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Patent Analysis of

Article of footwear with midsole with arcuate underside cavity

Updated Time 12 June 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US10058144

Application Number

US14/811557

Application Date

28 July 2015

Publication Date

28 August 2018

Current Assignee

NIKE, INC.

Original Assignee (Applicant)

NIKE, INC.

International Classification

A43B5/00,A43B13/18,A43B13/12,A43B7/14,A43B13/14

Cooperative Classification

A43B13/14,A43B5/00,A43B7/144,A43B7/1405,A43B7/1425

Inventor

FOXEN, THOMAS

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

US10058144 Article footwear midsole 1 US10058144 Article footwear midsole 2 US10058144 Article footwear midsole 3
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Abstract

An article of footwear may include an upper and a sole structure secured to the upper, the sole structure including a midsole with an outsole secured thereto, wherein a one or more recesses or cavities extend substantially into the midsole and are exposed through one or more apertures in the outsole. These recesses or cavities provide unique cushioning and support properties, particularly during "banking" (e.g., leaning to one side or pushing off to the side from the medial or lateral side of the foot). The recesses or cavities provide the structural benefits of dome or arch shapes that are formed in the mid-sole and open to the underside.

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Claims

1. An article of footwear having a first side and an opposite second side, the first side being located on one of a lateral side and a medial side of the footwear, the footwear including an upper and a sole structure, the sole structure comprising:

a foamed polymer midsole having an upper surface and an opposite lower surface, the upper surface being secured to the upper, and the lower surface defining an upwardly-extending arcuate recess positioned on the first side of the footwear; and a ground-engaging outsole having an aperture positioned on the first side of the footwear and extending through the outsole, the recess being exposed through the aperture, and the outsole being secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a bonded area that wholly surrounds the aperture and is at least partially positioned on the second side of the footwear; wherein the midsole includes an outer skin disposed on at least a portion of the upper surface and at least a portion of the recess, the outer skin including a closed cell polymer foam, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture, wherein the outer skin comprises all of an outer surface of the midsole.

2. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the outer skin includes an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the foamed polymer midsole.

3. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the recess is elongated.

4. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the recess is hemispherically-shaped.

5. The article of footwear of claim 4, wherein a length of the recess is at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure.

6. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein a periphery of the recess has an asymmetrical shape.

7. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the first side is located on the medial side of the footwear.

8. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the first side is located on the lateral side of the footwear.

9. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the recess is positioned in a forefoot region of the footwear.

10. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the lower surface of the midsole further defines an additional upwardly-extending arcuate recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture.

11. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the lower surface of the midsole defines a plurality of hemispherically-shaped recesses positioned on the first side of the footwear.

12. An article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure secured to the upper, the sole structure comprising:

a foamed polymer midsole having an upper surface and an opposite lower surface, the lower surface defining an elongate arcuate recess, a length of the recess being at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure; and a ground-engaging outsole having an aperture, the recess being exposed through the aperture, and the outsole being secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a region wholly surrounding the aperture; wherein the midsole includes an outer skin disposed on at least a portion of the upper surface and at least a portion of the recess the outer skin including a closed cell polymer foam, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture, wherein the outer skin comprises all of an outer surface of the midsole.

13. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the outer skin includes an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the foamed polymer midsole.

14. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the recess extends across an area of the footwear adapted to be associated with at least half a length of both the metatarses and the phalanges of the first digit of a foot of a wearer.

15. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the recess is positioned on a medial side of the footwear and in a forefoot region of the footwear.

16. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the lower surface of the midsole further defines an additional arcuate recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture.

17. An article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure, the sole structure comprising:

a foamed polymer midsole being formed to include an arcuate underside recess, a periphery of the recess being spaced inward from a periphery of the midsole; and an outsole having an aperture, a periphery of the aperture being spaced inward from a periphery of the outsole, wherein the aperture and the recess extend across an area located in a forefoot region of the footwear and on a medial side of the footwear, and wherein a length of the recess is at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure; wherein the midsole includes an outer skin comprising all of an outer surface of the midsole, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture and includes a closed cell polymer foam, wherein the outer skin includes an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the midsole.

18. The article of footwear of claim 17, wherein the recess extends across an area of the footwear adapted to be associated with at least half a length of both the metatarses and the phalanges of the first digit of a foot of a wearer.

