Title:
APPARATUS, METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR USING INTERCHANGEABLE DECORATIVE ELEMENTS WITH FOOTWEAR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus, method and system for interchangeable decorative elements for footwear includes a female-style attachment point or receiver mounted to the footwear item Multiple male-style accessory attachments are provided, each male-style accessory attachme compπsing a surface for mounting a decorative element to it, or for integrally forming the decorative element with it Multiple decorative elements are provided The female-style attachment point comprises a tπlobe-shaped aperture and the male-style accessory attachment comprises an extension member and a tπlobe-shaped engagement member, the engagement member being ‘unctionally adapted to be received by and removably retained within the aperture The appearance of the footwear item can be customized by the user as 33 desired or required by removing the male-style accessory attachment, with its decorative element, from the female-style attachment point and replacing it with another In the preferred embodiment, the footwear item is a sandal



Inventors:
Juza, Michelle M. (Oneida, WI, US)
Juza, Thomas J. (Oneida, WI, US)
Application Number:
13/128342
Publication Date:
11/03/2011
Filing Date:
08/01/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B23/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20150150718Method and Apparatus for Diverting Sweat, Liquid, Moisture, or the Like from an EyeJune, 2015Kuracina et al.
20170156431CAP INCLUDING A REPLACEABLE BRIMJune, 2017Hester
20070044206Hearing protective earmuff device having frictionally engageable ear cupsMarch, 2007Sato et al.
20100223711Adhesive underarm perspiration absorbing padSeptember, 2010Decer
20120311772Safety Hat SystemDecember, 2012Krause
20100122393WarmbagMay, 2010Light et al.
20140310858Convertible Ultraviolet Ray Protective GarmentOctober, 2014Kupiec
20060230489Cuff closure systemOctober, 2006Trageser
20120023632Hand protecting deviceFebruary, 2012Provenzano et al.
20160038821ATHLETIC GEAR WITH A PRINTED COVERFebruary, 2016Mackey et al.
20110004978Undergarment with interactive communication purposeJanuary, 2011Gwaltney



Primary Examiner:
HADEN, SALLY CLINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOSEPH S. HEINO, ESQ. (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
The details of the invention having been disclosed in accordance with the foregoing, we claim:

1. An apparatus for using interchangeable decorative elements with footwear comprising: a female-style attachment receiver mounted to an item of footwear; a male-style accessory attachment; and a decorative element mounted to or integrally formed with the male-style accessory attachment.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the female-style attachment receiver comprises an aperture and the male-style accessory attachment comprises an extension member and an engagement member, the engagement member being functionally adapted to be received by and removably retained within the receiver aperture.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the male-style accessory attachment further comprises a surface for mounting the decorative element onto the male-style accessory attachment.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the aperture and the engagement member are each trilobe-shaped.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the receiver comprises a face, the receiver aperture being formed within the face, a cavity below the face, a cavity perimeter and a plurality of shoulders projecting inwardly from the cavity perimeter and wherein the engagement member comprises three lobes, each lobe comprising an underside and an edge, wherein the lobe undersides are capturable beneath the receiver face and the lobe edges are capturable between two of the plurality of shoulders.

6. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of differently configured decorative elements for interchangeable use of the elements with the footwear item wherein the appearance of the footwear item is customized by a user.

7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the footwear item is a sandal.

8. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the accessory attachment is removable for attachment to other clothing or nonclothing items in a decorative fashion, such items incorporating a like-configured trilobe-shaped receiver aperture.

9. A method for using interchangeable decorative elements with a footwear item comprising the steps of: providing a footwear item; providing a female-style attachment receiver; mounting the female-style attachment receiver to the footwear item; providing a male-style accessory attachment; providing a decorative element; mounting a decorative element to the male-style accessory attachment; and removably attaching the male-style accessory attachment to the female-style attachment receiver.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the female-style attachment receiver comprises an aperture and the male-style accessory attachment comprises an extension member and an engagement member, the engagement member being functionally adapted to be received by and removably retained within the aperture.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the male-style accessory attachment further comprises a surface for mounting the decorative element onto the male-style accessory attachment.

