US 20080264532 A1
An eating utensil handle cover comprised of a flexible material made of cloth, fabric or other suitable material providing a protective and decorative means is disclosed. The cloth, fabric or other flexible material in addition to having protective qualities provides decorative advantages that can be used for branding, advertising and general marketing purposes.
1. A cover for a utensil having a handle portion, the cover comprising a substantially hollow flexible member having at least one open end for selectively receiving the handle portion of the utensil, the flexible member conforming to the shape of the utensil and being retained thereon by friction.
2. The cover of
3. The cover of
4. The cover of
5. The cover of
6. The cover of
7. The cover of
8. The cover of
This invention relates to protective covers, and more particularly to a unique protective cover for silverware and utensils that also provides a decorative and marketing device.
Eating utensils, namely forks, spoons and knives, have both a utilitarian and aesthetic quality that are important to their use and value. Forks, spoons and knives are used to facilitate eating and simultaneously have an aesthetic quality determined by the materials used in their construction as well as the specific pattern design which affect their cost and value.
Forks, spoons and knives found in restaurants are typically made of stainless steel and heavily scratched and/or marred because of high volume usage. In restaurants that use very inexpensive flatware, the scratches to the surface are not considered a serious problem. Eating utensils found in more expensive restaurants or in the home, where a higher quality of steel, silver or silver-plate is used, have aesthetic qualities that are important to the owner, and keeping scratches and other marring of the handles to a minimum is desirable.
When eating utensils become scratched or otherwise marred, there are various means for restoring the surface to its original condition or to a state that is more attractive. Expensive equipment exists which can restore the finish of stainless steel, silver and silver-plated utensils, among other metals, by tumble-polishing the various pieces. In addition to expensive equipments, there are various polishing compounds and liquids which can be used to remove or reduce the apparent scratches. The disadvantage of liquids and compounds used to restore the original finish is that they are labor intensive. Therefore, it is desired by the owners of eating utensils to have a way to keep these utensils from getting scratched in the first place.
Various means exist to protect eating utensils when they are not in use so as to protect the surface finish. This is particularly true of the most expensive eating utensils that have boxes with velvet interiors where each utensil is separated from the other so that they do not come in contact with one another which would provide an occasion for scratching or marring of the surface. However, this approach does not protect the utensil while in use. Therefore, there is a need to protect the utensils while in use.
In addition to the scratches or marring, there is the problem of oxidation whereby the utensils made of certain materials can become tarnished. In the instance of silver or silver-plated utensils, it is desirable to keep these utensils from becoming tarnished in the first place, especially on the handles which tend to be more ornate and more difficult to remove the tarnish. There are tarnish blockers that can be applied to eating utensils to inhibit the tarnishing process. There are also clear polymers coatings that can be applied to utensils that provide a protective coating and prevent scratching or marring of the utensil while in use. However, these solutions do not affect the look and feel of the utensils.
Utensils are often used with very cold or very hot food and liquids. These extreme temperatures affect the temperature of the utensil through conductive heat transfer. If the temperature of the utensil becomes too cold or too hot relative to the body temperature of the user of the utensil, the user will be uncomfortable due to the comparative difference in temperature. A need exists, then, for a device that insulates the utensil handle while in use.
Also, the ability of the user to easily grip the utensil handle and control the utensil affects the user's experience. A device that improves the user's grip and use of the utensil will beneficially improve the user's experience with the utensil. Therefore, a need exists for a device that can improve the grip and control of a utensil.
In addition to facilitating the process of eating, utensils play an aesthetic role as well. Utensil handles are frequently very ornate or artistic. However, the artistic designs of utensils are usually permanent and not easily changed. Owners of utensils often have multiple sets for different occasions. A need exists for a device that allows owners of utensils to easily change the decorative nature of the utensil depending on the occasion and the desire of the owner.
Businesses and other organizations often use advertising and marketing to promote their goals. As such, these entities look for opportunities to communicate a desired branding goal, aesthetic or marketing message to as many people as possible. Utensils are used by a large number of people on a daily basis. Being able to communicate a desired message on a utensil would reach many people. A need exists for businesses and other entities to be able to communicate their desired message on utensils.
