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1. (WO2009129623) METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SECURING A MOVABLE ITEM TO A STRUCTURE
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CLAIMS:

1. An electronic lock for removably securing a movable item to a structure, the electronic lock comprising:

-first and second complementary cooperating connecting members, each being fixedly mounted to a respective one of the movable item and the structure and being engageable together in a lockable position; and

-a securing assembly for securing said first and second connecting members together when engaged in the lockable position, said securing assembly comprising: a movable locking member operatively associated to the first connecting member; a locking aperture defined in the second connecting member, said locking aperture being adapted for receiving the movable locking member when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position; an actuator operatively coupled to the movable locking member for actuating the movable locking member between an unlocked position enabling disengagement of the first and second connecting members and a locked position wherein the movable locking member engages the locking aperture; and electronic control means operatively coupled to the actuator for controlling selective actuation of the movable locking member from the unlocked position to the locked position and from the locked position to the unlocked position when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position.

2. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said electronic control means are operatively coupled to the actuator for urging activation of the actuator, thereby causing the movable locking member to be selectively actuated

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from the unlocked position to the locked position and from the locked position to the unlocked position.

3. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said first connecting member comprises a female connector mounted to said structure and said second connecting member comprises a corresponding complementary male connector mounted to said movable item.

4. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said second connecting member comprises a male connector having a front tapered portion, said tapered portion comprising two opposed side surfaces converging towards each other and a bottom surface, said first connecting member comprising a female connector having a recess adapted for receiving said front tapered portion therein, said recess comprising a corresponding tapered portion having two opposed inner side walls converging towards each other and two opposed sitting members projecting inwards said recess and adapted for slidably receiving thereon said tapered portion of said male connector.

5. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 4, wherein each of said two opposed side surfaces and said bottom surface of said front tapered portion of said male connector comprises a planar surface.

6. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 4, wherein the two opposed side surfaces of the front tapered portion of the male connector define a V-shape and the corresponding inner side walls of the tapered portion of the recess of the female connector define a complementary V-shape adapted to snuggly receive the front tapered portion of the male connector.

7. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 4, wherein each of said two opposed side surfaces of the front tapered portion of the male connector comprises a substantially vertical planar surface and each of said two opposed

116995.00094 inner side walls of the tapered portion of the recess of the female connector comprises a substantially vertical planar surface.

8. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 4, wherein said second connecting member comprises a locking finger extending downwardly from the front tapered portion, said locking aperture being provided on said locking finger.

9. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 8, wherein said recess of said female connector further comprises two opposed lower inner side walls converging towards each other and defining a finger channel adapted for receiving the locking finger therein.

10. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 4, wherein said male connector further comprises a back portion and a hinge extending between the front tapered portion and the back portion for enabling a jointed coupling therebetween.

11. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , further comprising holding means adapted for cooperating with each of the connecting members for temporarily holding said connecting members together in said lockable position once engaged therein.

12. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 11 , wherein said holding means comprise a pair of two opposed biased elements mounted to a respective one of said first and second connecting members, each of said biased elements having a resting position wherein said element is urged outwardly and protrudes from the corresponding connecting member, said holding means further comprising a pair of corresponding cooperating opposed receiving recesses mounted to the remaining connecting member, each of said receiving recesses being adapted to receive therein a corresponding biased element when said first and second connecting members are engaged in said lockable position, thereby holding said connecting members together in said lockable position.

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13. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 12, wherein each of said biased elements comprises a ball and a ball spring mounted in a ball housing, each of said receiving recesses comprising a corresponding spherical portion.

14. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 12, wherein each of said biased elements is mounted on the connecting member mounted to the structure and each of the receiving recesses is mounted on the connecting member mounted to the movable item.

15. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 14, wherein the connecting member mounted to the structure comprises a female connector and the connecting member mounted to the movable item comprises a male connector.

16. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said securing assembly comprises position detecting means mounted to one of said first and second connecting members for detecting a positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position.

17. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 9, wherein said securing assembly comprises position detecting means mounted to the female connector for detecting a positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position, said position detecting means being adapted for detecting a positioning of the locking finger in the finger channel.

18. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said securing assembly further comprises position detecting means mounted to one of said first and second connecting members for detecting a positioning of said first and second connecting member in said lockable position, said electronic control means being adapted for selectively actuating said actuator to move said movable locking member from said unlocked position to said locked position upon detection of said positioning of said first and second connecting member in said lockable position.

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19. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said securing assembly further comprises: position detecting means mounted to one of said first and second connecting members for detecting a positioning of said first and second connecting member in said lockable position; an identification tag associated with said movable item; and an identification reader for identifying said identification tag and said associated movable item when said first and second connectors are engaged in said lockable position.

20. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 19, wherein said electronic control means is adapted for selectively actuating said actuator to move said movable locking member from said unlocked position to said locked position upon detection of said positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position and identification of the associated movable item.

21. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 19, wherein said identification tag comprises an RFID tag and said identification reader comprises an RFID reader mounted to said structure.

22. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said electronic control means comprise unsecuring means for enabling an actuating of the movable locking member from the locked position to the unlocked position, said unsecuring means being selected from a group consisting of a card reader adapted for receiving a corresponding user card, a keypad adapted for receiving a user code and a bar code reader adapted for reading a corresponding bar code.

23. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said movable locking member comprises an elongated member axially translatable between said unlocked position and said locked position, said locking member being engaged

116995.00094 at both ends in said first connecting member through said locking aperture when in said locked position.

24. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 23, wherein said actuator comprises a motor and a shaft driven by said motor, said shaft being attached to the movable locking member for driving said movable locking member between said unlocked position and said locked position.

25. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 24, wherein said securing assembly further comprises shaft position detecting means for monitoring a position of the shaft to thereby monitor a position of the movable locking member.

26. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 25, wherein said shaft position detecting means comprise an optical detector and a mechanical detector, each of said detector being adapted for detecting the position of the shaft and an associated position of the movable locking member in said locked position.

27. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said movable item comprises a bicycle and said structure comprises a bicycle rack.

28. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 27, wherein said bicycle rack is a part of a bicycle rental station.

29. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 27, wherein said connecting member mounted on said bicycle comprises attaching means for fixedly attaching said connecting member to a fork of said bicycle.

30. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 29, wherein said attaching means comprise a pair of cylindrical holes extending through said connecting member mounted on said bicycle, said pair of cylindrical holes being adapted to fixedly receive said fork of said bicycle therein.

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31. The electronic lock as claimed in claim 1 , wherein said movable item comprises a vehicle selected from a group consisting of a stroller, a wheelchair, an all-terrain vehicle, a scooter and a boat.

32. An electronic lock for removably securing a movable item to a structure, the electronic lock comprising:

-an elongated male connector fixedly mounted to the movable item and comprising a locking aperture;

-a female connector fixedly mounted to the structure and adapted for removably receiving therein the elongated male connector;

-a securing assembly associated to the female connector, the securing assembly comprising:

-a movable locking member displaceable between an unlocked position for allowing the female connector to receive therein the elongated male connector and a locked position;

-an actuator for causing displacement of the locking member between the unlocked position and the locked position;

-electronic control means coupled to the actuator for controlling displacement of the locking member between the unlocked position and the locked position; wherein when the elongated male connector is received in the female connector, the electronic control means controls the actuator for causing the locking member to displace towards the locked position and to engage the locking aperture, thereby securing the elongated male connector in the female connector.

33. A method for removably securing a movable item to a structure, the method comprising: providing an electronic lock for removably securing the movable item to the structure, the electronic lock comprising:

116995.00094 first and second complementary cooperating connecting members, each being fixedly mounted to a respective one of the movable item and the structure and being engageable together in a lockable position; and a securing assembly for securing said first and second connecting members together when engaged in the lockable position, said securing assembly comprising: a movable locking member operatively associated to the first connecting member; a locking aperture defined in the second connecting member, said locking aperture being adapted for receiving the movable locking member when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position; an actuator operatively coupled to the movable locking member for actuating the movable locking member between an unlocked position enabling disengagement of the first and second connecting members and a locked position wherein the movable locking member engages the locking aperture; and electronic control means operatively coupled to the actuator for controlling selective actuation of the movable locking member from the unlocked position to the locked position and from the locked position to the unlocked position when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position; engaging the first and second connecting members together in the lockable position; and actuating the locking member to the locked position so that the locking member engages the locking aperture, thereby securing said movable item to said structure.

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34. The method as claimed in claim 33, further comprising monitoring a positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position before actuating the locking member.

35. The method as claimed in claim 33, further comprising identifying said movable item before actuating the locking member.

36. The method as claimed in claim 33, wherein said engaging of the first and second connecting members together in the lockable position comprises guiding said connecting member mounted to said movable item towards said lockable position.

37. The method as claimed in claim 33, wherein said engaging of the first and second connecting members together in the lockable position comprises holding said first and second connecting members engaged in said lockable position.

38. The method as claimed in claim 33, further comprising, before actuating said locking member: detecting a positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position; and identifying said movable item to provide an identification thereof; wherein, in said actuating, the locking member is actuated to the locked position upon detection of said positioning of said first and second connecting members in said lockable position and said identification of said movable item.

39. The method as claimed in claim 38, wherein said identifying comprises a radio-frequency identification.

40. The method as claimed in claim 33, further comprising: requesting a user identification; and

116995.00094 actuating the locking member to the unlocked position for unsecuring said movable item upon reception of said user identification.

41. The method as claimed in claim 33, wherein said movable item comprises a bicycle and said structure comprises a bicycle rack.

42. A kit for removably securing a movable item to a structure, the kit comprising:

first and second complementary cooperating connecting members, each being fixedly mountable to a respective one of the movable item and the structure and being engageable together in a lockable position; and a securing assembly for securing said first and second connecting members together when engaged in the lockable position, said securing assembly comprising: a movable locking member operatively associatable to the first connecting member; a locking aperture defined in the second connecting member, said locking aperture being adapted for receiving the movable locking member when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position; an actuator operatively couplable to the movable locking member for actuating the movable locking member between an unlocked position enabling disengagement of the first and second connecting members and a locked position wherein the movable locking member engages the locking aperture; and electronic control means operatively couplable to the actuator for controlling selective actuation of the movable locking member from the unlocked position to the locked position and from the locked position to the unlocked position when the connecting members are engaged together in the lockable position.

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