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Title:
READILY REMOVABLE CATCHER'S HELMET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/177053
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A catcher's helmet includes a front shell portion and a rear shell portion connected to each other at their upper regions. The front and rear shell portions are pivotable relative to each other about their upper connection. Elastic side straps connect lower regions of the front shell portion to lower regions of the rear shell portion. In use, a wearer may pull the lower region of the front shell portion (such as a jaw-protector region) away from the wearer's face, such that the front shell portion pivots away from the rear shell portion about the upper connection, allowing the helmet to be easily and quickly removed from the wearer's head. The helmet may be donned in a similar manner, after which the wearer may release the lower front portion, allowing the elastic straps to pull the lower front shell portion and lower rear shell portion together into a closed position.

Inventors:
MELOFCHIK, Ryan (3500 Willow Lane, Thousand Oaks, California, 91361, US)
OSAWA, Tazo (3500 Willow Lane, Thousand Oaks, California, 91361, US)
Application Number:
US2017/026428
Publication Date:
October 12, 2017
Filing Date:
April 06, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EASTON DIAMOND SPORTS, LLC (3500 Willow Lane, Thousand Oaks, California, 91361, US)
International Classes:
A42B3/06; A42B3/20; A63B71/10
Foreign References:
US5953761A1999-09-21
US2745401A1956-05-15
US3729745A1973-05-01
US6189156B12001-02-20
US20090113606A12009-05-07
Other References:
"Properly Fitting a Goalie Mask", VAUGHN HOCKEY, 16 June 2014 (2014-06-16), XP054977922, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20170616]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARREYN, Rodger (Perkins Coie LLP, P.O. Box 1247Seattle, Washington, 98111-1247, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1 . A catcher's helmet, comprising:

a front shell including a first upper region and a first lower region;

a rear shell including a second upper region and a second lower region, with the first upper region attached to the second upper region at an upper attachment location; at least one elastic strap connected to the first lower region and the second lower region;

wherein the helmet is pivotable about the upper attachment location between:

(a) a closed position in which the at least one elastic strap holds the first lower region in engagement with the second lower region without the aid of a locking mechanism, and

(b) an open position in which the at least one elastic strap is subjected to a tensile force such that the first lower region is pivoted away from the second lower region.

2. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 wherein the at least one elastic strap comprises a first elastic strap connecting a first side of the first lower region to a first side of the second lower region, and a second elastic strap connecting a second side of the first lower region to a second side of the second lower region.

3. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 wherein each end of the at least one elastic strap passes through a slot in the front shell or the rear shell, wherein each end is back- folded so that it is prevented from passing back through the slot.

4. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 wherein the at least one elastic strap comprises a single strap.

5. The catcher's helmet of claim 4 wherein a first end of the single strap is secured to a first side of the first lower region, and a second end of the single strap is secured to a second side of the first lower region.

6. The catcher's helmet of claim 5 wherein a portion of the single strap located between the first and second ends is secured to the second lower region.

7. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 further comprising an inelastic connector attaching the first upper region to the second upper region at the upper attachment location.

8. The catcher's helmet of claim 7 wherein the inelastic connector comprises an inelastic strap that allows for longitudinal adjustment between the first upper region and the second upper region.

9. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 further comprising a chin pad that is rotatably connected to first and second sides of the first lower region.

10. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 wherein the first lower region includes an integral jaw protector.

1 1 . A catcher's helmet, comprising:

a front shell including a first upper region and a first lower region;

a rear shell including a second upper region and a second lower region, with the first upper region attached to the second upper region by an inelastic connector;

at least one elastic connector securing the first lower region to the second lower region;

wherein the helmet is pivotable between:

(a) a closed position in which the at least one elastic connector holds the first lower region in engagement with the second lower region, and

(b) an open position in which the at least one elastic connector is subjected to a tensile force such that the first lower region is pivoted away from the second lower region.

12. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 wherein the at least one elastic connector holds the first lower region in engagement with the second lower region without the aid of a locking mechanism.

13. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 wherein the at least one elastic connector comprises a first elastic connector connecting a first side of the first lower region to a first side of the second lower region, and a second elastic connector connecting a second side of the first lower region to a second side of the second lower region.

14. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 wherein each end of the at least one elastic connector passes through a slot in the front shell or the rear shell, wherein each end is back-folded so that it is prevented from passing back through the slot.

15. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 wherein the at least one elastic connector comprises a single connector.

16. The catcher's helmet of claim 15 wherein a first end of the single connector is secured to a first side of the first lower region, and a second end of the single connector is secured to a second side of the first lower region.

17. The catcher's helmet of claim 16 wherein a portion of the single connector located between the first and second ends is secured to the second lower region.

18. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 wherein the inelastic connector comprises an inelastic strap that allows for longitudinal adjustment between the first upper region and the second upper region.

19. The catcher's helmet of claim 1 1 further comprising a chin pad that is rotatably connected to first and second sides of the first lower region.

20. A catcher's helmet, comprising:

a front shell including a first upper region and a first lower region;

a rear shell including a second upper region and a second lower region, with the first upper region attached to the second upper region;

means for securing the first lower region to the second lower region such that the helmet is pivotable between:

(a) a closed position in which the means for securing holds the first lower region in engagement with the second lower region, and

(b) an open position in which the means for securing is subjected to a tensile force such that the first lower region is pivoted away from the second lower region.

Description:
READILY REMOVABLE CATCHER'S HELMET BACKGROUND

[0001] Helmets worn by catchers in baseball, softball, and fastpitch softball ("fastpitch") have evolved from simple batter-style helmets— to which face guards or masks may be attached— to more complex helmets including integrated face guards and jaw protectors. While these modern catchers' helmets provide increased protection, they are often unwieldy and difficult to quickly remove, particularly in situations where a catcher is attempting to field a foul ball or a ball in play near home plate.

SUMMARY

[0002] A catcher's helmet includes a front shell portion and a rear shell portion connected to each other at their upper regions. The front and rear shell portions are pivotable relative to each other about their upper connection. Elastic side straps connect lower regions of the front shell portion to lower regions of the rear shell portion. In use, a wearer may pull the lower region of the front shell portion (such as a jaw-protector region) away from the wearer's face, such that the front shell portion pivots away from the rear shell portion about the upper connection, allowing the helmet to be easily and quickly removed from the wearer's head. The helmet may be donned in a similar manner, after which the wearer may release the lower front portion, allowing the elastic straps to pull the lower front and lower rear shell portions together into a closed position.

[0003] In some embodiments, the upper region of the front shell portion may be connected to the upper region of the rear shell portion via an inelastic, adjustable strap or similar element. This feature allows the helmet to be adjusted longitudinally to fit the head of a given wearer. The pivot location between the front and rear shell portions may also be adjusted in this manner.

[0004] In some embodiments, a protective chin pad may be affixed to the front shell portion at two or more lateral points to create an axis of rotation for the chin pad. This feature allows the chin pad to be rotated up or down, providing increased freedom of motion for the wearer's jaw relative to a traditional, static chin pad. This feature allows the wearer to speak clearly during use.

[0005] The features described above can be used separately or together, or in various combinations of one or more of them. Other features and advantages will appear hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] In the drawings, wherein the same reference number indicates the same element throughout the views:

[0007] Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a catcher's helmet in a closed position, according to one embodiment.

[0008] Fig. 2 is a side view of the catcher's helmet shown in Fig. 1 .

[0009] Fig. 3 is a side view of the catcher's helmet shown in Figs. 1 and 2 pivoted to an open position.

[0010] Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -3 in the closed position. [0011] Fig. 5 is a magnified view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -4 showing the elastic straps when the helmet is in the closed position.

[0012] Fig. 6 is a perspective view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -5 in the open position.

[0013] Fig. 7 is a magnified view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -6 showing the elastic straps when the helmet is pivoted to the open position.

[0014] Fig. 8 is a side view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -7 with the length of the helmet extended.

[0015] Fig 9 is a bottom view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -8 showing the position of the upper strap on the inside of the helmet.

[0016] Fig. 10 is a bottom view of the helmet shown in Figs. 1 -9 with the upper strap removed top reveal the slots through which the strap passes.

