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Title:
FASTENING DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/035553
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A fastening device (10) for lacing footwear (11). The fastening device (10) comprises a first end portion (21), a second end portion (22), and a flexible elongate body portion (23) between the first and second end portions. The first and second end portions (21, 22) are adapted to be releasably coupled together, with the elongate body portion (23) flexing to allow the two end portions to be brought together. The first end portion (21) is configured to define a male portion (31), and the second portion (22) is configured to define a complimentary female portion (33) having a hole (35). The female portion (33) is elastically deformable for reception onto, and removal from, the male portion (31). The male portion (31) is configured to define a tip (101), the arrangement being that the tip (101) can be presented to the hole (35) and the hole elastically deformed for expansion to be received on the male portion (31).

Inventors:
MCNEE, Christine Gaye (3/23 Ocean Drive, North Coogee, Western Australia 6163, 6163, AU)
FINLAYSON, Faye Mary (174 Raho Ruru Road, RD2Featherston, 5772, 5772, NZ)
KHOURY, Edward Joseph (19 Scouler Way, Bateman, Western Australia 6150, 6150, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/050002
Publication Date:
March 01, 2018
Filing Date:
January 03, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BARBADOS TRADING PTY LTD (3/23 Ocean Drive, North Coogee, Western Australia 6163, 6163, AU)
International Classes:
A43C11/00; B65D63/16
Foreign References:
EP2622979A22013-08-07
US20100236031A12010-09-23
US20060254089A12006-11-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WRAYS PTY LTD (Ground Floor, 56 Ord StreetWest Perth, Western Australia 6005, 6005, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
A fastening device comprising a first end portion, a second end portion, and a flexible elongate body portion between the first and second end portions, the first and second end portions being adapted to be releasably coupled together, the first end portion being configured to define a male portion and the second portion being configured to define a complimentary female portion having a hole, the female portion being elastically deformable for reception onto and removal from the male portion, the male portion comprising an outer section and an inner section adjacent the outer section, the outer section comprises two lateral flanks tapering to define an end, the arrangement being that the end can be presented to the hole and the hole elastically deformed for expansion to be received over the outer section of the male portion and then contracted for location about the inner section of the male portion.

The fastening device according to claim 1 wherein said two lateral opposed flanks define a first pair of opposed lateral flanks and said end defines a first end, and wherein there is also provided a second pair of lateral flanks tapering to define a second end, the first and second pairs of opposed flanks being in opposed relation whereby the first and second ends are disposed in opposed relation.

The fastening device according to claim 2 wherein the first end is of a first triangular configuration.

The fastening device according to claim 2 or 3 wherein the second end is of a second triangular configuration.

The fastening device according to claim 2, 3 or 4 wherein outer portion is of a configuration having a longitudinal axis, with the two opposed ends being in alignment with the longitudinal axis.

The fastening device according to any one of claims 2 to 5 wherein the two opposed ends are configured to each define a tip.

7. The fastening device according to claim 5 or 6 wherein the longitudinal axis of the outer portion extends between the opposed tips.

8. The fastening device according to claim 5, 6 or 7 wherein the flexible elongate body has a longitudinal extent having a longitudinal axis when in a straight condition, the longitudinal axis of the outer portion being parallel to said longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body.

9. The fastening device according to any one of the preceding claims comprising an assembly of first and second parts.

10. The fastening device according to claim 9 wherein the first part comprises a main body portion and a mounting portion, with the two portions being integral.

1 1 . The fastening device according to claim 9 or 10 wherein first end portion is defined by cooperation between the first and second parts when assembled together.

12. The fastening device according to claim 10 or 1 1 wherein the first end portion is defined by cooperation between the main body portion of the first part and the second part.

13. The fastening device according to claim 10, 1 1 or 12 wherein the second end portion and the flexible elongate portion between the first and second end portions are defined by the main body portion of the first part.

14. The fastening device according to any one of claims 10 to 13 wherein the mounting portion of the first part is configured to provide a mount for the second part.

15. The fastening device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the second end portion further comprises an outwardly extending elongate protrusion.

16. The fastening device according to claim 15 wherein the first end portion further comprises an elongate opening extending inwardly, wherein the elongate protrusion on the second end portion can be inserted into the opening within the first end portion as the first and second end portions are brought together for coupling.

17. The fastening device according to claim 16 wherein in use, with the elongate protrusion inserted into the opening, the first and second end portions can be manipulated such that the hole within the second end portion is caused to elastically expand for reception over the male portion and then elastically contract for location on the male portion, thereby coupling the first and second end portions together.

