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Title:
COVERS FOR FOOTWEAR AND FEET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/237396
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A footwear/foot cover includes an ankle portion having a resilient rim; and a body portion having a front portion, a rear portion extending from the front portion, and a sole portion underlying the front and rear portions, the body portion further having an opening associated with the rim for receiving a footwear/foot; each of the ankle portion and body portion sized and shaped to closely invest against a received footwear and/or the wearer, wherein at least the body portion is waterproof.

Inventors:
BATTISTON YASMINE (CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2020/050748
Publication Date:
December 03, 2020
Filing Date:
June 01, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
2753876 ONTARIO INC (CA)
International Classes:
A43C19/00; A43B3/16; B65D85/18
Foreign References:
US20090126223A12009-05-21
US8661716B22014-03-04
RU2016150807A2018-06-26
US20140137430A12014-05-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DICKINSON WRIGHT LLP (CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A footwear/foot cover, comprising:

an ankle portion having a resilient rim;

a body portion having a front portion, a rear portion extending from the front portion, and a sole portion underlying the front and rear portions, the body portion further having an opening associated with the rim for receiving a footwear/foot;

each of the ankle portion and body portion sized and shaped to closely invest against a received footwear and/or the wearer, wherein at least the body portion is waterproof.

2. The cover of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of spaced grip members associated with an outer-facing surface of the sole portion.

3. The cover of any of the preceding claims, wherein an inner-facing surface of the body portion is lined with at least one of: a plurality of spaced grip members and an adhesive.

4. The cover of any of the preceding claims, wherein the body portion is dimensioned to receive an elongate heel of footwear.

5. The cover of claim 4, wherein the rear portion and sole portion are shaped to receive the elongate heel.

6. The cover of claims 1-3, wherein the body portion is configured to receive and encapsulate a heel of a foot or a heel of a flat shoe.

7. The cover of any of the preceding claims, wherein at least some of the cover is transparent.

8. The cover of claims 1-6 wherein at least some of the cover is translucent.

9. The cover of claims 1-6 wherein at least some of the cover is opaque.

10. The cover of claims 1-9 wherein the cover has designs or decorations printed or added to the cover.

11. The cover of any of the preceding claims, wherein a thickness of the cover is uniform throughout.

12. The cover of claims 1-10, wherein a thickness of at least one of the sole portion of the body portion and the rim of the ankle portion is greater than the thickness of the front portion and the rear portion of the body portion.

13. The cover of any of the preceding claims, wherein the ankle portion comprises a tab aligned with at least one tear line extending through in the rim and at least part of the body portion to facilitate, along with the at least one tear line, controlled removal of the cover from footwear.

14. A system for protecting footwear comprising:

the cover of any of the preceding claims; and

packaging sized to contain at least one the disposable footwear cover while the in a collapsed state.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the packaging is selected from the group consisting of: shrink- wrapped packaging, vacuum-sealed packaging, thermal-sealed packaging, foil-lined packaging, metal packaging, or tin packaging, paper packaging, plastic packaging, foil packaging, cellophane packaging, rubber packaving, poly packaging, mylar packaging, zip lock packagaing, recyclable packaging, waterproof packaging, disposable packaging, reclosable or resealable packaging, adhesive-closable packaging.

Description:
COVERS FOR FOOTWEAR AND FEET

Cross Reference to Related Application

[0001] This application claims priority to United States Provisional Patent Application Serial

No. 62/855,145 filed on May 31, 2019. The contents of this priority application are incorporated herein by reference entirely.

Field of the Invention

[0002] The following relates generally to footwear, and more particularly to covers for temporary protection of footwear, such as fashionable high-heeled or flat-heeled shoes, that are being worn in the presence of rain, salt, snow or dirt. The following also relates to covers for temporary protection of feet.

Background of the Invention

[0003] Footwear protection products are available for enclosing footwear and for, in doing so, guarding the feet and the footwear against ingress of rain, salt, snow, dirt, and the like. Such footwear protection products can be used in situations in which a person wishes to wear footwear that is much valued but not physically designed to withstand such environmental elements, as an alternative to having to change between two different kinds of footwear.

[0004] Footwear protection products include footwear covers. Various footwear covers are known. For example, it is well known for people to use galoshes, rubbers, and even boots to protect underlying shoes and/or to prevent water leakage through the shoes to the wearer’ s feet during inclement weather. They tend to come in standardized sizes with limited or no options available for protection of shoes of various heights, shapes, sizes. Such galoshes, boots and the like tend to be relatively thick, heavy, large and cumbersome in size, are bulky to transport when not being worn on the shoe, and are costly. They can be difficult to put on over the footwear and to take off upon arrival at a destination. Typically, in addition to being bulky, galoshes are dull black in color contributing further to their unattractive appearance. As a result, use of galoshes can compromise the aesthetic appearance of the underlying footwear and thus the wearer.

[0005] Currently, on the market, there are shoe protectors for high-heels in particular, but they are bulky and obvious, thus also compromising the aesthetic appearance of the footwear. If going from car to meeting, subway to office, from valet to party or special event, such high-heeled covers, like galoshes, are unsightly, and they are difficult to put on and to take off. A wearer is typically interested in maximizing the aesthetic appeal of carefully chosen footwear while it is being worn, and thus it has been observed that wearers often go without any of the aesthetically inadequate shoe protectors while walking short distances in tumultuous weather or terrain. This risks significantly damaging the footwear in the process, reducing long-term functionality and aesthetic appeal. Footwear can be very expensive and/or made from delicate fabrics, and techniques and products for preserving footwear are desirable.

