Title:
Footwear cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shoe cover may protect the footwear, enclosed foot, and adjacent parts of the lower limb from many hazards including liquids, especially precipitation such as rain, sleet, or snow. The disclosed footwear cover comprises two main parts: a lower part without a sole that covers the upper and heel of the shoe, and an upper part that covers the lower limb at or above the ankle. The lower part is secured to the shoe by one or more securing members that may pass around the sole of the shoe, a toe pocket, a securing member adapted to accommodate the treads of a shoe if present, or by an attachment on the shoe itself. The footwear cover is secured about the lower limb of the user by a strap or other fastener on the upper part of the footwear cover.



Inventors:
Hoch, Allan (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/510003
Publication Date:
02/28/2008
Filing Date:
08/25/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/7.1R
International Classes:
A41D17/00; A43B3/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030145491Footcover and methods for producing and using the sameAugust, 2003Udugama
20070033830Elastic shoeFebruary, 2007Chang
20050016028Shoe assembly, shoe and related footwear methodJanuary, 2005Safdeye
20060156583Pedicure shoe insertJuly, 2006Butash
20090307926ADJUSTABLE MIDSOLE FOR FOOTWEARDecember, 2009O'brien et al.
20090320329MEDICAL SHOE SYSTEMDecember, 2009Darby II et al.
20090241379Traction Cleat System for an Athletic ShoeOctober, 2009Krikorian
20100005685SOLE CONSTRUCTION FOR ENERGY AND REBOUNDJanuary, 2010Russell
20080062677Electroluminescent communication system between articles of apparel and the likeMarch, 2008Konig et al.
20080110048ARTICLE OF FOOTWEAR HAVING A FLAT KNIT UPPER CONSTRUCTION OR OTHER UPPER CONSTRUCTIONMay, 2008Dua et al.
20090056170Ready cleatMarch, 2009Cunningham



Primary Examiner:
LALLI, MELISSA LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALLAN HOCH (SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A footwear cover for covering a shoe, said footwear cover having a front, a rear, a top and a bottom and a top opening and a bottom opening, said footwear cover comprising: an upper part having an upper overlapping portion and an upper overlapped portion, wherein said upper overlapping portion and said upper overlapped portion fasten to each with an upper fastening means; and a lower part having a lower overlapping portion and a lower overlapped portion, wherein said lower overlapping portion and said lower overlapped portion fasten to each with a lower fastening means; wherein said upper and said lower overlapping portions and said upper and said lower overlapped portions overlap in a diagonal manner.

2. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper part covers a lower limb of a wearer and the lower part covers a shoe of the wearer.

3. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 2, wherein the upper part prevents liquids from infiltrating the footwear cover at the top opening.

4. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper part and the lower part are constructed from the same material.

5. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper part and the lower part are constructed form different materials and are joined in a manner that prevents liquid from entering between the two parts.

6. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper part is constructed from an elastic material conformable to a wearer's limb.

7. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein said footwear cover is constructed from a material selected from the group consisting of lightweight, flexible, breathable water-repellent or water proof materials and nylon.

8. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper fastening means is selected from the group consisting of buttons, snap buttons, hook and loop fasteners and zippers.

9. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the lower fastening means is a single fastener selected from the group consisting of buttons, snap buttons, hook and loop fasteners and zippers.

10. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein the lower fastening means is a plurality of fasteners selected from the group consisting of buttons, snap buttons and hook and loop fasteners.

11. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1 further comprising at least one securing member.

12. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one securing member attaches to itself or to securing attachments on the footwear cover.

13. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one securing member is constructed from a material selected from the group consisting of nylon, thin metal wire, plastic and an elastic material.

14. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 11, wherein the at least one securing member is a universal securing member or the at least one securing member is constructed to match and fit within a tread pattern of a specific shoe.

15. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a toe pocket for attaching the front of the footwear cover to the shoe.

16. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 15, wherein the toe pocket includes at least one securing member adapted to be received within a grooved portion of a shoe tread.

17. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 15, wherein the toe pocket is constructed from an elastic material, thereby conforming to a toe portion of the shoe.

18. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 15, wherein the toe pocket has openings in its bottom surface to allow shoe treads or spikes to protrude through.

19. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 15, wherein a surface of the toe pocket is designed to contribute to a traction of the shoe between the shoe and the footwear cover or between the shoe and a ground surface.

20. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a heel pocket, wherein the heel pocket includes at least one securing member adapted to be received within the grooved portion of a shoe tread.

21. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, wherein said footwear cover attaches to a wearer's pant legs.

22. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a holding means into which a race chip may be placed or attached.

23. The footwear cover as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a pocket for holding items.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to footwear covers used to protect footwear, more particularly, to footwear covers that may be used to protect sports shoes.

2. Background of the Invention

Footwear covers—spats, gaiters, and the like—have been designed for various types of footwear to protect the footwear and the wearer's limb from potential damage, soiling, or from any other undesirable occurrence related to the use of the footwear. The footwear itself is usually designed to enhance, or at least to not impede the function of the wearer and the involved limbs. For example, sports shoes are designed to have attributes such as formfitting, lightweight, flexible, good surface traction, and breathable. This is most appreciable with running shoes in which lightweight and flexible materials that are permeable to moisture (e.g., mesh webbing) are used in the upper of the shoe to provide optimal ventilation. However, during sporting events or related activities that occur in all types of weather, especially weather involving precipitation, sports shoes and the wearer's corresponding limbs are vulnerable to getting wet. At least two disadvantages can result from liquid added to a shoe, sock, or other related apparel that immediately affects the performance of the shoe and its wearer; the liquid adds undesirable weight, and increases the potential for bodily injury (e.g., blisters). Footwear covers have been designed, in part, to solve these and other disadvantages of shoe attributes or to address the environment in which the shoes are worn. Prior art footwear covers will now be discussed in more detail.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,787,607 (the “'607 patent”), discloses a shoe cover for regular shoes that includes a sole portion. The presence of a sole portion is additional material that adds weight to the cover. The sole portion is also not fixed to the shoe. As a result, mobility can occur between the shoe and the cover as well as between the cover and the ground. Ultimately, this can compromise the stability of a limb on the ground, and in foul weather, slick surfaces may further compound this instability. The present invention has a very limited sole portion comprising the cover attachments only, and thus provides for direct contact between the shoe and the ground surface.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,987,778 (the “'778 patent”), discloses a molded footwear covering made of a semi-rigid material (e.g., plastic or rubber) with a generally vertical slit opening at the heel and securing straps adjacent to this slit. An intended use for the footwear covering disclosed in the '778 patent is to protect the wearer from solid flying debris while performing activities such as operating a chain saw. Such a footwear covering is disadvantageous when the footwear cover is donned in situations where there is a need for greater or quicker movement of the lower limbs. The '778 footwear cover provides more weight and less flexibility than a footwear cover made of a lightweight flexible material such as a nylon fabric. The more rigid material would be more likely to inhibit movement like the full flexion—in either direction—of an ankle or the toes. Furthermore, this type of cover, when subjected to these more involved movements, would be highly susceptible to splitting, cracking, or general breakdown especially in the ankle region and toe pocket.

The lower limb movements described above are common for the everyday pedestrian as he or she walks on level ground, up stairs, or if he or she lowers himself or herself to the ground. They are even more common—as well as involve a greater range of motion—for an athlete who may jump, squat, or run.

Another disadvantage of the patent '778 design is that its vertical style slit opening with adjacent closure straps offers little protection from liquids that can enter between the adjacent edges of the covering's two sides. This problem is further compounded during weather with precipitation because liquid may easily pass through the cover's slit opening when a wearer's heel region, and thus the slit opening, is positioned horizontally or near horizontally (as happens when the wearer's knee is flexed while walking, and more so while running).

U.S. Pat. No. 4,713,895 (the “'895 patent”), discloses a sports shoe cover made of nylon that attaches to the periphery of the sole of a sports shoe by a hook and loop type fastener and incorporates a rear entry and closure system with expanding pleats of the second sheet portion.

