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Publication numberUS20090113766 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/936,500
Publication dateMay 7, 2009
Filing dateNov 7, 2007
Priority dateNov 7, 2007
Also published asUS8943711, US20110239485
Publication number11936500, 936500, US 2009/0113766 A1, US 2009/113766 A1, US 20090113766 A1, US 20090113766A1, US 2009113766 A1, US 2009113766A1, US-A1-20090113766, US-A1-2009113766, US2009/0113766A1, US2009/113766A1, US20090113766 A1, US20090113766A1, US2009113766 A1, US2009113766A1
InventorsPaul Hooper
Original AssigneeNike, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Article of Footwear with a Water Repelling Member
US 20090113766 A1
Abstract
An article of footwear with a gripping system is disclosed. The gripping system helps to enhance the wearer's ability to contact an athletic ball during kicking. The gripping system can be centered about a region where the wearer tends to kick the ball, and the gripping system can be distributed in a pattern that provides an even or symmetric contact area with the ball. Additionally, a water repelling member for the article of footwear is also disclosed. The water repelling member helps to repel water from the gripping system, especially horizontal water or water from splashing. The water repelling member is also breathable and helps to dissipate water vapor caused by heat evaporation of the foot.
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Claims(20)
1. An article configured to cover a foot, comprising:
an upper including a gripping system configured to contact a ball;
the gripping system including a first gripping member and a second gripping member; and
wherein a water repelling member corresponds to the gripping system.
2. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the gripping system includes between three and six gripping members.
3. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the gripping system includes seven gripping members.
4. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the gripping system includes more than seven gripping members.
5. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the water repelling member is disposed below the entire gripping system.
6. The article of footwear according to claim 5, wherein the water repelling member is associated with the entire gripping system.
7. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the water repelling member is associated with a portion of the gripping system.
8. An article configured to cover a foot, comprising:
a water repelling member associated with the article;
a transition region of the article of footwear disposed between an outsole and an upper, the transition region including a bottom surface of the upper; and
wherein an outer periphery of the water repelling member is spaced from the transition region.
9. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the upper includes a gripping system.
10. The article of footwear according to claim 9, wherein the gripping system includes a plurality of gripping members.
11. The article of footwear according to claim 10, wherein the water repelling member is disposed beneath a portion of the gripping system.
12. The article of footwear according to claim 11, wherein the water repelling member is disposed beneath the entirety of the gripping system.
13. The article of footwear according to claim 12, wherein the water repelling member is equal in size to the gripping system.
14. An article configured to cover a foot, comprising:
a gripping system including a plurality of gripping members;
a water repelling member corresponding to the gripping system;
the water repelling member comprising a first layer and a second layer; and
wherein one of the layers is a water resistant layer.
15. The article of footwear according to claim 14, wherein the second layer is a backing layer associated with an upper of the article of footwear.
16. The article of footwear according to claim 15, wherein the second layer is attached directly to the upper.
17. The article of footwear according to claim 14, wherein the first layer is the water resistant layer.
18. The article of footwear according to claim 17, wherein the first layer is attached directly to the gripping system.
19. The article of footwear according to claim 14, wherein the gripping system includes a mesh.
20. The article of footwear according to claim 14, wherein the water resistant layer comprises expanded Teflon.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to an article of footwear, and more particularly a sports shoe with a water repelling member associated with a gripping system.

2. Description of Related Art

There are many sports activities that include kicking a ball. Examples of such sports include soccer, football, rugby, Australian-rules football, and kickball. Conventional sports shoes that are available for these sports typically have an upper made of natural or synthetic leather. Other materials such as nylon may also be used. These conventional materials generally do not have high coefficients of friction when contacting the ball, and can fail to properly grip or contact the ball.

Features to increase friction between the ball and shoe have been proposed. Randall (U.S. Pat. No. 3,525,165) teaches a removable flap kicking aid that attaches to the front cleat studs and the shoelaces, acting as a cover to the shoelaces. The removable flap has a series of gripping protrusions that are aligned along the longitudinal axis of the shoe.

Johnston (U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,112) and Lee et al. (U.S. patent application 2004/0055183), both of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety, teach sports shoes having protrusions or strips along the sides of the front portion of the shoe.

There is a need in the art for a sports shoe having a gripping element that is located at an optimal contact location for generating power during kicking and having a gripping element that provides an even or symmetrical contact area.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An article of footwear including a water repelling member is disclosed. In one aspect, the invention provides an article configured to cover a foot, comprising: an upper including a gripping system configured to contact a ball; the gripping system including a first gripping member and a second gripping member; and where a water repelling member corresponds to the gripping system.

In another aspect, the gripping system includes seven gripping members.

In another aspect, the gripping system includes between three and six gripping members.