19. The article of footwear of claim 17, wherein the lower surface of the midsole further defines an additional arcuate underside recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture.

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Claim Tree

  • 1
    twear having a first side and an
    • opposite second side, the first side being located on one of a lateral side and a medial side of the footwear, the footwear including an upper and a sole structure, the sole structure comprising: a foamed polymer midsole having an upper surface and an opposite lower surface, the upper surface being secured to the upper, and the lower surface defining an upwardly-extending arcuate recess positioned on the first side of the footwear; and a ground-engag
    • g outsole having an aperture positioned on the first side of the footwear and extending through the outsole, the recess being exposed through the aperture, and the outsole being secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a bonded area that wholly surrounds the aperture and is at least partially positioned on the second side of the footwear; wherein the midsol
    • includes an outer skin disposed on at least a portion of the upper surface and at least a portion of the recess, the outer skin including a closed cell polymer foam, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture, wherein the outer skin comprises all of an outer surface of the midsole. 2. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the outer s in incl
      • des an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the foamed polymer midsole. 3. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the recess s elong
      • ted. 4. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the recess s hemis
      • herically-shaped. 5. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein a periphery of the
      • ecess has an asymmetrical shape. 7. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the first s de is l
      • cated on the medial side of the footwear. 8. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the first s de is l
      • cated on the lateral side of the footwear. 9. The article of f
    • otwear of claim 1, wherein the recess s posit
      • oned in a forefoot region of the footwear. 10. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 1, wherein the lower s rface o
      • the midsole further defines an additional upwardly-extending arcuate recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture. 11. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 1, wherein the lower s rface o
      • the midsole defines a plurality of hemispherically-shaped recesses positioned on the first side of the footwear. 12. An article of f
  • 12
    otwear having an upper and a sole
    • structure secured to the upper, the sole structure comprising: a foamed polymer midsole having an upper surface and an opposite lower surface, the lower surface defining an elongate arcuate recess, a length of the recess being at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure; and a ground-engag
    • g outsole having an aperture, the recess being exposed through the aperture, and the outsole being secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a region wholly surrounding the aperture; wherein the midsol
    • includes an outer skin disposed on at least a portion of the upper surface and at least a portion of the recess the outer skin including a closed cell polymer foam, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture, wherein the outer skin comprises all of an outer surface of the midsole. 13. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 12, wherein the outer s in incl
      • des an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the foamed polymer midsole. 14. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 12, wherein the recess xtends
      • cross an area of the footwear adapted to be associated with at least half a length of both the metatarses and the phalanges of the first digit of a foot of a wearer. 15. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 12, wherein the recess s posit
      • oned on a medial side of the footwear and in a forefoot region of the footwear. 16. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 12, wherein the lower s rface o
      • the midsole further defines an additional arcuate recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture. 17. An article of f
  • 17
    otwear having an upper and a sole
    • structure, the sole structure comprising: a foamed polymer midsole being formed to include an arcuate underside recess, a periphery of the recess being spaced inward from a periphery of the midsole; and an outsole hav
    • g an aperture, a periphery of the aperture being spaced inward from a periphery of the outsole, wherein the aperture and the recess extend across an area located in a forefoot region of the footwear and on a medial side of the footwear, and wherein a length of the recess is at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure; wherein the midsol
    • includes an outer skin comprising all of an outer surface of the midsole, further wherein the outer skin at the recess is exposed through the aperture and includes a closed cell polymer foam, wherein the outer skin includes an additive to physically combine or chemically interact with the midsole. 18. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 17, wherein the recess xtends
      • cross an area of the footwear adapted to be associated with at least half a length of both the metatarses and the phalanges of the first digit of a foot of a wearer. 19. The article of
    • ootwear of claim 17, wherein the lower s rface o
      • the midsole further defines an additional arcuate underside recess positioned in a heel region of the footwear, and the outsole has an additional aperture, the additional recess being exposed through the additional aperture.
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Description

BACKGROUND

Articles of footwear generally include two primary elements, an upper and a sole structure. The upper is formed from a variety of material elements (e.g., textiles, foam, leather, and synthetic leather) that are stitched or adhesively bonded together to form a void on the interior of the footwear for comfortably and securely receiving a foot. An ankle opening through the material elements provides access to the void, thereby facilitating entry and removal of the foot from the void. In addition, a lace may be utilized to modify the dimensions of the void and secure the foot within the void.

