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Publication numberUS20070049434 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/257,375
Publication dateMar 1, 2007
Filing dateOct 24, 2005
Priority dateAug 29, 2005
Publication number11257375, 257375, US 2007/0049434 A1, US 2007/049434 A1, US 20070049434 A1, US 20070049434A1, US 2007049434 A1, US 2007049434A1, US-A1-20070049434, US-A1-2007049434, US2007/0049434A1, US2007/049434A1, US20070049434 A1, US20070049434A1, US2007049434 A1, US2007049434A1
InventorsMichael Maziarz, Ronald LaLiberty
Original AssigneeRussell Asset Management, Inc., Sgg Patents Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Game ball
US 20070049434 A1
Abstract
A game ball, such as a basketball, having 2 to 7 panels defined by one or more non-intersecting channels is described herein.
Images(20)
Previous page
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Claims(22)
1. An inflatable basketball comprising a surface, at least one channel, and a plurality of panels;
wherein no channel intersects with another channel;
and wherein the basketball has at least two but not more than seven panels.
2. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein more than half of the channels each form a closed loop extending between a right side of the ball and a left side of the ball.
3. The inflatable basketball of claim 2, wherein each of the channels forms a closed loop extending between the right side and the left side.
4. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein a plurality of panels extends from a right side of the ball to a left side of the ball.
5. The inflatable basketball of claim 4, wherein a plurality of panels extend from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball.
6. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has seven panels.
7. The inflatable basketball of claim 6, wherein one panel lies wholly within a right end of the ball and one panel lies wholly within a left end of the ball.
8. The inflatable basketball of claim 7, wherein a plurality of panels extend from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball.
9. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has six panels.
10. The inflatable basketball of claim 8, wherein a plurality of panels extend from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball and a plurality of panels extend from a right side of the ball to a left side of the ball.
11. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has five panels.
12. The inflatable basketball of claim 11, wherein a plurality of panels extend from a right side of the ball to a left side of the ball.
13. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has four panels.
14. The inflatable basketball of claim 13, wherein one channel runs along an equator of the ball.
15. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has three panels.
16. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the basketball has two panels.
17. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein a plurality of panels have substantially the same shape and dimensions.
18. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein the panels are uniformly placed on the surface of the ball.
19. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein one panel lies wholly within a right end of the ball and one panel lies wholly within a left end of the ball.
20. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein each panel occupies a circumferential arc that is about a multiple of 45 when viewed from a left side or a right side.
21. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein each panel comprises a material selected from the group consisting of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, rubber, and a composite material.
22. The inflatable basketball of claim 1, wherein each panel has a pebbled texture.
Description
    FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • [0001]
    The present disclosure relates, in various exemplary embodiments, to an improved game ball, especially a basketball. More particularly, the disclosure is directed to an inflatable sports ball or game ball, such as a basketball, which has at least two, but no more than seven panels, and non-intersecting channels or ribs.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Inflatable game balls can be produced by several different processes. In particular, a basketball comprises a multi-layer structure which includes a generally spherical interior air bladder which is wound with monofilament strands to create a winding layer overlying the air bladder. A carcass is then formed, or molded, over the winding layer.
  • [0003]
    The carcass is of substantially uniform thickness defining a spherical outer surface with a carcass circumference. Ribs project outwardly from, and extend curvilinearly around, the carcass outer surface. Typically, each rib is raised about 0.75-1.50 mm above the surface of the carcass.
  • [0004]
    The ribs define a plurality of separated surface areas or panels. Generally, the carcass is divided into eight panel surface areas. Panels may be laminated onto the outer surface of the carcass in the separated surface areas. The thickness of the panels is typically greater than the thickness of the ribs, so that the ribs, while projecting above the carcass surface, are slightly recessed below the panel exterior surface. The edge portions of the panels may be beveled or “skived” so that the panel edge will be flush with the projecting carcass rib when laminated.
  • [0005]
    When finished, the laminated basketball has a spherical shape, with each carcass rib and opposing skived panel edge portions defining a channel or a seam. Typically, the channel or seam is 4.75-9.52 mm wide. The exact size or shape of this area can be varied, according to performance and aesthetic considerations.
