Patent application title: FOOTWEAR WITH IMPROVED UPPER
Bruno Berthet (Seynod, FR)
Laurent Bonaventure (Cran Gevrier, FR)
IPC8 Class: AA43B504FI
Class name: For walking or sliding on shifting media ski boot cross-country ski boot
Publication date: 2011-08-04
Patent application number: 20110185595
A boot including a sole assembly and an upper, the boot extending
lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral
side and a medial side, and heightwise from the sole assembly to an upper
end, the boot including a flexible envelope adapted to surround the ankle
of a user, the envelope demarcating the upper end of the boot, the boot
further including a gripping member affixed to the envelope in the area
of the upper end of the boot, on the side of the rear end. An
inextensible reinforcement connects the rear end to the gripping member.
1. An article of footwear comprising: a sole assembly; an upper; a length
extending between a rear end to a front end; a width extending between a
lateral side and a medial side; a height extending between the sole
assembly to an upper end; a flexible envelope structured and arranged to
surround an ankle of a wearer, the envelope demarcating the upper end of
the boot; a gripping member affixed to the envelope in an area of the
upper end at the rear end; an inextensible reinforcement connecting the
rear end to the gripping member.
2. An article of footwear according to claim 1, further comprising: a rear support element.
3. An article of footwear according to claim 2, wherein: the rear support element includes a band extending from the lateral side to the medial side, extending around the envelope.
4. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the gripping member comprises a strap.
5. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the reinforcement includes a distribution tongue.
6. An article of footwear according to claim 5, wherein: the tongue demarcates a concave contact surface; and opposite the contact surface, the tongue demarcates a free convex surface.
7. An article of footwear according to claim 6, wherein: the free convex surface comprises a guide for the band of the rear support element.
8. An article of footwear according to claim 5, wherein: the tongue is comprised of a plastic material.
9. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the reinforcement includes a flexible and nonextensible strap.
10. An article of footwear according to claim 9, wherein: a central portion of the reinforcement faces the envelope without being secured thereto.
11. An article of footwear according to claim 9, wherein: the gripping member comprises a strap; and the strap of the gripping member and the strap of the reinforcement are co-extensive.
12. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the reinforcement includes a tie rod.
13. An article of footwear according to claim 5, wherein: the reinforcement includes an upwardly extending extension; the distribution tongue and the extension form a unitary element.
14. An article of footwear according to claim 3, wherein: an end of the band is adjustably affixed to a quarter.
15. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the envelope is elastic.
16. An article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein: the reinforcement is arranged on an outer surface of the boot.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 The instant application is based upon the French priority patent application No. 10.00452, filed Feb. 4, 2010, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference thereto, and the priority of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. §119.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The invention refers to an article of footwear, such as a boot, in particular a sports boot, and more particularly to a boot intended for skiing, walking, running, racing, hiking, or endeavors, such as fitness training and other in other athletic fields.
 2. Background Information
 Footwear of the aforementioned type can be used in fields such as cross-country or telemark skiing, walking or running on flat or mountainous terrain, hiking or snowboarding, snowshoeing, skateboarding, roller skating, cycling, ball-playing sports, fitness training, as well as in other fields, athletic or otherwise.
 For certain disciplines, it is advantageous for the boot to be structured so as to prevent the intrusion of foreign matter during use. For example, in the field of cross-country skiing, one seeks to prevent snow from getting into the upper.
 A cross-country ski boot according to the prior art is shown with reference to FIG. 1, which is one of the annexed drawing figures to which detailed reference is made hereinafter.
 The boot 1 of FIG. 1 includes a sole assembly 2 and an upper 3. The upper 3 includes a flexible envelope 4 adapted to surround the ankle and to at least partially cover the foot of the wearer. The envelope 4 demarcates the upper end 5 of the boot. Because the envelope is elastic and is structured to exert a tightening force around the ankle 6 of the wearer, it prevents foreign matter from infiltrating the boot. For example, the elastic envelope avoids the introduction snow into the boot.
 The flexible envelope has the disadvantage, however, of not holding the heel of the wearer in place within the boot. For this reason, the boot is equipped with a band 8. The band extends from one side 10 of the boot to the other side 11, extending around the envelope 4 above the heel 12. Of course, the band 8 is oriented so as to prevent the heel 13 of the foot from being raised. Thus, the heel is properly held in the boot, which enables precise steering during skiing and also prevents injuries.