In another aspect, the gripping system includes more than seven gripping members.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is disposed below the entire gripping system.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is associated with the entire gripping system.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is only associated with a portion of the gripping system.

In another aspect, the invention provides an article configured to cover a foot, comprising: a water repelling member associated with the article; a transition region of the article of footwear disposed between an outsole and an upper, the transition region including a bottom surface of the upper; and where an outer periphery of the water repelling member is spaced from the transition region.

In another aspect, the upper includes a gripping system.

In another aspect, the gripping system includes a plurality of gripping members.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is disposed beneath a portion of the gripping system.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is disposed beneath the entirety of the gripping system.

In another aspect, the water repelling member is equal in size to the gripping system.

In another aspect, the invention provides an article configured to cover a foot, comprising: a gripping system including a plurality of gripping members; a water repelling member corresponding to the gripping system; the water repelling member comprising a first layer and a second layer; and wherein one of the layers is a water resistant layer.

In another aspect, the second layer is a backing layer associated with an upper of the article of footwear.

In another aspect, the first layer is the water resistant layer.

In another aspect, the second layer is attached directly to the upper.

In another aspect, the gripping system includes a mesh.

In another aspect, the water resistant layer is made of expanded Teflon.

In another aspect, the first layer is attached directly to the gripping system.

Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the invention will be, or will become, apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description and this summary, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the following claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear having a ball control system;

FIG. 2 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 3 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a phantom foot located within article of footwear;

FIG. 4 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of a gripping system;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system contacting a ball;

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system and a ball;

FIG. 7 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system and a ball;

FIG. 8 is a side view of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 9 is a side view of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 10 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 11 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 12 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 13 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system;

FIG. 14 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system and a ball;

FIG. 15 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system and a ball;

FIG. 16 is an exploded isometric view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member;

FIG. 17 is a top view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member;

FIG. 18 is a close up cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of a portion of an upper of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member;

FIG. 19 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member;

FIG. 20 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member;

FIG. 21 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with a ball control system with a water repelling member with a phantom foot located within article of footwear and a puddle of water;

FIG. 22 is a close up view of a preferred embodiment of a portion of a ball control system with a water repelling member and beads of water; and

FIG. 23 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of an article of footwear with beads of water and a ball control system with water repelling member and a portion of a ball.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a preferred embodiment of article of footwear 100. For clarity, the following detailed description discusses a preferred embodiment, in the form of a soccer boot, but it should be noted that the present invention could take the form of any article of footwear including, but not limited to, soccer boots, football shoes, rugby shoes, as well as other kinds of shoes.

Article of footwear 100, also referred to as simply article, preferably includes sole 101 and upper 102. Sole 101 may be made from any suitable material, including but not limited to elastomers, siloxanes, natural rubber, other synthetic rubbers, aluminum, steel, natural leather, synthetic leather, or plastics. Preferably, sole 101 includes provisions for providing cleat studs 199 or other traction elements that can enhance traction with the ground. In a preferred embodiment, sole 101 includes cleat studs 199 that are incorporated into sole 101. However, other embodiments may include removable cleats. In a preferred embodiment, sole 101 may use one or more features described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,973,746 to Auger et al., the entirety of which is incorporated by reference. In exemplary embodiment, the cleat assembly described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,973,746 is used in combination with article 100.

In some embodiments, sole 101 may be associated with upper 102. Upper 102 is preferably configured to receive a wearer's foot. Generally, upper 102 may be made from any suitable material, including but not limited to, for example, nylon, natural leather, synthetic leather, natural rubber, or synthetic rubber. Generally, upper 102 can be made of any suitable knitted, woven or non-woven material.

In some embodiments, upper 102 may include shoe fastening system 103. Preferably, shoe fastening system 103 may be used to tighten upper 102 to a wearer's foot. Examples of shoe fastening systems include, but are not limited to, laces, buckles, or hook-and-loop fastening systems such as Velcro®. In a preferred embodiment, shoe fastening system 103 includes lace 179 as well as first strap 177 and second strap 178 attached to upper 102. Preferably, lace 179 interacts with first strap 177 and second strap 178. Additionally, shoe fastening system 103 may include lateral lacing portion 104. Lateral lacing portion 104 is preferably laterally spaced from the center of article 100. Using this laterally spaced lacing configuration, shoe fastening system 103 is designed to avoid interference with gripping system 105.

In some cases, article of footwear 100 may be used in athletic activities associated with a ball, such as a soccer ball. In order to achieve better contact with the ball, and in some cases, apply some curvature in the trajectory of the kick, it may be necessary for the kicker to apply some spin to the ball. Preferably, upper 102 may include provisions for enhancing the ability to contact and control the ball when kicked.

