Title:
APPARATUS FOR FASTENING A SHOE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fastening apparatus for a shoe including an adjustable gap with two sides and a fastener with two elements, wherein one fastener element is attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. At least one lace is threaded through holes along the two sides of the adjustable gap, and two ends of the lace are fastened together between the second fastening element and the second side of the adjustable gap. The lace is threaded at one end through an opening in the second fastener element and forms at least one lace segment that extends from the second fastener element to the second side of the adjustable gap, and at least one lace segment extends from the second side of the adjustable gap to the first side of the adjustable gap. The two ends of the at least one lace may be fastened together by a knot. For tightening the shoe, the second fastener element is pulled towards the first side of the adjustable gap, and is attached to the first fastener element for keeping the shoe fastened.



Inventors:
Bar, Aharon (Fort Lee, NJ, US)
Bar, Michael (Tenafly, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/014363
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
01/15/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43C11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070283599Energy translating footwear mechanism for enhancing forwardDecember, 2007Talbott
20040200095Boot construction with multipart vampOctober, 2004Mcalpine
20080189985Tongue for footwear with changeable overlaysAugust, 2008Cox
20080000105Genie disposable slipperJanuary, 2008Cotton
20090272007Automatic Lacing SystemNovember, 2009Beers et al.
20080168682Sandal having multi-positional strapping systemJuly, 2008Le
20060107554Ornamental medicine alarm timer slipperMay, 2006Williams
20040031169Neuropathic foot protectorFebruary, 2004Jensen et al.
20060242862Winter sport/snow bootNovember, 2006Chelani
20040068892Cushion assembly for shoesApril, 2004Wang
20090293308Article of Footwear for Increasing Stability and Lateral PerformanceDecember, 2009Bruce et al.



Primary Examiner:
PRANGE, SHARON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fastening apparatus for a shoe comprising: an adjustable gap defined in the instep area of a shoe, the adjustable gap of the shoe including a first side, a second side, a bottom side, and an open top side; a fastener comprising at least two mating elements, a first element and a second element, wherein said first fastener element is attached to said first side of the adjustable gap; and at least one lace, said at least one lace having two ends that are fastened together between said second fastening element and said second side of said adjustable gap; wherein said at least one lace is threaded through an opening in said second fastener element, forming at least one lace segment that extends from said second fastener element to said second side of said adjustable gap; wherein at least one lace segment extends from said second side of said adjustable gap to said first side thereof; wherein by pulling said second fastener element towards said first side of the adjustable gap, said adjustable gap is caused to contract between said first side and said second side; and wherein by attaching said second fastener element to said first fastener element said contraction is retained.

2. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 1, wherein said two ends of said at least one lace are fastened together by a knot.

3. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 2, wherein, when said second fastener element is attached to said first fastener element, said knot is situated within said open top side of said adjustable gap.

4. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 1, and wherein said at least one lace comprises two laces, and wherein said two laces are fastened together at a first end of each lace between said second fastening element and said second side of said adjustable gap and at a second end of each lace near a bottom region of said adjustable gap.

5. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 4, wherein the first ends of said laces are fastened together by a knot.

6. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 4, wherein the second ends of said laces are bonded together at the bottom of the adjustable gap to form an elongated lace.

7. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 1, wherein at least one lace segment extends back from said first side of said adjustable gap to said second side of said adjustable gap.

8. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 7, wherein at least one lace segment extends again from said second side of said adjustable gap to said first side of said adjustable gap.