As utensils are used to facilitate the process of eating, a utensil becomes soiled from the food the utensil contacts and from the user holding the utensil. Utensils are designed to be either durable enough for repeated cleaning or designed to be disposable to avoid the need for cleaning. Any device attached to a utensil would likewise need to be durable enough for repeated cleaning or disposable. A device designed for repeated cleaning would need to be easily applied and removed to facilitate the cleaning process.
Therefore, there is a need for a device which protects utensils during their use from scratching or marring and also from the problem of tarnishing. The needed device would also provide insulating and tactile benefits to improve the experience of the utensil user. Also, the needed device would provide marketing and decorative abilities not currently available to utensil owners and other entities. Such a needed device would further be easily applied, removed and washed. The present invention accomplishes these objectives.
The present invention is a utensil cover that protects the utensils from scratching, marring or tarnishing and which simultaneously provides a decorative and marketing device for the user or owner. The device includes a cover for a utensil having a handle portion. The cover comprises of a substantially hollow flexible member having at least one open end for selectively receiving the handle portion of the utensil, the flexible member conforming to the shape of the utensil and being retained thereon by friction. The flexible member is made of a flexible material, such as spandex, that will allow it to adhere tightly to the utensil handle portion even when the utensil is of a less uniform width and thickness. Also, the cover can be quickly applied and removed, as well as easily washed.
The flexible member can be made from a heat insulating material. Such material insulates cold or warm handle portions and provides a comfortable temperature to the touch. Moreover, the flexible member can be made of material that provides beneficial tactile qualities that provide a more comfortable touch or a better grip of the utensil.
The flexible member can also be made from material that is substantially air impermeable. Such material will substantially limit the exposure of the handle portion to oxygen in the air. By limiting the exposure to oxygen, the problem of oxidation, which causes the utensil to tarnish, will be substantially reduced.
The flexible member includes an indicia element thereon. The indicia element is legible when the flexible member is affixed around the handle portion of the utensil. The indicia element can be imprinted with any desired design or content, and therefore, be used for a variety of purposes. Businesses and other organizations can use the indicia element to display a desired branding goal, aesthetic, or marketing message to the user of the utensil.
The flexible member includes a flexible and expandable inner layer that has increased frictional affinity with the utensil. When the utensil handle portion is inserted into the flexible member, the inner layer holds the utensil without slipping.
The present device is a utensil cover which protects utensils in use from scratching or marring and also from the problem of tarnishing. The present invention also provides insulating and tactile benefits to improve the experience of the utensil user. The present device further provides marketing and decorative abilities not currently available to utensil owners and other entities. The present device is easily applied, removed and washed. Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
With respect to the drawings,
One embodiment of the flexible member 50 is made from an elastic fabric sheet material. Other embodiments of the flexible member 50 are made from an elastic rubber sheet material or from an elastic plastic sheet material. The flexible member 50 can also be made from a combination of these materials or other such suitably flexible materials. A preferred embodiment of the flexible member 50 is made of a stretchable material, such as spandex, that allows it to adhere tightly to the utensil handle portion 18 even when the utensil 15 is of a less uniform width and thickness. Also, preferably, the cover 10 can be quickly applied and removed, as well as easily washed.
Another embodiment of the flexible member 50 is made from a heat insulating material. Preferably the cover 10 is made of a material that is warm to the touch and which insulates cold or warm handle portions 18 and provides a constant comfortable temperature to the touch. Still another embodiment of the flexible member 50 is made of material that provides beneficial tactile qualities. For example, a flexible cotton material can be softer and warmer than a spandex material.
Any number of commercially available fabrics or materials can be used, such as spandex, depending on the quality and needs of the particular embodiment of the invention. Using commercially available materials allow the covers 10 to be made in large volume at low cost.
Another alternative embodiment of the flexible member 50 is made from material that is substantially air impermeable. Such material substantially limits the exposure of the handle portion 18 to oxygen in the air. By limiting the exposure to oxygen, the problem of oxidation, which causes the utensil 15 to tarnish, is substantially reduced.
As illustrated in
Another embodiment of the flexible member 50 includes a flexible and expandable inner layer 70 (
While a particular form of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the flexible member 50 could be made of material that is stain resistant, or the like. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.