Title:
Surface protector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A surface protector is disclosed that is adapted to be removably affixed to at least a portion of a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity. The surface protector may include a protective cover corresponding to a surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, the protective cover defining first and second opposing sides. A first fastening element may be disposed on the first side of the protective cover for attaching the first side of the protective cover to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity. The protector may aid in preventing a transfer of substances located on the mobile entity from a first environment to a second environment. In alternative aspects of the invention, the surface protector may be used to protect the mobile entity itself from unwanted substances coming into contact with the mobile entity.



Inventors:
Allen, Mason Kermit (Woodbury, NJ, US)
Allen, Talley Julian (Torrance, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/287083
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
10/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/59R
International Classes:
A43B23/00; A43C15/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060053656Footwear with removable insertMarch, 2006Kumle
20060242862Winter sport/snow bootNovember, 2006Chelani
20090293310Article of Footwear with Arch WrapDecember, 2009Bruce et al.
20060207125Clear material security footwearSeptember, 2006Dana III
20040163190Boot traction enhancement system and method of making enhanced traction bootsAugust, 2004Loughran
20080172909Foot covering for collecting debrisJuly, 2008Banks
20070101612Article of footwear having force attenuation membraneMay, 2007Kilgore
20050005473Self-cushion airflow shoesJanuary, 2005Oh
20080244930Reinforcing Cage For ShoesOctober, 2008Rivas et al.
20090133289Non-constrictive footwearMay, 2009Cantoni
20050217147Ankle support designed to maintain proper integral boot fitOctober, 2005Dion



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mason K. Allen (Woodbury, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A surface protector adapted to be removably affixed to at least a portion of a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, the surface protector comprising: a protective cover corresponding to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, the protective cover defining first and second opposing sides; a first fastening element disposed on the first side of the protective cover for attaching the first side of the protective cover to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, wherein the protector aids in preventing a transfer of substances located on the mobile entity from a first environment to a second environment, and wherein the protective cover is removable from the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

2. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the mobile entity is footwear.

3. The surface protector of claim 2, wherein the footwear is a boot.

4. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the mobile entity is a bare foot.

5. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the fastening element is an adhesive.

6. The surface protector of claim 1 further comprising: a first blank removably attached to the first side of the protective cover to aid in protecting the fastening element when the protective cover is not adhered to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

7. The surface protector of claim 6, wherein the first blank is made of a polyethylene.

8. The surface protector of claim 6, wherein the first blank is made of a waxed paper.

9. The surface protector of claim 6, wherein the protective cover is made of a polystyrene.

10. The surface protector of claim 6, wherein the protective cover is made of a rubber.

11. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the mobile entity is a portable machine.

12. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the mobile entity is a knee pad.

13. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the protective cover is reusable after being removed from the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

14. The surface protector of claim 1, wherein the second side of the protective cover comprises a slip-resistant surface.

15. The surface protector of claim 1, further comprising a thermally-insulating material disposed between the first and second opposing sides of the protective cover.

16. The surface protector of claim 1, further comprising an electrically-insulating material disposed between the first and second opposing sides of the protective cover.

17. A surface protector adapted to be removably affixed to at least a portion of a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, the protector comprising: a protective cover corresponding to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, the protective cover defining first and second opposing sides; a first fastening element disposed on the first side of the protective cover for attaching the first side of the protective cover to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, wherein the protector aids in preventing a transfer of substances located on a surface of a first environment to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

18. The surface protector of claim 17, wherein the mobile entity is footwear.

19. The surface protector of claim 17, wherein the protector is disposable.

20. A method for making a surface protector that protects a surface in a first environment from a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, the method comprising: forming a protective cover for affixing to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, the protective cover defining first and second opposing sides; placing a fastening element on the first side of the protective cover, wherein the fastening element is adapted to removably affix the protective cover to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity to aid in preventing unwanted substances from a second environment from coming into contact with the surface of the first environment; and placing a blank on the first side of the protective cover, wherein the blank at least in part protects the fastening element and is removable from the protective cover before the protective cover is removably affixed to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

U.S. Patent Documents
6,584,704July 2003March
4,665,633March 2003Gultekin
D455894April 2002Overfield
6,339,888January 2002Brunson
6,023,856February 2000Brunson
D405243February 1999Shoemaker
D343043January 1994Campbell
4,616,429October 1986Alcala
4,598,485July 1986Joe
4,019,265April 1977Epstein
6,988,328January 2006Rosen

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

NOT APPLICABLE

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

NOT APPLICABLE

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to shoe covers, also known as, foot covers.

