Patent application title: DEVICE TO HOLD THE HAIR
Michel Droin (Romaneche-Thorins, FR)
IPC8 Class: AA45D812FI
Class name: Toilet hair device hair fastener
Publication date: 2011-10-06
Patent application number: 20110240056
A hair-holding device has a comb-like element having a base supporting a
plurality of teeth lying in a plane. The base has first and second
mutually-exclusive orientations in the plane and can be transformed
between the first orientation in which the distal ends of adjacent teeth
are spaced apart from each other and the second orientation in the plane
in which the distal ends of adjacent teeth are brought towards each
other. The combination of an operating handle exterior to the base and a
curved rod the base allow the to be is able to be retained in a chosen
one of the orientations and to be transformed by the user between the
alternative first and second orientations.
1. A device for holding the hair, comprising a comb-like element having a
base supporting a plurality of teeth lying in a plane, the base having
first and second mutually-exclusive orientations in the plane and being
transformable between the first orientation in which the distal ends of
adjacent teeth are spaced apart from each other and the second
orientation in the plane in which the distal ends of adjacent teeth are
brought towards each other; and means for retaining the base in a chosen
one of, and transforming the base between, alternative ones of said first
and second orientations, said means having a operating handle portion
exterior to the base and curved rod means coupled to the handle portion
extending longitudinally along said base.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein the curved rod means comprise first and second rod portions, the first rod portion being coupled to a first end of the handle portion and the second rod portion being coupled to a second end of the handle portion.
3. The device of claim 1, wherein the rod means is curved, the curve lying substantially along the plane when the base is at least one of the first and second orientations.
4. The device of claim 2, wherein the first and second rod portions are at an obtuse angle to each other in the plane.
5. The device of claim 4 wherein the first and second rod portions are of substantially equal length and together extend substantially along a full length of the base.
6. The device of claim 2, wherein said base includes a longitudinal bore, said rod means being located within said bore.
7. The device of claim 1, wherein said second orientation of said base is an orientation wherein a side of said base supporting said teeth assumes a concave orientation with respect to the teeth.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein the handle and the rod means are formed of a continuous element.
9. The device of claim 1 wherein the handle and rod means lie in a same plane.
10. A device for holding the hair, comprising a comb-like element having a flexible base supporting a plurality of hair-engaging teeth lying in a flat plane having free ends along a side thereof; curved rod means having first and second ends; bearing means associated with the base for supporting the rod and for allowing the rod means to rotate between opposed final orientations to alternatively place the teeth side of the base into alternative orientations within the flat plane; and a handle engaging at least one end of the rod to rotate the rod means about the bearing means between the opposed final orientations.
11. The device of claim 10 wherein said bearing means comprise a longitudinally extending bore in said base.
12. The device of claim 10 wherein said rod and handle is of a continuous length of spring steel.
13. The device of claim 10 wherein said teeth are mounted to said base whereby the teeth side of the base is in a convex curved orientation when the teeth are parallel to each other.
15. The device of claim 10 wherein said teeth are mounted to said base whereby the teeth side of the base is in the concave curved orientation when the free ends of the teeth are directed towards each other.
16. The device of claim 10 wherein said teeth are mounted to said base whereby the teeth side of the base is in a convex curved orientation when the teeth are in an orientation to facilitate the passage of hair therebetween.
17. The device of claim 10 wherein said teeth are mounted to said base whereby the teeth side of the base is in a concave curved orientation when the free ends of the teeth are in an orientation to grip hair located therebetween.
 The present invention is directed to a new and improved device to
hold the hair in the form of a comb or toothed barrette. The present
application claims the benefit of provisional application 61/321,227
filed Apr. 6, 2010.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Conventional combs to hold the hair or to maintain an ornament in the hair often suffer from deficiencies in that they must, on the one hand, be easily insertable into the hair and, on the other hand, must be capable of firmly gripping the hair when in place. The invention set forth in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,050,272 and 6,318,379 to the present inventor addresses those issues by providing a comb-like device having a curved base from which an array of comb teeth extend. The base is transformable between curved orientations, either concave or convex, with respect to the teeth. In the convex orientation, the teeth ends are separated, allowing the comb to be easily inserted into the hair, while in the concave orientation with respect to the teeth, the teeth ends are drawn together causing the teeth to strongly grip the hair.
