Patent application title: Protective Shoe Cover
Larry Cone (Tallahassee, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43B316FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes overshoes
Publication date: 2016-05-26
Patent application number: 20160143386
A protective shoe cover that surrounds and shields an athletic shoe while
still allowing the shoe to be seen and identified. The shoe cover
primarily comprises a transparent and waterproof layer that completely
surrounds the athletic shoe. A break is provided in the forward-facing
part of the shoe cover so that it may be opened to admit the athletic
shoe (either before or after the user has donned the shoe). Straps,
laces, or other closure devices are used to close the break. A durable
toe guard is provided on the front of the shoe cover and a durable heel
guard is provided on the back. The toe and heel guards may not be
transparent and may in fact be translucent or even opaque. A non-slip
sole is provided on the bottom of the shoe cover so that the cover may be
worn in slippery conditions without danger.
1. A protective shoe cover, for protecting an athletic shoe, having a toe
cap and a heel, comprising: a. a sole, having a forward end, an aft end,
a bottom side, a top side, and a perimeter; b. a transparent guard
material attached to said top side along said perimeter of said sole; c.
a toe guard attached to said forward end of said sole on said top side of
said sole, and also attached to said transparent guard material; d. a
heel guard attached to said aft end of said sole on said top side of said
sole, and also attached to said transparent guard material; e. said
transparent guard material having a break, a collar, and an ankle
extension; f. wherein said break and said collar are designed such that
said athletic shoe may be placed within said transparent guard material
and on said top side of said sole such that said heel of said athletic
rests against said heel guard and said toe cap of said athletic shoe
rests under said toe guard; and g. a plurality of straps, each having a
closure, configured to selectively close said break.
2. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said bottom side of said sole includes a plurality of ridges.
3. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said transparent guard material includes an air vent proximate said aft end of said sole.
4. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said transparent guard material includes a logo design.
5. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said toe guard includes a logo design.
6. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said heel guard includes a logo design.
7. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein: a. said transparent guard material includes a hole proximate said collar; and b. said hole is intended to hold an authentication tag.
8. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said sole is fabricated using a non-slip material.
9. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 1, wherein said toe guard, said heel guard, and said sole are molded as a single part.
10. A protective shoe cover, for protecting an athletic shoe, having a toe cap and a heel, comprising; a. a sole, having a forward end, and an aft end; b. a transparent guard material attached along the periphery of said sole; c. said sole having a toe guard integral to said forward end and connected to said transparent guard material; d. said sole having a heel guard integral to said aft end and connected to said transparent guard material; e. said transparent guard material having a break, and a collar; f. wherein said break and said collar are designed such that said athletic shoe may be placed within said transparent guard material and on said top side of said sole such that said heel rests against said heel guard and said toe cap rests under said toe guard; and g. a plurality of straps, each having a closure, allowing said break on said transparent guard material to close.
11. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said collar extends beyond said athletic shoe in order to Form an ankle extension.
12. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 11, wherein said ankle extension includes a hole configured to hold an authentication tag.
13. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said sole includes a bottom side having at least one ridge.
14. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said transparent guard material includes an air vent proximate said aft end of said sole.
15. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said transparent, guard material includes a logo design.
16. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said toe guard includes a logo design.
17. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said heel guard includes a logo design.
18. A protective shoe cover as recited in claim 10, wherein said sole is fabricated using a non-slip material.
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This non-provisional patent application claims the benefit of an earlier filed provisional patent application. The provisional application was assigned Ser. No. 62/083,967. It was filed on Nov. 25, 2014.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 Not Applicable
 Not Applicable
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates to the field of footwear. More specifically, the invention comprises a transparent protective shoe cover that surrounds a shoe while still allowing the visual aspects of the shoe to be seen.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 FIG. 1 shows a prior art athletic shoe such as the type commonly used for playing basketball These shoes feature many advanced shock-absorbing and foot-supporting features. They may combine over a dozen different materials and are the result of many years of research and development.
 The features of advanced athletic shoes vary, but the example 10 shown in FIG. 1 is representative. Outsole 20 is a flexible synthetic material capable of withstanding significant abrasion. Heel 18 is integrally molded with the outsole. Heel cap 16 is a part of the flexible shell that extends upward near the rear of the shoe. Toe cap 12 attaches to the outsole and arches over the forward portion of the wearer's foot.
 Vamp 22 extends upward along the lateral sides of the shoe. An adjustment break is provided and the span of the break is covered by an overlapping tongue 14. Laces 24 lie on top of the tongue and are used to selectively tighten the closure of the shoe.