[0017] Figs. 1 1 A, 1 1 B and 1 1 C are side-schematic views of a catcher's helmet including a rotatable chin pad, according to one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] Various embodiments of the invention will now be described. The following description provides specific details for a thorough understanding and enabling description of these embodiments. One skilled in the art will understand, however, that the invention may be practiced without many of these details. Additionally, some well-known structures or functions may not be shown or described in detail so as to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the relevant description of the various embodiments. [0019] The terminology used in the description presented below is intended to be interpreted in its broadest reasonable manner, even though it is being used in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Certain terms may even be emphasized below; however, any terminology intended to be interpreted in any restricted manner will be overtly and specifically defined as such in this detailed description section.

[0020] Where the context permits, singular or plural terms may also include the plural or singular term, respectively. Moreover, unless the word "or" is expressly limited to mean only a single item exclusive from the other items in a list of two or more items, then the use of "or" in such a list is to be interpreted as including (a) any single item in the list, (b) all of the items in the list, or (c) any combination of items in the list. Further, unless otherwise specified, terms such as "attached" or "connected" are intended to include integral connections, as well as connections between physically separate components.

[0021] Turning now in detail to the drawings, as shown in Figs. 1 -10, a catcher's helmet 10 includes a front shell portion 12 engaged with a rear shell portion 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the rear shell portion 14 includes flanges or projecting portions 16, 18 that overlap regions of the front shell portion 12. In other embodiments, the front shell portion may alternatively include projecting portions that overlap regions of the rear shell portion. The front and rear shell portions 12, 14 may be made of a polymeric material, such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, a composite material, or another suitable material.

[0022] A face cage 19 or other suitable face protector may be removably or permanently attached to the front shell portion 12 using straps, grooves, screws, or any other suitable connectors. In some embodiments, the face cage 19 may include a minimal number of bars to minimize the weight of the face cage 19 and to maximize the field-of- view for the wearer. In such an embodiment, the bars of the face cage 19 are positioned close enough to one another to prevent a ball from passing between the bars and striking the wearer. To this end, face cages designed for baseball require the bars to be positioned more closely together than face cages designed for softball or fastpitch, for example. In one embodiment, the front shell portion 12 may be configured to connect to a variety of removable face cages— each having different bar spacing to prevent passage of balls of different sizes— such that the helmet may be used with various cage configurations in different sports.

[0023] Lower side regions of the front shell portion 12 are connected to lower side regions of the rear shell portion 14 by one or more elastic straps 20, or by other resilient, stretchable straps or webs. In one embodiment, each of the elastic straps 20 passes through slots 21 or other openings in the front and rear shell portions 12, 14. Each strap is back-folded at its ends so that the folded end portions 32 are thicker than the slots 21 through which the straps 20 pass. Each folded end portion 32 may be stitched in place, via bar-tack stitching or other suitable stitching, or may otherwise be suitably secured in its folded position. Because the folded end portions 32 are thicker than the slots 21 , they cannot be pulled back through the slots 21 . In other embodiments, the strap ends may be secured to the front or rear shell portions 12, 14 via screws, bolts, rivets, adhesive, or other suitable connectors.

[0024] As is best shown in Figs. 4-7, the end portions 32 of the elastic straps 20 may optionally be secured on the interior of the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 such that they do not extend outside the helmet 10. The elastic straps 20 each have a length suitable to hold the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 in a closed position when the straps 20 are at rest. When a user pulls the lower region of the front shell portion 12 away from the lower region of the rear shell portion 14, the elastic straps 20 stretch due to the tensile force applied, and the shell portions 12, 14 pivot relative to each other about an upper region of the helmet 10, as shown in Fig. 3. In this open position, the helmet 10 may be easily donned or removed. When the user releases the front shell portion 12— or the opening force is otherwise eliminated— the elastic straps 20 return to their at-rest configuration, pulling the front shell portion 12 back into closed engagement with the rear shell portion 14. In this manner, the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 are held in their closed, overlapped position by the elastic straps 20 without the need for a locking mechanism— such as a cam, lever, or other locking feature— to hold the straps 20 in the closed position.

