Patent application title: MULTI-PURPOSE FLOATING UMBRELLA
Jeremy Sloan (San Antonio, TX, US)
Matthew Lucero (San Antonio, TX, US)
SHADE SCIENCE, LLC
IPC8 Class: AA45B2300FI
Class name: Tent, canopy, umbrella, or cane umbrella combined
Publication date: 2016-04-21
Patent application number: 20160106187
A floating canopy or shading device designed to provide shaded areas to
swimming pools, lakes, and other bodies of water traditionally lacking in
shade. In one embodiment, the canopy is an umbrella attached to a
weighted buoy that floats on a body of water. In one embodiment, the
weighted buoy may include a float connected to a ballast via one or more
rods that serves as a counterweight.
1. A floating canopy for providing shade in a body of water, comprising a
canopy configured to provide shade; and a weighted buoy coupled to the
canopy comprising a float, a moment arm, and a ballast, wherein the
weighted buoy is configured to float on a body of water.
2. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the canopy is moveable between an open position and a closed position while coupled to the weighted buoy.
3. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the canopy is expandable while coupled to the weighted buoy.
4. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the canopy is a commercially available umbrella.
5. The canopy of claim 4, wherein the weighted buoy comprises an opening configured to hold a portion of the umbrella.
6. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the ballast is configured as a counterweight.
7. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the ballast is coupled to the float by the moment arm.
8. The canopy of claim 7, wherein the moment arm is configured to balance the canopy in a substantially upright position.
9. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the canopy is coupled to the weighted buoy by a shaft, such that the shaft is rigidly coupled to the moment arm in a substantially straight position.
10. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the float has a circular cross-sectional area.
11. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the float comprises a first float section coupled to a second float section, wherein the first and second float sections substantially surround a buoyant float insert.
12. The canopy of claim 11, wherein the first and second float sections are approximately the same size.
13. The canopy of claim 11, wherein the float insert is configured to provide sufficient buoyancy to keep the canopy substantially upright in a body of water.
14. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the weighted buoy comprises a plurality of cup holders configured to hold beverages.
15. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the moment arm is coupled to the shaft by a ferrule.
16. The canopy of claim 1, wherein the canopy is removably attached to the weighted buoy.
17. A floating canopy system for providing shade in a body of water, comprising a plurality of weighted buoys, wherein each weighted buoy is configured to float on a body of water, wherein each weighted buoy comprises a float coupled to a ballast by a rod; and one or more canopies coupled to the plurality of weighted buoys.
 This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/064,550, filed on Oct. 16, 2014, the entire content of which is incorporated herein by reference.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The invention relates to shade devices and more particular to a shade device or floating umbrella in a body of water, such as a pool.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 Various floating umbrella type designs are known in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,505,645 (Engler) describes a floating assembly for swimming pools having a pole with a float connected to the middle, a hinged anchor weight at the bottom end, and various structures such as an umbrella, a net basket for games, and a tetherball game attached to the upper end. The umbrella embodiment has a tray attached above the float. One problem with Engler is that all the embodiments attach to a central shaft. This is an issue because the buoy may become imbalanced and lose stability in the water. Further, Engler hinges the ballast weight, which creates an issue for manufacturing and durability for the device. Engler's drink tray connects to the shaft via a pivotal connection. This may increase the overall stability of the device but undermines the functionality of the drink tray as it will be susceptible to wave action in the pool. As another example, U.S. Patent Publication No. US20140110413 (Kelly et al.) describes a floating valet that can be used to hold personal items while in the water. Kelly shows a floating plate or disc with multiple receptacles for drinks and other personal items along with a water proof bag for protecting items that may be damaged by water. One problem with Kelly is that the device must be anchored in a body of water to a single location. The valet floats but must be anchored in order to support an umbrella. This anchoring prohibits movement of the shaded area around the body of water and also requires a body of water with a bed that allows for a drilled anchor to be installed (e.g., not a plastered swimming pool).
 A need exists for an improved method and system for weighting and supporting umbrellas and other shade providing structures in a water setting that allows for shading of an area in a body of water.
 The embodiments provided in this disclosure solve various problems existing in the prior art, including separating the umbrella and canopy structure and allowing the buoy to independently float while weighted in the body of water without having to be anchored.
