Patents

Search All Patents:



  This Patent May Be For Sale or Lease. Contact Us

  Is This Your Patent? Claim This Patent Now.







Register or Login To Download This Patent As A PDF




United States Patent Application 20020083621
Kind Code A1
Durocher, Jacques July 4, 2002

Lacing device

Abstract

A lacing stud for slidably retaining a lace is disclosed which comprises a curved groove defined transversely by an inner side surface, an outer side surface and a bottom surface in between said inner side surface and said outer side surface. The curved groove features a braking means that partially restricts the sliding motion of the lace and is located within a portion of the curved groove which is engaged to the lace during the exertion of a pulling force on the lace in the normal upward lace tightening direction. When the pulling force is reduced, the lace is restricted from sliding back through the curved groove by the braking means thereby allowing the user to easily bring the lace across the front of the footwear to either complete the knot or to engage the lace to a subsequent lacing stud.


Inventors: Durocher, Jacques; (St-Jerome, CA)
Correspondence Address:
    SMART & BIGGAR
    Suite 3400
    1000 de la Gauchetiere Street West
    Montreal
    QC
    H3B 4W5
    CA
Serial No.: 791550
Series Code: 09
Filed: February 26, 2001

Current U.S. Class: 36/50.5; 36/50.1
Class at Publication: 36/50.5; 36/50.1
International Class: A43C 011/00; A43B 005/04


Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Dec 28, 2000CA2,329,700

Claims



I claim:

1. A lacing stud for slidably retaining a lace, said lacing stud comprising: a post having a top portion, a lower portion and an intermediate portion between said top portion and said lower portion; mounting means for mounting said lacing stud to a footwear, said mounting means being connected to said post; said post including a curved groove generally parallel to said mounting means and extending at least partially around the periphery of said post in said intermediate portion thereof for defining a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein, said curved groove having braking means for impeding sliding motion of the lace when a pulling force is applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction; said braking means being disposed within a portion of said curved groove which is engaged by the lace during exertion of a pulling force applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction; said braking means restricting the lace from sliding back through said curved groove even when the pulling force applied to the lace is substantially less than that required for normal lace tightening.

2. A lacing stud as defined in claim 1, wherein said mounting means comprises a thin planar anchoring base extending at least partially around said post.

3. A lacing stud as defined in claim 1, wherein said curved groove is defined transversely by an inner side surface, an outer side surface and a bottom surface extending between said inner side surface and said outer side surface.

4. A lacing stud as defined in claim 3, wherein said braking means comprises at least one braking tooth protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface.

5. A lacing stud as defined in claim 4, wherein said braking means comprises a pair of opposing teeth, one of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said inner side surface, the other of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said outer side surface, said pair of opposing teeth defining a braking zone.

6. A lacing stud as defined in claim 4, wherein said braking means comprises a first tooth protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface and a second and third opposing tooth protruding from the other of said inner side surface or said outer side surface; said first, second and third tooth disposed in a triangle formation defining a braking zone.

7. A lacing stud as defined in claim 4, further comprising an insertion restriction adapted to partially enclose the lace within said curved groove such that a lace has to be snapped in and out of engagement with said curved groove.

8. A lacing stud as defined in claim 7 wherein said insertion restriction is shaped as a snapping knob protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface.

9. A lacing stud as defined in claim 1 further comprising a marker adapted to position said curved groove relative to a boot opening during installation of said lacing stud onto a boot.

10. A skate boot comprising a sole and an upper; said upper including a left quarter and a right quarter disposed at opposite sides of said upper and defining an opening therebetween for insertion of the user's foot inside said boot; said boot including a tongue depending from a toe area and connected thereto, said tongue closing said opening and providing cushioning means for a front portion of the user's foot and ankle; said upper further comprising: a plurality of side loops disposed on both sides of said opening; at least one pair of lacing studs for slidably retaining a lace, said lacing stud comprising: a post having a top portion, a lower portion and an intermediate portion between said top portion and said lower portion; mounting means for mounting said lacing stud to a footwear, said mounting means being connected to said post; said post including a curved groove generally parallel to said mounting means and extending at least partially around the periphery of said post in said intermediate portion thereof for defining a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein, said curved groove having braking means for impeding sliding motion of the lace when a pulling force is applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction; said braking means being disposed within a portion of said curved groove which is engaged by the lace during exertion of a pulling force applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction; said braking means restricting the lace from sliding back through said curved groove even when the pulling force applied to the lace is substantially less than that required for normal lace tightening.