In some embodiments, upper 102 may include gripping system 105 disposed along upper surface 106 of upper 102. Preferably, gripping system 105 may include a plurality of gripping members. In a preferred embodiment shown in the Figures, upper 102 includes first gripping member 110, second gripping member 111, third gripping member 112, fourth gripping member 113, fifth gripping member 114, sixth gripping member 115 and seventh gripping member 116. Preferably, gripping members 111-116 are disposed in concentric rings along upper surface 106, as seen in the Figures. Gripping member 110 may be disposed in the center of these concentric rings. In other embodiments, the number of gripping members comprising gripping system 105 may vary.

In this preferred embodiment, gripping members 110-116 are generally circular and have a ring-like or disk-like shape, however in other embodiments, gripping members 110-116 may be formed as a different shape, including but not limited to square, rectangular, diamond, oval, star, as well as other shapes. In some embodiments, gripping members 110-116 may be constructed in the shape of a manufacturer's logo, an athletic team's logo, or other kinds of patterns.

In the preferred embodiment, gripping members 110-116 may be disposed on upper surface 106 and raised with respect to upper surface 106. In this configuration, gripping members 110-116 are designed to make initial contact with a ball before upper surface 106.

In some embodiments, gripping members 110-116 may be made of a high friction material. Preferably, gripping members 110-116 are made of a material with a higher coefficient of friction than upper 102. In some embodiments, materials may be used that enhance gripping when in the presence of moisture. Examples of such materials include, but are not limited to, roughened leathers, rubbers, silastics, or any synthetic or natural elastomeric material such as styrene-butadiene, or polyurethane. In a preferred embodiment, gripping members 110-116 are made of rubber.

Generally, gripping members 110-116 may be any desired size and may be spaced apart by intervals of varying distances. Preferably, gripping members are sized and located so that the contact area between gripping members 110-116 and a ball may be optimized. Referring to FIG. 3, the spacing and dimensions of gripping members 110-116 are illustrated schematically. Generally, first gripping member 110 has a circular disk-like shape. In this embodiment, gripping member 110 has a first width W1. Preferably, the remaining gripping members 111-116 have a ring-like geometry. In some embodiments, second gripping member 111 may have a second width W2. In a preferred embodiment, gripping members 112-116 may also have a width similar to second gripping member 111 and may have a similar second width, W2. In other embodiments, the widths of each gripping members 110-116 may vary.

By adjusting widths W1 and W2, the contact area between a ball and gripping system 105 may be varied. Generally, a larger contact area may increase grip and friction between a ball and gripping system 105, while a smaller contact area may decrease friction between a ball and gripping system 105.

Additionally, the spacing between each of the gripping members 110-116 may vary. In this embodiment, gripping members 110 and 111 are separated by a first distance D1; gripping members 111 and 112 are separated by a second distance D2; gripping members 112 and 113 are separated by a third distance D3; gripping members 113 and 114 are separated by a fourth distance D4; gripping members 114 and 115 are separated by a fifth distance D5; and gripping members 115 and 116 are separated by a sixth distance D6.

These distances may be ordered from least to greatest as: D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6. In other words, the spacing between two adjacent gripping members preferably increases the further the gripping members are from first gripping member 110. This arrangement helps to provide a balance between friction and control. Other distance arrangements can be used to vary the response characteristics of gripping system 105.

Using this preferred spacing, increased friction may be applied to a ball by gripping system 105 in regions where gripping members 110-116 are closest. In this embodiment, gripping members 110-116 are closest in the region proximate first gripping member 110. Varying the distances between gripping members 110-116 may vary the location of the regions of increased traction.

Preferably, gripping members 110-116 are elevated above top surface 107. Specifically, gripping members are elevated to a height that may optimize contact area between gripping members and ball. In this embodiment, first gripping member 110 has first height H1. Preferably, heights of gripping members 111-116 are substantially similar to first height H1. In other embodiments, the heights of gripping members 111-116 may vary. With this preferred raised arrangement, gripping members 110-116 may be raised high enough above top surface 107 to minimize contact between top surface 107 and a ball, but not so high that gripping members 110-116 deform substantially upon contact with a ball. In some embodiments, top surface 107 may be made of a microporous and/or high performance material such as Gore-Tex® or can include a Gore-Tex® layer. The use of Gore-Tex® in combination with other features is optional and is not used in every embodiment.

In some cases, the placement of gripping members 110-116 on upper 102 may further enhance a wearer's ability to contact a ball and control the spin of the ball. Preferably, the centers of gripping members 110-116 are disposed in a location or locations that are optimal for contacting a ball. FIG. 3 is a preferred embodiment of article of footwear 100 with foot 200 shown in phantom disposed over article of footwear 100. Preferably, gripping members 110-116 are disposed over the region of foot 200 where the force transfer between foot 200 and a ball is optimal, and where most wearers tend to kick a ball. In a preferred embodiment, gripping members 110-116 may be centered on top surface 107 of article of footwear 100 slightly medial to longitudinal 125 axis of article of footwear 100. Using this configuration, article of footwear 100 preferably provides enhanced gripping of a ball during kicking, allow the user to easily apply spin in any direction.

