US20060288609A1 - Dance footwear - Google Patents

Dance footwear Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060288609A1
US20060288609A1 US11422263 US42226306A US2006288609A1 US 20060288609 A1 US20060288609 A1 US 20060288609A1 US 11422263 US11422263 US 11422263 US 42226306 A US42226306 A US 42226306A US 2006288609 A1 US2006288609 A1 US 2006288609A1
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Prior art keywords
foot
covering
wearer
zone
side
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Abandoned
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US11422263
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David Wilkenfeld
Felicia Leoncelli
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Pointe Noir Pty Ltd
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Pointe Noir Pty Ltd
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B5/00Footwear for sporting purposes
    • A43B5/12Dancing shoes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/16Pieced soles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B3/00Footwear characterised by the shape or the use
    • A43B3/10Low shoes; Slippers
    • A43B3/101Slippers
    • A43B3/102Slippers leaving the heel of the foot bare
    • A43B3/105Slippers leaving the heel of the foot bare characterised by the shape or layout of the toestrap

Abstract

A covering for a foot comprising a flexible body portion configured to conform to and cup the foot of a wearer along two or more of a front side zone, lateral side zone and medial side zone of a foot, the cover including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings, each for encircling one or more toes, the covering configured to provide an opening exposing a substantial portion of the top of a wearer's forefoot. In some embodiments the side zones may comprise specific materials to provide desired functionality. For example, a side zone may be formed of a mesh or elastic material to provide a more secure or more comfortable fit, or better ventilation, for example.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of and is a Continuation-In-Part of U.S. Ser. No. 11/175,599, filed Jul. 5, 2005, which claims the benefit of and priority to co-pending U.S. Design Application No. 29/233,219, entitled DANCE FOOTWEAR, filed on Jun. 28, 2005 (Attorney Docket No. BCH-2.006.DES.US) the entire disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety, for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The inventive subject matter disclosed herein relates to an item of protective footwear particularly suited for ballet and modem dance, generally.
  • It has been suggested that dancing is the oldest of the art forms. Certainly, it has been found in every culture and on every continent in the world since time immemorial. In all instances, the elements of rhythm, symmetry, repetition, exaggeration and grace exhibit themselves in a visual spectacle that enlists attention and instills a feeling of well-being, both in participants and the audience. While, in the simplest forms of dance, these elements of rhythm, symmetry, repetition, exaggeration and grace all are incorporated in movement of the hands and feet, the torso also tends to follow movement and to participate in the exercise. In more developed forms of dance, such as the minuet, square dance and dances of the Middle Ages generally, the torso is an active participant in the dance, with its movement controlled in orientation and position to complement the movement of the hands and feet. In all of these forms of dance, however, dance movements tend to be made with relatively natural and ordinary energy expenditure, and tend to be derived from everyday, un-stressed movements.
  • However, with the development of dance, and desire for a greater range of artistic expression, dancers have catapulted from the ordinary everyday movements to movements at the edge of human endurance and athletic ability. Perhaps one of the more refined forms of dance first to employ such movements was ballet.
  • In ballet, movements include dance steps inspired by running, jumping, leaping and physical interaction between two or more individuals. The end result is a remarkably punishing regimen of movement being associated with virtually any ballet performance. Not surprisingly, this punishing regimen, as well as the pursuit of perfection in ballet, correlates with a high incidence of strain and injury among dancers. Indeed, the problem is so serious that few dancers are able to practice their profession into middle age.
  • At the same time, the attempt in ballet to achieve extremes in movement has spawned the development of footwear adapted to enable such movements, including, as examples, the relatively unnatural movements walking, rotating and even landing a jump on toe tips. Such footwear, in addition to enabling such extreme movements, also has the salutary effect of protecting the dancer, e.g., by spreading the forces associated with such landing, walking or rotating, from the toes to a wider area of the outside surface of the foot, thus reducing the incidence of injury and strain. However, such footwear may also have the effect of reducing control under certain circumstances.
  • Traditional ballet slippers provide a visually stimulating display, given their typical satiny silk charmeuse finish. However, in many forms of dance, visibility of the footwear is regarded with disfavor. In fact, in modern dance a barefoot-look is preferred, or even required for many pieces.
  • Given that modern dance builds upon ballet and thus takes from ballet dramatic movements at the edge of human endurance and athletic ability, any such dancing without protective footwear tends to significantly detriment the dancer. Nevertheless, with the barefoot-look in ascendance, modern dancers tend to forego protective footwear, subjecting their feet to the punishment of unprotected impacts, pulls, twists, abrasions and the like. The result is sore, inflamed skin or worse, e.g., cracked and even bleeding soles.
  • The foregoing problems have been previously addressed by footwear of U.S. Pat. No. 6,018,888 (the “'888 patent”), which is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes. FIGS. 1, 3 and 5 of this document show footwear 1 according to the '888 patent. As shown, that footwear has a number of interconnected straps for securing the footwear to a foot. The arrangement of the straps results in asymmetrically shaped openings, while the straps follow divergent paths over the forefoot.
  • Footwear in accordance with the '888 patent has resulted in significant improvement to the art. Even so, solutions to the problems set forth above may be otherwise provided.
  • SUMMARY
  • Provided in this document is footwear directed to solve the problems set forth above.
  • The footwear of this document preferably attaches securely and comfortably to a dancer's feet. As such, the footwear tends to have to constrain movement of the footwear relative to the foot and otherwise protect the dancer. Moreover, the footwear tends to enhance the dancer's performance of the dance.
