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Publication numberUS20070039109 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/503,566
Publication dateFeb 22, 2007
Filing dateAug 11, 2006
Priority dateAug 11, 2005
Also published asEP1921945A2, WO2007021916A2, WO2007021916A3
Publication number11503566, 503566, US 2007/0039109 A1, US 2007/039109 A1, US 20070039109 A1, US 20070039109A1, US 2007039109 A1, US 2007039109A1, US-A1-20070039109, US-A1-2007039109, US2007/0039109A1, US2007/039109A1, US20070039109 A1, US20070039109A1, US2007039109 A1, US2007039109A1
InventorsPuneet Nanda
Original AssigneePuneet Nanda
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toothbrush
US 20070039109 A1
Abstract
Disclosed herein are toothbrushes. The toothbrushes are self-standing and are oriented in an upright position when resting on a support surface. In some arrangements, the toothbrush can have a stamp. A closure of the toothbrush can be removed to expose the stamp. The toothbrush has an ink source that deposits ink on the stamp. A receiving stand configured to receive the lower portion of the toothbrush can maintain the toothbrush in a generally vertical orientation.
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Claims(22)
1. A toothbrush comprising:
an upper portion having a plurality of bristles configured to clean teeth; and
a lower portion being removably coupled to the upper portion, wherein when the lower portion is separated from the upper portion, a stamp is exposed.
2. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the stamp is coupled to the upper portion.
3. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the stamp is coupled to the lower portion.
4. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein at least one of the lower portion and the upper portion comprises an ink source.
5. The toothbrush of claim 4, wherein the ink source comprises an ink pad or an ink reservoir.
6. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the lower portion is a rounded closure.
7. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the toothbrush is a self-standing toothbrush that moves to a generally upright position when the toothbrush is placed upon a support surface.
8. The toothbrush of claim 1, wherein the upper portion comprises a handle.
9. The toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising a stand member, said stand member configured to receive the lower portion and maintain the toothbrush in a substantially vertical position.
10. The toothbrush of claim 9, wherein the stand member comprises at least one support member.
11. The toothbrush of claim 1, further comprising at least one illumination circuit, said illumination circuit comprising at least one lighting element and a switch.
12. The toothbrush of claim 11, wherein the illumination circuit further comprises a timing circuit.
13. A self-standing toothbrush comprising:
a toothbrush head comprising a plurality of cleaning elements; and
a body having an upper end and a bottom, the head being coupled to the upper end of the body, the bottom is configured such that the toothbrush assumes a neutral position when gravity acts on the toothbrush resting on a support surface.
14. The toothbrush of claim 13, wherein the bottom is sufficiently heavy to cause the toothbrush to bias to a generally upright position when the toothbrush is placed on a generally flat support surface.
15. The toothbrush of claim 13, further comprising a base on which the toothbrush is configured to be positioned,
wherein the bottom comprises at least one magnet and the base comprises at least one repelling magnet to cause the toothbrush to bias to a generally upright position when the toothbrush is placed on the base.
16. The toothbrush of claim 13, wherein the bottom comprises a closure that is temporarily coupled to a body-mounting portion of the body, when the closure is separated from the body-mounting portion a stamp is exposed, when the closure is attached to the body-mounting portion the stamp is covered.
17. The toothbrush of claim 13, further comprising at least one illumination circuit, said illumination circuit comprising at least one lighting element and a switch.
18. The toothbrush of claim 17, wherein the illumination circuit further comprises a timing circuit.
19. A stand member configured to receive and support a toothbrush in a generally vertical position, said stand member comprising:
a shell portion comprising an internal space into which a toothbrush can be positioned; and
at least one support member attached to the shell portion and configured to maintain the position of the stand member on a generally flat surface.
20. The stand member of claim 19, wherein the at least one support member is shaped like a foot.
21. The stand member of claim 19, wherein the shell comprises at least one opening.
22. The toothbrush of claim 19, further comprising at least one illumination circuit, said illumination circuit comprising at least one lighting element and a switch.
Description
PRIORITY INFORMATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/707,388, filed Aug. 11, 2005, and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/709,215, filed Aug. 18, 2005, both herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present inventions relate to dental hygiene and, more particularly, to toothbrushes.