  • [0006]
    The construction of a basketball as described above generally results in a ball exhibiting substantially uniform characteristics such as grip, feel, hardness, abrasion resistance, durability, resilience, compressibility, etc. In particular, the channel on a basketball generally enhances the player's ability to grip the ball. However, where channels intersect, there is a large smooth spot which reduces the player's ability to grip the ball and also affects the rebound of the ball. Basketballs known in the art generally have three channels or ribs which intersect with each other and eight panels.
  • [0007]
    A basketball generally has a circumference of 72 to 77 centimeters and a weight of 510 to 624 grams. It is inflated at pressures of 7 to 9 psi. By way of comparison, a volleyball has a circumference of 65 to 67 centimeters and a weight of 260 to 280 grams. It is inflated at pressures of 4.3 to 4.6 psi. Under NCAA specifications, a volleyball must have 12 or more panels and at least one-third of its surface must be white or light in color. A water polo ball has a circumference of 65 to 71 centimeters and a weight of 400 to 450 grams. It is inflated at pressures of 12 to 14 psi. Under NCAA specifications, a water polo ball must be yellow or gold in color. The panels on a volleyball and water polo ball are both defined by intersecting channels. A soccer ball has a circumference of 68 to 71 centimeters and a weight of 397 to 475 grams. It is inflated at pressures of 8.8 to 16.2 psi. A soccer ball typically has 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons. Separately, no hexagon or pentagon will extend between a left end and a right end of the ball. As a group, not all hexagons/pentagons will extend between a right side and a left side of the ball.
  • [0008]
    A tennis ball is much smaller in size compared to a basketball. Under International Tennis Federation rules, a tennis ball has a diameter of 6.5 cm to 7.3 cm and a weight of 65.0 to 594 grams. The outer cover of a tennis ball is made of fabric and must be yellow or white. Though containing an air bladder and inflated, a tennis ball is not inflatable by the user. A baseball and softball are also smaller in size compared to a basketball. Per NCAA and MLB specifications, a baseball has a circumference of 22 to 24 centimeters and a weight of 141 to 149 grams. It is formed by winding yarn around a small core, covering with two pieces of horsehide or cowhide, and stitching 108 stitches across the seam. Per NCAA specifications, a softball has a circumference of 30 to 31 centimeters and a weight of 177 to 199 grams. It is made in generally the same way as a baseball. Baseballs and softballs are also not inflatable.
  • [0009]
    There is a need for a game ball with improved grip, feel, control, and performance, such as a basketball.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION
  • [0010]
    Disclosed herein, in various embodiments, are game balls which have at least two, but no more than seven panels. In specific embodiments, the game ball is a basketball. The basketball comprises a spherical interior air bladder. A winding layer overlies the air bladder. A carcass is then formed over the winding layer. The outer surface of the carcass has one or more non-intersecting ribs which define a plurality of panels. The carcass thickness in the rib is greater than the carcass thickness in the panels. A plurality of panels is provided and each panel is placed in a panel area. The basketball has at least one right side and at least one left side. The basketball also has one or more non-intersecting channels. The basketball has at least two, but no more than seven panels.
  • [0011]
    In an exemplary embodiment, the basketball has seven panels. In specific embodiments, one panel is located wholly within a right end of the ball and one panel is located wholly within a left end of the ball. In other specific embodiments, four panels are uniformly placed around the surface of the ball.
  • [0012]
    In another exemplary embodiment, the basketball has six panels. In specific embodiments, a plurality of panels extend from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball and a plurality of panels extend from a right side of the ball to a left side of the ball.
  • [0013]
    In another exemplary embodiment, the basketball has five panels. In one embodiment, four panels are uniformly placed around the surface of the ball. In another embodiment, each panel extends across the surface of the ball from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball.
  • [0014]
    In another exemplary embodiment, the basketball has four panels. In specific embodiments, one channel runs along an equator of the basketball. In other embodiments, the panels are placed uniformly around the basketball. In other embodiments, one panel is located wholly within a right end of the ball and one panel is located wholly within a left end of the ball. In other embodiments, each panel extends across the surface of the ball from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball.
