Saturday, July 19, 2014

Oh, patents! Cole Haan Air

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

This one was a cinch…. When I looked for shoe size on the inside seam of a Cole Haan Air driving shoe, I also found:  “Made in India US patent 5713141” …! Tadah! It saved me time searching through thousands of Nike patents for the one used for extra cushioning in the Cole Haan Air collection, or finding an exploded view of the Cole Haan Air sole to figure out exactly what was imported from Nike Air. Although ultimately, I chanced upon the coolest xray picture of a Cole Haan Air dress shoe, which really shows how the cushioning technology is inserted into the sole of a high heel “professional” shoe for women. [See image to the right]
From 1998 to 2012, Cole Haan, a Chicago company founded in 1928,  actually belonged to Nike Inc. which explains the merging of Nike sports sole technology with Cole Haan dress code shoes for both men and women, although perhaps not the stroke of genius in the inventive step (with no pun intended…)!

The collection of Cole Haan shoes manufactured in partnership with Nike Air technology includes both visible and invisible Nike Air technology, inserted in the midsole of the shoe.  That is, the upper shoe is a Cole Haan leather design, and the midsole of the shoe is Nike Air patented, to give the shoe extra cushioning and comfort. For example, the Cole Haan Air collection includes upper shoe designs for pumps, driving shoes, professional shoes and even boots, for both men and women, which are connected to a Nike Air patented midsole providing a permanently gas-filled cushioning device, in the heel or foot portion, or both. 

 The inclusion of this midsole technology, functioning as a shock absorption device, makes a huge difference in comfort. And this is also easy to understand since we know, thanks to Nike sports research labs, that feet receive up to 10 times the body weight in impact, specifically, 2 to 3 times the impact for running, and 6 to 10 times the impact for basketball [US 35713141].

US5713141 titled Cushioning device with improved flexible barrier membrane discloses a shock absorbing device that improves on the previous gas or liquid filled bladders, in that it is made more flexible. This is a non-trivial matter since much research is required to determine which gases are used, at what pressure and how to insert the gases permanently, which also depends on the types of materials used to encase the gases so that the cushioning effect endures (i.e; to prevent tensile relaxation or stretching of the materials). 

The Nike Air Sole™ resulting from this research is a sole without pumps or valves that invokes multiple patents for each of its components, and each of the problems it has resolved, such as flex fatigue, heat sealability, elasticity, degradation, cost effectiveness, durability, recyclability, and waste. US 5713141 addresses both the choice of gas (nitrogen or a comparably friendly gas) and the materials used to respond to desired characteristic such as flexibility, low costs and durability.  

  Below, you will find included the abstract for US 5713141 titled Cushioning device with improved flexible barrier membrane, and a patent image of the air filled cushioning bladder. 
Products in the form of cushioning devices made from flexible membranes employing at least one layer including thermoplastic urethane and at least one layer of a copolymer of ethylene and vinyl alcohol are inflatable to a relatively high pressure. The cushioning devices maintain the internal inflatant pressure for extended periods of time by employing a phenomenon referred to in the industry as diffusion pumping. Ideally, the cushioning devices of the present invention can be permanently inflated with gases such as nitrogen or air. Abstract US 5713141 
US 5713141 is the patent for the patented cushioning device inserted in my own Cole Haan Air drivers…, also included below! 


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