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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 14

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
AUSTIN DIVISION
HELLAS CONSTRUCTION, INC.
Plaintiff,
v.
BROCK USA, LLC, d/b/a BROCK
INTERNATIONAL LLC

Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-842

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

Defendant.
COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Hellas Construction, Inc. (Plaintiff or Hellas) bring this action for
declaratory judgment of patent non-infringement, federal unfair competition, and tortious
interference against Defendant Brock USA, LLC, doing business as Brock International LLC
(Brock), and alleges as follows:
THE PARTIES
1.

Hellas Construction, Inc. (Hellas) is a Texas corporation having its principal

place of business at 12710 Research Blvd, Suite 240, Austin, TX 78759.


2.

Upon information and belief, Brock USA, LLC d/b/a Brock International LLC

(Brock) is a Colorado limited liability corporation with its principal place of business at 2840
Wilderness Place, Unit C, Boulder, CO 80301. Brock does not maintain a registered agent in the
State of Texas but, as set forth in paragraph 7 below, engages in business in Texas and is subject
to jurisdiction in Texas. As such, service of process may be made through the Texas Secretary
of State pursuant to 17.041, et seq of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, who will
forward process to Brock at its home office address, Brock USA, LLC, attn.: Dan Sawyer, 2840

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 14

Wilderness Place, Unit C, Boulder, CO 80301. Mr. Sawyer is Brocks CEO and Registered
Agent for service.
NATURE OF THE ACTION
3.

This is a civil action arising under the patent laws of the United States,

(35 U.S.C. 1, et seq., and particularly 35 U.S.C. 271), the unfair competition laws of the
United States (15 U.S.C. 1125(a)), the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. 2201, 2202),
and unfair competition and/or tort laws of the State of Texas.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
4.

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to

28 U.S.C. 1331 and 28 U.S.C. 1338(a) because this matter involves federal questions arising
under the patent laws of the United States (35 U.S.C. 1, et seq., and particularly
35 U.S.C. 271) and under the unfair competition laws of the United States (15 U.S.C.
1125(a)).
5.

This Court also has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to

28 U.S.C. 1332 because there is diversity of citizenship between the parties to this suit and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, exclusive of interests and costs.
6.

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1367 with respect to

the state law claims, which arise from a common nucleus of operative facts.
7.

This Court has personal jurisdiction over Brock because Brock has continuous

and systematic contacts with the State of Texas, regularly conducts business in the State of
Texas, and has directed its activities resulting in the necessity for this action at residents of the
State of Texas. Brock regularly markets and sells turf system base products in the State of Texas
and otherwise engages in and solicits business in the State of Texas, and has sold these products

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 14

to Hellas on at least nine (9) occasions, including three delivered to Texas for Texas projects.
Additionally, Brock sells and markets its PaverBase products in Texas through Home Depot and
Lowes home stores, and these stores maintain an inventory of Brock products in Texas, and
Brock also markets and sells other flooring products through Home Depot and a network of
distributors and installers throughout the State of Texas. Moreover, set forth below, Brock has
engaged in tortious conduct directly aimed at and causing injury to Hellas, a Texas resident.
8.

Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1391 because a

substantial part of the events giving rise to this action occurred in this judicial district, and
further because Brock is subject to personal jurisdiction in this judicial district.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
9.

Hellas, headquartered in Austin, Texas, has been in the business of constructing

sports facilities, including manufacturing, designing, installing, and maintaining turf, track,
tennis, and other athletic surfaces since 2003.
10.

Hellas has been involved in over 2,500 projects throughout the United States, and

its clients range from elementary schools and local parks to the Dallas Cowboys.
11.

Defendant Brock is in the business of manufacturing and/or selling synthetic turf

underlayment products, including the Brock PowerBase, PowerBase YSR, and SP14
underlayment products.
12.

Brocks synthetic turf underlayment products are sold in competition with, inter

alia, products designed and manufactured by Nexxfield, Inc. 1, such as Nexxfields NexxPAD
underlayment product (the NexxPAD Product).

Nexxfield, Inc. is a Canadian corporation based in Quebec, Canada (Nexxfield), that designs,
manufactures and sells strong, durable, and environmentally friendly artificial athletic turf
systems.
3

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 4 of 14

13.

Brocks SP14 product was under consideration for use in a synthetic turf athletic

field installation project at a site in Northern California known as the Santa Lucia project.
14.

Hellas submitted a bid for the Santa Lucia project, which specified Nexxfields

NexxPAD Product as the underlayment material to be used.


15.

On or about June 29, 2016, Mr. David Brown, Brocks Regional Sales

Representative for Northern California, sent architect Marvin Armstrong an email inquiring
whether Brock would be hired for the Santa Lucia project.

Mr. Armstrong immediately

informed Mr. Brown that Plaintiff Hellas would be handling construction for the Santa Lucia
project, and that the Nexxfield NexxPAD Product would be used for the project instead of the
Brock SP14 product.
16.

Upon information and belief, Mr. Brown then notified Brocks CEO Mr. Dan

Sawyer of architect Armstrongs decision to use Hellas and to use the NexxPAD Product.
17.

On June 30, 2016, Mr. Sawyer, sent to Mr. Reed Seaton, CEO of Hellas, an email

communicating Brocks immediate intent to name Hellas a party to a patent infringement


lawsuit. In his email, Mr. Sawyer stated: [the NexxPAD] product infringes our patents and by
selling it you will have to be named in the suit[,] and Ill call you once I have spoken to with
[sic] the attorneys. You will probably get a letter.
18.

Subsequently, on July 1, 2016, Brocks employee Mr. Brown again emailed Mr.

Armstrong to inform him that the NexxPAD Product is a copycat product out of Canada and
that use of the NexxPAD Product potentially creates a patent infringement issue for the
project, which Brock has been pursuing . . . with NexxPAD for some time.
19.

The patents at issue include U.S. Patent Nos. 8,236,392; 8,353,640; 8,568,840;

8,597,754; 8,603,601; and D637,318 (collectively, the Patents-In-Suit).

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 5 of 14

20.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

8,236,392 (the 392 Patent), which is titled Base For Turf System and issued on August 7,
2012. A true and correct copy of the 392 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
21.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

8,353,640 (the 640 Patent), which is titled Load Supporting Panel Having Impact Absorbing
Structure and issued on January 15, 2013. A true and correct copy of the 640 Patent is attached
hereto as Exhibit B.
22.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

8,568,840 (the 840 Patent), which is titled Base For Turf System and issued on October 29,
2013. A true and correct copy of the 840 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit C.
23.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

8,597,754 (the 754 Patent), which is titled Base For Turf System and issued on December
3, 2013. A true and correct copy of the 754 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit D.
24.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

8,603,601 (the 601 Patent), which is titled Base For Turf System and issued on December
10, 2013. A true and correct copy of the 601 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit E.
25.

On information and belief, Brock is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No.

D637,318 (the 318 Patent), which is titled Turf Underlayment and issued on May 3, 2011.
A true and correct copy of the 318 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit F.
26.

Brocks allegations that anyone who uses the Nexxfields NexxPAD product will

infringe Brocks patent rights, misrepresents the scope of the Patents-In-Suit, and are intended to
broadly convey that use of other contractors and/or other underlayment products will subject one
to a patent infringement lawsuit, with the goal of deterring potential competitors from entering

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 6 of 14

the market and deterring prospective athletic field purchasers and athletic field construction
companies from using anyone other than Brock for those products and/or services.
27.

On information and belief, Brock has made such false representations and legal

threats to other prospective customers of Hellas and to others in the industry.


28.

Uncertainty as to Hellass ability to use Nexxfields NexxPAD Product places a

cloud over Hellass existing and prospective projects.


COUNT I
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 392 PATENT
29.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


30.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 392 Patent.


31.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 392 Patent.


32.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 392 Patent.
33.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.


COUNT II
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 640 PATENT
34.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 7 of 14

35.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 640 Patent.


36.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 640 Patent.


37.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 640 Patent.
38.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.


COUNT III
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 840 PATENT
39.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


40.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 840 Patent.


41.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 840 Patent.


42.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 840 Patent.
43.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 8 of 14

COUNT IV
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 754 PATENT
44.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


45.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 754 Patent.


46.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 754 Patent.


47.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 754 Patent.
48.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.


COUNT V
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 601 PATENT
49.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


50.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 601 Patent.


51.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 601 Patent.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 9 of 14

52.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 601 Patent.
53.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.


COUNT VI
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
OF THE 318 PATENT
54.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


55.

As a result of the acts described above, a real and substantial controversy exists as

to whether Hellas infringes the 318 Patent.


56.

A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate so that Hellas may ascertain its

rights regarding the 318 Patent.


57.

Hellas accordingly seeks a judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of

Nexxfields NexxPAD Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or


under the doctrine of equivalent, of any claim of the 318 Patent.
58.

Such a judicial declaration will serve a useful purpose and resolve a controversy

that has arisen between Hellas and Brock.


COUNT VII
UNFAIR COMPETITION UNDER SECTION 43(a)
OF THE LANHAM ACT
59.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 10 of 14

60.

The aforesaid false and misleading representations of patent infringement and

threats of legal action made willfully by Brock have created and were intended to create
confusion, mistake, and deception among potential customers and others in the trade and to
divert prospective customers of Hellas.
61.

The aforesaid false representations are likely to unfairly influence Hellass

prospective customers and others purchasing and business decisions and, on information and
belief, have in fact unfairly influenced Hellass prospective customers and have damaged
Hellass existing and prospective business relationships.
62.

Hellas is also likely to be injured by the aforesaid false representations by

declining sales, and on information and belief, has lost sales due to the aforesaid false
representations.
63.

Hellas is, therefore, entitled to recover damages and lost profits from Brock in an

amount to be proved at trial.


64.

Hellas has also suffered, is suffering, and will continue suffering irreparable

injury to its goodwill for which Hellas has no adequate remedy at law.
65.

Brocks false representations and threats of legal action will continue unless

Brock is enjoined by this Court from the commission of such acts.


66.

Hellas is therefore entitled to an injunction, which enjoins Brock from continuing

to make false representations regarding the scope of the Patents-In-Suit and also enjoins Brock
from otherwise harming Hellass existing and prospective business relationships.

10

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 11 of 14

COUNT VIII
TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH PROSPECTIVE
CONTRACTUAL OR BUSINESS RELATIONS
67.

Hellas realleges and incorporates by reference each of the foregoing numbered

paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.


68.

As described above, and on information and belief with respect to other parties,

Brock has tortiously interfered with Hellass actual contracts and prospective business relations
by suggesting that doing business with Hellas would result in the use of products that infringe
Brocks patents.
69.

On information and belief, such communications were made to induce

prospective parties to business relationships with Hellas to refrain from doing business with
Hellas, and such communications were intended to cause harm to and the destruction of such
relationships.
70.

Brocks conduct was not privileged or justified, and it has caused injury and harm

to Hellass business relationships, including foreseeable injury and harm that has occurred, in
part, to Hellas in the State of Texas.

REQUEST FOR JURY TRIAL


Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b), Hellas hereby requests a trial
by jury of all issues so triable.

11

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 12 of 14

PRAYER FOR RELIEF


WHEREFORE, Hellas respectfully prays for the following relief:
1.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 392 Patent.
2.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 640 Patent.
3.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 840 Patent.
4.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 754 Patent.
5.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 601 Patent.
6.

A judicial declaration that no activities relating to use of Nexxfields NexxPAD

Product constitute infringement, directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of
equivalents, of any claim of the 318 Patent.

12

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 13 of 14

7.

A preliminary and permanent injunction ordering that Brock, its officers, agents,

servants, employees, attorneys, and all other persons in active concert with or participation with
them be forthwith enjoined and restrained from:
i. Engaging in any acts or activities directly or indirectly calculated
to cause injury to Hellass business relationships;
ii. Engaging in any acts or activities directly or indirectly calculated
to harm Hellass goodwill or in any way tarnish the reputation of
Hellas; and
iii. Unfairly competing with Hellas in any manner whatsoever.
8.

A judgment against Brock awarding Hellas damages and lost profits suffered as a

result of Brocks unfair competition, together with appropriate interest on such damages, and that
such damages be trebled;
9.

An order declaring that Hellas is a prevailing party and that this is an exceptional

case, and awarding Hellas its reasonable attorneys fees under 35 U.S.C. 285 and
15 U.S.C. 1117;
10.

An order that Brock pay all costs, expenses, and/or disbursements incurred by

Hellas and associated with this action; and


11.

Such other and additional relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Respectfully submitted on this 5th day of July, 2016.


/s/ Mark C. Taylor__________________
Mark C. Taylor (Texas Bar No. 19713225)
WALLER LANSDEN DORTCH & DAVIS, LLP
100 Congress Avenue, Suite 1800
Austin, Texas 78701
Telephone: (512) 685-6400
13

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 14 of 14

Fascimile: (512) 685-6417


Mark.Taylor@wallerlaw.com
Nathan J. Bailey (TN BPR # 026183)
(to be admitted pro hac vice)
WALLER LANSDEN DORTCH & DAVIS, LLP
Nashville City Center
511 Union Street, Suite 2700
Nashville, TN 37219
Telephone: (615) 244-6380
Facsimile: (615) 244-6804
Nate.Bailey@wallerlaw.com
Attorneys for Hellas Construction, Inc.

14

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-1 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 1

CIVIL COVER SHEET

JS 44 (Rev. 0/16)

The JS 44 civil cover sheet and the information contained herein neither replace nor supplement the filing and service of pleadings or other papers as required by law, except as
provided by local rules of court. This form, approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in September 1974, is required for the use of the Clerk of Court for the
purpose of initiating the civil docket sheet. (SEE INSTRUCTIONS ON NEXT PAGE OF THIS FORM.)

I. (a) PLAINTIFFS

DEFENDANTS

HELLAS CONSTRUCTION, INC.

BROCK USA, LLC, d/b/a BROCK INTERNATIONAL LLC

(b) County of Residence of First Listed Plaintiff

Travis

County of Residence of First Listed Defendant

(EXCEPT IN U.S. PLAINTIFF CASES)


NOTE:

(c) Attorneys (Firm Name, Address, and Telephone Number)

Attorneys (If Known)

Mark C. Taylor, WALLER LANSDEN DORTCH & DAVIS, LLP


100 Congress Avenue, Suite 1800, Austin, Texas 78701
Telephone: (512) 685-6400

II. BASIS OF JURISDICTION (Place an X in One Box Only)


u 1

U.S. Government
Plaintiff

u 3

Federal Question
(U.S. Government Not a Party)

u 2

U.S. Government
Defendant

u 4

Diversity
(Indicate Citizenship of Parties in Item III)

(IN U.S. PLAINTIFF CASES ONLY)


IN LAND CONDEMNATION CASES, USE THE LOCATION OF
THE TRACT OF LAND INVOLVED.

III. CITIZENSHIP OF PRINCIPAL PARTIES (Place an X in One Box for Plaintiff


(For Diversity Cases Only)
PTF
Citizen of This State
u 1

DEF
u 1

and One Box for Defendant)


PTF
DEF
Incorporated or Principal Place
u 4
u 4
of Business In This State

Citizen of Another State

u 2

Incorporated and Principal Place


of Business In Another State

u 5

u 5

Citizen or Subject of a
Foreign Country

u 3

Foreign Nation

u 6

u 6

IV. NATURE OF SUIT (Place an X in One Box Only)


CONTRACT
u
u
u
u
u
u
u

u
u
u
u
u

TORTS

110 Insurance
120 Marine
130 Miller Act
140 Negotiable Instrument
150 Recovery of Overpayment
& Enforcement of Judgment
151 Medicare Act
152 Recovery of Defaulted
Student Loans
(Excludes Veterans)
153 Recovery of Overpayment
of Veterans Benefits
160 Stockholders Suits
190 Other Contract
195 Contract Product Liability
196 Franchise

u
u
u
u
u
u
u
u
u
u

u
u
u
u
u
u

REAL PROPERTY
210 Land Condemnation
220 Foreclosure
230 Rent Lease & Ejectment
240 Torts to Land
245 Tort Product Liability
290 All Other Real Property

u
u
u
u
u
u
u

PERSONAL INJURY
310 Airplane
315 Airplane Product
Liability
320 Assault, Libel &
Slander
330 Federal Employers
Liability
340 Marine
345 Marine Product
Liability
350 Motor Vehicle
355 Motor Vehicle
Product Liability
360 Other Personal
Injury
362 Personal Injury Medical Malpractice
CIVIL RIGHTS
440 Other Civil Rights
441 Voting
442 Employment
443 Housing/
Accommodations
445 Amer. w/Disabilities Employment
446 Amer. w/Disabilities Other
448 Education

FORFEITURE/PENALTY

PERSONAL INJURY
u 365 Personal Injury Product Liability
u 367 Health Care/
Pharmaceutical
Personal Injury
Product Liability
u 368 Asbestos Personal
Injury Product
Liability
PERSONAL PROPERTY
u 370 Other Fraud
u 371 Truth in Lending
u 380 Other Personal
Property Damage
u 385 Property Damage
Product Liability
PRISONER PETITIONS
Habeas Corpus:
u 463 Alien Detainee
u 510 Motions to Vacate
Sentence
u 530 General
u 535 Death Penalty
Other:
u 540 Mandamus & Other
u 550 Civil Rights
u 555 Prison Condition
u 560 Civil Detainee Conditions of
Confinement

u 625 Drug Related Seizure


of Property 21 USC 881
u 690 Other

BANKRUPTCY
u 422 Appeal 28 USC 158
u 423 Withdrawal
28 USC 157
PROPERTY RIGHTS
u 820 Copyrights
u 830 Patent
u 840 Trademark

LABOR
u 710 Fair Labor Standards
Act
u 720 Labor/Management
Relations
u 740 Railway Labor Act
u 751 Family and Medical
Leave Act
u 790 Other Labor Litigation
u 791 Employee Retirement
Income Security Act

u
u
u
u
u

SOCIAL SECURITY
861 HIA (1395ff)
862 Black Lung (923)
863 DIWC/DIWW (405(g))
864 SSID Title XVI
865 RSI (405(g))

FEDERAL TAX SUITS


u 870 Taxes (U.S. Plaintiff
or Defendant)
u 871 IRSThird Party
26 USC 7609

IMMIGRATION
u 462 Naturalization Application
u 465 Other Immigration
Actions

OTHER STATUTES
u 375 False Claims Act
u 376 Qui Tam (31 USC
3729(a))
u 400 State Reapportionment
u 410 Antitrust
u 430 Banks and Banking
u 450 Commerce
u 460 Deportation
u 470 Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations
u 480 Consumer Credit
u 490 Cable/Sat TV
u 850 Securities/Commodities/
Exchange
u 890 Other Statutory Actions
u 891 Agricultural Acts
u 893 Environmental Matters
u 895 Freedom of Information
Act
u 896 Arbitration
u 899 Administrative Procedure
Act/Review or Appeal of
Agency Decision
u 950 Constitutionality of
State Statutes

V. ORIGIN (Place an X in One Box Only)


u 1 Original
Proceeding

u 2 Removed from
State Court

u 3

Remanded from
Appellate Court

u 4 Reinstated or
Reopened

u 5 Transferred from
Another District

u 6 Multidistrict
Litigation Transfer
(specify)
Cite the U.S. Civil Statute under which you are filing (Do not cite jurisdictional statutes unless diversity):

u 8 Multidistrict
Litigation Direct File

35 U.S.C. 271, 15 U.S.C. 1125, 28 U.S.C. 2201

VI. CAUSE OF ACTION Brief description of cause:

Declaratory judgment of patent non-infringement, unfair competition

u CHECK IF THIS IS A CLASS ACTION


VII. REQUESTED IN
UNDER RULE 23, F.R.Cv.P.
COMPLAINT:
VIII. RELATED CASE(S)
(See instructions):
IF ANY
JUDGE
DATE

CHECK YES only if demanded in complaint:


u Yes
u No
JURY DEMAND:

DEMAND $

DOCKET NUMBER

SIGNATURE OF ATTORNEY OF RECORD

/s/Mark. C. Taylor

07/05/2016
FOR OFFICE USE ONLY
RECEIPT #

AMOUNT

APPLYING IFP

JUDGE

MAG. JUDGE

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 22

EXHIBIT A
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 22

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll lllll lllll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


US008236392B2

c12)

United States Patent

(IO)

Sawyer et al.

(45)

(54)

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

(75)

Inventors: Steven Lee Sawyer, Piacenza (IT);


Daniel C. Sawyer, Boulder, CO (US);
Richard R. Runkles, Longmont, CO
(US)

(73)

Assignee: Brock USA, LLC, Boulder, CO (US)

( *)

Notice:

(21)

Appl. No.: 12/009,835

(22)

Filed:

(65)

(58)

US 8,236,392 B2
Aug. 7, 2012

Field of Classification Search ........................ None


See application file for complete search history.

(56)

References Cited

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS


3,735,988
3,974,312
4,007,307
4,287,693
4,389,435
4,497,853
4,501,420
4,505,960
4,535,021
4,946,719

Subject to any disclaimer, the term ofthis


patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 1131 days.

A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

*
*

5/1973
8/1976
2/1977
9/1981
6/1983
2/1985
2/1985
3/1985
8/1985
8/1990

Palmer et al. ................. 473/162


Stevens et al.
Friedrich
Collette .......................... 52/177
Haas, Jr.
Tomarin
Dury
Leffingwell
Friedrich
Dempsey

(Continued)

Jan.22,2008

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS

Prior Publication Data

US 2008/0176010Al

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

Jul. 24, 2008

JP

2000073525 A

3/2000

(Continued)
Related U.S. Application Data

(60)

(51)

(52)

Provisional application No. 60/881,293, filed on Jan.


19, 2007, provisional application No. 60/927,975,
filed on May 7, 2007, provisional application No.
61/000,503, filed on Oct. 26, 2007, provisional
application No. 61/003,731, filed on Nov. 20, 2007.
Int. Cl.
AOJN 3100
(2006.01)
B32B 33100
(2006.01)
B32B 7108
(2006.01)
B32B 3102
(2006.01)
E04F 13108
(2006.01)
E04C 3100
(2006.01)
E02B 11100
(2006.01)
EOJC 5116
(2006.01)
EOJC 5100
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl. ................ 428/17; 428/52; 428/85; 428/95;
52/391; 52/578; 405/50; 405/36; 404/35;
404/41

OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Ecore International ShockPad Brochure. Retrieved from Internet:
<www.regupol.com> Jan. 14, 2008.

(Continued)
Primary Examiner - Gordon R Baldwin
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm - MacMillan, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC

(57)

ABSTRACT

An underlayment layer is configured to support an artificial

turf assembly. The underlayment layer comprises a core with


a top side and a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of
spaced apart, upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable for water flow along the top side of the core when
the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying
artificial turf assembly.
8 Claims, 11 Drawing Sheets

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 22


US 8,236,392 B2
Page 2
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
5,019,194
5,098,673
5,292,130
5,383,314
5,460,867
5,467,462
5,489,462
5,514,722
5,605,721
5,976,645
6,221,445
6,616,542
6,740,387
6,796,096
6,818,274
6,858,272
6,877,932
7,014,390
7,090,430
2002/0083673
2004/0058096
2005/0028475
2005/0089678
2006/00397 54
2006/0045994
2006/0121236
2006/0141231
2008/0113161

A
A
A
A *
A
A
A
A
A
A
Bl
Bl
Bl
Bl
Bl
B2
B2
Bl
Bl
Al *
Al
Al*
Al
Al *
Al
Al
Al*
Al

5/1991
3/1992
3/1994
111995
10/1995
1111995
2/1996
5/1996
2/1997
1111999
4/2001
9/2003
512004
912004

1112004
212005
412005

3/2006
8/2006
712002

3/2004
212005
412005
212006

3/2006
612006
612006

5/2008

Friedrich
Engel et al.
Hooper
Rothberg
52/169.5
Magnuson et al.
Fujii
Sieber
Di Geronimo
Di Geronimo
Daluise et al.
Jones
Reddick
Lemieux
Heath
Buck et al.
Squires
Prevost
Morris
Fletcher
Kettler et al.
52/578
Prevost
Barlow et al.
52/578
Mead
Linville .......................... 404173
Dipple et al.
Prevost
Lemieux ....................... 428/218
Grimble et al.

*
2006-130288
200121867 Yl
200313921 Yl

1020040010413 A

112004

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

512006

A-Turf A-Turf Premier-R 4512.25 LSR 3-Part Spec. Retrieved from


Internet: <www.aturf.com> Jan. 14, 2008.
Schmitz Foam Products ProPlay for sports areas and playgrounds
Brochure. Retrieved from Internet: <www.schmitzfoam.com> Nov.
1, 2006.
Sirex 3R Foam-Recycled, Post Industrial, Cross-Link, Closed
Polyethylene Foam The Product Brochure. Retrieved from Internet:
<www.recycledfoam.com/product.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
Sirex 3R Foam-Recycled, Post Industrial, Cross-Link, Closed
Polyethylene Foam 3R-Foam Application Brochure. Retrieved from
Internet: <www.recycledfoam.com/applications_sports_outdoor.
html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, The XL Technology Brochure. Retrieved
from Internet: <www.xlturf.com/xltechnology.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, Product Tests Brochure. Retrieved from
Internet: <www.xlturf.com/tests.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, The Athletic Dynamic Response System
(ADR) Brochure. Retrieved from Internet: <www.xlturf.com/adr.
html> Nov. 1, 2006.
Mark Harrison, Factors Affecting the Results of the 'Berlin Artificial
Athlete'ShockAbsorption Test. Mar. 9, 1999 Retrieved from Internet:
<www.isss.de/publications/ArtificalAthlete/mark039 .html>.
PCT/US2008/000809, International Preliminary Report on Patentability, dated Jul. 21, 2009.
PCT International Search Report, Application No. PCT/USll/
024475, Date Feb. ll, 2010.

9/1998
5/2003

* cited by examiner

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS


JP
KR
KR

KR

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 15 of 22


US 8,236,392 B2
1

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

mation characteristic associated with a bodily impact characteristic. The first and second deformation characteristics are
complimentary to provide a turf system bodily impact characteristic and a turf system athletic response characteristic.
A method of assembling an underlayment layer to an adjacent underlayment layer includes providing a first underlayment layer on top of a substrate. The underlayment layer has
at least one edge with a top side flap, a bottom side flap, and
a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. A second
underlayment layer is positioned adjacent to the first underlayment layer and on top of the substrate. The second underlayment layer also ahs at least one edge with a top side flap, a
bottom side flap, and a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. The first underlayment layer top side flap is
deflected in an upward direction between a comer and the flap
assembly groove. The second underlayment layer bottom
side flap is inserted under the upwardly deflected first underlayment layer top side flap. Finally, the first underlayment
layer top side flap is downwardly deflected into engagement
with the second underlayment layer bottom side flap.
Various aspects of this invention will become apparent to
those skilled in the art from the following detailed description
of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accomparrying drawings.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional
Application No. 60/881,293, filed Jan. 19, 2007; U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/927,975, filed May 7, 2007; U.S.
Provisional Application No. 61/000,503, filed Oct. 26, 2007;
and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/003, 731, filed Nov.
20, 2007, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by
reference.
TECHNICAL FIELD

10

15

This invention relates in general to artificial turf systems of


the type used in athletic fields, ornamental lawns and gardens,
and playgrounds.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Artificial turf systems are commonly used for sports playing fields and more particularly to artificial playing fields.
Artificial turf systems can also be used for synthetic lawns
and golf courses, rugby fields, playgrounds, and other similar
types of fields or floor coverings. Artificial turf systems typically comprise a turf assembly and a foundation, which can be
made of such materials as asphalt, graded earth, compacted
gravel or crushed rock. Optionally, an underlying resilient
base or underlayment layer may be disposed between the turf
assembly and the foundation. The turf assembly is typically
made of strands of plastic artificial grass blades attached to a
turfbacking. An infill material, which typically is a mixture of
sand and ground rubber particles, may be applied among the
vertically oriented artificial grass blades, typically covering
the lower half or 2/3 of the blades.

20

25

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

30

35

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


This invention relates to a turfunderlayment layer configured to support an artificial turf assembly. The turfunderlayment layer has panels including edges that are configured to
interlock with the edges of adjacent panels to form a vertical
interlocking connection. The interlocking connection is
capable of substantially preventing relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent connected
panel. The underlayment comprises a core with a top side and
a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of spaced apart,
upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable
for water flow along the top side of the core when the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying artificial turf
assembly.
The top side may include an upper support surface in
contact with the artificial turf assembly. The upper support
surface, in tum, may have a plurality of channels configured
to allow water flow along the top side of the core. The upper
support surfaces may be substantially flat. The bottom side
may include a lower support surface that is in contact with a
foundation layer and also have a plurality of channels configured to allow water flow along the bottom side of the core. A
plurality of spaced apart drain holes connects the upper support surface channels with the lower support surface channels
to allow water flow through the core.
The plurality of spaced apart projections on the top side are
deformable under a compressive load. The projections define
a first deformation characteristic associated with an athletic
response characteristic and the core defines a second defor-

40

45

50

55

60

65

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view in elevation ofan


artificial turf system.
FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of an embodiment
of an underlayment panel assembly.
FIG. 2A is an enlarged, perspective view of an underlayment panel of the panel assembly of FIG. 2.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of an alternative embodiment of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross sectional view, in elevation, of
the interlocking edge of the underlayment panel of FIG. 3 and
an adjacent mated underlayment panel.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an embodiment of an interlocking edge and bottom side projections of the underlayment
panel.
FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of the assembly of
the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels.
FIG. 6A is a schematic plan view of the interlocking edge
of FIG. 6.
FIG. 7 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the
interlocking edges of the underlayment panels.
FIG. 8 is an elevation view of the assembly of the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged plan view of an embodiment of a
drainage channel and infill trap and a frictional surface of the
underlayment panel.
FIG.10 is an elevation view in cross section of the drainage
channel and infill trap of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12A is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12B is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an embodiment ofa bottom
side of the underlayment drainage panel.
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of an underlayment panel showing projections in a free-state, unloaded
condition.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 16 of 22


US 8,236,392 B2
3

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 14 showing the deflection of the projections under a vertical load.
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 15 showing the deflection of the projections and panel core under an increased vertical load.
FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a panel with spaced apart
friction members configured to interact with downwardly
oriented ridges on the artificial turf assembly.

