Title:
Reinforcing Cage For Shoes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An article of footwear comprising a reinforcing cage. In one exemplary embodiment, a reinforcing cage may comprise a base, a plurality of spaced ribs located along a wall of the cushioning component, each of said plurality of spaced ribs including a first end and a second end, a bottom rim attached a lower end of at least one of the plurality of spaced apart ribs, and a top rim attached a upper end of at least one of the plurality of spaced apart ribs.



Inventors:
Rivas, Jake (Oakland, CA, US)
Reardon, Donald Raymond (Portland, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/966251
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
12/28/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/28, 36/3R
International Classes:
A43B7/14; A43B7/06; A43B13/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070271827Structure of upper and insole of shoesNovember, 2007Hsiao et al.
20010025432Article of footwear with channel drainage systemOctober, 2001Contreras et al.
20080201988Transformational shoesAugust, 2008Mattia
20080271339Extruded Cushioning InsoleNovember, 2008Fischer
20070062067Boot with interchangeable bootiesMarch, 2007Covatch
20080307671MOVEMENT ENHANCING FOOTWEARDecember, 2008Koffler
20090044423Single-sole sandal having fabric straps and method of attachmentFebruary, 2009Amsterdam
20070151124Woman's shoeJuly, 2007Chan
20030110661Shock-absorbing shoeJune, 2003Wu
20060000120Proprioceptive orthopedic sole comprising modular correction meansJanuary, 2006Chenut et al.
20080010867Personalized footwearJanuary, 2008Davis III



Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP/HAK NY (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An article of footwear comprising: an outsole; an upper attached to the outsole; a cushioning component located between the outsole and the upper and comprising a side wall; and a reinforcing cage further comprising: a base; a plurality of spaced ribs extending along the side wall of the cushioning component, each of said plurality of spaced ribs including a first end and a second end; a bottom rim attached to the first end of at least one of the plurality of spaced ribs; and a top rim attached to the second end of at least one of the plurality of spaced ribs.

2. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's midfoot.

3. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's forefoot.

4. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs form at least one rib aperture.

5. The article of footwear in claim 4, wherein the at least one rib aperture is one of a circle, ellipse, triangle, quadrilateral, S, and X shape.

6. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the base, the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim at least partially encase the cushioning component.

7. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the upper, the outsole, the base, the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim fully encase the cushioning component.

8. The article of footwear in claim 1, wherein the base comprises a ventilation channel.

9. An article of footwear comprising: an outsole; an upper attached to the outsole; a cushioning device comprising a sidewall located between the outsole and the upper, and a reinforcing cage further comprising: a first portion comprising a base; a second portion attached to the first portion; a third portion attached to the first portion and the second portion, wherein the third portion further comprises: a plurality of spaced ribs extending along the sidewall of the cushioning component, each of said plurality of spaced ribs including a first end and a second end; a bottom rim attached to the first end of at least one of the plurality of spaced ribs; and a top rim attached to a second end of at least one of the plurality of spaced ribs, wherein the base, the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim at least partially encase the cushioning component.

10. The article of footwear in claim 9, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's midfoot.

11. The article of footwear in claim 9, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's forefoot.

12. The article of footwear of claim of 9, wherein the first portion comprises an aperture.

13. The article of footwear of claim of 9, wherein the second portion comprises a flap.

14. The article of footwear of claim 9, wherein the third portion comprises a heel aperture.

15. The article of footwear in claim 9, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs form at least one rib aperture and wherein the at least one rib aperture is one of a circle, ellipse, triangle, quadrilateral, S, and X shape.

16. The article of footwear in claim 9, wherein second portion extends to a user's midfoot.

17. An article of footwear comprising: a reinforcing cage comprising a base, a plurality of spaced apart ribs, and a rim; wherein the plurality of ribs extend outwardly from the base, extend along the side wall of a cushioning component and attach to the rim.

18. The article of footwear in claim 17, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's midfoot.

19. The article of footwear in claim 17, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim extend to a user's forefoot.

20. The article of footwear in claim 17, wherein the plurality of spaced ribs form at least one aperture, and wherein the at least one aperture is one of a circle, ellipse, triangle, quadrilateral, S, and X shape.

21. The article of footwear in claim 17, wherein each of the plurality of ribs comprises a first end with a first width, a second end with a second width, and a middle portion with a third width.