9. A fastening apparatus for a shoe according to claim 1, wherein a first end of said lace extends from a segment of said lace that is threaded through said opening in said second fastener element, and a second end of said lace extends from a segment of said lace that extends from said second side of said adjustable gap to said first side thereof.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/976,104, filed Oct. 22, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus that provides an easy and quick method of fastening a shoe.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The conventional means of fastening a shoe with laces that needed to be tied is difficult to operate for many people with disabilities or for people that have difficulty bending over to access the instep of the shoe. Many solutions for fastening shoes that do not utilize laces instead include buckles or straps with a hook-and-loop fastening system, commonly known as Velcro®. However, in some shoes, such as sneakers, the strap closure does not look attractive. In addition, many users do not like to wear shoes that they perceive to be specially made for the handicapped, and many users simply prefer the look of the conventional lacing system.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,081,916 to Salisbury, U.S. Pat. No. 4,414,761 to Mahood, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,027,482 to Torppey, respectively, disclose methods that combine laces with a hook-and-loop fastening system. A series of parallel laces that extend through the eyelets in the shoe flap on one side of the shoe-access-opening are attached to an elongated closure flap having hook-and-loop elements on its underside. In Mahood, the laces are secured beneath those same eyelets, and in Salisbury and Torppey, the laces are secured to the eyelets in the other shoe flap. Pulling the flap across the shoe-access-opening towards the other side of the shoe-access-opening tightens the shoe, and the closure flap is secured to the shoe via mating hook-and-loop elements on the upper surface of the other shoe flap. One drawback to all these systems is that the elongated flap affects the design and the appearance of the shoe, making the shoe look cumbersome. Another drawback is that, in all these systems, the laces lie across the shoe-access-opening, not in a criss-cross pattern, and thus do not have the appearance of a traditional lacing system.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,941,683 to Freed discloses a lacing system for a shoe that also combines laces with a strap, and is based on one elongated lace loop that forms four lace segments that extend from a strap on one side of the shoe, through several lace openings on that side's shoe flap, and criss-cross each other over the shoe-access-opening. Alternatively, the one elongated lace loop forms two lace segments that extend from a strap on each side of the shoe, through several lace openings on both shoe flaps, and criss-cross each other over the shoe-access-opening. When the straps are pulled, the multiple lace segments move through all the eyelets and tighten the shoe-access-opening.

One major drawback to U.S. Pat. No. 6,941,683 is that it does not offer a solution to shoes with fewer than four pairs of eyelets, since this system requires at least three middle lace segments, and at least two bottom lace segments that criss-cross the shoe-access-opening. In addition, the plethora of lace segments criss-crossing over one another lends the show a cluttered and messy appearance. Another drawback is that this system is susceptible to high friction, which is caused by the configuration of the lace system, wherein some lace segments extend from the eyelets in a narrow angle, increasing the pressure and friction between the laces and the eyelets. The high friction makes it difficult to pull the lace through all the eyelets and prevents some lace segments from moving freely, resulting in shoe-access-opening that may not be tightened evenly, and may lead to laces tearing or wearing out more frequently.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide for a low friction apparatus for fastening a shoe that can be easily tightened by the user.

It is further an object of the present invention to provide for an apparatus for easily fastening a shoe that can be used by people with difficulties fastening and tying a conventional lacing system.

It is further an object of the present invention to provide for an apparatus for fastening a shoe, which can be applied to shoes with different number of eyelets.

It is another object of the present invention to provide for an apparatus for fastening a shoe, wherein the bottom element of the shoe-access-opening has the general appearance of a shoe with conventional lacing system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be understood and appreciated more fully from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a shoe, having two eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and one eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an illustration of the two laces and the second fastener element before the laces are secured to the second fastener element.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of the two laces and the second fastener element after the laces are secured to the second fastener element;

FIG. 4 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 1 in the fastened position;

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a shoe, having two eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and one eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is an illustration of a shoe, having two eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and two eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative hi accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is an illustration of a shoe, having three eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and two eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 7 in the fastened position;

FIG. 9 is an illustration of a shoe, having three eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and two eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 10 is an illustration of a shoe, having four eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and three eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 11 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 10 in the fastened position;

FIG. 12 is an illustration of a shoe, having four eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and three eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 13 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 12 in the fastened position;

FIG. 14 is an illustration of a shoe, having five eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and four eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 15 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 14 in the fastened position;

FIG. 16 is an illustration of a shoe, having five eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap and four eyelets on the first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 17 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, two eyelets on second side and one eyelet on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 18 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 17 in the fastened position;

FIG. 19 is an illustration of a shoe, having two laces, two eyelets on second side and one eyelet on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 20 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, two eyelets on second side and one eyelet on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 21 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, two eyelets on second side and one eyelet on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 22 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 21 in the fastened position;

FIG. 23 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, two eyelets on second side and two eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 24 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, three eyelets on second side and two eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 25 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 24 in the fastened position;

