Easy To Use Patents Search & Patent Lawyer Directory

At Patents you can conduct a Patent Search, File a Patent Application, find a Patent Attorney, or search available technology through our Patent Exchange. Patents are available using simple keyword or date criteria. If you are looking to hire a patent attorney, you've come to the right place. Protect your idea and hire a patent lawyer.


Search All Patents:



  This Patent May Be For Sale or Lease. Contact Us

  Is This Your Patent? Claim This Patent Now.



Register or Login To Download This Patent As A PDF




United States Patent Application 20180305947
Kind Code A1
Manning; Warren October 25, 2018

SWIMMING POOL TILE CLEANING DEVICE

Abstract

An apparatus having a backing implement for removably holding a swimming pool tile cleaner. A scrubbing member removably attaches to the backing implement, wherein the scrubbing material is operable for cleaning said swimming pool tile. A scrubbing member attachment implement attaches the scrubbing member to said backing implement. A mounting mechanism enables the backing implement and scrubbing member to removably attach to a frame of a debris collecting tool operable for said cleaning the swimming pool tile.


Inventors: Manning; Warren; (Costa Mesa, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Manning; Warren

Costa Mesa

CA

US
Family ID: 1000002619721
Appl. No.: 15/492189
Filed: April 20, 2017


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: E04H 4/1609 20130101
International Class: E04H 4/16 20060101 E04H004/16

Claims



1. An apparatus comprising: a backing implement, wherein said backing implement is configured to removably hold a swimming pool tile cleaner; a scrubbing member configured to removably attach to said backing implement, wherein said scrubbing material is operable for cleaning said swimming pool tile; and a mounting mechanism, wherein said mounting mechanism being configured to enable said backing implement with said scrubbing member to removably attach to a frame of a debris collecting tool being operable for said cleaning of said swimming pool tile.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, in which said debris collecting tool comprising at least a leaf raking device.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising an adhesive operable for removably attaching said scrubbing member to said backing implement.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, in which said mounting mechanism comprising at least a keyhole attachment mechanism.

5. The apparatus of claim 3, in which said mounting mechanism comprising at least a flexible clip.

6. The apparatus of claim 3, in which said mounting mechanism comprising at least a spring loaded attachment mechanism.

7. The apparatus of claim 3, in which said scrubbing member comprising at least a removable textured scouring pad.

8. The apparatus of claim 3, in which said scrubbing member comprising at least a plurality of bristles on an adhesive pad.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, in which said backing implement is a proximately curved backing implement.

10. The apparatus of claim 7, in which said scrubbing member is a proximately curved scrubbing implement being configured to attach to said curved backing implement.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, in which said debris collecting tool comprising at least a swimming pool net.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, in which said scrubbing member comprising at least one of an adhesive material and Velcro for attaching the scrubbing member to said backing implement.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, in which said swimming pool net comprising a telescoping handle, wherein said telescoping handle is configured to enable and easy access to said scrubbing member.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, in which said mounting mechanism comprising at least a hook and loop material.

15. The apparatus of claim 13, in which said mounting mechanism comprising at least a spring loaded clamp.

16. The apparatus of claim 14, in which said backing implement comprising a hole portion configured to receive said mounting mechanism.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, in which said backing implement comprising a soap pouch configured to receive tile soap via said hole portion.

18. An apparatus comprising: means for cleaning a swimming pool tile; means for holding said cleaning means; means for attaching said cleaning means to said holding means; means for collecting debris; and means for mounting said cleaning and holding means to said collecting means.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, further comprising: means for receiving said mounting means; means for holding tile soap; and wherein said receiving means is operable for receiving said tile soap.

20. An apparatus comprising: a backing implement, wherein said backing implement is configured to removably hold a swimming pool tile cleaner; a scrubbing member configured to removably attach to said backing implement, wherein said scrubbing material is operable for cleaning said swimming pool tile; a scrubbing member attachment implement, in which said scrubbing member attachment implement comprising at least one of, an adhesive material and Velcro.RTM. for attaching the scrubbing member to said backing implement; and a mounting mechanism, wherein said mounting mechanism being configured to enable said backing implement with said scrubbing member to removably attach to a frame of a debris collecting tool being operable for said cleaning of said swimming pool tile.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not applicable.

RELATED CO-PENDING U.S. PATENT APPLICATIONS

[0002] Not applicable.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE OF SEQUENCE LISTING PROVIDED AS ATEXT FILE

[0003] Not applicable.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0004] Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER LISTING APPENDIX

[0005] Not applicable.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

[0006] A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection by the author thereof. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or patent disclosure for the purposes of referencing as patent prior art, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office, patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND OF THE RELEVANT PRIOR ART

[0007] One or more embodiments of the invention generally relate to cleaning tools. More particularly, certain embodiments of the invention relate to a tile cleaner that can be attached to other cleaning tools.

[0008] The following background information may present examples of specific aspects of the prior art (e.g., without limitation, approaches, facts, or common wisdom) that, while expected to be helpful to further educate the reader as to additional aspects of the prior art, is not to be construed as limiting the present invention, or any embodiments thereof, to anything stated or implied therein or inferred thereupon. It is believed that when cleaning a swimming pool, a service technician may typically make two laps around the pool, one lap to clean the water line and one lap to skim debris from the surface of the water. For example, the service technician may use a tile cleaner to clean the pool water line by walking around the pool while cleaning the water line. Then, the technician may use a leaf rake or net while walking around the pool once again to skim debris from the surface of the water. In many applications the technician may use a surface tension releasing product, such as, but not limited to, soap, to move the debris to the water's edge then skim the water's edge with a flicking technique bouncing the corner of the skimming tool against the tile to collect the debris.