2. Description of the Related Art

To ensure proper oral care, dentists recommend that we brush our teeth more than once a day for at least two to three minutes each time. Despite this recommendation, the average adult person does not brush his or her teeth for two to three minutes. This problem is worse with children, who have notoriously short attention spans and often view brushing their teeth as a chore. Accordingly, there is a general need for a device that encourages people, specially children, to brush their teeth more often and for longer periods of time. See e.g., U.S. Patent Publication No. 2004-0143920, filed Jan. 24, 2003 and published on Jul. 29, 2004, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In some embodiments, a self-standing toothbrush comprises a stamp. The stamp is configured to leave an impression on a surface. In some arrangements, the stamp is unexposed when the toothbrush is in a first position. When the toothbrush is in a second position, the stamp can be exposed for stamping. In some arrangements, a closure is used to cover and conceal the stamp. The first position can correspond to when the closure is attached to the toothbrush. The second position can correspond to when the closure is separated from the toothbrush. In some arrangements, the toothbrush comprises an ink source. Ink from the ink source can be deposited on the stamp.

In some embodiments, a toothbrush comprises an upper portion and a lower portion. The lower portion is removably coupled to the upper portion. When the lower portion is separated from the upper portion, a stamp is exposed. The stamp can be coupled to the upper portion. Alternatively, the stamp can be coupled to the lower portion. In some embodiments, lower portion is a closure. The stamp can be concealed when the closure is attached to the upper portion.

In some embodiments, the toothbrush further includes a stand member which is configured to receive the lower portion of the toothbrush and maintain it in a substantially vertical position. In another embodiment, the stand member includes at least one support member.

In some embodiments, the toothbrush further includes one or more illumination circuits. The illumination circuits can include a lighting element, a switch, a timing circuit, a resistor, a power supply and/or the like.

In some embodiments, a toothbrush comprises a head that includes a plurality of cleaning elements. A body of the toothbrush has an upper end and a bottom. The head is coupled to the upper end of the body. The bottom is configured such that the toothbrush assumes a neutral position, when gravity acts on the toothbrush resting on a support surface. In some embodiments, the toothbrush is a self-standing toothbrush. In other embodiments, the toothbrush further includes one or more illumination circuits. The illumination circuits can include a lighting element, a switch, a timing circuit, a resistor, a power supply and/or the like.

In some embodiments, the toothbrush further comprises a base on which the toothbrush is configured to be positioned. The bottom of the toothbrush and the base include magnets which are configured to repel each other so as to bias the toothbrush in generally upright position when the toothbrush is placed on the base.

In some embodiments, a toothbrush has a stamp configured to make an impression. The toothbrush can have an ink supply that can deliver ink to the stamp. The stamp can be used before, during, and/or after the toothbrush is utilized.

In some embodiments, a stand member is configured to receive and support a toothbrush in a generally vertical position. The stand member may include a shell portion having an internal space into which a toothbrush can be positioned and one or more support members, attached to the shell portion and configured to maintain the position of the stand member on a generally flat surface. In other embodiments, the support members are shaped like feet. In yet another embodiment, the shell of the stand member includes at least one opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention are decsribed with reference to drawings of certain preferred embodiments, which are intended to illustrate, but not to limit, the present invention. The drawings include twenty-one (21) figures. It is to be understood that the attached drawings are for the purpose of illustrating concepts of the present invention and may not be to scale.

FIG. 1 is an elevation front view of a self-standing toothbrush;

FIG. 1A is an elevation front view of a self-standing toothbrush in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a body of the toothbrush of FIG. 1, wherein the body has a stamp;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the toothbrush of FIG. 1 taken along a line 3-3;

FIG. 4 illustrates the toothbrush of FIG. 1 resting on a support surface, the toothbrush is in an oblique position;

FIG. 5 illustrates the toothbrush of FIG. 4 in a generally upright position;

FIG. 6A is an elevation side view of a bottom of a toothbrush in accordance with another embodiment;

FIG. 6B is an elevation side view of a bottom of a toothbrush in accordance with yet another embodiment;

FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional view of a toothbrush having a removable closure with a stamp;

FIG. 7B is a perspective view of the closure of FIG. 7A;

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of a toothbrush having a removable closure;

FIG. 8B is a perspective view of the toothbrush of FIG. 8, wherein the closure has been removed;

FIG. 8C is another perspective view of the toothbrush of FIG. 8A;

FIG. 9A is an elevation front view of a toothbrush with a receiving stand according to one embodiment;

FIG. 9B is an elevation front view of the self-standing toothbrush and receiving stand of FIG. 9A;

FIG. 9C is an elevation side view of the toothbrush and receiving stand of FIG. 9B taken along section 9C-9C;

FIG. 10 is an elevation front view of a toothbrush with a receiving stand according to another embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a schematic of an illumination circuit for a toothbrush according to one embodiment;

FIG. 12A is a perspective view of an illumination circuit without a power supply according to one embodiment;

FIG. 12B is a bottom view of the illumination circuit of FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12C is a top perspective view of the illumination circuit of FIG. 12A; and

FIG. 13 is a side view of one embodiment of a toothbrush grip portion and the illumination circuit of FIG. 12A.

NOTICE OF MATERIAL SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to (copyright or mask work) protection. The (copyright or mask work) owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any-one of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all (copyright or mask work) rights whatsoever.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a self-standing toothbrush 40 that is in a generally upright position on a support surface 44. The toothbrush 40 comprises a toothbrush head 48, a body 50, and a closure 60 attached temporarily to the body 50. The closure 60 is configured so that the toothbrush 40 assumes a preferred position (e.g., a neutral position) when the toothbrush 40 rests on the support surface 44. A stamp is concealed when the closure 60 is attached to the body 50. However, the closure 60 can be removed from the body 50 to expose the stamp 70 (FIG. 2). The stamp 70 can be used to place ink onto a surface before, during, and/or after a person brushes with the toothbrush 40. For example, after a person (e.g., a child) brushes their teeth, the person can stamp their skin to indicate that they have brushed their teeth. A child can stamp their skin to indicate that they have brushed their teeth. A parent can use the presence or absence of the stamp on the child's skin to determine whether the child has brushed their teeth. Additionally, the stamping process can increase enjoyment of the brushing process.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, the head 48 can comprise a plurality of cleaning elements 74 configured to clean a person's teeth. The toothbrush head 48 is integrally mounted to the body 50, which extends downwardly and is attached to the closure 60. The illustrated cleaning elements 74 are in the form of a plurality of bristles extending from a mounting head 76. The bristles 74 are fixedly coupled to the mounting head 76. However, the bristles 74 can also be rotatably mounted to the mounting head 76. For example, the toothbrush 40 can be an automatic toothbrush (e.g., a motorized toothbrush) that rotates the bristles 74 when turned ON. The toothbrush can comprise a power source, motor (e.g., an electric motor), a drive mechanism, etc. for rotating the bristles 74. The power source can comprise one or more batteries, a power outlet, or other power supply that power an automatic toothbrush. For the sake of convenience, the illustrated toothbrush 40 is a manual toothbrush.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, the body 50 extends from the mounting head 76 to the closure 60 and comprises one or more decorative elements 66. In the illustrated embodiment, the decorative element 66 comprises a chamber 100 that can contain one or more fluids. In other embodiments, the decorative element may include two or more chambers. The illustrated chamber 100 contains a first fluid 102 and a second fluid 104. The first fluid 102 has a different density and color than the first fluid 104, such that the fluids 102, 104 separate to form somewhat discrete layer, each having a different color. When the toothbrush 40 is moved, the fluids 102, 104 can mix and produce an eye-catching mixture. The mixing effect can encourage a person to brush their teeth. Any number of fluids of any color can be contained within the chamber 100. However, the toothbrush 40 may not have a chamber in some embodiments. For example, the body 50 can be of a solid construction.