12. The method of claim 9 wherein the aperture and the engagement member are each trilobe-shaped.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the receiver comprises a face, a cavity below the face, the receiver aperture being formed within the face, a cavity perimeter and a plurality of shoulders projecting inwardly from the cavity perimeter and wherein the engagement member comprises three lobes, each lobe comprising an underside and an edge, wherein the lobe undersides are capturable beneath the receiver face and the lobe edges are capturable between two of the plurality of shoulders and further comprising the step of rotating the engagement member within the receiver to capture the lobe undersides below the receiver face and to capture the lobe edges between two of the plurality of shoulders.

14. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of providing a plurality of differently configured decorative elements for interchangeable use of the elements with the footwear item wherein the appearance of the footwear item is customized by a user.

15. The method of claim 10 wherein the footwear item provided is a sandal.

16. The method of claim 10 wherein the accessory attachment is removable for attachment to other clothing or nonclothing items in a decorative fashion, such items incorporating a like-configured trilobe-shaped receiver aperture.

17. A system for using interchangeable decorative elements with an item of footwear comprising: a footwear item; a female-style attachment receiver mounted to the footwear item; a plurality of male-style accessory attachments, each male-style accessory attachment comprising a mounting surface; and a plurality of interchangeable decorative elements, each element being secured to or incorporated within the mounting surface of one of the plurality of male-style accessory attachments; wherein the appearance of the footwear item is customized by a user.

18. The system of claim 17 wherein the female-style attachment receiver comprises an aperture and the male-style accessory attachment comprises an extension member and an engagement member, the engagement member being functionally adapted to be received by and removably retained within the aperture.

19. The system of claim 18 wherein the aperture and the engagement member are each trilobe-shaped.

20. The system of claim 19 wherein the receiver comprises a face, a cavity below the face, the receiver aperture being formed within the face, a cavity perimeter and a plurality of shoulders projecting inwardly from the cavity perimeter and wherein the engagement member comprises three lobes, each lobe comprising an underside and an edge, wherein the lobe undersides are capturable beneath the receiver face and the lobe edges are capturable between two of the plurality of shoulders.

21. The system of claim 17 wherein the footwear item is a sandal.

22. The system of claim 17 wherein the accessory attachment is removable for attachment to other clothing or nonclothing items in a decorative fashion, such items incorporating a like-configured trilobe-shaped receiver aperture.

Description:

This application claims the benefit and priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/085,742 filed Aug. 1, 2008.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to footwear and to methods and systems that are used to accessorize and decorate such footwear. More specifically, the present invention relates to footwear having removably attachable and interchangeable decorative elements and to a method and system for removably attaching such elements to the footwear as the user desires or requires.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of footwear can be traced to ancient times. Indeed, prehistoric ancestors are known to have wrapped their feet in animal skins to prevent them from exposure to the elements. Ancient civilizations, in Egypt, Greece and Rome, wore sandals having a firm sole to protect the soles of the feet, with minimal uppers to allow air to circulate freely. While the functionality of footwear was an important reason for the development of different types and styles of footwear around the world, the ability to make such footwear attractive as well as functional has become an important goal of modern footwear manufacturers.

Today, footwear comes in many different styles, shapes, sizes and colors, the variety being limited only by the imagination of footwear designers and manufacturers. One drawback to having many different styles of footwear is that footwear that is appropriate for one occasion may not be appropriate for another. This is true even if the appropriateness of the footwear, as viewed by the user or wearer, is related only to the decorative and non-utilitarian features of the footwear.

In the experience of these inventors, there is a need in the footwear industry to devise an apparatus, method and system such that interchangeably decorative elements can be added to or removed from such footwear to suit the fancy of the user or wearer. There is also a need to devise such an apparatus, method and system whereby the addition or removal of such decorative elements can be accomplished easily, quickly and without the need for tools or other devices. There is further a need to provide the user or wearer with the ability to select decorative elements from a wide variety of possible adornments.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a footwear apparatus, method and system whereby the user can quickly and easily adapt his or her footwear to fit a variety of occasions as may be desired or required. It is another object to provide such a footwear apparatus, method and system whereby the user can accessorize his or her footwear in an almost infinite number of ways through the use of a unique attachment design. It is still another object to provide such a footwear apparatus, method and system whereby the accessory item attached to the user's footwear in a removable fashion so as to allow the user to alternatively place the accessory item on another item, including clothing and non-clothing items, using the unique attachment design.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The footwear apparatus, method and system of the present invention have obtained these objects. They provide for a footwear apparatus having a unique design for attaching and removing decorative footwear elements as may be desired or required by the user. The footwear with which the apparatus, method and system may be used is not limited to any particular design of footwear, although a first preferred embodiment resides in a sandal-type design.