[0009] By way of educational background, an aspect of the related technology generally useful to be aware of is that there are some currently available pool cleaning tools with attached brushes. One such device provides a combination pool strainer and brush, which is typically designed to brush the bottom of the pool while scooping debris out of the water. In this device the brush extends along three sides of the strainer and is normally intended to be used on the bottom of the pool to clean floor-to-wall joining corners, which are typically curved. It is believed that this approach may be ineffective for cleaning wall tiles as the lower bristles of the brushes would typically be under the surface of the water when used to clean tiles, which may cause a good deal of drag. Another such device provides a pool brush trash trap and collector, which is similar to the previous device and also focuses on brushing the bottom portion of a swimming pool. Moreover, in this device the brush usually cannot be removed from the trash trap and collector.

[0010] In view of the foregoing, it is clear that these traditional techniques are not perfect and leave room for more optimal approaches.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:

[0012] FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a swimming pool tile cleaner that may be attached to a typical swimming pool net, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1A is a side perspective view of the tile cleaner not attached to the pool net, and FIG. 1B is a diagrammatic side view of the tile cleaner attached to the pool net and in use in a swimming pool; and

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of an exemplary replacement pad for a tile cleaner assembly, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] Unless otherwise indicated illustrations in the figures are not necessarily drawn to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS

[0015] The present invention is best understood by reference to the detailed figures and description set forth herein.

[0016] Embodiments of the invention are discussed below with reference to the Figures. However, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the detailed description given herein with respect to these figures is for explanatory purposes as the invention extends beyond these limited embodiments. For example, it should be appreciated that those skilled in the art will, in light of the teachings of the present invention, recognize a multiplicity of alternate and suitable approaches, depending upon the needs of the particular application, to implement the functionality of any given detail described herein, beyond the particular implementation choices in the following embodiments described and shown. That is, there are modifications and variations of the invention that are too numerous to be listed but that all fit within the scope of the invention. Also, singular words should be read as plural and vice versa and masculine as feminine and vice versa, where appropriate, and alternative embodiments do not necessarily imply that the two are mutually exclusive.

[0017] It is to be further understood that the present invention is not limited to the particular methodology, compounds, materials, manufacturing techniques, uses, and applications, described herein, as these may vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is used for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. It must be noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include the plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, a reference to "an element" is a reference to one or more elements and includes equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art. Similarly, for another example, a reference to "a step" or "a means" is a reference to one or more steps or means and may include sub-steps and subservient means. All conjunctions used are to be understood in the most inclusive sense possible. Thus, the word "or" should be understood as having the definition of a logical "or" rather than that of a logical "exclusive or" unless the context clearly necessitates otherwise. Structures described herein are to be understood also to refer to functional equivalents of such structures. Language that may be construed to express approximation should be so understood unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

[0018] All words of approximation as used in the present disclosure and claims should be construed to mean "approximate," rather than "perfect," and may accordingly be employed as a meaningful modifier to any other word, specified parameter, quantity, quality, or concept. Words of approximation, include, yet are not limited to terms such as "substantial", "nearly", "almost", "about", "generally", "largely", "essentially", "closely approximate", etc.

[0019] As will be established in some detail below, it is well settle law, as early as 1939, that words of approximation are not indefinite in the claims even when such limits are not defined or specified in the specification.

[0020] For example, see Ex parte Mallory, 52 USPQ 297, 297 (Pat. Off. Bd. App. 1941) where the court said "The examiner has held that most of the claims are inaccurate because apparently the laminar film will not be entirely eliminated. The claims specify that the film is "substantially" eliminated and for the intended purpose, it is believed that the slight portion of the film which may remain is negligible. We are of the view, therefore, that the claims may be regarded as sufficiently accurate."

[0021] Note that claims need only "reasonably apprise those skilled in the art" as to their scope to satisfy the definiteness requirement. See Energy Absorption Sys., Inc. v. Roadway Safety Servs., Inc., Civ. App. 96-1264, slip op. at 10 (Fed. Cir. Jul. 3, 1997) (unpublished) Hybridtech v. Monoclonal Antibodies, Inc., 802 F.2d 1367, 1385, 231 USPQ 81, 94 (Fed. Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 947 (1987). In addition, the use of modifiers in the claim, like "generally" and "substantial," does not by itself render the claims indefinite. See Seattle Box Co. v. Industrial Crating & Packing, Inc., 731 F.2d 818, 828-29, 221 USPQ 568, 575-76 (Fed. Cir. 1984).

[0022] Moreover, the ordinary and customary meaning of terms like "substantially" includes "reasonably close to: nearly, almost, about", connoting a term of approximation. See In re Frye, Appeal No. 2009-006013, 94 USPQ2d 1072, 1077, 2010 WL 889747 (B.P.A.I. 2010) Depending on its usage, the word "substantially" can denote either language of approximation or language of magnitude. Deering Precision Instruments, L.L.C. v. Vector Distribution Sys., Inc., 347 F.3d 1314, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (recognizing the "dual ordinary meaning of th[e] term ["substantially"] as connoting a term of approximation or a term of magnitude"). Here, when referring to the "substantially halfway" limitation, the Specification uses the word "approximately" as a substitute for the word "substantially" (Fact 4). (Fact 4). The ordinary meaning of "substantially halfway" is thus reasonably close to or nearly at the midpoint between the forwardmost point of the upper or outsole and the rearwardmost point of the upper or outsole.