One or more decorative members 106 can extend through the chamber 100 and is surrounded by the fluids 102, 104. The illustrated decorative member 106 comprises an elongated member upon which a character, in the form of a bird, is mounted. It will be appreciated, however, that one or more other decorative members, such as for example, other animals, cartoon characters and the like, can be included in the chamber 100, either in lieu of or in addition to the illustrated bird. In other embodiments, the decorative member 106 can include text, a logo, a symbol, an identifier and/or other type of graphic. For example, the manufacturer's name and/or trademark may be included in the chamber 100. In another embodiment, the decorative member 106 may comprise text identifying a user's name. In yet other embodiments, the user may be allowed to freely customize the toothbrush by removing or installing one or more decorative members 106. Any number of decorative members can be positioned within the body 50. In some embodiments, the decorative member comprises one or more lighting elements that can be activated for a desired length of time. The illustrated toothbrush 40 has a single lighting element 107.

One or more lighting elements or other sensory devices, such as, for example, audible members, vibrating members, articulating members or the like, can be activated at any time. For example, the lighting element 107 of the toothbrush 40 can be activated when the toothbrush 40 is moved, such as during normal brushing. Alternatively, the lighting elements can be activated when the toothbrush 40 undergoes a target temperature change or is exposed to a fluid, such as water. In some embodiments, the lighting elements are activated when the closure 60 is removed, the stamp 70 is pressed against a surface, or a switch is moved to an ON position.

The lighting element can remain activated for a desired length of time, preferably corresponding to a desired brush period. The lighting element can effectively function as a timer to ensure that a person utilizes the toothbrush 40 for a target period of time.

The lighting element 107 can comprise a light source (e.g., a diode) powered by a power source (e.g., a battery). The lighting element can pulse, remain continuously activated for the entire brushing period, or have a programmed sequence of activation. The lighting element can be activated to make brushing more enjoyable.

The lighting elements can be positioned within the closure 60, coupled to the decorative element 66 (illustrated), in the fluid contained in the chamber 100, within the body 50, or so at any other suitable location for a lighting element.

FIG. 1A illustrates a toothbrush in accordance with another embodiment. A lighting element 107A is positioned proximate to the closure 60. The illustrated lighting element 107A is positioned above the stamp (see FIG. 2) and can blink as desired. In some embodiments, when the closure 60 is removed, the lighting element 107A blinks for a target length of time. The lighting element 107 illuminates at least a portion of the body 50, such as the fluid 102 in the chamber 100. The fluid 102 can be an oil or other suitable liquid for illumination.

For purposes of powering, controlling and/or effecting the lighting element 107 or other sensory device, the toothbrush 40 includes one or more illumination circuits. In some embodiments, an illumination circuit can be positioned within the chamber 100 or any other location of the toothbrush 40.

As illustrated schematically in FIG. 11, the illumination circuit 80 includes a lighting element 107 (or sensory element), a resistor 82, a timing circuit 84 and a power source 86. The illumination circuit 80 may also include a switch 87. These parts are preferably joined by conductors, which may serve structural functions. FIGS. 12A-12C show one embodiment of an illuminating member conductor 88 that provides a support structure extending the lighting element 107 a distance away from the timing circuit 84. The negative terminal conductor 90 is a spring which presses against the power source 86 (FIG. (13). The positive terminal conductor 92 extends away from the timing circuit 84 to embrace one or more. For example, in one embodiment, the positive terminal conductor 92 embraces three batteries. The positive terminal conductor 92 may also be also sized to stabilize the illumination circuit 80 within one or more enclosures located within the body of the toothbrush.

In one embodiment, the lighting element 107 is a light emitting diode (LED). Alternatively, the lighting element 107 can be an incandescent lightbulb or any other device capable of providing illumination and/or other sensory output.

In a preferred embodiment, the power source 86 includes one or more batteries (e.g., micro cell model number G3-ACNB). For example, three batteries can be placed in serial within the space defined by negative terminal conductor 90 and positive terminal conductor 92 (FIG. 13). In some embodiments, the timing circuit 84 functions to illuminate the lighting element 107 for approximately 60 seconds. The lighting element 107 can also be configured to blink intermittently for the time period during which it is activated. Alternately, the lighting element 107 or other sensory output may remain activated continuously. It will also be appreciated that the time period during which the lighting element 107 remains activated may be less or more than 60 seconds.