18. A fastening device comprising a first part and a second part, the first and second parts being adapted to be interconnected to cooperatively define a first end portion, a second end portion, and a flexible elongate body portion between the first and second end portions, the first and second end portions being adapted to be releasably coupled together, the first end portion being configured to define a male portion and the second portion being configured to define a complimentary female portion having a hole, the female portion being elastically deformable for reception onto and removal from the male portion, the male portion comprising an outer section and an inner section adjacent the outer section, the outer section comprises two lateral flanks tapering to define an end, the arrangement being that the end can be presented to the hole and the hole elastically deformed for expansion to be received over the outer section of the male portion and then contracted for location about the inner section of the male portion for location about the inner section of the male portion.

19. A part for a fastening device according to claim 18, the part comprising said first part.

20. A part for a fastening device according to claim 18, the part comprising said second part.

21 . A kit of parts for assembly of a fastening device according to any one of claims 9 to 18, the kit of parts comprising a plurality of said first parts and a plurality of said second parts.

Description:
Fastening Device

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001 ] This invention relates to a fastening device and parts thereof. More particularly, the invention relates to a fastening device for items designed for lacing, featuring two edge portions adapted to be drawn and tied together.

[0002] The invention has been devised particularly, although not necessarily solely, in relation to lacing of shoes. However, the invention may have application to lacing of edge portions adapted to be drawn and tied together, regardless of whether the edge portions are on the one item or on several items. The invention may, for example, have application to lacing for an item of clothing in drawing and tying together two parts of the item of clothing.

BACKGROUND ART

[0003] The following discussion of the background art is intended to facilitate an understanding of the present invention only. The discussion is not an acknowledgement or admission that any of the material referred to is or was part of the common general knowledge as at the priority date of the application.

[0004] As foreshadowed above, the invention has been devised particularly, although not necessarily solely, in relation to lacing of footwear. Accordingly, the following discussion in relation to background art is provided in the context of lacing of footwear.

[0005] Certain types of footwear have traditionally featured an upper having two opposed edge portions incorporating eyelets arranged to receive a shoelace for drawing and tying the two edge portions together. While the use of shoelaces for lacing footwear is well known and commonly accepted, difficulties can arise for certain users, including in particular children, who may not necessarily have the necessary skills or dexterity to adequately perform the lacing and tying process. [0006] Various other forms of lacing systems have been proposed, including elastic lacing systems which can be installed on an item of footwear and left in position, with the elastic characteristic of the lacing allowing the footwear to be opened and closed as necessary for fitment onto and removal from a foot of the user.

[0007] One such elastic lacing system is of the type disclosed in US Patent 8,850,675. This lacing system features a fastening device comprising a unitary body having two opposed end portions, and an intermediate body portion which is flexible. The two opposed end portions are configured and operative to be coupled together. One end portion is configured as an anchor and the other end portion is configured as a ring, the arrangement being that the ring portion can elastically fit around the anchor to removably couple the two end portions together.

[0008] With such an arrangement, a user may experience some difficulty in inserting the anchor through the ring. Additionally, the unitary construction of the body may present a challenge in arranging for the anchor to be sufficiently rigid to provide an effective coupling arrangement which can withstand loadings imposed upon the fastening device when in use.

[0009] It is against this background, and the problems and difficulties associated therewith, that the present invention has been developed.

[0010] While the present invention was developed against this background, it need not necessarily overcome any or all of the problems and difficulties referred to above. Rather, the invention may merely offer an alternative arrangement for fastening items of the type designed for lacing.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[001 1 ] According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a fastening device comprising a first end portion, a second end portion, and a flexible elongate body portion between the first and second end portions, the first and second end portions being adapted to be releasably coupled together, the first end portion being configured to define a male portion and the second end portion being configured to define a complimentary female portion having a hole, the female portion being elastically deformable for reception onto and removal from the male portion, the male portion comprising an outer section and an inner section adjacent the outer section, the outer section comprises two opposed lateral flanks tapering to define an end, the arrangement being that the end can be presented to the hole and the hole elastically deformed for expansion to be received over the outer section of the male portion and then contracted for location about the inner section of the male portion.

[0012] The male portion in effect provides a stud adapted for insertion in the hole.

[0013] Preferably, the two lateral opposed flanks define a first pair of opposed lateral flanks and said end defines a first end, and preferably there is also provided a second pair of opposed lateral flanks tapering to define a second end, the first and second pairs of opposed flanks being in opposed relation whereby the first and second ends are disposed in opposed relation.

[0014] The first end may be of a first triangular configuration. Similarly, the second end may be of a second triangular configuration.

[0015] With this arrangement, the outer section may be of a generally diamond configuration. Further, the hole may correspondingly also be of a generally diamond configuration.

[0016] The outer portion may be of a configuration having a longitudinal axis, with the two opposed ends being in alignment with the longitudinal axis.

[0017] The two opposed ends may be configured to each define a tip. The tip may be a rounded tip.

[0018] The longitudinal axis of the outer portion may extend between the opposed tips.

