Title:
BELT LOOP SECURING DEVICE, AND RELATED METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A belt loop securing device featuring a clasp body and a locking clip is provided. The clasp body includes a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to permit capture of a belt and/or pants waistband between the plates. The lock clip is slidable over the clip clasp for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position. A method of securing a belt to pants, and a method of securing an equipment holding case to a belt are also provided.



Inventors:
Cornelison, Finnian Grey (Gainesville, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/105399
Publication Date:
10/22/2009
Filing Date:
04/18/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/3.7
International Classes:
A45F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070185469Napkin with an adhesive tabAugust, 2007Green
20020112327Cover for seat belt buckleAugust, 2002Baloga
20080086850CONTINUOUSLY ADAPTIVE FASTENER CLIPApril, 2008Smith et al.
20040103504Fastener for a CPU radiatorJune, 2004Lin
20090025187SCARF HARNESSJanuary, 2009Otenbaker
20080104807Towel restraint assembly and method of use thereofMay, 2008Hosfeld
20090178245Magnetic Garment FastenerJuly, 2009Albert
20090033492COILED CABLE DISPLAY DEVICEFebruary, 2009Rapp et al.
20080052879Retention mechanism for a wearable terminalMarch, 2008Johnson et al.
20080083147Clip with a Writing SurfaceApril, 2008Cucurullo
20060107493Micro - LockMay, 2006Howell



Primary Examiner:
JOHNSON, PHILIP T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Finnian Cornelison (Warrenton, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A belt loop securing device comprising: a clasp body comprising a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the front and rear plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to permit capture of a belt and/or pants waist edge therebetween; and a locking clip movable over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

2. A belt loop securing device according to claim 1, wherein the clasp body further comprises a lip portion projecting laterally from at least one of the plates.

3. A belt loop securing device according to claim 2, wherein the lip portion is sized to lie over a pants belt loop.

4. A belt loop securing device according to claim 1, wherein the locking clip comprises front and rear prongs and a connecting portion collectively establishing a substantially U-shape viewed from its side.

5. A belt loop securing device according to claim 4, wherein the front and rear plates have front and rear open recesses, respectively, facing away from one another for receiving the front and rear prongs, respectively.

6. A belt loop securing device according to claim 1, further comprising a hinge operatively connecting the front and rear plates to one another.

7. A method of securing a belt to pants, comprising: arranging a belt through belt loops of pants; capturing the belt with a clasp body of a belt loop securing device, the clasp body comprising a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt between the plates; engaging a protruding lip portion of the clasp body with at least one of the belt loops of the pants; and placing a locking clip of the belt loop securing device over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

8. A method according to claim 7, wherein the protruding lip portion projects laterally from at least one of the plates.

9. A method according to claim 7, wherein the locking clip comprises front and rear prongs and a connecting portion collectively establishing a substantially U-shape viewed from its side.

10. A method according to claim 8, wherein the front and rear plates have front and rear open recesses, respectively, facing away from one another for receiving the front and rear prongs, respectively.

11. A method according to claim 7, wherein the loop belt securing device farther comprises a hinge operatively connecting the front and rear plates to one another.

12. A method of securing a belt to pants, comprising: arranging a belt about a waistband of pants; capturing the belt and waistband with a clasp body of a belt loop securing device, the clasp body comprising a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt and the waistband between the plates; and placing a locking clip of the belt loop securing device over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein the locking clip comprises front and rear prongs and a connecting portion collectively establishing a substantially U-shape viewed from its side.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein the front and rear plates have front and rear open recesses, respectively, facing away from one another for receiving the front and rear prongs, respectively.

15. A method according to claim 12, wherein the loop belt securing device farther comprises a hinge operatively connecting the front and rear plates to one another.

16. A method of securing an equipment holding case to a belt and pants, comprising: arranging a belt through belt loops of pants; securing a holding case belt loop of an equipment holding case to the belt; capturing the belt with a clasp body of a belt loop securing device, the clasp body comprising a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt between the plates; engaging a protruding lip portion of the clasp body with the holding case belt loop; and placing a locking clip of the belt loop securing device over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

17. A method according to claim 16, wherein the protruding lip portion projects laterally from at least one of the plates.

18. A method according to claim 17, wherein the locking clip comprises front and rear prongs and a connecting portion collectively establishing a substantially U-shape viewed from its side.

19. A method according to claim 18, wherein the front and rear plates have front and rear open recesses, respectively, facing away from one another for receiving the front and rear prongs, respectively.

