 536, 546 are dimensioned to be able to receive the connection portions 556 of the end stops 552, 554, with the tabs 558 of the end stops 552, 554 engaging the outer surfaces of the bodies 530, 540 proximate the openings 536, 546. Consequently, the widths and lengths of the openings 536, 546 are larger than the widths and lengths of the connection portions 556, but with the tabs 558 extending beyond the lengthwise ends of the openings 536, 546.

The elastic member 528 is attached to the hair clip 520 by inserting one of the tabs 558 and corresponding end of the end stop 554 through the opening 546 from the inside of the hair clip 520. The remainder of the end stop 554 is pulled through the opening 546, the end stop 554 is reoriented with the inward surfaces of the tabs 558 facing the outer surface of the body 540, and the connection portion 556 is inserted into the opening 546 with the tabs 558 engaging the outer surface of the body 540. Once the end stop 554 is set, the end stop 552 is inserted through the opening 536 from the inside of the hair clip 520 and set in a similar manner to complete the assembly of the hair clip 520.

As shown in FIG. 14, in the normal closed position, the clip members 522, 524 are biased together by the elastic members 528 with the teeth 532, 542 interlocking, thereby eliminating the need for a metal spring as typically used in prior hair clips. The elastic band 550 and end stops 552, 554 are dimensioned such that tension exists in the elastic band 550 even when the hair clip 520 is in the closed position. When force is applied to the handle portions 534, 544 as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 15, the clip members 522, 524 rotate about the hinge 526 to separate the teeth 532, 542 and open the hair clip 520. The elastic band 550 and threads 549 stretch to allow the separation of the clip members 522, 524. While the clip 520 is in the open position, the article 560 to be clipped, such as a bundle of hair, may be inserted through the open end of the clip 520 and between the clip members 522, 524 proximate the surface of the elastic band 550. When the force on the grip portions 534, 544 is released, the tension in the elastic band 550 pulls the clip members 522, 524 back toward the normal closed position, with the article 560 being encircled by the teeth 532, 542 and elastic band 550 (FIG. 16). The portion of the thread 549 exposed through the surface of the elastic band 550 facing the teeth 532, 542 engages the article 560 to further prevent slippage of the clip 520 along the article 560 over time and during physical activities.

The end stops 552, 554 of the elastic member 528 may be fabricated from any appropriate material with sufficient hardness to withstand the forces applied by the elastic band 550 as the hair clip 520 is repeatedly opened. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 17, an end stop 552, 554 may have a two-piece construction wherein the end stop 552, 554 is divided by a plane running through the length of the end stop 552, 554 resulting in an upper section 570 and a lower section 572 each having part of the connection portion 556. As can be seen in FIG. 17, the connection portion 556 may include a plurality of sharp pointed projections 574 extending inwardly from the upper and lower inner surfaces of the connection portion 556. During assembly, one end of the elastic band 550 is inserted into the lower section 572 of the connection portion 556, and the upper section 570 is brought into alignment with the lower section 572 and attached thereto via adhesive, sonic welding or other appropriate connection mechanism. When the sections 570, 572 are connected, the projections 574 on the inner surface of the connection portion 556 engage the end of the elastic band 550 to prevent the elastic band 550 from being pulled out during normal use of the hair clip 520. In alternative embodiments, the end stops 552, 554 may have a three-piece construction, with the connection portion 556 being divided as discussed above and the end portion including the tabs 558 being a separate piece that is attached after the sections of the connection portion 556 are assembled.

The end stops 552, 554 may also be configured in a one-piece construction. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 18, the end stops 552, 554 include openings 580 through the wall of the connection portion 556. The openings 580 allow an adhesive, such as cyanoacrylate glue, to be dripped into the connection portion 556 after the end of the elastic band 550 is inserted to secure the end of the elastic band 550 therein.

In an alternative one-piece construction shown in FIGS. 19 and 20, an end stop 590 may be fabricated from metal such that the end stop 590 may be stamped and folded to the final position configuration shown in FIG. 20 to retain the end of the elastic band 550. The end stop 590 may include an elongated rod 592 having a length longer than the length of the openings 536, 546, and a connection portion body 594 attached to the rod 592 by an intermediate connection 596. The body 594 includes wings 598 extending outwardly on either side, and sharp pointed projections 600 extending from the surface thereof. Because the end stop 590 is fabricated from metal, the wings 600 may be bent inwardly around the body 594 to form the connection portion 602. Consequently, during assembly, the end of the elastic band 550 is aligned with the body 594 of the end stop 590 between the wings 598, and the wings 598 are bent inwardly as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 20 around the end of the elastic band 550 and crimped so that the projections 600 engage the end of the elastic band 550 and retain the elastic band 550. In addition or as an alternative to the projections 600, the ends of the wings 598 may have serrated edges that embed in the elastic band 550 when the wings 598 are crimped down onto the elastic band 550.