 A deficiency with the foregoing invention, however, is that the comb base must be transformed between the concave and convex positions manually by the user, who grips the base and performs a twisting-type maneuver. It has been found that such action can be difficult to perform, particularly when the comb is in place on the hair.
 It is accordingly the purpose of the present invention to provide a hair-holding device of the type set forth in the '272 and '379 patents that facilitates the operation of the device. A further purpose of the present invention is to provide a hair-holding device of the aforementioned type that has enhanced provision for the affixation of decorative matter to the comb. Yet a further purpose of the present invention is to provide an improvement to such devices, which is of economical and efficient manufacture and construction.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 In accordance with the foregoing, the present invention comprises a comb having a base transformable between alternative positions, which may be convex and concave, with respect to a series of projecting teeth, thus defining alternative open and closed orientations for the teeth. A substantially rigid curved member extends within the base, the base conforming to the shape and orientation of the rigid member, which is rotatable. The rigid member has a portion extending exteriorly of the base serving as a handle for the member whereby the user may grip the handle and rotate the member to open and close the teeth, as required. The handle may take any of a variety of shapes, and may further serve as a means of adornment as well as a member to which additional adornments, such as beads, ribbons, medallions or the like can be fastened.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 A fuller understanding of the present invention will be achieved upon consideration of the following detailed description of preferred but nonetheless illustrative embodiments of the invention, when reviewed in connection with the annexed drawings wherein:
 FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a prior art device of the type of which the present invention is employed, shown in the open position;
 FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the device of the prior art device of FIG. 1 shown in the closed position;
 FIG. 3 is a view of a rigid member of the present invention;
 FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a hair-holding device of the present invention with the rigid member of FIG. 3 mounted therein;
 FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the device of FIG. 4 shown in a closed position;
 FIG. 6 is a plan view of the hair-holding device of the present invention utilizing a medallion affixed to the handle;
 FIG. 7 is a plan view of a further alternative embodiment of the invention utilizing beads;
 FIG. 8 is a plan view of a yet further alternative embodiment of the invention in which the handle portion is shown in the shape of a heart;
 FIG. 9 is a plan view of yet another embodiment of the invention, similar to that of FIG. 7, but employing two rod elements; and
 FIG. 10 is a plan view of another embodiment of the invention, in which the handle extends from one side of the comb.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 With initial references to FIGS. 1 and 2, comb 10 of the prior art, as exemplified in the '272 patent, which may be made from a ductile plastic material such as polyethylene, includes a series of teeth 12 supported at their first ends upon a base 14. The base is sufficiently flexible to allow it to bend or flex between a first position, as depicted in FIG. 1, in which the base supports the teeth such that the distal ends of the teeth are spaced from each other, and a second orientation, as depicted in FIG. 2, in which the distal ends of the teeth approach each other, allowing the clip to grip the hair. The positions in which the distal ends of the teeth are separated and together may preferably be defined by convex and concave orientations of the base with respect to the teeth, as shown in the figures.
 Rod 16 lies within channel 18 in the base and is curved along its length, with sufficient rigidity to cause the base 14 to conform to its curvature. The rod is further mounted within the comb in a manner that permits it to rotate about its ends such that its opposed concave and convex sides can alternatively face the teeth of the comb. The material for the rod is preferably spring steel, which can maintain its curvature while providing sufficient flex and resiliency to permit it to rotate upon the application of an exterior force by the user. As the barrette assumes a curved orientation as dictated by the curve of the rod, when an appropriate distorting force is applied to the barrette, such as by pushing or flexing the ends of the barrette sideways with respect to the central section of the barrette, the rod rotates or flips about its ends such that its curvature is in the opposite sense. Thus, the orientation of the barrette or comb can be changed from that of FIG. 1 to FIG. 2 and vice versa.
 As may be appreciated, as rod 16 is typically substantially buried within the barrette base, the distorting force to change the orientation of the rod must be applied to the barrette base. This is often difficult to do successfully, particularly when the barrette is placed in the hair and is desired to remain in the chosen position when it is being "locked" in place.