  • [0015]
    In another exemplary embodiment, the basketball has three panels. In specific embodiments, two of the three panels have substantially the same shape and dimensions. Each non-intersecting channel may extend across the surface of the ball between a right side and a left side of the ball.
  • [0016]
    In another exemplary embodiment, the basketball has two panels. In specific embodiments, the two panels have substantially the same shape and dimensions.
  • [0017]
    In other embodiments, the panels are skived and/or follow the tapered surface of the channel, so that the skived panel edge is substantially flush with the exterior face of the rib.
  • [0018]
    In still another embodiment, the panels comprise a material selected from the group consisting of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, rubber, and a composite material. In other embodiments, each panel has a pebbled texture which increases grip.
  • [0019]
    Additional non-limiting features of the disclosure will be described hereinafter and will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0020]
    The following is a brief description of the drawings, which are presented for the purposes of illustrating the exemplary embodiments disclosed herein and not for the purposes of limiting the same.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 1 is a left side view of a prior art basketball.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 2 is a front view of a prior art basketball.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 3 is a right side view of a prior art basketball.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 4 is a left side view of a first exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 5 is a front view of a first exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 6 is a right side view of a first exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 7 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 8 is a left side view of a second exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 9 is a front view of a second exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 10 is a right side view of a second exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 11 is a front right perspective view of a second exemplary seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 12 is a left side view of a first exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 13 is a front view of a first exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 14 is a top view of a first exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 15 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 16 is a left side view of a second exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0037]
    FIG. 17 is a front view of a second exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 18 is a top view of a second exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 19 is a front right perspective view of a second exemplary six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0040]
    FIG. 20 is a left side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 21 is a front view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0042]
    FIG. 22 is a right side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 23 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 24 is a left side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 25 is a front view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0046]
    FIG. 26 is a right side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0047]
    FIG. 27 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 28 is a left side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0049]
    FIG. 29 is a front view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0050]
    FIG. 30 is a right side view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 31 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 32 is a left side view of a first exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0053]
    FIG. 33 is a front view of a first exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 34 is a right side view of a first exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 35 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0056]
    FIG. 36 is a left side view of a second exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0057]
    FIG. 37 is a front view of a second exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0058]
    FIG. 38 is a top view of a second exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0059]
    FIG. 39 is a front right perspective view of a second exemplary four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 40 is a left side view of a first exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 41 is a front view of a first exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0062]
    FIG. 42 is a right side view of a first exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0063]
    FIG. 43 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 44 is a left side view of a second exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0065]
    FIG. 45 is a front view of a second exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0066]
    FIG. 46 is a top view of a second exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0067]
    FIG. 47 is a front right perspective view of a second exemplary three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0068]
    FIG. 48 is a left side view of a first exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0069]
    FIG. 49 is a front view of a first exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0070]
    FIG. 50 is a right side view of a first exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0071]
    FIG. 51 is a front left perspective view of a first exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0072]
    FIG. 52 is a front right perspective view of a first exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0073]
    FIG. 53 is a left side view of a second exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0074]
    FIG. 54 is a front view of a second exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0075]
    FIG. 55 is a right side view of a second exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 56 is a front right perspective view of a second exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0077]
    FIG. 57 is a left side view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0078]
    FIG. 58 is a front view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0079]
    FIG. 59 is a top view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0080]
    FIG. 60 is a right side view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0081]
    FIG. 61 is a rear view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0082]
    FIG. 62 is a bottom view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0083]
    FIG. 63 is a front right perspective view of a third exemplary two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure.
  • [0084]
    FIG. 64 is a left side view of an exemplary five-panel basketball with text according to the present disclosure.
  • [0085]
    FIG. 65 is a front view of an exemplary five-panel basketball with text according to the present disclosure.
  • [0086]
    FIG. 66 is a right side view of an exemplary five-panel basketball with text according to the present disclosure.
