Title:
Lightweight wrestling headgear
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lightweight wrestling headgear that includes a pair of ear covering assemblies and at least three straps that are coupled between the pair of ear coverings to secure the headgear onto the head of a wrestler. The pair of ear covering assemblies each includes a relatively soft inner cushion and a relatively hard outer shell portion. The relatively hard outer shell portions have a deeply cupped portion formed with a symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions which each extend outward from a central portion of the relatively hard outer shell portions.



Inventors:
Keen, James C. (Ann Arbor, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/478050
Publication Date:
01/17/2008
Filing Date:
06/29/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SUTTON, ANDREW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUTZEL LONG, P.C. (Bloomfield Hills, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wrestling headgear which comprises: a pair of ear covering assemblies; and at least three straps that are coupled between pair of ear coverings to secure the headgear onto the head of a wrestler, said pair of ear covering assemblies each comprising: a relatively soft inner cushion; and a relatively hard outer shell portion, each of said relatively hard outer shell portions having a deeply cupped portion formed with a symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions and solid center portion.

2. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the curved protrusions each extend outward from the center portion of the relatively hard outer shell portions.

3. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the curved protrusions of the symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions are spaced apart by curved relief or recessed portions.

4. A wrestling headgear according to claim 3, further comprising a plurality of slots in the curved relief or recessed portions.

5. A wrestling headgear according to claim 4, wherein the slots are aligned with the curved protrusions in a curved pattern.

6. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the solid center portion comprises a geometric shape.

7. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the solid center portion comprises a cover.

8. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the solid center portion is recessed.

9. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein each of the relatively soft inner cushions and the relatively hard outer shell portions include slots therein for receiving the straps there through and at least two of the at least three straps extend though said slots to couple the relatively soft inner cushions and the relatively hard outer shell portions together.

10. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the at least three straps includes a chin strap having at least one end which is coupled to one of the relatively hard shell portions by a snap fastener.

11. A wrestling headgear according to claim 10, wherein at least one end of the chin strap is configured to have an adjustable length.

12. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein each of the relatively soft inner cushions has a periphery that includes scalloped or recessed portions.

13. A wrestling headgear according to claim 11, wherein each of the relatively hard outer shell portions has a periphery that includes scalloped or recessed portions.

14. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein at least one end of each of the at least three straps is configured to have an adjustable length.

15. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein each of the at least three straps, the relatively soft inner cushions and relatively hard outer shell portions are configured to be individually replaceable.

16. A wrestling headgear according to claim 1, wherein the at least three straps comprises more than three straps.

17. A wrestling headgear which comprises: a pair of ear covering assemblies; and at least three straps that are coupled between pair of ear coverings to secure the headgear onto the head of a wrestler, said pair of ear covering assemblies each comprising: a relatively soft inner cushion; and a relatively hard outer shell portion, each of said relatively hard outer shell portions having a deeply cupped portion formed with a symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions which each extend outward from a central portion of the relatively hard outer shell portions.

18. A wrestling headgear according to claim 17, wherein the symmetrical pattern comprises a curved pinwheel shaped pattern.

19. A wrestling headgear according to claim 17, wherein slots are provided between each of the curved protrusions.

20. A wrestling headgear according to claim 19, wherein the slots are non-elongated.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to protective headgear for sport activities. More particularly, the present invention relates to lightweight wrestling headgear that protects a wrestler's ears during a wrestling match.

BACKGROUND ART

Protective head gear, i.e., wrestling helmets and wrestling ear guards are well known in the art. Most athletic sanctioning bodies require the use of such headgear in order to compete. Typically such headgear includes a pair of ear coverings or cup-like guards secured to the wearer's head by means of straps that extend over the top of the head, around the rear of the head, and under the chin. The guards, which cover and protect the wearer's ears, contain a pad which is necessary for the wearer's comfort and protection. The ear pads are shaped to provide an ear receiving pocket which extends around the outside of the ear and against the wearer's head.

The first headgear that was specifically designed for the protection of wrestlers' ears and very successfully used in collegiate wrestling is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,898,596 to Keen.