24 is to add stability to the field, improve traction between the

10

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED


EMBODIMENT
The turf system shown in FIG. 1 is indicated generally at
10. The turf system includes an artificial turf assembly 12, an
underlayment layer 14 and a foundation layer 16. The foundation layer 16 can comprise a layer 18 of crushed stone or
aggregate, or any other suitable material. Numerous types of
foundation layers are known to those skilled in the art. The
crushed stone layer 18 can be laid on a foundation base, such
as compacted soil, a poured concrete base, or a layer of
asphalt paving, not shown. Alternatively, the underlayment
layer 14 may be applied over the asphalt or concrete base,
omitting the crushed stone layer, if so desired. In many turf
systems used for an athletic field, the foundation layers are
graded to a contour such that water will drain to the perimeter
of the field and no water will pool anywhere on the surface.
The artificial turf assembly 12 includes strands of synthetic
grass blades 20 attached to a turf backing 22. An optional
infill material 24 may be applied to the grass blades 20. The
synthetic grass blades 20 can be made of any material suitable
for artificial turf, many examples of which are well known in
the art. Typically the synthetic grass blades are about 5 cm in
length although any length can be used. The blades 20 of
artificial grass are securely placed or tufted onto the backing
22. One form of blades that can be used is a relatively wide
polymer film that is slit or fibrillated into several thinner film
blades after the wide film is tufted onto the backing 22. In
another form, the blades 20 are relatively thin polymer films
(monofilament) that look like individual grass blades without
being fibrillated. Both of these can be colored to look like
blades of grass and are attached to the backing 22.
The backing layer 22 of the turf assembly 12 is typically
water-porous by itself, but is often optionally coated with a
water-impervious coating 26A, such as for example urethane,
for dimensional stability of the turf. In order to allow water to
drain vertically through the backing 22, the backing can be
provided with spaced apart holes 25A. In an alternative
arrangement, the water impervious coating is either partially
applied, or is applied fully and then scraped off in some
portions, such as drain portion 25B, to allow water to drain
through the backing layer22. The blades 20 of grass fibers are
typically tufted onto the backing 22 in rows that have a regular
spacing, such as rows that are spaced about 2 centimeters to
about 4 centimeters apart, for example. The incorporation of
the grass fibers 20 into the backing layer 22 sometimes results
in a series of spaced apart, substantially parallel, urethane
coated corrugations or ridges 26B on the bottom surface 28 of
the backing layer 22 formed by the grass blade tufts. Ridges
26B can be present even where the fibers are not exposed.
The optional infill material 24 of the turf assembly 12,
when applicable, is placed in between the blades 20 of artificial grass and on top of the backing 22. If the infill material 24
is applied, the material volume is typically an amount that
covers only a bottom portion of the synthetic grass blades 20
so that the top portions of the blades stick out above the infill
material 24. The typical purpose of the optional infill material

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

athlete's shoe and the play surface, and to improve shock


attenuation of the field. The infill material 24 is typically sand
24A or ground up rubber particles or synthetic particulate
24B or mixtures of these, although other materials can be
used.
When the backing layer 22 has holes 25A or a porous
section 25B for water drainage, then some of the infill material 24 is able to wash through the backing layer porous
section 25B or the backing layer drainage holes 25A and onto
the turf underlayment layer 14. This infill migration, or
migration of the infill constituents, is undesirable because the
depletion of the infill material 24 results in a field that doesn't
have the initially designed stability and firmness characteristics. Excessive migration of the infill material 24, or the infill
constituent components, to the turf underlayment layer 14 can
create a hard layer which makes the whole system less able to
absorb impacts.
The turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of expanded
polyolefin foam beads, which can be expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polyethylene (EPE), or any other
suitable material. The foam beads are closed cell (water
impervious) beads. In one optional method of manufacture,
the beads are originally manufactured as tiny solid plastic
pellets, which are later processed in a controlled pressure
chamber to expand them into larger foam beads having a
diameter within the range of from about 2 millimeters to
about 5 millimeters. The foam beads are then blown into a
closed mold under pressure so they are tightly packed.
Finally, steam is used to heat the mold surface so the beads
soften and melt together at the interfaces, forming the turf
underlayment layer 14 as a solid material that is water impervious. Other methods of manufacture can be used, such as
mixing the beads with an adhesive or glue material to form a
slurry. The slurry is then molded to shape and the adhesive
cured. The slurry mix underlayment may be porous through
the material thickness to drain water away. This porous underlayment structure may also include other drainage features
discussed below. The final EPP material can be made in
different densities by starting with a different density bead, or
by any other method. The material can also be made in various
colors. The resulting underlayment structure, made by either
the steam molding or the slurry mixing processes, may be
formed as a water impervious underlayment or a porous
underlayment. These resulting underlayment layer structures
may further include any of the drainage, deflection, and interlocking features discussed below.
Alternatively, the turfunderlayment layer 14 can be made
from a molding and expansion of small pipe sections of
foamed material, similar to small foamed macaroni. The
small pipe sections of foamed material are heated and fused
together in the mold in the same way as the spherical beads.
The holes in the pipe sections keep the underlayment layer
from being a totally solid material, and some water can drain
through the underlayment layer. Additionally, varying the
hollow section geometry may provide an ability to vary the
material density in order to selectively adjust the performance
of the turf system.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of a plurality of underlayment
panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D. Each of the panels have
similar side edges 32A, 32B, 32C, and 32D. The panels
further have substantially planar major faces, i.e., top sides 34
and bottom sides 36. The substantially flat planar faces, top
sides 34 and bottom sides 36, define a core 35 therebetween.
There are flaps 37, 38 and fittings 40, indicated generally, are
arranged along the edges 32A-D as shown. In one embodi-

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 17 of 22


US 8,236,392 B2
5

ment shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A, the flaps 37 and 38 are


configured to include top side flaps 37A, 38A, 38B and bottom side flaps 37D, 38C, 38D. For reference purposes only,
top side flaps 38A and 38B are shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A as
having a patterned surface contiguous with, the top side 34.
Likewise, FIG. 3 shows the top side flaps 37A and 37B of
panel 30A-D having a substantially flat surface adjacent to an
upper support surface 52 that supports the backing layer 22 of
the turf assembly 12. Alternatively, the top side flaps 37A,
37B, 38A and 38B can have either a substantially flat surface
adjacent to, or a patterned surface contiguous with, the top
side 34. Bottom side flaps are similarly associated with the
bottom side 36 or a lower support surface 70 of the panels 30
contacting the underlying strata, such as the foundation layer
16.
The top side flap 38A may be of unequal length relative to
the adjacent bottom side flap 38C, as shown positioned along
edge 32B in FIGS. 2 and 2A. Alternatively, for example, the
top side flap 38A and the bottom side flap 38C, positioned
along the edge 32B, may be of equal length. In FIG. 2, the
panels 30A-D further show edges 32A and 32C having substantially continuous top side flaps 37A and bottom side flaps
37D, respectively, though such a configuration is not
required. The edges 32A and 32C may have flaps similarly
configured to edges 32B and32D.As shown in FIG. 3, the top
side flap 37A may extend along the length of the edge 32C and
the bottom side flap 38C may extend along the oppositely
positioned edge 32A.
When assembled, the flaps along edges 32A and 32B are
configured to interlock with the mating edges 32C and 32D,
respectively. The top side flap 38A and adjacent bottom side
flap 38C overlap and interlock with the mating bottom side
flap 38D and top side flap 38B, respectively. The recessed
fitting 40A of top side flap 38B, of panel 30D interlocks with
the projecting fitting 40B of panel 30A, as shown in FIGS. 2
and 6. In an alternative embodiment, the surface of the projecting fitting 40B may extend up to include the projections
50. In this embodiment, the mating recessed fitting 40A of the
top side flap 38B has a corresponding void or opening to
receive the projected fitting 40B. These mating flaps 37, 38
and fittings 40 form a vertical and horizontal interlock connection, with the flaps 38A and 38B being positioned along
flaps 38D and 38 C, respectively, substantially preventing
relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an
adjacent connected panel. The projecting and recessed fittings 40A and 40B, respectively, substantially prevent horizontal shifts between adjacent panels 30 due to mechanically
applied shear loads, such as, for example, from an athlete's
foot or groundskeeping equipment.
In one embodiment, the vertical interlock between adjacent
panels 30 is sufficient to accommodate heavy truck traffic,
necessary to install infill material, without vertical separation
of the adjacent panels. The adjacent top side flaps 38A and
38B and adjacent bottom side flaps 38C and 38D also substantially prevent horizontal shifting of the panels due to
mechanically applied shear loads. The cooperating fittings
40A and 40B, along with adjacent flaps 38A, 38B and 38C,
38D, provide sufficient clearance to accommodate deflections arising from thermal expansion. The flaps 38 may
optionally include drainage grooves 42B and drainage ribs or
projections 42A that maintain a drainage charmel between the
mated flaps 38A-D of adjoining panels, as will be discussed
below. The drainage projections 42A and the drainage
grooves 42B may be oriented on mated flaps of adjacent
panels in an offset relative relationship, in a cooperatively
engaged relationship, or applied to the mated flaps 38A-D as
either solely projections or grooves. When oriented in a coop-

erating engaged relationship, these projections 42A and


grooves 42B may additionally supplement the in-plane shear
stability of the mated panel assemblies 30 when engaged
together. The drainage projections 42A and drainage grooves
42B may be equally or unequally spaced along the flaps 38A
and 38B, respectively, as desired.
Optionally, the drainage grooves 42B and projections 42A
can perform a second function, i.e. a retention function. The
turfunderlayment 30 may include the cooperating drainage
ribs or projections 42A and grooves 42B for retention purposes, similar to the fittings 40. The projections 42A and
fittings 40B may include various embodiments of differently
shaped raised recessed structures, such as square, rectangular,
triangular, pyramidal, trapezoidal, cylindrical, frusto-conical,
helical and other geometric configurations that may include
straight sides, tapering sides or reversed tapering sides. These
geometric configurations cooperate with mating recesses,
such as groove 42B and recessed fitting 40A having complementary geometries. The cooperating fittings, and optionally
the cooperating projections and grooves, may have dimensions and tolerances that create a variety of fit relationships,
such as loose fit, press fit, snap fit, and twist fit connections.
The snap fit relationship may further provide an initial interference fit, that when overcome, results in a loose or line-toline fit relationship. The twist fit relationship may include a
helical surface on a conical or cylindrical projection that
cooperates with a recess that may or may not include a corresponding helical surface. The press fit, snap fit, and twist fit
connections may be defined as positive lock fits that prevent
or substantially restrict relative horizontal movement of adjacent joined panels.
The drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B, either
alone or in a cooperating relationship, may provide a vertically spaced apart relationship between the mating flaps 38AD, or a portion of the mating flaps 38A-D, of adjoining panels
to facilitate water drainage away from the top surface 34.
Additionally, the drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B
may provide assembled panels 30 with positioning datums to
facilitate installation and accommodate thermal expansion
deflections due to environmental exposure. The projections
42A may be either located in, oroffset from, the grooves 42B.
Optionally, the edges 32A-D may only include one of the
projections 42A or the grooves 42B in order to provide
increased drainage. Not all panels may need or require projections 42A and grooves 42B disposed about the outer
perimeter. For example, it may be desired to produce specific
panels that include at least one edge designed to abut a structure that is not a mating panel, such as a curb, trim piece,
sidewalk, and the like. These panels may have a suitable edge,
such as a frame, flat end, rounded edge, point, and the like, to
engage or abut the mating surface. For panels that mate with
adjacent panels, each panel may include at least one projections along a given edge and a corresponding groove on an
opposite side, positioned to interact with a mating projection
to produce the required offset.
FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a profile of cooperating
flaps 38A and 38C. The profiles of flaps 38A and 38C include
complimentary mating surfaces. The top side flap 38A
includes a leading edge bevel 44A, a bearing shelf 44B and a
back bevel 44C. The bottom side flap 38C includes a leading
edge bevel 46A configured to be positioned against back
bevel 44C. Likewise, a bearing shelf 46B is configured to
contact against the bearing shelf 44B and the back bevel 46C
is positioned against the leading edge bevel 44A. The bearing
shelves 44B and 46B may optionally include ribs 48 extending longitudinally along the length of the respective flaps. The
ribs 48 may be a plurality of outwardly projecting ribs that

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cooperate with spaces between adjacent ribs of the mating


flap. Alternatively, the top side flap 38A may have outwardly
projecting ribs 48 and the bottom side flap 38C may include
corresponding recesses (not shown) of a similar shape and
location to cooperatively engage the ribs 38. Additionally,
drain holes 58 may extend through the flaps 38 to provide
water drainage, as will be described below.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 2A, and 5, a flap assembly groove 80
is shown positioned between the top side flap 38A and the
bottom side flap 38C. The flap assembly groove 80, however,
may be positioned between any adjacent interlocking geometries. The groove 80 allows relative movement of adjacent
flaps on an edge of a panel so that adjoining panel flaps can be
assembled together more easily. When installing conventional panels, adjoining panels are typically slid over the
compacted base and twisted or deflected to position the
adjoining interfaces together. As the installers attempt to mate
adjoining prior art panel interfaces together, they may bend
and bow the entire panel structure to urge the mating sections
into place. The corners and edges of these prior art panels
have a tendency to dig into the compacted base causing discontinuities which is an undesirable occurrence.
In contrast to the assembly of prior art panels, the grooves
80 of the panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D allow the top side
flap 38A to flex relative to bottom side flap 38C. To illustrate
the assembly method, panels 30A, 30B and 30D are relatively
positioned in place and interlocked together on the foundation layer. To install panel 30C, the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is deflected upwardly. Additionally, the mated inside
corner of panels 30A and 30 D may be slightly raised as an
assembled unit. The area under the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is exposed in order to position the mating bottom side
flap 38D. The bottom side flap 37D positioned along edge
32A of panel 30A may be positioned under the top side flap
37A on edge 32C of panel 30D. This positioning may be aided
by slightly raising the assembled comer of panels 30A and
30D. The positioned flaps may be engaged by a downward
force applied to the overlapping areas. By bending the top
side flaps of a panel up during assembly, access to the mating
bottom side flap location increases thus facilitating panel
insertion without significant sliding of the panel across the
compacted foundation layer. This assembly technique prevents excessively disrupting the substrate or the previously
installed panels. The assembly of panels 30A-D, shown in
FIG. 2, may also be assembled by starting with the panel 30C,
positioned in the upper right comer. Subsequent top side flaps
along the edges 32 may be placed over the bottom side flaps
already exposed.
FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of assembled panels 30
where the top side flap 38Ais shorter than the bottom side flap
38B, as described above, creating a flap offset. The flap offset
aligns the panels 30 such that seams created by the mating
edges 32 do not line up and thereby create a weak, longitudinal deflection point. The top side and bottom side flaps may
be oriented in various offset arrangements along the edge 32.
For example, two top side flaps of equal length may be disposed on both sides of the bottom side flap along the edge 32.
This arrangement would allow the seam of two adjoining
panels to terminate in the center of the next panel.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the
underlayment panels 130, having a plurality of edges 132, a
top side 134, a bottom side 136, and flaps configured as
tongue and groove structures. The flaps include upper and
lower flanges 142, 144 extending from some of the edges 132
of the panels 130, with the upper and lower flanges 142, 144
defining slots 146 extending along the edges 132. An intermediate flange 148 extends from the remainder of the edges

of the panels, with the intermediate flange 148 being configured to fit within the slots 146 in a tongue-and-groove configuration. The flanges 148 of one panel 130 fit together in a
complementary fashion with the slot 146 defined by the
flanges 142, 144 of an adjacent panel. The purpose of the
flanges 142, 144, and 148 is to secure the panels against
vertical movement relative to each other. When the panels 130
are used in combination with a turf assembly 12, i.e., as an
underlayment for the turf assembly, the application of a
downward force applied to the turf assembly pinches the
upper and lower flanges 142, 144 together, thereby compressing the intermediate flanges 148 between the upper and lower
flanges, and preventing or substantially reducing relative vertical movement between adjacent panels 130. The top side
134 may include a textured surface having a profile that is
rougher or contoured beyond that produced by conventional
smooth surfaced molds and molding techniques, which are
known in the art.
FIGS. 1-3 further show a plurality of projections 50 are
positioned over the top side 34 of the panels 30. The projections 50 have truncated tops 64 that form a plane that defines
an upper support surface 52 configured to support the artificial turf assembly 12. The projections 50 do not necessarily
require flat, truncated tops. The projections 50 may be of any
desired cross sectional geometric shape, such as square, rectangular, triangular, circular, oval, or any other suitable polygon structure. The projections 50, as shown in FIG. 10, and
projections 150 as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, may have
tapered sides 54, 154 extending from the upper support surface 52, 152 outwardly to the top side 34 of the core 35. The
projections 50 may be positioned in a staggered arrangement,
as shown in FIGS. 2, 6, and 9. The projections 50 may be any
height desired, but in one embodiment the projections 50 are
in the range of about 0.5 millimeters to about 6 millimeters,
and may be further constructed with a height of about 3
millimeters. In another embodiment, the height is in the range
of about 1.5 millimeters to about 4 millimeters. The tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 cooperate to define channels 56 that form a labyrinth across the panel 30 to provide
lateral drainage of water that migrates down from the turf
assembly 12. The channels 56 have drain holes 58 spaced
apart and extending through the thickness of the panel 30.
As shown in FIG. 9, the channels 56 may be formed such
that the tapered sides 54 substantially intersect or meet at
various locations in a blended radii relationship transitioning
onto the top surface 34. The projections 50, shown as truncated cone-shaped structures having tapered sides 54, form a
narrowed part, or an infill trap 60, in the channel 56. The infill
trap 60 blocks free flow of infill material 24 that migrates
through the porous backing layer 22, along with water. As
shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the infill material 24 becomes
trapped and retained between the tapered sides 54 in the
channels 56. The trapping of the infill material 24 prevents
excessive migrating infill from entering the drain holes 58.
The trapped infill material may constrict or somewhat fill up
the channels 56 but does not substantially prevent water flow
due to interstitial voids created by adjacent infill particles,
24A and 24B, forming a porous filter.
The size of the drainage holes 58, the frequency of the
drainage holes 58, the size of the drainage channels 56 on the
top side 34 or the channels 76 on the bottom side 36, and the
frequency of the channels 56 and 76 provide a design where
the channels can line up to create a free flowing drainage
system. In one embodiment, the system can accommodate up
to 70 mm/hr rainfall, when installed on field having a slightlyraised center profile, for example, on the order of a 0.5%
slope. The slightly-raised center profile of the field tapers, or

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slopes away, downwardly towards the perimeter. This format


of installation on a full sized field promotes improved horizontal drainage water flow. For instance, a horizontal drainage distance of 35 meters and a perimeter head pressure of
175 millimeters.
The cone shaped projections 50 of FIGS. 6 and 9 also form
widened points in the channel 56. The widened points, when
oriented on the edge 32 of the panel 30, form beveled, funnellike interfaces or edges 62, as shown in FIG. 6. These funnel
edges 62 may be aligned with similar funnel edges on adjacent panels and provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 56 for water drainage. If the top side projections 50 have
a non-curved geometry, the outer edge comers of the projections 50 may be removed to form the beveled funnel edge, as
will be discussed below in conjunction with bottom side
projections. Additionally, the bottom side projections may be
generally circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced apart
relationship as that described above. The bottom side projections may further be of a larger size than the top side projections.
A portion of the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 is shown in
FIGS. 5 and 13. The bottom side 36 includes the lower support surface 70 defined by a plurality of downwardly extending projections 72 and a plurality downwardly extending edge
projections 74. The plurality of projections 72 and edge projections 74 space apart the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 from
the foundation layer 16 and further cooperate to define drainage channels 7 6 to facilitate water flow beneath the panel. The
edge projections 74 cooperate to form a funnel edge 78 at the
end of the drainage channel 76. These funnel edges 78 may be
aligned with similar funnel edges 78 on adjacent panels and
provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between
mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 76 for
water drainage. The bottom side 36 shown in FIG. 13 represents a section from the center of the panel 30. The bottom
side projections 72 and edge projections 74 are typically
larger in surface area than the top side projections 50 and are
shallower, or protrude to a lesser extent, though other relationships may be used. The larger surface area and shorter
height of the bottom side projections 72 tends to allow the top
side projections 50 to deform more under load. Alternatively,
the bottom side projections may be generally circular in shape
and exhibit a similar spaced apart relationship as that
described above. The bottom side projections may further be
of a larger size than the top side projections.
The larger size of the bottom side projections 72 allows
them to be optionally spaced in a different arrangement relative to the arrangement of the top side projections 50. Such a
non-aligned relative relationship assures that the top channels
56 and bottom channels 76 are not aligned with each other
along a relatively substantial length that would create seams
or bending points where the panel core 35 may unduly deflect.
Referring again to FIG. 9, the top side projections 50 may
include a friction enhancing surface 66 on the truncated tops
64. The friction enhancing surface 66 may be in the form of
bumps, or raised nibs or dots, shown generally at 66A in FIG.
9. These bumps 66A provide an increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the upper support
surface of the underlayment panel 30. The bumps 66A are
shown as integrally molded protrusions extending up from
the truncated tops 64 of the projections 50. The bumps 66A
may be in a pattern or randomly oriented. The bumps 66A
may alternatively be configured as friction ribs 66B. The ribs
66B may either be on the surface of the truncated tops 64 or
slightly recessed and encircled with a rim 68.

FIGS.11and12 illustrate alternative embodiments of various turf underlayment panel sections having friction enhancing and infill trapping surface configurations. A turf underlayment panel 150 includes a top side 152 of the panel 150
provided with plurality of spaced apart, upwardly oriented
projections 154 that define flow channels 156 suitable for the
flow of water along the top surface of the panel. The projections 154 are shown as having a truncated pyramid shape,
however, any suitable shape, such as for example, truncated
cones, chevrons, diamonds, squares and the like can be used.
The projections 154 have substantially flat upper support
surfaces 158 which support the backing layer 22 of the artificial turf assembly 12. The upper support surfaces 158 of the
projections 154 can have a generally square shape when
viewed from above, or an elongated rectangular shape as
shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, or any other suitable shape.
The frictional characteristics of the underlayment may further be improved by the addition of a medium, such as a grit
170 or other granular material, to the underlayment mixture,
as shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B. In an embodiment shown in
FIG. 12A, the granular medium is added to the adhesive or
glue binder and mixed together with the beads. The grit 170
may be in the form of a commercial grit material, typically
provided for non-skid applications, often times associated
with stairs, steps, or wet surfaces. The grit may be a polypropylene or other suitable polymer, or may be silicon oxide
(Si0 2 ), aluminum oxide (Al 2 0 3 ), sand, or the like. The grit
172 however may be of any size, shape, material or configuration that creates an associated increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the underlayment 150.
In operation, the application of grit material 172 to the underlayment layer 14 will operate in a different manner from
operation of grit applied to a hard surface, such as pavement
or wood. When applied to a hard surface, the non-skid benefit
of grit in an application, such as grit filled paint, is realized
when shearing loads are applied directly to the grit structure
by feet, shoes, or vehicle wheels. Further, grit materials are
not applied under a floor covering, such as a rug or carpet
runner, in order to prevent movement relative to the underlying floor. Rather, non-skid floor coverings are made of soft
rubber or synthetic materials that provide a high shear resistance over a hard flooring surface.
The grit material 170 when applied to the binder agent in
the turf underlayment structure provides a positive grip to the
turf backing layer 22. This gripping of the backing layer
benefits from the additional weight of the infill medium dispersed over the surface, thus applying the necessary normal
force associated with the desired frictional, shear-restraining
force. Any concentrated deflection of the underlayment as a
result of a load applied to the turf will result in a slight
momentary "divot" or discontinuity that will change the frictional shear path in theunderlayment layer 14. This deflection
of the surface topography does not occur on a hard surface,
such as a painted floor using grit materials. Therefore, the grit
material, as well as the grit binder are structured to accommodate the greater elasticity of the underlayment layer, as
opposed toe the hard floor surface, to provide improved surface friction. A grit material 180 may alternatively be applied
to the top of the bead and binder mixture, as shown in FIG.
12B, such that the beads within the thickness exhibit little to
no grit material 180. In this instance, the grit material 180
would primarily be on top of and impregnated within the top
surface and nearby thickness of the underlayment 150. Alternatively, the grit material 180 may be sprinkled onto or
applied to the mold surface prior to introducing the beads into
the mold cavity so that the predominant grit content is on the
top of the underlayment surface after the product is molded.

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12

Another embodiment provides a high friction substrate,


such as a grit or granular impregnated fabric applied to and
bonded with the upper surface of the underlayment layer 14,
i.e. the top side 34 or the upper support surface 52 as defined
by the projections 50. The fabric may alternatively be a mesh
structure whereby the voids or mesh apertures provide the
desired surface roughness or high friction characteristic. The
mesh may also have a roughened surface characteristic, in
addition to the voids, to provide a beneficial gripping action to
the underlayment. The fabric may provide an additional load
spreading function that may be beneficial to protecting players from impact injury. Also the fabric layer may spread the
load transfer from the turf to the underlayment and assist in
preserving the base compaction characteristic.
FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative embodiment of an underlayment layer having a water drainage structure and turf
assembly frictional engagement surface. The underlayment
layer 200 includes a top side 210 configured to support the
artificial turf assembly 12. The underlayment layer 200 further includes a core 235, a top side 210 and a bottom side 220.
The top side 210 includes a plurality of spaced apart projections 230 that define charmels 240 configured to allow water
flow along the top side 210. The top side 210 includes a series
of horizontally spaced apart friction members 250 that are
configured to interact with the downwardly oriented ridges 26
on the bottom surface 28 of the backing layer 22 of the
artificial turf assembly 12. The friction members 250 engage
the ridges 26 so that when the artificial turf assembly 12 is laid
on top of the underlayment layer 200 relative horizontal
movement between the artificial turf assembly 12 and the
underlayment layer 200 is inhibited.
In order to facilitate drainage and infill trapping, the channels 156A defined by the projections 152 optionally can have
a V-shaped cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 11, with
walls that are at an acute angle to the vertical. The flow
channels 156B shown in FIG. 12 are slightly different from
flow channels 156A since they have a flattened or truncated
V-shaped cross-sectional shape rather than the true V-shaped
cross-section of channels 156A. The purpose of the flow
channels 156A and 156B is to allow water to flow along the
top side 152 of the panels 150. Rain water on the turf assembly 12 percolates through the infill material 24 and passes
though the backing layer 22. The flow channels 156A, and
156B allow this rain water to drain away from the turf system
10.As therain water flows across the top side 152 of the panel
150, the charmels 156A and 156B will eventually direct the
rainwater to a vertical drain hole 160. The drain holes 160
then allow the rain water to drain from the top side 152 to the
bottom side of the turf underlayment layer 14. The drain hole
160 can be molded into the panel, or can be mechanically
added after the panel is formed.
During the operation of the artificial turf system 10, typically some of the particles of the infill material 24 pass
through the backing layer 22. These particles can flow with
the rain water along the channels 156A and 156B to the drain
holes 160. The particles can also migrate across the top surface 152 in dry conditions due to vibration from normal play
on the turf system 10. Over time, the drain holes 160 can
become clogged with the sand particles and become unable to
drain the water from the top surface 152 to the bottom surface.
Therefore it is advantageous to configure the top surface 152
to impede the flow of sand particles within the charmels 156A,
156B. Any suitable mechanism for impeding the flow of infill
particles along the channels can be used.
In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 11, the channel 156A
contains dams 162 to impede the flow of infill particles. The
dams 162 can be molded into the structure of the turf under-

layment layer 14, or can be added in any suitable marmer. The


dams 162 can be of the same material as the turf underlayment
layer, or of a different material. In another embodiment, the
flow channels 156A are provided with roughened surfaces
164 on the charmel sidewalls 166 to impede the flow of infill
particles. The roughened surface traps the sand particles or at
least slows them down.
FIGS. 14-16 illustrate the dynamic load absorption characteristics of projections, shown in conjunction with the truncated cone projections 50 of the underlayment 30. The projections 50 on the top side provide a dynamic response to
surface impacts and other load inputs during normal play on
athletic fields. The truncated geometric shapes of the protrusions 50 provide the correct dynamic response to foot and
body impacts along with ball bounce characteristics. The
tapered sides 54 of the projections 50 incorporate some
amount of taper or "draft angle" from the top side 34, at the
base of the projection 50, to the plane of the upper support
surface 52, which is substantially coplanar with the truncated
protrusion top. Thus, the base of the projection 50 defines a
somewhat larger surface area than the truncated top surface
area. The drainage channels 56 are defined by the tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 and thereby establish gaps
or spaces therebetween.
FIG. 14 illustrates the free state distance 90 of the projection 50 and the free state distance 92 of the core 35. The
projections 50 deflect when subjected to an axially applied
compressive load, as shown in FIG. 15. The projection 50 is
deflected from the projection free state 90 to a partial load
deflection distance 94. The core 35 is still substantially at or
near a free state distance 92. The channels 56 allow the
projections to deflect outwardly as an axial load is applied in
a generally downward direction. The relatively unconstrained
deflection allows the protrusions 50 to "squash" or compress
vertically and expand laterally under the compressive load or
impact force, as shown in FIG. 15. This relatively unconstrained deflection may cause the apparent spring rate of the
underlayment layer 14 to remain either substantially constant
throughout the projection deflection or increase at a first rate
of spring rate increase.
Continued deformation of the protrusions 50 under a compressive or impact load, as shown in FIG. 16, causes the
projections 50 to deform a maximum amount to a fully compressed distance 96 and then begin to deform the core 35. The
core 35 deforms to a core compression distance 98 which is
smaller than the core free state distance 92. As the core 35
deforms, the apparent spring rate increases at a second rate,
which is higher than the first rate of spring rate increase. This
rate increase change produces a stiffening effect as a compressively-loaded elastomer spring. The overall effect also
provides an underlayment behavior similar to that of a dual
density material. In one embodiment, the material density
range is between 45 grams per liter and 70 grams per liter. In
another embodiment, the range is 50 grams per liter to 60
grams per liter. Under lower compression or impact loads, the
projections 50 compress and the underlayment 30 has a relatively low reaction force for a relatively large deflection, thus
producing a relatively low hardness. As the compression or
impact force increases, the material underlying the geometric
shape, i.e. the material of the core, creates a larger reaction
force without much additional deformation, which in tum
increases the stiffness level to the user.
The ability to tailor the load reactions of the underlayment
and the turf assembly as a complete artificial turf system
allows adjustment of two competing design parameters, a
bodily impact characteristic and an athletic response characteristic. The bodily impact characteristic relates to the turf

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system's ability to absorb energy created by player impacts


with the ground, such as, but not limited to, for example
tackles common in American-style football and rugby. The
bodily impact characteristic is measured using standardized
testing procedures, such as for example ASTM-F355 in the
U.S. and EN-1177 in Europe. Turf systems having softer or
more impact absorptive responses protect better against head
injury, but offer diminished or non-optimized athlete and ball
performance. The athletic response characteristic relates to
athlete performance responses during running and can be
measured using a simulated athlete profile, such as the Berlin
Artificial Athlete. Athlete performance responses include
such factors as turf response to running loads, such as heel and
forefoot contact and the resulting load transference. The turf
response to these running load characteristics can affect
player performance and fatigue. Turf systems having stiffer
surface characteristics may increase player performance,
such as running load transference, (i.e. shock absorption,
surface deformation and energy restitution), and ball behavior, but also increase injury potential due to lower impact
absorption. The underlayment layer and the turf assembly
each has an associated energy absorption characteristic, and
these are balanced to provide a system response appropriate
for the turf system usage and for meeting the required bodily
impact characteristics and athletic response characteristics.
In order to accommodate the particular player needs, as
well as satisfying particular sport rules and requirements,
several design parameters of the artificial turf system may
need to be varied. The particular sport, or range of sports and
activities undertaken on a particular artificial turf system, will
dictate the overall energy absorption level required of the
system. The energy absorption characteristic of the underlayment layer may be influenced by changes in the material
density, protrusion geometry and size, panel thickness and
surface configuration. These parameters may further be categorized under a broader panel material factor and a panel
geometry factor of the underlayment layer. The energy
absorption characteristic of the turf assembly may be subject
to considerations of infill material and depth. The infill material comprises a mixture of sand and synthetic particulate in a
ratio to provide proper synthetic grass blade exposure, water
drainage, stability, and energy absorption.
The turf assembly 12 provides a lot of the impact shock
attenuation for safety for such contact sports as American
football. The turf assembly 12 also provides the feel of the
field when running, as well as ball bounce and roll in sports
such as soccer (football), field hockey, rugby and golf. The
turf assembly 12 and the turf underlayment layer 14 work
together to get the right balance for hardness in running,
softness (impact absorption or energy absorption) in falls,
ball bounce and roll, etc. To counteract the changing field
characteristics overtime, which affect ball bounce and the roll
and feel of the field to the running athlete, in some cases the
infill material may be maintained or supplemented by adding
more infill, and by using a raking machine or other mechanism to fluff up the infill so it maintains the proper feel and
impact absorption.
The hardness of the athletic field affects performance on
the field, with hard fields allowing athletes to run faster and
turn more quickly. This can be measured, for example in the
United States using AS TM F 197 6 test protocol, and in the rest
of the world by FIFA, IRB (International Rugby Board), FIH
(International Hockey Federation), and ITF (International
Tennis Federation) test standards. In the United States,
another characteristic of the resilient turf underlayment layer
14 is to provide increased shock attenuation of the infill turf
system by up to 20 percent during running heel and running

forefoot loads. A larger amount of attenuation may cause


athletes to become too fatigued, and not perform at their best.
It is generally accepted that an athlete cannot perceive a
difference in stiffness of plus or minus 20 percent deviations
over a natural turf stiffness at running loads based on the U.S.
tests. The FIFA test requirement has minimum and maximum
values for shock attenuation and deformation under running
loads for the complete turf/underlayment system. Artificial
turf systems with shock attenuation and deformation values
between the minimum and maximum values simulate natural
turf feel.
The softness for impact absorption of an athletic field to
protect the players during falls or other impacts is a design
consideration, particularly in the United States. Softness of an
athletic field protects the players during falls or other impacts.
Impact energy absorption is measured in the United States
using ASTM F355-A, which gives a rating expressed as
Gmax (maximum acceleration in impact) and HIC (head
injury criterion). The head injury criterion (HIC) is used
internationally. There may be specific imposed requirements
for max acceleration and HIC for athletic fields, playgrounds
and similar facilities.
The turf assembly is advantageous in that in one embodiment it is somewhat slow to recover shape when deformed in
compression. This is beneficial because when an athlete runs
on a field and deforms it locally under the shoe, it is undesirable if the play surface recovers so quickly that it "pushes
back" on the shoe as it lifts off the surface. This would provide
unwanted energy restoration to the shoe. By making the turf
assembly 12 have the proper recovery, the field will feel more
like natural turf which doesn't have much resilience. The turf
assembly 12 can be engineered to provide the proper material
properties to result in the beneficial limits on recovery values.
The turf assembly can be designed to compliment specific
turf designs for the optimum product properties.
The design of the overall artificial turf system 10 will
establish the deflection under running loads, the impact
absorption under impact loads, and shape of the deceleration
curve for the impact event, and the ball bounce performance
and the ball roll performance. These characteristics can be
designed for use over time as the field ages, and the infill
becomes more compacted which makes the turf layer stiffer.
The panels 30 are designed with optimum panel bending
characteristics. The whole panel shape is engineered to provide stiffness in bending so the panel doesn't bend too much
when driving over it with a vehicle while the panel is lying on
the ground. This also assists in spreading the vehicle load over
a large area of the substrate so the contour of the underlying
foundation layer 16 won't be disturbed. If the contour of the
foundation layer 16 is not maintained, then water will pool in
areas of the field instead of draining properly.
In one embodiment of the invention, an artificial turf system for a soccer field is provided. First, performance design
parameters, related to a system energy absorption level for the
entire artificial turf system, are determined for the soccer
field. These performance design parameters are consistent
according to the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football
Association) Quality Concept for Artificial Turf, the International Artificial Turf Standard (IATS) and the European
ENI 5330 Standard. Typical shock, or energy, absorption and
deformation levels from foot impacts for such systems are
within the range of 55-70% shock absorption and about 4
millimeters to about 9 millimeters deformation, when tested
with the Berlin Artificial Athlete (EN14808, EN14809). Vertical ball rebound is about 60 centimeters to about 100 centimeters (EN 12235), Angled Ball Behavior is 45-70%, Vertical
Permeability is greater than 180 mm/hr (EN 12616) along

10

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40

45

50

55

60

65

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-2 Filed 07/05/16 Page 22 of 22


US 8,236,392 B2
15

16

with other standards, such as for example energy restitution.