  • [0087]
    FIG. 67 is a front right perspective view of an exemplary five-panel basketball with text according to the present disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0088]
    A basketball having non-intersecting channels and at least two but no more than seven panels is disclosed in various embodiments.
  • [0089]
    The exemplary embodiments of this disclosure are more particularly described below with reference to the drawings. Although specific terms are used in the following description for clarity, these terms are intended to refer only to the particular structure of the various embodiments selected for illustration in the drawings and not to define or limit the scope of the disclosure. The same reference numerals are used to identify the same structure in different Figures unless specified otherwise. The structures in the Figures are not drawn according to their relative proportions and the drawings should not be interpreted as limiting the disclosure in size or location.
  • [0090]
    FIG. 1 is a left side view of a typical prior art basketball. The basketball 10 is generally spherical and has three ribs or channels 12, 14, and 16. Channel 12 extends longitudinally around an equator of the basketball, channel 16 extends laterally around a second equator of the basketball, and channel 14 is a serpentine channel which has a shape like that of a baseball seam. Channel 14 intersects channel 12 at intersections 20 and 24, while channels 12 and 16 intersect at intersection 22. Eight panels 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, and 44 are defined by the three channels. Other game balls known in the art have more channels and/or panels; e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,752,732 discloses a basketball having nine to twelve panels and/or five channels. Generally speaking, when two channels intersect, they intersect at an angle that is not substantially 180. For example, line segments 50 and 52 meet at intersection 22, but do so at an angle that is substantially 180; therefore, they are considered the same channel, not two different channels. In contrast, channels 12 and 16 meet at a 90 angle at intersection 22; they are considered two different channels. Channels may also be considered as intersecting when they touch each other at some point along their path. In particular, channels do not need to cross each other in order to be considered as intersecting. A channel cannot intersect itself, as for example in a FIG. 8 configuration; this example should be considered as two channels intersecting at a point.
  • [0091]
    FIG. 2 is a front view of the prior art basketball. In this view, panels 40, 42, 44, and 30 are not visible; neither is channel 16. Here, channel 14 extends longitudinally across the surface of the basketball from a left side to a right side and back again, or in other words, it extends across the surface of the basketball between the left side and the right side. Channel 14 extends across the surface of the basketball a total of four times. Channel 12 also extends across the surface of the basketball between the left side and the right side; it does so a total of two times.
  • [0092]
    FIG. 3 is a right side view of the prior art basketball. Here, channel 14 intersects channel 16 at intersections 60 and 64, while channels 12 and 16 intersect at intersection 62.
  • [0093]
    FIGS. 4-7 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. This embodiment of a game ball has seven panels and six non-intersecting channels. In specific embodiments, the game ball is a basketball.
  • [0094]
    FIG. 4 is a left side view of the first exemplary embodiment of a seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. The game ball 80 has four channels 82, 84, 86, and 88. These four channels are each a closed loop extending longitudinally across the surface of the ball from a left side to a right side and back. Each channel defines a panel inside the loop; for example, channel 82 defines panel 90. In FIGS. 4-7, these four panels have been shaded differently in order to distinguish them: panel 90 is triangled; panel 92 is crosshatched; panel 94 has vertical lines, and panel 96 has horizontal lines. Panel 91 is defined by channel 81; here, panel 91 is located wholly within a left end of the ball. The area outside the channels also defines a panel; here, panel 98 is defined as the surface area not enclosed by the four channels and is white in FIGS. 4-7. The channels do not intersect; i.e., no channel intersects any other channel.
  • [0095]
    FIG. 5 is a front view of the first exemplary embodiment. In this view, the entire closed loop of channels 82 and 84 can be seen. In this embodiment, the rear view (not shown) is substantially the same as the front view, except of course that different channels and panels are seen. However, the front and rear views do not need to be substantially the same; for example, if there is an odd number of channels or the channels are not symmetrically placed, the views may differ.