 In one embodiment of the disclosed application is a commercially available umbrella that floats on a weighted buoy device and provides shade to an area within a recreational swimming pool or other body of water where persons may gather. In some embodiments, the device may be used to prevent or reduce evaporation from the surface of a swimming pool. An additional embodiment of the device holds drinks on the float portion of the weighted buoy. Finally, a plurality of floats may be coupled together to provide sufficient floating structure for a larger canopy or a plurality of canopies.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The following drawings form part of the present specification and are included to further demonstrate certain aspects of the present invention. The invention may be better understood by reference to one or more of these drawings in combination with the detailed description of specific embodiments presented herein.
 FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a floating canopy device with a commercially available umbrella.
 FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of a floating device without a commercially available umbrella.
 FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded diagram of the floating device of FIG. 2 according to one embodiment.
 FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of the floating device of FIG. 2 according to one embodiment.
 Various features and advantageous details are explained more fully with reference to the non-limiting embodiments that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings and detailed in the following description. Descriptions of well-known starting materials, processing techniques, components, and equipment are omitted so as not to unnecessarily obscure the invention in detail. It should be understood, however, that the detailed description and the specific examples, while indicating embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only, and not by way of limitation. Various substitutions, modifications, additions, and/or rearrangements within the spirit and/or scope of the underlying inventive concept will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure. The following detailed description does not limit the invention.
 Reference throughout the specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with an embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the subject matter disclosed. Thus, the appearance of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment" in various places throughout the specification is not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Further, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.
 The disclosed embodiments provide significant advantages over the prior art because of the simplicity of design and the ability to float and remain upright in water.
 FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a floating canopy device 100. Device 100 includes weighted buoy 9 with canopy structure 8 to provide a shaded area. In one embodiment, the canopy is a commercially available umbrella. Weighted buoy 9 is attached to canopy 8 via shaft 7, which in one embodiment is a commercially available umbrella shaft. In one embodiment, weighted buoy 9 comprises underwater ballast 4 connected to float 10 by rod 1. Underwater ballast 4 serves as a counterweight to the floating canopy for better stability. The ballast can be made of various materials, including coated grey cast iron or aggregate filled high-density polyethylene. Ballast 4 is generally cylindrical in shape, approximately 6 inches in diameter by 3 inches deep. Float 10 is preferably made in a circular or disc shaped structure and in some embodiments may be considered a floating ring, but can comprise various other structures depending on the intended uses of the float. In one embodiment, float 10 and ballast 4 are connected by rod 1. Rod 1 serves as a moment arm for float 10 that balances the canopy device 100 in an upright position and keeps the device from tipping over. In one embodiment, the length of rod 1 is adjustable or extendable based on the size, shape, and/or weight of canopy 8. In operation, once weighted buoy 9 is fully assembled, umbrella shaft 7 is inserted into float 10. In some embodiments, shaft 7 may also be inserted into rod 1. In all positions, shaft 7 is rigidly coupled to rod 1 in a substantially straight position such that they do not bend or hinge in relation to each other. When canopy or umbrella 8 is at least partially opened, it provides shade in a swimming pool, lake, or other body of water at the location of the user's choice. In one embodiment, device 100 is configured to hold beverages or drinks in cup holders integrated into float 10.
 FIG. 2 is an enlarged illustration of weighted buoy 9 from FIG. 1, without an umbrella coupled to the buoy. In one embodiment, float 10 is comprised of lower shell piece 10b and upper shell piece 10a that may be glued or otherwise fastened together. The two shell pieces fit around specially designed foam insert 5, shown in FIGS. 3-4. In one embodiment, each shell piece is made of an injection molded plastic. In one embodiment, upper shell 10a comprises a plurality of cup holders 6 for holding drinks above water when the device is floating in a body of water. In other embodiments, upper shell 10a may include a plurality of flat sections or other attachments (not shown) to hold food, drinks, or other items.
 FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded diagram of the components of weighted buoy 9 from FIG. 2. The exploded view shows foam insert 5 as it would appear between upper shell piece/section 10a and lower shell piece/section 10b. Foam insert 5 has the necessary size, shape, and material density to allow the weighted buoy and umbrella to float. In one embodiment, foam insert 5 is approximately 18 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep and provides the necessary buoyancy to keep device 100 floating in the water. In one embodiment, upper section 10a is approximately the same size as lower section 10b. In this embodiment, optional drain holes 12b are shown on lower shell 10b, which allow any water in float 10 to exit. In one embodiment, drain holes 12b may be coupled to drain holes 12a (see FIG. 4) at the bottom of each cup holder 6, which allows water to exit the cup holders. One embodiment may include a locking device to tighten and/or secure the umbrella shaft 7 to weighted buoy 9. For example, locking device may comprise ferrule 2 and nut 3 such that when tightened, umbrella shaft 7 is locked into place with float 10 and rigidly coupled to rod 1. In this embodiment, ballast 4 includes built in male threads 4a for securing ballast 4 to rod 1, which may include corresponding female threads 1b on the inside diameter of rod 1. The opposite end of rod 1 terminates with male threads 1a, which may be secured into corresponding female threads on upper float portion 10a. Likewise, upper shell piece/section 10a is coupled to an upper portion of rod 1 via a threaded engagement. Nut 3 may be attached to ferrule 2 by a threaded engagement, such that ferrule 2 extends through an inner conduit or hole of float 10. In some embodiments, different lengths of rod 1 may be utilized for different weights and sizes of canopy 8. Such rods are easily removable and replaceable by a user of device 100.
