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United States Patent Application 20160120252
Kind Code A1
Kenna; Lisa May 5, 2016

DEVICE FOR FASTENING OBJECTS TOGETHER, AND HAIR ENHANCEMENT APPARATUS INCORPORATING SAME

Abstract

A device usable for fastening objects together includes a substrate, at least one attachment member facilitating attachment to a first object, at least one attachment member retainer attached to a first side of the substrate, and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate. Each attachment member retainer (e.g., strap, pocket, specially configured stitching) secures one or more attachment members, such as hair clips, to the first side of the substrate. The adhesive layer facilitates attachment of the second side of the substrate to a second object, such as a hair enhancer or a personal accessory. The fastening device may further include a removable backing paper affixed to a side of the adhesive layer which is to be attached to the second object. The fastening device may be pre-attached to a hair enhancer to form a hair enhancement apparatus.


Inventors: Kenna; Lisa; (Boca Raton, FL)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Kenna; Lisa

Boca Raton

FL

US
Family ID: 1000001615045
Appl. No.: 14/927434
Filed: October 29, 2015


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
14846728Sep 4, 2015
14927434
62072159Oct 29, 2014

Current U.S. Class: 132/54 ; 132/53; 24/302; 24/304
Current CPC Class: A44B 17/0058 20130101; A41G 5/0073 20130101
International Class: A41G 5/00 20060101 A41G005/00; A44B 17/00 20060101 A44B017/00

Claims



1. A device usable for fastening a first object to a second object, the device comprising: a substrate; an attachment member facilitating attachment to the first object; at least one retention strap securing the attachment member to a first side of the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the second object.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one retention strap comprises at least one strap securing the attachment member to the first side of the substrate across a length of the attachment member.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one retention strap comprises a plurality of straps securing the attachment member to the first side of the substrate across a width of the attachment member.

4. The device of claim 1, further comprising: a second adhesive layer positioned between the at least one retention strap and the first side of the substrate, the second adhesive layer securing the at least one retention strap to the first side of the substrate.

5. The device of claim 1, further comprising: stitching further securing the attachment member to the substrate.

6. The device of claim 1, further comprising: stitching securing the at last one retention strap to the substrate.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein the adhesive layer defines a first side and an opposing second side, and wherein the first side of the adhesive layer is attached to the second side of the substrate, the device further comprising: a backing paper affixed to the second side of the adhesive layer, the backing paper being removable by a user of the device to enable the adhesive layer to be attached to the second object.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the attachment member facilitates attachment to natural hair of a user and wherein the adhesive layer facilitates attachment of the second side of the substrate to a hair enhancer.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one attachment member retainer comprises at least one retention pocket into which the at least one attachment member is inserted.

10. A device usable for fastening a first object to a second object, the device comprising: a substrate; a plurality of attachment members facilitating attachment to the first object; a plurality of retention straps securing the plurality of attachment members to a first side of the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the second object.

11. The device of claim 10, wherein each of the plurality of retention straps comprises a strap securing an associated attachment member of the plurality of attachment members to the first side of the substrate across a length of the associated attachment member.

12. The device of claim 10, wherein the plurality of retention straps comprises a plurality of pairs of retention straps, and wherein each pair of retention straps secures an associated attachment member of the plurality of attachment members to the first side of the substrate across a width of the associated attachment member.

13. A device usable for fastening a first object to a second object, the device comprising: a substrate; an attachment member facilitating attachment to the first object, the attachment member including a plurality of interconnected side members, at least one side member of the plurality of side members defining two or more spaced apart holes; stitching passing through and between the two or more spaced holes in the at least one side member, the stitching securing the at least one side member to a first side of the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the second object.

14. A device usable for fastening a first object to a second object, the device comprising: a substrate; a plurality of attachment members facilitating attachment to the first object, each attachment member of the plurality of attachment members including two side members interconnected by at least one transverse member, each side member defining two or more vertically spaced holes; first stitching passing through the vertically spaced holes in a first side member of the two side members, the first stitching securing the first side member to the substrate; second stitching passing through the vertically spaced holes in a second side member of the two side members, the second stitching securing the second side member to the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the second object.

15. A device usable for fastening a hair enhancer to natural hair of a person, the device comprising: a substrate; at least one attachment member facilitating attachment to the natural hair of the person; at least one attachment member retainer connected to a first side of the substrate, wherein the at least one attachment member retainer secures the at least one attachment member to the first side of the substrate without the at least one attachment member being secured separately and directly to the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the hair enhancer.

16. The device of claim 15, wherein the at least one attachment member retainer comprises a retention strap extending across a length of an attachment member of the at least one attachment member.

17. The device of claim 15, wherein the at least one attachment member retainer comprises at least one retention pocket into which the at least one attachment member is inserted.

18. A hair enhancement apparatus that is attachable to natural hair of a person, the hair enhancement apparatus comprising: a hair enhancer; and an attachment device attached to the hair enhancer, the attachment device including: a substrate; at least one attachment member facilitating attachment to the natural hair of the person; at least one strap securing the at least one attachment member to a first side of the substrate; and an adhesive layer attaching a second side of the substrate to the hair enhancer.

19. The hair enhancement apparatus of claim 18, wherein the substrate is sized and shaped to accommodate a plurality of attachment members and a plurality of straps.

20. A device usable for attaching a hair enhancer to natural hair of a person, the hair enhancer including strands of hair, the device comprising: a substrate; an attachment member retainer attached to a first side of the substrate and defining a gap; an attachment member positioned within the gap such that the attachment member retainer secures at least a portion of the attachment member to the first side of the substrate without the attachment member being secured separately and directly to the substrate; and an adhesive layer attached to a second side of the substrate, the adhesive layer facilitating attachment of the second side of the substrate to the hair enhancer.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 14/846,728 filed on Sep. 4, 2015, which application is incorporated by this reference as if fully set forth herein. This application also claims the benefit of, and priority under 35 U.S.C. .sctn.119(e) upon, U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/072,159 filed on Oct. 29, 2014 to the full extent of the subject matter disclosed in said provisional application, which application is also incorporated by this reference as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present disclosure relates generally to the fields of fastening/attachment devices and hair enhancement products and, more particularly, to a device for fastening two objects together, and a hair enhancement apparatus incorporating such a fastening device.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] Hair extensions and other stranded hair-based hair enhancers have been used for a long time in the beauty and fashion industries. Many users outside of these areas also use hair extensions because waiting for hair to grow to a desired length naturally may require a long period of time. Other individuals have suffered hair loss for various reasons and wish to acquire or maintain their desired hair styles with wigs, toupees, and other hair enhancers.

[0006] Hair extensions are manufactured from either a synthetic material or natural hair. Several methods of attachment have been used for affixing hair extensions and other hair enhancement devices to a user's natural hair. One such method is to manually spread a liquid adhesive onto the hair extensions to attach the hairs of the hair extensions to the user's natural hair. Another method is to sew hair extensions into a person's natural hair. Both of these methods can be time consuming and damaging to the user's natural hair. Additionally, these methods can result in installation of hair extensions that are difficult to remove from the user's hair.

[0007] An additional method of hair extension attachment is to use one or more hair clips. In one such case, the hair clips may be manually sewn into a backing seam (known as a "weft"), a weave, or a polyurethane backing of the hair extension to allow the hair extension to be manually attached and detached from a user's natural hair, as desired by the user. This attachment technique is cumbersome because the end user or a stylist must sew each individual hair clip by hand or machine to the hair extension. Nevertheless, professional stylists may use such an attachment technique so as to customize the extensions for their clients' needs.

[0008] Many consumer hair extensions can be purchased having hair clips pre-sewn into the extensions. However, pre-sewn extensions do not always have the hair clips located at the most advantageous positions for the style, comfort, fit, or look that is desired by the user.

[0009] A further method for attaching hair extensions to a user's hair is to use double-sided tape. This hair extension attachment method is a more long term or semi-permanent attachment technique, as the extensions can be worn for several weeks to months. However, removal of the extensions is a time-consuming process and requires the use of an adhesive remover or solvent. Thus, this method is not recommended when only daily use and removal of an extension is desired.

[0010] Yet another technique for attaching hair extensions to a user's hair is to use a specially constructed hair addition as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2011/0005544 A1 to Lane. According to this reference, a hair addition (e.g., hair extension) is constructed by laying hair strands adjacent one another, running one or more threads (three threads are preferred) through the top/upper ends of the hair strands to secure the strands together, and applying a layer of polyurethane adhesive on each side of the top ends of the hair strands to sandwich the hair strands and the threads together. The polyurethane is allowed to cure to form a strip at the top end of the hair extension. Hair clips are then attached to the strip of polyurethane by either sewing/stitching them on or by applying an adhesive to a central area of each hair clip. In other words, the hair clips are permanently attached at predetermined locations along the polyurethane strip of the hair addition. Because the hair clips are pre-attached directly to the strip forming the top end of the hair addition itself, the clips are not easily removed or repositioned as may be desired by a user. Thus, the hair addition disclosed in this reference does not facilitate simple customization by a user or a stylist.

