US 20010048235 A1
A cover for child safety seats, particularly those attached to shopping carts, preferably comprised of a rectangular padded section and a similarly configured rectangular liner section of liquid impervious material, the padded section consisting of a central rectangular section and rear, front, and side flap sections for securing the cover to the child seat, and preferably having aperture for receiving a restraining strap or belt attached to a child safety seat, padded covers for the safety straps of the seat, and the rear and side flap sections are fitted with external pockets designed for receipt of personal items of the infant, small child, or parent or guardian.
1. A child or infant seat cushion and liner comprising:
a generally rectangular cover, said cover having a front and rear surface, a central support area, and front, rear, and side flaps for securing the cover to a child seat, said flaps extending along the outer edges of the central support area,
said cover being comprised of a padded section and a liner section secured to the underside of the padded section, the lined section having inner and outer perimeter dimensions substantially identical to the padded section; and
means for releasably securing the cushion and liner to a child seat.
2. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
3. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
4. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 3
5. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
6. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
7. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 6
8. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
9. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
10. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 1
11. A child or infant seat cushion and liner according to claim 10
12. A kit comprising:
(a) a series of child safety seat covers, each comprised of a seat cushion layer and a liner layer, the seat covers having a substantially rectangular configuration with a with flaps extending from the sides, said flaps being provided with securing means at each corner for securing the edges of the flaps together,
(b) a series of safety seat strap covers adapted for securing about safety seat straps with similar securing means,
(c) a container for containing the seat covers and strap covers prior to use.
13. A kit in accordance with claim 12
14. A kit in accordance with claim 13
(d) directions for use and application of the seat cover.
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/177,191, filed on Jan. 21, 2000.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates generally to the field of covers for child safety seats, and more specifically to child seat covers that are releasably attached to a child safety seat attached to a shopping cart in order to provide a sanitary and cushioned seating surface for a child seated within such child safety seat.
 2. Preliminary Discussion
 Transporting infants and small children on a shopping trip to a grocery store or similar retail enterprise often involves the use of a shopping cart that is constructed with a folding or collapsible child seat situated proximate to the push handle of said cart. These child seats are designed essentially to support an infant or small child in an upright position within the shopping cart with few if any features designed to provide for the comfort or hygiene of the infant or small child. A typical shopping cart is generally manufactured of materials that satisfy the requirements of relatively low acquisition and manufacturing cost, durability, and high strength, such as metal rods, molded plastic components, and the like. The particular characteristics of such materials that allow them to meet these requirements, such as rigidity, do not provide a particularly comfortable seating surface in the case of the child seat. This situation is especially acute in the case of shopping carts manufactured of metal rods spaced at predetermined intervals, in which case the limbs, posterior, or back of the infant or small child seated therein press against one or several of such individual rods. The child reacts by squirming within the seat in an attempt to reduce bodily contact with the seat or by attempting to leave the seat altogether. This occurrence can be especially troublesome to a parent or guardian who is attempting to accomplish a sizable shopping chore.
 One means of providing a more comfortable seating device for a child within a shopping cart is the provision by the retailer of a child safety seat that can be attached, adjusted or otherwise used in conjunction with a conventional shopping cart. Normally, such seats are manufactured of plastic and molded or constructed of a shape similar to a child safety seat for vehicles in which an infant or small child can be positioned in a generally recumbent position. As such child safety seats are used repeatedly by a wide variety of people and customers, it is inevitable that eventually the child seats become soiled or contaminated by microbes, infectious agents, or spilled food stuffs that may make contact with the skin or clothing of an infant or small child later placed in the seating device and engender a reaction by or, infection of the infant or small child.
 What is needed then to overcome the aforementioned disadvantages of such child safety seats is the provision of a child seat cover that a shopper can releasably attach to said child safety seats. Such a cover might desirably be constructed of an upper padded or cushioned section plus a lower section that is impervious to liquids. The cover would preferably be further constructed with a central area that substantially makes contact with or supports the body of an infant or small child and flap sections that can be folded around various components of the child seat to at least partially secure said cover to the child safety seat and shopping cart.
