Patent application title: Adjustable Shoes
Teresa Skrepenski (San Diego, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43B324FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes convertible from one style or color to another
Publication date: 2015-03-19
Patent application number: 20150075032
An adjustable shoe having an extendible heel and flexible sole section is
provided. In some embodiments, the flexible sole section can comprise
one, two or even three or more layers. Where multiple layers are
included, the sole can comprise a flexible spacer layer comprising
neoprene or other flexible material(s), and another layer including an
accordion-like material that can collapse or extend depending on desired
1. An adjustable shoe, comprising: a sole coupled to a heel; wherein the
heel is configured to adjust between a first extended position and a
second retracted position via an adjustment mechanism; and wherein the
sole comprises a toe end and a heel end, and a flexible mid-portion
disposed between the toe end and the heel end.
2. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the heel comprises a housing portion adjustably coupled to a telescoping portion, and wherein the adjustment mechanism comprises an adjustment screw.
3. The shoe of claim 2, wherein the heel further comprises an outer heel, and wherein the housing portion is disposed therein via a plurality of anchoring tabs that maintain a position of the housing portion within the outer heel.
4. The shoe of claim 2, wherein the adjustment screw is affixed within a lumen of the housing portion, and wherein the adjustment screw mates with at least a first threading affixed within a lumen of the telescoping portion.
5. The shoe of claim 4, wherein the sole comprises an opening that aligns with the adjustment screw, and is sized and dimensioned to receive a key.
6. The shoe of claim 5, wherein a rotation of the key in a first direction causes the telescoping portion to at least partially retract within the housing portion, and wherein a rotation of the key in a second direction causes the telescoping portion to at least partially extend from the housing portion.
7. The shoe of claim 3, further comprising a material having an adjustable length that is coupled to a lower portion of the telescoping portion and an upper portion of the shoe.
8. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the upper portion of the shoe comprises at least one of (a) an upper of the shoe, (b) the sole, and (c) an upper portion of the outer heel.
9. The shoe of claim 8, wherein the upper of the shoe comprises at least one of a counter, a feather, a quarter, a throat, a topline, a vamp, and a welt.
10. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the sole comprises a plurality of layers, and wherein at least one of the layers comprises a first accordion section at the flexible mid-portion.
11. The shoe of claim 10, wherein at least one of the layers comprises a mid-portion having less rigidity than a material composing the toe end and the heel end.
12. The shoe of claim 11, wherein the flexible mid-portion is made of neoprene.
13. The shoe of claim 10, wherein the first accordion section comprises or is coupled with a second accordion section having a second plurality of pleats folding in a direction substantially orthogonal to a folding of a first plurality of pleats of the first accordion section.
14. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the heel comprises a housing portion and a telescoping portion, and wherein the housing portion comprises a slot sized and dimensioned to receive a protrusion of the telescoping portion to prevent a rotation of the telescoping portion relative to the housing portion.
15. The shoe of claim 1, wherein a first length of the heel at the extended position is at least one inch greater than a second length of the heel at the retracted position.
16. The shoe of claim 15, wherein the second length is at least two inches.
17. The shoe of claim 15, wherein the first length is at least two inches greater than the second length.
18. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the telescoping portion is coupled to a rubber end piece, and wherein the outer material is coupled to an area between the telescoping portion and the rubber end piece.
19. The shoe of claim 2, wherein the housing portion comprises a spacer sized and dimensioned to receive at least a portion of an adjustment screw to thereby maintain a spacing between at least a portion of the adjustment screw and an inner wall of the housing portion.
20. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the flexible mid-portion comprises a pleated material that is coupled to or includes a pleated mid-portion of an upper of the shoe.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The field of the invention is adjustable shoes.
 The following description includes information that may be useful in understanding the present invention. It is not an admission that any of the information provided herein is prior art or relevant to the presently claimed invention, or that any publication specifically or implicitly referenced is prior art.
 Some have put forth effort in providing footwear capable of being worn with different heel heights. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,877,902 to Pieriboni describes footwear having a heel with two heel portions, wherein one of the heel portions is rotatable to adjust the height of the overall heel.