FIG. 5 illustrates the orientation of gripping members 110-116 at a preferred location for transferring force from the foot to the ball during kicking. In FIG. 5, which is a schematic side view, article 100 is contacting ball 250. Preferably, gripping members 110-116 are disposed on upper 102 in a manner that maximizes the contact area between gripping members 110-116 and ball 250. This large contact area preferably facilitates friction between ball 250 and article 100.

Preferably, the contact area between the ball and the article of footwear occurs evenly and possibly symmetrically. Even distribution of the contact area provides the wearer of article 100 with the ability to firmly and positively contact ball 250. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the even distribution of contact areas. In contrast to the preferred even and symmetric distribution of gripping system 105, related art protrusion or strips mounted to an article of footwear may cause unpredictable deflection of a ball during kicking. However, the preferred even and symmetric gripping system 105 provides a firm and predictable contact area with ball 250.

FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 demonstrate the even and symmetric nature of gripping system 105. FIGS. 5 and 6 show embodiments at an instance of contact with ball 250, and FIG. 7 is an embodiment showing article 100 and ball 300 after contact. In FIG. 7, ball 300 has been rotated, so that the contact pattern or area is visible. As shown in FIG. 7, ball 300 includes a number of shaded regions that represent one example of the portions of ball 300 that were contacted by gripping system 105. It can be observed that the contact area generally corresponds to gripping system 105.

As shown in FIG. 7, ball 300 includes first shaded region 310 that illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and first gripping member 110. Also, ball 300 includes second shaded region 311 that illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and second gripping member 111, third shaded region 312 illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and third gripping member 112, fourth shaded region 313 illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and fourth gripping member 113, fifth shaded region 314 illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and fifth gripping member 114, and sixth shaded region 315 illustrates the contact area between ball 300 and sixth gripping member 115. It can be observed in FIG. 7, that gripping system 105 provides an even and symmetric contact pattern on ball 300. In this example, seventh gripping member 116 does not contact ball 300. However, it should be noted that seventh gripping member 116 may contact ball 300 in other examples.

Spin may be applied to ball 300 by gripping members 110-115 when the spin is applied in a direction perpendicular to the orientation of gripping members 110-115. For circular designs, all directions moving away from or towards the center of the circle are perpendicular to the circle. In a preferred embodiment, the generally circular design of gripping system 105 allows spin to be applied in any direction perpendicular to gripping members. Using this configuration, spin can be placed on ball 300 in any direction during kicking when article 100 is equipped with gripping system 105. This preferred configuration of article of footwear 100 gives a kicker tremendous flexibility to place any direction of spin on ball 300 that the situation requires.

In many cases, a gripping system may include provisions that provide the wearer with the ability to apply different types of spin. In the previous embodiments, the surfaces of the gripping members were generally flattened or parallel to the top surface of the outsole. In other embodiments, an article of footwear may include gripping members with multiple surface orientations. Generally, elevated gripping members may be provided with surface orientations that maximize the contact area between the gripping members and the ball. Preferably, these gripping member surfaces are oriented to provide enhanced control of spin during kicking. In particular, multiple surface orientations are provided for enhanced control of spin with each surface orientation associated with a certain type of kick or spin.

Referring to FIG. 8, article of footwear 350 includes sole 351 and upper 352. In this embodiment, upper 352 preferably includes the following gripping members: first gripping member 355, second gripping member 356, third gripping member 357, fourth gripping member 358, fifth gripping member 359, sixth gripping member 360, and seventh gripping member 361 disposed on upper surface 353. Gripping members 355-361 may preferably be elevated with respect to upper surface 353.

Additionally, gripping members 355-361 may have surfaces that are oriented in a preconfigured direction. In particular, each of the gripping members 355-361 may include a respective outer surface. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, first gripping member 355 includes first surface 370, second gripping member 356 includes second surface 371, third gripping member 357 includes third surface 372, fourth gripping member 358 includes fourth surface 373, fifth gripping member 359 includes fifth surface 374, sixth gripping member 360 includes sixth surface 375, and second gripping member 361 includes seventh surface 376. In this embodiment, surfaces 371-376 are preferably tilted towards first central gripping member 355. It can be observed in FIG. 8, that the forefoot or toe portions of surfaces 371-376 are oriented facing proximal or towards the kicker. It can also be observed that all of the surfaces are tilted in the same direction.