FIG. 26 is an illustration of a shoe, having two laces, three eyelets on second side and two eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 27 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, three eyelets on second side and two eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 28 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 27 in the fastened position;

FIG. 29 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, four eyelets on second side and three eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 30 is an illustration of a shoe, having two laces, four eyelets on second side and three eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 31 is an illustration of a shoe, having one lace, four eyelets on second side and three eyelets on first side of the adjustable gap, constructed and operative in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 32 is an illustration of the adjustable gap of the shoe of FIG. 31 in the fastened position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Reference is now made to FIG. 1, which illustrates a shoe 1 with a fastening system constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. It should be noted that, while only a right shoe is shown and discussed throughout this disclosure, one skilled in the art will recognize that the various embodiments of the fastening system can be easily incorporated into a left shoe as well as into other articles of footwear such as sneakers, sandals, boots, skates, slippers, etc.

It should be also noted that, while FIG. 1 shows the first side of the shoe access opening as adjacent to the outside of the shoe, and the second side of the shoe access opening as adjacent to the inside (or arch side) of the shoe, one skilled in the art will recognize that the references herein to first side and second side are merely for convenience of reference and that the disclosures herein apply equally where the second side is adjacent to the outside of the shoe and the first side is adjacent to the inside (or arch side) of the shoe.

The shoe comprises an adjustable gap in the instep area, which is used as the shoe-access-opening for tightening and loosening the shoe on the wearer's foot, including first side 2, second side 3, bottom side 4, and open top side 5.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the second side of the adjustable gap comprises two openings, and the first side comprises one opening. Examples for such openings are holes, eyelets, buckles and loops.

Elements 6 and 9 illustrate two parts of a fastener, wherein a first fastener element 6 is attached to the first side of the shoe, and a second fastener element 6 is attached to the laces, as described below. According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the two fastener elements 6 and 9 comprise two mating elements, such as clips, buckles, snaps, buttons or a hook and a loop system (such as Velcro®), for locking the two elements to each other.

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, two laces 7 and 8 each are attached at their proximal ends to second fastener element 9. FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate an example of the attachment of laces 7 and 8 to second fastener element 9, which allows the user to adjust the usable length of the laces according to the wearer's foot size. FIG. 2 shows the bottom of second fastener element 9, wherein the two laces are threaded through holes defined in fastener element 9, and wherein the usable length of each lace can be adjusted. Once the desired usable lace length is attained, each lace is affixed to second fastener element 9, for example by being looped twice through the holes and tied with a knot, as illustrated in FIG. 3.

The two laces 7 and 8 extend from second fastener element 9 to the second side of the adjustable gap. According to one embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the two laces 7 and 8 are threaded through eyelets in the second side of the adjustable gap. Lace 7 extends from the second side to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 7a, which bridges the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace 7 is attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. The distal end of second lace 8 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 4 the attachment of the distal ends of laces 7 and 8 to the respective sides of the adjustable gap may be achieved by affixing the ends of the laces 7 and 8 directly to eyelets at the respective sides of the adjustable gap, e.g., by being knotted thereto, or may be threaded through the eyelets and affixed to an article behind the eyelet whose passage through the eyelet is prevented due to its size, as is well known in the art.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and lace segment 7a. As illustrated in FIG. 4, by fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction is retained.

Reference is now made to FIG. 5, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the distal ends of laces 7 (at the distal end of segment 7a) and 8 are connected to each other at the bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 11. In this embodiment, laces 7 and 8 are actually one long lace, whose two ends, both now proximal, are affixed to second fastener element 9. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6.

Reference is now made to FIG. 6, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein both the second side and the first side of the adjustable gap comprise two eyelets, a top eyelet and a bottom eyelet, and wherein the distal ends of both laces 7 and 8 are attached on the first side of the adjustable gap. In this embodiment, the distal end of lace 7 is still affixed to the bottom eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap, but the distal end of lace 8 passes through the bottom eyelet on the second side and extends from the second side to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 8a, which is attached to top eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the adjustable gap, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a and 8a, and fastened to fastener element 6.

