Patent application title: Anti-Slip Lace
John Arthur Ward, Iv (Chicago, IL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43C700FI
Class name: Buckles, buttons, clasps, etc. drawstring, laced-fastener, or separate essential cooperating device therefor with holding means fixedly mounted on lacing
Publication date: 2011-11-17
Patent application number: 20110277283
A lace with two permanently attached protuberances or ferrules to control
the distance the lace may move through a shoe's lacing system. The
protuberances keep the lace symmetrically positioned between the left and
right sides of the shoe's lacing flaps. This keeps the loose ends of the
lace, also known as tying ends, which extend beyond the top of the shoe's
lacing system, equal in length. The lace may be used on any laceable item
in addition to shoes.
1. A lace for use on an item having lacing eyelets of a predetermined
size, comprising, a. lace, b. a pair of protuberances of a size larger
than the opening of said eyelets, each protuberance permanently attached
to said lace, each protuberance being disposed on one side of the
midpoint of said lace so a first protuberance is a specific distance to
the right of said midpoint and a second protuberance is disposed said
specific distance to the left of said midpoint, whereby said lace will be
easier to lace symmetrically into said item and the tying ends of said
lace will always be equal in length.
2. The lace of claim 1 wherein said protuberances each comprise a rectangular cross-member.
3. The lace of claim 1 wherein said protuberances each comprise a circular collar.
4. The lace of claim 1 wherein said protuberances each comprise a rod-like cross-member.
5. The lace of claim 1 wherein said protuberances each comprise a pair of flat, wing-like appendages.
6. The lace of claim 1 wherein said protuberances are fabricated from a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, metal, leather, wood, and textile material.
7. The lace of claim 1 wherein said item is a shoe and said lace is a shoelace.
8. A lace which resists asymmetrical positioning, comprising, a. an elongated lace of a flexible material, b. a pair of ferrules mounted symmetrically on said lace at equidistant locations from a midpoint of said lace, said ferrules each having a size greater than the cross-sectional size of said lace, whereby said lace will be easier to lace into an item having eyelets of a size smaller than said ferrules and the ends of said lace will always be equal in length.
9. The lace of claim 8 wherein said ferrules each have a cross-member.
10. The lace of claim 8 wherein said ferrules each comprise a circular collar.
11. The lace of claim 8 wherein the said ferrules each comprise a rod-like cross-member.
12. The lace of claim 8 wherein said protuberances are fabricated from a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, metal, leather, wood, and textile material.
13. The lace of claim 8 wherein said item is a shoe and said lace is a shoelace.
14. A method of preventing a lace from being asymmetrically laced in an item having eyelets of a predetermined size, comprising, a. providing an item to be laced, said item comprising a series of lacing eyelets and a center pair of eyelets having a predetermined spacing, b. providing a lace having a midpoint and a pair of protuberances or stops fixed to said lace at respective positions equidistant from said midpoint, and spaced apart by a distance substantially equal to said predetermined spacing so that when laced into said eyelets with said protuberances between said center pair of eyelets, said protuberances will substantially contact said respective eyelets, c. lacing said lace through said eyelets so that protuberances will be between said center pair of eyelets and said lace will extend through at least several more of said eyelets and provide two free ends of equal length, whereby said lace will stay anchored within said lacing system so that the ends of said lace will always be equal in length.
15. The lace of claim 14 wherein said protuberances each comprise a cross-member.
16. The lace of claim 14 wherein said protuberances each comprise a collar.
17. The lace of claim 14 wherein said protuberances each comprise a rod-like cross-member.
18. The lace of claim 14 wherein said protuberances each comprise a pair of flat, wing-like appendages.
19. The lace of claim 14 wherein said protuberances are fabricated from a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, metal, leather, wood, and textile material.
20. The lace of claim 14 wherein said item is a shoe and said lace is a shoelace.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims priority of Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/334,495, filed May 13, 2010, Inventor John A. Ward, Title: "Anti-Slip Shoelace"
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 Not Applicable
SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM
 Not Applicable
 1. Observed Problem
 The general purpose of a shoelace is to secure a shoe to a foot without negatively impacting the fashionable look of the shoe while it is worn. Over the years, many shoelaces have been provided in an attempt to improve the utility of the shoelace and its fashionable impact. As a result, shoelaces today come in many different shapes, colors, and lengths and can be constructed of many different types of materials with specific properties.