In another embodiment, the surfaces of the gripping members may be tilted away from the central gripping member. Referring to FIG. 9, article of footwear 400 includes sole 401 and upper 402. Upper 402 preferably includes a plurality of gripping members including: first gripping member 405, second gripping member 406, third gripping member 407, fourth gripping member 408, fifth gripping member 409, sixth gripping member 410, and seventh gripping member 411 disposed on upper surface 403. Gripping members 405-411 may preferably be elevated with respect to upper surface 403.

Additionally, gripping members 405-411 may have surfaces that are oriented in a preconfigured direction. In particular, gripping members 405-411 may include corresponding first surface 420, second surface 421, third surface 422, fourth surface 423, fifth surface 424, sixth surface 425 and seventh surface 426. In this embodiment, surfaces 421-426 are preferably tilted away from first gripping member 405. It can be observed in FIG. 9, that the forefoot or toe portions of surfaces 421-426 are oriented facing distal or away from the kicker. Similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, it can also be observed in FIG. 9 that all of the surfaces are tilted in the same direction.

Each of the distinct gripping member surface orientations shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 are preferably configured to give the kicker optimal control of particular types of kicks. For example, the embodiment shown in FIG. 8 including gripping member surfaces that are oriented towards the central gripping member may be optimally configured for imparting spin on the ball. In contrast, the embodiment shown in FIG. 9 including gripping member surfaces that are oriented away from the central gripping member may be configured to deflect the ball downwards, keep hard shots low, and prevent errant high balls.

In many cases, a gripping system may include provisions that provide the wearer with the ability to apply different types of spin depending on the region of the shoe contacting the ball. The ability to apply different types of spin may occur during a sport such as soccer, where a wearer of article of footwear may require topspin on a ball kicked hard and may alternately require sidespin on a ball that is passed. In a preferred embodiment, an article of footwear includes a gripping system with multiple surface orientations of the gripping members.

In the previous embodiments, the surfaces of the gripping members were tilted in directions either towards the central disk-shaped gripping member, or away from the central disk-gripping member. In some embodiments, it may be desirable to have gripping members with surfaces that are oriented in one direction at one portion of the upper, and that are oriented in a different direction at another portion of the upper. This feature may facilitate a player's ability to apply different types of spins or impart different types of trajectories to a ball.

Referring to FIGS. 10-13, in some embodiments, an article of footwear preferably includes gripping members with two distinct surface orientations configured to facilitate different types of kicks. In this embodiment, upper 502 of article of footwear 500 includes first gripping member 505, second gripping member 506, third gripping member 507, fourth gripping member 508, fifth gripping member 509, and sixth gripping member 510, disposed on upper surface 503. As shown in the Figures, the general arrangement of gripping members 505-510 is similar to previous embodiments, with gripping members 506-510 arranged in concentric rings around first gripping member 505.

Preferably, each of the gripping members 506-510 is associated with an outer surface that twists along the gripping members. Third gripping member 507 provides the clearest example of this preferred twisting arrangement. In some embodiments, third gripping member 507 includes outward tilted surface 523 and inward tilted surface 524. The orientation of outward tilted surface 523 is preferably away from first gripping member 505 at all points along third gripping member 507. Likewise, the orientation of inward tilted surface 524 is preferably towards first gripping member 505 at all points along third gripping 507. In other words, outward tilted surface 523 is preferably oriented similar to the gripping surfaces 421-426 shown in FIG. 9, while inward tilting surface 524 is preferably oriented similar to gripping surfaces 371-376 shown in FIG. 8.

In this embodiment, transition zone 532 defines a boundary between outward tilted surface 523 and inward titled surface 524. In the direction moving clockwise from first end 570 of third gripping member 507, transition zone 532 can be considered the region of twist along gripping member 507. As viewed from above in FIG. 10, this twisting results in a shrinking of inward tilted surface 524 and an enlarging of outward titled surface 523, in the clockwise direction between first end 570 and second end 572. In a preferred embodiment, transition zone 532 may not be a clearly defined line as seen in the Figures, but rather a general region of subtle transition.

In some embodiments, the remaining gripping members 506 and 508-510 may all include similar outwardly and inwardly tilting surfaces. In particular, second gripping member 506 preferably includes second outward tilting surface 521 and second inward tilting surface 522 associated with second transition zone 531; fourth gripping member 508 includes third outward tilting surface 525 and third inward tilting surface 526 associated with third transition zone 533, fifth gripping member 509 includes fourth outward tilting surface 527 and fourth inward tilting surface 528 associated with fourth transition zone 534; and sixth gripping member 510 includes fifth outward tilting surface 529 and fifth inward tilting surface 530 associated with fifth transition zone 535. For purposes of clarity all the outward tilting surfaces 521, 523, 525, 527 and 529 are generally grouped as first gripping region 574. Likewise all the inward tilting surfaces 522, 524, 526, 528 and 530 are generally grouped as second gripping region 576.