As illustrated in FIG. 13, the grip portion 94 of the toothbrush body 50 may comprise a flexible material. Preferably, the grip portion 94 also functions as a switch. Thus, as shown in the depicted embodiment, the grip portion 94 may include an extending piece or switch 96 of flexible material. Such a piece 96 moves the positive terminal metal conductor 92 so that it contacts the power source 86. Alternatively, the piece 96 may move the power source 86 so that it contacts the positive terminal metal conductor 92. Consequently, the piece 94 moves the illumination circuit 80 from an unilluminated position to a luminated position. The grip portion 94 can be made of a flexible material (e.g., rubber, soft plastic, etc.). Alternatively, the grip portion 94 may be constructed of one or more hard materials, but may have a flexible portion that may be used to engage the positive terminal conductor 92 to contact the power source 86.

The illustrated decorative element 66 floats in the fluid 102. Any number of decorative elements can be utilized. For example, the toothbrush 40 can contain at least three decorative elements floating in the fluid 102. In other embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the fluid may include a plurality of “snow” elements 68 that move within the one or more chambers 100 of the toothbrush. The “snow” elements 68 are preferably configured to easily move within the chambers 100 when the toothbrush is used or handled, such as for example, when a user is brushing his or her teeth. As depicted, the “snow” elements 68 have a generally square shape. However, it will be appreciated that the “snow” elements 68 may have any other shape, either in lieu of or in addition to square. For example, the “snow” elements 68 may include a rectangular, circular, triangular, star-shaped, elongated and/or other shape. The “snow” elements 68 may be manufactured from plastic, ceramic, sand and/or other durable materials.

With reference again to FIG. 1, the body 50 can comprise any material suitable for forming a toothbrush 40. Transparent materials can be utilized so as to permit a person to view the fluids 102, 104, and the elongated member 106. For example, the body 50 can comprise a somewhat clear hard plastic that can be formed, for example, by a molding process (e.g., an injection molding process, a compression molding process, etc.). Alternatively, the toothbrush can comprise opaque materials. The body 50 can comprise polymers, metals, combinations thereof, or other materials having suitable mechanical properties for forming the body 50. The illustrated body 50 is a handle that can be conveniently gripped to hold the toothbrush 40.

The closure 60 is removably coupled to the body 50 and forms a bottom 200 of the toothbrush 40. As used herein, the term “closure” is a broad term and is used in its ordinary meaning and includes, without limitation, a cap, a cover, or other structure that can be attached to the body 50. The somewhat rounded closure 60 provides a self-standing toothbrush 40. When the toothbrush 40 is not used, the toothbrush 40 can be in a neutral orientation (e.g., an upright position) when it rests on a support surface 44, such as a bathroom countertop. The closure 60 can cover and conceal the stamp 70. When a person cleans their teeth with the toothbrush 40, the closure 60 can remain attached to the body 50. At any time the closure 60 can be removed to use the stamp 70.

When the closure 60 is separated from the body 50, the stamp 70 is exposed as shown in FIG. 2. The stamp 70 can comprise one or more indicia 110 that are configured to make a stamp image when the stamp 70 is pressed on a surface, such as a person's skin. As used herein, the term “stamp” is a broad term and is used in its ordinary meaning and includes, without limitation, self-inking stamps, pre-inked stamps, stamps for use with separate inkpads, roller stamps, and other type of stamps for making an image. The stamp 70 may or may not be interchangeable with another stamp. A single toothbrush 40 can be used in combination with a single stamp or a plurality of stamps. The stamp can comprise rubber, polymers, or other material suitable for forming a stamp.

With continued reference to FIG. 2, the indicium 110 can comprise one or more of the following: a character (illustrated), text, a pattern, a symbol, a picture, or other stamping feature(s), as are known in the art. In some embodiments, the stamp 70 comprises indicia 110 in the form of text. For example, the indicia 110 can comprise text that indicates that a person has brushed their teeth. Alternatively, the indicium 110 can be related to the decorative element 66 of the toothbrush 40. In some embodiments, for example, the indicium 110 is a depiction of the decorative elements 66. The indicium 110 can protrude from the stamp 70 as known in the art.

