Title:
ATHLETIC PROTECTOR CUP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An athletic protector cup having a resilient member with an inner surface faceable toward a body of a wearer, an outer surface, a first flex panel, and a second flex panel. The athletic protector cup also has a rigid member having an inner surface coupled to the outer surface of the resilient member, the rigid member also having an anchor portion along an outer edge coupled to the resilient member. The outer edge of the rigid member is shaped correspondingly to the first flex panel and the second flex panel of the resilient member.



Inventors:
Lukens, Thomas Mcgrath (Discovery Bay, HK)
Application Number:
11/839448
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/466, 128/846, 128/891, 602/72
International Classes:
A41D13/05; A63B71/12; G09F21/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BROWN, MICHAEL A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP (Glendale, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An athletic protector cup comprising: a cup-shaped rigid member having a periphery defined by a peripheral edge, an exposed outer surface to face away from the wearer and an inner surface to face toward the wearer; a resilient member secured to and extending completely around the peripheral edge of the cup-shaped rigid member, at least a portion of the inner surface of the rigid member being covered by the resilient member wherein the resilient member has a top portion, a bottom portion and first and second side portions, and wherein the first and second side portions of the resilient member increase in width as they extend away from the top and bottom portions to form first and second flex panels along the first and second sides of the rigid member.

2. 2-16. (canceled)

17. An athletic protector cup comprising: a cup-shaped rigid member having a periphery defined by a peripheral edge, an outer convex surface to face away from the wearer and an inner concave surface to face toward the wearer; a resilient member having an outwardly facing surface, the inner concave surface of the rigid member coupled to the outwardly facing surface of the resilient member within the periphery of the peripheral edge of the rigid member; wherein the rigid member has at least two grounding areas, one at a top portion of the rigid member and one at a bottom portion of the rigid member, the rigid portion having a first side and a second side both extending between the top portion and the bottom portion of the rigid member; wherein the resilient member has a top portion, a bottom portion and first and second side portions extending from the top portion, the bottom portion and the first and second sides of the rigid member, respectively, and wherein the first and second side portions of the resilient member increase in width as they extend away from the top and bottom portions of the rigid member to form first and second flex panels along the first and second sides of the rigid member; wherein each of the first and second side portions of the resilient member has a portion of decreased width between portions of increased width such that the first and second flex panels define a double wave shape at a location where the side portions of the resilient member extend from the side portions of the rigid member.

18. The athletic protector cup of claim 17 wherein the outwardly facing surface of the resilient member covers substantially the entire inner surface of the rigid member within the periphery of the peripheral edge.

19. The athletic protector cup of claim 17 wherein the peripheral edge of the rigid member defines a rounded bead extending further inwardly from the inner surface of the rigid member and wherein the outwardly facing surface of the resilient member defines a recessed area that receives the rigid member, the recessed area defining a rounded groove around its periphery to receive the rounded bead of the rigid member to further secure the rigid member and the resilient member together.

20. The athletic protector cup of claim 17, wherein the rigid member has a bulge along each of the first side and the second side, the bulge of each side located between adjacent waves of the double wave shape of each side portion of the resilient member.

21. The athletic protector of claim 17 further comprising aligned apertures extending through the resilient member and the rigid member.

22. The athletic protector cup of claim 17, wherein each of the first and second side portions of the resilient member has a portion of decreased width between portions of increased width such that the first and second flex panels define a double wave shape at a location where the side portions of the resilient member extend from the side portions of the rigid member.

23. The athletic protector cup of claim 17, wherein the rigid member has a bulge along each of the first side and the second side, the bulge of each side located between adjacent waves of the double wave shape of each side portion of the resilient member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/308,861 filed Dec. 3, 2002 which claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/359,774, filed on Feb. 26, 2002, entitled IMPROVEMENTS ON ATHLETIC PROTECTOR CUP, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to athletic protector cups, and more particularly to an athletic protector cup having a flexible member in addition to a hardened member.

Devices for the protection of the male groin region are extensively utilized in athletics. In athletic competitions, such as boxing, football, and hockey, athletic protector cups are worn by the players to avoid injury from blows to the groin area. Common protective devices include a cup supported by a jockstrap. Protector cups of this character are usually formed from a plastic material, such as polypropylene or polyethylene, which is sufficiently rigid to retain its shape even when subjected to a strong impact.