 FIG. 4 illustrates a cross section drawing of weighted buoy 9 from FIG. 2. In one embodiment, ballast 4 may be hollow and be filled with aggregate or cement to achieve a desired weight. Once filled, ballast 4 can then be plugged with cap 4b to prevent the weighted compound from escaping. Upper shell 10a may connect to lower shell 10b with an interrupted annular snap latch 14. Upper shell 10a may contain a series of drains 12a in cup holders 6 which allow water to flow out of cup holders 6. In between upper shell 10a and lower shell 10b is foam insert 5 that creates the buoyancy for weighted buoy 9 and/or device 100. Foam insert 5 has a cut out in the center 5a for the center connections of upper shell 10a and lower shell 10b. In addition, foam insert 5 contains a plurality of cutouts 5b matching cup holders 6 and cup holder drains 12a and 12b. In one embodiment, ferrule 2 fits securely inside float 10 and may contain a swage feature on its lower end that holds the ferrule securely in place. Ferrule 2 extends through the top of the upper float portion 10b to connect with nut 3. Ferrule 2 contains male threads to securely connect to nut 3. Nut 3 tightens down on ferrule 2 with a series of female threads. When securely tightened, the combination of the lower ferrule and the nut create a friction fit to secure canopy shaft 7 in place.
 In one embodiment, a plurality of weighted buoys may be coupled together to provide sufficient floating structure for a larger canopy. In one embodiment, a larger canopy comprises a plurality of supporting poles or shafts, each one configured to insert into a weighted buoy. One or more of these buoys may include a plurality of cup holders. In one embodiment the weighted buoy includes a built in audio speaker. In one embodiment the umbrella may include a system to pump and atomize water to create a water vapor mist. In one embodiment the canopy may be replaced with a light pole. In one embodiment the canopy may be replaced with a signal flag on a pole. In one embodiment a tool receptacle may be attached to the weighted buoy for additional storage of items. In one embodiment the canopy may include a series of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights. In another embodiment the canopy may be replaced with a camouflaged canopy to provide cover for hunters. In still another embodiment small motors may be mounted to the bottom of the float so the buoy could be remotely positioned or retrieved by an end user.
 Many other variations in the configurations of the rod, float, ballast, canopy, and umbrella are within the scope of the invention. For example, the canopy may be comprised of many different materials or structures. As another example, the rod could be replaced with a flexible device that connects the weight to the float. It is emphasized that the foregoing embodiments are only examples of the very many different structural and material configurations that are possible within the scope of the present invention.
 Although the invention(s) is/are described herein with reference to specific embodiments, various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention(s), as presently set forth in the claims below. Accordingly, the specification and figures are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention(s). Any benefits, advantages, or solutions to problems that are described herein with regard to specific embodiments are not intended to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims.
 Unless stated otherwise, terms such as "first" and "second" are used to arbitrarily distinguish between the elements such terms describe. Thus, these terms are not necessarily intended to indicate temporal or other prioritization of such elements. The terms "coupled" or "operably coupled" are defined as connected, although not necessarily directly, and not necessarily mechanically. The terms "a" and "an" are defined as one or more unless stated otherwise. The terms "comprise" (and any form of comprise, such as "comprises" and "comprising"), "have" (and any form of have, such as "has" and "having"), "include" (and any form of include, such as "includes" and "including") and "contain" (and any form of contain, such as "contains" and "containing") are open-ended linking verbs. As a result, a system, device, or apparatus that "comprises," "has," "includes" or "contains" one or more elements possesses those one or more elements but is not limited to possessing only those one or more elements. Similarly, a method or process that "comprises," "has," "includes" or "contains" one or more operations possesses those one or more operations but is not limited to possessing only those one or more operations.
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