  • The footwear of this document preferably has minimal negative visual impact. As such, the footwear tends to have enhanced visual effect (i.e., toward achieving one ideal of the dancing aesthetic associated with footwear) and to constrain movement of the footwear relative to the foot.
  • The footwear provided in this document preferably both provides a stable platform for the dancer and withstands the forces generated by the dance.
  • As an example embodiment, footwear provided in this document includes: a foot covering for compliably conforming to a foot of a wearer, the covering including a body portion that has a ground engaging side and foot engaging side; the ground engaging side having a distal-end boundary and a proximal-end boundary, the proximal-end boundary is adapted to be disposed substantially between about the metatarsal heads of a wearer's forefoot and a midfoot; and the covering including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings, each adapted to receive and encircle a single toe of a wearer.
  • Another example embodiment includes: a thin, compliant covering for a wearer's foot that is substantially free of bulky materials; the covering having a body portion with a ground engaging side and a foot engaging side; the covering having a distal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a wearer's foot defined by about at least three metatarsal heads; a proximal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a foot along a line generally perpendicular to the long axis of the foot and disposed between about the metatarsal heads and the midfoot of a wearer's foot; and the covering leaving at a majority of the top of the forefoot between the distal and proximal securer visibly exposed.
  • Another example embodiment includes: a thin, compliant covering for a wearer's foot that is substantially free of bulky materials; the covering having a body portion with a ground engaging side and a foot engaging side; the covering having a distal securer that is adapted to follow a path, defined by about at least three metatarsal heads, from the body portion and over the top of a wearer's foot; a proximal securer that is adapted to follow a path from the body portion and around the heel of a wearer; and the covering leaving at a majority of the top of the forefoot between the distal and proximal securer visibly exposed.
  • Another example embodiment includes: a covering having a body portion adapted to cup the foot of a wearer along a front portion and at least one side portion of a foot, the distal securer and the proximal securer are arranged on the body portion so as to leave the rearfoot entirely uncovered and the top of the foot uncovered, referencing proximally from the thin path of the distal securer that follows generally the metatarsal heads, or substantially uncovered if the thin path is included.
  • Another example embodiment includes: a covering having a body portion adapted to cup the foot of a wearer along a front portion and at least one side portion of a foot, the distal securer and the proximal securer are arranged on the body portion so as to leave the top of the foot uncovered (referencing proximally from the thin path of the distal securer that follows generally the metatarsal heads) and the rear foot uncovered (except for the thin path of the proximal securer).
  • Another example embodiment includes: a covering for compliably conforming to a foot of a wearer, the covering having a body portion that has a ground engaging side and foot engaging side and configured to underlie a forefoot of a wearer, the body portion having a three-dimensional configuration comprising at least one distinct lateral or medial side zone configured for a side portion of a foot, the lateral or medial side zone having a material construction different from an adjacent zone of material above or below the lateral or medial side zone; the body portion configured to fit substantially between about the metatarsal heads of a wearer's forefoot and a midfoot; and the covering including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings.
  • Another example embodiment includes a thin, compliant covering for a wearer's foot that is substantially free of bulky materials; the covering having a body portion with a ground engaging side and a foot engaging side; the covering having a distal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a wearer's foot defined by about at least three metatarsal heads; a proximal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a foot along a line generally perpendicular to the long axis of the foot and disposed between about the metatarsal heads and the midfoot of a wearer's foot; and the covering leaving a majority of the top of the forefoot between the distal and proximal securer visibly exposed, the body portion having distinct lateral or medial side zone configured for a side portion of a foot and having a material construction different from an adjacent zone of material above or below the lateral or medial side zone.
  • Another example embodiment includes: a covering for a foot comprising a flexible body portion configured to conform to and cup the foot of a wearer along two or more of a front side zone, lateral side zone and medial side zone of a foot, the cover including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings, each for encircling one or more toes, the covering configured to provide an opening exposing a substantial portion of the top of a wearer's forefoot.
  • In one or more of the foregoing example embodiments, the covering may further include a proximal securer oriented transversely to the foot of a wearer. The covering may have a proximal securer that defines an elastic opening for receiving a top foot of a wearer. The covering may consist substantially of a single ply of compliable material. The covering may have a three dimensional configuration for cupping the foot of a wearer at a front portion of the foot and at at least one side portion. The covering may have toe openings that elastically receive the toes of a wearer. There covering may have an opening for each toe of a wearer. The covering may have an elastic element forms the top boundary for one or more toe openings. The covering may have toe opening with bottom and side boundaries formed or cut into the body portion of the covering and wherein the top boundaries are defined by an elastic element. The covering may include a lateral side-foot extension and/or a medial side-foot extension. One or both side extensions may slope downwardly in a proximal to distal direction. The covering may a grip zone on the foot engaging side of the body portion that provides enhanced engagement of the foot to the covering relative to adjacent areas of foot contacting side of the body portion. The covering may have a body portion comprising a relatively inelastic material and at least one elastic securer. The covering may have a securer that has an opening that extends from the body portion and is adapted to elastically encircle the bottom of a wearer's rearfoot and heel. The covering may have an elastic strap that has opposite, first and second ends secured to body portion, the first end is attached at a medial side of the body portion and is adapted to cross over a lateral side of a foot, and the second end is attached at a lateral side of the body portion and is adapted to cross over a medial side of a wearer's foot. The covering may have a proximal and distal securer that are arranged on the body portion so as to leave the rearfoot entirely uncovered or substantially uncovered (if the thin path of the proximal securer is included) and the top of the foot uncovered, referencing proximally from the thin path of the distal securer that follows generally the metatarsal heads, or substantially uncovered if that path is included.
  • The disclosures herein also contemplate manufacturing of footwear in accordance with the disclosures, including by assembling parts in order to achieve the articles disclosed.
  • The foregoing is not intended to be an exhaustive list of embodiments and features of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. Persons skilled in the art are capable of appreciating other embodiments and features from the following detailed description in conjunction with the drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is front perspective view at the medial side of an article of footwear according to the prior art.
  • FIG. 2 is a front perspective view at the medial side of an example embodiment of an article of footwear according to the inventive concepts disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 3 is the prior art footwear of FIG. 1 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 4 is the footwear of FIG. 2 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 5 is a front perspective view at the lateral side of the prior art footwear of FIG. 1 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 6 is a front perspective view at the lateral side of the footwear of FIG. 2 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 7 is an elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 2 at the medial side.
  • FIG. 8 is an elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 2 at the lateral side.
  • FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 10 is a rear elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 11 is a plan view of the footwear of FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 12 is a bottom view of the footwear of FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 13 is a front view of another example embodiment of footwear on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 14 is a rear view of the footwear of FIG. 13 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 15 is a medial side view of the footwear of FIG. 13 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 16 is a lateral side view of the footwear of FIG. 13 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 17 is a bottom view of the footwear of FIG. 13 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 18 is a plan view of the footwear of FIG. 13 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 19 is a front perspective view at the medial side of another example embodiment of an article of footwear according to the inventive concepts disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 20 is the footwear of FIG. 19 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 21 is a front perspective view at the lateral side of the footwear of FIG. 19 on a wearer's foot.
  • FIG. 22 is an elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 19 at the medial side.
  • FIG. 23 is an elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 19 at the lateral side.
  • FIG. 24 is a front elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 19.
  • FIG. 25 is a rear elevational view of the footwear of FIG. 19.
  • FIG. 26 is a plan view of the footwear of FIG. 27.
  • FIG. 27 is a bottom view of the footwear of FIG. 19.
  • (All figures show an article of footwear intended for a left foot.)
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • In FIGS. 2, 4, 6-27 (hereinafter the “FIGs.”), the same or similar features share common reference numerals. The FIGs. show example embodiments. It is understood that other embodiments may be provided within the scope of the claims, such as by, e.g., varying one or more of the features set out in the example embodiments. To illustrate, such variations may be directed to one or more dimensions and/or positions of one or more straps or to other body contours, shapes and dimensions.
  • In footwear generally, foot anatomy is relevant. The forefoot is composed of five toes and their connecting long bones (metatarsals). Each toe (phalanx) is made up of small bones (phalanges). The big toe (hallux) has two phalanges, two joints (interphalangeal joints), and two tiny, round sesamoid bones that enable it to move up and down. The other four toes each have three bones and two joints. The phalanges are connected to the metatarsals by five metatarsal phalangeal joints at the ball of the foot. The forefoot normally bears half the body's weight and balances pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • The midfoot has five irregularly shaped tarsal bones, forms the foot's arch. The rearfoot is composed of three joints and links the midfoot to the ankle (talus). The top of the talus is connected to the two long bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula), forming a hinge that allows the foot to move up and down. The heel bone (calcaneus) is the largest bone in the foot. It joins the talus to form the subtalar joint, which enables the foot to rotate at the ankle.
  • The FIGs. show example embodiments of footwear intended primarily for a dancer. This footwear may be implemented to achieve one or more of various purposes, including, as examples, to protect a dancer's foot, to promote visibility of the foot, to securely attach to the foot, to comfortably fit, and/or to facilitate dance movements.
  • Referring to FIGS. 2, 4, 6-12, covering 10 includes body portion 11 for engaging a predetermined area of at least a wearer's bottom forefoot. The body portion 11 typically is a thin, preferably compliant and durable material. Typically, the body portion 11 would be free of bulky midsole materials, such as EVA, and significant outsole materials, such as rubber, and other materials, such as stiff boards or shanks, common to other types of shoes. However, in some applications, it might be desirable to incorporate limited amounts or areas of such materials in strategic areas to provide selected performance (durability and/or cushioning, for example), as persons in the art will appreciate. The body portion 11 has a ground facing or contacting side 12 and foot facing or contacting side 14.
  • In this example embodiment, covering 10 extends from a distal end boundary 16 of a forefoot to a proximal end boundary 18 of a forefoot. The distal end boundary 16 may run along a linear or curvilinear line. The distal end boundary 16 may be generally defined as the somewhat curved line defined by the metatarsal heads. The proximal end boundary 18 may be linear or curvilinear and runs exclusively or substantially within a forefoot and/or midfoot portion. It preferably is at least proximal the ball of the foot and transverse to the long axis of the foot. As shown in the referenced FIGs., the proximal end boundary 18 extends across the medial to lateral span of the forefoot. More generally, though, the boundary is located between the heads of the metatarsals and the midfoot. Preferably, the location is selected to protect substantially or at least those regions of the forefoot where substantial foot-ground contact occurs during dance.
  • The covering 10 may have a three-dimensional shape that conforms to the three-dimensional shape of the bottom, for example, at the front and/or one or both sides, of the foot. This shaping tends to cup the foot and, thereby, improve one or more of fit, comfort and/or protectiveness. The cupping can be variously obtained; for example, it can be obtained by patterning a piece of material (such as a sheet of leather) so that it conforms to a foot.
  • In the example embodiment shown, the covering 10 includes one or more extensions. An extension is a continuation of body portion 11 of covering 10 up the side of the foot. An extension may help secure the covering to the foot by creating a wrap or cupping. An extension may also help protect areas of the foot that may be subject to foot drag or push-off forces during dance.
  • The extensions may be variously implemented. As examples, the extensions may be a continuation of the composition of body portion 11 or they may be affixed as separate pieces to form a single operational unit. (This principle generally applies to any distinct regions or zones of the covering 10.) As shown in the FIGs., in the example embodiment, covering 10 includes medial side-foot extension 20, lateral side-foot extension 22, or both. The height of the extension 20 or 22 tapers downwardly, moving distally to proximally. This helps achieve the objective of foot visibility while at the same time providing for better attachment of the covering to the foot and protection in some basic areas.
  • In addition to the side-foot extensions, the body portion may include a cup 24. As shown in the FIGs., the example embodiment implements a cup 24 disposed at or adjacent the distal end boundary 16. Preferably, cup 24 is disposed around the padded area of the front-side of a foot at about the joint of the phalanges and metatarsal heads. Preferably, cup 24 is shaped and disposed to enhance conformance to the anatomy, so as to promote fit and secure attachment. It is understood that cup 24 may be omitted, or otherwise implemented. The specific configuration and area of the foot covered by body portion 11 can be varied by persons skilled in the art, in view of this specification, so as to cover desired forefoot zones proximally to distally or laterally to medially. Moreover, the body portion 11, alone or in combination with other features described herein, may extend into areas of the midfoot and rearfoot. For example, the body portion 11 could correspond to just the medial side of the ball of the foot, which is the contact point for certain dance movements. Other variations could be based on covering other contact points on the underside or sides of a foot, or on better securing of the covering 10 to the foot in view of contemplated forces or uses. In view of the foregoing, the end boundaries 16 and 18 are not limited to the distal and proximal positions or the medial-lateral routings shown; they may be linear, complex curves, or set to follow any desired path, and to be more or less spaced apart.
  • The covering 10 may be made of natural or synthetic materials, as is known in the art. Selection of materials generally will respond to various performance factors. As examples, materials may be selected so that the covering 10 satisfies one or more of the following: sufficiently compliant to conform or substantially conform to the anatomy of a wearer's foot (e.g., to enhance protection of the dancer); sufficiently durable so as to withstand use for intended uses, e.g., specific types of dances or dance movements; and/or sufficiently or substantially comfortable to the dancer during the dance.
  • The body portion 11 may be formed of a single ply or multiple plies or laminates, or of separate adjacent pieces, or combinations of laminates or adjacent pieces, formed into a single operational unit, using one or more materials or types of materials. For example, the ground contacting side 12 could be made of a more durable material, while the foot contacting side 14 could be made of a more comfortable material.
  • There may be different areas or zones where specific materials are incorporated. For example, the ball of the foot or side foot extension might require more or less traction, depending on use. Leather would facilitate spin moves, while a rubber layer in predetermined areas could provide traction.
  • The covering 10 is secured to the foot by a securer. The securer may be variously implemented, e.g., in operation, number, location and/or shape. The securer, alone or in combination with one or more other elements of covering 10 (e.g., body portion 11), typically traverse the circumference of the foot. As shown in the referenced FIGs, the covering is provided with a distal securer 26 and proximal securer 36. Securer 26 traverses the foot in combination with the body portion 11. Securer 36 traverses the foot alone. Securers 26, 36 operate via elastic properties, so as to tension the covering 10 relative to the foot. Other embodiments may be provided wherein the securer operates otherwise, including by omitting elastic (e.g., by using adhesive) and/or do not traverse the entire circumference of the foot (e.g., by gripping only the sides of the foot, but not the top or at least the entire top, or by employing an open cage-like structure which encloses the sides of the foot and hooks over a portion of the top of the foot, or otherwise, or by some combination).
  • When seeking to achieve a barefoot look, a securer may be sought that, when implemented, minimizes the area of coverage of covering 10, e.g., over the top of the forefoot and, thereby, expose an enhanced amount of surface area of the foot, unobstructed/uninterrupted by straps or other of the covering's features. In the example embodiment shown in the referenced FIGs, negative visual impact is minimized by aligning securers 26, 36 at opposing distal and proximal edges of the covering 10. Moreover, minimized coverage of the surface area over the foot can be achieved by orienting the distal and proximal securer generally perpendicularly to the long axis of the foot. Consequently, the example embodiment of the referenced FIGs has a clean, more symmetrical (generally rectangular) appearance, with a large area of the top of the foot exposed without, or with minimal, obstruction or interruption. Notably coverage is absent or minimized over much of the midfoot and rearfoot.
  • In the embodiment shown, the distal securer 26 is formed of a plurality of toe openings for receiving one or more toes of a wearer for securing the covering 10 to the foot. The toe openings tend to generally follow the contour of the distal end boundary 16 (e.g., straight or substantially straight lines, smoothly curved, a curve comprising line segments), and may be considered to be generally correlative in disposition (e.g., substantially parallel lines or substantially equally displaced curves) to proximal securer 36, in that a generally rectangular area of the top forefoot is left exposed when the footwear is worn (see FIG. 4, for example). The exposed area is not limited to rectangular areas, but could also be ovoid or other open areas having symmetry that result in enhanced foot visibility or improved aesthetics.
  • In the example embodiment shown in the referenced FIGs., the covering 10 includes toe openings 26 a-e, with one opening corresponding to one of each toe of the wearer. The toe openings 26 a-e may be cut or otherwise formed in the covering 10. Alternatively, they may be stitched or otherwise attached to the body portion 11 of the covering 10. For example, each toe opening 26 a-e could be provided by one or more elastic elements 27 stitched to body portion 11, with the stitched areas spaced at intervals corresponding to desired toe widths and position. Similarly, a single strap could span the width of covering 10 and have end points and mid-points stitched down to form the toe openings 26 a-e.
  • In the example embodiment, each toe opening 26 a-e has bottom boundaries 28 a-e, side boundaries 30 a-j and top boundaries 32 a-e, which define the openings. Preferably, one or more of the toe openings 26 a-e substantially or fully encircle each toe. Preferably, one or more of the toe openings 26 a-e provide a snug and secure fit around toe(s) of the wearer. Preferably, the one or more of the toe openings 26 a-e provide an elastic fit around toe(s) of the wearer. To do so, one or more of bottom, side, and top boundaries of one or more toe openings 26 a-e may be formed of, or incorporate, elastic material. In the example embodiment shown, the covering 10 may be a single ply of leather having pre-formed or cut therein bottom boundaries 28 a-e and side boundaries 30 a-j. The example embodiment may have top boundaries 32 a-e formed by a single elastic element 27, such as a strap, spanning across the u-shaped openings defined by the bottom and side boundaries. The strap may be stitched to the top of each piece forming the side boundaries. Optionally, elastic element 27 may continue below the bottom boundaries so a top edge of the strap is aligned at about the edge formed by the bottom boundaries, thereby encircling the foot. This optional continuation helps strengthen the toe openings 26 a-e and prevent tearing of the body portion 11 adjacent the toes. The use of one or more elastic elements may also provide an elastic engagement of the covering 10 around the entire foot for better fit and attachment.
  • The toe openings 26 a-e preferably work in conjunction with proximal securer 36 to achieve desired visual effect, fit and foot attachment. In the example embodiment shown, proximal securer 36 is in the nature of a fastener that extends laterally and/or medially from a proximal section of body portion 11. The fastener may be a band, strap, string, elongate mechanism or any other element that can be fitted over the top of the foot so that it creates an opening that receives and engages the foot, thereby tensioning the body portion 11 to the foot. As examples, the fastener may fit around the foot by tying fastener ends together, or by buckling, or by using hook and loop straps (e.g., Velcro), or by other coupling, or combinations of any of these. Preferably, the proximal securer 36 is or incorporates elastic.
  • Although each toe opening 26 a-e is shown in the referenced FIGs as receiving a single toe, one or more openings could also be sized and located too receive two or more toes.
  • In the example embodiment shown in the referenced FIGs, proximal securer 36 preferably defines an elastic opening for receiving and fitting around the top of a foot. Proximal securer 36 may be stitched along the bottom or foot-contact side of body portion 11 along a margin of the body portion defined by proximal end boundary 18 and a distal line thereto. Proximal securer 36 may have its proximal edge entirely within the bounds of the covering 10 or it may extend some distance proximally therefrom, as is the case for the example embodiment shown, as indicated by stitching 38 in FIG. 2. In the example embodiment shown, proximal securer 36 encircles a proximal portion of the forefoot and ends 37 a-b come together (FIG. 8).
  • In addition to fitting over the top of the foot, proximal securer 36 may be configured alternatively to fit around the heel or ankle, as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,018,888, which has been incorporated by reference. The use of an elastic fastener with sufficient stretchability can give the wearer the option of wearing the fastener over the top of the forefoot or around the heel or ankle.
  • As an optional feature of the covering, a grip zone 40 (defined by dashed lines in some FIGs) may be provided to enhance the engagement of the covering 10 to the foot and help prevent movement between the covering and foot. The zone 40 preferably includes a material providing enhanced (e.g., frictional) engagement than surrounding or neighboring areas. The zone 40 preferably occupies a selected area or areas on foot contacting side 14 of the covering. In the embodiment shown, the zone 40 is disposed across the foot-contacting portion of proximal securer 36. One possible material with which to implement zone 40 is a silicone compound applied to the desired surface. The silicone can be applied in a continuous fashion or in discrete areas, such as dots, strips, etc. that generally populate the zone.
  • FIGS. 13-18 show another example embodiment of a covering 110 according to the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. This example embodiment is generally similar to the example embodiment of FIGS. 2, 4, 6-12. (The portion of reference numbers after the one-hundred place represent features that correspond to the same or similar features associated with the same numbers used above with reference to FIGS. 2, 4, 6-12.) This example embodiment shows a routing of a proximal securer 136 that goes around a heel of a wearer. The toe openings 126 a-c in this embodiment are shown to receive in a single toe or multiple toes. The toe openings 126 a-c and proximal securer 136 may also be configured as described for other embodiments.
  • FIG. 17 shows that the proximal securer 136 provides an opening that encircles a wearer's heel, while covering a portion of the bottom of the foot. Preferably, the proximal securer 136 has an elastic construction for snugly and securely engaging a foot. The encircling may be formed by, for example, an elastic strap that has opposite ends 136 a-b secured to a proximal boundary portion of body portion 111. The first end 136 a is attached at a medial side towards a midline of the boundary portion and crosses over a lateral side of a foot. A second end 136 b is attached at a lateral side towards the midline of the boundary portion and crosses over a medial side of a wearer's foot. Accordingly, as can be seen, the arrangement of the distal securer and proximal securer on the body portion 111 leaves (a) the top of the foot entirely or substantially uncovered (depending on whether the path of the distal securer is considered) and (b) the rear foot substantially uncovered (only the path of the proximal securer is covering and, then, substantially only around a portion of the heel and some portions of the sides of the rearfoot).
  • FIGS. 19-27 show yet another embodiment of a foot covering 210 within the scope of the present inventive concepts. This embodiment is similar to other embodiments shown. However, this embodiment includes a body portion 211 that is divided into two or more zones of different material constructions. Each zone provides specific functionality. For example, a bottom zone that underlies at least the bottom of a wearer's foot provides outsole functionality, as understood in the art, namely wear resistance, durability, protectiveness, and/or traction. A more vertically extending zone for the side or top of a wearer's foot may provide one or more of ventilation or breathability, elasticity for fit, transparency, comfort, wicking, or other design feature for dance aesthetics. Further, any general zone of the covering may provide subzones with different functions. For example, a zone comprising the bottom side of the covering could provide a spin spot that facilitates certain dance movements, while the remainder of the bottom side provides normal traction.
  • Different zones may be formed of the same materials or combinations of materials but with different material or mechanical properties. For example, one zone could be substantially thicker than another to create zones of varying flexibility or elasticity. Or the same materials could be constructed differently, for example, one zone having perforations to impart relative flexibility, elasticity or ventilation. Accordingly, a zone of the body portion that has different mechanical and/or physical properties from another zone may are referred to herein as having “different material constructions”. Also when zones of such materials are referred to as being “adjacent” to one another, “adjacent” means that there is a linear arrangement of the zones, as opposed to a laminate type arrangement of materals. (However, this is not to say that there cannot be some overlap of zones at boundaries of the zones.).
  • Looking specifically at the embodiment 210 of FIGS. 19-27, body portion 211 includes a distinct medial zone 220 and a distinct lateral zone 222 that correspond to a side portion of a wearer's foot. As shown, these zones extend at least approximately half-way to fully up a side portion of a wearer's forefoot. They also extend along a substantial length of the forefoot. Accordingly, it should be understood, that a lateral or medial side zone means an area of coverage over the side of a foot that is more substantial than the incidental and insubstantial coverage by a strap of the prior art embodiment of FIGS. 1, 3 and 5, for example.
  • The zones 220, 222 shown in the FIGs. are adjacent and extending vertically from a bottom (ground contacting) zone 212 of the body 211. They are joined below a top edge of material, such as an elastic band 246, 256 (as described above for the top boundaries 32 of a distal securer 26), and in front of a front edge of a proximal securer 236 (as described above for proximal securer 36). Zone 220 and zone 222 have material constructions that are different from the adjacent zones or materials.
  • In the embodiment shown, the proximal securer 236, distal securer 226 and top edges 246, 256 along the sides of the body portions define a central opening 266 that exposes the top of the foot, and preferably all these opening defining portions have elasticity to provide a secure fit of the covering to a foot. The fit is enhanced by the cupping of the three-dimensional covering to the foot under the elastic tension. In contrast, prior art coverings do not have a three-dimensional or contoured anatomical fit with a tensioned opening.
  • As can be seen, the bottom zone 212D, which typically would be formed of a protective ply of natural or synthetic leather, may also extend part way to fully up the side of the foot (212A, B, C). The extensions are indicated as medial extension 212A and lateral extension 212B. These extensions are shown to slope upwardly going from the proximal to distal end of the forefoot. The extensions merge into an adjacent, vertically extending lateral or medial zone 220 or 222. A consideration in having the bottom side zone 212D extend upwardly to zones 212A, B, or C is providing protective coverage to areas of the side of the foot that may contact the ground during dance moves. In the embodiment shown, the lateral side, which typically has more chance for ground contact, has a bottom zone extension 212B that wraps higher up the side of the foot relative to the medial side extension 212A).
  • Moreover, the distal end of the bottom zone 212 of the body portion underlies the toes and taperingly extends at the lateral and medial sides 212A, B about the full height of the side of the foot. The body portion 211 may also be cut or formed to extend between the toes. Thereby a single ply of material for the body portion may underlie the foot and define at least bottom and side portions for encircling the toes.
  • The overall zone formed by extensions 220/212A and 222/212B are very approximately rectangular zones with an approximately diagonal division between the adjacent materials 220/212A or 222/212B. The material construction of zones 220 and 222 is generally of a lighter weight material compared to the outsole material of zones 212A and 212B. In combination zones 220/212A or 222/212B span a majority of the length of the forefoot (metatarsal heads to midfoot) while extending approximately the height of the side of the foot in that region.
  • The front of bottom zone 212 also may have an extension 212C that wraps up a side portion of the front of a foot. The zones 212A-D combine to form a three-dimensional cup around the front and both sides of a foot. The cup is vertically extended by medial and lateral zones 220 and 222, which respectively extend from extensions 212A and 212B.
  • The side zones 220, 222, 212A, 212B, and/or 212C help form an overall three-dimensional, cupping configuration to the body portion, as earlier described, wherein the body portion cups around front, medial, and/or lateral sides of a foot. In some embodiments, the covering exposes a substantial portion of the top of a wearer's foot between a distal securer 226 and a proximal securer 236, which are similarly arranged and constructed as the distal and proximal securers 26, 36, described above.
  • The bottom portion 212 would typically be formed of a durable material for ground contact, such as natural or synthetic leather. For certain styles of dance a thin flexible bottom zone is desired, which may be provided by a single ply of such materials.
  • In comparison to the bottom zone 212, the side zones 220, 222 may be formed of a light-weight, stretchable mesh material. Example materials include cotton, canvas, and synthetics. Such materials enhance the fit, and comfort of the covering. Such materials are also available with various degrees of transparency, colors, patterns, and textures to address aesthetic needs of a dancer.
  • Although two side zones are shown in covering 210, the inventive concepts contemplate variations. For example just one of the medial or lateral zones 220, 222 could be different from the bottom zone 212. Or, or they could both be different from each other and the bottom zone too.
  • From the foregoing embodiments it should be appreciated that a covering can be constructed by stitching materials and elements together to result in flat and generally straight or regular lines that enhance fit and comfort. While the inventive subject matter disclosed herein is preferably directed to coverings of substantially single ply material (except, for example, where elastic straps are joined to the body portion), other materials or plies of materials may be added or otherwise used, e.g., to impart desired properties, such as a thin board or sheet of material to impart stiffening.
  • Persons skilled in the art will recognize that many modifications and variations are possible in the details, materials, and arrangements of the parts and actions which have been described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of this invention and that such modifications and variations do not depart from the spirit and scope of the teachings and claims contained herein.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A covering for compliably conforming to a foot of a wearer,
    comprising a body portion that has a ground engaging side and foot engaging side and configured to underlie a forefoot of a wearer, the body portion having a three-dimensional configuration comprising at least one distinct lateral or medial side zone configured for a side portion of a foot, the lateral or medial side zone having a material construction different from an adjacent zone of material above or below the lateral or medial side zone;
    the body portion configured to fit substantially between about the metatarsal heads of a wearer's forefoot and a midfoot; and
    the covering including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings.
  2. 2. The covering of claim 1 further comprising a proximal securer oriented transversely to the foot of a wearer.
  3. 3. The covering of claim 1 wherein the covering has an opening for exposing the top of a wearer's, the opening being defined at least in part by one or more elastic top edges on lateral and medial side extensions of the body portion.
  4. 4. The covering of claim 1 wherein the bottom of the body portion consists substantially of a single ply ofcompliable material providing outsole functionality.
  5. 5. The covering of claim 3 wherein the covering has a three dimensional configuration for cupping the foot of a wearer at a front side portion of a foot.
  6. 6. The covering of claim 5 wherein there is an opening for each toe of a wearer.
  7. 7. The covering of claim 1 wherein toe opening has bottom and side boundaries formed or cut into the body portion of the covering and wherein the top boundaries are defined by an elastic element.
  8. 8. The covering of claim 1 wherein the lateral or medial zone comprises an elastic material construction.
  9. 9. The covering of claim 1 wherein the lateral or medial zone comprises a mesh material.
  10. 10. A thin, compliant covering for a wearer's foot that is substantially free of bulky materials;
    the covering having a body portion with a ground engaging side and a foot engaging side;
    the covering having a distal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a wearer's foot defined by about at least three metatarsal heads;
    a proximal securer that is adapted to follow a path over the top of a foot along a line generally perpendicular to the long axis of the foot and disposed between about the metatarsal heads and the midfoot of a wearer's foot; and
    the covering leaving a majority of the top of the forefoot between the distal and proximal securer visibly exposed, the body portion having distinct lateral or medial side zone configured for a side portion of a foot and having a material construction different from an adjacent zone of material above or below the lateral or medial side zone.
  11. 11. The covering of claim 10 wherein the lateral or medial side zone extends from a bottom zone made of a wear-resistant material for engaging the ground, the lateral or medial side zone configured to extend along a side portion of wearer's forefoot.
  12. 12. The covering of claim 10 wherein the lateral or medial side zone comprises a mesh material.
  13. 13. The covering of claim 10 wherein the lateral or medial side zone comprises an elastic material.
  14. 14. The covering of claim 11 wherein the bottom zone comprises natural or synthetic leather.
  15. 15. The covering of claim 11 wherein the bottom zone consists substantially of a single ply of leather or synthetic material.
  16. 16. The covering of claim 11 wherein the body portion has a three dimensional configuration for cupping the foot of a wearer along a side portion of the front of a foot.
  17. 17. The covering of claim of 10 wherein there is an opening for each toe of a wearer.
  18. 18. The covering of claim 10 wherein a lateral or medial side zone tapers in a proximal to distal direction.
  19. 19. A covering for a foot comprising a flexible body portion configured to conform to and cup the foot of a wearer along two or more of a front side zone, lateral side zone and medial side zone of a foot, the cover including a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings, each for encircling one or more toes, the covering configured to provide an opening exposing a substantial portion of the top of a wearer's forefoot.
  20. 20. A method of manufacturing a covering for a foot comprising:
    configuring a body portion to conform to and cup the foot of a wearer along two or more of a front side zone, lateral side zone and medial side zone of a foot, and
    configuring the body portion with a distal securer comprising a plurality of toe openings, each for encircling one or more toes, and
    configuring the covering to have an opening exposing a substantial portion of the top of a wearer's forefoot.
US11422263 2005-06-28 2006-06-05 Dance footwear Abandoned US20060288609A1 (en)

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US29233219 USD559504S1 (en) 2005-06-28 2005-06-28 Dance footwear
US11175599 US20070006486A1 (en) 2005-07-05 2005-07-05 Dance footwear
US11422263 US20060288609A1 (en) 2005-06-28 2006-06-05 Dance footwear

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US29233219 Continuation-In-Part USD559504S1 (en) 2005-06-28 2005-06-28 Dance footwear
US11175599 Continuation-In-Part US20070006486A1 (en) 2005-07-05 2005-07-05 Dance footwear

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US20060196078A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2006-09-07 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US20080034613A1 (en) * 2004-10-08 2008-02-14 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance Footwear
US20080086912A1 (en) * 2006-10-17 2008-04-17 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance footwear
US20080110045A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2008-05-15 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective Foot Covering
US20090064540A1 (en) * 2007-09-07 2009-03-12 Susan Sokolowski Gymnastics footwear
US20090100715A1 (en) * 2005-04-15 2009-04-23 Cherie Petrea Broadley Shoe
US20100018078A1 (en) * 2008-07-24 2010-01-28 Jonathan Bobbett Anatomical footwear toepiece and method of manufacturing the same
US20100154251A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2010-06-24 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US20110113530A1 (en) * 2009-11-19 2011-05-19 Ballard Rebecca L Article to be worn on the foot in conjunction with sandals
WO2012021919A1 (en) * 2010-08-20 2012-02-23 Timothy Charles Heathcote Footwear for modern dance and method of manufacturing same
GB2489977A (en) * 2011-04-14 2012-10-17 Innover Ltd Membrane for gripping footwear
US20130066249A1 (en) * 2011-09-12 2013-03-14 Joshua Paul Eldridge Foot Arch Support for Barefoot Athletes
WO2013113089A1 (en) * 2012-02-03 2013-08-08 Shahane Shreya A device for foot comfort
US20130283637A1 (en) * 2010-11-05 2013-10-31 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd Protective footwear
US20130312283A1 (en) * 2012-05-28 2013-11-28 Eri Tanabe Half shoe and method for producing half shoe
US20140352170A1 (en) * 2013-05-30 2014-12-04 Muse Dancewear Pty Ltd. Modern dance shoe
US20150282554A1 (en) * 2014-04-04 2015-10-08 Ryan Irion Barefoot running spikes and accessories
US9516915B2 (en) * 2015-01-25 2016-12-13 Yuliya Zhurba Foot pad
USD785916S1 (en) 2015-06-10 2017-05-09 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Foot covering for fitness and dance
US9918513B2 (en) 2013-03-13 2018-03-20 Shahab Vakili Reversible protective footwear
USD825153S1 (en) * 2017-02-02 2018-08-14 Piga Inc. Soft sole footwear with adjustable plantar arch support

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US7966747B2 (en) * 2004-10-08 2011-06-28 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance footwear
US20080034613A1 (en) * 2004-10-08 2008-02-14 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance Footwear
US8448350B2 (en) * 2005-03-01 2013-05-28 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US20080110045A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2008-05-15 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective Foot Covering
US7856739B2 (en) * 2005-03-01 2010-12-28 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering
US20100154251A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2010-06-24 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US7673396B2 (en) * 2005-03-01 2010-03-09 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US20060196078A1 (en) * 2005-03-01 2006-09-07 Ballet Makers, Inc. Protective foot covering and dance shoes incorporating same
US20090100715A1 (en) * 2005-04-15 2009-04-23 Cherie Petrea Broadley Shoe
US7926203B2 (en) 2006-10-17 2011-04-19 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance footwear
US20080086912A1 (en) * 2006-10-17 2008-04-17 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Dance footwear
US20090064540A1 (en) * 2007-09-07 2009-03-12 Susan Sokolowski Gymnastics footwear
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US20110113530A1 (en) * 2009-11-19 2011-05-19 Ballard Rebecca L Article to be worn on the foot in conjunction with sandals
WO2012021919A1 (en) * 2010-08-20 2012-02-23 Timothy Charles Heathcote Footwear for modern dance and method of manufacturing same
US20130283637A1 (en) * 2010-11-05 2013-10-31 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd Protective footwear
GB2489977A (en) * 2011-04-14 2012-10-17 Innover Ltd Membrane for gripping footwear
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US20130066249A1 (en) * 2011-09-12 2013-03-14 Joshua Paul Eldridge Foot Arch Support for Barefoot Athletes
WO2013113089A1 (en) * 2012-02-03 2013-08-08 Shahane Shreya A device for foot comfort
US20130312283A1 (en) * 2012-05-28 2013-11-28 Eri Tanabe Half shoe and method for producing half shoe
US9918513B2 (en) 2013-03-13 2018-03-20 Shahab Vakili Reversible protective footwear
US20140352170A1 (en) * 2013-05-30 2014-12-04 Muse Dancewear Pty Ltd. Modern dance shoe
US20150282554A1 (en) * 2014-04-04 2015-10-08 Ryan Irion Barefoot running spikes and accessories
US9516915B2 (en) * 2015-01-25 2016-12-13 Yuliya Zhurba Foot pad
USD785916S1 (en) 2015-06-10 2017-05-09 Pointe Noir Pty Ltd. Foot covering for fitness and dance
USD825153S1 (en) * 2017-02-02 2018-08-14 Piga Inc. Soft sole footwear with adjustable plantar arch support

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AS Assignment

Owner name: POINTE NOIR PTY LTD., AUSTRALIA

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WILKENFELD, DAVID;LEONCELLI, FELICIA;REEL/FRAME:017995/0262

Effective date: 20060620