  • [0096]
    FIG. 6 is a right side view of the first exemplary embodiment. It differs from FIG. 4 in that panel 93 is defined by channel 83; here, panel 93 is located wholly within a right end of the ball. Again, none of the channels intersect in this view. The left side view and the right side view are essentially the same and appear to be mirror images of each other. This occurs because in this embodiment, the channels are uniformly placed on the surface of the ball around the longitudinal axis of the ball and each panel has substantially the same shape and dimensions. The present disclosure also contemplates embodiments where the panels are not uniformly placed, as later embodiments will show. However, in specific embodiments, the channels are uniformly placed around the surface of the ball.
  • [0097]
    FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the front and the right side of the first exemplary embodiment. None of the channels intersect. Panels 90, 92, 94, and 96 have substantially the same shape and dimensions. In specific embodiments, a plurality of panels will have substantially the same shape and dimensions. However, this does not mean all panels will; e.g., in this embodiment, panel 98 differs in shape from the other six panels. In other specific embodiments, all panels defined by the inside of the closed loop of a channel will differ in shape and dimension.
  • [0098]
    FIGS. 8-11 are four different views of a second exemplary embodiment of a seven-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. This second embodiment differs from the first embodiment shown in FIGS. 4-7 mainly in the size of the panels. However, the differences in panel size give a very different appearance to the basketball. Again, none of the channels intersect each other. In FIG. 9, panel 98 is one panel though it may appear to be two.
  • [0099]
    FIGS. 12-15 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a six-panel basketball to the present disclosure. Here, channel 81 lies along an equator of the basketball. Each of the six panels 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, and 98 extends from a right end of the ball to a left end of the ball. Note that in this embodiment, the front view, shown in FIG. 13, appears very similar to that of FIG. 5. Also note that panel 91 is one panel, though it may appear to be three. Again, none of the channels intersect each other.
  • [0100]
    FIGS. 16-19 are four different views of a second exemplary embodiment of a six-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. From the front view of FIG. 17, the panels appear to be nestled within each other. As can be seen from the top view of FIG. 18, each panel extends from a left side to a right side of the ball, but panels 90 and 95 do not extend to the same left side or the same right side. In specific embodiments, a plurality of panels will extend from a left side to a right side of the ball and a plurality of panels will extend from a left end to a right end of the ball. In more specific embodiments, the basketball has only one right side, one left side, one right end, and one left end. The right side does not necessarily completely overlap the right end, though it may. Again, none of the channels intersect each other.
  • [0101]
    FIGS. 20-23 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Here, the four panels 90, 92, 94, and 96 are of substantially the same shape and dimensions and are uniformly placed across the surface of the ball.
  • [0102]
    FIGS. 24-27 are four different views of a second exemplary embodiment of a five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Here, the five panels have been shaded differently in order to distinguish them: panel 90 is triangled, panel 92 is crosshatched, panel 94 has vertical lines, panel 96 has horizontal lines, and panel 98 is white.
  • [0103]
    FIGS. 28-31 are four different views of a third exemplary embodiment of a five-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. This third embodiment is similar to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 8-11. Panel 94 lies wholly within the left end of the ball and panel 96 lies wholly within the right end of the ball. Panels 90, 92, and 98 each extend from a left end of the ball to a right end of the ball.
  • [0104]
    FIGS. 32-35 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Channel 84 lies along an equator of the ball. Only one channel can lie along an equator, otherwise intersecting channels will result.
  • [0105]
    FIGS. 36-39 are four different views of a second exemplary embodiment of a four-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Note here that the two panels 90 and 96 are not uniformly placed across the surface of the ball in relation to channel 84. This ball therefore does not have a uniform appearance, as can be seen from the front in FIG. 37 and the top in FIG. 38. However, a plane of symmetry can be drawn through this embodiment by which mirror-image halves are obtained. Also, note that panels 90 and 96 have substantially the same shape and dimensions, as do panels 92 and 94.
  • [0106]
    FIGS. 40-43 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. This embodiment has two non-intersecting channels. The basketball 80 has two channels 82 and 84. Each channel is a closed loop extending across the surface of the ball between a left side and a right side of the ball. The shape of each channel is similar to that of a baseball seam. Each channel defines a panel inside the loop; for example, channel 82 defines panel 90. The area outside the channels also defines a panel; here, panel 94 is defined as the surface area not enclosed by the two channels. The two channels do not intersect. From the front view of FIG. 41, panels 90 and 92 do not appear the same, even though they have substantially the same shape and dimensions. Note that in FIGS. 40 and 42, panel 94 may appear to be two different panels, even though it is not.