In subsequent years, a variety of protective headgear has been patented, all sharing in common with the above patent relatively rigid ear coverings held in place by a plurality of straps. The straps are adjustable and generally pass over the head, behind the head and over or under the chin.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,311,921 to Helm discloses single piece plastic ear coverings with straps riveted thereto. A plurality of several small holes and a larger hole are provided in the ear covering to prevent entrapment of stale air and assist in hearing.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,327,316 to Pukish, Jr. discloses ear coverings having a single hole and a passageway relatively close to the wearer's face. In theory the configuration prevents over-pressure or partial vacuum conditions from occurring in the ear canal during wrestling.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,513,482 Holden discloses an ear covering with the straps that pass through slots in the periphery of the ear covering and small holes near the center of the ear covering.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,596,288 to Marchello discloses straps that are formed integrally with ear coverings.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,551,861 to Marchello discloses a construction of an ear covering that is simplified for more economical manufacture in which the ear pad is made from a single sheet of soft resilient plastic.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,710,985 to Dubner et al. discloses an ear covering having a substantially triangular shape with small vent holes and three straps, including a chin strap.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,821,345 to Marchello discloses a multiple layer ear covering having a metal reinforcing plate as one of the interior layers and to which the straps are attached. Various features are disclosed to reduce the tendency of the molded plastic parts of the ear cover to the ear.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,504,945 to Purnell discloses an ear covering having a molded flexible outer cover with a plurality of apertures and a foam pad beneath the outer cover that protrudes through the apertures. The protruding foam provides added protection for both the user and opponent.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,685,021 to Tsujino discloses an ear covering having a gel cushioning layer and a tacky exterior surface to grip the area surrounding the wrestler's ear.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,881,393 to Marchello discloses substantially triangular ear coverings with cloth covered foam on the inside having a specific shape for engagement with the wearer. Hollow rivets form vent holes in the ear covering.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,418,565 and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2002/0083512 to Tsujino disclose crescent-shaped or kidney-shaped ear coverings that are stated to provide enhanced protection and comfort and use a minimum number of straps.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,557,186 to Purnell discloses ear coverings that provide an outer air cushion that is created between a semi-rigid inner shell and a resilient outer shell. The air cushion provides for a multi-level of shock absorbency and protection.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,564,395 to Keen discloses a headgear having straps that are each independently fully adjustable.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,986,167 to Coutant et al. discloses a headgear that has a strap configuration that is padded and cradles the head of the wearer. The ear coverings have a laminated construction and are also padded.

In addition to the above U.S. utility patents, a number of U.S. design patents disclose various ornamental features of wrestling headgear, including U.S. Design Pat. No. D500,179 to Coutant et al., U.S. Design Pat. No. D469,928 to Keen et al., U.S. Design Pat. No. D444,270 to Tsujino, U.S. Design Pat. No. D443,955 to Tsujino, U.S. Design Pat. No. D443,730 to Tsujino, U.S. Design Pat. No. D443,729 to Tsujino, and U.S. Design Pat. No. D384,774 to Tsujino.

The present invention provides a wrestling headgear that is lightweight and provides for good ventilation and unimpaired hearing while protecting a wrestler's ears.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

According to various features, characteristics and embodiments of the present invention which will become apparent as the description thereof proceeds, the present invention provides a wrestling headgear which includes:

a pair of ear covering assemblies; and

at least three straps that are coupled between pair of ear coverings to secure the headgear onto the head of a wrestler,

said pair of ear covering assemblies each comprising:

a relatively soft inner cushion; and

a relatively hard outer shell portion,

each of said relatively hard outer shell portions having a deeply cupped portion formed with a symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions and solid center portion.

The present invention further provides a wrestling headgear which includes:

a pair of ear covering assemblies; and

at least three straps that are coupled between pair of ear coverings to secure the headgear onto the head of a wrestler,

said pair of ear covering assemblies each comprising:

a relatively soft inner cushion; and

a relatively hard outer shell portion,

each of said relatively hard outer shell portions having a deeply cupped portion formed with a symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions which each extend outward from a central portion of the relatively hard outer shell portions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The present invention will be described with reference to the attached drawings which are given as non-limiting examples only, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a headgear according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the headgear of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the headgear of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an elevational left side view of the headgear of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is an elevational right side view of the headgear of FIG. 1