[0023] Similarly, the term `substantially` is well recognized in case law to have the dual ordinary meaning of connoting a term of approximation or a term of magnitude. See Dana Corp. v. American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., Civ. App. 04-1116, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 18265, *13-14 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 27, 2004) (unpublished). The term "substantially" is commonly used by claim drafters to indicate approximation. See Cordis Corp. v. Medtronic AVE Inc., 339 F.3d 1352, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2003) ("The patents do not set out any numerical standard by which to determine whether the thickness of the wall surface is `substantially uniform.` The term `substantially,` as used in this context, denotes approximation. Thus, the walls must be of largely or approximately uniform thickness."); see also Deering Precision Instruments, LLC v. Vector Distribution Sys., Inc., 347 F.3d 1314, 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Epcon Gas Sys., Inc. v. Bauer Compressors, Inc., 279 F.3d 1022, 1031 (Fed. Cir. 2002). We find that the term "substantially" was used in just such a manner in the claims of the patents-in-suit: "substantially uniform wall thickness" denotes a wall thickness with approximate uniformity.

[0024] It should also be noted that such words of approximation as contemplated in the foregoing clearly limits the scope of claims such as saying `generally parallel` such that the adverb `generally` does not broaden the meaning of parallel. Accordingly, it is well settled that such words of approximation as contemplated in the foregoing (e.g., like the phrase `generally parallel`) envisions some amount of deviation from perfection (e.g., not exactly parallel), and that such words of approximation as contemplated in the foregoing are descriptive terms commonly used in patent claims to avoid a strict numerical boundary to the specified parameter. To the extent that the plain language of the claims relying on such words of approximation as contemplated in the foregoing are clear and uncontradicted by anything in the written description herein or the figures thereof, it is improper to rely upon the present written description, the figures, or the prosecution history to add limitations to any of the claim of the present invention with respect to such words of approximation as contemplated in the foregoing. That is, under such circumstances, relying on the written description and prosecution history to reject the ordinary and customary meanings of the words themselves is impermissible. See, for example, Liquid Dynamics Corp. v. Vaughan Co., 355 F.3d 1361, 69 USPQ2d 1595, 1600-01 (Fed. Cir. 2004). The plain language of phrase 2 requires a "substantial helical flow." The term "substantial" is a meaningful modifier implying "approximate," rather than "perfect." In Cordis Corp. v. Medtronic AVE, Inc., 339 F.3d 1352, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 2003), the district court imposed a precise numeric constraint on the term "substantially uniform thickness." We noted that the proper interpretation of this term was "of largely or approximately uniform thickness" unless something in the prosecution history imposed the "clear and unmistakable disclaimer" needed for narrowing beyond this simple-language interpretation. Id. In Anchor Wall Systems v. Rockwood Retaining Walls, Inc., 340 F.3d 1298, 1311 (Fed. Cir. 2003)" Id. at 1311. Similarly, the plain language of claim 1 requires neither a perfectly helical flow nor a flow that returns precisely to the center after one rotation (a limitation that arises only as a logical consequence of requiring a perfectly helical flow).

[0025] The reader should appreciate that case law generally recognizes a dual ordinary meaning of such words of approximation, as contemplated in the foregoing, as connoting a term of approximation or a term of magnitude; e.g., see Deering Precision Instruments, L.L.C. v. Vector Distrib. Sys., Inc., 347 F.3d 1314, 68 USPQ2d 1716, 1721 (Fed. Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 1426 (2004) where the court was asked to construe the meaning of the term "substantially" in a patent claim. Also see Epcon, 279 F.3d at 1031 ("The phrase `substantially constant` denotes language of approximation, while the phrase `substantially below` signifies language of magnitude, i.e., not insubstantial."). Also, see, e.g., Epcon Gas Sys., Inc. v. Bauer Compressors, Inc., 279 F.3d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (construing the terms "substantially constant" and "substantially below"); Zodiac Pool Care, Inc. v. Hoffinger Indus., Inc., 206 F.3d 1408 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (construing the term "substantially inward"); York Prods., Inc. v. Cent. Tractor Farm & Family Ctr., 99 F.3d 1568 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (construing the term "substantially the entire height thereof"); Tex. Instruments Inc. v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp., 90 F.3d 1558 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (construing the term "substantially in the common plane"). In conducting their analysis, the court instructed to begin with the ordinary meaning of the claim terms to one of ordinary skill in the art. Prima Tek, 318 F.3d at 1148. Reference to dictionaries and our cases indicates that the term "substantially" has numerous ordinary meanings. As the district court stated, "substantially" can mean "significantly" or "considerably." The term "substantially" can also mean "largely" or "essentially." Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary 1817 (1983).

[0026] Words of approximation, as contemplated in the foregoing, may also be used in phrases establishing approximate ranges or limits, where the end points are inclusive and approximate, not perfect; e.g., see AK Steel Corp. v. Sollac, 344 F.3d 1234, 68 USPQ2d 1280, 1285 (Fed. Cir. 2003) where it where the court said [W]e conclude that the ordinary meaning of the phrase "up to about 10%" includes the "about 10%" endpoint. As pointed out by AK Steel, when an object of the preposition "up to" is nonnumeric, the most natural meaning is to exclude the object (e.g., painting the wall up to the door). On the other hand, as pointed out by Sollac, when the object is a numerical limit, the normal meaning is to include that upper numerical limit (e.g., counting up to ten, seating capacity for up to seven passengers). Because we have here a numerical limit--"about 10%"--the ordinary meaning is that that endpoint is included.