The '895 patent's use of a hook and loop type fastener, commonly known as VELCRO®, to attach the cover to the sports shoe has several disadvantages. First, a user's ability to use the same cover with another shoe, which has a differently shaped sole, is severely limited. Because the two sides of the hook and loop type fastener must be aligned with each other to function properly, the hook and loop attachment system requires affixing one side of the fastener to the sole of the shoe and aligning it with the corresponding side of the fastener affixed to the shoe cover. The spacing or location of the fasteners is unlikely to be consistent between sports shoes of different sizes and shapes, thus making it difficult to use one cover with multiple, different shoes. Second, the cover, including all of its components, is not easily or completely removable when not in use. Removing the sides of the fastener tapes that are affixed to the shoe sole diminishes their future ability to attach properly to the sole. The reattachment and realignment of the corresponding hook and loop fastener sides would also be a tedious task each time the wearer decides to reuse the cover. Third, the hook and loop attachment system has functional limitations due to its location on the shoe sole. For example, debris can become trapped in the hooks or loops of the fasteners, thereby diminishing its attachment qualities. In addition, the sole of a sports shoe, especially the foam type used in running shoes, is often built to compress during use to function as a shock absorber. The presence of an affixed adhesive structure that is not meant to compress will either diminish the sole's cushioning capability, or have its attachment to the sole adversely affected by each compression of the sole.

Another disadvantage of the footwear cover of the '895 patent is the rear entry closure and expanding pleats system in that it creates undesirable bunching and/or bulk of the cover material at a location where greater freedom of motion is essential. During sports activities, especially running, the ankle region is a part of the lower limb that experiences a great deal of movement in various directions and ranges of motion. The combination of the above described attributes of the '895 patent design and the expected movements of the ankle region will likely lead to discomfort of, or even injury to, the wearer at the ankle region. This potential hazard would be compounded further due to the vertical direction of the hook and loop attachment system disclosed in the '895 patent.

Therefore, a need exists for a footwear cover that provides increased protection from falling liquids such as precipitation that is lightweight, form-fitting, and is more flexible than prior covers. In addition, a need exists for a footwear cover that includes a universally applicable attachment means that can be used by a person with multiple, different shoes, but particularly shoes used in athletic events such as running.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a footwear cover that will primarily protect the footwear and related limb portion from falling liquid, such as precipitation. The present footwear cover design is mainly intended to cover sports shoes but may be universally applied to other footwear such as that donned by a typical pedestrian. The present cover design aims to maintain the function of the shoe and the wearer's limbs as much as possible.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a predominantly open sole that maximally preserves the function of the shoe sole.

Another object of the invention is to provide a cover with minimal direct or permanent attachment to the shoe.

An additional object of the invention is to secure the cover to the shoe by means of one or a plurality of elastic straps or bands, a toe pocket or toe attachment, and/or a heel pocket or heel attachment. Eyelets, holes, loops or other embodiments of the cover will allow for the use of said straps, bands, or other securing attachments. Preferably, the straps, bands, or other attachments pass about the arch of the shoe, or in the case of sports shoes or the like, between the sole treads or sole spikes thus limiting interference of the contact between the shoe sole and the ground.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a cover that is lightweight, flexible, and limits the entrance of liquid while maintaining the directly abovementioned objects.

The various features of novelty that characterize the invention are pointed out in particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this disclosure. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and specific objects attained by its uses, reference is made to the accompanying descriptive matter in which preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which corresponding components are identified by the same reference numerals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following detailed description, given by way of example and not intended to limit the present invention solely thereto, will best be appreciated in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and parts, in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevated side perspective view of a footwear cover, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the footwear cover of FIG. 1 with the overlapping portions separated to depict the entry opening, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of FIG. 1 that depicts the placement of a securing member about the arch of a shoe, according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the front section of FIG. 1 that depicts a securing member, according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the front section of FIG. 1 that depicts a toe pocket, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the illustrated embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these illustrated embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