Other performance criteria may not be directly affected by the
underlayment performance, but are affected by the overall
turf system design. The overall turf system design, including
the interactions of the underlayment may include surface
interaction such as rotational resistance, ball bounce, slip
resistance, and the like. In this example where a soccer field is
being designed, a performance level for the entire artificial
turf system for a specific standard is selected. Next, the artificial turf assembly is designed. The underlayment performance characteristics selected will be complimentary to the
turf assembly performance characteristics to provide the
overall desired system response to meet the desired sports
performance standard. It is understood that the steps in the
above example may be performed in a different order to
produce the desired system response.
In general, the design of the turf system having complimentary underlayment and turf assembly performance characteristics may for example provide a turf assembly that has a
low amount of shock absorption, and an underlayment layer
that has a high amount of shock absorption. In establishing
the relative complimentary performance characteristics, there
are many options available for the turf design such as pile
height, tufted density, yam type, yam quality, infill depth,
infill types, backing and coating. For example, one option
would be to select a low depth and/or altered ratio of sand vs.
rubber infill, or the use of an alternative infill material in the
turf assembly. If in this example the performance of the turf
assembly has a relatively low specific shock absorption value,
the shock absorption of the underlayment layer will have a
relatively high specific value.
By way of another example having different system characteristics, an artificial turf system for American football or
rugby may provide a turf assembly that has a high amount of
energy absorption, while providing the underlayment layer
with a low energy absorption performance. In establishing the
relative complimentary energy absorption characteristics,
selecting a high depth of infill material in the turf assembly
may be considered. Additionally, where the energy absorption of the turf assembly has a value greater than a specific
value, the energy absorption of the underlayment layer will
have a value less than the specific value.
The principle and mode of operation of this invention have
been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment.
However, it must be understood that this invention may be
practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.
What is claimed is:
1. A turf underlayment layer configured to support an artificial turf assembly, the turf underlayment layer having panels
including edges configured to interlock with the edges of
adjacent panels to form a plurality of vertical interlocking
connections capable of substantially preventing relative ver-

tical movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent


connected panel, where the panels are made from a plurality
of beads bonded together to produce a substantially waterimpervious surface, where the plurality of vertical interlocking connections have alternating top side and bottom side
flaps along the edge, the alternating flaps substantially allowing horizontal thermal expansion and further substantially
restricting non-thermally generated relative horizontal movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent connected
panel, and where the edges include cooperating projections
and grooves on the top side flaps and the bottom side flaps
forming the interlocking connection between two adjacent
panels, and where at least one of the cooperating projections
is a protruding dovetail on one of the top side flap and bottom
side flap that is configured to engage a cooperating recessed
dovetail on a corresponding mating flap.
2. An underlayment layer configured to support an artificial
turf assembly, the underlayment layer comprising a panel
having edges, the panel including a core with a top side and a
bottom side, the top side having a plurality of spaced apart,
upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable
for water flow along the top side of the core when the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying artificial turf
assembly and the bottom side includes a plurality of spaced
apart, downwardly oriented projections that define charmels
suitable for water flow, and wherein bottom side projections
adjacent to the edges are arranged to form charmels having a
wider spacing at the edges than at locations spaced away from
the edges, the wider spaced channel edges of adjacent panels
being capable of being assembled together enabling a substantially continuous channel suitable for water flow between
adjacent panels.
3. The underlayment layer of claim 2 where a plurality of
drain holes connect the top channels for fluid communication
with the bottom charmels.
4. The underlayment layer of claim 2 where the top side of
the core is configured to impede the flow of infill constituent
particles along the top channels.
5. The underlayment layer of claim 2 in combination with
an artificial turf assembly that includes an infill material, the
top side projections having tapered sides that intersect at the
top side channels to form an infill trap in the charmel that is
configured to substantially prevent free-flow of the infill
material.
6. The underlayment layer of claim 2 including a grit material applied to the underlayment layer.
7. The underlayment layer of claim 6 where the grit material is applied to the projections.
8. The underlayment layer of claim 2 wherein the wider
spaced channels have funnel edges formed at the ends of the
channels.

10

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35

40

45

50

* * * * *

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 15

EXHIBIT B
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 15

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll lllll lllll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


US008353640B2

c12)

United States Patent

(IO)

Sawyer

(45)

(54)

LOAD SUPPORTING PANEL HAVING


IMPACT ABSORBING STRUCTURE

(75)

Inventor:

(73)

Assignee: Brock USA, LLC, Boulder, CO (US)

( *)

Notice:

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

3,974,312
4,007,307
4,287,693
4,389,435
4,497,853
4,501,420
4,505,960
4,535,021
4,629,358

Steven Lee Sawyer, Castel San


Giovanni (IT)

Subject to any disclaimer, the term ofthis


patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 42 days.

(21)

Appl. No.: 13/025,745

(22)

Filed:

Stevens et al.
Friedrich
Collette .......................... 52/177
Haas, Jr.
Tomarin
Dury
Leffingwell
Friedrich
Springston et al. ............. 404/35

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS


54032371

JP

3/1979

(Continued)
OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Prior Publication Data


US 2011/0135852 Al

8/1976
2/1977
9/1981
6/1983
2/1985
2/1985
3/1985
8/1985
12/1986

Jan.15,2013

(Continued)

Feb. 11, 2011

(65)

A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

US 8,353,640 B2

Jun. 9, 2011

Ecore International ShockPad Brochure. Retrieved from Internet:


<www.regupol.com> Jan. 14, 2008.

(Continued)

Related U.S. Application Data


(63)

Continuation-in-part of application No. 12/830,902,


filed on Jul. 6, 2010, and a continuation-in-part of
application No. 12/009,835, filed on Jan. 22, 2008,
now Pat. No. 8,236,392.

Primary Examiner - Raymond W Addie


(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm - MacMillan, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC

(60)

Provisional application No. 61/303,350, filed on Feb.


11,2010.

(57)

(51)

(52)
( 58)

Int. Cl.
EOJC 13108
(2006.01)
B32B 3124
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl. ..................... 404/4; 404/2; 404/27; 404/31
Field of Classification Search . ... ... ... ... .. ... .. 404/17,
404/27-39; 428/17, 92, 95, 218
See application file for complete search history.

(56)

References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
3,577,894 A
3,757,481 A

*
*

ABSTRACT

An impact absorption panel is adapted for playground use and


comprises a panel section and a plurality of projections. The
panel section is defined by a top surface and a bottom surface.
The plurality of projections extend from the bottom surface of
the panel section. The plurality of projections have a first
stage and a second stage. The first stage is configured to
collapse initially when subjected to an impact load. The second stage is configured to provide greater resistance to the
impact load than the first stage. The panel section is configured to provide greater resistance to the impact load than the
first and second stages. The first stage can also be distinguished from the second stage by virtue of having a comparatively smaller volume.

5/1971 Emersonetal. ................ 404/31


9/1973 Skinner ........................... 521265

20 Claims, 7 Drawing Sheets

26

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 15


US 8,353,640 B2
Page 2
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5,019,194
5,044,821
5,098,673
5,292,130
5,383,314
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5,489,462
5,514,722
5,605,721
5,888,614
5,916,034
5,957,619
5,976,645
6,221,445
6,616,542
6,740,387
6,796,096
6,818,274
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6,877,932
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2005/0089678
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2006/0121236
2006/0141231
2008/0113161
2008/0176010
2009/0188172

A
A
A *
A
A *
A *
A *
A
A
A
A
A *
A *
A *
A
Bl
Bl
Bl
Bl
Bl
B2
B2
Bl
Bl
B2 *
B2
B2 *
B2 *
B2 *
B2 *
B2 *
S
Al *
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al*
Al*

8/1990
5/1991
9/1991
3/1992
3/1994
111995
10/1995
1111995
2/1996
5/1996
2/1997
3/1999
6/1999
9/1999
1111999
4/2001
9/2003
512004
912004

1112004
212005
412005

3/2006
8/2006
1112006
7/2007
212009
412009
712009

5/2010
8/2010
512011
6/2001
212003

3/2004
212005
412005

3/2006
612006
612006

5/2008
7/2008
712009

Dempsey
Friedrich
Johnsen .......................... 405/50
Engel et al.
Hooper ......................... 473/279
Rothberg
52/169.5
Magnuson et al. ........... 428/178
Fujii
Sieber
Di Geronimo
Di Geronimo
Slocum et al. ................ 428/132
Lancia .......................... 473/157
Kinoshita et al. ............... 404/31
Daluise et al.
Jones
Reddick
Lemieux
Heath
Buck et al.
Squires
Prevost
Morris
Fletcher
Ianniello et al. ................ 405/50
Sawyer
Wang.
52/384
Barlow
52/591.2
Van Reijen ..................... 404/28
Swank ............................ 404/73
Grimble et al . ............... 428/156
Sawyer
Scuero
14/73
Prevost
Prevost
Barlow
Mead
Dipple et al.
Prevost
Lemieux
Grimble et al.
Sawyer et al. .................. 428/27
DuCharme et al.
52/11

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS


JP
JP
KR
KR
KR
WO
WO
WO
WO

8049209
2000073525
200121867
200313921
1020040010413
02/09825
03/000994
20041011724
2007/002442

A
A
Yl
Yl
A
Al
Al
Al
Al

2/1996
3/2000
9/1998
5/2003
112004
212002

112003
212004

112007

OTHER PUBLICATIONS
A-Turf A-Turf Premier-R 45/2.25 LSR 3-Part Spec. Retrieved from
Internet: <www.aturf.com> Jan. 14, 2008.
Schmitz Foam Products ProPlay for sports areas and playgrounds
Brochure. Retrieved from Internet: <www.schmitzfoam.com> Nov.
1, 2006.
Sirex 3R Foam-Recycled, Post Industrial, Cross-Link, Closed
Polyethylene Foam The Product Brochure. Retrieved from Internet:
<www.recycledfoam.com/product.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
Sirex 3R Foam-Recycled, Post Industrial, Cross-Link, Closed
Polyethylene Foam 3R-FoamApplication Brochure. Retrieved from
Internet: <www.recycledfoam.com/applications_sports_outdoor.
html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, The XL Technology Brochure. Retrieved
from Internet: <www.xlturf.com/xltechnology.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, Product Tests Brochure. Retrieved from
Internet: <www.xlturf.com/tests.html> Nov. 1, 2006.
XLGeneration XL Turf, The Athletic Dynamic Response System
(ADR) Brochure. Retrieved from Internet: <www.xlturf.com/adr.
html> Nov. 1, 2006.
Mark Harrison, Factors Affecting the Results of the 'Berlin Artificial
Athlete' Shock Absorption Test. Mar. 9, 1999 Retrieved from
Internet:
<www.isss.de/publications/ Artifica1Athlete/mark039.
html>.
W02008/088919 PCT Search Report.
PCT International Search Report, Application No. PCT/USll/
024475, Date Feb. ll, 2010.
European Search Report, 10195632.4, dated Apr. 12, 2012.
European Search Report, 10195633.2, dated Apr. 12, 2012.

* cited by examiner

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 4 of 15

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1

LOAD SUPPORTING PANEL HAVING


IMPACT ABSORBING STRUCTURE

secting bottom surface channels and a plurality of drain holes


connect the top surface drainage channels with the plurality of
bottom surface channels at the drainage channel intersections.
In another embodiment, an impact absorption panel
includes a top surface and a bottom surface that define a panel
section. A plurality of projections are supported from the
bottom surface, where the projections include a first stage
having a first spring rate and a second stage having a second
spring rate. The first stage is configured to collapse initially
when subjected to an impact load, the second stage is configured to provide greater resistance to the impact load than the
first stage, and the panel section is configured to provide
greater resistance to the impact load than the first and second
stages. The first stage is also configured to compress and
telescopically deflect, at least partially, into the second stage.
A portion of the bottom surface is generally coplanar with the
truncated ends of adjacent projections such that the coplanar
bottom surface portion is configured to provide a substantial
resistance to deflection under load compared with the first and
second stages. This coplanar configuration of the bottom
surface provides a structural panel section having a thickness
that is generally equal to the thickness of the panel section
plus the length of the projections.
In yet another embodiment, an impact absorption panel
system comprises a first panel and at least a second panel. The
first panel has a top surface, a bottom surface, a first edge
having a flange that is offset from the top surface and a second
edge having a flange that is offset from the bottom surface. A
plurality of projections are disposed across the bottom surface. The projections have a first spring rate characteristic and
a second spring rate characteristic. The second panel has a top
surface, a bottom surface, a first edge having a flange that is
offset from the top surface and a second edge having a flange
that is offset from the bottom surface. A plurality of projections are disposed across the bottom surface of the second
panel and have a first spring rate characteristic and a second
spring rate characteristic. One of the second panel first edge
flange and the second edge flange engages one of first panel
second edge flange and the first panel first edge flange to form
a generally continuously flat top surface across both panels.
In one embodiment, the impact absorption panel is a playground base layer panel.
Various aspects of this invention will become apparent to
those skilled in the art from the following detailed description
of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation-in-part patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/009,835, filed Jan.
22, 2008 now U.S. Pat. No. 8,236,392, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/830,902, filed Jul. 6, 2010, the disclosure
of both applications are incorporated herein by reference.
This application also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional
Application No. 61/303,350, filed Feb. 11, 2010, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

10

15

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


This invention relates in general to impact absorbing
underlayment panels. In particular, this invention relates to
underlayment panels having deformable elements that compress in a plurality of stages such that a load absorbing gradient is provided in response to an applied force.
Surfaces such as playgrounds and athletic mats, for
example, are scrutinized for their effect on impact forces that
cause related injuries to users. Attempts have been made to
minimize the force or energy transferred to a user's body in
the event of a fall. Various surface designs that rely on ground
materials or layered fabric materials may help reduce the
transfer of impact forces. These surface designs, however, are
limited by the ability of the materials to spread the impact
load over a large area. Thus, it would be desirable to provide
a surface having improved impact force absorption and dissipation characteristics.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to an impact absorption panel having
a top side and a bottom side. The top side includes a plurality
of drainage channels that are in fluid communication with a
plurality of drain holes. The plurality of drain holes connect
the top side drainage channels with a plurality of bottom side
channels. The bottom side channels are defined by sides of
adjacent projections that are disposed across the bottom side.
This invention also relates to an impact absorption panel
having a top side and a bottom side where the bottom side has
a plurality of projections disposed across at least a portion of
the bottom surface. The projections have a first spring rate
characteristic and a second spring rate characteristic. The first
spring rate characteristic provides for more deflection under
load than the second spring rate characteristic.
In one embodiment, an impact absorption panel comprises
a top surface and a bottom surface. The top surface has a three
dimensional textured surface and a plurality of intersecting
drainage channels. The bottom surface is spaced apart from
the top surface and defines a panel section therebetween. A
plurality of projections is disposed across at least a portion of
the bottom surface. The projections have a first stage that
defines a first spring rate characteristic and a second stage
defining a second spring rate characteristic. The first spring
rate characteristic provides for more deflection under load
than the second spring rate characteristic. The plurality of
projections also cooperate during deflection under load such
that the adjacent projections provide a load absorption gradient over a larger area than the area directly loaded. In another
embodiment, the first stage has a smaller volume of material
than the second stage. Additionally, the adjacent projections
define a bottom surface channel to form a plurality of inter-

20

25

30

35

40

45

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


50

55

60

65

FIG. lA is an elevational view of a top side of an embodiment of an impact absorption panel suitable as a playground
base;
FIG. lB is an enlarged elevational top view of an edge of
the impact absorption panel of FIG. lA;
FIG. lC is an enlarged elevational top view of a corner of
the impact absorption panel of FIG. lA;
FIG. 2A is an elevational view of a bottom side of an
embodiment of an impact absorption panel;
FIG. 2B is an enlarged elevational bottom view of a comer
of the impact absorption panel of FIG. 2A;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a panel
interlocking feature of an impact absorption panel;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a panel interlocking feature
configured to mate with the panel locking feature of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is an elevational view, in cross section, of the
assembled panel interlocking features of FIGS. 3 and 4.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 12 of 15


US 8,353,640 B2

FIG. 6 is an enlarged elevational view of an embodiment of


a shock absorbing projection of an impact absorption panel;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the bottom side of the impact
absorption panel of FIG. 6;
FIG. SA is an enlarged elevational view of an embodiment
of a deformed projection reacting to an impact load; and
FIG. SB is an enlarged elevational view ofanother embodiment of a deformed projection reacting to an impact load.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged elevational view of another embodiment of a deformed projection reacting to an impact load.

Referring now to FIGS. 2A and 2B, there is illustrated the


bottom surface 26 of the panel 10. The illustrated bottom
surface 26 includes a plurality of projecting shock absorbing
structures 2S disposed across the bottom surface 26. Only
some of the projections 2S are shown on the bottom surface 26
so that the drain holes 16 may be clearly visible. Thus, in one
embodiment, the projections 2S extend across the entire bottom surface 26. In another embodiment, the projections 2S
may be arranged in a pattern where portions of the bottom
surface have no projections 2S. The portion having no projections 2S may have the same overall dimension as the thickness of the panel 10 including the projections 2S. Such a
section may be configured to support a structure, such as a
table and chairs. This portion of the bottom surface 26 is
configured to provide a structural support surface having a
substantial resistance to deflection under load compared with
the first and second stages 40 and 42.
Referring now to FIGS. 3, 4, and 5, the flange 24 is shown
to include a locking aperture 30 as part of an interlocking
connection to secure adjacent panels 10 together. A flange 20'
of an adjacent panel 10' includes a locking projection 32. As
shown in FIG. 5, the locking projection 32 is disposed within
the locking aperture 30. The diameter of the locking projection is shown as "P", which is smaller than the diameter of the
locking aperture, "A". This size difference permits slight
relative movement between adjoining panels 10 and 10' to
allow, for example, 1) panel shifting during installation, 2)
thermal expansion and contraction, and 3) manufacturing
tolerance allowance. In the illustrated embodiment, flange lS
does not include a locking projection or aperture 30, 32.
However, in some embodiments all flanges lS, 20, 22, and 24
may include locking apertures and/or projections. In other
embodiments, none of the flanges may have locking apertures
and projections.
Some of the flanges include a standout spacer 34, such as
are shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 as part of flanges 20, and 20'. The
standout spacer 34 is positioned along portions of the transition between the flange 20' and at least one of the top surface
12 and the bottom surface 26. The standout spacer 34 establishes a gap 36 between adjacent panels to permit water to
flow from the top surface 12 and exit the panel 10. The
standout spacer 34 and the resulting gap also permit thermal
expansion and contraction between adjacent panels while
maintaining a consistent top surface plane. Alternatively, any
or all flanges may include standout spacers 34 disposed along
the adjoining edges of panels 10 and 10', if desired. The
flanges may have standout spacers 34 positioned at transition
areas along the offset between any of the flanges and the top
or bottom surfaces 12 and 26.
Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7 there is illustrated an
enlarged view of the projections 2S, configured as shock
absorbing projections. The sides of adjacent projections 2S
define a bottom channel 3S. The bottom channels 3S are
connected to the top drainage channels 14 by the drain holes
16. The bottom channels 3S permit water to flow from the top
surface 12 through the drain holes 16 and into the ground or
other substrate below the panel 10. In one embodiment, the
bottom channels 3S may also store water, such as at least 25
mm of water, for a controlled release into the supporting
substrate below. This slower water release prevents erosion
and potential sink holes and depressions from an over-saturated support substrate. The channels 3S also provide room
for the projections to deflect and absorb impact energy, as will
be explained below. Additionally, the bottom channels 3S also
provide an insulating effect from the trapped air to inhibit or
minimize frost penetration under certain ambient conditions.

10

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED


EMBODIMENT
Referring now to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIGS.
lA, lB, and lC a load supporting panel having an impact
absorbing structure configured to underlie a playground area.
The various embodiments of the impact absorbing panel
described herein may also be used in indoor and outdoor
impact environments other than playgrounds and with other
types of equipment such as, for example, wrestling mats,
gymnastic floor pads, carpeting, paving elements, loose infill
material, and other covering materials. In certain embodiments, the panel is described as a single panel and is also
configured to cooperate with other similar panels to form a
base or impact absorbing panel system that is structured as an
assemblage of panels. The panel, shown generally at 10, has
a top surface 12 that is illustrated having a grid of drainage
channels 14. Though shown as a grid of intersecting drainage
channels 14, the drainage channels may be provided in a
non-intersecting orientation, such as generally parallel drainage channels. In the illustrated embodiment, a drain hole 16 is
formed through the panel 10 at the intersection points of the
drainage channels 14. However, not every intersection point
is required to include a drain hole 16. The drain holes 16 may
extend through all or only a portion of the intersecting drainage channels 14 as may be needed to provide for adequate
water dispersion. Though illustrated as a square grid pattern,
the grid of drainage channels 14 may be any shape, such as,
for example, rectangular, triangular, and hexagon.
A first edge flange lS extends along one side of the panel 10
and is offset from the top surface 12 of the panel 10.A second
edge flange 20 extends along an adjacent side of the panel 10
and is also offset from the top surface 12. A third edge flange
22 and a fourth edge flange 24 are illustrated as being oriented
across from the flanges lS and 20, respectively. The third and
fourth flanges 22 and 24 extend from the top surface 12 and
are offset from a bottom surface 26 of the base 12, as shown
in FIG. 2A. The first and second flanges lS and 20 are configured to mate with corresponding flanges, similar to third
and fourth flanges 22 and 24 that are part of another cooperating panel. Thus, the third and fourth flanges 22 and 24 are
configured to overlap flanges similar to first and second
flanges lS and 20 to produce a generally continuous surface
of top surfaces 12 of adjoining panels 10. A panel section 27,
as shown in FIG. 5, is defined by the thickness of the panel
between the top surface 12 and the bottom surface 26.
In an alternative embodiment, the panel 10 may be configured without the first through fourth flanges lS, 20, 22, and
24. In such a configuration, the resulting edges of the panel 10
may be generally flat and straight edges. In another embodiment, the generally straight edge may include projections (not
shown) to create a gap between adjoining panels, as will be
explained below. In yet another embodiment, the edges may
be formed with an interlocking geometric shape similar to a
jigsaw puzzle.

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 13 of 15


US 8,353,640 B2
5

The shock absorbing projections 2S are illustrated as having trapezoidal sides and generally square cross sections.
However, any geometric cross sectional shape may be used,
such as round, oval, triangular, rectangular, and hexagonal.
Additionally, the sides may be tapered in any manner, such as
a frusto-conical shape, and to any degree suitable to provide a
proper resilient characteristic for impact absorption. The projections 2S are shown having two absorption stages or zones
40 and 42. A first stage 40 includes a truncated surface 44 that
is configured to support the panel 10 on the substrate or
ground. The end of the first stage 40 may alternatively be
rounded rather than a flat, truncated surface. In another alternative embodiment, the end of the first stage 40 may be
pointed in order to be partially embedded in the substrate
layer. A second stage or zone 42 is disposed between the
bottom side 26 and the first stage 40. The second stage 42 is
larger in cross section and volume than the first stage 40.
Thus, the second stage 42 has a stiffer spring rate and
response characteristic than that of the first stage 40. This is
due to the larger area over which the applied load is spread. In
another embodiment, the first stage 40 may be formed with an
internal void, a dispersed porosity, or a reduced density (not
shown) to provide a softer spring rate characteristic. In yet
another embodiment, the first stage 40 may be formed from a
different material having a different spring rate characteristic
by virtue of the different material properties. The first stage 40
may be bonded, integrally molded, or otherwise attached to
the second stage 42. Though the first and second stages 40 and
42 are illustrated as two distinct zones where the first stage 40
is located on a larger area side of the second stage 42, such is
not required. The first and second stages 40 and 42 may be
two zones having constant or smooth wall sides where the two
zones are defined by a volume difference that establishes the
differing spring rates. Alternatively, the projections 2S may
have a general spring rate gradient over the entire projection
length between the truncated end 44 and the bottom surface

applied load may behave as shown in FIG. SB.As the distance


increases away from the applied load F, the projections 2S
will exhibit deflections resembling those of FIG. SA. Thus,
the projections 2S form a deflection gradient over a larger area
than the area of the applied load. This larger area includes
areas having deflections of both first and second stages 40 and
42 and areas having deflections of substantially only the first
stage 40. Thus, under a severe impact, for example, in addition to the compression of the material in the area of the load,
the first stage 40 (i.e., the smaller portions) of the projections
compress over a wider area than the are of the point of impact.
This load distribution creates an area elastic system capable
of distributing energy absorption over a wide area. This produces significant critical fall heights, as explained below. This
mechanical behavior of the projections 2S may also occur
with tapered projections of other geometries that are wider at
the top than at the bottom (i.e., upside down cones).
Referring now to FIG. 9 there is illustrated another
embodiment of a panel 100 having projections 12S that
exhibit a telescopic deflection characteristic. A first stage 140
of the projection 12S is deflected linearly into the second
stage 142. During an initial portion of an impact load, the first
stage 140 compresses such that the material density increases
from an original state to a compressed state. A dense zone
140a may progress from a portion of the first stage 140 to the
entire first stage. As the impact load increases, the first stage
pushes against and collapses into the second stage 142. The
second stage 142 compresses and permits the first stage to
linearly compress into the second stage 142 similarly to the
action ofa piston within a cylinder. A second stage dense zone
142a may likewise progress from a portion of the second
stage to the entire second stage. Alternatively, the dense zones
140a and 142a may compress proportionally across the entire
projection 12S.
The softness for impact absorption of the panel 100 to
protect the users, such as children, during falls or other
impacts is a design consideration. Impact energy absorption
for fall mitigation structures, for example children's playground surfaces, is measured using HIC (head injury criterion). The head injury criterion (HIC) is used internationally
and provides a relatively comparable numerical indicator
based on testing. HIC test result scores of 1000 or less are
generally considered to be in a safe range. The value of
critical fall height, expressed in meters, is a test drop height
that generates an HIC value of 1000. For example, to be
within the safe zone, playground equipment heights should
kept at or lower than the critical fall height of the base surface
composition. The requirement for critical fall height based on
HIC test values in playground applications may be different
from the requirement for critical fall heights in athletic fields
and similar facilities. Also, the RIC/critical fall height will
vary based on the supporting substrate characteristics. In one
embodiment, the panel 10 or the panel 100 may be configured
to provide a 2.5 m critical fall height over concrete, when
tested as a component of a playground surface, and a 2.7 m
critical fall height over concrete in combination with a low
pile (22 mm) artificial turf partially filled with sand. In
another embodiment, the panel 10 or the panel 100 may
provide a 3 .0 m critical fall height over a compacted sand base
in combination with a low pile (22 mm) artificial turf partially
filled with sand. By comparison, conventional athletic field
underlayment layers are configured to provide only half of
these critical fall height values.
These RIC/critical fall height characteristic and figures are
provided for comparison purposes only. The panel 10 or the
panel 100 may be configured to absorb more or less energy
depending on the application, such as swings, monkey bars,

10

15

20

25

30

35

26.

Referring to FIGS. SA and SB, the deflection reaction of


the projection 2S is illustrated schematically. As shown in
FIG. SA, a load "f' is applied onto the top surface 12 representing a lightly applied impact load. The first stage 40 is
compressed by an amount Ll under the load f and deflects
outwardly into the channel 3S, as shown by a deflected first
stage schematic 40'. The second stage 42 may deflect somewhat under the load fbut such a deflection would be substantially less than the first stage deflection 40'. As shown in FIG.
SB, a larger impact load "F" is applied to the top surface 12.
The first and second stages 40 and 42 are compressed by an
amount L2 under the load F, where the first stage 40 is compressed more than the second stage 42. The first stage 40
deflects outwardly to a deflected shape 40". The second stage
42 is also deflected outwardly to a deflected shape 42". Thus,
the first and second stages 40 and 42 progressively deflect as
springs in series that exhibit different relative spring rates.
These deflected shapes 40', 40", and 42" are generally the
shapes exhibited when an axial compressive load is applied to
the top surface. The first and second stages 40 and 42 may also
bend by different amounts in response to a glancing blow or
shearing force applied at an angle relative to the top surface
12.

The projections 2S are also arranged and configured to


distribute the impact load over a larger surface area of the
panel 10.As the panel 10 is subjected to an impact load, either
from the small load f or the larger load F, the projections
deflect in a gradient over a larger area than the area over which
the load is applied. For example, as the panel reacts to the
large impact load F, the projections immediately under the

40

45

50

55

60

65

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 14 of 15


US 8,353,640 B2
7

parallel bars, vertical and horizontal ladders, along with the


10. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein the top
ages of the intended users. In one embodiment, the projecsurface includes a molded topography configured to facilitate
tions 28 or 128 may have a first stage height range of 10-15
drainage.
mm and a second stage height range of 15-25 mm. In another
11. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein at least
embodiment, the projections 28 or 128 may be configured to
one flange extends from the panel section, the flange being
be in a range of approximately 12-13 mm in height for the first
configured to overlap with a mating panel flange such that the
stage and 19-20 mm in height for the second stage in order to
top surface and the bottom surface of one panel are generally
achieve the above referenced HIC figures. The panel 10 or the
continuous with the top surface and bottom surface of the
panel 100 may be made of any suitable material, such as for
adjacent panels.
12. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein at least
example, a polymer material. In one embodiment, the panel 10
10 or 100 is a molded polypropylene panel. However, the
one flange extends from the panel section, the flange being
panel may be formed from other polyolefin materials.
configured to overlap with a mating panel flange and further
The panels 10or100 may be assembled and covered with
configured to compensate for thermal expansion.
13. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein the
any suitable covering, such as for example, artificial turf,
rubber or polymer mats, short pile carpeting, particulate infill, 15 plurality of projections include an open bottom area between
projections configured to store water in a rain event.
or chips such as wood chips or ground rubber chips.
The principle and mode of operation of this invention have
14. The impact absorption panel of claim 13 wherein the
been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment.
open bottom area between projections can store up to at least
However, it must be understood that this invention may be
25 mm of water.
practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illus- 20
15. The impact absorption panel of claim 13 wherein the
open bottom area between projections is configured to create
trated without departing from its spirit or scope.
a dead insulating airspace to inhibit frost penetration.
What is claimed is:
1. An impact absorption panel having a top surface and a
16. An impact absorption panel system comprising:
bottom surface, the top surface including a plurality of draina first panel having a top surface, a bottom surface, a first
age channels that are in fluid communication with a plurality 25
edge having a flange that is offset from the top surface
of drain holes, the plurality of drain holes connecting the top
and a second edge having a flange that is offset from the
surface drainage channels with a plurality of bottom surface
bottom surface, a plurality of projections are disposed
channels, the bottom surface channels being defined by sides
across the bottom surface and projecting downwardly,
of a plurality of adjacent projections disposed across the
the projections having a first spring rate characteristic
30
bottom surface and projecting downwardly.
and a second spring rate characteristic; and
2. The impact absorption panel of claim 1 wherein the
a second panel having a top surface, a bottom surface, a first
adjacent projections each have a first spring rate characteristic
edge having a flange that is offset from the top surface
and a second spring rate characteristic wherein the first spring
and a second edge having a flange that is offset from the
rate characteristic provides for more deflection under load
bottom surface, a plurality of projections are disposed
across the bottom surface and projecting downwardly,
35
than the second spring rate characteristic.
the projections having a first spring rate characteristic
3. The impact absorption panel of claim 2 wherein the first
and a second spring rate characteristic, wherein one of
spring rate characteristic of the projections is part of a first
stage and the second spring rate characteristic is part of a
the second panel first edge flange and second edge flange
second stage.
engages one of the first panel second edge flange and the
4. The impact absorption panel of claim 3 wherein the first 40
first panel first edge flange to form a base layer configstage has a smaller volume of material than the second stage.
ured to have a generally continuously flat top surface.
5. The impact absorption panel of claim 3 wherein the first
17. The impact absorption panel system of claim 16
stage is formed from a different material than the second
wherein the first edge flange of the first and second panels has
stage.
one of a locking aperture and a locking projection and the
6. The impact absorption panel of claim 3 wherein the first 45 second edge flange of the first and second panels has the other
of a locking aperture and a locking projection.
and second stages of the projections deflect as springs in
senes.
18. The impact absorption panel system of claim 16
7. The impact absorption panel of claim 3 wherein the first
wherein one of an artificial turf, an athletic mat, a carpet, and
stage is configured to collapse initially when subjected to an
a particulate layer is disposed over the cooperating first and
impact load, the second stage is configured to provide greater 50 second panels.
19. An impact absorption panel comprising:
resistance to the impact load than the first stage, and a panel
a top surface having a three dimensional textured surface
section is defined between the top surface and the bottom
and a plurality of intersecting drainage channels;
surface, the panel section being configured to provide greater
a bottom surface spaced apart from the top surface and
resistance to the impact load than the first and second stages,
defining a panel section therebetween;
55
the projections further including truncated ends.
8. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein the
a plurality of projections projecting downwardly and dissecond stage is configured to be dimensionally larger than the
posed across at least a portion of the bottom surface, the
first stage.
projections having a first stage that defines a first spring
9. The impact absorption panel of claim 7 wherein the top
rate characteristic and a second stage defining a second
surface includes a three dimensional surface texture that ere- 60
spring rate characteristic wherein the first spring rate
ates friction to retain a covering layer and wherein a portion of
characteristic provides for more deflection under load
the bottom surface is generally coplanar with the truncated
than the second spring rate characteristic, the plurality of
ends of adjacent projections forming a coplanar bottom surprojections cooperating during deflection under load
face portion such that the coplanar bottom surface portion is
such that the adjacent projections provide a load absorpconfigured to provide a structural support surface having a 65
tion gradient over a larger area than the area directly
substantial resistance to deflection under load compared with
loaded, the first stage having a smaller volume of matethe first and second stages.
rial than the second stage, and wherein adjacent projec-

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-3 Filed 07/05/16 Page 15 of 15


US 8,353,640 B2
9

10

tions define a bottom surface channel to form a plurality


of intersecting bottom surface channels; and
a plurality of drain holes connecting the top surface drainage channels with the plurality of bottom surface channels at the drainage channel intersections.
20. The impact absorption panel of claim 19 wherein the
first stage is configured to collapse initially when subjected to
an impact load, the second stage is configured to provide
greater resistance to the impact load than the first stage, and
the panel section is configured to provide greater resistance to

the impact load than the first and second stages, the first stage
being further configured to compress and telescopically
deflect into the second stage, and wherein a portion of the
bottom surface is generally coplanar with the truncated ends
of adjacent projections such that the coplanar bottom surface
portion is configured to provide a substantial resistance to
deflection under load compared with the first and second
stages.

