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United States Patent Application 20180140044
Kind Code A1
Guadalajara; Jason May 24, 2018

System and Method for Stabilizing Footwear

Abstract

A footwear stabilizing system is provided. The system comprises an upper and a sole attached to the upper. The sole comprises an outsole comprising an inner surface formed in a biomechanically correct shape and an insert attached to the outsole, the insert comprising at least one of single piece of material and a fluid-filled bag. The insert is configured to conform to and stabilize a human foot upon impact. The outsole is configured to match a common curvature of a heel and arch of the foot. The insert is constructed of and/or contains non-Newtonian material. The outsole is configured with a shaped heel cup configured to absorb impact across entire heel. The outsole works in conjunction with the insert to provide foot stabilization and arch support. The insert reacts at each step to foot shape and provides support upon impact.


Inventors: Guadalajara; Jason; (Covina, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Guadalajara; Jason

Covina

CA

US
Family ID: 1000002329994
Appl. No.: 15/357374
Filed: November 21, 2016


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A43B 13/189 20130101; A43B 7/24 20130101; A43B 7/1445 20130101; A43B 13/186 20130101; A43C 15/16 20130101; A43B 13/04 20130101; A43B 13/08 20130101; A43B 13/223 20130101
International Class: A43B 13/18 20060101 A43B013/18; A43B 7/24 20060101 A43B007/24; A43B 7/14 20060101 A43B007/14; A43B 13/22 20060101 A43B013/22; A43C 15/16 20060101 A43C015/16; A43B 13/04 20060101 A43B013/04; A43B 13/08 20060101 A43B013/08

Claims



1. A footwear stabilizing system, comprising: an upper; a sole attached to the upper, the sole comprising: an outsole comprising an inner surface formed in a biomechanically correct shape, and an insert attached to the outsole, the insert comprising at least one of single piece of material and a fluid-filled bag, wherein the insert is configured to conform to and stabilize a human foot upon impact.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the outsole is configured to match a common curvature of a heel and arch of the foot.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the insert is configured to be at least one of constructed of and contain non-Newtonian material.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the outsole is configured with a shaped heel cup.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein the heel cup is configured to absorb impact across entire heel.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the outsole is configured to work in conjunction with the insert to provide foot stabilization and arch support.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the insert is configured to react at each step to shape of foot and provide support at time of impact.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the shape of insert formed at time of impact provides arch support lower than typical arch pronation.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the outsole has an outer surface that is at least one of flat, contoured, and lugged.

10. The system of claim 3, wherein the non-Newtonian material comprises at least one of rate sensitive and viscoelastic or dilatant foams with shear thickening properties formulated into polymers or silicones.

11. A method of providing stabilizing footwear, comprising: an insert attached to an inner surface of an outsole of an item of footwear detecting an impact, the impact associated with a downward stepping action of a wearer of the item; the insert, based on detecting the impact, becoming firm; the insert changing to a shape of a foot causing the impact; the insert tightening to create a temporary orthotic property; and the insert, based on detecting reduction of the impact, returning to a previous non-firm state.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the outsole is configured to match a common curvature of a heel and arch of the foot.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the insert is configured to be at least one of constructed of and contain non-Newtonian material.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein the outsole is configured with a shaped heel cup configured to absorb impact across entire heel.

15. The method of claim 11, wherein the insert changing to the shape of the foot comprises providing arch support lower than typical arch pronation.

16. A footwear stabilizing system, comprising: a footwear outsole biomechanically shaped to match common curvature of heel and arch of foot; a heel cup incorporated into the outsole; and an insert comprising one of a single piece of sheer thickening material and a fluid-filled bag built into the outsole that, upon detection of downward pressure by the foot, becomes firm in the shape of the foot.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein the heel cup is configured to absorb impact across entire heel.

18. The system of claim 16, wherein the insert is configured to be at least one of constructed of and contain non-Newtonian material.

19. The system of claim 16, wherein the insert changing to the shape of the foot comprises providing arch support lower than typical arch pronation.

20. The system of claim 16, wherein the insert returns to a previous non-firm state based on detecting reduction of the impact.
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 A TEXT 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 footwear. More particularly, certain embodiments of the invention relates to a system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear.

[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. Foot impact related activities such as running and walking may cause stress to the joints of the lower body particularly in the feet and ankles. For example, it is believed that running on concrete may send high amounts of shock energy into the body through the feet, and this energy may not be absorbed by many currently available types and models of footwear A large number of people may over pronate when walking or running. Over pronation occurs when the arch of the foot flattens too much upon the impact of each step, which typically causes the ankle to roll inward. Over pronation may result in the misalignment of the entire joints system and inferior biomechanical function, which may lead to joint soreness, susceptibility to injuries, and early arthritis due to uneven friction and/or bearing of weight on the joint cartilage surface. Moreover, the heel of the foot is typically cup shaped and often absorbs most of the shock of impact directly at the bottom of the heel, which may put strain on surrounded ligaments and soft tissue. During extreme or heavy repetitive impact, these ligaments and soft tissue may be injured. Most conventional footwear is constructed with substantially flat midsoles and/or outsoles to accommodate feet of different shapes. Flat footwear may not properly support the heel or arch of the foot. For the majority of people, the foot is not flat and injury due to impact related sports as well as injuries due to overuse and stress may become problematic for both athletes and non-athletes. For example, athletes may often suffer from heel bruises or ligament tearing caused by the curved heel of the foot striking down too hard on flat surfaces such as the flat midsole in their footwear.