 When a person laces a shoe an effort is made to keep the lace balanced equally between the right and left sides of the shoe's lacing flaps so that the two separate ends of the lace that will be used for tying the lace in a knot will each extend an equal distance beyond the top eyelets of the shoe's lacing flaps. A person achieves this equal balance by continually comparing the lengths of the two separate ends after the lace is passed through each pair of lacing eyelets during the lacing process. If there is an imbalance in length between the two separate ends, the person will usually adjust the lace so that balance is restored between the right and left sides before passing the lace through the next pair of eyelets. This process of lacing, comparing, re-balancing, lacing, comparing, re-balancing continues until the shoe is completely laced. Alternatively if the shoe is fully laced in an unbalanced manner the person may loosen the lace on the longer side and pull it through to the shorter side, sometimes repeatedly, until the free ends of the lace are equal in length. The main purpose of this lacing process is to make sure that once the shoe is laced, the resulting tying ends will each be equal in length. By keeping the tying ends equal in length it makes them easier to tie and results in a balanced, aesthetically pleasing knot.
 However, after a lace is balanced it may be compromised over time as a shoe is repeatedly put on, tied, untied, and taken off. The process of putting on or taking off the shoe requires a person to pull the sides of the shoe away from each other so the foot can fit through the shoe's opening. As a result, the shoe's two lacing flaps also spread apart, forcing the lace to slip and become unbalanced. The slippage causes one tying end to become shorter and the other end to become longer. This imbalance will increase each time a shoe is put on or taken off until one of the tying ends becomes too short to be used to tie a secure knot. When this point of extreme imbalance is reached the person will need to un-lace and then re-lace the shoe, or loosen and readjust the lace, to rebalance the two tying ends. Without re-balancing the lace as described the person will be unable to wear the shoe because they will be unable to tie a secure knot.
 Thus, shoelaces have several problems, one of which is the time consuming process required to initially lace a shoe. A second problem arises over an extended period of time where the lace becomes unbalanced, eventually requiring a person to un-lace and then re-lace their shoe, or otherwise rebalance the lace.
 2. Prior Art
 One prior-art shoelace is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,477,151 to Stapleton (1944). Stapleton's shoelace is a long, flat first member with a second member woven through the first member to make the knot more secure and less likely to come untied. Stapleton states that the materials and manner of construction enable a better knot to be tied while still enabling the lace to pass through the eyelets. Stapleton's lace is designed so that its whole length can pass through the eyelets of a shoe, which means it will suffer from the slippage discussed earlier.
 A second prior-art shoelace is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,513,210 B1 to Gonzalez (2003). Gonzalez shows a cord which may be used as a shoelace; the cord is constructed with a core of elastic material housed within a flexible sheath so that it "can be used to fasten, tie or adjust an object while requiring no knot or mechanical device to prevent unfastening or slippage in the cording". It achieves these results because the elastic core, when not being stretched by force, bunches up and forms bulges too large to fit through an eyelet at specific points along the cord's length. When the cord is stretched the bulges disappear and the cord is able to pass through the eyelets of a lacing system. It is apparent then that a person using Gonzalez's cord to lace a shoe will experience the same, or potentially longer, process of balancing the cord within the lacing system as any other shoelace. The process might be longer because the person will now need to stretch and release the cord repeatedly to get the bulges placed appropriately in relation to the eyelets so that the shoe is sufficiently secure on the foot. Lastly, when the cord is used as intended, the bulges sit on top of the eyelets on the outside surface of the lacing system in plain sight. These bulges are unattractive and negatively impact the traditional style of a dress shoe.
 A third lace is shown in U.S. Published patent application Ser. No. 11/329,311 of Kraft (2006). Kraft introduces a shoelace with the usual two aglets at the respective ends of the lace and a third aglet positioned near the center of the lace; this third aglet may be used as a centering device. However, Kraft's third aglet is the same size as the aglets at the ends of the lace and thus is able to pass through the lacing eyelets. This makes Kraft's third aglet solely a visual guide for centering and not a physical barrier that guarantees a centered shoelace. As such, Kraft's shoelace fails to prevent a shoelace from slipping and does not make the lacing process simpler.
 Accordingly various advantages of one or more aspects is the provision of an anti-slip lace that does not have to be un-laced and then re-laced, or otherwise adjusted, as the tying ends cannot become unequal over time. To provide a lace that does not have ends that the user needs to compare and re-balance while lacing a shoe, to enable a shoe to be laced faster and simpler and yet always results in equal tying ends. To provide a lace which is automatically balanced yet the classic look of a dress shoe is not compromised, and to provide a lace that makes it easy for the visually impaired or blind population to lace a shoe as it will always result in a properly laced shoe with equal tying ends.