 All publications herein are incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference. Where a definition or use of a term in an incorporated reference is inconsistent or contrary to the definition of that term provided herein, the definition of that term provided herein applies and the definition of that term in the reference does not apply.
 As other examples: U.S. Pat. No. 4,416,072 to Sarkissian describes a heel and sole assembly wherein the heel height can be changed; U.S. Pat. No. 5,309,651 to Handel describes a shoe having a heel that can be extended downwardly to a high heel position, or moved towards the sole to a low heel position; US Patent Publication Number 2012/0055048 to Haupt describes a telescopic heel adjustable via a key; U.S. Pat. No. 7,059,068 to Magallanes describes a shoe having separate heel portions that can removably couple to one another, and a flexible body portion extending from the upper end to the lower end of the shoe; and U.S. Pat. No. 2,934,840 to Mistarz describes a shoe having a telescopic heel.
 However, each of the above apparently fails to provide an adjustable shoe that provides a desired level of comfort and security to a wearer at varying heel heights.
 Thus, there is still a need for improved adjustable shoes.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The inventive subject matter provides apparatus, systems and methods in which an adjustable shoe comprises a sole coupled to a heel, wherein the heel is extendible and retractable between at least first and second positions via an adjustment mechanism. The sole can advantageously comprise one or more flexible portions disposed between more rigid toe end and heel end portions, wherein the flexible portion is sized and dimensioned to provide comfort to a wearer's feet when the heel is in either of a retracted or extended configuration.
 It is contemplated that the flexible portion could be disposed at any suitable position along or within a sole, including for example, a portion aligning with a toe box of a shoe, a portion aligning with a breast of a shoe, a portion aligning with a vamp of a shoe, a portion aligning with an arch a shoe, a portion aligning with a wearer's mid foot, or a portion aligning with a wearer's ball of the foot.
 As used herein, and unless the context dictates otherwise, the term "coupled to" is intended to include both direct coupling (in which two elements that are coupled to each other contact each other) and indirect coupling (in which at least one additional element is located between the two elements). Therefore, the terms "coupled to" and "coupled with" are used synonymously.
 In some aspects of the inventive subject matter, the heel can comprise a housing portion that is adjustably coupled to a telescoping portion via a threaded rod (e.g., an adjustment screw) and one or more complementary threaded nuts (or threading along a lumen of a heel portion such as the housing portion or the telescoping portion). For example, the threaded rod can be affixed within the lumen of the housing portion, and can mate with a complementary threaded component of the telescoping portion (e.g., a threaded lumen, a threaded nut or other internally threaded component). As another example, the threaded rod can be affixed within the lumen of the telescoping portion, and can mate with a complementary threaded component of the housing portion.
 Additionally or alternatively, the housing portion can be adjustably coupled to the telescoping portion via a slot and male key, which is further described below in connection with FIG. 4.
 It is contemplated that a sole of the inventive subject matter can comprise one, two, or even three or more (e.g., at least four, at least five, or even six or more, etc.) distinct layers coupled together in any suitable manner. Some or all of the layers could comprise a flexible mid-portion coupled to more rigid toe portions and heel (end or non-mid-portion) portions. The flexible mid-portion could be made of any suitable material, including for example, a neoprene. The more rigid portions could be made of any suitable material having a greater stiffness (i.e., ability to resist deformation in response to an applied force) than the flexible material. One or more layers of the sole (e.g., a top layer, one or more spacer layers, a bottom layer) can include a flexible mid-portion comprising an accordion or pleated material that folds up or unfolds (at least partially) to accommodate a retraction or extension of a heel. The accordion section could include a plurality of pleats folding in a first direction (e.g., orthogonal to a sagittal plane of the foot) and can optionally include or be coupled to one or more additional accordion sections, each having a plurality of pleats folding in a second direction substantially orthogonal (i.e., between 70-110 degrees) to the first direction. For example, a layer of the sole can comprise a pleated material that extends across a width of the sole, and include or be coupled to pleated material of an upper of a shoe (the part of the shoe above the sole that covers a foot of a wearer) at one or both ends, wherein the pleats of the upper and the pleats of the sole form a right angle (or other angle between 70-110 degrees).