[0006] While not being limited to a particular definition, high-heeled shoes generally have an elongate heel of 1.5 or more inches in height, in particular embodiments 2.5-4 inches or more in height, and in more particular embodiments 4-7 inches in height. In some instances, the heel height may extend higher than 7 inches, especially for platform shoes (shoes wherein the toe or front portion is elevated).

[0007] Furthermore, to protect high-heeled footwear from being ruined by salt, snow, mud, slush, rain, or other elements, a wearer may decide to wear other shoes outside and change into high- heeled shoes at her destination. Although the distance walked outside may be minimal— from the front door to a car, or from a taxi to the entrance of a building— the expensive and/or delicate footwear is vulnerable to damage. Aside from the aesthetic issues, changing footwear for such short distances is cumbersome.

[0008] Different kinds of shoe covers are available for hospital workers or heavy -industry workers. Hospital workers, for instance, use shoe covers to protect sterile operating rooms from outside contaminants. However, as they are designed primarily for indoor use, are adapted to accommodate footwear suitable for operating rooms, and provide for little or no aesthetic appeal of the underlying footwear. That is, typically the underlying footwear is not visible or is only partly visible. Such shoe covers are rather loosely fitting and provide little protection against the ingress of elements found in the outdoors, such as heavy water, snow, ice and dirt. They are mainly meant for preventing the leaving- behind of contaminants brought in on the footwear, rather than for protecting the footwear itself. Heavy -industry workers can use shoe covers to protect the shoe surface from heat, damaging chemicals, and sharp or abrasive objects in the work environment. However, such shoe covers typically do not cover the shoe completely and are mostly made of heavy and cumbersome materials. Furthermore, they are not designed for aesthetic appeal, and do not have structures that accommodate prominent features such as higher heels.

[0009] Related to the protection of footwear is the protection of feet. Particularly in public areas like a gym change room, if one has to go barefoot, it is advisable to wear flip-flops, shoes, or socks to prevent one’s feet from attracting undesirable moisture, fungus, bacteria and the like that can cause infection. However, such foot protection is often bulky, requires transport between uses, and often requires separation from other items in a purse or gym bag. [0010] There is need for a non-obtrusive, adequately durable, and temporary footwear protector that is convenient to wear and can be kept readily available for use.

[0011] There is a further need for footwear protection suitable for high-heeled shoes and high- heeled boots (for example, stiletto, platform, slip-ons, strap-ons, open-toe, closed-toe, lace-up, and other styles of high-heeled footwear), and that enables the aesthetic value of such high-heeled footwear to be maintained while it is being protected.

[0012] United States Patent No. 6,584,704 (“March”) discloses a disposable footwear cover constructed from Estane ® (polyurethane). However, this patent does not disclose a footwear cover that form-fits to the particular and unique shape, size, and dimensions of a high-heeled shoe or boot, nor does it contemplate protection that does not significantly compromise the aesthetics of expensive, delicate high-heeled shoes and boots.

[0013] United States Patent Application No. 2009/0126223 (“Metzger”) discloses a form fitting cover for high-heeled shoes constructed from waterproof expandable elastic rubber or other flexible material in a shape of a high-heel shoe, the body shaped to form-fit and cover an outside of the high-heel shoe. However, the design shown in this patent may make the cover difficult for a wearer to remove after use. Furthermore, the patent does not contemplate also enclosing the wearer’s foot, which may allow outside materials to enter the footwear cover.

Summary of the Invention

[0014] According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided a footwear/foot cover, comprising an ankle portion having a resilient rim; a body portion having a front portion, a rear portion extending from the front portion, and a sole portion underlying at least the front and rear portions, the body portion further having an opening associated with the rim; each of the ankle portion and body portion sized and shaped to closely invest against a received footwear and/or the wearer, wherein at least the body portion is waterproof.

[0015] In an embodiment, the cover further comprises a plurality of spaced grip members associated with an outer-facing surface of the sole portion.

[0016] In an embodiment, an inner-facing surface of the body portion is lined with at least one of: a plurality of spaced grip members and an adhesive.

[0017] In an embodiment, the body portion is dimensioned to receive an elongate heel of footwear. [0018] In an embodiment, the rear portion and sole portion are shaped to receive the elongate heel.

[0019] In an embodiment, the body portion is configured to receive and encapsulate a heel of a foot or a heel of a flat shoe.

[0020] In an embodiment, at least some of the cover is transparent.

[0021] In an embodiment, at least some of the cover is translucent.

[0022] In an embodiment, at least some of the cover is opaque.

[0023] In an embodiment, the cover has designs or decorations printed or added to the cover.

[0024] In an embodiment, a thickness of the cover is uniform throughout.

[0025] In an embodiment, a thickness of at least one of the sole portion of the body portion and the rim of the ankle portion is greater than the thickness of the front portion and the rear portion of the body portion.

[0026] In an embodiment, the ankle portion comprises a tab aligned with at least one tear line extending through in the rim and at least part of the body portion to facilitate, along with the at least one tear line, controlled removal of the cover from footwear.

[0027] In an aspect, there is provided a system for protecting footwear and/or feet comprising the cover and packaging sized to contain at least one cover while in a collapsed state.

[0028] In an embodiment, the packaging is selected from the group consisting of: shrink- wrapped packaging, vacuum-sealed packaging, thermal-sealed packaging, foil-lined packaging, metal packaging, or tin packaging, paper packaging, plastic packaging, foil packaging, cellophane packaging.