[0009] Persons may attempt to add support to footwear by replacing the insoles or inserting additional insoles on top of the original insoles. Most over the counter insoles and orthotics have a generic prefabricated arch support which may not conform to the shape of a particular user's foot. Due to space limitations inside footwear, added insoles may not be thick enough to create the full desired support and comfort effect. Some people may obtain custom insoles or orthotics formed to fit their feet specifically. Custom insoles and orthotics may be expensive and typically must be obtained separately from the footwear as aftermarket footwear inserts.

[0010] In view of the foregoing, it is clear that traditional systems and methods 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 through 1C illustrate an exemplary outsole for a system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1A is a diagrammatic top view. FIG. 1B is a diagrammatic bottom view, and FIG. 1C is a perspective front view; and

[0013] FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an exemplary system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2A is a cross sectional side view of the stabilizing system, and FIG. 2B is a cross sectional side view of the stabilizing system in use.

[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.

Terminology

[0045] 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 system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear. Some embodiments may use non-Newtonian fluid or rate sensitive material in conjunction with a biomechanically correct orthotic molded footwear outsole to help prevent over pronation, stabilize arch and joint function, and provide biomechanically correct heel support. Some embodiments may comprise a single piece of heat- or injection-molded shear thickening material or a fluid filled bag built into a midsole or outsole. Such material or bag may react to each step and custom shape of the foot upon impact, providing support at the time of impact. While in many embodiments provided herein the footwear may be shoes, in some embodiments footwear may be boots, clogs, sandals, and leisure footwear such as flip flops. Footwear may be specific to an activity or sport and may comprise ski boots, ice skates, roller skates, inline skates, ballet footwear, baseball, football, and soccer shoes with our without cleats, and rubber soled shoes including sneakers, walking shoes, basketball shoes, running shoes, and tennis shoes.

[0059] FIGS. 1A through 1C illustrate an exemplary outsole 100 for a system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1A is a diagrammatic top view. FIG. 1B is a diagrammatic bottom view, and FIG. 1C is a perspective front view. In the present embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1A and 1C, the inner side of outsole 100, which faces the foot, may be formed into a biomechanically correct shape to match the common curvature of a heel and arch. The biomechanically correct shape comprises an arch support 105 that may be lower than typical arch pronation as to typically not interfere with the foot's natural pronation function. Arch support 105 may act as a guide to help prevent extreme over pronation and may also guide an insert that may be placed within outsole 100, similar to the insert illustrated by way of example in FIG. 2. Outsole 100 also comprises a hollow heel cup 110, which may help guide proper biomechanical function and may enable the heel of the foot to rest and take impact in its natural cupped shape The cup 110 provides full stabilization of the heel along with absorption of impact across the entire heel surface rather than just the bottom. while Such stabilization and impact absorption occurs while the cup 110 cradles the heel in a manner that supports the ligaments, joints and muscles. Referring to FIG. 1B, the bottom of outsole 100 may have a flat surface. It is contemplated that outsoles 100 in some alternate embodiments may have differently shaped bottom surfaces. Such bottom surfaces may comprise contoured surfaces, lugged surfaces for grip, surfaces with embedded spikes or cleats or receptacles for detachable spikes or cleats, surfaces that may clip into bicycle pedals, and surfaces with stacked or high heels. Furthermore, the contour of the inner side or surface of the outsole 100 may vary in some alternate embodiments. For example, without limitation, in some embodiments the inner surface may be shaped in a male or female fashion or may be shaped to accommodate different of foot conditions such as, but not limited to, flat feet, high arches, bunions, and hammertoes. In the present embodiment, outsole 100 may be made of a multiplicity of suitable materials including, but not limited to, rubber, various plastics, foam, and wood.

[0060] FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an exemplary system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics in footwear, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2A is a cross sectional side view of the stabilizing system, and FIG. 2B is a cross sectional side view of the stabilizing system in use. In the present embodiment, the system comprises an outsole 205 and an insert 210. The inner side of outsole 205 may be formed into a biomechanically correct shape to match the common curvature of the heel and arch of a foot 215, similarly to the outsole 100 illustrated by way of example in the foregoing. The hollowed out area of outsole 205 may be filled with insert 210 made of a non-Newtonian liquid or material such as, but not limited to rate sensitive, viscoelastic or dilatant foams with shear thickening properties formulated into polymers, silicones or any other suitable state some bearing commercial names such as D30, Poron XRD, Artilage, or numerous other liquids with said properties used in various other industrial applications. Referring to FIG. 2A, a thin insole 220 is depicted atop of insert 210. The insole 220 may provide cushioning as used in many type of footwear. The insole 220 may be optional and not included in some embodiments. The non-Newtonian components may provide adequate cushioning. In the present embodiment, various different types of footwear uppers may be constructed around outsole 205 and insert 210 including, without limitation, athletic shoes, work shoes, boots, and sandals. While not depicted in FIG. 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, or 2B, footwear and their components depicted in these figures is assumed to include uppers and components parts of uppers.