The sole structure is located adjacent to a lower portion of the upper and is generally positioned between the foot and the ground. In many articles of footwear, including athletic footwear, the sole structure generally incorporates an insole, a midsole, and an outsole. The insole, which may be located within the void and adjacent to a lower surface of the void, is a thin compressible member that enhances footwear comfort. The midsole, which may be secured to a lower surface of the upper and extends downward from the upper, forms a middle layer of the sole structure. In addition to attenuating ground reaction forces (i.e., providing cushioning for the foot), the midsole may limit foot motions or impart stability, for example. The outsole, which may be secured to a lower surface of the midsole, forms the ground-contacting portion of the footwear and is usually fashioned from a durable and wear-resistant material that includes texturing to improve traction.

Generally, the midsole is the primary source of cushioning for the article of footwear, and it is primarily formed from a foamed polymer material, such as polyurethane or ethylvinylacetate, that extends throughout a length and width of the footwear. In some articles of footwear, the midsole may include a variety of additional footwear elements that enhance the comfort or performance of the footwear, including plates, moderators, fluid-filled chambers, lasting elements, or motion control members. In some configurations, any of these additional footwear elements may be located between the midsole and the upper, located between the midsole and the outsole, embedded within the midsole, or encapsulated by the foamed polymer material of the midsole, for example. Although many midsoles are primarily formed from a foamed polymer material, fluid-filled chambers or other non-foam structures may form a majority of some midsole configurations.

Midsoles tend to optimize support and cushioning comfort for a wearer when walking or running. The forces acting on the midsole during these activities tend to be directed vertically and in a forward and aft direction relative to the article of footwear. Midsoles are designed to return predictable and consistent cushioning comfort and support when encountering these forces.

Side-to-side or “banking” movement, particularly among athletes like football, basketball and tennis players, is also common. Usually, it is desirable for an athlete to quickly change his or her side-to-side direction when banking. Accordingly, many athletes prefer more stable and supportive footwear with less cushioning during these banking maneuvers. However, footwear, and in particular midsoles, tend to offer the same or a similar level of cushioning and support throughout the entire range of use of the footwear whether when walking, running or banking.

SUMMARY

Domes are arcuate, curved structures, often hemispherical with a half-circle cross-sectional shape, that offer unique physical properties. For example, roofs incorporating domes may be particularly strong, and can support themselves without any support structures underneath. This strength property often allows the roofs to support immense additional weight. While this property is provided by domes having a half-circle cross-sectional shape, it may also be provided by a dome having a cross-sectional shape that is not a half-circle but is otherwise curved or arcuate.

The benefits of domes can be imparted to articles of footwear 10 by forming a dome in a midsole. More particularly, a midsole may be formed to incorporate an arcuate upwardly-extending recess. This recess may in turn provide unique cushioning and support properties similar to the structural benefits of domes and arches.

The support properties provided by domed or arcuate recesses may be particularly advantageous during “banking” (e.g., leaning to one side or pushing off to the side from the medial or lateral side of the foot). The arched or dome shapes of the open recesses may also provide structural support where it is desirable to limit cushioning.

In one embodiment, an article of footwear has a first side and an opposite second side. The first side is located on one of a lateral side and a medial side of the footwear. The footwear includes an upper and a sole structure. The sole structure comprises a foamed polymer midsole and a ground-engaging outsole. The midsole has an upper surface and an opposite lower surface. The upper surface is secured to the upper, and the lower surface defines an upwardly-extending arcuate recess positioned on the first side of the footwear. The outsole has an aperture positioned on the first side of the footwear and extending through the outsole. The recess is exposed through the aperture, and the outsole is secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a bonded area that wholly surrounds the aperture and is at least partially positioned on the second side of the footwear.

In another embodiment, an article of footwear has an upper and a sole structure secured to the upper. The sole structure comprises a foamed polymer midsole and a ground-engaging outsole. The midsole has an upper surface and an opposite lower surface. The lower surface defines an elongate arcuate recess, a length of the recess being at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure. The outsole has an aperture. The recess is exposed through the aperture, and the outsole is secured to the foamed polymer midsole in a region wholly surrounding the aperture.