11. A skate boot as defined in claim 10, wherein said mounting means comprises a thin planar anchoring base extending at least partially around said post.

12. A skate boot as defined in claims 10, wherein said curved groove is defined transversely by an inner side surface, an outer side surface and a bottom surface extending between said inner side surface and said outer side surface.

13. A skate boot as defined in claim 12, wherein said braking means comprises at least one braking tooth protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface.

14. A skate boot as defined in claim 13, wherein said braking means comprises a pair of opposing teeth, one of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said inner side surface, the other of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said outer side surface, said pair of opposing teeth defining a braking zone.

15. A skate boot as defined in claim 13, wherein said braking means comprises a first tooth protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface and a second and third opposing tooth protruding from the other of said inner side surface or said outer side surface; said first, second and third tooth disposed in a triangle formation defining a braking zone.

16. A skate boot as defined in claim 13, further comprising an insertion restriction adapted to partially enclose the lace within said curved groove such that a lace has to be snapped in and out of engagement with said curved groove.

17. A skate boot as defined in claim 16 wherein said insertion restriction is shaped as a snapping knob protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface.

18. A lacing stud for slidably retaining a lace, said lacing stud comprising: a post having a top portion, a bottom portion and an intermediate portion between said top portion and said bottom portion; a mounting means for mounting said lacing stud to a footwear, said mounting means integrally connected to said post; said post including a curved groove in said intermediate portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein, said curved groove having braking means for impeding a sliding motion of the lace when a pulling force is applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction; said braking means restricting the lace from sliding back through said curved groove when the pulling force applied to the lace is reduced.

19. A lacing stud as defined in claim 18, wherein said mounting means comprises a thin planar anchoring base surrounding at least a portion of said bottom portion of said post.

20. A lacing stud as defined in claim 19, wherein said curved groove extends above said thin planar anchoring base and across said intermediate section.

21. A lacing stud as defined in claim 18, wherein said curved groove is defined transversely by an inner side wall, an outer side wall and a retaining wall in between said inner side wall and said outer side wall.

22. A lacing stud as defined in claim 21, wherein said braking means comprises at least one braking tooth protruding from said inner wall or said outer wall.

23. A skate boot as defined in claim 22, wherein said braking means comprises a pair of opposing teeth, one of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said inner side surface, the other of said pair of opposing teeth protruding from said outer side surface, said pair of opposing teeth defining a braking zone.

24. A skate boot as defined in claim 22, wherein said braking means comprises a first tooth protruding from said inner side surface or said outer side surface and a second and third opposing tooth protruding from the other of said inner side surface or said outer side surface; said first, second and third tooth disposed in a triangle formation defining a braking zone.
Description



FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a lacing system for an article of footwear and more specifically, the invention relates to a lacing device for fastening a boot.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A most common form of footwear lacing assembly uses a simple lace passing through a series of eyelets located on both sides of the footwear opening. The lace is pulled to close the opening about the user's foot and the tension in the lace can be adjusted for a comfortable fit. This basic system, entirely satisfactory for light shoes having but a few eyelets on each side of the opening, becomes less satisfactory with boots where the length of the lace and the number of eyelets make it cumbersome to adjust the tension along the entire opening of the boot. The lace must often be tightened in sections starting from the lower portion of the opening to the upper portion of the opening while holding on to the lace to maintain the tension when moving the hands to the next section.

[0003] U.S. Pat. No. 245,387 discloses eyelets having V-shaped formations in which the lace is wedged during the tightening process. U.S. Pat. No. 245,387 also discloses a lacing hook having a V-shaped formation of a different design. These eyelets and hooks provide a means of wedging the lace at least partially in order to help in the tightening of the boot. However, the user must still go through the tedious process of tightening the boot section by section. Furthermore, the lace may end up being wedged so tightly that it becomes difficult to pull.

[0004] Some boots have been fitted in the upper portion of the boot with lacing hooks having teeth such that when the bottom portion of the boot is tightened, the lace is engaged to these lacing hooks in order to lock the lace under tension and complete the fastening of the upper part of the boot. Such a lacing hook is partially disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,761,777. These locking hooks by their design do not allow the lace to slide and cannot be used to pull on the lace for tightening. They serve as a lace locking means to assist in the transition point between the lower and upper portion of the boot.