 3. Discussion of Related Art
 Numerous designs for seat covers for child safety seats and shopping cart seats have been provided in the prior art. Although these designs may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they are addressed, they would not be suitable for the purposes of the present version of the invention. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,678,888, issued to Sowell et al. on Oct. 21,1997 discloses a shopping cart child seat cover comprised of a seat section, back section, front section, and two side sections. The cover is attached to an integral shopping cart and child seat by a series of snap fasteners that are affixed to the various sections of the cover and enable the edges of the cover to be snapped over the structural components of the integral seat and shopping cart. As disclosed, the cover is relatively cumbersome to attach to and detach from the child seat section of a shopping cart. Additionally, an infant or small child seated therein may feel confined as the front section is formed with two leg apertures that are designed to receive the legs of the infant or small child. Additional seat covers for shopping cart seats in which the seat is essentially an integral portion of the shopping cart and constructed essentially as an extra shelf with surrounding retainment members incorporated in the cart itself are also shown in the following relatively recent references.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,238,293 issued to D. S. Gibson on Aug. 24, 1993 discloses an irregularly shaped seat cover with various hook-and-loop type fastening means along the edges plus securing straps, all of which make such cover relatively difficult to use as well as not readily washable.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,897,165 issued Apr. 27,1999 to S. Kucharczyk discloses a relatively simple hammock-type child seat attachable to a shopping cart seat and attachable by hook-and-loop fasteners by folding and snapping over the end sections of the integral shopping cart seat. The arrangement provides a seating surface for a child but does not effectively protect the child from contaminants upon the seat left by prior users.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,129,418 issued Oct. 10, 2000 to J. Bergh et al. discloses a cover incorporating a cushion for a shopping cart seat. The arrangement is relatively bulky and difficult to transport to a store location for individual use.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,036,264 issued Mar. 14, 2000 to T. N. Lucree discloses a sanitary liner for a shopping cart infant seat which more or less completely isolates a child from contact with a shopping cart seat, but is not overly adaptable to various seating arrangements.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,129,417 issued Oct. 10, 2000 to M. Cohen-Fyffe discloses a shopping cart child seat essentially providing pocket sections at the end to fit over the sides of the seat structure and retain the seat in position with additional flaps on the sides to cover the sides of the cart. The rear pocket fits over the handle of the cart and thus protects the person using the cart for shopping such as a child's mother as well as the child from contamination left on the cart and seat structure by previous users.
 In recent years, retail establishments have begun using child seats in shopping carts modeled after the now widely used child car seat. Such seats are usually formed of some plastic material and secured to the shopping cart by metal crosspieces. Since these child seats are also used and indeed have more exposed surface for possible contamination, there has been a need for covering these seats to prevent contamination of such seats by earlier users as well as to cushion the child from the bare supporting surfaces of such seats.
 An early and fairly complicated seat cover adapted for covering car seats is known from U.S. Pat. No. 4,883,701 issued to J. J. Rankin et al. on Nov. 28, 1989, but this seat cover would not be easily and comfortably securable to a child shopping cart seat of the known type. The Rankin et al. seat cover is designed to be inexpensive and replaceable when soiled and provides various orifices to accommodate child retainment strapping and the like. The seat cover is made from a material that will tend to retain its shape but is still sufficiently flexible to accommodate itself to the underlying child car seat. Slots are provided in the sides rather than slits to accommodate car seat strapping so the seat cover is more easily accommodated to such strapping or can be slipped into the slots without having to thread the strapping through slits in the cover.
 Other more recently issued patents showing seat covers for child safety seats specifically designed for use with the more modern safety seats for shopping carts are the following:
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,988,744 issued Nov. 23, 1999 to L. Franchak comprises essentially a flat but foldable fabric covered resilient element provided with an integral-retaining strap.
 U.S. Pat. No. 6,164,721 issued Dec. 26, 2000 to M. M. Latshaw et al. discloses a shopping cart child seat having a somewhat similar arrangement to the Franchak seat cover or cushion, but having a special configuration.
 As such, it may be appreciated that there is a continuing need for a new and improved seat cover for a child safety seat for shopping carts that can be attached to and detached from a safety seat with minimum exertion and that furthermore provides a pleasing, comfortable seating surface for an infant or small child. In these respects, the present version of the invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing, provides an apparatus that substantially fulfills this need. Additionally, the prior patents and commercial techniques do not suggest the present inventive combination of component elements arranged and configured as disclosed herein. The present invention achieves its intended purposes, objects, and advantages through new, useful and unobvious combinations of method steps and component elements, with the use of a minimum number of functioning parts, at a reasonable cost to manufacture, and by employing only readily available materials.
