Title:
Shoe having a form fitting closure structure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A form fitting closure structure and method for an internal tightening of shoe facilitated the closure system to ensure the retention of the position of the shoe wearer's foot. The system comprises (1) an outer sole which is open to allow insertion of a foot and capable of being closed over the foot by a closure system, (2) an internal sock-like tightening structure that encases the instep of the foot and is affixed to the shoe's closure system. A method of providing a better fit of the shoe around the shoe wearer's foot by ensuring the retention of the position of the foot within the shoe is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Kaplan, Joshua (Somerville, MA, US)
Murphy, Sean (North Andover, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/151035
Publication Date:
03/18/2010
Filing Date:
05/02/2008
Assignee:
New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. (Boston, MA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/50.1, 36/58.5
International Classes:
A43B17/00; A43B23/28; A43C11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030115776Climbing shoe with multiple hardness rubber soleJune, 2003Chu
20040103561Footwear with orthopedic component systemJune, 2004Campbell et al.
20090278707WEAR MONITOR FOR RECREATIONAL FOOTGEARNovember, 2009Biggins et al.
20080034619Moisturizing footwear and solesFebruary, 2008Van Dyck
20030056396Tunable shoe sole energy absorberMarch, 2003Murray et al.
20040226193Climbing shoe with hooking rimNovember, 2004Chu
20040205984Anti-roll arch support insoleOctober, 2004Hardt



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shoe comprising: a sole: an upper which is open along an instep to allow insertion of a foot and capable of being closed, said upper including an inner and an outer portion; each portion being attached to said sole at a bottom thereof and to each other at a top thereof by a plurality of spaced apart pieces of material; said inner portion and said outer portion serving as the outside surface of the shoe; and a lace which is positioned through said pieces of material between said inner and outer portions to tighten both the inner and outer potions around said foot simultaneously.

2. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 1, wherein said inner portion comprises a material that is more flexible than the material of the outer portion.

3. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 2, wherein said inner portion conforms to a wearer's foot when the fitting closure structure is tightened.

4. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 2, wherein said outer portion comprises a material that protects the foot.

5. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 1, wherein said inner portion comprises a sock-like liner.

6. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 1, wherein said spaced apart pieces of material comprise straps.

7. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 1, wherein said spaced apart pieces of material are sewn to the inner and outer portions.

8. A form fitting closure structure according to claim 1, wherein said spaced apart pieces of material form loops through which said lace passes.

9. A method for internal tightening of shoe through a closure system comprising: (a) an outer sole of a shoe which is open to allow insertion of a foot and capable of being closed over the foot by a closure system, (b) an internal sock-like tightening structure located inside said shoe and it is secured by its bottom to the sole of the shoe and its top is affixed to the shoe's closure system, wherein sock-like tightening structure can be adjusted to provide a better fit of the shoe around the shoe wearer's foot and ensure the retention of the position of the foot within said shoe.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/927,694, filed May 3, 2007, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to shoes and a form fitting closure therefore. More particularly, the invention relates to a shoe with an internal sock-like liner which is connected to the external upper of the shoe and is closeable independent of the rigidity of the external upper.

BACKGROUND

A closure of a shoe typically is part of the shoe's upper and permits the shoe wearer to open or close the shoe in order to insert or withdraw the wearer's foot and tighten the shoe around the wearer's foot after it is inserted. Shoes have been made with a variety of closure systems that afford a proper fit of the shoe to the wearer's foot. Known closure systems for shoe include lacing systems, zipper systems, hook and loop (also known as Velcro)© systems as well as buttons, buckles and clasps systems. Simple lacing systems generally include one lace which passes alternatively through loops or holes on both the lateral and medial sides of the upper, drawing the two sides closer together when the lace is tightened. Lacing systems have been adapted to more securely attach the shoe to the wearer's foot and provide a custom fit.