* * * * *

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 23

EXHIBIT C
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 23

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll lllll lllll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


US008568840B2

c12)

United States Patent

(IO)

Sawyer et al.

(45)

(54)

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

(75)

Inventors: Steven Lee Sawyer, Castel San


Giovanni (IT); Daniel C Sawyer,
Boulder, CO (US); Richard R Runkles,
Windsor, CO (US)

(56)

(73)

Assignee: Brock USA, LLC, Boulder, CO (US)

( *)

Notice:

Appl. No.: 13/568,611

(22)

Filed:

(65)

A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

7/1950
1111951
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Winkler
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Lanzetta
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(Continued)

871775
1243698 Al

Nov. 29, 2012

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

(60)

Provisional application No. 60/881,293, filed on Jan.


19, 2007, provisional application No. 60/927,975,
filed on May 7, 2007, provisional application No.
61/000,503, filed on Oct. 26, 2007, provisional
application No. 61/003,731, filed on Nov. 20, 2007.
Int. Cl.
EOJC 13108
(2006.01)
E04C 2100
(2006.01)
E04C 2120
(2006.01)
E04C 2140
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl.
USPC ................... 428/17; 428/53; 428/44; 428/95;
428/131; 428/156; 52/578; 52/581
Field of Classification Search
USPC ............. 428/17, 44, 87, 95, 131, 156, 53, 33,
428/58; 52/581, 578
See application file for complete search history.

44A

5/1979
912002

(Continued)

Related U.S. Application Data

( 58)

2,515,847
2,746,365
3,438,312
3,577,894
3,757,481
3,909,996
4,146,599
4,287,693

Prior Publication Data

Continuation of application No. 12/009,835, filed on


Jan. 22, 2008, now Pat. No. 8,236,392.

(52)

References Cited

BE
EP

(63)

(51)

Oct. 29, 2013

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS

Aug. 7, 2012

US 2012/0301638 Al

US 8,568,840 B2

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS

Subject to any disclaimer, the term ofthis


patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.

(21)

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

48

European Examination Report, Application No. EP 10 734 609.0


dated Apr. 9, 2013.

(Continued)
Primary Examiner - Cheryl Juska
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm -MacMillian, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC
(57)

ABSTRACT

An underlayment layer is configured to support an artificial


turf assembly. The underlayment layer comprises a core with
a top side and a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of
spaced apart, upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable for water flow along the top side of the core when
the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying
artificial turf assembly.

24 Claims, 11 Drawing Sheets

58 448

37A 44C

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2
Page 2

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Aero-Spacer Dri-Lex, Hydrofil, FaytexCorp.
Dynamic Cushioning Performance, JSP International, 1998.
Quiet Walk, Midwest Padding, www.midwestpadding.com/
quietwalk/lintro.htrnl, Jul. 24, 2003.
Silent Walk, The Silent Partner in Laiminating Flooring, www.
sponge-cushion.corn/silent2.htrn, Jul. 24, 2003.
Tuplex--General-underlay, flooring underlay, parquet underlay,
Tuplex Corp., www.snt-group.net/tuplex/usa/corp.htrn., Jul. 24,
2003.
Porex Porous Plastics High Performance Materials, Porex Technologies, 1989.
Product Samples, The engineered plastic foams of JSP International,
JSP International, www.jspi.com.
Cork Underlayment-Rolls & Sheets, www.ecobydesign.com/shop/
cork/cork_underlayment.htrnl., Jul. 24, 2003.

* cited by examiner

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 15 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2
1

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

a first deformation characteristic associated with an athletic


response characteristic and the core defines a second deformation characteristic associated with a bodily impact characteristic. The first and second deformation characteristics are
complimentary to provide a turf system bodily impact characteristic and a turf system athletic response characteristic.
A method of assembling an underlayment layer to an adjacent underlayment layer includes providing a first underlayment layer on top of a substrate. The underlayment layer has
at least one edge with a top side flap, a bottom side flap, and
a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. A second
underlayment layer is positioned adjacent to the first underlayment layer and on top of the substrate. The second underlayment layer also ahs at least one edge with a top side flap, a
bottom side flap, and a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. The first underlayment layer top side flap is
deflected in an upward direction between a comer and the flap
assembly groove. The second underlayment layer bottom
side flap is inserted under the upwardly deflected first underlayment layer top side flap. Finally, the first underlayment
layer top side flap is downwardly deflected into engagement
with the second underlayment layer bottom side flap.
Various aspects of this invention will become apparent to
those skilled in the art from the following detailed description
of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
5

This application is a Continuation Application of U.S.


patent application Ser. No. 12/009,835, filed Jan. 22, 2008,
now U.S. Pat. No. 8,236,392, issued Aug. 7, 2012, which
claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No.
60/881,293, filed Jan. 19, 2007; U.S. Provisional Application
No. 60/927,975, filed May 7, 2007; U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/000,503, filed Oct. 26, 2007; and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/003,731, filed Nov. 20, 2007, the
disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

10

15

TECHNICAL FIELD
This invention relates in general to artificial turf systems of
the type used in athletic fields, ornamental lawns and gardens,
and playgrounds.

20

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Artificial turf systems are commonly used for sports playing fields and more particularly to artificial playing fields.
Artificial turf systems can also be used for synthetic lawns
and golf courses, rugby fields, playgrounds, and other similar
types of fields or floor coverings. Artificial turf systems typically comprise a turf assembly and a foundation, which can be
made of such materials as asphalt, graded earth, compacted
gravel or crushed rock. Optionally, an underlying resilient
base or underlayment layer may be disposed between the turf
assembly and the foundation. The turf assembly is typically
made of strands of plastic artificial grass blades attached to a
turfbacking. An infill material, which typically is a mixture of
sand and ground rubber particles, may be applied among the
vertically oriented artificial grass blades, typically covering
the lower half or 2/3 of the blades.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a turfunderlayment layer configured to support an artificial turf assembly. The turfunderlayment layer has panels including edges that are configured to
interlock with the edges of adjacent panels to form a vertical
interlocking connection. The interlocking connection is
capable of substantially preventing relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent connected
panel. The underlayment comprises a core with a top side and
a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of spaced apart,
upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable
for water flow along the top side of the core when the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying artificial turf
assembly.
The top side may include an upper support surface in
contact with the artificial turf assembly. The upper support
surface, in tum, may have a plurality of channels configured
to allow water flow along the top side of the core. The upper
support surfaces may be substantially flat. The bottom side
may include a lower support surface that is in contact with a
foundation layer and also have a plurality of channels configured to allow water flow along the bottom side of the core. A
plurality of spaced apart drain holes connects the upper support surface channels with the lower support surface channels
to allow water flow through the core.
The plurality of spaced apart projections on the top side are
deformable under a compressive load. The projections define

25

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


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FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view in elevation ofan


artificial turf system.
FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of an embodiment
of an underlayment panel assembly.
FIG. 2A is an enlarged, perspective view of an underlayment panel of the panel assembly of FIG. 2.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of an alternative embodiment of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross sectional view, in elevation, of
the interlocking edge of the underlayment panel of FIG. 3 and
an adjacent mated underlayment panel.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an embodiment of an interlocking edge and bottom side projections of the underlayment
panel.
FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of the assembly of
the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels.
FIG. 6A is a schematic plan view of the interlocking edge
of FIG. 6.
FIG. 7 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the
interlocking edges of the underlayment panels.
FIG. 8 is an elevation view of the assembly of the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged plan view of an embodiment of a
drainage channel and infill trap and a frictional surface of the
underlayment panel.
FIG.10 is an elevation view in cross section of the drainage
channel and infill trap of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12A is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12B is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an embodiment ofa bottom
side of the underlayment drainage panel.
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of an underlayment panel showing projections in a free-state, unloaded
condition.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 16 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2
3

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 14 showing the deflection of the projections under a vertical load.
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 15 showing the deflection of the projections and panel core under an increased vertical load.
FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a panel with spaced apart
friction members configured to interact with downwardly
oriented ridges on the artificial turf assembly.

24 is to add stability to the field, improve traction between the

10

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED


EMBODIMENT
The turf system shown in FIG. 1 is indicated generally at
10. The turf system includes an artificial turf assembly 12, an
underlayment layer 14 and a foundation layer 16. The foundation layer 16 can comprise a layer 18 of crushed stone or
aggregate, or any other suitable material. Numerous types of
foundation layers are known to those skilled in the art. The
crushed stone layer 18 can be laid on a foundation base, such
as compacted soil, a poured concrete base, or a layer of
asphalt paving, not shown. Alternatively, the underlayment
layer 14 may be applied over the asphalt or concrete base,
omitting the crushed stone layer, if so desired. In many turf
systems used for an athletic field, the foundation layers are
graded to a contour such that water will drain to the perimeter
of the field and no water will pool anywhere on the surface.
The artificial turf assembly 12 includes strands of synthetic
grass blades 20 attached to a turf backing 22. An optional
infill material 24 may be applied to the grass blades 20. The
synthetic grass blades 20 can be made of any material suitable
for artificial turf, many examples of which are well known in
the art. Typically the synthetic grass blades are about 5 cm in
length although any length can be used. The blades 20 of
artificial grass are securely placed or tufted onto the backing
22. One form of blades that can be used is a relatively wide
polymer film that is slit or fibrillated into several thinner film
blades after the wide film is tufted onto the backing 22. In
another form, the blades 20 are relatively thin polymer films
(monofilament) that look like individual grass blades without
being fibrillated. Both of these can be colored to look like
blades of grass and are attached to the backing 22.
The backing layer 22 of the turf assembly 12 is typically
water-porous by itself, but is often optionally coated with a
water-impervious coating 26A, such as for example urethane,
for dimensional stability of the turf. In order to allow water to
drain vertically through the backing 22, the backing can be
provided with spaced apart holes 25A. In an alternative
arrangement, the water impervious coating is either partially
applied, or is applied fully and then scraped off in some
portions, such as drain portion 25B, to allow water to drain
through the backing layer22. The blades 20 of grass fibers are
typically tufted onto the backing 22 in rows that have a regular
spacing, such as rows that are spaced about 2 centimeters to
about 4 centimeters apart, for example. The incorporation of
the grass fibers 20 into the backing layer 22 sometimes results
in a series of spaced apart, substantially parallel, urethane
coated corrugations or ridges 26B on the bottom surface 28 of
the backing layer 22 formed by the grass blade tufts. Ridges
26B can be present even where the fibers are not exposed.
The optional infill material 24 of the turf assembly 12,
when applicable, is placed in between the blades 20 of artificial grass and on top of the backing 22. If the infill material 24
is applied, the material volume is typically an amount that
covers only a bottom portion of the synthetic grass blades 20
so that the top portions of the blades stick out above the infill
material 24. The typical purpose of the optional infill material

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athlete's shoe and the play surface, and to improve shock


attenuation of the field. The infill material 24 is typically sand
24A or ground up rubber particles or synthetic particulate
24B or mixtures of these, although other materials can be
used.
When the backing layer 22 has holes 25A or a porous
section 25B for water drainage, then some of the infill material 24 is able to wash through the backing layer porous
section 25B or the backing layer drainage holes 25A and onto
the turf underlayment layer 14. This infill migration, or
migration of the infill constituents, is undesirable because the
depletion of the infill material 24 results in a field that doesn't
have the initially designed stability and firmness characteristics. Excessive migration of the infill material 24, or the infill
constituent components, to the turf underlayment layer 14 can
create a hard layer which makes the whole system less able to
absorb impacts.
The turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of expanded
polyolefin foam beads, which can be expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polyethylene (EPE), or any other
suitable material. The foam beads are closed cell (water
impervious) beads. In one optional method of manufacture,
the beads are originally manufactured as tiny solid plastic
pellets, which are later processed in a controlled pressure
chamber to expand them into larger foam beads having a
diameter within the range of from about 2 millimeters to
about 5 millimeters. The foam beads are then blown into a
closed mold under pressure so they are tightly packed.
Finally, steam is used to heat the mold surface so the beads
soften and melt together at the interfaces, forming the turf
underlayment layer 14 as a solid material that is water impervious. Other methods of manufacture can be used, such as
mixing the beads with an adhesive or glue material to form a
slurry. The slurry is then molded to shape and the adhesive
cured. The slurry mix underlayment may be porous through
the material thickness to drain water away. This porous underlayment structure may also include other drainage feature
discussed below. The final EPP material can be made in
different densities by starting with a different density bead, or
by any other method. The material can also be made in various
colors. The resulting underlayment structure, made by either
the steam molding or the slurry mixing processes, may be
formed as a water impervious underlayment or a porous
underlayment. These resulting underlayment layer structures
may further include any of the drainage, deflection, and interlocking features discussed below.
Alternatively, the turfunderlayment layer 14 can be made
from a molding and expansion of small pipe sections of
foamed material, similar to small foamed macaroni. The
small pipe sections of foamed material are heated and fused
together in the mold in the same way as the spherical beads.
The holes in the pipe sections keep the underlayment layer
from being a totally solid material, and some water can drain
through the underlayment layer. Additionally, varying the
hollow section geometry may provide an ability to vary the
material density in order to selectively adjust the performance
of the turf system.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of a plurality of underlayment
panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D. Each of the panels have
similar side edges 32A, 32B, 32C, and 32D. The panels
further have substantially planar major faces, i.e., top sides 34
and bottom sides 36. The substantially flat planar faces, top
sides 34 and bottom sides 36, define a core 35 therebetween.
There are flaps 37, 38 and fittings 40, indicated generally, are
arranged along the edges 32A-D as shown. In one embodi-

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 17 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2
5

ment shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A, the flaps 37 and 38 are


configured to include top side flaps 37A, 38A, 38B and bottom side flaps 37D, 38C, 38D. For reference purposes only,
top side flaps 38A and 38B are shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A as
having a patterned surface contiguous with, the top side 34.
Likewise, FIG. 3 shows the top side flaps 37A and 37B of
panel 30A-D having a substantially flat surface adjacent to an
upper support surface 52 that supports the backing layer 22 of
the turf assembly 12. Alternatively, the top side flaps 37A,
37B, 38A and 38B can have either a substantially flat surface
adjacent to, or a patterned surface contiguous with, the top
side 34. Bottom side flaps are similarly associated with the
bottom side 36 or a lower support surface 70 of the panels 30
contacting the underlying strata, such as the foundation layer
16.
The top side flap 38A may be of unequal length relative to
the adjacent bottom side flap 38C, as shown positioned along
edge 32B in FIGS. 2 and 2A. Alternatively, for example, the
top side flap 38A and the bottom side flap 38C, positioned
along the edge 32B, may be of equal length. In FIG. 2, the
panels 30A-D further show edges 32A and 32C having substantially continuous top side flaps 37A and bottom side flaps
37D, respectively, though such a configuration is not
required. The edges 32A and 32C may have flaps similarly
configured to edges 32B and32D.As shown in FIG. 3, the top
side flap 37A may extend along the length of the edge 32C and
the bottom side flap 38C may extend along the oppositely
positioned edge 32A.
When assembled, the flaps along edges 32A and 32B are
configured to interlock with the mating edges 32C and 32D,
respectively. The top side flap 38A and adjacent bottom side
flap 38C overlap and interlock with the mating bottom side
flap 38D and top side flap 38 B, respectively. The recessed
fitting 40A of top side flap 38B, of panel 30D interlocks with
the projecting fitting 40B of panel 30A, as shown in FIGS. 2
and 6. In an alternative embodiment, the surface of the projecting fitting 40B may extend up to include the projections
50. In this embodiment, the mating recessed fitting 40A of the
top side flap 38B has a corresponding void or opening to
receive the projected fitting 40B. These mating flaps 37, 38
and fittings 40 form a vertical and horizontal interlock connection, with the flaps 38A and 38B being positioned along
flaps 38D and 38 C, respectively, substantially preventing
relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an
adjacent connected panel. The projecting and recessed fittings 40A and 40B, respectively, substantially prevent horizontal shifts between adjacent panels 30 due to mechanically
applied shear loads, such as, for example, from an athlete's
foot or groundskeeping equipment.
In one embodiment, the vertical interlock between adjacent
panels 30 is sufficient to accommodate heavy truck traffic,
necessary to install infill material, without vertical separation
of the adjacent panels. The adjacent top side flaps 38A and
38B and adjacent bottom side flaps 38C and 38D also substantially prevent horizontal shifting of the panels due to
mechanically applied shear loads. The cooperating fittings
40A and 40B, along with adjacent flaps 38A, 38B and 38C,
38D, provide sufficient clearance to accommodate deflections arising from thermal expansion. The flaps 38 may
optionally include drainage grooves 42B and drainage ribs or
projections 42A that maintain a drainage charmel between the
mated flaps 38A-D of adjoining panels, as will be discussed
below. The drainage projections 42A and the drainage
grooves 42B may be oriented on mated flaps of adjacent
panels in an offset relative relationship, in a cooperatively
engaged relationship, or applied to the mated flaps 38A-D as
either solely projections or grooves. When oriented in a coop-

erating engaged relationship, these projections 42A and


grooves 42B may additionally supplement the in-plane shear
stability of the mated panel assemblies 30 when engaged
together. The drainage projections 42A and drainage grooves
42B may be equally or unequally spaced along the flaps 38A
and 38B, respectively, as desired.
Optionally, the drainage grooves 42B and projections 42A
can perform a second function, i.e. a retention function. The
turfunderlayment 30 may include the cooperating drainage
ribs or projections 42A and grooves 42B for retention purposes, similar to the fittings 40. The projections 42A and
fittings 40B may include various embodiments of differently
shaped raised recessed structures, such as square, rectangular,
triangular, pyramidal, trapezoidal, cylindrical, frusto-conical,
helical and other geometric configurations that may include
straight sides, tapering sides or reversed tapering sides. These
geometric configurations cooperate with mating recesses,
such as groove 42B and recessed fitting 40A having complementary geometries. The cooperating fittings, and optionally
the cooperating projections and grooves, may have dimensions and tolerances that create a variety of fit relationships,
such as loose fit, press fit, snap fit, and twist fit connections.
The snap fit relationship may further provide an initial interference fit, that when overcome, results in a loose or line-toline fit relationship. The twist fit relationship may include a
helical surface on a conical or cylindrical projection that
cooperates with a recess that may or may not include a corresponding helical surface. The press fit, snap fit, and twist fit
connections may be defined as positive lock fits that prevent
or substantially restrict relative horizontal movement of adjacent joined panels.
The drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B, either
alone or in a cooperating relationship, may provide a vertically spaced apart relationship between the mating flaps 38AD, or a portion of the mating flaps 38A-D, of adjoining panels
to facilitate water drainage away from the top surface 34.
Additionally, the drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B
may provide assembled panels 30 with positioning datums to
facilitate installation and accommodate thermal expansion
deflections due to environmental exposure. The projections
42A may be either located in, oroffset from, the grooves 42B.
Optionally, the edges 32A-D may only include one of the
projections 42A or the grooves 42B in order to provide
increased drainage. Not all panels may need or require projections 42A and grooves 42B disposed about the outer
perimeter. For example, it may be desired to produce specific
panels that include at least one edge designed to abut a structure that is not a mating panel, such as a curb, trim piece,
sidewalk, and the like. These panels may have a suitable edge,
such as a frame, flat end, rounded edge, point, and the like, to
engage or abut the mating surface. For panels that mate with
adjacent panels, each panel may include at least one projections along a given edge and a corresponding groove on an
opposite side, positioned to interact with a mating projection
to produce the required offset.
FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a profile of cooperating
flaps 38A and 38C. The profiles of flaps 38A and 38C include
complimentary mating surfaces. The top side flap 38A
includes a leading edge bevel 44A, a bearing shelf 44B and a
back bevel 44C. The bottom side flap 38C includes a leading
edge bevel 46A configured to be positioned against back
bevel 44C. Likewise, a bearing shelf 46B is configured to
contact against the bearing shelf 44B and the back bevel 46C
is positioned against the leading edge bevel 44A. The bearing
shelves 44B and 46B may optionally include ribs 48 extending longitudinally along the length of the respective flaps. The
ribs 48 may be a plurality of outwardly projecting ribs that

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 18 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2

cooperate with spaces between adjacent ribs of the mating


flap. Alternatively, the top side flap 38A may have outwardly
projecting ribs 48 and the bottom side flap 38C may include
corresponding recesses (not shown) of a similar shape and
location to cooperatively engage the ribs 38. Additionally,
drain holes 58 may extend through the flaps 38 to provide
water drainage, as will be described below.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 2A, and 5, a flap assembly groove 80
is shown positioned between the top side flap 38A and the
bottom side flap 38C. The flap assembly groove 80, however,
may be positioned between any adjacent interlocking geometries. The groove 80 allows relative movement of adjacent
flaps on an edge of a panel so that adjoining panel flaps can be
assembled together more easily. When installing conventional panels, adjoining panels are typically slid over the
compacted base and twisted or deflected to position the
adjoining interfaces together. As the installers attempt to mate
adjoining prior art panel interfaces together, they may bend
and bow the entire panel structure to urge the mating sections
into place. The corners and edges of these prior art panels
have a tendency to dig into the compacted base causing discontinuities which is an undesirable occurrence.
In contrast to the assembly of prior art panels, the grooves
80 of the panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D allow the top side
flap 38A to flex relative to bottom side flap 38C. To illustrate
the assembly method, panels 30A, 30B and 30D are relatively
positioned in place and interlocked together on the foundation layer. To install panel 30C, the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is deflected upwardly. Additionally, the mated inside
corner of panels 30A and 30 D may be slightly raised as an
assembled unit. The area under the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is exposed in order to position the mating bottom side
flap 38D. The bottom side flap 37D positioned along edge
32A of panel 30A may be positioned under the top side flap
37A on edge 32C of panel 30D. This positioning may be aided
by slightly raising the assembled comer of panels 30A and
30D. The positioned flaps may be engaged by a downward
force applied to the overlapping areas. By bending the top
side flaps of a panel up during assembly, access to the mating
bottom side flap location increases thus facilitating panel
insertion without significant sliding of the panel across the
compacted foundation layer. This assembly technique prevents excessively disrupting the substrate or the previously
installed panels. The assembly of panels 30A-D, shown in
FIG. 2, may also be assembled by starting with the panel 30C,
positioned in the upper right comer. Subsequent top side flaps
along the edges 32 may be placed over the bottom side flaps
already exposed.
FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of assembled panels 30
where the top side flap 38Ais shorter than the bottom side flap
38B, as described above, creating a flap offset. The flap offset
aligns the panels 30 such that seams created by the mating
edges 32 do not line up and thereby create a weak, longitudinal deflection point. The top side and bottom side flaps may
be oriented in various offset arrangements along the edge 32.
For example, two top side flaps of equal length may be disposed on both sides of the bottom side flap along the edge 32.
This arrangement would allow the seam of two adjoining
panels to terminate in the center of the next panel.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the
underlayment panels 130, having a plurality of edges 132, a
top side 134, a bottom side 136, and flaps configured as
tongue and groove structures. The flaps include upper and
lower flanges 142, 144 extending from some of the edges 132
of the panels 130, with the upper and lower flanges 142, 144
defining slots 146 extending along the edges 132. An intermediate flange 148 extends from the remainder of the edges

of the panels, with the intermediate flange 148 being configured to fit within the slots 146 in a tongue-and-groove configuration. The flanges 148 of one panel 130 fit together in a
complementary fashion with the slot 146 defined by the
flanges 142, 144 of an adjacent panel. The purpose of the
flanges 142, 144, and 148 is to secure the panels against
vertical movement relative to each other. When the panels 130
are used in combination with a turf assembly 12, i.e., as an
underlayment for the turf assembly, the application of a
downward force applied to the turf assembly pinches the
upper and lower flanges 142, 144 together, thereby compressing the intermediate flanges 148 between the upper and lower
flanges, and preventing or substantially reducing relative vertical movement between adjacent panels 130. The top side
134 may include a textured surface having a profile that is
rougher or contoured beyond that produced by conventional
smooth surfaced molds and molding techniques, which are
known in the art.
FIGS. 1-3 further show a plurality of projections 50 are
positioned over the top side 34 of the panels 30. The projections 50 have truncated tops 64 that form a plane that defines
an upper support surface 52 configured to support the artificial turf assembly 12. The projections 50 do not necessarily
require flat, truncated tops. The projections 50 may be of any
desired cross sectional geometric shape, such as square, rectangular, triangular, circular, oval, or any other suitable polygon structure. The projections 50, as shown in FIG. 10, and
projections 150 as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, may have
tapered sides 54, 154 extending from the upper support surface 52, 152 outwardly to the top side 34 of the core 35. The
projections 50 may be positioned in a staggered arrangement,
as shown in FIGS. 2, 6, and 9. The projections 50 may be any
height desired, but in one embodiment the projections 50 are
in the range of about 0.5 millimeters to about 6 millimeters,
and may be further constructed with a height of about 3
millimeters. In another embodiment, the height is in the range
of about 1.5 millimeters to about 4 millimeters. The tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 cooperate to define channels 56 that form a labyrinth across the panel 30 to provide
lateral drainage of water that migrates down from the turf
assembly 12. The channels 56 have drain holes 58 spaced
apart and extending through the thickness of the panel 30.
As shown in FIG. 9, the channels 56 may be formed such
that the tapered sides 54 substantially intersect or meet at
various locations in a blended radii relationship transitioning
onto the top surface 34. The projections 50, shown as truncated cone-shaped structures having tapered sides 54, form a
narrowed part, or an infill trap 60, in the channel 56. The infill
trap 60 blocks free flow of infill material 24 that migrates
through the porous backing layer 22, along with water. As
shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the infill material 24 becomes
trapped and retained between the tapered sides 54 in the
channels 56. The trapping of the infill material 24 prevents
excessive migrating infill from entering the drain holes 58.
The trapped infill material may constrict or somewhat fill up
the channels 56 but does not substantially prevent water flow
due to interstitial voids created by adjacent infill particles,
24A and 24B, forming a porous filter.
The size of the drainage holes 58, the frequency of the
drainage holes 58, the size of the drainage channels 56 on the
top side 34 or the channels 76 on the bottom side 36, and the
frequency of the channels 56 and 76 provide a design where
the channels can line up to create a free flowing drainage
system. In one embodiment, the system can accommodate up
to 70 mm/hr rainfall, when installed on field having a slightlyraised center profile, for example, on the order of a 0.5%
slope. The slightly-raised center profile of the field tapers, or

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slopes away, downwardly towards the perimeter. This format


of installation on a full sized field promotes improved horizontal drainage water flow. For instance, a horizontal drainage distance of 35 meters and a perimeter head pressure of
175 millimeters.
The cone shaped projections 50 of FIGS. 6 and 9 also form
widened points in the channel 56. The widened points, when
oriented on the edge 32 of the panel 30, form beveled, funnellike interfaces or edges 62, as shown in FIG. 6. These funnel
edges 62 may be aligned with similar funnel edges on adjacent panels and provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 56 for water drainage. If the top side projections 50 have
a non-curved geometry, the outer edge comers of the projections 50 may be removed to form the beveled funnel edge, as
will be discussed below in conjunction with bottom side
projections. Additionally, the bottom side projections may be
generally circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced apart
relationship as that described above. The bottom side projections may further be of a larger size than the top side projections.
A portion of the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 is shown in
FIGS. 5 and 13. The bottom side 36 includes the lower support surface 70 defined by a plurality of downwardly extending projections 72 and a plurality downwardly extending edge
projections 74. The plurality of projections 72 and edge projections 74 space apart the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 from
the foundation layer 16 and further cooperate to define drainage channels 7 6 to facilitate water flow beneath the panel. The
edge projections 74 cooperate to form a funnel edge 78 at the
end of the drainage channel 76. These funnel edges 78 may be
aligned with similar funnel edges 78 on adjacent panels and
provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between
mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 76 for
water drainage. The bottom side 36 shown in FIG. 13 represents a section from the center of the panel 30. The bottom
side projections 72 and edge projections 74 are typically
larger in surface area than the top side projections 50 and are
shallower, or protrude to a lesser extent, though other relationships may be used. The larger surface area and shorter
height of the bottom side projections 72 tends to allow the top
side projections 50 to deform more under load. Alternatively,
the bottom side projections may be generally circular in shape
and exhibit a similar spaced apart relationship as that
described above. The bottom side projections may further be
of a larger size than the top side projections.
The larger size of the bottom side projections 72 allows
them to be optionally spaced in a different arrangement relative to the arrangement of the top side projections 50. Such a
non-aligned relative relationship assures that the top channels
56 and bottom channels 76 are not aligned with each other
along a relatively substantial length that would create seams
or bending points where the panel core 35 may unduly deflect.
Referring again to FIG. 9, the top side projections 50 may
include a friction enhancing surface 66 on the truncated tops
64. The friction enhancing surface 66 may be in the form of
bumps, or raised nibs or dots, shown generally at 66A in FIG.
9. These bumps 66A provide an increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the upper support
surface of the underlayment panel 30. The bumps 66A are
shown as integrally molded protrusions extending up from
the truncated tops 64 of the projections 50. The bumps 66A
may be in a pattern or randomly oriented. The bumps 66A
may alternatively be configured as friction ribs 66B. The ribs
66B may either be on the surface of the truncated tops 64 or
slightly recessed and encircled with a rim 68.

FIGS.11and12 illustrate alternative embodiments of various turf underlayment panel sections having friction enhancing and infill trapping surface configurations. A turf underlayment panel 150 includes a top side 152 of the panel 150
provided with plurality of spaced apart, upwardly oriented
projections 154 that define flow channels 156 suitable for the
flow of water along the top surface of the panel. The projections 154 are shown as having a truncated pyramid shape,
however, any suitable shape, such as for example, truncated
cones, chevrons, diamonds, squares and the like can be used.
The projections 154 have substantially flat upper support
surfaces 158 which support the backing layer 22 of the artificial turf assembly 12. The upper support surfaces 158 of the
projections 154 can have a generally square shape when
viewed from above, or an elongated rectangular shape as
shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, or any other suitable shape.
The frictional characteristics of the underlayment may further be improved by the addition of a medium, such as a grit
170 or other granular material, to the underlayment mixture,
as shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B. In an embodiment shown in
FIG. 12A, the granular medium is added to the adhesive or
glue binder and mixed together with the beads. The grit 170
may be in the form of a commercial grit material, typically
provided for non-skid applications, often times associated
with stairs, steps, or wet surfaces. The grit may be a polypropylene or other suitable polymer, or may be silicon oxide
(Si0 2 ), aluminum oxide (Al 2 0 3 ), sand, or the like. The grit
172 however may be of any size, shape, material or configuration that creates an associated increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the underlayment 150.
In operation, the application of grit material 172 to the underlayment layer 14 will operate in a different manner from
operation of grit applied to a hard surface, such as pavement
or wood. When applied to a hard surface, the non-skid benefit
of grit in an application, such as grit filled paint, is realized
when shearing loads are applied directly to the grit structure
by feet, shoes, or vehicle wheels. Further, grit materials are
not applied under a floor covering, such as a rug or carpet
runner, in order to prevent movement relative to the underlying floor. Rather, non-skid floor coverings are made of soft
rubber or synthetic materials that provide a high shear resistance over a hard flooring surface.
The grit material 170 when applied to the binder agent in
the turf underlayment structure provides a positive grip to the
turf backing layer 22. This gripping of the backing layer
benefits from the additional weight of the infill medium dispersed over the surface, thus applying the necessary normal
force associated with the desired frictional, shear-restraining
force. Any concentrated deflection of the underlayment as a
result of a load applied to the turf will result in a slight
momentary "divot" or discontinuity that will change the frictional shear path in theunderlayment layer 14. This deflection
of the surface topography does not occur on a hard surface,
such as a painted floor using grit materials. Therefore, the grit
material, as well as the grit binder are structured to accommodate the greater elasticity of the underlayment layer, as
opposed toe the hard floor surface, to provide improved surface friction. A grit material 180 may alternatively be applied
to the top of the bead and binder mixture, as shown in FIG.
12B, such that the beads within the thickness exhibit little to
no grit material 180. In this instance, the grit material 180
would primarily be on top of and impregnated within the top
surface and nearby thickness of the underlayment 150. Alternatively, the grit material 180 may be sprinkled onto or
applied to the mold surface prior to applying the bead and
binder slurry so that the predominant grit content is on the top
of the underlayment surface after the product is molded.