The footwear apparatus, method and system of the present invention establish a new level of creativity in the footwear industry and provide new ways for consumers to be creative in accessorizing their wardrobes and other personal items. Using the apparatus, method and system of the present invention, users can convey their own distinctive sense of style with whimsical and eclectic accessories. In accordance with the present invention, decorative elements may be placed on a user's footwear and then removed and replaced on another clothing item, or a non-clothing item, as may be desired or required by the user.

The foregoing and other features of the apparatus, method and system of the present invention will be apparent from the detailed description that follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-8 are perspective views of exemplary embodiments of footwear constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged perspective view of the attachment concept utilized in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 10, 10A, 11, 12 and 12A are various perspective views illustrating further details of the female-style attachment points and the male-style accessory attachments for use with footwear in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 13 and 14 are additional detailed drawings of attachment connectors and related parts for use with footwear in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 15-42 are perspective views of additional exemplary embodiments of footwear constructed in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings in detail, wherein like numbered elements refer to like elements throughout, FIGS. 1 through 8 illustrate exemplary embodiments of footwear constructed in accordance with the apparatus, method and system of the present invention.

For example, FIG. 1 shows a footwear item, generally identified 10, in the form of a sandal. The sandal 10 has a heel portion 12, a sole 14 and an upper strap arrangement 16. It is to be understood that the sandal 10 shown is for purposes of illustration only. The sandal 10 shown is but one preferred embodiment of the present invention and is in no way limiting of the present invention.

Disposed within the strap 16 of the sandal 10 are a number of female-style attachment “points” or “receivers” 18 of the type generally shown in FIGS. 10 and 10A. Each female-style attachment receiver 18 includes a centrally-disposed aperture 19 having a “trilobe” or “trefoil” shape. This aperture 19 is intended to be functionally adapted to receive a male-style accessory attachment of the type that is generally shown in FIGS. 11, 12 and 12A and which is also “trilobe” or “trefoil” shaped. This interlocking relationship will be discussed in greater detail later in this description.

FIG. 2 illustrates a second embodiment of a footwear item, generally identified 20, also in the form of a sandal. This particular sandal 20 again includes, as its basic elements, a heel portion 22, a sole 24 and an upper strap 26, the upper strap 26 being a one-piece unitary structure that is wrapped around, and is attached to, the sole 24 of the sandal 20. FIG. 3 illustrates additional views of the sandal 20 shown in FIG. 2 and further illustrates one attachment means that can be used for securing the upper strap 26 to the heel portion 22 and to the sole 24. The upper strap 26 also includes an integrally-formed “looped” structure 27.

FIG. 4 illustrates a sandal 20 of the type that is shown in FIG. 2 and further illustrates a female-style attachment “point” or “receiver” 28 in accordance with the present invention. The female-style attachment point 28 is intended to be received and retained within an arcuate forward portion 27 of the upper strap 26, the arcuate forward portion 27 also forming the “loop-like” structure in the strap 26 as previously described and shown in FIG. 3. A male-style accessory attachment (not shown) carries an accessory item 21, the accessory item 21 being configured to be removeably attached to the aperture 29 formed in the female-style attachment point 28. Again, it is to be understood that the sandal 20 and the accessory item 21 shown are for purposes of enablement and to illustrate a preferred embodiment of the present invention. They are in no way a limitation of the present invention, the present invention being functionally adapted to be incorporated into any number of footwear styles as will be further apparent throughout this detailed description.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate the same type of sandal 20 shown in FIG. 2 and also illustrate the female-style attachment point 28 being used with a continuous or discontinuous receiving slot 23 that is defined within the outer surface of the upper strap 26. The receiving slot 23 is used to receive the base (not shown) of any number of decorative elements 25a, 25b of the type shown in FIG. 6. FIG. 7 shows additional variations of the basic sandal 20 that is illustrated in FIGS. 2-6 and shows the use of different decorative elements with them. FIG. 8 illustrates yet another variation on the basic sandal 20 described herein.