[0005] Canadian Patent No. 1,001,843 discloses a skate boot having a plurality of plastic side loops on each side of the boot's opening instead of the standard eyelets. The interior portion of the side loops has a curvilinear profile, which enables the lace to slide therethrough and allow the user to tighten the lace with a single pull. Top side loops are provided with a locking element in which the user introduces the lace under tension to lock the lace as the user makes the final knot.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,956,823 also discloses a lacing assembly in which a plurality of low friction guide elements are located on each side of the boot's opening and in which the lace passes. Guide/blocking elements are located on each side of the boot opening at the upper end of the lacing zone. The user is able with a single pull on the end of the lace, to tighten the entire lower portion of the boot. The guide/blocking element has a cylindrical sliding portion in which the lace is inserted and a blocking portion comprising a series of teeth. The user pulls the lace in an upward direction through the sliding portion and when the desired tension is attained, brings the lace across the opening and into the blocking portion of the guide/blocking element. The user may complete the knot while the lace tension is maintained.

[0007] Both lacing assemblies disclosed in Canadian Patent No. 1,001,843 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,956,823 use guiding and blocking elements having tunnel-like passageways in which the lace is inserted. The lace must therefor be already threaded into the passageways prior to tightening the boot. For boots of a certain height such as in-line roller skate boots, the insertion of the foot may be impaired or difficult due to the lace being already threaded into the passageways of the last guide/blocking elements positioned at the top portion of the boot. To facilitate the insertion of the foot, the user may have to remove the lace from the last guide/blocking which implies that the user must re-thread the lace into the tunnel-like passageways every time. To alleviate this drawback, Canadian Patent No. 1,001,843 limits the number of side loops to a minimum to provide more length of lace for opening the boot for insertion of the foot. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,956,823, the last guide/blocking elements are positioned on the lower portion of the boot's opening. The ankle portion of the boot must be tightened by other means.

[0008] Finally, in each patent is described a method of tightening the lace comprising a first step of pulling on the lace and a second step of wedging the lace into the blocking portion of the blocking elements. This method therefore entails two movements of the hands; the second movement being deliberately away from the pulling direction in order to secure the lace under tension in the blocking portion.

[0009] Thus there is a need in the footwear industry for a lacing device that alleviates some of the limitations encountered in prior art lacing assemblies, and is capable of acting simultaneously as a guiding member to allow a lace to slide and as a braking member to maintain tension in a lace once tightened.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] It is an object of the present invention to provide a lacing device adapted to acting simultaneously as a guiding member to allow a lace to slide and as a braking member to maintain tension in a lace once tightened.

[0011] In accordance with a broad aspect, the invention provides a lacing stud for slidably retaining a lace, the lacing stud comprising:

[0012] a post having a top portion, a lower portion and an intermediate portion between the top portion and the lower portion and mounting means for mounting the lacing stud to a footwear, the mounting means being connected to the post. The post includes a curved groove generally parallel to the mounting means and extending at least partially around the periphery of the post in the intermediate portion thereof for defining a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein. The curved groove has braking means for impeding sliding motion of the lace when a pulling force is applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction. The braking means is disposed within a portion of the curved groove which is engaged by the lace during exertion of a pulling force applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction. The braking means restricts the lace from sliding back through the curved groove even when the pulling force applied to the lace is substantially less than that required for normal lace tightening.

[0013] Preferably, the braking means comprises at least one locking tooth protruding from the inner side surface or the outer side surface. Advantageously, the braking tooth comprises a leading edge having a mild inclination to allow the lace to slide smoothly in a first direction and a trailing edge having a sharp inclination which restricts the motion of the lace in a second direction opposite the first direction.

[0014] In a specific embodiment, the lacing stud comprises an insertion restriction adapted to partially enclose the lace within the curved groove such that the lace has to be snapped in and out of engagement with the curved groove of the lacing stud.

