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Patent: A Safer, Enduring Swing On The Swingset
Patent: A Safer, Enduring Swing On The Swingset | amar_txbz, Ernie D. Sheets, Julie A. Neusch, patent, 8083600, swing seat, child safety,

Ernie D. Sheets and Julie A. Neusch, both of Amarillo, recently received U.S. Patent 8,083,600 for “Swing Seat.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  It’s a far cry from the old tire swing. Two Texas Panhandle residents designed a swing that’s safer and lasts longer.

Ernie D. Sheets and Julie A. Neusch, both of Amarillo, recently received U.S. Patent 8,083,600 for “Swing Seat.”

The two applied for the patent on October 9, 2009. 

The patent assignee is Backyard Leisure Holdings Inc. of Pittsburg, Kansas.

Sheets’ and Neusch’s invention relates generally to children's playsets, and to playset accessories and components, according to the patent document.

More specifically, their invention concerns a reinforced swing seat assembly for use in a children's playset. 
 
Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that swing seats used with playsets have historically taken many forms.

For example, rigid swing seats have been formed of wooden boards or molded plastics. Many current swing seats are formed from rubber or other flexible material that allows the seat to bend for comfortably accommodating users of different sizes. Regardless of material, swing seats are often suspended from a playset frame with ropes or chains so that the seat may freely swing back and forth during use. 

Conventional flexible swing seats often include a generally rectangular strap of rubber that is connected to suspending chains at opposite ends of the strap. Some rubber strap seats include hinged rings clamped to the opposite ends of the strap, with each ring receiving a hooked end of a suspending chain.

Other rubber strap seats simply include a hole disposed at each opposite end of the strap to receive the hooked end of a suspending chain. Some such seats include local reinforcement (such as a grommet) around the holes to prevent the hook from tearing through the rubber of the seat. 

While traditional flexible swing seats have been satisfactory in some respects, they have also presented drawbacks. For example, rubber strap seats provide comfortable flexibility, but are also prone to deterioration from continued outdoor exposure to the sun or to other forms of breakage from extended use.

As the rubber strap begins to wear, the material eventually fails, causing the swing to break. If the swing breaks under the weight of a child using the swing, then the strap can separate into two halves, frequently causing the child to fall and suffer an injury. Even if the swing breaks when no child is present, the strap will require replacement before the swing can be safely used again. 

In addition to the risk of deterioration or other breakage of the rubber strap seat, the connection between a conventional seat and the suspending chains often involves hooked ends of a chain being received through a hole in the end margin of the seat or a hinged ring attached thereto.

The hooked ends of the chains often point inward (toward a child, along the same general end-to-end direction in which the seat extends). Inwardly projecting hooks are particularly prevalent with strap seats where the chains are received through holes in the end margins. These hooks or other connecting elements protrude inward towards a child during use of the swing and can cause injury, particularly during mounting or dismounting of the swing.

The danger presented by inwardly projecting hooks is exacerbated when the end margins of the strap shift due to deterioration or breakage, presenting a significant danger to a child using such a swing. 

Sheets’ and Neusch’s invention provides a reinforced swing seat assembly for use in a playset that preferably includes an elongated seat element with a reinforcing member extending therealong, and connecting elements operably associated with the reinforcing member for coupling the seat element to suspending elements.

The reinforcing member prevents breakage of the seat element by adding tensile strength between end margins thereof, and the preferred construction of the connecting elements eliminates inwardly oriented projections that may otherwise injure a child using the swing. The features provided by the swing seat assembly maintain safe operation of the swing. 

According to one aspect of the present invention, a reinforced swing seat assembly is provided for use in a playset. The assembly includes an elongated seat element that presents a top face, a bottom face, and opposite end margins. The assembly also includes a reinforcing member that extends along the seat element. The reinforcing member comprises a different material than the seat element and has a tensile strength that is greater than the tensile strength of the seat element. The reinforcing member extends continuously from one end margin of the seat element to the other, and includes an elongated central portion and opposite end portions. The assembly further includes a pair of rigid connecting elements that are configured to operably couple the seat element with suspending elements. Each of the connecting elements is operably associated with a respective one of the end portions of the reinforcing member and at least partially projects from a corresponding one of the end margins of the seat element. Each of the connecting elements extends generally away from the corresponding end margin of the seat element along a connection plane. Each of the connection planes is generally parallel with at least a portion of the top face of the seat element adjacent the corresponding connecting element such that the connecting elements are prevented from extending inwardly beyond the top face of the seat element. 

Another aspect of the present invention concerns a swing assembly for use in a playset. The assembly includes a pair of suspending elements configured for suspending the swing seat from a frame of the playset. The assembly further includes a reinforced swing seat that presents a top face, a bottom face, and opposite end margins. The swing seat includes a reinforcing member that extends along the seat and is encased therein. The reinforcing member is formed of a different material than the seat and has a tensile strength that is greater than the tensile strength of the seat. The reinforcing member extends continuously from one end margin of the seat to the other, and includes an elongated central portion and opposite end portions. The swing seat includes a pair of hooks, where each hook is associated with a respective one of the end portions of the reinforcing member and at least partially projects from a corresponding one of the end margins of the seat. Each of the hooks is operably coupled with a respective one of the suspending elements. Each of the hooks extends generally away from the corresponding end margin of the seat along a connection plane, where each connection plane is generally parallel with at least a portion of the top face of the seat adjacent the corresponding hook such that the hooks are prevented from extending inwardly beyond the top face of the seat.