It is also to be understood that the decorative elements discussed throughout this detailed description may be of the type that are purely decorative or of the type that incorporate emblems associated with specific organizations, teams, or events. For example, the decorative element could sport the emblem of a specific professional or college sports team. Alternatively, the decorative element could sport the emblem in support of a specific philanthropic cause or event. The types of decorative elements that may be used are substantially without limit and the present invention is not so limited.

Referring now to FIG. 9, it illustrates, in greater detail, an enlarged portion of the strap 26 of the sandal 20, together with the slot 23 defined in it. The slot 23 has an access end 31 that is functionally adapted to receive a connector 33 having a stud 35 extending to one side of it. An ornamental element 37 can be secured to the stud 35 and the connector 33 can be inserted into the slot 23 of the strap 26 at the access end 31. Similarly, another female-style attachment point 38 having a “trilobe” or “trefoil” profiled aperture 39 defined within it is illustrated for use with the sandal 20 as well.

Referring now to FIG. 10, it illustrates three different variations on the female-style attachment “points” or “receivers” contemplated for use with the apparatus, method and system of the present invention. It is to be understood, however, that the female-style attachment points or receivers are again shown only for purposes of enablement and are by no means limiting to the exact form of female-style attachment point or receiver that is utilized in the present invention. The first female-style attachment point 38 is of the type illustrated in FIG. 9. The second is of the type also illustrated in FIG. 9, but shown as a slot 23 defined in the strap 26. The third is another female-style attachment point or receiver 48 having a “trilobe” shaped aperture 49 as well.

FIG. 10A illustrates in greater detail the functionality of a female-style receiver 140 that is configured in accordance with the present invention. The receiver 140 includes a face 142, the face 142 having a “trilobe” shaped aperture 144 defined in it. Below the face 142 of the receiver 140 is a cavity 146. As shown, the cavity 146 has an outer perimeter 147 and a plurality of locking “dots” or inwardly projecting shoulders 149. In the preferred embodiment, the receiver cavity 146 has six such shoulders 149 defined within it. The purpose of the shoulders 149 is to “lock” a portion of a complementary male-style accessory attachment to the receiver 140.

In order to secure a decorative element to the female-style attachment point or receiver 28, 38, 48, 140 as previously described, a male-style accessory attachment 52, 62, 72, 150 is used. See FIGS. 11 and 11A. By way of example, and by referring specifically to the male-style accessory attachment 72 that is also illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 12, it will be seen that the accessory attachment 72 is comprised of a mounting surface 74, an extension member 76 and a “trilobe” shaped male engagement member 78. The engagement member 78 is functionally adapted to be removably receivable within the like-configured aperture 29 of the female-style attachment point 28, for example. Use of this type of engagement and disengagement is a fundamental aspect of the apparatus, method and system of the present invention. FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate additional construction details of various like elements that can be interchangeably used with the apparatus, method and system of the present invention.

By way of additional example, and by referring specifically to the male-style accessory attachment or “stud” 150 that is also illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 12A, it will be seen that the stud 150 is comprised of a base 152 having a mounting surface 151. The stud 150 also has an extension member or stem 154 and a “trilobe” shaped male engagement member 156. The engagement member 156 has a plurality of lobes 158 that are shaped and sized to fit within the slightly larger, but like-shaped, aperture 144 of the receiver 140. Each lobe 158 has an underside 157 and an outer edge 159.

