US20020178548A1 - Closure - Google Patents

Closure Download PDF

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Publication number
US20020178548A1
US20020178548A1 US10/089,633 US8963302A US2002178548A1 US 20020178548 A1 US20020178548 A1 US 20020178548A1 US 8963302 A US8963302 A US 8963302A US 2002178548 A1 US2002178548 A1 US 2002178548A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
strap
holder
closure
closure according
locked position
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US10/089,633
Inventor
Anna Freed
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Freed Anna B
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Publication date
Priority to US66489500A priority Critical
Priority to US09664895 priority
Application filed by Freed Anna B filed Critical Freed Anna B
Priority to US10/089,633 priority patent/US20020178548A1/en
Publication of US20020178548A1 publication Critical patent/US20020178548A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D63/00Flexible elongated elements, e.g. straps, for bundling or supporting articles
    • B65D63/10Non-metallic straps, tapes, or bands; Filamentary elements, e.g. strings, threads or wires; Joints between ends thereof
    • B65D63/1018Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like
    • B65D63/1027Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like the integral securing member being formed as a female and male locking member, e.g. locking head and locking teeth, or the like
    • B65D63/1063Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like the integral securing member being formed as a female and male locking member, e.g. locking head and locking teeth, or the like the female locking member being provided with at least one plastic barb
    • B65D63/1072Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like the integral securing member being formed as a female and male locking member, e.g. locking head and locking teeth, or the like the female locking member being provided with at least one plastic barb the barb having a plurality of serrations
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43CFASTENINGS OR ATTACHMENTS OF FOOTWEAR; LACES IN GENERAL
    • A43C11/00Other fastenings specially adapted for shoes
    • A43C11/08Hook fastenings; Rotary hooks
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43CFASTENINGS OR ATTACHMENTS OF FOOTWEAR; LACES IN GENERAL
    • A43C11/00Other fastenings specially adapted for shoes
    • A43C11/14Clamp fastenings, e.g. strap fastenings; Clamp-buckle fastenings; Fastenings with toggle levers
    • A43C11/1406Fastenings with toggle levers; Equipment therefor
    • A43C11/146Fastenings with toggle levers with adjustment means provided for on the strap, e.g. ratchet strap
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D63/00Flexible elongated elements, e.g. straps, for bundling or supporting articles
    • B65D63/10Non-metallic straps, tapes, or bands; Filamentary elements, e.g. strings, threads or wires; Joints between ends thereof
    • B65D63/1018Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like
    • B65D63/1027Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like the integral securing member being formed as a female and male locking member, e.g. locking head and locking teeth, or the like
    • B65D63/1063Joints produced by application of integral securing members, e.g. buckles, wedges, tongue and slot, locking head and teeth or the like the integral securing member being formed as a female and male locking member, e.g. locking head and locking teeth, or the like the female locking member being provided with at least one plastic barb
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T24/00Buckles, buttons, clasps, etc.
    • Y10T24/14Bale and package ties, hose clamps
    • Y10T24/1412Bale and package ties, hose clamps with tighteners

Abstract

A closure is made up of a strap (110, 210, 310, 410, 510, 610) and a holder (130, 230, 330, 430, 530, 630) that engages with the strap while it tightens and loosens, and a retainer (170, 270, 370, 470, 570, 670), which retains the holder in one of the two positions relative to the strap. For items opening lengthwise (e.g., sneakers), the closure includes a lace (795). To unlock the closure, the user moves the holder to the unlocked position. To lock the closure, the user pulls the strap, which automatically moves the closure back to the locked position. The strap has two sets of teeth (112, 114, 212, 214, 312, 314, 412, 414, 512, 514, 612, 614). One set (112, 212, 312, 412, 512, 612), the switching teeth, automatically moves the holder from the unlocked position to the locked position.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention [0001]
  • The present invention relates to closures such as ties, fasteners, laces, straps, belts or ropes. More specifically, the present invention relates to a closure which can be used to tie items such as, footwear, garments, packages, cables, orthopedic devices, bandages, sports equipment, seat belts, luggage, plants, etc. [0002]
  • 2. Description of the Related Art [0003]
  • Current art closures commonly consist of ties made of plastic, VELCRO™, or cord. Closures made of VELCRO™ do not have a strong gripping capability and tend to further lose their gripping strength after repeated usage and laundering. Closures made of cord (such as laces, string or rope) tend to come undone, wear out easily, and the knots and bows are difficult to tie or untie. Current art plastic closures, (such as cable ties) don't have the extensive features and benefits of the present invention. The closures of the present invention overcome the above disadvantages of current art plastic, VELCRO™, and cord closures, and have additional advantages, benefits, and features that no known closures currently have. [0004]