[0027] In the present specification and claims, a goal of employment of such words of approximation, as contemplated in the foregoing, is to avoid a strict numerical boundary to the modified specified parameter, as sanctioned by Pall Corp. v. Micron Separations, Inc., 66 F.3d 1211, 1217, 36 USPQ2d 1225, 1229 (Fed. Cir. 1995) where it states "It is well established that when the term "substantially" serves reasonably to describe the subject matter so that its scope would be understood by persons in the field of the invention, and to distinguish the claimed subject matter from the prior art, it is not indefinite." Likewise see Verve LLC v. Crane Cams Inc., 311 F.3d 1116, 65 USPQ2d 1051, 1054 (Fed. Cir. 2002). Expressions such as "substantially" are used in patent documents when warranted by the nature of the invention, in order to accommodate the minor variations that may be appropriate to secure the invention. Such usage may well satisfy the charge to "particularly point out and distinctly claim" the invention, 35 U.S.C. .sctn. 112, and indeed may be necessary in order to provide the inventor with the benefit of his invention. In Andrew Corp. v. Gabriel Elecs. Inc., 847 F.2d 819, 821-22, 6 USPQ2d 2010, 2013 (Fed. Cir. 1988) the court explained that usages such as "substantially equal" and "closely approximate" may serve to describe the invention with precision appropriate to the technology and without intruding on the prior art. The court again explained in Ecolab Inc. v. Envirochem, Inc., 264 F.3d 1358, 1367, 60 USPQ2d 1173, 1179 (Fed. Cir. 2001) that "like the term `about,` the term `substantially` is a descriptive term commonly used in patent claims to avoid a strict numerical boundary to the specified parameter," see Ecolab Inc. v. Envirochem Inc., 264 F.3d 1358, 60 USPQ2d 1173, 1179 (Fed. Cir. 2001) where the court found that the use of the term "substantially" to modify the term "uniform" does not render this phrase so unclear such that there is no means by which to ascertain the claim scope.

[0028] Similarly, other courts have noted that like the term "about," the term "substantially" is a descriptive term commonly used in patent claims to "avoid a strict numerical boundary to the specified parameter."; e.g., see Pall Corp. v. Micron Seps., 66 F.3d 1211, 1217, 36 USPQ2d 1225, 1229 (Fed. Cir. 1995); see, e.g., Andrew Corp. v. Gabriel Elecs. Inc., 847 F.2d 819, 821-22, 6 USPQ2d 2010, 2013 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (noting that terms such as "approach each other," "close to," "substantially equal," and "closely approximate" are ubiquitously used in patent claims and that such usages, when serving reasonably to describe the claimed subject matter to those of skill in the field of the invention, and to distinguish the claimed subject matter from the prior art, have been accepted in patent examination and upheld by the courts). In this case, "substantially" avoids the strict 100% nonuniformity boundary.

[0029] Indeed, the foregoing sanctioning of such words of approximation, as contemplated in the foregoing, has been established as early as 1939, see Ex parte Mallory, 52 USPQ 297, 297 (Pat. Off. Bd. App. 1941) where, for example, the court said "the claims specify that the film is "substantially" eliminated and for the intended purpose, it is believed that the slight portion of the film which may remain is negligible. We are of the view, therefore, that the claims may be regarded as sufficiently accurate." Similarly, In re Hutchison, 104 F.2d 829, 42 USPQ 90, 93 (C.C.P.A. 1939) the court said "It is realized that "substantial distance" is a relative and somewhat indefinite term, or phrase, but terms and phrases of this character are not uncommon in patents in cases where, according to the art involved, the meaning can be determined with reasonable clearness."

[0030] Hence, for at least the forgoing reason, Applicants submit that it is improper for any examiner to hold as indefinite any claims of the present patent that employ any words of approximation.

[0031] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Preferred methods, techniques, devices, and materials are described, although any methods, techniques, devices, or materials similar or equivalent to those described herein may be used in the practice or testing of the present invention. Structures described herein are to be understood also to refer to functional equivalents of such structures. The present invention will be described in detail below with reference to embodiments thereof as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

[0032] References to a "device," an "apparatus," a "system," etc., in the preamble of a claim should be construed broadly to mean "any structure meeting the claim terms" exempt for any specific structure(s)/type(s) that has/(have) been explicitly disavowed or excluded or admitted/implied as prior art in the present specification or incapable of enabling an object/aspect/goal of the invention. Furthermore, where the present specification discloses an object, aspect, function, goal, result, or advantage of the invention that a specific prior art structure and/or method step is similarly capable of performing yet in a very different way, the present invention disclosure is intended to and shall also implicitly include and cover additional corresponding alternative embodiments that are otherwise identical to that explicitly disclosed except that they exclude such prior art structure(s)/step(s), and shall accordingly be deemed as providing sufficient disclosure to support a corresponding negative limitation in a claim claiming such alternative embodiment(s), which exclude such very different prior art structure(s)/step(s) way(s).

[0033] From reading the present disclosure, other variations and modifications will be apparent to persons skilled in the art. Such variations and modifications may involve equivalent and other features which are already known in the art, and which may be used instead of or in addition to features already described herein.

[0034] Although Claims have been formulated in this Application to particular combinations of features, it should be understood that the scope of the disclosure of the present invention also includes any novel feature or any novel combination of features disclosed herein either explicitly or implicitly or any generalization thereof, whether or not it relates to the same invention as presently claimed in any Claim and whether or not it mitigates any or all of the same technical problems as does the present invention.

[0035] Features which are described in the context of separate embodiments may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable subcombination. The Applicants hereby give notice that new Claims may be formulated to such features and/or combinations of such features during the prosecution of the present Application or of any further Application derived therefrom.