 In some aspects of the inventive subject matter, a sole could comprise a plurality of layers, wherein at least one of the layers is made from a uniform piece of material or materials that extends from the toe end to the heel end. Viewed from a different perspective, the toe end, the heel end, and all portions there between (i.e., the entire layer) can be made of the same piece of material or same sub-layers of materials. Additionally or alternatively, at least one of the layers could include a flexible mid-portion that is made from a material or materials different from at least one of the materials of the more rigid toe end and heel end.
 In some aspects of the inventive subject matter, the sole (e.g., one or more layers of a sole) could comprise an opening that both aligns with the adjustment screw, and is sized and dimensioned to receive a key that can be used in conjunction with the adjustment mechanism (e.g., threaded rod). For example, the key could comprise a screwdriver having a tip that mates with a head of the adjustment screw disposed within a heel of the shoe. In such embodiments, the key could have a tip that is compatible with any suitable screw drive type, including for example, a slot, a Phillips, a pozidriv, a square, a Robertson, a hex, a hex socket, a security hex socket, a torx, a security torx, a tri-wing, a torq-set, a spanner head, a clutch, a one-way, a double-square, a triple square, a polydrive, a spline drive, a double hex, a Bristol, or a pentalobular screw drive type. It should be appreciated that in some aspects, a rotation of the key in a first direction could cause a retraction of a telescoping heel portion, while a rotation of the key in a second different direction (e.g., opposite direction) could cause an extension of the telescoping heel portion.
 The heel can further comprise an optional outer heel in which the housing portion is disposed. In some preferred embodiments, the housing portion can comprise a plurality of anchoring tabs that at least one of: (1) maintain a vertical position of the housing portion within the outer heel; and (2) prevent a rotation of the housing portion within the outer heel. The outer heel can be molded around the housing portion, or the housing portion can be molded into the outer heel, among other things.
 As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of "a," "an," and "the" includes plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein, the meaning of "in" includes "in" and "on" unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.
 Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the inventive subject matter will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, along with the accompanying drawing figures in which like numerals represent like components.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a partial cutaway view of a shoe of the inventive subject matter.
 FIG. 2 is a cutaway view illustrating some aspects of a heel of the inventive subject matter.
 FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate the heel of FIG. 2 in extended and retracted configurations.
 FIG. 4 is a schematic of a portion of another heel of the inventive subject matter.
 FIG. 5 is an exploded partial view of an embodiment of a heel and sole of the inventive subject matter.
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of flexible accordion section of the inventive subject matter that extends from a sole to an upper of a shoe.
 The following discussion provides many example embodiments of the inventive subject matter. Although each embodiment represents a single combination of inventive elements, the inventive subject matter is considered to include all possible combinations of the disclosed elements. Thus if one embodiment comprises elements A, B, and C, and a second embodiment comprises elements B and D, then the inventive subject matter is also considered to include other remaining combinations of A, B, C, or D, even if not explicitly disclosed.
 FIG. 1 illustrates some aspects of a shoe 100 of the inventive subject matter having an extendible heel and a flexible sole. The extendible heel comprises a housing portion 110 that includes anchoring tabs 115 and is disposed within outer heel 120. An adjustment screw 140 is disposed within housing portion 110, which is rotatable and includes a head that corresponds to key 150. It is contemplated that key 150 can be used to mate with the head of the adjustment screw 140 to thereby rotate the adjustment screw 140 and extend or retract the heel. For example, the extendible heel comprises a telescoping portion 135 that is configured to at least partially retract into and extend out from a lumen of housing portion 110 via a rotation of adjustment screw 140 using key 150. In this embodiment, a rotation of the adjustment screw 140 causes telescoping portion 135 to extend or retract by causing internal threading 125 of the telescoping portion to rise or drop relative to a midline of the adjustment screw. This can be accomplished by disposing the housing portion 110 within outer heel 120 such that a rotation of the housing portion 110 relative to the outer heel 120 is prevented, and by coupling telescoping portion 135 with housing portion 110 such that a rotation of telescoping portion 135 relative to housing portion 110 is prevented (for example, see FIG. 4). While any suitable locking mechanism can be included to assist in preventing a rotation of the adjustment mechanism, it is contemplated that the requirement of a key to rotate the adjustment screw can sufficiently prevent unwanted retraction or extension of the telescoping heel.