[0011] A further technique for attaching hair extensions to a user's hair is to use a specially constructed attachment or fastening device as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2011/0253165 A1 to Kenna. According to this technique, hair clips are secured directly to one side of a strip of flexible material by sewing the clips to the strip of material or by attaching them using an adhesive. An adhesive layer, such as double-sided tape, is attached to the other side of the strip of material and facilitates attachment of the hair extension to the strip of material. The attachment device may be distributed separately and then be subsequently attached to a hair extension by the user or a stylist. For example, a row of hair clips may be attached to the strip of material and the stylist may cutoff the number of clips necessary to attach a particular hair extension to the user's hair. Where the attachment device is distributed independent of a hair extension, the side of the adhesive layer which is used to attach the strip of material to the hair extension may be covered with a removable backing paper to prevent the strip of material from sticking to objects prior to use with a hair extension. Alternatively, the attachment device may be pre-attached to a hair extension and distributed as a combination or kit, thereby eliminating the need for the user or stylist to determine how many clips to use with the hair extension.

[0012] While the attachment device described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2011/0253165 A1 provides greater ease and flexibility than other techniques for attaching hair extensions to users' natural hair, the device has at least one drawback. For example, when the hair clips are sewn to the strip of material, the exposed stitching can have a rough texture and cause discomfort or irritation to the wearer's scalp, especially when the wearer has a medically caused hair loss condition, such as alopecia or hair loss from chemotherapy. Additionally, the exposed stitching may unravel and/or become loose, causing the hair clips to loosen from the strip of material.

SUMMARY

[0013] Generally, the present invention encompasses a device usable for fastening objects together (e.g., a hair enhancer to a person's hair, an accessory or safety item to a person's clothing, purse, or backpack, or any other object to another), a hair enhancement apparatus incorporating such a device, and one or more methods for attaching a hair enhancer to a user's hair using such a device. According to one exemplary embodiment, the fastening device includes a substrate, at least one attachment member facilitating attachment to a first object, at least one attachment member retainer connected to a first side or surface (e.g., a front side) of the substrate, and an adhesive layer attached to a second side or surface (e.g., a back side) of the substrate and facilitating attachment to a second object. The substrate may be sized and shaped to accommodate one attachment member and one attachment member retainer, or a plurality of attachment members (e.g., a row of attachment members) and a plurality of attachment member retainers. Additionally, the substrate may be polyurethane, lace, a lace and polyurethane combination (e.g., lace encased in polyurethane), cloth, plastic, or any other type of support material capable of supporting a predetermined quantity of attachment members, such as, for example, hair clips.

[0014] Each attachment member retainer may be sized and shaped to retain a single attachment member or multiple attachment members. For example, each attachment member retainer may be a retention strap, a set of retention straps, or a pocket attached to the first side of the substrate, where the strap(s) or pocket (as applicable) define one or more gaps into which the attachment member or one or more portions thereof, or multiple attachment members may be inserted. Such an attachment member retainer may have sufficient elasticity and/or tension to hold the attachment member or members and/or secure it or them to the first side of the substrate. Securing of the attachment member or members to the first side of the substrate may occur after or when (a) the attachment member retainer is secured to the first side of the substrate, (b) the attachment member or members, or portions thereof, are inserted into a gap defined by the attachment member retainer alone or collectively by the substrate and the attachment member retainer, or (c) the attachment member retainer is formed around the attachment member or members.

[0015] In an alternative embodiment in which the attachment member includes a plurality of interconnected side members and at least one of the side members defines two or more spaced apart holes (e.g., such as in a conventional hair clip), the attachment member retainer may be stitching that passes through and between the holes so as to secure the particular side member to the first side of the substrate. By passing the stitching through and between the spaced apart holes in the side member, the thread, wire, silk, lace, or other material used to form the stitching rests on a wider section (larger surface area) of the side member, thereby enabling the stitching to maintain a lower profile and increased comfort level as compared to conventional hair clip sewing techniques, which pass the stitching through one hole at a time and around the outside of the side member creating higher profile and much less comfortable bumps.

[0016] According to another exemplary embodiment, each attachment member retainer may hold or secure one or more attachment members to the first side of the substrate without the attachment member or members being secured (or without requiring the attachment member or members to be secured) separately and directly to the substrate. For example, according to this embodiment, the attachment member retainer may hold its associated attachment member or members against the first side of the substrate without any stitching being used to individually secure the attachment member or members to the substrate.

[0017] The adhesive layer facilitates attachment of the second side of the substrate to the second object, which may be a hair enhancer, such as a hair extension, a wig, a toupee, a hairpiece, an integration piece, or a hair accessory, for example. The adhesive layer may be implemented using double-sided tape or any other adhesive material.

[0018] According to another embodiment, the attachment device may further include a backing paper affixed to a side of the adhesive layer which is to be attached to the second object. In such a case, the backing paper may be removable by a user of the device to enable the adhesive layer to be attached to the second object.

[0019] According to a further embodiment in which one or more attachment members are hair clips, prongs of the hair clip or clips may extend in a common direction away from the substrate (e.g., generally perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the substrate) and/or reside generally in a plane parallel to a plane containing the substrate, when the substrate is laid on a flat surface. For example, the hair clip prongs may be generally parallel to and adjacent the substrate, but extend away from the substrate in a manner generally perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the substrate.

[0020] According to another embodiment, the attachment member may be a hair clip and the fastening device may include an elastic, horizontally-oriented, loop-style strap (e.g., a polyurethane or lace strap) that is secured around the hair clip such that a back section of the strap runs along a back side of the clip and a front section of the strap runs along a front side of the clip, but behind or clear of the clip's prongs so as to not interfere with a user's use of the prongs. After the strap has been secured to the hair clip, the outside surface of the back section of the strap may be glued or otherwise secured to the substrate using an adhesive layer. If the fastening device requires additional robustness or strength (e.g., where the fastening device is intended for distribution to and use by ordinary consumers as opposed to only hair styling professionals), additional adhesive may be used to attach the inside surface of the front section of the strap to the inside surface of the back section of the strap. Additionally or alternatively, stitching may be used instead of, or together with, the adhesive to secure the back section and/or front section of the strap to the substrate. Also or alternatively, an adhesive may be used to secure the inside surface of the front section of the strap and/or the inside surface of the back section of the strap to the hair clip. When stitching is used to attach or reinforce attachment of the strap to the substrate, the stitching is preferably located behind the hair clip's prongs so as to be generally hidden from view by the prongs when the fastening device is viewed from the front. The stitching may be generally hidden from view from the back side of the attachment device by use of the optional, removable backing. Concealing the stitching, when included, provides a more aesthetically pleasing appearance to the attachment device. Alternatively or additionally, the stitching may further pass through one or more holes in the side members of the hair clip, but if it does, the stitching may be covered by the front section of the strap so as to generally hide and/or cover the stitching from view and provide a smooth surface over the stitching on the front side of the fastening device. Maintaining a smooth surface over the stitching provides a more comfortable feel for the user and helps to reduce the likelihood that the stitching will unravel and become loose.

[0021] According to another embodiment, the fastening device may be combined with a hair enhancer to form a hair enhancement apparatus. As one example of such an embodiment, the fastening device may be pre-attached to the hair enhancer and supplied as a composite apparatus to provide an easily attachable and detachable hair enhancer. Alternatively, the hair enhancement apparatus may be formed by a user or a stylist by attaching a separately acquired fastening device to a conventional hair enhancer.

[0022] According to another embodiment, the fastening device disclosed herein provides a quick and simple way to convert an existing adhesive hair extension into a clip-in hair extension, without having to sew or otherwise secure each individual clip onto the extension. The fastening device can also be added to hair extensions, other hair enhancers, or other objects that do not have adhesive attachments.

[0023] The fastening device disclosed herein may be customized to accommodate various sizes of hair enhancers or other objects. Additionally, because the fastening device is independent of the objects being secured together, the device may be positioned on and adhered to an object as desired by the user to obtain the most comfortable and secure placement, as well as a desired style, beauty, fit, and ease of changing clip position.

[0024] In addition to hair extensions, some users may wish to use the fastening device to secure other hair enhancers to their hair, such as wigs, toupees, integration pieces, band pieces, top head pieces, halo pieces, hair bangs, and hair ornaments, just to name a few. The fastening device allows users to customize the applications of various hair enhancers, while permitting relatively easy removal of the hair enhancers for changing styles, for cleaning, and for users who find a semi-permanent hair enhancement device uncomfortable.