[0036] References to "one embodiment," "an embodiment," "example embodiment," "various embodiments," "some embodiments," "embodiments of the invention," etc., may indicate that the embodiment(s) of the invention so described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but not every possible embodiment of the invention necessarily includes the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Further, repeated use of the phrase "in one embodiment," or "in an exemplary embodiment," "an embodiment," do not necessarily refer to the same embodiment, although they may. Moreover, any use of phrases like "embodiments" in connection with "the invention" are never meant to characterize that all embodiments of the invention must include the particular feature, structure, or characteristic, and should instead be understood to mean "at least some embodiments of the invention" includes the stated particular feature, structure, or characteristic.

[0037] References to "user", or any similar term, as used herein, may mean a human or non-human user thereof. Moreover, "user", or any similar term, as used herein, unless expressly stipulated otherwise, is contemplated to mean users at any stage of the usage process, to include, without limitation, direct user(s), intermediate user(s), indirect user(s), and end user(s). The meaning of "user", or any similar term, as used herein, should not be otherwise inferred or induced by any pattern(s) of description, embodiments, examples, or referenced prior-art that may (or may not) be provided in the present patent.

[0038] References to "end user", or any similar term, as used herein, are generally intended to mean late stage user(s) as opposed to early stage user(s). Hence, it is contemplated that there may be a multiplicity of different types of "end user" near the end stage of the usage process. Where applicable, especially with respect to distribution channels of embodiments of the invention comprising consumed retail products/services thereof (as opposed to sellers/vendors or Original Equipment Manufacturers), examples of an "end user" may include, without limitation, a "consumer", "buyer", "customer", "purchaser", "shopper", "enjoyer", "viewer", or individual person or non-human thing benefiting in any way, directly or indirectly, from use of, or interaction with, some aspect of the present invention.

[0039] In some situations, some embodiments of the present invention may provide beneficial usage to more than one stage or type of usage in the foregoing usage process. In such cases where multiple embodiments targeting various stages of the usage process are described, references to "end user", or any similar term, as used therein, are generally intended to not include the user that is the furthest removed, in the foregoing usage process, from the final user therein of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0040] Where applicable, especially with respect to retail distribution channels of embodiments of the invention, intermediate user(s) may include, without limitation, any individual person or non-human thing benefiting in any way, directly or indirectly, from use of, or interaction with, some aspect of the present invention with respect to selling, vending, Original Equipment Manufacturing, marketing, merchandising, distributing, service providing, and the like thereof.

[0041] References to "person", "individual", "human", "a party", "animal", "creature", or any similar term, as used herein, even if the context or particular embodiment implies living user, maker, or participant, it should be understood that such characterizations are sole by way of example, and not limitation, in that it is contemplated that any such usage, making, or participation by a living entity in connection with making, using, and/or participating, in any way, with embodiments of the present invention may be substituted by such similar performed by a suitably configured non-living entity, to include, without limitation, automated machines, robots, humanoids, computational systems, information processing systems, artificially intelligent systems, and the like. It is further contemplated that those skilled in the art will readily recognize the practical situations where such living makers, users, and/or participants with embodiments of the present invention may be in whole, or in part, replaced with such non-living makers, users, and/or participants with embodiments of the present invention. Likewise, when those skilled in the art identify such practical situations where such living makers, users, and/or participants with embodiments of the present invention may be in whole, or in part, replaced with such non-living makers, it will be readily apparent in light of the teachings of the present invention how to adapt the described embodiments to be suitable for such non-living makers, users, and/or participants with embodiments of the present invention. Thus, the invention is thus to also cover all such modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of such adaptations and modifications, at least in part, for such non-living entities.

[0042] Headings provided herein are for convenience and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.

[0043] The enumerated listing of items does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0044] It is understood that the use of specific component, device and/or parameter names are for example only and not meant to imply any limitations on the invention. The invention may thus be implemented with different nomenclature/terminology utilized to describe the mechanisms/units/structures/components/devices/parameters herein, without limitation. Each term utilized herein is to be given its broadest interpretation given the context in which that term is utilized.

[0045] Terminology. The following paragraphs provide definitions and/or context for terms found in this disclosure (including the appended claims):

[0046] "Comprising." This term is open-ended. As used in the appended claims, this term does not foreclose additional structure or steps. Consider a claim that recites: "A memory controller comprising a system cache . . . " Such a claim does not foreclose the memory controller from including additional components (e.g., a memory channel unit, a switch).

[0047] "Configured To." Various units, circuits, or other components may be described or claimed as "configured to" perform a task or tasks. In such contexts, "configured to" or "operable for" is used to connote structure by indicating that the mechanisms/units/circuits/components include structure (e.g., circuitry and/or mechanisms) that performs the task or tasks during operation. As such, the mechanisms/unit/circuit/component can be said to be configured to (or be operable) for perform(ing) the task even when the specified mechanisms/unit/circuit/component is not currently operational (e.g., is not on). The mechanisms/units/circuits/components used with the "configured to" or "operable for" language include hardware--for example, mechanisms, structures, electronics, circuits, memory storing program instructions executable to implement the operation, etc. Reciting that a mechanism/unit/circuit/component is "configured to" or "operable for" perform(ing) one or more tasks is expressly intended not to invoke 35 U.S.C. sctn.112, sixth paragraph, for that mechanism/unit/circuit/component. "Configured to" may also include adapting a manufacturing process to fabricate devices or components that are adapted to implement or perform one or more tasks.

[0048] "Based On." As used herein, this term is used to describe one or more factors that affect a determination. This term does not foreclose additional factors that may affect a determination. That is, a determination may be solely based on those factors or based, at least in part, on those factors. Consider the phrase "determine A based on B." While B may be a factor that affects the determination of A, such a phrase does not foreclose the determination of A from also being based on C. In other instances, A may be determined based solely on B.