  • [0107]
    FIGS. 44-47 are four different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a three-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Here, two panels 90 and 92 have substantially the same shape and dimensions.
  • [0108]
    FIGS. 48-52 are five different views of a first exemplary embodiment of a two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. This embodiment of a game ball has only one channel and therefore cannot intersect another channel.
  • [0109]
    FIG. 48 is a left side view of this first exemplary embodiment. The basketball 80 has one serpentine channel 82 which defines two panels 90 and 92. The two panels are offset from each other by approximately 45 and interlock. They also have substantially the same shape and dimensions; however, in other embodiments, the two panels have different shapes and dimensions.
  • [0110]
    FIG. 49 is a front view of this first exemplary embodiment. This view is very similar to the front view of FIG. 25; however, note that here the channel continues down the left side, whereas in FIG. 25 the two channels 82 and 84 are each seen to form a closed loop.
  • [0111]
    FIG. 50 is a right side view of this first exemplary embodiment. This view is rotated approximately 45 compared to the left side view of FIG. 48 and shows that there is only one channel 82.
  • [0112]
    FIG. 51 is a left perspective view showing the front and the left side of the third exemplary embodiment. FIG. 52 is a right perspective view showing the front and the right side of the third exemplary embodiment. The channel 82 extends longitudinally across the surface between a right side and a left side of the ball eight times. Overall, the game ball appears to have eight panels.
  • [0113]
    FIGS. 53-56 are four different views of a second exemplary embodiment of a two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Here, channel 82 follows the same path as serpentine channel 14 of the prior art basketball of FIGS. 1-3. While similar to a baseball seam, one should keep in mind the clear differences between a basketball and baseball.
  • [0114]
    FIGS. 57-63 are seven different views of a third exemplary embodiment of a two-panel basketball according to the present disclosure. Here, the channel 82 runs along nearly half of each of three different equators.
  • [0115]
    In exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, each channel on the basketball is a closed loop running from a left side of the ball to a right side of the ball. In other words, each channel extends across the surface of the ball between a right side and a left side of the ball. The game ball has at least one right side and at least one left side. A right side and left side of the ball can be determined by intersecting a plane with the ball; the plane will separate the ball into a left side and a right side. In specific embodiments, the plane intersects the ball along an equator of the ball. A channel will intersect the plane as many times as it extends between the right and left sides defined by that plane. For example, in the prior art basketball, with reference to FIG. 1, say that the plane in which channel 12 lies defines a right and left side of the ball. Channel 14 extends between the right side and left side four times; it intersects channel 12 at intersections 20, 24, 60, and 64. Similarly, channel 16 extends between the right side and left side only twice; it intersects channel 12 at intersections 22 and 62. In the second exemplary embodiment of a five-panel basketball, with reference to FIG. 24, each channel extends between the right side and left side twice. In the first exemplary embodiment of a three-panel basketball, with reference to FIG. 40, each channel extends between the right side and left side four times. In the first exemplary embodiment of a two-panel basketball, with reference to FIG. 48, the channel extends between the right side and left side eight times. In specific embodiments, a basketball has only one right side and one left side.
  • [0116]
    A right side and left side of the ball can also be determined by intersecting two parallel planes with the ball. The two planes will separate the ball into a right side, middle, and left side. In specific embodiments, the right side of the basketball is located substantially near an end of the ball and the left side of the ball is located substantially near the opposite end of the ball. In this case, the right side and left side are referred to as a right end and a left end. For example, in FIGS. 4-7, panels 90, 92, 94, and 96 extend between a right end and a left end. Panel 91 is located wholly within the left end and panel 93 is located wholly within the right end of the ball. In other specific embodiments, a basketball has only one right end and one left end.
  • [0117]
    Note that because a right end and left end are defined in relation to an end of the ball, whereas a right side and left side are defined in relation to an imaginary plane, a side and an end are not the same thing and need not exactly or completely overlap. In other words, a side and an end do not need to cover exactly the same surface area of the ball.