 Advanced shoe designs now offer cultural status in addition to athletic performance. Most feature prominent logos and color schemes that serve to identify the shoe to even a casual observer. A buyer may decide to purchase such a shoe for the social status it affords, with the athletic performance being a minor consideration. However, the shoe designers still tend to focus on the shoe's performance. This approach is necessary to obtain the endorsement of celebrity athletes. Thus, the materials selected and the construction techniques used must still produce an exceptional athletic shoe. Whatever aesthetic qualities the shoe may possess, the manufacturers still strive for good performance and endurance on a basketball court.
 In reality, though, the shoe may be worn in many non-athletic environments. An individual who spends a great deal of money on a superior athletic shoe naturally wants to wear it frequently. The shoe may therefore wind up being worn in rain, snow, and even mud. The shoe is not really designed for these environments. As one example, the shell of basketball shoes is typically designed to "breathe" so that the wearer's foot does not become too hot. Moisture exclusion is not really a design factor. If a user wears such a shoe in the rain it will quickly become soaked. This is uncomfortable for the user and may even damage the shoe.
 Of course, athletic shoe designers could create "look alike" shoes that retain the appearance of the high-performance athletic shoe while employing wet-weather materials. This approach runs counter to the desires of the market, however. The purchaser does not want a shoe that looks like that worn by a celebrity athlete. He or she wants the identical shoe.
 There are prior art devices intended to shield an expensive shoe from the weather. Old-fashioned "galoshes" have long been used to protect leather dress shoes. However, these devices conceal the shoe and thereby defeat one of the user's primary desires--the visual display of the shoe.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention comprises a protective shoe cover that surrounds and shields an athletic shoe white still allowing the shoe to be seen and identified. The shoe cover primarily comprises a transparent and waterproof layer that completely surrounds the athletic shoe. A break is provided in the forward-lacing part of the shoe cover so that it may be opened to admit the athletic shoe (either before or alter the user has donned the shoe). Straps, laces, or other closure devices are used to close the break.
 A durable toe guard is provided on the front of the shoe cover and a durable heel guard is provided on the back. The toe and heel guards may not be transparent and may in fact be translucent or even opaque. A thick, non-slip sole is provided on the bottom of the shoe cover so that the cover may be worn in slippery conditions without danger. A grip-enhancing tread pattern is preferably included on the sole to provide good performance in rain, ice, and snow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view, showing a prior art athletic shoe.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view, showing the inventive shoe cover.
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view, showing the inventive shoe cover from beneath.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view, showing the shoe cover installed on a shoe.
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view, showing the break in the shoe cover in an open state.
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view, showing a vent on the rear portion of the shoe cover.
REFERENCE NUMERALS IN THE DRAWINGS
 10 shoe
 12 toe cap
 14 tongue
 16 heel cap
 18 heel
 20 outsole
 22 vamp
 24 laces
 26 shoe protector
 28 toe guard
 30 heel guard
 32 break
 34 strap
 36 closure
 38 transparent guard material
 40 non-slip sole
 42 ridge
 44 ankle extension
 46 collar
 48 logo design
 50 hole
 52 vent
 54 authentication tag
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of inventive shoe protector 26. The majority of the shoe protector is made from transparent guard material 38. This is preferably a flexible polymer possessing good light transmissibility and clarity. The optically clear nature of this material is important, since an objective of the Invention Is that an observer be able to see the logo, coloring, and graphic design of a shoe lying inside the shoe protector.
 Break 32 is provided in the forward-facing part of the protector. The break may be opened to allow the shoe protector to be placed over a shoe (either before or after a user has placed the shoe on his or her foot). A closure mechanism is provided for the break. In the embodiment shown, three straps pass over the break. Each strap has a fixed end attached to the shoe protector (on the side of the shoe facing away from the viewer) and a free end including a closure 36. Closure 36 is any device suitable for affixing the free end back to the shoe protector. Examples include snaps, buttons, or VELCRO patches. The straps may be made of elastic material so that they can be stretched prior to securing closures 36.
 The reader will observe how the portion of the shoe protector on one side of the break may be lapped over the other side of the break so that the circumference of the shoe protector may be adjusted by adjusting the amount of overlap. Alternatively, a tongue could be provided in the shoe protector (separate from the tongue in the shoe itself) to span some or all of the break.