[0029] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a footwear cover that form -fits to the wearer’s foot and footwear and prevents detraction from the aesthetic appearance of the footwear. The footwear cover comprises an ankle portion and a body portion, the ankle portion comprising a rim that closely invests around the wearers ankle and a tab aligned with tear lines on the body portion, and the body portion comprising a front portion, a rear portion, and a sole portion. Each of the ankle portion and body portion is configured to closely invest against the enclosed footwear and/or foot. The footwear and/or foot enters the footwear cover via an opening defined by the rim of the ankle portion, and the body portion encloses the footwear or foot.

[0030] In an embodiment, the rear and sole portions are configured to receive and encapsulate a stiletto-style high-heel.

[0031] In an embodiment, the rear and sole portions are configured to receive and encapsulate a heel of a foot or a heel of a flat shoe. [0032] In an embodiment, an outer-facing surface of the sole portion is textured or attached to a plurality of spaced grip members to prevent slipping.

[0033] In an embodiment, at least the front portion and the rear portion are constructed from a substantially transparent or translucent material that is flexible, elastic, and substantially waterproof.

[0034] In an embodiment, the thickness of the material is uniform throughout.

[0035] In an embodiment, a thickness of the material for at least one of the sole portion of the body portion and the rim of the ankle portion is greater than the thickness of the material for the front portion and the rear portion of the body portion.

[0036] In an embodiment, the inward-facing surface of the body portion is lined with a plurality of spaced gripping members or a mild adhesive that reduces movement of the footwear cover during use.

[0037] It will be appreciated that other embodiments of the cover are possible that are configured to fit any number of particular styles and/or sizes of shoes. In an embodiment, the material of the cover is made resilient or elastic, such that the cover is adaptable to fit several styles and sizes of feet and shoes. In an embodiment, the cover is shaped to configure to particular styles and sizes of feet and shoes (for example, children's shoes, men's shoes, women’s shoes, round-toed, square-toed, pointed-toe, stiletto-heel, block-heel, kitten-heel, unique-shaped heels, etc.)

[0038] It will be appreciated that the cover may be used to protect shoes or other footwear in storage, as there is a growing market for shoe protectors for designer heels and running shoes.

[0039] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for protecting footwear and feet comprising a cover, as described above, and a flexible packaging sized to contain at least one cover in a collapsed state.

[0040] In an embodiment, the flexible packaging comprises packaging selected from the group consisting of: shrink-wrapped packaging, vacuum-sealed packaging, thermal-sealed packaging, foil- lined packaging, metal packaging, tin packaging, paper packaging, plastic packaging or foil packaging, cellophane packaging, rubber packaging, poly packaging, mylar packaging, Ziplock™-closure packaging, waterproof packaging, recyclable packaging, moisture-proof packaging, structurally or adhesively reclosable/resealable packaging, disposable packaging.

[0041] This invention allows for protection of footwear and/or of feet in a discreet manner, and requires very little effort to put on or take off. In an embodiment, the cover is initially packaged in a folded state, whereby the portions of the cover are flattened. In this embodiment, the cover is applied to footwear in a manner similar to a sock or latex glove. In another embodiment, the cover is packaged in a rolled-state, wherein the body portion of the cover is tightly rolled over the rim of the ankle portion. In this embodiment, the cover is rolled out and applied to footwear or to bare feet in a manner that is similar to a condom, or applied in a similar manner to nylons or pantyhose.

[0042] In an embodiment, the cover is removed in a controlled fashion using a tab on the rim of the ankle portion that aligns with one or more tear lines on at least one of the front portion and the rear portion of the body portion. Once removed, the cover is disposable.

[0043] Other aspects and embodiments will become apparent upon reading the following description.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0044] Embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the appended drawings in which:

[0045] Figure 1 is a front perspective view of a cover, according to an embodiment, having received a wearer’s foot while the wearer’s foot is, in turn, received by footwear which, in this embodiment, is a high-heeled shoe;

[0046] Figure 2 is a rear perspective view of the cover of Figure 1;

[0047] Figure 3 is a rear elevational view of the cover of Figure 1, with the outlines of the cover shown in dashed lines;

[0048] Figure 4 is a bottom view of the cover of Figure 1 ;

[0049] Figures 5 and 6 are front and rear perspective views of a cover, according to another embodiment, having received a wearer’s bare foot;

[0050] Figure 7 is a perspective top view of a flexible packaging sized to package a cover in its collapsed state, prior to wearing, with the outlines of a packaged folder cover shown in dashed lines;

[0051] Figure 8 is a rear perspective view of a cover, according to an alternative embodiment;

[0052] Figure 9 is a front perspective view of a cover, according to another alternative embodiment;

[0053] Figure 10 is a front perspective view of a cover, according to another alternative embodiment;

[0054] Figure 11 is a front perspective view of a cover, according to another alternative embodiment;

[0055] Figure 12 is a front perspective view of a cover, according to another alternative embodiment; [0056] Figure 13 is a front perspective view of a cover, accoridng to another alternative embodiment;

[0057] Figure 15 is a front elevational view of a re-usable packaging for a cover, according to an embodiment;

[0058] Figure 16 is a front elevational view of a re-usable packaging for a cover, according to an alternative embodiment; and

[0059] Figure 17 is a front elevational view of a re-usable packaging for a cover, according to another alternative embodiment.

Detailed Description

[0060] The present description pertains to a form-fitting footwear cover adaptable to high- heeled shoes or, in embodiments, to flat shoes and bare feet. The cover is intended to be sleek, waterproof, attractive, easy and convenient to use, inexpensive, optionally disposable, and durable enough to be worn for at least a single, short-term use. In embodiments, the cover is at least partially transparent and unobtrusive, so that footwear itself, despite being covered, can nevertheless be clearly seen and appreciated. In other embodiments, as will be described, the cover offers its own aesthetics, such as tinting, shading, graphical elements, and/or other features, or may be at least partially translucent or at least partially opaque. In embodiments, the cover is re-usable.

