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Title:
CHILD SEAT RELEASE GUARD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2012/003002
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Various embodiments provide a child seat release guard. An example embodiment includes a child seat release guard comprising: a flexible strap formed from a flexible material, the flexible strap being configured to fit over a release mechanism of a seat belt or car seat latch; and a coupler having two portions, each portion of the coupler being attached to each end of the flexible strap, the coupler having a length adjustment mechanism.

Inventors:
PELLICANO, Gayleen (5251 Renaissance Way, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762, US)
PELLICANO, Dino (5251 Renaissance Way, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762, US)
Application Number:
US2011/001170
Publication Date:
January 05, 2012
Filing Date:
June 30, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PELLICANO, Gayleen (5251 Renaissance Way, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762, US)
PELLICANO, Dino (5251 Renaissance Way, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762, US)
International Classes:
A44B11/25
Foreign References:
US4961251A1990-10-09
US5382184A1995-01-17
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SALTER, James, H. (105 Thoreau Lane, Folsom, CA, 95630, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A child seat release guard comprising:

a flexible strap formed from a flexible material, the flexible strap being configured to fit over a release mechanism of a seat belt or car seat latch; and

a coupler having two portions, each portion of the coupler being attached to each end of the flexible strap, the coupler having a length adjustment mechanism.

2. The child seat release guard of claim 1 wherein the flexible strap includes at least one slit to fit over a protruding portion of the seat belt or car seat latch.

3. The child seat release guard of claim 1 wherein the coupler is an insertion latch type coupler.

4. The child seat release guard of claim 1 wherein the flexible strap includes an area for advertising.

5. The child seat release guard of claim 1 wherein the flexible strap is generally rectangular in shape.

6. The child seat release guard of claim 1 wherein the coupler is integrally manufactured into the flexible strap.

7. An apparatus comprising: a strap means formed from a flexible material, the strap means being configured to fit over a release mechanism of a seat belt or car seat latch; and

a coupler means having two portions, each portion of the coupler means being attached to each end of the strap means, the coupler means having a length adjustment means.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the strap means includes at least one slit to fit over a protruding portion of the seat belt or car seat latch.

9. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the coupler means is an insertion latch type coupler.

10. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the strap means includes an area for advertising.

11. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the strap means is generally rectangular in shape.

12. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the coupler means is integrally manufactured into the strap means.

Description:
CHILD SEAT RELEASE GUARD

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The disclosed subject matter relates to the field of vehicle restraints, seat belts, and child seats, and particularly to child seat release guards.

COPYRIGHT

[0002] A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever. The following notice applies to the software and data as described below and in the drawings that form a part of this document: Copyright 2009-2010 Gayleen Pellicano and Dino Pellicano, All Rights Reserved.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Seat belts, or safety restraints, and car seats for small children are required equipment in passenger vehicles. The release buttons for vehicle seat belts and child seats are often openly accessible on the surface of belt buckles. Accidental contact of the release button opens the seat belt buckle and renders the seat belt or child seat useless in case of an accident or sudden stop. Children can sometimes release a seat belt or child seat in play endangering their own lives or the lives of others in the vehicle. Therefore, there exists a clear need for preventing babies, toddlers, and other young children from unfastening or unbuckling themselves from such safety devices.

[0004] U.S. Patent No. 4,731,912 describes a seat belt buckle release guard apparatus configured as a box like device including first and second portions having recessed opposing ends and sides that are shelf hinged on one side, and bear a latch on a side opposing the hinged side. When the first and second portions are closed, opposing end apertures are formed for receiving a seat belt buckle segment and a tongue segment with the buckle sandwiched between the first and second portions. In one embodiment the latch bearing first portion side is recessed and a latching lug is formed within the recess; the latch bearing second portion side includes a latch for engaging the lug to close the box like device. When closed the recess forms a guide to the latch. The bottom of the recess is thickened to stiffen the latch bearing side and to position the seat belt buckle in the box like device. In operation the recess thickened bottom co-acts with the box like device sides and seat belt buckle to rigidify the box and enhance the latching strength of the latch thereby making it difficult for a child to open the box like device and push the seat belt release button.