[0015] In accordance with another broad aspect, the invention provides a boot comprising a sole and an upper including a left quarter and a right quarter disposed at opposite sides of the upper and defining an opening therebetween for insertion of the user's foot inside the boot. The boot includes a tongue depending from a toe area and connected thereto, the tongue closing the opening and providing cushioning means for a front portion of the user's foot and ankle. The upper further comprising:

[0016] a plurality of side loops disposed on both sides of the opening;

[0017] at least one pair of lacing studs for slidably retaining a lace, the lacing stud comprising:

[0018] a post having a top portion, a lower portion and an intermediate portion between the top portion and the lower portion and mounting means for mounting the lacing stud to a footwear, the mounting means being connected to the post. The post includes a curved groove generally parallel to the mounting means and extending at least partially around the periphery of the post in the intermediate portion thereof for defining a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein. The curved groove has braking means for impeding sliding motion of the lace when a pulling force is applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction. The braking means is disposed within a portion of the curved groove which is engaged by the lace during exertion of a pulling force applied to the lace in a normal upward lace tightening direction. The braking means restricts the lace from sliding back through the curved groove even when the pulling force applied to the lace is substantially less than that required for normal lace tightening.

[0019] Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] A detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention is provided herein below, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a boot featuring a first embodiment of a lacing device in accordance with the invention;

[0022] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 1 remove from the boot;

[0023] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 2;

[0024] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the lacing device taken at line 5-5 of FIG. 3 showing the path followed by a lace during tightening and cross over;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the lacing device taken at line 6-6 of FIG. 3 showing the path followed by a lace during tightening and cross over;

[0026] FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 2;

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a lacing device according to a second embodiment of the invention;

[0028] FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 7;

[0029] FIG. 9 a side elevational view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 7; and

[0030] FIG. 10 is a top plan view of the lacing device shown in FIG. 7.

[0031] In the drawings, preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of examples. It is to be expressly understood that the description and the drawings are only for the purpose of illustration and as an aid to understanding. They are not intended to be a definition of the limits of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0032] FIG. 1 illustrates a typical in-line roller skate boot 20 having a sole 22 and an upper 24. Upper 24 includes a left quarter 26 and a right quarter 28 disposed at opposite sides of upper 24 and defining an opening 30 therebetween for insertion of the user's foot inside boot 20. Boot 20 includes a tongue 32 depending from a toe area 34 and connected thereto, tongue 32 closing opening 30 and to the extent required, providing cushioning for the front portion of the user's ankle and foot.

[0033] Inner edges 36 and 38 of quarters 26 and 28 which define opening 30, include a plurality of side loops 40 arranged in opposing pairs evenly spaced apart along the lower portion of opening 30. A single bottom loop 41 is provided at the bottom edge of opening 30. Two sets of lacing studs 42a and 42b are disposed on each side of the ankle portion of each quarter 26 and 28 at a short distance from edges 36 and 38 of opening 30. A lace 45 passes through bottom loop 41 and through each side loop 40 in a conventional crisscross fashion. Above the series of side loops 40, lace 45 is anchored to first and second sets of lacing studs 42a and 42b, after which, a knot 49 is tied and boot 20 is fully fastened.

[0034] Each side loop 40 comprises an inner portion 46 enclosed in a fabric band 47 which is wrapped around inner plastic portion 46 thereby closing the loop and preventing lace 45 from exiting side loops 40. Side loops 40 are sewn or otherwise attached to the interior portion of edges 36 and 38. The interior portion of side loop 40 where lace 45 is nested consists essentially of a plastic pathway on which lace 45 is able to slide easily. Side loops 40 are designed to reduce the lace friction to a minimum to allow the user to tighten the lower portion of boot 20 with a single pulling action on the lace ends. Prior to engaging lace 45 to the first set of lacing studs 42a, the user grips the ends of lace 45 above the series of side loops 40 and pulls to tighten the lower portion of boot 20. The low friction side loops 40 provides a substantially even distribution of the lace tension to each pair of opposing side loops 40. Once the lower portion of opening 30 is firmly tightened, the user then simply loops lace 45 around lacing studs 42a and 42b to complete the fastening of skate boot 20.