 The transparent material used for the bulk of the shoe protector will likely not provide suitable abrasion and slip resistance. This results from the fact that a requirement of good optical clarity is a smooth and slick outer and inner surface for the material. Accordingly, it is preferable to provide different materials in other areas. Toe guard 28 covers the forward portion of the protector's toe cap. Heel guard 30 covers the aft portion of the shoe protector. The toe and heel guards are preferably made of a tough and durable polymer having better gripping qualities. Transparency is a lower priority in these areas, since the logo and identifying characteristics of the underlying shoe are unlikely to be found in the heel or toe. The toe guard and heel guard may be made of translucent material and even opaque material.
 The toe and heel guards may be joined to the balance of the shoe protector using an overmolding process. They may also be joined to the shoe protector using adhesives, stitching, or other known methods.
 In some instances it may be preferable to include a logo design 48 on shoe protector 26. This is also shown in FIG. 2. Preferably, toe guard 28 and the upper portion of transparent guard material (near the wearer's ankle) includes a logo design 48. Logo design 48 may be the logo design of the shoe within the shoe protector 26, the logo design of the shoe protector, or some other design added by the retailer or consumer. In this case, the logo design 48 would not cover any logo designs on the shoe within shoe protector. The logo design may also be used to display a personalized graphic as selected by the user.
 FIG. 3 shows the inventive shoe cover from beneath. Non-slip sole 40 extends along the bottom of the shoe cover and preferably encompasses all portions that usually touch the ground. Nonslip features may be included on this sole, such as ridges 42. Optionally, non-slip sole 40 may be formed integrally with the toe guard, the heel guard, or both (All three may be molded as one piece or otherwise joined into a common assembly). The bottom side of sole 40 (as shown in FIG. 3) may also include logo designs or other non-slip features. These features may depend on the brand of shoe of the wearer or other factors.
 FIG. 4 shows the shoe protector in place over a prior art athletic shoe 10 (shown as hidden lines). In the embodiment shown, ankle extension 44 extends upward well above the top portions of the shoe. Collar 46 is the opening at the top of the ankle extension. This collar is preferably large enough to allow the user to tuck the user's pant cuffs in and cinch the collar closed using straps 34. The height of ankle extension 44 provides additional protection if the wearer walks through mud or puddles. Ankle extension 44 prevents water or dirt from coming in contact with the top portion of prior art athletic shoe 10.
 In some embodiments of the present invention, shoe protector 26 includes an authentication tag 54. In many instances, prior art athletic shoes are accompanied by a tag of authenticity, which indicates that the shoe is in fact, legitimately manufactured by the indicated company and not a counterfeit. In these instances, authentication tag 54 may be attached to shoe protector 26 using hole 50 (Hole 50 is shown in FIG. 2). The authentication tag includes a hollow receiving pocket configured to receive the authentication tag. It preferably includes a transparent window so that the tag may be viewed while protected.
 FIG. 5 shows the shoe protector with break 32 in an open state. The releasable end of each strap 34 has been released and the two sides of the break pulled apart. In this state the user has sufficient room to insert the shoe. The break will then be closed over the shoe and the straps adjusted and reconnected.
 Many different materials may be used for the structures thus described. As one example, clear polyvinyl chloride ("PVC")--preferably polished to a high level of optical clarity--may be used for the transparent guard material. This material is sometimes known as "Marine Window Film." The non-slip sole (along with the toe and heel guards) may be made from natural or synthetic rubber. A flexible polyurethane could also be used (particularly if translucency is desired).
 FIG. 6 shows a rear view of shoe protector 26. In some embodiments, heel guard 30 (labeled in FIG. 4) includes a logo design 48. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, shoe protector 26 includes vent 52. Those familiar with the art will realize that a padded sneaker such as prior art athletic shoe 10 covered with a PVC shoe protector may keep the wearer's foot well insulated. In warmer weather, the wearer's feet could become very warm. Vent 52 allows air to flow more easily through shoe protector 26. In addition, the wearer may open break 32 if so desired. Of course, opening break 32 reduces the protection provided by shoe protector 26, but it may not be necessary depending on the terrain/environment.
 The preceding descriptions contain significant detail regarding the novel aspects of the present invention. They should not be construed, however, as limiting the scope of the invention but rather as providing illustrations of the preferred embodiments of the invention. As an example, although the illustrated embodiments show a design incorporating adjustable straps to close the break in the shoe protector, once could also use conventional shoe faces. As a second example, the illustrations show snap-type closures but one could substitute hooks, toggles, or VELCRO interfaces. As a third example, the non-slip features shown on the sole (ridges) could be changed to a chevron pattern or a series of cleat-like protrusions. None of these changes would depart from the spirit of the invention and would instead be properly viewed as additional alternate embodiments. Thus, the scope of the invention should be fixed by the following claims, rather than by the examples given.