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Another embodiment provides a high friction substrate,


such as a grit or granular impregnated fabric applied to and
bonded with the upper surface of the underlayment layer 14,
i.e. the top side 34 or the upper support surface 52 as defined
by the projections 50. The fabric may alternatively be a mesh
structure whereby the voids or mesh apertures provide the
desired surface roughness or high friction characteristic. The
mesh may also have a roughened surface characteristic, in
addition to the voids, to provide a beneficial gripping action to
the underlayment. The fabric may provide an additional load
spreading function that may be beneficial to protecting players from impact injury. Also the fabric layer may spread the
load transfer from the turf to the underlayment and assist in
preserving the base compaction characteristic.
FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative embodiment of an underlayment layer having a water drainage structure and turf
assembly frictional engagement surface. The underlayment
layer 200 includes a top side 210 configured to support the
artificial turf assembly 12. The underlayment layer 200 further includes a core 235, a top side 210 and a bottom side 220.
The top side 210 includes a plurality of spaced apart projections 230 that define charmels 240 configured to allow water
flow along the top side 210. The top side 210 includes a series
of horizontally spaced apart friction members 250 that are
configured to interact with the downwardly oriented ridges 26
on the bottom surface 28 of the backing layer 22 of the
artificial turf assembly 12. The friction members 250 engage
the ridges 26 so that when the artificial turf assembly 12 is laid
on top of the underlayment layer 200 relative horizontal
movement between the artificial turf assembly 12 and the
underlayment layer 200 is inhibited.
In order to facilitate drainage and infill trapping, the channels 156A defined by the projections 152 optionally can have
a V-shaped cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 11, with
walls that are at an acute angle to the vertical. The flow
channels 156B shown in FIG. 12 are slightly different from
flow channels 156A since they have a flattened or truncated
V-shaped cross-sectional shape rather than the true V-shaped
cross-section of channels 156A. The purpose of the flow
channels 156A and 156B is to allow water to flow along the
top side 152 of the panels 150. Rain water on the turf assembly 12 percolates through the infill material 24 and passes
though the backing layer 22. The flow channels 156A, and
156B allow this rain water to drain away from the turf system
10.As therain water flows across the top side 152 of the panel
150, the charmels 156A and 156B will eventually direct the
rainwater to a vertical drain hole 160. The drain holes 160
then allow the rain water to drain from the top side 152 to the
bottom side of the turf underlayment layer 14. The drain hole
160 can be molded into the panel, or can be mechanically
added after the panel is formed.
During the operation of the artificial turf system 10, typically some of the particles of the infill material 24 pass
through the backing layer 22. These particles can flow with
the rain water along the channels 156A and 156B to the drain
holes 160. The particles can also migrate across the top surface 152 in dry conditions due to vibration from normal play
on the turf system 10. Over time, the drain holes 160 can
become clogged with the sand particles and become unable to
drain the water from the top surface 152 to the bottom surface.
Therefore it is advantageous to configure the top surface 152
to impede the flow of sand particles within the charmels 156A,
156B. Any suitable mechanism for impeding the flow of infill
particles along the channels can be used.
In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 11, the channel 156A
contains dams 162 to impede the flow of infill particles. The
dams 162 can be molded into the structure of the turf under-

layment layer 14, or can be added in any suitable marmer. The


dams 162 can be of the same material as the turf underlayment
layer, or of a different material. In another embodiment, the
flow channels 156A are provided with roughened surfaces
164 on the charmel sidewalls 166 to impede the flow of infill
particles. The roughened surface traps the sand particles or at
least slows them down.
FIGS. 14-16 illustrate the dynamic load absorption characteristics of projections, shown in conjunction with the truncated cone projections 50 of the underlayment 30. The projections 50 on the top side provide a dynamic response to
surface impacts and other load inputs during normal play on
athletic fields. The truncated geometric shapes of the protrusions 50 provide the correct dynamic response to foot and
body impacts along with ball bounce characteristics. The
tapered sides 54 of the projections 50 incorporate some
amount of taper or "draft angle" from the top side 34, at the
base of the projection 50, to the plane of the upper support
surface 52, which is substantially coplanar with the truncated
protrusion top. Thus, the base of the projection 50 defines a
somewhat larger surface area than the truncated top surface
area. The drainage channels 56 are defined by the tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 and thereby establish gaps
or spaces therebetween.
FIG. 14 illustrates the free state distance 90 of the projection 50 and the free state distance 92 of the core 35. The
projections 50 deflect when subjected to an axially applied
compressive load, as shown in FIG. 15. The projection 50 is
deflected from the projection free state 90 to a partial load
deflection distance 94. The core 35 is still substantially at or
near a free state distance 92. The channels 56 allow the
projections to deflect outwardly as an axial load is applied in
a generally downward direction. The relatively unconstrained
deflection allows the protrusions 50 to "squash" or compress
vertically and expand laterally under the compressive load or
impact force, as shown in FIG. 15. This relatively unconstrained deflection may cause the apparent spring rate of the
underlayment layer 14 to remain either substantially constant
throughout the projection deflection or increase at a first rate
of spring rate increase.
Continued deformation of the protrusions 50 under a compressive or impact load, as shown in FIG. 16, causes the
projections 50 to deform a maximum amount to a fully compressed distance 96 and then begin to deform the core 35. The
core 35 deforms to a core compression distance 98 which is
smaller than the core free state distance 92. As the core 35
deforms, the apparent spring rate increases at a second rate,
which is higher than the first rate of spring rate increase. This
rate increase change produces a stiffening effect as a compressively-loaded elastomer spring. The overall effect also
provides an underlayment behavior similar to that of a dual
density material. In one embodiment, the material density
range is between 45 grams per liter and 70 grams per liter. In
another embodiment, the range is 50 grams per liter to 60
grams per liter. Under lower compression or impact loads, the
projections 50 compress and the underlayment 30 has a relatively low reaction force for a relatively large deflection, thus
producing a relatively low hardness. As the compression or
impact force increases, the material underlying the geometric
shape, i.e. the material of the core, creates a larger reaction
force without much additional deformation, which in tum
increases the stiffness level to the user.
The ability to tailor the load reactions of the underlayment
and the turf assembly as a complete artificial turf system
allows adjustment of two competing design parameters, a
bodily impact characteristic and an athletic response characteristic. The bodily impact characteristic relates to the turf

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system's ability to absorb energy created by player impacts


with the ground, such as, but not limited to, for example
tackles common in American-style football and rugby. The
bodily impact characteristic is measured using standardized
testing procedures, such as for example ASTM-F355 in the
U.S. and EN-1177 in Europe. Turf systems having softer or
more impact absorptive responses protect better against head
injury, but offer diminished or non-optimized athlete and ball
performance. The athletic response characteristic relates to
athlete performance responses during running and can be
measured using a simulated athlete profile, such as the Berlin
Artificial Athlete. Athlete performance responses include
such factors as turf response to running loads, such as heel and
forefoot contact and the resulting load transference. The turf
response to these running load characteristics can affect
player performance and fatigue. Turf systems having stiffer
surface characteristics may increase player performance,
such as running load transference, (i.e. shock absorption,
surface deformation and energy restitution), and ball behavior, but also increase injury potential due to lower impact
absorption. The underlayment layer and the turf assembly
each has an associated energy absorption characteristic, and
these are balanced to provide a system response appropriate
for the turf system usage and for meeting the required bodily
impact characteristics and athletic response characteristics.
In order to accommodate the particular player needs, as
well as satisfying particular sport rules and requirements,
several design parameters of the artificial turf system may
need to be varied. The particular sport, or range of sports and
activities undertaken on a particular artificial turf system, will
dictate the overall energy absorption level required of the
system. The energy absorption characteristic of the underlayment layer may be influenced by changes in the material
density, protrusion geometry and size, panel thickness and
surface configuration. These parameters may further be categorized under a broader panel material factor and a panel
geometry factor of the underlayment layer. The energy
absorption characteristic of the turf assembly may be subject
to considerations of infill material and depth. The infill material comprises a mixture of sand and synthetic particulate in a
ratio to provide proper synthetic grass blade exposure, water
drainage, stability, and energy absorption.
The turf assembly 12 provides a lot of the impact shock
attenuation for safety for such contact sports as American
football. The turf assembly 12 also provides the feel of the
field when running, as well as ball bounce and roll in sports
such as soccer (football), field hockey, rugby and golf. The
turf assembly 12 and the turf underlayment layer 14 work
together to get the right balance for hardness in running,
softness (impact absorption or energy absorption) in falls,
ball bounce and roll, etc. To counteract the changing field
characteristics overtime, which affect ball bounce and the roll
and feel of the field to the running athlete, in some cases the
infill material may be maintained or supplemented by adding
more infill, and by using a raking machine or other mechanism to fluff up the infill so it maintains the proper feel and
impact absorption.
The hardness of the athletic field affects performance on
the field, with hard fields allowing athletes to run faster and
turn more quickly. This can be measured, for example in the
United States using AS TM F 197 6 test protocol, and in the rest
of the world by FIFA, IRB (International Rugby Board), FIH
(International Hockey Federation), and ITF (International
Tennis Federation) test standards. In the United States,
another characteristic of the resilient turf underlayment layer
14 is to provide increased shock attenuation of the infill turf
system by up to 20 percent during running heel and running

forefoot loads. A larger amount of attenuation may cause


athletes to become too fatigued, and not perform at their best.
It is generally accepted that an athlete cannot perceive a
difference in stiffness of plus or minus 20 percent deviations
over a natural turf stiffness at running loads based on the U.S.
tests. The FIFA test requirement has minimum and maximum
values for shock attenuation and deformation under running
loads for the complete turf/underlayment system. Artificial
turf systems with shock attenuation and deformation values
between the minimum and maximum values simulate natural
turf feel.
The softness for impact absorption of an athletic field to
protect the players during falls or other impacts is a design
consideration, particularly in the United States. Softness of an
athletic field protects the players during falls or other impacts.
Impact energy absorption is measured in the United States
using ASTM F355-A, which gives a rating expressed as
Gmax (maximum acceleration in impact) and HIC (head
injury criterion). The head injury criterion (HIC) is used
internationally. There may be specific imposed requirements
for max acceleration and HIC for athletic fields, playgrounds
and similar facilities.
The turf assembly is advantageous in that in one embodiment it is somewhat slow to recover shape when deformed in
compression. This is beneficial because when an athlete runs
on a field and deforms it locally under the shoe, it is undesirable if the play surface recovers so quickly that it "pushes
back" on the shoe as it lifts off the surface. This would provide
unwanted energy restoration to the shoe. By making the turf
assembly 12 have the proper recovery, the field will feel more
like natural turf which doesn't have much resilience. The turf
assembly 12 can be engineered to provide the proper material
properties to result in the beneficial limits on recovery values.
The turf assembly can be designed to compliment specific
turf designs for the optimum product properties.
The design of the overall artificial turf system 10 will
establish the deflection under running loads, the impact
absorption under impact loads, and shape of the deceleration
curve for the impact event, and the ball bounce performance
and the ball roll performance. These characteristics can be
designed for use over time as the field ages, and the infill
becomes more compacted which makes the turf layer stiffer.
The panels 30 are designed with optimum panel bending
characteristics. The whole panel shape is engineered to provide stiffness in bending so the panel doesn't bend too much
when driving over it with a vehicle while the panel is lying on
the ground. This also assists in spreading the vehicle load over
a large area of the substrate so the contour of the underlying
foundation layer 16 won't be disturbed. If the contour of the
foundation layer 16 is not maintained, then water will pool in
areas of the field instead of draining properly.
In one embodiment of the invention, an artificial turf system for a soccer field is provided. First, performance design
parameters, related to a system energy absorption level for the
entire artificial turf system, are determined for the soccer
field. These performance design parameters are consistent
according to the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football
Association) Quality Concept for Artificial Turf, the International Artificial Turf Standard (IATS) and the European
ENI 5330 Standard. Typical shock, or energy, absorption and
deformation levels from foot impacts for such systems are
within the range of 55-70% shock absorption and about 4
millimeters to about 9 millimeters deformation, when tested
with the Berlin Artificial Athlete (EN14808, EN14809). Vertical ball rebound is about 60 centimeters to about 100 centimeters (EN 12235), Angled Ball Behavior is 45-70%, Vertical
Permeability is greater than 180 mm/hr (EN 12616) along

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with other standards, such as for example energy restitution.


Other performance criteria may not be directly affected by the
underlayment performance, but are affected by the overall
turf system design. The overall turf system design, including
the interactions of the underlayment may include surface
interaction such as rotational resistance, ball bounce, slip
resistance, and the like. In this example where a soccer field is
being designed, a performance level for the entire artificial
turf system for a specific standard is selected. Next, the artificial turf assembly is designed. The underlayment performance characteristics selected will be complimentary to the
turf assembly performance characteristics to provide the
overall desired system response to meet the desired sports
performance standard. It is understood that the steps in the
above example may be performed in a different order to
produce the desired system response.
In general, the design of the turf system having complimentary underlayment and turf assembly performance characteristics may for example provide a turf assembly that has a
low amount of shock absorption, and an underlayment layer
that has a high amount of shock absorption. In establishing
the relative complimentary performance characteristics, there
are many options available for the turf design such as pile
height, tufted density, yam type, yam quality, infill depth,
infill types, backing and coating. For example, one option
would be to select a low depth and/or altered ratio of sand vs.
rubber infill, or the use of an alternative infill material in the
turf assembly. If in this example the performance of the turf
assembly has a relatively low specific shock absorption value,
the shock absorption of the underlayment layer will have a
relatively high specific value.
By way of another example having different system characteristics, an artificial turf system for American football or
rugby may provide a turf assembly that has a high amount of
energy absorption, while providing the underlayment layer
with a low energy absorption performance. In establishing the
relative complimentary energy absorption characteristics,
selecting a high depth of infill material in the turf assembly
may be considered. Additionally, where the energy absorption of the turf assembly has a value greater than a specific
value, the energy absorption of the underlayment layer will
have a value less than the specific value.
The principle and mode of operation of this invention have
been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment.
However, it must be understood that this invention may be
practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.
What is claimed is:
1. A turf underlayment layer having panels including a top
side having a plurality of projections, a bottom side having a
plurality of projections, and panel edges, the plurality of top
side projections forming top side channels and the bottom
side projections forming bottom side channels, the panel
edges configured to abut edges of adjacent panels, the panels
further including a plurality of drain holes dispersed over the
panel surfaces for fluid communication between the top side
and the bottom side of the panel, the drain holes positioned to
intersect both the top side and bottom side channels to connect the top side channels to the bottom side channels,
wherein the panels are made from a plurality of polyolefin
beads, the plurality of polyolefin beads bonded together by at
least one of pressure and heat to produce a substantially
water-impervious surface.
2. The underlayment layer of claim 1 wherein the top side
projections and bottom side projections terminate in generally flat support surfaces having different sized support surface areas, the top side projections and bottom side projec-

tions being spaced apart and sized such that the top side
channels intersect with the bottom side channels at the drain
holes.
3. The underlayment layer of claim 2 wherein the support
surfaces of the top side projections are truncated cones having
a friction enhancing surface configured as one of bumps,
raised nibs, ribs, and dots.
4. The underlayment layer of claim 3 wherein the friction
enhancing surface is a plurality of raised dots that are recessed
and encircled with a rim.
5. The underlayment layer of claim 2 wherein the underlayment layer supports an artificial turf assembly that
includes infill constituent particles and the top side channels
impede the flow of infill constituent particles along the upper
surface.
6. The underlayment layer of claim 5 wherein the top side
channels include one of a dam and a roughened surface texture to impede the flow of infill constituent particles.
7. The underlayment layer of claim 5 wherein the top side
projections have tapered sides that form the top side channels,
the projections being arranged in a relatively spaced-apart
relationship such that the channels form a narrowed part
between adjacent projections, with the narrowed part functioning to impede the flow of infill constituent particles.
8. The underlayment layer of claim 1 wherein the bottom
side projections have a larger surface area and a shorter projection height than the top side projections such that the top
side projections deform more under load and return to a
substantially similar condition at a slower rate than the bottom side projections.
9. The underlayment layer of claim 1 wherein the top side
channels and bottom side channels accommodate up to 70
mm/hr rainfall on slope of about 0.5%.
10. The underlayment layer of claim 9 wherein the top and
bottom side channels cooperate to provide about a 35 meter
horizontal drainage distance and at least about a 175 millimeter perimeter head pressure.
11. The underlayment layer of claim 8 wherein the panels
support an artificial turf assembly and the panel includes a
core section between the top side projections and the bottom
side projections, the top side projections defining a first deformation characteristic associated with an athletic response
characteristic and the core defining a second deformation
characteristic associated with a bodily impact characteristic,
the first and second deformation characteristics being complimentary to provide a turf system bodily impact characteristic and a turf system athletic response characteristic.
12. The underlayment layer of claim 11 wherein the turf
system athletic response characteristic provides a turf system
shock attenuation of between 60% and 70% of the artificial
turf system during running heel and running forefoot loads.
13. The underlayment layer of claim 12 wherein the second
deformation characteristic provides an impact energy absorption sufficient to establish a head injury criteria of less than
1000.
14. The underlayment layer of claim 11 where the first
deformation characteristic is responsive to a panel thickness
and a molded material density.
15. The underlayment layer of claim 14 where the panel
thickness is in a range of 20-30 millimeters and the molded
material density is in a range of 50-70 grams per liter.
16. The underlayment layer of claim 15 wherein the top
side channels and bottom side channels accommodate up to
70 mm/hr rainfall on a slope of about 0.5%.
17. The underlayment layer of claim 15 wherein the top and
bottom side channels cooperate to provide about a 35 meter

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-4 Filed 07/05/16 Page 23 of 23


US 8,568,840 B2
17

18

horizontal drainage distance and at least about a 175 milli19. The turf underlayment layer of claim 18 wherein the
meter perimeter head pressure.
roughened surface texture is formed from a plurality of raised
18. A turf underlayment layer having panels including a top
dots positioned on the top side channel.
side having a plurality of projections, a bottom side having a
20. The turf underlayment layer of claim 19 wherein the
plurality of projections, the top side projections and bottom s panels are formed from a molded, expanded bead polyolefin
side projections terminating in generally flat support surfaces
material.
having different sized support surface areas, and panel edges,
21. The turf underlayment layer of claim 20 wherein the
the plurality of top side projections forming top side channels
panels have a thickness in a range of 20-30 millimeters.
and the bottom side projections forming bottom side chan22. The turf underlayment layer of claim 20 wherein the
nels, the panel edges abutting edges of adjacent panels, the 10
panels have a molded material density in a range of 50-70
panels further including a plurality of drain holes dispersed
grams per liter.
over the panel surfaces for fluid communication between the
23. The turf underlayment layer of claim 22 wherein the
top side and the bottom side of the panel, the top side projecpolyolefin material is one of a polyethylene material and a
tions and bottom side projections being spaced apart and
sized such that the top side channels intersect with the bottom 15 polypropylene material.
24. The turf underlayment layerof claim 18 wherein the top
side channels at the drain holes, the drain holes positioned to
side
projections have a smaller surface area than the bottom
intersect both the top side and bottom side channels to conside projections.
nect the top side channels to the bottom side channels, the top
side channels including a roughened surface texture.
* * * * *

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 24

EXHIBIT D
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 24

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll lllll lllll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


US008597754B2

c12)

United States Patent

(10)

Sawyer et al.

(45)

(54)

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

(71)

Applicant: Brock International, Boulder, CO (US)

(72)

Inventors: Steven Lee Sawyer, Castel San


Giovanni (IT); Daniel C. Sawyer,
Boulder, CO (US); Richard R. Runkles,
Windsor, CO (US)

(73)

Assignee: Brock USA, LLC, Boulder, CO (US)

( *)

Notice:

(58)

Appl. No.: 13/711,687

(22)

Filed:

US 8,597,754 B2
Dec. 3, 2013

Field of Classification Search


USPC ............. 428/17, 44, 87, 95, 131, 156, 53, 81,
428/304.4; 52/581, 578
See application file for complete search history.
References Cited

(56)

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS


2,515,847 A
2,746,365 A

7/1950 Winkler
1111951 Darneille

(Continued)

Subject to any disclaimer, the term ofthis


patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.

(21)

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS

EP
FR

1243698 Al
2616655 A

9/2002
12/1988

(Continued)

Dec. 12, 2012

OTHER PUBLICATIONS
(65)

Prior Publication Data


US 2013/0142971 Al

Jun. 6, 2013

European Search Report, 10195632.4, dated Apr. 12, 2012.

(Continued)
Related U.S. Application Data
(63)

(60)

(51)

Continuation of application No. 13/568,611, filed on


Aug. 7, 2012, which is a continuation of application
No. 12/009,835, filed on Jan. 22, 2008, now Pat. No.
8,236,392.
Provisional application No. 60/881,293, filed on Jan.
19, 2007, provisional application No. 60/927,975,
filed on May 7, 2007, provisional application No.
61/000,503, filed on Oct. 26, 2007, provisional
application No. 61/003,731, filed on Nov. 20, 2007.
Int. Cl.
3102
(2006.01)
3106
(2006.01)
3110
(2006.01)
3114
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl.
USPC ............... 428/53; 428/44; 428/131; 428/156;
428/304.4; 52/578

B32B
B32B
B32B
B32B

(52)

Primary Examiner - Cheryl Juska


(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm - MacMillan, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC
(57)

ABSTRACT

A turf underlayment layer for supporting an artificial turf


assembly includes a plurality of panels assembled together,
each panel being made from a plurality of polyolefin beads
bonded together, each panel further including a core, a top
side having a plurality of projections, and a bottom side
having a plurality of projections, the top projections forming
top side water drainage channels and the bottom projections
forming bottom side water drainage channels, the panels having edges, with the abutment of the edges of adjacent panels
defining a water flow connector slot at the intersection of
abutting panels, thereby providing a path for the flow of water
from the bottom side water drainage channels of one panel to
the bottom side water drainage channels of an abutting panel.
18 Claims, 11 Drawing Sheets

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 24


US 8,597,754 B2
Page 2

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* cited by examiner

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 4 of 24

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US 8,597,754 B2
1

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

port surface channels with the lower support surface channels


to allow water flow through the core.
The plurality of spaced apart projections on the top side are
deformable under a compressive load. The projections define
a first deformation characteristic associated with an athletic
response characteristic and the core defines a second deformation characteristic associated with a bodily impact characteristic. The first and second deformation characteristics are
complimentary to provide a turf system bodily impact characteristic and a turf system athletic response characteristic.
A method of assembling an underlayment layer to an adjacent underlayment layer includes providing a first underlayment layer on top of a substrate. The underlayment layer has
at least one edge with a top side flap, a bottom side flap, and
a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. A second
underlayment layer is positioned adjacent to the first underlayment layer and on top of the substrate. The second underlayment layer also ahs at least one edge with a top side flap, a
bottom side flap, and a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. The first underlayment layer top side flap is
deflected in an upward direction between a comer and the flap
assembly groove. The second underlayment layer bottom
side flap is inserted under the upwardly deflected first underlayment layer top side flap. Finally, the first underlayment
layer top side flap is downwardly deflected into engagement
with the second underlayment layer bottom side flap.
Various aspects of this invention will become apparent to
those skilled in the art from the following detailed description
of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
5

This application is a Continuation of Application of U.S.


patent application Ser. No. 13/568,611, filed Aug. 7, 2012,
now U.S. Pat. No. 8,568,840, issued Oct. 29, 2013, which is
a Continuation Application of U.S. patent application Ser.
No. 12/009,835, filed Jan. 22, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,236,
392, issued Aug. 7, 2012, which claims the benefit of U.S.
Provisional Application No. 60/881,293, filed Jan. 19, 2007;
U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/927,975, filed May 7,
2007; U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/000,503, filed
Oct. 26, 2007; and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/003,
731, filed Nov. 20, 2007, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
TECHNICAL FIELD

lO

15

20

This invention relates in general to artificial turf systems of


the type used in athletic fields, ornamental lawns and gardens,
and playgrounds.
25

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Artificial turf systems are commonly used for sports playing fields and more particularly to artificial playing fields.
Artificial turf systems can also be used for synthetic lawns
and golf courses, rugby fields, playgrounds, and other similar
types of fields or floor coverings. Artificial turf systems typically comprise a turf assembly and a foundation, which can be
made of such materials as asphalt, graded earth, compacted
gravel or crushed rock. Optionally, an underlying resilient
base or underlayment layer may be disposed between the turf
assembly and the foundation. The turf assembly is typically
made of strands of plastic artificial grass blades attached to a
turfbacking. An infill material, which typically is a mixture of
sand and ground rubber particles, may be applied among the
vertically oriented artificial grass blades, typically covering
the lower half or 2/3 of the blades.

30

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


35

40

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


45

This invention relates to a turfunderlayment layer configured to support an artificial turf assembly. The turfunderlayment layer has panels including edges that are configured to
interlock with the edges of adjacent panels to form a vertical
interlocking connection. The interlocking connection is
capable of substantially preventing relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent connected
panel. The underlayment comprises a core with a top side and
a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of spaced apart,
upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable
for water flow along the top side of the core when the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying artificial turf
assembly.
The top side may include an upper support surface in
contact with the artificial turf assembly. The upper support
surface, in tum, may have a plurality of channels configured
to allow water flow along the top side of the core. The upper
support surfaces may be substantially flat. The bottom side
may include a lower support surface that is in contact with a
foundation layer and also have a plurality of channels configured to allow water flow along the bottom side of the core. A
plurality of spaced apart drain holes connects the upper sup-

50

55

60

65

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view in elevation ofan


artificial turf system.
FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of an embodiment
of an underlayment panel assembly.
FIG. 2A is an enlarged, perspective view of an underlayment panel of the panel assembly of FIG. 2.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of an alternative embodiment of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross sectional view, in elevation, of
the interlocking edge of the underlayment panel of FIG. 3 and
an adjacent mated underlayment panel.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an embodiment of an interlocking edge and bottom projections of the underlayment
panel.
FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of the assembly of
the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels.
FIG. 6A is a schematic plan view of the interlocking edge
of FIG. 6.
FIG. 7 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the
interlocking edges of the underlayment panels.
FIG. 8 is an elevation view of the assembly of the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged plan view of an embodiment of a
drainage channel and infill trap and a frictional surface of the
underlayment panel.
FIG.10 is an elevation view in cross section of the drainage
channel and infill trap of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12A is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12B is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 16 of 24


US 8,597,754 B2

FIG.13 is a perspective view of an embodiment ofa bottom


side of the underlayment drainage panel.
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of an underlayment panel showing projections in a free-state, unloaded
condition.
FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 14 showing the deflection of the projections under a vertical load.
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 15 showing the deflection of the projections and panel core under an increased vertical load.
FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a panel with spaced apart
friction members configured to interact with downwardly
oriented ridges on the artificial turf assembly.

cial grass and on top of the backing 22. If the infill material 24
is applied, the material volume is typically an amount that
covers only a bottom portion of the synthetic grass blades 20
so that the top portions of the blades stick out above the infill
material 24. The typical purpose of the optional infill material
24 is to add stability to the field, improve traction between the
athlete's shoe and the play surface, and to improve shock
attenuation of the field. The infill material 24 is typically sand
24A or ground up rubber particles or synthetic particulate
24B or mixtures of these, although other materials can be
used.
When the backing layer 22 has holes 25A or a porous
section 25B for water drainage, then some of the infill material 24 is able to wash through the backing layer porous
section 25B or the backing layer drainage holes 25A and onto
the turf underlayment layer 14. This infill migration, or
migration of the infill constituents, is undesirable because the
depletion of the infill material 24 results in a field that doesn't
have the initially designed stability and firnmess characteristics. Excessive migration of the infill material 24, or the infill
constituent components, to the turf underlayment layer 14 can
create a hard layer which makes the whole system less able to
absorb impacts.
The turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of expanded
polyolefin foam beads, which can be expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polyethylene (EPE), or any other
suitable material. The foam beads are closed cell (water
impervious) beads. In one optional method of manufacture,
the beads are originally manufactured as tiny solid plastic
pellets, which are later processed in a controlled pressure
chamber to expand them into larger foam beads having a
diameter within the range of from about 2 millimeters to
about 5 millimeters. The foam beads are then blown into a
closed mold under pressure so they are tightly packed.
Finally, steam is used to heat the mold surface so the beads
soften and melt together at the interfaces, forming the turf
underlayment layer 14 as a solid material that is water impervious. Other methods of manufacture can be used, such as
mixing the beads with an adhesive or glue material to form a
slurry. The slurry is then molded to shape and the adhesive
cured. The slurry mix underlayment may be porous through
the material thickness to drain water away. This porous underlayment structure may also include other drainage feature
discussed below. The final EPP material can be made in
different densities by starting with a different density bead, or
by any other method. The material can also be made in various
colors. The resulting underlayment structure, made by either
the steam molding or the slurry mixing processes, may be
formed as a water impervious underlayment or a porous
underlayment. These resulting underlayment layer structures
may further include any of the drainage, deflection, and interlocking features discussed below.
Alternatively, the turfunderlayment layer 14 can be made
from a molding and expansion of small pipe sections of
foamed material, similar to small foamed macaroni. The
small pipe sections of foamed material are heated and fused
together in the mold in the same way as the spherical beads.
The holes in the pipe sections keep the underlayment layer
from being a totally solid material, and some water can drain
through the underlayment layer. Additionally, varying the
hollow section geometry may provide an ability to vary the
material density in order to selectively adjust the performance
of the turf system.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of a plurality of underlayment
panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D. Each of the panels have
similar side edges 32A, 32B, 32C, and 32D. The panels

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED


EMBODIMENT
The turf system shown in FIG. 1 is indicated generally at
10. The turf system includes an artificial turf assembly 12, an
underlayment layer 14 and a foundation layer 16. The faundation layer 16 can comprise a layer 18 of crushed stone or
aggregate, or any other suitable material. Numerous types of
foundation layers are known to those skilled in the art. The
crushed stone layer 18 can be laid on a foundation base, such
as compacted soil, a poured concrete base, or a layer of
asphalt paving, not shown. Alternatively, the underlayment
layer 14 may be applied over the asphalt or concrete base,
omitting the crushed stone layer, if so desired. In many turf
systems used for an athletic field, the foundation layers are
graded to a contour such that water will drain to the perimeter
of the field and no water will pool anywhere on the surface.
The artificial turf assembly 12 includes strands of synthetic
grass blades 20 attached to a turf backing 22. An optional
infill material 24 may be applied to the grass blades 20. The
synthetic grass blades 20 can be made of any material suitable
for artificial turf, many examples of which are well known in
the art. Typically the synthetic grass blades are about 5 cm in
length although any length can be used. The blades 20 of
artificial grass are securely placed or tufted onto the backing
22. One form of blades that can be used is a relatively wide
polymer film that is slit or fibrillated into several thinner film
blades after the wide film is tufted onto the backing 22. In
another form, the blades 20 are relatively thin polymer films
(mono filament) that look like individual grass blades without
being fibrillated. Both of these can be colored to look like
blades of grass and are attached to the backing 22.
The backing layer 22 of the turf assembly 12 is typically
water-porous by itself, but is often optionally coated with a
water-impervious coating 26A, such as for example urethane,
for dimensional stability of the turf. In order to allow water to
drain vertically through the backing 22, the backing can be
provided with spaced apart holes 25A. In an alternative
arrangement, the water impervious coating is either partially
applied, or is applied fully and then scraped off in some
portions, such as drain portion 25B, to allow water to drain
through the backing layer22. The blades 20 of grass fibers are
typically tufted onto the backing 22 in rows that have a regular
spacing, such as rows that are spaced about 2 centimeters to
about 4 centimeters apart, for example. The incorporation of
the grass fibers 20 into the backing layer 22 sometimes results
in a series of spaced apart, substantially parallel, urethane
coated corrugations or ridges 26B on the bottom surface 28 of
the backing layer 22 formed by the grass blade tufts. Ridges
26B can be present even where the fibers are not exposed.
The optional infill material 24 of the turf assembly 12,
when applicable, is placed in between the blades 20 of artifi-

