FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to methods and means for the determination of prior use of new articles of clothing including shoes and particularly for the detection of use of garments which are returned after sale.
A vexing problem for retailers of articles of clothing and particularly for expensive clothing such as gowns, tuxedos (non-rental), suits and the like is the proclivity of customers, who have a single use need, to purchase the article of clothing and use it. Thereafter, the customer rewraps it or cleans it (usually with dry cleaning) and rewraps it for return to the retailer for a refund or an exchange. The fact that the garment has been used is usually not readily apparent, especially with only a single use. However, if the garment is resold as new, a subsequent purchaser, on close examination, is often unable to detect that the garment was used. The reputation of the retailer suffers and the purchaser is unpleasantly confronted with the fact that what was purported to be a new garment was previously worn. This is particularly noisome with garments which directly contact skin such as undergarments (assuming they are returnable).
- SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE
Many means are available for detection of counterfeit goods including holograms and RF transmitters. Passive tags, used as protection against theft and shoplifting, are difficult to remove from articles and are designed to trigger alarms when they pass though exit detectors (sales clerks either deactivate or remove them at point of sale). However, few, if any expedients are available for tracking use of legitimate items, which have been lawfully purchased and returned.
It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide detector elements for readily determining if an article and particularly an article of clothing has been worn or used.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide the detector elements as an expedient by which clothing retailers or subsequent purchasers can determine if a garment returned by a customer was actually worn and whether it had been cleaned.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide detector elements which detect and display whether a garment has been in contact with water, body sweat, chemical stain removers, acidic or basic media or dry cleaning chemicals.
It is a still further object of the present invention to provide detector elements to detect trace amounts of materials such as explosives, drugs, etc., which are subject to law enforcement or other detection purposes.
It is another object of the present invention to provide the detector elements in the form of tags with indicia which change in appearance under conditions of use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention which refers to the accompanying drawings
FIGS. 1 a and 1 b are visual examples of a tag imprinted with water based ink in accordance with the present invention which is affixed to a garment and which is in before and after use condition respectively;
FIGS. 2 a and 2 b are visual examples of before and after use respectively of a tag comprised of thin tissue paper with sensitivity to water and/or sweat;
FIGS. 3 a and 3 b are before and after views of another embodiment of a detection tag of a specific color which changes upon contact with water and/or sweat; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 is a tag used for detection purposes which comprises a surface upon which detectable material (drugs, explosives, etc.) is deposited and held for detection.
The indicator tags of the present invention, for use with retail sales and material use detection, provide readily apparent appearance changes under conditions of use such as contact with water and/or sweat, acid or base conditions, or contact with dry cleaning chemical materials. With widespread utilization, tags having material retention surfaces, would be useful in enabling detection of contraband materials such as drugs and dangerous materials such as explosives, from residue left on the tags on clothing retrieved from suspects.
The indicator tags may be affixed to clothing such as by a sewn connection or otherwise integrated with the garment material. The position of the tag should preferably be selected to be at a portion of the garment directly exposed to a user's skin such as at the sleeves or neck portions where sweat detection is desired and where intervening garments such as undergarments do not block contact with body sweat.
The tag may be integrated with clothing tags such as those which provide washing instructions, size, manufacturer, etc. with indicia such as water soluble ink which fades or changes upon contact or the presence of water or sweat, with the fading or change indicating either sweat or the garment having been simply rinsed to remove telltale grime or stains. To preclude erroneous indications resulting from an initial try-on of the garment, the tag may be covered prior to sale and uncovered by a sales person upon actual purchase. Alternatively, garment items such as buttons, necessary for actual utilization, may be tape sealed (with indicia imprinted tape) or otherwise “inactivated” to indicate wearing use other than a mere try-on when they are found to have been broken.
Alternatively, with articles of clothing such as shoes, rub-off wear indicators may be utilized to indicate usage with wear which would normally not be visible with short use duration, e.g. 500 steps, which is longer than normal try-out use but not sufficient to actually visibly wear down the shoes.