[0061] Figure 1 is a front perspective view of a cover 5, according to an embodiment, having received a wearer’s foot F while the wearer’s foot is, in turn, received by footwear FW. In this embodiment, the footwear FW is a high-heeled shoe. Figure 2 is a rear perspective view of cover 5.

[0062] As shown, cover 5 is transparent and includes a body portion having a front portion 10, a rear portion 20, and a sole portion 30. These portions are connected in that the rear portion extends from the front portion and the sole portion underlies the front and rear portions.

[0063] In this embodiment, front portion 10 covers the top of the footwear FW and foot F, rear portion 20 covers the heel of the foot F as well as the heel of the footwear FW, and sole portion 30 covers the underside of the footwear FW.

[0064] In this embodiment, ankle portion 40 and the body portion are formed with a single piece of flexible, resilient and waterproof material that is sized and shaped to form-fit to the footwear FW and foot F. These portions are sized to be under tension while enclosing a wearer’s foot and footwear. For example, the ankle and body portions are adaptable to closely invest around the features of particular footwear, including features such as crystals, ridges, straps, or other adornments. [0065] In this description, waterproof means substantially impervious to water and other fluids and other fluid-borne contaminants that may be fairly commonly-encountered, such as mud, salt, gasoline, oils, bacteria, and the like, while the cover is being worn on a foot or footwear. It will be appreciated that a cover being of a waterproof material will also imply that it is capable of generally inhibiting ingress of larger particles such as sand, stone, rocks, grass, leaves, insects, and other materials such as soap (in a gym or home shower) and scum that might be encountered while walking or standing. It is preferred that materials that are not susceptible to chemical reaction resulting in rapid breakdown when coming into contact with expected common materials such as those enumerated above be selected for the covers disclosed herein.

[0066] In this embodiment, rear and sole portions 20, 30 are adaptable to closely invest around the high-heeled shoe. Rear portion 20 is shaped to be substantially feature-matched to (i.e., to receive) a stiletto or other style heel, enabling the wearer to insert such a heel into the corresponding region of rear portion 20, similar to a sock. Alternatively, rear and sole portions 20, 30 may be malleable, such that a wearer pulls the entire cover 5 over her foot F and footwear FW, then manipulates rear and sole portions 20, 30 to adhere to the bottom of footwear FW and closely invest around its heel. In this embodiment, cover 5 is amenable for use in conjunction with various types of high-heeled shoes and boots including open-toe, closed-toe, platform, shoes with straps, shoes with wraps, shoes with open backs, shoes with closed backs, shoes with open sides, shoes with closed sides, slip-ons, and shoes with various heel heights, widths, and shapes.

[0067] An advantage of cover 5 is that, although the heel width, heel length, and heel shape of a high-heeled shoe may vary, rear portion 20 of cover 5 can expand and contract to a degree to form-fit the length, width, and shape of different heels of various high-heeled shoes or boots. Conforming to the shape and size of the heel in such a manner helps keep cover taut, which can help to maintain the aesthetic dimensions and appearance of the footwear FW.

[0068] Associated with rear portion 20 is an ankle portion 40. Ankle portion 40 includes a rim

42 and a tab 44.

[0069] Rim 42 surrounds an opening of cover 5 through which a wearer can insert the footwear

FW while the footwear FW is being worn. Alternatively, the wearer may wish to at least partially insert the footwear FW via opening into the interior of the body portion while the footwear FW is not receiving the wearer’s foot F, and then subsequently insert the foot F both into cover 5 and the footwear FW. Various ways in which cover 5 can be applied to footwear FW and foot F are available.

[0070] In this embodiment, ankle portion 40 terminates at rim 42. In this embodiment, rim 42 is constructed from the same material as the body portion but is somewhat thicker. The thickness provides additional reinforcement and resilient elasticity. The resilient elasticity enables rim 42 to be stretched from its unstretched condition to enlarge the opening to accept footwear FW and a foot F into the interior of cover 5. Once cover 5 has generally enveloped footwear/foot FW/F rim 42, being resilient, returns under elastic bias towards its unstretched condition. The size of opening when resilient rim 42 is in its unstretched condition is, in this embodiment, smaller than the typical circumference of the lower leg of the expected wearer, thereby to permit rim 42 to comfortably grip the lower leg of the expected wearer rather than fitting loosely in this region.

[0071] It will be appreciated that different sizes of cover 5 may be made available so that those with smaller or larger circumferences of lower legs can choose the size of opening that most comfortably fits without discomfort while providing sufficient grip on the lower leg to suspend cover 5 against the lower leg while it is being worn. For example, cover 5 may be offered in slim, regular, and plus sizes, with the different between the offerings being perhaps only the size of the opening when rim 42 is in its unstretched condition.

[0072] In addition to suspending cover 5 so that it can remain taut across the footwear FW and foot F without having to be tucked into the footwear FW itself, the form-fitting grip of rim 42 on the wearer additionally generally inhibits water or other contaminants from passing from the exterior into the interior of the footwear cover along the wearer’s leg. This feature can be particular useful when there is snow and/or puddles on the ground that could splash water and mud up against the wearer’s foot and leg while the wearer is walking.

[0073] In this embodiment, tab 44 extends upwards from rim 42 a sufficient distance to enable tab 44 to be gripped between the thumb and forefinger of a wearer. In this embodiment, tab 44 is are aligned with two spaced tear lines 46A, 46B that are formed in cover 5 across rim 42 and extending downwards through the top of rear portion 20 towards the bottom of rear portion 20 (i.e. along the back of the wearer’s ankle and heel). Tear lines 46A, 46B provide a guidepath for the controlled tearing of cover 5 when cover 5 is to be removed from footwear/foot FW/F.