[0025] In an alternative embodiment, a single elastic strap (having a longer length than the straps 20 described above) may be used to provide the closing force between the front and rear shell portions 12, 14. In this embodiment, the ends of the strap may be secured or attached to both interior sides of the front shell portion 12, as generally described above. For example, the ends of the strap may pass through slots in the front shell portion 12, then may be back-folded and stitched or otherwise secured in the folded position so that they do not pass back through the slots. Alternatively the strap ends may otherwise be secured to the front shell portion 12 via screws, bolts, rivets, adhesive, or other suitable connectors. [0026] The body of the single strap between the strap ends may pass along the interior sides and interior back region of the helmet, and may be held in place along the interior surface of the helmet 10 via loops, similar to belt loops on pants, or in any other suitable manner. In an alternative embodiment, the ends of the single elastic strap may be secured or attached to both interior sides of the rear shell portion 12. In this embodiment, the body of the strap between the strap ends may pass along the interior sides and interior front region (for example, an interior surface of a jaw protector 34) of the helmet, and may be held in place along the interior surface of the helmet 10 via loops or in any other suitable manner.

[0027] When an opening force is applied to the lower region of the front shell portion 12 in either of these embodiments, the single strap stretches and the shell portions 12, 14 pivot relative to each other about an upper region of the helmet. In this open position, the helmet 10 may be easily donned or removed. Once the opening force is removed, the single strap pulls the front shell portion 12 back into closed engagement with the rear shell portion 14.

[0028] As shown in Figs. 8-10, in some embodiments, an upper region of the front shell portion 12 may be connected to an upper region of the rear shell portion 14 via an inelastic strap 40, such as a nylon strap, or via another connector that allows for longitudinal adjustment between the overlapping front and rear shell portions 12, 14. The inelastic strap 40 may pass through slots 42 or other openings in the front and rear shell portions 12, 14, or may otherwise be connected to the helmet 10. By adjusting the strap length, the overlapping regions of the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 may slide longitudinally relative to each other to adjust the size of the helmet 10 to accommodate different head sizes. Adjusting the strap length may also modify the pivot location between the front and rear shell portions 12, 14. In an alternative embodiment, the upper regions of the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 may be connected to each other via a mechanical hinge or a living hinge, or via another connecting mechanism that allows for pivoting movement between the front and rear shell portions 12, 14.

[0029] In the illustrated embodiments, the front and rear shell portions 12, 14 cover essentially the entire head of a wearer. Padding attached or affixed to the inside surfaces of the helmet 10 may be arranged to engage the wearer's head on all sides to provide increased stability, comfort, and fit relative to existing catcher's helmets, such as those that include a front shell and a non-overlapping rear piece that pushes against the wearer's head in a relatively unstable manner. In some embodiments, the padding may be made of an anti-microbial material. The padding may optionally be removable and washable. In one embodiment, one or more pads made of a urethane foam, such as Poron® or a similar material, may be included in a crown region of the helmet to provide extra protection for the crown of the wearer's head.

[0030] A channel or other hair-management feature may be included at the rear of the helmet to accommodate a wearer's long hair or pony tail. The channel may be located between sections of padding, or the padding may include a reduced thickness portion that accommodates the wearer's hair.

[0031] As shown in Figs. 1 1 A, 1 1 B and 1 1 C, a protective chin pad 50 may be attached or affixed to the front shell portion 12 in a manner that allows the chin pad to rotate upwardly and downwardly relative to a wearer's chin. In one embodiment, the chin pad 50 may be attached to both sides of the front shell portion 12— optionally to both sides of the jaw protector 34— by bolts 52, rivets, screws or other suitable fasteners. The fasteners may connect the chin pad 50 directly to the helmet, or may connect straps 54 or other elements extending from the chin pad 50 to the front shell portion 12 to provide rotation of the chin pad 50. This arrangement provides increased freedom of movement for a wearer's jaw, which allows the wearer to speak clearly while wearing the helmet 10.

[0032] Any of the above-described embodiments may be used alone or in combination with one another. Further, the catcher's helmet may include additional features not described herein. While several embodiments have been shown and described, various changes and substitutions may of course be made, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The invention, therefore, should not be limited, except by the following claims and their equivalents.