[0049] The terms "a", "an" and "the" mean "one or more", unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0050] Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing conditions, concentrations, dimensions, and so forth used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term "about." Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the following specification and attached claims are approximations that may vary depending at least upon a specific analytical technique.

[0051] The term "comprising," which is synonymous with "including," "containing," or "characterized by" is inclusive or open-ended and does not exclude additional, unrecited elements or method steps. "Comprising" is a term of art used in claim language which means that the named claim elements are essential, but other claim elements may be added and still form a construct within the scope of the claim.

[0052] As used herein, the phase "consisting of" excludes any element, step, or ingredient not specified in the claim. When the phrase "consists of" (or variations thereof) appears in a clause of the body of a claim, rather than immediately following the preamble, it limits only the element set forth in that clause; other elements are not excluded from the claim as a whole. As used herein, the phase "consisting essentially of" and "consisting of" limits the scope of a claim to the specified elements or method steps, plus those that do not materially affect the basis and novel characteristic(s) of the claimed subject matter (see Norian Corp. v Stryker Corp., 363 F.3d 1321, 1331-32, 70 USPQ2d 1508, Fed. Cir. 2004). Moreover, for any claim of the present invention which claims an embodiment "consisting essentially of" or "consisting of" a certain set of elements of any herein described embodiment it shall be understood as obvious by those skilled in the art that the present invention also covers all possible varying scope variants of any described embodiment(s) that are each exclusively (i.e., "consisting essentially of") functional subsets or functional combination thereof such that each of these plurality of exclusive varying scope variants each consists essentially of any functional subset(s) and/or functional combination(s) of any set of elements of any described embodiment(s) to the exclusion of any others not set forth therein. That is, it is contemplated that it will be obvious to those skilled how to create a multiplicity of alternate embodiments of the present invention that simply consisting essentially of a certain functional combination of elements of any described embodiment(s) to the exclusion of any others not set forth therein, and the invention thus covers all such exclusive embodiments as if they were each described herein.

[0053] With respect to the terms "comprising," "consisting of," and "consisting essentially of," where one of these three terms is used herein, the presently disclosed and claimed subject matter may include the use of either of the other two terms. Thus in some embodiments not otherwise explicitly recited, any instance of "comprising" may be replaced by "consisting of" or, alternatively, by "consisting essentially of", and thus, for the purposes of claim support and construction for "consisting of" format claims, such replacements operate to create yet other alternative embodiments "consisting essentially of" only the elements recited in the original "comprising" embodiment to the exclusion of all other elements.

[0054] Devices or system modules that are in at least general communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. In addition, devices or system modules that are in at least general communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.

[0055] A description of an embodiment with several components in communication with each other does not imply that all such components are required. On the contrary a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention.

[0056] As is well known to those skilled in the art many careful considerations and compromises typically must be made when designing for the optimal manufacture of a commercial implementation any system, and in particular, the embodiments of the present invention. A commercial implementation in accordance with the spirit and teachings of the present invention may configured according to the needs of the particular application, whereby any aspect(s), feature(s), function(s), result(s), component(s), approach(es), or step(s) of the teachings related to any described embodiment of the present invention may be suitably omitted, included, adapted, mixed and matched, or improved and/or optimized by those skilled in the art, using their average skills and known techniques, to achieve the desired implementation that addresses the needs of the particular application.

[0057] It is to be understood that any exact measurements/dimensions or particular construction materials indicated herein are solely provided as examples of suitable configurations and are not intended to be limiting in any way. Depending on the needs of the particular application, those skilled in the art will readily recognize, in light of the following teachings, a multiplicity of suitable alternative implementation details.

[0058] An embodiment of the present invention may provide a swimming pool tile cleaner that can be removably attached to a swimming pool net, leaf rake or other debris collecting tool. Some embodiments may enable a user to clean the tile of a pool and skim the perimeter simultaneously, which may reduce the amount of time spent servicing the pool. Some embodiments may be configured to be attached to other types of pool cleaning equipment such as, but not limited to, long handled brushes or vacuum hoses.

[0059] FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a swimming pool tile cleaner 101 that may be attached to a frame of a swimming pool net 105, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1A is a side perspective view of tile cleaner 101 not attached to pool net 105, and FIG. 1B is a diagrammatic side view of tile cleaner 101 attached to pool net 105 and in use in a swimming pool. In the present embodiment, tile cleaner 101 may comprise a scrubbing member or brush 110 adhered or otherwise attached to a backer 115 that may then be attached to a mounting mechanism 120. Scrubbing member may include adhesive for adhering to the backer 115. Scrubbing member may be a removable and replaceable scrubbing member. Possible various mounting mechanisms may include Attach. Mech. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. The various mounting mechanisms may enable the scrubbing member to be removable and replaceable. Attach. Mech. 1 shows an exemplary keyhole type attachment mechanism that may enable the brush 110 to attach to the frame of the pool net 105. Attach. Mech. 2 uses a brush that may attach to the frame of the pool net with a flexible clip. Attach. Mech. 3 and 4, 5, 6 may all be spring loaded clip or clamp attachments. Attach. Mech. 7 and 8 show how all mechanisms may be used on a flat brush or curved cleaning surface brush. Scrubbing member 110 of tile cleaner 101 is shown as a textured scouring pad, although it is contemplated that some embodiments may comprise a multiplicity of suitable types of scrubbing members such as, but not limited to, brushes with various types of bristles, pumice blocks, squeegees, mops, foam pads, sponges, microfiber pads, steel wool, coated abrasives, nonwoven abrasives, foam abrasives and bonded abrasives. In some embodiments, the tile cleaner may be curved to create more contact with the tile at the water line of the swimming pool. In Curved FIGS. 1 and 2, brush 110 includes a curved brush and the drawings show the motion the net and brush could be used in. The figures show how the curved brush could create more contact with the tile line on these angles of use. In alternate embodiments the tile cleaner may vary in shape and size to more optimally perform specific tasks. For example, without limitation, in one such embodiment the tile cleaner may have a triangular shape to fit into corners or under ledges. Other such embodiments may comprise wedge shaped tile cleaners that may more easily move through the water. In some embodiments, such as but not limited to the embodiment illustrated by way of example in FIG. 2, the scrubbing member can be replaced on the mounting mechanism. This may enable the scrubbing member to be replaced without the need to replace the mounting mechanism. In other embodiments the mounting mechanism may be permanently attached to the scrubbing member.