[0074] In this embodiment, tab 44 may be thought of as connecting two sections of rim 42 that, when connected, function together as a continuous band. Tab 44, which initially connects these sections of rim 42, can be gripped and then pulled downwards by a wearer along the guidepath formed by tear lines 46A, 46B. The pulling of tab 44 with a threshold amount of force downwards across rim 42 causes rim 42 to separate along tear lines 46A, 46B and causes the body of cover 5 to begin to split apart along tear lines 46A, 46B. By enabling the ankle portion 40 and rear portion 20 to be spread apart in this way, cover 5 is more easily removed from the footwear/foot FW/F in a controlled manner. Removal in a controlled manner inhibits water or other materials that may be on the outer-surface of the footwear cover from accidentally splashing onto the footwear/foot FW/F while it is being removed.

[0075] Tear lines 46A, 46B and the thickness of rim 42 are each relatively dimensioned to enable rim 42 to be stretched generally radially outwards to received footwear/foot without also laterally tearing or unduly weakening tear lines 46A, 46B while doing so. As such, the threshold amount of force that must be applied downwards across rim 42 to cause rim to begin to separate across tear lines 46A, 46B must be larger than any downward force that might be applied in this downward direction when the wearer is simply enlarging the opening to enable cover 5 to received the footwear/foot FW/F in the first place. By configuring cover 5 so that tearing is done across the rim and stretching to be done along the rim, it is possible to at least partially separate the force vectors required for each from each other. Furthermore, while the consequence of tear lines 46A, 46B in rim 42 will be that rim 42 will be thinner along tear lines 46A, 46B as compared to there being no tear lines, the remaining thickness of rim 42 at tear lines should be made sufficient to withstand the lateral force along rim 42 due to stretching. If the remaining thickness is too thin, then rim 42 will not be able to stretch enough to accommodate receiving footwear/foot FW/F without beginning to tear rim 42 apart at tear lines 46A, 46B.

[0076] Figure 3 is a rear elevational view of cover 5, shown in dashed lines so that the relative position of cover 5 with respect to features of the wearer’s leg and the footwear FW can be contemplated.

[0077] Figure 4 is a bottom view of cover 5. In this embodiment, the outer-facing surface 31 of sole portion 30 is textured with individual spaced-apart gripping members. Gripping members 32A, 32B, and 32C are shown as examples of such gripping members. In this embodiment, the gripping members are spaced longitudinally and latitudinally from each other. By providing spacing between the gripping members, cover 5 may be more easily folded flat or rolled into compact packaging. This is as compared to contemplated embodiments in which a continuous layer of substantial gripping texture (such as a thin layer of sandpaper) were to run across the outward facing surface 31, since the continuous layer would tend to more excessively compound in thickness as it was folded or rolled atop itself for packaging.

[0078] In this embodiment, sole portion 30 is thicker than front portion 10 and rear portion 20, thereby to providing improved durability. This is because, during use, sole portion 30 is likely to experience repeated vertical compression and torsion while a wearer stands and walks and pivots. The gripping members may be able to absorb some of the compressive force but may transmit torsion force to sole portion 30 as cover 5 is being worn. Sole portion 30 being thicker further provides increased durability and resistance to puncture as it contacts the ground. In embodiments, a contiuous layer of substantial gripping texture such as a thin layer of sandpaper is integrated with sole portion 30 and can additionally increase durability and puncture resistance of sole portion 30. It will also be noted that sole portion 30 being associated with a different texture, with gripping members, or with a greater thickness can also signal to the wearer the orientation in which cover 5 should be placed with respect to the foot F and footwear FW, making applying the cover perhaps more intuitive to the wearer.

[0079] Figures 5 and 6 are front and rear perspective views of a cover 105, according to another embodiment, having received a wearer’s bare foot F. Cover 105 is sized and shaped for covering either bare feet or flat-heeled footwear. Cover 105 is similar to cover 5, in that cover 105 has a body portion including a front portion 110, a rear portion 120, and a sole portion 130. Cover 105 also includes an ankle portion 40 including a rim 42 and a tab 44. Like cover 5, cover 105 includes tear lines 46A, 46B, and spaced apart gripping members such as gripping members 32A-C spread along a substantial portion of the outward-facing surface 131 of sole portion 130.

[0080] Cover 105 differs from cover 5 in this cover 105 does not include a feature-matching structure for the high heel of a high-heeled shoe or boot. As such, cover 105 may be formed of less overall material than may be required of cover 5, all other things being equal.

[0081] In embodiments, the material of the covers 5, 105 in the various portions is thick and durable enough to withstand tension and torsion forces and covers 5, 105 are sized and shaped to receive but resiliently conform to the shape of the footwear and/or foot, including decorative features the footwear such as crystals, studs, and rivets. Preferably, the material chosen for covers 5, 105 provides sufficient barrier against ingress of water, snow, slush, dirt, mud, and other potentially hazardous or infectious environmental conditions while also at least form-fitting and optionally is transparent or translucent so that the actual aesthetics of the footwear itself can be reasonably -clearly seen.

[0082] In embodiments, the material fits tightly enough to the foot and footwear such that the cover 5, 105 will move very minimally against the footwear and/or foot as cover 5 or 105 is worn, so that it will not rub on and degrade the finish or aesthetic of the shoe. This close fit can also minimize slipping between the shoe and the footwear cover, which helps to avoid the impression of the wearer that the cover 5 or 105 is overly clumsy or bulky to wear.