FIG. 6 is an outer side view of an ear covering according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is rear view of the ear covering of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a front view of the ear covering of FIG. 6.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to light weight wrestling headgear that include ear coverings that comprise a soft inner cushion construction for contact with the wearer and a hard or stiff outer shell and three or more straps that are used to adjustably secure the ear coverings together and secure the headgear onto a wrestler's head. The hard outer shells are configured to having a symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions intended to suggest a rotating motion of the type associated with the swirling clouds of a tornado or “twister.” The curved protrusions are symmetrical about the center of the pattern. The center of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions is solid and can be used to receive a logo, trademark, design, etc. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the center of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions is slightly depressed so that any logo, trademark, design, etc. provided thereon is recessed so as not to become marred, scratched, etc. The depressions or valleys between the curved protrusions are provided with a plurality of vent holes that effectively remain uncovered for good ventilation and unimpaired hearing regardless of the activity during a wrestling match. Since the vent holes are not provided in the center area of the hard outer shells (and the center of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions is solid or imperforated), there is better protection for a wear's ear cannel from accidental contact by foreign objects, fingers, etc.

The hard outer shells and soft inner cushions are retained together by the straps which are threaded through both the hard outer shells and the soft inner cushions. In addition, mechanical fasteners such as Velcro pads, snaps, etc. are used to secure the hard outer shells to the soft inner cushions at the point where the chin strap attaches to the hard outer shells by snap fasteners at either or both ends of the chin strap. The chin strap can be padded or have a chin pad mounted thereon.

The soft inner cushion and hard outer shell are peripherally shaped with concave or scalloped outer edges between locations where straps are attached to the soft inner cushion and hard outer shell. Because of the novel peripheral shapes and the curved protrusions formed on the hard outer shell, the hard outer shells can be made exceptionally light and strong for protection with little impairment of hearing. The chin pad can also be formed with concave top and bottom edges to avoid the lower lip and save weight, the resulting design provides a headgear that is 30% lighter than many previous wrestler headgear and up to 70% cooler.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a headgear according to one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a front view of the headgear of FIG. 1. FIG. 3 is a rear view of the headgear of FIG. 1. As shown, the headgear 1 includes left and right ear covers 2, a chin strap 3, an over the head strap 4 and a behind the head strap 5. Each ear cover 2 includes a soft inner cushion 6 and a stiff hard outer shell 7.

Slots 8 and 9 penetrate both the soft inner cushion 6 and hard outer shell 7 and the straps 4 and 5 pass through the slots 8 and 9 as shown to retain the soft inner cushion 6 and the hard outer shell 7 together. The straps 4 and 5 are equipped with hook and loop fastener portions 10 toward both the ends of each strap 4 and 5 with the short ends 11 wrapped under on one of the ear covers 2. Adjustable ends 12 of the straps 4 and 5 are wrapped over for ease of adjustment with the headgear 1 on the user. The adjustable ends 12 pass through flattened loops on the opposite ear cover 2.

The chin strap 3 is retained to the outside of each of the ear covers 2 by snap fasteners 13 which permit the chin strap 3 to be removed from either or both ear covers 2. The male portion of each snap fastener 13 may permanently fasten the soft inner cushion 6 and stiff hard outer shell 7 together for either or both of the each ear covers 2, or, in the alternative, the snap fastener 13 may only be permanently fastened to the hard outer shell 7 with hook and loop fastener pads joining the soft inner cushion 6 to the hard outer shell 7 at that location beneath the snap fastener 13.

As best shown in FIG. 1, a cushioned chin pad 14 is provided on chin strap 3. The chin pad 14 has a plurality of slots 15 through which the chin strap 3 is threaded. The length of the chin strap 3 is adjusted by means of the clip 16 and looped over portion 17 of the strap 3 that is fastened with hook and loop fasteners at one end of the chin strap 3 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. A separate short portion 19 of the chin strap 16 joins the clip 16 to the snap fastener 13 on one of the ear covers 2 as shown. The other end of the chin strap 3 does not need to be adjustable in length. In alternative embodiments of the present invention the chin strap 3 can be padded rather than have a separate pad provided thereon. Likewise any of the straps of the headgear 1 can be padded if desired.