20. A method according to claim 17, wherein the loop belt securing device further comprises a hinge operatively connecting the front and rear plates to one another.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to belt loop securing device, and to methods of making and using the belt loop securing device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention a belt loop securing device featuring a clasp body and a locking clip. The clasp body includes a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to permit capture of a belt and/or pants waist edge between the plates. The lock clip is movable over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

A second aspect of the invention provides a method of securing a belt to pants. According to this aspect, a belt is arranged through belt loops of pants. The belt is captured with a clasp body of a belt loop securing device. The clasp body of the device features a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt between the plates. The device also includes a protruding lip portion which is engaged with at least one of the belt loops of the pants. A locking clip of the belt loop securing device is placed over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

According to a third aspect of the invention, another method of securing a belt to pants is provided. A belt is arranged about a waistband of pants, and a clasp body of a belt loop securing device captures the belt and the waistband. The clasp body of the device includes a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt and the waistband between the plates. A locking clip of the belt loop securing device is placed over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

A fourth aspect of the invention provides a method of securing an equipment holding case to a belt and pants. According to this method, a belt is arranged through belt loops of pants, and a holding case belt loop of an equipment holding case is secured to the belt. The belt is captured with a clasp body of a belt loop securing device. The clasp body includes a front plate and a rear plate operatively connected to one another to permit movement of the plates between an open position in which the front and rear plates are splayed from one another and a closed position in which the front and rear plates are substantially parallel to one another to capture of the belt between the plates. A protruding lip portion of the clasp body is positioned to engage the holding case belt loop, and a locking clip of the belt loop securing device is placed over the clasp body for securing the front and rear plates in the closed position.

Additional aspects of the invention will become apparent upon viewing the accompanying drawings and reading the detailed description below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification. The drawings, together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments and methods given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In such drawings:

FIG. 1A is a front perspective view of a belt loop securing device in a closed position according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1B is a rear perspective view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2A is an exploded front perspective view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1 in an open position;

FIG. 2B is an exploded rear perspective view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 2A;

FIG. 3A is a left side view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A in a closed position;

FIG. 3B is a right side view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A in a closed position;

FIG. 3C is a top view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A in a closed position;

FIG. 3D is a bottom view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A in a closed position;

FIG. 4A is a front perspective view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A depicted in use according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4B is a top view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 4A in use;

FIG. 5A is a front perspective view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 1A depicted in use according to another embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view of the belt loop securing device of FIG. 5A in use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS AND EXEMPLARY METHODS OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to exemplary embodiments and methods of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate like or corresponding parts throughout the drawings. It should be noted, however, that the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details, representative devices and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described in this section in connection with the exemplary embodiments and methods.

Referring more particularly to the drawings, a belt loop securing device according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention is generally illustrated by reference numeral 10 in FIGS. 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 4A, 4B, 5A and 5B. Belt loop securing device 10 features a clasp body including a front (or first) plate 16 and a rear (or second) plate 18. It should be understood that the terms “front” and “rear” are assigned based on the position in which device 10 is worn, with the “front” plate facing outwardly. Plate 16 may serve as the rear plate, and plate 18 may serve as the front plate in use. Front plate 16 has an open recessed area 16a best shown in FIG. 2A, and depicted with dashed lines in FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D. Rear plate 18 has an open recessed area 18a best shown in FIG. 2B, and depicted with dashed lines in FIGS. 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D. Recessed areas 16a and 18a are opposite (or face away from) one another. The clasp body may be made of various materials, including metals, metal alloys, and plastics. Particularly useful plastics are relatively sturdy, such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride alloy (e.g., sold under the trade name Kydex®), for example.

Rear plate 18 possesses a protruding lip portion (or flange) extending laterally to one side of recess 1 8a. The protruding lip portion provides rear plate 18 with a broader width than front plate 16. Although not shown, front plate 16 may alternatively or additionally possess a protruding lip portion. Optionally the protruding lip portion(s) may be omitted entirely. As discussed in detail below, the protruding lip portion may be fitted over or into a pants belt loop in use to secure a belt in place on the pants. Alternatively, the protruding lip may be employed to secure belted equipment in place.

The upper end portions of front and rear plates 16, 18 are contoured to curve towards one another. The upper end portions mate with one another to provide the clasp body with an overall U-shape when viewed from the side, as best shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The upper end portions of front and rear plates 16, 18 each possess one or more apertures or bores which align with one another when front and rear plates 16, 18 are mated.

A hinge (embodied as a pivot pin in the figures) 14 is fitted through the aligned apertures/bores of front and rear plates 16, 18. Hinge 14 operatively connects front and rear plates 16, 18 to permit movement of the plates between an open position shown in FIGS. 2A and 21 and a closed position shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. In the open position of FIGS. 2A and 2B, front and rear plates 16, 18 are splayed (or flared) away from one another to permit insertion or removal of a belt and the waistband of a pair of pants. In the closed position of FIGS. 1A and 1B, front and rear plates 16, 18 are substantially parallel to one another. In this closed state, plates 16, 18 may capture the belt and/or a waistband of pants, as shown in FIGS. 4A, 4B, 5A and 5B. Hinge 14 can be made of any suitable material for allowing the opening and closing of the clasp body. Metals such as stainless steel are particularly preferable. Although shown as a separate component, it should be understood that hinge 14 may be integrally formed with front plate 16 and/or rear plate 18.