[0083] In embodiments, the material is flexible or otherwise resilient such that the footwear cover can be pulled and expanded while being put on but will revert back to a rest position that tightly conforms to the foot and footwear to avoid slouching, hold the footwear cover in place, and prevent unwanted materials or elements from entering. [0084] In embodiments, the material is transparent (i.e. the footwear and its features are completely visible through the cover), which can be coloured or tinted or not. Footwear cover 5 or 105 each being transparent are the least obtrusive, and may not be even apparent to the casual observer Accordingly, covers 5 and 105 do not significantly detract from the aesthetic appearance or style of the shoe, or from the appearance of the foot.

[0085] In an embodiment, the material is translucent (i.e. the footwear and its features are somewhat visible through the cover), which can be coloured or not. An advantage of translucent material is that, when not in use, the translucent material may appear coloured; but, when the material is applied against the footwear, the footwear surface tends to show through as the material stretches over the features of the footwear.

[0086] Figure 9 is a front perspective view of a cover 5B, according to another alternative embodiment, in which the material of cover 5B is opaque such that the footwear and foot are not visible through cover 5B. Cover 5B may be any colour.

[0087] Figure 10 is a front perspective view of a cover 5C, according to another alternative embodiment, in which the material of cover 5C is opaque such that the footwear and foot are not visible through cover 5C, with additional decoration applied to the exterior of cover 5C. Such additional decoration may be graphics or text printed or otherwise applied to the exterior of cover 5C, or may be other customizations such as crystals or feathers that are fun and attractive for adults or children alike.

[0088] Figure 11 is a front perspective view of a cover 5D, according to another alternative embodiment, in which cover 5D in the main is transparent, with additional decoration applied to the exterior of cover 5D that is itself at least partially opaque and/or translucent.

[0089] Figure 12 is a front perspective view of a cover 5E, according to another alternative embodiment, in which cover 5E in the main is transparent, with additional decoration applied to the exterior of cover 5E that is itself at least partially translucent or transparent.

[0090] In an embodiment, the material is slightly vapour transmissive or, “breathable”, reducing the heat and/or moisture that may be accumulated within the cover during use. This can enable to comfort of the wearer to be improved relative to conventional rubber galoshes, boots or the like.

[0091] Various materials suitable for use in covers described herein may have one or more of the following characteristics: waterproof or substantially waterproof, elastic, transparent or translucent or opaque, durable, pliable, resistant to abrasion and/or puncture, non-allergenic, and/or biodegradable.

[0092] An exemplary material of which the footwear cover may be made is a polyurethane material, such as Estane ® . Estane ® is water-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and blunt punch-through- resistant. Estane ® is also alkali and acid-resistant and, as such, will not substantially chemically deteriorate due to exposure to common chemicals used to melt snow or ice and/or carried by liquid water. It will be appreciated that Estane ® is also substantially non-allergenic, relatively inexpensive, and relatively easy to work with.

[0093] Other materials that can be used to make the covers include, but are not limited to, monoreme, natural latex rubber, synthetic rubber, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nylon with waterproofing treatment, UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) polyethylene or including fibers thereof, a carbon fiber composite, tightly-woven cloths, PCT (polycyclohexylenedimethylene terephthalate), lycra or any other stretch fabrics or compositions that either act as barriers or at least usefully inhibit the ingress of outside materials that could degrade footwear or be unhealthy for the foot.

[0094] Another aspect of the present invention is a system of protecting footwear comprising the footwear cover described above and a package capable of transporting one or more of the footwear covers conveniently.

[0095] In an embodiment, the footwear cover is, or pairs of footwear covers are, packaged in a folded state, whereby the portions of the footwear cover are flattened. In this embodiment, the footwear cover is applied to footwear in a similar manner as a sock or latex glove is applied. In another embodiment, the footwear cover is packaged in a rolled-state, wherein the body portion of the footwear cover is tightly unrolled so it pressively covers the front of the footwear towards the ankle portion of the cover. In such an embodiment, the footwear cover would be applied in a manner similar to a condom.

[0096] This folding or rolling is readily possible due to the relatively thin, pliable, flexible, resilient and elastic characteristics of the material of which the cover is made. In an embodiment, the footwear cover is intended to be relatively flat when folded or rolled to facilitate containment in packaging with a thin profile, which allows storage in a briefcase or small handbag, for example. It will be appreciated that larger packages containing more than one footwear cover or more than one pair of footwear covers are also contemplated.

[0097] In an embodiment, packaging is constructed from a foil-type material or a foil-lined material, similar to packages for liquid-containing alcohol wipes or condoms. A variety of packaging materials are contemplated, including paper, plastic, foil, metals, tin, or combinations thereof. For instance, in an embodiment, the footwear cover may be packaged in a small tin box similar to that of a tin box containing mints. Alternatively, the packaging may be more loosely placed in a poly zip, adhesive, or otherwise resealable bag.

[0098] A variety of sealing methods are also contemplated, including shrink-wrap, heat sealing, vacuum-sealing, zip-sealing, adhesive sealing using glues or other adhesives. An example configuration of packaging 200, a folded footwear cover 5 shown in dashed lines contained therein, is shown in Figure 7.