[0019] The flexible elongate body may have a longitudinal extent with a longitudinal axis when in a straight condition, the longitudinal axis of the outer portion being parallel to said longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body. [0020] The fastening device may comprise an assembly of parts. In particular, the fastening device may comprise an assembly of two parts; namely, a first part and a second part.

[0021 ] The first part may comprise a main body portion and a mounting portion, with the two portions being integral.

[0022] The first end portion of the fastening device may be defined by cooperation between the first and second parts when assembled together. More particularly, the first end portion may be defined by cooperation between the main body portion of the first part and the second part.

[0023] The second end portion of the fastening device and the flexible elongate portion between the first and second end portions may be defined by main body portion of the first part.

[0024] The main body portion and the mounting portion of first part are preferably formed from the same material, although optionally they may be formed of different materials. Particularly, the first part may be formed of an elastic material, whereby the hole is elastically deformable and the elongate body portion is both elastically flexible longitudinally and also capable of flexing.

[0025] The mounting portion of the first part may be configured to provide a mount for the second part. The mounting portion of the first part may, for instance, be configured as a tab onto which the second part may be mounted.

[0026] The second part may comprise a body configured to define the male portion. More particularly, the body may have a first section defining the male portion and a second section defining a shank and an outer flange portion. The first and second sections may cooperate to define two abutment faces adjacent opposed ends of the shank. With this arrangement, the second part can be mounted on the tab of the first part, with the shank extending through a transverse hole in the tab, and the two abutment faces being disposed on opposed sides of the tab and in abutting contact therewith. [0027] The second end portion may further comprise an outwardly extending elongate protrusion. The elongate protrusion may extend in a direction in opposed relation to the main body portion. Further, the elongate protrusion may extend generally parallel with the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body or it may be disposed angularly with respect to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body.

[0028] The first end portion may further comprise a surface adjacent the male portion and an elongate opening extending inwardly from the surface, the elongate protrusion on the second end portion being receivable within the opening. With this arrangement, the elongate protrusion on the second end portion can be inserted into the opening within the first end portion as the first and second end portions are brought together for coupling. With the elongate protrusion inserted into the opening, the first and second end portions can be coupled together. More particularly, with the elongate protrusion inserted into the opening, the first and second end portions can be manipulated such that the hole within the second end portion is caused to elastically expand for reception over the male portion and then elastically contract for location on the male portion, thereby coupling the first and second end portions together.

[0029] In elastically contracting, the hole may return to its normal condition (the condition prior to expansion), or it may contract but nevertheless remain partly expanded.

[0030] According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a fastening device comprising a first part and a second part, the first and second parts being adapted to be interconnected to cooperatively define a first end portion, a second end portion, and a flexible elongate body portion between the first and second end portions, the first and second end portions being adapted to be releasably coupled together, the first end portion being configured to define a male portion and the second portion being configured to define a complimentary female portion having a hole, the female portion being elastically deformable for reception onto and removal from the male portion, the male portion comprising an outer section and an inner section adjacent the outer section, the outer section comprises two lateral flanks tapering to define an end, the arrangement being that the end can be presented to the hole and the hole elastically deformed for expansion to be received over the outer section of the male portion and then contracted for location about the inner section of the male portion for location about the inner section of the male portion.

[0031 ] The fastening device according to the second aspect of the invention may have any one or more of the additional features discussed above in relation to the first aspect of the invention.

[0032] According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a part for a fastening device according to the second aspect of the invention, the part comprising said first part.

[0033] According to a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided a part for a fastening device according to the second aspect of the invention, the part comprising said second part.

[0034] According to a fifth aspect of the invention there is provided a kit of parts for assembly of a fastening device according to the first or second aspect of the invention, the kit of parts comprising a plurality of said first parts and a plurality of said second parts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0035] Further features of the present invention are more fully described in the following description of several non-limiting embodiments thereof. This description is included solely for the purposes of exemplifying the present invention. It should not be understood as a restriction on the broad summary, disclosure or description of the invention as set out above. The description will be made with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic perspective view of a first embodiment of a fastening device according to the invention, viewed from above;

Figure 2 is a view similar to figure 1 , with the exception that the fastening device is shown in an exploded condition to illustrate first and second parts thereof;

Figure 3 is a side view of the fastening device; Figure 4 is a plan view of the fastening device;

Figure 5 is an underside plan view of the fastening device;

Figure 6 is an end view of the fastening device;

Figure 7 is a perspective view of the second part of the fastening device, as depicted in figure 2;

Figure 8 is a plan view of the second part;

Figure 9 is an end elevational view of the second part;

Figure 10 is an underside plan view of the second part;

Figure 1 1 is a cross-sectional side view of the second part;

Figure 12 is a plan view of the fastening device configured into a loop;

Figure 13 is a side view of the fastening device configured into the loop;

Figure 14 is an underside perspective view of the fastening device configured into the loop;

Figure 15 is a sequence of views illustrating the fastening device being progressively moved into the loop configuration;

Figure 16 is a plan view depicting several fastening devices being fitted to a shoe, with the various fastening devices being depicted at different stages of the fitting process;

Figure 17 is a plan view of a lacing pattern for a shoe using several the fastening devices, the lacing pattern corresponding to that depicted in figure 16;

Figure 18 is a plan view of a further lacing pattern;

Figure 19 is a plan view of a still further lacing pattern; and

Figure 20 is a plan view of a yet still further lacing pattern. [0036] The drawings shown are not necessarily to scale, with emphasis instead generally being placed upon illustrating the principles of the present invention.