Referring to FIG. 3, the body 50 comprises a body-mounting portion 130 that holds permanently or temporarily the stamp 70. The stamp 70 can be securely attached to a mounting surface 132 of the body-mounting portion 130. Any suitable mounting arrangement can couple the stamp 70 to the body-mounting portion 130. For example, adhesives, mechanical fasteners, press fittings, snap fittings, or other suitable coupling means can be employed to couple securely the stamp 70 to the body-mounting portion 130. In some embodiments, the stamp 70 is temporarily attached to the body-mounting portion 130. The stamp 70 can be removed and replaced with another stamp. Alternatively, the stamp 70 can be monolithically formed with the body.

In some embodiments, the closure 60 is temporarily secured to the body-mounting portion 130. A closure-mounting portion 140 of the closure 60 is releasably coupled to the body-mounting portion 130 of the body 50. The closure-mounting portion 140 can have threads that are configured to mate with corresponding threads of the body-mounting portion 130. As such, the closure 60 can be screwed on and off of the body 50 as desired.

Alternatively, the closure-mounting portion 140 and the body-mounting portion 130 can each have snap coupling structure. The closure 60 can be conveniently snapped on and off of the body 50. It is contemplated that the body-mounting portion 130 and the closure-mounting portion 140 can have any suitable arrangement for temporarily securing the closure 60 to the body 50.

The closure 60 can have an ink source 144 that is positioned and configured to deposit ink on the stamp 70. When the closure 60 is attached to the body-mounting portion 130 as illustrated, the stamp 70 can press against the ink source 144 so that ink is deposited on the stamp 70. The closure 60 can be removed to expose the inked stamp 70. The outwardly facing indicium or indicia 110 can be pressed against a surface to leave an image.

The ink source 144 can be in the form of an inkpad preferably containing ink. Non-limiting exemplary ink sources 144 can also include ink sponges, ink reservoirs, or other suitable ink storage devices. The type and location of the ink source 144 can be selected based on the type of stamp employed. The ink source 144 may or may not be refillable and/or replaceable.

The illustrated ink source 144 mates with the outwardly facing surface of the stamp 70. However, the ink source 144 can be positioned within the body-mounting portion 130 to supply ink to the stamp 70 in the form of a self-inking stamp. To make each impression, the ink source 144 re-inks the self-inking stamp 70. The toothbrush 40 may have an actuating mechanism to move the stamp 70 into engagement with the ink source 144. Alternatively, the stamp 70 can be a pre-inked stamp, wherein the ink source 144 is a reservoir of ink positioned behind the stamp 70. Ink from the reservoir 144 can saturate the stamp 70. Ink is deposited by the stamp 70 to make an impression on a surface.

The ink source 144 can be at any suitable location for delivering ink to the stamp 70 and can contain permanent ink, temporary ink, quick dry ink, or other suitable ink for use with a stamp. In some embodiments, the toothbrush does not have an ink source. For example, the stamp 70 can be used with a separate ink pad that is not attached to the toothbrush.

A kit can be provided with one or more of the following: instructions for use, a toothbrush, a stamp, and an ink source. Packaging can be provided to hold the components of the kit. The stamp and the ink pad may or may not be attached to the toothbrush. In some embodiments, the kit comprises an assortment of stamps, each configured to produce a different image.

With respect again to FIG. 1, the toothbrush 40 can have the bottom 200 and a weight distribution such that the toothbrush is self-standing. When the toothbrush 40 is in a non-neutral position (FIG. 4), the toothbrush moves, as indicated by the arrow 202, from the non-neutral position to the neutral position (FIG. 5). The toothbrush 40 has a neutral position corresponding to a generally upright position when the toothbrush 40 rests on a surface, the toothbrush biases towards its neutral position. However, the toothbrush 40 can be in order orientations when it is occupying its neutral position. The bottom 200 can be weighted and contoured to ensure that the toothbrush 40 occupies a neutral position when an external force is not applied to the toothbrush 40.