  • [0118]
    In still another specific embodiment, a basketball has one right side, one left side, one right end, and one left end. The sides and ends are determined by intersecting three parallel planes with the ball. The middle plane defines the right and left sides, while the other two planes define the right end and left end. Note that this means the right end is wholly on the right side of the ball; it cannot be half on the right side and half on the left side.
  • [0119]
    In several of the exemplary embodiments shown, each channel is non-planar. However, in other embodiments, one channel may be planar, i.e. it may be defined by the intersection of a plane with the basketball. In more specific embodiments, the one channel lies along an equator of the basketball.
  • [0120]
    When viewed from a left side or a right side, the circumference of the basketball may be broken up into eight 45 arcs. This corresponds generally to the panels and channels of the traditional eight-panel basketball as seen in FIG. 1. In the exemplary embodiments shown, each panel, when viewed from a left side or a right side, generally occupies at least one arc which is similar to a multiple of 45. For example, in FIG. 4, each panel 90, 92, 94, or 96 occupies an arc of about 45 and panel 98 occupies four separate arcs of about 45 each. As another example, in FIG. 32, panels 90 and 96 each occupy an arc of about 90. Panels 92 and 94 each occupy two separate arcs of about 45 each. In specific embodiments, each panel occupies a circumferential arc that is about a multiple of 45 when viewed from a left side or a right side.
  • [0121]
    As previously discussed, a game ball, such as a basketball, is made from a carcass which has outwardly projecting ribs. Generally speaking, a channel on a basketball corresponds to the exterior surface of a rib and a panel on a basketball corresponds to a panel area. Any discussion of a channel on the surface of a game ball is directly applicable to a rib on the outer surface of a carcass, any discussion of a panel is directly applicable to a panel area on a carcass, and those discussions should be construed as such. For example, the discussion of the exemplary embodiment in FIGS. 4-7, which has six channels and seven panels on the surface of a game ball, should be construed as applying equally to a carcass having six ribs and seven panel areas on its surface. Similarly, the carcass will have at least one right side and at least one left side.
  • [0122]
    It should be noted that in the manufacture of a game ball such as a basketball, what appears to be one panel may actually be made from several smaller pieces. The above discussion of panels and channels is intended to apply to the appearance of the final product and should not be construed as a discussion of how the game ball must be manufactured. For example, in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 57-63, panels 90 and 92 would be very difficult to manufacture from a flat piece of material. Instead, each of the panels could be made from a flat piece of material by joining appropriate edges of the flat piece together to form the three-dimensional shape of the panel. Those joined edges are not visible in the final product and should not be considered a channel. As another example, FIGS. 64-67 show an exemplary embodiment of a five-panel basketball similar to the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 24-27, with the addition of text printed in a circle on two ends of the basketball. This text can be seen from the left side in FIG. 64 and from the right side in FIG. 65. The exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 64-67 is most easily manufactured by making panel 98 out of six smaller pieces: four pieces similar in shape to that of the other four panels (e.g. panel 90) and two circular pieces containing the circular text. These six pieces would be laid in the same panel surface area defined by the ribs of the basketball carcass; the four pieces would be laid to run from the right side to the left side of the basketball and the circular pieces would be laid in the right end and the left end of the basketball. The six smaller pieces would then be joined together to form one panel. Again, the joined edges of the six pieces are not visible in the final product and would not be considered a channel. Alternatively, one may realize that those joined edges do not correspond to a rib on the exterior surface of a carcass and thus should not be considered a channel either.
  • [0123]
    A game ball, such as a basketball, is made up generally of four major components: an interior air bladder, a layer of monofilament strands wound over the bladder, a carcass formed over the wound layer defining panels, and panels secured in the panels.
  • [0124]
    The bladder is formed spherically and adapted to be inflated with air. The bladder, when properly inflated, provides the primary resilience for the finished ball. Such air bladders are usually formed of butyl rubber or butyl and natural rubber compounds and are fitted with a valve for introducing air into the ball to inflate and pressurize the structure. The bladder is usually made from rubber.