 Shoe 100 also comprises a sole and upper 155, one or both of which could include a flexible mid-portion 145 between a heel end and a toe end. In previously available shoes having a hard sole, adjustment of a heel portion (e.g., by removing a portion of a heel) could often destroy the integrity of a sole when the shoe is worn with different heel heights. In previously available shoes having a softer sole, adjustment of a heel portion could often lead to discomfort to a wearer's sole as a higher heel generally could require a more supportive sole than a flatter heel. Here, the flexible mid-portion 145 is sized, shaped and dimensioned to allow a wearer to walk in shoe 100, without breaking or otherwise substantially damaging sole 155, regardless of whether telescoping portion 135 is retracted in housing portion 110 or extended there from. It should be appreciated that the flexible mid-portion could be located along any portion of the sole that does not extend all the way to the very front (toe end) or very back portion (heel end) of the sole. For example, the mid-portion could be located at a position between an area of the sole aligning with a heel tip and an area of the sole aligning with the toe box. The flexible portion (e.g., 145) is further described below in connection with FIG. 6.
 In some embodiments, it is contemplated that the heel can be configured to extend between any suitable height range via key 150. For example, a heel can be configured so as to be extendible and retractable between a height of approximately four to approximately six inches, inclusive, between a height of approximately zero to approximately six inches, inclusive, between a height of approximately one and approximately five inches, inclusive, between a height of approximately two and approximately six inches, inclusive, or any other suitable height range. As used herein, the term "approximately" means within half an inch. For example, a height of approximately four to approximately six inches includes, among other things, the ranges of four to six inches, three and a half to five and a half inches, four and a half to six and a half inches, three and a half to six and a half inches, four and a half to five and a half inches, three and a half to six inches, four to five and a half inches, and four to six and a half inches.
 Viewed from a different perspective, it is contemplated that a length of the heel at a fully extended position (an extended length) can be at least 1 inch, at least 2 inches, at least 3 inches, or even at least 4 inches or more greater than a length of the heel at a fully retracted position (a retracted length).
 The recitation of ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g. "such as") provided with respect to certain embodiments herein is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention.
 It should be appreciated that the outer heel, the housing portion, and the telescoping portions of the heel could be made from any suitable material or combination of materials, including for example, steel, wood, cork, metal, rubber, and plastic. For example, in FIG. 1, the outer heel 120 could be made of metal and plastic, and the housing portion 110 and telescoping portion 135 could be made of stainless steel and metal. In some contemplated embodiments, each of the outer heel, the housing portion and the telescoping portion could be made from different materials. In some contemplated embodiments, the outer heel could be made of a first type of material (e.g., wood or plastic with metal or stainless steel reinforcements or inner wall lining) while the housing and telescoping portions are made from a second, different type of material (e.g., stainless steel or metal). Additionally or alternatively, a stainless steel casing could be provided around the adjustment screw.
 FIG. 2 is a cutaway view illustrating some aspects of a heel 200 of the inventive subject matter. As illustrated, a housing portion 230 is provided and can include washers 220A, 220B, and spacer 215, which can be welded to or otherwise disposed in housing portion 230. An adjustment screw 235 can be at least partially disposed within the housing through the holes of spacer 215 and washers 220A and 220B. It should be appreciated that the washers 220A and 220B can comprise a ring (bonded, flat, lock, curved or other washer) made of any suitable material (e.g., metal, rubber, etc.) that at least one of (1) spreads pressure between two or more joining surfaces, and (2) prevents a rotation of the adjustment screw. It should also be appreciated that a spacer can comprise an unthreaded (or threaded) ring that fits over a circumference of an adjustment screw to maintain a spacing between the adjustment screw and the housing portion.