FIGS. 21 and 22 illustrate a further alternative embodiment of a hair clip 620 having the same general configuration as the hair clip 520, but with the clip members 522, 524 being integrally molded as a single unitary component, and being connected by a living hinge 622. The clip members 522, 524 may be injection molded from an appropriate resin, such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), nylon, polypropylene, polycarbonate, high impact polystyrene (HIPS), general purpose styrene, cellulose acetate, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), Santoprene, Neoprene, styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) and the like, that may allow the living hinge 622 to flex through a sufficient number of cycles of opening and closing the hair clip 620 without the material failing so that the hair clip 620 achieves a desired life expectancy. The handle portions 534, 544 may include inner handle portions 624 connected to each other at one end by the living hinge 622, and outer handle portions 626 connected to the corresponding inner handle portions 624 by additional living hinges 628. After the combined clip members 522, 524 are formed, the inner handle portions 624 are folded about the living hinges 622, 628 to the positions shown in FIG. 22. To hold the clip members 522, 524 in the folded configuration of FIG. 22, the facing surfaces of the inner handle portions 624 and outer handle portions 626 may be connected via a mechanical locking mechanism molded therein when the clip members 522, 524 are fabricated, or by an adhesive, sonic welding or other appropriate connection mechanism. Assembly of the hair clip 620 may then be completed by attaching the elastic member 528 to the clip members 522, 524 as discussed above.

A further alternative embodiment of a hair clip 640 in accordance with the present disclosure is shown in FIGS. 23 and 24. Referring to FIG. 23, the hair clip 640 has the same general configuration as the hair clip 520, with clip members 522, 524 connected by hinge 526. However, instead of providing openings through the bodies 530, 540, the bodies 530, 540 and elastic member 642 are configured such that loops 644, 646 slide over the bodies 530, 540 to position an elastic band 648 as need to apply the tensile force and bias the clip members 522, 524 to the normal closed position as discussed above. In the illustrated embodiment, the loops 644, 646 and elastic band 648 of the elastic member 642 are integrally formed as a single unitary component that may be fabricated from injection molded TPE, stamped natural or synthetic rubber, or other appropriate material having the necessary elasticity. If necessary to improve the grip on articles to which the hair clip 620 is clipped, the elastic band 648 may include raise ribs 650 providing a contoured surface to the elastic band 648. Of course, those skilled in the art will understand that the elastic member 642 may be fabricated in a similar manner as the end stops 552, 554 as described above, with the loops 644, 646 being separate components attached to the ends of the elastic band 648. The loops 644, 646 are slipped over the teeth 532, 542 of the clip members 522, 524 and onto the bodies 530, 540. If necessary, the bodies 530, 540 may included shoulders 650 extending outwardly from the outer surfaces thereof to engage and position the loops 644, 646 in the appropriate locations on the bodies 530, 540.

In addition to the embodiments shown and described herein, other variations of hair clips will be apparent to those skilled in the art and are contemplated by the inventors as having use in hair clips in accordance with the present disclosure. The clip members of the hair clips may be fabricated from any appropriate material, including those mentioned at various times throughout the present disclosure. Moreover, the clip members maybe over-molded with other materials for aesthetic or function treatments. In one embodiment, a 60-70 durometer TPE may be over-molded onto the teeth of the claw clip that are inserted into the hair. The over-mold treatment may provide additional hair gripping surface area due to the soft, pliable, textured and tacky feel that TPE resins may be designed to exhibit.

As further alternatives, the configurations of the openings in the bodies of the clip members and the end stops may be varied to facilitate connection and retention of the end stops. The end stops and openings may be configured with mechanical locking mechanisms to allow the end stops to snap into the openings using grooves, tabs or other mechanisms to secure the end stops in place. The “free floating” configuration of the end stops and openings that holds the elastic member in place without a positive mechanical locking mechanism may also be modified as desired, such as to include notches, grooves or other recesses around the openings to receive the tabs of the end stops such that the end stops do not extend beyond the outer surface of the clip members. As a further alternative, the clip members and end stops may be configured so that the tabs of the end stops slide into channels on the inner surfaces of the clip members, or with hooks similar to those shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 and configured to engage the end stops or loops of the elastic members as discussed in the embodiments detailed above.

It is also contemplated that alternative hinge configurations may be implemented. In the embodiments discussed above, the hinge point attaching the clip members may utilize a single metal or plastic axle. Alternatively, the hinge point may be engineered with interlocking tabs that snap together for assembly. Though not shown, a torsion spring may be used in conjunction with the elastic band, but with the band shielding the spring from hair retained by the hair clip to prevent the hair from becoming tangled in the spring. In hair clips implementing a living hinge, as an alternative to molding the clip members together as shown in FIGS. 21 and 22, a secondary flexible material such as TPE maybe over-molded onto the clip members to connect the clip members.

While the clips are primarily disclosed herein as being used to clip and retain bundles of hair, clips in accordance to the present disclosure may be used to gather other stands of material, such as groups of power cords, computer cables and the like. Moreover, the attachment mechanism for the elastic band may provide the ability to adjust the clamping force to meet the needs of a specific task for which the clip is used. The clip may be provided with multiple interchangeable elastic bands each having a different elasticity to provide a range of clamping force. By connecting the appropriate elastic band to the clip members, the desired clamping force may be provided to hold the clipped article.

While the present invention has been described with reference to specific examples, which are intended to be illustrative only and not to be limiting of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that changes, additions or deletions may be made to the disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.