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further have substantially planar major faces, i.e., top sides 34


and bottom sides 36. The substantially flat planar faces, top
sides 34 and bottom sides 36, define a core 35 therebetween.
There are flaps 37, 38, and fittings, indicated generally at 40A
and 40B, are arranged along the edges 32A-D as shown. In
one embodiment shown in FI GS. 2 and 2A, the flaps 3 7 and 38
are configured to include top side flaps 37A, 38A, 38B and
bottom side flaps 37D, 38C, 38D. For reference purposes
only, top side flaps 38A and 38B are shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A
as having a patterned surface contiguous with, the top side 34.
Likewise, FIG. 3 shows the top side flaps 37A and 37B of
panel 30A-D having a substantially flat surface adjacent to an
upper support surface 52 that supports the backing layer 22 of
the turf assembly 12. Alternatively, the top side flaps 37A,
37B, 38A and 38B can have either a substantially flat surface
adjacent to, or a patterned surface contiguous with, the top
side 34. Bottom side flaps are similarly associated with the
bottom side 36 or a lower support surface 70 of the panels 30
contacting the underlying strata, such as the foundation layer
16.
The top side flap 38A may be of unequal length relative to
the adjacent bottom side flap 38C, as shown positioned along
edge 32B in FIGS. 2 and 2A. Alternatively, for example, the
top side flap 38A and the bottom side flap 38C, positioned
along the edge 32B, may be of equal length. In FIG. 2, the
panels 30A-D further show edges 32A and 32C having substantially continuous top side flaps 37A and bottom side flaps
37D, respectively, though such a configuration is not
required. The edges 32A and 32C may have flaps similarly
configured to edges 32B and32D.As shown in FIG. 3, the top
side flap 37A may extend along the length of the edge 32C and
the bottom side flap 38C may extend along the oppositely
positioned edge 32A.
When assembled, the flaps along edges 32A and 32B are
configured to interlock with the mating edges 32C and 32D,
respectively. The top side flap 38A and adjacent bottom side
flap 38C overlap and interlock with the mating bottom side
flap 38D and top side flap 38B, respectively. The recessed
fitting 40A of top side flap 38B, of panel 30D interlocks with
the projecting fitting 40B of panel 30A, as shown in FIGS. 2
and 6. In an alternative embodiment, the surface of the projecting fitting 40B may extend up to include the projections
50. In this embodiment, the mating recessed fitting 40A of the
top side flap 38B has a corresponding void or opening to
receive the projected fitting 40B. These mating flaps 37, 38
and fittings 40 form a vertical and horizontal interlock connection, with the flaps 38A and 38B being positioned along
flaps 38D and 38C, respectively, substantially preventing
relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an
adjacent connected panel. The projecting and recessed fittings 40A and 40B, respectively, substantially prevent horizontal shifts between adjacent panels 30 due to mechanically
applied shear loads, such as, for example, from an athlete's
foot or groundskeeping equipment.
As can be seen in FIG. 4, which illustrates two panels in an
abutting relationship, the abutment of the edges of the adjacent panels defines a bottom water flow connector slot 39A at
the intersection of the abutting panels. The bottom water flow
connector slot 39A is in fluid communication with the bottom
side water drainage channels 76 of each of the two abutting
panels, thereby providing a path for the flow of water from the
bottom side water drainage channels 76 of one panel to the
bottom side water drainage channels 76 of an abutting panel.
In one embodiment, the bottom water flow connector slot
39A is in fluid communication with more than one bottom
side water drainage channel 76 of each of the two abutting
panels. In one embodiment, as can be seen in FIG. 4, the water

flow connector slot 39A is substantially parallel to the edges


of the panels. As shown in FIG. 5, in one embodiment, the
bottom side water drainage channels 76 of each of the two
abutting panels are oriented to intersect the edges of the panel
at an angle substantially transverse to the edges of the panel,
and the water flow connector slot 39A is substantially parallel
to the edges of the panels. In one embodiment, there is a top
water flow connector slot 39B in fluid communication with
the top side water drainage channels 56 of adjacent panels.
In one embodiment, the vertical interlock between adjacent
panels 30 is sufficient to accommodate heavy truck traffic,
necessary to install infill material, without vertical separation
of the adjacent panels. The adjacent top side flaps 38A and
38B and adjacent bottom side flaps 38C and 38D also substantially prevent horizontal shifting of the panels due to
mechanically applied shear loads. The cooperating fittings
40A and 40B, along with adjacent flaps 38A, 38B and 38C,
38D, provide sufficient clearance to accommodate deflections arising from thermal expansion. The flaps 38 may
optionally include drainage grooves 42B and drainage ribs or
projections 42A that maintain a drainage channel between the
mated flaps 38A-D of adjoining panels, as will be discussed
below. The drainage projections 42A and the drainage
grooves 42B may be oriented on mated flaps of adjacent
panels in an offset relative relationship, in a cooperatively
engaged relationship, or applied to the mated flaps 38A-D as
either solely projections or grooves. When oriented in a cooperating engaged relationship, these projections 42A and
grooves 42B may additionally supplement the in-plane shear
stability of the mated panel assemblies 30 when engaged
together. The drainage projections 42A and drainage grooves
42B may be equally or unequally spaced along the flaps 38A
and 38B, respectively, as desired.
Optionally, the drainage grooves 42B and projections 42A
can perform a second function, i.e. a retention function. The
turfunderlayment 30 may include the cooperating drainage
ribs or projections 42A and grooves 42B for retention purposes, similar to the fittings 40. The projections 42A and
fittings 40B may include various embodiments of differently
shaped raised recessed structures, such as square, rectangular,
triangular, pyramidal, trapezoidal, cylindrical, frusto-conical,
helical and other geometric configurations that may include
straight sides, tapering sides or reversed tapering sides. These
geometric configurations cooperate with mating recesses,
such as groove 42B and recessed fitting 40A having complementary geometries. The cooperating fittings, and optionally
the cooperating projections and grooves, may have dimensions and tolerances that create a variety of fit relationships,
such as loose fit, press fit, snap fit, and twist fit connections.
The snap fit relationship may further provide an initial interference fit, that when overcome, results in a loose or line-toline fit relationship. The twist fit relationship may include a
helical surface on a conical or cylindrical projection that
cooperates with a recess that may or may not include a corresponding helical surface. The press fit, snap fit, and twist fit
connections may be defined as positive lock fits that prevent
or substantially restrict relative horizontal movement of adjacent joined panels.
The drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B, either
alone or in a cooperating relationship, may provide a vertically spaced apart relationship between the mating flaps 38AD, or a portion of the mating flaps 38A-D, of adjoining panels
to facilitate water drainage away from the top surface 34.
Additionally, the drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B
may provide assembled panels 30 with positioning datums to
facilitate installation and accommodate thermal expansion
deflections due to environmental exposure. The projections

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42A may be either located in, or offset from, the grooves 42B.
Optionally, the edges 32A-D may only include one of the
projections 42A or the grooves 42B in order to provide
increased drainage. Not all panels may need or require projections 42A and grooves 42B disposed about the outer
perimeter. For example, it may be desired to produce specific
panels that include at least one edge designed to abut a structure that is not a mating panel, such as a curb, trim piece,
sidewalk, and the like. These panels may have a suitable edge,
such as a frame, flat end, rounded edge, point, and the like, to
engage or abut the mating surface. For panels that mate with
adjacent panels, each panel may include at least one projections along a given edge and a corresponding groove on an
opposite side, positioned to interact with a mating projection
to produce the required offset.
FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a profile of cooperating
flaps 37A and 37C. The profiles of flaps 38A and 38C include
complimentary mating surfaces. The top side flap 38A
includes a leading edge bevel 44A, a bearing shelf 44B and a
back bevel 44C. The bottom side flap 38C includes a leading
edge bevel 46A configured to be positioned against back
bevel 44C. Likewise, a bearing shelf 46B is configured to
contact against the bearing shelf 44B and the back bevel 46C
is positioned against the leading edge bevel 44A. The bearing
shelves 44B and 46B may optionally include ribs 48 extending longitudinally along the length of the respective flaps. The
ribs 48 may be a plurality of outwardly projecting ribs that
cooperate with spaces between adjacent ribs of the mating
flap. Alternatively, the top side flap 38A may have outwardly
projecting ribs 48 and the bottom side flap 38C may include
corresponding recesses (not shown) of a similar shape and
location to cooperatively engage the ribs 38. Additionally,
drain holes 58 may extend through the flaps 38 to provide
water drainage, as will be described below.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 2A, and 5, a flap assembly groove 80
is shown positioned between the top side flap 38A and the
bottom side flap 38C. The flap assembly groove 80, however,
may be positioned between any adjacent interlocking geometries. The groove 80 allows relative movement of adjacent
flaps on an edge of a panel so that adjoining panel flaps can be
assembled together more easily. When installing conventional panels, adjoining panels are typically slid over the
compacted base and twisted or deflected to position the
adjoining interfaces together. As the installers attempt to mate
adjoining prior art panel interfaces together, they may bend
and bow the entire panel structure to urge the mating sections
into place. The corners and edges of these prior art panels
have a tendency to dig into the compacted base causing discontinuities which is an undesirable occurrence.
In contrast to the assembly of prior art panels, the grooves
80 of the panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D allow the top side
flap 38A to flex relative to bottom side flap 38C. To illustrate
the assembly method, panels 30A, 30B and 30D are relatively
positioned in place and interlocked together on the foundation layer. To install panel 30C, the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is deflected upwardly. Additionally, the mated inside
corner of panels 30A and 30D may be slightly raised as an
assembled unit. The area under the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is exposed in order to position the mating bottom side
flap 38D. The bottom side flap 37D positioned along edge
32A of panel 30A may be positioned under the top side flap
3 7A on edge 32C of panel 3 OD. This positioning may be aided
by slightly raising the assembled comer of panels 30A and
30D. The positioned flaps may be engaged by a downward
force applied to the overlapping areas. By bending the top
side flaps of a panel up during assembly, access to the mating
bottom side flap location increases thus facilitating panel

insertion without significant sliding of the panel across the


compacted foundation layer. This assembly technique prevents excessively disrupting the substrate or the previously
installed panels. The assembly of panels 30A-D, shown in
FIG. 2, may also be assembled by starting with the panel 30C,
positioned in the upper right comer. Subsequent top side flaps
along the edges 32 may be placed over the bottom side flaps
already exposed.
FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of assembled panels 30
where the top side flap 38A is shorter than the bottom side flap
38B, as described above, creating a flap offset. The flap offset
aligns the panels 30 such that seams created by the mating
edges 32 do not line up and thereby create a weak, longitudinal deflection point. The top side and bottom side flaps may
be oriented in various offset arrangements along the edge 32.
For example, two top side flaps of equal length may be disposed on both sides of the bottom side flap along the edge 32.
This arrangement would allow the seam of two adjoining
panels to terminate in the center of the next panel.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the
underlayment panels 130, having a plurality of edges 132, a
top side 134, a bottom side 136, and flaps configured as
tongue and groove structures. The flaps include upper and
lower flanges 142, 144 extending from some of the edges 132
of the panels 130, with the upper and lower flanges 142, 144
defining slots 146 extending along the edges 132. An intermediate flange 148 extends from the remainder of the edges
of the panels, with the intermediate flange 148 being configured to fit within the slots 146 in a tongue-and-groove configuration. The flanges 148 of one panel 130 fit together in a
complementary fashion with the slot 146 defined by the
flanges 142, 144 of an adjacent panel. The purpose of the
flanges 142, 144, and 148 is to secure the panels against
vertical movement relative to each other. When the panels 130
are used in combination with a turf assembly 12, i.e., as an
underlayment for the turf assembly, the application of a
downward force applied to the turf assembly pinches the
upper and lower flanges 142, 144 together, thereby compressing the intermediate flanges 148 between the upper and lower
flanges, and preventing or substantially reducing relative vertical movement between adjacent panels 130. The top side
134 may include a textured surface having a profile that is
rougher or contoured beyond that produced by conventional
smooth surfaced molds and molding techniques, which are
known in the art.
FIGS. 1-3 further show a plurality of projections 50 are
positioned over the top side 34 of the panels 30. The projections 50 have truncated tops 64 that form a plane that defines
an upper support surface 52 configured to support the artificial turf assembly 12. The projections 50 do not necessarily
require flat, truncated tops. The projections 50 may be of any
desired cross sectional geometric shape, such as square, rectangular, triangular, circular, oval, or any other suitable polygon structure. The projections 50, as shown in FIG. 10, and
projections 150 as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, may have
tapered sides 54, 154 extending from the upper support surface 52, 152 outwardly to the top side 34 of the core 35. The
projections 50 may be positioned in a staggered arrangement,
as shown in FIGS. 2, 6, and 9. The projections 50 may be any
height desired, but in one embodiment the projections 50 are
in the range of about 0.5 millimeters to about 6 millimeters,
and may be further constructed with a height of about 3
millimeters. In another embodiment, the height is in the range
of about 1.5 millimeters to about 4 millimeters. The tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 cooperate to define channels 56 that form a labyrinth across the panel 30 to provide
lateral drainage of water that migrates down from the turf

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10

assembly 12. The channels 56 have drain holes 58 spaced


apart and extending through the thickness of the panel 30.
As shown in FIG. 9, the channels 56 may be formed such
that the tapered sides 54 substantially intersect or meet at
various locations in a blended radii relationship transitioning
onto the top surface 34. The projections 50, shown as truncated cone-shaped structures having tapered sides 54, form a
narrowed part, or an infill trap 60, in the channel 56. The infill
trap 60 blocks free flow of infill material 24 that migrates
through the porous backing layer 22, along with water. As
shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the infill material 24 becomes
trapped and retained between the tapered sides 54 in the
channels 56. The trapping of the infill material 24 prevents
excessive migrating infill from entering the drain holes 58.
The trapped infill material may constrict or somewhat fill up
the channels 56 but does not substantially prevent water flow
due to interstitial voids created by adjacent infill particles,
24A and 24B, forming a porous filter.
The size of the drainage holes 58, the frequency of the
drainage holes 58, the size of the drainage channels 56 on the
top side 34 or the channels 76 on the bottom side 36, and the
frequency of the channels 56 and 76 provide a design where
the channels can line up to create a free flowing drainage
system. In one embodiment, the system can accommodate up
to 70 mm/hr rainfall, when installed on field having a slightlyraised center profile, for example, on the order of a 0.5%
slope. The slightly-raised center profile of the field tapers, or
slopes away, downwardly towards the perimeter. This format
of installation on a full sized field promotes improved horizontal drainage water flow. For instance, a horizontal drainage distance of 35 meters and a perimeter head pressure of
175 millimeters.
The cone shaped projections 50 of FIGS. 6 and 9 also form
widened points in the channel 56. The widened points, when
oriented on the edge 32 of the panel 30, form beveled, funnellike interfaces or edges 62, as shown in FIG. 6. These funnel
edges 62 may be aligned with similar funnel edges on adjacent panels and provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 56 for water drainage. If the top projections 50 have a
non-curved geometry, the outer edge corners of the projections 50 may be removed to form the beveled funnel edge, as
will be discussed below in conjunction with bottom projections. Additionally, the bottom projections may be generally
circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced apart relationship as that described above. The bottom projections may
further be of a larger size than the top projections.
A portion of the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 is shown in
FIGS. 5 and 13. The bottom side 36 includes the lower support surface 70 defined by a plurality of downwardly extending projections 72 and a plurality downwardly extending edge
projections 74. The plurality of projections 72 and edge projections 74 space apart the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 from
the foundation layer 16 and further cooperate to define drainage channels 76 to facilitate water flow beneath the panel. The
edge projections 74 cooperate to form a funnel edge 78 at the
end of the drainage channel 76. These funnel edges 78 may be
aligned with similar funnel edges 78 on adjacent panels and
provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between
mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 76 for
water drainage. The bottom side 36 shown in FIG. 13 represents a section from the center of the panel 30. The bottom
projections 72 and edge projections 74 are typically larger in
surface area than the top projections 50 and are shallower, or
protrude to a lesser extent, though other relationships may be
used. The larger surface area and shorter height of the bottom
projections 72 tends to allow the top projections 50 to deform

more under load. Alternatively, the bottom projections may


be generally circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced
apart relationship as that described above. The bottom projections may further be of a larger size than the top projections.
The larger size of the bottom projections 72 allows them to
be optionally spaced in a different arrangement relative to the
arrangement of the top projections 50. Such a non-aligned
relative relationship assures that the top channels 56 and
bottom channels 76 are not aligned with each other along a
relatively substantial length that would create seams or bending points where the panel core 35 may unduly deflect.
Referring again to FIG. 9, the top projections 50 may
include a friction enhancing surface 66 on the truncated tops
64. The friction enhancing surface 66 may be in the form of
bumps, or raised nibs or dots, shown generally at 66A in FIG.
9. These bumps 66A provide an increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the upper support
surface of the underlayment panel 30. The bumps 66A are
shown as integrally molded protrusions extending up from
the truncated tops 64 of the projections 50. The bumps 66A
may be in a pattern or randomly oriented. The bumps 66A
may alternatively be configured as friction ribs 66B. The ribs
66B may either be on the surface of the truncated tops 64 or
slightly recessed and encircled with a rim 68.
FIGS.11and12 illustrate alternative embodiments ofvarious turf underlayment panel sections having friction enhancing and infill trapping surface configurations. A turf underlayment panel 150 includes a top side 152 of the panel 150
provided with plurality of spaced apart, upwardly oriented
projections 154 that define flow channels 156 suitable for the
flow of water along the top surface of the panel. The projections 154 are shown as having a truncated pyramid shape,
however, any suitable shape, such as for example, truncated
cones, chevrons, diamonds, squares and the like can be used.
The projections 154 have substantially flat upper support
surfaces 158 which support the backing layer 22 of the artificial turf assembly 12. The upper support surfaces 158 of the
projections 154 can have a generally square shape when
viewed from above, or an elongated rectangular shape as
shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, or any other suitable shape.
The frictional characteristics of the underlayment may further be improved by the addition of a medium, such as a grit
170 or other granular material, to the underlayment mixture,
as shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B. In an embodiment shown in
FIG. 12A, the granular medium is added to the adhesive or
glue binder and mixed together with the beads. The grit 170
may be in the form of a commercial grit material, typically
provided for non-skid applications, often times associated
with stairs, steps, or wet surfaces. The grit may be a polypropylene or other suitable polymer, or may be silicon oxide
(Si0 2 ), aluminum oxide (Al 2 0 3 ), sand, or the like. The grit
172 however may be of any size, shape, material or configuration that creates an associated increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the underlayment 150.
In operation, the application of grit material 172 to the underlayment layer 14 will operate in a different manner from
operation of grit applied to a hard surface, such as pavement
or wood. When applied to a hard surface, the non-skid benefit
of grit in an application, such as grit filled paint, is realized
when shearing loads are applied directly to the grit structure
by feet, shoes, or vehicle wheels. Further, grit materials are
not applied under a floor covering, such as a rug or carpet
runner, in order to prevent movement relative to the underlying floor. Rather, non-skid floor coverings are made of soft
rubber or synthetic materials that provide a high shear resistance over a hard flooring surface.

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The grit material 170 when applied to the binder agent in


the turf underlayment structure provides a positive grip to the
turf backing layer 22. This gripping of the backing layer
benefits from the additional weight of the infill medium dispersed over the surface, thus applying the necessary normal
force associated with the desired frictional, shear-restraining
force. Any concentrated deflection of the underlayment as a
result of a load applied to the turf will result in a slight
momentary "divot" or discontinuity that will change the frictional shear path in the underlayment layer 14. This deflection
of the surface topography does not occur on a hard surface,
such as a painted floor using grit materials. Therefore, the grit
material, as well as the grit binder are structured to accommodate the greater elasticity of the underlayment layer, as
opposed to the hard floor surface, to provide improved surface
friction. A grit material 180 may alternatively be applied to
the top of the bead and binder mixture, as shown in FIG. 12B,
such that the beads within the thickness exhibit little to no grit
material 180. In this instance, the grit material 180 would
primarily be on top of and impregnated within the top surface
and nearby thickness of the underlayment 150. Alternatively,
the grit material 180 may be sprinkled onto or applied to the
mold surface prior to applying the bead and binder slurry so
that the predominant grit content is on the top of the underlayment surface after the product is molded.
Another embodiment provides a high friction substrate,
such as a grit or granular impregnated fabric applied to and
bonded with the upper surface of the underlayment layer 14,
i.e. the top side 34 or the upper support surface 52 as defined
by the projections 50. The fabric may alternatively be a mesh
structure whereby the voids or mesh apertures provide the
desired surface roughness or high friction characteristic. The
mesh may also have a roughened surface characteristic, in
addition to the voids, to provide a beneficial gripping action to
the underlayment. The fabric may provide an additional load
spreading function that may be beneficial to protecting players from impact injury. Also the fabric layer may spread the
load transfer from the turf to the underlayment and assist in
preserving the base compaction characteristic.
FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative embodiment of an underlayment layer having a water drainage structure and turf
assembly frictional engagement surface. The underlayment
layer 200 includes a top side 210 configured to support the
artificial turf assembly 12. The underlayment layer 200 further includes a core 235, a top side 210 and a bottom side 220.
The top side 210 includes a plurality of spaced apart projections 230 that define channels 240 configured to allow water
flow along the top side 210. The top side 210 includes a series
of horizontally spaced apart friction members 250 that are
configured to interact with the downwardly oriented ridges 26
on the bottom surface 28 of the backing layer 22 of the
artificial turf assembly 12. The friction members 250 engage
the ridges 26 so that when the artificial turf assembly 12 is laid
on top of the underlayment layer 200 relative horizontal
movement between the artificial turf assembly 12 and the
underlayment layer 200 is inhibited.
In order to facilitate drainage and infill trapping, the channels 156A defined by the projections 152 optionally can have
a V-shaped cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 11, with
walls that are at an acute angle to the vertical. The flow
channels 156B shown in FIG. 12 are slightly different from
flow channels 156A since they have a flattened or truncated
V-shaped cross-sectional shape rather than the true V-shaped
cross-section of channels 156A. The purpose of the flow
channels 156A and 156B is to allow water to flow along the
top side 152 of the panels 150. Rain water on the turf assembly 12 percolates through the infill material 24 and passes

though the backing layer 22. The flow channels 156A, and
156B allow this rain water to drain away from the turf system
10. As the rain water flows across the top side 152 of the panel
150, the channels 156A and 156B will eventually direct the
rainwater to a vertical drain hole 160. The drain holes 160
then allow the rain water to drain from the top side 152 to the
bottom side of the turfunderlayment layer 14. The drain hole
160 can be molded into the panel, or can be mechanically
added after the panel is formed.
During the operation of the artificial turf system 10, typically some of the particles of the infill material 24 pass
through the backing layer 22. These particles can flow with
the rain water along the channels 156A and 156B to the drain
holes 160. The particles can also migrate across the top surface 152 in dry conditions due to vibration from normal play
on the turf system 10. Over time, the drain holes 160 can
become clogged with the sand particles and become unable to
drain the water from the top surface 152 to the bottom surface.
Therefore it is advantageous to configure the top surface 152
to impede the flow of sand particles within the channels 156A,
156B. Any suitable mechanism for impeding the flow of infill
particles along the channels can be used.
In one embodiment, as shown inFIG.11, the channel 156A
contains dams 162 to impede the flow of infill particles. The
dams 162 can be molded into the structure of the turf underlayment layer 14, or can be added in any suitable manner. The
dams 162 can be of the same material as the turf underlayment
layer, or of a different material. In another embodiment, the
flow channels 156A are provided with roughened surfaces
164 on the channel sidewalls 166 to impede the flow of infill
particles. The roughened surface traps the sand particles or at
least slows them down.
FIGS. 14-16 illustrate the dynamic load absorption characteristics of projections, shown in conjunction with the truncated cone projections 50 of the underlayment 30. The projections 50 on the top side provide a dynamic response to
surface impacts and other load inputs during normal play on
athletic fields. The truncated geometric shapes of the protrusions 50 provide the correct dynamic response to foot and
body impacts along with ball bounce characteristics. The
tapered sides 54 of the projections 50 incorporate some
amount of taper or "draft angle" from the top side 34, at the
base of the projection 50, to the plane of the upper support
surface 52, which is substantially coplanar with the truncated
protrusion top. Thus, the base of the projection 50 defines a
somewhat larger surface area than the truncated top surface
area. The drainage channels 56 are defined by the tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 and thereby establish gaps
or spaces therebetween.
FIG. 14 illustrates the free state distance 90 of the projection 50 and the free state distance 92 of the core 35. The
projections 50 deflect when subjected to an axially applied
compressive load, as shown in FIG. 15. The projection 50 is
deflected from the projection free state 90 to a partial load
deflection distance 94. The core 35 is still substantially at or
near a free state distance 92. The channels 56 allow the
projections to deflect outwardly as an axial load is applied in
a generally downward direction. The relatively unconstrained
deflection allows the protrusions 50 to "squash" or compress
vertically and expand laterally under the compressive load or
impact force, as shown in FIG. 15. This relatively unconstrained deflection may cause the apparent spring rate of the
underlayment layer 14 to remain either substantially constant
throughout the projection deflection or increase at a first rate
of spring rate increase.
Continued deformation of the protrusions 50 under a compressive or impact load, as shown in FIG. 16, causes the

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 21 of 24


US 8,597,754 B2
13

14

The turf assembly 12 provides a lot of the impact shock


projections 50 to deform a maximum amount to a fully compressed distance 96 and then begin to deform the core 35. The
attenuation for safety for such contact sports as American
core 35 deforms to a core compression distance 98 which is
football. The turf assembly 12 also provides the feel of the
smaller than the core free state distance 92. As the core 35
field when running, as well as ball bounce and roll in sports
deforms, the apparent spring rate increases at a second rate,
such as soccer (football), field hockey, rugby and golf. The
which is higher than the first rate of spring rate increase. This
turf assembly 12 and the turf underlayment layer 14 work
rate increase change produces a stiffening effect as a comtogether to get the right balance for hardness in running,
pressively-loaded elastomer spring. The overall effect also
softness (impact absorption or energy absorption) in falls,
provides an underlayment behavior similar to that of a dual
ball bounce and roll, etc. To counteract the changing field
density material. In one embodiment, the material density 1o characteristics over time, which affect ball bounce and the roll
and feel of the field to the running athlete, in some cases the
range is between 45 grams per liter and 70 grams per liter. In
another embodiment, the range is 50 grams per liter to 60
infill material may be maintained or supplemented by adding
grams per liter. Under lower compression or impact loads, the
more infill, and by using a raking machine or other mechaprojections 50 compress and the underlayment 30 has a relanism to fluff up the infill so it maintains the proper feel and
tively low reaction force for a relatively large deflection, thus 15 impact absorption.
The hardness of the athletic field affects performance on
producing a relatively low hardness. As the compression or
the field, with hard fields allowing athletes to run faster and
impact force increases, the material underlying the geometric
turn more quickly. This can be measured, for example in the
shape, i.e. the material of the core, creates a larger reaction
force without much additional deformation, which in turn
United States using AS TM F 197 6 test protocol, and in the rest
increases the stiffness level to the user.
20 of the world by FIFA, IRB (International Rugby Board), FIH
(International Hockey Federation), and ITF (International
The ability to tailor the load reactions of the underlayment
Tennis Federation) test standards. In the United States,
and the turf assembly as a complete artificial turf system
another characteristic of the resilient turf underlayment layer
allows adjustment of two competing design parameters, a
14 is to provide increased shock attenuation of the infill turf
bodily impact characteristic and an athletic response characteristic. The bodily impact characteristic relates to the turf 25 system by up to 20 percent during running heel and running
system's ability to absorb energy created by player impacts
forefoot loads. A larger amount of attenuation may cause
with the ground, such as, but not limited to, for example
athletes to become too fatigued, and not perform at their best.
It is generally accepted that an athlete cannot perceive a
tackles common in American-style football and rugby. The
difference in stiffness of plus or minus 20 percent deviations
bodily impact characteristic is measured using standardized
testing procedures, such as for example ASTM-F355 in the 30 over a natural turf stiffness at running loads based on the U.S.
U.S. and EN-1177 in Europe. Turf systems having softer or
tests. The FIFA test requirement has minimum and maximum
more impact absorptive responses protect better against head
values for shock attenuation and deformation under running
injury, but offer diminished or non-optimized athlete and ball
loads for the complete turf/underlayment system. Artificial
turf systems with shock attenuation and deformation values
performance. The athletic response characteristic relates to
athlete performance responses during running and can be 35 between the minimum and maximum values simulate natural
measured using a simulated athlete profile, such as the Berlin
turf feel.
Artificial Athlete. Athlete performance responses include
The softness for impact absorption of an athletic field to
protect the players during falls or other impacts is a design
such factors as turf response to running loads, such as heel and
forefoot contact and the resulting load transference. The turf
consideration, particularly in the United States. Softness of an
response to these running load characteristics can affect 40 athletic field protects the players during falls or other impacts.
player performance and fatigue. Turf systems having stiffer
Impact energy absorption is measured in the United States
using ASTM F355-A, which gives a rating expressed as
surface characteristics may increase player performance,
Gmax (maximum acceleration in impact) and HIC (head
such as running load transference, (i.e. shock absorption,
injury criterion). The head injury criterion (HIC) is used
surface deformation and energy restitution), and ball behavior, but also increase injury potential due to lower impact 45 internationally. There may be specific imposed requirements
absorption. The underlayment layer and the turf assembly
for max acceleration and HIC for athletic fields, playgrounds
each has an associated energy absorption characteristic, and
and similar facilities.
these are balanced to provide a system response appropriate
The turf assembly is advantageous in that in one embodiment it is somewhat slow to recover shape when deformed in
for the turf system usage and for meeting the required bodily
impact characteristics and athletic response characteristics. 50 compression. This is beneficial because when an athlete runs
on a field and deforms it locally under the shoe, it is undesirIn order to accommodate the particular player needs, as
able if the play surface recovers so quickly that it "pushes
well as satisfying particular sport rules and requirements,
back" on the shoe as it lifts off the surface. This would provide
several design parameters of the artificial turf system may
need to be varied. The particular sport, or range of sports and
unwanted energy restoration to the shoe. By making the turf
activities undertaken on a particular artificial turf system, will 55 assembly 12 have the proper recovery, the field will feel more
like natural turf which doesn't have much resilience. The turf
dictate the overall energy absorption level required of the
assembly 12 can be engineered to provide the proper material
system. The energy absorption characteristic of the underlayment layer may be influenced by changes in the material
properties to result in the beneficial limits on recovery values.
density, protrusion geometry and size, panel thickness and
The turf assembly can be designed to compliment specific
surface configuration. These parameters may further be cat- 60 turf designs for the optimum product properties.
egorized under a broader panel material factor and a panel
The design of the overall artificial turf system 10 will
geometry factor of the underlayment layer. The energy
establish the deflection under running loads, the impact
absorption characteristic of the turf assembly may be subject
absorption under impact loads, and shape of the deceleration
to considerations of infill material and depth. The infill matecurve for the impact event, and the ball bounce performance
rial comprises a mixture of sand and synthetic particulate in a 65 and the ball roll performance. These characteristics can be
ratio to provide proper synthetic grass blade exposure, water
designed for use over time as the field ages, and the infill
drainage, stability, and energy absorption.
becomes more compacted which makes the turf layer stiffer.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 22 of 24


US 8,597,754 B2
15

16

The panels 30 are designed with optimum panel bending


characteristics. The whole panel shape is engineered to provide stiffness in bending so the panel doesn't bend too much
when driving over it with a vehicle while the panel is lying on
the ground. This also assists in spreading the vehicle load over
a large area of the substrate so the contour of the underlying
foundation layer 16 won't be disturbed. If the contour of the
foundation layer 16 is not maintained, then water will pool in
areas of the field instead of draining properly.
In one embodiment of the invention, an artificial turf system for a soccer field is provided. First, performance design
parameters, related to a system energy absorption level for the
entire artificial turf system, are determined for the soccer
field. These performance design parameters are consistent
according to the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football
Association) Quality Concept for Artificial Turf, the International Artificial Turf Standard (IATS) and the European
ENI 5330 Standard. Typical shock, or energy, absorption and
deformation levels from foot impacts for such systems are
within the range of 55-70% shock absorption and about 4
millimeters to about 9 millimeters deformation, when tested
with the Berlin Artificial Athlete (EN14808, EN14809). Vertical ball rebound is about 60 centimeters to about 100 centimeters (EN 12235), Angled Ball Behavior is 45-70%, Vertical
Permeability is greater than 180 mm/hr (EN 12616) along
with other standards, such as for example energy restitution.
Other performance criteria may not be directly affected by the
underlayment performance, but are affected by the overall
turf system design. The overall turf system design, including
the interactions of the underlayment may include surface
interaction such as rotational resistance, ball bounce, slip
resistance, and the like. In this example where a soccer field is
being designed, a performance level for the entire artificial
turf system for a specific standard is selected. Next, the artificial turf assembly is designed. The underlayment performance characteristics selected will be complimentary to the
turf assembly performance characteristics to provide the
overall desired system response to meet the desired sports
performance standard. It is understood that the steps in the
above example may be performed in a different order to
produce the desired system response.
In general, the design of the turf system having complimentary underlayment and turf assembly performance characteristics may for example provide a turf assembly that has a
low amount of shock absorption, and an underlayment layer
that has a high amount of shock absorption. In establishing
the relative complimentary performance characteristics, there
are many options available for the turf design such as pile
height, tufted density, yam type, yam quality, infill depth,
infill types, backing and coating. For example, one option
would be to select a low depth and/or altered ratio of sand vs.
rubber infill, or the use of an alternative infill material in the
turf assembly. If in this example the performance of the turf
assembly has a relatively low specific shock absorption value,
the shock absorption of the underlayment layer will have a
relatively high specific value.
By way of another example having different system characteristics, an artificial turf system for American football or
rugby may provide a turf assembly that has a high amount of
energy absorption, while providing the underlayment layer
with a low energy absorption performance. In establishing the
relative complimentary energy absorption characteristics,
selecting a high depth of infill material in the turf assembly
may be considered. Additionally, where the energy absorption of the turf assembly has a value greater than a specific
value, the energy absorption of the underlayment layer will
have a value less than the specific value.