 In accordance with one embodiment an anti-slip lace comprises a lace having a pair of protuberances of a size larger than the opening of a lacing eyelet, each protuberance permanently attached to said lace. Each protuberance is disposed on one side of the midpoint of the lace so a first protuberance is a specific distance to the right of said midpoint and a second protuberance is disposed a specific distance to the left of the midpoint. Thus the lace will be easier to lace symmetrically into an item and the tying ends of the lace will always be equal in length.
 FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of an anti-slip lace.
 FIG. 2 shows one assemblage of a protuberance and a lace.
 FIG. 3 shows a protuberance utilizing a pivoting member.
 FIG. 4A to 4D show several different protuberances used with the lace.
 FIG. 5 shows the anti-slip lace being laced into a shoe.
 FIG. 6 shows a laced shoe with tying ends equal in length.
 10--Shoe  15--Lace  16--Lace midpoint  17--First tying-end  18--Second tying-end  19--Aglet  21--Protuberance  25--Lacing Eyelet  30--Lacing System  31--Flap  40--Plastic tape  41--Cross-member  42--Rivet  43--Ferrule
 FIG. 1 shows a lace 15 with an aglet 19 at the tip of each of ends 17 and 18. The lace has means for anchoring it within a lacing system of a shoe in the form of two protuberances, collars, ferrules, or stops 21. Each protuberance is positioned an equal distance from the lace's midpoint 16 so that one protuberance 21 is to the right of midpoint 16 and the other protuberance 21 is to the left of midpoint 16. Each protuberance may be attached to lace 15 by any common method, including crimping, gluing, riveting, high-pressure heat treatment utilizing a solvent, or any other method that will provide a permanent connection of the protuberance to the lace. The protuberance may be made of lace material, other fabric, leather, plastic tape, acetate tape, aglet material, fibers, wood or metal, and it may take any form deemed suitable for the purpose. Preferably, as shown in FIG. 2B, protuberance 21A is formed using two pieces of plastic tape 40 that sandwich lace 15. Plastic tape pieces 40 and lace 15 are then bonded together using controlled heat and a solvent, such as acetone, and pressure so that plastic tape pieces 40 are bonded directly onto lace 15 as well as bonding the two lengths of plastic tape 40 together.
 A perspective view of this particular shape is shown in FIG. 2A, where protuberance 21A has wings that extend out from lace 15 to prevent it from passing through an eyelet and the thickness of the wings on protuberance 21A is less than lace 15 to prevent a bulge from occurring in the lacing flap that will sit on top of it.
 FIG. 3A shows another protuberance 21B comprising a cross-member 41 that is attached to lace 15 by encasing lace 15 with a short ferrule 43 and passing a rivet 42 through cross-member 41, ferrule 43, and lace 15 with enough play so that cross-member 41 can pivot.
 FIG. 3B shows protuberance 21B with cross-member 41 in two possible positions. In a first position cross-member 41 is aligned with lace 15, making it capable of passing through an eyelet. In a second position cross-member 41 is perpendicular to lace 15, making it incapable of passing through an eyelet. This is one example of a protuberance that allows an outside-to-inside lacing process as well as an inside-to-outside lacing process.
 FIG. 4A shows another protuberance comprising a collar 21C with a diameter sufficient to prevent passage through an eyelet.
 In FIG. 4B protuberance 21D comprises a collar with a diameter sufficient to prevent passage through an eyelet and a minimal thickness to prevent a bulge from occurring in the lacing flap that will sit on top of it.
 FIG. 4C shows a protuberance 21E that comprises an asymmetrical collar with a width sufficient to prevent passage through an eyelet and a minimal thickness to prevent a bulge from occurring in the lacing flap that will sit on top of it.
 Protuberance 21F in FIG. 4D comprises a circular collar with extension arms or wings extending out on opposite sides a sufficient length to prevent passage through an eyelet. The collar has sufficient thickness to prevent a bulge from occurring in the lacing flap that will sit on top of it.
 Even though several examples have been shown, many other shapes are possible; the only requirements are that each protuberance must be of sufficient size so that it cannot fit through a lacing eyelet, and it must not create a visible bulge when positioned under a lacing flap. For example, if the eyelets have a diameter of 1/8 inch, the protuberances are required to have a diameter or width greater than 1/8 inch. In this example, the measurements used are exemplary and other sizes can be used.