For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,954,996 discloses a sports boot having straps secured to a sole and extending upward to the instep area of the boot, the ends of which provide loops for a lace. The loops are attached to the inside of the external upper of the boot. When the lace is tightened, the straps pull the upper tight around the wearer's foot. Due to the attachment of the loops to the upper, the ability of the straps to tighten around the wearer's foot is dependent on the rigidity or flexibility of the upper. Boots are typically made of rigid nonflexible materials such as leather. The rigidity of such materials limits the degree to which the shoe can be tightened around the wearer's foot.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,992,057 discloses an article of footwear having a lacing system and a pair of heel straps attached to the lateral and medial sides of the article of footwear. The lacing system includes instep pieces attached on one side to the lateral and medial sides of a sole. The free ends of the instep pieces are attached to straps which are inserted through the upper to form loops for a lace. The heel straps form the last pair of loops through which the lace passes. When the lace is tightened, the medial and lateral sides of the article of footwear and the instep pieces are pulled closer together and the heel straps pull the heel area inward around the wearer's ankle.

Because the straps attached to the instep pieces are inserted through the upper, the ability of the article of footwear to conform to the wearer's foot is still limited by the rigidity of the material used to make the upper.

Use of a more flexible material can provide a more customized, tight fit but compromises the shoes ability to protect and support the foot. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,701,644 discloses an athletic shoe having straps secured to the sole. The straps are spaced apart from the toe area back to the heel area. The ends of the straps for loops in the instep area through which the lace passes through. When the laces are tightened, the straps tighten around the wearer's foot. While providing a custom fit, the shoe lacks a rigid covering to provide protection for the foot.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,138 discloses a sport shoe having both an internal tightening device and an external upper to provide support and protection to the wearer's foot. The internal tightening device includes a sock-like liner made of a flexible material which surrounds the midstep portion of the foot. The liner is attached to the shoe at the sole and extends up the lateral and medial sides of the foot. At the top of the foot the edges of the liner are connected to each other via a tightening device, such as a lacing system. Tightening the tightening device draws the sock-like liner around the foot so that it conforms to the foot. The external upper covers the entire foot and the internal tightening device but has a separate closure system. While this shoe provides a custom fit, the tightening of the sock-like liner is not coupled to the external upper and thereby allows the foot considerable freedom of movement within the boot.

Lastly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,592,154 discloses an athletic shoe which uses laces or pliant bands coupled with a cushion insole to secure the shoe to the foot of the user. The cushion insole is resiliently flexible. The cushion insole lies above the primary insole within the shoe and contacts the bottom of the foot. The cushion insole may be held in position by the surrounding walls of the toe portion and the upper or alternatively, the cushion insole may be adhesively secured to the heel portion of the primary insole. The instep area of the shoe contains holes for either the laces or pliant bands. Each lace or pliant band extends from the outside of the shoe through one of the holes into the instep area within the shoe. Inside the shoe, the lace or pliant band crosses the foot transversely, loops down the side of the foot, under the cushion insole, across the shoe under the bottom of the cushion insole, up the side of the foot, back across the top of the foot and then exits the shoe through one of the holes on the opposite side of the shoe from which it entered. When the ends of the laces or pliant bands are pulled tightly, the instep area closes and the cushion insole is pulled snugly against the bottom of the foot. While the laces or bands close the instep area over the foot and firmly secure the foot to the cushion insole, the position of the foot is not firmly secured within the shoe. The foot can still move within the shoe because the cushion insole itself is not firmly attached to the insole of the shoe. Even though the patent teaches that the primary insole may be adhesive attached to the heel area of the primary insole, the toe and arch areas of the cushion insole are still free to dissociate from the insole of the shoe, thereby allowing the foot freedom of movement within the shoe.

Thus, a need exists for a shoe which can conform to the wearer's foot when tightened, stabilize the foot inside the shoe, and protect the foot.

SUMMARY

The invention provides a shoe having a sole and an upper which is open along an instep to allow insertion of a foot and capable of being closed. The upper includes an inner and an outer portion. The inner portion and the outer portion serve as the outside surface of the shoe. Preferably, the outer portion includes a material that protects the foot. Preferably, the inner portion comprises a sock-like liner. Each portion is attached to the sole at the bottom of the sole and to each portion is attached to each other at a top of the sole by a plurality of spaced apart pieces of material. Preferably, the spaced apart pieces of material include straps. Preferably, the spaced apart pieces of material are sewn to the inner and outer portions and form loops through which the lace passes. A lace is positioned through the pieces of material between the inner and outer portions to tighten both the inner and outer potions around the foot simultaneously. Preferably, the inner portion conforms to the foot when the fitting closure structure is tightened.