[0060] In the present embodiment, mounting mechanism 120 may enable tile cleaner 101 to be easily attached to and removed from a frame 125 of net 105. It is contemplated that mounting mechanism 120 may be configured to fit different types of swimming pool nets, leaf rakes, skimmers, and other debris collecting tools. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize, in light of and in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, that a multiplicity of suitable attachment means may be used for mounting mechanism 120 such as, but not limited to, flexible clips, spring loaded clamps, latches, springs, hooks, slots, vice grips, lever locks, straps, magnetic, hook and loop, clasps, bolts, screws, and nuts In some embodiments, the mounting mechanism may be easily actuated so that the tile cleaner may be attached and/or removed with one hand. In addition, in some embodiments the mounting mechanism may comprise some type of hinge, joint or other movable apparatus that may enable the angle of the tile cleaner to be adjusted for proper contact with the pool tile when in use. Moreover, a variety of different materials may be used to make mounting mechanism 120 including, without limitation, metal, plastic, rubber, a combination of such materials, etc. In some alternate embodiments the frame of the net may be modified to allow for the attachment of the tile cleaner. For example, without limitation, in one such embodiment, holes may be provided or drilled into the frame of the net to enable one or more pins, bolts or other attachment means on the tile cleaner to be inserted into the frame and secured in place. In another such embodiment one or more channels or rails may be provided along the outer perimeter of the frame of the net into or onto which a mounting mechanism may be slid or clipped into place. In typical use of the present embodiment tile cleaner 101 may be attached to either a right side 130 or a left side 135 of net 105. In alternate uses the tile cleaner may be attached to the net in various different locations including, without limitation, the corners of the frame, the distal side of the frame, the handle of the net, etc.

[0061] Referring to FIG. 1B, when tile cleaner 101 is attached to swimming pool net 105, a user may be able to clean the tile on a side wall 140 of a pool while netting debris from the surface of water 145 near the perimeter of the pool with net 105. Tile cleaner 101 is typically attached to net 105 at the point where tile cleaner 101 may contact the tile at a water line 150 while net 105 is positioned to collect debris from the surface of water 145. The position of tile cleaner 101 on net 105 may be adjusted depending on the situation in order to make contact with the tile no matter what direction or position the user is holding net 105. For example, without limitation, tile cleaner may be placed on right side 130 if the user is travelling around the pool in a clockwise direction and may be placed on left side 135 if the user is travelling around the pool in a counter-clockwise direction. Furthermore, tile cleaner 101 can be removed from net 105 when not needed. Prior to inserting net 105 into water 145, a user may apply a surface tension releaser such as, but not limited to, dish soap down the middle of the pool. This typically moves any debris in water 145 to the edges of the pool. Then the user may walk around the water's edge scooping up the debris with net 105 while tile cleaner 101 runs along water line 150. Tile cleaner 101 may dislodge debris from water line 145 while the user scoops said debris into net 105. In some applications, the user may apply a tile soap or other cleaning product to tile cleaner 101. In some alternate embodiments a cleaning product may be infused into the tile cleaner or may comprise a reservoir from which a cleaning product may be dispensed.

[0062] Since the present embodiment may enable a user to clean the tile of a pool while collecting debris, the use of the present embodiment may reduce the amount of time spent servicing the pool. The present embodiment may be used by swimming pool service technicians, home owners, maintenance professionals, etc. Furthermore, since the tile cleaner attaches to the net, there is typically less equipment to carry. The ability to easily remove the tile cleaner from the net or the scrubbing member from the mounting mechanism may typically enable the scrubbing member to be changed out for more aggressive or less aggressive cleaning depending on the surface being cleaned. Also, since the tile cleaner is normally used at the water line and is not usually fully submerged the amount of drag may be reduced as compared to some current approaches.

[0063] FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of an exemplary replacement pad 201 for a tile cleaner assembly, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, replacement pad 201 comprises a scrubbing member 205 attached to a backing implement 210. The scrubbing member 205 may include at least one of an adhesive material and Velcro.RTM. for attaching the scrubbing member 205 to the backing implement 210. It is contemplated that various different types of scrubbing members may be utilized in some embodiments. Backing implement 210 may include a hole portion disposed on a center portion of the backing implement 210. Attachment means 215 on backing implement 210 may allow for a mounting mechanism to be removably connected to replacement pad 201. Backing implement 210 may include a soap pouch for receiving tile soap via the hole portion. A multiplicity of suitable attachment means may be used to connect replacement pad 201 and a mounting mechanism such as, but not limited to, threaded attachments, clips, snaps, brackets, hooks, hook and loop material, bolts, screws, nuts, and magnetic materials. This may enable replacement pad 201 to be changed when scrubbing member 205 wears out without the need to replace the mounting mechanism. In some embodiments the scrubbing member may be permanently attached to the mounting mechanism.