Reference is now made to FIG. 7, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG. 1 but wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets and the first side comprises two eyelets. In this embodiment, the two separate laces 7 and 8 extend from second fastener element 9 and through the top and middle eyelets in the second side of the adjustable gap, respectively, to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming segments 7a and 8a, which bridge the adjustable gap. The distal end of lace 8 is attached to the bottom eyelet of the first side. Lace 7 is threaded through the top eyelet of the first side and extends back from the first side to the second side, forming segment 7b, which bridges the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace 7 is attached to the bottom eyelet of the second side.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a, 7b and 8a. As illustrated in FIG. 8, by fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction is retained.

In an alternative embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 8 (not shown), the distal ends of laces 7 and 8 (at the distal ends of segments 7b and 8a) are connected to each other near the closed bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11, similar to lace segment 11 in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, laces 7 and 8 are actually one long lace, whose two ends, both now proximal, are affixed to second fastener element 9. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a, 7b, 8a and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6.

Reference is now made to FIG. 9, which shows an alternative embodiment to FIG. 1, wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets, and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises two eyelets. In this embodiment, the shoe has three separate laces (e.g., 17, 18 and 19), the proximal end of each of which is preferably attached as described above to second fastener element 29, which mates with fastener element 26, attached to the first side of the shoe. The three laces 17, 18 and 19 extend from fastener element 29 to the second side of the adjustable gap. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the top two laces 17 and 18 are threaded through the top two eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap, and extend from the second side across to the first side, forming lace segments 17a and 18a correspondingly, which bridge the adjustable gap. The distal ends of laces 17 and 18 are attached to the first side of the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace 19 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap, in the manner described above. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 29 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 17, 18 and 19 and on lace segments 17a and 18a. By fastening fastener element 29 to fastener element 26, the contraction is retained.

Reference is now made to FIG. 10, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIGS. 1 and 7 but wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises four eyelets, and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets. The two separate laces 7 and 8 extend from second fastener element 9 and through the top and second eyelets in the second side, respectively, across to the first side, forming segments 7a and 8a, which bridge the adjustable gap. Lace segment 7a is threaded through the top eyelet of the first side, and extends from the first side back to the second side, forming segment 7b. Segment 7b is threaded through the third eyelet on the second side, and extends again to the first side, forming lace segment 7c, and the distal end of lace 7 is attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. Lace segment 8a is threaded through an eyelet on the first side, and extends from the first side back to the second side, forming segment 8b, and the distal end of lace 8 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a, 7b,7c, 8a and 8b. As illustrated in FIG. 11, by fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction is retained.

In an alternative embodiment of FIGS. 10 and 11 (not shown), the distal ends of laces 7 and 8 (at the distal ends of segments 7c and 8b) are connected to each other near the closed bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11, similar to lace segment 11 in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, laces 7 and 8 are actually one long lace, whose two ends, both now proximal, are affixed to second fastener element 9. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 7,8 and on lace segments 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6.

Reference is now made to FIG. 12, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises four eyelets, and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets. In this embodiment, the shoe has four separate laces 17, 18, 19 and 20, the proximal end of each of which is preferably attached as described above to second fastener element 29, which mates with fastener element 26, attached to the first side of the shoe.

The four laces 17, 18, 19 and 20 extend from fastener element 29 to the second side of the adjustable gap. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the top three laces 17, 18 and 19 are threaded through the top three eyelets on the second side of the adjustable gap, and extend from the second side across to the first side, forming lace segments 17a, 18a and 19a correspondingly, which bridge the adjustable gap. The distal ends of laces 17, 18 and 19 are attached to the first side of the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace 20 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap, in the manner described above.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 29 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 17, 18, 19 and 20 and on lace segments 17a, 18a and 19a. As illustrated hi FIG. 13, by fastening fastener element 29 to fastener element 26, the contraction is retained.

In an alternative embodiment of FIGS. 12 and 13 (not shown), the distal ends of laces 19 (at the distal ends of segment 19a) and 20 are connected to each other near the closed bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11, similar to lace segment 11 in FIG. 5. Thus, this embodiment uses three laces instead of four. In this embodiment, laces 19 and 20 are actually one long lace, whose two ends, both now proximal, are affixed to second fastener element 29. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 29 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of 17, 18, 19 and 20 and on lace segments 17a, 18a, 19a and 11, and fastened to fastener element 26.