[0061] The non-Newtonian, rate sensitive fluid or material that may be used for insert 210 is typically fluid and dynamic in its resting or slow moving state. When impacted, the fluid or material momentarily becomes firm, taking on the unique shape of foot 215 and further providing firm, stabilizing support. Such support may enable correct biomechanical function and may absorb shock energy. This embodiment involving non-Newtonian, rate sensitive fluid or material may provide an optimal material because in liquid, foam or silicone formulations the fluid or material is fluid/deformable in resting state which may allow the fluid or material to take the shape of any foot. The non-Newtonian, rate sensitive fluid or material may be engineered to specific densities or hardness which optimizes bearing of the body's weight without fully flattening. As the shock energy and movement from the foot impact the material, the material forms into the shape of the foot but also tightens up creating a momentary custom orthotic property firm enough to prevent the collapse of the arch or heel. At about the same time, the shock energy is converted into heat instead of transferring through to the body in the manner of some other materials. This structure eliminates most shock energy while providing constant customizing support. If a non-Newtonian liquid is used for insert 210, such non-Newtonian liquid may be encased in a pliable bladder. If a non-Newtonian foam is used, insert 210 may be implemented as a molded or otherwise formed piece.

[0062] In some alternate embodiments a combination of materials may be used to form the insert 210 or multiple inserts 210 may be used to provide different types of support in different areas of the foot. For example, in some embodiments a non-Newtonian material may be used for the portion of the insert 210 located in the heel cup of the outsole 205 to absorb the shock of the heel strike while normal foam may be used for the rest of the insert 210 to provide support throughout the rest of the stride.

[0063] In typical use of the present embodiment, as foot 215 comes down from a step or jump and impacts a surface, the non-Newtonian material in insert 210 may react and become firm to act as a buffer to typically reduce the stress and shock of the impact. Additionally, insert 210 may custom form into the shape of foot 215 upon each unique foot impact. At the time of impact outsole 205, with its heel cup and arch support, may guide insert 210 to create a stabilization effect for the heel and arch of foot 215 to guide foot 215 into a proper stride. This system may be cost effective since using the outsole 205 as the stabilization structure may add little to no cost in manufacturing. Furthermore, this system may help prevent over pronation and may help alleviate many other types of foot problems and injuries such as, but not limited to, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, joint pain, and soft tissue damage.

[0064] Those skilled in the art will readily recognize, in light of and in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, that some embodiments may comprise various different configurations. For example, without limitation, one embodiment may comprise an additional piece on top of the outsole 205 to act as the stabilization unit instead of building the stabilization means into the outsole 205. This embodiment could possibly be made in a single dual material injection molding process. Another embodiment may be implemented in the form of a high heel shoe or other item of footwear. In this embodiment the outsole 205 may be configured in an angled shape to create height and may have a heel attached to the rear outer surface. Yet another alternate embodiment may comprise an insert that is only located under a portion of the foot rather than under the entire foot, for example, without limitation, only under the heel. In such an embodiment the outsole 205 may be formed with a recessed portion into which the insert 210 may be placed to provide a smooth surface on which the foot may rest. Yet other embodiments may comprise a multiplicity of suitable additional or alternate features such as, but not limited to, a texture on the surface that contacts the foot to create a massaging effect, odor and bacteria reducing properties, and ventilation means.

[0065] Using a very high energy returning material in the outsole 210 as provided herein which may enable a person wearing the footwear containing the components provided herein to potentially run faster or jump higher such as with the Adidas.TM. Boost product but with the hollowed out design filled in with non-Newtonian fluid as provided herein may provide some benefits of the Adidas.TM. Boost while reducing or eliminating the extra damaging shock energy the material returns from entering the body.

[0066] It is of note that polyurethane materials are temperature-sensitive and although may present formulations exist which do not change must in usual temperatures, others such as silicone based are not effected by temperature. use of any type of non-Newtonian material optimized or not should apply to the invention

[0067] Placing a flat or curved non-Newtonian material in the midsole and putting any type of molded or non-molded, non-Newtonian or normal arch insert under the material will allow the material to guide and custom form arch support.

[0068] 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.

[0069] 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.

[0070] 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.

[0071] Having fully described at least one embodiment of the present invention, other equivalent or alternative methods of implementing a system for absorbing impact energy and stabilizing joint biomechanics 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 stabilizing system may vary depending upon the particular context or application. By way of example, and not limitation, the stabilizing systems described in the foregoing were principally directed to footwear implementations; however, similar techniques may instead be applied to other types of impact absorbing and stabilizing devices such as, but not limited to, gloves, elbow pads and knee pads, knee braces, or head and neck restraints, 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.

[0072] 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.

[0073] 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.

[0074] 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.

[0075] 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.

[0076] The following claims are hereby incorporated into the detailed description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment.

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