 In some embodiments, adjustment screw 235 can comprise outer threading that mates with the internal threading of at least one of threaded nut 240A and threaded nut 240B, each of which can be welded or otherwise attached to an inner wall of telescoping portion 245 and provide support from a lateral force when worn. Housing portion 230 can advantageously comprise one or more vertically (or substantially vertically (within 10 degrees of vertically) or non-vertically) oriented slots sized and dimensioned to receive corresponding protruding portion(s) of telescoping portion 245, which can allow a rotation of adjustment screw 235 (e.g., via key 210A and key opening 210B) to cause a retraction or extension of telescoping portion 245 from housing portion 230.
 It is contemplated that a shoe of the inventive subject matter can also comprise an outer material 255 that covers at least a portion of the shoe's heel. The outer material 255 can comprise a pleated, stretchy or otherwise extendible material and be coupled to (1) the telescoping portion 245 at a first end, and (2) a non-telescoping portion of the shoe (e.g., outer heel, sole, upper (e.g., counter, feather, quarter, throat, topline, vamp, welt), etc.). For example, the outer material 255 can have a first end attached between a sole and outer heel portion of the shoe, and a second end attached between a telescoping portion 245 and a rubber end 250 of the shoe. The rubber end can be coupled to telescoping portion 245 in any suitable manner, including for example, a snap fit, a ball snap, or an adhesive.
 When the heel is in a retracted configuration (see 300B of FIG. 3B), the outer material can be in a first configuration (e.g., folded, pleated, unstretched configuration). When the heel is in an extended configuration (see 300A of FIG. 3A), the outer material can be in a second configuration different from the first (e.g., partially unfolded, partially stretched, etc.). As such, the outer material can change configurations to accommodate an adjustment of heel length. Such an embodiment may be desirable where a user does not want a telescoping heel exposed.
 FIGS. 3A-B show the adjustable heel of FIG. 2 in an extended and retracted configurations. It should be noted that while the application describes one particular mechanism of heel adjustment, all commercially suitable mechanisms are contemplated. For example, the adjustable heel may comprise multiple heel portions that can be removably attached to one another (e.g., via a snap fit, etc.). As another example, the adjustable heel may comprise a slide and lock mechanism wherein a first heel portion comprises one or more apertures along its length configured to accept a protrusion of a second heel portion.
 FIG. 4 is a schematic of a portion of another heel 400 of the inventive subject matter that illustrates one way in which a rotation of telescoping portion 410A relative to housing portion 420A can be prevented. Housing portion 420A includes a vertically oriented slot 420B that is sized and dimensioned to receive a male key/protrusion 410B of telescoping portion 410A. When an adjustment screw or other adjustment mechanism couples housing portion 420A and telescoping portion 410A and is rotated, a rotation between the two portions is prevented, while a telescoping movement (e.g., retraction or extension) is caused.
 In other embodiments, it is contemplated that housing portion 420A, telescoping portion 410A or both can comprise a shape or shapes suitable to prevent a rotation of the telescopic heel portion relative to the housing portion. In such embodiments, a slot and male key mechanism is not necessary as rotation can be prevented by the shape of the heel portions. Exemplary shapes include, among other shapes, a rectangular tube, a hexagonal tube, an oval tube, an octagonal tube, or any tubular shape not having a circular cross-section.
 FIG. 5 is an exploded partial view of an embodiment of a shoe 500 and sole 510 of the inventive subject matter having a plurality of distinct layers coupled together. The sole 510 comprises three distinct layers coupled together: (1) a top cover layer 535, (2) a spacer layer 530 comprising a flexible strip of material, and (3) a bottom layer 525 comprising an accordion section 520.
 It is preferred that each of the spacer layer 530 and bottom layer 525 comprise a sturdy material (e.g., a rubber, polyurethane, leather, thermoplastic rubber, plastic, wood, canvas, etc.) surrounding a flexible mid-section. Each layer can comprise any suitable thickness, including for example, at least 1 mm, at least 10 mm, at least 20 mm, between 1 mm and 5 mm, between 1 mm and 10 mm, between 1 mm and 20 mm, between 1 mm and 50 mm, between 5 mm and 10 mm, between 5 mm and 25 mm, at least 50 mm, or any other suitable thickness. Additionally or alternatively, the sole can comprise a uniform or varying thickness along its length. Examples include but are not limited to a sole comprising thicker front and heel portions than mid-portion, or a sole comprising a thicker mid-portion than front and heel portions.