[0025] The fastening device also provides users who have excessive top head hair thinning or baldness a simple option for modifying existing hairpieces as their hair consistencies change. Thus, the fastening device enables a user to customize his/her hairpiece as the user's hair grows in, such as after chemotherapy for example. Inexpensive customization of existing hairpieces is one important benefit of the fastening device due to the typically expensive nature of many hairpieces.

[0026] In a further embodiment, the fastening device may be used to attach a hair enhancer to natural hair of a person. According to this embodiment, the fastening device is secured to a back side of the hair enhancer. For example, the exposed side of the fastening device's adhesive layer may be pressed against the back side of the hair enhancer at an appropriate location to secure the fastening device to the hair enhancer. Where the to-be-exposed side of the fastening device's adhesive layer is covered by a removable backing paper, the backing paper is removed prior to pressing the fastening device's adhesive layer against the back side of the hair enhancer (e.g., against a polyurethane strip along an upper edge on the back side of the hair enhancer). After the fastening device or multiple fastening devices, as applicable, have been secured to the back side of the hair enhancer, the fastening device (together with the hair enhancer to which it is attached) is positioned on or in the person's hair and the attachment member or members of the fastening device are attached to the person's hair so as to secure the hair enhancer to the person's hair.

[0027] In an alternative embodiment, a hair enhancement apparatus, which already includes attachment fastening device pre-attached to a hair enhancer, may be attached to natural hair of a person. According to this embodiment, the person's hair is horizontally parted to form a part at the location the hair enhancement apparatus is to be installed. After the person's hair has been parted, the hair enhancement apparatus is positioned above or below the part and the attachment member or members of the fastening device are attached to the person's hair so as to secure the hair enhancement apparatus to the user's natural hair. Once the hair enhancement apparatus has been attached, the person's hair from at or above the part may be laid down such that the fastening device is generally concealed.

[0028] Like the attachment device disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2011/0253165 A1, the fastening device disclosed herein facilitates quick and easy installation or attachment of a hair enhancer or other object to another object, as well as easy installation and removal of a hair extension or other hair enhancer to and from a user's hair. However, in contrast to the attachment device disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2011/0253165 A1, the fastening device disclosed herein is more aesthetically pleasing and allows the front side of the fastening device to remain generally smooth, without a loss of functionality and durability. Additionally, pre-attaching the fastening device to a hair enhancer creates a versatile hair enhancement apparatus, which facilitates hair enhancer customization by users and professional stylists.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0029] The accompanying figures, where like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally similar elements throughout the separate views and which together with the detailed description below are incorporated in and form part of the specification, serve to further illustrate various embodiments and to explain various principles and advantages all in accordance with the present disclosure.

[0030] FIG. 1 is a front view of a multi-clip fastening device for use in securing two objects together, in accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0031] FIG. 2 is a substantially exaggerated cross-sectional view of the fastening device of FIG. 1 along the line 2-2.

[0032] FIG. 3 is a front view of a hair clip, with hair clip prongs excluded for clarity purposes, from the exemplary multi-clip fastening device of FIG. 1 showing exemplary use of stitches to assist in securing a strap of the fastening device and/or the hair clip to a substrate of the fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0033] FIG. 4 is a front view of a single clip fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0034] FIG. 5 is a front view of an alternative multi-clip fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0035] FIG. 6 is a front view of another alternative multi-clip fastening device, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0036] FIG. 7 is an exploded front view of a further alternative fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0037] FIG. 8 is a substantially exaggerated cross-sectional view of the fastening device of FIG. 7 along the line 8-8.

[0038] FIG. 9 is an exploded front view of yet another alternative fastening device, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0039] FIG. 10 is a rear view of the fastening device of FIG. 9 in assembled form.

[0040] FIG. 11 is an exploded front view of a further alternative fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0041] FIG. 12 is a front view of the fastening device of FIG. 11 in assembled form, with hair clip prongs excluded for clarity purposes.

[0042] FIG. 13 is a rear view of the fastening device of FIG. 11 in assembled form.

[0043] FIG. 14 illustrates a hair enhancement apparatus, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0044] FIG. 15 illustrates an alternative hair enhancement apparatus, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0045] FIG. 16 is a front view of an alternative fastening device, in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0046] FIG. 17 is an exploded front view of an alternative fastening device, in accordance with yet another exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0047] FIG. 18 is a substantially exaggerated cross-sectional view of the fastening device of FIG. 17 along the line 18-18.

[0048] FIG. 19 is an exploded front view of a further alternative fastening device, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0049] FIG. 20 is a front view of the fastening device of FIG. 19 in assembled form.

[0050] FIG. 21 is a substantially exaggerated cross-sectional view of the fastening device of FIG. 19 along the line 21-21.

[0051] FIG. 22 is an exploded front view of another alternative fastening device, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0052] FIG. 23 is a front view of the fastening device of FIG. 22 in assembled form.

[0053] FIG. 24 is an exaggerated cross-sectional view of the fastening device of FIG. 22 along the line 24-24.

[0054] FIG. 25 is a front view of an alternative fastening device, in accordance with a further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0055] Skilled artisans will appreciate that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of most, if not all, of the elements in the figures have been exaggerated alone or relative to other elements to help facilitate a better understanding of the various embodiments described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0056] Before describing in detail exemplary embodiments that are in accordance with the present disclosure, it should be observed that the embodiments reside primarily in combinations of elements and components related to implementing a device for fastening objects together, a hair enhancement apparatus that includes such a fastening device, and a method for attaching a hair enhancer to a person's hair using such a fastening device or hair enhancement apparatus. Accordingly, in this document, relational terms, such as "first" and "second," "top" and "bottom," "front" and "back," and the like are used solely to distinguish one thing from another without necessarily requiring or implying any physical or logical relationship or order between such things. The terms "comprises," "comprising," "includes," "including," "contains," "containing," "has," "having," and/or any other variations thereof are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, device, article, or apparatus that comprises, includes, contains, or has a list of elements, characteristics, or features does not necessarily include only those elements, characteristics, or features but may include other elements, characteristics, or features not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, device, article, or apparatus. The term "plurality of" as used in connection with any object or action means two or more of such object or action. The term "attachment member" as used herein and in the appended claims is intended to be construed broadly and may include a hair clip, a barrette, a comb, a hook, a binder clip, or any other unitary or composite device capable of securing an item for any purpose, including decorative or utilitarian purposes. The term "attachment member retainer" as used herein and in the appended claims means one or more straps, one or more pockets, adhesive tape, liquid-applied adhesive, paste-applied adhesive, specialized stitching, or any other means for securing or retaining an attachment member to a side of a substrate. A claim element proceeded by the article "a" or "an" does not, without more constraints, preclude the existence of additional identical elements in the process, method, device, article, or apparatus that includes the element.

[0057] FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate one exemplary embodiment of a device 100 usable for fastening objects together. The fastening device 100 includes a substrate 101, one or more attachment members, one or more attachment member retainers, and an adhesive layer 201. Each attachment member retainer is connected to (e.g., separately attached to or integrated into or with) a front side or surface of the substrate 101, and the adhesive layer 201 is attached to a back side or surface of the substrate 101. A removable backing 205, such as waxed paper or any other conventional backing material, may be optionally attached to the exposed side of the adhesive layer 201 to prevent the adhesive layer 201 from sticking to undesired objects prior to attachment of the attachment device 100 to a desired object, such as a hair enhancer. The removable backing 205 would be most likely employed where the fastening device 100 is distributed separately from objects with which the fastening device 100 may be used, such as, for example, hair extensions, wigs, toupees, integration pieces, jewelry, barrettes, decorative fashion hairpieces, top head pieces, halo pieces, hair bangs, or any object or artifact which may be converted into a personal accessory or other temporarily attachable object with use of the fastening device.

[0058] The fastening device 100 may be manufactured in various sizes of different widths or lengths, and/or with various quantities of attachment members, to accommodate variously-sized objects, including, but not limited to, longer or shorter hair extensions or other hair enhancers, or to provide flexibility to the user. For example, the fastening device may be made longer than the device 100 shown in FIGS. 1, 5, and 6, such that four or more hair clips or other attachment members are included. Such a longer device may be used on wider hair extensions or other larger objects, or may provide the user the flexibility to use one or more portions of the fastening device by, for example, cutting a long fastening device into two or more pieces, with each piece including one or more attachment members.