Preferably, first gripping region 574 and second gripping region 576 may be disposed on different portions of upper 502. Generally, first gripping region 574 may be disposed on instep portion 580 of upper 502, while second gripping region 576 may be disposed on side portion 582 of upper 502. In this embodiment, curve 542 is associated with the boundary between first gripping region 574 and second gripping region 580.

As previously discussed, the outward tilting surfaces of gripping members may generally tend to deflect a ball downwards. Therefore, if a player wishes to keep the trajectory of a ball low, they may kick a ball with instep portion 580 where first gripping region 574 is disposed. As seen in FIG. 12, as ball 550 contacts gripping members 508-510, ball 550 is disposed against first gripping region 574. As the ball is kicked, first gripping region 574 is designed to impart a downward spin or trajectory.

Furthermore, as previously discussed, the inward tilting surfaces of gripping members may generally tend impart additional spin to a ball. Therefore, if a wearer wishes to curl the ball for a pass or a curved shot, the wearer may kick a ball with side portion 582 where second gripping region 576 is disposed. As seen in FIG. 13, as ball 560 contacts gripping members 509 and 510, ball 560 is disposed against second gripping region 576. As the ball is kicked, the leading edges of second gripping region 576, which are generally sharp, help to impart additional spin, causing a curved trajectory.

In the current embodiment, curve 542 has the shape of an arc that is generally shaped like a medial edge of upper 502 at the forefoot. With this configuration, first gripping region 574 is disposed further towards side portion 582 at fourth gripping member 508 and fifth gripping member 509. This preferred arrangement may be used by a player who wants to have equal ability to direct a ball downwards using first gripping region 574 and apply curl to a ball using second gripping region 576.

In other embodiments, however, the boundary between first gripping region 574 and second gripping region 576, defined by curve 542 may be modified. For example, a player such as a striker or forward in soccer may be mostly kicking low passes or low trajectory shots. Therefore, it may be preferable to have a configuration where first gripping region 574 dominates upper 502 over second gripping region 576. FIG. 14 represents an alternative embodiment of article of footwear 500 where curve 542 has an arc that bulges significantly at fourth gripping member 508 and fifth gripping member 509. Using this configuration, a player may make use of a larger contact area of upper 502 from which to impart a downward direction using first gripping member 574, while kicking.

In still another embodiment, shown in FIG. 15, curve 542 may not be an arc, but rather a straight line. In this embodiment, the area of second gripping region 576 is increased over the previous embodiments. This configuration may be useful for a mid-fielder or other players that tend to pass more, as more of upper 502 is covered by second gripping region 576.

In some embodiments, gripping members may include provisions that help to increase friction or grip between the gripping member and a ball. These provisions may include features disposed on the upper surfaces of the gripping members. In some cases, the upper surfaces of the gripping members may be roughened, cut or include channels or grooves. It is also possible to provide protrusions or small projections on the upper surfaces of the gripping members. These various features can, in some cases, help to improve friction or grip between the gripping member and a ball. Some of these features are particularly helpful in adverse playing conditions. For example, a roughened outer surface, or an outer surface with grooves may help to improve friction during wet or rainy conditions. The upper surface features for the gripping members can be selected according to player preference or to match a certain playing condition.

It is also possible to independently arrange the upper surface feature of each gripping member. In other words, different gripping members on the same article may have different upper surface features. For example, it is possible that one gripping member include a roughened upper surface, while another gripping member on the same article include an upper surface with protrusions. It is also possible to provide the same upper surface feature to every gripping member on an article. The gripping member upper surface feature can be applied to any of the embodiments disclosed above.

In some cases, wet conditions could inhibit the effectiveness of a gripping system where the gripping system includes one or more gripping members. As previously discussed, in some embodiments, the gripping system may include provisions to increase friction, or maintain the level of friction experienced during dry conditions, between the gripping members and a ball during wet conditions. In a preferred embodiment, the gripping system may be associated with a provision that prevents water from adhering to the gripping system.

FIG. 16 is an exploded isometric view of a preferred embodiment of article of footwear 1600. In this embodiment, upper 1604 of article of footwear 1600 may include gripping portion 1603. The boundary of gripping portion 1603 is indicated in FIG. 16 by first boundary 1607. Preferably, gripping portion 1603 may be configured to receive a gripping system of some kind.

Preferably, gripping system 1602 is associated with upper 1604. Gripping system 1602 may include a plurality of gripping members and mesh 1605. In a preferred embodiment, gripping system 1602 includes first gripping member 1610, second gripping member 1611, third gripping member 1612, fourth gripping member 1613, fifth gripping member 1614, sixth gripping member 1615 and seventh gripping member 1616. Preferably, in a similar manner to the previous embodiments, gripping members 1611-1616 are disposed in concentric rings. Gripping member 1610 may be disposed in the center of these concentric rings. In other embodiments, the number of gripping members comprising gripping system 1602 may vary.