With respect to the embodiments depicted in the drawings, FIGS. 1 a and 1 b show a shirt 1 with a water or sweat sensitive tag 10 having indicia thereon, shown as a cross line 11 in FIG. 1 a. The cross line is imprinted on the tag in water soluble ink, with the tag being in a hidden portion of the neck 2, when worn in a position in contact with skin of the user. Upon contact with water or body sweat, cross line 11 in FIG. 1 a either visibly fades or disappears entirely as in FIG. 1 b. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 2 a and 2 b, the tag 20 is comprised of thin tissue paper which disappears or is damaged with use, with hollow 21 shown in FIG. 2 a disappearing, as shown in FIG. 2 b.
In a third embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b, a tag 30 is initially a pre-selected color such as blue (with the cross hatching indicating blue). A dry layer of a stain remover (or any other material with a similar chemical response) is spread over the tag 30. Upon contact with moisture such as water or body sweat which originate with use, the stain remover (or similar material) is activated to either remove the color (such as red, with the cross hatching indicating red) or to change it to another color as a visually clear indication of use.
The tag 40, shown in FIG. 4, is adapted to collect and retain detectable trace materials such as with a commercially available low tack material fabric. The commercially available low tack adhesive (shown as dots 41) is selected to be adherent to fabrics and clothing but not to skin, whereby it will retain a small but detectable residue of liquid or fine powder material. In addition to sweat, the tag can retain materials such as explosives, gunpowder, drugs, asbestos, or any powder or trace material which can be used for criminal investigation or other forensic purposes.
In a more specific vein of tag indication, another tag embodiment is adapted to detect changes in pH (acidic or basic changes) by means of litmus impregnation. Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens, specially Roccella tinctoria. The mixture has CAS number 1393-92-6. It is often absorbed onto filter paper. The resulting piece of paper or solution with water becomes a pH indicator (one of the oldest), used to test materials for acidity. Blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions and red litmus paper turns blue under basic (i.e. alkaline) conditions, the color change occurring over the pH range 4.5-8.3 (at 25° C.). Neutral litmus paper is purple in color. The mixture contains 10 to 15 different dyes (Erythrolein (or Erythrolitmin), Azolitmin, Spaniolitmin, Leucoorcein and Leucazolitmin). Pure Azolitmin does show nearly the same effect as litmus. The tag may either be comprised of a standard litmus paper or a litmus impregnated fabric. It is noted that since the purpose of the tag is fundamentally for detection of short term use, it need not be highly durable. In this embodiment it is noted that the skin and perspiration thereon is acidic while cleaning solutions and materials such as soap are basic in nature and thus the litmus is a good indicator or either wearing use or cleaning.
The use of the litmus detection embodiment is of particular utility with articles of men's clothing since men tend to have more acidic perspiration with attendant more pronounced litmus color change indication.
A further embodiment is a tag which is sensitive to common chemicals utilized in dry cleaning such as tetrachloroethylene (or other dry cleaning compounds). Tetrachloroethylene Cl2C═CCl2 is a manufactured chemical compound that is widely used for the dry cleaning of fabrics and for metal-degreasing. It is also used to make other chemicals and is used in some consumer products. Other names for tetrachloroethylene include perchloroethylene, perc, PCE, and tetrachloroethene. It is a nonflammable liquid at room temperature. It evaporates easily into the air and has a sharp, sweet odor. Most people can smell tetrachloroethylene when it is present in the air at a concentration of 1 part per million (1 ppm), although some can smell it at even lower levels. Tags which have been adapted to retain such concentrations can be odor tested. More reliably however, tetrachloroethylene is decomposed by nascent oxygen by a suitable oxidizing agent contained in a tag to liberate hydrogen chloride which discolors an indicator in the tag to purple.
Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.