Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oh, patents! Vibram® FiveFingers®

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Here is an interesting shoe packaged in more than one contradiction of terms!Trademarked FiveFingers®, this shoe has a sole designed to provide the full range and feel of barefoot motion! 

Manufactured and marketed by Vibram®, the company that claims “We got sole since 1937”, FiveFingers® are purported to fit your feet like gloves! Many models are available for sports, including running, and casual footwear, both for kids and adults.

The patent US780586082 titled Footwear having independently articulable toe portions recites this toed shoe. The invention seeks to restore independent toe movement and the role this movement plays relative to whole body movement, balance, and haptic response to a ground surface -- assuming that toe function is restricted when it is encapsulated in the toe cap of conventional shoe designs. 

Indeed, in the prior art of conventional shoe designs, toes move as a single undifferentiated unit in the toe cap, and in a single pivoting movement relative to the ball of the foot.

The invention further seeks to provide both comfort and significant protection to independent toe movement in an effort to resolve some of the issues arising in the prior art of separate toe housing.  And finally, the invention seeks to increase haptic response to the surface of the ground by providing a thin sole that follows the natural curvature and shape of the foot, and that strikes the right balance between the thinness required of haptic response and foot protection. 

In terms of the foot protection, the invention recites two convexities (i.e.; pads) on the sole of the shoe: one in the forefoot area, and the other in the heel area. And the sole also includes toe pads for each individual toe.  The invention further specifies that the individual toe pads and convexities may be produced integrated with the sole, as thickened parts thereof, or as separate parts that are affixed to it 

Below, you will find the Abstract for US780586082 titled Footwear having independently articulable toe portions including two patent drawings; and above, images of one of the marketed toed soles  for the Vibram® FiveFingers KomodoSports® LS
A footwear is provided including a sole and an upper where the sole and the upper delimit individual toe portions configured to receive, retain, and allow independent articulation of corresponding individual toes of a foot inserted in the footwear and where the sole includes an extension portion which extends upwardly around at least a portion the foot. Abstract US780586082

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