Although not shown, device 10 may also be equipped with a biasing member, such as a spring, for urging plates 16, 18 into the open position shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. For example, biasing can be accomplished with a torsion spring (not shown) surrounding hinge 14 with its opposite ends connected to (e.g., fitted into slots of) plates 16 and 18, respectively.

Belt loop securing device 10 further includes a U-shaped locking clip 12. Locking clip 12 may be made of various materials, including metals and plastics. Particularly useful are metals and metal alloys such as aluminum and stainless steel. Plastics (e.g., ABS) also may be selected for locking clip 12. Locking clip 12 may be covered with a decorative or other material to improve its aesthetic appearance and/or match/blend with the clothing of the user. For example, the covering material may comprise leather, cloth, or other materials from which cloths are made.

Movement of locking clip 12 into engagement with the clasp body serves to lock plates 16, 18 in a closed position. From their open position shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, plates 16, 18 are pressed toward one another into the closed position shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. Locking clip 12 is slid over the top of plates 16, 18 (adjacent hinge 14) until opposite prongs of locking clip 12 are fully received in open recessed areas 16a and 18a, respectively. To return the latch body to the open position, locking clip 12 is moved upward to completely disengage from the open recessed areas 16a, 18b and clear the top of plates 16, 18. Front and rear plates 16, 18 may then be spayed relative to one another to the open/flared position shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

Assembly of belt loop securing device 10 is accomplished by aligning the apertures or bores of front and rear plates 16, 18 with one another to form a passage, and inserting hinge 14 into the passage. A mechanical fastener or chemical bonding agent or sealant may be used to retain hinge 14 in the passage. Conventional molding and/or metal shaping techniques can be employed to form the clasp body, locking clip 12, and hinge 14.

According to an exemplary method of the present invention, the user puts on a pair of pants 24 and inserts belt 26 through the existing belt loops 24a of pants 24. While locking clip 12 is disengaged, front and rear plates 16, 18 are splayed from one another in their open position and the clasp body is placed over the waistband of pants 24 and belt 26, which is already received through pants belt loops 24a. The open clasp body is moved downward relative to pants 24 waistband and belt 26 until rear plate 18 is situated to the inside of the waistband of pants 24, and front plate 16 is situated to the outside of belt 26. Front and rear plates 16, 18 are moved towards one another into a closed position and locking clip 12 is slid into its locking position shown in FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 3A-3D. Locking clip 12 causes belt loop securing device 10 to capture and frictionally secure to belt 26 so as to prevent lengthwise sliding of belt 26 relative to device 10. Belt loop securing device 10 effectively provides an additional belt loop for waistband of pants 24, and retains the belt 26 in a fixed position next to the waistband of pants 24. Advantageously, belt loop securing device 10 may be positioned at any point around the circumference of the waistband of pants 24 to establish the additional belt loop where needed.

An advantage of employing belt loop securing device 10 as described in the above embodied method is that device 10 retains belt 26 in place around the waistband of pants 24, even when pants 24 are partially or completely removed by the user. For example, activities such as dressing and restroom use entail unlatching one's belt 26 and adjusting one's pants 24. The weight of some conventional belt buckles occasionally will displace an unlatched belt from its original position, more particularly pulling the non-counterbalanced belt 26 through loops 24a. In the above embodiment, belt loop securing device 10 obviates this problem by securing belt 26, even in its unlatched/unbuckled state, to the waistband of pants 24. As a result, belt 26 does not unintentionally slide through loops 24a of pants 24 when the user partially or completely undresses or dresses.

According to another exemplary method of the present invention, while locking clip 12 is disengaged, first and second plates 16, 18 are splayed from one another into the open position. First and second plates 16, 18 are arranged on opposite sides of belt 26, at a position along belt 26 adjacent one of pants belt loops 24a. Unlike the preceding embodiment, second plate 18 is situated as the “front” plate, positioned on the front side of belt 26 and belt loop 24a. First plate 16 is positioned between the waistband of pants 24 and belt 26. First and second plates 16, 18 are moved towards one another into a closed position to capture belt 26 as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B. The protruding lip of second plate 18 is arranged to extend over one of the existing belt loops 24a of pants 24, and locking clip 12 is slid into its locking position shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B. (According to a slight modification to this embodied method, the protruding lip may be inserted through the belt loop 24a.) In its locked position, belt loop securing device 10 captures and is frictionally, fixedly secured to belt 26 so as to prevent lengthwise sliding of belt 26 relative to device 10. The protruding lip of rear plate 18 essentially serves as a catch in this embodiment, mating with belt loop 24a of pants 24 to prevent belt 26 from sliding about pants 24.