It is very common for people to transfer foreign matter from one place or environment to another. Such a transfer may be undesirable. For example, protecting the flooring in a home from unwanted substances, such as dirt, debris, bacteria, etc., located outside (or from some other environment) may be generally desirable. Also for example, floor protection is of particular interest in the business of real estate sales, and for protecting floors from residents, carpenters, repairmen, and technicians. Often it may be time consuming or cumbersome to clean footwear or other portable equipment before it is brought from one environment into another. Therefore, there is a need for preventing unwanted substances from being transferred from one environment to another. There is generally only one type of shoe cover on the market for this purpose, which is a vaguely foot-shaped bag of a plastic film material or a non-woven textile, having an elastic opening at the top. This type of product is typically difficult to apply over a shoe, and is also non-ideal for walking, being somewhat loose and baggy. There is a need for an alternative surface protector which is both easy to use, and can be quickly applied.

Current US Class: 36/7.1R; 36/59R; 36/7.3; 36/7.5; 36/73

Field of Search 36/7.1R; 97, 7.3, 7.5, 7.6 112, 15, 59R, 62, 73

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Aspects and embodiments of the invention address the problem and help prevent unwanted substances from being transferred from one environment to another. A surface protector is disclosed that is adapted to be removably affixed to at least a portion of a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity. In one example embodiment of the invention, the surface protector may include a protective cover corresponding to a surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity, the protective cover defining first and second opposing sides. A first fastening element may be disposed on the first side of the protective cover for attaching the first side of the protective cover to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity. The surface protector may aid in preventing a transfer of substances located on the mobile entity from a first environment to a second environment. The protective cover may be removable from the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity. The surface protector disclosed adheres primarily only to the bottom of the mobile entity. Prior designs generally provide a surface protector in the form of a shoe cover which envelopes almost the entire surface area of the mobile entity (e.g. a shoe), thereby making the prior designs substantially more time consuming to apply than the present invention. The surface protector disclosed is also more aesthetically pleasing to wear, and more comfortable to move about in. The following list of U.S. Pat. Nos. was found to be relevant to the present invention: U.S. Pat. No. 6,584,704 by March, U.S. Pat. No. 4,665,633 by Gultekin, U.S. Pat. No. D455,894 by Overfield, U.S. Pat. No. 6,339,888 by Brunson, U.S. Pat. No. 6,023,856 by Brunson, U.S. Pat. No. D405,243 by Shoemaker, U.S. Pat. No. D343,043 by Campbell, U.S. Pat. No. 4,616,429 by Alcala, U.S. Pat. No. 4,598,485 by Joe, U.S. Pat. No. 4,019,265 by Epstein, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,988,328 by Rosen. The last prior referenced, U.S. Pat. No. 6,988,328, is most similar to the present invention in that it covers primarily only the bottom of the mobile entity, where, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,988,328, the mobile entity is a shoe. However the prior invention of U.S. Pat. No. 6,988,328 has significantly more functional components, is more costly, and is not disposable as is the present invention disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

Embodiments of surface protectors according to the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective side view of a surface protector, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention, removably affixed to the surface contacting layer of a mobile entity.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a surface protector, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are top and bottom views, respectively, of a surface protector, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective side view of a surface protector, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention, removably affixed to the surface contacting layer of a mobile entity.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As used herein, certain terms and phrases may be described as follows. The term “environment” as used herein is meant in its broadest sense and encompasses any area in which a substance may be located. The term “environment” as used herein may also describe an area in which the transfer of substances from a different area or environment is undesirable. Examples of an “environment” include inside a house, apartment, or other residence, outside a house, apartment or other residence; a construction site; a crime scene; a store; a yard; a park; a parking lot; or any other area in which a mobile entity, as described herein, may be located.