The principle and mode of operation of this invention have


been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment.
However, it must be understood that this invention may be
practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.
What is claimed is:
1. A turf underlayment layer for supporting an artificial turf
assembly, the turfunderlayment layer comprising a plurality
of panels assembled together, each panel being made from a
plurality of polyolefin beads, the plurality of polyolefin beads
bonded together by at least one of pressure and heat to produce a substantially water-impervious surface, each panel
further including a core, a top side having a plurality of
projections, and a bottom side having a plurality of projections, the top projections forming top side water drainage
channels and the bottom projections forming bottom side
water drainage channels, the panels having edges, with the
edges of one panel abutting the edges of adjacent panels, with
the abutment of the edges of adjacent panels defining a water
flow connector slot at the intersection of abutting panels, the
water flow connector slot being on the bottom side of the
abutting panels and in fluid communication with the bottom
side water drainage channels of each of the two abutting
panels, thereby providing a path for the flow of water from the
bottom side water drainage channels of one panel to the
bottom side water drainage charmels of an abutting panel.
2. The turf underlayment layer of claim 1 in which the
panels have top side flaps and bottom side flaps along the
edges, the top side flaps and bottom side flaps being interlocked with top side flaps and bottom side flaps of abutting
panels in an overlapping manner.
3. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 1 in which drain
holes are positioned within the flaps, thereby enabling water
to flow from the top side to the bottom side of the panels.
4. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 1 which the water
flow connector slot is in fluid communication with more than
one bottom side water drainage channel for each panel of two
abutting panels.
5. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 1 in which, when
two of the turf underlayment panels are assembled together in
an abutting relationship, the water flow connector slot defined
by the abutting edges is substantially parallel to the abutting
edges of the panels.
6. The turf underlayment layerof claim 1 in which abutting
relationship, the bottom side water drainage channels of each
of two abutting panels are oriented to intersect the edges of the
panel at an angle substantially transverse to the edges of the
panel, and the water flow connector slot is substantially parallel to the edges of the panels.
7. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 1 in which a plurality of drain holes extends through the foam core and connects the top side water drainage charmels to the bottom side
water drainage charmels for fluid communication, the plurality of drain holes being dispersed over the panel surface, the
top projections and bottom projections terminating in generally flat support surfaces and being spaced apart and sized
such that the top side water drainage charmels intersect with
the bottom side water drainage charmels at the drain holes,
with the flat support surfaces of the top projections having
smaller support surface areas than the flat support surfaces of
the bottom projections.
8. The turf underlayment layer of claim 7 in which the
support surfaces of the top projections are truncated cones
having a friction enhancing surface configured as one of
bumps, raised nibs, ribs, and dots.
9. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 1 in which a plurality of drain holes connects the top side water drainage

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 23 of 24


US 8,597,754 B2
17

18

channels to the bottom side water drainage channels for fluid


communication, the plurality of drain holes being dispersed
over the panel surface, the top projections and bottom projections terminating in generally flat support surfaces, and being
spaced apart and sized such that the top side water drainage
channels intersect with the bottom side water drainage channels at the drain holes, with the flat support surfaces of the top
projections having smaller support surface areas than the flat
support surfaces of the bottom projections.
10. The turf underlayment layer of claim 1 in which the
bottom water drainage channels of abutting panels are offset
from each other, along the length of the water flow connector
slot, at the panel edges.
11. The turf underlayment layer of claim 1 in which the
panels include a plurality of drain holes that provide fluid
communication between the top side water drainage channels
and the bottom side water drainage channels.
12. The turf underlayment layer of claim 11 in which the
panel edges include overlapping flanges having at least one of
the plurality of drain holes in fluid communication with the
water flow connector slot.
13. A turfunderlayment layer for supporting an artificial
tur~ assembly, the turfunderlayment layer comprising a plurality of panels, each panel being made from a plurality of
polyolefin beads, the plurality of polyolefin beads bonded
together by at least one of pressure and heat to produce a
substantially water-impervious surface, each panel further
including a core, a top side having a plurality of projections,
and a bottom side having a plurality of projections, the top
projections forming top side water drainage channels and the
bottom projections forming bottom side water drainage channels, the panels having edges, with the edges of one panel
abutting the edges of adjacent panels, with the abutment of the
edges of adjacent panels defining a water flow connector slot
at the intersection of abutting panels, the water flow connector
slot being on the bottom side of the abutting panels and in
fluid communication with the bottom side water drainage
channels of each of the two abutting panels, thereby providing
a path for the flow of water from the bottom side water

drainage channels of one panel to the bottom side water


drainage channels of an abutting panel, with the water flow
connector slot defined by the abutting edges being substantially parallel to the abutting edges, and the bottom water
drainage channels of abutting panels being offset from each
other, along the length of the water flow connector slot, at the
panel edges, and wherein the bottom side water drainage
channels of each of the two abutting panels are oriented to
intersect the edges of the panel at an angle substantially
transverse to the edges of the panel.
14. The turf underlayment layer of claim 13 in which the
panels have top side flaps and bottom side flaps along the
edges, the top side flaps and bottom side flaps being interlocked with top side flaps and bottom side flaps of abutting
panels in an overlapping manner.
15. The turf underlayment layer of claim 14 in which drain
holes are positioned within the flaps, thereby enabling water
to flow from the top side to the bottom side of the panels.
16. The turfunderlayment layer of claim 13 in which the
water flow connector slot is in fluid communication with
more than one bottom side water drainage channel for each
panel of two abutting panels.
17. The turf underlayment layer of claim 13 in which a
plurality of drain holes extend through the foam core and
connect the top side water drainage channels to the bottom
side water drainage channels for fluid communication the
plurality of drain holes being dispersed over the panel surface,
the top projections and bottom projections terminating in
generally flat support surfaces and being spaced apart and
sized such that the top side water drainage channels intersect
with the bottom side water drainage channels at the drain
holes, with the flat support surfaces of the top projections
having smaller support surface areas than the flat support
surfaces of the bottom projections.
18. The turf underlayment layer of claim 17 in which the
support surfaces of the top projections are truncated cones
having a friction enhancing surface configured as one of
bumps, raised nibs, ribs, and dots.

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* * * * *

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-5 Filed 07/05/16 Page 24 of 24


UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION
PATENT NO.
APPLICATION NO.
DATED
INVENTOR(S)

: 8,597,754 B2
: 13/711687
: December 3, 2013
: Steven Lee Sawyer, Daniel C. Sawyer and Richard R. Runkles

Page 1of1

It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent is hereby corrected as shown below:

In the Claims
Column 16, Claim 3, Line 32, delete "l" and insert --2--,
Column 16, Claim 5, Line 39, delete", when",
Column 16, Claim 5, Line 40, delete "two of the turfunderlayment panels are assembled together in",
Column 16, Claim 5, Line 41, delete "an abutting relationship,",
Column 16, Claim 6, Line 44, delete "abutting",
Column 16, Claim 6, Line 45, delete "relationship,".

Signed and Sealed this


Fourth Day of February, 2014

Michelle K. Lee
Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 1 of 28

EXHIBIT E
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 28

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll lllll lllll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


US008603601B2

c12)

United States Patent

(10)

Sawyer et al.

(45)

(54)

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

(71)

Applicant: Brock International, Boulder, CO (US)

(72)

Inventors: Steven Lee Sawyer, Castel San


Giovanni (IT); Daniel C. Sawyer,
Boulder, CO (US); Richard R. Runkles,
Windsor, CO (US)

(73)

Assignee: Brock USA, LLC, Boulder, CO (US)

( *)

Notice:

(58)

Appl. No.: 13/711,688

(22)

Filed:

US 8,603,601 B2
Dec. 10, 2013

Field of Classification Search


USPC ......... 428/17, 44, 87, 95, 131, 156, 157, 172,
428/53, 81, 304.4; 52/581, 578
See application file for complete search history.
References Cited

(56)

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS


2,515,847 A
2,746,365 A

7/1950 Winkler
1111951 Darneille

(Continued)

Subject to any disclaimer, the term ofthis


patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.

(21)

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS

EP
FR

1243698 Al
2616655 A

9/2002
12/1988

(Continued)

Dec. 12, 2012

OTHER PUBLICATIONS
(65)

Prior Publication Data


US 2013/0101351 Al

Apr. 25, 2013

European Search Report, 10195632.4, dated Apr. 12, 2012.

(Continued)
Related U.S. Application Data
(63)

(60)

(51)

Continuation of application No. 13/568,611, filed on


Aug. 7, 2012, which is a continuation of application
No. 12/009,835, filed on Jan. 22, 2008, now Pat. No.
8,236,392.
Provisional application No. 60/881,293, filed on Jan.
19, 2007, provisional application No. 60/927,975,
filed on May 7, 2007, provisional application No.
61/000,503, filed on Oct. 26, 2007, provisional
application No. 61/003,731, filed on Nov. 20, 2007.
Int. Cl.
3102
(2006.01)
3106
(2006.01)
3110
(2006.01)
3114
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl.
USPC ............... 428/53; 428/44; 428/131; 428/156;
428/304.4; 52/578

B32B
B32B
B32B
B32B

(52)

Primary Examiner - Cheryl Juska


(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm - MacMillan, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC
(57)

ABSTRACT

A turf underlayment layer for supporting an artificial turf


assembly includes a plurality of panels assembled together,
each panel being made from a plurality of polyolefin beads
bonded together, each panel further including a core, a top
side having a plurality of projections, and a bottom side
having a plurality of projections, the top projections forming
top side water drainage channels and the bottom projections
forming bottom side water drainage channels, the panels having edges, at least one of the panel edges having at least one
drainage projection, the drainage projection spacing the abutting panel edges apart, with the resultant spacing of the edges
of abutting panels forming a drainage path at the intersection
of the abutting panels.
13 Claims, 15 Drawing Sheets

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 3 of 28


US 8,603,601 B2
Page 2

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8,221,856
8,225,566
8,236,392
8,261,508
8,266,857
8,341,896
8,353,640
200110002497
200110048849
2003/0020057

A *
A
A
A
A
A *
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A *
A
A
A
A
A
A
A *
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
Bl
Bl
Bl
Bl *
Bl
Bl
Bl
B2
B2
Bl
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
Bl*
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2
B2 *
Bl
B2 *
S
B2
S
B2
B2 *
B2
B2
B2
B2 *
B2 *
B2
B2
Al
Al
Al

6/1963
4/1969
5/1971
9/1973
10/1975
4/1977
3/1979
9/1981
9/1983
5/1984
12/1986
111987
3/1988
9/1991
4/1992
6/1993
3/1994
8/1994
1111994
111995
10/1995
5/1996
8/1998
3/1999
6/1999
7/1999
9/1999
3/2000
512000

8/2000
10/2001
3/2002
912002

3/2003
9/2003
512004
912004

10/2004
412005

3/2006
10/2006
1112006
7/2007
7/2007
9/2007
212009
212009
412009
712009
912009

112010
2/2010
5/2010
5/2010
8/2010
9/2010
3/2011
412011
512011
612011
912011
212012
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Al*
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Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al*
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al*
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
Al
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* cited by examiner

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Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 19 of 28


US 8,603,601 B2
1

BASE FOR TURF SYSTEM

port surface channels with the lower support surface channels


to allow water flow through the core.
The plurality of spaced apart projections on the top side are
deformable under a compressive load. The projections define
a first deformation characteristic associated with an athletic
response characteristic and the core defines a second deformation characteristic associated with a bodily impact characteristic. The first and second deformation characteristics are
complimentary to provide a turf system bodily impact characteristic and a turf system athletic response characteristic.
A method of assembling an underlayment layer to an adjacent underlayment layer includes providing a first underlayment layer on top of a substrate. The underlayment layer has
at least one edge with a top side flap, a bottom side flap, and
a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. A second
underlayment layer is positioned adjacent to the first underlayment layer and on top of the substrate. The second underlayment layer also ahs at least one edge with a top side flap, a
bottom side flap, and a flap assembly groove disposed therebetween. The first underlayment layer top side flap is
deflected in an upward direction between a comer and the flap
assembly groove. The second underlayment layer bottom
side flap is inserted under the upwardly deflected first underlayment layer top side flap. Finally, the first underlayment
layer top side flap is downwardly deflected into engagement
with the second underlayment layer bottom side flap.
Various aspects of this invention will become apparent to
those skilled in the art from the following detailed description
of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
5

This application is a Continuation of Application of U.S.


patent application Ser. No. 13/568,611, filed Aug. 7, 2012,
now U.S. Pat. No. 8,568,840, issued Oct. 29, 2013, which is
a Continuation Application of U.S. patent application Ser.
No. 12/009,835, filed Jan. 22, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,236,
392, issued Aug. 7, 2012, which claims the benefit of U.S.
Provisional Application No. 60/881,293, filed Jan. 19, 2007;
U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/927,975, filed May 7,
2007; U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/000,503, filed
Oct. 26, 2007; and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/003,
731, filed Nov. 20, 2007, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
TECHNICAL FIELD

lO

15

20

This invention relates in general to artificial turf systems of


the type used in athletic fields, ornamental lawns and gardens,
and playgrounds.
25

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Artificial turf systems are commonly used for sports playing fields and more particularly to artificial playing fields.
Artificial turf systems can also be used for synthetic lawns
and golf courses, rugby fields, playgrounds, and other similar
types of fields or floor coverings. Artificial turf systems typically comprise a turf assembly and a foundation, which can be
made of such materials as asphalt, graded earth, compacted
gravel or crushed rock. Optionally, an underlying resilient
base or underlayment layer may be disposed between the turf
assembly and the foundation. The turf assembly is typically
made of strands of plastic artificial grass blades attached to a
turfbacking. An infill material, which typically is a mixture of
sand and ground rubber particles, may be applied among the
vertically oriented artificial grass blades, typically covering
the lower half or 2/3 of the blades.

30

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


35

40

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


45

This invention relates to a turfunderlayment layer configured to support an artificial turf assembly. The turfunderlayment layer has panels including edges that are configured to
interlock with the edges of adjacent panels to form a vertical
interlocking connection. The interlocking connection is
capable of substantially preventing relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an adjacent connected
panel. The underlayment comprises a core with a top side and
a bottom side. The top side has a plurality of spaced apart,
upwardly oriented projections that define channels suitable
for water flow along the top side of the core when the underlayment layer is positioned beneath an overlying artificial turf
assembly.
The top side may include an upper support surface in
contact with the artificial turf assembly. The upper support
surface, in tum, may have a plurality of channels configured
to allow water flow along the top side of the core. The upper
support surfaces may be substantially flat. The bottom side
may include a lower support surface that is in contact with a
foundation layer and also have a plurality of channels configured to allow water flow along the bottom side of the core. A
plurality of spaced apart drain holes connects the upper sup-

50

55

60

65

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view in elevation ofan


artificial turf system.
FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of an embodiment
of an underlayment panel assembly.
FIG. 2A is an enlarged, perspective view of an underlayment panel of the panel assembly of FIG. 2.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of an alternative embodiment of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross sectional view, in elevation, of
the interlocking edge of the underlayment panel of FIG. 3 and
an adjacent mated underlayment panel.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an embodiment of an interlocking edge and bottom projections of the underlayment
panel.
FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of the assembly of
the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels.
FIG. 6A is a schematic plan view of the interlocking edge
of FIG. 6.
FIG. 7 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the
interlocking edges of the underlayment panels.
FIG. 8 is an elevation view of the assembly of the interlocking edges of adjacent underlayment panels of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged plan view of an embodiment of a
drainage channel and infill trap and a frictional surface of the
underlayment panel.
FIG.10 is an elevation view in cross section of the drainage
channel and infill trap of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12A is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.
FIG. 12B is a plan view of another embodiment of a frictional surface of the underlayment panel.

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 20 of 28


US 8,603,601 B2
3

FIG.13 is a perspective view of an embodiment ofa bottom


side of the underlayment drainage panel.
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of an underlayment panel showing projections in a free-state, unloaded
condition.
FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 14 showing the deflection of the projections under a vertical load.
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view in elevation of the underlayment panel of FIG. 15 showing the deflection of the projections and panel core under an increased vertical load.
FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a panel with spaced apart
friction members configured to interact with downwardly
oriented ridges on the artificial turf assembly.
FIG. 18 is a schematic, plan view of another embodiment
of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 19 is a schematic, plan view of an underlayment panel
assembly formed from panels similar to the panel of FIG. 18.
FIG. 20 is a schematic, plan view of a method of assembling the underlayment panel assembly of FIG. 19.
FIG. 21 is a sectioned, perspective view of another embodiment of an underlayment panel.
FIG. 22 is a sectioned, perspective view of yet another
embodiment of an underlayment panel, similar to the underlayment panel of FIG. 21.

through the backing layer22. The blades 20 of grass fibers are


typically tufted onto the backing 22 in rows that have a regular
spacing, such as rows that are spaced about 2 centimeters to
about 4 centimeters apart, for example. The incorporation of
the grass fibers 20 into the backing layer 22 sometimes results
in a series of spaced apart, substantially parallel, urethane
coated corrugations or ridges 26B on the bottom surface 28 of
the backing layer 22 formed by the grass blade tufts. Ridges
26B can be present even where the fibers are not exposed.
The optional infill material 24 of the turf assembly 12,
when applicable, is placed in between the blades 20 of artificial grass and on top of the backing 22. If the infill material 24
is applied, the material volume is typically an amount that
covers only a bottom portion of the synthetic grass blades 20
so that the top portions of the blades stick out above the infill
material 24. The typical purpose of the optional infill material
24 is to add stability to the field, improve traction between the
athlete's shoe and the play surface, and to improve shock
attenuation of the field. The infill material 24 is typically sand
24A or ground up rubber particles or synthetic particulate
24B or mixtures of these, although other materials can be
used.
When the backing layer 22 has holes 25A or a porous
section 25B for water drainage, then some of the infill material 24 is able to wash through the backing layer porous
section 25B or the backing layer drainage holes 25A and onto
the turf underlayment layer 14. This infill migration, or
migration of the infill constituents, is undesirable because the
depletion of the infill material 24 results in a field that doesn't
have the initially designed stability and firmness characteristics. Excessive migration of the infill material 24, or the infill
constituent components, to the turf underlayment layer 14 can
create a hard layer which makes the whole system less able to
absorb impacts.
The turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of expanded
polyolefin foam beads, which can be expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polyethylene (EPE), or any other
suitable material. The foam beads are closed cell (water
impervious) beads. In one optional method of manufacture,
the beads are originally manufactured as tiny solid plastic
pellets, which are later processed in a controlled pressure
chamber to expand them into larger foam beads having a
diameter within the range of from about 2 millimeters to
about 5 millimeters. The foam beads are then blown into a
closed mold under pressure so they are tightly packed.
Finally, steam is used to heat the mold surface so the beads
soften and melt together at the interfaces, forming the turf
underlayment layer 14 as a solid material that is water impervious. Other methods of manufacture can be used, such as
mixing the beads with an adhesive or glue material to form a
slurry. The slurry is then molded to shape and the adhesive
cured. The slurry mix underlayment may be porous through
the material thickness to drain water away. This porous underlayment structure may also include other drainage feature
discussed below. The final EPP material can be made in
different densities by starting with a different density bead, or
by any other method. The material can also be made in various
colors. The resulting underlayment structure, made by either
the steam molding or the slurry mixing processes, may be
formed as a water impervious underlayment or a porous
underlayment. These resulting underlayment layer structures
may further include any of the drainage, deflection, and interlocking features discussed below.
Alternatively, the turfunderlayment layer 14 can be made
from a molding and expansion of small pipe sections of
foamed material, similar to small foamed macaroni. The
small pipe sections of foamed material are heated and fused

10

15

20

25

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED


EMBODIMENT
The turf system shown in FIG. 1 is indicated generally at
10. The turf system includes an artificial turf assembly 12, an
underlayment layer 14 and a foundation layer 16. The foundation layer 16 can comprise a layer 18 of crushed stone or
aggregate, or any other suitable material. Numerous types of
foundation layers are known to those skilled in the art. The
crushed stone layer 18 can be laid on a foundation base, such
as compacted soil, a poured concrete base, or a layer of
asphalt paving, not shown. Alternatively, the underlayment
layer 14 may be applied over the asphalt or concrete base,
omitting the crushed stone layer, if so desired. In many turf
systems used for an athletic field, the foundation layers are
graded to a contour such that water will drain to the perimeter
of the field and no water will pool anywhere on the surface.
The artificial turf assembly 12 includes strands of synthetic
grass blades 20 attached to a turf backing 22. An optional
infill material 24 may be applied to the grass blades 20. The
synthetic grass blades 20 can be made of any material suitable
for artificial turf, many examples of which are well known in
the art. Typically the synthetic grass blades are about 5 cm in
length although any length can be used. The blades 20 of
artificial grass are securely placed or tufted onto the backing
22. One form of blades that can be used is a relatively wide
polymer film that is slit or fibrillated into several thinner film
blades after the wide film is tufted onto the backing 22. In
another form, the blades 20 are relatively thin polymer films
(monofilament) that look like individual grass blades without
being fibrillated. Both of these can be colored to look like
blades of grass and are attached to the backing 22.
The backing layer 22 of the turf assembly 12 is typically
water-porous by itself, but is often optionally coated with a
water-impervious coating 26A, such as for example urethane,
for dimensional stability of the turf. In order to allow water to
drain vertically through the backing 22, the backing can be
provided with spaced apart holes 25A. In an alternative
arrangement, the water impervious coating is either partially
applied, or is applied fully and then scraped off in some
portions, such as drain portion 25B, to allow water to drain

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together in the mold in the same way as the spherical beads.


The holes in the pipe sections keep the underlayment layer
from being a totally solid material, and some water can drain
through the underlayment layer. Additionally, varying the
hollow section geometry may provide an ability to vary the
material density in order to selectively adjust the performance
of the turf system.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the turfunderlayment layer 14 is comprised of a plurality of underlayment
panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D. Each of the panels have
similar side edges 32A, 32B, 32C, and 32D. The panels
further have substantially planar major faces, i.e., top sides 34
and bottom sides 36. The substantially flat planar faces, top
sides 34 and bottom sides 36, define a core 35 therebetween.
There are flaps 37, 38 and fittings 40, indicated generally, are
arranged along the edges 32A-D as shown. In one embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A, the flaps 37 and 38 are
configured to include top side flaps 37A, 38A, 38B and bottom side flaps 37D, 38C, 38D. For reference purposes only,
top side flaps 38A and 38B are shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A as
having a patterned surface contiguous with, the top side 34.
Likewise, FIG. 3 shows the top side flaps 37A and 37B of
panel 30A-D having a substantially flat surface adjacent to an
upper support surface 52 that supports the backing layer 22 of
the turf assembly 12. Alternatively, the top side flaps 37A,
37B, 38A and 38B can have either a substantially flat surface
adjacent to, or a patterned surface contiguous with, the top
side 34. Bottom side flaps are similarly associated with the
bottom side 36 or a lower support surface 70 of the panels 30
contacting the underlying strata, such as the foundation layer
16.
The top side flap 38A may be of unequal length relative to
the adjacent bottom side flap 38C, as shown positioned along
edge 32B in FIGS. 2 and 2A. Alternatively, for example, the
top side flap 38A and the bottom side flap 38C, positioned
along the edge 32B, may be of equal length. In FIG. 2, the
panels 30A-D further show edges 32A and 32C having substantially continuous top side flaps 37A and bottom side flaps
37D, respectively, though such a configuration is not
required. The edges 32A and 32C may have flaps similarly
configured to edges 32B and32D.As shown in FIG. 3, the top
side flap 37A may extend along the length of the edge 32C and
the bottom side flap 38C may extend along the oppositely
positioned edge 32A.
When assembled, the flaps along edges 32A and 32B are
configured to interlock with the mating edges 32C and 32D,
respectively. The top side flap 38A and adjacent bottom side
flap 38C overlap and interlock with the mating bottom side
flap 38D and top side flap 38 B, respectively. The recessed
fitting 40A of top side flap 38B, of panel 30D interlocks with
the projecting fitting 40B of panel 30A, as shown in FIGS. 2
and 6. In an alternative embodiment, the surface of the projecting fitting 40B may extend up to include the projections
50. In this embodiment, the mating recessed fitting 40A of the
top side flap 38B has a corresponding void or opening to
receive the projected fitting 40B. These mating flaps 37, 38
and fittings 40 form a vertical and horizontal interlock connection, with the flaps 38A and 38B being positioned along
flaps 38D and 38 C, respectively, substantially preventing
relative vertical movement of one panel with respect to an
adjacent connected panel. The projecting and recessed fittings 40A and 40B, respectively, substantially prevent horizontal shifts between adjacent panels 30 due to mechanically
applied shear loads, such as, for example, from an athlete's
foot or groundskeeping equipment.
Referring now to FIGS. 18and19, an alternative embodiment of an underlayment panel, shown generally at 200,

includes an interlocking structure to assemble individual panels to form a turf underlayment layer 250. The panel 200
includes an interlocking edge 202 having a dovetail recess
204 and corresponding dovetail projections 206. In a particular embodiment, the interlocking edge 202 is substantially
identical on opposite sides of the underlayment panel 200,
though such is not required. Alternatively, the opposite side of
panel 200 may have a differently configured interlocking
structure as described in other embodiments disclosed herein.
The dovetail projections 206 are each sized to comprise generally half of the dovetail recess 204 so that two abutting
panels 200 can be interlocked with the dovetail of a third
panel to form a turfunderlayment layer, as shown in FIG. 19.
The dovetail projections 206 may alternatively be asymmetrical if desired. The panel 200 includes abutting edges 208 that
are illustrated as generally straight edges. The abutting edges
208, however, may be configured with overlapping flaps,
drainage or thermal expansion projections, tongue and
groove structures, or other suitable features described herein
to form the turf underlayment layer. The panel 200 also
includes a top surface 210 and a bottom surface (not shown)
that may be configured with projections, turf carpet friction
enhancing features, drainage channels, and drainage holes as
also described in the various embodiments described herein.
Referring now to FIG. 19, the turfunderlayment layer 250
is comprised of a plurality of underlayment panels 200A,
200B, and 200C. Though shown as three interlocked panels,
it is to be understood that the underlayment layer 250 includes
a sufficient number of panels to cover the desired area
intended as the artificial turf surface. Each of the panels 200A,
200B, and 200C are configured similarly to the panel 200 of
FIG. 18. Two panels 200B and 200C are aligned along their
respective abutting edges 208B and 208C such that the dovetail projections 206B and 206C are generally aligned and
form the male counterpart feature that is accepted into dovetail 204A of panel 200A.
The fit between the interlocking panels may be snug or
loose and may be varied depending on climactic conditions
that impact the installation. When the fit between panels
200A, 200B, and 200C is generally loose of a slight clearance
fit, the dovetail recess 204A of panel 200A may brought down
onto the abutted dovetail projections 206B and 206C of panels 200B and 200C. As shown in FIG. 20, when the panels
200A, 200B, and 200C are configured with a snug or slight
compression fit, a hook portion 207A of panel 200A may be
rotated into contact with a mating hook portion 207C of panel
200C and pulled against the dovetail projection 206C in order
to slightly compress panels 200B and 200C together. In such
a fit arrangement, the panels may include projections that are
deformable during installation and further accommodate the
effects of thermal expansion and contraction to maintain the
desired relative fits of the panels, as described herein. These
assembly techniques are merely illustrative and are not
restricted to any particular fit arrangement but may provide
ease of installation for different underlayment layer fits.
Referring now to FIG. 21, an embodiment of an underlayment panel, shown generally at 300, includes an interlocking
edge 302, similar to the interlocking edge 202, described
above. The panel 300 includes a dovetail recess 304 that is
defined by dovetail projections 306 and hook portions 307
spaced on either side and an abutting panel edge 308 similar
to those described above. An upper surface or top side 310 of
the panel 300 includes a plurality of spaced-apart projections
312 that define drainage channels 314 to facilitate the flow of
water across the panel 300. The bottom side (not shown) of
panel 300 may be similarly configured, if desired. Alternatively, the bottom side may include only drainage charmels

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(not shown). Though shown as square projections having


rounded corners and straight sides, the projections 312 may
be any suitable geometric shape desired. The panel 300 further includes projections 316 disposed along the interlocking
edge 3 02 that space abutting panels apart. The projections 316
may provided in any suitable number and position along the
perimeter of the panel 300, as desired. When the panel 300 is
connected to similar panels to form an underlayment layer
and the assembled panels are spaced apart, a drainage space
or passage is formed to permit water runoff to exit the topside
310 of the panel 300 and migrate to a subsurface support layer
(not shown). The projections 316 may also act as crush ribs or
discrete deflection points that permit relative movement of
abutting panels in response to thermal conditions or loadapplied deflections.
Referring now to FIG. 22, there is illustrated another
embodiment of an underlayment panel, shown generally at
400. The underlayment panel 400 is similar to panel 300,
described above, and includes similar features, such as an
interlocking edge 402 having a dovetail recess 404 defined by
dovetail projections 306 (only one is shown) and hook portions 407. The panel 400 further includes abutting edges 408
(one shown). An upper or top surface 410 of panel 400
includes projections 412 that provide support for an artificial
turf carpet (not shown). The spaced-apart projections 412
define top side drainage channels 414 that provide for water
flow. The top side drainage channels 414 are in fluid communication with a plurality of drain holes 418 that are sufficiently sized and spaced across the top surface 410 to facilitate water drainage to the substrate layer below. The drain
holes 418 may be in fluid communication with the bottom
side (not shown) that includes any of the bottom side embodiments described herein. The interlocking edge 402 of the
panel 400 includes at least one projection 416, and preferably
a plurality of projections 416. The projections 416 may be
positioned on the dovetail projection, the dovetail recess 404,
the hook portion 407, and the abutting edge 408 (not shown)
if desired.
In one embodiment, the vertical interlock between adjacent
panels 30 is sufficient to accommodate heavy truck traffic,
necessary to install infill material, without vertical separation
of the adjacent panels. The adjacent top side flaps 38A and
38B and adjacent bottom side flaps 38C and 38D also substantially prevent horizontal shifting of the panels due to
mechanically applied shear loads. The cooperating fittings
40A and 40B, along with adjacent flaps 38A, 38B and 38C,
38D, provide sufficient clearance to accommodate deflections arising from thermal expansion. The flaps 38 may
optionally include drainage grooves 42B and drainage ribs or
projections 42A that maintain a drainage charmel between the
mated flaps 38A-D of adjoining panels, as will be discussed
below. The drainage projections 42A and the drainage
grooves 42B may be oriented on mated flaps of adjacent
panels in an offset relative relationship, in a cooperatively
engaged relationship, or applied to the mated flaps 38A-D as
either solely projections or grooves. When oriented in a cooperating engaged relationship, these projections 42A and
grooves 42B may additionally supplement the in-plane shear
stability of the mated panel assemblies 30 when engaged
together. The drainage projections 42A and drainage grooves
42B may be equally or unequally spaced along the flaps 38A
and 38B, respectively, as desired.
Optionally, the drainage grooves 42B and projections 42A
can perform a second function, i.e. a retention function. The
turfunderlayment 30 may include the cooperating drainage
ribs or projections 42A and grooves 42B for retention purposes, similar to the fittings 40. The projections 42A and

fittings 40B may include various embodiments of differently


shaped raised recessed structures, such as square, rectangular,
triangular, pyramidal, trapezoidal, cylindrical, frusto-conical,
helical and other geometric configurations that may include
straight sides, tapering sides or reversed tapering sides. These
geometric configurations cooperate with mating recesses,
such as groove 42B and recessed fitting 40A having complementary geometries. The cooperating fittings, and optionally
the cooperating projections and grooves, may have dimensions and tolerances that create a variety of fit relationships,
such as loose fit, press fit, snap fit, and twist fit connections.
The snap fit relationship may further provide an initial interference fit, that when overcome, results in a loose or line-toline fit relationship. The twist fit relationship may include a
helical surface on a conical or cylindrical projection that
cooperates with a recess that may or may not include a corresponding helical surface. The press fit, snap fit, and twist fit
connections may be defined as positive lock fits that prevent
or substantially restrict relative horizontal movement of adjacent joined panels.
The drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B, either
alone or in a cooperating relationship, may provide a vertically spaced apart relationship between the mating flaps 38AD, or a portion of the mating flaps 38A-D, of adjoining panels
to facilitate water drainage away from the top surface 34.
Additionally, the drainage projections 42A and grooves 42B
may provide assembled panels 30 with positioning datums to
facilitate installation and accommodate thermal expansion
deflections due to environmental exposure. The projections
42A may be either located in, oroffset from, the grooves 42B.
Optionally, the edges 32A-D may only include one of the
projections 42A or the grooves 42B in order to provide
increased drainage. Not all panels may need or require projections 42A and grooves 42B disposed about the outer
perimeter. For example, it may be desired to produce specific
panels that include at least one edge designed to abut a structure that is not a mating panel, such as a curb, trim piece,
sidewalk, and the like. These panels may have a suitable edge,
such as a frame, flat end, rounded edge, point, and the like, to
engage or abut the mating surface. For panels that mate with
adjacent panels, each panel may include at least one projections along a given edge and a corresponding groove on an
opposite side, positioned to interact with a mating projection
to produce the required offset.
FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a profile of cooperating
flaps 38A and 38C. The profiles of flaps 38A and 38C include
complimentary mating surfaces. The top side flap 38A
includes a leading edge bevel 44A, a bearing shelf 44B and a
back bevel 44C. The bottom side flap 38C includes a leading
edge bevel 46A configured to be positioned against back
bevel 44C. Likewise, a bearing shelf 46B is configured to
contact against the bearing shelf 44B and the back bevel 46C
is positioned against the leading edge bevel 44A. The bearing
shelves 44B and 46B may optionally include ribs 48 extending longitudinally along the length of the respective flaps. The
ribs 48 may be a plurality of outwardly projecting ribs that
cooperate with spaces between adjacent ribs of the mating
flap. Alternatively, the top side flap 38A may have outwardly
projecting ribs 48 and the bottom side flap 38C may include
corresponding recesses (not shown) of a similar shape and
location to cooperatively engage the ribs 38. Additionally,
drain holes 58 may extend through the flaps 38 to provide
water drainage, as will be described below.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 2A, and 5, a flap assembly groove 80
is shown positioned between the top side flap 38A and the
bottom side flap 38C. The flap assembly groove 80, however,
may be positioned between any adjacent interlocking geom-