 The preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a cover for child safety seats attached to shopping carts. More specifically, the invention is concerned with child seat covers that are releasably attached to the child safety seat of a shopping cart in order to provide a sanitary and cushioned seating surface for a child seated within a shopping cart. According to a typical embodiment, the invention presents a seat cover comprised of a rectangular padded section and a rectangular liner section of liquid impervious material that is configured with the perimeter dimensions of the padded section. The padded section is constructed of outside layers that house cushioning material situated between said outside layers and maintained therein by stitching of a quilted or diagonal pattern. The padded section consists of a central rectangular section and rear, front, and side flap sections. The central section is formed with apertures that can, if necessary, receive a restraining strap or belt attached to a child safety seat, and the rear and side flap sections are fitted with external pockets designed for receipt of personal items of the infant, small child, or parent or guardian. Fastening straps are attached to opposing side edges of the front and rear flap sections and are releasably secured to cooperating patches attached to opposing side edges of the side flap sections. The liner section is attached to the underside of the padded section so that said liner section makes contact with the child seat of a shopping cart and prevents any liquid or contamination upon the child seat from making contact with the padded section and eventually or ultimately the infant or small child. Restraining strap covers are releasably attached to the restraining straps of the child safety seat in order to prevent the transmission of germs and the possibility of chafing or abrasions caused by the restraining strap's making contact with a child. The invention, therefore, resides not in any one of these features per se, but rather in the particular combination of all of them herein disclosed. It is distinguished from the prior art in this particular combination of all of its structures for the functions specified.
 It is an object of the present invention, therefore, to provide a low-cost, easy-to-manufacture, and easy-to-market seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat.
 A further object of the invention is to provide an easy-to-use and versatile seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat.
 A still further object of the invention is to provide a cover for a modern child seat in a shopping cart.
 A still further object of the invention is to provide a seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat that can be attached to and detached from the child safety seat with minimal expenditure of time and exertion.
 A still further object of the invention is to provide a seat cover having pockets or storage pouches on the outside of the seat cover away from a child placed in the seat.
 A still further object of the invention is to provide a seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat that is comprised of a padded section and a liner section impervious to liquid in order to prevent the transfer of liquids and contaminants to the padded section of the seat cover during storage, transport, and use.
 A still further object of the invention is to provide a seat cover with matching strap covers for encapsulating and padding the safety straps of a child shopping cart seat cover.
 A still further object of the invention is the provision of a relatively inexpensive disposable child seat cover.
 Still other objects and advantages of the invention will become clear upon review of the following detailed description in conjunction with the appended drawings.
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat in accordance with the present version of the invention illustrating the padded and liner sections thereof, disengaged from each other.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a child safety seat supported upon a typical shopping cart with the seat cover of the shopping cart child safety seat configured for releasable attachment to the child safety seat affixed to the shopping cart shown directly above the safety seat ready for application to the seat.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the seat cover for a shopping cart child safety seat of the present invention attached to the child safety seat affixed to a shopping cart and fully covering said safety seat.
 Similar reference characters noted below denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
10 Seat Cover For Shopping Cart Child Seat
12 Padded Section
14 Liner Section
16 Central Area of Padded Section
18 Rear Flap
20 Front Flap
22 a, b Side Flaps
24 Aperture 10
28 Rear Pocket
30 a, b Side Pockets
36 Central Area of Liner Section
38 Rear Flap
40 Front Flap
42 a, b Side Flaps
48 Seat Belt Cover
54 Shopping Cart
56 Shopping Cart Basket
58 Push Handle
60 Support Bar
62 Rear Basket Bar
64 Child Seat
66 Child Safety Seat
68 Restraining Strap
 The following detailed description is of the best mode or modes of the invention presently contemplated. Such description is not intended to be understood in a limiting sense, but to be an example of the invention presented solely for illustration thereof, and by reference to which in connection with the following description and the accompanying drawings one skilled in the art may be advised of the advantages and construction of the invention.
 Referring now to the drawings and, in particular, to FIG. 1 wherein there is illustrated a typical embodiment of the seat cover 10 for a shopping cart child safety seat.
