US 20020020796 A1
A computer mouse pad comprises a rigid base and a plurality of paper sheets arranged in a stack and detachably fixed to the base. Each of the stacked sheet is detachably fixed to a sheet immediately below it in the stack. The sheets are provided with printed messages on upper surfaces thereof. A coating is applied to the upper surfaces of the sheets. The coated upper surfaces are resistant to being written upon, thereby preventing accumulation of carbon, graphite and ink markings, which tend to contaminate the roller ball, prevent proper mouse tracking and adversely affect curser control. When worn, the uppermost sheet is removed, thereby exposing the next sheet in the stack and its message, for use as the upper surface of the mouse pad. Timely refreshment of the upper surface is encouraged by provision of a mouse pad in which the information conveyed by successive sheet removal creates a serial effect.
1. A computer mouse pad having a top surface that facilitates tracking of a mouse roller ball, comprising;
a. a rigid base;
b. a stack of paper sheets detachably fixed to said base and comprising an uppermost sheet with an upper surface forming said top surface of said mouse pad; and
c. each sheet of paper in said stack being detachably fixed to a sheet immediately below it in said stack, and having a printed message on its upper surface,
whereby said uppermost sheet is removed when worn thereby exposing the sheet immediately below it in said stack and its message for use as the upper surface of said mouse pad.
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 This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Serial No. 60/210,787, filed Jun. 12, 2000.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to the field of computer mouse pads; and more particularly, to a multi-function, computer mouse pad having detachable surfaces in multiple sheet form.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 The computer mouse pad has become a standard peripheral for the personal computer. It typically functions in combination with the computer mouse to facilitate and improve the accuracy and efficiency of mouse manipulation. Mouse pads also prevent desks and tabletops on which the computer resides from being scratched by the mouse.
 One of the problems with conventional mouse pads is the tendency thereof to collect scratches, stains, dirt and other disfigurements during use. Such blemishes and disfigurements not only mar the appearance of the mouse pad, but interfere with its tracking ability. The mouse's tracking ball fails to freely track across the mouse pad surface; and curser control, required for accurate location of the mouse pointer on the computer screen, is lost or diminished.
 A significant reduction in surface friction or texture of the mouse pad surface occurs sooner or later, depending mainly on the pad's surface construction and the usage to which it is subjected. The reduced friction provided by the mouse pad surface, which restricts tracking ball movement, tends to worsen over time, until the mouse becomes virtually useless in contact with the pad surface. Few problems are more maddening to the computer operator than the loss of curser control imposed by imperfect roller ball tracking. This importance of resolving this problem is demonstrated by the extensive varieties of commercial mouse pads touting diverse surface constructions said to provide restriction-free mouse tracking.
 Mouse pad and note pad combinations are known in the art. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,876,010 and 5,971,340 to Murphy disclose a combination mouse pad and writing pad in which a plurality of sheets of paper are secured together and further secured to a chip board base. Each sheet has a top surface textured by the presence of a plurality of micro scales thermographically printed over substantially the entire top surface to define a working surface. U.S. Pat. No. 5,405,168 to Holt discloses a combination computer mouse pad and note pad that includes a plurality of sheets of paper, for providing a work surface upon which notes can be written and a computer mouse can be operated.
 Canadian Patent CA2244950 to Lurani, et al. discloses a notebook or similar paper element that comprises a plurality of bound pages provided with a limited-friction surface. It comprises, among other components, an embossed plastic material and a second page comprising a layer in an expanded thermoplastic material.
 With these devices, the writing tends to contaminate the mouse roller ball thereby inhibiting proper mouse tracking.
 Canadian Patent CA2202007 to Hauptman discloses a computer mouse pad comprising a monolayer structure material of predetermined thickness having an upper surface of a smooth texture. The upper surface is also capable of absorbing unwanted residues deposited thereon during usage; as a result, preventing residues from being picked up by the roller ball. Eventually though, the surface of Houpman's mouse pad will wear or be contaminated, and will need to be replaced.
 At least one mouse pad on the market avoids mechanical surface tracking by a mouse roller ball. The pad is especially suited for use with an optical sensing element, and is characterized a smooth pad surface. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,834,502 to Bristol, et al., discloses a pad, adapted for use with an optical mouse. The pad includes a substantially transparent sheet having a pattern of spaced dots on one surface thereof.
 There remains a need in the art for a computer mouse pad which can be used with a variety of mechanical mouse tracking devices, to accomplish roller ball tracking, curser location and mouse manipulation in an accurate, reliable manner over a prolonged period of time.
 The present invention provides a computer mouse pad having an uppermost surface adapted to provide optimal roller ball tracking. A plurality of detachable mouse pad plies mounted on a base provide means for refreshing the mouse pad surface to maintain optimal tracking conditions. The mouse pad plies are removed successively before usage causes the uppermost surface to become so worn or degraded that roller ball tracking or surface appearance is adversely affected.