[0099] It is contemplated that, for embodiments that are available to be re-used, a small container suitable for re-packaging the pairs of covers may be provided. That is, it is preferable that packaging that is not destroyed upon its initial opening can itself be re-used to contain the cover that is to be re-used. As such, a system including a footwear cover according to an embodiment also includes a re-usable container such as a pouch. In embodiments, the re-usable container itself is waterproof and sealable so that, if the cover is wet after a use, the moisture can be contained in the re-usable container until such time as it is appropriate to remove the wet cover for drying. For example, if a cover being worn while travelling to an event is also to be used for travelling back from the event, the cover can be removed upon arrival, stowed within the re-usable container which is, in turn, discretely placed in a purse or pocket during the event, and then removed again and used to cover the foot/footwear when it is time to travel back from the event. In embodiments, the re-usable container is sized and shaped to also contain a dessicant or a package of dessicant for absorbing at least some of any moisture from the cover while it is being stowed within its re-usable container. In an embodiment, the dessicant or a package of dessicant is part of the system that includes the container and the cover itself.

[00100] Figure 14 is a front elevational view of an alternative packaging 200A that is re-usable.

A cover contained therein may be initially removed for use after first tearing away a removable portion 210A at the top of packaging 200 A. After use, the cover may be re-inserted into packaging 200 A and an interlocking zipper or zip-style closure 220A may be manipulated by the wearer to re-seal packaging 200A with the cover inside. Removing the cover again may be done simply by pulling apart two sides of packaging 200A to separate the interlocking zipper or zip— style closure 220A.

[00101] Figure 15 is a front elevational view of another alternative packaging 200B having a small handle 230B for closing the zipper or zip-style closure 220B of packaging 200B. A cover contained therein may be initially removed for use by first pulling apart a temporary glue-line seal just below handle 230B and closure 220B thereby to open the packaging 200B. After use, the cover may be re-inserted into packaging 200B and the closure 220B is thereafter closed when the wearer pulls the small handle 230B across the top of packaging 200B. Pulling the small handle 230B the opposite direction opens packaging 200B again so the cover may be removed again for use.

[00102] Figure 16 is a front elevational view of another alternative packaging 200C having a flap 240B that can be brought into contact with a mild adhesive strip 250B to close and seal packagine 200C. A cover contained therein may be initially removed for use by peeling flap 240B away from adhesive strip 250 thereby to open packaging 200C. After use, the cover may be re-inserted into packaging 200C and the flap 240B is thereafter closed when the wearer folds it back down over and into contact with adhesive strip 250B. Peeling flap 240B back away opens packaging 200C again so the cover may be removed again for use.

[00103] The re-usable packaging 200A-C may be made of one or more of a number of materials, such as rubber, plastic, nylon, or other materials such as those described herein in connection with the cover itself.

[00104] After use, as described above, a cover can be removed by pulling the tab on the rim.

The tab on the ankle portion aligns with tear lines on the body portion, the location of which may vary depending on the embodiment. When the tab is pulled, the wearer causes a tear to form in the rim and the body portion, which allows the footwear cover to be tom further and stripped from the footwear for easy removal. It is possible that a small amount of dirt or moisture may contact the footwear during removal, but the wearer would be provided with significant control over this using the tab and tear mechanism. By holding the tab, the wearer can carefully peel the footwear cover from the footwear without unduly disturbing any moisture or dirt that may be on the exterior of the footwear cover, reducing the likelihood of spillage onto the footwear itself during removal.

[00105] After use, the footwear cover may be conveniently disposed of in a waste receptacle.

In an embodiment, the cover is intended for a one-time use and for a relatively short period of time. Since the footwear covers are intended for a one-time use, they may be discarded; there is no need to store them or to clean them for future use.

[00106] Additional diagrams illustrate various views and configurations of footwear cover.

[00107] Although embodiments have been described with reference to the drawings, those of skill in the art will appreciate that variations and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit, scope and purpose of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

[00108] For example, while the tab and tear lines along the rear of the cover are shown and described, alternative positions for such a tab and tear lines are contemplated that may be useful for particular kinds of footwear. For example, it may be preferred by certain consumers that the tab and tear lines be positioned along the side of the cover, rather than through the rear portion.

[00109] Furthermore, while embodiments have been described and shown in which the opening and rim of the cover terminate at a point corresponding to just above the ankle bone of the wearer, alternatives are contemplated. For example, in an alternative embodiment the opening and rim terminates just above the bridge of the wearer’s foot. It will be understood that the size and shape of the opening and rim of such an alternative embodiment would generally be greater in an unstretched condition than embodiments in which the opening and rim terminate at a point just above the ankle bone, so that the compression against the wearer by the rim would not be so great as to be uncomfortable. Figure 13 is a perspective front view of a cover 105A having a front portion 110A, a rear portion 120A and a sole portion 130A, with the ankle portion 140 including a rim 142A extending from just above the toes of the wearer’s foot F to behind the leg but just below the ankle bone. Like in other embodiments, rim 142A is flexible and resilient.

[00110] Other alternatives include a cover in which the opening and rim terminate farther above the ankle bone to some higher point along the achilles tendon than is shown specifically in the figures. Still other alternatives include a cover that terminates just above the toes of the wearer or at some point along the achilles tendon above this point.

[00111] While embodiments of cover have been described in which a tab and tear lines are employed to enable the wearer of the cover to“rip open” the cover for ease of removal, alternative uses and configurations are contemplated. A given cover such as one of the covers described and depicted herein may be removed by its wearer simply without tearing so that it may be reused, if desired. This may be done by the wearer not using the tab to engage the tear lines but rather to slide a finger between the rim and the wearer’s leg and more carefully pull the cover away without having to destroy it. The tab and tear lines, in such embodiments, provide the option of either preserving the cover for multiple uses or destroying it upon removal as desired. Alternatively, a cover may be provided with a tab that is not associated with any tear lines. Such a tab would be associated with the rim and would thereby provide a wearer with something to grip onto to aid in“peeling” the cover off of the footwear/foot without destroying it. An example of a cover 5A having a tab 44 that is not associated with tear lines is shown in Figure 8. Cover 5A is similar to cover 5, except cover 5A does not have any tear lines and tab 44 is generally integral with rim 42.