Preferably, gripping members 1610-1616 may be attached to one another via mesh 1605. Mesh 1605 may be any kind of material including, but not limited to, natural fibers, artificial fibers, natural rubbers or synthetic rubbers, as well as other kinds of materials. In a preferred embodiment, mesh 1605 may be made of a cloth material. In this embodiment, gripping members 1610-1616 may be glued to mesh 1605. With this configuration, gripping members 1610-1616 may be arranged on mesh 1605 prior to the assembly of gripping system 1602 with upper 1604.

Generally, the structural features, as well as the materials used to make gripping system 1602, are similar to the features and materials discussed with respect to the previous embodiments. Preferably, the sizes, of gripping members 1610-1616, as well as the widths between adjacent gripping members 1610-1616 may be similar to the previous embodiments. Also, it should be understood that any of the possible variations discussed with respect to gripping systems of the previous embodiments could also apply to gripping system 1602.

In some embodiments, article of footwear 1600 may be associated with water repelling member 1650. The term ‘water repelling member’, as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims, refers to any device that is configured to repel water. In particular, the term ‘water repelling member’ refers to a device that may be associated with an article worn on the feet that is intended to repel horizontal water or water accumulated through splashing over a localized portion of the article. In some cases, for example, a water repelling member may not prevent ground water from soaking through an article, since it is not disposed globally over the entire outer surface of the article.

In the preferred embodiment, water repelling member 1650 may comprise one or more layers. Preferably, water repelling member 1650 includes a layer of water proof or water resistant material. In a preferred embodiment, water repelling member 1650 includes a layer of expanded Teflon® and/or a Teflon® film. Water repelling member 1650 could also include other layers, including backing layers made of cloth or similar materials. Using a backing material may allow water repelling member 1650 to be more easily attached to upper 1604.

For purposes of clarity, water repelling member 1650 is associated with article of footwear 1600. In other embodiments, however, water repelling member 1650 could be associated with any type of article configured to cover a wearer's foot. Examples of other articles include, boots, booties, sandals, as well as other articles. Preferably, water repelling member 1650 may be associated with a gripping system of an article configured to cover a wearer's foot.

In the current embodiment, water repelling member 1650 is disposed between gripping system 1602 and gripping portion 1603 of upper 1604. Furthermore, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 generally have shapes that are coincident with each other and with gripping portion 1603. With this arrangement, water repelling member 1650 may be disposed just under gripping system 1602, once gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 have been attached to gripping portion 1603 of upper 1604.

FIG. 17 is a preferred embodiment of article of footwear 1600 after gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 have been attached to upper 1604. For clarity, a portion of upper 1604 has been shaded to indicate where water repelling member 1650 is disposed below gripping system 1602 throughout the Figures.

Generally, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 may be attached to upper 1604 using any method. In some embodiments, water repelling member 1650 may be attached to upper 1604 first, using an adhesive or via stitching. Following this, gripping system 1602 may be attached to water repelling member 1650 using an adhesive or stitching. In other embodiments, gripping system 1602 may be attached to water repelling member 1650 before water repelling member 1650 is attached to upper 1604.

In some embodiments, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 may be attached to upper 1604 after article of footwear 1600 has been assembled. In other embodiments, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 may be attached to upper 1604 before article of footwear 1600 has been assembled. For example, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 could be manufactured simultaneously with upper 1604, in some embodiments.

Although the preferred embodiment of water repelling member 1650 shown in the Figures is substantially similar in size to gripping system 1602, in other embodiments, water repelling member 1650 may cover more or less of article of footwear 1600. For example, first alternative shape 1710 for a water repelling member is shown to be smaller than gripping system 1602. This configuration may be useful in cases where a player only expects to contact the ball with a small portion of gripping system 1602 during kicks. Also, second alternative shape 1712 for a water repelling member is shown to be larger than gripping system 1602. This configuration may be useful in preventing horizontal water or splashing from soaking through additional portions of the top of upper 1604. Generally, as previously discussed, any size and/or shape of a water repelling member may be accommodated. In other words, gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650 need not have the same size.

FIG. 18 is a cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of a portion of upper 1604, including gripping system 1602 and water repelling member 1650. As shown in this Figure, gripping system 1602 comprises gripping members 1612 and 1613 that are disposed on top side 1802 of mesh 1605. Water repelling member 1650 is further disposed between bottom side 1804 of mesh 1605 and top side 1806 of upper 1604. In this preferred embodiment, water repelling member 1650 includes first layer 1810 and second layer 1812. First layer 1810 may be a layer of expanded Teflon®, or similar water proof material, as previously discussed and may be attached directly to the gripping system. Second layer 1812 may be a backing layer configured to attach first layer 1810 with upper 1604.