[0037] The figures depict a first embodiment of the invention. The first embodiment illustrates certain configurations; however, it is to be appreciated that the invention can take the form of many configurations, as would be obvious to a person skilled in the art, whilst still embodying the present invention. These configurations are to be considered within the scope of this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0038] Referring to the drawings, there is shown a first embodiment of a fastening device 10 for lacing footwear 1 1 . In the arrangement illustrated, the footwear 1 1 comprises a shoe having two opposed edge portions 13 each incorporating eyelets 15, of known kind. Traditionally, the two opposed edge portions 13 are fitted with a conventional shoelace for drawing and tying of them together. The conventional shoelace can be untied and loosened to open the shoe to allow fitting onto the foot of a user, and then closed about the foot of the user by tying the shoelace in known manner.

[0039] The fastening device according to the first embodiment can be used as a replacement for a conventional shoelace. While a single fastening device might be used in some instances, it is likely that at least several such fastening devices would be used in most instances. In a shoe having several eyelets 15 in each of the two opposed edge portions 13, it may be that several fastening devices are used. With several fastening devices being used, the fastening devices may be used either separately of each other or in combination with each other. Separate fastening devices 10 would likely be used in a lacing pattern where counterpart eyelets are to be fastened together in pairs. For example, if a shoe has eight eyelets in total, with four eyelets in each of the two opposed edge portions, there would be four pairs of counterpart eyelets to be fastened together, thus requiring four fastening devices 10. With this arrangement, the various fastening devices 10 would each function separately of another. This lacing arrangement is described and illustrated in more detail later. The fastening devices may, however, be coupled one to another to achieve a desired lacing pattern. In such an arrangement, the first end portion of one fastening device may be coupled to the complimentary second end portion of another fastening device, thereby coupling the two fastening devices together. Various examples of optional lacing arrangements will be described and illustrated in more detail later.

[0040] Broadly, the first embodiment of the fastening device 10 comprises a first end portion 21 , a second end portion 22, and a flexible elongate body portion 23 between the first and second end portions. The first and second end portions 21 , 22 are adapted to be releasably coupled together, with the elongate body portion 23 flexing to allow the two end portions to be brought together. With the first and second end portions 21 , 22 connected together, the fastening device assumes the configuration of a loop 25 for lacing purposes, as best seen in figures 12 to 14 and 15d.

[0041 ] The first end portion 21 is configured to define a male portion 31 , and the second portion 22 is configured to define a complimentary female portion 33 having a hole 35. The female portion 33 is elastically deformable about the hole 35 for reception onto, and removal from, the male portion 31 , as will be explained in more detail later. With this arrangement, the male portion 31 provides a stud adapted for insertion in the hole 35.

[0042] The second end portion 22 further comprises an outwardly extending elongate protrusion 24. The elongate protrusion 24 is integral with the second portion 22 and extends in a direction in opposed relation to the flexible elongate body portion 23. In the arrangement shown, the elongate protrusion 24 extends generally in the same plane as the flexible elongate body portion 23 when the latter is in a straight (not flexed) condition, as depicted in Figures 1 to 5. In other words, the outwardly extending elongate protrusion 24 is aligned with the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body portion 23.

[0043] The first end portion 21 further comprise an enlarged or bulbous portion 36 which transitions to the elongate body portion 23. The portion 36 defines a surface 37 adjacent the male portion 31 and an elongate opening 38 extending inwardly from surface through the portion 36 between entry end 39 and exit end 40.

[0044] The elongate protrusion 24 on the second end portion 22 is receivable within the opening 38 through the entry end 39 thereof. With this arrangement, the elongate protrusion 24 on the second end portion 22 can be inserted into the opening 38 within the first end portion 21 as the first and second end portions are brought together for coupling. With the elongate protrusion 24 inserted into the opening 38, the first and second end portions 21 , 22 can be coupled together. More particularly, with the elongate protrusion 24 inserted into the opening 38, the first and second end portions 21 , 22 can be manipulated such that the hole 35 within the second end portion 22 is caused to elastically expand for reception over the male portion 31 and then elastically contract for location about the male portion, thereby coupling the first and second end portions together.