 On a lace intended to be used with an inside-to-outside lacing method, the protuberances should be positioned so that the distance between protuberances' outside edges is slightly less than the distance between lacing eyelets while keeping the midpoint of the lace centered between the first set of lacing eyelets. As an example, if the eyelets are spaced 1 inch apart, the protuberances would each be fixed at a point on the lace less than a 1/2 inch from the midpoint of the lace. Alternatively, on a lace intended to be used with an outside-to-inside lacing method, the protuberances should be positioned so that the distance between protuberances' inside edges is slightly greater than the distance between lacing eyelets while keeping the midpoint of the lace centered between the first set of lacing eyelets. As an example, if the eyelets are spaced 1 inch apart, the protuberances would each be fixed at a point on the lace greater than a 1/2 inch from the midpoint of the lace. In these examples, the measurements used are exemplary and other sizes can be used.
 FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of anti-slip lace 15 being laced into a lacing system 30 of a shoe 10. Lace 15 is passed through a first pair of lacing eyelets 25 closest to the toe of the shoe using an inside-to-outside lacing method. The first pair of lacing eyelets is also referred to as a center pair of eyelets, as they will be the lacing eyelets closest to the center of the lace when it is laced into an item. Protuberances 21 are permanently attached to lace 15 and are purposefully positioned so they will sit between the first pair of eyelets 25 closest to the toe of shoe 10. With protuberances 21 positioned this way, lace 15 can only be pulled through eyelet 25 a fixed, predetermined length, i.e., the distance between ends 17 and 18 and the respective protuberances 21 on each side of midpoint 16. When lace 15 is pulled through the first pair of eyelets 25 protuberances 21 will contact eyelets 25 and thereby stop further movement of lace 15. Protuberances 21 are able to stop further movement of lace 15 because they are too large to fit through eyelets 25. This provides an anchoring means for lace 15 that keeps tying ends 17 and 18 equal in length. As shown, each protuberance 21 can be seen neatly seated against a respective eyelet 25, unable to go any further. In this manner, the size of each protuberance 21 keeps lace 15 from slipping in either direction and thereby anchors lace 15 symmetrically within lacing system 30. Additionally, protuberances 21 will be hidden under flaps 31 of lacing system 30 so they will not be visible to an observer.
 Protuberances 21 are used to make the time-consuming task of measuring and equalizing the length of lace 15 after it passes through each pair of eyelets 25 when lacing a shoe unnecessary. As shown in FIG. 1, since protuberances 21 divide lace 15 into a left side and a right side each of equal lengths, tying ends 17 and 18 (FIG. 6) must always be equal in length and can never be of differing lengths. Finally, after shoe 10 is completely laced, a user will be able to tie equal-length loose or free ends 17 and 18 together to form a knot that secures shoe 10 to a foot.
CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS AND SCOPE
 Thus it has been shown that my non-slip lace provides a simple solution to the problems of uneven tying ends. While historically a person needed to un-lace and then re-lace their shoe or loosen and adjust the lace to solve this problem, my improved lace makes this process unnecessary.
 Additionally, the lace makes lacing a shoe quicker and simpler. A user will appreciate that protuberances 21 make the task of measuring and equalizing the length of lace 15 after threading it through each pair of lacing eyelets 25 unnecessary because the protuberances equally divide the lace into fixed and equal lengths between the left side and the right side. Those lengths are equal to the distance between protuberance 21 and tying end 17 on one side and protuberance 21 and tying end 18 on the other side so that the tying ends can never be of differing lengths.
 The lace is able to achieve these results without impacting the traditional look of a dress shoe as protuberances 21 are hidden under flaps 31 of the shoe's lacing system 30.
 Although the non-slip laces of the present application have been described with reference to specific embodiments of its parts, materials, fabrication and elements, the specific construction and arrangements have been given only as examples and many modifications and changes are possible. For instance, the laces may be round, flat, square, triangular, oval or any other shape and be of any width. The shape of the protuberances can be circular like a collar, round like a bead, rectangular like a cross-member, thin and straight like a shaft, triangular, oval, pentagonal, hexagonal, flat, or any other shape. Additionally, the shape of the protuberances may be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. Furthermore, while the laces have been described for use on a shoe it should be understood that the laces may be used with any type of footwear, clothing, or other item that is laced, including sneakers, running or athletic shoes, boat shoes, moccasins, boots, corsets, waist gathering laces for jackets or parkas, and nautical items. And while an inside-to-outside lacing method has been used graphically in FIGS. 5 and 6, a suitably designed protuberance 21B (FIG. 3B) will also allow an outside-to-inside lacing method. Therefore the scope of the embodiments should be determined not by the examples given, but rather by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.
Patent applications in class With holding means fixedly mounted on lacing
Patent applications in all subclasses With holding means fixedly mounted on lacing