[0035] FIGS. 2-6 illustrate a first embodiment of a lacing stud 42 isolated from boot 20. Lacing stud 42 is a molded plastic piece comprising a central post 50 and a thin planar anchoring base 52. Post 50 comprises a top portion 51, an intermediate portion 53 and a lower portion 55. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, lacing studs 42a and 42b are installed under the layer of material 25 making up the exterior portion of boot 20, into apertures 27 made in external material 25; apertures 27 having the general shape of the central post 50. Anchoring base 52 of lacing studs 42a and 42b and the exterior layer of material 25 are sewn together as depicted by stitching lines 54 and 57; the thickness of anchoring base 52 being sufficiently thin to allow stitching therethrough. Other means of securing lacing studs 42 to boot 20 such as riveting or gluing could be used as well. The boot construction itself may dictate the preferred type of fastening of lacing stud 42 to the boot. For example, a hard shell skate boot may require rivets to properly secure lacing studs 42 to the boot. The anchoring portion of lacing studs 42 may easily be modified to accommodate different types of fastening. The use of rivets requires a least one hole and preferable a pair of holes to be made in anchoring base 52 to accommodate the rivets which may then be fastened to the boot.

[0036] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of lacing stud 42 shown with anchoring base inserted under the exterior layer of material 25 of boot 20. The intermediate portion 53 of post 50 comprises a curved groove 60 defined by transversely by an inner side surface 54, an outer side surface 56 and a bottom surface 58 extending between inner side surface 54 and outer side surface 56. Curved groove 60 extends at least partially around the periphery of post 50 and defines a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged therein. Curved groove 60 is oriented substantially parallel to anchoring base 52 and therefor parallel to the side of boot 20 when installed.

[0037] Curved groove 60 includes braking means for impeding sliding motion of the lace. The braking means includes in a specific embodiment, a pair of teeth 62a and 62b projecting toward one another and protruding from inner side surface 54 and from outer side surface 56 respectively to reduce the dimension of curved groove 60 thereby restricting the passage of the lace when the latter is engaged into curved groove 60. The outer side surface 56 further comprises an insertion restriction in the form of a snapping knob 64 extending across the entry of curved groove 60 to partially enclose the lace within curved groove 60 such that the lace must be forced in and out of engagement with lacing stud 42. Knob 64 restricts the entrance of the lace into curved groove 60 at a single point by reducing the the distance between the end of knob 64 and inner side surface 54 to a distance smaller than the lace diameter such that the user must snap the lace into lacing stud 42 in order to engage groove 60. In use, knob 64 prevents the lace from unduly disengaging lacing stud 42 yet enable the user to disengage the lace easily. As shown in FIG. 3, knob 64 extends downwardly from outer side surface 56 and its end restricts entry into groove 60.

[0038] FIGS. 4 and 5 are cross-sectional views of the interior portion of lacing stud 42 depicting the curved profile of groove 60. As shown in FIG. 4, a lace 45 is illustrated in dotted lines following a generally curvilinear path around a portion of post 50. The curvilinear profile of groove 60 enable lace 45 to slide unhindered up to the point where it engages braking teeth 62a and 62b. Tooth 62a (opposite tooth 62b, FIG. 5) is located into the path of lace 45 when the latter is engaged to bottom surface 58 and is being pulled in the normal direction "P". In this specific location, teeth 62a and 62b provide the dual function of allowing lace 45 to slide although partially hindered in direction "P" and preventing the sliding back of lace 45 when the user reduced the exertion of tension on lace 45. Once the desired tightening of lace 45 is reached, lace 45 is brought across opening 36 of skate boot 20 and in the same motion is brought into contact with the exiting portion 70 of curved groove 60. Exiting portion 70 may take on a variety of shapes since it is non-essential and could be removed altogether without impairing the workings of lacing stud 42.

[0039] FIG. 5 illustrates the outer side surface 56 of curved groove 60 with braking tooth 62b protruding therefrom. As shown, lace 45 engages braking tooth 62b when lace 45 is being pulled in the normal pulling direction "P". Teeth 62b and 62a (FIG. 4) are substantially triangular and feature a leading edge 68 having a mild inclination to allow lace 45 to slide relatively smoothly in direction "P", and a trailing edge 67 having a sharper inclination to restrict the sliding motion of lace 45 in the opposite direction. As previously described, knob 64 also protrudes from outer side surface 56 and partially prevents the disengagement of lace 45 from locking stud 42.