 With references to FIGS. 3 and 4, the present invention utilizes a comb or barrette body having a base 22 and teeth 24 constructed in a like manner to the comb or barrette of FIGS. 1 and 2. Extending within the bore in the base 22 is rod 26. When installed in the comb, rod 26 includes a curved portion within the comb or barrette, allowing the orientation of the teeth 24 to change as the orientation of the curve varies within the comb, the bore wall serving as a bearing for the rod. An exterior portion 32 of the rod forms an operating handle. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the rod may define a substantially closed loop, with adjacent rod ends 28, 30. The opposed distal portions of the loop are inserted through opposite ends of the base bore, as shown in FIG. 4, portion 32 of the rod remaining exposed and serving as the operating handle for the barrette. While FIG. 4 shows the rod ends 28 and 30 buried within the comb, the rod may also be oriented such that the ends are exterior to the comb. Once the rod is inserted into/through the comb, the ends, if exposed, can be joined together or left separated. While it is expected that the comb will be molded and the rod subsequently inserted into its accepting bore, thus necessitating that the rod not form a fully closed loop before it is inserted, it is possible to mold or cast the comb directly about the rod, in which case the rod can be initially be in the form of a closed loop.
 With the rod in position in the comb and the barrette body 20 held in position, the rod 26 may be grasped at the exposed portion 32 as a handle and rotated with respect to the barrette body to change the relative orientation of the inserted part of the rod with respect to the teeth from a first orientation where the distal ends of the teeth are apart, such as the convex to the teeth position depicted in FIG. 4, to a second orientation where the distal ends of the teeth are closer together, such as depicted in FIG. 5 wherein the rod curvature is concave with respect to the teeth, duplicating the action of the prior art comb/barrette shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
 While it is contemplated that the rod will often define a substantially closed loop, the exterior portion 32 of the rod 26 need not have any particular shape, so long as the rod includes a portion exterior to the comb body at an angle or orientation sufficient to allow it to be gripped, held or contacted as a handle to apply a torque substantially about the longitudinal axis or length of the comb to rotate the interior portion of the rod with respect to the comb body, while the portion or portions of the rod within the comb or barrette body is/are curved to effect the desired transformation of the comb. As depicted, for example, in FIG. 6, the exposed handle portion may be generally oval, adorned with a medallion 34 attached to the handle portion in any appropriate manner. FIG. 8 depicts the rod having an exposed portion in the form of a heart.
 In addition, it is not necessary that the ends of the rod, if present and exposed, be in close proximity to each other, so long as an exposed portion 32 of the rod is sufficiently long to be engaged by the user and serve as the handle. FIG. 7, for example, shows the rod with exterior ends 38, 40 substantially separated from each other. While the ends may be exposed, beads 36 may be strung upon the ends to close the loop and provide a finished appearance. The distal ends of the rod are inserted into a pair of the beads, the beads themselves being joined by a string or elastic cord 42. FIG. 10 depicts an embodiment wherein the handle portion 34 extends outwardly from only one side of the comb body. A bead or other finishing element may be affixed to the exposed end, again to provide further ornamentation, a finished appearance, and to protect the user from the rod end.
 Still further, it is not necessary that the rod be formed of a single unitary element. FIG. 9 presents an embodiment similar to that of FIG. 7, but where the rod is composed of two individual rod elements 44 and 46, with spaced respective exterior ends 48 and 50 and adjacent ends 52, 54 within the comb 20. in this embodiment the beads 36 may preferably be rigidly joined to each other by connector means 56 to allow the two rod elements to rotate in a unitary fashion. So long as the portion(s) of the rod or rods within the comb are sufficiently long and curved to effect the desired comb transformation as they rotate, the exact length and positioning on the inserted portions is not critical, although it is preferable that both elements be rotated simultaneously to effect best operation of the comb. In that regard, it is beneficial to join the exposed ends in a manner that facilitates the conjoined rotation. It is contemplated however, that the insertion portions should preferably extend substantially the full length of the comb.
 Further, by "curved" it is meant that the rod portion or portions within the barrette body do not lie along a straight line. The rod portions may be smoothly arcuate, as depicted in FIG. 4, or may comprise straight line segments not lying along a straight line, as depicted in FIG. 7, the rod portions forming an obtuse angle to each other, so long as the rod portion or portions is/are so shaped as to allow the required transformation of the comb to open and close the teeth.
Patent applications in class Hair fastener
Patent applications in all subclasses Hair fastener