[0059] The fastening device may be alternatively manufactured in a less lengthy size, such that only one attachment member is included. This shorter device may be used on smaller objects, such as narrower hair extensions, smaller hair enhancers (e.g., jewelry, barrettes, decorative fashion hairpieces, clothing accessories, etc.), or for custom fitting hair extensions, wigs, toupees, integration pieces, top head pieces, halo pieces, bangs, or other hair enhancers that may or may not include strands of hair. An exemplary single attachment member fastening device 400 is illustrated in FIG. 4. As shown in FIG. 4, the device substrate 401 is sized and shaped to support a single attachment member (e.g., a single hair clip 102).

[0060] The device substrate 101 may be a layer of polyurethane, lace, fabric, a combination of any of the foregoing, or any other flexible or rigid support material. In one exemplary embodiment, the substrate 101 has a width of approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inches, although other widths may be used. The substrate 101 may be any shape and is generally shown in the shape of a rounded rectangle in FIG. 1. However, one of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize and appreciate that the shape of the substrate 101 may alternatively be trapezoidal, ellipsoidal, circular, rectangular, or some other custom shape, depending upon a user's or stylist's specific requirements for attaching two objects together, such as a hair enhancer to the user's hair. The substrate 101 could also have various corner designs, such as squared, rounded or angled, depending upon the user's needs and the overall substrate shape. Further, the substrate 101 may be sized and shaped to accommodate a single attachment member (such as a single hair clip 102 as shown in exemplary form in FIG. 4) or a plurality of attachment members (such as a plurality of hair clips 102-104 as shown in exemplary forms in FIGS. 1, 5, and 6). Still further, the substrate 101 may be sized and shaped to facilitate attachment of a particular hair enhancer to a person's hair taking into account the attachment needs of the particular user. In other words, the substrate 101 may be sized and shaped to accommodate a particular hair enhancer and its intended points of attachment to a user's hair.

[0061] Each attachment member may be any device capable of securing one object, such as a hair enhancer, to another object, such as natural hair of a person. However, solely for the purposes of describing an exemplary fastening device and the hair enhancer embodiments illustrated in the drawings, the attachment members will be described primarily in the context of being hair clips 102-104. Likewise, the attachment member retainers will be described primarily in the context of being hair clip retainers. However, each attachment member retainer may be any item or combination of items which, when connected to (e.g., attached to or integrated into or with) a front side of the substrate 101, have sufficient spring force, elasticity, and/or tension to hold one or more attachment members (e.g., hair clips) and secure it or them to the front side of the substrate 101 either alone or in combination with other securing means. Securing of a hair clip 102-104 or other attachment member to the front side of the substrate 101 may occur after or when a corresponding hair clip retainer (or other attachment member retainer) is secured to the front side of the substrate 101, and/or after or when the hair clip 102-104, or a portion thereof, is inserted into a gap defined by the hair clip retainer alone or collectively by the substrate 101 and the hair clip retainer. For example, in the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-6, the hair clip retainers have sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to hold the hair clips 102-104 tightly against the front side of the substrate 101 without the hair clips 102-104 being secured separately and directly to the substrate 101. Alternatively, in the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 7-13 and described below, the hair clip retainers have sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to hold the hair clips 102-104 and secure them to the front side of the substrate 101 after (i) the hair clips 102-104 have been inserted into the hair clip retainers through gaps defined by the hair clip retainers and (ii) the hair clip retainers have been secured (e.g., with an adhesive and/or stitching) to the front side of the substrate 101, again without the hair clips 102-104 themselves being secured separately and directly to the substrate 101.

[0062] With respect to the exemplary embodiments disclosed in FIGS. 1-6, the hair clip retainers are sized and shaped to retain a single hair clip or multiple hair clips 102-104 tightly against the front side of the substrate 101 without requiring the hair clips 102-104 to be secured separately and directly to the substrate 101. For example, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-4, each hair clip retainer may include a retention strap 112-114 connected to the front side of the substrate 101, where the strap 112-114 and the substrate 101 collectively define a gap into which the hair clip 102-104 may be inserted such that the strap 112-114 holds at least the sides 106, 107 of the hair clip 102-104 against the front side of the substrate 101 while keeping the hair clip prongs 108 freely movable. In other words, the hair clip 102-104 is inserted into the gap such that the retention strap 112-114 passes over each side 106, 107 of the hair clip 102-104 to hold the hair clip sides 106, 107 tightly against the front side of the substrate 101 and runs behind the hair clip prongs 108 along a surface of the front side of the substrate 101 to keep the hair clip prongs 108 free of restriction. In one exemplary embodiment, the retention strap 112-114 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inches, although other strap widths may be used.

[0063] Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the fastening device 500 may be constructed such that each hair clip retainer is a retention strap 501-503 that extends across an entire length of an associated hair clip 102-104 when the hair clip 102-104 is inserted into the gap defined by the strap 501-503 and the substrate 101. In this embodiment, the retention strap 501-503 passes over the sides 106, 107 of the hair clip 102-104 and potentially the very upper ends of the prongs 108 to hold the entire hair clip 102-104 tightly against the front side of the substrate 101, without negatively impacting use of the prongs 108. In yet another alternative embodiment as illustrated in FIG. 16, the hair clip 1602 of the fastening device 1600 may be of the type that includes multiple holes (three shown) across its top transverse side member 1615. In such a case, the strap 1612 may be arranged so as to cover the holes when the hair clip 1602 is fully inserted into the gap defined by the strap 1612 and the substrate 1601. Because the surface of the top side member 1615 surrounding each hole is typically raised, positioning the strap 1612 to cover the holes provides a smoother, more comfortable feel to the front side of the fastening device 1600.

[0064] According to another alternative embodiment of the fastening device 600 as illustrated in FIG. 6, each hair clip retainer may be a retention pocket 601-603 connected to the front side of the substrate 101, where the pocket 601-603 and the substrate 101 collectively define the gap into which the hair clip or clips 102-103 may be inserted. Each retention pocket 601-603 may have sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to hold the hair clip or clips 102-104 tightly against the front side of the substrate 101. In one exemplary embodiment, each pocket 601-603 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inches, although other pocket widths may be used.

[0065] Referring now to FIG. 2, an adhesive 203 may be applied to a top surface of the hair clip 102-104 or to the inside front surface of the retention strap 112-114, 501-503, the retention pocket 601-603, or another hair clip retainer prior to or after insertion of the hair clip 102-104 into the hair clip retainer to help prevent the hair clip 102-104 from exiting its hair clip retainer 112-114, 501-503, 601-603 inadvertently or prematurely. When used, the adhesive 203 secures at least the hair clip sides 106, 107 to the hair clip retainer during and/or after the hair clip 102-104 is inserted into the hair clip retainer. The adhesive 203 may be formulated to provide its best adhesion after a predefined dry or cure time, as applicable. According to one exemplary embodiment, the adhesive 203 may be double-sided tape. Alternatively, the adhesive 203 may be a liquid adhesive that is applied with a brush, eye dropper, conical bottle opening, or other applicator.

[0066] According to a further embodiment and again referring to FIG. 2, the hair clips 102-104 may be adhered to the front side of the substrate 101 by using an adhesive 207, which may be the same as adhesive 203 or be another adhesive, or by using other conventional attachment means to further help prevent the hair clips 102-104 from exiting the hair clip retainer(s) unexpectedly, particularly where the fastening device 100 is expected to be exposed to strong horizontal, shear, or tangential forces during use with a hair enhancer. For example, because ordinary consumers are often not as careful installing and removing hair enhancer as are hair stylists, fastening devices intended for sale to ordinary consumers may be reinforced by adhering or otherwise securing at least the sides 106, 107 of the hair clips 102-104 to the substrate 101 in addition to using the hair clip retainer(s).

[0067] To alternatively or additionally increase the robustness and/or strength of a fastening device that includes a hair clip 103 retained by a strap 112 as illustrated in FIG. 1, the strap 112 may be stitched or sewn at one or more locations to the substrate 101. An exemplary illustration using two stitches 301, 302 to secure the strap 112 to the substrate 101 is shown in FIG. 3. In the illustrated embodiment, which depicts the hair clip 103 without its prongs 108 to more clearly show exemplary stitch locations, the stitches 301, 302 may be sewn from the back side of the substrate 101 through the front side of the strap 112 at locations proximate the left and right sides 106, 107 of the hair clip 103. By positioning the stitches 301, 302 proximate the hair clip sides 106, 107, the hair clip ends 106, 107 can be held more securely to the front side of the substrate 101 without having to sew the hair clip ends 106, 107 separately and directly to the substrate 101, such as through their respective upper holes. By adding the illustrated stitching, the hair clip 103 can withstand stronger shear and normal (peel away) forces during use without the hair clip 103 exiting the strap 113. Additionally, positioning the stitches 301, 302 to the insides of the hair clip ends 106, 107 serve to generally conceal them mostly behind the hair clip prongs 108. In an alternative embodiment, a substantial length of the strap 113 (e.g., 50% or more) may be stitched or sewn to the substrate 101 to further strengthen the attachment of the hair clip 103 to the substrate 101 without requiring the hair clip 103 to be separately and directly secured to the substrate 101 (such as by sewing, gluing or taping the hair clip 103 directly to the substrate 101). Exemplary stitching across a substantial length of a strap is illustrated in FIGS. 11-13 with regard to another alternative embodiment of the fastening device. Where stitching is used, the stitching may be formed from a thread (e.g., silk thread) or lace, preferably of a color similar to the color of the strap 113, or from another material, such as fine wire or polyurethane similar to that used to manufacture the substrate 101 and/or the strap 113.