Of the two adjacent pants belt loops 24a which device 10 is interposed between, preferably, the protruding lip of rear plate 18 is arranged to mate with the pants belt loop 24a nearer to the weighted buckle end of belt 26. The weight of the belt buckle tends to pull an unlatched belt 26 around the pants waistband towards the belt buckle end. In this embodiment, sliding displacement of belt 26 along the pants waistband is impeded because belt loop securing device 10 will abut against the mating belt loop 24a of pants 24. Because device 10 cannot fit through the mated belt loop 24a, belt 26 (captured by device 10) will not be pulled through the existing belt loops.

FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate still another exemplary embodiment of a method of the invention. Reference numeral 20 represents an equipment holding case, and reference numeral 22 represents equipment partially or completely received in holding case 20. Equipment 22 may comprise, for example, a flashlight, cell phone, beeper, tool, weapon (e.g., knife or pistol magazine holder), keys, personal items, etc. A holding case belt loop 20a of equipment holding case 20 encircles around belt 26 to secure equipment holding case 20 to belt 26 and facilitate the user's accessibility to equipment 22. Problematically, movement by the user can cause equipment holding case 20 to slide along the length of belt 26, displacing equipment 22 from its original position and inconveniencing the user.

As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, to overcome this problem belt loop securing device 10 may be positioned to interpose rear plate 18 between the waistband of pants 24 and the rear side of belt 26, and to position front plate 16 on the opposite front side of belt 26, thereby effectively capturing belt 26 between front and rear plates 16, 18. The protruding lip of rear plate 18 is slid into the rear portion of holding case belt loop 20a as best shown in FIG. 4B. (Alternatively, the embodied method may be modified slightly to capture/interpose holding case belt loop 20a in a frictional securing fit between the lip portion of rear plate 18 and the waistband of pants 24.) Belt clip 12 is slid over plates 16, 18 to lock the clasp body in the closed position and secure device 10 to belt 26. In its locked position, belt loop securing device 10 captures and is fixedly secured to belt 26 so as to prevent lengthwise sliding of belt 26 relative to device 10. The protruding lip of rear plate 18 essentially serves as a catch in this embodiment, engaging holding case belt loop 20a to prevent holding case 20 and equipment 22 from sliding on belt 26. Equipment holding case 20 and equipment 22 are thereby held in a desired, easily accessible location about pants 24.

Belt loop securing device 10 may be sold and distributed by itself or as part of a set or pack, e.g., with a belt and/or equipment holding case 20. Multiple devices 10 may be used on the same pants 24 to provide additional reinforcement. For pants 24 lacking any existing belt loops 24a, multiple belt loop securing devices 10 may be placed around the circumference of the pants waistband to retain a belt. It is also within the scope of the invention to use multiple equipment holding cases 20 at the same time on a single belt 26 so that more than one piece of equipment may be stored. Each equipment holding case 20 may be assigned a respective device 10, or a single device 10 can secure two holding cases 20, e.g., by modifying rear plate 18 to have lip portions protruding from both of its sides.

It should be understood that the scope of the invention encompasses various modifications and alterations to the exemplary embodiments described herein and illustrated in the accompanying drawings. For example, belt loop securing device 10 may be reversible to change the location of rear plate 18 relative to front plate 16. In the illustrated embodiment, in the front view shown in FIG. 1A, the protruding lip of rear plate 18 projects to the right of front plate 16, so that the protruding lip can be fitted into a pants loop or holding case loop oriented to the right of device 10. If the clasp body is reversed by flipping front plate 16 over hinge 14, the protruding lip of rear plate 18 will project to the left of front plate 16. In this reversed state, the protruding lip can be fitted into a pants loop or holding case loop oriented to the left of device 10. Further modifications to this reversible embodiment may be made. For example, a first open recess portion (identical to 16a) may be formed in front plate 16 opposite to open recess portion 16a, and a second open recess portion (identical to 18a) may be formed in rear plate 18 opposite to open recess portion 18a. These added first and second open recess portions (not shown) would serve to receive the opposite prongs of locking clip 12 when the clasp body is in its reversed position.

The foregoing detailed description of the certain exemplary embodiments of the invention has been provided for the purpose of explaining the principles of the invention and its practical application, thereby enabling others skilled in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. This description is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise embodiments disclosed. Modifications and equivalents will be apparent to practitioners skilled in this art and are encompassed within the spirit and scope of the appended claims and their appropriate equivalents.