 The present version of the invention 10 is comprised of a broadly rectangular padded section 12 (illustrating the upper or top side thereof) and a broadly rectangular liner section 14 that possesses identical inner and outer perimeter dimensions as that of the padded section 12. The corners of the two rectangular sections 12 and 14 are preferably cut out or away as shown at each of the corners. The padded section 12 is comprised of material that is sufficiently cushioned and resilient in order to support the body of an infant or small child situated upon the child seat of various shopping carts and to prevent undue pressure of the body or various limbs thereof from making direct and uncomfortable contact with portions of the child safety seat, such as preformed plastic components of such seat. The padded section 12 can be provided as a unitary construction or as a construction of durable outer layers that enclose an inner layer of cushioned material. In either case, the padded section 12 is pierced with diagonally aligned stitching 20 resembling that of a quilt in order to augment the resilient and shock absorbing nature of the material of construction. The liner section 14, which is preferably attached to the under side of the padded section 12, is comprised preferably of polyethylene plastic or other like moisture impervious material and serves to prevent the unwanted transfer of liquids and contaminants from a child seat used in public shopping carts into the padded section 12 and eventually to an infant or small child using the seat. Additionally, the liner section 14 serves as a protective outer layer when the cover 10 is folded as intended with the liner section 14 disposed to the exterior when not in use. A carrying bag (not shown) of suitable dimensions and material is provided to house the cover 10 during storage and transport. The seat cover may be in packages or kits of multiple disposable seat covers to be used when visiting a supermarket or the like and then disposed of.
 Referring again to FIG. 1, the padded section 12 is comprised of a central area or section 16, rear flap 18, front flap 20, and side flaps 22 a and 22 b. The central area 16 functions primarily as the seat and back (in conjunction with the rear flap 18) of the cover 10. Two rectangular apertures 24 and 26 are formed within the central area 16 of the padded section 12 and are designed to receive or accommodate any safety belts, straps and the like that may be attached to a child safety seat and used in conjunction therewith. A pocket 28 is attached to the rear flap 18, and pockets 30 a and 30 b are attached to the side flaps 22 a and 22 b, respectively. Narrow, elongate straps 32 are attached to the side edges of the rear flap 18 and front flap 20. Cooperating patches 34 are affixed to the side edges of the side flaps 22 a and 22 b. A variety of fastening methods are intended to secure the flap sections 18, 20, 22 a and 22 b to each other and over and around portions of a child seat and shopping cart, such as hook-and-loop fasteners (VELCRO®), snaps, buttons, and the like. The liner section 14, which is constructed with dimensions and a perimeter identical to that of the padded section 12 as referenced earlier, is also comprised of a cooperating central area 36, rear flap 38, front flap 40, side flaps 42 a and 42 b, and apertures 44 and 46. The cover 10 is also provided with two rectangular restraining strap covers 48 that are constructed of material identical or similar to that of the padded section 12. While the strap covers 48 could be formed of material of both rectangular sections 12 and 14, since the straps are largely protected from the child seat itself by the intervening material of the cover fitted about the seat, the use of the lower sheet 14 is not so important. However, in order to protect the child from any liquid contamination of the straps it is desirable that the strap covers be not only padded but also protected from moist contaminants by moisture-proof material. Each cover 48 is fitted on a first side with a rectangular fastener patch 50 and on a second side with a rectangular fastener patch 52 (shown in phantom lines) at opposing edges thereof, said fastener patches 50 and 52 being comprised of VELCRO® or similar material. With this construction, the covers 48 can be folded in a tubular configuration around the portion of a child seat restraining strap that may make contact with a child in order to prevent the transmission of germs and the occurrence of abrasion, chafing, or rubbing against the child situated therein.
 Referring to FIG. 2, therein illustrated is the seat cover 10 configured for attachment to a child safety seat 66 affixed to a shopping cart 54. The shopping cart 54 is of conventional design constructed in part of a wire rod basket 56, push handle 58, support bar 60, rear basket support bar 62, and integral child seat portion 64. The child safety seat 66 is as shown a one-piece construction of injection molded plastic, rubber, or the like designed to house an infant or small child in a generally recumbent or semi-reclining position. The child safety seat 66 can to be permanently attached to the shopping cart 64 or releasably attached thereto by a variety of means that are well known in the art and current design. The infant or small child is secured therein by means of a restraining strap 68 and buckle 70. Such strap is conventionally split in the central section so that the two split sections fit over the child's shoulders and then recombine into one unitary strap again which buckles between the child's legs at the groin. In a more modern arrangement, two straps are attached to the upper portions of the child seat usually through two slots in the bottom of the child seat and are then combined into a single fitting and buckled to the seat between the child's legs. In the usual case, therefore, the safety strap is bifurcated, but may be bifurcated either only at one end or at both ends. In FIGS. 2 and 3, it can be seen that the safety strap is bifurcated in its upper portion.