 In the spacer layer, the flexible mid-section can comprise a substantially flat piece of a material having greater flexibility that other portions of spacer layer 530. For example, the flexible mid-section can be made of neoprene, foam, silicon, leather, silicon rubber, spandex, other commercially suitable material(s) etc., or combination thereof. In some preferred embodiments, the flexible material can be of sufficient hardness to be compatible with the sturdy material, and of sufficient flexibility that the sole can stretch or bend to accommodate modification of the heel length.
 In the bottom layer, the flexible section advantageously can comprise an accordion-like section 520 (e.g., an accordion pleat) that is configured to collapse or fold when the telescopic heel is retracted in the housing portion, and extend or unfold when the telescopic heel is extended from the housing portion. This flexible section can also comprise any commercially suitable material, including for example, elastomeric material(s), neoprene, leather, foam, silicon, silicon rubber, or spandex.
 In some embodiments where a shoe comprises a telescoping heel, it is contemplated that each (or some) of the sole layers can comprise a small opening 515 (e.g., 1/4 inch in diameter, 1/3 inch in diameter, etc.) sized and dimensioned to allow for a key to be inserted inside the sole to rotate an adjustment screw to thereby retract or extend the telescopic heel. In some embodiments, one sole layer could include a protrusion that is sized and dimensioned to plug an opening 515 in one or more of the other sole layers. Such a protrusion could prevent discomfort to a wearer that could otherwise be caused by including an opening through all sole layers.
 In FIG. 5 it was shown that a sole can comprise multiple layers having different materials or configurations. FIG. 6 illustrates that a flexible mid-portion 600 of the inventive subject matter can be placed along any portion of a shoe's sole or upper material. The section is configured to collapse and extend as necessary to advantageously provide a wearer with a comfortable shoe regardless of how high a corresponding heel is.
 It is contemplated that the top portion 630 of the section can align with a top portion of a sole (e.g., an upper layer, a spacer layer, etc.), and the bottom portion 620 of the section can align with a bottom portion of a sole (e.g., a bottom layer, etc.). In some embodiments having multiple sole layers, it is contemplated that the top portion 630 of the section can align with a top portion of a sole layer (e.g., the bottom layer), and the bottom portion 620 of the section can align with a bottom portion of the same sole layer.
 Alternatively, it is contemplated that the accordion-like section can extend across a sole and upper material portion of a shoe. In such embodiments, the bottom portion 620 of the section can align with a bottom (or other) portion of a sole, while a top portion 630 of the section aligns with some portion of the upper of the shoe. Some exemplary portions of an upper of a shoe includes (1) the quarter (rear and sides of the upper that covers the heel and are behind the vamp, (2) the throat (front of the vamp next to the toe cap), (3) the toe cap (front upper of the shoe), (4) the topline (top edge of the upper), (5) the vamp (section of the upper that covers the front of the foot and as far back as where the quarter begins, and (6) the welt (strip of material that joins the upper to the sole).
 It should be appreciated that the accordion section can be attached to the rest of the sole (or other portion of the shoe) via a lining 610 through stitches, glue, staples, or any other commercially suitable adhesive. In some embodiments, the lining can comprise a material different from other portions of the accordion section to provide a stronger or better surface for coupling to the rest of the shoe. A curved igloo-shaped lining 610 can be advantageous as it allows the bottom portion of the section to extend without requiring a corresponding extension along the top portion. Such a configuration can better accommodate the arching of a foot that can result from an extension of the heel.
 Groupings of alternative elements or embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are not to be construed as limitations. Each group member can be referred to and claimed individually or in any combination with other members of the group or other elements found herein. One or more members of a group can be included in, or deleted from, a group for reasons of convenience and/or patentability. When any such inclusion or deletion occurs, the specification is herein deemed to contain the group as modified thus fulfilling the written description of all Markush groups used in the appended claims.
 It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the appended claims. Moreover, in interpreting both the specification and the claims, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest possible manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms "comprises" and "comprising" should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced. Where the specification claims refers to at least one of something selected from the group consisting of A, B, C . . . and N, the text should be interpreted as requiring only one element from the group, not A plus N, or B plus N, etc.
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