US 20090064919 A1
A method for determining whether a garment has been used comprising integrating an indicator tag to a garment having an indicator material which reacts with any one of body sweat, water or dry cleaning chemicals or provides wear down indication to provide a visual indication of such use. A garment with an indicator tag having an indicator material which reacts with any one of body sweat, water or dry cleaning chemicals or provides wear down indication to provide a visual indication of such use.
1. A method for detecting whether a clothing garment has been worn, comprising the steps of:
a) providing an identification tag element with an element for detection and providing an indication of contact of said tag element with any one of: human sweat, clothing garment cleaning materials, and materials foreign to the garment and elements normally associated therewith;
b) integrating the tag element with the clothing garment at a position on the clothing garment which is accessible to one of: human sweat when worn, clothing garment cleaning materials and materials foreign to the clothing garment and elements normally associated therewith, respectively.
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12. A garment having an indicator tag integrated therewith wherein the indicator tag is positioned such that when the garment is worn or cleaned it comes into contact with a material which reacts therewith to provide a visual indication of the garment having been worn or cleaned.
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16. A garment with an indicator tag thereon wherein the garment is a shoe and the indicator tag comprises a rub-off wear indicator constructed to be indicatively visible with a predetermined amount of wearing use.
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).
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.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention which refers to the accompanying drawings
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,
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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.