[0040] FIG. 6 illustrates lacing stud 42 viewed from the back of the boot with an arrow "P" showing the normal upward lace tightening direction. As can be seen, the profile of tooth 62a is substantially triangular with a leading edge 68 having a mild inclination to allow the lace to slide relatively smoothly in direction "P" and a trailing edge 67 having a sharp inclination which restricts the motion of the lace in the opposite direction. The profile of tooth 62b is a mirror image of tooth 62a as best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5. The general shape of teeth 62a and 62b requires the user to exert on the lace ends a pulling force which exceeds the force necessary for tightening the footwear by an amount of force at least superior to the force necessary to overcome the restriction of teeth 62a and 62b against the sliding motion of lace 45 in the direction "P". When the pulling force is reduced and the lace brought transversely across opening 36 as shown in FIG. 1, the lace is restricted from sliding back through curved groove 60 by the sharper trailing edges 67 of teeth 62a and 62b.

[0041] Referring back to FIG. 1, when the user engages lace 45 to lacing studs 42a on each side of boot 29, the user exerts a pulling force on the ends of lace 45 in the direction "P" corresponding to the normal upward lace tightening motion when he or she is wearing boot 20. Lace 45 is therefor engaged to curved groove 60 which is provided with braking means in the shape of teeth protruding from the inner and outer side surfaces of curved groove 60 as previously described, while lace 45 is being pulled in the normal upward pulling direction "P". The braking means impedes the sliding motion of lace 45 yet allows lace 45 to be pulled upward in the direction "P" such that boot 20 may be tightened. However if and when the user releases the tension on lace 45, lace 45 is refrained from sliding back through curved groove 60 by the braking means located in the lace path. The user may therefore tighten lace 45 while engaged to lacing studs 42a and then bring lace 45 transversely across opening 36 to the other side in a normal crisscross fashion while exerting very little tension on lace 45 since lace 45 is restricted from sliding back by the braking means. Each lace end is then brought transversely across opening 36 to reach the upper lacing studs 42b and in a similar fashion, lace 45 is pulled in the normal upward lace tightening direction "P" for further tightening of the ankle portion 24 of boot 20. The user may then complete knot 49 without having to maintain a substantial tension on the lace end.

[0042] When fastening a boot featuring standard lacing hooks, the user normally transfers each lace ends to the other hand and must maintain the tension on the lace while doing so. If tension must be maintain on each lace end, the hand transfer is somewhat awkward however if lace 45 is prevented from sliding back by a lacing device such as lacing studs 42a or 42b, the user may leisurely transfer each lace end to the other hand when fastening the upper portion of boot 20.

[0043] Lacing studs 42 enable the user to tighten lace 45 in a single step or pulling action without having to, as a second step, bring lace 45 into engagement with some locking portion. Lace 45 being already engaged to the braking means when the user is pulling on the lace ends along the normal upward pulling direction "P", lace 45 is restricted from sliding back through lacing stud 42 without requiring the user to lock the lace as a second step to the pulling action. This simplifies the overall tightening operation of a boot.

[0044] FIGS. 7 to 10 illustrate a second embodiment of a lacing stud according to the invention. In FIG. 7, a lacing stud 80 is shown having a substantially circular post 82 and a thin planar anchoring base 84 for the purpose of securing lacing stud 80 to the exterior layer of material of a skate boot as previously described. Post 82 generally comprises a top portion 51, an intermediate portion 53 and a lower portion 55. The intermediate portion 53 of post 82 comprises a curved groove 83 generally parallel to anchoring base 84 and extending at least partially around the periphery of post 82. Curved groove 83 defines a neck portion for guiding and slidably retaining a lace engaged thereto. Curved groove 83 is defined transversely by an inner side surface 90, an outer side surface 92 and a bottom surface 94. Curved groove 83 comprises three braking teeth 85, 86 and 87 as braking means to restrict the sliding motion of a lace engaged thereto.

[0045] Anchoring base 84 is illustrated as completely surrounding post 82. However, anchoring base 84 may extend only partially around post 82. Indeed anchoring base 84 may extend on the side of curved groove 83 such that the extension of anchoring base 84 provides a retaining force to lacing stud 80 which counteracting the pulling force in the direction "P" and the lace tension once the boot is fastened.