[0045] The fastening device 10 comprises an assembly of parts in this embodiment. In the arrangement shown the fastening device 10 comprises an assembly of two parts; namely, a first part 41 and a second part 42. In this embodiment, the first and second part 41 , 42 are configured to provide a mechanical connection therebetween, as will become apparent later. With this arrangement, the first part 41 and the second part 42 are adapted to be interconnected to cooperatively define the first end portion 21 , the second end portion 22, and the flexible elongate body portion 23 between the first and second end portions.

[0046] The first part 41 comprises a main body portion 43 and a mounting portion 45, with the two portions 43, 45 being integral, as best seen in Figure 2.

[0047] The first end portion 21 of the fastening device 10 is defined by cooperation between the first and second parts 41 , 42 when assembled together. More particularly, the first end portion 21 is defined by cooperation between the main body portion 43 of the first part 41 and the second part 42.

[0048] The second end portion 22, and the flexible elongate portion 23 between the first and second end portions 21 , 22 are defined by main body portion 43 of the first part 41 .

[0049] In this embodiment, the main body portion 43, the mounting portion 45 of first part 41 and the second end portion 22 are formed from the same material, although optionally they may be formed of different materials. Specifically, in this embodiment the first part 41 is formed of an elastic material, whereby the hole 35 is elastically deformable and the elongate body portion 23 is both elastically flexible longitudinally and also capable of flexing. A particularly suitable material for the first part 41 is believed to be an elastomeric material such as silicone rubber. The flexibility of elongate body portion 23 provides it with the capability of flexing to assume a desired configuration, such as for example loop 25 for lacing purposes. The elongate body portion 23 may also be so constructed as to facilitate such flexing. More particularly, the elongate body portion 23 may have a cross-sectional configuration configured to facilitate such flexing; for example, the elongate body portion 23 may feature a longitudinal channel or recess to promote flexibility.

[0050] The mounting portion 45 of the first part 41 is configured as a tab 51 onto which the second part 42 can be mounted, as will be explained in more detail later. The tab 51 presents two opposed sides 53, 55, with a transverse hole 57 extending between the opposed sides. Side 53 incorporates a recess portion 59 surrounding the transverse hole 57.

[0051 ] Referring in particular to Figures 7 to 1 1 , the second part 42 comprises a body 61 configured to define the male portion 31 . More particularly, the body 61 has a first section 63 defining the male portion 31 , and a second section 65 defining a shank 67 and an outer flange portion 69. The first and second sections 63, 65 cooperate to define two abutment faces 71 , 73 adjacent opposed ends of the shank 67, as best seen in Figures 9 and 1 1 . With this arrangement, the second part 42 can be mounted on the of the first part 41 , with the shank 67 extending through the transverse hole 57 in the tab 51 , and the two abutment faces 71 , 73 being disposed in use on opposed sides of the tab and in abutting contact therewith, as best seen in Figure 6. More particularly, abutment face 71 , which is defined by the adjacent edge of the first section 63, locates in the recess portion 59. Interaction between the abutment face 71 (defined by the adjacent edge of the first section 63) and the recess portion 59 locates the second part 42 in position on the first part 41 , thereby mitigating against misalignment of the second part within the first part through rotation of the shank 67 within the transverse hole 57. With this arrangement, there is provided a mechanical connection between the first and second parts 41 , 42.

[0052] The second part 42 is fitted onto the first part 41 by elastically expanding the transverse hole 57 within the tab 51 , thereby allowing the outer flanged portion 69 of the second part to pass through the hole 57 to locate the tab about the shank 67. More particularly, the second part 42 is fitted onto the first part 41 by inserting the outer flange portion 69 through the hole 57 such that the shank 67 is received within the hole, with the first section 63 defining the male portion 31 located on one side of the tab 51 and the outer flange portion 69 located on the other side of the tab 51 . In the arrangement shown, the outer flange portion 69 comprises two end sections 69a, 69b on opposed sides of the shank 67, as best seen in Figures 7 and 1 1 . The two end sections 69a, 69b are configured such that one is longer than the other in respective directions extending away from the shank 67. Specifically, end section 69a is longer than end section 69b, as best seen in Figure 1 1 . When the second part 42 is mounted onto the first part 41 , the arrangement is such that longer end section 69a is located inwardly so as to be adjacent the elongate body portion 23, and the shorter end section 69b is located outwardly towards the free end of the tab 51 . The feature whereby one end section of the outer flange portion 69 is longer than the other is considered to be advantageous in several ways. Firstly, it serves to reduce the likelihood of the second part 42 becoming detached from the first part 41 (by the outer flange portion 69 withdrawing through the hole 57) while footwear to which the fastening device 10 is fitted, is in use. Secondly, it likely assists in fitting of the second part 42 onto the first part 41 , and also subsequent removal if desired. Specifically, the second part 42 is fitted onto the first part 41 by inserting the outer flange portion 69 through the hole 57 with the longer end section 69a leading. In this way, the tab 51 can stretch elastically about the leading longer end section 69a to enlarge the hole 57 and subsequently contract elastically about the shorter end section 69b as the outer flange portion 69 passes through the hole to position the shank 67 within the hole. It is believed that this will also likely make it easier for a user to remove the second part 42 from the first part 41 when there is a desire or need to fit a replacement second part. The first and second parts 41 , 42 may, for instance, be made available in a variety of colours and/or styles and be selectively interchangeable to allow the appearance of the fastening devices to be optionally altered by users.