The term “surface” as used herein is meant in its broadest sense and encompasses any layer in an environment on which a mobile entity, as described herein, may transit across. Examples of a “surface” include any floor, walkway, driveway, or the ground. It includes anything on which a person, machine, or animal may walk, crawl, roll or otherwise traverse across. It also includes any layer that either includes substances that may be unwanted in an environment or is to be protected from unwanted substances.

The term “mobile entity” includes anything that is actionably used to traverse from a first environment to a second environment, and thereby the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity comes into direct physical contact with said first and second environments. For example, a “mobile entity” may be footwear (e.g., a shoe, boot, sock, sneaker, etc.), a barefoot, animal paw, wheel of a portable machine, or knee (of a crawling person), and the like. Typically a mobile entity may move or be moved back to the first environment from the second environment, or may move or be moved to a third environment from the second environment.

The term “surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity” includes that portion of a mobile entity that may come into contact with any surface. For example, the bottom of a boot may be the surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, the mobile entity being the boot itself. Also for example, the wheels of a hand truck may be a surface contacting layer of a mobile entity, the mobile entity being the hand truck itself. Additionally, mobile entities may include more than one surface-contacting layer. For example, a high heel shoe may include two surface contacting layers—one at the bottom of the heel of the shoe and the other at the bottom of the toe of the shoe.

The term “fastening element” includes anything that can affix, either temporarily or permanently, two items together. For example, a “fastening element” may be an adhesive, glue, tape, etc. It may also include hardware fasteners such as screws, nails, brads, tacks, staples, etc. It may also include the hoop and/or the loop of a hook and loop fastener.

An embodiment of the invention is intended to protect a first environment from substances located in a second environment. For example, a first environment may be the inside of a home. The second environment may be, for example, outside the home such as a yard, driveway, or garage. It may be undesirable for substances located on the yard, driveway, or garage floor, or on other surfaces or in other areas, from being brought into the home. Thus, for example, a mobile entity such as a boot may be worn in the yard outside the home. If worn into the house, unwanted substances from the yard may be adhered to the bottom of the mobile entity (e.g., the boot) and may be deposited in the home if the mobile entity is moved (by, e.g., a person wearing the boot) into the home.

A surface protector in accordance with one aspect of the invention may help prevent the unwanted substances of the first environment from being deposited in the home (the second environment). Such a surface protector may be a generally planar material with a fastening element such as an adhesive on one surface. The adhesive may facilitate adhering the surface protector to the surface-contacting layer (e.g. the bottom) of the mobile entity or boot. That is, the surface protector may be adhered to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity that would normally come into contact with a surface (ground or floor, for example) of the environment to be protected. In this way, when the mobile entity such as the boot is moved into the home (by, e.g., a person wearing the boot), the debris on the bottom of the boot or mobile entity may be prevented from being deposited on the ground or flooring of the home.

If the mobile entity such as the boot is subsequently removed from the home (by, e.g., the person wearing the boot walking outside), then the protector is adapted to be removed from the surface-contacting layer of the boot. The protector at that point may be disposed of or it may be saved for later reuse.

FIG. 1 is a perspective side view of a surface protector 110, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention, removably affixed to a mobile entity 150. The protector 110 may be made of any suitable material, such as a dip-mouldable material, natural rubber latex, polyvinyl chloride, neoprene, styrene composites or nitrile butyl rubber, cardboard, wood, plastic, etc. The material that is used to make a protector according to the invention does not limit the invention.

The protector 110 includes opposing sides 112, 114. The protector 110 may include sidewalls 116 which may be the thickness of the protector 110. The sidewalls 116 shown in FIG. 1 may be exaggerated, as in some embodiments of the invention, the protector comprises a thickness equal to that of sturdy paper. It should be understood, however, that in other embodiments, the sidewalls 116 may be thicker or even substantially thicker to provide a thermal insulation barrier between the surface-contacting layer 152 of the mobile entity and a surface in an environment. When used in the thermal-insulating embodiment, a protector according to the invention may be made out of or otherwise comprise or include thermally insulative material. It should be understood, also, that in still other embodiments, the protector 110 may be made out of or otherwise comprise an electrically insulative material to protect either or both environments from unwanted substances and also against electric shock. In still other embodiments, the purpose of a protector is solely to protect against electric shock.