FIG. 4 is an elevational left side view of the headgear of FIG. 1. FIG. 5 is an elevational right side view of the headgear of FIG. 1 As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the stiff hard outer shell 7 is formed with symmetrical pattern of curved protrusions 20 that are intended to suggest a rotating motion. The curved protrusions 20 form a raised pinwheel design and define curved petals 21 of the pinwheel design which extend outwardly from the center 22 thereof as shown. Recessed or relief portions 23 formed between the curved petals 21 of the pinwheel design (See FIGS. 1 and 2) are provided with a plurality of vent holes in the form of slots 24 that fully penetrate the hard outer shell 7. The slots 24 are elongated and aligned with the curved petals 21 of the pinwheel design in an overall swirling pattern. Since the slots 24 which are provided in the recessed areas between the curved petals 21 they remain uncovered and open for venting and good hearing even when the wearer's head is held during a wrestling match. In further embodiments the slots can be circular, rectangular, or have other shapes including non-elongated shapes.

The center 22 of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 is depicted as having a substantially rectangular or ovular shape. In other embodiments, the center 22 of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 can be circular, elliptical, square, or have any desired geometrical or non-geometrical shape. The center 22 of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 is solid (i.e. non-perforated) and can be used to receive a logo, trademark, design, etc. In further embodiments, the center 22 of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 can comprise a covered vent of conventional design such as an opening that is capped with a cover that overlays and is spaced above the periphery of the opening with vent passages in the sides of the cover.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the center 22 of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 is slightly depressed so that any logo, trademark, design, etc. provided thereon is recessed so as not to become marred, scratched, etc. Since the vent holes or slots 24 are not provided in the center area of the hard outer shells (and the center of the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions is solid), there is better protection for a wear's ear cannel from accidental contact by foreign objects, fingers, etc.

As best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the hard outer shells 7 are provided with deeply cupped portions 25 that provide clearance for the wearer's ear. The combination of the deeply cupped portions 25 and the symmetrical shaped pattern of curved protrusions 20 provides an exceedingly strong geometric configuration for the hard outer shell 7, which, in turn, allows the hard outer shell 7 to be made of relatively thin plastic yet retain great rigidity. The thin plastic allows some flexibility in the hard outer shell 7 outside of the deeply cupped shape portions 25 where the straps 3, 4 and 5 connect the hard outer shell 7 to the cushion 6.

The soft inner cushion 6 and hard outer shell 7 are scalloped or recessed along their respective peripheries between strap attachments as shown at 26 for the soft inner cushion 6 and 27 for the hard outer shell 7. The scalloped or recessed portions save weight and provide for better air circulation by lessening the coverage of the wearer's scalp. Likewise, the chin pad 14 is recessed or contoured on top 28 and bottom 29 to better fit under the chin of the wearer without pressing on the wearer's laryngeal prominence or “Adam's apple.”

FIG. 6 is an outer side view of an ear covering according to another embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 is rear view of the ear covering of FIG. 6. FIG. 8 is a front view of the ear covering of FIG. 6. Similar reference numbers are used throughout FIGS. 1-8 to identify similar elements where possible in order to simplify the description of the invention.

The embodiment of the invention depicted in FIGS. 1-5 has three straps, including a strap 4 that extends over the top of the head, a strap 5 that extends around the rear of the head, and a chin strap 3 that extends under the chin of a wearer. The embodiment of the invention depicted in FIGS. 6-8 has five straps, including two straps 4′ that extend over the top of the head, two straps 5′ that extend around the rear of the head, and a chin strap 3′ that extends under the chin of a wearer.

It is to be understood that the wrestling headgear of the present invention could include any number of straps, including a minimum of at least three straps. Moreover, any known strap configuration can be used, including one or more retaining straps that interconnect adjacent traps or strap cradling configurations. Likewise the straps can comprise single layers of nylon webbing or any suitable material such as leather, plastic, etc., laminated structures, padded structures or any know type of strap configuration/design.

Since the straps 4 and 4 pass through the slots 8 and 9 to retain the soft inner cushion 6 and the hard outer shell 7 together, replacement of the soft inner cushions 6 or replacement of the hard outer shells 7 can be accomplished easily. This allows for both repair and replacement of parts and the ability to easily change the color combination of the straps 3, 4 and 5, soft inner cushions 6 and hard outer shells 7 as desired.

The soft inner cushions 6 and chin pad 14 can be made of any suitable foam material such as EVA foam or a similar material which preferable has a closed cell structure so as not to absorb moisture or is otherwise is coated or laminated to have an outer moisture barrier.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, from the foregoing description, one skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of the present invention and various changes and modifications can be made to adapt the various uses and characteristics without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as described above and set forth in the attached claims.





 
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