22. The article of footwear in claim 21, wherein the third width is greater than the first width and the second width.

23. The article of footwear in claim 21, wherein the third width is lesser than the first width and the second width.

24. The article of footwear in claim 21, wherein the first width, the second width, and the third width are approximately equal.

25. An method comprising: providing an outsole; attaching an upper to the outsole; inserting a cushioning device comprising a side wall between the outsole and the upper; and attaching a reinforcing cage further comprising: a first portion comprising a base; a second portion attached to the first portion; a third portion attached to the first and second portions, wherein the third portion further comprises: a plurality of spaced ribs extending along the side wall of the cushioning component, each of said plurality of spaced ribs including a first end and a second end, and a bottom rim attached to the first end of at least one of the plurality of spaced apart ribs; and a top rim attached to the second end of at least one of the plurality of spaced apart ribs, wherein the base, the plurality of spaced ribs, the bottom rim, and the top rim at least partially encase the cushioning component.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the present invention are directed toward footwear. More particularly, embodiments of the invention relate to a reinforcing cage for shoes that, among other things, may aid in energy return to the user and prolong the shoe sole life. The design, configuration, and location of the reinforcing cage may vary significantly and still be within the scope of the present invention.

B. Description of the Related Art

The sport shoe industry is currently enjoying great success in the consumer environment. This may be attributed to a trend of ever-increasing sophistication in the footwear products. In the recent years, athletic shoes have been customized to fit a great many number of activities (e.g., hiking, trail running, and distance running), each requiring its own performance criteria. Design considerations for these shoes may vary based on upon such criteria as gender, durability, and aesthetics.

These variable considerations have led to a large spectrum of performance footwear, wherein any particular shoe design may be directed to a certain circumstance or setting. For example, short distance running shoes may emphasize comfort, whereas long distance running shoes may emphasize low weight and streamlined design. Trail running shoes may be designed to emphasize optimal combination of these considerations. Similarly, competitive runners may have different performance criteria than recreational runners. In each case, using a shoe designed for another purpose may have negative consequences on performance, and even the user's health.

Foot motion (e.g., running, walking) requires constant absorption and dissipation of forces and pressures. Various design considerations have attempted to alleviate the effects of these pressures and forces on the user. For example, one advance in this area has been the incorporation of cushioning component in the shoe sole to cushion the foot as the shoe strikes the ground. Such cushioning components can comprise multiple layers.

Referring to FIG. 1, a conventional shoe construction is shown. Boot 110 may includes an outsole 112, midsole 114, shank 116, and shell 118. Heel cushion 120 and forefoot cushion 122 may be disposed between an insole 124 and shell 118. An upper 126 also is provided, and optionally may include lacing 128. Outsole 112, midsole 114, insole 124, and forefoot cushion 122 each may comprise a first surface, a second surface, and a side wall joining the first and second surfaces. Preferably, shank 116 is disposed in a recess 114a in midsole 114, while cushions 120, 122 are disposed in recesses in insole 124.

In this exemplary embodiment, outsole 112 is formed of carbon rubber, while midsole 114 is formed of molded ethyl vinyl acetate foam. Shank 116 may be formed of thermoplastic polyurethane, while upper 126 may be formed of leather, fabric textiles, foam and other suitable insulation. The various polymer components may be coupled to each other with an adhesive or other bonding agent, while upper 126 may be coupled to shell 118, for example, using stitching proximate the lower edge of leather portion 130 of upper 126.

The kinesiology of a human foot during motion (e.g., walking, running) is enormously complex. Between first contact of a heel to the ground to the ending push-off from the ground with the toes, a great number of different tissue (e.g., muscle, bone) movements take place throughout the foot. During these movements, various parts of the foot move or turn with respect to each other, and multiple, substantial forces are distributed and balanced. For example, when a user's body weight puts pressure on the sole, it typically causes the sole to compress and swell outwards in a lateral direction parallel to the ground. This swelling tendency is undesirable as it alters the desired, optimum shape of the shoe sole and lessens shoe sole life.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 provides an illustration of an conventional shoe construction;

FIGS. 2a-b provides an illustration of perspective views of a shoe comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 provides an illustration of perspective bottom view of a shoe comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4a-c provides an illustration of multiple views shoes and shoe components comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 provides an illustration of a perspective view of an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 provides an illustration of a rear view of an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 provides an illustration of a side view of an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 8 provides an illustration of a bottom view of an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 provides an illustration of a bottom view of shoe comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 10 provides an illustration of a side view of an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 11 provides an illustration of a side view of exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 12 provides an illustration of a side view of exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 13 provides an illustration of a side view of exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 14 provides an illustration of a side view of exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 15 provides an illustration of a side view of exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reinforcing cage embodiments for shoes are provided. The specific configurations described below are intended to provide an understanding of the reinforcing cage according to one embodiment of the present invention. In other embodiments of the invention, the configuration of the reinforcing cage may be significantly different.