[0053] Once fitted onto the first part 41 , the second part 42 would normally remain in position throughout the service life of the fastening device 10, unless there is a desire or need to fit a replacement second part as described above.

[0054] The two-part construction of the fastening device 10 allows the first part 41 and a second part 42 to be formed of different materials. As mentioned above, in this embodiment the first part 41 is formed of an elastic material. In this way, the hole 35 is elastically deformable, and the elongate body portion 23 is both elastically flexible longitudinally and also capable of flexing. Further, the transverse hole 57 within the tab 51 is elastically deformable. It is desirable that the second part 42 be of a harder or more rigid construction to provide an effective coupling arrangement which can withstand loadings imposed on the fastening device 10 when in use. Accordingly, in this embodiment the second part 42 is formed of a rigid plastics material, such as for example a hard or rigid polyurethane. The second part 42 may, however, be formed of any other suitable material, including for instance metal.

[0055] The first section 63 of the second part 42, which defines the male portion 31 , comprises an outer section 81 and an inner section 83 adjacent the outer section. The abutment face 71 is defined by a shoulder 85 at the junction between the inner section 83 and the shank 67.

[0056] The inner section 83 comprises a peripheral groove 87 formed in the first section 63 of the second part 42.

[0057] The outer section 81 of the second part 42 has a periphery 91 , and an outer surface 93 which is of curved or domed configuration in the arrangement shown. The periphery 91 comprises a plurality of edges 95 arranged to define first and second opposed ends 97, 99. In the arrangement shown, the edges 95 include edges 95a to 95f.

[0058] First end 97 is configured to define a tip 101 which may present a slightly curved edge. Similarly, the second end 99 is configured to define a tip 103 which may also present a slightly curved edge. More particularly, first end 97 is defined by two lateral opposed flanks 105 which taper inwardly and which are defined by edges 95a, 95b. Similarly, second end 99 is defined by two lateral opposed flanks 107 which taper inwardly and which are defined by edges 95e, 95f. With this arrangement, the two opposed ends 97, 99 are each of a generally triangular configuration in plan, converging to the respective tip 101 , 103. The tip 101 is so configured and sized that it can initially enter the hole 35 without the hole having to expand elastically to receive it, as will be explained later. This may be advantageous in assisting in initially aligning the hole 35 with the male portion 31 as the first and second end portions 21 , 22 are brought together for coupling, as also will be explained later.

[0059] The outer section 81 has a longitudinal axis extending between the opposed tips 101 , 103. In the drawings, the longitudinal axis is identified by reference numeral 1 1 1 . The longitudinal axis 1 1 1 is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body portion 23 when the latter is in a straight condition, as depicted in figures 1 to 5.

[0060] With this arrangement, the outer section 81 of a generally diamond configuration in plan, as best seen in Figures 4 and 8. Further, the hole 35 is correspondingly also of a generally diamond configuration, as best seen in Figure 4.

[0061 ] While not shown in the drawings, the outer section 81 of the second part 42 may be configured or otherwise adapted to be visually appealing or decorative in appearance. By way of example, the outer surface 93 of the second part 42 may be polished, patterned or profiled to present decorative design, or may have one or more decorative elements (such as ornamental stone material) embedded in it.

[0062] The manner in which the fastening device 10 is configured into the loop 25 is depicted schematically in figures 15a to 15d. As depicted in figure 15a, the first and second end portions 21 , 22 are moved towards each other, with the flexible elongate body portion 23 flexing to accommodate this movement. As depicted in figure 15b, the elongate protrusion 24 on the second end portion 22 is inserted into the opening 38 within the first end portion 21 through the entry end 39 thereof as the first and second end portions are brought together for coupling. This may assist in aligning the hole 35 with the male portion 31 . As depicted in figure 15c, with the elongate protrusion 24 inserted into the opening 38, the first and second end portions 21 , 22 can be manipulated such that the hole 35 within the second end portion 22 is presented to the tip 101 of the first end 97 of male portion 31 . The tip 101 is so configured and sized that it can initially enter the hole 35 without the hole having to expand elastically to receive it, as shown in figure 15c, so further assisting in aligning the hole 35 with the male portion 31 . As the first end 97 of male portion 31 progressively enters the hole 35, the latter is caused to elastically expand to pass over the outer section 81 for reception onto the male portion 31 and then elastically contract for location about the peripheral groove 87 defining the inner section of 83 of the male portion, thereby coupling the first and second end portions together. The first and second end portions 21 , 22 are shown coupled together in figure 15d.