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The closures of the present invention have benefits that don't exist in any other closures and additionally are extremely simple to use and manufacture, for example by molding. Two basic embodiments are disclosed. A swivel closure and a slide closure. Both the swivel and slide closures may be comprised of as few as two parts and as many as four parts (of course, the closure may be comprised of more than four parts). The four parts are: a strap, holder, retainer, and a lace. The closure, when closing a lengthwise opening (such as a sneaker or corset), includes the lace which is attached to the strap. When the closure totally surrounds an item, the strap could be integral with the retainer and the lace may not be necessary, thus, the closure may have only two parts, (i.e., a strap/retainer and a holder). The closure has uses in many applications and industries. For example, the closure can be used to tie many items. In the footwear field alone, there are many different kinds of articles such as, for example, sneakers, sandals, boots, shoes, slippers, etc. The closure can be used to advantage with simple modifications by someone knowledgeable in the art in almost all instances where VELCRO™, cord, or plastic ties are being used. The closure is released by ratcheting (i.e., expands automatically in discrete increments with pressure from the inside). The closure unlocks with a simple swivel (or slide) of the holder by the user. The closure locks automatically (swivels or slides back to the locked position) when the user pulls on the strap. The strap has a set of locking teeth and a set of switching teeth. The locking teeth engage with a locking member disposed in the holder to lock the closure or tie in discrete ratcheted increments. The locking member may flex vertically (e.g., in the direction indicated by arrow Y in the drawing Figures) to insure a firm hold. The switching teeth engage with a switching member in the holder in two ways, (depending on which end of the strap is being pulled), to perform the following two functions: 1) They permit a loose hold and thus allow discrete ratcheted controlled loosening of the tie (i.e., a ratcheted release). 2) They move the holder from the unlocked position to the locked position when the user pulls on the strap to tighten. The switching member may flex when the tie loosens. When the user pulls on the strap in the direction of arrow C, to tighten, the switching member does not move and engages the holder thereby causing the holder to move (e.g., by swiveling or sliding) within the retainer, thereby automatically moving the holder back to the locked position. Continued pulling on the strap tightens the tie further. Thus, when the user pulls the strap, the tie automatically moves from the unlocked position to the locked position and continues to ratchet tighter and tighter. [0005]
  • It is an object of the present invention to provide a closure that will lock and unlock quickly and easily, even when used by the elderly and young children. [0006]
  • It is another object of the present invention to provide a closure that will lock automatically when the user pulls on the strap to tighten the closure. [0007]
  • It is yet another object of this invention to provide a closure that can be made and assembled easily. [0008]
  • It is still yet another object of this invention to provide a closure that can be easily individualized for logos, cartoon characters, sports themes, etc. for use, for example, on sneakers or clothes. [0009]
  • It is another object of the present invention to provide a closure that is useful in multiple applications and industries. [0010]
  • It is another object of the present invention to provide a closure that can be readily manufactured to attach as an after market accessory. For example, the string can be made to attach into the lace holes, loops or other lace redirection structure of a sneaker or other footwear article. [0011]
  • It is another object of the present invention to provide a closure that can be configured to be replaceable and adjustable. [0012]
  • It is another object of this invention to provide a closure having a strong and reliable hold so that it can be used where reliability and strength are important, such as, for example, on performance footwear, medical devices, seat belts, sail boats, etc. [0013]
  • It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an improved closure whose lace segments constrict a portion of an opening simultaneously and with substantially equal tension, when the user pulls on the strap. [0014]
  • It is another object of the present invention to provide a closure whose operation is intuitive to the user. [0015]
  • Other objects, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of structure and the combination of parts and the economies of manufacture will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings all of which form a part of the specification, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts in the various figures.[0016]
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • This invention will further be described with reference to the following drawings in which: [0017]
  • FIG. 1A is a perspective view of the three piece swivel tie closure in the locked position in accordance with the present invention; [0018]
  • FIG. 1B is a perspective view of the closure in FIG. 1A in the unlocked position; [0019]
  • FIG. 1C is a perspective view of the closure in FIG. 1A, shown switching to the unlocked position as the strap is released from the handle; [0020]
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the swivel holder and strap in the locked position; [0021]
  • FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the assembly of the swivel holder, strap, and retainer in the unlocked position; [0022]
  • FIG. 4A is a top view of the holder and strap of the swivel tie closure in the locked position; [0023]
  • FIG. 4B is a cross sectional view of the swivel holder and strap in the locked position; [0024]
  • FIG. 4C is a top view of the bottom of the swivel holder and strap in the locked position; [0025]
  • FIG. 4D is a cross-section view taken along lines [0026] 4D-4D of FIG. 4B, showing the top of the swivel holder and strap in the locked position;
  • FIG. 5A shows a top view of the holder and strap in the unlocked position; [0027]
  • FIG. 5B is a cross section view of the swivel holder and strap in the unlocked position; [0028]
  • FIG. 5C is a cross-section view taken along lines [0029] 5C-5C of FIG. 5B, showing the top of the holder and strap and the flexible switching member flexing in the unlocked position;
  • FIG. 5D is a top view of the bottom of the swivel holder and strap in the unlocked position; [0030]
  • FIG. 5E is a top view of the swivel holder and strap about to swivel to the locked position; [0031]
  • FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the three piece slide tie closure in the locked position; [0032]
  • FIG. 6B is a perspective view of tie in FIG. 6A, shown in the unlocked position; [0033]
  • FIG. 6C is a perspective view of the tie in FIG. 6A, shown when switching to the unlocked position and the strap is about to be released from under the handle; [0034]
  • FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of the slide holder and strap, shown in the locked position; [0035]
  • FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the assembly of the slide holder, strap, and retainer, shown in the unlocked position; [0036]
  • FIG. 9A is a cross section of the slide holder; [0037]