In certain embodiments of the present invention, a reinforcing cage may comprise a first portion, second portion and a third portion, and may be located approximately near the heel portion of a shoe.

In certain embodiments of the present invention, a first portion of a reinforcing cage may be located near the bottom of the heel, and may comprise apertures and indentations to provide cushioning, reinforcement, weight reduction, energy return and greater flexibility. A first portion may further comprise a base that may be, for example, attached to the outsole.

A second portion of a reinforcing cage may, in certain embodiments, extend from the rearfoot region (i.e., heel portion) to the midfoot. A second portion may also comprise various indentations; for example, a second portion may be cut along its outer regions to form a flap. A flap may create a “hinge” to increase foot stability and flexibility and attenuate impact.

A third portion as may be included in certain reinforcing cage embodiments according to the present invention may, in certain embodiments, be located approximately near the heel and extend outwardly from the base of the second portion along the sidewalls of a cushioning component (e.g., a midsole). The third portion may comprise ribs that form rib apertures located along the sidewalls of the cushioning component. The rib apertures may be formed in a variety of shapes (e.g., circular, elliptical, triangular, S-shaped, X-shaped). These rib apertures may extend to top and bottom portions of the third portion. These top and bottom portions, or “rims”, may aid in encasing the cushioning components of the sole. Finally, the third portion may further comprise a heel aperture on the back of the heel sidewall.

FIGS. 2a-b provides an illustration of perspective views of a shoe comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 2a illustrates reinforcing cage 201 attached to midsole 202. The forefoot portion of midsole 202 may include dampening compound 209 for impact attenuation.

FIG. 2b illustrates upper 203 attached to midsole 202, reinforcing cage 201 and tongue 204. Reinforcing cage 201, as described above, comprises third portion 205. Third portion 205 may include ribs 206 that shape apertures 207. In this embodiment, ribs 206 are shape triangle shaped apertures 207.

FIG. 3 provides an illustration of perspective bottom view of a shoe comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. In this embodiment, first portion 309 may be attached to second portion 311. Reinforcing cage embodiments as described herein may include ventilation channels to reduce thermal deterioration of footwear adhesives and foams (e.g., in the base). In this embodiment, first portion 309 includes ventilation channels 313 to prevent overheating of the midsole. Second portion 311 may include flap (or hinge) 312.

FIG. 4a-c provides an illustration of multiple views a shoe and shoe components comprising an exemplary reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. As illustrated in FIG. 4b, outsole 401 may be attached to first portion 409, second portion 411, and third portion 405 of the reinforcing cage embodiment. In this embodiment, first portion 409 comprises base 419. FIG. 4a illustrates an isolated view of portion of third portion 405 of the reinforcing cage embodiment comprising ribs 406 and apertures 407. As described above, third portion 405 may comprise top rim 412 and bottom rim 413. In this embodiment, ribs 406 are cut to form quadrilateral-shaped apertures 407.

In embodiments of the present invention, ribs (e.g., FIG. 4c, 413) may comprise a first end 414, a second end 415 and a middle portion 416. First end 414 may attach to one of a top rim 417 and a bottom rim 418, while second end 415 may attach to the other of the top rim 417 and bottom rim 418. For example, in certain reinforcing cage embodiments of the present invention, the rib width of the middle portion may be greater than the width near the first or second ends. Conversely, in other embodiments, rib width near the first or second ends may be greater than the rib width of the middle portion. Also, in other embodiments, the rib width may be approximately uniform along its length.

In this embodiment, for example, first portion 409, second portion 411, and third portion 405 may fully encase at least a portion of the cushioning component 408. In certain other embodiments of the present invention, the reinforcing cage may be utilized to partially encase cushioning component 408 by, for example, eliminating top rim 412.