As seen in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, the footwear cover 50 has two main parts: an upper part 40 with an overlapping portion 42 and an overlapped portion 43, and a lower part 20 with an overlapping portion 22 and an overlapped portion 23. The front portion 30 and heel portion 35 will correspond to the toe and heel regions of footwear, respectively. The lower part 20 primarily covers the shoe upper (the portion of a shoe that covers the sides and top of a foot and attaches to the sole) and is preferably made of a flexible material that is lightweight and water-repellent or waterproof. More preferably, the material will also be breathable, such as GORETEX® or a similarly treated nylon. The upper part 40 functions as a collar or sleeve around the lower limb of the wearer, and serves to prevent liquid from passing under the cover at its top opening.

In one embodiment, the upper part 40 and lower part 20 are made from a single piece of the same material and therefore do not require any joining or fastening together. In another embodiment, the upper part and lower part are made of different materials. In the latter, the upper part 40 is preferably made of a more flexible and elastic material that stretches and conforms to the wearer's limb (e.g., neoprene). In such an embodiment, the upper part 40 is attached to lower part 20 in an overlapping manner that prevents liquids from entering between the two parts of the cover. In addition, the use of an appropriate waterproof material of seam sealant may be used to attach the upper part 40 to the lower part 20 to prevent liquids from entering between the two parts of the cover.

As depicted in FIG. 2, the footwear cover 50 is donned and removed by means of an entry opening 1 that is created by the overlapping portions 42 and 22 and the overlapped portions 43 and 23 and therefore does not require the wearer to remove any clothing or footwear. The entry opening 1 may be created on the same side of the cover, thus establishing a universal cover without right or left sides or, in another embodiment, the opening 1 may be created on opposite established right or left sides of the cover. As depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, the overlapping and overlapped portions, 41 and 42, and 43 and 23, respectively, are fastened to each other by fastening means 44 and 24. The overlapping portions and related entry opening 1 are preferably formed diagonally to better prevent the entrance of falling liquid between the overlapping portions of the cover. As seen in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2, the diagonal direction of the opening 1 may be more pronounced in the lower part 20. In any embodiment of the present footwear cover 50, the direction of the diagonal overlap may vary (e.g., the diagonal may start at the bottom of the footwear cover and go towards the back of the cover or the diagonal may start at the bottom of the cover and go towards the front of the cover). In any event, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art, any configuration that prevents entry of liquid into the footwear cover may be used.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the upper fastening means 44 is preferably comprised of a generally horizontally positioned hook and loop attachment system or fasteners such as VELCRO®. In combination with an upper part 40, preferably made of a neoprene type material, such an embodiment of the design will be form-fitting with minimal material bunching and will provide comfort, flexibility, and a tight closure at the top opening of the upper portion to better prevent the entrance of liquid. The upper fastening means may include buttons, snap buttons, hook and loop fasteners, zippers or any other type of fastening mechanism or means that fasten two pieces of material together.

The lower fastening means 24 may be a single fastener or a plurality of fasteners, such as a button, snap button or a small hook and loop type fastener. The lower fastening means 24 may even be a zipper. The main purpose of the lower fastening means 24 is to secure the lower overlapping portion 22 to the overlapped portion 23. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3, a securing member 10, which is described below, also serves to secure the closure of the opening 1 and its related overlapping portions. In another embodiment, the fasteners 44 and 24 are one continuous fastener as might occur with a hook and loop type fastener or zipper type closure. The lower fastening means may include buttons, snap buttons, hook and loop fasteners, zippers or any other type of fastening mechanism or means that fastens two pieces of material together.

The cover 50 may be secured to the shoe in a variety of manners. As shown in FIG. 3, the preferred means to attach the footwear cover 50 is with a securing member 10 that passes across the sole of a shoe, preferably in the area of the shoe arch, or in-between the shoe treads if present. In one embodiment, the securing member 10 attaches to the footwear cover 50 on both sides of the shoe at the cover's bottom edges. In another embodiment, the securing member 10 passes over or through the footwear cover 50 and attaches to itself or to provided securing attachments 6 on the cover 50. To pass through the cover 50, eyelets 5 and/or securing attachments 6, such as loops, may exist as part of the cover. These components (eyelets 5 and securing attachments 6) are incorporated in such a manner as to not significantly diminish the integrity of the cover's 50 liquid protection feature.