Often protector cups are provided with a resilient padding about their periphery. The resilient padding increases the comfort of the wearer and helps absorb a blow to the protector cup. The resilient padding is usually formed from a soft, flexible foam-like material, such as foam rubber or polyurethane foam, and is usually provided in the form of a limited elongated strip attached to the peripheral edge of the cup with an adhesive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, according to an exemplary embodiment, is directed to an athletic protector cup having a resilient member with an inner surface faceable toward a body of a wearer and an outer surface. The athletic protector also has a rigid member having an inner surface coupled to the outer surface of the resilient member. The athletic protector cup of the invention can also have one or more of the features described below.

The resilient member can be provided with flex panels along each side, each panel having a double wave shape. The rigid member may also be shaped to correspond to the shape of the flex panels. For example, the rigid panel is provided with a bulge located between adjacent waves of the double wave shape of the resilient member. Such a design permits the cup to twist in a manner to mirror the movement of an athlete's body. The resilient member may also have a third flex panel opposite the tip of the cup. The third flex panel may be wave shaped or rounded.

The rigid member can also have an anchor portion along an outer edge that is coupled to the resilient member. The resilient member also has an outer edge shaped as a round bead and the anchor of the rigid member is a cylinder type flange.

An aperture can extend through both the resilient member and the rigid member. Additionally, the rigid member can have an aperture through which a portion of the resilient member extends. The resilient portion extends through the aperture in the rigid member so as to be flush with the outer surface of the rigid member. Alternatively, the resilient portion extends through the aperture in the rigid member and protrudes from the outer surface of the rigid member.

The flex panels of the resilient member can also be thickened so that the outer surface of the flex panels are flush with the outer surface of the rigid member. In one embodiment, resilient member is made of rubber and the rigid member is made of polypropylene.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an athletic protector cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross section along line A-A of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of an outer side of the athletic protector cup according to an exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-section along B-B of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side view of an outer surface of an athletic protector cup according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the rigid member of the embodiment of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the resilient member of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As shown in FIG. 1, an athletic protector cup 10 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention has a resilient member 12 and a rigid member 14. When the athletic protector cup is fully constructed, the resilient member 12 and the rigid member 14 are integrated to form a single cup structure. However, for the purpose of clarity, in portions of the following description, the resilient member and the rigid member are described isolated from each other (See also FIGS. 6 and 7).

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 7, the resilient member 12 has an inner surface 16 and an outer surface 18. The inner surface 16 is placed against the body of the wearer. The resilient member 12 is preferably made from a flexible and resilient elastomer material having a chemical structure compatible with the rigid member 14 to ensure adequate adhesion thereto. In particular, adhesion at the interfaces should be sufficient to minimize interfacial separation over time under normal cup usage conditions. As will be apparent to those skilled in the art of molding technology, many elastomer materials are commercially available for use with the present invention, such as rubber and polyurethane. Another suitable material is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE).

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, the resilient member can be considered as a triangle, having three rounded corners 18, 20, and 22, a base 24 worn toward the wearer's head, and a tip 26 worn toward the user's feet. The inner surface 16 and the outer surface 18 are cup shaped. An outer edge 28 (FIG. 2) of the resilient member is formed as a rounded bead. The outer edge rests against the wearer's body and, because of its shape, provides a comfortable, low friction, contact region with the body of the wearer. The outer edge forms a generally continuous flat surface. In an alternative embodiment, shown in FIG. 4, the resilient member is formed with a radial curve 29 between the base 24 and the point 26.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, on each side of the resilient member, between the base 24 and the point 26 are flex panels 30, 32. According to an exemplary embodiment, the flex panels 30, 32 are wave shaped. With reference to FIG. 5, the flex panel 30 extends in a curve from the tip 26 toward the center of the cup to form a first peak p1, then curves back toward the outer edge to form a valley v, then curves toward the center to form a second peak p2, and then curves back again toward the base 24. As seen from FIGS. 2 and 7, the resilient member also has a mounting portion 34 for the rigid member. In this embodiment, the material of the mounting portion 34 is thinner than the material in the flex panels 30, 32.

In an embodiment of the present invention, a top flex panel 36 is located between the corners 18, 20 of the base 24. The top flex panel 36 may have a wave shape similar to the flex panels 30, 32. Alternatively, the top flex panel 36 may be formed with a single wave.