[00112] Embodiments not having any tab associated with the rim are contemplated.

[00113] Alternative embodiments having cooperating hook-and-loop strips (ie., Velcro™) in place of tear lines and/or a lightweight button/zipper combination are contemplated.

[00114] Alternatives having no additional removal aids are contemplated. For example, a cover having a body with an ankle portion including just a rim such as that described herein is possible, but not having any tear lines or other features that can separate sections away from each other, whereby the wearer would simply stretch the rim to both put on and take off the cover.

[00115] Embodiments are contemplated in which a non-slip adhesive such as a silicone or acrylic polymer is present in the interior of the cover to aid in resisting slippage between the wearer’s foot and/or footwear when contained within the cover. [00116] Embodiments have been described and depicted that including a cover sized and shaped to accommodate a heel feature of a high heeled shoe without also draping across the gap underneath the shoe between the front of the sole and the heel. The cover accordingly includes what may be considered a feature-matching structure that matches (i.e., receives) the heel so that the cover can also conform up under the underside of the shoe. It is also contemplated that other or additional feature-matching structures in the cover could be molded or otherwise formed in the body portion. For example, for a cover similar to cover 105, suited for bare feet, a feature -matching structure could be matched to individual toes, or to one toe alone and to the set of remaining toes. For example, by forming a feature matching structure in the cover that is matched to (i.e. receives) the big toe, and another feature matching structure in the cover that is matched to the rest of the toes, a wearer could more easily wear the cover with bare feet while also sliding his or her covered foot into a flip-flop shoe. That is, the post of the flip-flip shoe would be accomodated in the cleft between the two such feature-matching structures while the cover is being worn just as it would have been accomodated between the big toe and toe next to it were the cover not being worn. It will be appreciated that other feature-matching structures, such as for more conformingly receiving the shorter, wider structures of walking shoe heels rather than the long narrow structures of high heels, are contemplated.

[00117] In embodiments described, the tab protrudes upwards a short distance from the rim and is rounded at its top. However, longer or shorter tabs, or those having alternative tabs, are contemplated. Furthermore, embodiments with tear lines but no corresponding tab are contemplated. In such embodiments, the rim can be gripped near to the tear lines and simply tom.

[00118] In embodiments described, the rim is of the same material as the body of the cover, except thicker. In alternative embodiments, the rim is formed at least partially of another material, such as a resilient fabric band or rubber band. In alternative embodiments, the rim is not resilient, but a separate fabric or rubber band is provided for applying over the cover onto the rim thereby to compress the rim against the wearer’s leg while the cover is being worn.

[00119] While embodiments of cover have been described and depicted in which the ankle and rear portions are sized and shaped to receive and form-fit over a high-heeled shoe, in alternative embodiments the ankle and rear portions are configured to form-fit against different sizes and styles of shoes. For example, a slip-on would not require shaping to accommodate a high heel, a backless shoe could enable the rim to terminate at a lower position along the back of the ankle, as could a side-less high-heeled shoe. Various configurations are available for these kinds of shoes and others, such as high-heeled shoes incorporating straps or wraps that leave areas of skin or stocking exposed. [00120] In an embodiment, the inner-facing surface of the body portion is lined with a plurality of spaced gripping members or a mild adhesive that reduces movement of the footwear cover relative to the footwear or foot during use. Such internal adhesion between the footwear cover and footwear or foot, further inhibits the footwear cover from wrinkling or drooping, thereby reducing the cover’s vulnerability to damage.

[00121] While in embodiments described and depicted the cover has different portions with different thicknesses, it is contemplated that in alternative embodiments a cover has a uniform thickness throughout.

[00122] While in embodiments described and depicted there are two tear lines, it is contemplated that embodiments of cover that are capable of being tom after wearing may include one tear line, or more than two tear lines.

[00123] Various embodiments of cover disclosed herein may be thought of as a form -fitting, waterproof sock with a resilient rim associated with the sock opening allowing entry and removal of a foot and/or footwear into and out of the interior of the body of this sock. The resilient rim can be stretched from a rest condition to which it is biased, to a stretched condition. In the rest condition the opening is generally smaller than the cross-sectional area of a corresponding leg or ankle or below- ankle region of an expected wearer’s foot. In this way, the resilient rim in the rest condition can grip the wearer once in place, so as to keep the cover held at least somewhat taut on the wearer. The rim can continue to be stretched to allow the opening to enlarge enough to receive a wearer’s foot and/or the wearer’s footwear, and/or to allow it to be removed. Once the footwear/foot is received and the resilient rim is released, the resilient rim being biased towards the rest condition grips the wearer’s leg/ankle while enclosing the footwear/foot. As for the form -fitting aspect, the waterproof body of this sock is flexible and resiliently stretchable. This body has an interior that is generally shaped the same as the expected foot and/or footwear to be received within the sock, but is sized slightly smaller when it is not being stretched. In this way, when the body receives the expected footwear/foot, the body stretches to accommodate the footwear/foot, but conforms to the footwear/foot due to the shaping being generally the same as the expected foot and/or footwear and is therefore able to be generally taut across corresponding sections of the footwear/foot. Various embodiments have been described that provide various aesthetic advantages, slip reduction advantages, grip advantages, feature -matching structures (for example, for elongate heels), elements for easing placement with respect to footwear/foot, elements for easing removal of the cover from the footwear/foot, and other advantageous aspects.