US 20040168356 A1
The present invention is a lace locking system that eliminates the inconveniences of a conventional lacing system. The design reroutes laces behind the ankle to a “T pull” handle that incorporates a “lace lock” that allows length adjustment to the laces. When the “T-pull” handle is pulled upon, the laces cinch and the handle is then placed into its rest. This provides the user with a “memory lace system” so the laces do not have to be adjusted and tied every time a shoe or skate is placed onto a foot.
1. An article of footwear, comprising:
a foot section having opposing sides;
a cuff section;
at least one lace;
the at least one lace woven between the opposing sides;
a pull, and
the pull having at least one lace lock, the at least one lace lock being couple to the cuff section such that when the at least one lace lock can be positioned in a tightened position,
wherein the at least one lace lock locks the at least one lace in the tightened position.
2. The article according to
3. The article according to
a rest coupled to the cuff section; and
the rest is releasably coupled to the lace lock, such that the pull is in the tightened position.
4. The article according to
a rest coupled to the cuff section;
the rest having a pivot; and
wherein the lace lock is coupled to the extension such that the extension can pivot between a loosened positing and the tightened position.
5. The article according to
6. The article according to
7. The article according to
8. The article according to
9. The article according to
a rest, the rest comprising a channel that can be releasably couple to the at least one lace lock; and
the at least one lace lock further comprises a horizontal portion and a vertical portion to facilitate moving the at least one lace lock, such that
when the vertical portion of the at least one lace lock fits in the channel such that the at least one lace lock is releasably coupled to the rest and the pull is in the tightened position.
10. The article according to
11. An article of footwear, comprising:
a foot section having opposing sides;
a cuff section;
at least one lace;
means for locking the at least one lace coupled to the cuff section,
wherein means for locking the at least one lace locks the at least one lace in a tightened position.
12. The article according to
13. The article according to
the means for locking includes at least one lace lock and at least one rest;
the at least one rest is coupled to the cuff; and
the at least one lace lock is releasably coupled to the at least one rest.
14. The article according to
15. The article according to
16. A method of lacing footwear, comprising the steps of
tightening at least one lace in an article of footwear;
locking the at least one lace in at least one lace lock;
releasably coupling the at least one lace lock to the cuff;
17. The method according to
threading the at least one lace through the at least one lace lock.
18. The method according to
19. The method according to
decoupling the at least one lace lock from the cuff to allow the footwear to be loosened.
 The present invention relates to lacing systems and, more particularly, to methods and apparatuses allowing footwear to be laced and unlaced.
 Generally speaking, the prior art teaches many different lace systems for footwear. Most conventional lace systems, however, require a tightening of the laces for use and a loosening of the laces for removal of the footwear. Commonly, pulling and tying the laces of the footwear accomplish the tightening and loosening. Some footwear, however, include lace locks that replace the tying part of the system. U.S. Pat. No. 6,192,559, issued on Feb. 27, 2001, incorporated herein by reference, describes some conventional shoelace fastening apparatuses.
 While a variety of devices have been developed for lacing systems, most are overly complex or require adept manual dexterity. Further, most lacing systems eliminate the need to tie the laces, but still require that the laces tightened and loosened manually. Also, removing the footwear requires releasing the laces from the lace locks.
 Thus, it would be desirous to provide an improved lacing system.
 To attain the advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, an article of footwear having a lacing system is provided. The article of footwear includes a foot section having opposing sides and a cuff section. At least one lace is woven between the opposing sides. A pull having at least one lace lock is couple to the cuff section such that when the at least one lace lock can be positioned in a tightened position.
 The foregoing and other features, utilities and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of a preferred embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings,
 The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles thereof. Like items in the drawings are referred to using the same numerical reference.
FIG. 1 shows a rear perspective view of an in-line skate consistent with the present invention;
FIG. 2 shows a front perspective view of the laces associated with the in-line skate of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 shows a side view of the cuff section and pull of the in-line skate of FIG. 1
FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a lace lock consistent with the present invention;
FIG. 5 shows a cross sectional view of the lace lock of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a method of lacing an article of footwear consistent with the present invention; and
FIG. 7 is a side view of an alternative lace locking system consistent with the present invention.
 The present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-7. Referring to FIG. 1, an in-line skate 1 is shown. While the present invention will be described with reference to in-line skates, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize on reading the disclosure that the present invention could be used in a variety of footwear, such as, ice skates, hiking boots, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, sneakers, biking shoes, and the like. Further, while shown with regard to conventional footwear, the present invention could also be used with footwear having adjustable sizes, such as, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,471,219, titled ADJUSTABLE FIT IN-LINE SKATE, issued on Oct. 29, 2002, U.S. Pat. No. 6,402,163, titled, ADJUSTING THE SIZE OF A LINED SPORT BOOT, issued on Jun. 11, 2002, U.S. Pat. No. 6,374,516, titled BOOT WITH AN ADJUSTABLE LENGTH UPPER ADAPTED FOR SKATING, issued Apr. 23, 2002, and the like, all incorporated by reference.