The rigid member 14 is positioned against the rigid member mounting portion 34 of the resilient member 12. With reference to FIGS. 3 and 6, the rigid member 14 may also be considered as a triangle with three rounded corners 38, 40, 42, a base 44 worn toward the head of the wearer and a tip 46 worn toward the user's feet. The rigid member may be formed from numerous rigid plastic materials, such as polypropylene or high-density polyethylene. The rigid member 14 has cup shaped inner and outer surfaces 48, 50.

The rigid member has a cylinder type flange 52 formed along an outer edge. The cylinder-type flange extends along each side of the rigid member and around the tip 46 and is held securely in the resilient member. The flange can extend continuously around the periphery of the rigid member or intermittently.

As seen from FIGS. 1 and 4, the rounded corners of the rigid member are positioned in the rounded corners of the resilient member. Thus, the rigid member is grounded at each corner against the body of the wearer. When a wearer moves at one corner, the remaining two corners can remain unaffected. As will be appreciated, the softer material of the resilient member extends along the entire interior adjacent to the body of the wearer. The hard material of the rigid member is positioned on the exterior, away from the body of the wearer.

Portions of the rigid member 14 are cut out along the sides between the base and point in a shape corresponding to the flex panels of the resilient member. Therefore, the rigid member has a bulge 60 along each side between grounding regions (See FIG. 6). The presence of the flex panels of the resilient member and the shape of the rigid member allows the cup to twist with the wearer's movements while still protecting a wide area with the rigid member. Likewise, the top flex panel aids the ability of the athletic protector cup to contort with the body movements of the wearer while maintaining high impact protection. Additionally, the presence of the flex panels and of the top flex panel allows the athletic protector cup to absorb a portion of an impact on the rigid member.

In an additional embodiment of the present invention, the rigid member has a plurality of ventilation apertures 54. The ventilation apertures of the rigid member correspond to ventilation apertures in the resilient member. The ventilation apertures increase comfort for the wearer.

In another embodiment, the rigid member has a plurality of holes 56 to receive material from the resilient member. The holes allow a portion of the resilient member 12 to be molded up through the rigid member 14. In an embodiment, the resilient material passes up through the holes so that the resilient material is flush with the outer surface of the rigid member. In an alternative embodiment, the resilient material passes up through the holes and is drawn so as to form a raised surface in the shape of the holes. The holes may be shaped in the name or logo of a company. The resilient material passing through the holes can grip the fabric of a supporter holding the cup of the present invention, to help keep the cup anchored in place inside a pocket of the supporter.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art of athletic protector cups that many conventional means of permanent connection between the resilient member and the rigid member may be utilized. Molding, e.g., insert molding, is one known method to connect the resilient member to the rigid member. It will also be apparent to those skilled in the art of molding that various molding methods incorporating a variety of molding parameters may be employed to achieve the athletic protector cup structure of the present invention. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the resilient member and the rigid member are chemically mated to each other using an injection molding process. Injection molding of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounds onto engineering thermoplastic resins is well known and is not further described.

Insert molding is also well known wherein two molds are made. The first mold is for making just the rigid part of the product, including the flange details designed to aid in the attachment of the resilient part. The second mold has a certain capacity allowing it to receive inside of it the completed rigid piece made in the first mold. After the top and bottom of the second mold are closed around the rigid piece from the first mold, rubber material is injected into the second mold creating a bond to the rigid piece at its interior and the rubber part's desired shape at its exterior. The completed, dual-material piece emerges from the second mold.

The inner surface 48 of rigid member 14 can be chemically bonded over substantially its entire surface area to the outer surface 18 of resilient member 12. As shown in FIG. 2, the resilient member 12 is preferably molded around the cylinder type flange 52 of the rigid member, thereby forming an interlocking structure for enhancing the stability of rigid member 14 within the molded resilient member 12.

Although exemplary embodiments of the present invention have been described, they should not be construed to limit the scope of the present invention. Those skilled in the art will understand that various modifications may be made to the described embodiment. Further, the invention described herein will itself suggest to those skilled in the various arts, alternate embodiments and solutions to other tasks and adaptations for other applications. It is the applicant's intention to cover by claims all such uses of the invention and those changes and modifications that could be made to the embodiments of the invention herein chosen for the purpose of disclosure without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.