[0063] With the elongate protrusion 24 on the second end portion 22 inserted into the opening 38 within the first end portion 21 , it is concealed and also protected against being inadvertently pulled.

[0064] Once fitted onto an item of footwear 1 1 such as a shoe, the fastening device 10 would normally remain in place on the shoe, with the elongate body portion 23 undergoing expansion and contraction to allow the shoe to be opened and closed as necessary for fitment of the shoe onto, and removal of the shoe from, a foot of a user. The fastening device 10 would usually only be removed from the shoe in the event of it breaking or there being a desire to replace it.

[0065] If there a need to disconnect the coupling between the first and second end portions 21 , 22, the second end portion 22 can be pulled from the first end portion 21 by, for example, pulling on the elongate body portion 23 to cause the hole 35 to expand elastically to permit it to pass over the second end 99 of the outer section 63, thereby withdrawing the second end portion 22 from the male portion 31 .

[0066] Referring now to figures 15 to 20, there is shown a plurality of fastening devices 10 according to the first embodiment fitted onto an item of footwear 1 1 in various lacing patterns. The item of footwear 1 1 comprises two marginal edge portions 13 each having several eyelets 15. In the arrangement shown, there are four eyelets 15 in each marginal edge portions 13.

[0067] The lacing pattern depicted in figure 16 requires four fastening devices 10, which are shown at various stages of being fitted into position on the item of footwear 1 1 .

[0068] As depicted in figure 16, the elongate protrusion 24 on the second portion 22 is useful in assisting threading of the fastening device 10 through the respective eyelets 15. In this way, the elongate protrusion 24 functions in a way similar to an aglet of a conventional shoelace. [0069] Figure 17 depicts a lacing pattern corresponding to that shown in figure 16. With this lacing pattern, each fastening device 10 functions separately of another; that is, the respective first and second end portions 21 , 22 of each fastening device 10 are connected together:

[0070] Figure 18 depicts another lacing pattern which may be used. In this lacing pattern, there are again four fastening devices 10, with fastening devices 10a and 10b being connected together, and fastening devices 10c and 10d also been connected together. In such an arrangement, the first end portion of one fastening device is coupled to the complimentary second end portion of the other fastening device, and vice versa, thereby coupling the two fastening devices together.

[0071 ] Figures 19 and 20 depict still further lacing patterns which may be used. The lacing pattern of Figure 19 features four fastening devices 10, with each fastening device passing through two eyelets 15. The lacing pattern of Figure 20 features two fastening devices 10, with each fastening device passing through four eyelets 15.

[0072] The lacing patterns depicted in Figures 17 to 20 are provided for illustrative purposes only. Various other lacing patterns may be implemented, as would be understood by a person skilled in the art.

[0073] While not shown in the drawings, there may be provided a kit comprising a plurality of fastening devices 10. More particularly, the kit may comprise a plurality of first parts 41 and a plurality of second parts 42. Typically, the plurality of fastening devices 10 in the kit would be provided in an assembled condition; that is, each fastening device in the kit would comprise the respective first and second parts thereof fitted together.

[0074] The plurality of fastening devices 10 in the kit may be all of the same size or they may be of a variety of sizes. Further, the plurality of fastening devices 10 in the kit may be all be of the same colour or they may be of a variety of colours.

[0075] Supplies of the first and second parts 41 , 42 may also be sold separately as replacement or interchangeable parts, if desired. In particular, in addition to the kits comprising a plurality of first and second parts 41 , 42, supplies of the second parts 42 may be provided for sale separately to offer interchangeable colour mixes.

[0076] While not shown in the drawings, there may also be provided a tool to assist fitting of one or more of the fastening devices 10 in position on an item of footwear. The tool may form part of the kit or it may be provided separately.

[0077] The tool may be configured to provide a hook arrangement adapted to locate in the hole 35 of fastening device 10. The tool can then be used to guide the fastening device into position, passing through the respective eyelets 15 (somewhat akin to a needle guiding a thread into position).

[0078] A second embodiment of the fastening device 10, which is not shown in the drawings, is similar to the first embodiment, except that the mounting portion 45 of the first part 41 is configured to provide a further recessed portion adapted to receive the outer flange portion 69 of the second part 42. More particularly, the tab 51 is configured to incorporate the further recessed portion. The further recessed portion is provided on side 55 of the tab 51 , surrounding the transverse hole 57. The arrangement may be such that the outer flange portion 69 can be snugly received within the further recessed portion to positively locate the outer flange portion with respect to the tab 51 . The further recessed portion may be defined by a raised formation provided on side 55 of the tab 51 , with the raised formation defining a wall bounding a recess into which the outer flange portion 69 can be received. The raised formation and the outer flange portion 69 may be so sized that the exposed side of the outer flange portion 69 is generally flush with the raised formation when the outer flange portion is received within the recess.