[0005] U.S. Patent No. 6,769,157 describes a seat belt buckle guard device for preventing access to a release button on a seat belt. The device comprises a sleeve structured to fit over a variety of shapes and sizes of seat belt buckles. The sleeve comprises a front face and a top face that are capable of covering the front portion of a variety of seat belt buckles. The sleeve is made of sufficiently rigid material to prevent indentation of the faces and thereby prevent contact with both front and top belt buckle release button. The sleeve further comprising a split back face, which enables the sleeve to expand to fit over the variety of seat belt buckles. A top arm extending from the sleeve engages the seat belt strap with a tight friction fit to resist removal of the sleeve.

[0006] However, the conventional child seat release guards don't provide an easily used, highly versatile, and inexpensively manufactured device that can be used on a variety of different types of child seats. Thus, a child seat release guard is needed. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] Embodiments are illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0008] Figure 1 illustrates a front/top view of an example embodiment of the child seat release guard;

[0009] Figure 2 illustrates a back/bottom view of an example embodiment of the child seat release guard;

[0010] Figures 3 and 4 illustrate how a conventional child seat buckle mechanism can be latched in an example embodiment; and

[0011] Figure 5 illustrates how the child seat release guard of an example embodiment protects the release mechanism of the child seat buckle from access by a child.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0012] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the disclosed subject matter can be practiced. It is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the disclosed subject matter.

[0013] According to various example embodiments of the disclosed subject matter as described herein, there is described and claimed a child seat release guard. The various embodiments described herein offer an easy method and system to protect the release mechanism of a child seat buckle from access or premature release by a child. The various embodiments are easy to use, versatile for use with a variety of child seats, and inexpensive to manufacture. A detailed description of various example embodiments of the child seat release guard is provided below. [0014] Referring now to Figure 1, the diagram illustrates a front/top view of an example embodiment of the child seat release guard 100. The child seat release guard 100 of an example embodiment includes a flexible strap portion 102 and a coupler 106. In various embodiments, the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 can be fabricated from a flexible material, such as a nylon material, canvas, sturdy fabric, plastic, rubber, composite material, synthetic material, or the like of sufficient thickness and strength to protect the release mechanism of a child seat buckle from access or premature release by a child. Similarly, the child seat release guard coupler 106 can be any of a variety of coupling mechanisms including a plastic insertion latch, a hook and loop (e.g., VELCRO) coupler, a button and buttonhole coupler, a belt buckle type coupler, a snap coupler, a hook coupler, a latch coupler, or the like. In an example embodiment, the coupler 106 can be attached to the strap portion 102 using any of a variety of means, such as sewing the coupler 106 to the strap portion 102, gluing, riveting, stapling, snapping, or the like. In other embodiments, the coupler 106 can be integrally manufactured into the strap portion 102 during the manufacturing of the strap portion 102. In this embodiment, the strap portion 102 can be a one piece molded strap with an integrated snap. As shown in the example embodiment of Figures 1 and 2, the coupler 106 is sewn to the strap portion 102 using a cross- stitch for added strength. As shown, the child seat release guard coupler 106 includes two portions attached on either end of the strap portion 102. In operation, the two portions of the child seat release guard coupler 106 can be brought together and securely latched. A release mechanism on the coupler 106 allows the coupler 106 to be unlatched when desired. In the example embodiment shown in Figures 1 and 2, a plastic insertion latch is used as the coupler 106. The coupler 106 further includes a short length of strapping 108 and a length adjustment mechanism 109 to enable the adjustment of the length of the strapping 108 of the coupler 106. This length adjustment mechanism 109 enables a user to adjust the tightness of the child seat release guard 100 as used on a particular child seat latch mechanism. Because there are a variety of different types of conventional child seat latch mechanisms, the adjustability of the various embodiments enables use of the child seat release guard 100 on a variety of different types of conventional child seat latch mechanisms.

[0015] In a particular embodiment, the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 includes two parallel slits 104 toward either end of the strap portion 102. Because particular types of conventional child seat latch mechanisms can include a protruding portion on the ends of the latch, the two parallel slits 104 are provided in the strap portion 102 to envelope the protruding portion on the ends of the latch and to more securely attach the child seat release guard 100 to particular types of conventional child seat latch mechanisms. This aspect of the various embodiments is described below in regard to Figure 5.