[0064] It is contemplated that some embodiments may provide means for cleaning the waterline of a pool while collecting debris in a multiplicity of suitable configurations. For example, without limitation, in some embodiments may the tile cleaner may be permanently installed on the debris collecting tool net. In other embodiments one tile cleaner may be permanently attached to each side of the debris collecting tool, wherein the debris collecting tool may include a telescoping handle to enable access to the tile cleaner when replacing the scrubbing member. Yet other embodiments may be provided as a kit that is sold as a combination of a debris collecting tool and a tile cleaner that may be pre-assembled or assembled by the end user. Some of these embodiments may also include a suitable surface tension releaser for moving debris to the perimeter of the pool. In addition, other embodiments may combine the ability to clean tiles with tools other than pool nets such as, but not limited to, leaf rakes, vacuum hoses, automatic cleaners, and automatic surface cleaners. In one such embodiment, the tile cleaner may be attached to a robotic surface skimmer which is programmed to follow the perimeter of the pool while pushing the tile cleaner against the tiles. In another such embodiment, the tile cleaner may be attached to the leading edge of a retractable pool cover.

[0065] All the features disclosed in this specification, including any accompanying abstract and drawings, may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

[0066] It is noted that according to USA law 35 USC .sctn. 112 (1), all claims must be supported by sufficient disclosure in the present patent specification, and any material known to those skilled in the art need not be explicitly disclosed. However, 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6) requires that structures corresponding to functional limitations interpreted under 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6) must be explicitly disclosed in the patent specification. Moreover, the USPTO's Examination policy of initially treating and searching prior art under the broadest interpretation of a "mean for" claim limitation implies that the broadest initial search on 112(6) functional limitation would have to be conducted to support a legally valid Examination on that USPTO policy for broadest interpretation of "mean for" claims. Accordingly, the USPTO will have discovered a multiplicity of prior art documents including disclosure of specific structures and elements which are suitable to act as corresponding structures to satisfy all functional limitations in the below claims that are interpreted under 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6) when such corresponding structures are not explicitly disclosed in the foregoing patent specification. Therefore, for any invention element(s)/structure(s) corresponding to functional claim limitation(s), in the below claims interpreted under 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6), which is/are not explicitly disclosed in the foregoing patent specification, yet do exist in the patent and/or non-patent documents found during the course of USPTO searching, Applicant(s) incorporate all such functionally corresponding structures and related enabling material herein by reference for the purpose of providing explicit structures that implement the functional means claimed. Applicant(s) request(s) that fact finders during any claims construction proceedings and/or examination of patent allowability properly identify and incorporate only the portions of each of these documents discovered during the broadest interpretation search of 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6) limitation, which exist in at least one of the patent and/or non-patent documents found during the course of normal USPTO searching and or supplied to the USPTO during prosecution. Applicant(s) also incorporate by reference the bibliographic citation information to identify all such documents comprising functionally corresponding structures and related enabling material as listed in any PTO Form-892 or likewise any information disclosure statements (IDS) entered into the present patent application by the USPTO or Applicant(s) or any 3rd parties. Applicant(s) also reserve its right to later amend the present application to explicitly include citations to such documents and/or explicitly include the functionally corresponding structures which were incorporate by reference above.

[0067] Thus, for any invention element(s)/structure(s) corresponding to functional claim limitation(s), in the below claims, that are interpreted under 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6), which is/are not explicitly disclosed in the foregoing patent specification, Applicant(s) have explicitly prescribed which documents and material to include the otherwise missing disclosure, and have prescribed exactly which portions of such patent and/or non-patent documents should be incorporated by such reference for the purpose of satisfying the disclosure requirements of 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6). Applicant(s) note that all the identified documents above which are incorporated by reference to satisfy 35 USC .sctn. 112 (6) necessarily have a filing and/or publication date prior to that of the instant application, and thus are valid prior documents to incorporated by reference in the instant application.

[0068] Having fully described at least one embodiment of the present invention, other equivalent or alternative methods of implementing a tile cleaner that can be attached to other cleaning tools according to the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Various aspects of the invention have been described above by way of illustration, and the specific embodiments disclosed are not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed. The particular implementation of the tile cleaner may vary depending upon the particular context or application. By way of example, and not limitation, the tile cleaners described in the foregoing were principally directed to pool cleaning implementations; however, similar techniques may instead be applied to cleaning ponds, fountains, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., which implementations of the present invention are contemplated as within the scope of the present invention. The invention is thus to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the following claims. It is to be further understood that not all of the disclosed embodiments in the foregoing specification will necessarily satisfy or achieve each of the objects, advantages, or improvements described in the foregoing specification.

[0069] Claim elements and steps herein may have been numbered and/or lettered solely as an aid in readability and understanding. Any such numbering and lettering in itself is not intended to and should not be taken to indicate the ordering of elements and/or steps in the claims.

[0070] The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means or step plus function elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or act for performing the function in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed.

[0071] The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means or step plus function elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or act for performing the function in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed. The description of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, but is not intended to be exhaustive or limited to the invention in the form disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and the practical application, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.

[0072] The Abstract is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. Section 1.72(b) requiring an abstract that will allow the reader to ascertain the nature and gist of the technical disclosure. That is, the Abstract is provided merely to introduce certain concepts and not to identify any key or essential features of the claimed subject matter. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to limit or interpret the scope or meaning of the claims.

[0073] The following claims are hereby incorporated into the detailed description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment.

* * * * *

File A Patent Application

  • Protect your idea -- Don't let someone else file first. Learn more.

  • 3 Easy Steps -- Complete Form, application Review, and File. See our process.

  • Attorney Review -- Have your application reviewed by a Patent Attorney. See what's included.