  • FIG. 9B is a top view of the bottom of the slide holder and strap, shown in the locked position; [0038]
  • FIG. 9C shows a top view of the bottom of the slide holder and strap, shown switching to the unlocked position; [0039]
  • FIG. 10A is a top view of the bottom of the slide tie, shown in the unlocked position; [0040]
  • FIG. 10B is a top view of the bottom of the slide holder and strap, shown switching from the unlocked position to the locked position; [0041]
  • FIG. 11A is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the swivel tie closure, holder and strap; [0042]
  • FIG. 11B is a side view of the tie shown in FIG. 11A, without the strap; [0043]
  • FIG. 11C is a side view of the tie shown in FIG. 11A, shown with a strap going through the holder; [0044]
  • FIG. 11D is a top view of the bottom of the holder shown in FIG. 11A, shown in the locked position; [0045]
  • FIG. 11E shows the bottom of the holder of FIG. 11D, with the strap going through the holder; [0046]
  • FIG. 11F is a top view of the bottom of the holder shown in FIG. 11A, shown in the unlocked position; [0047]
  • FIG. 11G shows the bottom of the holder shown in FIG. 11F, with the strap going through the holder; [0048]
  • FIG. 11H is a top view of the bottom of the holder shown in FIG. 11A, shown in the unlocked position; [0049]
  • FIG. 11I shows the bottom of the holder of FIG. 11H, with the strap going through the holder; [0050]
  • FIG. 12A shows an embodiment of the swivel tie in the locked position; [0051]
  • FIG. 12B is an exploded perspective view of the swivel tie of FIG. 12A, in which the holder has a rigid locking member and a flexible switching member; [0052]
  • FIG. 12C is a side view of the tie in FIG. 12A in the locked position; [0053]
  • FIG. 12D shows the tie of FIG. 12A in the unlocked position and loosening; [0054]
  • FIG. 12E shows the tie of FIG. 12A is the unlocked position prior to being locked; [0055]
  • FIG. 12F shows an alternative embodiment of the bottom of the holder of FIG. 12B; [0056]
  • FIG. 13A shows an exploded perspective view of another embodiment of a swivel tie having a holder which contains only a top member; [0057]
  • FIG. 13B shows a top view of the holder of FIG. 13A; [0058]
  • FIG. 13C shows a cross-section of the holder and strap of FIG. 13A in the locked position; [0059]
  • FIG. 13D shows a cross-section of the tie of FIG. 13A in the unlocked position; [0060]
  • FIG. 13E shows a cross-section of the tie of FIG. 13A in the unlocked position; [0061]
  • FIG. 13F shows a cross section of the strap having flexible teeth; [0062]
  • FIG. 14A shows an embodiment the slide tie closure in the locked position without a handle; [0063]
  • FIG. 14B shows an exploded perspective view of the closure of FIG. 14A, and shows the strap attached to the retainer as once piece; [0064]
  • FIG. 14C shows a top view of the holder and strap FIG. 14A in the locked position; [0065]
  • FIG. 14D shows a side view of the holder and strap in FIG. 14C; [0066]
  • FIG. 14E shows a top view of the holder and strap FIG. 14A in the unlocked position as it is loosening; [0067]
  • FIG. 14F shows a side view of the holder and strap in FIG. 14E; [0068]
  • FIG. 14G shows a top view of the holder and strap FIG. 14A in the unlocked position prior to sliding back to the locked position; [0069]
  • FIG. 14H shows a side view of the holder and strap in FIG. 14G; [0070]
  • FIG. 15 shows the three piece swivel tie closure attached to a lace loop which is threaded though the loops of a sneaker; [0071]
  • FIG. 15A shows the three piece swivel tie closure attached to a lace loop which weaves through the eyelets of a sneaker; [0072]
  • FIG. 15B shows two swivel tie closures sewn into a child's sneaker; and [0073]
  • FIG. 16 shows the two piece slide tie closure as an orthopedic device surrounding a wrist.[0074]
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • Referring now to FIGS. [0075] 1A-5E, a first embodiment of the tie or closure 100 in accordance with the present invention is illustrated. Swivel tie closure 100 is comprised of three parts, a strap 110, a holder 130 and a retainer 170. Strap 110 has an end 116 that is attached (e.g., riveted, sewn, glued, hooked, snapped, etc.) to the item that is to be bound by the closure or to a lace that is to be attached to the bound item. A holder 130, having legs 134, engages with the strap 110 in one of two positions. A retainer 170 is attached at bore 172 to the other side of the item being bound. FIG. 1A shows the tie in the locked position.
  • If the user pulls the strap end [0076] 118 in the direction of arrow C, the tie will tighten by ratcheted increments. In this orientation, the tie is locked and cannot loosen. To unlock the tie 100, the user simply swivels the handle 132 of the holder 130 counter-clockwise, in the direction of arrow A, until it stops (approx. ¼ turn). The user unlocks the tie in the conventional counter-clockwise direction (like opening ajar). During this moving or switching of the tie, shown in FIG. 1C, from the locked to the unlocked position, the strap 110 is automatically released from its stowed position under handle 132, through gap 150, due to the force or push from the inside of handle 180. Handle 132 is now parallel to the strap 110 (indicating that the tie is unlocked) as shown in FIG. 1B. Strap 110, is now free to ratchet open, in the direction of arrow D, when, for example, pressure is applied to the inside of the tie (e.g., when the user steps out of the sneaker). If desired, a more secure lock could be achieved by closing the free end of closed gap 150. Thus, the holder can not swivel to the unlocked position, until the user removes the strap. Since the strap, which is within the closed gap 150, would block the pivoting movement of the holder.
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded view of holder [0077] 130 and strap 110 in the locked position as shown in FIG. 1A. Strap 110 has locking teeth 114 that engage with a flexible locking member 144 on holder 130, thereby preventing the tie from opening while permitting the tie to tighten in ratcheted increments.
  • The switching teeth [0078] 112 simply pass unimpeded through a groove 142 formed between one leg 134 and blocking portion 136. Thus, switching teeth 112 have no effect on holder 130 when the strap is in this locked position. The entire assembly of the strap 110, holder 130, and retainer 170 is shown in the unlocked position in FIG. 3. In this position, the tie will open or loosen as the switching teeth 112 on top of the strap cause a flexible switching member 138 on holder 130 to flex. The flexible switching member 138 on holder 130 is attached to holder 130 at area 139 and has a space 140 underneath, which enables it to flex and is easily molded.