[0016] In a particular embodiment, the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 can also include an area 1 11 for advertising or labeling. Because the front/top side of the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 is facing outwardly during operation of the child seat release guard 100, the area 111 is prominently visible. As such, this area 1 1 1 can be a valuable location for advertising, company logos, warning labels, and the like. In one embodiment, the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 can be approximately 6 inches by 3 inches. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of this disclosure that the dimensions of a child seat release guard 100 in alternative embodiments can be different.

[0017] Referring now to Figures 3 and 4, the diagrams illustrate how a conventional child seat buckle mechanism can be latched in an example embodiment. In a conventional child seat, a typical latch includes two portions 110 and 1 12, which can be connected together and latched as shown in Figure 4. A release mechanism 1 14 is typically provided on the latch mechanism to release the latch. However, these release mechanisms 1 14 for vehicle seat belts and child seats are often openly accessible on the surface of belt buckles as shown in Figures 3 and 4. Accidental contact of the release mechanism 1 14 opens the seat belt or child seat buckle and renders the seat belt or child seat useless in case of an accident or sudden stop. Children can sometimes release a seat belt or child seat in play endangering their own lives or the lives of others in the vehicle. As such, the child seat release guard 100 is provided for preventing babies, toddlers, and other young children from unfastening or unbuckling themselves from such safety devices.

[0018] Figure 5 illustrates how the child seat release guard 100 of an example embodiment protects the release mechanism of the child seat buckle from access by a child. As shown, the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 is placed over the release mechanism 1 14 of the seat belt or car seat latch mechanism. If the seat belt or car seat latch mechanism has protruding ends, these ends can be inserted partially through the parallel slits in the strap portion 102 of the child seat release guard 100 as shown in Figure 5. This configuration more firmly secures the child seat release guard 100 to the seat belt or car seat latch mechanism. Finally, the coupler 106 of the child seat release guard 100 can be latched behind the seat belt or car seat latch mechanism. As a result, the child seat release guard 100 of an example embodiment protects the release mechanism of the seat belt or car seat latch from access by a child. When desired by an adult, the child seat release guard 100 can be removed by detaching the coupler 106 of the child seat release guard 100 and removing the child seat release guard 100 to expose the release mechanism of the seat belt or car seat latch.

[0019] It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of this disclosure that the dimensions of a child seat release guard 100 in alternative embodiments can be different. Similarly, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of this disclosure that the shape of the child seat release guard 100 in alternative embodiments can be different. For example, the child seat release guard 100 in alternative embodiments can be generally rectangular, round, octagonal, or any other shape that enables attachment over a car seat or child seat buckle release mechanism. It will also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of this disclosure that the child seat release guard 100 in alternative embodiments can be fabricated from a variety of different flexible materials and a variety of different couplers 106 can be used as described above.

[0020] The illustrations of embodiments described herein are intended to provide a general understanding of the structure of various embodiments, and they are not intended to serve as a complete description of all the elements and features of components and systems that might make use of the structures described herein. Many other embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reviewing the description provided herein. Other embodiments may be utilized and derived, such that structural and logical substitutions and changes may be made without departing from the scope of this disclosure. The figures herein are merely representational and may not be drawn to scale. Certain proportions thereof may be exaggerated, while others may be minimized. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.

[0021] The description herein may include terms, such as "up", "down",

"upper", "lower", "first", "second", etc. that are used for descriptive purposes only and are not to be construed as limiting. The elements, materials, geometries, dimensions, and sequence of operations may all be varied to suit particular applications. Parts of some embodiments may be included in, or substituted for, those of other embodiments. While the foregoing examples of dimensions and ranges are considered typical, the various embodiments are not limited to such dimensions or ranges.

[0022] The Abstract is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. ยง 1.74(b) to allow the reader to quickly ascertain the nature and gist of the technical disclosure. The Abstract is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims.

[0023] In the foregoing Detailed Description, various features are grouped together in a single embodiment for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed embodiments have more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Thus the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment.

[0024] Thus, as described above, a child seat release guard is disclosed.

Although the disclosed subject matter has been described with reference to several example embodiments, it may be understood that the words that have been used are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Changes may be made within the purview of the appended claims, as presently stated and as amended, without departing from the scope and spirit of the disclosed subject matter in all its aspects. Although the disclosed subject matter has been described with reference to particular means, materials, and embodiments, the disclosed subject matter is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed; rather, the subject matter extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods, and uses such as are within the scope of the appended claims.