With reference again to FIG. 3, the closure 60 can include one or more self-standing weights 210 that are preferably positioned near the bottom surface 212. The illustrated bottom surface 212 forms a generally rounded closure 60 that can easily roll along a support surface. The weight 210 can comprise a relatively dense material, such as metal (e.g., steel, iron, lead, etc.) or other somewhat dense materials. As such, when the toothbrush 40 is in the non-neutral position, gravity can act on the weight 210 to move the toothbrush 40 to its neutral position. The mass, position, material density, and other properties of the weight 210 or bottom 200 can be selected to achieve a desired center of gravity of the toothbrush 40. The location of the center of gravity of the toothbrush 40 and the closure configuration can be selected to result in a self-standing toothbrush 40.

Those of skill in the art will appreciate that the self-standing features described herein may be incorporated into a toothbrush that does not include a stamp. Further, the self-standing features may be included in a toothbrush that does not comprise a grip configured to activate a lighting element or other sensory device. Thus, in some embodiments, a simple toothbrush that does not include a stamp, a character and/or an illuminating member may be configured to assume a generally upright position when the toothbrush rests on a surface.

The bottom surface of the toothbrush can define a partially spherical surface. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 6A, the closure 197 has a bottom surface 198 that has a generally flat portion 199. FIG. 6B illustrates a closure 209 that comprises a plurality of curved surfaces 215, 217, 219, 221, 223. Any number of curved surface, flat surfaces, and combinations thereof can be utilized for a desired neutral position.

Alternatively, the toothbrush can be configured to assume a vertical neutral position by using one or more magnetic members. In some embodiments, the toothbrush can include one or more magnets of a first polarity near its bottom portion, such as, for example, at or in the vicinity of the closure 60 (FIG. 3). A first portion of the support structure 44 on which the toothbrush rests may include one or more magnets of a second polarity, opposite of the first polarity, so as to create an attractive magnetic force between the toothbrush and the this first portion of the support structure 44. In addition, the support structure 44 can include an area surrounding the first portion that includes one or more magnets of a first polarity that repels the magnets situated on the toothbrush. In one embodiment, this surrounding area of the support member 44 may be a circular magnetic ring that concentrically and continuously surrounds the first portion of the support structure 44. Thus, the support structure 44 can be a dedicated plate on which the toothbrush can be placed. The resulting repelling magnetic forces between the support structure 44 and the toothbrush act to maintain the toothbrush in a vertical or substantially vertical orientation.

FIGS. 7A and 7B depict another embodiment of the toothbrush, which may be generally similar to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-6B, except as further detailed below. Where possible, similar elements are identified with identical reference numerals in the depiction of the embodiments of FIGS. 1-6B.

The closure 260 comprises the stamp 270. The stamp 270 engages an ink source 280 positioned adjacent the stamp 270. To use a stamp 270, a user can pull the closure 260 from the body-mounting portion 130, and the stamp 270 can be pressed against a surface to leave an impression. It is contemplated that ink can be deposited on the stamp 270 in any manner.

FIGS. 8A-8C illustrate a toothbrush 300 that is not self-standing. In the illustrated embodiment, the toothbrush 300 comprises a first portion 301 and a second portion 302. The first portion 301 is releasably coupled to the second portion 302. When the first portion 301 is separated from the second portion 302, a stamp 310 is exposed. As shown in FIGS. 8B and 8C, the stamp 310 is attached to the first portion 301. Alternatively, the stamp can be attached to the second portion 302, although not illustrated.

The illustrated second portion 302 is generally in the form of a closure configured to cover the stamp 310. The second portion 302 can be moved away from the first portion 301, as indicated by the arrow 312 of FIG. 8B. Then user can then stamp a surface, such as the back of their hand, to make an impression thereon. After the user has used the stamp, the second portion 302 can be reattached to the first portion 301. The toothbrush 300 can be used to repeatedly make any number of impressions on any surface.