[0079] The arrangement whereby the outer flange portion 69 can locate positively with respect to the tab 51 , may be advantageous; for example, it may assist in further mitigating against misalignment of the second part 42 within the first part 41 through rotation of the shank 67 within the transverse hole 57 (which might otherwise tend to occur when the fastening device 10 is in use and under load).

[0080] A third embodiment of the fastening device 1 0, which is also not shown in the drawings, is similar to the first embodiment, except that the outwardly extending elongate protrusion 24 is not aligned with the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body portion 23 when the latter is in a straight (not flexed) condition. Rather, in this third embodiment the outwardly extending elongate protrusion 24 is disposed angularly with respect to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elongate body portion 23. The angular disposition is such that the outwardly extending elongate protrusion 24 extends outwardly and downwardly when viewed from the side (corresponding to the side view of the first embodiment shown in Figure 3). Such an angular (downward) disposition would serve to better align the elongate protrusion 24 for entry into the opening 38 within the first end portion 21 as the first and second end portions 21 , 22 are brought together for coupling.

[0081 ] A fourth embodiment of the fastening device 10, which is also not shown in the drawings, is similar to the first embodiment, except that the second end portion 22 further comprises an enlarged or bulbous portion which transitions to the elongate body portion 23, in a manner similar to way in which the first end portion 21 has bulbous portion 36 transitioning to the elongate body portion 23. This may provide some uniformity in the appearance of the first and second end portions 21 , 22, with each featuring an enlarged or bulbous portion. This uniformity in appearance may be beneficial in terms of aesthetics.

[0082] The foregoing disclosure is intended to explain how to fashion and use the particular embodiments described (and illustrated in the case of the first embodiment), rather than to limit the true, intended, and fair scope and spirit of the invention. The foregoing description is not intended to be exhaustive, nor to be limited to the precise forms disclosed.

[0083] Further, it should be appreciated that various modifications can be made without departing from the principles of the invention. Therefore, the invention should be understood to include all such modifications within its scope. For example, the second part 42 may be formed separately of the first part 41 and mounted upon the first part 41 in any other appropriate way. For instance, the first and second parts 41 , 42 may be mechanically connected in some other fashion, or alternatively there may be some form of chemical bonding between the two parts.

[0084] The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular example embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting. [0085] As used herein, the singular forms "a", "an" and "the" may be intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

[0086] Reference to any positional descriptions, such as "inner", "outer", "top", "bottom" and "side", are to be taken in context of the embodiments described (and depicted in the drawings in the case of the first embodiment), and are not to be taken as limiting the invention to the literal interpretation of the term but rather as would be understood by the skilled addressee.

[0087] Spatially relative terms, such as "inner," "outer," "beneath", "below", "lower", "above", "upper" and the like, may be used herein for ease of description to describe one element or feature's relationship to another element(s) or feature(s) as illustrated in the figures. Spatially relative terms may be intended to encompass different orientations of the apparatus in use or operation in addition to the orientation depicted in the figures. For example, if the apparatus in the figures is turned over, elements described as "below" or "beneath" other elements or features would then be oriented "above" the other elements or features. Thus, the example term "below" can encompass both an orientation of above and below. The apparatus may be otherwise oriented (rotated 90 degrees or at other orientations) and the spatially relative descriptors used herein interpreted accordingly.

[0088] Although the terms first, second, third, etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections, these elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections should not be limited by these terms. These terms may be only used to distinguish one element, component, region, layer or section from another region, layer or section. Terms such as "first," "second," and other numerical terms when used herein do not imply a sequence or order unless clearly indicated by the context. Thus, a first element, component, region, layer or section discussed below could be termed a second element, component, region, layer or section without departing from the teachings of the example embodiment

[0089] .When an element or layer is referred to as being "on", "engaged to", "connected to" or "coupled to" another element or layer, it may be directly on, engaged, connected or coupled to the other element or layer, or intervening elements or layers may be present. In contrast, when an element is referred to as being "directly on," "directly engaged to", "directly connected to" or "directly coupled to" another element or layer, there may be no intervening elements or layers present. Other words used to describe the relationship between elements should be interpreted in a like fashion (e.g., "between" versus "directly between," "adjacent" versus "directly adjacent," etc.). As used herein, the term "and/or" includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

[0090] Additionally, where the terms "system", "device", and "apparatus" are used in the context of the invention, they are to be understood as including reference to any group of functionally related or interacting, interrelated, interdependent or associated components or elements that may be located in proximity to, separate from, integrated with, or discrete from, each other.

[0091 ] Throughout this specification, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise" or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.