  • Locking teeth [0079] 114 simply slide over the flexible locking member 144 and have no effect, because they are at an angle to each other and cannot engage. A cylinder 145 depends downwardly from under the holder 130 and snaps into a hole 178 in the retainer 170 and permits relative rotation between holder 130 and retainer 170. A ridge or flange 146 on cylinder 145 ensures that the holder 130 can not readily be removed from the retainer once placed therein. A spacer 174 is located under the retainer 170 to permit the holder to easily swivel. Retainer 170 has openings 182 so that the arms of the retainer can be easily molded from underneath (see FIG. 3). The retainer and strap may be attached at 172 and 116 to the item to be tied, by rivets, snaps, hooks, glue, or by being sewn. Alternatively, the two ends 172 and 116 may be integral with each other and thus the retainer and strap can be molded as one piece.
  • FIGS. [0080] 4A-4D show the detail of the strap 110 and the holder 130 in the locked position. When the tie moves through the holder 130 in the direction indicated by arrow C, the bottom of the strap controls its' movement and the locking teeth 114 cause the flexible locking member 144 to flex vertically, in the direction indicated by arrow Y.
  • FIG. 4C shows the bottom of the strap [0081] 110 and the bottom of the holder 130 which engage in the locked position. If strap 10 is moved in the direction of arrow C, one of the locking teeth 114 engages with the flexible locking member 144 for ratcheted movement in this direction.
  • FIG. 4D shows that the switching teeth [0082] 112 simply move through the groove 142 and thus have no effect on the holder in this position.
  • FIGS. [0083] 5A-5D show the detail of the strap 110 and holder 130 in the unlocked position. In the unlocked position, the strap 110 moves in the direction of arrow D, which is opposite to that of arrow C. In this position, the top of the strap controls the movement. FIG. 5C shows switching teeth 112 as they move past the flexible switching member 138, causing it to flex horizontally, in the direction of arrow Z, as the strap moves through the holder. The locking teeth 114 simply move past the flexible locking member 144, as shown in FIG. 5D. Because teeth 114 and flexible locking member 144 are at an angle with respect to each other they cannot engage in this position. Thus, they have no effect on the movement of the holder.
  • The flexible switching member [0084] 138 flexes only when in the unlocked position (i.e., when the direction of the pull of the strap is in the direction of arrow D). When the user wants to tighten the tie again FIG. 5E, he simply pulls on the end of the strap 118, in the direction of arrow C (see FIG. 5E). When the pull on the strap 118 is in the direction of arrow C, the flexible switching member 138 does not flex, and the next one of the switching teeth 112, engages with the surface 141 of the flexible switching member 138. The user's continued pulling on the strap in the direction of arrow C causes the entire holder 130 to swivel back to the locked position, clockwise, in the direction of arrow B. This structure simulates a gear, transferring motion from straight to circular. The flexible switching member 138 does not flex because blocking portion 136 of holder 130 limits or stops its movement. Therefore, continued pulling on the end of the strap, in the direction of arrow C, causes the entire holder 130 to swivel within the retainer 170, and thus the holder moves the tie back to the locked position. As the user continues to pull on the strap 118, the tie continues to tighten in ratcheted increments.
  • A second embodiment of the closure in the form of a slide tie [0085] 200, in accordance with the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 6A-10B. Slide tie 200 is analogous to the swivel tie, however the movement required to move the holder from the locked position to the unlocked position (and visa versa) is a sliding movement rather than a swiveling movement. Slide tie 200 is comprised of three pieces, strap 210, a holder 230, and a retainer 270. Strap 210 has an end 216 that is fixedly attached (e.g., riveted, sewn, glued, hooked, snapped, etc.) to the item being bound or attached to a lace or string attached to the bound item.
  • Holder [0086] 230, has sides 234, and engages with strap 210 in one of two positions. Retainer 270 is preferably fixedly attached (snapped, glued, hooked, sewn, riveted, etc.) at bore 272 to the other side of the item being bound. FIG. 6A shows the tie in the locked position. If the user pulls the strap end 218 in the direction of arrow C, the tie will tighten by ratcheted increments. In this orientation, the tie is locked and cannot loosen. For the user to unlock the tie 200, he simply slides the holder 230 to the other end of the retainer, in the direction of arrow A, until it stops. In this positions, handle 232 is not aligned with the retainer legs 280 (indicating that the tie is unlocked) as shown in FIG. 6B. During this switch of the tie, shown in FIG. 6C, the strap 210 is automatically released from under the handle 232, through the gap 250, by the push of the retainer legs 280. Strap 210, will then be free to ratchet open, in the direction of arrow D, when, for example, pressure is applied to the inside of the tie (e.g., when the user steps out of the sneaker). If desired, a more secure lock could be achieved if the gap 250 were closed, because the holder could not slide to the unlocked position, until the user first removes the strap from gap 250.
  • FIG. 7 is an exploded view of the holder [0087] 230 and strap 210 with the strap 210 in the locked position, as shown in FIG. 6A. Strap 210 has locking teeth 214 located on the underneath side of the strap. Locking teeth 214 engage with a flexible locking member 244 on holder 230 and prevent the tie from opening while permitting the tie to tighten in ratcheted increments. Switching teeth 212 simply pass unimpeded through the groove 242 and thus have no effect on holder 230 when the strap is in this locked position. The entire assembly of the strap 210, holder 230, and retainer 270 is shown in FIG. 8 with the tie in the unlocked position.