[0046] As shown in FIG. 8, a first braking tooth 96 having a substantially triangular profile protrudes from outer side surface 92, its leading and trailing edges having substantially the same angle. A second braking tooth 97 and a third braking tooth 98 protrude from inner side surface 90 and are disposed one on each side of the opposing first braking tooth 96 thereby creating a braking zone in curved groove 83 of lacing stud 80. The braking zone portion has reduced dimension for restricting the passage of a lace 45 when the latter is engaged into curved groove 83 and is bearing against bottom wall 94. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 10, the three braking teeth 96, 97 and 98 are positioned such that they engaged lace 45 when the user is pulling lace 45 in the direction "P".

[0047] As shown more specifically in FIG. 8, braking teeth 96, 97 and 98 form a braking zone in which lace 45 must snake its way through causing restriction of the sliding motion of lace 45 and partially blocking lace 45. Second braking tooth 97 and third braking tooth 98 feature a generally triangular profile. First braking tooth 96, which is disposed opposite second and third braking teeth 97 and 98, also has a substantially triangular profile and is positioned half way between second and third braking teeth 97 and 98. The combination of teeth 96, 97 and 98 forms a restriction into curved groove 83 which impedes sliding motion of lace 45. The braking zone of lacing stud 80 thereby enables the user to tighten his or her boot in a simple and convenient single step procedure that requires only to pull in a normal upward direction "P" prior to crossing the lace to the following lacing stud 80 or completing the knot.

[0048] As shown in FIG. 9, braking tooth 96 together with opposing braking teeth 97 and 98 reduce the dimension of curved groove 83 such that a normal lace is squeezed by teeth 96, 97 and 98 and is restricted from freely sliding once engaged to lacing stud 80. As shown specifically in FIGS. 9 and 10, lacing stud 80 is provided with a marker 100 protruding from lower portion 55 of post 80. Marker 100 is a reference point during installation and positioning of lacing stud 80 onto a boot. Since lacing stud 80 has a circular configuration, it may be installed improperly on a boot. To avoid this eventuality, marker 100 is positioned opposite curved groove 83 such that during installation, marker 100 must be oriented facing the opening 36 of boot 20 (FIG. 1). Advantageously, the circular configuration of lacing stud 80 as well as the symmetry in the teeth pattern permits lacing stud to be mounted on either side of a boot opening. Whether installed on the right side or the left side of the boot's opening, marker 100 simply has to be oriented toward the boot's opening to ensures that curved groove 83 is oriented away from the opening so that it can perform properly on either side. In the proper orientation, lacing stud 80 provides the dual function of allowing lace 45 to slide, although partially hindered in direction "P", and preventing the sliding back of lace 45 when the user reduces the pulling tension on the ends of lace 45. Once the desired tightening of lace 45 is reached, the user brings lace 45 across the boot's opening using only minimal force on the lace ends.

[0049] In the specific embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 7-10, the overall shape and configuration of teeth 96, 97 and 98 requires the user to exert on the lace ends, a pulling force in the direction "P" which exceeds the force necessary to overcome the restriction of teeth 96, 97 and 98 against the sliding motion of lace 45 in order to tighten lace 45. In this embodiment however, the sliding restriction of lace 45 caused by teeth 96, 97 and 98 is identical in both directions due to the symmetrical disposition of teeth 96, 97 and 98. As previously described, when the pulling force on the lace ends is reduced, the lace is restricted from sliding back through curved groove 83 by teeth 96, 97 and 98, therefore easing the handling of lace 45 when it is brought transversely across opening 36 (FIG. 1) of boot 20 to either complete the knot or to engage the following lacing stud 80 disposed across boot 20.

[0050] In each embodiment of lacing studs 42 and 80, the braking means is shown as being positioned substantially parallel to the normal upward lace tightening direction "P". However it is understood that the braking means may be positioned at any point within curved grooves 60 or 83 which is engaged to lace 45 when the latter is being pulled along direction "P". For example, the braking means of curved grooves 60 or 83 may be located in a position preceding the segment of curved grooves which is parallel to the normal upward lace tightening direction "P" illustrated in the Figures. Lacing studs 42 or 80 would still perform their function of braking lace 45 and preventing its sliding back motion such that the user does not have to insert lace 45 into a lace blocking area. Lacing studs 42 and 80 simultaneously allow the user to tighten lace 45 while providing adequate braking to prevent lace 45 from sliding back through curved groove when the tension is reduced on lace 45.

[0051] The above description of preferred embodiments should not be interpreted in a limiting manner since other variations, modifications and refinements are possible within the spirit and scope of the present invention. The scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

* * * * *