[0068] Referring now to FIG. 4, each hair clip retainer may be sized and shaped to retain a single hair clip. Alternatively, one or more of the hair clip retainers may be sized and shaped to retain multiple hair clips. For example, instead of using three hair clip retainers to retain three hair clips 102-104 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, a single larger (e.g., longer) hair clip retainer may have been used to retain all three hair clips 102-104. Alternatively, two hair clip retainers could be used to retain the three hair clips 102-104, with one hair clip retainer retaining two of the hair clips and the other hair clip retainer retaining only one of the hair clips. Those of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize and appreciate that various quantities of hair clips and hair clip retainers may be used to form fastening devices 100, 500, 600 taking into account the expected uses of the attachment devices 100, 500, 600 and needs of their potential users.

[0069] The hair clips 102-104 may be conventional hair clips, such as of the type which are typically sewn into the weft of conventional hair extensions, or any hair clips as may be developed in the future. Each hair clip 102-104 may have a set of prongs 108. The quantity of prongs 108 may be selected by the user, the hair clip manufacturer, or the manufacturer of the hair enhancer with which the hair clips 102-104 will be used. For example, the exemplary hair clips 102-104 depicted in FIGS. 1, 4-7, 9-11, and 13 include three prongs 108 each.

[0070] With regard to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-6, the hair clip retainers (e.g., straps 112-114, 501-503 or pockets 601-603) may be fabricated from the same material as the substrate 101 or from a different material that has sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to hold one or more hair clips 102-104 tightly against the front side or surface of the substrate 101. In one embodiment, the hair clip retainers (retention straps 112-114 in this example) may be positioned near a top edge 110 of the substrate 101, such as shown in the exemplary fastening device 100 of FIG. 1, optionally leaving an empty or excess portion of the substrate 101 between the hair clips 102-104 and a bottom edge 111 of the substrate 101. Alternatively, the hair clip retainers (also retention straps 112-114 in this example) may be positioned near the bottom edge 111 of the substrate 101, such as shown in the exemplary fastening device 500 of FIG. 5, optionally leaving an empty or excess portion of substrate 101 between the hair clip retainers and the top edge 110 of the substrate 101. In another embodiment including multiple hair clips 102-104, the hair clips 102-104 and their associated hair clip retainer or retainers may be arranged or aligned in a row, such as illustrated in FIGS. 1, 5, and 6.

[0071] According to another embodiment, when the fastening device 100, 400, 500, 600 is laid backside down on a flat surface, the prongs 108 of the hair clip or clips 102-104 extend in a common direction away from the substrate 101, and may reside generally in a plane 209 parallel to a plane 211 containing the substrate 101, as illustrated in FIG. 2. For example, the prongs 108 of the hair clip or clips 102-104 may extend away from the substrate 101 in a direction generally perpendicular to a longitudinal axis 116 of the substrate 101. Alternatively, the hair clip prongs 108 and the substrate 101 may not reside in parallel planes, especially where the prongs 106 are bent or opened during use or shipment, and/or the prongs 108 may extend at some other angle from the longitudinal axis 116 of the substrate 101.

[0072] To use the fastening device 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a user would remove the backing paper 205, if included, and affix the back side of the adhesive layer 201 to part of a hair extension or other object to be fastened. For example, as shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 in connection with a three-clip embodiment of the fastening device 100, the fastening device 100 may be attached to various portions of hair extensions, such as to the weft 1403 or to a tape or polyurethane strip 1503 running along a top edge or end on the back side of the hair extension. Once the fastening device 100 has been attached to a hair enhancer, a hair enhancement apparatus 1400, 1500 is formed that can be clipped or otherwise attached to a user's natural hair using the attachment members (e.g., hair clips 102-104).

[0073] In other alternative embodiments of the fastening device 700, 900, 1100 as illustrated in FIGS. 7-13, the fastening device 700, 900, 1100 may include attachment member retainers (e.g., hair clip retainers) that include loop-shaped straps 701. With regard to these embodiments, the loop-shaped straps 701 may be fabricated from the same material as the substrate 101 or from a different material that has sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to hold one or more hair clips 103 once they are inserted into the gaps defined by the hair clip retainers (e.g., looped straps 701). Additionally, according to one exemplary embodiment, the straps 701 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inches, although other strap widths may be used.

[0074] In the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, the fastening device 700 includes one or more loop-shaped straps 701 (one shown), one or more hair clips 103 (one shown), and a substrate 101. Each strap 701 includes a front section 703 (e.g., the front half of the strap 701) and a back section 704 (e.g., the back half of the strap 701). To assemble the fastening device 700, the hair clip 103 is inserted into the gap or loop defined by the looped-shaped strap 701 such that the strap 701 fits tightly around the ends 106, 107 of the hair clip 103 and runs behind the hair clip prongs 108, and then the back or outside surface of the back section 704 of the strap 701 is attached to the front side or surface of the substrate 101 using an adhesive 707. The loop-shaped strap 701 is illustrated in FIGS. 7, 9, and 11 in the general shape it would assume after the hair clip 103 has been inserted into it and the strap 701 has conformed to the shape of the hair clip 103. Prior to insertion of the hair clip 103, the strap 701 may have a more conventional loop shape.

[0075] To assist with retaining the hair clip 103 within the strap 701, an adhesive layer 203 may be optionally used between the inside surface of the strap's front section 703 and the top or front surface of each side 106, 107 of the hair clip 103, between the inside surface of the strap's back section 704 and the bottom or back surface of each hair clip side 106, 107, or both, as illustrated in FIG. 8. Further, as discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1 and 2, an adhesive layer 201, such as double-sided tape or a pressure-activated adhesive, is applied to the back side of the substrate 101 to facilitate attachment of the fastening device 700 to another object, such as a hair enhancer. Where the fastening device 700 is intended for distribution separate from a hair enhancer or other object to which it is to be attached, the device 700 may further include a removable backing 205, such as waxed paper or any other conventional backing material, attached to the exposed side of the adhesive layer 201 to prevent the adhesive layer 201 from sticking to undesired objects prior to attachment of the fastening device 700 to a desired object.

[0076] Regarding the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 9-10, the depicted fastening device 900 (shown in exploded form in FIG. 9 and from a rear or back view in assembled form in FIG. 10) is similar to the fastening device 700 described above with respect to FIGS. 7-8, except that the fastening device 900 further includes one or more stitches 901, 902 (two shown) to further lock or secure the hair clip 103 within the grip of the strap 701 and thereby reduce the likelihood that the hair clip 103 will exit the strap 701 during use. The stitches 901, 902 may be formed from a thread (e.g., silk thread) or lace, preferably of a color similar to the color of the strap 701, or from any other material, such as, for example, polyurethane similar to that used to manufacture the substrate 101 and/or the strap 701. In the illustrated embodiment, each stitch 901, 902 is positioned behind the upper hole of the hair clip 103, thereby enabling the device manufacturer flexibility in deciding whether to use the stitch 901, 902 to: (i) secure the back section 704 of the strap 701 to the substrate 101, (ii) secure the back and front sections 703, 704 of the strap 701 together and to the substrate 101, or (iii) secure the back section 704 of the strap 701 and the side 106, 107 of the hair clip 103 to the substrate 701 with the front section 703 of the strap 701 covering the stitch 901, 902 to maintain a generally smooth surface on the front side/surface of the hair clip 103. Because stitching is used in this embodiment to secure the back section 704 and/or front section 703 of the strap 701 to the substrate 101, the adhesive layer 707 between the back section 704 of the strap 701 and the front surface of the substrate 101 is optional, although preferred.

[0077] Instead of positioning each stitch 901, 902 behind an upper hole of the hair clip 103, each stitch 901, 902 may be positioned proximate an inside edge of a respective side 106, 107 of the hair clip 103, in a manner similar to the stitches 301, 302 shown in FIG. 3, to provide reinforcement at locations of the hair clip 103 where stronger normal (peel away) forces typically occur during use of the fastening device 900. At such locations, the stitches 901, 902 are positioned behind the hair clip's prongs 108 so as to be generally hidden from view by the prongs 108 when the attachment device 900 is viewed from the front. On the back side of the device 900, the stitches 901, 902 may be hidden from view by a removable backing 205, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 8. Where the stitches 901, 902 secure both the front and back sections 703, 704 of the strap 701 to each other and to the substrate 101, the stitches 901, 902 effectively create individual loop straps around the hair clip sides 106, 107 to hold them more securely within the strap 701 and against the front surface of the substrate 101.