 In addition to the foregoing, the boot 1 includes a gripping member 14, affixed to the envelope 4 in the area of the upper end 5 of the boot, at the heel 12. The gripping member 14 makes it possible to pull on the envelope 4 to make it slide along the foot and ankle when putting on the boot. This facilitates the insertion of the foot into the boot.
 However, inserting the foot into the boot is sometimes not so easy. In fact, as shown in FIG. 1, the heel 13 of the foot sometimes abuts against the heel 12 of the boot when putting on the boot. This obstructs or blocks the foot, which requires additional manipulations from the wearer to put the boot on successfully.
 In view of the foregoing, the invention improves upon a boot that has a flexible envelope. In particular, the invention comprises a structure and arrangement to facilitate putting on such a boot, i.e., to enable the foot to be more easily inserted within the boot.
 To this end, the invention is directed to a boot having a sole assembly and an upper, the boot extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from the sole assembly to an upper end, the boot including a flexible envelope adapted to surround the ankle of a wearer, the envelope demarcating the upper end of the boot, the boot further including a gripping member affixed to the envelope in the area of the upper end of the boot, at the rear end.
 A boot according to the invention includes an inextensible reinforcement that connects the rear end to the gripping member.
 As shown and described below, the reinforcement can have various aspects. In any case, the reinforcement enables the tightening of the portion of the envelope that connects the gripping member to the rear end. The tension applied can be temporary or permanent.
 Thus, when the wearer inserts a foot into the boot and, at the same time, applies a force to the gripping member in an opposite direction with respect to the direction of insertion of the foot, the reinforcement then guides the heel of the foot ahead of the rear end or heel of the boot. It follows advantageously that the foot easily enters the boot. Thus, putting on the boot is not hindered, or is only very slightly hindered, and, in any event, improves upon the prior art in this regard.
 In general, a boot according to the invention is an improvement to the prior art, with a broader range of application.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 Other characteristics and advantages of the invention will be better understood from the description that follows, with reference to the annexed drawings partially illustrating the prior art, as well as two non-limiting embodiments, and in which:
 FIG. 1 is a side view of a boot according to the prior art;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective rear view of a boot according to a first embodiment proposed for the invention;
 FIG. 3 is another perspective rear view of the boot of FIG. 2;
 FIG. 4 is a side view of the boot of FIGS. 2 and 3;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective rear view of a boot according to a second embodiment of the invention; and
 FIG. 6 is a side view of the boot according to FIG. 5.
 The first embodiment described hereinafter relates more particularly to boots for the practice of cross-country or telemark skiing. However, the invention applies to other fields such as those mentioned above.
 A first embodiment is illustrated in FIGS. 2 to 4.
 As shown for example in FIGS. 2 and 3, a cross-country ski boot 21 is adapted to receive the foot of the skier.
 As known, the boot 21 includes an outer sole assembly 22 and an upper 23. The boot 21 extends lengthwise from a rear end or heel 24 to a front end or tip 25, widthwise between a lateral side 26 and a medial side 27, and heightwise from the sole assembly 22 to an upper end 28.
 As illustrated, the upper 23 includes a lower portion 31, adapted to cover the foot 32, as well as an upper portion 33, adapted to surround the ankle 34. The lower portion 31 in particular includes a lateral quarter 36, the heel 24, and a medial quarter 37, which surround the foot 32 of the user. The quarters 36, 37 and the heel 24 are affixed to the sole assembly 22 by any of various structures and/or materials, such as by means of adhesive bonding. The boot 21 also includes an envelope 38. According to the first embodiment of the invention, it is this envelope 38 that constitutes the upper portion 33 and, consequently, surrounds the ankle 34. The envelope 38 forms a tube in this area, which surrounds the ankle. Consequently, the envelope 38 demarcates the upper end 28 of the boot.
 In a non-limiting manner, the envelope 38 also extends opposite the quarters 36, 37 and the heel 24. This means that the envelope 38 concurrently extends in the area of the lower portion 31 and of the upper portion 33.
 The envelope 38 is a portion of the boot 21, adapted to come directly in contact with the foot and the ankle. The envelope 38 therefore extends within the enclosure formed by the quarters 36, 37 and the heel 24. This provides comfort to the user.