  • In this unlocked position, the tie will loosen as the switching teeth [0088] 212 on the strap cause the flexible switching member 238 to flex. The flexible switching member is attached to holder 230 at the bottom area 239 and is easily molded from the bottom space 240. Locking teeth 214 slide over the flexible switching member 238 and have no effect. A rectangular member 245 disposed under the holder snaps into a groove 278 in the retainer and permits relative sliding there between. A beveled ridge 246 on the rectangular member 245 insures that the holder can not readily come out. Spacers 274 under the retainer 270, permits the holder to slide unimpeded.
  • FIGS. [0089] 9B-9C show the detail of the strap 210 and the holder 230 as it moves from the locked position to the unlocked position. FIG. 9B shows the strap 210 as it is pulled through the holder 230 in the direction of arrow C. The locking teeth 214 cause the flexible locking member 244 to flex vertically, in the direction indicated by arrow Y. The bottom of the strap 210 and the bottom of the holder 230 engage in the locked position. It can also be seen in FIG. 9B that the switching teeth 212 simply move through the groove 242 and thus have no effect in this position. FIG. 9C shows the position of the strap 210 within the holder 230 as the user slides the holder 230 to the unlocked position, in the direction of arrow A.
  • FIGS. [0090] 10A-10B show the detail of the strap 210 and holder 230 in the unlocked position. In the unlocked position, the strap 210 moves in the direction of arrow D. In this position the switching teeth 212 on the strap control the movement. FIG. 10A shows switching teeth 212 as they move past the flexible switching member 238, causing it to flex horizontally, in the direction indicated by arrow Z, as the strap ratchets through the holder to loosen the tie. The locking teeth 214 slide over the flexible switching member 238, and have no stopping effect. When the user wants to then tighten the strap again, he pulls on it, as shown in FIG. 10B, in the direction of arrow C, and one of the switching teeth 212, glides along the edge 241 of the flexible switching member which is held rigid by the side wall 234, causing the holder to slide within the retainer and the strap is automatically switched into the locked position, in the direction of arrow B, where continued pulling on the strap causes it to tighten in discrete increments. This structure simulates a gear, transferring motion from one direction to another. The edge 243 of the flexible locking member 244 can be angled for smooth sliding from the unlocked to the locked position (see FIG. 9A).
  • FIGS. [0091] 11A-11I show an alternate embodiment of the swivel tie in accordance with the present invention. The flexible locking member has two teeth 344 and is integral with the flexible switching member 338. The teeth 344 and flexible switching member are one piece. Holder 330 has one leg 334, and the strap is not centered within the holder. This embodiment is an example of the large variability inherent in the present invention and the analogous parts. FIG. 11C shows a side view of the strap 310 and the holder 330 in the locked position. The flexible locking/switching member 344 flexes up and down, in the direction indicated by arrow Y, as the strap tightens. FIGS. 11D-E are the top views corresponding to FIGS. 11B-C. FIGS. 11F-G shows the holder and strap in the unlocked position. As the strap moves in the direction of arrow D, the ties is loosened as the switching teeth 312 cause the flexible locking/switching member to flex back and forth, in the directions indicated by double arrow Z, as they move through the holder (i.e., the strap is released by ratcheting). The flexible locking/switching member 338 is attached to the holder at mounting portion 339. When the user wants to lock the tie again, he pulls the strap in the direction of arrow C, and the next switching tooth 312, pushes against the surface 341 of the flexible switching member 338 (see FIG. 11I). Since flexible switching member 338 is prevented from flexing by member 336, the holder automatically swivels or rotates to the locked position, in the direction of arrow B. After which, continued pulling on the strap will tighten the tie even further as shown in FIGS. 11D-E. In this embodiment of the swivel tie, the flexible switching member 338 extends to the edge of the holder providing increased leverage for the cam gear to turn.
  • Referring now to FIGS. [0092] 12A-E, another embodiment of the swivel tie 400, in accordance with the present invention, is illustrated. Swivel tie 400 includes a locking member 444 that is rigid and a switching member 438 that flexes vertically (in the direction indicated by double arrow Y).
  • FIGS. [0093] 12A-12C shows this tie in the locked position. The handle 432 has a space or groove 450 underneath where strap 410 can be stowed when the tie is in the locked position.
  • FIG. 12C shows the strap being tightened by moving in the direction indicated by arrow C. The switching member the [0094] 438, may be beveled at surface 443 to smooth the transition from the locked position to the unlocked position (See FIG. 12B). The locking teeth 414 engage with the locking member 444 to prevent the tie from opening. A part of holder 486 above the locking tooth 444 is widened (see FIGS. 12B-C). This widening of holder 430 at 486 narrows the entry way of the strap 410, to ensure that the locking tooth 414 and locking member 444 have a strong grip and the strap cannot pull out. This narrowing could also be accomplished by narrowing the height of the retainer opening. The switching teeth 412 pass unimpeded through a channel 442 formed in the holder. FIG. 12D is a cross-sectional view of the holder and strap in the unlocked position showing the switching teeth 412 sliding over the flexible switching member 438 as the tie is loosened (i.e., moving in the direction of arrow D). When the user pulls the strap end 418 to tighten it (i.e., in the direction of arrow C) the switching tooth 412 abuts the flexible switching member 438 at surface 441 (See FIG. 12E). Continued pulling on strap end 418 will result in the tie swiveling back to the locked position.
  • FIG. 12F shows an alternate embodiment of the bottom of the holder of FIG. 12B. In FIG. 12F, the switching member [0095] 438 is shown as being a part of the bottom of the holder and does not flex. A bottom portion of the holder is cut away to form a channel 442 through which the switching teeth 412 move when the tie is being tightened.