 Each of the detachable plies is constructed of paper having an offset weight of approximately 70 pound. The base of the ply comprises a paper composition similar to that conventionally used for most note-taking paper pads. For increased stability, the base is additionally provided with a non-skid under surface. Generally, the number of tracking surfaces exceeds several plies and ranges upward into the mid-teens. The maximum number of plies utilized depends the appearance of the surface; environmental conditions, which may accelerate the accumulation thereon of dust, stains, carbon or graphite material, and the like; and the overall ability of the upper surface to maintain proper tension, to facilitate roller ball tracking movement.
 Each of the piles is, optionally, provided with printed material on its uppermost surface. Through an on-press or off-press application, each ply is further provided with a protective spray coating to enhance surface quality. A pile binding is typically effected in the manner employed for note-taking pads. The binding is generally applied on one or more sides of the pad. Adhesion of the plies can alternatively be achieved by coating a portion of the undersurface of each ply, to provide sufficient tackiness that the plies are stabilized against horizontal movement without compromising removability. One or more adhesive areas, such as adhesive spots applied from the binding side of a pile, can be applied to the under surface of each ply to improve adhesion of the upper ply to the ply below it, and thereby stabilize the plies against transverse movement during use.
 More specifically, the invention provides a computer mouse pad comprising a rigid base and a stack of sheets of paper detachably fixed to the base. Each sheet of the stack is detachably fixed to the sheet below it. The stacked sheets are provided with printed messages on upper surfaces thereof. An upper sheet is removed when worn or soiled, thereby exposing the next sheet in the stack and its message, for use as the upper surface of the mouse pad. The coated upper surface is resistant to being written upon, thereby preventing accumulation of carbon, graphite, ink, and the like, which tend to contaminate the roller ball, prevent proper mouse tracking and adversely affect curser control.
 Advantageously, the pile with detachable plies provides means for regenerating fresh usable surfaces, one surface at a time, as surfaces become degraded in appearance or mouse tracking capability. The pile also provides means for displaying printed information helpful to the computer user, such as application shortcuts, tips, and the like. Printed information additionally displayed by the pile can comprise decorative configurations, such as color pictures of flower bouquets, landscapes or patterns, calendar images and other presentations, including advertising. Detached plies can be displayed apart from the pad, scanned into memory or otherwise saved, or discarded, in accordance with user preferences. The mouse pad appearance can be refreshed by providing a newly exposed ply having the same presentation as the previous ply. Refreshing the ply appearance can be encouraged by displaying on successive pages a plurality of differing, self-contained printed images that provide continuity. An incentive for timely refreshment of the ply appearance can also be engendered by provision of a mouse pad in which the information conveyed by successive ply removal creates a serial affect.
 The invention will be more fully understood and further advantages will become apparent when reference is had to the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective overhead view depicting the mouse pad of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view of the mouse pad shown by FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a blow-up of one edge of a sheet of the mouse pad shown in FIG. 1.
 The mouse pad of the present invention comprises a plurality of plies adapted to provide continually available surfaces. Advantageously, the uppermost surface of the mouse pad is refreshed periodically by successive removal of plies before the uppermost surface becomes unduly worn in texture or appearance. Trouble-free tracking of the mouse, and optimal curser control is obtained through utilization of detachable mouse pad plies mounted on a base.
 Each detachable ply is preferably composed of paper having approximately 70 pound offset weight. The base is generally a composition paper similar to that used with most note-taking paper pads, and is preferably provided with a non-skid under surface. A plurality of plies, typically exceeding several and ranging upward to the mid-teens, provide means for refreshing the tracking surface periodically. The maximum number of plies employed during usage of the mouse pad can vary, depending on the ability of the upper surface to resist degradation caused by scratches, stains, pencil and pen markings, and the like, and thereby maintain a tension and surface friction sufficient to facilitate tracking ball movement.
 Each of the piles is printed on its uppermost surface, and through an on-press or off-press application receives, if desired by the pad designer and/or manufacturer, a protective spray coating to enhance surface quality. Pile binding is typically effected through binding similar to that used for note-taking pads, applied on one or more sides. Temporary adhesion of the plies can, alternatively, be achieved by providing sufficient tackiness on the ply undersurface in preselected areas, to thereby achieve adhesion without compromising removability. Adhesion of each upper ply to the ply immediately below it is improved by application of one or more adhesive spots to preselected areas of the upper ply's bottom side in a direction extending across from the binding side.
 Advantageously, the pile with detachable plies comprises a means for generating fresh usable surfaces, one surface at a time, as extant surfaces lose their efficacy. The pile also comprises a means for displaying printed information useful to the computer user. Such printed information can include application shortcuts, tips, and the like. It can also include decorative pages such as color pictures of flower bouquets, landscapes or patterns, calendar pages and other presentations, such as advertising. Detached plies can be displayed apart from the pad, scanned or otherwise saved into memory, or discarded, according to user preferences. Means are thereby provided for attaining a fresh mouse pad appearance. Successive pages displaying a plurality of differing, self-contained printed images that collectively provide presentation continuity can be used to encourage timely refreshment of the plies. The incentive for timely ply refreshment can also be engendered by provision of a mouse pad in which the information conveyed by successive ply removal creates a serial affect.