In yet another embodiment, an article of footwear has an upper and a sole structure. The sole structure comprises a midsole and an outsole. The midsole is formed to include an arcuate underside recess, a periphery of the recess being spaced inward from a periphery of the midsole. The outsole has an aperture, a periphery of the aperture being spaced inward from a periphery of the outsole. The aperture and the recess extend across an area located in a forefoot region of the footwear and on a medial side of the footwear. A length of the recess is at least thirty percent of a length of the sole structure

Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the invention will be, or will become, apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description and this summary, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the following claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1 is a lateral side elevational view of an article of footwear.

FIG. 2 is a medial side elevational view of the article of footwear.

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the article of footwear.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear, as defined by section line 4-4 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear, as defined by section line 5-5 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear, as defined by section line 6-6 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7. is a bottom plan view of the article of footwear showing the position of an arcuate underside recess in relation to bones of a foot of a wearer.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear of FIGS. 1-6 showing possible application of a vertical force.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear of FIGS. 1-6 showing possible application of a lateral or banking force.

FIG. 10 is a bottom plan view corresponding with FIG. 3 and depicting a further configuration of the article of footwear.

FIG. 11 is a bottom plan view corresponding with FIG. 3 and depicting a further configuration of the article of footwear.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view corresponding with FIG. 4, as defined by section line 12-12 in FIG. 11, depicting the article of footwear of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a bottom plan view corresponding with FIG. 3 and depicting a further configuration of the article of footwear.

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view corresponding with FIG. 6, as defined by section line 14-14 in FIG. 13, depicting the article of footwear of FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a bottom plan view corresponding with FIG. 3 and depicting a further configuration of the article of footwear.

FIG. 16 is a bottom plan view corresponding with FIG. 3 and depicting a further configuration of the article of footwear.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following discussion and accompanying figures disclose various configurations of sole structures. Concepts associated with the sole structures may be applied to a wide range of athletic footwear styles, including basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, football shoes, golf shoes, hiking shoes and boots, ski and snowboarding boots, soccer shoes, tennis shoes, and walking shoes, for example. Concepts associated with the sole structures may also be utilized with footwear styles that are generally considered to be non-athletic, including dress shoes, loafers, and sandals.

General Footwear Structure

An article of footwear 10 is depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 as including an upper 20 and a sole structure 30. For reference purposes, footwear 10 may be divided into three general regions: a forefoot region 11, a midfoot region 12, and a heel region 13, as shown in FIG. 1. Footwear 10 also includes a lateral side 14 and a medial side 15. Forefoot region 11 generally includes portions of footwear 10 corresponding with the toes and the joints connecting the metatarsals with the phalanges. Midfoot region 12 generally includes portions of footwear 10 corresponding with the arch area of the foot. Heel region 13 generally includes portions of footwear 10 corresponding with rear portions of the foot, including the calcaneus bone. Lateral side 14 and medial side 15 extend through each of regions 11-13 and correspond with opposite sides of footwear 10.

Regions 11-13 and sides 14-15 are not intended to demarcate precise areas of footwear 10. Rather, regions 11-13 and sides 14-15 are intended to represent general areas of footwear 10 to aid in the following discussion. In addition to footwear 10, regions 11-13 and sides 14-15 may also be discussed with respect to the individual elements thereof, such as upper 20 and sole structure 30, and to the foot itself.

Upper 20 is depicted as having a substantially conventional configuration incorporating a variety of material elements (e.g., textile, foam, leather, and synthetic leather) that are stitched or adhesively bonded together to form an interior void for securely and comfortably receiving a foot. The material elements may be selected and located with respect to upper 20 in order to selectively impart properties of durability, air-permeability, wear-resistance, flexibility, and comfort, for example. An ankle opening 21 in heel region 13 provides access to the interior void. In addition, upper 20 may include a lace 22 that is utilized in a conventional manner to modify the dimensions of the interior void, thereby securing the foot within the interior void and facilitating entry and removal of the foot from the interior void. Lace 22 may extend through apertures in upper 20, and a tongue portion of upper 20 may extend between the interior void and lace 22.