  • [0125]
    Outwardly disposed of the interior air bladder is a layer comprising monofilament polymeric strands, usually of nylon or polyester. The strands are coated with an adhesive, such as a rubber cement, to ensure retention of the strands on the bladder. The winding layer adds dimensional stability to the bladder and ball, restrains outward expansion when inflated, and also reduces outward pressure on the carcass.
  • [0126]
    The next layer of the basketball is an elastomer carcass. The carcass is usually fabricated from a polymer composition molded over the wound bladder. Rubber (natural and/or synthetic) is also used for improved rebound and durability. The carcass has a substantially spherical outer surface defining a carcass circumference. One or more ribs extend above the carcass circumference.
  • [0127]
    The exterior face of the extending rib is above the substantially spherical outer surface. The outwardly extending rib also has lateral sides. It should be noted that while the carcass and ribs are described separately for clarity, in practice the carcass will be formed as an integral portion, including panel areas and rib(s), around the wound layer. The carcass surface between the rib(s) defines the plurality of panel areas.
  • [0128]
    The carcass has a thickness in the range of about 0.5 to 1.5 millimeters (mm) and usually a range of about 0.8 to 1.2 mm over the majority of the panels. Each rib has a thickness in the range of about 0.75 to 1.50 mm. The carcass may comprise an integral cellular portion adjacent the winding layer.
  • [0129]
    The carcass is usually formed of two hemispheres separated at an equator line, which are then molded over the winding layer. The carcass is molded by placing rubber panels into a carcass mold. The molding of the carcass hemispheres onto the winding layer forms a unitary, seamless carcass comprising rib(s) and panels; it also causes the carcass material to flow into and around the strands of the winding layer for a secure mechanical bond.
  • [0130]
    The outermost surface of the ball is formed from discrete panels. The panels are shaped to fit within the panel areas between the rib(s). A panel is placed on the outer surface of the carcass in a panel area and attached, usually with adhesive. The edges of the panels may be skived and are generally adjacent to a rib side and flush with the exterior face of the rib. The panels may be made from any combination of materials and may also have a pebbled texture to improve grip and handling of the ball. In specific embodiments of the present disclosure, each panel or a plurality of panels comprises a material selected from polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, rubber, or a composite material. In further embodiments, each panel or a plurality of panels have a pebbled texture.
  • [0131]
    The game ball of the present disclosure may be produced largely in a conventional manner. Accordingly, the air bladder of the ball would be inflated to an appropriate size and preferably cooled to cause the material of the bladder to become somewhat rigid. In this rigid condition, the air bladder is wound with adhesive coated polymer threads. The air bladder with the overlying layer of windings is then placed in a mold in which the carcass hemispheres are arrayed. Rubber panels are placed within the mold in order to mold the carcass. The mold is closed and sealed and optionally the air bladder is inflated to help the bladder make full contact with the carcass materials within the mold, and heat and pressure are applied to cause the rubber of the carcass to cure and vulcanize and become securely attached to the air bladder and winding layer. The molding process further forms the structure of the carcass, including rib(s) and panel areas.
  • [0132]
    Individual panels are formed to fit over the surface of the carcass within the panel areas defined by the formed rib(s). Decals, paint or other decorative or informative markings are usually applied to the panels at this manufacturing stage. Each panel is then applied to a panel area on the ball. The edge portion of each panel is skived or tapered. When a skived panel edge is correctly positioned abutting a rib, the panel edge will be adjacent a rib side and substantially flush with the outwardly projecting rib face.
  • [0133]
    Subsequently, the completed ball is taken from the mold and flash from the molding process is trimmed from the ball.
  • [0134]
    It is to be understood that the game ball of the present disclosure is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the description or illustrated in the drawings. The development is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed within are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.
  • [0135]
    As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception, upon which this disclosure is based, may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present disclosure. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification473/604, 473/605, 473/609, 473/603, 473/607
International ClassificationA63B41/00, A63B39/06, A63B39/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B43/008, A63B2071/0694, A63B2243/0037, A63B41/00, A63B41/08
European ClassificationA63B41/08
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