[0078] Regarding the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 11-13, the depicted fastening device 1100 (shown in exploded form in FIG. 11 and from front and back views in assembled form in FIGS. 12 and 13, respectively) is similar to the fastening device 900 described above with respect to FIGS. 9 and 10, except that the fastening device 1100 further includes stitching 1101 along a substantial portion of the length of the strap 701 (e.g., 33% or more) to provide additional reinforcement and thereby reduce the likelihood that the hair clip 103 will exit the strap 701 or that the strap 701 will peel away or otherwise be removed from the substrate 101 during use. Similar to the stitches 901, 902 disclosed above with respect to FIGS. 9 and 10, the stitching 1101 illustrated in FIGS. 11-13 may secure the back section 704 of the strap 701 alone, or the front and back sections 703, 704 of the strap 701 together, to the substrate 101 (particularly in the area between the left and right sides 106, 107 of the hair clip 103), and the stitching 1101 may be generally hidden from view by the hair clip prongs 108 from the front and by the removable backing 205 from the back. Because stitching is again used in this embodiment to secure the back section 704 and/or front section 703 of the strap 701 to the substrate 101, the adhesive layer 707 between the back section 704 of the strap 701 and the front surface of the substrate 101 is optional, although preferred.

[0079] The fastening devices 100, 300, 400, 500, 700, 900, 1100 may be packaged and sold individually such that individuals who want to purchase hair enhancers or other objects separately without fastening devices may do so. The fastening devices may also or alternatively be packaged as groups with a predetermined quantity of attachment members (e.g., hair clips 102-104) on each device (e.g., one, two, three, four, or any other quantity of hair clips 102-104 on each device) or with various quantities of attachment members on the devices (e.g., a variety pack). Alternatively, the fastening devices can be packaged such that the package includes a single device with a greater quantity of hair clips 102-104 or other attachment members (e.g., ten or twenty hair clips). In such a case, the user may then create his or her own desired length fastening device by cutting off a section with a desired quantity of attachment members. Packaging the fastening devices separately from particular hair enhancers enables end users and professional stylists to attach one or more fastening devices to any hair enhancer and thereby create a custom hair enhancement apparatus, regardless of whether the hair enhancers may include other, more complicated attachment means. Distribution of individual fastening devices also facilitates existing fashion trends, such as by enabling a user to convert wearable art or jewelry into an instant hair fashion piece or clothing accessory by easily attaching the fastening device to a desired location on the wearable art or jewelry.

[0080] Alternatively, one or more fastening devices 100, 300, 400, 500, 700, 900, 1100 may be pre-attached to a hair extension or other hair enhancer to form a hair enhancement apparatus, or may be packaged and sold together with a hair enhancer (or set of hair enhancers) as a kit. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 14, a hair enhancement apparatus 1400 may be formed by attaching a fastening device (attachment device 100 being shown) to the hair 1401 and/or weft 1403 of a hair enhancer (e.g., where the hair enhancer is a hair extension as illustrated in exemplary form in FIG. 14). As a result, a typically more permanent hair enhancement device may be converted into a temporary enhancement device through inclusion of the fastening device, which allows the user to repeatedly attach and detach the hair enhancement apparatus 1400 to the user's hair. Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 15, a hair enhancement apparatus 1500 may be formed by attaching a fastening device (fastening device 100 again being shown) to the hair 1501 and/or a tape adhesive section 703 (e.g., polyurethane strip) of a hair extension or other hair enhancer, again converting a more permanent hair enhancement device into a temporary enhancement device through inclusion of the fastening device. Additionally, supplying a hair enhancement apparatus 1400, 1500 that already includes a hair enhancer and one or more fastening devices enables a user to attach the hair enhancer to the user's hair by using the attachment members (e.g., hair clips 102-104) of the pre-attached fastening device and thereby avoid having to attach the fastening device to the hair enhancer manually.

[0081] According to another exemplary embodiment, a user or a stylist may use one or more of the fastening devices disclosed herein to attach a hair enhancer to the natural hair of a person. According to this embodiment, the user or stylist secures one or more fastening devices to a back side of the hair enhancer. For example, where the fastening device includes a removable backing paper 205, the user or stylist removes the backing paper 205 to expose the adhesive 201 of the fastening device. After the backing paper 205 has been removed, or where no backing paper 205 is included, the user or stylist secures the fastening device to the back side of the hair enhancer by pressing the fastening device against the hair enhancer such that the adhesive layer 201 engages and attaches to the hair enhancer. In this embodiment, the fastening device is separate from the hair enhancer. Once the fastening device is attached to the hair enhancer a hair enhancement apparatus is formed.

[0082] Before or after the hair enhancement apparatus is formed, the user or stylist horizontally parts the natural hair of the person to form a part at the location at which the hair enhancement apparatus is to be placed or installed. After the hair enhancement apparatus has been formed, the user or stylist positions the fastening device of the apparatus above or below the part in the user's hair and attaches the attachment member or members of the fastening device to the user's hair so as to attach the hair enhancer to the user's hair. For example, where the fastening device includes hair clips 102-104 as the attachment members, the hair clip or clips 102-104 may be clipped to the natural hair of the user above or below the part. After the hair enhancement apparatus has been attached to the user's hair, the user or stylist may optionally lay the natural hair of the user from at or above the part onto the hair enhancer to complete the installation, such as when the hair enhancer is a hair extension and the hair enhancement apparatus was fastened to the user's hair below the part. Alternatively, the user or stylist may lay the natural hair of the user and the attached hair enhancement apparatus onto the user's natural hair below the part when the hair enhancement apparatus was fastened to the user's hair above the part.

[0083] According to another exemplary embodiment, the user or a stylist may acquire a premade hair enhancement apparatus (such as hair enhancement apparatus 1400, 1500) that includes a hair enhancer and a fastening device as disclosed herein adhered or attached to a back side of the hair enhancer. According to this embodiment, the user or stylist horizontally parts the natural hair of the person to form a part at the location at which the hair enhancement apparatus is to be placed or installed. The user or stylist then positions the hair enhancement apparatus above or below the part in the user's hair and attaches the attachment member or members of the fastening device to the user's hair so as to attach the hair enhancement apparatus above or below the part. For example, where the fastening device includes one or more hair clips as the attachment members, the hair clip or clips may be clipped to the natural hair of the user above or below the part. After the hair enhancement apparatus has been attached to the user's hair, the user or stylist may optionally lay the natural hair of the user from at or above the part onto the hair enhancer of the apparatus to complete the installation, such as where the hair enhancer is a hair extension and the hair enhancement apparatus was fastened to the user's hair below the part. Alternatively, the user or stylist may lay the natural hair of the user and the attached hair enhancement apparatus onto the user's natural hair below the part when the hair enhancement apparatus was fastened to the user's hair above the part. Notwithstanding the two exemplary attachment methods described above, those of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize and appreciate that various other attachment techniques may be used to attach a hair attachment apparatus as disclosed herein to a person's hair. For example, but not by way of limitation, where the hair enhancer is a hairpiece, the attachment member or members may be attached to the user's hair at one or more locations around a periphery of the scalp area to be covered by the hairpiece.

[0084] According to further alternative embodiments of the fastening device 1700, 1900, and 2200 as illustrated in FIGS. 17-24, the fastening device 1700, 1900, and 2200 may include attachment member retainers (e.g., hair clip retainers) that include alternatively sized and styled loop-shaped straps 1701, 1901-1902, 2201-2202. With regard to these embodiments, the loop-shaped straps 1701, 1901-1902, 2201-2202 may be fabricated from the same material as the substrate 101 or from a different material that has sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to secure one or more hair clips 103 or other attachment members to the front side of the substrate 101, 1904, once the attachment member or members are inserted into the gaps defined by the hair clip retainers (e.g., looped straps 1701, 1901-1902, 2201-2202) and the attachment members are secured to the substrate 101, 1904. The straps 1701, 1901-1902, 2201-2202 may have various widths depending upon the quantity of straps used to secure a particular attachment member, the positioning of the strap on or over the attachment member, the orientation of the strap, and/or the configuration of the attachment member. In one embodiment in which a single strap 1701 is used to secure a hair clip 103 to the front side of the substrate 101 across a length of the clip 103 or a length of the substrate 101, the strap 701 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inches, although other strap widths may be used. Alternatively, in another embodiment in which a pair of straps 1901-1902, 2201-2201 is used to secure a hair clip 103 to a front side of a substrate 101, 1904 across a width of the clip 103 or a width of the substrate 101, 1904, each strap 1901-1902, 2201-2201 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/32 to 1/8 inches, although other strap widths may be used.