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etries. The groove 80 allows relative movement of adjacent


flaps on an edge of a panel so that adjoining panel flaps can be
assembled together more easily. When installing conventional panels, adjoining panels are typically slid over the
compacted base and twisted or deflected to position the
adjoining interfaces together. As the installers attempt to mate
adjoining prior art panel interfaces together, they may bend
and bow the entire panel structure to urge the mating sections
into place. The corners and edges of these prior art panels
have a tendency to dig into the compacted base causing discontinuities which is an undesirable occurrence.
In contrast to the assembly of prior art panels, the grooves
80 of the panels 30A, 30B, 30C, and 30D allow the top side
flap 38A to flex relative to bottom side flap 38C. To illustrate
the assembly method, panels 30A, 30B and 30D are relatively
positioned in place and interlocked together on the foundation layer. To install panel 30C, the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is deflected upwardly. Additionally, the mated inside
corner of panels 30A and 30D may be slightly raised as an
assembled unit. The area under the top side flap 38A of panel
30A is exposed in order to position the mating bottom side
flap 38D. The bottom side flap 37D positioned along edge
32A of panel 30A may be positioned under the top side flap
3 7 A on edge 32C of panel 3 OD. This positioning may be aided
by slightly raising the assembled corner of panels 30A and
30D. The positioned flaps may be engaged by a downward
force applied to the overlapping areas. By bending the top
side flaps of a panel up during assembly, access to the mating
bottom side flap location increases thus facilitating panel
insertion without significant sliding of the panel across the
compacted foundation layer. This assembly technique prevents excessively disrupting the substrate or the previously
installed panels. The assembly of panels 30A-D, shown in
FIG. 2, may also be assembled by starting with the panel 30C,
positioned in the upper right corner. Subsequent top side flaps
along the edges 32 may be placed over the bottom side flaps
already exposed.
FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of assembled panels 30
where the top side flap 38A is shorter than the bottom side flap
38B, as described above, creating a flap offset. The flap offset
aligns the panels 30 such that seams created by the mating
edges 32 do not line up and thereby create a weak, longitudinal deflection point. The top side and bottom side flaps may
be oriented in various offset arrangements along the edge 32.
For example, two top side flaps of equal length may be disposed on both sides of the bottom side flap along the edge 32.
This arrangement would allow the seam of two adjoining
panels to terminate in the center of the next panel.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the
underlayment panels 130, having a plurality of edges 132, a
top side 134, a bottom side 136, and flaps configured as
tongue and groove structures. The flaps include upper and
lower flanges 142, 144 extending from some of the edges 132
of the panels 130, with the upper and lower flanges 142, 144
defining slots 146 extending along the edges 132. An intermediate flange 148 extends from the remainder of the edges
of the panels, with the intermediate flange 148 being configured to fit within the slots 146 in a tongue-and-groove configuration. The flanges 148 of one panel 130 fit together in a
complementary fashion with the slot 146 defined by the
flanges 142, 144 of an adjacent panel. The purpose of the
flanges 142, 144, and 148 is to secure the panels against
vertical movement relative to each other. When the panels 13 0
are used in combination with a turf assembly 12, i.e., as an
underlayment for the turf assembly, the application of a
downward force applied to the turf assembly pinches the
upper and lower flanges 142, 144 together, thereby compress-

ing the intermediate flanges 148 between the upper and lower
flanges, and preventing or substantially reducing relative vertical movement between adjacent panels 130. The top side
134 may include a textured surface having a profile that is
rougher or contoured beyond that produced by conventional
smooth surfaced molds and molding techniques, which are
known in the art.
FIGS. 1-3 further show a plurality of projections 50 are
positioned over the top side 34 of the panels 30. The projections 50 have truncated tops 64 that form a plane that defines
an upper support surface 52 configured to support the artificial turf assembly 12. The projections 50 do not necessarily
require flat, truncated tops. The projections 50 may be of any
desired cross sectional geometric shape, such as square, rectangular, triangular, circular, oval, or any other suitable polygon structure. The projections 50, as shown in FIG. 10, and
projections 150 as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, may have
tapered sides 54, 154 extending from the upper support surface 52, 152 outwardly to the top side 34 of the core 35. The
projections 50 may be positioned in a staggered arrangement,
as shown in FIGS. 2, 6, and 9. The projections 50 may be any
height desired, but in one embodiment the projections 50 are
in the range of about 0.5 millimeters to about 6 millimeters,
and may be further constructed with a height of about 3
millimeters. In another embodiment, the height is in the range
of about 1.5 millimeters to about 4 millimeters. The tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 cooperate to define channels 56 that form a labyrinth across the panel 30 to provide
lateral drainage of water that migrates down from the turf
assembly 12. The channels 56 have drain holes 58 spaced
apart and extending through the thickness of the panel 30.
As shown in FIG. 9, the channels 56 may be formed such
that the tapered sides 54 substantially intersect or meet at
various locations in a blended radii relationship transitioning
onto the top surface 34. The projections 50, shown as truncated cone-shaped structures having tapered sides 54, form a
narrowed part, or an infill trap 60, in the channel 56. The infill
trap 60 blocks free flow of infill material 24 that migrates
through the porous backing layer 22, along with water. As
shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the infill material 24 becomes
trapped and retained between the tapered sides 54 in the
channels 56. The trapping of the infill material 24 prevents
excessive migrating infill from entering the drain holes 58.
The trapped infill material may constrict or somewhat fill up
the channels 56 but does not substantially prevent water flow
due to interstitial voids created by adjacent infill particles,
24A and 24B, forming a porous filter.
The size of the drainage holes 58, the frequency of the
drainage holes 58, the size of the drainage channels 56 on the
top side 34 or the channels 76 on the bottom side 36, and the
frequency of the channels 56 and 76 provide a design where
the channels can line up to create a free flowing drainage
system. In one embodiment, the system can accommodate up
to 70 mm/hr rainfall, when installed on field having a slightlyraised center profile, for example, on the order of a 0.5%
slope. The slightly-raised center profile of the field tapers, or
slopes away, downwardly towards the perimeter. This format
of installation on a full sized field promotes improved horizontal drainage water flow. For instance, a horizontal drainage distance of 35 meters and a perimeter head pressure of
175 millimeters.
The cone shaped projections 50 of FIGS. 6 and 9 also form
widened points in the channel 56. The widened points, when
oriented on the edge 32 of the panel 30, form beveled, funnellike interfaces or edges 62, as shown in FIG. 6. These funnel
edges 62 may be aligned with similar funnel edges on adjacent panels and provide a greater degree of installation taler-

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ance between mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 56 for water drainage. If the top projections 50 have a
non-curved geometry, the outer edge corners of the projections 50 may be removed to form the beveled funnel edge, as
will be discussed below in conjunction with bottom projections. Additionally, the bottom projections may be generally
circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced apart relationship as that described above. The bottom projections may
further be of a larger size than the top projections.
A portion of the bottom side 36 of the panel 30 is shown in
FIGS. 5 and 13. The bottom side 36 includes the lower support surface 70 defined by a plurality of downwardly extending projections 72 and a plurality downwardly extending edge
projections 74. The plurality of projections 72 and edge projections 74 space apart the bottom side36 of the panel 30 from
the foundation layer 16 and further cooperate to define drainage channels 7 6 to facilitate water flow beneath the panel. The
edge projections 74 cooperate to form a funnel edge 78 at the
end of the drainage channel 76. These funnel edges 78 may be
aligned with similar funnel edges 78 on adjacent panels and
provide a greater degree of installation tolerance between
mating panel edges to create a continuous channel 76 for
water drainage. The bottom side 36 shown in FIG. 13 represents a section from the center of the panel 30. The bottom
projections 72 and edge projections 74 are typically larger in
surface area than the top projections 50 and are shallower, or
protrude to a lesser extent, though other relationships may be
used. The larger surface area and shorter height of the bottom
projections 72 tends to allow the top projections 50 to deform
more under load. Alternatively, the bottom projections may
be generally circular in shape and exhibit a similar spaced
apart relationship as that described above. The bottom projections may further be of a larger size than the top projections.
The larger size of the bottom projections 72 allows them to
be optionally spaced in a different arrangement relative to the
arrangement of the top projections 50. Such a non-aligned
relative relationship assures that the top channels 56 and
bottom channels 76 are not aligned with each other along a
relatively substantial length that would create seams or bending points where the panel core 35 may unduly deflect.
Referring again to FIG. 9, the top projections 50 may
include a friction enhancing surface 66 on the truncated tops
64. The friction enhancing surface 66 may be in the form of
bumps, or raised nibs or dots, shown generally at 66A in FIG.
9. These bumps 66A provide an increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the upper support
surface of the underlayment panel 30. The bumps 66A are
shown as integrally molded protrusions extending up from
the truncated tops 64 of the projections 50. The bumps 66A
may be in a pattern or randomly oriented. The bumps 66A
may alternatively be configured as friction ribs 66B. The ribs
66B may either be on the surface of the truncated tops 64 or
slightly recessed and encircled with a rim 68.
FIGS.11and12 illustrate alternative embodiments of various turf underlayment panel sections having friction enhancing and infill trapping surface configurations. A turf underlayment panel 150 includes a top side 152 of the panel 150
provided with plurality of spaced apart, upwardly oriented
projections 154 that define flow channels 156 suitable for the
flow of water along the top surface of the panel. The projections 154 are shown as having a truncated pyramid shape,
however, any suitable shape, such as for example, truncated
cones, chevrons, diamonds, squares and the like can be used.
The projections 154 have substantially flat upper support
surfaces 158 which support the backing layer 22 of the artificial turf assembly 12. The upper support surfaces 158 of the

projections 154 can have a generally square shape when


viewed from above, or an elongated rectangular shape as
shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, or any other suitable shape.
The frictional characteristics of the underlayment may further be improved by the addition of a medium, such as a grit
170 or other granular material, to the underlayment mixture,
as shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B. In an embodiment shown in
FIG. 12A, the granular medium is added to the adhesive or
glue binder and mixed together with the beads. The grit 170
may be in the form of a commercial grit material, typically
provided for non-skid applications, often times associated
with stairs, steps, or wet surfaces. The grit may be a polypropylene or other suitable polymer, or may be silicon oxide
(Si0 2 ), aluminum oxide (Al 2 0 3 ), sand, or the like. The grit
172 however may be of any size, shape, material or configuration that creates an associated increased frictional engagement between the backing layer 22 and the underlayment 150.
In operation, the application of grit material 172 to the underlayment layer 14 will operate in a different manner from
operation of grit applied to a hard surface, such as pavement
or wood. When applied to a hard surface, the non-skid benefit
of grit in an application, such as grit filled paint, is realized
when shearing loads are applied directly to the grit structure
by feet, shoes, or vehicle wheels. Further, grit materials are
not applied under a floor covering, such as a rug or carpet
runner, in order to prevent movement relative to the underlying floor. Rather, non-skid floor coverings are made of soft
rubber or synthetic materials that provide a high shear resistance over a hard flooring surface.
The grit material 170 when applied to the binder agent in
the turf underlayment structure provides a positive grip to the
turf backing layer 22. This gripping of the backing layer
benefits from the additional weight of the infill medium dispersed over the surface, thus applying the necessary normal
force associated with the desired frictional, shear-restraining
force. Any concentrated deflection of the underlayment as a
result of a load applied to the turf will result in a slight
momentary "divot" or discontinuity that will change the frictional shear path in theunderlayment layer 14. This deflection
of the surface topography does not occur on a hard surface,
such as a painted floor using grit materials. Therefore, the grit
material, as well as the grit binder are structured to accommodate the greater elasticity of the underlayment layer, as
opposed toe the hard floor surface, to provide improved surface friction. A grit material 180 may alternatively be applied
to the top of the bead and binder mixture, as shown in FIG.
12B, such that the beads within the thickness exhibit little to
no grit material 180. In this instance, the grit material 180
would primarily be on top of and impregnated within the top
surface and nearby thickness of the underlayment 150. Alternatively, the grit material 180 may be sprinkled onto or
applied to the mold surface prior to applying the bead and
binder slurry so that the predominant grit content is on the top
of the underlayment surface after the product is molded.
Another embodiment provides a high friction substrate,
such as a grit or granular impregnated fabric applied to and
bonded with the upper surface of the underlayment layer 14,
i.e. the top side 34 or the upper support surface 52 as defined
by the projections 50. The fabric may alternatively be a mesh
structure whereby the voids or mesh apertures provide the
desired surface roughness or high friction characteristic. The
mesh may also have a roughened surface characteristic, in
addition to the voids, to provide a beneficial gripping action to
the underlayment. The fabric may provide an additional load
spreading function that may be beneficial to protecting players from impact injury. Also the fabric layer may spread the

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load transfer from the turf to the underlayment and assist in


preserving the base compaction characteristic.
FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative embodiment of an underlayment layer having a water drainage structure and turf
assembly frictional engagement surface. The underlayment
layer 200 includes a top side 210 configured to support the
artificial turf assembly 12. The underlayment layer 200 further includes a core 235, a top side 210 and a bottom side 220.
The top side 210 includes a plurality of spaced apart projections 230 that define channels 240 configured to allow water
flow along the top side 210. The top side 210 includes a series
of horizontally spaced apart friction members 250 that are
configured to interact with the downwardly oriented ridges 26
on the bottom surface 28 of the backing layer 22 of the
artificial turf assembly 12. The friction members 250 engage
the ridges 26 so that when the artificial turf assembly 12 is laid
on top of the underlayment layer 200 relative horizontal
movement between the artificial turf assembly 12 and the
underlayment layer 200 is inhibited.
In order to facilitate drainage and infill trapping, the channels 156A defined by the projections 152 optionally can have
a V-shaped cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 11, with
walls that are at an acute angle to the vertical. The flow
channels 156B shown in FIG. 12 are slightly different from
flow channels 156A since they have a flattened or truncated
V-shaped cross-sectional shape rather than the true V-shaped
cross-section of channels 156A. The purpose of the flow
channels 156A and 156B is to allow water to flow along the
top side 152 of the panels 150. Rain water on the turf assembly 12 percolates through the infill material 24 and passes
though the backing layer 22. The flow channels 156A, and
156B allow this rain water to drain away from the turf system
10.As therain water flows across the top side 152 of the panel
150, the channels 156A and 156B will eventually direct the
rainwater to a vertical drain hole 160. The drain holes 160
then allow the rain water to drain from the top side 152 to the
bottom side of the turf underlayment layer 14. The drain hole
160 can be molded into the panel, or can be mechanically
added after the panel is formed.
During the operation of the artificial turf system 10, typically some of the particles of the infill material 24 pass
through the backing layer 22. These particles can flow with
the rain water along the channels 156A and 156B to the drain
holes 160. The particles can also migrate across the top surface 152 in dry conditions due to vibration from normal play
on the turf system 10. Over time, the drain holes 160 can
become clogged with the sand particles and become unable to
drain the water from the top surface 152 to the bottom surface.
Therefore it is advantageous to configure the top surface 152
to impede the flow of sand particles within the channels 156A,
156B. Any suitable mechanism for impeding the flow of infill
particles along the channels can be used.
In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 11, the channel 156A
contains dams 162 to impede the flow of infill particles. The
dams 162 can be molded into the structure of the turfunderlayment layer 14, or can be added in any suitable manner. The
dams 162 can be of the same material as the turf underlayment
layer, or of a different material. In another embodiment, the
flow channels 156A are provided with roughened surfaces
164 on the channel sidewalls 166 to impede the flow of infill
particles. The roughened surface traps the sand particles or at
least slows them down.
FIGS. 14-16 illustrate the dynamic load absorption characteristics of projections, shown in conjunction with the truncated cone projections 50 of the underlayment 30. The projections 50 on the top side provide a dynamic response to
surface impacts and other load inputs during normal play on

athletic fields. The truncated geometric shapes of the protrusions 50 provide the correct dynamic response to foot and
body impacts along with ball bounce characteristics. The
tapered sides 54 of the projections 50 incorporate some
amount of taper or "draft angle" from the top side 34, at the
base of the projection 50, to the plane of the upper support
surface 52, which is substantially coplanar with the truncated
protrusion top. Thus, the base of the projection 50 defines a
somewhat larger surface area than the truncated top surface
area. The drainage channels 56 are defined by the tapered
sides 54 of adjacent projections 50 and thereby establish gaps
or spaces therebetween.
FIG. 14 illustrates the free state distance 90 of the projection 50 and the free state distance 92 of the core 35. The
projections 50 deflect when subjected to an axially applied
compressive load, as shown in FIG. 15. The projection 50 is
deflected from the projection free state 90 to a partial load
deflection distance 94. The core 35 is still substantially at or
near a free state distance 92. The channels 56 allow the
projections to deflect outwardly as an axial load is applied in
a generally downward direction. The relatively unconstrained
deflection allows the protrusions 50 to "squash" or compress
vertically and expand laterally under the compressive load or
impact force, as shown in FIG. 15. This relatively unconstrained deflection may cause the apparent spring rate of the
underlayment layer 14 to remain either substantially constant
throughout the projection deflection or increase at a first rate
of spring rate increase.
Continued deformation of the protrusions 50 under a compressive or impact load, as shown in FIG. 16, causes the
projections 50 to deform a maximum amount to a fully compressed distance 96 and then begin to deform the core 35. The
core 35 deforms to a core compression distance 98 which is
smaller than the core free state distance 92. As the core 35
deforms, the apparent spring rate increases at a second rate,
which is higher than the first rate of spring rate increase. This
rate increase change produces a stiffening effect as a compressively-loaded elastomer spring. The overall effect also
provides an underlayment behavior similar to that of a dual
density material. In one embodiment, the material density
range is between 45 grams per liter and 70 grams per liter. In
another embodiment, the range is 50 grams per liter to 60
grams per liter. Under lower compression or impact loads, the
projections 50 compress and the underlayment 30 has a relatively low reaction force for a relatively large deflection, thus
producing a relatively low hardness. As the compression or
impact force increases, the material underlying the geometric
shape, i.e. the material of the core, creates a larger reaction
force without much additional deformation, which in turn
increases the stiffness level to the user.
The ability to tailor the load reactions of the underlayment
and the turf assembly as a complete artificial turf system
allows adjustment of two competing design parameters, a
bodily impact characteristic and an athletic response characteristic. The bodily impact characteristic relates to the turf
system's ability to absorb energy created by player impacts
with the ground, such as, but not limited to, for example
tackles common in American-style football and rugby. The
bodily impact characteristic is measured using standardized
testing procedures, such as for example ASTM-F355 in the
U.S. and EN-1177 in Europe. Turf systems having softer or
more impact absorptive responses protect better against head
injury, but offer diminished or non-optimized athlete and ball
performance. The athletic response characteristic relates to
athlete performance responses during running and can be
measured using a simulated athlete profile, such as the Berlin
Artificial Athlete. Athlete performance responses include

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such factors as turf response to running loads, such as heel and


forefoot contact and the resulting load transference. The turf
response to these running load characteristics can affect
player performance and fatigue. Turf systems having stiffer
surface characteristics may increase player performance,
such as running load transference, (i.e. shock absorption,
surface deformation and energy restitution), and ball behavior, but also increase injury potential due to lower impact
absorption. The underlayment layer and the turf assembly
each has an associated energy absorption characteristic, and
these are balanced to provide a system response appropriate
for the turf system usage and for meeting the required bodily
impact characteristics and athletic response characteristics.
In order to accommodate the particular player needs, as
well as satisfying particular sport rules and requirements,
several design parameters of the artificial turf system may
need to be varied. The particular sport, or range of sports and
activities undertaken on a particular artificial turf system, will
dictate the overall energy absorption level required of the
system. The energy absorption characteristic of the underlayment layer may be influenced by changes in the material
density, protrusion geometry and size, panel thickness and
surface configuration. These parameters may further be categorized under a broader panel material factor and a panel
geometry factor of the underlayment layer. The energy
absorption characteristic of the turf assembly may be subject
to considerations of infill material and depth. The infill material comprises a mixture of sand and synthetic particulate in a
ratio to provide proper synthetic grass blade exposure, water
drainage, stability, and energy absorption.
The turf assembly 12 provides a lot of the impact shock
attenuation for safety for such contact sports as American
football. The turf assembly 12 also provides the feel of the
field when running, as well as ball bounce and roll in sports
such as soccer (football), field hockey, rugby and golf. The
turf assembly 12 and the turf underlayment layer 14 work
together to get the right balance for hardness in running,
softness (impact absorption or energy absorption) in falls,
ball bounce and roll, etc. To counteract the changing field
characteristics overtime, which affect ball bounce and the roll
and feel of the field to the running athlete, in some cases the
infill material may be maintained or supplemented by adding
more infill, and by using a raking machine or other mechanism to fluff up the infill so it maintains the proper feel and
impact absorption.
The hardness of the athletic field affects performance on
the field, with hard fields allowing athletes to run faster and
turn more quickly. This can be measured, for example in the
United States using AS TM F 197 6 test protocol, and in the rest
of the world by FIFA, IRB (International Rugby Board), FIH
(International Hockey Federation), and ITF (International
Tennis Federation) test standards. In the United States,
another characteristic of the resilient turf underlayment layer
14 is to provide increased shock attenuation of the infill turf
system by up to 20 percent during running heel and running
forefoot loads. A larger amount of attenuation may cause
athletes to become too fatigued, and not perform at their best.
It is generally accepted that an athlete cannot perceive a
difference in stiffness of plus or minus 20 percent deviations
over a natural turf stiffness at running loads based on the U.S.
tests. The FIFA test requirement has minimum and maximum
values for shock attenuation and deformation under running
loads for the complete turf/underlayment system. Artificial
turf systems with shock attenuation and deformation values
between the minimum and maximum values simulate natural
turf feel.

The softness for impact absorption of an athletic field to


protect the players during falls or other impacts is a design
consideration, particularly in the United States. Softness of an
athletic field protects the players during falls or other impacts.
Impact energy absorption is measured in the United States
using ASTM F355-A, which gives a rating expressed as
Gmax (maximum acceleration in impact) and HIC (head
injury criterion). The head injury criterion (HIC) is used
internationally. There may be specific imposed requirements
for max acceleration and HIC for athletic fields, playgrounds
and similar facilities.
The turf assembly is advantageous in that in one embodiment it is somewhat slow to recover shape when deformed in
compression. This is beneficial because when an athlete runs
on a field and deforms it locally under the shoe, it is undesirable if the play surface recovers so quickly that it "pushes
back" on the shoe as it lifts off the surface. This would provide
unwanted energy restoration to the shoe. By making the turf
assembly 12 have the proper recovery, the field will feel more
like natural turf which doesn't have much resilience. The turf
assembly 12 can be engineered to provide the proper material
properties to result in the beneficial limits on recovery values.
The turf assembly can be designed to compliment specific
turf designs for the optimum product properties.
The design of the overall artificial turf system 10 will
establish the deflection under running loads, the impact
absorption under impact loads, and shape of the deceleration
curve for the impact event, and the ball bounce performance
and the ball roll performance. These characteristics can be
designed for use over time as the field ages, and the infill
becomes more compacted which makes the turf layer stiffer.
The panels 30 are designed with optimum panel bending
characteristics. The whole panel shape is engineered to provide stiffness in bending so the panel doesn't bend too much
when driving over it with a vehicle while the panel is lying on
the ground. This also assists in spreading the vehicle load over
a large area of the substrate so the contour of the underlying
foundation layer 16 won't be disturbed. If the contour of the
foundation layer 16 is not maintained, then water will pool in
areas of the field instead of draining properly.
In one embodiment of the invention, an artificial turf system for a soccer field is provided. First, performance design
parameters, related to a system energy absorption level for the
entire artificial turf system, are determined for the soccer
field. These performance design parameters are consistent
according to the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football
Association) Quality Concept for Artificial Turf, the International Artificial Turf Standard (IATS) and the European
ENI 5330 Standard. Typical shock, or energy, absorption and
deformation levels from foot impacts for such systems are
within the range of 55-70% shock absorption and about 4
millimeters to about 9 millimeters deformation, when tested
with the Berlin Artificial Athlete (EN14808, EN14809). Vertical ball rebound is about 60 centimeters to about 100 centimeters (EN 12235), Angled Ball Behavior is 45-70%, Vertical
Permeability is greater than 180 mm/hr (EN 12616) along
with other standards, such as for example energy restitution.
Other performance criteria may not be directly affected by the
underlayment performance, but are affected by the overall
turf system design. The overall turf system design, including
the interactions of the underlayment may include surface
interaction such as rotational resistance, ball bounce, slip
resistance, and the like. In this example where a soccer field is
being designed, a performance level for the entire artificial
turf system for a specific standard is selected. Next, the artificial turf assembly is designed. The underlayment performance characteristics selected will be complimentary to the

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17
turf assembly performance characteristics to provide the
overall desired system response to meet the desired sports
performance standard. It is understood that the steps in the
above example may be performed in a different order to
produce the desired system response.
In general, the design of the turf system having complimentary underlayment and turf assembly performance characteristics may for example provide a turf assembly that has a
low amount of shock absorption, and an underlayment layer
that has a high amount of shock absorption. In establishing
the relative complimentary performance characteristics, there
are many options available for the turf design such as pile
height, tufted density, yam type, yam quality, infill depth,
infill types, backing and coating. For example, one option
would be to select a low depth and/or altered ratio of sand vs.
rubber infill, or the use of an alternative infill material in the
turf assembly. If in this example the performance of the turf
assembly has a relatively low specific shock absorption value,
the shock absorption of the underlayment layer will have a
relatively high specific value.
By way of another example having different system characteristics, an artificial turf system for American football or
rugby may provide a turf assembly that has a high amount of
energy absorption, while providing the underlayment layer
with a low energy absorption performance. In establishing the
relative complimentary energy absorption characteristics,
selecting a high depth of infill material in the turf assembly
may be considered. Additionally, where the energy absorption of the turf assembly has a value greater than a specific
value, the energy absorption of the underlayment layer will
have a value less than the specific value.
The principle and mode of operation of this invention have
been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment.
However, it must be understood that this invention may be
practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.
What is claimed is:
1. A turf underlayment layer for supporting an artificial turf
assembly, the turfunderlayment layer comprising a plurality
of panels assembled together, each panel including a core, a
top side having a plurality of projections, and a bottom side,
the top projections forming top side water drainage channels,
the panels having edges, with the edges of one panel abutting
the edges of adjacent panels, at least one of the panel edges
having at least one drainage projection, the drainage projection spacing the abutting panel edges apart, with the resultant
spacing of the edges of abutting panels forming a drainage
path at the intersection of the abutting panels, wherein the
panels are made from a plurality of polyolefin beads, the
plurality of polyolefin beads bonded together by at least one
of pressure and heat to produce a substantially water-impervious surface.
2. The underlayment layer of claim 1 in which the abutting
panel edges have a corresponding recess that accepts a portion of the projection to interlock the abutting panels.
3. The underlayment layer of claim 1 in which the projection of the panels is a positioning datum to facilitate installation.
4. The underlayment layer of claim 1 wherein the bottom
side includes a plurality of bottom side drainage channels, the
core having a plurality of drain holes connecting the top side
water drainage channels to the bottom side water drainage
channels for fluid communication between the panel top side
and bottom side, the plurality of drain holes being dispersed
over the panel and being spaced apart and sized such that the
top side water drainage channels intersect with the bottom
side water drainage channels at the drain holes.

5. The underlayment layer of claim 4 in which the top

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projections are generally square shaped projections having a


friction enhancing surface configured as one of bumps, raised
nibs, ribs, and dots.
6. A turf underlayment layer for supporting an artificial turf
assembly, the turfunderlayment layer comprising a plurality
of panels assembled together, each panel including a core, a
top side having a plurality of projections, and a bottom side
having a plurality of projections, the top projections forming
top side water drainage channels and the bottom projections
forming bottom side water drainage channels, the panels having edges, with the edges of one panel abutting the edges of
adjacent panels, at least one of the panel edges having at least
one drainage projection to space the abutting panel edges
apart, with the drainage projection being formed from a compressible material, thereby enabling one panel in the turf
underlayment layer to move relative to an abutting panel by
compression of the drainage projection wherein the compressible material is an expanded foam bead material, and the
panel edges have at least two drainage projections.
7. The underlayment layer of claim 6 in which the drainage
projection is a positioning datum to facilitate installation.
8. The underlayment layer of claim 6 in which the panels
are made from a plurality of polyolefin beads, the plurality of
polyolefin beads bonded together by at least one of pressure
and heat to produce a substantially water-impervious surface.
9. The underlayment layer of claim 6 in which a plurality of
drain holes connects the top side channels to the bottom side
channels for fluid communication, the plurality of drain holes
being dispersed over the panel top side and bottom side, the
top projections and bottom projections terminating in generally flat support surfaces, and being spaced apart and sized
such that the top side water drainage channels intersect with
the bottom side water drainage channels at the drain holes,
with the flat support surfaces of the top projections having
smaller support surface areas than the flat support surfaces of
the bottom projections.
10. A panel for supporting an artificial turf assembly, the
panel including a core, a top side having a plurality of projections, and a bottom side having a plurality of projections,
the top projections forming top side water drainage channels
and the bottom projections forming bottom side water drainage channels, the panel having edges, with at least one of the
panel edges having at least one drainage projection formed
from a compressible material, wherein the panel is made from
a plurality of polyolefin beads bonded together by at least one
of pressure and heat to produce a substantially water-impervious surface, the top side water drainage channels being in
fluid communication with the bottom side water drainage
channels through a plurality of drainage holes extending
through the core.
11. The panel of claim 10 wherein the top projections and
bottom projections terminate in generally flat support surfaces, with the flat support surfaces of the top projections
having smaller support surface areas than the flat support
surfaces of the bottom projections.
12. The panel of claim 10 wherein a plurality of drain holes
extend through the core, and the top and bottom flat support
surfaces being spaced apart and sized such that the top side
water drainage channels cross over the bottom side water
drainage channels at the drain holes.
13. A turf underlayment panel for supporting an artificial
turf assembly, the panel including a core, a top side, and a
bottom side, the top side having a plurality of spaced apart
projections that define top side water drainage channels that
are in fluid communication with bottom side water drainage
channels, the panel further having at least two interlocking

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-6 Filed 07/05/16 Page 28 of 28


US 8,603,601 B2
19
edges to enable interlocking with other panels, wherein one of
the at least two interlocking edges includes a dovetail recess
defined by spaced apart dovetail projections, and wherein
each dovetail projection defines a male pattern that is generally halfof the size of the dovetail recess and half the shape of
the dovetail recess, wherein one of the at least two interlocking edges includes drainage projections to facilitate movement in response to thermal expansion and contraction, and to
define a water drainage opening at the edge of the panel,
wherein the plurality of spaced-apart top side projections are
generally square projections having a height of in a range of
about 0.5 millimeters to about 6 millimeters defining flat
support surfaces configured to support artificial turf, the flat
support surfaces each having a friction enhancing structure in
the form of one of raised dots, ribs, or bumps that minimize
relative movement of an artificial turf carpet relative to the
panel, the panel being formed from an expanded foam bead
polyolefin material having a density range of from about 45
grams per liter to about 70 grams per liter.

* * * * *

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EXHIBIT F
TO THE COMPLAINT

Case 1:16-cv-00842 Document 1-7 Filed 07/05/16 Page 2 of 14

Illlll llllllll Ill lllll llllll llll lllll lllll 111111111111111111111111111111111


USOOD637318S

c12)

United States Design Patent

(10)

Sawyer et al.

(45)

(54)

TURF UNDERLAYMENT

(76)

Inventors: Steven Lee Sawyer, Castel San


Giovanni (IT); Daniel C. Sawyer,
Boulder, CO (US); Richard R. Runkles,
Longmont, CO (US)

(**)

Term:

(21)

Appl. No.: 29/336,985

(22)

Filed:

(30)

14 Years

May 13, 2009


Foreign Application Priority Data

Jan. 30, 2009


( 51)
(52)
(58)

(EM) .................................. 001079214

LOC (9) Cl. . ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... ... .. . 25-01
U.S. Cl. ...................................................... D25/156
Field of Classification Search ................. D25/156;
428/27; 47/1.01 F, 65.9
See application file for complete search history.

(56)

References Cited

U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS


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6,877,932
7,014,390
D519,652
RE39,379
D570,503
2004/0058096
2005/0028475

s * 6/1993 Dorfman, Jr................. D25/156


1/1995 Rothberg
A
10/1995 Magnuson
A
211996 Sieber
A
A * 1/1997 Ripley et al. ................... 47/66.5
A * 10/1997 Casimaty ....................... 47/65.9
Bl* 1/2001 Yoshida et al. ................ 47 /65.9
Bl* 512001 Yoshida et al. ................ 47 /65.9
Bl * 212004 Hergeth ......................... 47 /65.9
B2
412005 Prevost
Bl
3/2006 Morris
S * 412006 Bozouklian et al. ......... D25/156
E * 1112006 Wechsler ........................ 428/99
S * 6/2008 Leier ............................ D25/156
Al
3/2004 Prevost
Al
212005 Barlow

Patent No.:
Date of Patent:

US D637,318 S

**

May 3, 2011

OTHER PUBLICATIONS
U.S. Appl. No. 12/009,835, Sawyer.

* cited by examiner
Primary Examiner - Doris Clark
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm - MacMillan, Sobanski &
Todd, LLC
(57)
CLAIM
The ornamental design for a turf underlayment, as shown and
described.
DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a first embodiment turf underlayment according to the design;
FIG. 2 is a front elevational view thereof;
FIG. 3 is a back elevational view thereof;
FIG. 4 is a right side elevational view thereof;
FIG. 5 is a left side elevational view thereof;
FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view thereof;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 6;
FIG. 9 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 2;
FIG. 10 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 2;
FIG. 11 is a top plan view of a second embodiment turf
underlayment according to the design;
FIG. 12 is a front elevational view thereof;
FIG. 13 is a back elevational view thereof;
FIG. 14 is a right side elevational view thereof;
FIG. 15 is a left side elevational view thereof;
FIG. 16 is a bottom plan view thereof;
FIG. 17 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 11;
FIG. 18 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 16;
FIG. 19 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 12; and,
FIG. 20 is an enlarged view as indicated in FIG. 12.
1 Claim, 12 Drawing Sheets

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