  • Referring now to FIGS. [0096] 13A-13F yet another embodiment of the swivel tie 500 in accordance with the present invention is illustrated. The holder 530, in this embodiment has only a top and it is held in the retainer 570, by a ridge or protrusion 546 which fits into a vertical groove 547 during assembly. Thereafter, protrusion 546 swivels within an internal horizontal groove 548 in retainer 570. The switching teeth 512 on the strap, may be beveled on the inside 513, to smooth the transition from the locked position to the unlocked position (see FIG. 13A). The height of the retainer is preferably narrowed, by widening the base of retainer 570 at location 586 to provide a strong hold when the tie is locked and good contact when the tie automatically swivels from the unlocked to the locked position.
  • FIG. 13B shows a top view of holder [0097] 530. The relative position of the handle 532, the leg 534, the protrusion 546, the locking member 544, and switching member 538 are seen (by dotted lines) through the top. FIG. 13C shows the strap being tightened (i.e., by moving in the direction of arrow C) as it moves through the holder. Holder 530 has a handle 532, but does not have a space under the handle to stow the strap. Of the various embodiments of the swivel tie disclosed, this is the simplest holder. The holder and strap are shown in the locked position in FIG. 13C.
  • FIGS. [0098] 13D-E show the holder 530 and strap 510 in the unlocked position. Leg 534 is opposite protrusion 546, and helps maintains the holder in alignment as it swivels from the locked position to the unlocked position within the retainer 570. Retainer 570 may be attached to an item (e.g., a sneaker, a ski boot, etc.) by a rivet, at, for example, location 581.
  • FIG. 13F shows an embodiment of the strap whose locking and switching teeth flex, since they have grooves [0099] 599.
  • Referring now to FIGS. [0100] 14A-H still yet another alternate embodiment of the slide tie 600 in accordance with the present invention is illustrated. Holder 630 has only a top and sides and no handle. The user can slide holder 630 from the locked position to the unlocked position by simply pushing on a side wall 634 of holder 630. Two ridges 646 on retainer 670 and the legs of the holder 634, as well as the strap 610, maintain the holders assembly as it slides from the locked position to the unlocked position within retainer 670. In this embodiment, strap 610 and retainer 670 are integral with each other. An example of this tie is shown as a wrist bandage shown in FIG. 16.
  • FIGS. 14C shows a top view of the strap and holder in the locked position and FIG. 14D shows the corresponding side view. [0101]
  • FIG. 14E shows a top view of the strap and holder in the unlocked position and FIG. 14F shows the corresponding side view. FIG. 14G shows a top view of the strap and holder in the unlocked position about to automatically slide back to the locked position (in the direction indicated by arrow A), when the user pulls strap end [0102] 618 in the direction of arrow C.
  • FIG. 14H shows the corresponding side view. [0103]
  • Referring now to FIGS. [0104] 15-15A, the closure includes a lace 795 which is attached to the strap 710. The lace could be threaded though a hole or holes 716 in the strap, hooked into the strap at 716, or molded and integral with the strap. This configuration is used for items whose opening is relatively long (such as a sneaker, corset, orthopedic device, etc.).
  • Ordinarily, when a user ties his laces, he must pull at each pair of eyelets (holes, loops, hooks, etc.) in succession, for a snug fit. If the sneaker has 4 pairs of eyelets, the user must pull successively at each of the 4 pairs of eyelets to tighten. If he doesn't do this, the top may be tight, while the laces towards the bottom may be loose (i.e., the tension is not evenly distributed). Also, when stepping out of the sneaker, the user must often individually loosen the laces toward the middle and bottom of the sneaker to create room for his foot to be removed. [0105]
  • Using the current invention however, a single pull on the strap by the user causes a portion (FIG. 15) or the entire length (FIG. 15A) of the sneaker opening to tighten simultaneously and with equal tension. This provides many benefits for the user, such as, 1) It provides for a better performance sneaker because the tension is equally distributed along the inside of the arch and outside of the foot. 2) It is easier to tie i.e., requires just one pull on the strap, and the sneaker closure is tightened and locked. 3) It is easier to open. . i.e., when the user turns the holder to unlock the closure, the entire length (or a portion) of the sneaker opening loosens simultaneously creating a large opening for the user to step out. 4) The lace will not wear due to the abrasion from tying one's sneakers by knots and bows. 5) It is faster. [0106]
  • Specifically, FIG. 15 shows a three piece swivel tie closure attached to the outside of a sneaker. This closure is excellent for runners or triathletes, because it holds as strong as nylon cable ties (which are often used as hand-cuffs because they are so strong), the user can get in and out quickly and easily (important for triathletes), there are no bows or lace ends to loosen or trip over (important for runners), and the tension is distributed evenly along lace segments [0107] 791, so the sneaker hugs the foot securely under the length of the arch. Thus, the swivel tie closure when used on a sneaker provides better support, comfort and ease of user for athletes. A lace 795 preferably goes through a hole 716 in the strap. For example, the lace may form a loop and can be attached to the strap and sneaker in a variety of ways to be both adjustable and replaceable. For example, the two lace ends can form a loop by hooking together, by a hook and eye, or be sewn to each other at location 793. The lace ends can alternatively be hooked to the sneaker at 792, or they can hook into the strap hole 716. The lace in FIG. 15 consists of a single lace loop and is threaded through a single hole in the strap. Two lace segments 791 tighten the top portion of the sneaker opening simultaneously, when the strap is pulled.