The invention also provides a method for internal tightening of a shoe through a closure system. The outer sole of the shoe which is open to allow insertion of a foot and is capable of being closed over the foot by a closure system. The shoe includes an internal sock-like tightening structure located inside the shoe. The internal sock-like tightening structure is secured by its bottom to the sole of the shoe and its top is affixed to the shoe's closure system. The sock-like tightening structure can be adjusted to provide a better fit of the shoe around the shoe wearer's foot and ensure the retention of the position of the foot within the shoe.

Aspects, features and advantages of exemplary embodiments of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description in connection with the accompanying drawings. It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the described embodiments of the present invention provided herein are illustrative only and not limiting, having been presented by way of example only. All features disclosed herein, including dimensions, materials, etc may be replaced by alternative features serving the same or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Therefore, numerous other embodiments of the modifications thereof are contemplated as falling within the scope of the present invention as defined herein and equivalents thereto.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a left shoe in the closed position from the medial side;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the shoe in the open position depicting the attachment of the inner sock-like tightening structure to the closure system of the shoe in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the instep portion of the shoe in the open position depicting the attachment of the inner sock-like tightening structure to the closure system of the shoe in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a schematic lateral cross-section of the inner portion of the shoe in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic transverse cross-section of the shoe of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to FIG. 1, shoe 1 has a sole 3, an external upper 5, a lace 7, and a tongue 13. The present invention can be used with a wide variety of shoes including but not limited to, casual shoes, work shoes, and athletic shoes, such as soccer shoes, running shoes, football shoes, tennis shoes, golf shoes, cycling shoes, wrestling shoes, ice skates, in-line skates, ski boots and hiking boots.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, shoe 1 has an inner portion 9 which lies inside external upper 5. The external upper 5 is made from a material which is more rigid than the material of the inner portion. Preferably, the material is sufficient to protect the wearer's foot such as polyester, nylon meshes, polyurethane synthetics, leather and canvas. More preferably, the material is polyester or a polyurethane synthetic. The inner portion 9 is made of a flexible material, for example, polyester, nylon, spandex and other stretch synthetics. Preferably, the flexible material is also stretchable. More preferably, the inner portion 9 is made from a polyester textile .

Inner portion 9 has two portions, 9A on the lateral side of the shoe and 9B, on the medial side of the shoe. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, both sides of the inner portion 9 are secured along their bottom edges to sole 3 from the toe area back to the heel area. The sides 9A and 9B of the inner portion 9 extend up the internal sides of the external upper 5 and are reattached to the external upper 5 along their top edges, as shown in FIG. 5.

The top edge of inner portions 9A and 9B are affixed to the lateral and medial sides of the external upper 5 by straps 11. The ends of the straps 11 are connected to the inner portion 9 and the upper 5 by any appropriate method known in the art, such as stitching, gluing, snapping, hook and loop (including Velcro®), or a zipper. Preferably, the ends of the straps 11 are sewn to inner portion 9 and external upper 5.

As best shown in FIG. 3, straps 11 form loops through which lace 7 passes. Lace 7 passes alternatively through the loops of straps 11 on the lateral and medial sides, on top of tongue 13. The ends of lace 7 tie at a point in the instep area 15 in front of the wearer's ankle.

A wearer's foot is inserted into shoe 1 at the instep area 15. When the wearer's foot is inside shoe 1, the toe and midfoot area are surrounded by inner portion 9. When lace 7 is tightened, the lateral and medial sides of external upper 5 are pulled closer together over the wearer's foot and tongue 13. Simultaneously, inner portions 9A and 9B are also pulled closer together against the wearer's foot and over tongue 13.

In the tightened position, the external upper 5 closes the instep area, securing the foot inside shoe 1. The rigid material of external upper 5 provides a protective covering for the foot. Tightening of lace 7 also causes the inner portion 9 to be pulled in around the wearer's foot. The flexible material of inner portion 9 hugs the foot tightly creating a sock-like liner which provides a custom fit. The foot is held tightly by inner portion 9 and the attachment of inner portion 9 to external upper 5 stabilizes the foot within shoe 1. Thus, the coupling of inner portion 9 to rigid external upper 5 through the closure system provides a custom fit without compromising the protective ability of the upper.

Although illustrative embodiments of the present invention have been described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to those precise embodiments, and that various other changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention.