US 20020007888 A1
A decorative cover is employed for covering all or a portion of a vehicle or other large object to be protected. The cover comprises a base formed of generally flexible material, the base being sized and shaped to cover, at least a portion of the object to be covered when placed on or over the object. The base has an inner surface for engaging the object to be covered and an exposed outer surface. The outer surface of the base includes a decorative pattern.
1. A decorative cover for covering all or a portion of a vehicle or other large object to be protected, the cover comprising a base formed of generally flexible material, the base being sized and shaped to cover at least a portion of the object to be covered when placed on or over the object, the base having an inner surface for engaging the object to be covered and an outer surface, the outer surface of the base including a decorative pattern thereon.
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6. The decorative cover as recited in claim I wherein the decorative pattern comprises indicia of a type normally applied to a vehicle or other object to be simulated.
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 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/172,506, filed Dec. 17, 1999 and entitled “Decorative Cover”.
 The present invention relates generally to decorative covers and, more particularly, to a decorative cover which may be used with a vehicle or other large object to be covered.
 At the present time there are a small number of US based companies which produce and/or distribute conventional covers for use on vehicles, such as automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and the like. The companies produce a variety of ranges of protective covers with one principle difference between them; the composition of the material used in the construction of the cover. Typically, the material is either a fabric or a non-woven material or fabric. Covers comprising a non-woven material are typically formed of a pure synthetic material or blend of synthetic materials extruded or made into sheets, as opposed to first being made into a yarn, which is then woven or knitted as is the case with covers made of a fabric. Of the non-woven materials, covers made primarily of DuPont's Tyvek® and Kimberly Clark's Noah™ are the two most popular.
 Another popular material used in forming such covers is a blend of polyester and cotton fabric, as well as a fabric formed of 100% cotton. Typically, the least expensive protective cover is made from a polyester/cotton blend fabric that has been treated with a waterproofing agent. Such covers offer minimal protection to the elements. As more exotic materials are used, the cost of such covers increases and the range of protection afforded is also expanded. Typical parameters employed in forming such covers are: (1) strength, including tensile strength, bursting strength and tear resistance; (2) barrier, including water resistance and filtration; (3) dimensional, including the weight and thickness of the material; (4) breathability, including the transmission of water vapor and mildew prevention; and (5) durability, including resistance to ultraviolet radiation. Some manufacturers produce covers which are designed or specially adapted to protect against certain environmental condition, such as acid rain, tree sap, bird droppings, snow, sun and excess heat. All of the current manufacturers of covers stress at least one element of the above five categories as a unique selling position when dealing with the public. However, for the most part, all of the covers are generally monochromatic. The covers are all black, all white, all gray or some other solid or primary color or, in some cases, transparent or translucent. For the most part, such covers are usually substantially devoid of any printing or other indicia, other than an occasional logo, trademark, or brand name stenciled, printed or embroidered on a small section limited in size on the front, side or back of the cover, such as indicia identifying a specific cover manufacturer, cover owner or vehicle manufacturer.
 The market for such prior art covers, particularly, when used in connection with vehicles is over one million covers per year with approximately 60%-75% of the covers being produced in China and the balance being made in the United States and Mexico. The majority of such prior art covers are sold in the Southern portion of the United States with a high concentration of sales in Florida. The buyers of such covers are typically owners of exotic vehicles, antique vehicles or other vehicles customarily used only on weekends or sunny days. Typically, the buyers of such covers lean toward heavier and bulkier materials since such vehicles are not usually covered and/or uncovered daily, as opposed to other users who may cover a vehicle each day to protect it against heat buildup while parked in an office parking lot.
 The present invention is directed to a cover, for a vehicle or some other object which is highly decorative, as opposed to being substantially devoid of printing, indicia or the like and being substantially a monochromatic, utilitarian cover of the type typical of the prior art. Covers in accordance with the present invention may be made from a variety of materials, including blends of polyester and cotton, as well as pure synthetics. They may be made of a woven, extruded or knitted fabric and printed on any number of ways, including, but not limited to screen printing, roller printing or offset printing. Any number of commercially available inks may be used, as well as novelty inks, such as heat sensitive, ultraviolet or glow in the dark inks. A multitude of sizes and price ranges may be available to fit various vehicles, such as automobiles ranging from sports and subcompacts to luxury vehicles, vans and SUV and other off road vehicles, both domestic and imported. Thus, in addition to serving the functional purpose of the prior art covers, a cover in accordance with the present invention is highly decorative and is selected to suit the individual taste of each vehicle owner. For example, covers in accordance with the present invention may appeal to racing and sports fans and allow such fans to make a statement of support for a favorite team, driver, or manufacturer or may be generically printed to replace such prior art, usually substantially monochromatic cover with a decorative or whimsical appearance, such as a ladybug, roller skate, or any other specific or generic design or the like.
 Briefly stated, the present invention comprises a decorative cover for covering all, or a portion of a vehicle or other large object to be protected. The cover comprises a base formed of a generally flexible material, the base being sized and shaped to cover at least a portion of the object to be covered when placed on or over the object. The base has an inner surface for engaging the object to be covered and an outer surface. The outer surface of the base includes a decorative pattern thereon. In a preferred embodiment, in which the decorative cover is for covering a vehicle, a decorative pattern comprises indicia of the type applied to a vehicle to be simulated.
 The following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of a decorative cover for a vehicle in accordance with the present invention which simulates a particular or selected NASCAR sanctioned vehicle or racing car;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second preferred embodiment of a decorative cover for a vehicle in accordance with the present invention which simulates a VW Beetle; and
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a third preferred embodiment of a decorative cover for a vehicle in accordance with the present invention which simulates a ladybug.
 The present invention in a first embodiment comprises a decorative cover 10, which is adapted to be installed on or over a motor vehicle (not shown) in the same manner as a standard monochrome, i.e., all gray, all white, etc. utilitarian cover of a type well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. However, unlike the prior monochrome utilitarian vehicle cover, the present cover 10 is highly decorative in a particular manner as selected by the user of the cover. It should be understood that the present invention is not limited to a cover for a motor vehicle. A cover 10 in accordance with the present invention could alternatively be designed to be used to cover a variety of other products or items including, but not limited to boats, bicycles, outdoor furniture, grills, lawnmowers, trash cans, outside air conditioner/heating units, and the like. Thus, while the remaining discussion as set forth below is directed to a decorative cover 10 for use with a motor vehicle, it should be clearly understood that the present invention is not limited to a particular end use.
 Preferably, the cover 10, which includes an exposed outer surface and an inner surface which engages the vehicle, is formed of a base which is made of a standard material of a type used to make prior art covers such as polymeric material, cloth or fabric material, paper or cardboard, or the like or a blend of such materials. The thickness of the material used to make the present cover 10 will vary from application to application depending upon the needs of the particular end user, environmental factors, etc. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to a cover 10 which is made of a particular material or blend of materials nor is the cover 10 limited to a particular material thickness or a particular shape or design.
 In some embodiments, the cover 10 may be made of a single integrated piece of a material or blend of materials whereas in other embodiments, the cover 10 may be made of two or more pieces of a material or blend of materials which are bonded, attached, stitched, or otherwise secured together to form an integrated cover. In some embodiments, the cover 10 may be particularly sized and shaped to provide a custom fit for a particular vehicle or other item. For example, a cover 10 may be sized and shaped to fit a Pontiac Grand Am manufactured during particular model years. In other embodiments, two or more standard sized covers 10 may be provided, each of which are of a standard size and/or shape (i.e., small, medium, large, etc.) which are adapted to fit over and cover any of multiple different vehicles or items in a particular size range. For example, one standard size may be used to cover all midsized vehicles. As a further alternative, a cover 10 of a single universal size and shape (i.e., one size fits all) may be provided to fit all of the vehicles within a whole class of vehicles or other items. For example, one cover 10 may be sized and shaped to fit all pickup trucks. It should be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention is not limited to a cover 10 having a particular size or shape.
 The cover 10 as illustrated in FIG. 1 is designed to cover or enclose substantially the entire vehicle or other item from side-to-side, from top to bottom and from end-to-end. However, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the cover 10 could alternatively cover or enclose only a portion of a vehicle, such as the roof and windows, trunk, hood, etc. or could include one or more openings to permit access or entry to the vehicle or other item which is covered.
 In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the cover 10 includes an outer surface of a single base color (white). However, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the outer surface of the cover 10 could be formed of some other base color, such as silver or another primary color or shade or could be formed of two or more colors or shades if desired, particularly when the cover 10 is for the purpose of simulating a vehicle having two or more primary colors or shades.
 In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the cover 10 is sized, shaped and the outer surface of the cover 10 is colored and configured to simulate a particular racing vehicle and team, in this embodiment, the DuPont NASCAR sanctioned vehicle No. 24. As a result, in the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the cover 10 includes on the outer surface much of the same indicia (product endorsements, numbers, etc.) which are applied to the actual NASCAR sanctioned vehicle, which is being simulated and the indicia are located in substantially the same position as on the actual NASCAR sanctioned vehicle. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any other NASCAR sanctioned vehicle or a vehicle sanctioned by some other organization such as CART, Indy Racing League (IRL), Formula One, vehicle manufacturer etc., may be the subject of the cover simulation. Alternatively, the cover 10 may simulate a non-existent vehicle i.e., a vehicle which has indicia, numbers, color, etc., which are not found on any actual NASCAR, CART, IRL, formula one, etc. sanctioned vehicle or any other actual vehicle. As a further alternative, the cover 10 may simulate some other vehicle, such as a Volkswagen Beetle (FIG. 2), a ladybug (FIG. 3), a particular SUV, a monster track, etc. Accordingly, the particular vehicle type, color, indicia, etc., or whether the cover depicts any particular type of vehicle or object should not be considered to be a limitation upon the present invention. The outer surface of the cover 10 may alternatively be simulative of any vehicle, a mythical creature, an inert object, an animal, insect, fish, bird, fauna, etc.
 Essentially, the present invention comprises a cover 10 which is adapted to fit over to fully, substantially fully or partially enclose a vehicle or other item, and which includes an outer surface having a color scheme and/or indicia which is simulative of virtually anything else. For example, the outer surface of the cover may include indicia relative to a particular sports team (i.e. Philadelphia Eagles), a particular location (i.e. California surf motif) a holiday or event (Christmas, Halloween) or virtually anything else. The principle idea behind the present invention is to replace the existing, boring, usually monochrome, utilitarian covers with a more lively and possibly interactive cover with embellishments, individually selected to compliment the personal taste of the owner. Some of the embellishments may include novelty inks which are reflective, glow in the dark, UV light sensitive or heat sensitive for color changes, as well as wiring for lights, sound, heat or any combination thereof that can be connected to a cigarette lighter receptacle or some other power source, not necessarily a part of the vehicle or object being covered.
 It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.