 The envelope 38 is flexible and, in a non-limiting fashion, elastic. The latter means that it can be stretched via an external action, and then naturally reassume its initial shape when the action ceases. Further, the term flexible includes reference to materials that are supple and/or pliable. In any event, the envelope 38 is structured and arranged to exert a tightening force around the ankle 34. Therefore, it can be comprised of extensible and elastic fabric pieces. One can provide for all of the fabric pieces or, alternatively, only a portion of the pieces to be elastic. In any case, the resulting effect protects against the intrusion of foreign matter into the boot, such as snow and debris, when being worn by the user.
 The boot includes a rear support element 41 structured and arranged to hold the heel of the foot properly. The rear support element 41, in the illustrated embodiment, includes a band 42 that extends from the lateral side 26 to the medial side 27 of the boot, extending around the top of the heel 24. The band 42 extends along the envelope 38 in this area. Therefore, it can be said that the band 42 around the envelope. The band 42 is comprised, for example, of textile fibers that are arranged to make the band flexible but inextensible or, in a particular embodiment, at least substantially inextensible.
 As shown in FIG. 2, the band 42 includes a lateral fastening end 43 connecting it to the lateral quarter 36. As is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art, the end 43 is adjustably affixed, or removably affixed, to the quarter 36, for example, by the cooperation of two flexible plastic elements, one of which bears loops and the other hooks, such hook-and-loop fastening structure and arrangement being like that known as Velcro®, for example. More broadly speaking, it can be said that one end of the band 42 is adjustably affixed to a quarter of the boot.
 Similarly, as shown in FIG. 3, the band 42 includes a medial fastening end 47 connecting it to the medial quarter 37. Here, the end 47 is fixedly affixed to the quarter 37, for example by means of stitching or any equivalent structure or device.
 Above the heel 24, the band 42 is spaced farther away from the sole assembly 22 than its ends 43, 47. Consequently, the band 42 forms an angle with the sole assembly 22, such that the band 42 prevents the heel of the foot 32 from being raised. In other words, the band 42 holds the heel of the foot in the boot. The band 42 is necessary because the envelope 38, due to its flexibility, is incapable of holding the heel of the foot securely.
 The boot 21 further includes a gripping member 48, affixed to the envelope 38 in the area of the upper end 28, at the rear end 24. The gripping member 48, in the illustrated embodiment, takes the form of a loop, made with a strap and sewn on the outer surface of the envelope 38. Other structure can be provided to make the member 48 within the scope of the invention, such as a rigid handle, for example. A loop has the advantage of being flexible, compact, and easy to manufacture. It is used to pull the rear of the envelope 38, in a direction opposite the sole assembly 22, when putting on the boot.
 According to the invention, as can be understood from FIGS. 2 to 4, the boot 21 includes an inextensible reinforcement 50 that connects the rear end 24 to the gripping member 48. This makes it possible to stretch the envelope 38, in its subdivision located between the rear end 24 and the gripping member 48, when tension is exerted on the gripping member 48, in the direction of the arrow A1 (see FIG. 4). It is to be understood that the tension force, or traction, tends to move the gripping member 48 in a direction away from the sole assembly 22. Such tension is exerted simultaneously with the insertion of the foot in the boot, in the direction of the arrow A2. The localized tension of the envelope 38 enables the latter to guide the heel of the foot into the boot. In other words, the heel of the foot does not encounter any obstacle when the boot is being put on.
 According to the first embodiment of the invention, and in a non-limiting manner, the reinforcement 50 includes a distribution tongue 51. This tongue is used to distribute the pressure exerted on the top of the heel of the foot by the band 42, through the envelope 38.
 The tongue 51 extends heightwise from a lower end 52 up to an upper end 53. The lower end 52 is located in the area of the heel 24, spaced apart from the sole assembly 22. The end 52 is affixed to the heel 24 by any of various structures, such as stitching or adhesive. The upper end 53 is located between the lower end 52 of the tongue 51 and the upper end 28 of the boot. It can be said that the distribution tongue 51 is located at the rear of the boot, above the heel 24. The tongue 51 is inserted between the band 42 and the envelope 38. The tongue 51 can be made of a plastic material, for example.
 The tongue 51 extends transversely from a lateral edge 54 to a medial edge 55. The tongue 51 demarcates a concave contact surface 56, i.e., the surface facing the envelope 38, between the edges 54, 55. The surface 56 is supported on the envelope 38. Opposite the contact surface 56, the tongue 51 has a free surface 57 which is convex. The free surface 57 has a guide 58 for the band 42 of the rear support element 41. The guide 58 retains the band 42 in its nominal position.
 Still according to the first embodiment of the invention, and in a non-limiting manner, the reinforcement 50 includes a nonextensible flexible strap 61. The strap 61 includes a central portion, or body 62, demarcated longitudinally by a lower end 63 and an upper end 64. The lower end 63 is affixed to the distribution tongue 51 by means of stitching 65, for example. Similarly, the upper end 64 is affixed to the envelope 38, in the area or vicinity of the upper end 28 of the boot 21, means of stitching 66, for example. Between the stitchings 65, 66 the body 62 faces the envelope 38 without being secured thereto directly. In other words, the body 62 is free in this area. The absence of connection in the area between the body 62 and the envelope 38 enables the envelope to deform and, therefore, to exert uniform tightening around the ankle or the lower leg of the user.
 Still according to the first embodiment, and in a non-limiting manner, the strap constituting the gripping member 48 and the strap 61 of the reinforcement 50 extend one another, i.e., they are co-extensive. In other words, a single strap can form a portion of the reinforcement 50 and the loop or gripping member 48. The stitching 66 affixes both the upper end 64 of the strap 61 and the loop 48 to the envelope 38. This simplifies the structure of the boot.
 The lower end 63 of the strap 61 is affixed to the upper end 53 of the distribution tongue 51 and, as described above, the tongue 51 is affixed to the heel 24 via its lower end 52. Because of the structures or devices which affix the ends 52, 53 of the tongue 51, a tension force, i.e., a pulling force, exerted in the direction of the arrow A1 is transmitted directly to the heel, i.e., without any torque biasing the tongue 51 to deform it or to orient it in a direction other than that of the arrow A1. Consequently, the heel of the foot is guided more precisely when putting on the boot. In fact, the association of the gripping member 48, strap 61, and distribution tongue 51 forms a shoehorn integrated into the boot 21. This shoehorn is arranged to be efficient at the time of the boot is being put on, and completely unnoticed during use of the boot.
 A second embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. The common elements shared with the first embodiment are designated by the same reference numerals.
 This second embodiment in particular features a boot 21, with its sole assembly 22, upper 23, heel 24, lateral quarter 36, and medial quarter 37. The boot 21 also includes a lower portion 31 and an upper portion 33, with an envelope 38 that demarcates an upper end 28. The boot 21 further includes a rear support element 41, with a band 42, as well as a gripping member 48 and a reinforcement 80. The reinforcement 80 includes a tongue 51.
 A specific characteristic of the second embodiment is that the reinforcement 80 includes a tie rod 81 that connects the distribution tongue 51 to the gripping member, or loop 48. The tie rod 81, or tongue extension, is a rigid element made, for example, of a plastic material, metal, or any material suitable for the purpose of extending the tongue. The distribution tongue 51 and the upwardly extending extension 81 can form a unitary element, i.e., a one-piece element, made out of a plastic material.
 This element is connected to the heel 24 by any appropriate structure or device, such as stitching, in the area of the lower end 52 of the portion that forms the tongue 51. According to the same approach, the element is connected to the envelope 38 by any appropriate structure or device, such as stitching 66, in the area of the upper end 64 of the portion that forms the tongue extension 81. Consequently, the portion of the envelope 38 that extends in front of the element, i.e., in front of the tongue 51 and the extension 81, is permanently stretched. In addition, the gripping member 48 is comprised of a loop, i.e., by a strap, which is affixed to the envelope 38 and to the upper end 64 of the tongue extension 81 by the means shown in the form of stitching 66.
 According to the second embodiment, the manufacture of the boot 21 is faster because it is not necessary to affix the extension 81 to the tongue 51.
 In any case, the invention is not limited to the particular embodiments described and shown herein, as it includes all of the technical equivalents that fall within the scope of the claims that follow.
 Thus, any of a number of structures can be provided to make the reinforcement, the gripping member, and/or the rear support element.
 For example, the band 42 could be divided up into two subdivisions, each of which would connect one side of the boot to the distribution tongue or plate.
 As shown herein, the inextensible reinforcement 50, 80 is arranged outside of the boot 21, although it could alternatively be arranged within the boot.
 In addition, the invention illustratively disclosed herein suitably may be practiced in the absence of any element which is not specifically disclosed herein.
Patent applications by Bruno Berthet, Seynod FR
Patent applications by Laurent Bonaventure, Cran Gevrier FR
Patent applications by SALOMON S.A.S.