In prior designs, a water resistant material is generally applied to the entirety of the article of footwear. In some cases, where the water resistant material is applied to one portion of an article of footwear, the water resistant material typically extends over the bottom of the upper. This feature allows for the prior art designs to resist soaking through of the article of footwear from ground water. However, these designs may inhibit some flexibility in the upper, especially at the bottom portion of the upper, since the water resistant material is an extra layer on top of the base upper material.

Unlike prior designs, water repelling member 1650 is preferably localized over article of footwear 1600. In other words, water repelling member 1650 preferably only covers a portion of article of footwear 1600, rather than the entirety of article of footwear 1600. In the current embodiment, water repelling member 1650 is preferably disposed only on gripping portion 1603 of article of footwear 1600 (see FIG. 16) that is associated with gripping system 1602.

Referring to FIGS. 19-20, water repelling member 1650 preferably does not overlap with a bottom surface of upper 1604. In the current embodiment, upper 1604 preferably includes transition region 1904 that extends over first side 1906 and second side 2006 of article of footwear 1600. Transition region 1904 is preferably the region where outsole 1903 joins with upper 1604. In particular, transition region 1904 includes bottom surface 1902 of upper 1604.

Water repelling member 1650 preferably includes outer periphery 1910. In this preferred embodiment, transition region 1904 and outer periphery 1910 are separated by a distance D7 or greater on first side 1906 and a distance D8 or greater on second side 2006. D7 preferably represents the distance between transition region 1904 and the portion of outer periphery 1910 that is lowest to the ground on first side 1906. Likewise, distance D8 preferably represents the distance between transition region 1904 and the portion of outer periphery 1910 that is lowest to the ground on second side 2006. In other words, water repelling member 1650 is spaced from transition region 1904. With this arrangement, water repelling member 1650 does not extend to bottom surface 1902 of upper 1604, since bottom surface 1902 of upper 1604 is disposed within transition region 1904. This preferred arrangement allows for increased flexibility of upper 1604 over prior designs where a water resistant material is applied over a region of the bottom surface of an upper, reducing flexibility in this region.

For clarity, the current embodiment includes flattened gripping members. In other embodiments, however, water repelling member 1650 could be associated with gripping members including multiple surface orientations, such as many of the previous embodiments of a gripping system. Generally, water repelling member 1650 could be associated with any type of gripping system that is configured to facilitate increased control in kicking for a user.

FIGS. 21-23 are a preferred embodiment of article of footwear 1600 including gripping system 1602 intended to illustrate the function of water repelling member 1650. In the embodiment shown here, athlete 2202 is stepping into puddle 2204. As article of footwear 1600 is placed into puddle 2204, water is generally displaced, resulting in a small upwards and horizontally directed splash 2206. FIG. 22 is a close up of a preferred embodiment of a portion of article of footwear 1600 immediately following this splashing. It is clear from FIG. 22 that water beads 2302 have formed on first portion 2304 of upper 1604, where first portion 2304 does not include water repelling member 1650. However, second portion 2306 of upper 1604 which includes water repelling member 1650, does not include any water beads. In other words, water has been repelled from water repelling member 1650. Although only a portion of gripping system 1602 is shown in FIG. 22, it should be understood that water is generally repelled from all portions associated with gripping system 1602 which is disposed above water repelling member 1650.

FIG. 23 is a preferred embodiment of an athlete kicking ball 2402 just after article of footwear 1600 has experienced splashing. While the majority of upper 1604 includes water beads 2302, gripping system 1602, which is disposed above water repelling member 1650, is generally dry. Therefore, as ball 2402 contacts gripping system 1602, ball 2402 may not slip on gripping members 1610-1616, allowing for gripping system 1602 to remain, fully or close to fully, functional in wet conditions.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, the description is intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting and it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents. Also, various modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the attached claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8196322 *May 29, 2009Jun 12, 2012Nike, Inc.Article of footwear with ball control portion
US8726540May 13, 2011May 20, 2014SR Holdings, LLCFootwear
US8826566May 13, 2011Sep 9, 2014SR Holdings, LLCFootwear
US8943711Apr 5, 2011Feb 3, 2015Nike, Inc.Article of footwear with a water repelling member
US20100299967 *May 29, 2009Dec 2, 2010Nike, Inc.Article Of Footwear With Ball Control Portion
Classifications
U.S. Classification36/133, 36/114
International ClassificationA43B5/00
Cooperative ClassificationA43B7/12, A43B5/025, A43B5/02
European ClassificationA43B5/02B, A43B7/12, A43B5/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 5, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: NIKE, INC., OREGON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HOOPER, PAUL;REEL/FRAME:020463/0960
Effective date: 20080129