Reference is now made to FIG. 14, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises five eyelets, and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises four eyelets. This embodiment of the invention is similar to that of FIG. 12, except that lace segment 20 is threaded through the fourth eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap, and extends to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 20a, and the distal end of lace 20 is attached to the first side. Lace segment 19a is threaded through an eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap, and extends back to the second side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 19b, and the distal end of lace 19 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 29 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of laces 17, 18, 19 and 20 and on lace segments 17a, 18a, 19a, 19b and 20a. As illustrated in FIG. 15, by fastening fastener element 29 to fastener element 26, the contraction is retained.

Reference is now made to FIG. 16, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the distal ends of laces 19 and 20 (at the distal ends of segments 20a and 19b) are connected to each other at the bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming new lace segment 21. Thus, this embodiment uses three laces instead of four. In this embodiment, laces 19 and 20 are actually one long lace, whose two ends, both now proximal, are affixed to second fastener element 29. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 29 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on the proximal, free ends of 17, 18, 19 and 20 and on lace segments 17a, 18a, 19a, 19b, 20a and 21, and fastened to fastener element 26.

Reference is now made to FIG. 17, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, which is similar to that of FIG. 1 but wherein a single lace is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7 and 8, which extend from second fastener element 9 to the second side of the adjustable gap. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the two lace segments 7 and 8 are threaded through eyelets in the second side of the adjustable gap. Lace segment 7 extends from the second side to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 7a, which bridges the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace segment 7a is attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. The distal end of second lace segment 8 is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap. As illustrated in FIG. 18, by fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction between the first and second sides of the adjustable gap is retained.

Reference is now made to FIG. 19, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the fastening apparatus comprises two laces, one of which is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7′ and 8, which extends from second fastener element 9 to the second side of the adjustable gap, and the other end of which is threaded through the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segments 7″ and 7a, which extends to the first side of the adjustable gap. The two lace segments 7′ and 7″ are fastened together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between the second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap. in place of lace segment 7 of FIG. 17. This enables the user to easily adjust the length of the lace to fit the user's foot size, and allows second fastener element 9 to be better aligned with first fastener element 6 when the shoe is fastened. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7, 7a, and 8, and fastened to fastener element 6 (not shown). When fastener element 9 is fastened to fastener element 6, knot 10 is generally situated within the shoe-access-opening of the shoe, as is on standard laced shoes.

Reference is now made to FIG. 20, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the fastening apparatus comprises one single lace that is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7 and 8, both of which extend from second fastener element 9 to the second side of the adjustable gap, and wherein the distal ends of lace segments 7a and 8 are fastened together at the bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 11. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7, 7a, 8 and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6 (not shown). Lace segments 7a and 8 may be fastened together to form lace segment 11 by any means of fastening 12, such as by use of a gripper, staple, or the like. Lace segments 7a and 8 may also be bonded together to form lace segment 11, which may be or may appear to be formed from a unitary lace segment, as shown in FIG. 20.

Reference is now made to FIG. 21, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG. 19 but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises one lace, one end of which is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7′ and 8, and the other end of which is threaded through the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segments 7″ and 7a, and wherein the distal ends of lace segments 7a and 8 are connected at the bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11. In addition, the two open ends of the lace, namely lace segments 7′ and 7″, are fastened together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between the second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap, in place of lace segment 7.

For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7′, 7″, 7a, 8 and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6, as shown in FIG. 22. When fastener element 9 is fastened to fastener element 6, knot 10 is generally situated within the shoe-access-opening of the shoe, as it is on standard laced shoes.

Reference is now made to FIG. 23, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein the fastening apparatus comprises a single lace that is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7 and 8, which extend from second fastener element 9 to the second side of the adjustable gap. According to one embodiment of the present invention both the second side and the first side of the adjustable gap comprise two eyelets, a top eyelet and a bottom eyelet, and the distal ends of both lace segments 7 and 8 are attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. In this embodiment, the distal end of lace segment 7 is still affixed to the bottom eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap, but the distal end of lace segment 8 passes through the bottom eyelet on the second side and extends from the second side to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming lace segment 8a, which is attached to top eyelet on the first side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the adjustable gap, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7, 8, 7a and 8a, and fastened to fastener element 6.