[0085] In the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 17 and 18, the fastening device 1700 includes one or more loop-shaped straps 1701 (one shown), one or more hair clips 103 (one shown), and a substrate 101. Each strap 1701 includes a front section 1703 (e.g., the front half of the strap 1701) and a back section 1704 (e.g., the back half of the strap 1701). To assemble the fastening device 1700 according to this embodiment, the hair clip 103 is positioned against the front side of the substrate 101, and the hair clip 103 and the substrate 101 are jointly inserted into the gap or loop defined by the looped-shaped strap 1701 such that the strap 1701 fits tightly around the ends of the substrate 101 and across the front side of the hair clip 103. To mitigate any negative impact the strap 1701 may have on the operation of the hair clip 103, the front section 1703 of the strap 1701 may be positioned behind the hair clip prongs 108 and over the side members 106, 107 of the clip 103. The inside surface of the back section 704 of the strap 701 fits snugly against the backside of the substrate 101 after the clip 103 and the substrate 101 have been inserted into the loop of the strap 1701. To assist with maintaining a desired arrangement of the hair clip 103 and the substrate 101 prior to and during their insertion into the gap or loop formed by the strap 1701, the back of the topside or transverse member 1709 of the clip 103 may be attached to the front side or surface of the substrate 101 using an adhesive 1707. The loop-shaped strap 701 is illustrated in FIG. 17 in the general shape it would assume after the hair clip 103 and the substrate 101 have been inserted into it and the strap 1701 has conformed to the shape of the hair clip 103. Prior to insertion of the hair clip 103 and the substrate 101, the strap 1701 may have a more conventional loop shape.

[0086] To assist with retaining the hair clip 103 within the strap 1701 during use of the fastening device 1700, an adhesive layer 203 may be optionally used between the inside surface of the strap's front section 703 and the top or front surface of each hair clip side 106, 107, as illustrated in FIG. 18. Further, where the fastening device 1700 is expected to be subject to excessive stresses during use (e.g., because it is intended for general distribution to consumers), stitching may be optionally used in the general manner described above with respect to FIGS. 9-13 or below with respect to FIG. 25 to reinforce the attachment of the clip 203 and/or the strap 1701 to the substrate 101. Still further, as generally discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1 and 2, an adhesive layer 201, such as double-sided tape or a pressure-activated adhesive, is applied to the back side of the substrate 101 and optionally over the back section 1704 of the strap 1701 to facilitate attachment of the fastening device 1700 to an object, such as a hair enhancer or any other user-selected item. Where the fastening device 1700 is intended for distribution separate from one of the objects to which it is to be attached, the device 1700 may further include a removable backing 205 attached to the exposed side of the adhesive layer 201 to prevent the adhesive layer 201 from sticking to undesired objects prior to attachment of the fastening device 1700 to a desired object.

[0087] As may be readily apparent from comparing the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 7-8 and 17-18, the two embodiments are very similar. The primary difference between the two embodiments lies in that the strap 701 of the fastening device 700 illustrated in FIGS. 7-8 encircles only the hair clip 103 and is attached to the front side of the substrate 101 using an adhesive 707; whereas, the fastening device 1700 illustrated in FIGS. 17-18 encircles both the hair clip 103 and the substrate 101 and may or may not be additionally secured to the substrate 101.

[0088] Regarding the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 19-21, the depicted fastening device 1900 includes two or more loop-shaped straps 1901, 1902 (two shown), one or more hair clips 103 (one shown), and a substrate 1904. Each strap 1901, 1902 includes a front section 1906 (e.g., the front half of the strap 1901, 1902) and a back section 1907 (e.g., the back half of the strap 1901, 1902). The straps 1901, 1902 may be fabricated from the same material as the substrate 1904 or from a different material that has sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to secure a side 106, 107 of the hair clip 103 or other attachment member once the hair clip is inserted into the gaps defined by the straps 1901, 1902. For this embodiment, the straps 1901, 1902 encircle the sides 106, 107 of the clip 103 across a width of the clip 103, as opposed to across a length of the clip 103 in contrast to the embodiment discussed above with respect to FIGS. 7-8. The straps 1901, 1902 may have a width in the range of approximately 1/32 to 1/8 inches, although other strap widths may be used. Additionally, for this embodiment, the substrate 1904 may be wider than the substrate 101 discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1-13 because the substrate 1904 more preferably facilitates attachment of the clip 103 across the entire with of the clip's left and right sides 106, 107.

[0089] To assemble the fastening device 1900 according to one exemplary embodiment, a first side 106 of the hair clip 103 is inserted into the gap or loop defined by strap 1901 such that the strap 1901 fits tightly widthwise around a hair clip side 106. The other side 107 of the hair clip 103 is then inserted into the gap or loop defined by strap 1902 such that the strap 1902 fits tightly widthwise around the other hair clip side 107. Where the hair clip sides 106, 107 define spaced apart holes as illustrated in exemplary form in FIG. 19, the straps 1901, 1902 may be positioned around the sides 106, 107 of the clip 103 so as to cover the holes and thereby provide a smoother, more comfortable feel to the front side of the clip 103.

[0090] Adhesive layers 1909, 1910 may be applied to the front side of the substrate 1904 and the strapped clip may be positioned upon the adhesive layers 1909, 1910 so as to attach the back sections 1907 of the straps 1901, 1902 to the adhesive layers 1909, 1910. The adhesive layers 1909, 1910 secure the straps 1901, 1902 to the substrate 1904 and thereby, in cooperation with the straps 1901, 1902, secure the clip 103 to the front side of the substrate 1904.

[0091] Where the fastening device 1900 is intended for use by general consumers and thereby may be expected to endure more regular or extensive abuse during use, stitches 2001 may be added to reinforce the attachment of the clip 103 to the substrate 1904 at locations of the clip 103 where stronger normal (peel away) forces typically occur during use of the fastening device 1900. The stitches 2001 may be formed from a thread (e.g., silk thread) or lace, preferably of a color similar to the color of the strap 1901, 1902, or from another material, such as fine wire or polyurethane similar to that used to manufacture the substrate 1904 and/or the strap 1901, 1902. In such a case, each stitch 2001 may be sewn through the front and back sections 1906, 1907 of the strap 1901, 1902 so as to pass through a hole in the side 106, 107 of the clip 103 and wrap around the outer edge of the clip's side. The stitches 2001 may be added on a hole by hole basis, such as indicated in FIG. 20, or the stitches 2001 may be applied as stitching between the hair clip holes in the manner generally described below with respect to FIG. 25.

[0092] To assist with retaining the hair clip 103 within the straps 1901, 1902 during use of the fastening device 1900, an adhesive layer 203 may be optionally used between the inside surface of the strap's front section 1906 and the top or front surface of each hair clip side 106, 107, and/or between the inside surface of the strap's back section 1907 and the back or rear surface of each hair clip side 106, 107. as illustrated in FIG. 21. Further, as generally discussed above with respect to FIGS. 1 and 2, an adhesive layer 201, such as double-sided tape or a pressure-activated adhesive, is applied to the back side of the substrate 1904 to facilitate attachment of the fastening device 1900 to an object, such as a hair enhancer or any other user-selected item. Where the fastening device 1900 is intended for distribution separate from one of the objects to which it is to be attached, the device 1900 may further include a removable backing 205 attached to the exposed side of the adhesive layer 201 to prevent the adhesive layer 201 from sticking to undesired objects prior to attachment of the fastening device 1900 to a desired object.

[0093] Referring now to the fastening device embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 22-24, the depicted fastening device 2200 is similar to the fastening device 1900 described above with respect to FIGS. 19-21, except that instead of the wrapping the sides 106, 107 of the clip 103 with straps 1901, 1902, straps 2201, 2202 are constructed to wrap around the entire width of the substrate 1904. As a result, the straps 2201, 2202 for this embodiment have sufficient elasticity, spring force, and/or tension to secure a side 106, 107 of the hair clip 103 or other attachment member to the substrate 1904 once the hair clip 103 and the substrate 1904 have been inserted into the gaps defined by the straps 2201, 2202.

[0094] To assemble the fastening device 2200 according to this embodiment, the hair clip 103 is positioned against the front side of the substrate 1904, and the hair clip 103 and the substrate 1904 may be jointly inserted into the gap or loop defined by the straps 2201, 2202 such that the straps 2201, 2202 fit tightly around the width-wise edges of the substrate 1904 and across the left and right sides 106, 107 of the hair clip 103. Where the sides 106, 107 of the clip 103 define spaced apart holes as illustrated in exemplary form in FIG. 22, the straps 1901, 1902 may be positioned around the sides 106, 107 of the clip 103 so as to cover the holes and thereby provide a smoother, more comfortable feel to the front side of the clip 103.