  • The lace in FIG. 15A consists of a single lace loop, and is threaded through two holes in the strap [0108] 716. Four lace segments 791 tighten substantially the entire length of the sneaker opening simultaneously, with equal tension, and with one pull. The sneaker opens very wide when the user unlocks the closure so that the user can easily step out. This closure could alternatively have been configured with two (or more) lace loops. After reading the present disclosure as a whole, one skilled in the art can readily contrive of other methods of attaching the lace. The strap and lace of the closure can thus be, adjustable and replaceable. The end of the strap 718 may have a stopper 798 (e.g., an enlarged head), to prevent the strap from being pulled out of the holder. The strap may be tucked into a sleeve 794 (attached to the sneaker) to keep it close to the sneaker. Alternatively, the strap end 718, could be held to the shoe by Velcro™.
  • FIG. 15B shows the three piece swivel tie sewn into a child's sneaker. The ends of the strap and retainer are widened so that there is uniform pull along the entire length of the opening. The handle consists of a tennis ratchet, which the child swivels to unlock the tie, at which time, the strap automatically releases from under the tennis racket. The holders can contain cartoon characters, logos, sports themes, etc. depending upon the desires of the child. The holders can be made to be replaceable with different characters when the child desires (e.g., the holder can snap in and out of the retainer). [0109]
  • FIG. 16 shows the two piece slide tie, with no handle, used as an orthopedic device surrounding a wrist. If this closure were to surround a leg, rather than a wrist, it would include a lace, to provide constant tension along the length of the leg. [0110]
  • Although this invention has been described generally and in terms of the presently preferred exemplary embodiments, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention. For example, the inside of the holders may be reversed, the locking and unlocking movements may be reversed. The teeth on the straps and within the holder may have different shapes. The locking and switching members in the holder may flex in the same direction, in different directions, or may not flex at all. The locking and switching members disposed in the holder may have multiple teeth. The spacing, shape, height, and angle of the teeth on the strap may be different. There may be only one switching tooth on the strap, in which case, the loosening would be accomplished by friction, or the strap could just loosen freely, without friction. The holders, retainers, handles and teeth etc. may have a different shapes etc. The swivel may be more or less than 90, etc. The laces could form two (or more) lace loops, rather than one, as shown. [0111]
  • The switch from a locked position to an unlocked position may be accomplished by other movements, such as push, pull, pinch, lift, etc. The method used to operate the tie is very simple and similar. A) To unlock and loosen the tie. . . the user switches the holder to the unlocked position. B) The lock and tighten the tie . . . . the user pulls on the strap. Thus, the scope of this invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than the examples given. [0112]
  • Thus, while there have been shown, described, and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form and details of the devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or steps which perform substantially the same function, in substantially the same way, to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Substitutions of elements from one described embodiment to another are also fully intended and contemplated. It is also to be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale, but that they are merely conceptual in nature. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto. [0113]

Claims (51)

What is claimed is:
1. A closure comprising:
a strap having locking teeth and at least one switching tooth;
a holder having a locking member and a switching member, and a retainer, said retainer selectively engaging with said holder and said strap to retain said closure in one of a locked position and an unlocked position, said holder being moveable between said locked position and said unlocked position;
wherein, in said locked position, said locking teeth engage with said locking member to permit said strap to move in a first direction to tighten said closure, and
in said unlocked position, movement of said strap in a second direction opposite to said first direction causes said at least one switching tooth to slide past said switching member thereby permitting said strap to move in said second direction to loosen said closure.
2. A closure according to claim 1, wherein said holder rotates between said locked position and said unlocked position.
3. A closure according to claim 2, further comprising a substantially circular male member on one of said holder and said retainer which engages with a substantially circular female member on the other one of said holder and said retainer.
4. A closure according to claim 3, further including a ridge protruding from said substantially circular male member, said ridge preventing removal of said substantially circular male member from said substantially circular female member.
5. A closure according to claim 1, wherein said holder slides between said locked position and said unlocked position.
6. A closure according to claim 5, further comprising a substantially rectangular male member on one of said holder and said retainer which engages with a substantially rectangular female member on the other one of said holder and said retainer.
7. A closure according to claim 6, further including a ridge protruding from said substantially rectangular male member, said ridge preventing removal of said substantially rectangular male member from said substantially rectangular female member.
8. A closure according to claim 1, further comprising a handle on said holder.
9. A closure according to claim 8, wherein said handle has a groove for restraining said strap when said closure is in said locked position.
10. A closure according to claim 9, wherein said strap automatically releases from said groove within said handle during said moving of said holder from said locked position to said unlocked position.
11. A closure according to claim 9, wherein said handle restraining said strap prevents said switching of said holder from said locked position to said unlocked position.
12. A closure according to claim 1, further including a spacer on one of said retainer and said holder to permit unimpeded moving of said holder.
13. A closure according to claim 1, wherein said locking member and said switching member are one piece.
14. A closure according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said locking member and said switching member flexes.
15. A closure according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said locking teeth and said at least one switching tooth flexes.
16. A closure according to claim 1, further including a string attached to said strap,
an item having an adjustable opening, at least two eyelet pairs each having an eyelet, said eyelets of said eyelet pairs disposed on opposite sides of the item,
said string connecting said at least two eyelet pairs,
wherein tension on said strap, to tighten said closure, causes at least two segments of said string to be pulled simultaneously contracting said adjustable opening.
17. A closure according to claim 1, further including a string attached to said strap,
a sneaker having an adjustable opening, at least two eyelet pairs each having an eyelet, said eyelets of said eyelet pairs disposed on opposite sides of the sneaker,
said string connecting said at least two eyelet pairs,
wherein tension on said strap, to tighten said closure, causes at least two segments of said string to be pulled simultaneously contracting said adjustable opening.
18. A closure according to claim 1, wherein said locking teeth are disposed on one side of said strap and said at least one switching tooth is disposed on an opposite side of said strap.
19. A closure according to claim 1, wherein said locking teeth and said at least one switching tooth are disposed on one side of said strap.