Reference is now made to FIG. 24, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG. 7 but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises one lace that is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7 and 8, and wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets and the first side comprises two eyelets. In this embodiment, lace segments 7 and 8 extend from second fastener element 9 and through the top and middle eyelets in the second side of the adjustable gap, respectively, to the first side of the adjustable gap, forming segments 7a and 8a, which bridge the adjustable gap. The distal end of lace segment 8a is attached to the bottom eyelet of the first side. Lace segment 7a is threaded through the top eyelet of the first side and extends back from the first side to the second side, forming segment 7b, which bridges the adjustable gap, and the distal end of lace segment 7b is attached to the bottom eyelet of the second side.

As illustrated in FIG. 25, for fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7, 8, 7a, 7b, and 8a. By fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction is retained.

Reference is now made to FIG. 26, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG.24, but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises two laces, one of which is threaded through (or fastened to) second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7′ and 8. In addition, the two open ends of the lace, namely lace segments 7′ and 7″, are fastened together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between the second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap, in place of lace segment 7. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7′, 7″, 7a, 7b, 8 and 8a, and fastened to fastener element 6 (not shown). When fastener element 9 is fastened to fastener element 6, knot 10 is generally situated within the shoe-access-opening of the shoe, as it is on standard laced shoes.

Reference is now made to FIG. 27, which shows an alternative embodiment of present invention, similar to FIG. 26, but wherein the distal ends of lace segments 7b and 8a are connected to each other near the closed bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11. In this embodiment, the two open ends of the lace, namely lace segments 7′ and 7″, are tied together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7′, 7″, 8, 7a, 7b, 8a, and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6, as shown in FIG. 28.

Reference is now made to FIG. 29, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG. 10 but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises a single lace that is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7 and 8, and wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises four eyelets and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets. The two lace segments 7 and 8 extend from second fastener element 9 and through the top and second eyelets in the second side, respectively, across to the first side, forming segments 7a and 8a, which bridge the adjustable gap. Lace segment 7a is threaded through the top eyelet of the first side, and extends from the first side back to the second side, forming segment 7b. Segment 7b is threaded through the third eyelet from the top on the second side, and extends again to the first side, forming lace segment 7c, and the distal end of lace 7c is attached to the first side of the adjustable gap. Lace segment 8a is threaded through an eyelet on the first side, and extends from the first side back to the second side, forming segment 8b, and the distal end of lace 8b is attached to the second side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7, 8, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a and 8b. By fastening fastener element 9 to fastener element 6, the contraction is retained (not shown).

Reference is now made to FIG. 30, which illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention, similar to FIG. 29, but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises two laces, one of which is threaded through second fastener element 9, forming lace segments 7′ and 8. In addition, the two open ends of the lace, namely lace segments 7′ and 7″, are fastened together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between the second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7′, 7″, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8, 8a, and 8b, and fastened to fastener element 6 (not shown).

Reference is now made to FIG. 31, which shows an alternative embodiment of present invention, similar to FIG. 30, but wherein the fastening apparatus comprises one lace, and wherein the second side of the adjustable gap comprises four eyelets and the first side of the adjustable gap comprises three eyelets, but wherein the distal ends of lace segments 7c and 8b are connected to each other near the closed bottom side of the adjustable gap, forming a new lace segment 11. In this embodiment, the two open ends of the lace, namely lace segments 7′ and 7″, are fastened together with a knot 10 that is situated in the region between the second fastening element 9 and the top eyelet on the second side of the adjustable gap. For fastening the shoe, fastener element 9 is pulled towards the first side of the shoe, causing contraction between the first side and the second side of the adjustable gap through tension on lace segments 7′, 7″, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8, 8a, 8b and 11, and fastened to fastener element 6, as shown in FIG. 31.

It should be borne in mind that the drawings are not rendered in actual scale so that certain features of the invention can be brought out and depicted.

The drawings and the foregoing description are not intended to represent the only form of the invention in regard to the details of this construction and manner of operation. In fact, it will be evident to one skilled in the art that modifications and variations may be made without delimiting from the spirit and scope of the invention. Although specific terms have been employed, they are intended in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for the purpose of limitation, the scope of the invention being delineated in the following claims.