The opposing sides 112, 114 of the protector 110 may generally be shaped to correspond to the mobile entity or to an aspect of the mobile entity. Additionally, one surface such as the surface 112 may include disposed on it a fastening element as herein described. The fastening element may be any substance appropriate to adhere at least a portion of the protector 110 to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity 150. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the mobile entity 150 is a shoe. The mobile entity 150 (e.g., the shoe) includes a layer 152 that will contact a surface in an environment. That is the surface-contacting layer 152,154 of the mobile entity 150 may be the bottom of the shoe. When a person wearing the shoe walks in a house, for example, the surface-contacting layer 152 typically would come into contact with the floor or other surface in the house. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the mobile entity 150 may include multiple surface-contacting layers 152, 154. That is, the mobile entity 150 includes a toe portion 151 having the surface-contacting surface 152. The mobile entity 150 may also include a heel portion 153 that includes the surface-contacting layer 154. The protector 110 shown in this example embodiment includes a fastening element 113 spread across the side 112 of the protector 110. The mobile entity 150 may be placed onto the side 112 of the protector 110 by, in this case, a person wearing the mobile entity 150 (the shoe) stepping onto the protector 110. The fastening element 113 adheres the protector 110 to the mobile entity 110. In this way, any substances on the surface-contacting layer 152, 154 of the mobile entity 110 may be prevented, partially or fully, from coming into contact with a surface in an environment.

It should be understood that, while the protector 110 shown in FIG. 1 is generally of a shape corresponding to the mobile entity 150, in alternative embodiments, a protector in accordance with another aspect of the invention, may be more closely shaped based on the surface-contacting layers of a mobile entity. Looking at FIG. 1 by way of example, a protector according to another aspect of the invention may include two sub-protectors, one generally of a shape and size corresponding to the heel 153 and the surface-contacting layer 154. The other sub-protector generally of a shape and size corresponding to the toe portion 151 and the surface-contacting layer 152.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a protector system 100, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention. The protector system 100 may include a blank 300, the protector 110, and packaging 200. The blank 300 may be placed on the side 112 of the protector 110 that includes the fastening element 113. The blank 300 may remain on the side 112 of the protector 110 to protect and preserve the fastening element 113 and the protector 110 when it is not in use or during shipping of the protector 110. As shown in FIG. 2, the blank 300 may be peeled away or otherwise removed from the protector 110 when the protector 110 is to be used. In some embodiments of the invention, the protector system may include the packaging 200, though of course the packaging 200 is not required. When used, the protector 110 may be packaged between the blank 300 and the packaging 200 to protect the protector 110 when it is not in use.

When use of the protector 110 is desired, the blank 300 is peeled away from the fastening element 113 disposed on the side 112. The protector 110 may then be removed from the packaging 200 and adhered to a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity such as the mobile entity 150 shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, upon peeling back the blank 300, the protector 110 may be adhered to the mobile entity while the protector 110 remains on or abbutting the packaging 200.

The blank 300 may be removed entirely from the packaging 200 or a seam 220 may formed between the blank 300 and the packaging 200 so that the two remained hinged together for later ease of use.

After use, the protector 110 may be placed back on the packaging 200, and the blank 300 may be placed on the protector 110 to protect the fasting element 113 disposed on the side 112 of the protector 110 until the next use of the protector 110. Alternatively, the protector 110 may be discarded.

Thus, a method for making the protective cover 110 for affixing to the surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, may include producing the protective cover in a desired shape and defining first and second opposing sides 112, 114. Next, a fastening element 113 may be disposed on the first side 112 of the protective cover. Such a fastening element 113 may be adapted to removably affix the protector 110 to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity to aid in preventing unwanted substances from a second environment from coming into contact with a surface of a first environment. The blank 300 may be placed on the first side of the protector, wherein the blank at least in part protects the fastening element 113 and is removable from the protector 110 before the protector is removably affixed to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are top and bottom views, respectively, of a protector, in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention. The protector 110 may include the side 112 having a fastening element disposed thereon. The side 112 may be disposed to be removably fastened to a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity, such as the bottom of a shoe as shown in FIG. 1. While FIG. 3 depicts a fastening element 113 that is an adhesive, as described herein, the fastening element may be any proper type of fastening element. In alternative embodiments, the fastening element may adhere a protector to a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity. Alternatively, the fastening element may be a tack, staple, or nail that may extend through the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity to adhere a protector to the mobile entity. In still other embodiments, the fastening element may be either the hook or loop portion of a hook and loop fastener, and may be placed on a protector in a location to correspond to the placement of the hook/loop on a mobile entity.