Given that various aspects of the present application primarily relate to sole structure 30, upper 20 may exhibit the general configuration discussed above or the general configuration of practically any other conventional or nonconventional upper. Accordingly, the overall structure of upper 20 may vary significantly.

Sole structure 30 is secured to upper 20 and has a configuration that extends between upper 20 and the ground. In effect, therefore, sole structure 30 is located to extend between the foot and the ground. In addition to attenuating ground reaction forces (i.e., providing cushioning for the foot), sole structure 30 may provide traction, impart stability, and limit various foot motions, such as pronation.

The primary elements of sole structure 30 are a midsole 31 and an outsole 32. Midsole 31 may include a fluid-filled chamber. In addition, midsole 31 may incorporate one or more additional footwear elements that enhance the comfort, performance, or ground reaction force attenuation properties of footwear 10, including a polymer foam material, such as polyurethane or ethylvinylacetate, plates, moderators, lasting elements, or motion control members. Outsole 32, which may be absent in some configurations of footwear 10, is secured to a lower surface of midsole 31 and may be formed from a rubber material that provides a durable and wear-resistant surface for engaging the ground. In addition, outsole 32 may also be textured to enhance the traction (i.e., friction) properties between footwear 10 and the ground.

Sole structure 30 may also incorporate an insole or sockliner that is located within the void in upper 20 and adjacent (i.e., located nearby or close to, although not necessarily in contact with) a plantar surface or lower surface of the foot to enhance the comfort of footwear 10.

Midsole Dome Configuration

Domes are arcuate, curved structures, often hemispherical with a half-circle cross-sectional shape, that offer unique physical properties. For example, roofs incorporating domes may be particularly strong, and can support themselves without any support structures underneath. This strength property often allows the roofs to support immense additional weight. While this property is provided by domes having a half-circle cross-sectional shape, it may also be provided by a dome having a cross-sectional shape that is not a half-circle but is otherwise curved or arcuate.

Turning to FIGS. 3-6, an underside of midsole 31 is depicted as having upwardly-extending arcuate recesses 50. More particularly, midsole 31 has an upper surface secured to upper 20 and an opposite lower surface defining a first recess 52 and a second recess 54. Recesses 52 and 54 are spaced inward from an outer periphery 36 of midsole 31. First recess 52 is positioned on medial side 15 of forefoot region 11, while second recess 54 is positioned in heel region 13. Accordingly, as depicted, first recess 52 is a forefoot recess, and second recess 54 is a heel recess.

Meanwhile, apertures 40 are depicted as extending through outsole 32, i.e., as extending from an upper surface of outsole 32 to a lower surface of outsole 32. More particularly, outsole has a first aperture 42 and a second aperture 44, each of which is spaced inward from an outer periphery 37 of outsole 32. First aperture 42 is positioned on medial side 15 of forefoot region 11, while second aperture 44 is positioned in heel region 13. First aperture 42 and second aperture 44 are therefore a forefoot aperture and a heel aperture, respectively.

First recess 52 is exposed to an exterior of footwear 10 through first aperture 42. Meanwhile, outsole 32 is secured to midsole 31 in a bonded area that wholly surrounds first aperture 42 and is at least partially positioned in a complementary region 72 on medial side 15 of footwear 10. Similarly, second recess 54 is exposed to the exterior of footwear 10 through second aperture 44, and outsole 32 is secured to midsole 31 in a bonded area that wholly surrounds second aperture 44.

Although FIGS. 3-6 depict apertures 40 as exposing various recesses 50 in midsole 31, in various alternate configurations, apertures 40 may not expose all portions of recesses 50, and outsole 32 may instead extend partially or entirely across recesses 50. In some such configurations, recesses 50 may be interior portions of sole structure 30 in which the lower surface of midsole 31 is spaced from the upper surface of outsole 32. In other configurations, outsole 32 may conform to the lower surface of midsole 31, including recesses 50, and outsole 32 may thereby have arcuate shapes adjacent to recesses 50.

Returning to FIGS. 3-6, midsole 31 is also depicted as having an outer skin 60, portions of which are exposed through apertures 42 and 44. Specifically, a first skin 62 at first recess 52 and a second skin 64 at second recess 54 are both portions of outer skin 60 of midsole 31, first skin 62 being exposed through first aperture 42, and second skin 64 being exposed through second aperture 44. First skin 62 may therefore be a forefoot portion of outer skin 60, while second skin 64 may be a heel portion of outer skin 60.