 In-line skate 1 includes a boot portion 2 and a frame portion 3. Frame portion 3 conventional includes, not labeled as the parts are conventional, a wheel chassis, which typically includes an inverted “U” shape section to hold a plurality of wheels, a longitudinal surface to attach boot portion 2 to frame portion 3. While not shown, frame portion 3 may also include a conventional in-line skate brake.
 Boot portion 2 generally includes foot section 4 and a cuff section 5. A liner 6 may line the inside of boot portion 2. Foot section 4 has a lace system 7, which is shown in more detail in FIG. 2. Lace system 7 includes lace guides 8 and lace 9. Lace guides 8 can be clamp style guides as shown, loops, ringlets, or the like. Lace guides 8 allow lace 9 to be woven between opposing sides 10 of foot section 4 such that tightening lace 9 causes opposing sides 10 of foot section 4 to fit snuggly around a foot of a user.
 Referring back to FIG. 1, unlike conventional in-line skates, lace guides 8 provide a lace path for lace 9 such that the lace wraps around cuff portion 5 and attaches to a pull 11. A possible pull 11 is shown in more detail in FIG. 3. Attaching lace 9 to pull 11 allows for locking lace 9 so opposing sides 10 can be in a snug position around the foot of a user. While conventionally lace 9 has a first end and a second end (not shown or labeled) to facilitate tying lace 9, the present invention is such that a continuous loop lace could be used.
 Referring now to FIG. 3, pull 11 can be seen in more detail. Pull 11 includes a lace lock 13 and a rest 12. Rest 12 is attached to the cuff section 5. As shown, lace lock 13 is releasably coupled to rest 12. Lace lock 13 has a release button 14. Depressing release button 14 will reduce the friction holding lace 9 in the tightened position. Use of the lace lock 13 will be explained with respect to flowchart 600 below. Referring to FIG. 4, a rear view of lace lock 13 is shown. As shown in FIG. 4, lace lock 13 can have one or more horizontal extension 13 h and one or more vertical extensions 13 v. The configuration or shape of lace lock 13 is largely a matter of design choice, but at least one horizontal extension 13 h and at least one vertical extension 13 v makes it easier to pull pull 11 into a tightened position. Once in the tightened position, rest 11 (or cradle lock) can hold lace lock 13 with lace 9 locked in the tightened position. Referring now to FIG. 5, a cross sectional view of lace lock 13 is shown. As shown if FIG. 5, lace lock 13 has a lace through hole (not shown or labeled). Release 14 has a release through hole 15 and a bias 16, such as a spring. In the lock position, bias 16 exerts a force on release 14 such that hole 15 pinches lace 9 (not shown in FIG. 5) against lace lock 13 sufficiently such that the friction locks lace 9 in place. Pressing release 14 against bias 16 releases the friction such that lace lock 13 can freely slide up and down lace 9. Of course other releases are possible, with a spring-biased actuator being a cost effective release.
FIG. 6 shows a flowchart 600 representative of a first tightening of in-line skate 1 using the present invention. First, lace 9 is tightened, step 602. Next lace 9 is attached to lace lock 13 to lock lace 9, step 604. Finally, lace lock 13 is releasably connected to rest 12 such that pull 11 is in the tightened position. As can be seen in this example, lace lock 13 is treaded or slid down lace 9 until pull 11 achieves the tightened position using a releasable connection. FIG. 7 shows an alternative pull 17. Alternative pull 17 has rest 12 and lace lock 13. Lace lock 13, however, is pivotally connected to rest 12 by pivot 18 and extension 19. Alternative pull 17 is shown in the loosened position. To tighten the footwear, pull 17 would pivot extension 19 upwards to a tightened position. If a pivot style pull were used, step 606 would be pivot pull 17 into the tightened position or the like. Notice, one of skill in the art will now recognize alternative embodiments of the pull and the above two examples should be viewed as illustrative and not limiting.
 Once the first tightening is complete, the loosening and re-tightening of in-line skate one is accomplished by releasably detaching lace lock 13 from rest 12 to loosen and releasably attaching lace lock 13 to rest 12. Because lace lock 13 has previously been positioned on lace 9, attaching lace lock 13 to rest 12 automatically and properly tightens the footwear providing a memory lace system of sorts. Of course, release 14 could be actuated to re-position lace lock 13 on lace 9 as frequently as the user desires. Similarly, alternative pull 17 would be moved from the tightened position to the loosened position by pivoting pull 17. Again providing a memory lace system for the footwear.
 While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to some embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various other changes in the form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.