 Referring to FIG. 1 of the drawings, there is shown generally at 5, the computer mouse pad of the invention. The mouse pad 5 comprises a base 10 having detachably fixed thereto a stack of paper sheets 12.
 In FIG. 2 there is shown a side view of a mouse pad 5, wherein stack 12 is detachably fixed to base 10. The lower side of base 10 is preferably provided with a nonskid surface 11. A mouse (not shown) is maneuvered on the upper surface of sheet 14. Preferably, base 10 is rigid enough for pad 5 to be held by a corner without substantial bending or deformation thereof; and it is comprised of cardboard at least 0.5 mm thick. Alternatively, the base 10 is comprised of plastic at least 0.25 mm thick. Each sheet in the stack 12 is detachably fixed to the sheet below it in the stack. A printed message 15 (shown in FIG. 1) is disposed on the upper surfaces of the sheets. Preferably, printed message 15 is visible from the top of sheet 14. When upper sheet 14 becomes worn or soiled, it is removed by pulling up edge 16, as indicated in FIG. 1. Removal of sheet 14 exposes the next sheet 18 in stack 12, as well as the printed message thereon; and sheet 18 then functions as the new upper surface of mouse pad 5. Pulled-up edge 16 reveals next sheet 18, as well as adhesive 17 that detachably fixes top sheet 14 to next sheet 18.
 Referring to FIG. 3 of the drawings, there is shown generally at 20 a magnified view of the edge of top sheet 14 in stack 12. Each of the stacked sheets is comprised of paper 22 having an upper surface laminated or coated with a thin smooth film 24, such as PVC or cellophane. All sheets within stack 12 are similarly constructed. Film 24 is resistant to being written upon or soiled. The smoothness of film 24 significantly reduces friction between the mouse pad surface and most writing instruments such as pencils or pens of the fountain or roller ball variety. A friction reduction adequate for this purpose is accomplished without affecting the friction between the mouse pad surface and the rubber mouse roller ball. As such, the upper surface provides for an enhanced contact with the mouse roller ball that engages it. Unrestricted roller ball tracking and improved curser control is afforded. The resistance to pencil and pen marks significantly reduces the amount of contaminants such as carbon, graphite, ink or the like on the upper surface of the mouse pad. In addition, the smooth coated surface affords increased resistance to soil and stains. Such contaminants, when present, tend to interfere with movement of the mouse roller ball, disrupting mouse tracking, with the result that cursor control is severely diminished. Preferably, film 24 is formed from a composition conventionally referred to by the printing industry as an aqueous solution. The aqueous solution is applied on-press to brighten the paper sheets of which the pile is comprised. It significantly improves the soil and wear resistance of the upper surface of sheet 14. Film 24 is also resistant to writing. Typically, the coating solution is drawn from a fountain onto a metal roller and then transferred to a rubber blanket. It is then brought into contact with the paper sheet or web traveling through the press. The coating dries by the time it reaches the stacker end of the press, forming film 24.
 In an alternative embodiment, a varnish is used as film 24 to render the upper surface of sheet 14 resistant to stains, wear and marking with carbon, graphite and ink. As a further alternative, film 24 is comprised of PVC or cellophane. With this construction of the mouse pad, the upper surface of sheet 14 is rendered virtually immune to wet ink contamination. The surface energy provided by the PVC or cellophane film 24 causes the ink to bead, enhancing resistance against adherence thereof to the upper surface of sheet 14. As yet another alternative, film 24 comprises a heat-set ink which through the application of heat almost instantly dries and hardens, imparting wear and writing resistant properties to the upper surface of sheet 14.
 As best shown in FIG. 3, the lower surface of paper 22 is coated with adhesive 17. The coated adhesive 17 is tacky enough to hold stack 12 together; yet still be able to separately remove each sheet of paper. Such adhesives are well know by those skilled in the art.
 Paper 22 must be of adequate weight to withstand the stress of use and removal from the pad. Very heavy paper, having offset weight greater than 95 pounds, will result in unnecessarily thick sheets without adding substantially to the robustness of a sheet. Preferably, the offset weight of the paper sheets is between 20 and 90 pounds. More preferably, the offset weight ranges from about 45 to 85 pounds. Most preferred is paper having offset weight substantially equal to about 70 pounds.
 Message 15 on the sheet is an advertisement, logo, computer usage hint, cartoon, or the like. All the sheets have the same or, alternatively, different messages. The messages are preferably printed on the upper surface of each paper sheet prior to application of the laminated or coated film to the paper surface. Alternatively, when film 24 comprises a transparent material, message 15 may be printed on the lower surface of the film 24.
 Having thus described the invention in rather full detail, it will be understood that such detail need not be strictly adhered to, but that additional changes and modifications may suggest themselves to one skilled in the art, all falling within the scope of the invention as defined by the subjoined claims.