In certain embodiments of the present invention, reinforcing cages (including a third portion comprising said ribs and rib apertures) encasing cushioning components may extend from the heel portion of the shoe to the midfoot region; in other embodiments, such reinforcing cages may extend to the forefoot region. Extending the reinforcing cage in such a manner may enhance structural reinforcement, stability and cushioning in the midfoot and forefoot regions.

Further embodiments of the reinforcing cage embodiments as disclosed in the present invention are illustrated in FIGS. 5-8. FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a reinforcing cage wherein the rib apertures 501 form slanted lines wherein the ends of the lines are wider than the middle. FIG. 6 is a rear view of a reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 7 is a side view of a reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. The embodiment is similar to the embodiment in FIG. 5, in that the rib apertures 701 form slanted lines wherein the ends of the lines are wider than the middle. FIG. 8 is a bottom view of a reinforcing cage embodiment in accordance with the present invention. This embodiment includes the ergonomically designed heel “dome” 801 located approximately under the heel. FIG. 9 is an alternate embodiment of the present invention, shown from the bottom and including the ergonomically designed heel “dome” 901. This embodiment includes the ventilation channels or cavities 902 as described above.

FIGS. 10-15 illustrate alternate embodiments of the present invention. For example, FIG. 10 illustrates an embodiment reinforcing cage element wherein the rib apertures 1001 are cut to form rectangles. FIG. 11 illustrates an embodiment reinforcing cage element wherein the rib apertures 1101 are cut to form triangles. FIG. 12 illustrates a reinforcing cage embodiment wherein the rib apertures 1201 are cut to form inverted triangles. FIG. 13 illustrates a reinforcing cage embodiment wherein the rib apertures 1301 are cut in the “S” shape discussed above. In this embodiment, the “S” is slanted. FIG. 14 illustrates a reinforcing cage embodiment wherein the rib apertures 1401 are cut in “S” shape as well, but the “S” shape is relatively straight. FIG. 15 illustrates a reinforcing cage embodiment wherein the rib apertures 1501 are cut in the “X” shape discussed above. In this embodiment of the present application, the “X” wall shape arcs upwards (as discussed above).

Reinforcing cage embodiments as described herein may provide structural support to the midsole and other cushioning components, thereby prolonging the life of a shoe. In particular, a reinforcing cage embodiment may improve durability and reduce material breakdown from excessive compression of the shoe sole materials (i.e., midsole, additional cushioning components).

As described above, the rib apertures of the reinforcing cage embodiments may be cut away form a structural “wall” (e.g., shapes resembling that of an “S”, “Z” or a triangle) to encase the sole materials and provide a reinforced structure to support the rearfoot region of the runner. These structural walls may aid restraining and counteracting the outward swelling of shoe sole components (e.g., midsole, other cushioning components) and allow the sole to remain compact in its optimum form, thereby extending the life of the shoe. Apertures of the reinforcing cage embodiments (e.g., in the third portion) may provide for weight reduction and greater flexibility for the footwear item. Additionally, the reinforcing cage embodiments may provide supplemental mechanical cushioning to the midsole and support during mild pronations.

Another advantage provided by the reinforcement heel cage embodiments described in the present invention may be that since the reinforcing cage structure extends into the midfoot arch area, it may act as a support shank enhancing foot stability.

An additional advantage provided by the reinforcement cage may be that it “returns” energy to the runner. As described above, the weight of the runner may be distributed laterally (parallel to the ground) on the sole, causing an outward swelling of sole. However, a shoe comprising a reinforcing cage as described may force the some distribution of the pressure to be contained within the cage, thereby causing some of the excesses pressure from the foot to be redistributed back upwards through the sole. This upward surge of “return” energy may be beneficial to a wearer in that it supplements the natural movement (e.g., walking, running) during use and alleviates the negative effects of pressures from the surface (i.e., concrete, rocks etc.). Moreover, the wall (including the aforementioned ribs) of the reinforcing cage itself has a structural integrity that may counteract the weight of the wearer, and may serve to return energy as well. The shapes, structure, and component materials of the wall may be chosen to optimize impact attenuation and energy return.

While the present invention has been described with reference to the aforementioned applications, this description of the preferred embodiments is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. It shall be understood that all aspects of the present invention are not limited to the specific depictions, configurations or dimensions set forth herein which depend upon a variety of principles and variables. Various modifications in form and detail of the disclosed apparatus, as well as other variations of the present invention, will be apparent to a person skilled in the art upon reference to the present disclosure. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims shall cover any such modifications or variations of the described embodiments as falling within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.