Skin 62 has the arcuate shape of first recess 52 and skin 64 has the arcuate shape of second recess 54. Skins 62 and 64 thereby form domes on an underside of midsole 31. That is, skins 62 and 64 form arcuate, curved structures whose physical properties may provide weight-supporting benefits to midsole 31. Although there is less foamed polymer material above arcuate recesses 52 and 54 than above other areas of midsole 31, skins 62 and 64 may provide support to compensate from the foamed polymer material absent from recesses 52 and 54 without the need for other support or cushioning elements.

Outer skin 60 may form part or all of an outer surface of midsole 31, and the physical properties of outer skin 60 of midsole 31 may be different from the physical properties of inner portions of midsole 31. In some embodiments, outer skin 60 may be an outer portion of a resilient foamed polymer material of midsole 31, such as an outer portion formed by contact with a heated object like a mold. In such cases, outer skin 60 may be, or may include, a region of closed-cell polymer foam, while inner portions of midsole 31 may be an open-cell polymer foam. Outer skin 60 and inner portions of midsole 31 may thereby have different physical properties.

In other embodiments, outer skin 60 may be formed in part from a foamed polymer material of midsole 31 and in part from another material, such as an additive or a sealant, which may either physically combine with or chemically interact with the foamed polymer material of midsole 31. For example, outer skin 60 may be formed in part from a foamed polymer material of midsole 31, and in part from another material drawn into an outer portion of an open-cell polymer foam of midsole 31. As an alternate example, outer skin 60 may include a material formed by a chemical interaction between the polymer material of midsole 31 and another material. In such cases, whether formed by physical combination or by chemical reaction, outer skin 60 of midsole 31 may have different physical properties than inner portions of midsole 31 that have not combined physically with or reacted chemically with another material.

While midsole 31 is depicted in FIGS. 3-6 as including outer skin 60 and skins 62 and 64, some configurations of sole structure 30 may not include an outer skin. In such configurations, the foamed polymer material adjacent to recesses 50 may provide weight-supporting benefits to midsole 31, due to the domed or arcuate shape of recesses 50, while reducing the weight of midsole 31 itself.

As depicted, first recess 52 and second recess 54 extend upward into midsole 31 to a comparable degree. That is, recesses 52 and 54 have comparable heights. However, midsole 31 is depicted as having a greater thickness in heel region 13 than in forefoot region 11. The height of first recess 52 in comparison with the thickness of midsole 31 in forefoot region 11 is therefore proportionally greater than the height of second recess 54 in comparison with the thickness of midsole 31 in heel region 13. More particularly, a height of first recess 52 is greater than half of a thickness of midsole 31 in forefoot region 11, while a height of second recess 54 is less than half a thickness of midsole 31 in heel region 13.

In various configurations of footwear 10, however, the heights of arcuate recesses in midsole 31 may differ from the heights depicted in FIGS. 3-6. For example, first recess 52 and second recess 54 may have different heights, or may have heights proportional to the thickness of midsole 31 in each region. More generally, first recess 52 may have any height less than a thickness of midsole 31 in forefoot region 11, and second recess 54 may have any height less than a thickness of midsole 31 in heel region 13.

As previously noted, while hemispherical domes (i.e., domes having half-circle cross-sectional shape) provide physical strength and support, domes having shapes that are otherwise curved or arcuate may provide physical strength and support, too. For example, as depicted in FIG. 3, first recess 52 and first skin 62 in forefoot region 11 have an elongated shape, as do second recess 54 and second skin 64 in heel region 13.

More particularly, each of first recess 52 and second recess 54 has a longitudinal extent that exceeds its transverse extent. As depicted in FIGS. 3-6, a longitudinal extent, or length, of first recess 52 may be at least thirty percent of a longitudinal extent, or length, of sole structure 30. Similarly, a longitudinal extent (or length) of second recess 54 may be at least twenty percent of a longitudinal extent (or length) of sole structure 30.

In other configurations, however, recesses 52 and 54 may have comparable longitudinal extents and transverse extents. Recess 52 or recess 54 may have a hemispherical configuration, for example, in which the longitudinal and transverse extents are substantially the same.