 The rear flap 18, front flap 20, and side flaps 22 a and 22 b of the cover 10 are folded downward in approximate perpendicular relation to the central area or section 16 of the padded section 12. As the liner section 14 is attached to the underside of the padded section 12, it is not visible in this display, but is to be assumed or understood to be attached thereto in order to function as a barrier against transfer of liquid, moisture, and contamination to the padded section 12. The approximate junction of the rear flap 18 and central area 16 is fitted over the front (where the head of the infant is generally positioned) or leading side edge of the seat 66, and the approximate junction of the front flap 20 and central area 16 is fitted over the rear side edge thereof.
 As illustrated in FIG. 3, the side flaps 22 a and 22 b, once positioned over the side edges of the seat 66, are secured to the rear 18 and front 20 flap sections by affixing the straps 32 to cooperating patches 34. If necessary, the restraining strap 68 and buckle 70 can be passed through the apertures 24 and 26, and complementary aperture of the liner section to secure the infant or small child to the seat 66 and over the cover 10. Once a child is secured therein, the restraining strap covers 48 are affixed as described previously over the portions of the restraining strap 68 making contact with a child. Even more preferably, the strap covers 48 will be affixed over the straps 68 prior to positioning of the child in the seat in order to protect such child from contamination by the straps. In a preferred embodiment of the invention the strap covers, while shown in FIG. 3 as covering the strap only near the top, will extend over the entire retaining strap and will themselves be split in the central section and/or their upper or top sections so as to cover both sections of the strap separately in the split section.
 While the two side flaps 22 a and 22 b are shown in FIG. 1 as being straight above the outer edges, they may actually be contoured to accommodate the curved configuration of the child seat and the usual deeper section of the seat in the center which would if a straight bottom edge of the cover is to be attained on the outside as shown require additional material at this point to extend from the bottom of the inside to the bottom of the outside. However, since all seats are of the same general configuration, it has been found satisfactory to use a flat or square edge along all the flaps. When the cover is placed over the child seat, therefore, the cover will adjust to the exact configuration of the child seat with the excess material extending from the bottom in a contour depending upon the exact configuration of the seat, which, in an ideal case, which is unlikely to be attained in many actual cases, will allow a more or less parallel bottom configuration along the sides. In actual use, the side flaps may extend only partially, often halfway down, or over the sides of the child seat. In all cases, however the child seat will end up completely encompassed or covered on the inside and along at least the top of the outside by the protective cover of the invention. Cutting the material of the cover with the straight side edges as shown in FIG. 1 results in lower total cost for the possibly disposable covers, an important consideration in any disposable item and provides a perfectly serviceable cover, although perhaps not a perfect fit. The covers may be supplied in kits including both seat cover and strap covers in packages of various amounts such as six principal covers in a package with accompanying strap covers as required go together with necessary instructions for assembly and use. Any such kit may also include a carrying or storage bag or the bag itself may constitute the original packaging.
 While the cover of the invention is designed particularly for use in covering and sanitizing a more modern separate plastic child seat as illustrated, it will be found that the simplistic design of the cover makes it also applicable for use with the more old fashioned integral wire child seat of the prior art in which the rectangular side flaps can be folded over the sides of the child seat securing straps 32 and patches 34 can be secured together to bring the seat cover into a covering for the child seat portion of the shopping cart.
 From the foregoing, it will be understood by persons skilled in the art that an improved seat cover for shopping cart child safety seat has been provided. The invention is relatively simple and easy to manufacture, yet affords a variety of uses. While this version of the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the version of the invention are desired to be protected. With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious and readily derivable to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.
 While the present invention has also been described at some length and with some particularity with respect to the several described embodiments, it is not intended that it should be limited to any such particulars or embodiments or any particular embodiment, but it is to be construed with references to the appended claims so as to provide the broadest possible interpretation of such claims in view of the prior art and, therefore, to effectively encompass the intended scope of the invention.