The side 114 may be opposite the side 112 and may be disposed to contact a surface within an environment. In alternative embodiments, the side 114 may be ribbed or textured to provide a gripping effect to the mobile entity to which the protector 110 is adhered.

FIG. 5 is a perspective side view of a protector 410, in accordance with an alternative example embodiment of the invention, removably affixed to a mobile entity 450. The protector 410 may be made of any suitable material, such as a dip-mouldable material, natural rubber latex, polyvinyl chloride, neoprene, styrene composites or nitrile butyl rubber, cardboard, wood, plastic, etc. The material that is used to make a protector according to the invention does not limit the invention.

The protector 410 includes opposing sides 412, 414. The protector 410 may include sidewalls 416 which may be the thickness of the protector 410. The sidewalls 416 shown in FIG. 5 may be exaggerated, as in some embodiments of the invention, the protector comprises a thickness equal to that of sturdy paper. It should be understood, however, that in other embodiments, the sidewalls 416 may be thicker or even substantially thicker to provide a thermal insulation barrier between the mobile entity and a surface in an environment. When used in the thermal-insulating embodiment, a protector according to the invention may be made out of or otherwise comprise or include thermally insulative material. It should be understood, also, that in still other embodiments, the protector 410 may be made out of or otherwise comprise an electrically insulative material to protect either or both an environment from unwanted substances and also against electric shock. In still other embodiments, the purpose of a protector is solely to protect against electric shock.

The opposing sides 412, 414 of the protector 410 may generally be shaped to correspond to the mobile entity or to an aspect of the mobile entity. Additionally, one surface such as the surface 412 may include disposed on it a fastening element as herein described. The fastening element may be any substance appropriate to adhere at least a portion of the protector 410 to the mobile entity 450. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the mobile entity 450 is a barefoot. The mobile entity 450 (e.g., the barefoot) includes a layer 452 that will contact a surface in an environment. That is, the surface-contacting layer 452 of the mobile entity 450 may be the bottom of the foot. When a person in bare feet walks in a house, for example, the surface-contacting layer 452 typically would come into contact with the floor or other surface in the house. The protector 410 shown in this example embodiment includes a fastening element 413 spread across the side 412 of the protector 410. The mobile entity 450 may be placed onto the side 412 of the protector 410 by, in this case, a person in bare feet stepping onto the protector 410. The fastening element 413 adheres the protector 410 to the mobile entity 450. In this way, any substances on the surface-contacting layer 452 of the mobile entity 450 may be prevented, partially or fully, from coming into contact with a surface in an environment.

According to alternative aspects of the invention, a protector may be for use to protect any surface from unwanted substances that may be on a surface-contacting layer of a mobile entity. For example, other mobile entities for which protectors according to alternative embodiments of the invention may be used are: snow boots, work boots, knee pads, portable equipment, portable machinery, or animal paws. This list of mobile entities is provided by way of example only and no way limits the invention.

Further, it should be understood, as described herein, that one aspect of a protector according to the invention is to protect one environment from substances that may adhere to a mobile entity coming from another environment. But in alternative aspects of the invention, the protector may be used to protect the mobile entity itself from unwanted substances coming into contact with the mobile entity. For example, a customer wanting to purchase new shoes may desire to walk around in the shoes. The shoe store, however, may be wary of allowing the customer to walk around in the shoes because of a desire to keep the new shoes devoid of any unwanted dirt, or substances, potentially diminishing the value of the shoes. A protector according to some aspects of the invention may be adhered to the surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity to protect the surface-contacting layer itself. After fastening the surface protector to surface-contacting layer of the mobile entity (in this example, the new shoe) the customer may walk around. When no longer needed, the protector may be removed. The surface protector may be fashioned in the general form of the surface-contacting-layer of the mobile entity (e.g. in the form of a foot, shoe, or paw) and may be offered in more than one size to accommodate surface-contacting layers of different size.