Turning to FIG. 7, recesses 52 and 54 are depicted as extending across areas of footwear 10 associated with various bones of a foot of a wearer. As depicted, various areas of footwear 10 are associated with metatarsals 82, proximal phalanges 84, intermediate phalanges 86, and distal phalanges 88, and are also associated with the bones of first digit 91, second digit 92, third digit 93, fourth digit 94, and fifth digit 95. First recess 52 extends across an area of footwear 10 associated with at least half a length of metatarsals 82 of digits 91 and 92. First recess 52 also extends across an area of footwear 10 associated with at least half a length of the phalanges of digits 91 and 92, that is, at least half a total length of proximal phalanges 84, intermediate phalanges 86, and distal phalanges 88 of digits 91 and 92.

The elongate configurations of recesses 52 and 54, the positioning of first recess 52 toward one side of footwear 10, and the significant percentages of sole structure 30 spanned by recesses 52 and 54, may advantageously allow either first recess 52, second recess 54, or both to significantly impact the performance of footwear 10 under banking forces.

As a result of the positioning of first recess 52 and complementary region 72, forefoot region 11 of sole structure 30 has an asymmetrical medio-lateral configuration in which medial side 15 includes exposed first recess 52, while lateral side 14 includes complementary region 72, and a thickness of midsole 31 in complementary region 72 is generally greater than a thickness of midsole 31 at first recess 52.

FIGS. 8-9 depict footwear 10 under various forces. Due to their physical properties, the domes of skins 62 and 64, as well as the domed polymer foam material adjacent to recesses 52 and 54, may provide support for vertical or downward forces upon midsole 31, such as forces associated with standing, walking, or running, as depicted in FIG. 8. As a result, skins 62 and 64 and recesses 52 and 54 may provide a degree of support comparable to complementary regions of midsole 31.

As depicted in FIGS. 8-9, for example, first recess 52 in forefoot region 11 is positioned on medial side 15 of footwear 10 (i.e., the “inside” of footwear 10), which is a left shoe. Meanwhile, complementary region 72 is positioned on lateral side 14 of footwear 10 (i.e., the “outside” of footwear 10, opposite first recess 52). Under a primarily downward or vertical force, skin 62 and recess 52 may provide upward support for the foot of the wearer comparable to the upward support provided by midsole 31 in complementary region 72.

At the same time, as depicted in FIG. 9, skin 62 and recess 52 may provide unique cushioning and support properties during “banking,” e.g., pushing off to the side from a medial or lateral side of the foot. A banking force may have both a downward or vertical component as well as a lateral or side-to-side component. When subjected to a banking force (such as a force due to pushing on footwear 10 in order to turn or “bank” to the left), skin 62 and recess 52 may provide a different degree of upward support for the foot of the wearer than the degree of upward support provided by the foamed polymer material of midsole 31 in complementary region 72. These different degrees of support may then facilitate the turning or “banking” movement, due to the asymmetrical medio-lateral configuration of sole structure 30 in forefoot region 11.

Incorporating recesses 50, skins 60, or both along one side of footwear 10 may thus allow the cushioning properties of footwear 10 to be optimized to respond to the sorts of forces applied to footwear 10 during side-to-side or lateral banking movements, while accommodating the sorts of vertical or downward forces applied to footwear 10 when standing, walking, or running.

Further Configurations

FIGS. 3-6 depict second recess 54 as being positioned in a central part of heel region 13, i.e., as being comparably spaced from both lateral side 14 and medial side 15 of midsole periphery 36. In such configurations, second recess 54 may be separated from outer periphery 37 of outsole 32 by a portion of outsole 32 of generally uniform width. In other configurations, however, both first recess 52 and second recess 54 may be positioned on medial side 15 of footwear 10 (i.e., on the “inside” of footwear 10). As depicted in FIG. 10, for example, both first recess 52 and second recess 54 are positioned on medial side 15 of footwear 10, while complementary regions 72 and 74 are positioned on lateral side 14 opposite recesses 52 and 54, respectively.