[0095] Alternatively, the straps 2201, 2202 may be stretched so as to pass over the right and left ends of the substrate 1904, and moved along the length of the substrate 1904 until properly positioned over the left and right sides 106, 107 of the clip 103. As a further alternative, the straps 2201, 2202 may be created at the time of assembly of the fastening device 2200 by wrapping strap material around one side 106 of the clip 103 and the substrate 1904, cutting the material, and then securing the ends of the material together with, for example, an adhesive along the back side of the substrate 1904 to form the strap 2201. The same process may be repeated to create the other strap 2202. Creation of straps or other attachment member retainers at the time of fastening device assembly may alternatively be performed, as appropriate, for any of the embodiments described above with respect to FIGS. 1-5, 7-13, and 16-21.

[0096] Once the straps 2201, 2202 have been properly applied, the inside surface of the back section 2207 of each strap 2201, 2202 fits snugly against the backside of the substrate 1904 and the inside surface of the front section 2206 of each strap 2201, 2201 fits snugly against the front surfaces of the clip sides 106, 107 and the front side of the substrate 1904. To assist with maintaining a desired arrangement of the hair clip 103 and the substrate 1904 prior to and during their insertion into the gaps or loops formed by the straps 2201, 2202, or otherwise during application of the straps 2201, 2202, the back surfaces of either or both of the left and right sides 106, 107, and/or of the top and/or bottom transverse side members, of the clip 103 may be attached to the front side or surface of the substrate 1904 using an adhesive 2209.

[0097] Where the fastening device 1900 is intended for use by general consumers and thereby may be expected to endure more abuse or stress during use, stitches 2001 may be added to reinforce the attachment of the clip 103 to the substrate 1904 at locations of the clip 103 where stronger normal (peel away) forces typically occur during use of the fastening device 2200. As described above with respect to FIGS. 19-21, each stitch 2001 may be sewn through the front and back sections 2206, 2207 of the strap 2201, 2202 so as to pass through a hole in the side 106, 107 of the clip 103 and wrap around the outer edge of the clip's side 106, 107. The stitches 2001 may be added on a hole by hole basis, such as indicated in FIG. 23, or the stitches 2001 may be applied as stitching between the hair clip holes in the manner generally described below with respect to FIG. 25.

[0098] To assist with retaining the hair clip 103 within the straps 2201, 2202 during use of the fastening device 1900, an adhesive layer 203 may be optionally used between the inside surface of the strap's front section 2206 and the top or front surface of each hair clip side 106, 107, as illustrated in FIG. 24. Further, as generally discussed above with respect to the various other fastening device embodiments, an adhesive layer 201, such as double-sided tape or a pressure-activated adhesive, is applied to the back side of the substrate 1904 to facilitate attachment of the fastening device 2200 to an object, such as a hair enhancer or any other user-selected item. Where the fastening device 2200 is intended for distribution separate from one of the objects to which it is to be attached, the device 2200 may further include a removable backing 205 attached to the exposed side of the adhesive layer 201 to prevent the adhesive layer 201 from sticking to undesired objects prior to attachment of the fastening device 2200 to a desired object.

[0099] According to a further alternative embodiment, attachment members, such as hair clips 102-104, 1602 with spaced apart holes in their sides 106, 107, 1615, may be secured to a substrate 101, 1601, 1904 using specially configured stitching, One exemplary embodiment of a fastening device 2500 using specially configured stitching 2508, 2509 to function as an attachment member retainer is illustrated in FIG. 25. According to this embodiment, at least one of the sides 106, 107 of a hair clip 103 define two or more spaced apart holes. As illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 25, the clip's left and right sides 106, 107 each include a pair of spaced apart holes 2503-2504, 2505-2506. Alternatively, one or more transverse side members 2501 of the clip 103 may include two or more holes across its/their length (e.g., similar to the transverse side member 1615 of the clip 1602 illustrated in FIG. 16). Stitching 2508, 2509 may be applied by passing the stitching 2508, 2509 through and between the two or more spaced holes in the applicable side member 106, 107. The stitching 2508, 2509 may be thread, lace, fine plastic or polyurethane wire, fine metal wire, or any other fine or thin material usable for stitching. Once applied, the stitching 2508, 2509 secures the side member 106, 107 to a first side of the substrate 1904. By applying the stitching 2508, 2509 between holes in the sides 106, 107 of the attachment member 103, the stitching 2508, 2509 can maintain a low height profile because the stitching 2508, 2509 has a much larger surface area on which to lie when compared to conventional hair clip stitching applied through a hole and around an outside edge of a clip's side (edge stitching). The lower profile of the stitching 2508, 2509 provides a much smoother and comfortable feel for the user, as well as mitigates the wear and tear typically encounter by higher profile edge stitching. Such lower wear and tear may result in less fraying or breaking of the stitching 2508, 2509 over time and increase the useful life of the fastening device 2500, as compared to using conventional edge stitching. While FIG. 25 illustrates the use of specially configured stitching 2508, 2509 to secure a single attachment member (e.g., hair clip 103) to a substrate 1904, one of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand and appreciate that similar stitching may be used to secure multiple attachment members to the substrate 1904 and thereby create a fastening device with multiple attachment members, such as was generally described above with respect to FIGS. 1, 5, and 6.

[0100] The present invention as set forth in the appended claims relates to a fastening device usable for attaching objects together, and a hair enhancement apparatus incorporating such a fastening device. With such an invention, a fastening device may be quickly and easily added to any object to facilitate attachment to another object. The disclosed fastening device has particular, although not exclusive, benefit in the hair styling industry by enabling a user or stylist to create a temporary hair enhancement device by attaching the fastening device to a hair enhancer. Thus, the disclosed fastening device eliminates the need to use cumbersome methods, such as sewing in hair clips and manually applying adhesive, to make a hair enhancer ready for installation in a user's hair. Additionally, a hair extension user may choose to use hair extensions having integrated tape adhesive, or other more permanent or complicated methods of attachment (e.g., which the user may have previously purchased with the intent of using permanently or semi-permanently), and easily convert or retrofit them to be for more temporary use by attaching the disclosed fastening device to the hair extensions. In such a case, the user may then secure the resulting hair enhancement apparatus to the user's hair with the fastening device's attachment member or members, as applicable.

[0101] Alternatively, the disclosed fastening device may be pre-attached to a hair enhancer to form a hair enhancement apparatus, which may be attached to a user's natural hair for temporary or semi-permanent use. Still further, the construction of the disclosed fastening device facilitates a user's purchase of a hair enhancer and a fastening device separately to provide the user flexibility for using the fastening device to secure the hair enhancer to the user's hair for the best fit and comfort. Because many hair types and styles require custom extensions, the disclosed fastening device provides several options for the attachment of hair extensions to allow the user to pick and choose the best arrangement for a desired beauty outcome, cosmetic result, and/or style, or for hair replacement needs due to chemotherapy or medical alopecia. Medical conditions or treatments, such as chemotherapy or medical alopecia, may require the hair enhancement apparatus to be located or relocated on an ongoing basis depending on the hair loss pattern and/or hair re-growth. Further yet, because the disclosed fastening device includes attachment members, such as hair clips, the fastening device facilitates relatively easy removal of the extension or other hair enhancer for temporary installation of hair enhancing products.

[0102] Finally, in some embodiments, the disclosed fastening device does not require its attachment members (e.g., hair clips) to be secured separately and directly to the substrate, thereby improving the appearance of the fastening device and enabling the front side of the fastening device to remain smooth, without a loss of functionality and durability. The disclosed fastening device is also constructed in such a manner to provide attachment flexibility for the attachment member, enabling a user, stylist, or manufacturer to (i) add adhesive between the attachment member and the attachment member retainer and/or between the attachment member and the substrate, and/or (ii) add stitching between the substrate and the attachment member retainer to further assist in retaining the attachment member in position against the substrate when use conditions necessitating reinforcement are warranted.

[0103] In the foregoing specification, devices usable for fastening objects together, hair enhancement apparatus incorporating such devices, and methods for attaching hair enhancers to a person's hair using such fastening devices or hair enhancement apparatus have been described with reference to specific embodiments. However, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention.

[0104] Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments of the disclosed fastening devices, hair enhancement apparatus, and methods of attachment. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause or result in such benefits, advantages, or solutions to become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims. The invention is defined solely by the appended claims including any amendments made during the pendency of this application and all equivalents of those claims as issued.

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