The securing member 10 will preferably be a thin band or string made of a nylon or elastic material but it may also be made of a more rigid material such as thin wire or plastic. The securing member 10 will tie or attach to itself, and/or tie or attach to the cover 50. As shown in FIG. 4, the securing member(s) 10 may be individually placed by the user to match the shoe tread, or can be designed as a separate unit pre-configured to match the treads for a particular shoe. In one embodiment, a shoe manufacturer may create a shoe attachment 7, such as a small loop on the shoe itself, to which a securing member 10 may be attached and removed with ease.

The front portion 30 of cover 50 may attach to the toe area of a shoe in the manner described above using one or more securing members 10 and/or a shoe attachment 7. In another embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, the front portion 30 secures to the footwear by means of a small toe pocket 11. The toe pocket 11 is ideally formed using a sheet of material, preferably oval or triangular in shape, and preferably made of a lightweight, but durable elastic material. The tip or front portion of a wearer's shoe would fit snugly into this oval, cone or triangular-shaped toe pocket 11. Preferably, the size of the toe pocket 11 is minimized to limit covering of the sole 31 of the shoe. Although the tip of the shoe usually has less contact with the ground and therefore does not contribute much to traction, another embodiment offers a footwear cover with holes in the toe pocket material that permits any shoe treads that exist, to protrude through the toe pocket 11 to contact the ground. This would allow for increased contact between the shoe sole and the ground and hence increased traction, which may be more pertinent for sports shoes where traction is more important and where the shoes may have shoe treads or spikes. Another embodiment utilizes a toe pocket with all or a portion of its inner, outer, or both surfaces designed to establish traction between the toe pocket and the sole 31 of the shoe, and/or between the toe pocket and the ground surface. Such a condition may be accomplished through original material selection or, by altering the original materials, to allow for adhesive or grip-type properties of the toe pocket material (e.g., an adhesive type coating, ridged rubber, or treads) to be used.

The heel portion 35 may not have a direct securing means. It may, however, secure to a shoe in any of the manners described above for the front portion 30.

For shoes with randomly-placed treads or other sole protuberances, there is an additional option for securing the front portion 30 or heel portion 35 to the shoe. In such an embodiment, the securing member 10 may be designed as a single unit that fits in-between the pattern of the shoe treads of a particular shoe. Preferably, the securing member or members are, or contain, rigid or semi-rigid components, such as plastic, reinforced plastic, or thin metal wire but may be made of string or strong filaments such as the nylon used for fishing lines. The rigidity is meant to aid in the placement of the securing member within the tread pattern to ensure that it remains in place during use and to also minimize breakage of the securing member itself.

The present invention may be enhanced further with attributes beyond the design described above. An additional feature of any embodiment of this cover is the ability to secure a race chip such as the CHAMPIONCHIP® to the outside of the cover. In one embodiment, this is accomplished by passing a securing member 10 through the race chip. Another embodiment establishes an attachment loop, clip, or pocket on the cover in which the race chip may be secured or placed in. The pocket may also serve to hold other desired items such as identification cards, keys, or money.

In another embodiment the footwear cover 50 may have a mechanism (e.g., buttons, hook and loop fasteners, etc.) by which the bottom of a wearer's pant legs may attach to the cover. This overlap of apparel would offer additional protection from liquids that may enter at the top opening of the upper part 40.

While the present invention has been particularly shown and described above in various embodiments, it will be readily appreciated that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it is intended that the following claims be interpreted as including the embodiments described herein as well as all equivalents thereto.

Although a preferred embodiment of the present invention and modifications thereof have been described in detail herein, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to this precise embodiment and modifications, and that other modifications and variations may be effected by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.