In application, a user would line up the male engagement member 156 with the aperture 144 of the receiver 140. The engagement member 156 is then inserted into the aperture 144 to the point that the underside 157 of each lobe 158 reaches the cavity 146 below the face 142 of the receiver 140 and can pass underneath a portion of the face 142. This may require the user to push downwardly on the stud 150 slightly. With the stud 150 in this position, the user then turns the stud 150 generally about sixty degrees clockwise or counterclockwise relative to the receiver 140 such that the underside 157 of each lobe 158 passes underneath the face 142 of the receiver 140 and the edge 159 of each lobe 158 is urged between two of the dots 149 that face inwardly from the perimeter 147 of the cavity 146 of the receiver 140. The presence of the dots 149 allows the lobes 158 to remain in position and allows the stud 150 to remain securely fastened, but removably so, to the receiver 140. When the user desires to remove the stud 150 and replace it with another, the reverse of the steps described here is followed, it being understood that each stud 150, or pair of studs 150, may be uniquely detailed with a decorative element.

It is also to be understood that the receiver 140 and stud 150 combination as described above can be used to accessorize a user's other clothing and clothing accessory items, including purses, caps, hats, belts, bracelets, coats, and the like. The receiver 140 would be affixed in some suitable fashion to the clothing or clothing accessory item and a stud 150, removed from the footwear item, could be re-located to the clothing or clothing accessory item. It is also to be understood that the receiver 140 and stud 150 combination could be used with non-clothing items such as back-packs, lunch boxes, laptop computer cases, and the like, in the same fashion.

FIG. 15 illustrates yet another alternative embodiment whereby the female-style attachment point 88 is incorporated at different portions of the footwear item, generally identified 80, also in the form of a sandal. As shown, an attached decorative element 82 extends between an upper strap 84 and a toe member 86 of the sandal 80, each of which is outfitted with a female-style attachment point 88. A similar arrangement is illustrated in FIG. 16 where the sandal 90 includes an upper strap 96 and a toe member decoration 91, the toe member decoration 91 being mountable to a female-style attachment point (not shown). The upper strap 96 includes a slot 93 and female-style attachment point 98 to either side of the strap 96 at its point of attachment. FIGS. 17 and 18 illustrate further embodiments of a sandal that is constructed in a similar fashion as that shown in FIGS. 15 and 16.

By way of another example of a preferred embodiment, FIG. 21 illustrates a more enclosed-type of footwear, most similar to a shoe or boot, generally identified 100, the shoe 100 utilizing a plurality of female-style attachment points 108.

In yet another example of a preferred embodiment, FIG. 23 illustrates footwear, generally identified 110, that is more “dressy.” As shown, this variation utilizes a plurality of female-style attachment points 108 disposed atop the footwear 110 and on the heel 102, together with the male-style accessory attachments 101 to “dress-up” the footwear 110, as well as using them to attach decorative features 101. Similar structure and configuration is generally illustrated in FIGS. 24 and 25.

FIG. 26 illustrates use of the unique “trilobe” design as an attachment means for connecting the upper strap 126 of a footwear item, generally identified 120, to the heel portion 122, the heel portion 122 forming an integral part of the upper strap 126.

FIGS. 27 and 28 illustrate boot-style footwear 130 utilizing a boot or “sock” insert 132 as well as decorative elements 131 as previously described. In this particular embodiment, the boot or “sock” insert 132 includes ears 134 that may be secured to the footwear 130 by means of the female-style attachment points 138 as previously described.

The remaining FIGS. 29 through 42 illustrate additional embodiments of footwear that are constructed in accordance with the apparatus, method and system of the present invention. Again, it is to be understood that variations to the essential elements may be made and the female-style attachment points and the male-style accessory attachments may be used throughout the footwear for a number of decorative and utilitarian or functional purposes, many of which are illustrated in the drawings referred to herein. It is also to be understood that footwear that is fabricated in accordance with the apparatus, method and system of the present invention can be made for any user or consumer regardless of size, age or sex, the footwear being capable of use by, and manufacture for, adults, children, men and women alike.

In view of the foregoing, it will be apparent there has been provided a new, useful and non-obvious footwear apparatus, method and system whereby the user can quickly and easily adapt his or her footwear to fit a variety of occasions as may be desired or required. In accordance with the present invention, there is provided such a footwear apparatus, method and system whereby the user can accessorize his or her footwear in an almost infinite number of ways through the use of the unique attachment design disclosed herein, the attachment means providing for quick and easy attachment and removal of design elements from the footwear as desired or required by the user.