In addition, although first recess 52 and second recess 54 are depicted in FIGS. 3-6 as having an elongate shape, alternate configurations of footwear 10 may include recesses 50 having hemispherical configurations. FIGS. 11-12 depict one exemplary configuration having recesses 56 positioned both in forefoot region 11 and heel region 13 on medial side 15, while complementary regions 76 are positioned opposite recesses 56 on lateral side 14 of footwear 10. Aligning recesses 56 to one side of footwear 10 allows the strength and cushioning benefits of dome-shaped skins 66 and recesses 56 to be optimized to respond to forces applied to footwear 10 during banking movements.

As shown in FIGS. 3-6, second recess 54 in heel region 13 has an elongate shape with a longitudinal extent that exceeds its transverse extent, and is dome-shaped or arcuate in cross-section. In addition, aperture 44 and second recess 54 have an arcuate shape as well, such as an oval or elliptical or egg-shaped configuration. In other configurations, however, the outer periphery of second recess 54 can have any of a variety of convex arcuate shapes.

In some configurations, the outer periphery of either first recess 52 or second recess 54 may have a non-convex shape. An exemplary configuration of footwear 10 in which second recess 54 has a non-convex shape is depicted in FIGS. 13-14. More particularly, second recess 54 of FIGS. 13-14 has a horseshoe shape or U-shape, including a lateral portion on lateral side 14, a medial portion on medial side 15, and a rear portion connecting the lateral portion and the medial portion at the rear of heel region 13.

As depicted in FIGS. 13-14, the lateral portion, the rear portion, and the medial portion of second recess 54 are contiguous, with the medial portion having a greater length than the lateral portion. However, in some configurations, the lateral portion, rear portion, and medial portion could be non-contiguous, distinct recesses in midsole 31.

Despite its U-shape when viewed from the bottom, second recess 54 has a circular or arcuate shape in cross-section. Due to the circular or arcuate shape of second recess 54 in cross-section, second skin 64 also has a circular or arcuate configuration in cross-section. These arcuate shapes allow skin 64 and recess 54 to form an elongated U-shaped dome on the underside of midsole 31. As a result, skin 64 and recess 54 may provide weight-supporting and load-bearing properties.

FIGS. 3-6 depict first recess 52 as being on medial side 15 of footwear 10, but first recess 52 may be otherwise placed in other configurations. As depicted in FIG. 15, for example, first recess 52 is positioned on lateral side 14 of footwear 10, while complementary region 72 is positioned on medial side 15. Footwear 10 may, accordingly, have a recess 50 positioned on a first side, and a complementary region 72 in which midsole 31 is secured to both upper 20 and outsole 32 on a second side, and the first side can be either lateral side 14 or medial side 15.

Although recesses 52 and 54 of footwear 10 in FIGS. 3-6 are non-contiguous, distinct recesses, they may not be distinct in other articles of footwear. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 16, an elongated, asymmetrically shaped aperture 48 in outsole 32 exposes a corresponding elongated, asymmetrically shaped recess 58 extending into midsole 31. Recess 58 has a portion in forefoot region 11, a portion in midfoot region 12, and a portion in heel region 13. These portions are coupled and made contiguous. Recess 58 is primarily located on medial side 15, while complementary regions 78 are primarily located on lateral side 14. The portion of recess 58 in heel region 13 is separated from outer periphery 37 of outsole 32 by a portion of outsole 32 of generally uniform width. Skin 68 is, in turn, exposed through aperture 48.

Despite their asymmetric configuration, recess 58 and skin 68 may have semi-circular or arcuate shapes in cross-section. That is, for various planes 100, 102, 104 and 106, the associated cross-section will reveal an arcuate configuration in recess 58 and skin 68. This arcuate shape provides weight-supporting and load-bearing properties to recess 58 and skin 68.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, the description is intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting and it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents. Also, various modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the attached claims.

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Citation

Patents Cited in This Cited by
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Sole structure with pivoting cleat assembly NIKE, INC. 06 February 2004 27 March 2007
Bottom assembly for an article of footwear SALOMON S.A.S. 30 November 2006 06 July 2010
Midsole construction NORTON; EDWARD J.,SMOTRYCZ; ZENON O. 25 August 1995 01 July 1997
Dynamic canting and cushioning system for footwear GYR KAJ 15 February 2002 21 August 2003
Footwear item comprising built-in dynamic element BABOLAT VS (BMW) 09 September 2003 14 October 2008
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US10058144 Article footwear midsole 1 US10058144 Article footwear midsole 2 US10058144 Article footwear midsole 3