20. A closure comprising:
a strap having locking teeth and at least one switching tooth;
a holder having a locking member and a switching member, a retainer, said retainer selectively engaging with said holder and said strap to retain said closure in one of a locked position and an unlocked position, said holder being moveable between said locked position and said unlocked position,
wherein, in said locked position, said locking teeth engage with said locking member to permit said strap to move in a first direction to tighten said tie, and in said unlocked position, said at least one switching tooth slides past said switching member to permit said strap to move in a second direction opposite to said first direction to loosen said closure; and
wherein, in said unlocked position initial movement of said strap in said first direction causes said at least one switching tooth on said strap to push against said switching member in said holder and continued movement of said strap in said first direction causes said switching member to automatically move said holder from said unlocked position to said locked position to thereafter permit said closure to tighten.
21. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said holder rotates between said locked position and said unlocked position.
22. A closure according to claim 21, further comprising a substantially circular male member on one of said holder and said retainer, said substantially circular male member engages with a substantially circular female member on the other one of said holder and said retainer.
23. A closure according to claim 22, further including a ridge protruding from said substantially circular male member, said ridge preventing removal of said substantially circular male member from said substantially circular female member.
24. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said holder slides between said locked position and said unlocked position.
25. A closure according to claim 24, further comprising a substantially rectangular male member on one of said holder and said retainer, said substantially rectangular male member engages with a substantially rectangular female member on the other one of said holder and said retainer.
26. A closure according to claim 25, further comprising a ridge protruding from said substantially rectangular male member, said ridge preventing removal of said substantially rectangular male member from said substantially rectangular female member.
27. A closure according to claim 20, further comprising a handle on said holder.
28. A closure according to claim 27, wherein said handle restrains said strap when said closure is in said locked position.
29. A closure according to claim 28, wherein said strap automatically releases from said handle during said moving of said holder from said locked position to said unlocked position.
30. A closure according to claim 28, wherein said handle restrains said strap to prevent said moving of said holder from said locked position to said unlocked position.
31. A closure according to claim 20, further including a spacer on one of said retainer and said holder to permit unimpeded moving of said holder from said locked position to said unlocked position.
32. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said locking member and said switching member are one piece.
33. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said at least one of said locking member and said switching member flexes.
34. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said at least one of said locking teeth and said at least one switching tooth flexes.
35. A closure according to claim 20, wherein during said automatic move of said holder from said unlocked to said locked position, said holder rotates.
36. A closure according to claim 20, wherein during said automatic move of said holder from said unlocked to said locked position, said holder slides.
37. A closure according to claim 20, further including a string attached to said strap,
an item having an adjustable opening, at least two eyelet pairs each having an eyelet, eyelets of said eyelet pairs disposed on opposite sides of the item, said string connecting said at least two eyelet pairs,
wherein tension on said strap, to tighten said closure, causes at least two segments of said string to be pulled simultaneously, contracting said adjustable opening.
38. A closure according to claim 20, further including a string attached to said strap,
an sneaker having an adjustable opening, at least two eyelet pairs each having an eyelet, eyelets of said eyelet pairs disposed on opposite sides of the sneaker, said string connecting said at least two eyelet pairs,
wherein tension on said strap, to tighten said closure, causes at least two segments of said string to be pulled simultaneously, contracting said adjustable opening.
39. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said locking teeth are disposed on one side of said strap and said at least one switching tooth is disposed on an opposite side of said strap.
40. A closure according to claim 20, wherein said locking teeth and said at least one switching tooth are disposed on one side of said strap.
41. A method for operating a closure comprised of a holder and a strap, said method comprising the steps of:
moving said holder into an unlocked position in which the closure is free to loosen,
pulling one end of the strap to automatically move said holder into a locked position in which the closure is prevented from loosening and to tighten said closure.
42. A method according to claim 41, wherein the moving step includes rotating said holder.
43. A method according to claim 41, wherein the moving step includes sliding said holder.
44. A method according to claim 41, wherein the moving step includes pushing on said holder.
45. A method according to claim 41, wherein said moving step automatically releases said one end of said strap.
46. A method of operating a closure according to claim 41, further comprising the steps of:
attaching a string to said strap,
weaving said string through eyelets of at least two eyelet pairs, said eyelets disposed on opposite sides of an item having an adjustable opening,
pulling on said strap to tighten said closure, thereby causing simultaneous contracting of said adjustable opening between said eyelets.
47. A method of operating a closure according to claim 41, further comprising the steps of:
attaching a string to said strap,
weaving said string through eyelets of at least two eyelet pairs, said eyelets disposed on opposite sides of a footwear article having an adjustable opening,
pulling on said strap to tighten said closure, thereby causing at least two segments of said string to pull simultaneously with substantially equal tension, thereby contracting said adjustable opening.
48. The method according to claim 47, further comprising the steps of:
weaving said string through eyelets of at least four eyelet pairs, said eyelets disposed on opposite sides of a footwear article having an adjustable opening,
pulling on said strap to tighten said closure, thereby causing at least four segments of said string to pull simultaneously with substantially equal tension, thereby contracting said adjustable opening.
49. The method according to claim 49, wherein said pulling step contracts substantially an entire length of said adjustable opening.
50. The method according to claim 47, further comprising the step of:
applying tension on said strap to loosen said closure, thereby causing at least two segments of said string to loosen, thereby expanding said adjustable opening.
51. The method according to claim 48, further comprising the step of:
applying tension on said strap to loosen said closure, thereby causing at least four segments of said string to loosen, thereby expanding said adjustable opening.
US10/089,633 2000-09-19 2001-09-14 Closure Abandoned US20020178548A1 (en)

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