In FIG. 9A, the bottom portion of the toothbrush 40 is configured to fit within a receiving stand 410. In the illustrated embodiment, the receiving stand 410 includes two support members 420 that contact the support structure 44. The receiving stand 410 can be constructed of one or more rigid or semi-rigid materials, such as, for example, plastic, metal or the like. The interior cavity of the shell 414 of the receiving stand 410 is preferably configured to match the exterior shape of the toothbrush base, so as to provide a substantially snug fit. This ensures that the toothbrush will not unnecessarily wobble or otherwise move while positioned within the receiving stand 410. As shown in FIG. 9A, the shell 414 of the receiving stand 410 may include one or more holes 418 along its surface. The holes 418 may provide a decorative and/or a functional purpose. For example, the holes 418 may serve as outlets for air, water or other fluid present within the receiving stand 410 as the toothbrush is being placed in or removed from the receiving stand 410.

In FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9C, the receiving stand 410 includes two support members 420, which are shaped like human feet. Of course, the support members 420 can have any other shape. In addition, a receiving stand 410 may include fewer or more support members 420 than shown in the illustrated embodiments. For example, a single support member 420 may be used. Alternatively, the receiving stand 410 can comprise three or more support members 420. In other embodiments, the receiving stand 410 may not have any support members at all. Instead, the bottom of the receiving stand 410 can be configured to be securely positioned on the support structure 44. Regardless of the exact shape, size, dimensions, materials of construction and other characteristics of the receiving stand 410 and/or the support members 420, the receiving stand 410 is preferably configured to resist tipping when the toothbrush 40 is positioned within it.

The various methods and techniques described above provide a number of ways to carry out the invention. Of course, it is to be understood that not necessarily all objectives or advantages described may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment described herein. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the methods may be performed in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objectives or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

Furthermore, the skilled artisan will recognize the interchangeability of various features from different embodiments disclosed herein. The toothbrushes may or may not be self-standing and may or may not comprise a stamp. For example, the toothbrushes described herein can be self-standing without a stamp. In some embodiments, the stamp is positioned along a side of the toothbrush. The toothbrushes can have any number of stamps at any suitable location along the toothbrush. Other types of brushes can be self-standing and/or comprise a stamp. For example, the brushes described above can be modified to form hair brushes. Alternatively, the stamp can be attached to other hygiene products, such as flossers, containers (e.g., mouthwash containers), picks, interdental brushes, or other hygiene products, including, but not limited to, dental products.

Similarly, the various features and steps discussed above, as well as other known equivalents for each such feature or step, can be mixed and matched by one of ordinary skill in this art to perform methods in accordance with principles described herein. Additionally, the methods which is described and illustrated herein is not limited to the exact sequence of acts described, nor is it necessarily limited to the practice of all of the acts set forth. Other sequences of events or acts, or less than all of the events, or simultaneous occurrence of the events, may be utilized in practicing the embodiments of the invention.

Although the invention has been disclosed in the context of certain embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited by the specific disclosures of preferred embodiments herein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7527446 *Jun 1, 2005May 5, 2009The Procter & Gamble CompanyChildren's combination toothbrush and toothpaste dispenser, and method
US8006342Apr 12, 2007Aug 30, 2011Dr. Fresh, Inc.Illuminated flashing toothbrush and method of use
US8011054Jan 16, 2009Sep 6, 2011Dr. Fresh, Inc.Illuminated flashing toothbrush and method of use
US8327491Jan 13, 2012Dec 11, 2012Children Oral Care, LlcIlluminated flashing toothbrush and method of use
US8413286May 11, 2011Apr 9, 2013Dr. Fresh, LlcIlluminated flashing toothbrush and method of use
US8424144May 11, 2011Apr 23, 2013Dr. Fresh, LlcIlluminated flashing toothbrush and method of use
US8484793Nov 10, 2008Jul 16, 2013Children Oral Care, LlcToothbrush and method of use
WO2014062647A1 *Oct 15, 2013Apr 24, 2014Kleen Maid, Inc.Rocker brush assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification15/105, 15/167.1, 15/143.1
International ClassificationA46B9/04
Cooperative ClassificationA46B15/0097, A46B2200/1066, A46B15/0089, A46B15/0055, A46B5/00, B41F17/001, A46B15/0087
European ClassificationA46B15/00F, A46B15/00K, A46B15/00E, A46B5/00, A46B15/00C, B41F17/00A